Monday, 18 December 2017

5 Ways you can save money without even trying

5 Ways you can save money without even trying

With the cost of living going up, more families are looking for ways to save money. So, we’ve compiled a list of some of the easiest ways you can save money, put it away for a rainy day, or put it towards something worthwhile. Not all of these will be life changing, or perhaps apply to you, but a step in the right direction can change your financial habits for good! 

Obviously, if you have issues with your plumbing or gas appliances then of course you need to get a professional in. But when it comes to the little things, it may be much more cost effective to do it yourself? Take your skirting boards for example, if they’re looking tired and need replacing then you can speak to your local skirting board specialist about the most cost effective way to replace them. 

Or you can break out the brushes and freshen them up with a lick of paint – it really is that simple. You don’t need to hire an expensive tradesman to do it for you. 

Make your own gifts 
Ideal with Christmas or any birthdays that might be around the corner. If you want to save money while also giving generously, creating your own homemade gifts is one way to accomplish both goals. You can make food mixes, candles, fresh-baked bread or cookies, soap, and all kinds of other things at home quite easily and inexpensively. 

These make spectacular gifts for others because they involve your personal touch — something you
can’t buy from a shop — and quite often they’re consumable, meaning they don’t wind up filling someone’s drawers with rubbish! 

Make a list – and stick to it! 
One of the easiest ways to save money is to only shop when you have a list. Because when you’re without one, you typically end up making impulse buys and unplanned purchases – all things that cost money. Creating a list before you go to the supermarket is especially important. Not only can it help you buy items that fit with your meal plan, but it can also help you avoid buying food you might waste. 

Always create a list and, more importantly, stick to it! 

Staying in is the new going out 
Going out to eat or “out on the town” has a way of completely destroying both your food budget and your entertainment budget in one fell swoop. It is always cheaper to stay in with friends and come up with your own entertainment. So, try hosting a meal with your friends where they all bring some food, play a board game, watch a film or just sit and reminisce! You’ll all save money – and have a blast. 

Entertaining the kids
Remember the saying that kids would rather play with the box? Its true! Most children, especially young ones, can be entertained very cheaply. Play in the garden. Head to the park. Bake something. What your children want is your time, not your stuff, and you’ll find money in your pocket and joy in
your heart.

Great New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home

Great New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions for yourself this year (which you always break, of course), why not create some more achievable ones for your home? 

From giving those tired-looking spaces a fresh lick of paint to completing those bigger jobs you’ve been meaning to do, the New Year is the perfect time to get stuck into your home design projects. 

Here’s how: 

Create an Impact with Accents 
Instead of giving your whole home an overhaul, you can refresh existing schemes with some striking soft furnishings and accessories. Give your lounge or bedroom an instant update with new cushions or bedding, opting for a pop of colour that lifts the room while still complementing your existing d├ęcor. Throws are also the perfect way of bringing an additional texture or colour to your room and they double up as cosy accessories when the temperatures dip, too. 

Plan for Bigger Projects 
Granted, installing a new kitchen or bathroom isn’t cheap, but if it’s something you’ve been meaning to do for a while, it’s a good idea to plan for this next year. For example, if you’ve been wanting a new family bathroom for ages, start by planning this out, making sure there’s plenty of storage for all your toiletries, you’ve got all the facilities you need for the kids (i.e. a large bath) and you’ve picked out the colour scheme for your tiles. Don’t forget to shop around for the best deals, too, checking out places like Travis Perkins for special offers on bathroom suites, furniture and accessories that’ll help you complete the look in style. 

Breathe New Life into Your Home with Paint and Wallpaper 
Even painting or wallpapering one wall in a new colour can give your home a new lease of life. Look around for inspiration as to what colours are on-trend next year (rumour has it this will be subtle pink blush, vibrant reds, shades of purple, statement blacks and understated pastels) before working out how you’ll incorporate this into your existing design scheme or whether you’ll go for a completely new look. You could even introduce this colour on the walls at the start of the New Year before gradually building up a base of accessories, soft furnishings and complementing items throughout the year. 

This won’t just help you spread the cost of redesigning your room but will make it feel as though
this space is constantly evolving, so there won’t be any need to update it again the year after!
So, as we head into 2018, take some time to think about those must-dos you’ve been putting off
over the last few years and make sure next year is the year you achieve some of your New Year’s

5 Reasons It’s Great to Involve the Kids in Fruit and Veg Growing

5 Reasons It’s Great to Involve the Kids in Fruit and Veg Growing

It probably goes without saying that the great outdoors offers us plenty of benefits, from breathing in fresh air to getting some much-needed exercise. But did you know there are also some developmental benefits to getting the kids involved in gardening?

