How to Make Your Living Room Attractive and Child Friendly

Kids keep us young, and exhausted. They are the reason, however, that most of us go to such great lengths to  make a home and a nest. The home itself is a never ending project that we pour lots of money into and spend so much time working on.

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As parents, we must always keep in mind that, especially while the kids are young, we may not be able to achieve perfection in our upgrades and decorating. In fact, it would be unfair if we attempted it. By trying to make things perfect, we often find ourselves constantly telling the children off for making marks on furniture or spilling drinks. This spoils our experience of raising children, and their experience of growing up in the home.

There are a few ways we can have an attractive living room while making it child friendly at the same time. Here are a few of my ideas; I hope you can take, and use, some of them in your own room.

Furniture Selection

Select sofas and armchairs that are made from a durable and stain resistant material. When you are at the showroom, the salesmen will try to convince you that a fabric sofa, which is proving hard to sell, has been treated with the latest anti-stain chemicals and is indestructible, Don’t believe them, there isn’t a fabric out there that can withstand a happy family. Instead, choose a leather, or faux leather suite that can simply be wiped over when a spill or mark appears. That way you can all sit without getting anxious about stains.

When choosing wooden cabinets and tables, it is a good idea to avoid items that have sharp corners. Most furniture these days can be found with rounded edges. Now, it will still hurt if the kids trip and bang their heads, but rounded edges can save the need for stitches.

Laminate It

Lay a laminate, or even real wood floor if you are concerned about muddy feet treading over carpets. Young children do run in and out of the house when they are playing, and there is no point trying to fight it. This floor is easy to lay by even a DIY beginner. The only skill needed is being able to use a saw, which anyone can do. The boards click together now, so there is no need to worry about getting glue all over the place. The flooring is hardwearing, easy to clean, attractive, and can even be lifted and installed in another room when you feel like a change.

Soft Furnishings

Kids can fall asleep on a clothesline; therefore, it is a good idea to have a couple of beanbags in the room for them to flop on. When watching television before bed in the evenings, they will probably love to cuddle under a throw that sits on the back of the sofa. Plenty of cushions are a good idea too so they can get comfy.

The rest of the decorating, in my opinion, can be as expensive and beautiful as would be found in a home without children. Just these few basic changes can make your room a happier, attractive, safer place until your children have grown. You can’t put a price on that.

 

How to Save a Fortune on Children’s Clothing

As much as we love our children, the cost of raising them seems to be constantly increasing. Let us look at the figures – it costs over £200,000 to raise one child until the age of 21. That does not take into consideration educational costs, should your child want to go on to university. Now we’ve taken a moment to let that hideous sum sink in, it makes good sense to ensure that you save as much money as possible, without compromising quality.

Kids have a knack of growing out of everything that they own at the time you need them to least. Naturally, we want our children to look smart and presentable, but by ensuring that they look their best we do not have to part with huge sums of money in the process. It’s not like I’m letting you in on the world’s biggest un-kept secret that kids grow out of their stuff fast!

There are so many ways for frugal parents to save a fortune on kids clothes. Clothing outlets tend to sell big names for a nominal sum. While the clothes may be from last season, this does not mean you have compromised quality. Your kids will look like the bell of the ball once you have decked them out in their finery. Buying clothes ‘out of season’ will save you a fortune, and they will still look adorable.

Do look online for big savings on children’s clothes. There is a wide range of online retailers that offer designer second hand children clothes at incredible prices. It is always worth checking them out, especially if you have a big occasion coming up and you want your little ones to look their best. Do remember to check clothes thoroughly and ensure that they are in good condition. Do remember to buy kiddies clothing in half a size bigger. That’s not to say your kids clothes should swamp them, but giving them some ‘growing room’ allows your bank balance some breathing space!

Other great ways of saving money on children’s clothing is to buy gender neutral clothes, especially for newborns and babies. For some unbeknown reason, retailers seem to hike the price up of pink or blue clothing, by sticking to gender neutral colours, you can accessorise with different colours should you want to make a statement.

Reusing clothes is a great way to save cash too. Should you have a large family, pass down clothing that is still in good wearable condition to siblings. It seems that we often sell our kiddies good clothes on to others, but reusing them within the parameters of your own family is a great way to save money.

For savvy parents, saving money on kids clothing is the tip of the iceberg. There are so many ways to keep your children looking beautiful, without breaking the bank. Giving your child, or children, a good wardrobe is incredibly easy when you follow the aforementioned money-saving tips. You do not have to compromise style when saving money, and your kids will still look super cute!

