How To Get the Perfect Night’s Sleep

It’s undeniable that life is tiring. It’s even more undeniable that life is tiring when you’re a parent. Having kids is one of the most rewarding – and exhausting – things you’re likely to do in your lifetime, so chances are if you are a parent then you’ll understand the struggle. Long days, early mornings, and work responsibilities on top of parenting can be extremely tough, and it’s all too easy to take all of that stress to bed with you on a night time which ultimately prevents you from having a sound sleep. It can be difficult to get to – and stay – asleep when you have so much to think about, but there is a way! These top tips will help you to achieve the perfect nights’ sleep.

Sort Everything Out BEFORE Bed

One of the worst things you can do is go to bed with unsolved problems in the back of your mind.

Of course, it might not be possible to out rule everything but do as much as you can. Say, for example, you were selling a property and you were worried as it wasn’t budging off the market. If you do some research, you’ll soon find that by using this service, you’d be able to sell your house quickly – for cash – without all of the waiting around. Now, that’s just an example and a rather extreme one at that, but it just goes to show that just about anything can be solved if you put a little time into it.

Make a List of What You Have to Do Tomorrow

The act of making lists has been performed over many years, and the longevity of the activity itself proves just how useful it can be.

Making a physical, pen-to-paper list of the things you need to do the following day will help you to relax because it removes the pressure of having to do things from your mind. Plus, it helps you to see more clearly what needs to be done if there is a physical copy in front of you. Simply by writing it down, you’ll have a definite idea of what you’ve got to do the following day and therefore won’t feel a need to worry about forgetting any of it.

Switch Off from the Rest of the World

We’re all so interconnected with the rest of the world nowadays, that it can be difficult to relax entirely. However, the simple act of logging out of social media and switching off your addictive smartphone can do wonders for the quality, and quantity of your nightly sleep.

Even simply doing it an hour before sleep can make a big difference. Staring at the bright screen of a phone or tablet, even when it’s turned down, has been linked to trouble sleeping. Try switching it off for a little while before bed, and having some time to yourself. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.

Try Not to Eat Too Close to Sleep Time

It can be oh so tempting to have a midnight snack right before going to sleep – but if you can help it, try not to.

Obviously, it’s difficult when you work certain shift patterns, however making the effort not to eat right before sleeping is likely to get you a far better nights sleep. This is because it can wreak havoc on your digestion system to lie down immediately following a meal. The best thing to do would be to finish eating an hour or two before going to bed, or at the very least keeping it light if you can’t eat any earlier.

Try the Traditional Methods

Last of all, but certainly not least, try going back to some of the good old fashioned methods.

This includes things like having a hot bath before bed, using lavender oils, lighting a candle, drinking a chamomile tea and even simply reading a book. The reason these methods are old fashioned or “generic” is because they’ve been practised over a long period of time by many people – so they must have worked for someone at some point!

Lavender oil is actually scientifically proven to help with anxiety, and therefore is great for calming the body and the mind before bed. If you’re feeling mega stressed, why not infuse a hot bath with lavender oils, and sink into it whilst drinking chamomile tea and reading a book by candlelight? After all, if there’s something that parents are sublime at, it’s multi-tasking!

Firework Lovers – Will Your Private Display Be Breaking The Law?

It’s Bonfire Night in a few days and I’m sure many people are planning small get-togethers with family and friends for a few fireworks, but did you know that as an organiser of these events you will be subject to the 2004 Fireworks Regulations?

Hands holding a sparkler firework in the dark
The days of just a humble sparkler in the back garden are long gone

Event insurers Arag.co.uk are warning private firework party organisers about the legal responsibilities and risks that garden displays entail ahead of Bonfire Night – and there could be stiff penalties handed out to amateur pyrotechnicians who breach these regulations.

ARAG’s checklist for anyone planning garden displays this weekend is:

• Keep it at home – It has been illegal to set off fireworks “in or into any highway, street, thoroughfare or public place” since the Explosives Act of 1875

• Adults only – Possession of category 2 (garden) and category 3 (display) fireworks in a public place by anyone under the age of 18 is also an offence

• No pro, no show – Only pyrotechnics professionals are legally allowed to buy or possess category 4 (public display) fireworks

• Observe the curfew – Private firework displays must normally end by 11 pm but the curfew is extended to midnight on November 5

You can find more safety tips for bonfire night, including a downloadable guide at bonfire-night-safety.co.uk.

The penalty for breaching the regulations is a fine of up to £5,000 or up to 6 months in prison. Such offences can also be dealt with through on-the-spot fines of £90.

