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Choosing A New Family Vehicle | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Danbury Campervans

a motor van
The time has come to replace my car, and although it's an exciting time as there will be a new shiny car outside of the house early next year, it's also a difficult time as there are so many different choices and types of car these days that it can be a time consuming activity researching to find the perfect car.
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Is This Britain's Most Beautiful Garden? | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Just Landlords
a garden
My Mum and Dad have always been keen gardeners and growing up I think they secretly wished that I would have green fingers too but unfortunately not. I couldn't think of anything worse than sticking my hands in soil and mud and don't even get me started on all those bugs. As I got older my thoughts on gardens and gardening did change and I can understand why people enjoy it so much.
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How To Find Love | AD

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Disclosure - this is a paid post

a couple standing in front of the disney castle
John and I have been together for almost 20 years now and will be celebrating our ten year anniversary next year and whilst I don’t think we will need any dating advice soon, some of our friends relationships didn’t work out and they have had to go and find love again. Here are some ideas on How to Find Love.

More Than Just A Work Colleague
When John and I first started dating the most common way to meet someone would be at work because that is where you spend most of your time. I don't think that this ha changed at all in the last twenty years and I think it’s a good place to start when looking for a new relationship.

I met John at work and although we didn't work in the same location we met once, exchanged numbers and our relationship was just talking on the phone at first, which then led to us going on our first date.

Finding love in work does have is it advantages. You may already know the person, whether they are single, married and if they have any children. You may already be friends with them and have just not been able to take the next step due to already being in a relationship. Dating colleagues also has its disadvantages, if you have an argument or even split up there is no getting away from them as you work together. This can cause problems and can make a person want to leave their current job.

Get Online
When John and I first met we spoke on and offline for months before we actually went on a date. I knew John already so it wasn’t like an online date but nowadays it seems to be a popular choice. It’s quite easy to sign up to free dating sites such as We Love Dates. All you need to do is set up a profile, write about yourself and you’re good to go. As well as others finding you online you can also search the online dating site for a partner that takes your fancy.

Today we live in a world where everything can be done online, banking, ordering food so why not  dating too.

Challenge Yourself
If you have just come out of a relationship and are newly single you may want to find a new hobby that will not only occupy you but also give you the opportunity to meet new people and potential partners.

Sometimes when we are on our own without a partner we find new interests especially if you have just come out of a relationship. You may want to challenge yourself and do things that you would not have done before. Finding a new hobby can be anything from signing up to the gym, joining local groups, volunteering or even going on a solo holiday.

Socialise More
It’s a lot easier to meet new people if you go out socialising. Agree to meeting up with friends for lunch, dinner or a night out on the town and you never know you might just meet the partner of your dreams.

Ask your friends if they know anybody that they could introduce you to. Going on a double date is  a great way to meet someone new but also have someone there with you that you know, so it's not as frightening.

Be Yourself
The best piece of advice is just to be yourself. Do you what you want to do and you never know when love will happen, but it will and sometimes in the most unusual of ways.

Michelle
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Brickburn Paw Patrol Brick Trail | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Brickburn

Paw Patrol lego bricks
We love packing up the car and heading for a day out and this morning we headed to Blackburn to complete the Paw Patrol Brickburn Brick Trail. The idea of the trail is to find all the Paw Patrol characters that are hidden in The Mall, Blackburn and also the surrounding areas. All the figures are made from Lego bricks.

When we arrived at The Mall we headed to the Ask Me Point to pick up a Brick Trail map which included a quiz for the children to complete as they found each character. There are three maps to complete.

brick trail quiz and map sheetThe Brick Trail Quiz is all about the models you will find in and around The Mall. There are 15 questions in total asking you how many people built Skye? or how wide is Paw Patrol HQ?

The Paw Patrol Quiz Map has 10 questions all about the show. Little fans will be sure to know which pup is a lifeguard? or who is the human leader of Paw Patrol?

The Kitten Catastrophe Map and Quiz gives you clues as to where the kittens are hidden. Each location has a code and you need to fill in all 6 codes on the back of the sheet.

brick trail quiz and map sheet
Once you have completed 1, 2 or all 3 quizzes you can hand your sheets back in to be in with the chance of winning £100 vouchers.

