Friday, 27 November 2015

Lighting up the outside of your home in time for Christmas

Christmas Lights

There’s no better way to get in the Christmas spirit than by decorating your home with sparkly, glistening Christmas lights. From twinkling fairy lights, to a light up Santa Clause and fibrotic ornaments, making the outside of your home look fabulous in time for Christmas is just as exciting as decorating the indoors.

Start by putting on a Christmas cd or a Christmas movie on the TV and enjoy the afternoon making everything look pretty. You should even treat yourself and have a cheeky Christmas inspired hot chocolate whilst you untangle all the lights.  

Outside lights really let everyone know that you’re in the festive spirit. Often it can be a bit of a competition in some neighbourhoods as to who has the best Christmas lights, so it’s essential to make sure your display looks the best. It’s not really a competition, of course it’s about having Christmas cheer, but a strand of lights wrapped around a bush doesn’t always cut it.

What type of lights is best?
Icicle, flashing or colour changing? Picking the right lights can be hard.  Creating magical displays for children (and adults too) is all the range so go with whatever style first catches your eye. The outdoor lights from Lighting Styles are amazing with some awesome and individual LED outdoor displays that are sure to get the neighbours talking. Why not pop a baby light up polar bear on the doorstep or place some light up deer’s in the garden for a little something different.

If you do prefer something less flashy and want more traditional exterior lights, you can still spread a little Christmas cheer by making them look really impressive. Well placed icicle style lights always look really nice around the eves of a house and a classic light up wreath on the door keeps it classy.  If all else fails, a small tree on the step with a few lights around it always looks great and very welcoming.

For those of you who do want to be a bit more adventurous, experimenting with colourful lights is so fun and really brightens up your home. Christmas lights can bring others happiness too with so many different colours and styles to choose from an eclectic mix can bring a lot of joy to passers-by.

Whichever way you want to adorn your home with gorgeous twinkling lights be sure to make sure you’ve decorated safely whilst being as magical as possible this Christmas. 

How To Light Up A Family Bathroom

Family Bathroom

Changing up your lighting design is one of the most underrated ways to dramatically transform a space. When it comes to designing a family bathroom, the key word is compromise - the space has to work well for everyone, with safety being a top priority for young children. With some help from the selection of bathroom lighting on offer at Scotlight Direct, here’s a brief guide to a well-lit family bathroom.

Safety First
Bathroom lighting in particular has to meet certain UK safety standards regarding wiring - and you need to get it right first time. House to Home write that you should divide up your lighting into different splash zones - from zone 0 (submersed lighting) to zone 3 (surrounding areas). Always hire a professional electrician to do wiring jobs for you, and choose child safety features also, including a string switch long enough for little arms to reach.

Layer Your Lights
When it comes to creating a pleasant light, you need to consider the different areas and the natural light on offer - you want a bathroom to be welcoming and well-lit, without being harsh. Spotlights over the bath and shower are great for functionality, and for smaller bathrooms can double up as a main light. Flush fittings are ideal as a central, overhead light, as it directs the light across the room. That said, you may also want accent lighting for highlighting artwork or great architectural features - think a small sconce with an LED bulb for efficiency and style.

Vanity Lighting
From shaving to applying makeup, creating the right vanity lighting is a must in any bathroom. It should be soft, but mimicking natural light so you don’t miss any spots. For even lighting, Better Homes and Gardens advise placing two incandescent lights, adding up to 75 watts either side of your mirror. A great space saver is a lit mirror or bathroom cabinet, which are becoming increasingly affordable.

Finishing Touches

The great thing about designing a family bathroom is that many elements can be changed with minimal fuss as your children grow. Waterproof, battery powered night lights are a often a good addition to a family bathroom for midnight trips to the toilet, while ensuring a feeling of safety during bath time. A wise investment is a good quality step ladder, light enough that it can be moved easily, yet sturdy and supportive for two minutes of tooth-brushing time. Decor, from paint colours to towels, can be made stylish and fun for kids - using seaside or nautical themes, for example.

Parenting Problems: Choosing A Bed For Your Child

Little Tikes Car Bed

As an adult, bed shopping seems a fairly standard process: you measure your room, go to a store and have a lie down on some test beds, choose what you want and wait for it to arrive. Choosing a bed for your child is less easy - for one, it will have to last them years of growing. While there’s a lot more to consider, the process is pretty similar - just make sure that your child is involved in the choice too.

Safety First
The first consideration when buying a child’s bed should be safety - this is an investment for the next 10 to 15 years of their life, so choose wisely. If opting for a standard single bed, you have little to worry about. Cot-like frames are available if your child worries about falling out, and these can be customised over time. When choosing a bunk bed, keep an eye out for quality materials and EU quality standards marking to show it has passed the required safety tests.

Choosing A Mattress
Children are very resilient, but a softer mattress is more of a guarantee of them getting a good night’s sleep, while supporting their growing bones. The Sleep Council advise taking your child to a store to lie down on some of the test beds and see what they like, but remember to check in regularly over the coming years to ensure the bed still serves them well. After all, a teen who is suddenly 6ft tall won’t sleep well on a short bed.

