Sharing tips and ideas to make parenting a little less insane - from one mad house to another. We hope to fill your with inspiration to live your life with your family. Come with us as we make our journey through life enjoying the small things and choosing joy daily. We craft, play, enjoy art, construct, cook and laugh our way through life.
My home is lived in and is nowhere near a show home. In fact, the husbeast commented last night that it was a good job we liked throws on the sofa as we washed yet another one that was covered in mud from one of our boys (or it could have been Alvin)! So I decided to look into interior updates for non-Pinterest worth homes (the image below is my bedroom).
When it comes to making my home cosy over winter, I am all for inexpensive touches that are simple to implement and will stand the test of time and the challenge of a family home. I am a big fan of combining high street finds with more unique items found on Instagram. I used to wish that I had a Pinterest worthy home, however, realised that at this stage in my family life that just isn’t going to happen. I have to contend with muddy football boots, Xboxes, sewing stuff and the general detritus that comes with messy teens. Plus I have learned over the years that these Insta and Pinterest homes are not like the perfect squares and images shown online.
According to Chill Insurance, this winter is all about velvet with its super soft touch and oh-so luxurious appearance, what’s not to like? It’s the perfect texture for the cooler months, bringing you a little extra luxe and a pinch of plush for added cosiness. Now I am sure that we would all love to be able to update our home with a beautiful velvet-covered chair, however, my budget doesn’t stretch that far, but why not combine the velvet and blush pink craze by changing your cushion covers or throws to blush pink velvet. H&M have some excellent value ones in at just £6.99. Just make sure that they are washable, especially if you have kids and animals like me!
One of the other inexpensive ways to update your interior is to add plants and new planters. I pick up plants from the reduced section of the supermarket in addition to DIY stores and of course Ikea. I have also picked up some raised planters from Matalan which have been all over Instagram.
I find that plans and flowers really make our house feel a nicer place to be. I also have some beautiful unique planters from Blackdog Pottery, which everyone comments on.
Another quick and inexpensive way to update is with lights, candles and lamps. This week I have picked up some battery operated geometric fairy lights when shopping in Sainsbury’s. I have also ordered another batch of beeswax candles for our candle holders. Mini is really funny when it comes to scented candles, so we only use unscented or beeswax in the living areas of our home.
Germs, they seem to be everywhere this winter. I know so many people (including myself) who have been wiped out by a nasty virus or the flu and I have been determined to make sure that I do all that I can to boost my families immune system. I am not a medical professional, however, I thought it would be good to let you know what has helped as both of my boys have escaped the dreaded germs this season.
My neighbour when we lived down south is a holistic practitioner and I learned so much from Louise and she is my go-to person when it comes to supporting my boys winter defences. She was the person who put us on to probiotics back in 2013 when we had a particularly bad bout of winter bugs and germs. So when ProVen Probiotics asked if we would like to review some of their products I said yes especially as this is the range we have been using and buying for the last 4 years!
Ways to Boost your family’s Immune System
Top up your friendly bugs. Those that reside in our intestines have been proven to have a very positive impact on our immune system. Too few and we get ill. It’s very easy to give them a boost with a quick course of probiotics which are available in both capsule and powder form. The boys have been taking the Fit for School with vitamins C & D which have been shown to reduce absenteeism from school by 30% and both of them have escaped any of the colds, virus’ and flu that has been around this winter. The husbeast and I take the once a Day for adults.
Top Tip: Always take probiotics during and after a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill off the good bugs as well as the bad ones.
Try and get more sleep. There is a close association between immune function and sleep. Sufficient sleep, believed to be at least 7 uninterrupted hours a night, enables the immune system to recharge. Interestingly the onset of an illness of any kind also increases our need for sleep as our immune systems go into battle. As the mum of one lark and one night owl I do understand how hard it can be to get a good nights sleep (I am a perpetually exhausted pidgeon), but why not try and log off an hour early for a week and see just how much better you feel. Why not take a look at #5EarlyNights on Instagram which EmilyandMore started for inspiration.
Eat Well. We all know that we should eat 5 a day and eat a rainbow but often as busy parents it can be challenging at times. However, know exactly why I need to encourage this in my children and myself really helps. Fresh food in a rainbow of colours provides added benefits that supplements can never hope to live up to including enzymes, fibre and helping your body to absorb all these extra nutrients you are fuelling yourself with. Also, cut right down on your refined sugar intake. Studies have shown that eating sugar suppresses our immune system for up to 5hrs; plenty of time to catch that cold.