Anyone hosting a private firework display or who is setting off fireworks could also face civil action if a guest is injured by a firework or the bonfire.

And of course there’s the potential distress to our pets.

This is, of course, all well and good but I hope that these regulations are enforced.

Well done to Sainsburys who will not be selling fireworks this year but I think it’s time for the other supermarkets and other major retailers to review their policy on selling fireworks direct to the general public.

Having listened to fireworks being let off in the streets around me in the middle of the night for days now, I suspect there are quite a few who would agree with me.

When Storage Meets Decoration: Storage Trunks Ideas

Storage trunks act as pieces of decoration, furniture and of course, are used for storage. Big and small, elegant and worn-out, all kinds of trunks, in different shapes, sizes and designs, could be appealing to the eye as well as cater to a number of utilitarian aspects. Looking for trunk decor ideas? You can go about decorating with vintage trunks and well as those with a modern flavour.

Trunks of different colours and shades can suit the contemporary look and feel of the interiors of a house as well as those with a retro look. Be it a rustic farmhouse trunk or a steamer trunk, you can give it a spin to place it strategically on display instead of tucking it away simply as a means to store items ranging from your board games to bedding.

Trunks of different sizes but similar colour schemes

Trunks of similar shades but different sizes can help you arrange items in different places. The bedding could be inside one trunk, the toys and knick-knacks inside another, and the clothes not in use at a given point of time inside yet another one. There could be a combination of three trunks, the sizes being large, medium and small.

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A wooden trunk or a chest with an antique look

Even unpainted, unvarnished and unfinished look of a wooden trunk could do wonders to the aesthetics of a living room! Such a trunk can be used to store items such as jewellery. Such a trunk looks simple and uncomplicated, yet is quite graceful and stylish in appearance. That’s beauty and utility combined.

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A set of distressed metal trunks

There could be a set of three distressed metal trunks of different sizes having motivational and inspirational quotes.

How to paint a storage trunk, a metal one, in order to give it a distressed, farmhouse look if you will

Painting old trunks can be quite a revelation. Here’s how to go about it: Wipe off, or dust the metal. Get your brush ready to dry brush. Paint the metal. Apply light pressure and random brush strokes. Let the trunk dry.

Phat Tommy trunk

A Phat Tommy trunk that is handcrafted and customized could add hugely to the decoration quotient of any room in your house. The chest acts as a connoisseur’s delight and makes for a sophisticated way when it comes to storing or tucking away any item in your house. In fact, a Phat Tommy Victorian decorative wooden storage trunk with a finish in brown hues, having a rounded lid and a cutout base with decorative low legs and also floral carvings can also be a wonderful addition to your storage mix.

 

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Sienna chest boxes

Sienna chest boxes that are trimmed in faux leather, provide enough storage space and are a significant addition to any room’s décor.

Storage boxes of varying sizes and layouts for keeping essentials

Boxes of different colours, sizes and patterns with shimmering accessories, complete with locks, make for pragmatic sense, and are good decoration pieces too.

Traditional trunk coffee table

A beautiful traditional trunk coffee table made using wooden materials in black shades, that has a rectilinear frame and a hinged lid, metal corner pieces and locks having a golden finish and nail head trims that are silver, can turn out to be a center of attraction in any room.

 

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Wooden streamer trunk

A large and zany trunk carved out using cedar wood, antique hardware and upholstered in faux leather, can store a range of items, and its top can enable it to double as a regular table.

Pristine-styled trunk made of durable wood

This type of trunk can be used for storage and decoration purposes. It can be utilised as a coffee table. Some metal additions here and there can provide it an elegant look and feel.

Three-piece rustic trunk set

You can add a rustic touch to your living room with a three-piece trunk set. Galvanised metal, rivets and contrasting colours make the trunks sturdy and durable, making for a package that is, in many ways , reminiscent of the times gone by.

Storage cedar chest with deep tobacco finish

Such a chest is again appropriate for various types of rooms, including bedrooms, living rooms, hallways, and guest rooms. Robust wooden construction, short chiselled legs, resplendent ornamentation, and ample storage space are veritably the hallmarks of such a furniture item.

End table in the form of trunk, or end of bed storage trunk

An end table in the form of trunk, primarily made of wood and punctuated with metal accents, that has a handle too, can make for an elegant addition to any of the rooms in your home, be it your living room or even your bedroom.

