Here you will find reviews of products, services and days out. Look out for some fab competitions and giveaways too!

To catch up on tales from the Button household, click HERE

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Mini mincemeat puffs - a recipe for the control freak mum

Dolly's mini mincemeat puffs
When my children were babies I threw myself into being what one friend of mine calls a 'Playdough Mum'.  

I indeed made an abundance of playdough, and did lots of baking with them - at a time when they were too young to hold a spoon.

However, when they got old enough to start wanting to crack their own eggs into bowls, or measure out flour, or dollop mixture into cakes themselves, I found that our kitchen became a very tense environment indeed.

I have a friend who lets her kids go wild in the 'baking' stakes, and they make all sorts of interesting (inedible) concoctions and they completely trash the kitchen while they are at it.  I really really respect her for letting them do this in the name of letting them have fun and learn, because when I bake with my kids, it is in very controlled conditions.

So when the lovely people from the Great British Chefs website contacted me and asked if I fancied cooking a festive treat with my kids from their website, I chose the recipe I thought would create the least amount of mess.

And yesterday Dolly and I produced these delicious and extremely easy mini mincemeat puffs - a much nicer version (in my opinion) of the traditional mince pie.

It was the perfect recipe for us, because Dolly almost had total control (for a change) and she really felt she had produced something by herself without me breathing down her neck.  And the best bit was that she and Betty really enjoyed eating them, as did family and friends - they really were a winner!

The Great British Chefs website has loads of fabulous looking recipes for kids, and I am really looking forward to trying out some more.

Thank you to Great British Chefs for sponsoring this post - Dolly now thinks I'm a nicer mum...

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Festive filmsets - how to make your home shine like scenes from Sainsbury's new Christmas movie

With friends and family coming from far and wide to share in the seasonal fun and festive spirits, Christmas is the perfect time to deck out your house and show off your interior for all to see.

In Kevin Macdonald’s new film, Christmas in a Day, we have the rare opportunity to glimpse into other family’s homes, seeing first hand how different people celebrate Christmas across the country.

And though these are all real families and real homes, you can’t help but see them as cosy Christmas sets, ready for the performance of the year on the 25th if you’re just about to start building your very own festive scene, here’s how to make your home shine just like those in Sainsbury’s Christmas in a day.

Setting the scene

If you’re like many households, the job of getting the scene ready for Christmas begins weeks before the day itself.

Preparing the tree, making the decorations, digging around in the loft to find those oversized Santa lights from last year; all of this and more goes into transforming your home into a winter wonderland.

In order to make the most of your Christmas set, try to have a big clear out before the decorating begins. This will help you to clear away the previous year’s clutter and will give you more room to store your brand new presents once the festivities are over.

Assembling the perfect cast

If you watch the Christmas in a day video, you'll soon see that it takes a large and varied cast to properly fill your Christmas set.

Everyone from grandparents to neighbours and second cousins to life-long friends can play their part at one point or another, so get those invitations out now and start preparing for a real feast.

If you’re hosting a Christmas party this year, why not go all out and create some personalised decorative touches 
for your friends to enjoy, they’ll appreciate the effort that you’ve gone to and you can reuse any left over decorations to make your house shine on the big day.


Lighting is always an important feature of interior design, but at Christmas time it’s absolutely crucial. 

A few cosy lamps placed around your home will help to make the space feel warm and well loved. You can also use white and multi-coloured fairy lights to highlight your interior design features and to add a touch of sparkle to your home. 


Just like the families in Christmas in a Day, you can turn your home into a real film set by investing in a video camera of your own and filming your family as they open their presents and enjoy the Christmas feast and festive fun. 

By capturing these special moments you can treasure them year after year, seeing friends and family grow as time goes on. You could even make a screening of past Christmas videos into a traditional part of your family Christmas celebrations. 


With your Christmas tree in place, the lights plugged in and ready to go and all of your friends and family around to enjoy the fun, there’s nothing left to do but shout ‘Action!’ and let the festivities begin. 

Just make sure that after all of the effort you’ve put in to create the perfect day that you get your due credit and maybe a standing ovation or two once the credits have finally rolled.

