Thursday, 27 August 2015

Here's What Would Go Into My Dream Garden

Not everybody is lucky enough to have any outdoor space. But for those of us that do, you can have a world of fun out there. Summer has been pretty dreary this year. It’s given me plenty of time to dream up some fantastic things to do at a summer house party, though. These ideas might have to wait for next summer, but never mind:

Eating outside makes any meal taste so much better. For me, I love taking my time over a meal in the company of friends. A barbecue is perfect for that. The meats are prepared in small batches, so there is always food on the go. I love the way you can just prepare all the food in big bowls and platters, and everyone just takes what they want as the afternoon goes on.

Sitting in the garden is definitely one of the highlights of any dry day here. I love sitting at my outdoor dining set with a glass of something cool and refreshing. I might have a Kindle with me or just some great tunes on the iPod. I think a recliner garden chair is always nice to enjoy too. If it was a really hot day, I might even sit in a summer house to stay cool.

I do love to sit under a shady tree in the summer. Sadly, most gardens aren’t big enough for a bit of leafy coverage. Still, there are gazebos and canopies to provide the shade as you need it. I’ve seen some great metal frame gazebos with curtain sets to keep the insects out. They also provide some privacy and protection from the weather. Pop a hot tub underneath and I’ll be very happy. I’ve been looking at a portable spa guide. Who knew you could get inflatable hot tubs?

I’m not much of a gardener, but I do appreciate a well-tended flower bed. I love roses in reds and pinks. I’ve also seen some great structured plants in Willow that can add some height to the garden too. Shrubs are handy for filling out areas. For me, colour is everything. I want lots of fiery reds and hot oranges. Little winter pansies come in every colour imaginable, so some hanging baskets might be nice for those too.

Decking or Patio?
I can see the benefits of having a big decking area. They’re great for popping your table and chairs or even a child’s playhouse on. But the thought of having to paint all that wood every couple of years fills me with dread! Patios usually just need a good pressure wash to come up nice again. Still, composite decking is said to be harder wearing and low maintenance. Maybe a combination of the two to create different areas of the garden might be nice.

I do like to be outside when it’s nice. I love having friends over and just hanging out until the sun has gone down. A little sun trap at the end, where it’s nice a private will be the perfect place to soak up the rays too. What does your dream garden look like?

How I Redesigned My Daughters Bedroom

Followers of my blog will know that my little girl is fast approaching the dreaded teen years. As much as I’m scared from the horror stories I’ve heard, it’s also kind of exciting. I mean I’ve seen The Gilmore Girls, I know how close a mum and daughter can be. But unfortunately, as she grew up she grew out of her bedroom. Apparently it was a little too childish so I did a redesign and I have to say I think it looks great. Although I’m sure once she hits the teens, she’ll want to style her room her way. But until then, I’ll take you through the steps I took.

Step 1: I Painted It Her Favourite Colour

I guess I’m quite lucky because my little girl’s favourite colour is a light purple which is perfect. It means if we ever move, it can easily be painted over and it also fits in nicely with the aesthetic of the rest of the house. You might not be as lucky so remember, the darker you paint a room the harder it is to paint over. I also added a few decorative pieces to the walls. I found some great posters from her favourite movies online and a couple from her television shows. Rather than sticking them to the wall, I put them in frames and hung them up. It looks a lot more mature and it didn’t make a mess of my newly painted walls.

Step 2: Improved The Lighting

My little darling has been complaining that she can’t do her homework in her room because it’s not light enough. I’m pretty sure it’s an excuse for her to do it in front of the television downstairs, but now that excuse is gone. Not only did I buy a reading lamp for her desk, but I also improved the light fixtures in her room. It was a tough job but now she has a spotlight over her desk, over her bed and one big light in the centre of her room. I was toying with the idea of putting star lights in her ceiling, but I think I’ll leave that one for now.

Step 3: Bought Some Accessories

I wanted the bed to look gorgeous but I couldn’t afford to buy a new one. I was in the process of paying for the summer holiday so I found the perfect solution. I bought childrens bedding sets that perfectly matched the colour of her newly painted walls. They looks terrific and are the perfect blend between a kid and adult style choice. I also got a couple new pillows to put on top that had her favourite Frozen characters on. Apparently, she's too old for Barbies but young enough for Disney...I’m not sure how that works.

Step 4: I prepared for the worst

I should mention that I did all this while she was away on a trip. I wanted it to be a brilliant surprise for when she came home but as the day approached, I got a little nervous. You know how older kids can be when you mess with their rooms. However, I am happy to say she was thrilled and now loves spending time in her new improved bedroom. 

