Friday, 22 July 2016

Outdoor Gift Ideas for The Kids This Summer

Entertaining the kids over summer

Summer’s here again, and school’s out – how on earth will our kids entertain themselves on those weeks off? Well, we have a few ideas for popular summer gifts to keep them occupied active over their school holidays.

Keeping Cool in the Summer
Keeping to the shade and staying indoors may bore the socks off some children in the scorching heat, so keep them cool with water play toys like slides and paddling pools.
You may balk at the idea of a loaded water pistol in the hands of your child, but this toy will be responsible for hours of fun, as well as getting them exercising and staying cool in the heat.

Other water toys they’ll love:
·         Slide and splash water slides – a dash of washing-up liquid will get them sliding along gleefully for hours.

·         Inflatable toys of their favourite characters – Frozen, Minions and other kids’ characters are a real hit already this summer.

·         Floating water sports balls - these are great for paddling pools or taking to the beach.

Out and About
If all things on wheels are a hit with the kids, keep them occupied with a pair of roller skates, a skateboard or a scooter. These will tend to set you back less than a bicycle or a trike, so they can make ideal gifts on a budget and also take a lot of beating, so they’ll last the test of time.

If you’re concerned about bumps and scrapes as kids inevitably will come home with after a day out playing with their friends, you can find a lot of nifty safety gear as well as the skates themselves at Proline Skates who specialise in kids’ items.

For the Creative Child
For the more creative and quiet younglings, it can sometimes be a little tricky getting them to play outside, but there are a lot of things you can do to encourage them.
If you’ve got a budding artist in the family, a colouring-in picnic blanket will spark their imagination and get them outdoors. If painting is their pastime of choice, a robust children’s easel will be a winner in the garden.

A classic childhood pastime for any child with an active imagination is the art of den building. Encourage their creative play with a way for them to build their own garden fort or castle whether they’re into princesses, pirates, or dungeons and dragons.

Even on a budget, keeping the kids occupied and outdoors this summer can be easily encouraged with the right choice of outdoor play ideas. Go on and treat them after their hard work at school this year. 

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Tiny Spare Room? These Home Hacks are for you

bedroom hacks

It can be difficult to get the best out of the smaller rooms in our homes, but this post aims to help you do just that with these expert space-saving ideas. Having decked out the smaller areas of our homes with mirrors and white walls in the hope they appear bigger, what else is there that can save space?

Get the Bed Sorted

The majority of spare rooms will be used as guest bedrooms, playrooms, nurseries or studies, so they have a lot of potential.

Dispense with divan beds and those with no under-bed storage  - they take up dead space that can be great for storage. Instead get yourself a bed with storage compartments built-in, or with space for storage bags or boxes underneath.

If you’re got kids of the right age, a bunk bed will be both exciting for them and give them a little extra area underneath. Getting a fold up or futon bed is a great alternative to a bulky permanent bed frame and is great for guests.

Upgrade Your Doors to Save Space

Some rooms are prevented from reaching their potential simply because of awkward doors or windows requiring opening space. You might be stuck with a single bed in your spare room because of an inconvenient door opening.

If you want to reduce the space taken up by internal doors, updating the style of doors or windows to those with less of an opening arc could mean you maximise your space; try bi-folding or sliding doors.

Storage and Shelving Hacks

Use your vertical space; we’re tempted to use floor-based storage as it’s very convenient, yet it takes up valuable room on the ground. Make the most of your wall space by utilising the top section of your walls; put in shelving above head height, instead of floor storage cabinets to give you more floor space.

Our ceiling and corner spaces are rarely well utilised in most homes, but there is a lot of potential there for storage. Make use of hooks and wall-mounted storage units to get any items or clutter out of the way. Corner cupboards and units sit well in awkward places, so can be a great solution for an irregular room.

With these simple tips, you’ll be on the way to getting the tiniest room in your house be a more usable space for whatever you’d rather use the room for, whether it’s a home gym, an office, a playroom, or a guest bedroom.