This is a sponsored post supplied by Sainsburys.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Styling head from ELC

We recently received this Styling Head from ELC.  Betty has wanted one for a long time and so is very happy indeed (I remember spending much of my childhood wanting one too, but my mum wouldn't wouldn't allow it, and told me to brush my own hair instead).

I have seen many of these dolls in the shops, but this one seems far superior to the others I have seen.  Some of the faces look really scary/distorted, and are just too small to be realistic - but this one has a kind gentle face, thick glossy hair, and is the right size.

I have a nightmare every single morning trying to brush Betty's long thick tangled locks - she is a moving, squirming, moaning target, and we normally end up falling out, and me threatening to cut all her hair off.

So: if I completely tangle up the hair on this styling head, and shake it around and shout a lot while she is trying to make her look nice, she might gain an insight into what I have to go through every single morning.  Of course, once my point has been made, I will leave her in peace to play and have fun with it.

This head costs £22.00, it comes with 13 accessories including brush, clips, and make-up, I am really pleased with it.  I am looking forward to having a little play myself.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Christmas activities to do with the kids

It has certainly started to get a lot colder now and with limited sunlight to enjoy, embracing a number of outdoor activities is quite simply out of the question.

However, this often means you’ll have an abundance of restless kids on your hands, which means having a few great indoor activities up your sleeves is essential. Here are some of our top Christmas favourites.

A redecoration project

One task that can be completed throughout the winter season is redecorating your younger children’s bedrooms. Thankfully this is something they enjoy being involved in so you won’t have trouble persuading them to get their hands dirty! 

From choosing the colour scheme to re-arranging their toys, there are a number of great decorating tips and bedroom ideas to take inspiration from. 

This is also a good opportunity to get rid of the old in order to make way for the new. With Christmas approaching at a rapid speed, they’re guaranteed to receive even more toys from friends and family so take this chance to clear out excess clutter as much as possible.

Simple fun

There are a number of games you can play in the household, many of which require very little effort. Hide and seek is a favourite of many and whilst it wiles away the hours, it never becomes tiresome to your children. 

Other options include gathering the board games that have been stored in the attic all summer and spending a few hours teaching the children how to play. After a while you may even find they’re happy to continue the game on their own. 

Christmas baking

When the holidays hit, you’ll find that you have the little ones on your hands a lot longer than usual. Creating a number of baking projects is a great way to entertain the children and one that keeps them in the warmth of the home. 

From Christmas cakes to mince pies, there are a number of fun recipes to choose from. It is however important to ensure their safety. Stocking up on plastic utensils prior to the event is a great way to do this.

Getting back outside

If your children are raring to go outside, it may be wise to invest in a few garden ideas. From outdoor heaters to obstacle courses, there are a number of options to choose from and of course when it snows creating the best possible snowman they can is a must.

This is a guest post supplied by SuperSavvyMe

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Green Earth Wok by Ozeri

I love stirfries but have always struggled with woks in the past, and have found that unless you stir continuously, you end up with a burnt oniony mass in the bottom of your pan.

So, having found the Green Earth frying pan fantastic, I was really excited to receive this Green Earth wok to review.

Like the frying pan, this wok has a smooth ceramic non-stick coating (100% PTFE and PFOA Free) - and it is COMPLETELY NON-STICK!  As my husband said 'food literally hovers above the pan.'  

You only need to use a teeny weeny amount of oil, and it is a joy to wash up - no scraping for hours with a scourer.  And it comes in that fabulous funky green colour!

In addition to being completely eco-friendly and ultra-safe, the Green Earth Wok's natural ceramic coating is far more durable and scratch-resistant than other non-stick surfaces. 

I absolutely love this wok and would totally recommend it, if like me, you have always struggled in the past.  Perfect for all those turkey stirfries post Christmas!

The wok has been reduced from £49.96 to £36.96 on Amazon - go and check it out!

Personalised Advent Calendars from Snapajack

I have to admit that I can't bear most of the advent calendars on sale these days - particularly the ones my children choose - Betty always goes for a Disney Princess one, and Dolly always goes for Peppa Pig.  Both contain cheap chocolate, and they are pretty ugly to look at.  But they make my girls happy, so I go with it.

