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Which Vinyl Flooring is Best for Quality?

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Luxury vinyl flooring can come in a variety of colours and textures, but the one thing that is not different is the overall quality each brand provides to your floor.
 
Many point to the lowest price Amtico flooring as the name brand that is extremely popular in proving not just the best in perfectly replicated looks, but also the safest investment you can make for the home. If having a more durable lifespan than other flooring is not enough, the ease in keeping it in its best possible shape with small maintenance sure adds to its high points.

Bathroom with vinyl flooring


What is Amtico?
Known as a leading brand in hard plastic flooring, able to perfectly and effortlessly imitate any type of flooring, Amtico has climbed high above many vinyl flooring brands throughout the decades to become the most popular with interior designers.
 
It looks exactly like hardwood or stone flooring, or ceramic or otherwise. It looks so real that anyone visiting the home will be shocked to discover that it is not the real thing. On top of all this, it is the perfect insulator for heat and sound.
 
When it comes to vinyl flooring, the Amtico brand sure covers a lot more than just your floor.

Keeping Real
In comparison to other floorings such as carpet or real hardwood flooring, vinyl planks and tiles present a much easier and quicker way to keep your floor's appearance as good as the day it was freshly unboxed.
 
With a regular sweep of the floor with a household non-brittle brush, you can remove all dirt and dust and dispose of it in no time. Follow this up with a quick vacuum and then mop with warm soapy water or a specialised approved floorcare product so as not to affect the warranty. As little as a few quick mops, a month can keep the floor healthy and looking as it should.
 
Some people will undertake a deep clean to their floor to keep it in the very best appearance and use a recommended floor stripper once or twice a year.  You will need to redress it with flooring dressing and ensure that all dirt and marks from the flooring are gone before layering the LVT.

Eliminate Risk
Ensure everything is more secure by undertaking a few precautionary measures before laying the floor.
 
By using protective felt pads under the feet of furniture you can avoid deep scratch marks and scuffs, especially if you have a heavy sofa and chairs that drag around the floor whilst cleaning. As you may end up buying new furniture, it's wise to make sure that furniture contact areas are wider to spread weight.

vinyl flooring


Luxury vinyl flooring is an easy flooring solution to keep in great shape for decades. Always discuss with your supplier any special considerations that need to be taken. When you want flooring that offers the best in quality, look to Amtico.

Michelle
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Our Top Tips For Moving House

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Disclosure - This is a collaborative post. 

I have mentioned it before on our blog that last year we had a full home and garden makeover. It was long overdue and although it took almost a year to complete if was definitely worth it. We did think about moving house first as we knew it would be quite costly to have a complete makeover but we also had to consider the cost of moving house. We made a Pro's and Con's list for staying and moving but in the end we decided we wanted to stay where we are. If you are in the process of moving or just even thinking about it, I have created a top tips list for Moving House I thought I would share with you.

Keys on a house keyring


Top Tips For Moving House

1. Start to gather lots of boxes, sellotape, bubble wrap etc as soon as possible. You will need to pack up everything you own so having enough supplies will make the job a lot easier.

2. Declutter your house before you begin to pack. Getting rid of old stuff that you don't want or need before the move saves unnecessary packing. You don't want to take stuff to your new house that will end up in the bin anyway.

3. Start packing early. It can take up to two months to pack up a 3 bedroom house so make sure you give yourself plenty of time.

4. Pack up one room at a time. Once you have chosen a room, pack everything that is not needed first then leave empty boxes to pack up the remainder of the stuff at a later date. Keep all the boxes from each room together until removal day. It will make it so much easier when the boxes arrive at your new home.

5. Label everything

6. Have a large clear tub with items you will need when you arrive at your new home. Think about items such as your kettle, milk, sugar, mugs, paper towels, toiletries, toilet paper etc.

7. Number your boxes or create an inventory. This is probably more for the super organised person but I would definitely create an inventory of everything I've packed so I know if anything has gone missing in the move. If that is too organised for you just clearly number the boxes.

8. Take photos. This is something we have done in the past mainly of different wires and cables that go in and out of the TV, Sky Box etc. It really does help. There is nothing worse than a bunch of loose cables and you have no idea what goes where.