Why you Should Take the Time to Teach your Children about Fruit and Vegetables

Healthy kids food

Teaching your children about the importance of fruit and vegetables is essential. Not only will it give them a knowledge of how to be healthy and an education about which foods give them the essential nutrients they need to grow and develop, it also teaches them how to care and nurture things.
Here’s a few reasons why you should start growing fruit and vegetables with your children today:

School Influences
A lot of children start to become more selective about food when they get to a school age. As they spend all day with other children who may be picky about certain foods or eat a less balanced diet than themselves, this can sometimes rub off on children making them decide they don’t like certain food groups and won’t eat specific foods. In order to combat this, a good education about why we need different fruit and vegetables is important and ensuring that all their meals at home incorporate a healthy amount of fruit and veg is vital.

It’s Educational
The educational benefits of growing your own food and vegetables at home goes beyond learning about the different food groups. Teaching children how to care and look after something like a vegetable patch is a valuable life skill which they will hugely benefit from as they grow up. By giving your child their own project or singular vegetable or fruit to look after, monitor and care for they should really take an interest and begin to learn about where their food comes from. With  Premier Poly Tunnels you’ll be able to grow an amazing range of different vegetables easily.

Benefits of Fresh Produce
It has long been proven that eating fresh produce has many health benefits as the fruit and vegetables we get from supermarkets have a lot of contact with harmful pesticides. Vegetables which you can eat straight off of the plant always tend to go down well with kids, so go for things like tomatoes and strawberries, which are easy to grow and won’t go to waste.

Tasty Homemade Meals
By growing your own fruit and vegetables you’ll have easy access to amazing fresh produce so you can make tasty and nutritious homemade meals in no time. From fruit pies to tasty risottos and hearty stews, growing your own fruit and veg is a great way to teach your children cooking basics too and help to get them interested in keeping a healthy lifestyle

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Seconds Matter - World Arthritis Day

World Arthritis Day Rheumatoid Arthritis

For the last 10 years my Mother has been suffering the effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis, it started off as just a pain in one wrist, but over time it has progressed without her body. Today both wrists are effected and one has completely fused up. You can see the swelling that has now distorted her entire wrist, and it is now just a matter of time before the second wrist ensues the same fate.

There are good days and there are bad days, the bad days at the height of a flare up are the worst kind of days, and on occasion it has left her completely bed ridden because her knees are now so badly effected. There has been talk of potentially needing a complete knee replacement in the not too distant future which is of course a worry, but also offers some level of hope.

I have witnessed first hand just how painful life can be living with Arthritis, it slows every day life right down. It stops you getting out and living the life you want to lead to the fullest potential, but it's not because she doesn't want to do these things, it's because she physically can't.

Premier Bathrooms are raising awareness for World Arthritis Day that falls on the 12th October 2016, in the form of the Premier Bathrooms Second's Matter Campaign. The likes of you and I take everyday tasks for-granted, simply brushing our teeth without giving it a second thought, but what if even brushing your teeth became a challenge?

So I ask you, what does a second mean to you? Seconds soon amount to minutes and hours. For someone with arthritis it could mean that the slower pace to the bus station, could inevitably make them miss the last bus home. 

Premier Bathrooms challenged Nick to wear an arthritis simulation suit, while his twin brother John carried out his daily duties as usual in order to demonstrate how an able-bodied person copes when their mobility is suddenly restricted and taken away from them.

You can see how Nick got on below.

I watched this video and could instantly feel it tugging on my heart strings, for me this is all a little bit too close to home. It's a reality that I watch and often feel helpless too. I can't physically do anything expect offer a helping hand, but of course there is the frustration to my Mother when she long's to be able to do it all for herself and simply cannot. 

It set my mind to thinking about a family walk we did back in 2011. I was 35 weeks pregnant and some how found myself taking part in a gorge walk somewhere in Cornwall. It took us up steep slopes and around rockfaces, and although I was almost ready to pop (Leo arrived 4 weeks later!) I spent the entire time worrying about her falling and really injuring herself. I spent the walk closely watching her and making sure she was alright, the irony was everyone was more worried about my and my baby bump! She managed it all though and I could see just how proud she was at the end of the walk, proud but in some serious pain.