It was time for us to begin our trail. First we headed to Debenhams to find our first character, Chase. Each character has information about how many bricks it took to make, how many people and how many hours too as well as other information.

paw patrol lego facts
It was lovely to see lots of other children heading towards Chase with their brick trail map in hand ready to answer the quiz question and get a photo with the popular Paw Patrol character. 

We found all the characters in The Mall. Everest was hiding in Primark, Mayor Goodway was in Virgin Media, Zuma was at the Entertainer and Marshalls Fire Truck was at the Ask Me Point.

 Next we headed downstairs to Blackburn Market to try and find Kitten Catastrophe. For those who are Paw Patrol fans you will know that the kittens look just like the Paw Patrol but they are very mischievous.

paw patrol kittens made out of lego
paw patrol kittens made out of lego
Finding the kittens was our favourite part of the trail. Each kitchen was hidden on a market stall so we had to make our way through the stalls and find all six kittens. They were hidden high to low but we found all six kittens in the end.

We then headed out of The Mall to try and find more Brickburn Brick Trail Paw Patrol characters that were hidden in the surrounding areas.

Blackburn Cathedral
We headed to Blackburn Cathedral. It was a lovely opportunity for us to go inside such a pretty building, something we may never have done without the Paw Patrol Brick Trail. There was a service being held inside the Cathedral so we had to be very quiet although we did let out a little gasp when we saw the Paw Patrol Lookout Tower. It was huge and looked just like the real thing.

If you are looking for something fun to do with the kids then I would definitely recommend heading to The Mall, Blackburn for the Paw Patrol Brick Trail. The trail is available from 23rd August - 1st September 2019. It is lots of fun and I loved watching little J  try to find each character, answer the quiz questions whilst taking in some of the some of Blackburns sights, and best of all it’s free.

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Share This Post With Friends Who May Also Find It Useful. 

Michelle
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MockUps - What Are They and Why Would You Want To Use Them? | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Design Bundles

flatlay of clothes
I have often heard friends talking about using mockups within both their personal and business lives and never really knew what they meant.  Within my blog, I have used backgrounds that I have created and often wished I was gifted at graphic design so that I would be able to have the perfect logo, or the perfect backgrounds for my imagery.

I came across Design Bundles, who offer design packs which contain all kinds of great design goodies such as fonts, hand drawn quotes, images, artwork - that all come with a license allowing you to use the designs as much as you want on whatever you may want to use it on.

When browsing the site, I also found some detail on mockups. The name mockups is actually really accurate for what a mock up actually is. In plain language the mockup template allows you to buy a background, which could contain a model for you to then add your template detail to.  This would be perfect for business who sell unique clothing for example.  The business owner would be able to buy the background, add whatever design or logo they had created to the background using, for example, photoshop and then have the rights to use the final image for promotion before having to spend lots of money on getting the product made, paying a model and photographer, only to find that nobody buys the product!

I have often wondered how small business owners, especially clothing designers can get such brilliant promotional material for their designs when they may not yet have made a great deal of money.  Now I know, and actually its a brilliant way to get some ideas for your own clothes, if you want to have a unique T- Shirt or Sweatshirt, you could use of the sweatshirt mockup designs available from Design Bundles to see exactly how your design would look before committing the funds to something that may not look quite right when it is made.

There are many bundles available on the site, and many of the mockups allow you to not only add your design or logo, but also change the colour of the product and add designs to both front and back.

Each bundle includes the following as standard

Premium License Included With Commercial Use Allowed.

Five Star Technical Support Provided by DesignBundles.net Contact us and our team will help you 24/7.

Unlimited Downloads Your purchases are kept secure by us and can be downloaded an unlimited number of times.

Design Bundles began in July 2016 as a way to provide customers with affordable digital products such as Graphics, Templates, Mock Ups, Patterns, Illustrations and Craft Files. They now have over  1 million users. They boast over 150,000 Marketplace Products and often have free bundles available.  Design Bundles pride themselves on their outstanding reputation for Quality at affordablePrices with Customer Service being a core focus.

Have a browse through the site and not only will you see what is available but you will learn a lot about how much use a bundle could actually be for you.

