Monday, 28 April 2014

Twitter Giveaway! CLOSED! Winner Andrew Bailey

Now that our blog launch giveaway is coming to a close, we thought we'd give our readers another chance to win another marvellous prize.

Up for grabs is the cool Bossa Nova beat CD 'Estrella Presents Sweet Bossa'. It contains some familiar songs which have been given a bossa nova twist. Perfect for chilling out on a summers day.


Win this CD
Sweet Bossa Nova

Track List:
1. Make it Mine
2.Womanizer
3. Bad Day
4. Bleeding Love
5. Take a Bow
6. I'm Yours
7. Viva La Vida
8. Apologise
9. Because of You
10. Put Your Records On
11. Green Light
12. You're Beautiful
13. Sunday Morning
14. Big Girls Don't Cry
15. You Give Me Something
16. Bubbly
17. If I Ain't Got You




All you have to do to win is click the Twitter link below, become a follower and retweet this tweet:
Retweet to win

The competition closes at 8.00 pm on Sunday 4th May. One entry per person. Winner drawn at random using Random.org

GOOD LUCK!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The results of my declutter for Lent challenge!

Do you love to have a nosey at other people's belongings? Well you might just be in luck! I blogged about my challenge for Lent back in February and here is how it went. I'll let the pictures do the talking....

Here is what I binned:

Rubbish
Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish


Here is what went to the charity shop:

Charity shop items
For the charity shop!


Here is what I gave away:


Old red chair
Old chair

High chair
High chair

Baby walker
Baby walker

Light fitting
Light fitting

Baby clothes
Baby clothes galore!

Ipod dock
Ipod dock

Sat nav
Sat nav

Stroller
Stroller

Clothes
Clothes

Light bulbs
Light bulbs that don't fit any of our lights!

Baby clothes
More baby clothes

Buttons
Buttons

Packaging
Used packaging

Elvis book and clock
Elvis book and clock

Buttons
More buttons 
Mini fondue set
Mini fondue set

Rain macs and necklace
Rain macs and necklace

Pineapple slicer
Pineapple slicer


Here is what I sold:


Camera

Touch up paint
Touch up paint

Karcher wheel set
Karcher wheel set

Foundation
Foundation

Baby activity station
Baby activity station

Here is my day by day declutter list:


01. Bottom shelf in bedroom - sorted old underwear
02. Kitchen cupboard - 01 - mixed
03. Pulled out clothes from underbed and sorted the scarf bag
04. Baby clothes sort
05. Baby gym ready for sale
06. Clothes sort - shelves
07. Clothes sort - hanging up
08. 2 drawers of clothes sort
09. Toiletry cases
10. Kitchen cupboard - 02 - treats
11. Baby vests, coats and leggings
12. Sort plastic bags with CDs and one food cupboard
13 Kitchen Cupboard 03 - Tupperware cupboard
14 Kitchen Cupboard 04 - baking items + trays
15 Cabinet in spare bedroom
16 Kitchen Cupboard 05 - sort food
17 Kitchen cupboard - sort spices
18 Condiment cupboard
19 Freecycle items - chair, high chair, baby clothes, light fittings
20 Freecycle items - pineapple slicer, baby bits and bobs, ipod dock and clock
21 Lounge wear
22 DIY bits
23 Bedside drawer
24 Bottom of bedroom cupboard
25 Bottom of bedroom cupboard
26 Bottom of bedroom cupboard
27 Bag of stuff in bedroom I hadn’t sorted since moving 5 years ago!
28 Utility cupboard
29 Stroller ready for Freecycle + shoes by front door
30 Cook books
31 Basket of odd bits in sitting room
32 Stuff shoved behind the bookcase
33 Paper work sort
34 Collect bits and bobs from kitchen to giveaway
35 Paper work sort
36 Items posted to Freecycle
37 Sorted items for Freecycle and eBay
38 Photographed items for freecycle and eBay
39 Items on eBay / Freecycle
40 Put memory box items in a pile
41 Start sorting boxes in spare room
42 Packed away 1 large box
43 Stacked box files together
44 Gathered rubbish together and threw out
45 Gathered items for charity shop.
46 Relax!

It's amazing how productive you can be in just ten minute spurts each day.

What are your top tips for a successful declutter?

By Lee

Friday, 18 April 2014

In-tent on having a good time!

Are you/did you do anything nice over the Easter holidays?

We had our second ever camping trip. We were booked in at a camp site in Northumberland. A relatively new one which had a great web site and looked fab. We booked in for three nights which I found was the perfect duration when we went camping last year.

I am totally new to camping. I never thought I would enjoy it as I like my home comforts. I hate going a day without a shower for a start and my mental image of camping was staying in the old style triangular tents and going to the loo in a bush. How wrong could I be? It is amazing how much tents have changed over the years and the gadgets and equipment you can buy are fantastic. You can book into sites with great washing facilities so my fears were allayed.