Storage Solutions
Fortunately for parents, there are plenty of different beds that combine sleeping with storage, perfect for two children sharing a room or for small bedrooms. Kids Beds Online offer standard bunk beds for sharers; while their cabin or high beds have space underneath for a wardrobe or desk. Some cabin beds have shelving units on the bunk alongside the bed, creating a bedside table to safely keep a glass of water and a reading lamp.

Working Together

It’s hard to overstate the importance of working together with your child to make decisions about their comfort and future. Although it may well be your house, their sleeping space is their chance for privacy, and it’s important to respect that. You might find the decision making process easier if you narrow down a few choices and allow your child to choose from those, and be sure to let them choose their own bedding - for younger children this creates a sense of security, and for older kids it’s a chance to exercise their budding independence.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Keeping Your Home Clutter Free With Children

When you have babies, toddlers and small children, keeping your home clutter free can be a bit of a nightmare. As soon as your child is crawling, they’ll be exploring, meaning that nothing’s out of reach. This problem is worsened further when they learn to walk and climb, and you even have to be conscious about what you leave on counters. However, there are simple ways that you can help keep your home clutter free with proper planning. Here are just three…

Use Sideboards as Storage
Sideboards are great for storage. They only have minimal depth, so don’t come too far into the room, meaning the play area is left untouched. This is vital, as your children will still need room to play and explore, so you don’t want your room filled with obstacles or other slip and trip hazards. There are a number of different styles that you can opt for, too. This means that you can get the exact amount of storage you need.

A sideboard can be used in any room, and they’re a universal piece of furniture. This means that, not only will a sideboard look good in any room, but it’ll look great for years to come, too. A timeless classic.

Use Under Bed Space Creatively
The best storage space is the space that’s completely wasted in your home. Take under the bed, for example. This is often left completely blank, only gathering dust. However, when you begin to think creatively, you realise that you can use this space to your advantage. It can be a great place to store toys in tubs, or any seasonal clothes that won’t be used for the rest of the year.

Make Cabinets Your Friend
Regardless of the fact that clutter is bound to fill your home, the one area you should prioritise keeping clutter free is the bathroom, closely followed by the kitchen. This is because, in spite of childproof caps helping keep prying hands at bay, it’s still incredibly easy for children to get their hands on lotions and potions. Due to this, you need to make cabinets your friends, preferably with locks so that anything harmful can be kept at bay.

So there you have it, three simple ways that you can keep your home clutter free. Of course, there are hundreds more, but these are just our favourites. Use your imagination and you’ll be surprised at the simple ways you can find to help. With a child, your home will always be full of clutter, but every little piece of storage you can have will help manage the problem. Hopefully with these helpful tips, your days of stepping on left out toys and LEGO will be over. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

5 ways to fall asleep fast


Okay, so there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for insomnia, but there are many things you can try to help you to drift off quicker. Here are five:

1) Have a massage
If you have trouble switching off mentally when it comes to bedtime, focussing on the physical can help. You can hold a lot of tension in your body without even realising it and having a massage is a great way to release any pent up tightness and help you unwind both mentally and physically. You can ask your partner to give you a backrub, book an evening appointment with a professional therapist or even invest in an Adjustamatic bed with an in-built massage system.

2) Meditate
Meditation is not just for monks looking for enlightenment. Paying attention to the present moment, your thoughts, your feelings, bodily sensations and your surroundings can improve mental wellbeing and sleep quality. Known as ‘mindfulness’ meditation, this awareness involves lying or sitting in silence and concentrating on your breathing and other physical sensations. Whenever the mind wanders, attention should be brought back to these aspects. You can stream or download guided meditation sessions online if you need help getting started.

3) Talk more
Is a work dilemma, relationship problem or financial worry denying you entry to dreamland? While you’re unlikely to be able to find a solution in one evening, it may help you to bring your problems out in the open during the waking hours. Discussing your concerns with a trusted friend, relative or colleague could help to put your problems into perspective, identify potential solutions and lessen the burden of your worries in general. If you’re seriously anxious around bedtime and have no one to turn to, calling the Samaritans may help.

4) Forgo your evening tea/coffee
Caffeine addicts may not like the sound of the following piece of advice, but it should be heeded if you want to get shuteye faster. Caffeine is stimulant so should be avoided close to bedtime. Studies have shown that even an afternoon dose of caffeine can negatively affect sleep so if you really want to improve the quality of your nightly rest, you should try to wean yourself off eating or drinking caffeinated foods or beverages post-midday.

5) Wear earplugs
Does every whisper, bark or gust of wind sound like nails on a chalkboard once you’ve laid your head down? If you find it difficult to ignore noises, why not invest in a decent pair of earplugs? Whether it’s a snoring partner, loud neighbours or a busy motorway keeping you awake, earplugs can help to dampen irritating sounds, allowing you to drift off more easily.

