Summer time, wedding time…

Summer time, for me, means a few things. The children are on holiday, for their long summer break. The weather, mostly becomes warmer and sunnier and we can be outside enjoying the sunshine. Also summer can mean lots of weddings. We have in fact got two weddings coming up over the next few months of summer, into the early autumn, and this means planning. 

I love weddings, and thoroughly enjoy the actual event, but the lead up can be a tad stressful. Attending a wedding is not just about arriving in your best dress and hoping for the best, there is a lot to think about…

Outfits, for yourself, and your other half (who will need their best suit dry cleaning of course) and for the children if they are invited. 
If the children are not invited, then babysitting and childcare need to be sourced.

Shoes? Hat or not? 

Staying overnight or just for the day? Finding a place to stay? Planning a route if you are travelling. 

What did I forget? 

GIFTS! 

If your bridal couple have issued you with a list of gifts, then you are pretty much set for this bit to be easy, but if they haven’t specified what they would like you need to hunt down something perfect and hopefully unique that they will appreciate. 

A personalized wedding gift may be just the answer for you. With something to suit every taste, and budget, you should be able to find the perfect gift, for the happy couple, that they will enjoy and treasure, and you can feel ever so slightly smug knowing you have found something that little bit different and personal to them. 

Of course, if you are close friend of the bride you may be invited to her bridal shower, which means more planning and possibly a gift to buy. Bridal shower gifts that are fun as well as special and easy to order will make your life and planning much less complicated. 

If you know the bride and she happens to be panicking because she can’t find the perfect gift for the bridesmaids in her bridal party, then you can smile, and suggest she looks for a selection of bridal shower gifts and she can breathe a sigh of relief and check one more thing off her long pre wedding to do list. 

So, with a little planning and some shopping you are all sorted and ready to go and enjoy a lovely wedding. Now, the only thing you can’t organize is the weather, but hopefully it will be perfect for everyone to enjoy their day…

*this is a collaborative post*
Posted in Money & Finances Tagged with: , ,

A giveaway just for the cat in your life….

If you are a cat lover, and own a cat, or two, or rather, if they own you (because, the truth be told, of course the cats in our lives are in charge, they just let us humans THINK we are!) then this blog post is for you.

We have a rather fun and fab giveaway in collaboration with a company that provides all sorts of things for you to make the most of your home and garden.

They know we love cats so we are delighted to be working with them on this giveaway…

It’s open to both US and UK readers (prizes will be sent from the country of location of the winner) and if you have a cat or cats it will make them VERY happy. 

All you need to do, is leave a comment in the comments section telling us one thing  that makes the cat in your life the happiest and then follow the Rafflecopter link and complete the entry. Please make sure you click the relevant options for your country if you are UK or US based. 

One winner will get a rather fabulous cat tree to keep their cats happy and comfortable. It’s a great item and valued at £29.99 (UK) and $37 (US) and should keep your feline friends amused for hours. It looks nice too, and can fit in your living space to suit your cats needs. 

Your cats will be delighted. It comes highly recommended by ours…;)

So don’t hang about, you know you want to make your cat happy!!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced on the 11th July 2017

Terms & Conditions:

No cash prize alternatives
US winner will be sent prize from the US source
UK winner will be sent a prize from UK source
Winner must have completed all entry requirements to qualify
No spam entries or multiple ISP entries
Winner will be announced via Facebook and the blog on the 11th July.

*We were kindly sent a cat tree for Jasper and Layla to review, for this giveaway*

 

Posted in All things pet related Tagged with: ,

Reducing Your Energy Costs at Home: 3 Effective Ways

Energy efficiency is one of the biggest buzzwords that we read and hear on a day to day basis. More companies than ever are responding to the strong consumer demand for energy efficient products and services and building towards becoming more eco-friendly as part of their as part of their corporate social responsibility. However, responsibility should not solely lie with companies and organizations, as individuals should also aim to reduce their carbon footprint to address the growing issue of global warming which is increasingly becoming a cause for concern.

Most people are aware of the reasons why they should become more eco-friendly but not enough people know how this can save them energy and money as well. Minimizing your energy use is one of the best ways to become greener and allows you to reduce your energy costs as well.  Three of the best ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint while saving money are included below.

Photo source- Flickr

Choose to invest in solar panels

Harnessing the energy that comes from the sun is one of the cleanest ways to power your home, and is one of the most effective types of renewable energy that you can use in your home. You can even start selling the extra energy that you do not use, as most providers will buy this off of you. There is now a growing market for solar panels and several providers that offer this service to customers. To get the best service make sure you do your research and find a company that caters to your needs. Take a look at this Solar City solar panels review which provides a rundown of this solar energy company.

