Thank You NHS

WOW Free Stuff got in touch to let me know that they have compiled a list of freebies and discounts for NHS Staff, so if you are an NHS hero, or know someone who is share this list with them. A small token from all the many businesses who just want to say “Thank you NHS”.

COVID-19 has shaken the world, sent us into a very uncertain time. But, it has also made us realise how lucky we are in the UK to have the NHS. I’ll avoid turning this into a political post, but I will say that I hope that all NHS staff get the equipment that they need to do their jobs. Thank you to all of them who are working long hours, away from their families.

Photo by Luis Melendez on Unsplash

There has been, and will continue to be a huge outpouring of thanks to the NHS. Not just the Doctors and Nurses, but also a variety of other NHS staff who keep the cogs turning. The hidden heroes – microbiologists, hidden away looking for explanations. The cleaners who keep the hospitals sanitised. The porters who keep patients cheery while transporting them between departments, and many many more. All these heroes who will keep on working to keep up the fight against Coronavirus. We thank you all.

In the mean time, as of today 26th March 2020 – STAY AT HOME, and remember – wash your hands!

How to encourage birds into your garden.

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Whether you have a garden, or a balcony, attracting birds to your outside space is surprisingly easy. Personally, I love watching birds from my kitchen window. I have a strategically placed bird bath which is visited by all sorts of birds throughout the day. I always make sure it has clean fresh water in it, it’s such an easy way to make sure birds keep coming back! We try not to cut our back hedges too far, as they provide vital spaces for birds to hide from predators as well as nest.

We get a variety of birds visiting, from the common pigeons, robins, to blue tits and woodpeckers. Some times they are in abundance, other times less so. I personally love seeing the chaffinches as they are so brightly coloured! I’m definitely what I would describe as a bird watcher, but I do love to learn a little about each bird we see. Apparently, according to the US Fish & Wildlife Service 46 million Americans consider themselves to be bird watchers!

So, what can you do to attract birds into your garden? Check out this handy infographic for some helpful tips;

Guide created by Bird-X


Finding The Right Childcare.

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Childcare is one of those things every parent struggles with from time to time. Whether it is trying to decide what type of childcare works best for your situation, or trying to decide how best to provide childcare for a child who just needs after school care. Child care is such an individual choice. So, how should you go about deciding on what child care will be best suited to your needs?

What type of child care is available?

Consider what options you have available to you locally, this maybe a day centre, child minder, nanny or pre-school. Of course you may be limited by what is on offer locally to you, and what is best suited to the age and needs of your child. Personally, I found that asking other parents about their experiences was a great way of gaining ideas.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Deciding factors!

For my daughter I settled on a pre-school which fitted in well with school drop off and collection for my older children. I didn’t want to have to drive far between drop offs, so location was an important deciding factor! I needed to be able to drop her off before or after the school run. Pre-school also meant she got to mix with lots of children, and as she was talking from a young age I felt this was a really important thing for her! The hours the pre-school offered were very similar to school hours, so worked well for our needs, but may not have suited everyone.

Cost is obviously a big factor in deciding on what child care will work for you. Don’t automatically assume that one type of childcare will be better value than another, investigate all options! As you may be surprised by what you can afford – especially if you are looking for options which will cover you in the school vacations too.

What should you be asking when looking into childcare?

This is really one of those questions which I can’t answer as your questions will be specific to your needs and the needs of your child. Some questions you may like to ask are; Do you provide lunch? What types of activities do you offer? How do you document my child’s progress? What are your rates and how do you take payment? ( What payment do they want in advance!).

Where to find help on what childcare to choose?

Consider using a site like they have over 40 years combined experience working in child care, and have a wealth of knowledge. They also have some great blogs on how to deal with problems such as separation anxiety in toddlers which is well worth a read! You can also ask local parents on their experiences, which can be especially helpful when looking at childminders. Just remember that every family is different, and your childcare needs may be very different to another family. You may also find that a combination of childcare options works best – and that’s ok to!