 

The Most Embarrasing Birth Questions Answered (WARNING: Honest Answers)

When you’re pregnant, a million and 1 questions go through your head per minute – some of them more appropriate to ask than others. Some questions are, well, embarrassing! Plus, you might not want to hear the answers. We’ve all heard labour horror stories, but where do you turn to hear the truth? Just what should you expect in the throes of labour? We answer the most embarrassing birth questions here, but be warned: the answers are totally honest, so you might not like what you hear…

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Should I Neaten Up My Bikini Area?

Years ago, the midwife would shave every woman when they came in to have their baby, as it was easier for the doctor to repair a cut in the event of a episiotomy. Now, it’s all totally down to your personal preference. Nobody will bat an eyelid no matter what you have down there.

Will There Be Many Internal Examinations?

Vaginal examinations will be limited during labour, but you’ll usually have an examination when you arrive at hospital. After that you may have an examination 2-4 hours to monitor your progress. This can be uncomfortable, so discuss them with your midwife in order to understand them.

What Should I Wear When Giving Birth?

Many birthing rooms are private, so you can wear what you like or even nothing at all. Sarongs work really well. Swimming tops can also be great if you’re shy about showing your breasts. Clothing can become annoying towards the end of labour, so don’t be surprised if you want the whole lot off. Babies also love skin to skin contact after birth.

Will My Husband/Partner Go Off Sex if He Sees Me Give Birth from ‘Down There’?

All men are different. While some men might find it fascinating or even beautiful, some men will find it confronting to watch. You should definitely discuss this together beforehand so he knows what to expect.

Will I Poo During Labour? How Will it Be Handled?

It’s common for women to poo during labour. When your baby comes through the birth canal, there’s no room for anything else so everything else is expelled. Your midwife will have seen it many times before, so she won’t even be fazed – you might not even know you’ve done it.

Will Gas and Air Make Me Say Embarrassing Things?

Gas and air can help you to focus and take the edge off your pains. You might be a bit giggly, and you might say things that don’t make sense, but everyone around you will be glad you’re smiling. If you’re really worried about saying embarrassing things, you could always hire a Tens machine from http://www.tens.co.uk.

Will Sex Feel The Same?

You’ll need to give yourself time to heal, but yes, your sex life will return to normal. Pelvic floor exercises can be a lifesaver!

See? Childbirth isn’t that bad – women do it time and time again, so that’s got to count for something. Good luck!

 

How to date when you have kids

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Being a single parent doesn’t mean a romantic life is beyond reach, merely that dating needs approaching differently. Single parents should acknowledge that going out clubbing and dancing till dawn are over – meeting a ‘special someone’ is far more likely to happen at the school gates, in the supermarket queue or increasingly, online.

Chances are, with one or more gorgeous children in tow, life is a busy whirlwind of school, social and sports engagements, homework, domestic drudgery and more – finding time to fit in some dating can prove challenging. That’s why many single parents choose the online dating option for its flexibility and convenience. At the end of a working day, followed by an evening of catering, organisation and childcare, it can sometimes seem there is no time left for a personal, ‘grown up’ life.

Many singles are extremely focussed on the happiness of their children, but when he or she feels down due to a lack of adult companionship, this can have a negative impact on the tight family unit. Who doesn’t feel better for a loving, rewarding relationship? Single parents are just as deserving of romance and fortunately it has become easier to find it with the advent of online dating.

Since its early days in the 1990s, online dating has evolved into a smart, safe and effective way of finding a partner. Internet agencies such as Global Personals (find out more on their Wikipedia) cater for all types of people from old to young, single or divorced, gay or straight, widow or widower, outdoorsy or stay-at home – working on the basis that for everybody, there is a somebody.

On the face of it, online dating is the perfect solution for busy single parents. After the children are in bed it’s possible to go online and socialise with like-minded people. No babysitters, totally controllable, secure and flexible, Internet dating takes much of the hassle out of finding a new friend. By getting to know potential suitors well before a first meeting, the chances of a successful outcome are increased.

Tell a potential date about children in the early stages, they are part of the package and it’s only fair to inform a new love interest of the situation. Be prepared for it to put some people off, and yet others won’t bat an eyelid – they are the keepers, and the one’s to focus on for the future. Any long-term relationship is only going to work if based on secure footings of honesty and clarity – with online dating there is potential for misreading situations and daters need to be conscious of such dangers.

It is equally important to keep children informed. Younger children are usually more receptive to a new person in their parent’s life, older kids being more resistant to change. That said, if children are kept in the loop there’s no reason a new partner wouldn’t be welcomed with open arms.

