Bring New Life To The Festive Season This Year

Feeling tired of the Christmas rush? Don’t worry, as Frasier Crane once said, we’re all in the same gravy boat. Most people find Christmas is the same thing year after year, after year. Get the Christmas present list, hope the presents arrive in the sales, get ready for a mad rush to buy all the presents and for goodness sake, don’t forget the food! It’s enough to make the whole season feel like a chore.

So, perhaps it’s time for us all to reshape the way we think about this wonderful time of joy.

Take A Trip Instead Of Buying Presents

Finland Winter Wonderland

What do you want most for Christmas? Don’t answer straight away because the immediate response is probably something like a makeup set or a sparkly diamond ring. Perhaps if you ask the kids, they desperately desire a Porg which, unfortunately, are already quite rare in the shops. You can see an example of the little fellows in the Tweet below.

But is this really what you and your family want? Or are these gifts that will be loved and adored through Christmas day and then quickly forgotten. Even jewellery, if you have too much of it, tends to end up in the box or drawer more than it is actually worn.


Perhaps you should instead consider taking a trip where you’ll be able to celebrate one of the true meanings of Christmas, spending time together as a family. You’re probably thinking, hang on, I don’t have the cash in my account for that? Well, there are options if you don’t have the money right now. According to New Horizons website, you can borrow more than enough for a full family trip.

But where will you go? Well, you could head off to Lapland in Finland if you’re searching for a winter wonder, fun for the whole family. You’ll get to experience sleigh rides and romantic evenings by the fire. After all, there’s no better gift than a white Christmas.

Of course, there’s also no reason why your Christmas trip has to be typically festive. We headed off to Thailand one year and had a remarkable time together with the family celebrating what this time means to us.

Christmas Celebrations In Thailand

Give Presents That Truly Matter

Sure, it’s fun to open little gifts, gadgets and toys on Christmas morning. But you may not need the big presents at all. Instead, you could give something that is straight from the heart. If you have a way with words, you might wish to write a loved one a poem, a sonnet about how much they mean to you.

Made With Love And Care

Or, perhaps you are wonderful with crafts. You would be amazed how much children, particularly young children, appreciate little handmade gifts. Maybe even more so than the brand new games console or VR headset. These lovely little gifts will be treasured forever and will not be out of date in a couple of years or worse a couple of months.

Play With The Toys The Kids Already Have

It’s a cliche, you’ll probably agree, to say that Christmas isn’t about the presents. But that doesn’t make it any less true, and there’s another possibility that you might want to consider. This could be a brilliant option if you don’t have that much money or you don’t want each member of the family to end up in a different room on Christmas day. Instead of focusing on buying new presents, look for the ones that you were given a long time ago.

Board games, remote control cars and even Twister are probably all up in the attic somewhere. Perhaps this season it’s time to get them down and enjoy them once more like a fami

Kerplunk _ well really it’s a WInnie The Pooh themed variant… _ Flickr

Sit around and try not to hurl the board across the room as one particular savvy member of the family builds a string of hotels across the Monopoly board. Figure out how on earth you used to get the marbles to stay in Kerplunk or fidget around setting up Mouse Trap. The best part of toys like this, of course, is that it keeps the whole family together on that special day.

Buy Something Big You Can All Enjoy

On the other hand, similar to a trip it might just be a matter of buying something that you all really enjoy that will have lasting appeal. Perhaps you would like to invest in a swimming pool. It might be expensive but just think of all the summers of fun you could have. The Dolphin Pools website might be a place to start looking if this idea interests you.

Picture Paradise

These are just some of the possibilities when you forget the Christmas rush and rethink the season. You don’t have to count the gifts in the sack or even have the full traditional celebration. This year, why not celebrate Christmas the way you want and the way your family will enjoy the most?

*this is a collaborative post*

People who think they are special and can break rules, annoy me…

Rules, they are part of life. Some of them are inane, and seem ridiculously bureaucratic , some of them are put in place for our own safety, or to keep the majority of people happy and safe. Rules can be annoying and we as humans often don’t like being told what to do. I get frustrated when I am told how to do something based on a set of rules that I don’t agree with, I think it’s a pretty normal gut reaction, however, I do also know, as a sane, and fairly normal (well, what is normal anyway?) person, that sometimes rules are just there and you have to get on with it and abide by them. 