Michelle
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My Home Improvements Wishlist | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Three Counties. The idea for this post, thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own. 

photograph of a kitchen
A few years ago we finally had a much needed makeover of our house. It was something that we know we needed however we always seemed to spend our money on holidays or other things and the house just got pushed further and further down the 'to do' list. For a long time I fell out of love with our home, I really didn't like it. There was paint chipped off the walls but we never repainted over it. The kitchen cupboards were old and not very nice to look at but we never changed them. I think we lost all respect for the house and it was a place I didn't really want to spend a lot of time in. Making the decision to spend so much money giving our whole house a makeover was hard but it was definitely worth it. I love our home again and it's a place that I feel comfortable and happy in.

photograph of a kitchen
When I'm working from home I sit in the kitchen / dining area and love looking out in to the garden. This is something I would have never done before the makeover. Our kitchen is so much brighter now than it was before. In our old kitchen we only had a small window and a door to the garden. The colour scheme combined with the lack of daylight peering in through the window made the kitchen a dark space, a space I never wanted to spend time in. When we were upgrading our kitchen to a new colour scheme our builder actually spoke to us about the possibility of combining the door and small window with one large window. At the time I thought it seemed like a lot of hard work for very little in return however I was wrong. Having one large window and moving the door to the garden over to the far side of the kitchen has created so much light. It has completely changed the kitchen and the amount of light we get now is amazing. It's such a nice feeling seeing the sun shine in while you are making breakfast.

Once we had finished I thought we were done but I have already started to make a home improvement wish list for the future. I would love to have an extension or conservatory on the back of our home. It would be nice to have another room to choose from downstairs especially now that big J is a teenager. He likes to invite friends round and sometimes his bedroom isn't suitable for the amount of people he has over. I did worry that putting an extension on the back may reduce the amount of light that we have in the kitchen however choosing an aluminium lantern roof would create so much light in to any dark space.

I would also like to convert our loft in to a room. I've seen it done on t.v and it's amazing how much space is up there. Our loft doesn't have boards down so it's basically just beams up there so we would have to get the whole loft boarded first then look in to whether it could be converted or not. I don't think I would like to sleep up there but it would be nice to have a 'chill room' that the boys could go up to with their friends.

They are my main two home improvement plans for the future but it's nice to think that we can keep improving our home rather than moving as I love our home now and would never want to leave.

Michelle
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Snap Your Summer And Win With Swizzels

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Disclosure - We were gifted a range of Swizzels sweets and merchandise for the purpose of this post.

Swizzels sweets and cup
We have had a very busy Summer this year driving up and down the country visiting various theme parks and attractions. Whenever we plan a day out with the kids we always make sure that we take plenty of snacks and treats to keep them happy on the journey.


This Summer Swizzels are running a ‘Snap Your Summer’ Competition as part of their huge ‘Fun in the Sun’ summer campaign through July, August and September. The competition asks entrants to Snap their Summer by taking a picture of a Swizzels product while on a day trip or holiday and sharing on social or through the website entry page. They can win a £5000 holiday with On the Beach, and daily prizes from their new exclusive Swizzels Merchandise range.

I have submitted our entry but if you would like to submit an entry to be in with the chance to win, all you need to do is upload your photo using the form on the Swizzels Website

Good Luck

Michelle
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Hape Anywhere Art Studio | Review

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Disclosure - We were sent the Hape Anywhere Art studio for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own.

Hape Anywhere Art studio
We have been very lucky this Summer to be able to get away for a few days visiting different parts of the country. I usually pack a variety of toys to keep little J busy when we are travelling or staying over in a hotel but this time I only took with us the Hape Anywhere Art Studio that we had been sent to review.

The Hape Anywhere Art Studio is a portable tabletop easel which has a whiteboard on one side a chalk board on the other.


Hape Anywhere Art Studio
When you are ready to play you prop the easel up turning the adjustable knobs tightly so that the easel holds in place.

That is it. Your easel is ready to play with and all you need to do is to decide whether you want to use the whiteboard or the chalk board side.

Hape Anywhere Art Studio
If using the whiteboard side then you can choose to use whiteboard markers directly in the board (whiteboard markers are not included) or you can use the magnet to hold a piece of paper in place and draw directly on to the paper. The choice is yours.