Arthritis is a debilitating and cruel illness that inflicts pain and stops you right in your tracks. It's progressive and floods your body like a dam breaking it's banks. You can donate to the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society and seeing all of the amazing work that they carry out by clicking here

Breaking Barriers

Aging is something that happens to everyone, we all like to think that we will age gracefully and without any real cause for concern, but we never really know what is down the road or around the proverbial corner as it may be, but one thing is for sure, growing old happens to the very best of us.

My Granddad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few year ago, and although it has progressed slowly, it is now coming to the point where he needs additional care. There are days when he is really lucid and he is having a good day, but there are equally days where he forgets almost everything because his short term memory has gone right out of the window. He lives alone in a residential home, they have wardon's between certain hours, but my good old Grampy likes to take himself off on long walks and he often gets himself lost. 

There have been instances where he has taken himself out for walks in the middle of the night and been found near where he used to live. He reluctantly sold the house he used to live in with his wife, because the sensible option was to move into a more sheltered home, but he never did accept that the house was gone and unfortunately thanks to his not so great memory, he wound back up there more times than I can remember. In fact when the new owners came to visit the property, they spoke to him about what they hoped to do with the garden, and my Granddad told them 'I would be more than happy to hire you to complete the work!' as he had forgotten that they were actually buying his home.

It's really sad to watch someone who was always so on the ball, so switched on to suddenly have their mind start to fail them. I can only imagine how frustrating it is for him. He laughs it off the best he can, but I know inside it must be really hard on him, especially now he is also suffering from other health problems that are stopping him looking after himself in the way he is accustomed.

It has come to the point where the family are now looking into additional care and Bathing Solutions for him, as he is struggling with bathing himself and personal care these days. Ultimately we need to know that he is safe and in an environment that there are trained people around him, to help him should he need it. My Granddad is as stubborn as they come (I have recently discovered where my own stubborn streak must have originated from), and even when he has had help coming into the home, he will do absolutely everything before they arrive so that they don't have to do anything, because in his mind he is demonstrating that he doesn't need the extra assistance.  

It's sad to watch little bits of his personality fading away, watching the light in him loose some of it's glow, but he's still with us and sharing his pearls of wisdom. The beautiful thing is, that his long term memory is still incredible, and he has some fantastic stories to tell, stories that only he can. In 2016 people are living so much longer than before, and for one of the first times in history the senior generation is surpassing that of the youth, with those 65+ accumulating to 15.6% of the global population by 2050! 

Older generations are living longer due to advances in the healthcare system and standards of living have improved, which of course means that the life span for us all becomes longer. It begs the question though, 'why does society often cast off it's seniors as 'incapable' or 'unable' to learn new skills?'

Bathing Solutions are running Breaking Barriers, a campaign that aims to break these social barriers, because times really are changing, and it's high time that our mindsets changed too. It's time to break down the stigma that we have built up and actively encourage one another to get inspired and keep learning!

I like to think that my own Granddad is #BreakingBarriers in his own way, and really he is. Underneath everything that is going on with him at the moment, he still loves a good joke, and you just try to keep him from doing what he likes, when he likes! 

The expense of moving house

New home

The house move is drawing ever closer and I still have so much I need to do, so much that I need to purchase in preparation for living in a new home. It's all going to happen so quickly over the next few weeks, even though at the moment it feels like the world is turning ever slower as we wait to pick the keys up at the end of this month. 

A house move requires a substantial amount of money, especially when you have to purchase everything from scratch, and especially since this time it is just going to be Leo and I living together (Plus the puppy of course once we have everything sorted!). This means I have a very long shopping list on my hands before I even start thinking about everything that will need to be done when I have moved in. 

