Friday, 20 May 2016

Home energy hacks: 5 ways to reduce your household costs

Running a household takes a lot of energy and if you’re not savvy, your heating and electricity bills can soar. Luckily though, there are some relatively simple steps you can take to bring your spending down. Keep reading for five tips that could help you to reduce your home energy costs.

1. Consider switching your energy supplier 
Firstly, it’s vital that you make sure you’re getting a competitive deal from your energy supplier. Just by switching to better tariffs, people often find they can save hundreds of pounds per year. This is true whether you’re connected to the mains or you’re one of the four million off-grid households and you use liquid petroleum gas (LPG) for heating and cooking. Swapping to a new provider may be easier than you think. For example, LPG providers Flogas offer to contact your existing supplier and arrange the switch on your behalf. Transitions like this can be completed within a couple of weeks and they may make a significant dent in your energy bills.

2. Switch to LEDs 
If you currently use traditional incandescent light bulbs, now’s the time to replace them. Did you know that swapping just one 60-watt incandescent bulb for an LED can save you over £7 a year? Just imagine how much money you can save if you replace all the bulbs in your home. It’s true that LEDS are more expensive to purchase in the first place, but they have a much greater lifespan than incandescents and so offer impressive value for money. It’s also important to remember to turn your lights off when they’re not needed.

3. Block draughts and insulate

We might be steadily approaching summer, but it’s still worth thinking about draughts and insulation. By making sure your home is more effective at trapping warmth and keeping the cold out, you can make your property more energy-efficient year-round - and this will be especially important during the colder months. Simple things like fitting draught-proofing strips around window and door frames, blocking chimneys that are out of use and using draught excluders on the bottom of doors can make a big difference. If your budget will stretch to it, you might also want to consider installing loft and wall insulation.

4. Lower your thermostat 
Just turning your thermostat down by one degree could cut your bills too. In fact, a typical home can save as much as £90 a year by taking this step. It might mean you have to wear an extra layer while you’re lounging around, but it’s surely worth it if it makes it easier to balance your budget. It’s also a good idea to turn radiators down in rooms you don’t often use, and try to make sure your heating is turned off when you’re not at home.

5. Switch to more energy-efficient appliances 
When it’s time to replace your appliances, look out for versions with high energy-efficiency ratings. Using the greenest models can save you a surprising amount. For example, expect to shave nearly £40 a year off your bills with the right washing machine, while efficient fridge-freezers and tumble dryers can save you around £62 and £100 a year respectively. Everything from your TV to your kettle has an impact on your electricity bill, so make sure you’re shrewd in your selection.

By following energy-saving advice like this, you could make major savings - leaving you with extra cash to spend on your family or put aside for a rainy day.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Tips to help your family stay healthy

Stay Healthy

The well-being of you and your family is paramount. So, to ensure everyone in your household remains happy and healthy all year round, take a look at the following handy tips.

Keep your medicine cabinet fully stocked 
While you may visit your GP in some instances, more often than not, the most common illnesses can be treated from the comfort of your own home. To make sure you’re prepared for whatever may be thrown your way, you might want to keep your medicine cabinet fully stocked. From pain relief tablets, to cough syrups, to indigestion remedies, to allergy medicines, there is a whole array of products you could stash in the cupboard in case you or a member of your family are struck down with ill-health. You can access these treatments from your local chemist or online retailers such as Lloyds Pharmacy.

Stay active 
While it can be tempting to stay in and cosy up on the sofa with your loved ones, a lack of physical exercise can wreak havoc on your health. Instead of finding an excuse to stay in, why not embrace the fresh air and take the family outdoors for some light exercise? You could go on a leisurely walk or take the children to a nearby park.

Wash your hands regularly 
While it may seem like a fairly basic step in your hygiene routine, washing your hands regularly with hot, soapy water can help prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. Encourage your kids and other family members to thoroughly rinse their hands after going to the toilet, as well as before and after eating food. You could even keep a bottle of antibacterial gel to hand for when you’re on the go.

