Sponsored Video: Help Finish The Fight

This post is sponsored by the American Cancer Society” in the body

At this time of year, when everyone is rushing around, getting ready for the festive season, it is important to remember that there are people out there struggling and fighting against life threatening disease. Cancer. Cancer is the word that no one wants to hear about themselves or a loved one. Cancer is life changing. Can you imagine it being in your life?

What will their Christmas be like this year for those suffering from this awful disease?

Having cancer, not only is a physical and emotionally distressing time in anyone’s life, but it often comes with a huge financial burden. Often people are not able to work, loosing income due to their illness. Other times, the best treatment available is a long way from home and many cancer patients have to travel long distances to get it. Once there, they need the funds for a room and accommodation. How dreadful – to know you can get the BEST treatment available and yet, they can’t get the best treatment as they can afford their accommodation.  How distressing is that? Especially at a time of year that is so expensive for everyone already.

 


This is an appeal by the American Cancer Society for support to Help Finish The Fight. Just that little bit extra can help someone get the treatment that they need. With your support and your donations, you can help ensure that someone who is seriously ill and is undergoing life changing treatement is in a safe and comfortable environment to receive it in. Make their Christmas the Christmas that Finished the Fight!

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Sponsored Video: Christmas PARTY TIME!!!

Oooh how I DO love this time of year. The days get shorted and colder and we retreat more and more indoors. The fairy lights are strung up, the lights turned on and we make our homes festive and cheery. Aaaah. Lovely indeed.

And as Christmas approaches, the festivities begin. We LOVE to bake lots of homemade cookies, making it fun and special for the kids, but we also HOARD these cookies, afterall, they take a lot of effort to make.

So when it does come to having lots of people over (we tend to host Christmas at our house), we love to give them something “else” that is equally special.. enter drumroll: Waitrose Festive Foods. I have to say they look mouth wateringly delicious. Mmmmh.

Just look at the festive cheer in this video – and spot the “special extra”!



I am also having a good look around the Waitrose Website – not only do I get more information on what they have in store for us – ready to buy, heat/ cook and enjoy, but they also have a great section on Party Food Recipes and Home Decoration.

Christmas sorted. The only trouble I will have now is to figure out what to choose!!!! Argh.

This post is sponsored by Waitrose

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Bedroom trends – comfortable winter warmers

Winter is quickly approaching, and over the cold, snowy months most of our time is spent curled up on the sofa or cuddled up in bed. With the cold creeping in to our homes, its icy touch can leave us clinging to our duvets resulting in a terrible night’s sleep.

With the drop in temperature, our bodies need the most comfort to allow us to continue with our everyday lives with ease. Some simple changes to your bedroom can help these dark and cold months fly over, with you cocooned in pure comfort every night.

Firstly, when the cold weather starts to appear, one easy change to make in your bedroom is to purchase a thicker duvet. You can buy various ones to suit what temperature and comfort you want, and once on you’ll see the benefits from your first night’s sleep. A thicker duvet keeps the heat contained within the bed and allows less to escape during the course of the night.

Another way to add a bit of comfort to your bedroom this winter is with a memory foam mattress. The mattresses from Zleeps, feel so cushiony soft you’ll struggle to leave your bed on a morning. The mattress fibres within the memory foam mould to the shape of your body, enhancing comfort as you sleep.

The bad weather can sometimes give you aches and pains in your joints and muscles, as the low temperature allows the tissue in your body to expand, adding pressure to your joints. To stop you from waking up on the wrong side of the bed with terrible pains in your neck, combine the mattress with matching memory foam pillows to eliminate a bad night’s sleep.

If your thicker duvet isn’t keeping you as warm as you wish, the next step up is a heated blanket. With this handy device you can adjust the temperature settings to create the right level of warmth to suit your needs. Plus, many heated blankets are machine washable and tumble dryer safe to make them last longer, so you can use them all year round.

Since winter is an expensive time of year, you can save some pennies by using the classic hot water bottle. This method maybe the cheapest, however it is still effective. For years, the hot water bottle has given hours of warmth and comfort simply by filling it with boiling water. They come in all shapes and sizes, and can be used for all ages. However, when buying and new hot water bottle or digging an old one out of the cupboard, make sure it’s up to standard with these handy do’s and don’ts.