Hape Anywhere Art Studio
If using the chalk board then you can use one of the two chunky chalks that are included to create your drawing. When you are finished you can use the eraser to rub it out and start again.

The Hape Anywhere Art Studio is perfect to play with at home or even when you are out and about. Little J absolutely loves drawing, painting and any other creative activities he can think of. The Anywhere Art Studio is completely portable and also very easy to set up. It's been ideal for us this Summer while we have been travelling around and little J loves it.

For more information visit Hape. The Anywhere Art Studio is available to buy in most good toy stores or online

Michelle

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Top Tips for Leaving Your Kids Home Alone | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with St Chris 

boy looking out of the window
As a parent there are different stages of your child's life that can cause worry and stress. For me one of those stages was when big J asked me if he could be left at home alone. My heart sank and to be honest I froze. I had never thought of leaving him home alone even just to pop to the local shop because I honestly didn't feel he was old enough. I instantly googled and I found that there isn't actually a set age you just need to be sure that the child you are leaving at home is not at risk.

prep school in Hertfordshire has some pointers on how to help you prepare for leaving your child at home without you.

Before leaving your child at home alone, make sure you know that they are ready and that they feel comfortable. Don’t leave them if they are showing signs of distress about it. You know your child better than anyone and how well they can handle certain situations or deal with problems. Ask them if they have any concerns about being left alone and if they do, address them appropriately.

Discuss potential emergencies with your child, such as power cuts, a fire or a stranger at the door. Make sure that they know what to do in each of these situations and leave them with the phone numbers of several responsible adults that they can call if any of these things happen. It’s also important to let them know where you are going to be and what time you’ll be back.

If they have social media, let them know the importance of cyber safety and that they shouldn’t tell anyone online that they are home alone. Talk to them about what they are going to do when you’re gone to fill the time. You must ensure that they know how to safely operate equipment in the kitchen, such as the kettle and the microwave.

It is recommended that you call your child every now again when you’re gone, just to see how they’re getting on. Alternatively, you could ask a neighbour or someone else you trust to pop in and check on them.

Leaving your child home alone for the first time is enough to make any parent feel nervous or for me physically ill. However I know that the time will come that Big J will be left home alone and with some planning I am hoping that it makes us both feel more at ease about the situation.

Michelle
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What To Do If Your Child Is Performing Poorly At School | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with St Hilda's School

An academic diary and pens
We all want to see our children do well in school however there may be times when their performance slips and their grades being to fall. This can be caused by a simple lack of motivation; however it is important not to ignore poor performance at school, as the issue could be something more serious such as a learning difficulty or bullying.

If you have noticed a decline in your child’s academic performance, it is important to address the issue as soon as possible. Here are some helpful tips from St Hilda’s School on what to do if your child is performing poorly at school.

Firstly it is vital that you to talk to your child and try to understand what could be causing the issue. Ask them how they feel about school and if they are having any difficulties with their work. Are they having any problems with friends or teachers? Let them know that you want to help and that you are always there to listen.

It is also important to speak to your child’s teachers. They may have also noticed that your child is having difficulties and you will be able to work together to help them. If a learning disability is suspected they will be able to provide guidance and support and may even be able to offer an assessment to identify the issue.


Make homework a part of your family’s everyday routine and be there to offer help if your child needs it. It is also a great idea to make a dedicated space for your child to study. This space should be quiet and comfortable and away from any distractions, such as the television or younger family members.


Be sure to praise your child’s efforts and try not to be too hard on them if they do not achieve the grades you expected. Anger and frustration will only cause your child to feel like a disappointment and push them further away. Instead it is important to discuss where your child struggled and how you can help them to improve.

Michelle
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Teaching Your Kids to Respect The School Rules | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Brampton College

blackboard with 'Our School Rules' written on
We are so lucky to be able to say that both boys have never been 'naughty' in school to the point were we have had to be called in. Although the oldest would deny it now they both are really happy at school and enjoy it. They have never not wanted to attend. We have always made sure that the boys know just how important school is and that they should try to be as good as they can be while they are there.

Teaching your children to respect school can help them to succeed academically. Brampton College have a few ideas on how you can help your child to respect school rules.

