Valentine’s Day At HomeSense

Valentine’s Day

After another trip to HomeSense to check their Valentine’s Day stock, we came back with nothing at all related to Valentine’s Day!

We bought a lovely new cake stand that was on offer for a fiver. We also picked up some chocolates for a birthday present and a pretty tin with tea inside for a Christmas present.

Ant got himself a cutter thing that he can use to cut shapes out of the bread. He makes the sandwiches for the school lunches and the other day cut a love heart out of Kaycee’s sandwich. She found it very funny when she opened her lunch, as did her friends!

He puts little notes in Ella’s lunch. The other day he forgot and not only was Ella disappointed, her friend was as well!

Ant and I have decided not to buy each other anything for Valentine’s Day. We’re saving for a holiday for just the two of us. If we were buying presents, though, I’d love any of these treats from HomeSense 🙂

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

Valentine's Day HomeSense

*We were sent a gift card in return for showing some of the gifts available at HomeSense

Cold And Flu And Poorly Children #Vickstricks

Poorly Children

Don’t you just hate it when you have poorly children? Our girls have been suffering from colds that seem to have lasted for weeks rather than days just lately.
Thankfully they haven’t been bad enough to keep them from school but it’s still awful to see them suffering from runny noses and horrible headaches.

Vick’s Vapo Rub

When a cold does knock them off their feet, I get them to do the same things my mum got me to do when I was younger and got sick.
The first thing she’d get me to do is get the duvet and pillow from my bed and snuggle down on the sofa. The Vicks Vapo rub would be brought out and she’d rub it on my chest and for the rest of the day, there would be ‘that smell’. I love that smell. It transports me right back to those times and even though I was sick and feeling terrible, I felt totally loved and cared for by my mum and dad.

Vick's Vapo Rub helps poorly children

Lucozade

One of the best things about being ill back then was the treat that was Lucozade! We were never allowed it unless we were ill! Mum would buy a bottle just for me. My brothers and sister always wanted some but weren’t allowed, which made me feel even more special! (Wasn’t so good when they were sick and I wasn’t allowed any of theirs, though!)
Another thing I remember is being able to watch daytime TV. I loved all the soaps! Falcon Crest and Sons and Daughters were two of my favourites. I still remember the song to Sons and Daughters….’Sons and Daughters, love and laughter. Tears and sadness and happiness’!
There was another soap set in Scotland called Take The Highroad. It wasn’t as good but I still watched it!

Vick’s First Defence

I’ve been waiting for them to pass the virus onto me because that’s usually how it goes as soon as anyone gets a cold in this house!
Somehow I seem to have been immune, though. When I do get a cold, I usually really suffer. It starts in the usual way, pain at the back of my nose leading to a runny nose. Blocked ears, headache, sore throat. Then it goes to my chest which in turns gives me a horrible cough and I end up losing my voice.

It’s been over a year since I last had a cold and *touch wood* I won’t be getting one anytime soon. However, if I do, I now have a bottle of Vick’s First Defence in the medicine box. Vick’s kindly sent me a care package for the family that contained a bottle of Vick’s First Defence, some cute finger puppets that Ella loves and a bedtime book that we’re going to read tonight 🙂

Vick's First Defence, finger puppets and The rabbit who wants to sleep book

Aiden (16) started with a cold yesterday so I got him to use Vick’s First Defence. It’s not completely gone yet but he wasn’t feeling as bad as expected today. He’s gone to college which is great. He’s at 99.9% attendance so I’m happy the First Defence has helped him keep his attendance record.

Laughter is the best medicine

We’ve all heard the saying, laughter is the best medicine and I believe it’s true. Vicks have created some videos to help you cheer your little one up when they ill.
All kids love magic tricks so here are a couple anyone can easily do 🙂

You can find more #VicksTricks magic tricks on YouTube and for more help from the experts when your child is ill, see the infographics below 🙂

Vick's Sickness cycle

Vick's Sickness cycle

This post is an entry for the #VicksTricks campaign

 

Refresh Your Home – HomeSense

Refresh Your Home

Whenever January rolls around, I always start feeling like I want to change things in the house. After the lights and glitter of December, January is cold and dull.
I want to refresh my home and make it colourful and bright, ready to welcome spring.