 

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ScS provide fun family day out

In the current economic climate, it is not often that you see major league companies going out of their way to look after their customers. However, sofa company ScS have went above and beyond to provide one little girl and her family with a day out to remember.

Ten-year-old Amelia Howarth has been a fan of the ScS sofa ads for a while now. Whenever they are shown on the TV, she re-enacts them in front of her family and friends. One evening, with the backing of her mum Emma, Amelia decide to drop ScS an email, explaining how big of a fan she is. To everyone’s surprise, Amelia had a shock email waiting for her in her inbox.

On reading Amelia’s email, ScS were so impressed with the youngster that they decided to invite her along to the filming of one of their ads. Speaking of the company’s actions, ScS Marketing Manager Lindsey Duncton said: “We were delighted to read Amelia’s e-mail and to hear how much she loved our ads. The preparations for our autumn campaign were the perfect opportunity to invite Amelia and her family down to see what actually happens on-set to end up with the finished product you see on TV.”

As you can imagine, Amelia snapped up this opportunity and headed with her mum and brother to the ScS store in Portrack Lane, Stockton. Here she spent the day getting a behind the scenes look at what it takes to make a TV advert. As an extra treat, she even got to meet the face of ScS, Victoria Thomas.

Speaking of her visit, Amelia said: “The whole day was really fantastic and I enjoyed meeting the nice people from ScS. I have shown all my friends the signed script I was given by Victoria and told them all about it. It really is the best day of my holidays”

Mum too was also impressed, commenting “It was a super day, and one that Amelia will not forget for a long while.”

If you would like to find out more about ScS, you can visit the company!

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‘Tis the Season to be Jolly

….tralalalala-la-la-laaaaaa. Yes, it is “only” October, but I CONFESS…. I have already had the Christmas music on! Yep. I know I know. We haven’t even had Halloween yet.. and it certainly isn’t the advent season yet.. but I couldn’t resist it. And of course I “did it for the kids”. They had a good old boogy and at the end they sat eating their supper and singing Jingle Bells at the top of their voices. Aaah what isn’t there to love about Christmas?

I do love Christmas. Though actually, I love the RUN UP to Christmas even more. The days get shorter, darker and colder. We are “forced” to spend more time in the (hopefully cozy) indoors. Less daylight can get a little depressing. Which is why Christmas and all the Christmas decorations and Christmas tress that go with it are so important! They literally brighten things up. Dreary becomes fun, jolly and inviting. Dark streets become friendly and welcoming. Their is a buzz in the air and excitement about the things to come.

We love getting baking and making Christmas Cookies – we make lots of different ones, mix them up and give them away as small gifts when visiting friends and family during the festive season. The kids love getting involved – helping with the baking – of course doing plenty of tasting as they go along. And enjoy giving the cookies to friends.

We also enjoy a family advent calendar – less about sweets and chocolate, but one filled with small family activities – reading a book, playing a game or watching a movie together. Making time for each other when things get busy and hectic.

Yes. So. The run up to Christmas is just as special as Christmas itself – if not more so! Afterall we have weeks of it to enjoy, versus just a couple of days at the end of December!

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Old Clothes

Bully for me.. I get to go on my favourite old band wagon again: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Yep, the mantra of an environmentalist. I am not THAT much of an environmentalist, but I do try and make a difference where I can. And my “consuming less”, reusing where I can and ultimately recycling, I can make a little bit of a difference.

When it comes to clothes, we are experts at “reusing”. We are super lucky to inherit a lot of kids clothes – which is ideal, as kids really do go through so much stuff. They spill, they drop, they catch, they trip, they get muddy from head to toe. I send my son out in a clean white shirt to school and he comes back perfectly grey.

At the same time kids grow so quickly, that sometimes they don’t even get a chance to wear something out properly. We do givea way to friends and family, but have you considered selling on the odd item of clothing? It is a great way of making sure that your item reaches someone that really wants it and therefore is more likely to actually wear it. It also raises a little cash to fill the gaps in the clothes that you might have (we are forever short of trousers for my daughter and frequently need new shoes too). So selling on is another great way of reusing what you have.