But Snapajack's personalised calendars might just have recused me from Cinderella and Snowwhite's sickly sweet faces grinning at me from the windowsill throughout the whole of December.

www.Snapajack.com offers a wide range of advent calendars that are completely customisable with personal messages, text and photographs, and most importantly they have a delicious, continental chocolate behind each door!

There are 15 different advent calendar designs to choose from and each cost £12.97, which I think is very reasonable indeed.

Snapajack also offers 100s of other customised gifts, from playing cards, mobile phone covers, to party packs - do go and check out their fab website!

Snapajack say: 'When you order from www.snapajack.com your advent calendar will be produced with care and with the support of world-class technology and print expertise and dispatched within five working days.'

This is a sponsored post

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Scribbles on walls, ink stains on wood: how to cover up the mess if your little one runs into mischief

No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to keep an eye on your children 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This means you’re bound to come across a few problems every now and again. 

The minute your little bundle of joy starts walking, you need to have eyes in the back of your head if you want to prevent any mischief. Most parents will be able to recall at least a few times that their children have caused mischief in the home. 

Some problems are more common than others and below you’ll find just some of them.

Problem #1: Wall scribbles

Wall scribbles can cause a wave of panic in your mind. You go out of the room, come back in and find bright coloured marks all over the walls. You automatically panic. After all, how are you going to get rid of the marks? 

The good news is if it’s crayon you can iron it out. Simply place an old t-shirt folded up, over the stain. Iron over it on a medium heat and this should remove the stain. There are also some specially designed pads you can buy that wipe off any scribbles and marks.

Problem #2: Ink on wood

If the marks have been left on wooden furniture or on your nice solid timber sliding doors, don’t panic. Use half a cup of water and add baking soda to it until it resembles a paste. Rub the paste over the stain with your fingers. Use a damp cloth to wipe off the paste and you should notice the ink comes off with it.

Problem #3: Removing paint from the carpet

Another really worrying problem is if you’ve let your little cherubs paint and they’ve accidentally got it on the carpets. Scrape as much as you possibly can from the carpet before using a towel to wipe it up. Water based paints will need water to dissolve them. If the paint is oil based you’ll also need to use a little turpentine to get rid of it.

Problem #4: Smartphone and tablet problems

You go out of the room, come back in and find your little one has accidentally sent texts to all of your contacts. Or they have dropped your tablet onto the floor and cracked the screen. You can prevent these problems by making use of parental controls, investing in a good protective screen, and more simply, keeping them out of reach from your child. 

This is a guest post supplied by The Sash Window Workshop

Friday, 15 November 2013

What can elderly and children learn from one another?

The relationship between a grandparent and grandchild is a unique and special one. There is just enough connecting them yet, at the same time, keeping them healthily separate to make contact fulfilling, pleasurable and surprising for both.

Whereas the relationship between parents and children is loving but inevitably fraught with the stresses of life both inside and outside the home, the ties between grandparents and grandkids are relaxed enough to focus on fun, education and enjoyment for both parties.

New eyes

It is difficult not to get jaded with life as the years go by. Sometimes you feel as though you have seen and heard it all before and that there is nothing new left to experience.

Children have the amazing ability to help their elders see the world with fresh eyes and delight with their quirky and uninhibited perspective on life.

It could be the way a child approaches a project, the little things they notice when out and about or simply all of those funny questions they ask which make you think twice.

Whatever it is that is so delightful about spending time in the company of children, it enables a grandparent or other elderly friend or relative to get in touch with their own sense of wonder with the world. 

Past times 

On the side of children, regular contact with their elders can introduce views of the world which they would never otherwise access.

As elders reminisce about their own childhoods, it can open up a view of another time and place which can be enriching to a child’s imagination.

They can also enjoy one another’s company without the immediate pressures and power struggles that are felt between children and their parents!

Keep the spirit up

Most grandparents welcome a visit from their grandchildren. However, ageing often means a drop in energy levels. Just being in the company of a chatty, energetic child can be tiring.

Maintaining energy levels is important. Home devices can make life easier on this front for an ageing resident.

For example, a stair lift takes out the utterly draining task of negotiating the stairs several times a day without compromising the enjoyment of one’s home.

