My tips for healthy living

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I am not a health and fitness geek, but I have learnt over the last 12 months that I really need to look after myself!

Keeping Active

Staying active is really important! But, I think it is really important to find something you enjoy doing. I have never enjoyed running, but I kept running to the point where it was bearable. I just don’t love doing it! The truth is, I love the feeling when I stop, and I keep going as I hate not loving it, but I’ve never been a runner. So, I’m trying out different sports to see if there’s something I can love more.

I love the water. So swimming, sailing, kayaking or SUP and I am there! I enjoy walking, and will happily walk miles. I really want to give myself a challenge this year – but more on that another time!

Healthy Diet

My diet declined rapidly around the time I became a Mother. It is something I have to continually work on, or I fall back into bad habits. It’s difficult when you’re tired and there’s a chocolate bar at the checkout calling your name! Strangely I love eating vegetables and fruit, but I am terrible at snacking.

I try to eat quite a balanced diet, avoiding too much meat and dairy. So while I’m not Vegan, I tend to eat quite a lot of Vegan products. I prefer Vegan friendly chocolate, and I read dark chocolate is meant to be good for you too!

Gifts and healthy lifestyle.

I am terrible at asking for specific things when asked what I’d like as a gift. I always feel a bit awkward, having been raised fiercely independent! But I’m learning that it is OK to suggest e.g. vegan gifts. It’s a broad suggestion allowing them plenty of options (and I still get a surprise!).

Vegan Food Hamper

Healthy Living with Children

I have always encouraged the children to keep active. Weekends are spent out and about in woods or beaches – anything to keep them running about! Whether it is the park, swimming, or dancing around the lounge I think it is great to keep us all moving!

We are working on sugar intake, I think I do give them too much sugar at times. So I’ve started to take small steps. I’ve banned squash from the weekly shop and explained why – I think it’s important to explain that I’m not just being dull! Of course I’m not going to ban treats altogether! And with Easter almost upon us I’m well aware they will want chocolate – (so will I!) We were sent some Vegan Easter Eggs from Yumbles and they were popular with all of us! I didn’t even mention they were vegan!

Remember…

I’m the worst at “being too busy…” but I always remember to go for healthcare checks. I don’t think anyone enjoys going, but I see it like an MOT for me. I plan appointments for days when I have childcare, and if I have to cancel, I re-book straight away.

Cooking with duck

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I have always thought duck was difficult to cook with, and as such avoided buying it. I prefer the flavour and texture of duck to other meat. It has a much stronger flavour than chicken or turkey, I also find that I can’t eat too much of it. ! I had thought that duck was a fattier meat than chicken, but then I read this;

…a skinless duck fillet has less calories and less than half the fat of a skinless chicken fillet ­(a skinless duck fillet has 92kcal and 1.3g of fat per 100g compared to a skinless chicken fillet that has 120kcal and 3.2g of fat per 100g)
https://www.gressinghamduck.co.uk/about-us/the-duck-people

Which made me think I ought to try duck again, but where to start cooking it? I am not the best in the kitchen!

Image: Gressingham Duck

Gressingham Duck has made cooking duck really simple. Their Bistro range, takes the stress out of cooking duck, you simply pop the try straight into the oven. There’s no need to prepare the meat, add sauces, or seasoning – it is all done.

I served the Duck Breasts in Plum Sauce on a bed of noodles and stir fry vegetables. This was perfect as a quick dinner, but could easily have been served as a special dinner for two.

I was impressed with how easy it is to cook, and that the meat was really tender. The whole family enjoyed the meal!

Having introduced the family to duck using the Bistro range, I felt braver to try cooking duck myself. I’ve not tried cooking a whole duck yet, although that is on my list for Easter now! Instead I tried cooking duck breasts. It was so simple to sear them in a pan and then pop them into the oven until cooked. It was so simple.

Cost, I thought duck was quite expensive so had never thought about adding it to our shopping list. A pair of Gressingham duck breasts cost about £8, so it isn’t a cheap option, however I do feel it is worth it for adding variety to our diet.