Friday, 21 August 2015

Top Tips For Taking A Last Minute Trip

Do you want to get away for a little while? Feeling stressed with life at home? Why not take a last minute trip? Taking a last minute trip doesn’t need to be expensive or stressful. In fact, I have a load of tips here you can use to bag yourself an awesome last minute trip you’ll really enjoy! Take a look:

Be Flexible

You can’t be too picky if you plan on taking a last minute trip. You really need to be flexible if you want to get a great deal. You can still have a wonderful time, you just might need to go somewhere a little different! The more flexible you are with dates and location, the better. Who knows, you might even find some good all inclusive deals if you can be flexible enough!

Download an Itinerary

If you have little time to plan what you’re going to do or you have no idea what there is where you’re going, download an itinerary. There are so many ready made itineraries online, you are sure to find something perfect for you. You can change it a little if you need to, but it’ll take a lot of weight off your shoulders. Ready made itineraries are a saviour when I don’t have much time to plan.

Pack Light

Don’t overthink things or you’ll end up packing too much. You probably don’t need half the things that you think you need. Pack light. Make a list of things to take and stick to the essentials! Take clothes you can easily interchange with one another to make different outfits. You could even try to fit everything in a carry on bag to save even more money!


Find the Best Deal

Don’t just book the first deal you find. Find the best deal by shopping around on different websites and comparing them. You could even pop into travel agents and see what they have there. Make sure you explore all of your options. You can put your own holiday together rather than buying both of your flights and accommodation at once. Look at separate flights and accommodation, and even consider using multiple airports. It’ll take a little more time and planning, but it can help you to get so much money off the price of your trip!

Go Out of Peak Season

When you travel out of peak season, you’ll avoid tourists and have a much less stressful trip. Not only that, you’ll get the whole package cheaper. You might even find that activities are cheaper to do. This is my favourite tip as it means you can enjoy everything without feeling like a squashed sardine in a tin.

Use these tips for taking your last minute trip and I guarantee you’ll have a wonderful time. Try not to stress; take some deep breaths and just live in the moment. Worrying is a wasted emotion, so be spontaneous and don’t give it a second thought. Most importantly, enjoy yourself - you deserve it!

My Great Nursery Gift Ideas

I have a few friends and relatives that are about to commit to a life of parenthood. It’s got me thinking about how much stuff babies need. Just kitting out a nursery takes a lot of shopping! Then there are all the things the mum-to-be needs too. When it comes to buying a gift for a relative or close friend, there really are plenty of things to choose from. Here are my recollections of things that could be a welcome gift for a nursery:

For me, I wanted to have a cot bed. Cot beds are more practical in the long term. This is because they can convert down into a toddler bed when they get bigger. Those bars around the cot don’t keep them contained for long you know! Once the side bars are off, it looks just like a small regular bed. A Moses basket is very handy as a day bed, though. They can easily be picked up and put anywhere as you’re pottering around the house.

A nursing chair can make the breastfeeding experience far more relaxing and comfortable. It’s quite soothing to have a special place you can go to when it comes to feeding your newborn too. I love the ones that rock. It calms me, and it calms the Bubba. They don’t take up much space so they can usually fit in a nursery quite well.

Many women remain in some pain for several weeks after giving birth. The last thing they want to be doing is kneeling down on the floor to change their little ones. A changing table brings the baby up to a height where you can stand to change her. They usually come with plenty of useful storage for all the nappies, wipes and creams too.

Getting About
When you are a Mum, the cleaning, tidying, cooking, and laundry seem never to end. Many mothers want their babies close to them at all times. Using a harness or baby sling can keep baby attached to you, but frees up your arms to get on with things. Some women prefer carrying their baby this way to pushing a pram outdoors too. For getting upstairs to your nursery, this is ideal as you have a hand free for holding onto the banister.

Every good nursery needs accessories to stimulate the baby and keep him interested in his surroundings. Soft toys and mobiles are great for holding their attention. They also help the baby learn more about their environment. You can program some mobiles with your favourite songs.

Tactile fabrics are key to their learning at this stage. They feel their way around the world. Lights and sounds soon take over as their main focus, though. Don’t forget that baby needs to be monitored while Mum is out of the room. A good monitor can include sensors for how much the little one is moving too.

I love it when I get to buy baby things for friends. For family, I like to do a little more. Furnishing the nursery is a challenge. It can be a refreshing change for new mums to receive something like this instead of more baby clothes.

My Essential Child Proofing Tips

Even though my own little one isn’t little anymore, there are always younger members of the extended family about the house. I remember when my daughter was just toddling how frightening it could be as I saw her heading toward a hazard. It doesn’t matter how careful you are; accidents can still happen. But you can dramatically reduce the risk of injury with these helpful tips.