People who think they are special and above the rules, annoy me. When someone thinks that for some reason, they are allowed to break the rules that other people are sticking to, and they expect to be allowed to get away with it, they are usually arrogant, selfish, and frankly, rather stupid. Their mother may love them, but not many other people do, I suspect. 

So this week, when someone broke some rules, and then was incredibly rude about it, to me, and to other members of the public, I got angry. I don’t care if someone is rude to me, because I generally have a thick skin, but when someone else is picked on, simply because they are doing their job, that they are paid to do, and have asked the rule breaking moron, to stop breaking the rules, and being inconsiderate and selfish, I get angry. 

I got mad this week. A person thought she was above the rules. She thought she could do as she pleased, regardless of anyone else. She threatened me, and other people. She even told me she was going to tell all her ” many followers and friends on snapchat” how horrible I was (well, actually those weren’t her exact words, but this is a family blog, I like to keep it clean) lucky me, I probably was famous on Snapchat for all of about ten seconds, if you spotted me there, do let me know? 😉

She was aggressive, and horrible. She was very firm in her conviction that she was allowed to do what she pleases and the rest of the world could like it or lump it. 

In theory, this is true. She can do what she pleases. But she will then face consequences. 

I was angry, I was a little bit vengeful. I took action. I strongly suspect this person now is facing some of the consequences of her actions and I am not sorry at all. People who think they are entitled and above the normal rules that the rest of us live by and put up with, usually get what is coming to them…

“Dear arrogant owner and driver of the car that was regularly, illegally parked, causing issues,  where I work, who was incredibly rude to me, the manager of the local business near us and several delivery drivers, whilst telling all your mates on Snapchat how awful we were, I hope you are enjoying paying the rather large fine that the DVLA will be slapping you with, because low and behold, it would seem you also think you are above paying your car tax, on your fancy car that you think you can park where you please, when everyone else has to pay to park in proper car parking spaces.  Maybe that will teach you that you aren’t as special as you think you are…”

Signed, someone who doesn’t usually get revenge, but on this occasion, it felt rather justified and sweet… 

This vengeful rant was brought to you by Friday’s Rant’s from the Soapbox… Have a fab weekend, and don’t park your care where you shouldn’t! 😉

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PURE cat food, approved by picky cats…

We have two cats. You probably know that by now, if you read this blog. We have Layla, who was my baby before the children arrived, and is grumpy, fluffy, has a taste for human food, and really doesn’t like anyone very much. We also have Jasper, who is naughty, greedy, cuddly and makes up for his cat sibling in his love of anyone who will feed him and give him some laptime. 

We tend to stick to one brand of cat food for both of them. At my vet’s suggestion, we have tried to make them eat the rather expensive, designer cat food that you can buy at the vets, but neither cat will eat it. We tried. It failed. However, I am aware that the nutrition contetn of the brand we buy is not as good as it should be and as a responsible cat owner I do want to make sure they are getting the best food I can give them, so trying out a new food that they hopefully will like is always a bit of a fingers crossed time.

However, they tried and tested some cat food from Pure Pet Food and whilst I was impressed at the quality of the product, and how easy it was to serve, the seal of approval of course has to always come from the cats.

Their cat food is freeze dried and comes in a pouch, ready to just add water, mix and serve. Easy and convenient. 

They say: 

Our freeze dry technology allows for the preservation of meat with zero exposure to high temperature and pressure, retaining a real meat texture with zero preservatives.

Freeze dried recipes are the easiest way to give your cat the goodness of a raw food diet without the prep, and with no need to store in a freezer. 

But what do the cats think?

Jasper was keen, and didn’t want me to put it in an actual bowl. He doesn’t like waiting for his food…

They both love it. I was a bit nervous, but they both dived in and devoured it and seem happy to have the food on their regular menu. 

Because Pure Pet Food make it their mission to provide the best and healthiest foods, it makes me feel good knowing that the cats are eating something that’s nutritious and helps to keep them healthy. 


All of our meals are made with nothing but 100% fresh human grade ingredients., lovingly made at our very own human grade food facility in Yorkshire, UK.”