Here are five reasons why you might want to get the kids growing their own produce, even in

1. It Enhances Their Senses 
Your kids’ senses are incredibly sensitive, which is why this is one of the best ways for them to learn. For example, when they’re knee deep in dirt they can touch the vegetables, seeds and soil; they can smell the fruits of their labour and they can see all of the different shapes, sizes and textures of the veg. 

By making sure their senses are engaged, this helps you ensure your children know what gardening entails while also enabling them to understand the science and maths that go into it. 

2. It Encourages Them to Eat Healthily 
There’s nothing quite like tasting food you’ve gone to the effort of growing yourself, and that’s exactly what your children (and you!) can do when you have your own veggie patch. Having them grow a number of different healthy foods will make them keen to taste what they’ve planted themselves. This not only encourages them to eat those greens but it also adds to their eagerness to grow new things to see what unique flavours these have too. 

3. It Allows Them to Explore Scientific Concepts 
Gardening’s fun, which is why it’s an interactive way of introducing kids to biology, chemistry and botany. Once they’ve planted their seeds they’ll be intrigued as to what will happen next, then they’ll monitor how these things change and develop, and these processes give them an understanding of a number of scientific concepts. Equally, by getting specialist equipment from places like Premier Polytunnels, you’ll be able to show them how different things can influence how their plants grow. 

4. It Adds to Their Fine Motor Development 
From picking out seeds to digging up dirt and pouring water on plants, there’s plenty of fine motor control needed in gardening. Therefore, as your children get to grips with the garden, they’ll develop these crucial skills, which will ultimately enhance their schooling, including cutting, typing and writing.

5. It Provides You with Important Family Time 
Finally, when you and the kids team up to grow things in the garden, it provides you with plenty of heart-warming family time. As you grow things, you and the kids will get a great sense of achievement, and it also provides you with the perfect opportunity to try new recipes using the fresh ingredients you’ve produced. 

Gardening needn’t take up a lot of space, time or money but, as you can see, it’s got so much to
offer you and your children.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Don’t panic! Five great last minute gift ideas

Christmas Gift Ideas

Long-term fans of The Simpsons might remember the first ever Christmas episode, in which Homer has been entrusted with the task of buying gifts for all the family. Naturally, we get to witness his initial confidence slowly give way to blind panic as he runs out of time and finds himself searching the wares of a late-night fuel station and choosing between car air fresheners and bottles of brake fluid as family gifts.

We laughed, but we also felt a pang of connection with the yellow cartoon character. After all, most of us have been there – or at least, if not there then somewhere in that direction, and that is really what great observational humour is all about. This was the episode that brought us Santa’s Little Helper, the gift that kept on licking, and for The Simpsons, a Christmas disaster was averted. Here are our tips for some great last minute gift ideas that will not involve you searching the 24-hour forecourts of the animal rehoming centres:

1) A Homemade Voucher

A DIY gift voucher is more personal than a shop-bought one, and can be created in a few minutes. Just ensure you are stocked up with coloured paper and envelopes, pick up some spare HP or Epson ink cartridges at Printerinks and you are ready for anything! There are plenty of free templates you can find online, or simply let your imagination run riot.

2) Amazon Prime Subscription

Amazon is the third largest retailer on the planet – in the past two years is has risen from sixth – and is a company that everyone uses from time to time. Prime membership delivers a variety of benefits to members, including free express shipping and access to millions of online boxsets, movies and music. The really clever bit is that you can buy it online, and if the recipient is already a member, your gift automatically converts into a gift card.

3) An Experience Day

Another gift that you can purchase and print in next to no time is an experience day. There are so many to choose from, ranging from a fine dining experience to a helicopter lesson, so you are absolutely certain to find something that is just right for even the most difficult friend or family member.  

4) Spotify

Everyone loves music, but it is such a personal thing, it can be a hazardous road to go down when buying a gift. Spotify gives access to an astonishing 30 million tracks, so you really can’t go wrong. A month’s subscription will set you back £10, and longer options are available.

5) A charity e-card

This is a gift that any socially-responsible person cannot fail to love. Oxfam gives you the option to make a charitable donation on behalf of someone else. They will send the recipient a card, letting them know what you have done and giving an idea of how the money will be spent, helping those who are most in need. 

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Shark Lift-Away with Duoclean NV800UK Upright Vacuum Cleaner Review

Shark Lift-Away with Duoclean NV800UK Upright Vacuum Cleaner Review

I never thought I would be one of those obsessive people who vacuums multiple times a day, but that was before we welcomed our Dalmatian puppy home in August 2016. I could spend a good hour talking to you about just how much Dalmatian's malt. You might not believe me, but you wouldn't be the first people to doubt me, because people can't get their heads around how a dog with such a short coat, could shed hair 365 days a year. 

But they do. They really, really do.

