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 AO.com 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!

The Shark Lift-Away with Duoclean NV800UK Upright Vacuum Cleaner retails at £349.00.

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!