 

5 Great Books For The Halloween Season

The Halloween holiday is nearly here and, as readers of this blog know, it’s one of our family’s favourite celebrations. As both a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the macabre and a recognition of the peak of the autumn season, it can be a delightful time of year for all who get into the spirit. It’s also a wonderful time of year to spend an hour a day reclining in a comfortable chair with a hot, sweet drink and a good book in hand. And not just any book!  Here is a selection of great scary stories for Halloween.

scary stories for halloween - pumpkins on a stack of ancient books

During this season, there’s just something special about breaking out a spooky tale, whether it be a ghost story, a story involving Halloween themes, or a book that genuinely scares you.

These stories just suit the season, which is one reason a lot of people have a favourite Halloween read or two (and also why this is the time of year when the cinema is packed with horror films!).

Super scary stories for Halloween

There are dozens of good spooky books you could read over the coming month or so. These, however, would be some of my top suggestions.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451. Even so, however, this title gives the immediate impression that you’re in for a special, scary tale. And if you don’t know the book but the phrase sounds familiar anyway, you’ve probably heard it in another iconic literary source. The Harry Potter Wiki traces the phrase back to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, noting also that it appears in a song performed in Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban.

As for the Bradbury novel itself, it takes place in 1962 and concerns two boyhood friends (William Halloway and the wonderfully named Jim Nightshade) as they confront a mysterious carnival that shows up in town, led by the sinister “Mr Dark.” It’s almost a coming of age novel masked in horror, but it’s a perfect scary story nonetheless.

Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling

 

While we’re at it with Something Wicked This Way Comes, we may as well full acknowledge the series in which its title appears as a song lyric. The Harry Potter books are, for the most part, not that scary. There are certainly some darker moments in the later books, which are decidedly more aimed at adults than the early ones. Scares aside though, this is a series full of open flames and pumpkins, ghosts and like creatures – witches and wizards for that matter! It’s ideally suited to the autumn season and Halloween holiday, particularly if you’re not a fan of open horror.

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

 

 

Given how famous the name Frankenstein is, it’s amazing how many people have the wrong idea about the original work by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. The most recent of many films about these characters was a sort of reimagining or spinoff featuring Daniel Radcliffe. The most visible of a few games based on the same is an animated arcade experience included among the free slot offerings at a casino gaming site. Many still connect the name “Frankenstein” even to the famous Mel Brooks black-and-white film that turned it into a comedy.

It’s fine for a story and set of characters like this to evolve like so, but it’s also important not to forget the original tale. Shelley’s Frankenstein is a gothic science fiction tale, rooted in the story of Prometheus and in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and concerning one Dr Frankenstein’s semi-accidental creation of a horrific monster. It’s really that simple, and in its simplicity, it is still a spectacular read.

The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

There may not be a more iconic Halloween tale at this point in history than The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow. Originally published nearly 200 years ago within a collection of essays by Washington Irving, the story concerns a town called sleepy hollow in the late 18th century. The town is plagued by haunted tales, including that of a deceased, headless Revolutionary War soldier who rides at night in search of his own head. It is this character among others that the protagonist, Ichabod Crane, is confronted by one night while attempting to win the hand of his love Katrina Van Tassel.

It by Stephen King

It has only recently turned into a sort of fresh cultural phenomenon. This is because of an ambitious film that came out in 2017, with past adaptations having failed to gain much significant traction. The film was a hit, so much so that its sequel is already in production. Naturally, this has also led to more and more people looking up the old Stephen King book and either re-reading or reading it for the first time.

The book follows a fairly simple setup: that of seven children in a small town who are haunted by a creature that is able to change itself into different forms to represent their greatest fears.

The creature is best known in the form of the sinister clown Pennywise but is ultimately one of the most dynamic and haunting villains in literature.

If you’re up for a very in-depth read (it’s an extremely long book, hence the multiple films) and some legitimate scares, look no further than this Stephen King classic.

What are your favourite scary stories for Halloween?

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Safety Tips For Trick-or-Treating

When your kids go trick-or-treating, you want them to have fun, but also to be safe. The following tips will focus on safety tips, from knowing where to go to make sure their costumes won’t become a safety hazard.

Keep the Costumes Short

Kids get excited when they go out trick-or-treating, often running down the street and upstairs to get to people’s porches. If your kids have long costumes that reach to their feet, they might trip over them and get seriously injured. You don’t want your kids falling down the stairs or tripping over their costume in the middle of the street. Costumes with superhero capes, long dresses or gowns might be a little too long. Make sure you have your kids try them on and walk around with the shoes they intend to wear so you know if hemming needs to be done.