Thankfully it is an investment and means that I will only have to shell out for it once, and we will be good to go. I know right now that I don't have the funds for all of this right now. I have been selectively buying bits and pieces over the last few months in readiness, but the items above are things that I cannot do until we have the keys, and can pop in and out as we need to. I am due to get the keys on the 22nd of July, but that really means that all of this is going to have to be purchased all in one go, and that is going to be an expense that really takes it's toll on my bank account.

Right now I am busy getting as much work as I can physically take on in order to have some pennies to flash at this rather impressive list of items. I am looking at other options right now, ways in which I can achieve the same objective but in different ways. One of these alternative ways to just give me a helping hand is cash lender Vivus, who would allow me to borrow from £100.00 - £300.00 which would tide me over until I get paid. 

I have been using local selling sites to see if I can get any deals on the white good's, and seemingly found a brand new Beco Washing Machine (Still in it's wrappers) for £160.00 instead of paying over £250.00 for it from the retailers. That has really helped me in terms of bringing the over all costs down, and thankfully I have already got the majority of my house purchases packed away into boxes.

Every time I tick an item off of my shopping list, I feel a little more pressure vanish off my shoulders. The best advice I can give anyone planning a house move in the not so distant future (or ever for that matter) is make a list of everything that you need. Absolutely everything, right down to the cutlery and anything else you might be thinking about purchasing. Start purchasing items as far ahead as you can, find innovative ways to store everything and start getting boxes ready to put things away. Keep purchasing everything that you can until you have the items that you can only get once you have moved in. 

This will remove the stress and really help you stick to a budget, but it also means that you can purchase the things that you want instead of the more basic options. Although I have had a budget to keep in mind, because I have spread the cost over a number of months, it has allowed me to purchase all of the things I have loved or liked, over the other options available. 

Now although I still have a list of expensive items that I need to purchase, I know that it could have been a lot more pricier had I still got to get my hands on everything that I already have packed away ready to go.  

How to become a Disney Princess

Girls of all ages want to secretly - or not so secretly - be Disney princesses. For those of us who grew up with these fun and feisty heroines, the appeal of Disney-styled royalty never wanes.

Little girls especially love to be able to channel their inner Aurora, Anna, Jasmine or Rapunzel and wear wonderful outfits and styles that allow them to feel as beautiful as these animated movie stars. Luckily, Strawberry Children help to make this dream a reality.
Disney Princess

So how can your little one enjoy her moment in the limelight? With a little imagination, creativity and help from your favourite designer brands, it is easy. Here is our list of 'rules and regulations' for creating your own Disney Princess at home.

Disney Princess
Every Princess Needs a Fabulous Ball Gown

It’s an essential of course! A Disney Princess has to have a wonderful ball gown, and we aren't talking cheap dressing-up box materials here. 

For your little lady to really channel her inner princess, she will need a perfect party frock that can be worn beautifully to a range of occasions. Features to look out for include sash ties, puff sleeves and large netted skirts for ultimate twirling. Take Belle for example, her ball gown is stunning and her tiara looks beautiful.

Disney Princess
Beauty Sleep Is Essential
A little hot milk or a hot chocolate before bedtime won't go amiss - the warm milk is a wonderful natural sleep aid and will help her to drift off.

Aurora showed us in Sleeping Beauty that it is essential to get sufficient sleep to look and feel on top form and look at how wonderful she looks.

Disney Princess
Have a Wonderful Coat
Smart Disney heroines know to wrap up when it's cold - just look at Anna in Frozen! Even in the warmer months, a cover-up is very useful and needs to look suitably glamorous, of course.

Disney Princess

Princess-Worthy Hair
Every princess worth her salt has beautiful hair. Whether your daughter has enough of it to create a stunning Rapunzel-like plait or a shorter chic do that will look princess-worthy with a glamorous headband 'Jasmine-style', having hair accessories will make her day and help her to really stand out.

Disney Princess

Beautiful Glass Slipper
Last but not least, Cinderella had her famous glass slippers and your little girl can have her very own too. Get yourself ready for the ball with Vivienne Westwood kids shoes all pearly and glittery and perfect for any ball. Don’t forget about that midnight chime and make sure you're ready for hometime.