9. Updating your address can be done as early as two weeks for places such as your bank, your doctors or dentist. Also make sure you contact Royal Mail for their redirect of mail service.

10. When it comes to moving day make sure you look for cheap, affordable home removals as some can be quite costly. Also let the house removals company you have chosen do all the lifting and moving for you. You may think it's cheaper hiring a van or getting family or friends to help but it's a big job and I would let the professionals do all the hard work.

Do you have any other tips for moving house?

Michelle

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Elegear Cooling Blanket and Pillowcases

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Disclosure - We were sent the products below for the purpose of this post and compensated for our time. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own unless stated. This post contains affiliate links. 

I am the type of person who is always hot yet I like to snuggle under a blanket on the sofa if I am watching TV or if I am in the garden in the evening. I would even take a blanket to the cinema if John would let me. As you can imagine finding the right blanket has always been tough. They are either too heavy, too fluffy or too hot so I usually end up with one or two legs out of the blanket or it just draped over my feet. 

woman in the garden with a blanket around her


When I heard about the Elegear Cooling blanket I was keen to give it a try as it sounds perfect for me. The idea behind the Elegear cooling blanket is it can absorb heat and sweat from your body, absorbing the heat helps to keep you cool. It does this by using special Japanese Q-Max 0.4 Cooling fibres. 

The Japanese Arc-Chill Cool Technology Fabric can quickly absorb human body heat. It does this when the human body touches the fabric. The body surface temperature immediately drops by about 2 to 5 degrees, so that the body feels cool.

elegear cooling blanket


The blanket is lightweight which surprised me at first as I thought it looked heavy when I took it out the packaging. There are different 'feels' on each side of the blanket and one side felt more clingy than the other. When I checked one side is made of 80% mica nylon and 20% polyethylene cool fabric which makes this side perfect for hot summers. The other side is 100% cotton so perfect for keeping cool on a Spring or Autumn evening. 

I have been using the cooling blanket on the sofa however it would be ideal as a throw over the bed as the range also features matching cooling pillowcases. The pillowcases work exactly like the cooling blanket, perfect to keep you cool during the hot evenings. 

Unfortunately I haven't been the only one using the blanket, I have had to share with the kids. This means that the cooling blanket has had to deal with sticky fingers and muddy hands. Luckily the Elegear Cooling blanket is machine washable. Wash on a gentle heat of up to 30° and then hang out in the shade. It's recommended that you do not iron, tumble dry, bleach or dry clean. 

We also found that the blanket felt warm after a few days so I would recommend popping the blanket near air conditioning or a fan if you have one. This will help to absorb the cooler temperature in to the blanket. If you don't have a/c or a fan then it can take a while for the cooling blanket to release the absorbed heat. 

However you choose to use the cooling blanket it will definitely keep you cool. It's perfect for the sofa, out on the patio, as a throw for the bed or even for travelling. 

elegear cooling blanket


The Elegear Cooling Blanket and Pillowcases are available to buy online at Amazon and come in a range of colours and sizes including blue, pink and grey. We chose 200x220cm in grey and it's a perfect size for the sofa or our bed. 

Michelle
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Is Luvanto Flooring a Reliable Investment?

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Disclosure - This is a collaborative post.

 It's been a few years now since we had a huge makeover although last year we did add and update some of our old furnishing due to not having a Summer holiday due to covid-19. Everyone loves to undertake some home renovation over the year but find themselves constricted by a budget, having them source cheaper options to stay within its confines.

luvanto flooring


This can either result in choosing something subpar or discovering a real bargain. Knowing what is reliable and will not need a regular amount of repairs and touch-ups over time is a prime focus for those wanting long-lasting solutions, so it's no surprise that Luvanto luxury vinyl flooring has reaped the benefits for those looking to keep on budget.

Low Maintenance 
When it comes to enjoying your home, you want to be able to sit and enjoy the time without the constant worry of needing to clean up.

One of the main reasons people are turned on to vinyl is the ability to switch off from worrying about the floor. The many manufactured properties vinyl provides include anti-scratch and anti-slip functions which is a relief if you have kids or animals running through your room. The floor has the durability to withstand any potential accidents.

With the added durability and extra cushioned texture, vinyl can withstand much more than other household flooring options which adds further peace of mind.