Which 8 man family tent?

Last year after a single holiday, the decision was made to sell it on. It was a fabulous tent, loads of living space, but the sleeping pods were small. It just didn’t work for us. We have taken our tents camping in Europe for several years, so our tent is an investment!

I had chatted to various camping friends about their recommendations, and there were varying opinions on air-beam tents. They always came up as part of the conversation, but people seemed to have differing opinions on whether you could buy a reasonably priced air-beam tent.

The benefit of an air-beam is quite clear – no poles to fight with, and in theory therefore easier to put the tent up – especially if you’re a lone adult trying to put up a family tent. The main problem with air-beam, in my view is the weight of the tent bag! The air beams are weighty!

I’m looking for an 8 man tent to ensure we have plenty of space, but I want room in the sleeping pods to be able to stand up. This may sound silly, but many of the cheaper tents have low ceilings in the sleeping pods and I’m tall. So, bluntly I fear I may put my head straight through the pod in the middle of the night.

Decathlon offers two 8 man tents, thankfully it is the cheaper one which has more height in the sleeping pods (160cm). The 8 man Arpenaz 8.4XL is a traditional tent, but most reviews suggest it is quick to pitch. Priced at £399.99 it appears to offer good value.

I’ve always been a fan of Vango, and the Longleat Air 800XL is a serious contender. It boasts a 10 minute pitch – so even if I’m slow surely that means 20 minutes and it’ll be ready? The height in the sleeping pods is 190cm. The price – it’s on offer at £599.99. But it is an air-beam – so no fighting with poles!

I’ve also looked at an Outwell Middleton 8A, this has a RRP of £1439.99. It doesn’t work for me as the sleeping pods are too low (150cm tall). This does have the benefit of extra living space – ideal if we’re camping in the UK.

Currently I think it’s a choice between the Decathlon tent which offers great value, and the Vango which offers ease. £200 between the price makes it a tough choice as that could pay for a weeks pitch fees!

A Parent’s Guide to Summer Holidays at Disneyland Paris in 2019

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The kids have been begging to go on holiday to Disneyland Paris for what seems like years now. This year you finally have decided on a summer holiday in Paris with Disneyland being the main focus. Of course, as parents, you want a bit of adult time as well. Here is a brief guide on how to give everyone a little of something they all want when visiting Disneyland Paris in 2019.

Travel Arrangements Are First

Once you have decided to take that trip to Disneyland Paris just across the channel, you’ve decided that leaving the car behind is a much easier and quicker option. You know when your holiday leave has been approved so you start making air travel arrangements from the UK to Charles de Gaulle to Disneyland Paris. It makes the most sense to arrange not only for air travel but also for a private transfer to and from the airport Paris as well as for transport to and from the hotel you reserve for the holiday. Because you can book all of that in one service with companies like Easy Go Shuttle, you can narrow down your itinerary almost by the hour. Easy Go Shuttle have a 5* rating on Trip Advisor and are the recommended choice amongst many parents, as they provide complimentary child seats and will assist you with all of your luggage – no matter how much you have with you!

But first, even though you know that the chauffeur driven taxi can pick you up and take you all around Paris for other attractions, you need to know where to have them pick you up! It’s time to choose a hotel!

Booking Accommodation Comes Next

Before going any further, it’s best to get those accommodations reserved. Most parents find that staying as close as possible to Disneyland makes the most sense. Transport times to and from the theme park can take time away from enjoying all the attractions the kids love most.

Did you know that Easy Go Shuttle not only offers transfer from Charles de Gaulle to Disneyland Paris but can also pick you up for travelling to other attractions around the capital as well? This is something else to consider when choosing a hotel once you know those dates of travel and have made the flight arrangements to Paris from your nearest airport in the UK.

Parents’ Night Out in Paris – From Dream to Reality

Of course, you want to give the kids a holiday to remember always, but you also want a bit of much needed alone time with the love of your life, your spouse. Don’t forget to check out hotels at Disneyland Paris with babysitting services! With professional childminders, you can plan one or more nights out and about together as a couple. What better way is there to keep the romance alive than an evening or two of dinner and dancing with the wife?