If an item is beyond repair, but the fabric is still pretty, then we keep our old clothes for crafting. There are so many things you can make – keepsakes from the kids clothes. Or use fabric left overs in art collages or simple kids crafts projects. There is lots you can do and the more your recycle your old fabrics, the more ideas you will have!

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Shoes glorious Shoes

Now, the majority of my female contemporaries will state how they LOVE LOVE LOVE shoe shopping. How they cannot resist a shoe bargain and how they usually have to STOP themselves from buying shoes.

Well not me. For some reason, I am not one of those women. What is it about me and shoes? I clearly need them, who doesn’t. I do like them, well I am a girl. But I HATE having to go out and buy them……

I think it is because a) I don’t like shopping much (I can never find what I want) and b) I like a shoe to be comfy! Which unfortunately for me means, I need a flat shoe (heels hurt my feat, really, they do..), and there are not many NICE flat shoes around – the majority of high street show has a nice big heel on it too. Argh.

I do like the look of these flat designer sandals though. They could just be the sort of thing I am after.

So at least once a year I drag myself out and go on that rotten shoe shopping hunt. I need a shoe that will go with everything, that will last and that above all fits nicely! So, today was said day. Grudgingly, I wandered out for hunt of the perfect shoe. My spirits were low and I really wasn’t looking forward to the shopping trip. I had plenty of other these to get done today. But yes, shoes I need (my current pair have a hole, yep, it is THAT bad).

Anyway. Imagine. Withing 45min, I found not ONE pair but two! Yes, me, who can never find a shoe she likes, didn’t just find the one pair of shoes, but two. Hooray.

Job done.

Shoe search over.

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5 easy tips for winter proofing your house and saving on heating bills

It’s that time of year again. The tan is fading, the suitcases are back on top of the wardrobe, you’ve just swapped all your shorts and T-shirts for woollens and you’re seriously considering putting the heating on. Yes – it’s autumn! Before the really cold weather comes along, it’s a good idea to start thinking about cutting down on how much fuel you’ll need to use this winter and there are plenty of ways to do it.

Insulate

In many areas of the home, adding insulation preserves the existing heat, avoiding waste. Make sure that you have adequate loft insulation; the recommended depth is 270mm, which could save a substantial amount of energy over the course of a year. Don’t leave your cavity walls unfilled when you could have them injected with an insulating material, such as foam. If you have solid walls, you can have external or internal insulation fitted, making a saving of up to £300 on your annual energy costs. Another area in which insulation can make a huge difference to the amount of energy you use is wherever there are pipes and water tanks. Simply lagging these items will stop your precious heat from escaping and save money as well as energy.

Draught-Proof

In addition to insulating to make sure that your precious heat stays where you want it, check that there are no unnecessary gaps through which warm air could escape or cold draughts enter. Fit brushes to the bottoms of external doors and fill gaps around door and window frames with expanding foam. Don’t forget about the areas where pipework or cables enter the house; gaps here can be filled with foam as well. And of course, you should make sure your letter-box is the draught-proof type.

Shop around for energy deals

Don’t assume that your energy provider is giving you the best deal. Use one of the many comparison sites to determine which supplier can meet your needs at the most favourable price. It may be that your own supplier has a better deal that you can negotiate, but it is often the case that switching to a different company can save you some money, whether that’s because they can offer you cheap electricity rates or because they have a special deal that is only available to new customers.

Fit double glazing

Many houses already have double glazing, but if yours doesn’t, you might be surprised to learn that you could save several hundred pounds each year by having them fitted. Even if your windows are double glazed, you should check that they are still functioning correctly and consider having them replaced if they appear to be failing. Like many things that are related to energy use, double glazed windows have an energy-efficiency rating, with A being the best. If you can afford to fit A-rated windows, you will make the biggest savings over time.

Give your heating system a health check

You should have your boiler serviced regularly to keep it working as well as it can and to make sure that it is safe. A serviced boiler will operate more efficiently, enabling you to turn the thermostat down a little, which will save energy and, ultimately, save money. Additionally, if there is any air trapped in the heating system, you will almost certainly find cold spots on the radiators, so you should invest in a radiator key and bleed the radiators thoroughly.