These fixtures are designed for both internal and external use. Indoors, they help in maintaining independence while an outdoor stair lift means there is no restriction on getting out to the shops or to friends. One can be installed for a whole length of stairs or along a few steps which lead to the garden.

It is all about flexibility, independence and being able to accommodate a visit from young people with ease.

Care and responsibility

There is another way in which the elderly and children can offer something to one another.

Older kids can be put in charge of looking after an ageing relative who may need assistance from time to time in simple day-to-day tasks.
This way, the child gets the chance to learn responsibility to others.

This is a guest post supplied by Stannah

Monday, 11 November 2013

Why should you teach children to make their own bed?

Many parents will ask ‘what age is it appropriate to teach children to make their own bed?’ At the age of five, most children will be able to take this task on board; they have both the mental ability to remember the step-by-step guide and the physical ability to complete the task at hand.

Where to start?

You should begin by allowing them to observe the bed making process. After a while they may even wish to help from their own accord. Start by pulling the top sheet, duvet and blanket to the head of the bed, you can then show your child how to tuck in each corner.

Once your child has practiced with you on several occasions, begin renouncing your help. Allow them to complete the last step of the bed making process unaided and then the last two steps and so on until they are fully confident with the whole task.

Growing up

As your child grows, he or she may start to help you change the bed linen. This is another task in itself and as such, your child must be educated from start to finish. Begin by showing them how to pull the fitted sheet from the bed, and also, how to replace it with a new sheet. 

Your child will need to know where to put the soiled sheet and where to find a fresh sheet – you may have a linen cupboard or basket in a certain room in the house so make sure this is accessible to your children. Allowing your child to choose the bed linen themselves is a great way to encourage them to make their own beds. You may have several coloured sheets or bed covers featuring their favourite characters.

You may like to put up a calendar detailing when each ‘linen’ day occurs. You could even issue stars, which will be attached to a board every time your child completes this task.

Why is it important?

It is important for children to learn of various household tasks as they will not be able to rely on you forever. They can then put these tasks into action when they stay at friends or relatives homes too – ensuring that they leave rooms clean and tidy during their stay.

At home, a well made bed will instantly make a child’s room look tidier – helping to encourage them to look after their rooms and giving you a home you can be proud of.

This is a guest post, supplied by Feather and Black

Friday, 6 September 2013

Lego lunch boxes from STORE

STORE recently sent us some fabulous Lego lunch boxes and flasks, and being big fans of Lego in this house, we absolutely love them!

The lunch box is a standard lego brick but in large!  And they are larger than they look in the picture, which was a relief.

There are some great Lego colours to choose from, along with matching flasks which come in the shape of a Lego figure.

Both the boxes and the flasks are £9 each, which I think is pretty reasonable.

I think my girls will be the envy of the school canteen!

Green Earth Pan by Ozeri

I recently received a Green Earth Pan from Moderna Housewares who are a distributor of Ozeri products.

This eco-friendly pan has revolutionised the way I cook fried eggs and bacon (and many other things) - as 'it is so non-stick that food almost hovers above the pan' (in my husband's words!)

Gone are the days when the kitchen fills with smoke, the food sticks to the pan, and then spend a good ten minutes trying to successfully wash it up.

This pan comes in a fun bright green colour, is offered in three different sizes, and no harmful heavy metals or chemicals have been used.

Ozeri is a manufacturer of products for contemporary homes. Their houseware products are distinguished by advanced designs, robust construction, and functional durability.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Experienced Grannies as Au Pair

Gerda Sehr, 57, might be a Granny Aupair, but she is definitely not your typical Granny.

Following 38 years as an employee at the National Insurance Office, the Austrian from Carinthia was on the lookout for a new challenge- “I’ve always been annoyed that I can’t speak English, when I complained about it during a trip to India my daughter just said “Go to an English-speaking country and learn it!”

Surfing the net looking for an occupation for middle-aged ladies, she came across the website www.granny-aupair.com and applied and shortly afterwards was placed as a Granny Aupair with a family in Nottingham.