The super wonderful husband and I took a trip to HomeSense on Thursday. He likes to see what kitchen things they have and I like to look at everything else!

HomeSense artificial orchids Refresh your home

Cushions - HomeSense refresh your home

Shelf and hooks - HomeSense refresh your home

Pink vases - HomeSense refresh your home

Be Kind wall plaque - HomeSense refresh your home

Wall clock - HomeSense refresh your home

Wall hangings - HomeSense refresh your home

Door knobs - HomeSense refresh your home

We want to decorate the living room because it’s been plain magnolia since we moved in three years ago. Some colour needs injecting into the room but I’m not sure which colour to choose.

I have made a decision about our shower room, though. We want to get rid of the pink toilet, shower and sink but we need to save for those. I can’t go another year with the room as it is so I’ve picked grey as the main colour and we’ve started buying bits and pieces.

I’ve never picked grey before so I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing! I saw some lovely grey towels in HomeSense and I’m going to check on the web to find a nice wallpaper to match the colour and do a feature wall in there.

We’ve also changed the colour scheme in the kitchen. We had light blue accessories but because Ant chose to have a candy apple red KitchenAid mixer, we’ve changed the kettle, toaster and other things to red. I really like it 🙂

 

Please Note: We were sent a gift card in return for this post.

Essential Apps for the Everyday Student

Essential Apps for the Everyday Student

summer, communication, technology , education and teenage concept - group of students or teenagers with laptop and tablet pc computers at park or campus

Right after the joys of the Christmas holidays, students are quickly thrown back into class and back into the mind frame of learning in one fell swoop. The pressures of going back into learning gear can be challenging for anyone in University; luckily, there’s an app for that! I’ve listed the top apps that every student needs to succeed in the classroom and in real life.

1. Scribd

What’s more convenient than hitting up the library to scroll through endless books in search of your thesis topic? Doing the same thing from your phone, of course. Scribd is the pocket hub of information you need for any paper, project, or just for kicks. Audiobooks, news, magazines, documents and even sheet music can be found in this app, which also gives personalised recommendations based on the information you provide it with.

2. Self Control

Let’s face it; we’ve all fallen down the rabbit hole of social media feeds when we are at work or in class. Luckily, Self Control is there to keep you in check and focused! By entering your class times and study times, this app will temporarily block all notifications and will disable your usage of certain apps during the entered timeframe. Strict, but a definite productivity lifesaver!

3. Hungry House

Pizza in pizza box on table - essential apps for students Hungry Horse

When microwave meals and canned food has you craving something more, Hungry House will save the day. Search for meals based on cuisine type or restaurant, select your craving, and the hard part is done. This app will track your delivery from restaurant to your dorm and will remember your favourite go-to meals for next time.

4. DuoLingo

If you’ve opted in to take that Spanish class, or just are looking to expand your horizons with a new language, DuoLingo is your best mate. This app makes learning another language incredibly fun and engaging. Invite friends to download the app for friendly competition, create teams to learn a language with classmates, and browse through quick learning blocks that feel more like a game than education. Whether it is French, German, Italian, Dutch, or Swedish, DuoLingo has the database of information you need to get through each language lecture.

5. Mint

British money pound coins balanced in a precarious stack on a background of more money.

On campus, where money is a scarcity and often easily spent, Mint is an app that any University student can benefit from. Mint syncs your bank account information, informs you of your spending pitfalls and gives financial advice on how to stretch each pound. Think of it as a personal financial adviser, Mint will help you coast through your remaining University years without ending up penniless in the first semester.

This is a collaborative post

Vaping – Help with Quitting Smoking

Vaping

Vaping kit and cigarettes

The super wonderful husband has been a non-smoker for 2 years, 3 months and 28 days (he’s got an app!). He’d tried many times to stop smoking, we even tried to do it together for the support but it was still too difficult.
The tide turned for him when he bought a vaping kit.

While we were trying to stop smoking together, I became ill one day and ended up in the hospital with a pulmonary embolism. I couldn’t breathe and had to stay in the hospital for 10 days.
It was an awful time but the one good thing to come out of it was the fact that I couldn’t face smoking ever again. I know it sounds silly but I felt like I couldn’t give my lungs extra work to do after all they’d gone through.

In June this year, it will be 8 years since I last smoked and I’ve never craved one since the day I went into the hospital.