The first step towards teaching your child to respect school rules is to ensure they understand what respect means and the difference between respectful and disrespectful behaviour. It is important to demonstrate respectful behaviour at home and to teach your child to always be respectful to others.

Teaching your child how to speak to teachers and fellow students will help them to make friends and gain a favourable reputation at their school. Teach your child to always speak to others as they wish to be spoken to and stress that in the classroom it is particularly important to speak politely and to never use unacceptable language.

Behaviour is another important factor in school rules. Again you should teach your children to behave respectfully and to treat others as they wish to be treated. In the classroom they should always listen to their teacher and do as they are asked, without argument.

School rules often include instructions on how to treat school property and how to respect the environment. Children should understand that they must never cause damage to school property and they should always put rubbish into bins and follow the school’s recycling rules. It is essential that they take pride in their school environment and want to play a part in keeping it clean and safe.

Teach your children to value their own learning and success. They should demonstrate this by being on time to school, working to the best of their ability, completing homework and asking for help if they need it.

Lastly, when teaching your children to respect school rules, it is vital that they understand the importance of creating a positive learning environment. They should always listen to and value other people’s ideas and opinions.

I think it is important to teach your child right from the beginning of their school journey just how important school is. Do you have any little ones starting school this September? Do they understand just how important school is?

Michelle
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Can A Poor Diet Affect Learning? | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Manor Lodge School

A bottle of milk and two oranges
There has been a lot of exploration into whether or not a child’s diet affects their ability to learn. The most popular answer to that question is yes. It has been proven that poor diet can negatively affect learning. Many researchers and education professionals, including a private school in Hertfordshire, believe that the type of food a child eats affects their cognitive abilities. In fact, a lack of fruit, vegetables and dairy is associated with poorer grades.

Specific vitamins and minerals are obtained by our bodies from a nutritious diet that play a huge role in brain growth, development and learning. That’s why a healthy, balanced diet is particularly important for school children.

Studies show that overweight children show less brain activity, most prominently in the frontal cortex. This part of the brain is typically associated with concentration, planning, motivation and short-term memory, all important aspects of studying. Staying hydrated is also very important, as even the smallest of drops in fluid can make it harder to focus on a screen or a page of text. In fact, it can hinder the ability to process information in general.

Children are growing and moving around a lot at school, meaning they need a variety of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to support their bodies and minds. Start with a healthy, hearty breakfast, as skipping breakfast can be very detrimental. Cereals with high sugar content are not a good option, because they boost energy for a short period of time but not for the whole day. Porridge is better, as it maintains a steady energy level throughout the day.

All students deserve the chance to be healthy and successful at school. Do what you can in your home to ensure they eat the right sorts of food. There are lots of recipes online that can help you incorporate fruit and vegetables into meals for those of you who have fussy little eaters.

Michelle
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Share Your Sunflower | AD

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Disclosure - I am a Get Out And Grow Ambassador and I have been compensated for my time.

Grow a sunflower
You may remember that this year I have posted a few times about my collaborations with Get Out and Grow and Sudocrem. The idea behind Get Out and Grow really appeals to me as I love the idea of giving children the opportunity to step away from the screens and enjoy the outdoors. Gardening is such a lovely way to spend time together and we have enjoyed lots of growing in my Mums back garden this year so far.

Anyone would have thought Jack had learned his lesson after that beanstalk and giant hoo-hah.…not so. This summer he’s more into massive plants than ever before! And he’s calling on mums and dads and children all over the nation to get involved in growing an enormous sunflower for his collection. Yes, Jack’s gone mad for those yellow, heliotropic beauties that’ve come to mean sun glorious sun for anyone who claps eyes on them across the land. 


They’re easy to grow and they’re impressive – it’s not every day that your children get to see something grow from a stripy black and white seed to bigger than them in a matter of months. They’re a good lure for insects and bees to your garden and after they’re finished, you can dry them and eat the seeds: tick, tick and double-tick. It’s a great way to make gardening and the natural world interesting to your children, sure, but also, who can resist a little competitive sunflower-growing between well-meaning family members?


This summer holiday, we Get Out and Grow ambassadors would like to stir up some friendly sunflower-rivalry between mums, dads, kids and ourselves. We have created a friendly competition called ‘Jack and the Giant Sunflower’ or #jackandthegiantsunflower to those of you on instagram.