Prior to her placement she and her husband visited the doctor couple at home and hit it off immediately. Gerda Sehr moved into the couple’s garden house with free board and lodging. “I didn’t receive a fee, but my family, who is very proud of me, could stay with me any time”. She went on a lot of trips with her guest family, among others to Sherwood Forest with Robin Hood’s Tree.

Every year families around the world hire young women aged 20-or-so to take care of their children and housework -- activities that an experienced 50-plus woman like Gerda Sehr can do easily. Why not rely on this know-how and invite a Granny as an au-pair to your home? In 2010 Michaela Hansen, 50, launched the initiative to send young-at-heart “Grandmas“ initially from German-speaking countries all over the world. “Senior citizens often remember their one-time dreams with a bit of melancholy,” says Michaela Hansen from Hamburg/Germany. “Staying abroad is often foremost among these dreams. Some wanted to immigrate to America when they were young, others dreamt of a sheep-farm in New Zealand. But even the wish to work abroad as an au-pair was not fulfilled." Michaela Hansen is amending this by giving these experienced women a second chance.

Thanks to her initiative, older women now have the opportunity to go abroad for an extended period, improve a foreign language and intensify their knowledge of a country – more extensively than is possible during a holiday – an opportunity which has already been taken up by more than 300 “Grannies” placed in 40 countries. The Granny helps with housekeeping and children, and gets free board and lodging in return. Becoming part of a family makes it easier to immerse oneself into life in a foreign country. It’s a win-win situation for both sides, as the idea of au-pair is based on mutual help.

Patricia, a Vancouver Mum states: "The past three months have been an interesting experience for the three of us. The opportunity to have a Granny Aupair has taught us so many things, as we open our home and hearts to that person and there's so much to learn from the experience: from the differences in our cultures and backgrounds to the similarities we might have. But the greatest part is learning to welcome one another and share the space and our day to day lives, and this experience has particularly shown me so much about myself." 

Families and single parents looking for a “Granny” are encouraged to contact Granny Aupair at info@granny-aupair.com. More about the service can be found at www.granny-aupair.com

This is a sponsored post

Friday, 10 May 2013

iPhone case from The Snugg

The Snugg, who sell a whole range of cases for phones, iPads, and tablets, recently sent me a case for my iPhone.

I was pleased they contacted me because I have a bit of a phone case obsession, and like to change them quite regularly.

They supply a  huge range so I found it hard to settle on one, but eventually went for this ultra thin purple case.

And I should add that it is the nicest case I have used.  It is really nice to hold and adds a bit of colour to my phone.

This particular case comes in all sorts of other colours too - do go and check out their website...

Splosh cleaning products - just add water!

I recently received a Splosh starter box, which included kitchen cleaner, handwash gel, washing up liquid and laundry detergent.

But instead of the usual cleaners you might buy from supermarkets, Splosh have come up with a radically new way of doing things, which dramatically reduces both transport CO2 emissions and plastic waste.

They supply a stylish and simple plastic bottle for each cleaning product, together with concentrate sachets.  Then all you have to do is place one (or two, depending on the product) sachet into the bottle, fill the bottle up with hot water from the tap, wait a minute, give it a shake, and it's ready to go!

And once the cleaner runs out, you re-order some more sachets, and re-use the bottle - easy!

I have to admit that my starter box sat unopened in our kitchen for quite some time, as I felt a little daunted about what might be inside.

However, once I actually opened up the box I realised just how simple the whole procedure is - you just pop a sachet into a bottle, and then fill it with hot water from the tap - simple!

I am so pleased that I have discovered Splosh - the smells of each cleaner are wonderful, they use natural ingredients, they clean beautifully, and in using them you are saving money and helping to save the environment at the same time.

Splosher-in-Chief, Angus Grahame says: 'Refilling may seem a novel concept at first, but I promise it won't take long to become second nature.  It's fun watching our sachets dissolve, pleasing not having to throw our bottles away and super convenient when refills pop through your letter box.'

Please do go and check out their fabulous website for more information.

Angus is happy to answer any question you might have.  He can be contacted at: hello@splosh.com or @sploshtweet

Thursday, 2 May 2013

mySupermarket - price comparison site

I don’t know about you but I can spend hours hunting round the internet for nothing in particular.