Make Trick-or-Treating a Family Event

While teenagers can usually go out on their own, you should not send your younger kids alone trick-or-treating. Even when they are in your own neighbourhood, it will take a lot of stress off your mind if you walk around with them. This can become a fun annual tradition where you send them around the neighbourhood to get their candy, then when they return, you can make your big Halloween dinner and sit down for some crafts or to watch Halloween movies.

Be Safe While Walking

When you head out on your trick-or-treating adventure, practice caution even when you are out with your kids. Remove their masks on occasion so they can breathe, as some of them are very constricting. Be careful not to walk down the street, even if you see other families walking down the street. Stick to the sidewalks or the bike lanes if the sidewalks are full. Be wary of any houses that have loud, barking dogs. Avoid houses that are not well lit out front and never accept an invitation to go inside.

Keep Your Own Home Safe

You also want your own home to be safe for trick-or-treaters even if you will be at home handing out candy. Make sure your front yard is well lit not just with the porch light, but by placing battery-operated lights in your pumpkins and having other lights outside turned on. If it rained recently, put out rugs so kids don’t sleep on the steps. Sweep away any leaves for the same purpose. Keep your dogs inside and restrained just in case.

More safety tips!

For Younger Children

DO

  • make sure there are enough adults to keep a close eye on them
  • check that children’s costumes have something brightly coloured or glow in the dark so that you can easily spot them
  • ensure that children’s Halloween costumes comply with European Regulations and have been flammability tested to the EN71 Standard
  • ensure that children’s costumes don’t have extended or trailing features which may be a tripping hazard or easily ignitable
  • keep them away from candles and lit pumpkins and take plenty of torches or glow sticks to light the way
  • encourage the kids to take wrapped sweets and make sure you are aware of any allergies before setting off
  • remember to take buckets for the kids to collect their treats in

DON’T

  • give sweets to your pets and be aware that they may be more nervous than usual
  • let little ones take sweets that might be a choking hazard – e.g bubble gum or boiled sweets
  • bother people in houses where the lights are off and there are no Halloween decorations
  • turn up without at least a couple of ‘tricks’ to play!

For Teens

If your teens are going trick or treating:-

  • make sure you know who they are going with and what time they will be back
  • mobiles should be charged (they can also be used as torches if need be)
  • advise your teens NOT to share their itinerary on Facebook or Snapchat
  • check they’re not secreting stocks of flour, eggs or alcohol!
  • remind them that their personal safety comes first
  • make sure Mum or Dad’s taxi is ready to go in case you need to pick them up.

And remember…

  • In the UK anti-social behaviour such as throwing eggs and flour at houses and cars could lead to a police visit and a criminal record
  • Some folks will display a ‘No Trick Or Treat’ sign to actively discourage visitors on Halloween.
  • Pumpkins should never be left unattended indoors if they contain a naked flame.  Consider using a flashlight instead of a candle.
  • Impress upon your kids that they should avoid frightening people, especially the elderly.

Whilst many will view trick or treating as harmless fun, there are others who find it intimidating and unpleasant.

Personally, I think it’s just for the little ones – with full parental supervision.

Top 5 Scary Costumes For Halloween

If you are looking for a Halloween costume, you might want to consider wearing something scary. These can be fun costumes when you are going to a party or you want to give kids a little fright when handing out sweet treats. You can also be inconspicuous at events since many scary costumes have large masks that cover your face. Consider one of these top scary Halloween costumes.

The Exorcist

The Exorcist is one of the scariest films to this day, even though it came out many years ago. You can frighten your friends and maybe even win a scariest costume award by wearing the Regan costume. You will be Regan, the main character from the movie, The Exorcist. This costume includes the lace nightshirt that Regan wears throughout the entire movie, which also includes fake blood and vomit stains on it. It is in a green colour and made from polyester. You can also purchase the mask separately to complete the look.

Click here for Regan

Rotten to the Core

This scary Halloween costume is meant for children and is a type of dark zombie that has risen from the dead and is trying to capture souls of its next victim. The Halloween costume is a dark one that has a scary mask and also comes with a chest piece and pants. It also has a shirt and hood to complete the costume. The Rotten to the Core child’s costume needs to be hand washed.

Click here for Rotten to the Core

Zombie Costume

Here is more of a traditional zombie costume, which is priced at a moderate £30 at Amazon. This is in a grey colour and looks just like the zombies from your favourite movies or zombie-themed television shows. It is a one-size-fits-all Halloween costume made of both polyester and plastic. You will get a shirt with PVC chest pants and a PVC inset mask with hair and gloves. To care for this costume, you will need to hand wash it in cold water and line dry.