If you know when you are going and where you are staying, Disneyland Paris airport transfers are easy to book. You only need to know the dates of arrival and departure as well as things to do on holiday in Paris 2019. Just think. There is nothing to worry about on holiday because you’ve planned for everything from transport to tickets to accommodation, all at the very same time. All you’ve left to do is pack, go and enjoy. Now, that’s something to be excited about!

Cottage Pie topped with sweet potato

This is an entry to #MeatMatters Challenge Sponsored by Simply Beef & Lamb. Learn more about the benefits of eating beef and lamb along with recipe ideas and inspiration here.

When I first accepted this challenge, I had intended to make a macaroni pie. But I’m trying to eat healthy, and I’ve yet to find a recipe which is low fat high flavour for Macaroni Pie!

Instead I went for a healthy cottage pie. I say healthy as I used lean steak mince. Beef is naturally high in protein, and contains 8 essential vitamins and minerals* that support health and well-being. It’s a really easy recipe and you can pack it with vegetables – perfect for the reluctant veggie eater.

Dice an onion and a garlic clove and fry them until they are lightly browned, then add the mince – I usually use 250g to feed 6 (2 adults 4 children). Add a teaspoon of marmite, teaspoon of Bovril and let the mince brown. Add one grated carrot. Add a tin of tomatoes – I like plum tomatoes but any will work! Add 100ml of water and cook until the liquid is mostly gone.

Cook 500g of sweet potatoes – they seem to take around 15minutes to boil. Once they’re cooked mash them well!

Add the cooked mince to an oven proof dish and top with the sweet potato mash. Pop into a pre-heated oven (180c) for 20 – 30minutes or until the top has browned. You could add grated cheese before you put it into the oven, but if you’re trying to watch your calories don’t!

Serve with boiled vegetables.

*Niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, riboflavin, plus iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus

This entry was posted in Food.

5 Craft Ideas that will Earn Your Child Money

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Handmade goods are everywhere, and people are making a living off their passions. Everyone is looking for that cool, original gift to buy. The good news is, anyone can get in on the fun. Your kids can learn a craft and become entrepreneurs in their free time. Though there are all kinds of crafts that sell, some of them are easier and cheaper than others. Here are a few crafts that are easy to learn, quick to produce, and could earn your child some extra pocket money.

  1. Stickers

Everybody loves stickers! Kindergarteners love to get them on school reports, teens cover their notebooks in them, hikers cover their water bottles in them, and crafters dedicate entire drawers to their sticker collections. Stickers have taken on a new life, outside of the scrapbook aisle and teacher supply store.  Plus, stickers are super easy to make! If your kid is artistic, they should turn their artwork into original sticker designs.

All your child needs to get started selling stickers is some matte sticker paper. They can doodle, draw, and paint right onto the paper and cut those stickers out by hand to sell in person. If you have the resources, they can up their sticker game by digitizing their artwork. A high-resolution photo of their art on a white background can be uploaded into any free photo editing software. Cut the background out of the photo and leave it transparent. Digital images can be printed onto high quality vinyl sticker paper for a more professional look. Partner with local paper or art supply stores to sell your kid’s stickers to a wider marker. Or, start an online store!

  • Knit hats

Lots of kids learn to knit or crochet as a quick, easy craft. Once they’ve mastered the basic techniques, they can start selling knit goods. Hats are a fast, simple project that can be made en masse, depending on the pattern. Knit beanies are very popular, and are a wardrobe staple from fall through spring. After factoring in the cost of yarn, you can sell a handknit beanie for a fair profit.

Knit or crochet hats are a more expensive and time-consuming product to sell, but it’s great for crafty kiddos that need something to do with their hands. A single ball of inexpensive yarn can yield an adorable beanie in one evening. It’s a great craft to sell during the fall and winter to make money for holiday gift giving!

