Tech presents for kids

It’s my twins birthday this weekend.. they’ll be nine years old!

Jeewiz how did that happen? It’s all going so quick I’d like time to slow down a bit please!

I still think of my twins as being about five or six… they’re only little and I guess with them being my last children… I do tend to baby them a LOT! They’re so cute and adorable and love cuddles and being with Mummy but what I’ve noticed with them, more so than with my older two, is that they don’t play with TOYS as much. They have loads of toys but they’re not interested in them at all really.

All they want to do is play on their gadgets and devices.

tech consoles ipads

They are obsessed!

I know this isn’t unusual in this day and age though… it’s a universal phenomenom we’re dealing with here as parents and although I do restrict ‘tablet’ time I don’t find it that much of a problem. It’s a sign of the times, kids need to be clued up and tech savvy in today’s world and actually, having these devices to play on certainly does have it’s advantages!

Most importantly, it means they’ll be quiet, especially if I’m needing to work as they’re so absorbed. It’s like they’re not even in the same house as me, barely moving at all until a last minute toilet dash or to eat! Also, by playing some of the games they download, they can all play together, which means they’re interacting and communicating, getting along nicely, rather than doing their own thing or even worse…. fighting!

So for their birthday this year they’ve asked for tech presents of course. On their rather extensive birthday list there’s not a single toy which is a bit sad… apart from maybe Squishes, which they have already!

xbox one

At the moment they have a PS3 that they play on but obviously, despite lots of games they have and still use regularly, the PS3 is now obsolete. They have the Nintendo Switch which they love and have asked for new games for but they have been asking for a new console for a while and it seems EITHER the PS4 or the XBox One will do! They’d have one of each if they could but they seem to be leaning more towards the XBox as this will be something completely new and the one that most of their friends have!

My eldest son had an Xbox. The old version he’s had it for years and still uses it! He’s not that into gaming so he hasn’t hanckered after a new one but I know he too would love it if we bought the XBox One S!

After reading up on it, this super machine not only provides exceptional family gaming but also has the Microsoft Windows userface (which I’m used to) and has the ability to do so much more in terms of entertainment experiences.

I’m sold anyway on this so even if we don’t get it for the twins’ birthday… it’ll still be on the wish list for Christmas and we’ll definitely buy it then! There’s absolutely no point in buying lots more toys…. they’ll get SOME of course but if they don’t play with them it’s a waste of money! They’ll get far more use out of the Xbox whether we like it or not!

Afternoon Tea Week 2018

This week.. 13th to 19th August 2018 is Afternoon Tea Week!

afternoon tea week 2018

Celebrating the great British tradition of Afternoon Tea week 2018 is set to be the biggest celebration of British style and elegant eccentricity ever. The tradition dating back to Victorian times was started by the seventh Duchess of Bedford. It’s claimed she created high tea while visiting the fifth Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle. Could she ever have imagined that her solution to afternoon hunger would not only turn into a British custom, but a week-long celebration?

Hotels, tea rooms and restaurants will be running one-off events and offering exclusive discounts, up and down the country.

Online experience gift retailer, Buyagift are offering 20% off their Afternoon Tea gifts with their special discount code to use on their website! And to make it more fun, they’ve come up with their very own hashtag #AfternoonteawithyourBFF to encourage you to enjoy one of their wonderful gifts with that special friend. Buyagift offer some of the best Afternoon Tea days around… from 5 star, posh hotels to fun themed affairs.. there’s something for everyone!

So if you’re looking for something lovely to do this week or this weekend…. be sure to grab the discount while it’s still on and join in with this wonderful national event!

 

Create a Home That’s Easy to Keep Clean

Create a home that's easy to keep clean

Whether you live alone or you’re raising a family, chances are you spend more time cleaning than you’d like. Or in my case, always chasing my tail knowing I need to do more! While it’s an inevitable part of adult life, there are ways you can make things easier for yourself and cut down the time it takes you to get your home spic and span. While life isn’t perfect and few of us manage to achieve a show- home look at all times, here are some of the ways you can keep things in order more easily.

Replace carpets with hard floors

Carpets might be soft and cosy underfoot, but they’re difficult to maintain. Mud from shoes, pet accidents, food spills and general build up of dirt and grime means they can wear out, get stained and hold onto smells. If you don’t want to spend extra cleaning time scrubbing carpets, why not replace them with hard floors? Solid wood, laminate, ceramic tiles or natural stone are all far easier to keep clean and will last longer too. You can always add some rugs for comfort and warmth, if you go with cheaper varieties you can replace them when they wear out which is cheaper than replacing entire carpets. One trick is to have hard floors downstairs, but carpets upstairs. That way you get the cosiness in bedrooms, but can impose a no food or shoes upstairs rule.