Click here for zombie costume

Gruesome Bat Creature

This is an adult costume that is perfect for scaring all your friends at your next Halloween party! It is provided by Rubie’s, a popular producer of high-quality Halloween costumes. The majority of the costume is black and made of latex. You will have the look of a large bat creature with a tattered robe, full latex mask, hand and arm extensions to wear. It completely covers your head and is ideal when you want to wear something frightening for Halloween.  Out of most people’s budget though but if you’re planning your own scary movie – ideal!

Click here for gruesome bat creature

Hooded Pumpkin Monster Mask

If you are looking for a budget-friendly scary Halloween costume, throw on this pumpkin mask. It is a pumpkin monster mask that is hooded and can be paired with any outfit. Ideally, you would wear it with a full black outfit, though you can get as creative as you like. The mask covers your face completely and is made from vinyl. It also has fake sharp teeth and wound stitching.

Click here for hooded pumpkin monster mask

I’m not sure I’d like to meet any of these characters on a dark night!  Which one do you find the most terrifying?

How To Find The Right Dog-Friendly UK Holiday Accommodation

Animals are wonderful creatures, and dogs are said to be a man’s best friend. Rightly so, as they offer great companionship and are truly loyal to their owners. When going on holiday, it is completely understandable, therefore, that we want to take them with us. To help you out here is a collection of dog-friendly accommodation for you to check out, together with some handy hints.

Ask the right questions

Travelling with your pet can be challenging, but for an animal lover, leaving them behind for days can be difficult as well. If you are planning to travel with your pooch, though, it is important to do some thorough preparation first.

This is one instance where you will be far better off making the booking yourself and phoning ahead to chat to the manager or customer care representative.

Check that they are indeed pet-friendly and ask if there are any extra charges to bring your pet.

Ask them if there are any specific policies when it comes to having pets and make sure you fully understand them all.

You could also ask them:

  • Are there any weight or breed restrictions?
  • How many pets are allowed per room?
  • Are pet travellers limited to specific pet-friendly rooms?
  • Can pets be left unattended in the room?
  • Are there any areas of the venue that are off-limits to pets?

As a rule, pets are generally not allowed in breakfast areas, restaurants, pools, and fitness rooms but ask if there are further restrictions for you to consider before booking.

It’s worth doing this to avoid any unpleasant surprises or misunderstandings that may arise – and you’ll also be reassured that this is the best choice of venue for you and your pet.

Consider Airbnb

Hotels are excellent and have some of the best amenities and top-notch service, but they are also relatively expensive when compared to renting self-catering or private accommodation such as an Airbnb.

You might not have thought of doing this but an Airbnb may be an ideal solution when you want to take your dog on holiday. 

For a start, most hotels will impose an extra fee to house your pet whilst Airbnb will not. A lot of homeowners who use the service are also more likely to let you stay with your pet without a lot of policies and paperwork to read through and take care of. Airbnb also has a more home-like feel, which will make it a little easier for your dog to adjust.

Ensure the environment is comfortable for your pet

As a dog owner, you are aware of what makes your pet feel uneasy or restless. Some pets do not like strangers, so they tend to bark at them.

Others are not comfortable in loud and busy areas, while others get restless if they are bored and locked up in a room all day.

Whatever the case, when booking accommodation, you must put all these factors into consideration, or otherwise deal with a very cranky pet or a dog that barks all night – not a great way to endear yourself to the hotel staff and guests.

For example, if you will be out and about all day and do not want to take your pet with you, then ensure that a person will take your dog out for a walk and feed them when necessary.

And, choose a hotel that is near pet-friendly restaurants so you can take them with you when going out to eat.

You Don’t Need To Go Back To The Future To Change Your Life Today.

Today, 21 October is “Back To The Future Day”. In “Back To The Future II”, this is the day on which Marty McFly and Doc Brown return to the return to the future to save Marty’s future son from disaster, (at 4:29 pm to be precise). But what if you could change your life today?

Back To The Future Clock
October212015.com

It’s got me thinking about those times in my life when I wish someone had interfered with the events unfolding in my life.

For a start, I can think of at least two ex-boyfriends who should have been jettisoned into the far reaches of outer space before I had the bad luck to meet them.

It would have been helpful if someone had made my path cross with that of The Husband at least 10 years earlier.

