National Unplugging Day – Will you be joining in?

National Unplugging Day is this Sunday 25th June and families are taking part in a no technology pact for the day as a way to remind and encourage people to embrace a healthy lifestyle by regularly setting aside time away from their digital devices and be more mindful of their day to day digital usage.  In a bid to celebrate the day parents are being asked to #GoGadgetFree and spend the day from sun-up to sun-down without any technology.

Let’s be honest – could you not glance at your phone, tablet or laptop for a whole day?  I know I’d struggle, even the kids like playing on daddy’s iPad although they only play free games or watch kids tv programmes.  I was astonished to learn that from 1100 parents surveyed in April, more than half of children have one or more social media accounts with children as young as six years old having an online presence.

I’m pleased to say that my children aged 9 and 6 are yet to be active online in that sense just yet although I’m sure their time will come before I’m ready for it!   In preparation for National Unplugging Day we’ve already been trying out some board games which my children love playing and are a great way for families to interact together as well spend some quality time with each other and have fun.

If you are in the area then National Unplugging Day have chosen Winchester as the venue for their National event this year.

So what does this involve? – A whole host of Wellness businesses have been brought in to provide ‘dopamine boosting’ activities and include a number of Winchester based experts who will be on hand running the workshops and include the following:

  • Winchester based Mandy Papas Hypnotherapist will running an introduction to Mindfulness course
  • Winchester based Yoga Teacher Jenny Joslin from JJ Yoga will be hosting a Parent/Child Yoga session
  • Integr8 Dance, a dance school from Winchester, will be hosting a StreetDance workshop for children
  • BeatsDisco, DJ based in Winchester will be supplying the sounds and running a DJ Vinyl workshop for Kids!
  • Other experts who are running Workshops include:
  • Chris James – Mind Body and Health Guru and Yoga Teacher to Millie Mackintosh
  • Hoop Like a Boss – Hula Hoop Teacher and Expert

To book tickets for the Winchester event, go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/unplugged-at-the-riverside-yurt-in-celebration-of-national-unplugging-day-tickets-34538347126

This is a collaborative post

Best First Pets for Children

Kids need entertainment, kids need companionship, kids need fun, and they need to learn some responsibility too. In all reality, there is no better way to provide all of those things for your child than by getting them their very own pet. Here we have a list of the best first pets that you can get for your kids, ones which will certainly make them smile.

2 Common First Pets For Kids & Families

These are without a doubt the most common first pet choices that kids get and the definitely make for some solid choices. Let’s talk about them quickly.

Dogs

A dog is a fantastic first pet to get any child, especially a smaller dog. First of all, dogs are really fun for kids, mainly because dogs love to play. Dogs like playing fetch and they like running around the house chasing things, just like kids. Guaranteed your child will have loads of fun with a dog. Moreover, most dogs are extremely friendly so you don’t have to worry about your child’s safety, plus a good dog can guard your child from threats if need be. There is also the fact that dogs really don’t take that much maintenance either.

Aside from feeding, walking, and a little grooming, there is not much effort needed to take care of a dog. Your child can learn some responsibility by having to feed and groom the dog, and even take it on walks too. Most things which a dog requires can be done by your children. If your child is too young to really take care of the dog, you can be happy with the fact that they don’t provide too much work for you either. Dog is man’s best friend and your child’s too.

Cats

A cat is another great first pet choice for your child, and that is mainly because they require virtually no maintenance. Unlike a dog, cats don’t need to be walked. You can either let them go in the litter box, in which case you will most likely have to change the litter, or if your child is old enough they can do it themselves. Other than that and regular feedings, you really don’t have to do anything to take care of a cat, something that makes it perfect for kids who don’t have too big of a sense of responsibility yet.

Also, cats make for great snuggle buddies and they just love to curl up beside you, something that your child will appreciate every day as they are watching TV on the couch. Moreover, cats can be pretty entertaining too. They do a lot of wacky stuff that we all love to watch, plus they love playing with string and toys. Your child will get hours of fun out of a cat and that is a guarantee. Cats are awesome pets that are fun, easy to take care of, and quite friendly too.

If you do decide on either a cat or dog, it’s always a good idea to consider pet rescue homes as there are lots of animals that need a home, and you are doing a good deed by rescuing too.