I was impressed by how easy it was to prepare and although it comes freeze dried, when you mix and serve it, each portion is generous. It looks and smells good (yes, I know, it’s cat food, but some of them really do smell pretty awful) and because the cats like it and will eat it, happily, this makes me happy too. We are gradually switching them over. It’s freeze dried so it’s easier to store in it’s box, than the big packets of sachets or tins, and budget wise it works when compared to what we normally buy.

So, happy cats, happy owner. That can’t be a bad thing, can it?

*They say never work with animals or kids, it’s true. Layla would refused to play ball and would not perform for the camera, so I didn’t get any photos of her enjoying her food. Jasper is less of a prima donna… 😉

*we were kindly sent some cat food to try, but all opinions are our own*


What Are The Next Steps In UK Against Air Pollution?

If you’ve been struggling with respiratory complaints, from a persistent cough to asthma troubles, it’s likely that your health issues are the result of the constantly increasing air pollution levels in the UK. In fact, in 2014 the pollution was as significant, if not worse, than the Great Smog of 1952. In fact, the urban air dome effect has generated peaks in air pollution throughout the past few years in most large urban areas across the UK. However, it’s worth noticing that the pollutants are not all British-made, some such as sand dust come from as far as the Sahara Desert. It is therefore fair to ask what the next steps to tackle air pollution in the UK are going to be.

Change your commuting habits

Most of the outdoor air pollution can be directly linked to the emission of the vehicle driving habits in urban areas. Commuters who drive a car to work are in fact responsible for most of the car-related pollution peaks in the country. The main proposed solution to improve the pollution levels is to transform the commuting habits of employees. Local employees could switch to riding a bike to work, as according to a study the current amount of pollutants in the urban air is not sufficient to prove detrimental to the health of cyclists. In other words, the health benefits of active travel outweigh the risk from pollution, even in London. But that’s not the only advantage of cycling to work. For each commuter who chooses the bike over the car, harmful emissions can be gradually reduced. The UK is still far from the Netherlands’ record of having more bikes than cars per town, but it’s an inspiring challenge to equal.

Cycle to work

Improving indoor air quality

As surprising as it might seem, air pollution is not an outdoor-only problem. More and more individuals exhibit health troubles as a result of the poor indoor air quality at work and home. There is one major guilty part of this phenomenon, namely lack of air ventilation. Thankfully, it’s an issue that can be easily tackled through manual air circulation – aka, by opening the windows at least one hour daily – and via the installation of a quality fan – TD Silent fans are recommended in small homes for their quiet features. Additionally, adding indoor plants can help to purify the air from harmful toxins.

Moving towards e-cars

Most world countries, including the UK, have agreed to switch the consumption of petrol-fueled cars to electric vehicles by 2040. While it is currently not profitable for most commuters to buy an e-car due to their high price and the lack of charging stations on certain routes, in the long term, the population needs to get ready for the prospect of petrol-cars becoming the exception on the road. There are also talks of building self-sufficient charging stations that can re-purpose used oil as part of their energetic generation. In other words, the future might be eco-friendly cars with green charging stations.

Is the UK ready for a green future? It’s a question that needs to be addressed by employers, employees, public transport companies and car manufacturers together.

*this is a collaborative post*

A Healthy Family Is A Happy Family, So What Is Yours?

As a parent, it’s safe to say that you want the best for your family. You want them to be eternally happy – healthy too. But do you ever really see that the two go hand in hand? Sometimes, it’s hard to make a connection between both that will work well for your family. But, the second that you do start to work a little more on your family’s health, you should notice that you’re a little bit happier too. Because when your body is running well and your health is as strong as it should be, it’s hard not to feel good. But we all know that this is easier said than done.

So, you want to work on improving your family’s health, because you want everyone to be happy, but how exactly do you go about doing that? When you have picky eaters or lazy bones, kids with busy schedules and a spouse with other ideas, you’ll often find it hard to work on anything that sticks. But this just means you need to try a different approach. In particular, you should look at approaching your family’s health from a range of different angles. To make a change to happiness levels all round, here’s how to be a bit healthier as a family.

Physical Health

First up, we have your family’s physical health. And this is something that is surprisingly easy to work on. By making sure that you’re all a physically fit and healthy as possible, you’ll all feel good in your bodies.