We would love for you to get involved and win in with our competition.

TO ENTER

Post a photo of your sunflower next to your proud little (or big) gardener on instagram


Use the hashtags #getoutandgrow, #sudocrem #jackandthegiantsunflower

Tag anyone else you’d think would like to be involved for a chance to win

PRIZES


A mural for your children’s school – chosen by Sudocrem,


A bespoke sunflower t-shirt – chosen by me, as well as Jack’s giant seal of approval.

If you need any last minute Sunflower-growing tips then check below. 

Plant your champions in separate pots and give them plenty of room to reach their potential.

Grow them somewhere with as much sun as possible – and we mean LOTS OF SUN!!!

 Against a south-facing brick wall can create nice little heat trap for your champions to grow up big and strong.

Sunflowers are thirsty beasts and they need to be watered on a daily basis. So, keep that soil moist and set your children the task of monitoring water levels.

Good luck and I am really looking forward to seeing those Sunflowers. 

Michelle

Get out and grow logo

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5 Ways To Make Some Extra Money | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration. If you chose to sign up to Shopmium using my Referral code please note that I may receive a referral credit. 

hands holding a piggy bank
Those who know me know I like to find ways to make a little bit of extra money each month. It helps pay for days out with the kids or a meal out. Once the Summer is over and the boys are back at school I start thinking about Christmas and how using Cashback Apps, Coupons or finding the latest deals can help save some pennies for my most favourite time of year. I've popped below 5 ways to make some extra money before Christmas.

Food and Drink Cashback Apps
I have mentioned this very briefly on my blog but using apps such as Checkout Smart, Shopmium and Click Snap save me so much money each month. The apps have lists of food and drink items which you can earn cashback on.

For example at the moment Checkout Smart are offering £1.60 cashback on 12 Richmond Thick Sausages if you buy at Asda.

If I want to buy these I pop along to Asda purchase them for £3.20 (that's how much they are in store right now), come home, load up my app, snap a photo of my receipt and a few hours later I will receive £1.20 in my Checkout Smart Account. It really is that simple.

They also offer lots of free items too so you get 100% cashback. Shopmium has an offer on at the moment giving you the opportunity to try Maggi Fusian Pots for free. All you need to do is pop along to Tesco, buy a flavour of your choice, upload your receipt and Shopmium will refund you the full amount straight to your bank or paypal address.

I like to save the money I receive during the month from cashbacks. You will be surprised how quickly it banks up.

If you would like to try Shopmium you can download the app and if you pop in my referral code KFYYKYGQ we can both receive increased offers plus you will get a FREE tube of Pringles.

Latest Deals
When I need to buy anything whether it is just something I need at the time or whether I'm browsing for presents I always check for the latest deals.


I have found so many amazing offers over the years through using websites and forums. Everyone loves a bargain and you would be a fool to pay full price for something in one shop if you can get it half price in another. Also you can use these type of sites to find items that you may not of thought of, at a great price. Finding offers can help you afford other gifts or you can pop the money you've saved away in your savings pot.

Sell Your Stuff

I like to have a clear out a few times a year of old toys, old clothes and basically anything I don't use anymore. Over the years I have donated so much to charity shops but I do like to try and sell some of my old stuff using sites like eBay or Gumtree. What's no good to you anymore could be perfect for someone else. eBay is a great way to sell unwanted items especially this time of year when people are browsing for gift ideas for Christmas. eBay gives you the chance to auction your items or you can give potential buyers the chance to buy it now. You will be surprised how much money you can make by selling items that you don't use anymore.

Check Your Direct Debits
This is something I try and do every now and then. I go through all our outgoings that come out of our bills account and see if there are any I don't need anymore. Sometimes I sign up for things like little insurances for appliances that only cost a couple of pounds a month but when you haven't had the appliance for over a year yet still paying you are wasting money.


Finding Help Elsewhere
You may have tried all of the above and you still need a few extra pennies or an emergency may have cropped up. I think we have all been in that situation and it can make you panic especially when you just don't have any spare cash to hand. cashlady can offer small loans to those that need that extra cash quickly. John and I needed a small loan when we first started living together and I remember thinking it was a bad idea however as it was only a small amount we were able to pay it back within a few months but it really did help help us in a sticky situation and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again if needed. Quick loans like the one we needed tend to be smaller amounts and over shorter periods, for example a few months.