Having kids is no longer an excuse for sitting out of the dating game. With the help of online dating there has never been a simpler, more convenient way of searching for that special someone. Everybody deserves a little loving, and with online dating, it’s got so much easier to find…

10 Amazing Useful Wooden Crafts You Can Make Yourself

The world is full of DIYers, and there are also many people in the arts and crafts world that love to build things for themselves. One of the most popular things that people like to do in their spare time is to make things from wood.

But I’m not talking about random objects that people might make just for fun or out of boredom, I’m talking about useful things that can be used on a daily basis!

Check out the following 10 project examples that you could work on at home using nothing more than ordinarily household tools and things like hot melt glue!

1. Wooden tea light holders

Image Source: Fiona Crawford

Tea lights are typically used to set a romantic mood in any home, but they don’t look particularly attractive unless they are contained in something, such as these beautiful wooden tea light holders.

2. Wooden photograph holder for walls

Image Source: Connie Jane McAuliffe

Many people have some kind of photograph holders that they use on their walls, and some people even opt for those frames that you can put multiple photographs in. But if you want something truly bespoke, how about creating some wooden photograph holders?

3. Wooden shabby chic signs

Image Source: Erica Barker

Shabby chic is a popular way to decorate your home, and essentially refers to rustic-looking furniture. Using some spare bits of wood you have and some paint, you can achieve the same effect yourself to create some stylish wooden shabby chic signs!

4. Wooden coffee table

Image Source: Rachael Austin

Coffee tables made from wood are nothing new; after all, such tables have adorned the living rooms of many a home around the world for decades, and even centuries. If you’re looking for something unique rather than a flat-packed mass-produced design, how about using bits of actual tree to create your own bespoke wooden coffee table!

5. Wooden magnetic key holder

Image Source: Joanne Taylor

Standard key holders made of wood are so last year! Instead, why not create one that’s got a magnetic inside of it, so that you can simply fling your keys onto it rather than them being hooked on?

6. Wooden wall mirror frame

Image Source: Jack Bishop

Wall mirrors come in all shapes and sizes, but if you are bored of the way your one looks, why not create an awesome new frame for it using reclaimed wood?

7. Wooden bench

Image Source: FXG Art

Loads of people have some wood lying around in their gardens or sheds, or even in their garages, for example. Consider using some of that wood up to create an easy-to-make bench!

8. Wooden laptop case

Image Source: Albert Sackey

Laptop owners tend to buy fabric ‘sleeves’ for their laptops, but if you want something more durable, why don’t you create a wooden laptop case!

9. Wooden children’s tree branch mobile

Image Source: Tara Williamson

Here’s a useful way to repurpose an old tree branch: turn it into a children’s mobile for a nursery room!

10. Wooden smartphone dock

Image Source: Joneliot Hyman

Do you hate leaving your smartphone and charger cable lying around on your desk, making it look messy? If so, build your own wooden smartphone dock!

How to achieve your goals in 2014

Having goals and aspirations, no matter how big or small, is imperative to feeling accomplished, gaining self-confidence and simply enjoying life. Many believe their fate is left to the divine; It’s In The Stars . While that is one unique perspective, standing around waiting for your goals to happen is not the most productive, efficient or even effective way of achieving your goals. Most high-achievers will tell you that it takes persistence and dedication, but mainly they are proactive about getting what they want – and here’s how they do it.

Make your goals SIMPLE

Keep your eye on the prize. Remaining focused on a clear goal creates higher levels of motivation which is an essential element in achieving it. Don’t clog your mind with complex pseudo goals like ‘I want to travel with friends, get an overseas job and save lots of money.’ That’s not a goal, that’s more of a PLAN. And plans requiredetails, which takes us to our next point.

Make your goals SPECIFIC

If you’re being vague about your goal, you’re setting yourself up for constant disappointment. High achievers understand that all aspects of goal setting must be determined, down to each precise detail. Want to save money? Set an amount. Want to lose weight? Give yourself a specific target. If you know what you’re aiming for, you have a much better chance of obtaining it.

Make your goals EXCITING

The point of a goal is to get yourself motivated about being successful. If you’re not excited about your goal, you’re more likely to stagnate and lose your passion for it. Keep a visual representation of your goals where you can see it every day, it will help to keep you focused and take small steps towards making it a reality with every passing day.

Make your goals MEASURABLE

Set yourself specific times to beat or numbers to reach – whether your goal is to go to the gym 4 times a week or do 50 sit-ups, it’s more likely to get done when you add numbers to the mix. Measuring your success helps define future goals, ensuring you continue gaining confidence and momentum towards success.