Fun Group Exercise

Exercise should always be a key part of your life. Although some days you’re really not going to feel all that motivated, if you want to make sure that your family is healthy, this has to be an essential. But you can have fun while doing it – and do it as a family too. These ideas on could be exactly what your family needs. By getting your heart rates up together and having fun in the process, you’re killing two birds with one stone.

Healthy Family Meals

On the flipside, you’re also going to want to nail your family meals too. Because exercise is just one part of your physical health. You’re then going to want to focus on making some healthy recipes too. Even if you have picky eaters, you’ll find that you can spice things up so they enjoy the meals too.

Regular Checkups

Finally, the last part of keeping on top of your family’s physical health is prioritizing checkups. Because your kids will need to see their doctor for shots and checkups to make sure they’re healthy, and you all need to go to the dentist too. For you and your husband, you may also want to make sure you get specific tests carried out when required, such as cancer screenings.

Mental Health

Years ago, nobody talked about mental health. And it was a huge problem. Thankfully for us all, it’s much more common to talk about today. So, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re all mind-healthy as well as happy.

Having Fun

This first point is all about happiness and health, and how the two really do fit together. Because a huge part of having good mental health levels is happiness. When you’re stressed out, your health is going to suffer. So you need to work on letting go a little and having fun. This is important for all of you. So you need to make sure that you can all have fun together, play games, and allow yourselves to switch off from chores, work, and school.

Getting Enough Sleep

When you’re not getting enough sleep, it can negatively impact on your health. So you all need to focus on getting quality sleep as suggests. You’ll have more energy, feel less stressed, and just generally be in a better disposition when you do.


Your final point is to focus on strengthening your family bond. This is something that so many people overlook. But when you have a family, it’s essential to keep close. It’s a great way to ensure that the entire family is emotionally healthy, and won’t suffer with any mental health issues related to your family life or their upbringing later on down the line. So be sure to take time to bond and do things as a family, it can be more important than you’d ever imagine.

Home Health

Home health is one of those things that you never really seem to think about. You always just assume that your home will be healthy, but your home can impact on all of your health levels in a range of different ways.


First up, you’re going to want to make sure you get things in order around the house. It sounds silly, but mess causes stress. This article on goes into more detail on the ins and outs of why, but you’re going to want to try and tidy things up a little if you want everyone to be healthy and stress-free.


And, of course, you also have cleanliness to focus on. While organization and decluttering is more to do with mental health and stress, cleanliness has a direct impact on your health levels. You need to ensure that your home is free from germs for your family to be healthy. But that’s not all, you should also aim to use as little chemical products as possible so as not to cause any harm.


Finally, your home should always be comfortable. It’s where your family can relax and unwind and enjoy time together, and your decor choices should facilitate that. You want everyone to feel at home, so your house itself should add to your quality of life, not take away from it.

Social Health

Believe it or not, your social life and skills really impact on your health and happiness levels overall – both as a family and independently. So let’s ensure that you’re doing all you can in this area too.

Making Healthier Choices

As parents, you should look to ensure that you’re making the healthiest choices as possible in your life. From how you spend your time to what you do, you’ll set an example for your children so each choice counts. Some are healthier than others. So you’re going to want to find alternatives, such as, to things that aren’t as healthy, such as cigarettes. You should also be conscious about your alcohol consumption too.

Spending Time With The Right People

It’s also important to be conscious of the people you spend time with and allow into your life. They say that you’re the average of the five people you spend time with, so don’t take this lightly. You should also look to oversee who your children hang around with too, especially your teens. As this could impact on their futures.

Finding A Healthy Balance

Above all else, when it comes to your social life, you really need to work on finding a balance. This is going to be the key to leading happy and healthy lifestyles for all of you. Because if you’re working too hard or focusing on chores too much, your husband never leaves the office, and your kids have their heads in their books 24/7, you’re all going to burn out. So you have to make room for social activities. A life that’s all work and no play will be neither happy not healthy, remember that.

*this is a collaborative post*

How difficult is it to take your dog on holiday abroad?

No one likes to leave their four-legged friends behind when they go on holiday, but how easy is it to take your dog abroad? As we are seriously considering adding a puppy/dog to our household in the next year or two, and we look at what that entails and the pros and cons, as well as who looks after them if we go away, or whether we would plan our holidays and take a dog with us,  we are joining Cottages in Northumberland, who offer dog friendly Cottages in Beadnell, as they delve into the issue of facing Brits taking their furry-friends abroad.’