3 More Suggestions That Don’t Require Too Much Maintenance

If you are not a big fan of either cats or dogs, and you would like something smaller that does not require much maintenance, you can always check out these great pet ideas for your child’s first pet.

Hamster

A hamster is a fantastic little first pet choice for your child. First of all, they are small and soft, which means that your kid can lift them up and cuddle with them as much as they want. They aren’t heavy, so that’s not a problem, and they are very cuddly too, something that everyone can appreciate. Moreover, as far as rodents go, hamsters are probably the friendliest of them all, with minimal chance of being bitten by them.

Hamsters are also very fun to watch. I don’t know how many times I have caught my own kids watching that furry little creature run itself into exhaustion on that hamster wheel. Something about watching them run on that wheel is just so mesmerizing for little kids. Best of all, hamsters don’t require much maintenance.

All you need is a cage, some food, a water dispenser, some bedding, and of course the hamster itself. Occasionally you need to clean the cage, remove the hamster waste, change bedding, and make sure it has food and water. However all of those things are very easy to do, they don’t take long, and they don’t have to be done that often. Even if your child is too young to really take care of the hamster, at least it won’t be too much work for you.

Betta Fish

In our opinion, one of the coolest pets that you can get your child is a fish, specifically a Betta fish. Now, these animals take a little bit more maintenance than others, and they require some special tools too. You will need a special betta tank (Aquascapeaddiction has covered some good tank options) and a protein skimmer (this post explains how skimmers help), a filter and a light, and some fish food too. However, in the long run, none of these things are very expensive, nor are they hard to set up or use.

Once you have the aquarium set up, all that needs to be done is to feed the betta fish regularly, change some water, and clean the filter, all things which a child older than 6 or 7 can probably do on their own. Also, betta fish are very beautiful creatures that will add a certain elegance to your child’s room. These fish are also very fun to watch as they swim around the tank all day long.

Ant Colony

The final cool first pet choice to get your child, and the one that takes perhaps the least amount of maintenance, is the ant. Well, you don’t get just one ant, you get a few dozen ants, which is called a colony. These are interesting pets, because sure, you can’t

pet them or really lift them up, but they are definitely fun to watch as they borough through the dirt and create a plethora of tunnels.

There is also the fact that ants require virtually no maintenance. As long as you have a glass ant house, some lettuce or carrots, and a handful of dirt, there is nothing standing in the way of a thriving ant colony. All you need to do is feed them, that is literally the extend of an ant colony’s required maintenance, something that every parent will appreciate.

Conclusion

There are many different cool first pet choices which you can surprise your child with. Just make sure that your child will be able to keep them alive on their own, and if your child can’t, you need to be fine with doing the work yourself. That being said, a pet is a fun, rewarding, and educational thing for any child to have.

In collaboration with Craig from Aquascapeaddiction

House of Fraser SS16 Menswear

Although my husband prefers a casual approach to his clothes, I do prefer something a little smarter, so we tend to meet somewhere in the middle especially if I’m buying him something to wear.  One shop that always meets this criteria is House of Fraser which  offers a wide range of good quality, smart looking pieces.

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In the Summer he tends to wear shorts on a daily basis so we normally go with something like these Jack & Jones Intelligence Preston Cargo Shorts in grey.  Being a neutral colour, they go with any top and cover the initial brief of being smart casual for comfortable  day wear.  Teaming it with a collared t-shirt such as a polo shirt also keeps the look smart, so these tops by Hugo Boss fit the bill and again go with most things, meaning a simple mix and match wardrobe is all you need for the warmer months.

For footwear I’d add a simple pair of Tommy Hilfiger Suede Lace Up Trainers, which are comfortable, casual and easy to wear.

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Another Summer essential is swimwear and it’s great to have a practical pair of swim shorts that you can wear in the pool or on the beach.  This classic grey pair by Polo Ralph Lauren are great and can be teamed with some Havaiana’s flip flops in a contrasting colour combination.swimwear

Here’s hoping the sun comes out so we can enjoy the summer months and you can be sure your man will look good with some classic pieces from House of Fraser this season.

 This is a sponsored post

Barbie Dreamtopia Movie comes to Tiny Pop

Dreamtopia is a series set in a magical make-believe world created by Chelsea, Barbie’s six year old youngest sister. Like many girls, Chelsea really looks up to her sister, and every adventure features Barbie as either a princess, a fairy, or a mermaid from a different land that guides Chelsea and her young pup Honey on a new experience.

