Monthly Archives: March 2019

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

5 Craft Ideas that will Earn Your Child Money

Collaborative Guest Post

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

Collaborative Post

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.

Best Beach Holidays in Europe for Families

Collaborative Post

White sand. Wave sounds. Fresh sea air. Ah, beaches. There’s a reason why many of us choose to holiday near them – they can help us to unwind.

And they may even benefit our health. Experts confirm that natural water sites could improve our emotional wellbeing. Even better, trips to the seaside often help families to bond.

So, where in Europe is best for a healthy and happy beach vacation?

Look no further than our guide to find out.

Algarve, Portugal

Beaches? Check. Culture? Check. Activities for the whole family? Check. Yes, the Algarve region in Southern Portugal boasts an array of delights.

Even better, its coastal areas are usually very clean. And many provide water sports facilities. So, you can unwind by the sea while the kids safely have fun.

With a specialist like Villa Plus, you won’t be far from your lodgings, either. It could take just a matter of minutes to walk back from the beach.

Its rich history and sites also make it a fascinating – as well as attractive – destination for adults, teenagers and children alike.

Here, everybody in the family stands to enjoy their holiday.

Split, Croatia

Within the past few years, Croatia has become a popular holiday spot. It’s easy to see why.

Aside from its beauty, it’s one of the sunniest places in Europe. And its beaches are superb. Especially those in Split, on the Dalmatian coast. From ancient archaeology to the national theatre, it brims with culture, as well.

In addition, it provides a cheap option for UK travellers. Since having become an EU member, it has retained its currency (the Kuna).

While the pound has suffered a decline in value against the dollar and the euro, its exchange rate remains fairly strong against Croatian currency.

For large groups and families, a trip to Split can offer affordability, intrigue and some of the best views imaginable.

Sicily, Italy

Greek temples. Baroque buildings. Norman churches. Sicily is a tapestry of European history. But let’s not forget its beaches, many of which stay quiet throughout the year. 

If you seek a more private family holiday, why not venture here?  If you do, you’ll be able to explore its cultural gems and enjoy beach relaxation in relative solitude.

Fancy team games on a secluded beach? The island could provide just that. What’s more, you’ll be holidaying against a dramatic backdrop: the one and only Mount Etna.

On the Italian island, you whole family can simultaneously enjoy the sun and culture. And you’ll be able to unwind by the Mediterranean Sea, of course.

Holidays can free our minds. They can also bring us closer to the people that we love. So, it’s only fitting that the destination should appeal to everyone. Particularly if you plan to travel as a family. Once you know how a vacation could benefit each member, all that’s left to do is book it. And then you can start looking forward to it

Should I pack a Swimsuit or Bikini?

With last week being so sunny, my thoughts have well and truly turned to summer! I couldn’t help but start planning our holidays! Last year we spent our holidays in France and Spain, and the holiday was split between beach and pool. Most days we spent the day at the beach, then ended up having a dip in the pool before dinner. Essentially our holiday packing included plenty of good beach and swimwear!

Swimsuit or a Bikini?

Every year I try to pack practical swimwear for use in the pool and a couple of bikinis to wear at the beach. I used to worry, should I wear a swimsuit or a bikini? But now, I know I need both! I choose both as I like having the versatility of different options to wear. Also, I don’t want to contaminate the pool with sand from the beach!

This year, I’ve already been shopping for swimwear thanks to UK Swimwear. I’ve spent quite a lot of time looking at sports bikinis. I love the Gottex Profile Sport collection, my favourite the Cosmos Bikini would be great for aqua-aerobics too! But I settled on a Speedo Swimsuit, in a brightly coloured pattern which screams summer fun!

The LavaFlow Digital Powerback is a high cut swim suit made in a lightweight fabric which is quick drying. The fit is great, although I must admit it fits a little smaller, so if you’re between sizes I’d go up a size. I love the fit of the suit, the high leg is quite flattering on my thighs and it really does look great on! I will be wearing this to while I swim for fitness not just on holiday!

Why spend on a bikini?

When I was younger I used to gasp at the cost of a bikini, and always look for a cheaper alternative. The problem was the inevitably the bikinis were unlined, un-supportive, and not made to do anymore than look good poolside. Invest in a good, well fitting bikini and you will be comfortable, supported and able to swim in it too! I’m a huge fan of Moontide bikinis, they’ve been my go to brand for many years. They seem to fit my figure well, especially on the bottom! I opted for the Moontide Cruise Versailles Braided Bandeau Bikini as the pattern is striking, and I love a bandeau style!

The bikini top can be worn strapless, or as a halter neck. If you have children who love to cling onto you while you swim, that halter neck strap is essential! The bikini top is comfortable, and generously sized. I think the pattern is so pretty, and it goes well with all my accessories!

So, I’ll be packing both swimsuits and bikinis this summer! I think they are both essential as part of my holiday wardrobe. Do you prefer bikinis or swimsuits?