I hope these help you save a little extra money before the Christmas period. Do you have any other 'saving' tips?
 Michelle
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Little Brian Paint Sticks 2-in-1 Art Station | Review

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Disclosure - We were sent the Little Brian Paint Sticks 2-in-1 art station for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own. This post also includes affiliate links.

Little Brian Paint Sticks
I have mentioned a few times recently that due to a few rainy play days at home and school little J has really started to enjoy lots of different creative activities. He has brought home a variety of drawings and paintings from school and now has an art drawer at home filled lots of different materials to allow him to be as creative as he likes. We were recently introduced to Little Brian Paint Sticks and I have to say they are an amazing invention. Looking like a glue stick you can use the solid paint stick to create lots of mess free paintings. 


Little Brian Paint Sticks
We were sent the Little Brian Paint Sticks 2-in-1 Art Station which is perfect for the Summer holidays whether we are at home or out and about. The art station opens up to reveal a double sided easel with a white board on one side and a chalk board on the other. 

Little Brian Paint Sticks
The 6 coloured paint sticks can be used on the white board directly or you can use the clip to hold a piece of paper in place so they can paint direct on to the paper. All you need to do is twist the paint stick and the solid paint will appear at the top and just start painting. 

Little Brian Paint Sticks
The chalks that are included in the art station again are completely mess free and do not leave a chalky residue that you get with normal chalk. You just twist the chalk and you are ready to go. 

Once you have finished playing it all packs away neatly and can be carried using the handle. 

Little Brian Paint Sticks
The Little Brian Paint Sticks 2-in-1 art Station is ideal for playing with at home however it is compact enough to take away with you to on either holiday or a day out to keep the little ones busy.

Michelle

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Ugly Dolls Prize Pack | Giveaway

5 comments
Disclosure - We were gifted this pack to give away

Ugly Dolls Merchandise
To celebrate the launch of Ugly Dolls An Imperfect Adventure Game I am giving away an Ugly Dolls Prize Pack to one lucky reader.
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Drinks To Enjoy In The Summer

21 comments
Disclosure - We were gifted a Cranes Cider pack in return for a mention on our blog. The thoughts for this post, opinions and photographs are our own. 

cranes cider
I'm not much of a drinker, in fact I can go for months without having an alcoholic drink however there is something about the Summer that changes that. I think it's because we have the warm Summer evenings in the garden and family BBQ's and there are so many nice Summer tipples to choose from.

Cider is a perfect choice and we have been enjoying Cranes Cider this Summer.  There are so many flavours of cider to choose from including Blueberries and Apples, Pomegranate and Raspberries and my favourite Cranberries and Limes. A lovely refreshing drink which boasts 30% less calories compared to other top brands.

pink gin
 Gin is not a drink I would ever have thought of trying until I was given a pink gin at a Party. Pink gin has become a very poplar choice over the last few years and I like to enjoy it with diet lemonade giving it a sweeter taste compared to tonic.


Baileys vanilla cinnamon
 For many Baileys would be classed as a winter drink however I like to enjoy a Baileys no matter what the season. Baileys Vanilla Cinnamon is a perfect choice for a cool Summer's Evening in the garden. You can enjoy it neat or over ice. We have only been able to find this flavour in duty free at the airports so we always pick up a bottle when we are travelling.


Again wine was never a drink I would choose until I tried it with lemonade last year and really enjoyed it. It's a drink that you can sip throughout the day or evening and is lovely served chilled. I prefer a rosé wine as it has a sweeter taste.


Do you enjoy a nice drink in the Summer evenings? Do you have a favourite Summer tipple? Let us know.

Michelle
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Infacare Bath Time Products | Giveaway

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Disclosure - We were gifted Infacare Bath Time Products in return for this giveaway. This post contains affiliate links.

Infacare Products
If you would like to keep your little ones smelling clean and fresh this Summer then make sure you enter our latest giveaway to win Infacare Bath Time Products.