Top Tip: Xylitol is a widely available natural sugar substitute that looks and tastes great, doesn’t spike blood sugar levels and is even good for your teeth.
Wash your hands. I am not overly concerned when it comes to mud and muck – well Mini is just noise with muck on, but I do insist on clean hands. I make sure that we wash our hands when we come in the house and also before we eat. I also carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my bag just in case.
Moderate Excercise. it is all about balance. people who do moderate exercise are 20% less likely to get a cold, but overdoing things can leave you more susceptible. I find that we all feel much better after we have been out for a brisk walk with the dog even if it can take a lot of nagging to get the boys to participate sometimes.
870As a parent, I often find myself thinking about the future – for myself and the husbeast, and also for Mini and Maxi. There’s so much to be wary of, both in personal health and the environment. A home is all about being a safe haven, and it’s naïve to think that small changes are unable to make a difference. So, I’ve explored different ways I can make steps towards and greener, healthier and (hopefully) happier home.
1. Make the most of natural light
Natural light is a great source of heat and light; not to mention it’s cost-effective and environmentally conscious. Rather than buying a new lamp or turning on all of the lights, look around and see if you can utilise the natural light better. Open up your curtains and blinds, and move any obstructing furniture to let the light cascade around your home.
2. Grow indoor plants
Indoor plants make the home feel fresh. They act as natural filters for the air, and some are especially good at absorbing indoor toxins, such as Bamboo Palm and Peace Lily. If you’re known for having a particularly black thumb, there’s no need to worry either. Many indoor plants are low maintenance – plus they look great as decorative pieces.
3. Compost your scraps
Unused scraps from the kitchen are ideal for compost. Tea leaves, fruit and vegetables, egg shells – pretty much anything that’s biodegradable. If you mix them with trimming from the garden and a bit of water, you’ve got a great natural fertiliser and doing your part in reducing landfill.
It might be an obvious one, but it can easily be forgotten in busy households. Separate your cardboard, plastic and metal ready for collection. Head to GOV.UK’s recycling collections page and enter your postcode to find out more about what you can do.
5. Fill the sink when washing up
When you’re doing the dishes, filling the sink uses just a small portion of what you’d normally waste by leaving the tap running. If you use a dishwasher, wait until it’s full until you set it going. This is also good practice with your washing machine!
6. Install carbon monoxide detectors
Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. It’s odourless, so you’d never even know it’s there until it’s too late. By making a small investment in a carbon monoxide detector, you can prevent poisoning very easily.
7. Switch to energy-saving lightbulbs
Fluorescent light bulbs use as little as a quarter of the electricity a regular light bulb uses. Not only are they more cost-effective in the long-term, they can last up to 10 times longer as well.
8. Unplug unused appliances
An electrical appliance on standby can still be draining electricity and increasing your bills. By unplugging when it’s not in use (which is most of the time!), you can save yourself a lot of money.
9. Fix pesky leaks
If you’ve got a leaky tap or a hole in the wall that’s needed repairs for a while, get them fixed as soon as you can. By making your home more insulated and preventing wastage from leaks, your utility bills can drop by a significant amount.
10. Buy reusable
There are masses of household items which we don’t think twice about throwing away after use. Rather than using once and throwing away, buy reusable to save space on the landfill and save money on replacements. This includes reusable razors, rechargeable batteries and plastic containers rather than tin foil and cling film.
11. Go full sustainable
This isn’t an option for everyone, and that’s okay. However, if you’ve got the money to spend and are fully committed, you can invest in long-term solutions for your home. Install solar panels for a new energy source, and redecorate using non-toxic paints and wood flooring from sustainable sources.
By utilising these tips for a greener home, you’ll feel much better about the impact you’re having on the environment. Not only that, but you’ll watch your utility bills drop significantly if you stick to the saving!
I love saving money, especially on day to day stuff as it gives me a little left over to spoil the family. One of our biggest expenditures is our gas and electric and I love finding smart ways to save on our gas and electric without swapping suppliers. So I am working with British Gas to share with you ways that we save on our gas and electric.
I think that there is nothing more annoying than when one person tries to save on the utilities but the rest of the family are not on board. It is soul destroying always reminding people to turn off the lights or switch the TV off standby. So my biggest tip is to get everyone involved and invested. Make it a challenge for all the family. When my children got to school they did lots on environmental change and the need to recycle, reuse and reduce. So whilst it was at the forefront of their mind we put a lot of these tips in place.