Somebody could have replaced the school careers officer with somebody who could think about something other than just blindly pushing pupils into the university system.

I actually wanted to study beauty therapy but was told I had “too many ‘O’ levels”.

Then there was the coven of dreadful bosses I had, each of whom did the minimum they could get away with whilst making the lives of their team members as unpleasant as possible.

There was one in particular who, every time you entered her office, would quickly slam her laptop shut to hide the fact she had been doing her weekly shop at Sainsbury’s.

But be a minute late with an assignment?  Woe betides you.

If only someone could have made me swerve away from those particular firms.

The more you stop and think about it, the more you realise that there are many, many occasions when had the hand of fate been given a shove in the right direction, your life may have turned out quite differently.

But here’s the thing.

It’s the old destiny versus free will conundrum.

Are we the product of an arbitrary fate?

A bit of inter-stellar flotsam being pushed here and there to experience the good, the bad and the mundane willy nilly?

Or are we a product of our own choices?

Our lives are really the sum total of all the choices we have ever made.

I’m not saying we were never pushed or coerced into making those choices.

Nor am I saying we have always been free to make the choice we wanted.

But when I think about my life, most of my choices have been mine.

And if Marty McFly and Doc Brown had turned up to change the course of events, I reckon I’d still be more or less exactly where I am right now.

We don’t need time travel.

We can change the course of our destiny by making different choices RIGHT NOW. You can change your life today.

We can choose to say sorry, to phone an old friend, to leave a relationship.

We can choose to stop smoking, drinking or eating junk.

We can choose to be happy no matter what life throws at us – and in that choice alter our entire destiny.

That has to be worth more than a flying car, doesn’t it?

Find all my relationship advice here.

Get Cosy This Winter With Hygge In The Home

Winter is truly here and rather than be consumed by the early morning and early evening darkness,  I like, in true Hygge fashion, to add lights wherever I can to take away the gloom and make things warm and snug.

If you are prone to depression and anxiety, as I am, there is something to be said for staving off the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder and add the light back to lift the mood wherever you can.

Personally, I always love putting up the Christmas fairy lights and hate it when I have to take them down so I love all things ‘Hygge’.

In case you’re wondering, Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special.

It’s a quality you can easily create at home so I’ve put together a list of Hygge essentials so that you’ll be cosy all through the long winter months.

A comfy ‘nook’

Whilst you may not have a window seat or a library with a roaring open fire (my personal dream), you can create your own ‘nook’ to snuggle in by adding soft lighting, cushions and perhaps a blanket to any corner you care to call your own.

What better place to snuggle up with a book (or your Kindle) and a mug of hot chocolate and let time drift.  We parents can all dream!

A fireplace

There is nothing like a real fire but how many of us have that luxury.  I suppose a flame effect electric fire may be as close as some of us get but it’s still on my list.

Lighting

While you may not have a real fire, these days there is a huge choice in lighting, both indoor and out, to suit all budgets.  Whether you’re a fan of twinkly fairy lights, uplighters or stand-alone lamps, these days there are loads of options to suit all budgets.

And, now that the leaves have fallen and the trees in the garden are looking bare, why not add some sparkle to them with strings of LED lights from Lights4you.co.uk? Outdoor lights aren’t just for Christmas.

Candles

An even quicker way to add cosiness and atmosphere is, of course, to use candles or tealights.  Place them in vintage teacups, stand them on mirrors for reflected sparkle or go ‘posh’ with a candelabra.  Whatever your choice, don’t forget to make sure they’re all properly extinguished – and keep them away from kids and pets.

Things fashioned from nature

In Meik Wiking’s book “The Little Book Of Hygge – The Danish Way To Live Well”, he suggests that things made from wood take us back to nature, as does adding displays featuring leaves, nuts and twigs.

Whether it’s a superb piece of wooden furniture (perhaps antique, perhaps upcycled), wooden toys for the children or wooden flooring, there is just something about wood that has a simple, natural appeal.

My personal choice?  An antique grandfather clock.

Books

Now although I love my Kindle, it will never replace print copy books.  There is something about reading a much loved classic novel in a leatherbound cover, a beautifully illustrated children’s story or even a cookery book that a Kindle just can’t replace.

Ceramics

In these days of one-use plastic, it’s time for a resurgence in proper, reusable crockery.  You don’t have to buy new.  Antique shops, car boot sales and charity shops are all treasure troves of quirky mugs, plates and teaware.  Your sets don’t have to match either.