Make your goals KNOWN

You’re more likely to stick to your goals if you share them with those around you. This makes you accountable for any loss of progress and as such is more likely to keep you on track. Once you’ve set a goal, tell your family and friends – they’ll not only support you, they’ll also inadvertently challenge you to reach it.

Make your goals TANGIBLE

Write what you want down. Write it down every day if it helps. Seeing it in black and white may give you the push you need to achieve what you want from life. Chase after goals you know you will enjoy.

Setting yourself up for success is visualising what you want, knowing how to get it then using dedication and persistence combined with a proactive approach. Your goals ARE achievable. Make 2014 your year!

Things to Consider When Hiring A Media Agency

Deciding that you want to hire the services of media agency may well be one of the best decisions you could make for your business.  However, choosing a particular agency should not be a decision that you make lightly.  There are some important things that you should consider that will help you choose the best media agency that will work best for and with you.

Participation In Social Media

Given that social media is one of the most powerful forms of marketing and that most media agencies will undoubtedly have a social media strategy, it is important that the agency you choose to work with actually is active in social media themselves.  This can easily be found out either by browsing the agency’s website or running a quick check for their name through Twitter and Facebook.  You’d be surprised at the number of companies that claim to be media and social media experts that do not have active accounts on these types of sites.

Portfolio/References

Although most media agencies won’t be able to tell you everything about whom and what they have worked on, they should be able to show you some examples.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a client who has given them permission or a former client, ask to see some work that they have done in the past and ask about how successful those particular projects were, as this will give you an indication of the standard of work that they produce.

Education

Because things like social media are changing, it is important that media agencies stay on top of their game and keep learning about new trends.  Although there is no official and formal school or course that agencies can learn about what is current and what is not, they should be staying up to date with trends and doing lots of reading, watching and learning to fine tune their services.

Do They Understand Quality Over Quantity

The point of this is a competent media agency should know that having 15,000 likes on Facebook and 20,000 Twitter followers is not much use to a business, unless there is actual interaction between a company and its followers.  You should be wary of agencies that offer large numbers in a short length of time.  It takes time and effort to build up a fan base of followers.

Content

It is a well-known fact that good content is king when it comes to things like social media.  It is important that you hire an agency that has individuals who are good at creating interesting content that will draw your followers in and want to interact with your company.  With regards to content, you should also ask to see some examples of content they have generated for previous clients, which they should be able to do without giving away who or what it was for.  It is also essential that they know the rules of content creation on the various websites and social media platforms, as they are all different from each other.

On trend: the fleece

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Believe it or not, the humble fleece has shot to the top of the list of must-have fashion items. Rather than being the go-to piece for those in search of practical work-wear, its popularity seems to have risen in line with the explosion in Scandinavian-inspired clothing.

Simple, functional and from the same family as the jumper, the fleece is making its comeback as a must-have staple for any wardrobe. The real trick to pulling off this look is knowing how and when to wear it and in this article, we look at the role of the fleece in a modern and fresh wardrobe.

The benefits of wearing a fleece

Perfect for getting you through the temperamental British weather, the fleece is an excellent transitional piece. Seeing as UK winters now take up most of the year, its useful to have an item that you can dress up or dress down whatever the weather.

Although you wouldn’t want to wear it out in a downpour, the fleece is nonetheless a surprisingly versatile choice which can be teamed with dark jeans and plimsolls in the daytime and smart trousers and brogues during the evening.

The range of choice

As the fleece is now a key trend piece, there are a huge variety of different styles to choose from to suit all price brackets. Many designers have put their own spin on the piece so there’s something suitable for all needs.

Check out this Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s men’s fleece collection for high street style at a snip.

Putting together an outfit

Since modern fleece styles boast modern and clean silhouettes, they avoid the reputation for being over casual or even scruffy. With these newer designs, the fleece is an intermediary piece that is perfect to take you from running errands to enjoying dinner. No longer heavy and bulky, the fleece strikes a sophisticated note that once seemed impossible.

The fleece can be worn similarly to the much beloved chunky knit jumper. Whether you want a jumper style fleece or one with a zipper along the front, the general rule is always to pick a style that complements your body type.

The ideal partner for jeans, trousers or any kind of bottoms, the fleece is an essential piece when creating a smart-casual look. As fleeces no longer rely solely on texture but also on pattern, you can also experiment with colour combinations and statement dressing for an up-to-the-minute look.