In comes my husband one day and asks me what I’m looking at?  I give my standard response of ‘ nothing in particular’ and I can feel him staring at me.  I think he’s about to say ‘how much is it going to cost us this time?’ but instead he kindly suggests that if I insist on hunting aimlessly round the web  then I might as well be productive about it and buy our groceries online instead of moaning about having to go to the shops when I’m too busy. 

He was right you know, not a bad idea at all. So off I set to pursue my online shopping grocery needs, and I knew just where to go. To be honest, we could do with tightening the purse strings anyway and comparing prices online before you buy is always a good way to help reduce the bills.

mySupermarket is an online shopping site that allows you to compare prices across Asda, Tesco Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Ocado. All you do is choose a store and start shopping. As you go, you can see how much each product costs across all the supermarkets so it’s easy to make price comparisons and find special offers. Add products to your basket and if you decide to switch to a different store because it works out cheaper, your filled basket follows you so you don’t need to start over again. The site is also full of other nifty features like ‘swap and save’. This lets you know if there is a similar product for cheaper within the same store and gives you the option to switch. They also have a dedicated offer shelf which clearly breaks down all the different kinds of offers so you can fish through all those bargains more easily.

Perhaps my most favourite mySupermarket feature is the ‘price alerts’. Take a product that you normally buy or something that you want to treat yourself to and mySupermarket will notify you when the price drops significantly so you know it’s a good time to buy and even stock up.

All the comparing prices and finding good deals could not match my delight at seeing the delivery van pull up aside my house, right on time and with all my weekly shopping hand picked and delivered right to my front door. There is definitely something to be said for online grocery shopping, it takes a lot of stress out of the week and can save money.

Guest post by Sara Flack

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Every cloud...

When I wrote-off our old car by letting it roll down our steep driveway into the ravine (as the recovery man referred to it) at the bottom of the hill, I was absolutely distraught.

It was so sudden and unexpected. One minute I was lovingly vacuuming the seats, and lobbing bits of digestive biscuit and banana out over the hedge, and the next minute the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner had caught the handbrake button and released it! I jumped out of the way to see my beloved car go hurtling off out of sight, the open doors flying off as they hit trees on the way down.

I was hysterical, and had nightmares for months afterwards, and kept thinking about all the ‘what ifs?’  And I really mourned the loss of this car – it had become part of the family, and had taken us far and wide.

Living in the middle of nowhere with two small children, we obviously had to get another car immediately.  My save-the-planet husband wanted to go smaller and get a Smart car (??!), and I, being a far more practical person (ie knowing that we needed a car that would fit at least four people), wanted to go bigger and get a people carrier – it was the sensible option.

People carriers are looked down on by 4X4 owners (in these parts anyway), and are seen as a little uncool.  But not being a very cool person, and wanting to save myself a lot of cash, I really didn’t care.

Our eldest daughter, Betty, is now at school and the extra seats needed to ferry her and her friends here, there and everywhere have come into their own.  Not to mention the extra boot space for all our camping trips.  I also love that you are much higher up than in an ‘ordinary’ car (sorry old car), and you get to see over hedges and into people’s gardens.

Every so often my youngest daughter will point and say: ‘Why did you let our other car crash down there?’  And my older daughter now has the old car key on her key-ring, which I often find under beds, and in plant pots etc.

But apart from these emotional little reminders now and then, I have finally been able to move on, and have wholeheartedly accepted our new car into our family – in fact, I positively love her! 

And I now feel a real sense of loyalty towards her, and will defend her to the hilt if anyone dare say anything off-hand about people carriers.

Post sponsored by Jennings Ford

Friday, 19 April 2013

Fabuloos Dreams - personalised books for kids

Picture taken from the website
We have just received a fabulous personalised book for Dolly (just in time for her birthday!) from Fabuloos Dreams.

When ordering the book I had to choose from a selection of themes - and opted for 'Dolly The Pirate Princess' (she loves princesses, and pirates for that matter).  

I then had to supply an image of her, and insert her name and age and also the names of a couple of friends.  All very quick and easy.

And the finished product looks amazing!  The quality of the book, the colourful fun images, and the actual story adventure is really top notch.