Camping games
Outdoor Family Fun
Last year, we booked into a large site which housed dozens of tents, touring caravans and statics. It was during the summer holidays and apart from the odd rain shower, we scored really lucky for the weather and had a great time. I discovered that I loved staying in the open air. It was great for our family to have some quality bonding time. Hubby enjoyed cooking on the stove, the kids loved the fresh air and the open space.

Outdoor Camp Cooking
Cooking on the Camp Site


We decided to buy a relatively cheap tent package which included a 4 berth tent, airbeds, sleeping bags and lights. We bought it on ebay as we didn't want to spend a fortune in case we didn't like camping. Over the coming weeks, we bought some bits and bobs like a gas stove, cool box etc. It is the type of holiday which is quite expensive at first but once you have the gear can be really cheap so

Lesson 1: Beg, borrow (don't steal!) as much equipment as you can until you can build up your gear.


We were lucky enough to have family and friends who have loaned and donated some of their stuff so we haven't had to fork out for everything all at once.

We did discover that the ice blocks in our cool box we had bought didn't last for ages. At the end of our break we found out that the site shop would refreeze them for us. We found out too late and had to throw out some food.

 

Lesson 2: Find out what facilities the site has before you go. 


We now have an electric cool box which is fantastic!


Buy Good Sleeping Bags!
Buy Good Sleeping Bags!
After our first night's camping, we came to the conclusion that the sleeping bags that came with our tent were rubbish. We went to a camping shop and bought some great mummy style sleeping bags. They weren't cheap but what a difference!

Lesson 3: Don't skimp on sleeping bags! A good nights rest is essential! 





Relaxing in the Great Outdoors
Relaxing in the Sun
Although we thoroughly enjoyed our trip, it became apparent that the tent we had was a little small for a family of four. We had to move everything into the bedrooms during the day and then move everything into the living space at night. You couldn't stand up inside (and we aren't tall people). There wasn't any space to sit comfortably around a table in bad weather. As we had decided that camping holidays would be more of a regular occurrence, we started looking for a new tent. Hubby found a monster tent (probably way too big for our needs) and bought it. Not only did he buy this massive six berth tent, he also bought the extension. Well you never know, we might need the extra space...

Lesson 4: Don't let a man choose the tent. It will inevitably be a mansion.




Spacious Tent
Our new huge tent!
So with our first trip under our belt, we decided to start early this year so that we can get two or three trips in over the season. I chose the site and we were all excited to be going, hoping for a repeat of the previous years trip.

We arrived at the site early afternoon. It was a much smaller place with room for about 20 tents and a small area for camper vans. We'd chosen the standard pitches over the wild area which was on offer as we wanted electric hookup and also to be near the toilets.

Lesson 5: If you have small children, try to get located relatively close to the toilets... oh and take shoes that can be slipped on easily through the night.


We took trainers last year and it was a nightmare at 3am so ended up buying some clogs locally.

It was pretty windy and we weren't allowed to park next to the pitch as the ground was soft. We had to carry the tent etc to the pitch and then drive down to the car park. The pitches were very spacious but very rugged. It took a while to find a big enough space without a big tuft of grass on it. I asked hubby if he had looked up how to erect this huge tent... Nope!

Lesson 6: Find out how to put up your tent BEFORE you go!


He had seen there was a YouTube video for the tent below ours in the range but hadn't bothered to watch it. BIIIIIIIG MISTAKE! Coupled with a really strong wind and a very exposed pitch (no trees etc around), it was a nightmare. We almost took off at one point and discovered that the tent was a makeshift hang glider in disguise. It took all of our strength not to let go. Thankfully, four good Samaritans came to our aid and helped us put up the tent. If it hadn't been for them, I think that we would have given up.



Onsite Cafe
Lovely onsite cafe
We ate at the site café which was delicious. The facilities were great and there was also a small play area for the kids. They loved having the freedom to go there whenever they wanted.

We started to unpack and it became apparent that I had neglected to pack several items. Bowls, cups, matches, batteries.....really useful stuff! They were all in the old cool box which we had left behind.

Lesson 7: Make a list of things you need and check them off as you load them into the car! 


Luckily, there were some shops in the nearby village and we managed to buy the things that we were missing - though they only had two bowls, so breakfast was done in shifts, and the cups were like thimbles so we had to have two cups of tea each time.


Fun at Kielder Park
Fun at Kielder Park
We had a terrible night's sleep - partially down to some noisy neighbours who, despite the 10pm quiet time, insisted on making loads of noise. I had two 'middle of the night' trips to the loo with the girls (why didn't we have boys?!!!) and the wind was terrible. Part of the tent became unpegged through the night and hubby had to get up to pin it back down.

Next day, we went off to Kielder Lake. We had a lovely time at the castle, salmon centre and the play area. It was cold but still an enjoyable day.