Inexpensive 
Above all of the style and protection that luxury vinyl flooring presents, you want to know that what you will spend on your flooring is worth the money.

People who invest in vinyl flooring discover it is a much cheaper option over the carpet, laminate or wood/stone featured flooring. What you also can take into consideration is the relative savings in several areas.

Should an individual piece of flooring need to be replaced, it can be done without disrupting your floor by taking out the offending piece and replacing it with another. With the individual planks or tiles being very cheap to buy, you will find that it does not leave you out of pocket or have your budget stretched. Also, when you consider the savings on not requiring a professional fitter for the floor, you can treat it as a DIY project for that person in the house who likes to undertake a challenge.

luvanto flooring


Easy Clean
Everyone fears embarrassing situations where you may need to hide sections of your floor due to spillages from drink or sauces.

Instead of paying out for every kind of expensive chemical to clean up blotches on your floor, vinyl offers a simple solution - warm soapy water, a sponge, or a mop. There are other ways people have taken to cleaning their vinyl with ease to retain its original gloss, and with the benefit of anti-moisture properties, you are ensured that there is no leaking to the subfloor and ruining the long-term prospects of your floor.

Luvanto is perfect for a kitchen where heavy activity requires a floor that can take the heat. When working within a set budget for renovation, luxury vinyl tile flooring is a firm favourite for keeping money, style, and security under your feet.

Michelle
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Changing Our Colour Scheme To Match The Seasons

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Last October we decided that we would start to change our colour scheme in our living room to match the seasons. We bought lots of oranges and browns for Autumn, red was the perfect colour for Christmas and for Spring we chose yellow. Supermarkets and other shops that have a homeware department are the perfect place to look and you can usually buy most of the items in one place. When it came to Summer I wasn't too sure what colour to choose but we went for pink and grey. 

living room


There are two main focus points in our living room, the fireplace and the walls. We have a rug in front of the fireplace so that sets the tone for the room. Our walls are quite big so we need large pictures or art to fill the spaces so they don't look bare. We found some lovely prints online at Desenio that not only matched our new Summer colour scheme but are personal to us too. 

Desenio was founded in 2010 and has grown over the years to now have an online presence in 33 countries. The idea behind the brand is to offer stylish wall art at affordable prices. 

As well as wall art you can also add Desenio frames, hangars, picture ledges and clips to suit your needs.

Whilst browsing Desenio I looked through the maps and cities section. There are a few places that are special to us and I was hoping that I could find a print of New York and Paris. New York is where we got married and Paris is one of our favourite cities as it's home to Disneyland Paris the most magical place on Earth

Paris in Bloom



New York in Bloom

When I found the New York in Bloom picture it was just a perfect fit. It has a lovely Summer feel, it's pink and it's New York. I then found Blooming Paris which is a similar colour scheme with the Eiffel Tower in the background. 

gallery wall tool from Desenio


These were perfect and I knew they would go together well and match our colour scheme. If I was unsure I could use the Gallery Walls tool. This is perfect for those who don't have an eye for what things may look like. You start the by choosing a background. Our pictures are going above the sofa so I chose the sofa background. You can then choose how many pictures you wish to hang in the space and the sizes. I could then added my chosen prints and the tool showed me how it would look. You then have the choice to add frames to your order giving you a choice of colours. You can select the different colour frames to see which suits your print better. Once you are ready you can add to cart ready for you to purchase. 

Desenio Wall Art


The Desenio prints arrived swiftly and match the colour scheme perfectly. We have ordered some different prints too so we can swap after a few months but for now I love seeing our two favourite cities in bloom in our living room. 

There are lots of simple ways to improve your homes interior. Do you change your colour scheme to match the seasons?

Michelle
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Asda Photo Canvas Review

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Disclosure - We were gifted our Asda Photo Canvas for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own. 

I have written previously about the different types of framed prints and canvas that we like to display at home. As the seasons change we like to update the pictures to be up to date and remind us of all the good times we have had over the last few months. 

Asda Photo Canvas


Asda was not a provider I had considered before for Canvas, although we have used them before for photo books and prints. Asda offer a range of Canvas prints, amongst other photo related items, and it is really one of the easiest ordering experiences of any Canvas or Print site. 