The image of Dolly's face has been superimposed onto every page, making her the very realistic pirate princess.  And her name and that of her friends gets mentioned throughout the story.

Your child becomes the hero of their own adventure - and I have absolutely no doubt that this will be her favourite birthday present!

Do go and check out these beautiful personalised books for yourself!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Spring is here! (apparently)

Being cooped up all winter long may have you and your family yearning for some diversion. Fortunately, there is nothing like the warmer weather, longer days, and beautiful scenery of spring to get you outside and to enjoy activities with the family.

Head to the zoo
Now is the perfect time to head to the zoo. Many animals are giving birth to their offspring, which means you’ll be able to see the cute babies. Plus, the weather is ideal. Instead of going when it’s scorching hot in the summer, there will be just enough sun and breeze to keep you and the kids comfortable and your chances of seeing more animals increase. Just remember to wear weather appropriate clothes and pile on the sunscreen.

Explore nature trails
Spending time in the great outdoors is fun and refreshing. Take a walk or bike ride through the park or head to a nearby mountain to hike the trails. See if you can spot any animals or identify some of the shrubbery. The beach is also a great option. Even if the water is too cold to swim in yet, you can have a fun afternoon picnic.

Improve the garden
Perhaps your family has a favourite fruit or vegetable. Instead of spending money on store-bought produce try planting it in your garden. It is so much healthier and more cost efficient to have your own supply.  Take this time to get the family involved and to teach your kids about the environmental and health effects of gardening. Even flowers and shrubs can be fun to plant. They’ll enjoy getting their hands dirty and seeing the fruit of their labour when the time comes. If you don’t have your own space, try planting potted tomatoes or heading to a community garden.

Have a family photo shoot
The sun, which is more likely to come out these days, provides the perfect lighting for pictures. Use this as an excuse to get dressed up and create lasting memories of your beautiful family. Make it an exciting occasion by creating a themed shoot or heading to your favorite location. Wearing white and light trousers and matching outfits can be fun, or you can all dress in costumes.

Plan a scavenger hunt
If you are eager to get your kids outside and away from the video games, create a fun game they will enjoy. A backyard scavenger hunt will encourage them to think and spend more time outside. Instead of just hiding eggs like you would do on Easter, make it more challenging. Make it so that they have to solve riddles and clues to arrive at the grand treasure.

Have a back garden barbeque
Create a fresh, healthy meal that everyone will enjoy. Heat up the barbeque and let your kids (if they are old enough) grill their own skewers with meat, vegetables and other ingredients. For a fun dessert make s’mores. They can heat their marshmallows on the grill or over the fire pit.

This is a guest post sponsored by New Look

Dressing the family for springtime

Spring is the perfect time to freshen up your wardrobe, get rid of past season’s styles and invest in some new items which are on-trend this spring/summer. As well as giving your own wardrobe an overhaul, why not give a lift to the look of the rest of your family and indulge in some retail therapy together? Have a day out at the shops picking up clothes with your hubbie and little ones, or browse the internet for clothes if your kids are too young for shopping. Once the cold spell dies away you can celebrate the sun coming out with our pick of the hottest spring trends, which you can adapt to suit all members of the family.

A recurring theme in fashion, gold is often associated with winter evening wear. However, when teamed with white and neutral tones gold is the perfect pick-me-up for a spring outfit. In recent catwalk shows Prada featured gilded leather, whilst Missoni used finely woven gold in coral coloured knits. Knitwear is the perfect way to flash some gold, whether you choose a Missoni number or not. A gold cardi can be worn with a smart or casual outfit and is the ideal way to showcase the trend for yourself and your daughter. For men a gold-toned watch adds instant sophistication to a black suit

Bright colours
Spring is the time to inject some colour into the family’s wardrobe. It’s easy to find bright kids t-shirts and trousers, so why not look for a more unique way to perk up their look? Children will love brightly coloured trainers, which have the added bonus of disguising mucky marks! Brands like Vans have some fab pairs in retro brights and funky patterns. Buying labels for the children is easy using online stores, which offer a number of designer labels in one place. Eye-popping hues are not just for kids though: recently Gucci, Jil Sander and Missoni showcased bright orange in their collections, whilst sunny yellow was seen at Versace, Prada and MaxMara.