  • Baby Blankets

Baby blankets are the simplest of sewing projects. All you sew is a straight line around all four sides. The nice thing about baby blankets is the size. Material for a full-sized blanket is expensive, and they can take days to construct. A baby blanket is significantly smaller, meaning you get more blanket per yard of fabric.

A quick, simple baby blanket project is the minky blanket. Minky is that super soft fabric that almost feels like fur. The blankets are usually minky on one side, and an inexpensive synthetic satin on the other side. You can even buy folded blanket binding to finish off the edges like a professional. These fabrics come in a multitude of colors and patterns, so your child can get creative with it. After making a sizable inventory, these blankets can be sold at craft fairs, online, or to local businesses. 

  • Photography

If your child has access to a camera or smartphone, they can start making money with no initial spending on materials. Though some photography is more art than craft, it is a profitable business that is easier to get started than you might think. There are several digital platforms that will pay people for stock photos, like still lives or nature photography. Some free stock photo sites work on a donation basis, meaning the more followers and downloads your child gets the more money they could be making.

For teens 14 years old and up, photography is a legitimate service industry job. They can focus on portraits, like senior photos, or events like birthdays. Teens who offer their photography services can market themselves through word of mouth, free platforms like Craigslist, or a personal website. As a parent, it’s important that you teach your teens how to meet with clients safely. They should never go to a photoshoot alone, and you should always know who the client is and where they will be. If your teen is smart and safe, photography can be a lifelong career path.

  • Upcycled Clothing

We all do our best to limit our environmental impact, and thrift shopping is one way of saving money and saving the earth.  Unfortunately, many charity shops seem to cater mostly to the over fifty crowd. For a creative teen, those outdated threads could mean a fashion goldmine! Upcycling is the act of finding gems in charity shops (or just the back of your closet), and re-imagining them into something new! No Pinterest board is complete without a couple of t-shirt crafts or button-down shirts turned into dresses. There are plenty of genius upcycling ideas floating around the internet, and plenty of gently used clothing that can be turned into something unique!

So, how can your child actually make money on arts and crafts? The key is to find the appropriate audience and venue. It might take some help and support from you, but your child can find a market for their handmade goods. Craft fairs, farmers markets, and even local boutiques are great for handmade goods. Ecommerce platforms like Etsy and Shopify offer a professional level audience for your child’s crafts. Even starting small, like selling their homemade slime to their friends at school, gives kids a taste of running a handmade business. Encourage your kids to be entrepreneurs! It is a lesson in healthy risk taking that can reap significant rewards.

Byline:

Ron Stefanski is the founder of JobsForTeensHQ.com and has a passion for helping teenagers find jobs.  He created the website because he feels that teenagers need to focus on their professional passions much earlier in life and aims to teach them how they can do that.  When he’s not working on his website, Ron is a college professor and loves to travel the world. 

The cost of being a Single Parent

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Being a parent is expensive! A day out or trip to the cinema quickly add up. Tickets, drinks, snacks and that’s not including the cost of travelling to get there! With the Easter holidays coming up, many parents may be beginning to make plans on how to spend the holidays.

There are some offers available for family tickets, which offer a discount. Some of these you do need to book in advance, so it is worth checking online in advance of visiting. But, many family tickets are aimed at two parent families. So, if you’re a single parent family, you miss out on a discounted ticket. Which doesn’t seem very fair! Payplan have created an info-graphic which shows some of the financial pitfalls of being a single parent;

It shouldn’t be so difficult to participate in family deals just because you’re a single parent family. While some savings on family tickets may seem small, it is still the cost of a loaf of bread – and this may make the difference between a day out being viable or not.

Shaken Udder Milkshake for lunch boxes! #Ad

GIFTED – I received PR Samples for the purposes of this post.

Lunch boxes, I don’t mind admitting that I sometimes struggle with what to put in them. So I’m always on the look out for fun additions to the boys lunches and on most Friday’s I try to add something new and different.

This week they’ve had Shaken Udder milkshakes added to their lunches. These handy little cartons of flavoured milk are popular with my boys, and are school lunch friendly. They have less than 5% sugar, and contain important things like B12 as well as being a great source of protein.