Queen Of Comedy Miranda Hart Heads Out On The Road

Miranda Hart Heading To A Town Near You

Miranda Katherine Hart Dyke or Miranda Hart as she is better known has become something of a household name as an actress, comedienne and writer.  Her big break came when she starred as the accident prone cleaner Barbara in Lee Mack’s sitcom Not Going Out, which eventually led to her own semi-biographical radio show and the TV version that followed.

Initially she played a small part in Not Going Out as an acupuncturist, but the story goes that she impressed the producers with her performance that they wrote her into the show as a regular.  Thus Barbara the cleaner was born.  She stayed with the show until 2009 when after the success of her radio show called Miranda’s Joke Shop; she was commissioned by the BBC to make a TV version.  Before Miranda though, she also appeared alongside Kevin Eldon and Nick Frost in the offbeat sci-fi situation comedy Hyperdrive as Teal. During her time on that show she received a British Comedy Award nomination for the part.

As well as her bigger roles in Not Going Out, Miranda and Hyperdrive she also appeared in a plethora of British comedy shows in smaller parts such as My Family And Other Animals, French & Saunders, Absolutely Fabulous, Lead Balloon, William And Mary, The Vicar Of Dibley and Smack The Pony.

Miranda though is probably the role that most people know her for, a series that bears her name, is written by her and is loosely based on her life.  The comedy also stars Sarah Hadland, Sally Phillips, James Holmes, Patricia Hodge and Tom Ellis and has been described as being “old fashioned” as it is a lot “cleaner” than modern comedy shows and relies heavily on Miranda’s own penchant for physical, slapstick humour.  There has so far been three series of Miranda and there have been talks about making a film to follow on from the cliff-hanger ending of the last episode.

She has also had success starring in the prime time BBC drama Call The Midwife, in which she plays Camilla Fortescue-Cholmeley Browne, also known by the nickname “Chummy” Most recently she played the role of the mother in the David Walliams novel adaption for the BBC, Gangsta Granny which aired during the Christmas season.

Ms Hart has also branched out and released her first semi-autobiographical book entitled Is It Just Me? In October 2012 and now she is set to tour the UK on her first stand-up tour.  Although she has appeared on stage as part of sketch comedy tropes and other forms of performance this will be the first time she has toured a stand-up comedy tour.  The tour is called the “The What I Call” Tour and if you live in London you can get Miranda Hart tickets at the o2 online or at the box office.  The tour will be calling at a number of different cities and towns up and down the country, but London will see the most nights and is likely to be one of the highlights of the tour.

Although there is not a lot of information about what the tour will include, you can apparently expect “galloping, attempts at song and dance, and simply – such fun!”

 

A Solution For Low Water Pressure

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If you are experiencing problems with low water pressure in your home, this could be caused by a number of different things.  In the following article we will not only identify some of the common issues involved in low water pressure, but also discuss ways that you can correct this problem and improve the level of water pressure in your house.

Analyse What Could Be Causing Low Water Pressure

Although most low water pressure problems are caused by and related to pipes that are clogged.  However, if you have recently had clogged pipes replaced then you will need to dig a little deeper to find the root of the problem.  Start with the most obvious things first and ensure that the shutoff valves that are nearest to your water meter are fully opened.  This may sound very simple and basic, but plumbers will also charge you cost of a callout, even if the solution is just turning a valve.  Once you have checked the shutoff valves, now check the water pressure.  It is a good idea if your home is connected to the main water supply for your city that you phone the water department and ask them for a water pressure reading.  The ideal water pressure should be something in region of 45 to 55 psi.

If you would prefer not to call the water department, you could use a pressure gauge to test the levels.  These can be picked up relatively easily from most good DIY and homeware stores.  Simply, connect the gauge to a water spigot inside your home and then turn the water on.  You will get an instant reading on the gauge.  If the pressure level is low, it may be that your city is delivering water at a low pressure level.  If you feel that your city’s water department are not going to increase the water pressure level, you may have to increase the pressure with a booster pump.

A booster pump can be used to increase your home’s water pressure levels.  They are relatively simple to use and are normally very easy to adjust as they have a dial on the top of them that allows you to set the pressure level.  Ideally, remember, you will want your home’s water pressure to be in the region of 45 to 55 psi.

However, if your home’s water pressure reading was fine, the problem could be that there are pipes that are much smaller than they should be or there is something obstructing the water flow in the pipes.  It is recommended that unless you are a qualified plumber, you should hire an expert to help evaluate and analyse your system to see what the next course of action should be.  Obviously,  when hiring a plumber you should shop around and as well as getting quotes before deciding to hire a particular tradesman, you should also look for reviews and testimonials of previous customers who have had experiences of their services.