Reduce your water consumption

Water is the most precious resources on this earth and one that most people take for granted. In developed countries, the facility with which we can access water means that it can be easy to overlook the fact that this is also one natural resource that will also run out if abused. There are many ways to conserve your water at home, almost all of which will save your money as well. Make sure you turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, take showers instead of baths and instead of watering your garden using a hose, harvest your rainwater by using a bucket.

Leave your car in the garage

A huge contributor to the high levels of CO2 in our atmosphere is the emissions coming from vehicles, which make up almost 50% of the global CO2 emissions which has increased by 29% since 1990. Instead of driving to work, try walking, cycling or using public transport. If you need to drive to work, then do consider sharing a ride or carpooling. Many people are now choosing to carpool as a way to split the cost of fuel as well as reducing the amount of traffic on the roads, which is now a serious concern in most cities. Investing in a green car will also reduce your fuel costs as well as limiting your environmental impact.

*This is a collaborative post*
Posted in Home & Garden Tagged with: , ,

My Sunday Photo 

My small son took & chose this one for today’s post. Can you see what he spotted? 

OneDad3Girls

Silent Sunday with MummyConstant

Posted in Uncategorized

Look after your pets in this heatwave 

You can’t fail to miss, if you are in the UK, that we are in the middle of a heatwave. It’s hot, it’s sunny, people are being warned to take care and look after themselves in the heat, use commmon sense when out and about and not take risks and become unwell whilst the weather is hot. 

Our pets also need to be looked after in this heat. They can’t tell us they are hot (although you can spot signs they may be suffering) 

This is Layla, the grumpy cat star of the blog. She’s a dark chocolate (she looks black, she’s actually not) part Persian cat. She’s fluffy and furry. She hates the heat. You can’t really blame her. 


At the moment she’s on my bed. It’s cool in my room, and I have a fan running. Normally she hates fans but she’s not silly, so she will tolerate a fan when she’s hot. If she’s not on my bed, she can be found on the floor in M’s room where it’s sometimes coolest, next to the wall. She won’t go outside until much later when it’s cooler, in the evening. 

Pets feel the heat just as much as we do and we need to remember that they also need help to stay cool and don’t become unwell. (Heat can be lethal for animals) 

In our house we are looking after the various creatures in the heat by 

– making sure there is fresh drinking water available. The cats have a bowl in our room, the kitchen and we have a bowl outside for them too. 

– the cats can come in and out of the house freely, so if they are hot outside they can come in to keep cool. They also have shady spots in the garden which we don’t move or disturb so they have a safe spot to say cool. I also know what to look for if I am worried they are getting hot or dehydrated. Both basically spend most of these hot days lying in the shade, I don’t blame them! 

– the hamster has been moved to the coolest spot in the house I can find that also is quiet enough not to disturb him and I check on him regularly. He gets fresh water and a tiny piece of fresh fruit every day which helps to keep him hydrated. 

– the fish are pretty much ok although I am keeping track of the water temperature in their tank, so that it doesn’t get too hot for them. They are cold water fish, too warm could be harmful to them. 

All pets need to be kept an eye on in this heat and as pet owners we have a responsibility to make sure they are safe and well when it’s hot. Humans need to keep cool, our pets do to. There are some useful tips and advice here… (I don’t have a dog, but I do know you can’t leave a dog in a hot car, for example!)

How are you helping to keep your pets cool in the heat? Do you live somewhere hot where it’s common sense to take steps to help them or do you have a pet that is struggling in this heat. Feel free to share in the comments. 

Enjoy the sunshine and keep those pets safe. 
ANIMALTALES

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

Please stop telling me to get out and enjoy the sunshine…

It’s rather hot in the UK at the moment, hotter in fact than some other parts of the world that usually run to the subtropics weather wise. We are in the middle of a heat wave. I am kind of cynical about British weather, because of course, it will probably pour with rain as soon as the children break for their summer holiday, don’t mind me, I am British, it’s what we do, moan about the weather. 

It’s kind of glorious, but it’s also damn hot. The UK relishes in the sunshine but also doesn’t cope very well, because we don’t generally have long periods of sunshine and heat, that would mean we would need to adapt to coping (air conditioner on buses, for example) 

I am kind of enjoying the heat, in a reluctant way. It’s nice to pull the paddling pool out, clean out all the spiders that have moved in there for the winter, and let the kids splash about. It’s an excuse to eat as many ice lollies and ice creams as we can, and crack open the BBQ instead of heating up the kitchen with the oven. 