With the link being included in the anchor text ‘Cottages in Beadnell

they delve into the issues facing Brits taking their furry-friends abroad.

What owners need to consider

While we’re used to obeying rules and regulations, and are well-aware of the associated costs when we travel abroad ourselves, travelling abroad with your dog requires much more preparation and an even bigger budget.

From arranging microchipping, vaccinations and pet passports with your vet, to organising all the necessary transportation, this guide is here to help you plan your future, pet-friendly holidays.


As loving dog owners, we’re sure you have this one sorted, but wherever your dog may be travelling this year, it’s vital that they are microchipped for identification purposes. This can set you back around £20 and should be done before the rabies vaccination, so that your vet can record the unique microchip number on your dog’s pet passport application form.  

Rabies vaccinations

Spread love, not diseases! All dogs must be vaccinated against rabies before travelling to another EU country or returning to the UK (these cost around £32.50). You must wait 21 days until after the vaccination before your dog can travel, or return, to the UK from another EU or non-EU country. Dogs entering from a non-EU country will also need to undergo a blood test before they can be granted entry into the UK. Your pet may be put into quarantine for up to four months if you fail to follow these rules and may even be refused entry if you are travelling by sea.

While you’re at the vets getting vaccinations crossed off on your to-do list, make sure you also record these important details: 

Microchip number, the date it was inserted and where it is located on your dog.

Date of birth and age.

Vaccine product name.

Vaccination date.

Batch number.

Pet passports

Once your dog has been microchipped and has had a rabies vaccination, your vet will issue you with a pet passport for a fee of £60. As cute as they may be, pet passports are very important as they provide a full list of the different treatments your pet has had. Pet passports remain valid as along as your pet continues to meet the country’s entry requirements. 


When you have your pet’s travel documents, it’s time to tackle transportation. This is a tricky one because there are only a small number of approved transport companies and routes which can be used to bring dogs into the country, so you’ll have to choose wisely. It also isn’t unusual for companies to request a statement from your vet to confirm your dog is fit to travel, so be prepared for this and check their requirements before you travel.

You’ll also need something for transporting your dog. Unfortunately, travelling abroad isn’t just a case of getting your dog in the car, you’ll need an authorised pet carrier (a decent one starts at around £40 and must be large enough for them to stand up and turn around in) to transport them safely and securely.

Your dog’s needs

The final and perhaps most important thing to consider when choosing whether to travel abroad is your dog’s needs:

  • Factor in plenty of comfort breaks to your journey where your dog can relieve themselves.
  • Stop them becoming a hot dog(!) by packing plenty of water and a cooling mat to relax on when the temperature rises.
  • Prepare them for the trip by slightly reducing their daily food intake and feeding them as early as you can on your day of departure. Also pack plenty of your regular dog food brand as it is unlikely you’ll be able to find it abroad.

Although we love to have our pets with us wherever we go, leaving them in a kennel or taking them abroad can prove costly and time-consuming. For a more relaxing holiday, make sure you plan and keep a checklist. Alternatively, you could consider a long staycation or weekend away somewhere in the UK.   

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The Art of Family Communication

Photo Credit

All strong relationships are built on a foundation of strong communication and this is certainly true when it comes to your family. The number of families which break down because they don’t understand each other properly is staggering, and you certainly don’t want this to be you. Thankfully, communication is something that you can work at throughout your life, and in this article, we will discuss a few of the best ways that you can improve this with your family.

Minimise Distractions

You are never going to communicate at your best with the TV blaring in the background, so you need to do everything that you can to minimise distractions as much as possible. Try to set aside some time when you are all free to sit round a table and discuss how you are feeling about a certain situation. It may be very challenging if this is something that you are not used to, but it does get easier over time.

Make Communication More Regular

Communication is much more effective if it is something which is done on a regular basis, so rather than scheduling this time infrequently, you should make an effort to make it altogether more regular. Sitting down to have a meal together on a daily basis is a good time to speak to each other. Try to make a rule when you ban all electronic devices so you don’t end up getting distracted.