Cut out patches, stripes of exposed skin and laser-cut clothes, shoes and accessories are everywhere this spring. Victoria Beckham’s range featured a nude-toned dress with cut out panels at the sides and chest, blending high-quality fabric and flashes of skin seamlessly. Invest in a cut-out dress which falls on the knee, as this modest length will balance a sexy flash of flesh. For kids, look for sandals with cut-out detail on the toes. Mary Janes make perfect spring shoes, as they allow feet to breathe, whilst still providing enough cover-up for rainier days and April showers. Unless your hubbie has a daring fashion streak, this is a trend best left to the girls of the family!

This is a guest post sponsored by alexandalexa

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Children's rugs by Lorena Canals

We recently received a gorgeous rug for the girls' bedroom from Lorena Canals who are a company specialising in rugs for children.

The fantastic thing about this rug (and all the rugs supplied by Lorena Canals for that matter) is that they are washable!

I like to have rugs in every room of the house but the we have got through a fair few rugs in the children's bedroom from 'accidents' happening (sick, nosebleeds, poo).  So to have a fully washable rug is fantastic.

The girls absolutely love their new rug as it looks pretty, and it's also very soft and 'cosy' as my three year old put it.  In fact, when they get out of  their warm beds in the mornings they like to sit on the rug and get dressed!

The rug we ordered is handmade, and is light grey with dots in pink, beige and white, and is 100% cotton.  But this particular style comes in many other colour combinations too.

Lorena Canals also supply many other styles of pattern of rug in different shapes and sizes.

Lorena Canals  say: "We have always considered that our rugs are the final “touch” for a children’s’ room. They add warmth, sweetness, invite to play and create a more homelike environment. We can’t imagine children’s rooms without a rug."

Do go and check them out!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Juggling motherhood and business

In every economic downturn, the stories that dominate the headlines are always the negative ones – take HMV and Jessops in this year alone – and although a shrinking economy is never a good thing, under-performing economies can often be a breeding ground for hugely successful start-ups; one section of society that to my mind always seems to pop-up in the - albeit short - good news section of financial newspapers is mothers, or ‘mumtreprenuers’.

Being a mother appears to foster a creative streak that is probably borne of necessity on the one hand, and also an empathy with a huge section of society, i.e. other mothers. Motherhood inevitably brings problems as well as happiness, and these problems are great for inventive minds to solve, but how easy is it to get these ideas off the ground, and for those mothers who haven’t had that bright spark, how easy is it to find practical and worthwhile ‘from home’ work? 

The web is full of examples of start-ups founded by stay at home mums; Enterpreneur.com for example regularly features successful start-ups from enterprising mothers, and similar business sites are awash with these success stories. 

After having that initial idea, the next thing to do is put together a solid business plan. Every possibility should be accounted and planned for, but don’t let yourself bogged down in the planning – there will come a time when it’s time to stop talking and start doing. If you absolutely must have an amount of cash to get the idea off the ground that you just can’t raise yourself, then consider enquiring with local government bodies about funding - 18-30 year-olds for example are eligible for low-interest start-up loans from the government, and there are others available. The benefit with these government backed loans is that they often come with free business mentoring to help get your idea started. 

What about other work from home opportunities for when you’re not ready to make that jump into self-employment proper, or don’t want the responsibility of a business just yet? Unfortunately ‘work from home’ seems to be one phrase that doesn’t tend to instil much trust in people today, and this is all down to the internet jobs market (jobs advertised as ‘work from home’ are usually bogus or very heavily commission-based). There are however other more tangible options when I comes to working from home. 

Freelance work is one of these options, and sites like.elance.com and peopleperhour.com can help freelance workers find jobs online. Be warned however, competition for jobs is fierce, so be prepared to justify why you are the best person for that particular job. Another option is online marketplaces like eBay, where for relatively little effort an eBay shop can let you sell a huge variety of goods with no start-up costs. 

[This is a guest post written by Daniel N who is a UK-based blogger who writes on a wide-variety of topics including business and marketing.  He is currently working on behalf of Rajapack, a packaging company that supplies businesses of all sizes.]