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Choosing the Perfect Wedding Thank You Cards

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Do you send Thank you cards?

I think one of the most wonderful things to receive after a big event, especially a wedding, is a thank you card. It shows that your attendance was appreciated! Weddings are such busy days, and I know on my big day I got the chance to speak to everyone but it was brief as there were other people needing my attention! So, I think a thank you card is not only a way to say “thank you” for a gift, but more importantly it’s also a way to say thank you for spending our big day with us.

Which Thank You card should I choose?

Choosing custom thank you cards is a lovely way to thank you guests with a unique card. I think choosing a thank you card is as important as choosing your wedding invitation. Take time to choose a style of card which suits your style. It doesn’t have to be a formal design, make sure you choose a card which is obviously from you, it will mean so much more to the recipient! You might want to use colours from your wedding theme on the invitation, I always think this is a lovely touch.

Did you know that Basic Invite have 180 colour options? Enabling you to choose the perfect colour way – this may seem like a simple thing, but being able to tweak small details makes such a difference in creating your perfect design! Basic Invite also allow you to order a printed sample of your finished design, so you can check that it is perfect before you place your full order.

Custom Thank you card

When choosing your wedding thank you card consider using a photo of your big day, or maybe a photo from your engagement photo shoot? A very close friend of mine used a photo of their entire wedding party on their thank you cards, it was lovely as often you’re in wedding photos, but never actually get to see them! With Basic Invite you can also choose to add foil to your card, in a choice of gold, silver or rose gold. I have to confess I love foil on a card, I think it gives it a really sophisticated finish.

Basic Invite makes sending cards easier.

If you’re anything like me, my address book is always no where to be seen, or in need of updating. Basic Invite offer an address capturing service, to help keep you on track sending your cards by post! They’ll provide you with a link which you can share on social media to enable your friends and family to share their address with you. Basic Invite will store the addresses, and give you the option to select them for each recipient during the final design process. It really couldn’t be easier!

Everyone knows that weddings are expensive, and so to help you save some money right now Basic Invite is offering 15% off with coupon code: 15FF51

Treasure X Aliens Review

My 9 year old saw Treasure X Aliens advertised on television, and thought they looked great fun! So we were delighted when we were asked to review them!

Treasure X Aliens are a collectable toy, packaged in a plastic egg and containing a slime guzzling alien toy! If you’re looking for a chocolate free alternative for Easter eggs, this may be a good solution, as they would be great fun for children to find on an egg hunt!

How do Treasure X Aliens work?

Open up the outer plastic egg to reveal a squidgy egg inside.

The squidgy egg needs to be squeezed then the alien will burst out! When you squeeze the squidgy egg you can see your alien ready to burst free!

We put down some paper before doing this bit, as I didn’t want slime all over the furniture! The alien slime actually bursts out quite slowly, meaning the slime can be contained! The slime is really smooth, colourful and stretchy to play with. It is quite sticky, but that makes it relatively easy to clean off smooth surfaces, unlike some other slime we’ve played with!

Mixed in amongst the slime is the alien and an alien treasure! We didn’t find a rare crystal but hopefully we might one day!

What are the aliens like?

The aliens are fun to look at, made of a firm but squeezable plastic. The absolute best bit is they are able to suck up the slime they arrived in! We loved watching the alien suck up the slime, and then spit it out again!

Ignoring the children, I confess I found this bit great fun! Some aliens seem to suck up the slime better than others, and it is a bit of a slow process but almost like magic!

Treasure X Aliens are a pocket money toy with an RRP of £4.99, they could also be a great party favour! We think they are great fun. I loved that the plastic egg could be used to store the alien and slime safely. There are 12 to collect, and they are available at Smyths Toy Superstores now.

Is Looking After Stuff the Easiest Way to Go Green?

Things I still hear often… Going green is expensive. Replacing things with greener alternatives is costly. So, how about looking after the things you have instead? Going Green can be one step at a time. Let me explain.

Learning to care for the things you own.