I like the fact that they don’t need to be stored in the fridge, so I can just pop them into the fridge the night before we need them! I’m not sure about you but I do struggle with fridge space!

I’ve been a bit naughty and added a cake today too, normally it would have been a cheese stick but we’ve run out. So while the children are at school I’ll be popping to the shop to stock up on lunch box bits. Including some more Shaken Udder milk for next Friday I think!

Happy Skin with Bepanthen #AD

This post is my entry into #BepanthenProtects Challenge sponsored by Bepanthen. Learn more about how to protect babies sensitive skin on https://www.bepanthen.co.uk/

As the mother of a very busy 14 month old, I am used to doing things on the move! Nothing frustrates my son more than having to sit still while he wants to play or explore. So if super fast nappy changes were an Olympic sport, I’m fairly sure I’d be in a medal position!

If you’re a parent of a small child, you will have probably experienced nappy rash at some point or another. Baby skin is super delicate. My son suffers with nappy rash every time he’s teething. Apparently that’s something to do with the extra saliva he produces when there’s teeth coming through. He already has 8 teeth and there are more on the way, so I’m keen to do anything I can to avoid any sore skin!

Bepanthen Skin Protection ointment is an easily absorbed cream which can be applied at every nappy change. It isn’t for nappy rash, it is to help protect babies skin. We’ve been using it for a while, and it is easy to apply – even to a wriggling toddler. It absorbs into skin and keeps skin in nice condition.

Happy skin, happy toddler! Adding applying Bepanthen to our nappy change routine may have added seconds to our nappy changes, but if i means happy skin we’ll keep on applying it!

Things you might not know about baby skin;

  • A newborn baby’s skin is 40% thinner and also softer than adults, which makes it more sensitive to irritants, like those in wee and poo which can cause nappy rash when in contact with the skin. This is made worse by a tight nappy which both rubs and stops the air circulating.
  • Bepanthen has a kind-to-skin formulation: No fragrances; No colours; No preservatives; No parabens; No antiseptics)
  • Contains Provitamin B5 to help skin to repair its natural protective barrier
  • Bepanthen is clinically proven: It forms a transparent, breathable layer, helping to protect your baby’s skin from the irritants and rubbing that can cause nappy rash
  • Nappy rash affects 1 in 3 babies at some point , so protecting your baby’s bottom from getting red makes perfect sense, instead of waiting for your little one to suffer from a sore bottom.

Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping?

What do you do with wrapping paper once you have unwrapped the gift? A couple of years ago I would have proudly answered that I put it in the recycling bin. But, then I learnt that much wrapping paper cannot actually be recycled. As a family we try to recycle as much of our waste as we can, so that’s why I’ve put a ban on traditional wrapping paper.

How can you tell if your wrapping paper can be recycled?

The scrunch test! If it scrunches and stays scrunched, you can probably recycle it. Remember to remove the sticky tape!

What are the alternatives to wrapping paper?

When it comes to wrapping gifts, I try to avoid wrapping paper altogether. Instead I like wrapping gifts in pretty scarves I buy from charity shops. I also love to give a gift packaged in a box. A cardboard box can easily be recycled, and decorating it can be lots of fun – especially for the children!

My 4 year old daughter decorated this box to wrap a present for her friend’s birthday party. I got a quiet hour while she sat decorating the box, and I think it added a lovely personal touch to the gift.

I confess, I keep bits of ribbon which come on gifts or packaging and re-purpose them. They always make a gift look special, and then the ribbons are never wasted!

Wrapping Gifts in Fabric

I really love wrapping gifts in scarves! Fabric scarves – not the wool ones you might wear in winter! I buy them at charity shops throughout the year, and so I’ve always got a small supply in the cupboard. Japanese Fabric Wrapping or Furoshiki is such a stylish way to wrap. It takes a little practice, but once I had worked out how to do it I wondered why I had wrapped in any other way! It also has the added benefit that the scarf can be re-used by the recipient.