When it comes to hot drinks, any Mum with little ones knows they can be so dangerous. Cups are easy to knock over, and kids can grab your arm at just the wrong moment to have hot tea spilt all over both of you. I took to drinking from a cup with a rubber lid on. It turned it into a cup like those takeaway cups from the coffee shops. If it went over, hardly anything spilled out. Sipping also prevented my face getting scalded if I got a toy thrown my way!

Portable heaters are so dangerous, but in the winter you often find you need them. To prevent burning, always cover up your fires, radiators and heaters. An electric heater cover can save little fingers from the pain and scarring that comes with touching such hot things. Keep the cables coiled up out of the way too. If you can, try to keep the heater away from the play area.

Kitchen cupboards are so easy to get into. They are just the right height for babies and toddlers to open. There are plenty of different child proof mechanisms to stop them being opened so easily. I keep heavy pots and pans stacked up in some. There are bleaches and cleaning products in another, and even a sewing kit. I can’t bear the thought of my child getting access to those things. A stair gate across the kitchen door is a great way to avoid all kitchen accidents for your children.

You hear so many awful stories about kids drowning in the press. It certainly made me extra vigilant at bath times. Baths are so slippery when the kids have made it bubbly, though. When my daughter was little, there was always one of those rubber mats in the bottom of the tub to stop her sliding about. If I ever forgot anything for her bathtime once she was in the tub, I remember taking her out to come get it with me. I’m glad I was vigilant.

In the bedroom, there have always been a few toys to play with. But I selected them carefully to avoid any harm when I wasn’t in the room. Nothing small, and nothing that could break off or tear. The one thing I absolutely had to do in the bedroom was to remove the cord for the blinds. They are a terrible hanging hazard, and children have died from becoming entangled in them.

There are so many hazards at home, but you can help reduce how dangerous they are with a little extra vigilance. I hate that sensation of adrenaline rushing around as you see your child about to touch something dangerous. Child proof your home today, for safety sake.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Tricks To Save Money Everday

Life has become so expensive! The cost of everything just keeps going up. And it’s not just the treats and luxuries that cost more. Even the cost of essentials like bread keeps going up at an alarming rate. Still, there are some ways to change little things in your lifestyle to save your money. I’ve created a little list of ideas for you to try:

Energy Bills
Every time you need to replace a light bulb, change it for an LED one. They use very little electricity, and can shine very brightly. Almost any shape bulb or fitting has an LED equivalent.

When it comes to your heating bill in winter, you can turn the thermostat down a degree without noticing the change very much. Move around a little more, and you may be able to turn it down another notch. Time to dust off the Wii Fit!

We all need little treats and rewards in life. Some, like smoking, can be very expensive. If you are a smoker, you can cut the cost of your habit by turning to vape juice and an e-cigarette pack.

If you are more of a chocoholic, then buy some chocolate moulds. The smaller the shape, the better. Now you can melt your favourite choccy bar down into smaller shapes so you eat less at a time. That bar should last a lot longer, with a little willpower.

Walking or cycling cost absolutely nothing to do. Grab yourself a good backpack, and walk to the shop. You can carry a few days supplies in the backpack and get some exercise at the same time.

Using the bus is often cheaper than the combined cost of petrol and parking for the city centre. If you have to commute by car, why not park a couple of blocks away from the office and walk in from there? It could soon add up in petrol savings.

Fresh food has become quite expensive, but frozen food is still substantially cheaper. They hold their freshness for months rather than just a few days too. Batch cooking is a great way to save a fortune. Cook five or six portions at a time and freeze the rest. You can then microwave yourself a meal in minutes next time you’re short on cooking time.

Often, good quality jars of sauce like pasta sauce are on offer in bulk. They can be cheaper than buying the ingredients yourself too.

If you are prone to walking out of the store with lots of ‘bargains’ then why not restrict your buying with a list. If you are looking for a top, then only buy a top that fits the bill. Retail therapy can lead to big expenses. Save the blowouts for the sales season.

Saving money is never going to be easy, but it can be done with a little work. Simple ideas like saving your change can help you put some cash away for a rainy day too. See how much you can save next month by trying out one of these awesome ideas.

As a side note, it's always a great idea to keep an up to date log of all your outgoings and bills each month. I highly recommend using a computer programme such as Excel for this but if you aren't familiar with this then a good notebook and a calculator will do the job just as well.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

My Dancing Days Are Over...

This is a sad post to be writing. Well, from my perspective anyway.

On the 30th July 2015, a relatively normal day by all accounts, my life drastically changed. I didn't win the lottery or get offered a job in New York...i fell down the stairs at home.