What do you do when something gets broken or worn at home? Do you instantly throw it out and replace it? Or do you look to ways you could repurpose or repair it? There are some things I do not attempt to repair, for example broken glass. But when the handle came off my favourite milk jug, we smoothed where the handle had been and turned it into a vase. Our electricals and cars we repair over replace. This is something I need to look into more though, as would it be better to scrap them and replace with newer more efficient models? How many years use would I need to offset the carbon produced by recycling / scrapping the old ones?

It’s not always the cheapest option to repair. Sometimes the call out fee to just have an appliance looked at is a high cost. But here are a few ideas on ways to care or repair things you already own.

Photo by Karly Santiago on Unsplash

Caring for your wardrobe.

Clothes and shoes need care. Darning the whole in your favourite jumper, washing it with care and learning how to store clothes correctly will elongate their useful lives. I am not great at sewing, but have learnt to make basic repairs over the last year or so. Which has extended the life of a pair of pyjamas, jeans and several jumpers!

Washing with care is really important, and ideally avoiding using a tumble dryer. Tumble dryers are really harsh on fabrics, and make the wear faster. Though I confess this winter has been so wet we have resorted to the tumble dryer as line drying just wouldn’t work. Roll on spring!

Shoes need to be stored with care, cleaned and polished if necessary. Finding eco-friendly shoe cleaning products is something I am still investigating. But, I feel that prolonging the use of a pair of leather boots or shoes by using a tin of shoe polish is perhaps better than potentially ruining and throwing away a pair.

Mending cafe…

Mending libraries or mending or repair cafes are worth looking out for locally. These are often pop ups, where people lend their skills to fixing things for others. I’ve not used one yet, mostly as we have a good group of skills within our family for fixing a variety of things.

Sourcing spare parts..

Someone recently posted in a local group that they were seeking a specific part to fix something weird and wonderful. Within 10 minutes a potential source of the part had been located as it turned out the item was not quite as weird and wonderful as the owner had first thought! So it’s always worth asking if anyone knows where tp get parts!

Ikea keeps many spare parts in stock in their stores. Local hardware shops are great for missing nuts and bolts. And of course ebay! I have also discovered that LEGO offer spare parts if you’ve lost a part from a kit! So before you throw it away, why not thinking about fixing it?

Couch to 5k

Yesterday I re-started Couch to 5k. I needed some structure in my exercise, and I needed to start the process again. I’ve not run for several months, it is amazing how missed days turn into weeks and then months. I’ve gone from running a couple of times a week to not running at all. So, with Spring on the way and the urge to get out there increasing! I decided the most sensible thing to do was to start using the Couch to 5 k app once again.

What is Couch to 5K?

I’m using the NHS Couch to 5 k (C25K) app, it takes 9 weeks to take you from not running to running 5 km. I don’t mind admitting that I find the structure of the app both beneficial and frustrating. It’s beneficial as it puts in place much needed routine, but it is frustrating as there are times when I’d like to keep going but the app tells me not to. However, I think the benefit of the app, out weighs my feelings of frustration.

The first time I used Couch to 5 K, even the first week of runs were tough. I was red faced struggling to catch my breath. I tell you this as I remember feeling ashamed that I was so unable to run even for a short time! But, I got through it. I took some advice from a friend, and repeated weeks I found really tough – especially if I felt tired. This time, I got to the end of the first run and barely felt like I had done anything at all. This showed me two things, it was worth the battle the first time, and this time? Well, this time half the work is already done. But, I don’t want to skip weeks, as this is a gentle journey with a bigger goal which I’ll talk more about in another post.

Uni-Verse Surprise Unicorn Toy Review

Uni Verse Toys

If you have a child who loves unicorns, they need to discover UniVerse Collectable surprise unicorns! These are blind bag collectable toys, each containing a unicorn with a quirky character! We were delighted to be sent some to review! So, how do they work?

Revealing the UniVerse Unicorns!

Unwrap the packet to reveal a cloud with an emoji face, this is all soft – like a cloud might be! My daughter thought the cloud was really sweet, she was reluctant to drop it into water to dissolve!