PR_Rainbow_RidingRainbow_S32_F26_062016This series looks magical and fun and just like something my children would enjoy.  The new Dreamtopia Barbie movie special airs on Tiny Pop 23rd July at 4pm with a catch up on Sunday 24th July at 9am.  It follows Barbie, her younger sister Chelsea and her pup Honey on a magical new adventure, telling the origins story of the land of Dreamtopia!

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Dreamtopia is a land where if you can imagine it, it can happen with everything from an edible lollipop forest full of cute happy pets.  Or perhaps ride the tallest roller coaster up in the sky on a rainbow.

Why not check out this trailer below?

The film looks fun, full of exciting adventures where dreams come true, perfect for any young Barbie fans.  We can’t wait to watch the full length this weekend – will you be watching it too?

 

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Madame Tussauds Blackpool welcomes Festival Fields

Festival Fields is the latest addition to the ever popular Madame Tussauds in Blackpool, a themed area to celebrate the increasingly popular British festival scene.  With new waxworks Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift taking centre stage and joining fellow singer Olly Murs, there are photo opportunities galore with your favourite stars.

madame tussauds

The area will invlove a multi sensory experience with smells, sounds and all the sights you’d see at a festival such as mud, portaloos and a pair of rather funky, giant wellies.  There is also a chill out area at the campsite around an open fire and a rather call retro VW campervan food stall. If you are brave enough you can also have ago at karaoke or playing with the interactive light show, it all sounds like a lot of fun to me!

madame tussauds

This short video gives you a real feel of what Festival Fields is like and how much fun you can have checking out the area and grabbing some photo opportunities:

Make the most of your trip to Madame Tussauds Blackpool with a range of affordable ticket prices. Best Madame Tussauds prices are guaranteed online with 20% off on the day tickets.

 

Ticket Type

On The Day

Online

Adult

£16.50

£13.00

Child

£13.50

£10.50

Group of 4

£54.00

£43.00

Madame Tussauds is open an impressive 364 days a year and really does have something for everyone, with waxworks from a vast range of genres, A-list celebrities, sporting legends, political heavyweights and historical icons.  It’s great that you can wander round among them for true photo opportunities and the various interactive areas that the attraction now has really makes it a fun

For more information visit: www.madametussauds.com/blackpool

This is a sponsored post

Planning our new Bathroom #TileMountainFacelift

Having finally moved house in February after almost 16 years in our first house, which I was sad to leave, we now have the seemingly endless project of redecorating our new house which initially I thought wouldn’t take too much work compared to the complete renovation we carried out on our previous property.  But unfortunately it needs more doing here than we first realised which is never easy with two children in tow!  The more you look around, the more poor workmanship you see, wonky door frames, ill fitting hinges, lumps on walls, lack of plug sockets, dodgy paintwork, budget fittings, the list goes on in general maintenance but the biggest expenses come in the form or a new kitchen and bathroom.

With all these stunning ideas below that I’ve picked up and added to my bathroom inspiration board on Pinterest you will understand when I show you the pictures of my current bathroom as to why I feel a little depressed at seeing what the previous owners have left me with!

Follow Fiona’s board Bathroom ideas on Pinterest.

A new bathroom is a project we are planning to carry out later this year, so we are in the early planning stages and are looking at options of turning the bath around in order to accommodate a sink unit as currently we have no storage in there. We are looking at adjoining the end of the bath to the shower cubicle but still having a full larger than normal shower cubicle in one corner.  For me the tiles in this bathroom are an eyesore, dingy brown with cracks, holes where all the fittings and fixtures were taken out, poorly aligned and just plain boring.  Due to having no fixtures at the moment we literally have nowhere to put anything and have plastic storage boxes on the floor!  We also have no mirrors in there and nowhere to stand one which is increasingly frustrating but the one rather poor central light is rather pointless so we are also planning new lighting throughout for the bathroom in order for it to be adequate for applying make up and the such like!  Just don’t get me started on the fake wood effect floor panels that move, curl up at the joins and just quite frankly are totally unappealing to me due to their mismatching nature.  Who would want a bathroom like this?

bathroom 1

bathroom 2

Moving on from what I have, I’m looking forward to the future, with palettes of grey and silver, along with shiny storage units, mirrors to brighten and reflect and a more modern, sleek look with a twist of vintage inspired style thrown in.