Also, the easier it is to do, the more you are likely to continue doing it. So make it simple. Having Smart Meters installed, using our Hive heating system and smart bulbs. The first steps to being able to make savings is to know what you are using and when. Smart Meters means the end of estimated bills, therefore, your monthly direct debits can be more accurate. They also enable you to have a better understanding of your usage and see the direct impact your habits and lifestyle have on your bill.
Smart Ways to Save on Utilities
Turn it down. Reducing the temperature of your heating will save you money straight away. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that turning your thermostat down by 1degree will save you 10% on your bills or on average £80 per year. The reason I love our Hive Active Heating is we can set it to 0.5 degrees centigrade. So we can have it at 18.5 degrees rather than 19.
Turn it off. This goes for turning things off standby. We have extensions that allow us to turn off the TV and then it turns off all the attached devices on the extension, which is a great way of smartly turning things off. The same goes for the heating and hot water. Most thermostats allow you to have a schedule, but our Hive Active Heating allows us to set lots of schedules, so we only have the heating on when we are in the home. We can also use our phones and tablets to control the heating and water.
Energy Saving Lightbulbs. We use them throughout the house and have also switched all our kitchen lights to LED ones. Yes, they are more expensive initially, but they save money long term as they last longer and use less electric on a day to day basis. We also have a couple of smart bulbs. They are especially good for areas where the light often gets left on. Plus we have set a schedule for the landing light, so once we are all asleep it turns off at a set time using less electricity.
Only use what you need. You could save pounds according to the Energy Saving Trust a year by only boiling enough water as you need in the kettle.
Unplug your chargers. Did you know that phone and appliance chargers use electricity even when they are not being used and are just plugged in? Also do not charge your phones overnight as they only take a couple of hours.
Use your washer smarter. Only wash clothes when they are dirty and not after they have been worn once (try telling that to teenagers). Instead of washing clothes more frequently try airing them and spot cleaning. According to the Energy Saving Trust, washing clothes at 30 degrees uses around 40% less electricity over the course of a year compared to higher temperatures.
So what are your top tips for saving on your gas and electric? I would love to know. Leave them in the comments and I will gather them all together for my next money saving post.
Disclosure: This is a paid collaboration in conjunction with British Gas® but all thoughts are my own
Looking for valentine craft and activities for kids? Well look no further I a complete resource of them all in one place for you here. As I do more I will make sure that they are added, so make sure you pin or bookmark this page. I love learning, creating, making and baking seasonally and you might not celebrate valentine’s day, but love is forever eternal.
To help you plan your activities, I have our complete valentine craft and activity resources here for you all listed by topic. Either click on the link or on the photograph itself to get more information on each of the crafts or activities.
Valentine craft and activities for kids Art and Craft
Most of our valentine crafts and activities can be adjusted for kids from toddler through to big kids like me. You don’t have to keep them just for valentine’s day, but for any day to show someone how much you care. I use the cards for anniversaries and they can also be adapted for birthdays too.
I love seeing what people are reading and getting inspiration for my next read, so this year I have decided to share a picture of the books on my bedside once a month. I would love for you to join in and share your images on social media or blog about them using the hashtag #BooksOnTheBedside.
This post contains affiliate links – an affiliate link means that if you click on the link and purchase from my recommendation then I get a few pennies (perhaps enough to keep me in tea over a year), however, you are not charged a higher price.
Most of the fiction that I read are on my Kindle Paperwhite – I was converted a long time ago and I love it. It is like carrying a library in my hand and perfect for travelling. I tend to do most of my fiction reading on the train. I have just finished reading The Midnight Line by Lee Child and Two Kinds of Truth by Micheal Connely. You will see a pattern forming on my fiction reading as I like thrillers, police procedurals and that sort of thing.
This isn’t a quilt pattern book per say more of an essay on design, quilting and the mindfulness in creative quilting. It certainly isn’t particularly a how-to book with only 8 designs in the book, however, it is a wonderful, inspiring and I am really enjoying dipping in and out of it.
A Poem for Every Night of the Year – Allie Esiri and Zanna Goldhawk (UK Link/US Link)
I am not going to lie I this book was on my bedside table the whole of last year too and I loved it so much that I decided to read it again this year. It has a broad range of poems in and is great for reading aloud. I love that the poems are seasonal.