Textiles

Readers of this blog will know that the husband is ‘anti-cushion’ whereas I think you can never have too many.  What quicker way to add some cosy than a range of cushions featuring your favourite fabrics – velvet, satin, silk, faux fur – the choice is endless.

Ditto throws and blankets.  We keep them over the back of our sofas so the kids can snuggle under them when it’s chilly or they’re tired.

Whether or not Hygge is a trend here in the UK is debatable but the concept has much to teach us about living well, living simply and enjoying each others’ company.

To quote Meik Wiking – “Hygge is about feeling safe.  Hence, Hygge is an indicator that you trust the ones you are with and where you are”.

What could be better?

Win A Bundle of ACE Cleaning Products Worth £40

Thank heaven it’s nearly half term.  Because, if you’ve kids in school, you may well have spent the last 7 weeks wrestling with bundles of school uniforms, scrubbing off mud from footie and dabbing away stains from pasta bolognese and heaven knows what else!

To help you cope with the onslaught of the next 7 weeks, I have a fabulous bundle of cleaning supplies worth £40 from ACE, the leading stain remover, to give away to one lucky winner.

This bundle will help you to get rid of everyday stains, add sparkle to your household surfaces and brighten up your wardrobe – and the best part is the products start from just £2 each.

In the bundle you’ll find:

  • 2 x ACE Colours
  • 2 x ACE Colours Powder – the new plastic-free alternative
  • 2 x ACE for Whites
  • 2 x ACE Power Mousse and
  • 2 x ACE Stain Remover.

ACE for Colours has been specially formulated to remove the toughest of stains and yet be gentle on even the most delicate clothes. You can even use it on silk, wool and cashmere.

Its 8+ system will tackle food, grease, outdoors, trapped dirt, body soils, drinks, cosmetics and vegetable oils.

ACE Colours Powder brings the power of active oxygen into the wash to remove even tough stains (such as wine, tea, coffee and fruit) and bad odours, at just 30 degrees!

ACE for Whites helps to brighten dull whites while still being gentle on delicate clothes.

ACE Power Mousse combines the might of bleach with ACE cleaning power to keep household surfaces and white laundry bright and clean.  It’s a bleach and a degreaser in one.

ACE Stain Remover is great for tackling germs, grease and stubborn stains and is suitable for use around the home and on coloured clothes.

For more information visit www.acecleanuk.co.uk or to buy head to your local Tesco’s, Morrison’s, The Range, Wilko, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.

The giveaway

To win the bundle as outlined above, just enter via the GLEAM widget below.  The usual terms and conditions apply which you can find on my giveaways page.

The giveaway is open to UK entrants only and ends at 11:59 pm on Friday 15th November.

Ace Cleaning Bundle Worth £40

Good luck – and don’t forget to leave your best laundry cleaning tip!

How to Save Cash on 3 Baby Essentials

Raising children is a wonderful experience, but it’s also something that takes a lot of time, patience, and money. Ultimately, if you haven’t had a lot of budgeting skills up until now, the moment you find out that you have a child is when you need to start getting your financial situation under wraps. Raising a child is an expensive endeavour, from the initial loans that you take out to pay for a redecorated bedroom, to the long-term savings for education.

Fortunately, there are plenty of fantastic things that you can do to save money on the things that your baby needs the most. Here’s how to save some serious cash on three essential things for your new baby.

Feeding

If you can manage it, the most affordable way to feed your baby during the early years is to breast feed. Breast feeding is an excellent way to give your child plenty of must-have nutrients. What’s more, it’s a lot more economical than buying tins of formula every week, even allowing for breast pumps, pads and lanolin! However, it’s not always right for everyone.

Not everyone can manage to breastfeed, and if that’s the case, the best thing you can do is look for formula that you can buy in bulk. There’s also the option to turn to companies that can give you a discount or vouchers for formula too. For instance, with the Boots Advantage Card, you can earn points towards future purchases.  A great place to save on bulk buying formula are warehouses such as Costco, although you will need to pay a small amount for membership upfront.

As your child grows and starts to experiment with other kinds of food, you can also consider growing your own foods and making baby food at home. Baby food can cost a fortune, and it’s just as easy to mash up your own fruit and veggies instead. What’s more, when you make your own home-grown meals for your baby, you know exactly what they’re eating.

Clothing

Buying new clothes for your baby is great – but it’s not something you should be overdo. A lot of first-time parents get carried away when buying clothes for their new arrival, only to find that they have endless outfits that their child will honestly never wear. What’s more, there’s a good chance that many of your friends and family members will buy clothes for your baby as gifts too.

