Friday, 23 January 2015

Going back in time.... A house made of history!

Apart from the resident spiders that seem to dwell in our roof spaces, I love living in an old house. It's a 4 storey Victorian terraced house and as we work our way through the renovations, we find all sorts of bits and bobs that relate to our house's former life.

Both of my children are studying the Victorian age at school and so they are able to take some of the findings in to school to talk about them with their classmates.

We've found Victorian servant's bell wires, vintage light fittings and switches and, more recently, newspapers from the 60's stashed away in one of the loft spaces. So, being a nosey-parker, I read the newspapers from 1962! It was humorous to see the out look on life was quite different then. These are the pieces that amused me the most! Apologies for the creases.... the papers are pretty old!

'Some women, of course, don't realise that housework is as simple as ABC'
Love the 'Free Time' drawer - that's the 'junk' drawer in my house!
I didn't realise the Channel Tunnel was planned in the 1960's!

Regarding the MP's 'wage scandal' (bottom right picture, above), £1,750 in 1962 is approximately £33,000 in today's money. If they could see into the future, no wonder they were having a moan as nowadays, the average wage of an MP stands at about £74,000!! Scandalous indeed!

So, back to the normal household stuff! As we are updating things around the house, we have covered old fireplaces and bricked up chimneys and so have left behind little treasures of our own. We put together a time capsule and hidden it in the basement for a future finder to enjoy. We included a newspaper, letters from my children, drawings and a couple of small toys and trinkets which represents our children's lives in the early 2000's.

We've also allowed out children to draw on the insides of plaster-boarded internal walls - so one day, another family will hopefully have the joy of discovering our lives! Or maybe they will just think that we are crazy!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Blue Monday? Fix it with Sugru!

Sugru is a cool, mouldable 'glue' that turns into rubber making fixing, modifying or even making things easy and fun for everyone. The patented silicone technology is unique. Out of the pack, Sugru feels like play-dough, and it's that easy to use too. It bonds to almost any other material and cures just by exposing it to air. Its durable cured properties mean it'll stay strong and securely bonded anywhere from the freezer to a steamy hot shower, from the home to the great outdoors. Sounds hard to believe but it's true!
Findings from a recent poll on sugru.com have revealed that the most feel good DIY projects are those that involve organising and sorting your stuff. So far so boring? Not when you’re given a helping hand by a few tiny friends….

Almost a quarter of those who took part in the online poll voted for one of last year's most popular projects - Sugru + Lego = perfect cable holders - as the ideal way to help banish the blues this January.
The simple but ingenious idea came from a fan in Germany and soon snowballed into one of Sugru's most shared pieces of content of all time reaching hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
So, if you missed it first time around - here's a guide to how you can organise your cables at home or at work. Proven to help turn that frown upside down!
Did you know, it's also International Lego Day next week (28 January) and Sugru is offering free shipping all week so you can start planning your own project
You can also check out some other feel good projects here to help keep yourself entertained this winter.
As a Lego-loving family with a list of things to fix, I'm sure we'll be using lots of Sugru in the coming months and years!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Winter Health - eat well, sleep well, be well!

Christmas is over and we're starting the New Year - complete with resolutions (achievable and not-so-achievable!). Here's some helpful ways to hopefully dodge the coughs, colds and bugs that seem to be around at this time of year!

  1. Eat fruit. Fruits, especially berries such as blueberries, cherries, strawberries and blackberries are naturally high in vitamin C, bioflavonoids and antioxidants. These all help to boost your immunity levels. Other good sources include broccoli, apricots, peppers and kiwi fruits.
  2. Vitamin D3. Our main source of vitamin D is the sun and so as the days are shorter in the winter, our levels can go down. Vitamin D is vital to ensure adequate absorption of calcium for our bones but it also plays a crucial role in the normal functioning of the immune system. Many of us can become deficient in vitamin D over the winter because even when outdoors with some skin exposed, very little vitamin D is produced due to the angle of the sun during the winter months. A daily dose of vitamin D3 can therefore help to fortify the immune system through the colder months.
  3. Echinacea. This is a fabulous herb which 'modulates' the immune system, which simply means that it helps to teach it what to do, thereby rebalancing it, meaning it can function better. Echinacea is also a powerful lymphatic cleanser; it stimulates the overall activity of the cells responsible for fighting all kinds of infection.
  4. Zinc. This is essential for the immune system and healing. Enjoy seafood and nuts and seeds, especially sunflower and pumpkin seeds. 
  5. Honey. Manuka honey has great health benefits. Enjoy this delicious tasting food and stay healthy.
  6. Stay active. When it's cold outside, it's difficult to get out there and do some exercise but try to! Research has shown that exercise is another way to help your immunity.
  7. Bin it! Don't leave dirty tissues or hankies lying around - it can also spread your cold. When you cough, sneeze or blow your nose the secretions that end up in your hanky or tissue are teeming with the virus that's making you sick. These viruses can survive for some time once they leave your body, so when you leave a tissue for someone else to pick up, you are actually leaving a little virus bomb to go and infect someone else's hands. So throw away any used tissues and wash your hands straight away.
  8. Sleep well. Your immune system helps you to fight off common infections, Poor sleep and insomnia can affect our immune system so make sure you get plenty of rest.
  9. Vitamin C. There is considerable evidence that vitamin C (ascorbic acid) plays a vital role in many immune mechanisms. Infection rapidly depletes the normal levels of vitamin C. Remember that bugs stay active on surfaces so avoid touching too many public places such as escalator rails or cash point surfaces.
So, with these few tips you *should* be able to ward off the dreaded colds which are still lurking, waiting to catch you out!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

How many Santa's is too many Santa's?