But here’s the thing though…

The sunshine doesn’t like me and I avoid it like plague, and I get very objectionable when people lecture me on how I should be out in the sunshine, wearing skimpy clothes. 

I am fair skinned (morgue blue would probably sum up my skin colour after a UK winter of no sunshine) and I have hair with a propensity to be more ginger than brown. I have loads of freckles. 

I BURN in the sun. Badly. Twenty minutes in the hot sun and I am a lobster (and not one you want to eat with garlic mayonaise) and it’s not a pretty sight. I don’t particularly tan, unless you count my freckles multiplying and joining together and sunburn triggers an allergic reaction so not only am I sunburned but I get a horrible rash and itch, which lasts for a good week, before the sunburn starts to heal and peel… Attractive sounding, isn’t it? All this is despite being slathered in high sun protection factor, which I apply religiously. 

I wear long trousers and long sleeved tops. Not because I like them, but because in the sun, my skin burns. I sit in the shade, where at all possible, because my skin burns. In fact, I even burn in shade. 

I don’t go out in the hot sun. If you invite me to an event that involves me being out in the hot sun, unless you can provide me with a patch of trees for shade, a gazebo or a massive parasol then it’s highly likely I will either turn your kind invite down, or I will attend but probably only for about twenty minutes, whilst frantically searching for shade…

This is not me… 😉

Sunburn sucks and I can’t help that my skin doesn’t like the sun. I can drown myself in factor 50 lotion and still be tinged pink and sore. 

I  have also had three patches of skin removed because of concerns that my skin was producing pre cancerous cells in areas where I have a lot of moles and freckles. Thankfully for now, I don’t have a problem, but I do go back once a year to be checked all over, because my dermatologist says I have skin that is more likely to be prone to skin cancer. He also tells me to STAY OUT OF THE SUN and because he’s a medical professional who probably doesn’t enjoy diagnosing skin cancer in his patients, I tend to listen to him, and not the well meaning people who think I should put on a strappy top and skip about in the sunshine til I fry…

Seriously people. Stop telling me to wear shorts and embrace the sun. Please stop trying to drag me out of the shade. I am no fun when I am sunburned, and my desire for a suntan left me when I grew out of adolescence. 

I love the sun, sort of, but the sun doesn’t love me, so I hide away from it. You won’t persuade me to. Please stop trying! 

Posted in Health

My Sunday Photo

OneDad3Girls

Silent Sunday with MummyConstant

Posted in Photography

Matthew’s easy chocolate chip cookies – gluten & dairy free

I find chocolate chip cookie recipes a bit tricky, I don’t know why. Sometimes they don’t just quite for me, and because I’m fussy and like my cookies to be the perfect combination of soft and chewy but chocolately, it’s hard to find a recipe that works. Add the need for them to be gluten and dairy free and it’s not an easy task to find something that works! 

Last week, however, Matthew and I cracked the task and we made the MOST amazing cookies. When I say we, I really mean him, because he did all the work, I just took them in and out of the oven for him, so really these are his cookies…

I’ve taken a couple of recipes and tweaked them using gluten free flour and dairy free spreads. Gluten free flour can be a bit tricky if it contains rice as it does absorb more liquid, so sometimes you need a little less than a traditional recipe calls for. If you prefer a gluten free flour that doesn’t contain rice we heartily recommend The Free From Fairy flour. She has experimented, tried and tested and her flour really does work for all sorts of baking. 

This recipe makes 10 large cookies or approx 20 smaller ones, depending on what size you like them. 

Onto the recipe…

Ingredients:

100g brown sugar

125g dairy free spread. We use Pure, but if butter isn’t an issue you can use it. 

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 tsp salt

225g gluten free Self Raising Flour

200g non dairy dark chocolate – a block of plain cooking chocolate works fine

Method:

Heat your oven to 180C (fan ovens may need to be lower) 

Prep a baking tray by covering it in baking paper. If you like your cookies large you will need to account for that and these do spread a little as they cook so think about that when you place them on the tray. 

Chop your chocolate into rough small chunks. They don’t have to all be uniform in size, and the joy of these cookies is the random spread of chunks of chocolate not just precise little chips. 

Beat the sugar and spread together until fluffy and light. I don’t normally say you NEED to use electric beaters but for this I would say if you have them, to use them. 

Add the egg, and vanilla extract, and beat again until smooth. 

Slowly add the flour, and mix it in, your mixture should be firm but still a bit sticky. 