Giving up wasn’t as easy for Anthony and he carried on smoking for a few years, occasionally trying to quit.

E-Cig

He bought himself an E-Cig in 2014. He’d tried nicotine patches but they didn’t help because he missed the physical aspect of smoking.
It worked brilliantly for him. He had nicotine in the liquids at first but he was soon buying liquids with smaller amounts of nicotine in them until gradually, he stopped getting the nicotine ones at all.

We were all very proud of him when he totally quit smoking. No tobacco and no E-Cigs for over 2 years 🙂

He has said many times that he never thought he’d be able to quit smoking and he surprised himself at how easy he found it, with the help of his vaping kit 🙂

Flavoured Liquids

I’m amazed at how many different flavours you can buy. My friend likes to try new flavours so I’ll be telling her about the selection you can get from Five Pawns. I don’t smoke, but even I like the sound of the citrusy blood orange mingled with vanilla flavoured one!

 

Going from straight to curly hair

Girls and Hair!

When my girls were little, they both had curly hair and I loved it!

Kaycee curly hair

Kaycee

 

Ella with curly hair

Ella

I had visions of teasing out ringlets of hair every morning before school and putting them in pigtails.

That didn’t happen.

Thick Hair

Kaycee, the eldest, has thick hair like mine and the longer her hair grew, the straighter it went. The curls didn’t disappear, they stayed at the bottom of her hair no matter how long it got. I put off having it cut for years. I couldn’t stand the thought of cutting the last of her curls off!

Ella’s hair isn’t as thick as ours so I was hoping her curls would have a better chance of staying in as it grew. Alas, it wasn’t to be either! I put off having her hair cut as well for the same reason but I finally gave in when she was nearly 6-years-old!

Short Hair

Both girls have tried having short hair but they soon decided they preferred it long. They didn’t like not being able to do much with it when it was shorter.

They went through a stage where they wanted straight hair and asked if we could buy straighteners. We said no because they were too young. Now they try everything they can to get some curls back in their hair!

Curly Hair

We’ve tried using rags

Ella with rags in her hair to make curly hair

It worked quite well but took ages to do.

Ella at the wedding curly hair

 

Kaycee at the wedding with curly hair

The best result we’ve had so far out of the things we’ve tried have been magic curlers. I saw them on Ebay and they were quite cheap so I thought we’d give them a go.

Ella hasn’t tried them yet but they worked great for Kaycee. They’re really easy and quick to put in as well.

Kaycee with magic curlers in for curly hair

 

Curly hair after using magic curlers

Different Styles

Both girls spend ages watching videos on YouTube looking for different styles. Not all of them curly, I’m pleased to say 🙂

Ella's hair styles

They love trying different styles in my hair and have even tried putting pigtails in their dad’s hair. He doesn’t have much, though, I have to say. They were pretty small pigtails!

Daddy with pigtails

Genes

The girls obviously get their hair genes from me, luckily.

Hopefully, they’ll never have to worry about hair loss but I have some friends and family whose hairline has started to recede. Some of them don’t mind but some of them would like to try and stop the flow of time.
One of the things I’ve seen that can help is ATP – Advanced Tricho Pigmentation which works in a similar way to a tattoo.

Here’s what the Harley Street Hair Clinic have to say about it.

Advanced Tricho Pigmentation works in a similar way to a tattoo. Natural pigments are applied to the patient on either the scalp or brow area and our team of experts work to delicately replicate the appearance of hair follicles on the scalp, and natural strokes on the brow area to replicate each individual brow hair.

The specialised process deposits tiny amounts of pigment to the recipient area and positions it within the dermal layer of the skin. Once applied by one of our highly skilled technicians you’ll see realistic results that replicate real hair.

Ant’s had a look at the website and he said he wishes it had been around when his hair first started receding. He doesn’t like the idea of a hair transplant or a toupee but would have been ok with ATP.

Long Hair

The one thing he doesn’t have to worry about, though, and we do, is the amount of hair that sheds everywhere in the house. Three girls with long hair is an actual nightmare! The drains get blocked, the hair wraps around the hoover roller, clogs it up and makes the belt burn out and stray hairs can be found in the weirdest of places around the house!

Truthfully, though, I love helping them with different styles. I love giving them the curly hair I always craved when I was a child and I love that they want to play with my hair because it’s oh so relaxing!