I am totally inspired by these vintage inspired tiles Skyros Delft Grey Wall and Floor Tiles from Tile Mountain, which in the picture below shows a clean, functional bathroom but with a vintage twist, a bit quirky and different.  They also do plain tiles so you can mix and match where you have them so I’d love to play around with the combination of these in my new bathroom fitting the patterned tiles maybe behind the bath or a stripe of them above the sink etc, somewhere where their beauty is highlighted and meets your eye when you walk in.

bathroom 3

If I was to take a more slick, modern route, I absolutely adore the Metallic Swirl Floor tiles, shiny, reflective, although with a bit of texture to provide some grip, these really would make a statement piece that would be the highlight of the bathroom.  Would need to look into how practical these are but you could equally feature them on the wall, maybe inside our large shower cubicle to add reflection?

I’m also looking at the Inverno Grey Marble Rectified Wall and Floor tiles which are light, bright and would just give the bathroom a clean and fresh look and in this instance I would pay more attention to interesting accessories.  For one thing I have particularly fallen in love this Heated Towel Warmer from Living House – if I can fit this into my budget then I will be one very happy lady indeed!

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I can’t wait to get beyond the planning stages of my bathroom and finally see the images and ideas come to life.  Important for us is that it works for all the family, has plenty of storage and is reasonably easy to clean but I’m sure one of the tile combinations above from Tile Mountain will work for us and I’d love to have the opportunity to try them out.  One things for sure is that I will have a new bathroom for Christmas, and have my fingers crossed for Tile Mountain to help out with the tiles to enable more budget elsewhere in the room (**thinking radiator**).

Keep your eyes peeled for more interior projects on the blog, I have yet to introduce the new house as we had a few complications on selling the old one, but now that it has finally completed I am planning a complete look back on our previous renovations followed by a room by room makeover of the new rooms and garden.

This is an entry into Tile Mountain’s blogger competition to win tile vouchers to revamp your bathroom or kitchen #TileMountainFacelift

Win a Tennis Set with Pharmaton’s Ready to Play Campaign

Phamaton Active Life are the official multivitamin supplement of British tennis and to celebrate a British win of the Davies cup they have teamed up with it’s winner Leon Smith to encourage more children to start up tennis and use it as a way to keep active.

Pharmaton High Res Packshot

The Ready to Play campaign sees Leon Smith create ten simple videos that you can encourage your kids to do at home to get active.  All you need are a few small balls, a couple of household objects and off your go, using balance and coordination, your kids ball skills will improve immediately.  Why not give them a go?

My children were eager to get outside and have ago, with wall tennis and tennis being great fun.  Trying to capture them in action was hard work though with balls flying everywhere.  What we did then find in the shed but hadn’t had a chance to play was a street tennis kit and our new garden was the perfect place to give it a go.  The children absolutely loved it and have been playing tennis in the garden as long as the sun stays out in the evenings – proving tennis is a big hit with them!

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To celebrate Pharmaton’s Ready to Play campaign and help encourage children get active I have a mini Bablolat Tennis set pictured below to give away to one of my readers:

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Just fill in the Gleam form below:

Tennis set

Redesigning Children’s Bedrooms

Having just purchased a new house for my family, one of the first areas we want to decorate are the bedrooms.  We need to think not only about paint colours, but how furniture will fit in the room, storage ideas and fun things to give the rooms personality and make the children feel like they have been designed just for them.

For my daughter we are looking for something a little bit more grown up and this bed with a large desk underneath is ideal for her to have somewhere to do all her drawing and homework.  With plenty of space on top, you can add little storage boxes filled with stationery ready for her to do her work. With drawers underneath also, this really does add storage value but gives you a large desk and bed in one.

Alta Möbel für Kinder : Classic style nursery/kids room by Fantasyroom-Wohnträume für Kinder

Also when looking for girls bedroom ideas, I came across this pretty ceiling, dotted with little lights to give them room a twinkling effect.  I think my daughter would love this, especially in the evening when she reads before falling asleep.