Eat healthily 
Unhealthy comfort food can be alluring. However, your family’s diet is an important part of staying healthy. Make sure you are fuelling your brood with nutritious foods, such as fruit and vegetables, to boost their energy and keep their immune systems fighting fit.

Get plenty of sleep 
Ideally, you should aim for you and your family to get a substantial amount of sleep each night so that you feel more energised during the day. Adults should get up to nine hours, while school age children require an average of 10 hours per night. Getting enough shuteye is vital if you want to keep your loved ones healthy, and a lack of slumber could leave them feeling tired
and irritable, and hinder their attention levels at school.

Adopting some of these simple measures should help keep you and your family fit, happy and healthy throughout the year.

Getting Ready for Summer

Rape Flowers

I for one have been thoroughly enjoying the sunshine and warmth that has appeared over the last few weeks. It has been the perfect opportunity to pop the roof on the convertible, turn the tunes up and even make a very rare appearance at the town's popular beer garden. It has seen the hot pants being pulled from the very depth of the draw and the sunglasses being worn as a staple accessory. Yes on those days that the sun has shone, it has really felt like Summer is finally here.

Now although today as I sit and write this reflective post about how the sunshine brightened my day, as I look out of the window I see that the skies have opened up once again and larger than life raindrops are falling to the ground and cascading into the awaiting puddles below. It's been like this all day as it happens, and it meant that my morning run had to be cancelled and swapped to a indoor leg work out that I am currently feeling the rewards for in the form of self inflicted pain! 

The rain continues to fall but the garden looks as though it is enjoying the wet day, it seems to be greening up right before my very eyes which will only aid those sunny days that we do get to spend outside in the summer sun. In fact with the thought of all of those summer evenings spent outside with a glass of Pimms in hand, I can feel myself getting excited for the months ahead. 

Now is the perfect time to start thinking about getting the garden ready for those warmer days. After the colder months that we are now leaving behind us, I know that our garden could definitely benefit from some T.L.C and the removal of a pesky weeds that have made an appearance. It just so happens that over the next few months, Leo and I will be preparing for our very own home. This of course means that we will be looking at getting our own garden together (Hopefully in time for Summer!)

Below I have shared a few of my favourite garden additions that I would love to see in my own garden one day. 

Shop the look
Bottom Left: Mosaic Fire Pit

Summer Garden

Hopefully over the next few months Leo and I will start to see everything coming together, and with that I am hoping that the sunshine will take hold and give us a summer to remember. 

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Spending the kids inheritance

Up until last August, I was heading out to work on a weekly basis. The time that I was away, Leo spent time with his Granny, my Mother. As much as Granny loved that time with Leo, there is no denying that she certainly had her hands full with that little man of mine. He definitely gave her the run around on more than one occasion... I will always remember that one time I got home from work and found my 2 year old attempting to make his own toast...
Leo has always been a bit of a live wire in that sense.

Of course I was always aware of the fact that Granny wasn't getting any younger, but the fact remained I had to get up each day and go to work, and it was nice to know that Leo was happy and safe in the care of a family member. When my job fell through last year, I didn't rush into finding another job, and I sort of fell into life as a full time blogger. This meant that I got to be with Leo while he was at home, and it also gave us the remainder of the Summer holiday together before he started school in the September. While this was absolutely amazing for me, it also meant that Granny got lots more free time, now that she didn't need to spend her retired days watching my spawn! 

It's no surprise now that both Granny and Granddad have been enjoying lots of holiday's that I can only dream about...*Sigh*. Over the course of this last year, they have jetted off all over the place, Iceland, Mauritius and the most recent... The one that I am insanely jealous of is their Saga trip to Cuba.


They got picked up early in the morning and were chauffeur driven to the airport and treated like complete V.I.Ps, and they had a fabulous fortnight travelling around and seeing the unspoiled country. The photos they showed me were just stunning and Cuba is definitely on my must visit list! 