Listen Actively

Nobody likes to feel like they are being ignored which is where active listening can be an invaluable tool to learn and develop. Essentially, active listening refers to the act of trying to fully understand the other person’s views and opinions before formulating your own. Too often, people jump in and get defensive, not really willing to accept what the other person is telling them. Essentially, you need to be watching for body language, reading between the lines, and being as empathetic as possible.

Get on Their Level

When you are communicating with family members, physical cues and body language are both highly important. This is especially the case when you are talking to kids and you physically get down to their level. Keep an open stance rather than a defensive one with your arms crossed, and use simple non-accusatory language which is not going to result in an argument.

Seek Support

The level of support that you need really depends on your situation, so you may need to get help from your friends and family or you may need something on a more professional level like Austin Kemp Family Law Lawyers. Make sure you seek this help as soon as you can to make your life easier.

Show Respect

It is so important that you show as much respect as possible to the other person when you are communicating with them. People are often far too quick to start criticising rather than finding ways that they can be positive towards the other person. 

*this is a collaborative post*

I love my kids, but they can go to bed…

We are in a new stage of parenting, beyond baby and toddlerhood and now into the realms of children who are less needy in some ways but who can be just as demanding. It’s a bit of a new venture for both of us, and we are mostly learning from our mistakes as we go. 

Before you read any further, please remember that tongue in cheek and sarcasm are what keep me sane, along with coffee and gin, as I parent, so do know that I adore my kids, and love spending time with them but this little diatribe is me expressing my frustration and also hoping other parents out there can relate and maybe give some advice. 

Toddlers are, I promise much easier than tweenagers. I hear all of you with toddlers going through all that entails looking at me aghast, because, of course toddlerdom, whilst it’s fun, can also be hard work and you wonder if you will ever regain sleep, sanity, and any kind of life that doesn’t involve soft play, mindless CBeebies and potty training. It does get better (they do eventually sleep and learn to pee in the toilet and kids TV sort of improves and you no longer have to go to soft plays) but it also comes with challenges of it’s own, as they get older. 

We currently have a bedtime issues. 

My kids are no longer tired and ready to go to bed at 7pm. Evenings, are frankly, a drag. I swear I get less time to myself or with the husband than I did when they still napped in the day and went to bed at a humane hour.

They both seem to have cottoned on to the idea that there exciting things happening in the evenings and they are older so they don’t want to sleep as early as they did. Bedtime for my small son is still challenging (that’s another ranty post for another day) but our real problem is our tween. 

She doesn’t want to go to bed early any more and because I am a reasonable (well, she doesn’t think so, that’s also another rant for another day) person, I don’t expect her to go to bed at 7pm, like she did when she was 5. However, we are finding evenings hard to manage because rather selfishly, the husband and I want adult time (no, not THAT kind of adult time, this is a family blog) to ourselves.

So how do we manage this? Is it reasonable to expect adult time, and not to have my kids up in the evenings with us? They do need sleep and need to go to bed and we enforce that, but clearly they aren’t going to bed at 7pm any more…

Is it reasonable to expect my tween aged almost 11, to take herself to her room and entertain herself quietly, then get into bed, read and go to sleep. Is it unreasonable of me to feel slightly resentful that she seems to think it’s ok to float around the house until after 8:30pm, and clearly thinks she missing something exciting. She pulls a good guilt trip of “but I just love being with you and dad”, which is all very lovely and I know I should appreciate this, because pretty soon we are going to the THE LAST people she wants to spend time with, but frankly I am over it. I want to have a bath in peace, enjoy a glass of wine, talk to the husband about things that I don’t wish to discuss in front of the the children and be able to shout at stupid politicians on the news without any tween company. She has my attention from when she is picked up from school, until bedtime, and the husband is very good at coming home from work and focusing on family when he walks in the door, so it’s not like we aren’t spending time with our kids.

Seriously, I just want my kids to go to bed. 

If you are at this weird stage or passed it, how do you handle it? Do send your kids to their rooms at a certain time and do they understand and are not offended by the concept that their parents love them but just want to not have them around for a bit?

Or am I a horrible parent? 

Answers on a postcard please??