In a crumpled heap at the bottom of my staircase, i felt the most horrific pain in my right ankle and right wrist. I'm not the type of person to over dramatise pain but this was next level painful for me. Carl decided i had to go to hospital just to check i was ok, the massive swelling on my ankle and the fact i could barely walk didn't really phase me too much and the fact my wrist didn't hurt anymore, i thought i would just be told to put ice on it and it would be fine. 

After a consultation with a lovely nurse in triage then an x-ray, i was told that i had broken my ankle...but not on this occasion. I had done it many years ago and it had never healed. Erm what? I have only ever broken my arm and my toe, i never had any recollection of breaking my ankle but there it was in black and white right infront of me saying that i had done it 10+ years ago. The nurse said i had re-fractured it and also snapped all the ankle ligaments for good measure. She put a bandage on it and gave me crutches and made an appointment for me to go to the fracture clinic the next day.

Cue the next day, me and Carl hobble into the fracture clinic where i'm told by a specialist that i will need to take time off work and i will need physiotherapy. Great.

They slapped an snkle brace on me and off i went thinking  "Meh 2 weeks off work then i'll be fine"....wrong again.

It's been 2 weeks since it happened so i went to my GP like i was told for the fortnightly check up before i go back to hospital at 4 weeks. What he told me has changed everything...i will have this injury for life.

Because of the previous break that never healed and now it has re-broke and the ligaments are torn, my right ankle is now a weak spot. I can never wear heels again, running won't be happening again for a long time and there is a strong possibility i will need surgery to have pins put in to stabilise it.

I'm absolutely gutted. I love wearing heels and have had a dream of owning a pair of Louboutins, that's all a pipe dream now. I may never walk properly again, the possibility of always walking with a slight limp worries me immensley.

Looking back over the years, i used to cockle on this ankle all the time and it never dawned on me there was an underlying issue. Even though i never cockled on my left ankle it still didn't dawn on me.

Something that seems so minor has created no end of problems for me. When i fall pregnant again, how will the weight of carrying a baby affect my ankle? I'll be limping down the aisle when i get married, as for dancing? That's a distant memory now.

But alas as with most things in life, there is always someone worse off than yourself and i should think myself lucky that considering i did a Superman down the stairs, i was lucky to come away with just a broken ankle rather than something alot more serious.

Still, i'm gutted about the shoe situation and i'm going to go sit in a corner holding my shoe collection and cry quietly now.

My Top Tips for a Holiday in the Vegas of England - Blackpool!

Photo source - Pixabay

What do you mean you’ve never been to Blackpool?! It’s supposedly the Las Vegas of England, and you can’t get a better accolade than that. Over the last few years, this coastal resort has been suffering. But now, tourists are remembering what it was they loved about the area. People are flocking back and for good reason. Over twelve million people visited last year, making it the number one holiday destination in the UK. If you’ve never been, I’m about to show you what you’re missing. Here are my top tips for Blackpool.

Book Early
As it’s such a popular holiday destination, it’s a good idea to try and book your accommodation early. Around three months in advance is advised, if you want to get the best deals on room rates. Make sure you read through all of the reviews for any hotels you’re looking at. While some may have some great rates, they may be cheap for a reason. Weigh up whether you’d rather spend a little bit more for some extra luxury. Or, whether you’re happy to slum it. One more thing, check the location of your hotel. The closer you get to the beach, the more expensive it’s going to be. However, some are so far away you’d need a bus to get there!

Things to See and Do
Once you’ve booked your Blackpool accommodation up, it’s time to make a list of the things you want to see and do. This is the perfect holiday destination for a broad range of people. Families can have as much fun here as a group of friends on a hen do. Who needs to go to Tenerife when Blackpool is on your doorstep?! Here are some of my top picks for things to see and do:
  • Blackpool Tower - Of course, the most popular attraction in the town! You have to go to the top of the tower and see what Blackpool looks like from high above. The only downside is that it can get busy during peak season.
  • Pleasure Beach - It’s one of the largest funfairs in Britain, with a whole ton of rides and amusements. It’s not just for the kids, adults will have a lot of fun here as well.
  • See a Show - You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to the number of theatres in Blackpool. The Grand Theatre is a beautiful place to watch a show if you get the chance.

Eating and Drinking
It’s far cheaper to eat and drink in Blackpool than most other popular holiday destinations. In fact, it’s about half the price of London! It’s probably why you get so many groups of friends heading to this seaside resort. If you can’t find where to eat in Blackpool, then you’re probably not looking hard enough. There are literally dozens of incredible restaurants all through the town. Some of the best will be located in prime positions, such as by the piers. Bars and clubs can be found all around the main town centre as well. If you fancy a night out, you won’t be disappointed.

You’re now all set for your trip to the Vegas of England. Okay, so there may be fewer dancing girls and casinos, but Blackpool is still a thrill ride. Enjoy!