There are four frame types to choose from for your Canvas:  Slim, Premium, 2 Panel or 4 Panel.  We chose Premium as a closer match to our existing displays.  Next you choose your size. The larger the Canvas, the more it will cost you and the higher resolution you will need your chosen photo to be.  You can also choose borders or break points for multiple pictures. Next you simply upload your picture from your device to the site and it will display what the finalised Canvas will look like. Once you are happy its checkout and wait for your new display to arrive. 

The ordering process is really quick, its actually picking the perfect picture that takes some time! From ordering to delivery our Canvas was with us within a few days, delivered well packaged and safely. 

Asda Photo Canvas


The quality of the Canvas is very high. The Canvas is thick enough to withstand some slight prodding and poking if thats likely to happen, and the frame, although lightweight is sturdy enough to be able to be hung however you may wish.  Included is a frame hanging kit, however I always just hang the top of the frame onto nails in the wall that means I can change the canvas at any time and not worry about having to have the nail in different places for each canvas depending on the fit of the hanging kit.  As the frame is lightweight this has always been sufficient. 

Asda Photo Canvas


The one thing different about Asda Photo Canvas was the sizing. All our previous Canvas have been the same size, however as this wasn't available we chose slightly bigger dimensions rather than smaller, however the frame really does look a lot bigger than our existing canvas.  That said, the quality is really good and we love our chosen picture so on a wall with nothing else on it doesn't look out of place. 

Asda Photo Canvas


Overall I was really impressed with the service and the quality and wouldn't hesitate to use Asda Photo again next time we change the prints we have. 

John
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Why Choose Engineered Wood Flooring | AD

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This is a paid collaboration.

a fireplace




We have given our home a full makeover twice since we first moved in 17 years ago. Home improvements give your home a new lease of life and it's your chance to change things around and try new things. We have moved rooms around, had an extension built, changed our colour scheme but we have always been certain that the one thing we wouldn't change was our engineered wood flooring.

What Is Engineered Wood Flooring?
Made up of many layers of laminated hardwood and finished with a top thick layer of hardwood. The top layer is also known as the 'wear layer'.

There are many reasons why we chose engineered wood flooring but if you are considering wood flooring here are our main reasons.

Family Friendly
For us this was the main reason. Our home is and always will be a family home. When looking for flooring we instantly knew carpet would not work for us. Our home is very busy with lots of comings and goings. Engineered wood flooring is durable and made to last. The flooring can withstand plenty of footfall and that was just what we needed.

engineered wood flooring


Easy To Maintain
As we are a family of four, I cannot tell you how many times the boys have spilt a drink, dropped food on the floor or walked through the room with muddy shoes on. This would have been a nightmare with a carpet but having the engineered wooden floor has made these little accidents so much easier to clean usually just with just a brush and mop.

It Looks Real
Everyone who comes to our home thinks we have solid oak hardwood flooring, we don't. Engineered wood flooring has many layers that make up the base of plywood and then the top layer is actual real wood so it looks just like the real thing.

Value For Money
I don't like saying something is value for money as everyone's budget is completely different. What I will say we found that it wasn't the cheapest on the market but for the quality and effect it was definitely the right choice for us and within our budget. It is more expensive than laminate however it is definitely cheaper than hardwood.

engineered wood flooring


It's Popular
It's become very popular in recent years which means that there are lots more designs out there to choose from. It took us quite some time to choose our design and colour based on our original colour scheme and it's actually stayed looking fresh even after years.

Warm and Cosy
People assume wooden flooring is cold however I would totally disagree. The design we chose is warm and inviting and the added bonus of having the engineered wood flooring is we can pop a rug down to give the lounge a new look whenever we feel.

What are your thoughts on engineered wood flooring? Is it the right choice for you?

Michelle




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How To Make Your Garden Suitable For All Weathers | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid post

toys on astro turf

Giving our garden a makeover was not on my home improvements list and I would rather have spent the money indoors however it was probably the best thing we ever did. Not matter how big your garden is, it is an extension of your home and with the right makeover you can make your garden an outdoor space that is suitable for all weathers.