Peace of Mind: A book of calm for busy mums – Georgina Rodgers (UK Link/US Link)
Another book that I dip in and out of when I have five minutes and need to clear my head. It is not an absorbing read not does it contain anything new but it is a great collection of mindful exercises, colouring in, inspirational quotes, meditations, craft ideas and more.
Having loved Gretchen’s previous books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home I am hoping that her enthusiastic voice helps me form and keep new habits this year. I am not going to lie and I am finding this hard going and am going to have to read it a few times I think. I will let you know how it goes!
Lykke is the Danish word for happiness and who doesn’t want to be happy? This is a real feel-good book and just reading it left a smile on my face. It is filled with positivity and jam-packed with ideas of actions that can make a make a proven difference on your happiness. I was so keen to read this after reading Meik’s previous book (UK Link/US Link) that I pinched it from Cass!
Other books I have read in January
Whole Food Slow Cooked: 100 recipes for the slow-cooker or stovetop – Olivia Andrews (UK Link/US Link)
This book comes off my kitchen shelf every winter. It is filled with delicious, simple and family-friendly recipes that are designed for either a slow cooker or stove. I love that it has two ingredient lists so that you know that the slow cooker version will always come out fabulous too.
The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2018 Hardcover – Lia Leendertz (UK Link/US Link)
I bought this last year when I saw the kickstarter and I am hoping that it helps me learn to appreciate the seasons, especially Winter more. I want to see it help us connect with the months and seasons more as a family. As the boys are getting older I see this as an update to our seasonal books from when they were younger.
Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months Hardcover – Emma Mitchel (UK Link/US Link)
I have followed Emma on Instagram for years and bought her book as soon as it was realised. It is a delightful, gentle and accessible craft book that aims to help you get through the dark, cold months of the year. I love how it is not just a guild to surviving the winter months but thriving with them.
Everything from the flu to colds and from stomach viruses to strep throat has been making the rounds this winter season. With the flu being extremely dangerous this year, as it has been for many years, people’s thoughts are turning more and more to ways to keep any type of sickness from spreading when it is brought into their homes. While most of the time kids bounce back pretty easily from any type of bug, that doesn’t stop the entire house from getting it when the child is better. Read on below for a few tips on how to stop sickness from spreading in your home.
How Long Does It Last?
One of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind now is how long does the flu last? The answer is normally two to three days, but with the severe cases of flu out there now, it could be longer. The duration of the flu really depends on the person and the condition of their health, to begin with. As with colds and viruses, the best way to stop the flu in its tracks is to make sure you aren’t spreading it to everyone in your home by taking precautions. If you don’t stop the spread of germs, the any cold, flu or virus is just going to keep circulating through your family until it wears itself out.
Disinfect Everything ASAP
It’s important to note that germs can live on surfaces up to 24 hours. You need to wipe down all the surfaces where germs can live as soon as possible after someone in your home gets sick with a disinfectant. This includes but is not limited to all of the following.
Trash Those Tissues
It’s really easy to leave tissues laying beside you when you’re sick. However, those piled up tissues can spread cold and flu germs like crazy. Throw out those tissues, if possible tied in a separate bag to keep germs from spreading from the garbage as well.
Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands should already be almost second nature. However, when you’re sick, you need to wash them more often, especially after you sneeze or cough. You don’t need anything super special for this, just a good anti-bacterial soap will do to kill the germs.
When you have someone in your home that has a cold, the flu or a virus, the last thing you want is to have it spread throughout your home. You can stop the germs from spreading from person to person by not sharing cups, plates, glasses or anything that can spread germs from one family member to the other. As a matter of fact, it’s best to run everything through the dishwasher to sterilize it and get rid of the germs until the sickness has run its course.
These are just a few of the top ways that you can stop sicknesses like the flu, a cold, or even a virus from spreading to other people in your home when one of you gets sick. From disinfecting everything to remembering not to share, these tips can have a sickness out of your home in no time at all. Stay healthy!