Last if all, add your chunks of chocolate and use a spoon to mix this in, to the cookie batter. 

Pop the mix in the fridge for 15 minutes or so to firm up a bit. 

To form the cookies, take a slightly smaller than a golf ball size and make it roughly ball shaped. Place it on the lined baking tray and press it down to flatten it slightly. (Remember they do spread, so not too flat) you can make them smaller if you want more. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes. They should be golden but still slightly soft when they come out of the oven. Leave them to cool for half an hour (I know, that’s a long time to wait, they smell amazing, you will be hanging around wanting to try them) 

Then try not to eat them all in one go… (hide them from your children!!)

They should keep in a sealed container for a couple of days (we don’t have much self restraint in this house, cookies don’t last that long!😉) 

This is a great recipe for kids learning to bake, measure ingredients and enjoy the results. 

Posted in Cooking, baking and recipes, Living with food allergies & food intolerances Tagged with: , , ,

Playful Playroom Prompts for Plenty of Fun

Giving your kids a playroom is a great idea. It can help to contain toys to one location in the house, and it gives them somewhere to go time on their own. Designing a playroom can be a lot of fun too, whether you do it yourself or get input from your children.

Be Creative with Location

Not everyone has space for a playroom, but you could have some without realizing it. You don’t necessarily need a spare bedroom to set up a playroom. Try a basement or attic space, or even a shed or cabin out in the garden.

Think About Practicalities

Playrooms should be fun places, but you also need to think about the practical aspects. Storage is one of the most important things to consider, especially if your kids have a lot of toys. You should also think about the materials you use, including whether everything can be easily cleaned.

Set Up Different Zones

You might not have a lot of space in your playroom, but you can still make the most of it. One idea you might try is creating different zones for different activities. You can have one area for arts and crafts and another for imaginative play, for example.

Choose a Fun Theme

If you’re looking for decor inspiration, picking a theme can be a good way to get started. Instead of going with certain characters your kids might get bored of, try an overarching theme, like this Fairy Tale inspiration from Factory Direct Flooring.


Infographic Design By Factory Direct Flooring

*this is a collaborative post*
Posted in Home & Garden

When Dad has to make his own dinner, but Pizza Express makes it fun…

Father’s Day is literally just round the corner. Picking a gift or something nice for the dad in your life, can be a bit tricky, but you don’t have to just get him a box of chocolates or a pair of novelty socks this year, because you are stuck for ideas. Why not treat him to a meal out at Pizza Express for Father’s Day?

The children and I got the husband to make is own dinner this week, but we had a lot of fun, so it’s not as mean as it sounds, we promise. We had a brilliant time at a Pizza Express pizza making party. You learn how to make your own pizza starting with rolling out and shaping your own dough, to adding toppings and learning how it should all come together to produce a proper and tasty looking pizza. 

It’s such a fun thing to do, and perfect for a party or to celebrate a special event, with something a bit different. 

The staff are so helpful, and they really make it fun, with tips on how to make your pizza perfect and helping you with toppings and technique. You also get judged on your pizza making skills, a little healthy competition whilst you make your dinner or lunch isn’t a bad thing… 

It’s a great way for kids to be involved in preparing their own food and learning some basic skills. 

Dad had a lot of fun too, actually. He’s an engineer by trade, so he likes to take things very seriously and follow all instructions, but occasionally adding his own tricks to make things work. He looks like he is taking things very seriously but he had a lot of fun making his pizza (Pizza Express are also very good about catering to those with food intolerance or allergies  and we were provided with alternatives to dairy cheese and gluten when we asked, with no hassles at all, which is good to know)

The pizzas all tasted fabulous and we were all really proud of our creations, and thoroughly enjoyed making them and eating them. Such a fun thing to do, and an experience we all would happily repeat. Not a bad way to learn how to make your own dinner. 

Poor Dad, though, it’s hard work making your own dinner, time for a post dinner nap… 

Pizza Express have a fab treat for this coming Father’s Day. Why not take dad out for lunch or dinner for a delicious pizza?

“Our exclusive Father’s Day set menu includes any starter and main from just £11.95 and is available all weekend*

Novelty mug last year? Loud tie the year before? Fear not, we’ve got the perfect gift for Dad this Father’s Day – the gift of pizza! With the countdown to the 18th June now well underway, all you have to do is book a table and you’re all set to treat the best dad in the world.”

*This is a collaborative post. We were kindly treated to a pizza making experience, but all opinions and images are our own*
Posted in Family Life and Parenting Tagged with: ,
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