 

Making Mocktails with Princes Juices

Fruit Mocktails

The girls had great fun making some deliciously fruity mocktails recently. We were sent some Princes fruit juices and a selection of fruit so we could get creative with the flavours.

Firstly we made cranberry with apple and elderflower.

For the mocktail you will need:

  • 400ml cranberry juice
  • 500ml apple and elderflower flavoured sparkling water
  • Fresh cranberries, lightly crushed
  • A few mint leaves

fruity mocktails with Princes

We started by making some frosted cranberries to decorate the glasses.

For the frosted cranberries, you will need:

  • Fresh cranberries
  • A glass of water
  • Sugar
  • Cocktail sticks

fruit-mocktails-with-princes-01a

Put 2 or 3 cranberries on a cocktail stick then dip them in the water.

fruit-mocktails-with-princes-02

Sprinkle them with sugar and freeze for about half an hour.

fruit-mocktails-with-princes-04

To make the mocktail:

Mix 400ml of cranberry juice with 500ml of apple and elderflower flavoured sparkling water. Lightly crush some fresh cranberries and add them to the drink, along with some mint leaves.

Serve in large wine glasses and garnish with the frosted cranberries.

fruit-mocktails-with-princes-010

 

Pineapple, coconut and lime sparkling mocktail

For our second drink, we didn’t add different flavours because the pineapple, coconut and lime fruit juice was delicious as it was.

 

fruity mocktails with Princes

All we did was chop some fresh pineapple and added it to the jug. We then segmented the orange and added the segments to the jug.

We added 600ml of the fruit juice and the milk from one coconut to the jug then topped it up with lemonade. It was so refreshing, it didn’t last the day. Everyone loved it!

fruit-mocktails-with-princes-012

Thanks to Princes for the fruit hamper and juices. We had great fun making the lovely drinks.

Keeping Energy Bills Low in Winter

Keeping energy bills low

When I woke up this morning, there was a thick frost outside. The heating was on but I was still tempted to turn it up a bit. I don’t cope well with being cold and I seem to be colder than everyone else. When I’m wanting the heating on all day, they’re wanting the door open because it’s too hot. I even went to the doctors in the summer because I thought something was wrong with me! I’m cold all the time.
I’d love to turn the heating up but I don’t want to increase my energy bills. They’re too high as it!

I blame the tumble dryer for the majority of the electric usage. It’s made me lazy. I can’t remember the last time I put washing out to dry and we have it on nearly every day. Sometimes 3-4 times a day.
We have 2 girls who seem to generate a huge amount of laundry for some reason. I suspect that when they’re sent to tidy their room, they put clean washing in the dirty laundry basket so they don’t have to sort through it and put it away!

New Year Resolution

I don’t usually make New Year resolutions but this year I’m going to make just one. I’m going to do my very best to lower our energy usage.

The first thing to go is the dryer. Not literally, I’m keeping it but we’re not going to use it unless it’s an emergency. We have a great clothes horse we can use instead.
When it’s too cold outside, I’ll put it in the shower room while the clothes dry. When it’s a bit warmer, I’ll put it on the patio which has a cover over it. The clothes can still dry even if it rains!

It’s not all the fault of the dryer, though. There are other ways I can make changes to help reduce the monthly cost.

Instead of turning the heating up or having it on for longer, I’ll add more layers so I can get toasty and everyone else can be comfortable.
I’ve got a long woollen housecoat that I’ve had for years. It’s really warm so I’ll start wearing it more often. Also, Ant bought me a wonderfully soft blanket for Christmas. I was going to pack it away with the Christmas stuff but it’s just too nice and warm to stick in the loft while it’s still cold outside. I’m going to use at nighttime while I have a coffee and watch TV.

cutting energy bills

 

Premier Bathrooms has more hints and tips to help you reduce your energy usage which in turn reduces your bills.

 

This is a collaborative post

Back Problems and Bathing

Back Problems and Bathing

For the last 20 years, I’ve suffered from back problems. It started when I was working in a factory and got worse after the birth of my son.

When he was 3 months old, I was at the photographers having some baby photos done. I’d taken him in his pushchair and we went on the bus. After having a few photos taken, I went to lay him down for the next one and the top half of my body just seemed to drop down a bit. A pain shot up my back and I wasn’t able to stand upright.