We got back to the camp site around 4pm and it was blowing a gale again. Added to the mix was rain too. We were gasping for a cuppa and it was almost time for dinner but there was no way that we could cook anything on the stove in that weather. We had some ham but had eaten that at lunchtime on our trip out.

 

Lesson 8: Take some food that doesn't need to be cooked!  

We ended up sitting around an electric camp fire toasting bread! 

Fun at Kielder Park
Fun at Kielder Park
The weather was relentless and it was starting to become tiresome and we were not having fun anymore. The prospect of another sleepless night was not appealing. We were feeling dismayed but decided to call it a day. When there was a gap in the clouds, we packed up and went home.

Perhaps if we hadn't had the kids or if we had been more experienced campers, we might have sat it out but the exposed pitch just wasn't worth the misery.

 




Lesson 9: If camping early in the season, choose a site with some coverage.


We haven't been put off camping. We have a fantastic (big!) tent and will definitely be trying again later in the year.  It's a great experience and can be a cheap base for staying in some fantastic places.

Have you tried camping? What tips have you picked up?

By Bee

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Amber and teething babies. Does it work?

I'd never heard of amber jewellery being used as a teething relief for babies until my cousin recommended it for my little girl. I'm pretty skeptical at the best of times and really couldn't see how this could work? I dismissed it as yet another baby fad that I wasn't about to sign up to.

How does amber work?

The active ingredient in Baltic amber is called succinic acid. When worn against the skin, body heat warms it and allows it to release an oil containing succinic acid. This acts as a natural pain reliever and analgesic - so ideal for teething pain. 

Teething begins

Forward a few months and the teething process begins - cranky baby, sleepless nights, cranky parents. We tried paracetamol, teething powders, liquids, gels and fancy teethers. While we had some success with these, our baby was just generally cranky. This is when I decided to give amber a try.

Under EU and UK regulations, amber jewellery is not recommended for children under 36 months as the beads may pose a choking hazard. Children should also be supervised while wearing amber jewellery. I decided to opt for an anklet I could put on under her tights or sleepsuit so I knew she couldn't get to it easily.

Once she'd had the anklet on for a few days, there was a marked calming effect. Hhhmmmmm but maybe this was just a coincidence? I didn't think too much more about it, but continued to put the amber anklet on her each day anyway.

Then one day our super cranky baby was back and we couldn't seem to settle her. "Must be teething time again" I said to my hubby. "Does she still have her amber anklet on?" he asked......and then it dawned on me - No she didn't! It had fallen off when I was changing her that morning and I just didn't get around to putting it back on. Surely this crankiness couldn't be cured by the anklet? We popped it back on and sure enough she calmed within a few hours. By now I'm coming around to the idea that this anklet may actually be working!

First amber anklet didn't last long

Several months down the road and baby decides to tug the anklet and ping! it's broken. I had struggled to find an adjustable anklet when I bought it so opted for one on an elastic, but it didn't last.

Broken amber anklet
Broken amber anklet

The next few days erased any doubt in my mind about the power of amber. We had an incredibly cranky baby, we used much more medication, we had a few instances of upset and crying for hours at a time and a few very early morning upsets too.

I'd heard of a local lady who hand made amber jewellery and ordered a better quality adjustable one from her. Take a peek at Afkar to see what she has to offer. 

Our new amber anklet

Our anklet arrived and how fabulous it was too. I loved the selection of unique beads and the colourful chord holding it together was such a pretty touch. It's individually knotted too which means if does break, it's more likely to break in one place and won't send beads flying everywhere like our first one did.

Adjustable amber anklet
Adjustable Amber Anklet £7 from Afkar

So we popped it on our little girl and hoped it would make a difference. Sure enough it did. Although still quite cranky during her first evening of wearing an anklet again - she did sleep right through the night and she did the same the second night, the third night, the fourth night and so on. Yes! Our happy baby was back.

Baby wearing amber anklet
Calmness restored with our new amber anklet

She still has her moments with teething troubles but the frequency is much less often than without the anklet. Although amber jewellery is not recommended for children under 36 months I felt comfortable that my child did not have easy access to the anklet under her clothes. That was my personal choice and you would need to make your own informed choice as to what is right for you and your child.

As I chat to other mums about their experiences with amber - they are invariably positive stories with many of them saying they too were skeptical to begin with.

Do you or your child wear amber? Do you think it makes a positive difference?

By Lee

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Earth Therapeutics Eye Pads Giveaway

Earth Therapeutics Eye Pads Giveaway

We are giving away this fabulous set of professional treatment eye pads.
Cucumber Eye Pads will soothe and replenish.
Orange Eye Pads will refresh and rejuvenate.

Simply head over to our Facebook page  to enter.

Closing date: 8pm 11th April 2014

Good luck!

WINNER: Liz Ferguson