Me, when my kids won’t go to bed…

After The Playground

Decorating Your New Property In That ‘Low-Maintenance’ Way

Purchasing and moving into a new home can be a truly wonderful time. It can also be exhausting. Moving away from your old life, driving potentially hundreds of miles, moving all of your valuables and adjusting to a new area is pretty much the most world-shifting thing you can do, at least from a personal perspective. After all of this, it’s not hard to imagine that decorating your property could be low on your priority list. This can lead to you putting off the decoration for weeks and weeks, and before you know it your motivation to stamp your personality on the property interior is diminished.

If this sounds like you, then we have some brilliantly practical solutions to redecorate and refurbish your home in that ‘low-maintenance’ way. Not only are these methods easy to install, but they require little upkeep after they become an implement. Perfect for those who prefer enjoying and living in a home first, and worrying about it second.

Exposed Brickwork

If you feel your wall is simply not up to scratch, you might need to fix this first. Old textured or smoke-stained wallpaper, chipped paint or general cracks in the decoration might lead you to completely return the wall to a state of rustic beauty. Instead of debating what colour to choose for the new wall (this is always a sticking point for couples,) ridding the wall of its wallpaper, paint and plaster, and exposing the brickwork underneath can bring a beautiful rustic flavour to your home.

The kicker? Only one wall needs to be exposed, and a simply repaint of the other walls in a neutral colour can help the one exposed fully stand out, becoming a ‘focal piece’ for the room you inhabit. This could be the living room wall around the fireplace or the kitchen wall that supports the oven feature. This balance between modern and rustic is all the rage right now, so you’re sure to receive plenty of compliments praising your taste. Not only that, but provided the bricks are in good condition, they will require little to no upkeep.


Flooring can also suffer the same fate as walls, especially if they’ve been in the home for years before you moved in. Stained or simply outdated carpets, or damaged and unsafe floorboards can lead to a pretty sour walking experience. It’s not customary for us to desire wearing steel-toe-capped safety boots in our living rooms, so restoring the flooring could be a high priority of yours.

Even better than restoring the flooring, however, is installing new flooring entirely. Avatara at wood4floors is an authentic wood floor from Germany which has antibacterial properties, perfect for the hygiene of your home, especially if you have children. This also doesn’t need sanding, which means the low-maintenance checkbox has been well and truly ticked. Just be sure that no matter what flooring you choose, the design is suitable for the aesthetic of the room. It’s easy to ignore just how important the flooring style is for the overall design, until you install one that doesn’t fit in the slightest.

Solid Materials

Modern furniture is often made from metal, plastic and even acrylic. This can become damaged easily, particularly plastic seat holders or coffee tables without much structural support. It’s important to find solid materials to decorate your home with, as they often have the strongest lasting power, are resistant to all forms of wear, and if you have the right know-how,  can be repaired at a whim.

For example, marble countertops aren’t at a risk of scratching or denting in any way, while thick walnut tables can be varnished and sanded where needs be. This is especially important if you raise children, as they often find the best ways to break select home furniture, admittedly accidentally. To use a practical example, would you rather your young children sleep on a small bed frame make from weak steel framing, or solid wood? The more premium the material, the better its lasting power, and the less you need to maintain it or check the structural integrity.


If you’re simply looking to stock your home with quality pieces, freecycle or craigslist can help you out to begin with. Old sofas, bed frames, ornaments, tables and chairs can be found through these websites, provided you are able to vet the seller. You might just find some easy and cost-effective methods of filling your home with wonderful items. Who knows? An old massage therapist might have some beautiful Himalayan salt lamps going free. Examples like this help you find some beautiful, novel, and interesting items you might not have found in the standardized home furnishings section of your local utility store.

With these tips, decorating your home in a low-maintenance way will allow you to get to the good part – living and crafting memories with your family.

*this is a collaborative post*
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Confessions of a lip picker…

People who know me really well, and that is very few people, know that I have two bad habits that tend to betray how I am doing, in myself, and how life is treating me. 

I used to bite my nails, but stopped when my mother bribed me with the offer of buying me a pretty and proper charm bracelet, to wear, if I could stop biting my nails and grow them to a nice length and keep them looking nice. It worked, and I don’t generally bite my nails now. 