I managed to put Aiden down safely then I held onto my back and hobbled to my chair. Not letting the photographer know I was in agony was very difficult. It was very embarrassing and I didn’t want him fussing when he wasn’t able to do anything. I got through the photo session and carefully put Aiden back in his pushchair.

I don’t know how I managed to get back to my mum’s on the bus but somehow I did. It took me an hour to shuffle slowly from the bus stop to my mum’s house, a distance that usually took 3 minutes.

Slipped disc

It was the worst time it could have happened. Not only was I a new mum, just getting used to having this baby, I was a single mum. My mum had been brilliant, helping out with everything but she’d recently had an operation and I was supposed to be going to her house every day to look after her.

I ended up having to get my sister to help us both. It was a nightmare.

The doctor diagnosed a slipped disc. I spent the next 2 weeks in bed, not being able to move. I dreaded every time I needed the toilet because it meant I’d have to move.

As you can imagine, there was no way I could have a bath because I couldn’t get in or out. I didn’t have a shower so for weeks I had to make do with just having a wash.

I’ve had a slipped disc twice but thankfully it hasn’t happened for many years. I do still suffer from back pain, though. I have to take painkillers every night so I can get some sleep.
We have both a bath and shower here but I can count on one hand how many times I’ve had a bath. It’s too painful getting in out to make it worth the hassle. I do miss my baths, though. I much prefer bathing to having a shower (unless I’m washing hair!).

New Bathroom

We need new bathrooms (you’ve probably seen my many posts about my bathrooms before!) and hope to get them next year if funds allow. I’ve been looking at walk-in baths from Bathing Solutions. It would be wonderful to be able to have a soak in the bath again and not be nervous while I’m there that I’m not going to be able to get out.

bathing solutions walk-in bath back problems

Just looking at the picture makes me want to relax and a nice hot bath! Fingers crossed for new bathrooms next year 🙂

 

Please note: This is a collaborative post.

Christmas Party Dresses from JD Williams

JD Williams Party Dresses

I don’t usually wear party dresses, but I do make an exception for Christmas and weddings, so I was delighted when JD Williams asked if I wanted to choose some dresses. It’s nearly Christmas, obviously, and I have a wedding at the start of January 🙂

I’ve been a customer of JD Williams, in the past, so I knew the dresses would be of excellent quality.

Being a woman who wears plus size clothes, JD Williams is always the first place I go when I need a new outfit. I was able to pick 2 dresses from the long dresses collection. There were so many lovely ones, it took me ages to choose!

For the wedding, I chose this sparkly black one. Ella didn’t like the idea of my wearing a black dress to a wedding, but I told her it was totally fine to do so!

party dresses

I now have to buy new shoes and a clutch bag. Somehow I don’t think my huge handbag will look very good!

For Christmas Day we’ve got my father-in-law and 2 of my 6 step-children coming for dinner. I picked a lovely jade green lace dress and I can’t wait to wear it 🙂

Christmas party dresses

 

Now, I’m all set for Christmas day and the wedding. It’ll make a change being organised for the wedding so far in advance. I’m usually panicking, the day before, trying to find something to wear!

Christmas Pyjamas

Whilst looking for the dresses, I noticed the Christmas option on the menu and had to have a look!
I always buy the kids new Christmas PJs to open on Christmas Eve. I’ve needed new PJs for ages now. The ones I have were from JD Williams nine a few years ago and, after losing 7 stone, they keep falling down. I have to put a few stitches in the pyjama bottoms to make the waist a bit smaller. I don’t often buy clothes for myself (as you can see with the PJ situation!) so I thought it was about time I finally got new pyjamas, especially as they’re Christmas ones and I love Christmas so much. Having new Christmas PJs just seemed right! I’ve gone from a size 32 to a size 24 🙂

I decided to treat myself to new Christmas PJs so I’ve ordered these and they should be delivered in the next couple of days. I can’t wait to see them.

Mickey and Minnie Christmas shortie pyjamas JD Williams

 

All I need now is my own Christmas jumper and I’ll be all set! I think I’ll leave that until next year, though. I’m sure the super wonderful husband will agree that I’ve spent far too much on Christmas this year already!

Please note: I received the dresses in return for an honest review.