People joke that Dalmatian's shed once a year (because they never stop). This brings me to just how much I have to vacuum the house, because as much as I love him, I am not a fan of the daily fur offerings that quite frankly end up everywhere. These days I have to hoover out my washing machine, and this is after I use the lint brush to soften the blow on the machine. Upstairs is now out of bounds because I cannot face the dog hair up there, and downstairs we just have to make sure we are on top of the hoovering. 

Until Lux came home though I had never really worried about how good my vacuum was, but when that little bundle of fun arrived in our home, that suddenly changed. Over the past 16 months I have discovered that my current cleaning regime was not sufficient for our spotty dog. If it wasn't the dog hair floating around the house, he was busy bringing outside inside. 

Shark Lift-Away with Duoclean NV800UK Upright Vacuum Cleaner Review

Over the past few weeks I have been putting the Shark Lift-Away NV800UK Upright Vacuum Cleaner through it's paces, and quite honestly it really has been put to the test in this house. I have been intrigued by the Shark brand for a while now, so I was really excited to see how the reality lived up to the expectation.

And here is how we got on....

Shark Lift-Away with Duoclean NV800UK Upright Vacuum Cleaner Review
This rug was clean before Lux came out of the kitchen, but within a few moments was covered in dog hair. As you can see the Shark did a fantastic job cleaning it back up again in no time at all.

The Shark arrived from quickly and promptly as always (AO are my personal go to for appliances), and it was very easy to get everything up and running. I was impressed with how well equipped this model came, as it's not a designated pet vacuum cleaner but in the box I found:

- The Shark Pet Power Brush

- The Upholstery Tool 

- The 2 in 1 Duster Crevice Tool

It was easy to piece the Shark together and only took a few minutes, and then it was just a case of removing all of the plastic packaging that was still attached, plugging it in and giving a trial run. As soon as I turned it on and the headlights lit up my dark carpet I was really impressed. As I pushed the Shark forward I could feel the sheer power at the helm, it's not heavy to push but you certainly know that you have it (and I like that). 

Shark Lift-Away with Duoclean NV800UK Upright Vacuum Cleaner Review

There is nothing quite so satisfying as seeing all of that Dalmatian hair being sucked up and away, I could see straight away that it was doing a rather splendid job.

The Shark Lift-Away has a very clever double brush design that allows it to capture all types of dirt on both carpet and hard floors, and it took on Lux's fluff with no issues at all, and what I really liked is that it is bagless cleaning, which means you dont need bags! All you need to do is make sure you empty it after each use, and this is something that I have been ensuring that I do, because it is definitely having to work hard in our house!
Shark Lift-Away with Duoclean NV800UK Upright Vacuum Cleaner Review
Below: Dalmatian covered rug. Above: Shiny clean again.

Another aspect of the Shark that I just love is that you can actually take the cylinder off the actual vacuum to hoover the stairs, this is a great feature as it means that you don't need to lug the entire weight of the appliance with you, you can just take what you need, ultimately turning your vacuum into a portable handheld appliance! That is where the very generous 8m cord comes in very handy! 

This has made cleaning my stairs so much easier and I don't think that I could ever go back!

How has the Shark Lift-Away NV800UK Performed?

Shark Lift-Away with Duoclean NV800UK Upright Vacuum Cleaner Review
The contents of our very first Shark Vacuum session! I was impressed with how much it picked up, especially since I had vacuumed that very morning!

What can I say, I absolutely love this machine. I can't think of anything that I don't love on it to be honest, it does exactly what I need it to do, it's light and easy to steer around. I love how compact the head of the vacuum is, it allows me to get into the tighter corners (which is essential with a dog around the house), and it actually performs. It does exactly what I need it to do, and it has surpassed my expectations for a vacuum that is not designated for pets. In fact it's completely topped my actual pet vacuum by another brand and I am over the moon with the Shark NV800UK!

Disclaimer: I was sent this product for the purpose of this review All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.


Remembering Granddad with Jewellerybox

Great Granddad - Gerald Asbury

A patriarch has fallen.

A man who has been around since my earliest days has died. 

My Granddad. 

It's the way of the world, it happens to us all one day, we were not built to last forever, but you can't help feeling the emotions that come with this fact. 

Receiving the phone call that you knew would one day come, but still the shock and resounding feeling of your stomach falling down and down, as though you were riding the loops of the world's largest roller coaster just keeps your stomach churning even after the call has come to an end. 

Explaining death to your child and how he won't be around any more, only for him to then start pondering why people have to die at the young age of 6 years old. It's been a question on his lips since I had to break the news to him. 

His response to the news that his Great Granddad had passed was one of the sweetest and most innocent things he could have said, but that is my boy all over.

Great Granddad - Gerald Asbury

He's right, he is wise beyond his years, and we do have to remember him the way Lightning McQueen remembers Doc. We have to remember the family holidays, the funny things he did and said, his love for books and local history and we have to remember that he is now at peace. 