Go with a minimal decor scheme

The more stuff you have in general, the more cleaning will be needed. Shelves of ornaments will mean lots of time spent dusting. Lots of items of furniture will mean vacuuming around them or moving them out the way. You can save money with these life hacks from vouchercloud in regards to vacuuming, but in general the less you have the easier it will be. A more minimal aesthetic will make your home look more spacious and make it far easier to keep clean. Stick with the basics and avoid anything too fussy or hard to maintain.

Invest in good storage

One reason that our homes can accumulate mess and clutter is because we don’t have a proper place for everything. Items can end up in piles or thrown in drawers and before you know it you’re overflowing with stuff you don’t know what to do with. Invest in good storage, and assign a place to everything. Coats, bags, umbrellas and shoes for example could all be stored in a downstairs cubby- fix some hooks to the walls and a shoe rack on the floor to make it easy to put things away. Use drawer dividers, baskets and pots to categorise and neatly store smaller items and stop them from getting jumbled up. Have a drawer or hanging space for all of the clothes that you wear. Going through and decluttering first is a smart move, as you free up space for the things you do use and love.

Do a little each day

If you do a little each day, it’s easy to keep on top of things. A quick vacuum, wiping kitchen worktops, putting bleach in sinks and toilets and picking up loose items from the home only need take fifteen minutes. That way, when you come to clean properly you have far less to do.

Horrible Histories Barmy Britain – Part Four

horrible histories barmy britain part 4

We headed into London again this week to see Horrible Histories Barmy Britain – Part Four live on stage!

This is a show that’s been running for a long time, changing and evolving, and we’ve always wanted to see one, so we were very excited to be finally going.

Horrible Histories began life as a series of books and magazines describing the gory and horrible side of life in Britain a long time ago! They are hilarious and gross in equal measure… written by Terry Deary and illustrated by Martin Brown, they have become a firm favourite with kids of all ages! The bestselling books cover every terrible time in history…. it’s ‘history with the nasty bits left in’!

Arriving at the Apollo theatre, we couldn’t wait to go inside and take our seats!

horrible histories barmy britain part 4 london stage theatre

This is the seventh year Horrible Histories has been in the West End and each part… one, two and three… have been sell out successes.

The stage show is directed by Neil Foster at The Birmingham Theatre Company who, since its foundation has staged over eighty productions and become one of the world’s leading producers of theatre for children and their families.

Only two actors play all the roles. Neal Foster the director is one, and Anthony Spargo is the other. Both utterly brilliant  and hilarious playing a variety of gross yet incredibly interesting characters.

I wasn’t sure what to expect initially or if my twins would like it, as I knew there’d be some gory bits and they can be a wary, but right from the off, the performers had them laughing out loud! The humour was right up their street. Good old toilet humour… literally! There’a a little bit at the start of the show when one of the actors ‘farts’ and the other one tries to copy him! Certainly broke the ice!

Then there was the insult song, which encouraged audience participation. Reading out this lot of lyrics was brilliant fun for all the children watching! Lots of giggles.

During this instalment of Barmy Britain Part Four, we learned all about Richard the Third and the funny reference to Shakespeare.. who was branded boring in comparison to this King; Henry the Eighth’s war’s and the fact that 7000  of his men walked away from battle because there was no beer; Queen Mary and Mary Queen of Scots… there was a very funny song telling us that these were in fact two separate Queens! Who knew?

horrible histories barmy britain part 4

And King James, who was once a Scottish King but was brought down to be the English King!

There are so many facts and tales about all of these people plus lots and lots more. Did you know there was a job that entailed shovelling out your poo from your bucket toilet at the end of your garden or yard? Totally gross!

horrible histories live on stage london theatre

We learned about the last woman to be burned to death in England as punishment for a crime and the fact the King James was an avid believer in witches and witchcraft.. he had thousands of women killed who he believed were witches and even wrote a whole book on demonism!

Another gruesome moment was when we were told that if someone was found dead and the police had no identity, they would put the dead persons head on a pole and ask members of the public if they recognised him/her!

horrible histories

There were tales of pulling one’s own teeth out with pliers, barbaric operations and a bit of dance flossing thrown in too!

I could go on and on describing every single scene but I won’t. I don’t want to give TOO much away but it’s honestly so good and moves at a very fast pace, keeping my children totally engrossed from start to finish. It was funny and fascinating…. I only wish I’d seen all of the other, past shows too! Although you don’t need to have seen them to enjoy this one… it’s all brand new!

Horrible Histories Barmy Britain part 4 is on at the Apollo theatre until 1st September…. do go and see it.. it will be a massive hit with the kids! It’s one that young AND older kids will enjoy! Tickets can be booked through Nimax or any other retailers.