Grass Makeover
Astroturf isn't for everyone but I can honestly say that once you decide to invest you will never look back. Not only do you never have to mow your lawn again it will stay looking fresh and green for years to come.

Astroturf allows you to use your grass space in all weathers. After a heavy downpour the boys will usually head out less than an hour later and the grass is less than damp. No having to wait for the soil to dry out and no muddy puddles. They can play football all year round.

Table and chairs on patio area

Create A Patio Area
You don't need a large patio area just enough for a seating area or table and chairs. It's so nice being able to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner out there on warmer days and also just chilling in the Summer evenings.

Sometimes you need to just get out the house, it's nice to have a space that you can go to and sit. The type of patio is up to you but most will choose paving flags. A row of at least 4 should be enough to create your own patio space.

Choose The Right Furniture
We chose Rattan furniture for our outside patio area as its durable and easy to clean. You can also add removable furnishings such as seat cushions and a parasol.

Get Cosy 
We don't have many hot sunny days in the UK so investing in a fire pit or outdoor heather will make sure that you can still enjoy your garden even when it's cold outside. Add some fairy lights too and you will create a warm chill area for you to relax no matter what the weather.

boy splashing in the pool

Outside Taps - Hot and Cold
We have spent too many Summers fixing hose pipes to our indoor taps trying to fill up a paddling pool. We have also spent too many Summers giving up when the hose won't sit on the tap right, and reverted to buckets.

Having a hot and cold tap has made filling up the pool a doddle this year and there has been no buckets in sight.

Install An Awning
Hot and humid days and nights are a nightmare when it's raining and you are stuck inside. Putting an awning over your patio can let you enjoy the outside without getting wet and it can also provide shade.

An awning is like a large canopy that sits tucked away in its case attached to your house until you are ready to use. Pull the cord and the awning will cover your patio in seconds leaving you dry underneath.

Storage
It is important to have good quality storage such as a shed or storage box. We chose plastic for durability and also ease of build. There are many varieties of storage size and shape available, so you will be able to choose the right size and shape for the space you have allocated to storage. For bikes we have a 'store it out' lift up storage box and its perfect for getting the bikes in and out easily.

Remove All Plants
This won't be for everyone but if you are afraid of insects and flying creatures, removing plants and flowers can help to make your garden bug free. One of the reasons I never enjoyed the garden was because of the wildlife that plants and flowers attract but now that we have none I am so much happier out there.

It's been a few years now since our garden makeover and we have never looked back. We spend so much more time out there now than we ever have done in the past and it's a great space for us and also for our family and friends.

Michelle
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Ace Cleaning Bundle | Review

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Disclosure - We were sent the products below for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own unless stated. This post contains affiliate links - purchasing an item through an affiliate link adds no extra cost to you but might earn me a few pennies. 

ACE Cleaning bundle
We only have 5 weeks left of this school term and after that little J will be heading to school in his Summer uniform. It's the time of year when I couldn't even guess what stains will be on his uniform when he comes home from school each day. I have tried lots of different products over the years and this year I will be trying a variety of Ace products and I can't wait.

If like me you are not looking forward to the variety of stains then you will be happy to know that  I have teamed with ACE who are giving away a bundle of Ace cleaning products to two lucky Playdays and Runways readers and followers.

ACE for Colours has been specially formulated to remove the toughest of stains and yet be gentle on even the most delicate clothes. You can even use it on silk, wool and cashmere. Its 8+ system will tackle food, grease, outdoors, trapped dirt, body soils, drinks, cosmetics and vegetable oils.


ACE Colours Powder brings the power of active oxygen into the wash to remove even tough stains (such as wine, tea, coffee and fruit) and bad odours, at just 30 degrees!


ACE for Whites helps to brighten dull whites while still being gentle on delicate clothes.



ACE Power Mousse combines the might of bleach with ACE cleaning power to keep household surfaces and white laundry bright and clean.  It’s a bleach and a degreaser in one.

ACE Stain Remover is great for tackling germs, grease and stubborn stains and is suitable for use around the home and on coloured clothes.

For more information visit www.acecleanuk.co.uk or to buy head to your local Tesco’s, Morrison’s, The Range, Wilko, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Amazon

For your chance to win an ACE bundle all you need to do is complete the entry form below and pop back daily for extra chances to win.