Children enjoy being creative, and they are happy to spend time painting, sticking and cutting coloured paper making fun craft items at home. These ideas can be done with just a few stationery pieces that are inexpensive to buy. Try some of these simple ideas next time the weather keeps you indoors:
1. Paper weaving crafts
Weaving can be used in many ways and is usually done with fabric or wool, but it can be done with paper too. Each child just needs two pieces of paper in different colours. Take the first sheet and fold it in half lengthways. Cut strips in the paper two centimetres apart, making sure to leave a frame around the edge of two centimetres that isn’t cut. Next cut the other sheet of paper into individual strips measuring two centimetres each. Now weave the individual strips in and out of the ‘frame’. Continue until the whole frame is filled up. Thin card, patterned paper and textured paper could all be used to make different looks.
2. Paper mosaic pictures
Children can have fun tearing different sheets of paper into little pieces. Plain or patterned paper, old magazines and used Christmas cards can be used to encourage recycling. Next, draw a simple design onto a plain piece of paper, such as a fish or bird or beach scene. Glue the ripped pieces onto the design to colour in the template and create an interesting picture. Experiment with varying sizes of torn pieces to see what effects can be created. You can also use cut up pieces of paper which is great for working on scissor skills.
3. Stained glass window designs
Create some colourful window panes and stick them to the patio doors for a bit of fun with the kids. Help them cut out frames using thin card that is easy to buy from cheap stationery suppliers. With paper glue, make the glass for the frames from coloured tissue paper or cellophane. Overlap different shades to see how the colours change. Draw on some sections of tissue paper with a black pen to make interesting details. Why not Look up stately homes online to give you some inspiration. We also have some amazing ones to inspire you.
4. Build a mobile using paper
Mobiles can be a team effort, and then end result can look quite artistic. You will need a structure to hang the mobile from – an embroidery circle or a couple of coat hangers taped together are often used. Next think of a theme, such as birds, flowers or insects. With the children, cut out multiple sizes and colours of the chosen theme from thin card. Mobiles look great if there are lots of items grouped together, so spend time making a selection of pieces. Paint, decorate and enhance the pieces to make the mobile exciting to look at. Thread all the pieces together using black cotton and fix them in place using clear tape. If this is done carefully, it could take a whole peaceful afternoon to make a beautiful work of art you could hang in the hallway. We really adore this heart mobile from Buggy and Buddy.
5. Paper Masks
These can be made using paper plates or by cutting thin card into ovals with holes cut out for the eyes. Masquerade masks that just cover the eyes can also be made for a different style. Decorate the masks with pen, glitter, feathers, wool or scraps of fabric – whatever is available. The finished masks could be used to create a theatrical play at home, or they could be to hung to decorate a wall. You could have a Mardi Gras parade with glittering masks or a robot theme which incorporates tin foil embellishments. The possibilities are endless!
There is no need to just keep your wooden clothespins just for hanging clothes. Oh no, there are so many more uses for them than just that. Take a look at these inspiring creative clothespin crafts ideas. There really is a clothespin craft for all ages and abilities here.
I love wooden clothespins. I adore that they are so tactile and fun to create with plus they are so much better for the environment than plastic pegs. Today I will be sharing some Clothespin Crafts Ideas that will inspire you to create your own use for the humble clothespin. One of our favourite ever crafts uses clothespegs and this is the one the boys always want to replicate.
adorably simple fingerprint heart ornaments made using baking soda clay. They are really easy and inexpensive to make and make great keepsakes or gifts. We are using our as part of our valentines cards.
How to make your own fingerprint heart ornaments
baking soda clay (we used this recipe, but store-bought air-drying clay or homemade salt dough will work too)
heart shaped cookie cutters
ribbon or twine
ink pads or paint
Once you have decided which clay to use, roll it out (we use a silicone cooking mat) to around 3/4 cm thick.
Cut out your heart shapes using a cookie cutter
Make a hole at the top using a straw which will become the hole for your thread or ribbon.
Get your child to press his or her finger into the clay at an angle and repeat in the opposite direction so that the bottoms of the prints meet and form a ‘v’ shape heart. Make sure that they press firmly so their finger makes a distinct impression in the dough.
Allow your dough to harden, how long this takes will depend on which dough you use. We popped ours in the oven for an hour on a low setting.
Once the hearts are hard, then comes the fun part of decorating them. We decided to use ink pads as we wanted to get the boys fingerprint details to show on the hearts. However you could use paint, ink or even glitter.
One the ink is dry, you can varnish the hearts or you can leave them as they are, which is what we did. Oh and dont forget to pop the childs name and date on the rear!
Want to see what we have done with our fingerprint heart ornaments, then come back later in the week.
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