He is now free from the regular falls.

He is now free from Alzheimer's. 

Remembering is the most important aspect of it all now, and I am beyond glad that I had the time and the freedom to make those weekly visits to his care home. He always seemed surprised that I had not only found my way there, but had driven there myself, but he never ever forgot who I was and he always seemed happy for my visits. 

We sat with a cappuccino and put the world to rights, we had similar conversations each and every visit, and he tried he darndest to get his head around what a blog was each and every time. In hindsight I was very lucky that he knew who I was, because that could have vanished at any given time, but he remembered those closest to him for his entire life. 

Right up until the very end.  

Great Granddad - Gerald Asbury

He might not know where he was most of the time, but he knew us. His family. 

One visit he was convinced that we were at the airport and he was flying off somewhere for a long weekend, and he thanked me for waiting with him. Another time he thought that the care home dining room was a restaurant and he suddenly worried about how we were going to pay the bill, and instead of upsetting him I told him that it was all fine and I would sort it. 

Alzheimer's might have made the here and now confusing for him, but behind that hazy mist was my Grandad just as he had always been. Clever, witty, funny, strong, independent and stubborn (it's a family trait). 

Behind my Granddad was a family who had his back, just like he had ours all of those years. 

Now it is all about remembering. I am lucky enough to have a few of his trinkets scattered around my home. Photographs, the glass drink coasters and some of the furniture he had to pass on before he went into care. 

I have been thinking about ways I can help my family remember, while we were cleaning out his room back in October I was looking for a particular family photograph, it was one I had gifted him only a few short months ago, but it wasn't to be seen.

You see my Granddad was always packing his room up because he thought he was going to be leaving (he didn't know where, but he was adamant all the same), and in one of those moments he had packed all his photographs away. It was found by my younger sister, and I felt awful asking for it back, but I had set my heart on having the frame back at home with me. 

I could see my request had upset her, I felt a tinge of guilt. Since then I have wanted to make it up to her, and when JewelleryBox got in touch I knew exactly what to do.

I picked out 2 lockets, one for Alice and one for my Mum. Inside I have chosen a picture of them with our Granddad, I chose the lockets based on what they would personally choose. My Mum loves Angels, and I picked my sisters based on something that she could wear with absolutely everything.

The finished lockets couldn't be more perfect, and each of the recipients were so happy with their individual gifts. 

JewelleryBox Locket

JewelleryBox Locket

JewelleryBox Locket

The shock has started to subside, but I still find it hard to believe that he is no longer a short drive away, he can no longer tell me about his younger years and he is no longer around for a cappuccino to put the world to rights. 

What I find rather incredible, and I was lucky enough to receive over the weekend was a document that my Granddad had compiled over the years, a document filled with his memories and our family history along with stories and facts that I never knew.

It's all about those memories now, and boy do we have some amazing memories. 

Logojoy Review - How to Create a Blog Logo

Logojoy Logo Design

When I first started blogging I didn't really have a clue about any of it, that applies to all forms of blogging. Composing the content, displaying the content and even blog design. I wasn't well versed in Photoshop (that still goes today, but I atleast have a basic idea of some forms, even if that only applies to photo editing). 

When I think back to my very first blog design I cringe. It was as basic as you could possibly imagine and I changed it regularly. I didn't promote an overall brand if you will, and those of you who do blog will realise just how important that is. As I started to learn the ropes, this resonated with me and I decided to pay someone to do the blog design for me, I figured in the long run this would be an investment, and over the years this has definitely proved to be true. 

Starting a blog is very similar to setting up an online business, I didn't think about it like this back then, but the years have demonstrated this to be true. Over the years I have made a living out of my blog and I have been lucky enough to have some larger than life opportunities all because of my little slice of the world wide web. For any of this to have been possible though, I needed to make sure that my brand and my blog resonated and appealed to not only my niche of the market and readership, but also to the brands who I could potentially be working with. 

Creating a blog design needs to be professional, clear, concise and appealing. You need to make sure you look and act the part otherwise why should a brand/SEO work with you? Why should they send you their product or pay you £££ to feature them? You see even though my little blog started out as a hobby, there has been a crossover between the hobby aspect of it into a little business.

If you have found this post because you are thinking about starting a blog, and like I was back in 2011 are finding the design aspects of it difficult, then I highly recommend having a look at Logojoy.

The logo that you see at the top of this post was created using Logojoy, and it was incredibly easy and simple to make (and better yet you don't need to be versed in the great art of graphic design because they DO IT ALL FOR YOU!).

I achieved this result in 5 very easy straightforward steps.

1. I entered my blog name and then picked 5 different logo styles, 5 different colours and icons that I liked, I kept my ideas as close to my blog and theme as I could. They have a whole library of different icons, and you can use the handy search bar to look up terms and words that might fit with your theme.