These are just some of the ways you can improve your sleep hygiene and find your way to slumbertown faster. If you’re experiencing serious sleeplessness and think you need more help, however, be sure to consult your GP.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Fitness is a state of mind

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide results

Fitness has become an aspect of my life that I live, eat and sleep. If I cast my mind back 18 months and beyond, I have become a former shadow of the girl I used to be, but for all of the right reasons. I have found 'me' again, in a web of tangles that had kept me from thinking that it was ever possible to be 'just me' ever again.

Getting into fitness has opened up an entire new world to me. From different foods to try and discover that I enjoy, to stepping outside of the box that I had cornered myself into, afraid to try new things through fear of not succeeding, fear of being laughed at, fear of falling. This last year has shown me that I am more than capable. I just need to push my boundaries, stop caring about what anybody else thinks, and just do my thing, my way.

By doing this I have found that I can achieve the impossible. I can see results that I once thought were way out of my reach, I have made friends around the world. I have made friends in my local area, and it was just this evening that I was in the gym about to start my fitness class, when a lady approached me. I was a little taken a back as I wondered what on earth I had done, instantly fearing the worse. She apolagised for the random introduction and then asked if I was completing Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guides and sharing my progress on Instagram. Of course.. I am! It turns out that this lady was following my account online, and she was so shocked to see me in her local gym! It was perhaps one of the most surreal moments of my life...

I love discovering new fitness classes or events that shake things up a little bit, because there is nothing worse than getting stuck in a routine that gets stagnant. It put's you off, you loose your glow and then your motivation staggers. Switching things up gives you a bit of diversity and keeps everything fresh and current. 

RPM are a creative agency who have helped put on some fantastic fitness events for some of the leading brands. In a world where everybody is now thinking more about how they fuel their bodies, and of course working out, it is an incredible area to be active in. 

Reebok Cross Fit

The Reebok CrossFit Championships were incredibly exciting, it saw 500 elite athletes competing at nigh high impact events across Europe, with the Berlin final being broadcast live on Eurosport! Cross Fit is something that I myself have heard so much about in recent months, and it is definitely something I would love to try out. Maybe I will look into it a little more over the next couple of months and jig my routine around somewhat for the 2016.

Then of course there was the Weetabix Ultimate Sports Day that you must have heard about! Weetabix wanted to encourage children aged 6 through to 11 to get active and eat a nutritious, health breakfast. I am a huge lover of Weetabix and enjoy them with Coconut Milk and Honey. 

The sports days saw 400 children taking part at the Queen Elizabeth Park's Copper Box Arena, where they got to enjoy a traditional sports day with races and obstacle course creations. It even went on to see Mo Farah achieving a Guiness World Record for the 100m Sack Race!

Weetabix Ultimate Sports Day

I think it is so important to get children active from a young age, as a child I hated sport with a passion. My two left feet and my very apparent lack of co-ordination made exercise embarrassing, and it was for that very reason that I found it a real chore. It is that memory of P.E at school that gave me such a phobia of the gym, I guess that I was still pretty raw about being hit in the head with a rounders ball... Even all of those years later. 

My experience in fitness over the last year really has shown me that we all have the opportunity to work out and enjoy what we are doing. Take yourself out of the box, and tell yourself that you can do it, and you will do it.

Then watch as you show yourself how right you are. 

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

4 Things That Will Make You More Organised At Work

Work can be stressful, and when things get a little too busy, it is very easy for your workspace to become very messy in a short period of time. A cluttered desk is the last thing you need when you’re trying to focus, so being organised can be a great help. If you aren't usually an organised person but you would like to learn, here are four things you might want to add to your arsenal that will help you stay on top of things at work.

1. Pens

In a world populated by technology, pens can sometimes be hard to find, but they are still one of the most useful implements to have in the office. It is very easy to customise pens, so you can brand a batch of pens with your business name, or even your own name – the perfect solution if you are prone to losing things in the office! If this sounds like something you would like to do, specialists in personalising products, such as Adcall, can help you become just that little bit more organised with your stationery.

2. USBs

USBs are not only a quick and easy way to transfer files from one device to another; they can also be used to store and back-up important data. Set up a folder system through your USBs, or colour coordinate them so you don't get all your information confused. This is especially important if you move around or travel a fair amount for work. Alternatively, move all your local files into a cloud storage system so that you can access your important files from any internet-connected device.

3. Diary

A diary or a personal planner can work wonders for you – it will keep you focused and on task, and you won't forget important appointments or meetings. This can either be paper based or digital; choose whatever you think will be most effective for you and the way you operate. They are also great for writing out to-do lists, so you’ll know what tasks you have to do and when you have to finish them.

4. Filing Cabinets

If you deal with a lot of paper at your job, a filing cabinet and system will be very useful. It means you will be able to avoid piles of paper making a giant mess on your desk, and it also means you can find required documents with more ease.

There are a huge number of things you can use that will make you more organised at work, as well as a number of great strategies that you can employ to make these products even more effective for you. Industries can be quite different from one another, so what works in one office may not necessarily work for you. Keep this in mind if you are thinking about refining your organisational skills. It might be slow going at the beginning, but it will be worth it in the end.

Are you organised when you are at work? If so, what things do you think have made you more organised? If not, what have you seen others do that you think might work for you? Leave your thoughts and advice in the comments section down below.