Starlight nursery ceilings : Modern nursery/kids room by Lancashire design ceilings

Young boys just love a fun theme in their bedrooms, and my little boy would love this pirate style bed.  With so many fun elements making it look like a ship, he would also play in this during the day.  Having a den underneath is bed is something he’s been after for a while so we have already got him a cabin bed and are just deciding on how to decorate the rest of the room.

Nursery/kid’s room by Paidi
I do love this bunk style bed with a little house at the top and choice of ladder or slide to come down.  The bed underneath can either be used for a second child, or if you only have one child using this, it can be a spare bed for friends sleeping over and during the day it could be a chill out area that I know my two would love relaxing in and playing their little adventure games.
Eclectic style nursery/kids room by Мастерская дизайна Welcome Studio
Kids love a fun bedroom and there are some fabulous ideas here to get inspiration from.  My children can’t wait to see their finished bedrooms and finally move into them, a great new space for them to explore and relax!
This is a collaborative post

Wedding Memories – Something Borrowed Something Blue

Thinking back to my wedding day back in 2004, it was a day a girl always dreams about.  Wearing an amazing dress, having all your friends and family around you and celebrating in style.  I absolutely loved my venue, a small hotel out in the countryside that we had exclusively just for our day.  The house had a sweeping staircase down the centre which I walked down and this led straight into the ceremony room where our guests were eagerly waiting.

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After the ceremony we went out of some double doors, down a few steps into the gardens for a glass of Pimms and some canapés.  It was great to catch up with people and share our special day.  It’s one of the few times in your life that you get all of your family and friends together in one place and spend a joyous day in their company.

I also remember the wedding breakfast fondly and everyone commented how spectacular the food was.  The trio of mini chocolate desserts was a big hit.  The room we ate in was the perfect size to see everyone and my mum had dressed the tables with all sorts of flowers, candles and petals – they looked fabulous!

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Weddings can be an expensive time, and I know when I saw the price of my venue, I had to sit down!  But I did find that a way to save money is by having your wedding on an alternative day to the traditional Saturday that most people have.  My venue offered a 25% discount off the total price if you had the wedding on a Sunday, so we did, and it saved us a lot of money – so that is my top tip if you are looking to reduce costs on your wedding day.

Some other money saving tips I’d recommend are that I got ready in the bridal suite of the venue as I was having a civil ceremony there, which meant I had no need for a wedding car.

Do your own flowers, I bought some luxury pink roses and some huge green leaves which we wrapped around the outside and then bound the stems with satin ribbon.  To me they looked gorgeous and I only held them for the ceremony and the photographs, so glad I hadn’t spent extra on specially made ones.

Also write your own invitations, I did look at printed ones but they are so expensive.  There are some really lovely luxury packs of wedding invites to buy in the shops and if you use a nice pen, and a bit of calligraphy writing, you can make them look really good with that personal hand written touch at a fraction of the price.

If you are looking for help in the form of a loan for your wedding day then why not call Chris and the rest of the personal loans team from Ocean Finance who will be happy to discuss your needs.

This post was my own views on weddings written in collaboration with Ocean Finance who compensated me with some restaurant vouchers for my time.

Santa Maria Fab Fajita challenge #TASTEsantamaria

Mexican is one of my favourite meal choices and something we eat regularly at home.  With the range of Mexican inspired store cupboard ingredients available from Santa Maria, you really can make up your meals simply and easily just be adding a few fresh ingredients.

Santa Maria

Being vegetarian I always serve vegetarian fajita’s.  For tonights meal I am adding Quorn along side various fresh vegetables with my special ingredient being courgette which really helps fill out the meal and gives you a nice addition to the peppers, onions and tomatos.

I’m also using Santa Maria wraps, Fajita seasoning and salsa which make it really easy to get that spicy Mexican flavour.

santa maria 2

After lightly frying the onion, I add the Quorn to brown off, then the other vegetables and sprinkle with seasoning, continuing to cook to until my kitchen is wafting in Mexican fragrances.

I like to serve my fajitas with a side salad to make the perfect meal, ideal for all the family on a Saturday night!

Once served add a light sprinkling of cheese and some ground black pepper.  Tasty!!

santa maria 3

 

We were provided with Santa Maria products for the  #TASTEsantamaria Fab Fajita challenge.