My parent's like to refer to their luxurious holiday's as spending the kids inheritance, and judging by how they leave no box un-ticked in their quest to conquer the world.. I would say they are doing a very good job. They are currently looking to book their next trip... On one of the Danube River Cruises which would see them setting off on an adventure of a lifetime on Europe's Second largest river. Napoleon is said to have described the Danube as 'the Queen of Europe's Rivers'. It's not hard to envision why when you think that flows through 11 countries and 18 territories!

Danube River

The package that they have been considering is nothing short of amazing, The Danube Delta Odyssey is exclusive to Saga customers, which means over 50's only (can you imagine no children running around!?) and highlights the stunning scenery of the Danube as it winds it's way towards to the black sea.... 

It's nice to see my parents taking some time out and enjoying their later years together. I sit back and eye ball them with green eyed jealousy, but under that jealously of me wanting to do all of these amazing and wonderful things, is a big smile that they are seeing the world and taking some well deserved time out.  

Monday, 9 May 2016

Amalfi Coast: The Best Family Trip

Amalfi Coast

Situated in the West of Southern Italy, the Amalfi Coast is certainly renowned worldwide as a plush haven frequented by celebrities and the cream-of-the-crop of society. But it is also a popular destination for all families from any social strata, and is admired not only for its wonderful sun-filled sandy beaches, 2-5 star resorts/motels, holiday villas for rent, and the splendours of its numerous UNESCO-protected World Heritage Sites (Italy itself lists 50 sites out of almost 1000 worldwide) but also for its cosmopolitan character and diversity of its natural habitats and local, multicultural folklore and traditions. Family-friendly is the word in the Amalfi Coast, because by tradition Italians are very attached to family values and this may possibly derive from a long legacy of respect for their ancestors (reminiscent of the ancient Romans who also practiced the cult of ancestor worship). For this and many other reasons, it is a great place to take your kids for a fun-filled exciting and educational experience, where they will also be able to interact locally with other families and get to play with other children in the many parks and playgrounds and in the many hotels/motels around the coast.  

Filled with natural wonders, bays and secluded coves, promontories, citrus and olive groves, vineyards and local farmland as well as ancient monuments and spectacular scenic views of the Tyrrhenian Sea, and with over 11,200 hectares stretching between the Gulf of Naples and the Gulf of Salerno, its 16 communes set in the province of Salerno have their own unique customs that allow you to experience the cultural traditions of the civilizations that settled or occupied Italy for over 3000 years.  

In order to make your trip more comfortable and pleasant for the whole family, you could rent a Mercedes Viano through for example at any location in Italy at convenient prices  and start a scenic, luxurious road trip to Naples’ Aquarium (the oldest in Europe holding 200 species of fish and plants), or visit the historical rail cars and engines of Naples’ National Railway Museum, which are a wonder to behold for kids of all ages. At Pompeii they will certainly be amazed as history unfolds before their very eyes, with the preserved bodies of the victims of the vulcanic eruption and lava of Vesuvius that destroyed the city centuries ago. 


At Amalfi your kids can also learn about history, and the artistic and content of its Romanesque Cathedral and its oriental-inspired Cloister of Paradise will surely not disappoint them as it seems right out of a fable-book. Step back to the time of the Arab occupation and travel to the town of Cetara with its splendid Saracen Tower. Head over to Positano beach, so you and your kids can unwind from the travel and play on the golden sands or swim around safely under the watchful eye of life-guards. And do not forget to let your your kids enjoy the spectacle given by the colored ceramic tiles that cover the Church of San Giovanni Battista and the Arciconfraternita dell’ Annunziata e del Rosaria in Vietri Sul Mare, considered to be the ‘Cradle of Majolica.’

Friday, 6 May 2016

Spring has sprung

River Avon Evesham

It's hard to believe that we are well into May already. All of a sudden it really does feel like Spring has arrived, after months upon months of dreary cold weather, the sun is finally shining and sharing it's warmth here in the UK.