Once you have winter-proofed your house, you might feel a little better about the dark evenings and having to wear a scarf again. But even if it’s still a little depressing, when the energy bills come in and you realise how much you’ve saved, you’ll be glad you took these five simple steps.

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Road Safety on the School Run

Those of you who know, will know, that I am pretty relaxed when comes to the kids bumps and scrapes and bruises. After all, kids will be kids and falling over is all part of life. You can’t wrap them up in cotton wool every minute of the day!

Having said that… the thing I DO worry about A LOT, is road safety. Yes, my kids know to look left and right when crossing the road (mind you, they don’t do it properly yet) and yes, they know to wait for the green man. And yet I still worry.

We have 2 crossings near us that we REGULARLY use. And REGULARLY cars “jump the lights” and drive through – at speed – as it the green man appears. So, I am having to teach to yes, watch for the green man AND take extra care to check whether a car is speeding up or slowing down for them. Else the next thing we know we would have an car accident compensation going on. Well, that would be a best case scenario. I dare not even THINK about worst case.

So, though I like to give them freedom. They do NOT get it on the school run. Busy pavements with other kids and fast cars on a busy road just don’t mix well. Luckily both kids are well behaved and are good at scooting ahead, but slowing down and waiting.

Next step is to teach to take extra car at crossings!

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Top tips for an extravagant wedding

There is no better cause for celebration than a wedding, and you might be keen for your special day to be the biggest and best day of your life. Read on for a guide to ensuring your wedding day is the extravagant event you’ve always wanted.

The venue

Where you choose to have your wedding will depend on the sort of celebration you have planned, but for an extravagant and striking event you’ll want to look for an equally remarkable venue. Castles and palaces are both ideal for a grand wedding, and there are all different styles of buildings to choose from.

You could opt for a medieval, moated castle as your venue, such as Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex – a magical, fairytale-style setting, or choose the equally stunning location of Highclere Castle in Hampshire, which is where the hit TV series Downton Abbey is filmed. There is a great choice of castle venues to pick from at wedding-venues.co.uk.

Alternatively, you could take a look at the sprawling Victorian mansion of Somerleyton Hall in Suffolk, which boasts beautiful staterooms and formal gardens, or the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Blenheim Palace near Oxford, which is where Sir Winston Churchill was born.

The dress

An extravagant wedding calls for a breathtaking dress, and it’s wise to start looking for your gown plenty of time in advance of your big day. Some of the biggest names in wedding dress design – such as Vera Wang, Marchesa and Jenny Packham – produce astounding creations, but they are very much sought after.

As is the case with many top designers, you can’t always simply venture online with your credit card and pick up your dress, you may need to get in touch with the designer for prices and specifications.

It can be fun to visit bridal fairs and watch fashion shows of wedding dresses for inspiration, or you might decide to design your own gown and have it made just for you.

The meal

For a truly extravagant wedding meal, you might want to choose a number of courses to treat your guests and ensure the occasion is one to remember. After the ceremony, you could serve some h’orderves alongside your champagne reception to tide your guests over. Devils or angels on horseback, avocado halves topped with smoked salmon and king prawns dipped in sweet chilli sauce are all among the appetisers you could consider.

When it comes to the main meal, give some thought to whether you want to serve up a traditional three-course meal, a number of extra courses or a more informal-style banquet. Dishes like lobster bisque, fillet steak, truffles and caviar are all among the extravagant foods you could serve to your guests for a memorable wedding breakfast.

The entertainment

If you really want to wow your wedding guests, you’ll need to think about the entertainment you’ll provide on the day. A DJ and dancing is commonplace for evening receptions, but you could start the entertainment early by having a magician greet your guests and perform sleight of hand tricks as they enter the venue. To accompany your vows, you might have some musicians playing quietly in the background, while a face painter can keep little ones entertained during a sit-down meal or speeches.

It’s possible to hire all sorts of entertainment for weddings, from bouncy castles and ice cream bikes to chocolate fountains, photo booths and giant outdoor games, and you could also pay for one of your favourite bands to play at your reception – if your budget can stretch to it!

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