I do occasionally attack my thumb nail, though and the husband can tell if I am having a bit of a tough time, when he sees my thumb nail has been chewed and is much shorter than the other nails on my hand. Not a nice habit. Doesn’t happen often because it does look unsightly and I get annoyed at myself for doing it. 

However, I also must confess to being a lip picker. 

A very bad, nervous, anxiety led habit that I have carried out all of my life. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle really. Life gets a bit busy or demands on my time become greater, and I forget to look after myself, and my lips get sore and dry, or I get a bad cold, because I am run down, and they get sore and dry. Then I pick, then they get even more sore, then it takes me a good week to heal them. Sometimes I can go for months without it being a problem, and sometimes it really is that bad habit that I hate but can’t seem to help. 

So, when someone who knows me really well, called me on Friday and said “lets meet for coffee next week, I think you can do with it” and when she saw me yesterday, handed me a pot of lipbalm she had bought me, I knew it was time to stop picking, and reflect on my mental health, and what is pushing my buttons and triggering anxiety. 

Right now, I think it’s christmas, to be honest. With all it’s fun and merriment, there is still an undertone of stress. It’s a crazily busy time of the year, with school plays, carol concerts, parties, children’s social events, work pressure, family events, and all the busy and juggling that happens in these next few weeks. People wanting your time, and energy, and just one more thing to organise, expectations from family and friends, that you feel you should meet but don’t really want to, and when you don’t you face the aftermath,  shopping, cooking,feeding people, presents to buy, house to clean, Christmas cards to be sent, plus the normal routine of daily life has to still be managed. 

We all do it, and we all groan and get on with it, and once it’s over, we sigh with relief, that we enjoyed it, but are glad it’s gone for another year. Some people drink more wine that normal, some people eat more chocolate, some people use shopping as a sort of therapeutic outlet. Me? I drink more coffee than is good for me, and I get distracted and pick my lips. 

It’s unsightly, unattractive, and sore. It’s a nasty habit, and I hate myself for doing it. I know I shouldn’t. I know people can see it, and it doesn’t look nice. After Emily was born, I was so anxious and unwell that I picked my lip so badly that I ended up needing antibiotic cream to treat the area that got sore. It ha

So, the self care regime begins both physically and emotionally. 

I use a lip cream, and a lip balm religiously, even when I am wearing no other make up. I carry them in my pocket and instead of reaching to pick, I slap on another layer of balm. When I go to bed at night, I also apply a thick layer. The less sore and cracked my lips are, then the less likely I am to pick. I also am instituting some mental health self care… I am taking on no more work this side of Christmas, I have started cancelling or postponing non urgent or special meetings or social events that cause me more stress than pleasure, and I have asked the husband to confiscate my phone at night so I am not tempted to be available to the world or cruising social media (which can be a stress trigger) at night or in the mornings first thing. I am avoiding people and situations that I can, directing people to other sources with their needs and demands, and I am above all, trying not to pick. 


Physical self care is a start, my lip care armor, always in my pocket…

My mouth is sore, this morning, and it’s bothering me. My dad arrives in less than a week, and the Christmas festivities will begin in earnest, over the next few days. I want to more than survive this next few weeks and actually enjoy it. Lip picking for me is a sign that I need to regain a grip and work on not letting my anxiety overwhelm me. 

I wonder if I will ever not pick my lips. Who knows? I don’t show many physical signs of a mental health struggle, but lip picking, if you know me well, is a sign that I am fighting that bit harder. 

Anxiety does not define me, but it plays a part in my life. Where I once lived in a dark tunnel with flashes of light and life, I now walk a  more open path that’s much easier, because I can see who I am, and what carries me and what tries to make me sink. I haven’t mastered it, but I won’t let it master me. I don’t ask for a cure, or for it to go away, because I don’t want to spend all my days and energy wishing for different. Instead I choose to focus on what makes me strong, and what I know I can do, and the dangers that lurk for me, are mainly easier for me to spot and tackle, now, rather than letting them drag me back to my tunnel. 

I am not broken, and I am much stronger today than I was yesterday, even if sometimes that is hard to see. I will continue to share, because I believe if we talk about these things, it helps the world around us to understand and gives those of us who struggle a space and a voice. 

Now, this lip picker is going to treat herself to a new lipstick, to reward herself for when her lips heal, so she doesn’t have sore lips for Christmas… 😉





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