It's not just the months that are flying by though, right now it feels like my whole life is on fast forward. If time carries on at such a pace it wont be long before I am applying anti-wrinkle cream and hunting out the finest incontinence products! You see it has been all go around here for the last couple of months now as we prepare for a house move, and Leo's upcoming birthday next month, it's safe to
say that these next few months are going to fly by equally as fast.

Leo has just informed me that this year he would like a Bowser Castle cake for his 5th Birthday, and today I have spent the last few hours on Pinterest trying to find the easiest design to try and re-create. It's a routine I go through each and every year, Leo picks the design and I try to re-create the cake in the easiest manner and usually add my own touches. Last year Leo set his heart on a Mario Kart Cake, and after hours spent in the kitchen, many a tantrum with the icing not going as it should... I presented Leo with his birthday cake on his big day.

Mario Kart Birthday CakeMario Kart Birthday Cake

Why do I get the feeling that a Bowser cake is going to make me want to pull my hair out all over again?

Alongside the birthday planning I have of course been putting a lot of thought into the impending move. There are no set dates just yet, but I have been busy getting all of the household items that Leo and I are going to need when we do eventually move. When we moved back to the family home in the June of 2014, we brought all of our house items back with us, the majority of which was stored in the garage stacked up to the ceiling. Having recently inspected the likes of the sofa and other items, it became clear that they weren't going to be making the move with us. 

This prompted a mass garage clear out, and I spent 3 full days gutting the garage. I have become a regular at the local tip, but my efforts have meant that there is ample space to start purchasing all of the new items we need for our new home. eBay has become my favourite app, even topping the likes of Facebook and Twitter, and it has helped me find some real bargains including a rather lovely corner sofa that most certainly did not break the bank! 

It is all go at the moment, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Leo and I have so much to look forward to, and if all of this wasn't enough on our plate... When the move does happen, we plan on adding a puppy to the mix. After all... I do need a running partner for those early morning runs I have been heading out on! 

Watch this space...

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

We're going on a summer holiday

As I sit with a coffee in hand and the laptop perched on my knee, I stare out into spring. It really has arrived now, bringing with it sunshine and crystal blue skies. This afternoon I felt my winter coat starting to feel that little bit too warm as I joined my fellow Mum's on the ritual that is the school run. As I looked around I realised that most people, like myself, still had their winter clothing on, some, a small few as it were, were embracing the sunshine with short sleeves and tank tops. It got me thinking about the Summer months that are really only just around the corner, would we be in luck this year? Would the sun carry on shining? Would the temperatures rise and bring with it a real summer?

One can dare to dream and dream I will, you see for while I dream, I can justify the summer clothing wishlist that is coming together with each passing day. Its just 5 weeks until the entire family jet off to Greece for a weeks break, and although I already have a rather generous selection of clothing...A girl can never have enough, especially when there is a House of Fraser Sale over at Love the Sales... It would be rude not to have a little look right?

House of Fraser

Jane Norman Crochet Shorts, Pink £17.00 (Was £25.00) *Bottom Right*
Check Cotton Shorts £19.99 (Was £29.99) *Top Left*
Zebra print asymmetric midi dress, Zebra Print £130.00 (Was 199.00) *Centre*
Jane Norman PU Trim Skater Dress £30.00 (Was 45.00) *Top Right*
Embroided Crop Top, Black £24.50 (Was £35.00) *Bottom Left*

To say I am looking forward to getting away for a week is a little bit of an understatement. It has been such a crazy couple of months that I haven't really had chance to catch my breath, and I know that the time away with Leo is going to create some life long memories that we will both keep close to our hearts. Leo's excited about spending all day every day in the pool, and i'm excited to spend that time with him. Of course... I am also excited about getting to wear a pair of shorts without the fear of the British weather succumbing me to frost bite. 

For now though I am going to enjoy the rarity that is sunshine following weeks of endless rain and let my mind wander to warmer climates...