 I liked the idea of the dice because the result is always unexpected (as is life!), so it seemed a great fit to symbolise my little space of the interweb. Once you have selected the above, Logojoy use this as inspiration to help form the basis of your new logo!

2. The next step is to have a look at the logos that have been created for you on the details that you input in step one! They create pages of different designs, each different and ready for you to run with.

3. You can favourite designs that you like and add your own personal touch to any that you really like the look of. 

4. Make the logo yours - For my logo I went into the edit screen and had a play around with the colours, I wanted to find a blue that was similar to the blue that I use on my blog design already. 

I also made the font and dice bigger.

In this part of the logo design you can change the font, colours, layouts, symbols and really make the design your own. Editing your logo is really simple and straightforward so you don't need to worry about it being overly complicated. 

5. Download your files and you're ready to go! There are 3 different package options that give you a range of different privileges. I opted for the Premium package.   

Logojoy Logo Design

The premium package gave me my logo in a few different colour ways, I really liked this as there are times where you wouldn't need/want the full colour option (see below).

Logojoy Logo Design

Logojoy Logo Design

I spent about 20 minutes perfecting my logo design from start to finish, and I have to say that I am really impressed with the finished outcome. I feel like it really reflects my brand. There is an option where you can add in a tag line below your company/blog name, but I wanted to keep the logo as clean and uncluttered as possible. 

When you start a blog it really is important to make sure that your design looks smart and professional, and this is even more true if you are hoping to use it for commercial purposes at some point in it's lifetime. I would say that even if you are just writing for you, but attract a readership, the blogs over all design and look is still a very important factor, so if you're like myself and struggle with the design aspect, definitely have a look at what you can do.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

We Believe In Father Christmas!

We Believe In Father Christmas!

December has arrived, and with it the flourishes of sparkle and glitter that I can't help gravitate toward. This year I felt like I needed to get the decorations up early. Leo is 6 and excited doesn't seem a strong enough word to describe how he feels about the festive season this year, and after a few weekend's full of Christmas fun I thought that there was no time like the present to get the tree out from it's long slumber.

Pickering's Gin Baubles

Pickering's Gin Baubles are sitting pride of place at the top of our Christmas Tree this year! RRP £30.00

I can't help feeling that the magic Leo feels at Christmas is going to be snatched away in the next couple of years, and I know that is what ultimately lit the fire in my Christmas Spirit. I know it's cliche but seeing how excited Leo gets about the magic, about Father Christmas and about his scout Elf, I can't help wanting to bottle it up and keep it alive for as long as I possibly can. I am sure that I am not alone in reliving the childhood magic of Christmas through my child, and it is true when they say that Christmas is at it's most magical when you see it through the eyes of your child.

Pickering's Gin Baubles

Home Bargains Christmas Decorations

Home Bargains Christmas Decorations
Home Bargains Christmas Range 2017

This week I faced my very first Father Christmas question that threatened his very existence. I was shocked as I hadn't expected it, and quite honestly it was not something that I thought would be questioned at the mere age of 6 years old. But there it was, the statement to end all statements. A child at school had told him that Father Christmas wasn't real and it was in fact the parent's who put the presents under the tree. Isn't it sad that at 6 years old there is a child in the same year as Leo that has had the magic snatched away from him for whatever reason? Not only that though, he was now systematically trying to steal the magic away for as many children in his class as he could.

I looked Leo in the eyes, I told him how sad it was that this little boy didn't believe in the magic and Santa Claus. I told him that maybe this particular child's parents had to buy his presents and put them under the tree Christmas morning, maybe this child was on Santa's naughty list, and of course Santa only comes to those who truly believe.

Pickering's Gin Baubles and Elf on The Shelf

Maybe this was harsh, but I will not stand there and watch the magic drain out of my 6 year old's Christmas, no way no how. Thankfully we have Emmanuel our Scout Elf around to help with the magic of Christmas, and Leo's faith has not been rocked in the slightest.

If you have children who no longer believe in the man in Red, please explain to them that there are children who still do, and it is not fair to rob them of that. When the time comes that Leo knows the truth, then I will sit down with him and have a real heart to heart, I will remind him of all the magic and excitement he experienced when he did believe, and I will make sure that he knows, and I will make sure that he understands how important it is not to take those same experiences and memories away from any other child.

Leo said to me that night 'Mummy of course Santa is real, his elves make some very expensive presents and we couldn't afford all those!'. That made me beam inside, you see even though Leo believes in Father Christmas and his magical workshop, and he doesn't know that it is Mummy and Daddy spoiling him rotten, he has a beautiful appreciation for absolutely everything that he receives. People have said to me before that they wouldn't say that all of the toy haul comes from the North Pole, because they worry that they won't get the appreciation for the gifts. Personally for me, I would rather keep that magical fire stoked and watch as Leo's eyes widen and sparkle with each gift he unwraps. There is so much time ahead for Leo to know who is really behind the present giving, and for me it is enough recognition to see how happy he is on Christmas morning.