The Practical Extras That Transform A Family Kitchen

Lounging in front of the television together on the sofa is where and how many of us eat our family meals. Now that technology is inseparable from the younger generation, no doubt children will eat their meals while watching Netflix on a tablet or smartphone. The parents are a little more old school and they would prefer the family at the dining area.

No matter what kind of style your family eats by, the kitchen is where it all begins. This is where the meal preparation and cooking happens. Perhaps if more of the family pitched in to create a great meal, then they would want to sit together as a shared task needs a shared accomplishment or rather, a fitting ending. A dull and plain kitchen isn’t going to send the kids wild with excitement. And even for us adults, a gloomy kitchen is something that you want to get away from as soon as you cook a meal. If you have these feelings, chances are that you don’t see the heart of the home as your pride and joy.

Redecorating and remodelling the kitchen may solve the problem but that’s an expensive option. A few practical extras could uplift your kitchen to where the family wants to gather.


An island of lights

Most modern homes adopt an L-shape for the kitchen. You have the fittings all along the edges as well as the cupboards fitted to the walls. In the centre, just adjacent of that is the countertop or rather in interior decor terms, ‘the island’. If you have a faux stone finish, such as mimicking granite or slate, the island itself can be quite dark during the day and night. This is especially true if the countertop is drenched in a shadow such as from curtains or a wall. It’s very common to have two kinds of lights for a kitchen these days. The main light switch is for the dominant lighting of the kitchen and perhaps beyond if you have an open plan. The second light switch is for a dimmer light, mainly for night time so you don’t dazzle or hurt your eyes. Depending on the fixed location of this latter light, your countertop is only partially lit.

You have two options at your disposal that could rectify the problem of darkness on the island. The obvious one is to fit drop down lights to the ceiling and have them positioned directly over the top. The angle is such as you will need to decide very carefully over what kind of lights you want. If you’re going for the stylish approach of many lights, then you can afford to spread them around and cover all of the islands. If not then you need to pick lights that have a broad field of coverage.

The second and not so easy option but still practical is buying a countertop that has LED lights fitted inside it. Yes, it’s a real thing. There are lots of styles you can choose from but the most popular is the starry night type. You can have roundel lights fitted to each corner so even in the dark, you can see the outline of the island. Great for seeing your way through a midnight snack building and of course, you won’t hit your hip into the sharp corners anymore.

Don’t stick around

Part of why families dread going into the kitchen is because of the tasks that it inevitably throws up at them. But it’s life and no one should shy away from cleaning up after themselves. When you are preparing a meal you’re bound to make a mess. You can bet your last penny that breadcrumbs have been sitting in your kitchen for such a long time that they become crusty and hard. `No doubt that the sink itself is stained somewhere, and the walls are a little grimey-looking. That’s the issue with modern kitchens. Designers want to ‘wow’ you and get you to pay for a higher price because the materials look as if they’re practical.

A stainless steel sink may look shinier than most other materials, and even look less expensive on paper. But white ceramic sinks are designed to be non-stick. So when you’re cleaning dishes in the sink, pasta sauce and vegetables won’t stick to the sides. And even the grime or dirty water doesn’t get to stick around for long, as it does for stainless steel sinks. Ever notice the white stains that look like powder has dried onto your sink? That’s a mix of dirty water and washing up liquid. With a ceramic sink, you don’t get these stains as the surface is so slippery and smooth, they can’t stick. However, where there is an upside there is also a contrast. You have to make sure not to be rough with the sink such as allow cutlery to fall from height as you could chip it. Apart from this, ceramic is also a classic country house style and brings much-needed warmth to a kitchen surrounded by dark tones.

Balancing all light

Although they may have been a trend in the 80s and 90s, dimmer switches are still used throughout all kinds of homes. They’re easy to use because they have a rotational knob which is used to control the current going to the light bulb. They have great versatility for changing the mood in the home. One room can be fully lit, but where someone doesn’t quite want to go to bed but perhaps wants to lie back and catch up on emails on a laptop or tablet, the light can be dimmed to suit their need. They’re quite reasonably priced also and no longer a type of luxury fitting in the home. You can fit a dimmer switch yourself as they’re not much different from conventional switches.

How to fill the Summer Holidays Week by Week

The summer holidays can feel extremely long when you’re struggling for content to fill it with, but too short when the new school term is only weeks away. Filling the summer holidays week by week is more than achievable, but it will take a careful effort in planning and scheduling. It’s also important to consider pacing. Much like a good movie, your summer break must have periods of excitement bound and tempered by periods of calm relaxation to recharge those involved.

I’ll be honest and say we like to just chill out mainly in the holidays if we can. The kids need it. School is tiring so just doing nothing is appealing. My children are quite well behaved though (touch wood!) and they are happy playing, watching tv or in the garden!