Now, I love Christmas as much as the next person and a visit to a Santa's Grotto is on most parent's to-do list during the month of December. But without sounding a bit 'bah-humbug', just how many times does a child need to visit Santa!?

We live in a very small town/large village and even here, if (big IF) my children were to visit each Santa's grotto/party that is on offer in the place we live, they would see the big man himself over 10 times! I manage to tactfully avoid most of them - not because I don't want to support the particular group or charity that is providing the Santa experience, just because more than a couple of times is too many!

They also vary in, let's say, authenticity. One particular Santa is pretty good and sees the children in two different grottos. He cleverly remembers them by name (small town syndrome!) so that he can check if they have been keeping their promises of bring well-behaved, tidying their bedroom, etc, etc. 

My children have known for a couple of years that the Santa that we visit in our town are actually Santa's helpers. They cottoned on pretty quickly that they look slightly different at each visit and so the truth was told! Father Christmas does exist and lives happily in Lapland with assistants employed all over the world to help collect messages to send to Santa and distribute presents to the children.

Although... they do believe the Santa at Portmeirion Village is the REAL one, namely for 2 reasons - he has a real beard and can speak Welsh! Our first language at home is English but my children are taught through the medium of Welsh and so are fluent Welsh speakers, so only the real Santa would know that they could speak Welsh, right? That's a good enough reason for me!

This year, we didn't manage to visit the Christmas markets at Portmeirion, but if you are ever near there on the first weekend in December, it's well worth a visit!

So anyway, when you're planning your December fun and festivities, take care not to have a 'Santa Overload'! It can be more magical keeping somethings under wraps...



Monday, 3 November 2014

'Shell Shock' by Neil Blower - Book Review

I don't often review books as I think it's hard to do the book justice without giving anything away! For this book, I make an exception!

The author is the son of an old friend who I recently caught up with after about 16 years with only Facebook contact! Both of our lives have changed in this time and it was lovely to see her again, have a good chat and a coffee! I just need to make sure that the gap isn't so long next time!

So anyway, onto the book! I read all sorts of genre of literature and will give anything a go. I knew that Neil had written a book and had seen coverage of his story on breakfast TV a couple of years ago.

Basically, in the book he tells the story of life after war through the eyes of an army veteran. There's no holding back and it shocked me in parts as he tells the story of living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sometimes, I think I live in a bubble where bad things don't happen up people I know but horrific things DO sadly happen all of the time. 

I'm not ashamed to say that the book made me cry and I'm pretty certain that it will do to you too. If you do one thing this Remembrance Sunday, please take time to just even think about our troops; those at war, those who sadly have not returned and those who have returned and are still suffering.

Please give it a read as it really is written from the heart. As I was kindly given a copy of 'Shell Shock', I have donated the cover price to Combat Stress. You can buy your own copy here with £1 from each copy sold going to this very worthy charity. 

Neil has written a second book, so keep an eye out for it - it's definitely on my Christmas list! There's also a third one on the go.... watch this space!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Dog Treats Vs Poison: A Pet Health Infographic

We love our dog Lucy and for most of my life, had a dog at home - a cuddle on demand and she doesn't argue back! BLISS!


But we're always really careful about what treats we give her. Here's a handy infographic from Vet-Medic with some simple do's and don'ts!


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Great Gizmos - Sensory Toys


Play and Learn with PlanToys 

Just in time for starting the Christmas lists, the eco-friendly wooden toy range PlanToys is pushing the boundaries with educational toys to make them more interactive and fun as well as flexible and responsive to children’s needs and circumstances.

The Adaptive Toys series from Plan is the latest wave of toys that is entirely dedicated to children with special needs. This highly original collection of learning toys caters for three groups of children with special needs which are cerebral palsy, autism and the visually impaired. There are lots on offer but here is just a snapshot of this great developmental toy range;


The Build-A-Robot is a complete learning experience for kids! The wooden robot includes four interchangeable heads that feature an array of emotions including happy, sad, cross and surprised for children to learn. He can also sit and stand as his chunky legs and arms are moveable to imitate a human being.











For problem solving there is the Vehicle Puzzle that encourages children to match the correct driver to their vehicle, whilst also learning how to shape sort. Each puzzle tile features a colourful background to help solve the game and all tiles interlink together to form a large floor piece. The puzzle includes a helicopter, space rocket, car and submarine for added play value.

To help develop fine motor skills, the Beehives game allows children to match the correct bee to its corresponding colour hive using the wooden pincers included. There are six brightly coloured hives that each have their own miniature bee, complete with stripes and wings. This game also helps reinforce colour recognition and counting.

 For children who are visually impaired, there is a Braille Duo that helps children learn the alphabet and number sequences. The Braille Numbers set enables kids to count to 10 with the wooden tile set that is beautifully engraved with large numbers and the corresponding Braille cells. The reverse side also contains leaf illustrations with the correct number of leaves on to help children count. The 26-piece Braille Alphabet features both the upper and lower case letters of the alphabet and matching Braille symbol, to help each child learn their letters.


These really do look like great toys, whether your child has special needs or not, sadly my children are now above the target age range however I have a younger niece and another one (niece/nephew!) on the way, so I'm sure they will creep onto the Christmas list somewhere!