Elf on The Shelf Inspiration - Snow Angels

With Christmas Spirit on our side Leo and I popped the tree up and fluffed up it's snowy white  branches, up and up it went until finally it stood tall in all of it's splendor.

My little believer and I.

Home Bargains Christmas Decorations
Home Bargains Christmas Range 2017
 I strung the lights and then Leo lovingly placed each bauble, before we finally completed our most colourful tree yet with a Christmas star right at the very top. Were all about colours, it's not about having the most perfect colour co-ordinated tree, it's about having fun and putting our own spin on it.

Leo has written his letter to the man in Red, and for the first time ever has wanted to write it and send it off to him. Together we sat down and I helped him get out what he wanted to say, and then he put it all down on paper himself. For anyone who has been following Leo's journey over the years, you will know just how far he has come, and I quite honestly could not be any prouder of him if I tried. He is quite simply coming along in leaps and bounds, and he deserves the most amazing Christmas. 

Letter to Father Christmas

He hasn't really asked for a lot this year, he would be happy with a new game for his Switch collection, but I know that if he unwrapped a new 3DS XL on December 25th he would be absolutely over the moon. Being the thoughtful soul that he is, Leo even tried to downgrade the XL claim in preference of the smaller version because he didn't think he could ask for a new case too.

 If you have a look at the bottom of his list you will see that he has asked for 2 Amiibo's, Link and Princess Peach. The Princess Peach he has asked for, he doesn't want for himself, he want's her for me. My heart melted when he told me this, so I may have gone a little crazy with the Amiibo purchases...

Home Bargains Christmas Decorations
We are really making the most of what this Christmas has to offer, with each year that passes we are teetering on the edge of a discovery that will take away so much sparkle of the festive season. I know it is not all about believing in Father Christmas, magic and gifts, but that combined with the magical ways we spend time together as a family, for instance our annual trip on the Santa Express each Christmas eve,  it will really impact the way we celebrate Christmas once the ugly truth comes out.

I for one am willing to protect the most innocent of white lies for as long as I physically can, and I am going to make the very most of the time we have left. So this year we have decorated to the nines, gone a little crazy with gifts (if you can't spoil them at Christmas, when can you eh?), and we are counting down the days until Christmas Eve.

Our mischievous little elf will be sticking around and causing trouble, and we will be making sure that this is the most magical Christmas to date!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Playing Monopoly Online

 play Monopoly online

When you think of board games, face it, you think of Monopoly. It’s the classic game that almost every family has; it’s family fun for all ages. Unfortunately, because everyone loves Monopoly and it gets played a lot, the many game pieces tend to dwindle quickly. No one knows where they end up or how they get lost; a lot of times they just fall out of the box as you’re transporting it, unbeknownst to you, lost forever. Thanks to the growing popularity of online games, you can now play Monopoly online for free without risking losing any pieces.

It’s the same great game but online 
The cyber simulation of Monopoly, at least the one on, offers very realistic gameplay and graphics. You can choose up to four players for this pass and play style game; each player gets to pick a color and can choose to put either a nickname or their real name. If the whole family wanted to play, you could even display it on the television and pass around a wireless mouse. You won’t have to clean off table space, make sure everyone can store their properties somewhere, or even make sure everyone can reach the board; all you need is internet access. 

It keeps track of everything for you 
One of the major benefits to playing Monopoly online, rather than in real life, is that you don’t have to keep track of anything. The game keeps track of who owns what property and what amount of rent is owed at particular times. It keeps track of the Chance and Community Chance cards drawn and the action they require and makes sure you move the correct amount, landing on the right space based on your roll. It even displays the amount of money you have, rather than in a more complicated way like by denominations; you won’t have to count your money to know where you stand. You won’t even need a banker, the game does it for you. However, this could be a downside for those of you that love being the banker, but at least you won’t have to worry about the bank running out of any particular denomination. 

 play Monopoly online

No one can cheat 
Each player clicks to roll the dice, the game moves their piece the appropriate number of times, then prompts them to buy the property they landed on or disperses the appropriate action card. There’s no possible way anyone could cheat in this version of Monopoly, other than taking another player’s turn.  f you’ve got a sneaky family member or friend that always wins and your just so sure cheats, this is a great way to find them out. The dice is rolled fairly and electronically each time and the game handles all the cards and money. The downside to this, however, is that you have to play by the traditional Monopoly rules. If you grew up playing with any backyard rules, you won’t find a way to utilize them in online Monopoly because you can’t change the rules in the programming. 