When it comes to buying baby garments, the best thing you can do is focus on getting the essentials sorted. Make sure that you have plenty of onesies and socks if you think they’re necessary. It’s also helpful to have bibs that you can wash and re-use as often as possible too.

Avoid going for anything that’s designer label or branded. Your child doesn’t mind what he or she wears, and the chances are that you’ll spend a lot of money on something that may never get worn.

Another point to keep in mind is that it’s rarely a good idea to stock up on too many clothing items in newborn sizes. If you go for newborn, then a larger child will mean that all of your purchases are suddenly useless. You’ll be amazed how quickly kids grow! Just get a handful of smaller items to begin with.

Toys and Games

Finally, remember that while parents like you love to buy toys and gifts for babies, there’s no need to go over the top. Your baby will be just as happy with some shiny paper as she or he would be with an expensive item. Rest assured that you’re bound to get plenty of toys as gifts too. Think about looking online within seller forums and online groups to find cheaper second-hand toys if you want to splash out.

Additionally, keep in mind that you can always go to your local library to borrow books if you want to find plenty of fun pictures to expand your child’s mind. Beyond that, stick to safe and chewable toys that your child can explore as he or she grows, and rattles that will appeal to their sense of sound. If you have any particular items that you want to get for your little one, let your friends and family members know before your baby shower.

What’s more, don’t forget to sign up for mummy and me groups where you and your child can go and play with all the free resources that are available for every parent and child to use. That way, you can find out what kind of toys your child likes best before you spend.

How Pregnancy Massage Can Destress A Mum-To-Be

Pregnancy can be a very stressful time for some mums-to-be.  It’s a time when paying extra attention to your health is essential, for both you and the baby.  Pregnancy massage is one treatment that expectant mums may shie away from – but which may offer definite benefits which last longer than the treatment itself.

A pregnancy massage carried out by a properly trained and qualified therapist offers a mum the chance to feel comforted, destressed and will heighten her awareness of her changing body – in a good way!

And, of course, massage is a great way to soothe pain-related niggles and aches.

Here are some of the benefits of pregnancy massage.

The Benefits Of Pregnancy Massage

  • Relaxation and reduced stress
  • Myofascial pain and muscle cramps are reduced
  • Joint pain is reduced
  • Labour pain and potential risk relating to the time of labour is reduced
  • Offers physical and emotional support to the mum to be

Who benefits from pregnancy massage?

All mums to be may benefit from a pregnancy massage – even those expecting more than one baby. To be on the safe side, however, it is recommended that you talk to your GP or midwife to check that it is a suitable therapy for you.

Pregnancy massage and labour

Every woman is naturally nervous about whether childbirth will be a painful experience but there are massage techniques you can learn to ease your discomfort during the birth.

In fact, many doctors will recommend gentle massage during labour as a way of easing discomfort and you can learn to do this safely by learning the techniques from a qualified massage therapist.

You can even have professionally trained massage mobile therapists come to your home to teach you how to use massage to ease any pain and discomfort.  You may find this incredibly helpful in the early stages of labour and it may be useful to have a partner or friend present so that they can learn them too if they are going to be with you at the birth.

Anything that will help ease your pain and discomfort without drugs is worth considering, especially if you want to be fully aware and awake during the birth.

Reduce the swelling of joints

Prenatal massage is mostly beneficial for joint pain-related issues which can flare up due to the increase in weight. During pregnancy, a woman’s joints are bearing a lot more stress than usual which can lead to swelling and joint pain. Prenatal massage can help reduce this.

Reduction of the pain of the nervous system

Later on in pregnancy, some women will experience severe sciatic nerve pain due to the increased tension in her muscles. Again, this is something that a professionally qualified massage therapist can help treat.

Benefits of Postnatal Massage

Massage can also offer benefits after you have given birth.  Postnatal massage can help reduce swelling and relax the overall tension a busy new mum is carrying.

Childbirth is a stressful process for most of us and the effects of carrying a baby plus any increased weight can certainly take its toll.

Postnatal massage is also capable of increasing the overall blood flow and the circulation of oxygen inside the body muscles. This, in turn, will help speed up the removal of any toxins left inside the body and, in turn, help with a speedy recovery.

Not only will massage help destress, but it will give a new mum a chance for some much needed ‘me-time’.

Conclusion

If you are interested in trying pregnancy massage, make sure that you do your research and choose professionally qualified massage therapists.

Ask your doctor or midwife for their recommendations and check with them that this type of therapy is appropriate for you and your current state of health.