Drop the cloud into water and let it dissolve. The water magically changes colour! Giving a clue as to which land the unicorn you are about to reveal will be from! The water turns to slime once the cloud is fully dissolved. Then reveals the packets with the unicorn and accessories in! This stage is quite messy, so make sure you do it on a covered surface, or a surface which is easy to wipe clean.

The Unicorns!

Lift the bag out, and open to reveal the colourful bags with the unicorn, accessories and scratch card in.

There is an accessory to go on the unicorn’s horn and one for it to hold in it’s mouth.

We were excited to reveal a gamer unicorn, who came with a remote and lunch box! I think this one was all of our favourite!

There are over 40 unicorns to collect, each one has a quirky look! I love the look of the ones from Glam-a- Ganza Land in particular!

The unicorn toys themselves are great fun, the accessories make them really quirky. No two unicorns look the same, they’re different shapes, colours and like different things – this was something I thought was really good. The slime I found very messy, but it was quite a fun and unique part of revealing the unicorn. My daughter thought the slime was amazing fun, although she was sad she couldn’t keep it to play with again. There was quite a lot of plastic waste, multiple packets containing bits, great fun for revealing the toy surprise, but quite wasteful. The unicorns themselves are really lovely, and I think they will be played with frequently – especially by mixing and matching the accessories between them all!

Lost Luggage

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Do you fly on holiday or for work? I have to confess I’ve not flown in almost 12 years as I prefer slower methods of travel. However, I have to admit that I used to fly a lot before I had children. One of the worst things about airline travel for me personally, was putting my luggage in the hold. I had a huge fear of losing my bag, and I’d pack essentials in my hand luggage – “just in case”.

I always chose a distinctive bag to go in the hold so I could find it on the conveyor belt in arrivals! It would amuse people as I stood waiting for my brightly coloured bag. This bag still holidays with me now, all these years later, but is now dragged onto trains and ferries instead on the hold of a plane! I never actually lost my luggage, but it does happen, and luggage does sometimes get damaged too. Would you know what to do if you lost your luggage? Imagine arriving at your flight destination, and discovering that your luggage was not on the conveyor belt – what would you do?

I was sent this infographic on lost luggage, I think it’s a really helpful read! Interestingly in 2017 78% of Lost Luggage was actually just delayed! While still frustrating, it’s good to know that 78% of luggage did eventually get to the destination and was reunited! I think it’s important to read up on what to do if your luggage doesn’t arrive when your flight does, or is damaged just so you know what to do if it happens to you! So before the vacation season begins, this is one you may want to share with your friends, so read on;

Guide created by Xcēd a ground support equipment leasing and rental company.

Save Energy, Save Money!

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Save Energy, Save Money! Is it really that easy? Put simply yes! We don’t have a meter to monitor our usage of energy, but I try to keep an eye on our energy use, as it really does make a difference to our bills over the course of a year. If you have an energy monitor it should be easy to work out where your energy goes! I have worked out that much of our usage is on lights and charging devices.

I try to encourage everyone to remember to turn off the lights when they come out of a room, although it’s hard in the winter months, we are all getting better at remembering! But I’ve been learning more about the best light bulbs, you can read more in the article below! With regards to charging devices, I’m trying to be a bit more savvy not leaving devices in standby, but turning them off. Turning chargers off at the wall, and the same for the TV and microwave – I switch them off at the wall! It may only be a tiny amount of electricity saved but it adds up over a year – just in that little glow!

More ways to save energy

I think we’re fairly savvy when it comes to our heating usage. I have a thermometer and I keep the house at a comfortable temperature. Every year before winter I have a check list which I work through, including things like thermal linings for the curtains. They really do make a difference at keeping the warmth in a room. If you’re on a budget, keep your eyes peeled in charity shops as thermal linings do turn up, although you may need to buy the set of curtains they come with!

I’ve been sent this Energy Saving Checklist, and it is really handy if you’re looking for little ways to save your energy, how many do you do?

Checklist created by Lightbulb Wholesaler bulk light bulbs