There’s no risk of losing pieces 
Just transporting the Monopoly box from its place of storage to the table has a risk of some of the very tiny game pieces falling out of the box, let alone playing it. Dice, houses, and hotels can fall off the table; properties can get misplaced; even the player pieces can disappear. Playing Monopoly online takes all of that risk away with the added bonus of not having to find a table big enough to play where everyone can reach the game board. Likewise, you won’t have to worry about your board game not having all its pieces. If your Monopoly game has last a few properties or Chance cards, you can’t play anymore, but that’s not a problem with the online version. 

 play Monopoly online

Free online gaming has really blossomed into a lot in recent years; now there’s even online simulations of your favorite classic board games, like Monopoly. Playing it online allows you to not worry about having all the pieces, keeping up with them all, keeping track of your money and  properties, or even having a clean space on which to play. This cyber simulation offers great graphics,  traditional game play in a pass and play style, and it’s incredibly realistic. 

Everyone will be able to see the board, reach it, and keep track of their total money without counting. 

This game truly offers a great alternative to the classic board games.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Stress-Saving Prom Planning Tips For Parents

Stress-Saving Prom Planning Tips For Parents

Prom is certainly a rite of passage for many teenagers. It’s a great party, but no matter how good your kid is, chances are, they’re going to be out with their peers who may be getting up to no good. So, here’s how to plan a stress-free prom both for you, and your offspring.

1. Get involved with prom preparations
Get involved in shopping for prom with your daughter. It’s fun looking for dresses, and you don’t need to blow the budget when you can purchase one of the 2018 cheap red prom dresses at Prom Dress Shop and similar retailers. It’s also a good idea not to blow the budget, as you want to teach  our daughter about scaling down and value. 

Let her set the level of excitement, too. There are parents that go overboard trying to relive their own  prom, and kids often feel that they need to truly go all out to make special memories. 

2. Keep an eye on prom and post-prom plans 
Find out about the school’s previous proms. The shorter ones are the ones you will have to worry about. Those are the one’s where kids show up and then leave 10 minutes later to make their own party. If it sounds like your child’s prom might be headed that way, help them make after prom plans,  whether it’s a leisurely meal, a cruise, or hanging out at someone’s house. There are plenty of choices, and it’s worth making suggestions.

3. Help arrange transportation 
Hire a van or a limo so a group can travel together. Find a driver you trust, perhaps even a relative. Avoid giving your child your credit card, and it’s probably not a good idea to rent a hotel room. It can  keep kids off the road, but there are higher risks of other dangers. 

4. Talk to your child about things that go on 
Stress-saving prom planning should come with some big talks about what goes on at these events and  that to avoid, so that you can go to bed knowing your child is have a safe and happy night. 

Remind your child about the unpleasant aspects of consuming alcohol, like ruining her beautiful prom dress. Remain firm. It is up to you to set the limits, no matter how vigilant your child may be. 

Most prom-goers will take a backpack with them with a change of clothes for after prom. Check the contents. 

5. Offer help for their post-prom celebrations 
Whether it’s pizza and movies, or breakfast at 5am, offer your home. Your kids want to make a big night of prom, and you’re probably not going to get too much sleep in any case. So, if they’re at home, you can keep an eye on them and judge which kids can go home on their own and which are better off staying over a little longer.

Take note of these tips and ensure that your teens will have the best time of their lives on prom night.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

New Year, New Challenge?

Training for your first triathlon

Something has changed within me over the last few years, there was a point not so very long ago where my evenings would consist of Netflix and a great deal of junk food and fizzy pop. I didn't spare a single thought for the calories that I was consuming on a daily basis, nor did I burden myself with the drastic lack of exercise.

None of it concerned me, I didn't care. But you see... That is what went on to change. Suddenly I was eating better and getting out of those sedentary foundations that I had built. I was going to the gym, I was trying classes, heck I even found myself trying my hand at Crossfit and Pole Dancing! 

I was throwing caution to the wind and completely throwing myself out of the comfort zone, because I have to be honest here, before I decided to stop caring about what everyone thought, the idea of going along to the gym or anything new (that I would have to attempt alone) filled me with dread, and I would always bottle it before I had chance to go.

With a New Year in sight I have started thinking about how I can throw myself out there once again, something new and fun that will be sure to get my juices flowing. I love anything really that will provide me with a good workout and get my heart thumping, and that's when I started thinking about triathlon bikes!

Now that might sound crazy for someone who hasn't actually ridden a bicycle in years, but I have been considering a new bike for a while (Yes I am aware that there is a massive difference between a typical bike ride and a triathlon!).

As with anything though, if you don't try how will you ever know if you can do it?

Training for your first triathlon 
(Or training in general!)

So you have made a decision but how do you stick to it?