It’s nice to break up the summer holidays with an actual holiday but many people who double book holidays back to back can often feel burned out! Same if you do nothing but socialise the entire time.. you can feel absolutely exhausted by the end week, right when school is starting.

Thankfully, the six weeks (on average) of the school break isn’t an overly long amount of time to plan for, so you needn’t worry about having to plan this like a military operation. However, it can pay to know exactly when and why you might enjoy certain activities at a certain time, so consider the following rough guide for clues on how to do this. 

The First Week

The first week of your summer holidays is likely the time when your family will want to relax from work or school for a time. Jumping right into a holiday can be a little tiring, and quite overcrowded depending on when you travel. However, some families might feel energised by the effort of jumping abroad with haste, so it all depends on your tastes and family setup. Spending at least a day or two bonding in your new time off can help everyone once again settle down with spending a full week together. This could perhaps be crested with hosting a family barbecue for even extended members of the family. The first week is also a great time for you and your children to polish off any homework or summer projects they may have been assigned, so they needn’t worry about them anymore.

The Second Week

This can be the perfect time to head on holiday. The family has settled and the summer is in full swing. If you have older teenagers who’re fans of the social vibe, this can be the perfect ‘party time.’ It’s the period with the most energy, so be sure to make use of it.

The Third Week

This week may continue to be filled with your holiday abroad. If not, this can be a perfect time to visit family, to settle into home life fully, to begin repairs on your home or take care of many other summer organisational tasks that you may not have gotten around to yet.

The Fourth Week

The fourth week is important for many reasons. It can be a great time to socialise, to visit family that live a relative distance away, a time to enter into a new hobby, a time to perhaps even spend time committing to some incredibly late spring cleaning. The fourth week is also an excellent time to commit to home repairs, such as installing insulation preparing for the winter, as the height of summer and August is here, and now is the best time for those servicemen to complete their tasks.

The Fifth Week

The fifth week is often a great time for creative and relaxing enjoyment. There are many small events you may consider worthy of attending, some that can inspire and relax your family in equal measure. For example, booking tickets to see Aladdin, the popular show touring theatres could help you and your family to bond, and can serve as a wonderful surprise. These shows often tour over summer, and booking in advance for this week can secure you a seat.

The Sixth Week

The final week of the school holidays is a perfect time to unwind, but you might also consider making use of the lowered prices of heading abroad or to a local holiday destination, as many parents will not risk heading there during the final week. However, you might be the family that absolutely relaxes from activity such as this, so one final special break could be a wonderful time. If not, consider relaxing, eating good food, bonding together as a family in your four walls or simply reading in the garden. Now is the time to once again adapt to the flow of life, and in one week begin remembering one of the funnest summers of your life.

With these simple tips, filling the summer holidays week by week could be a practical reality, instead of a worrying duty.

 

*Collaborative Post

How to Create a Spacious Living Room

Whether you’re restricted with space or just seem to have given in to the clutter over the years, creating a spacious, inviting feel in your living room can seem like a mammoth task.

However, with some clever tips and tricks, you could be enjoying this airy, open space in no time at all. Here’s how:

1. Opt for Lightweight Furniture

It’s not just the size of your furniture that matters, it’s what weight it carries visually, too. For example, a piece of furniture that’s got legs or is light in colour will look far less intrusive than a piece of dark furniture that’s boxy in appearance.

Chairs with legs help keep the floor space open, as do glass coffee tables with slim metal legs.

2. Choose Your Table Wisely

As well as glass coffee tables, you might also want to consider console tables that give you extra storage space but without detracting too much from your floor space. Set higher up than your average coffee table, they create a stylish sideboard but without being too chunky – and again, they don’t cover the floor which helps add to the spacious feel.

Choose a design that complements your overall space, whether that’s cool and contemporary or quirky and traditional. Cox & Cox, for example, have some uber-funky designs!

3. Go Neutral

A must-do for small spaces is to keep things light and airy with a neutral colour scheme. This helps push back your walls and doesn’t draw the eye to certain points, which helps expand the space further – particularly when you add mirrors to the walls too.

4. Use Light to Your Advantage

To enlarge your space, it’s important you use all of the light available. Your neutral colour palette will do this wonderfully, reflecting light and emulating a roomy feel. And you can further this by keeping window hangings simple, making sure you don’t block any of the light coming in through these with heavy fabric.

Equally, if you can find floor-length curtains that boast a light fabric and vertical design, these can really help draw your vision up and below eye level.

5. Be Creative with Your Seating

If you really are pushed for space and don’t want too many sofas or chairs taking up that much-needed room, get clever with how you can create additional seating when guests arrive. From a stylish ottoman (which also doubles up as a coffee table) to a window seat that has storage underneath it, there is plenty of cool ideas available.

Ultimately, it doesn’t have to be difficult to transform your living space from cluttered and claustrophobic to cool and spacious.
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