The Infacare Baby Bath is an ultra-mild Baby Bath clinically tested and Ph balanced, creating natural levels of Acidity and Alkalinity in skin and hair. Reassuringly it is designed to prevent irritation, helping with allergies in the process.

Recently launched, Night-time Baby Bath is now championed by mums across the country, up to 70% calling it ‘ideal’ for their bedtime procedure. It smells amazing.

We only used a little drop in little J's bath and it creates a full bubble bath which makes it last so much longer than other brands.

You can read more about Infacare Baby Bath and Night-time Baby Bath by visiting Infacare.

Our giveaway may be closed but you can still enjoy Infacare by purchasing on Amazon.



Win Infacare Bathtime Goodies

Michelle

Competition closes on Sunday 18th August 2019
Entrants must have a valid UK address. 
Bulk, third party or any other entries using automated software will be disqualified. 
All entrants and entries are checked and verified. 
1 lucky winner will be chosen at random by the Gleam application. 
Playdays and Runways will contact the lucky winners within 7 days of the competition closing. 
The winners will be emailed to the email address given at the time of entering. 
The winners will not be announced on my blog or social media until they have agreed that their name can be displayed. 
The winners must respond within 28 days, if no response a new winner will be chosen. 
This prize is non-transferable and there is no cash alternative 
The Prize : 1 x Infacare Baby Bath  and 1 x Infacare Night Time Baby Bath
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Is Your Child Happy at School? | AD

19 comments
Disclosure - This post is a paid collaboration with Mill Hill School


Boy doing homework

Whist the Summer holidays should be a happy time for our children, thinking about going going back to school in September can be a very upsetting and worrying time. School presents many challenges for our children as they may find it hard, they may not enjoy a particular subject, or they may experience peer pressure from their friends.

If your child is already worrying about the new school year this can be very upsetting for you as a parent. To help spot the signs that your child may be unhappy at school, Mill Hill School have put together the following questions for parents.

Has your child become withdrawn? If you notice that your child is spending more time alone in their bedroom and less time talking to family and friends, then this could be a sign that there is something wrong at school.


Is your child refusing to go to school or frequently complaining of tummy aches or illnesses? This is another common behaviour seen by children who are unhappy at school. 
Have you noticed mood swings, irritability or crying? Some parents put this behaviour down to teenage hormones, but please don’t dismiss these signs as normal, because they may need further investigation.

Is your child getting into trouble? Is he or she arguing with siblings or answering back to teachers? If you have noticed any unusual behaviour from your child, this could be a cry for attention. Children often display anger and frustration when they feel unable to explain their emotions.

If you believe that your son or daughter may be unhappy about something in their school life, the best thing to do is talk to them. Communication is key in establishing the cause of the issues and finding a solution. Reassure your child that they can talk to you about anything that may be upsetting them. It may also be a good idea to let their teacher know of anything they can keep an eye on in the classroom.

Michelle
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How to Child Proof Your Garden | AD

15 comments
Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Lawsons

boy playing in a ball pond
With the school holidays now underway, there’s no better time than now to make sure your garden is child-friendly. You have probably already dealt with some of the more obvious measures, like removing toxic plants, fencing off the pond and locking away any pesticides and other chemicals, but there are lots of other things you can do to ensure your kids are safe and sound whilst playing outside this summer.

When cleaning your garden decking, be sure to keep your little ones out of the way because it can become extremely slippery when wet and cause an accident. It’s also important to check the decking regularly to ensure the boards, joists and balustrading are all still intact and haven’t suffered any damage over the winter months. If any of the screws have come loose, your decking may fall apart beneath your feet which can be dangerous for the whole family, not just the kids.

garden filled with toys
Instead of decking, you could think about installing artificial grass in your garden. This is great for parents of young children because not only is it low maintenance, it also means you won’t have any mud brought into your house when the kids have been playing out.

Be sure to check the fence panels closely and fix or replace any that have become damaged. After all, you don’t want your little ones to go exploring through a hole in the fence. Generally speaking, it would be wise to check your entire garden for any hazards, not just the fence and decking. Keeping on top of maintenance and repairs will ensure your children stay safe whilst playing in the garden.

Storing your garden tools away in the locked shed is a great place to start and nothing can replace adult supervision, but the above tips should really help you child-proof your garden.

Michelle
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