- Tell people - You are more likely to stick to something if you talk about it, tell your friends and family and their support is going to push you forward to the next step. You might even find yourself a training partner if you're lucky!

- Set a goal - Think about what you want to achieve long term and short term, set goals and milestones. I believe that it is always very important to acknowledge the smaller steps too, because they are all steps in the right direction right? Celebrate all of it, give yourself a pat on the back with every momentum in the right direction.

- It's ok to go slow - Don't beat yourself up about what you can't do yet and focus on everything that you can do. Use those smaller goals to put your best foot (or wheel in this case!) forward, because they are going to amount to some of your bigger goals later on. Give yourself time to build up in your training, if you are like I was (I believe a coach potato is the term?), then you aren't just going to get up and go and run a 5k are you!? You have to set a steady pace and build on the foundations that you have already, and make them stronger.

- Sign up! - Yup you read that right! I always find that I am more determined and dedicated if I have a goal with a expiration date. Sign up for a sprint or triathlon that is a few months away (6-8 weeks!), it is sure to light a fire in your gut, and that upcoming date in your calendar is going to be the most amazing motivation! It is going to help you train and it is also going to provide you with valuable experience that you will need moving forward.  

- Follow a beginner's training plan - There are some great tips online, have a look and see what works for you.

- Start as you mean to go on - As with anything in life, consistency is the key, if you strive for success and put in the graft, you will never be disappointed.

- Eat good food - I always believe that the basis of any training plan is what you are fueling your body with. There is always confusion around diet plans and what not, but I believe in eating good wholesome foods (and never cutting anything out!) is the best practice. I always point people in the general direction of The Bodycoach because he has some fantastic recipes that are sure to hit the spot!

- The bike - You don't need to go out and spend a bomb on a bike, if you already have a bike then you can always start training with that, or if you are in the market for a new one, then buy the best you can afford. 

I keep coming back to cycling, whether or not I end up trying my first triathlon or not is another thing... but cycling with the dog could be a fantastic challenge for the new year (and a great way to tire the pup out!).

I will most definitely be getting back into my gym routine (the festive period always seems to appear and knock my motivation from beneath me!), but when the New Year rolls around, I will be back with my motivation ready for another fun year!

The Top 10 Reasons Why We Need Locksmith's

The Top 10 Reasons Why We Need Locksmith's

We have all been there at some point in our lives... You know stood outside your house trying to figure out how you will get back in because you seemingly left this house without your keys this morning, there is no worse sound than hearing the latch drop behind you as the penny drops and you realise that you can no longer get back inside again...

My worst instance in this was when Leo was around 18 months old. I had popped out to the car to grab something, and in an effort to keep the heat inside I pulled the door to in an attempt to do just that. Of course all I really did was lock myself out and Leo...Inside...On his own. 

Leo found the entire ordeal rather humorous, I on the other hand was worried that he could get into all kinds of mischief (and all I could do was watch and shout 'No!' from the other side of the door. Thankfully the cavalry arrived a mere 5 minutes after, and after Leo tired of knocking on the window and giggling, he had gone back to watching In The Night Garden on the TV. 

This is something that can and does happen, my Mum used to be a childminder, and she once managed to get locked outside of her car by one of the children (who spent the time laughing hysterically before eventually opening the door!). Or there was that time when we lived in Yorkshire and I had to climb through an upstairs window in order to gain access to our family home (after my Mum had locked us all out...Including herself!).

There are plenty of reasons that we need a locksmith, and these are the top 10 reasons that we need their expert services...

The Top 10 Reasons Why We Need Locksmith's

1)    Locked keys inside of the house.

2)    Locked keys inside of the car.

3)    Keys have been lost.

4)    Key has broken off inside of the lock.

5)    Locks need replacing after burglary.

6)    When moving into a new home.

7)    When concerned about home security.

8)    When the safe combination is forgotten.

9)    To recode an electronic keypad lock.

10)  For transponder key reprogramming services.

Just like a dentist or a doctor, we all need a locksmith at some point in our lives, there is a worldwide demand for such services, even if you live in sunny Australia without a care in the world (Poisonous spiders are nothing to fear right?), you may still need to call in your local South Perth Locksmith for a helping hand at some point!

Looking through the top 10 reasons to call a locksmith I have suddenly realised that we have ticked off quite a few of them (without intentionally trying to of course!). I have even had the opposite problem... I have been locked inside my home. 

When Luke and I moved in together for a time back in 2012 (or was it 2013!?), I found that I couldn't get out of the house on a good few occasions. Everyone thought that I was going crazy, and as I was the only one getting stuck, I thought maybe it was just me too! It turns out that the latch was occasionally jamming (albeit only on myself) and we had to call a locksmith out to have a look at that for us. Thankfully they were able to come to my rescue and restore access in and out of our humble abode...