Our giveaway may have closed but you can still enjoy ACE products by buying in-store and or online on Amazon

Win An Ace Bundle Worth £20


Competition closes on Sunday 15th March 2020


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. 
2 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 : An Ace Bundle Worth £20
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The Best Lighting for Your Child’s Bedroom | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Inspyer Lighting. This post contains affiliate links - purchasing an item through an affiliate link adds no extra cost to you but might earn me a few pennies. 

Children bedroom focussing on a lampshade
Your child’s bedroom should be an environment where they feel safe, secure and comfortable; a place where they can play freely, enjoy bedtime stories and sleep soundly. If the room is dark and dingy, it’s wise to find some ways to brighten up the space for them. The décor and lighting plays a huge role in the overall ambiance of the room, so be sure to put some thought into it to make the most of your efforts.
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Preparing Your Garden For Autumn

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration.

Last week little J and I went out in to the garden and he said to me that it smelt like Halloween. At first I had no idea what he meant but as I felt the cold wind hit me I knew exactly what he meant, the seasons are changing and there is a definite Autumn feel in the air. I love Autumn but I don't feel like we have had much Summer this year compared to last and we have just started putting all of little J's garden toys into large storage containers as I don't think we will need the swimming pool and water toys again this year.  We've also made a start on a general clean up of the garden too preparing for the colder months. Here are a few tips on how to get your garden ready for Autumn. 

autumn leaves
Cleaning Up and Storing
Clean all your garden tools before storing them for the winter. Get the mud off, and wipe moving parts and joints of metal tools with an oily rag for a bit of rust protection. As we have artificial grass we don't use many garden tools so this job was an easy one but its very important. We have had to throw tools away in the past because they rusted over the colder and wetter months. 

We have washed all of little J's outdoor toys making sure that we gave them a good rinse and then let them dry fully before storing. It's important to make sure all toys and water toys have no traces of water before you store otherwise they will go mouldy.

If you have a big garage or other outbuildings, make sure they’re damp-free and secure, then put everything inside. We have a shed and also a little one that I call a bike shed. It is always nice and dry in there no matter what the weather outside so it's the perfect place to store little J's toys. If you don’t have much space to spare, a bit of creative thinking is needed.

Can you put up more shelves in the garage or shed, or hang hooks on the walls to hold tools so you leave the floor free for the car?

A handy option, and one that’s growing in popularity, is renting a self storage unit. You’ll find most are easy to get to in town locations, and you’re allowed to install freestanding shelves to keep stuff organised. When you’re storing things in tubs, label the sides so you can find everything easily.

Make It Cosy
You can still enjoy your garden in the colder months by making the seating area or patio cosy. Put up some twinkling lights, get an outdoor heater and have nice blankets to hand so you can wrap up. I actually love sitting in the garden no matter what the weather. I have actually sat on the patio in the rain before now under the umbrella and it was so peaceful.

Plants and Boarders
If you’ve been to a garden centre this year, you’ll know how expensive plants are. The more you can save or take seeds from, the more lush your garden can be next year, for a whole lot less money. 

You can save the seeds from vegetables and flowering plants and this is something children can help with. Good ones are peas, French beans and tomatoes.

Scoop tomato seeds out and lay them on paper towels to dry

Wait until the bean pods are brown and papery then pick them and let them dry too. When they are dry, get the seeds out of the pods and save them. 

A cool dark place is good, so the fridge is handy. Wrap them in paper packets and they should be good for planting next year.

Other autumn jobs to schedule are lifting up delicate plants like dahlias, and deciding where to plant bulbs for spring flowering. Routinely pick up fallen leaves, especially getting them out of a pond if you have one. Keep the grass short — it gets a lot harder to mow as the weather gets wetter.

Garden shed


Seasonal Sorting
Many people these days find they have more possessions than house space, so use self storage units as a cost-effective, virtual home extension. For example, you could rotate garden equipment into and out of self storage depending on the season. 

During the winter, your storage room can house all your garden equipment and furnishings, barbecues, paddling pools and trampolines. During the summer, it’s a secure place for winter sports gear. Not just expensive, sports equipment is often bulky or awkwardly shaped, making it hard to keep out of the way at home.

You’ll get so much more out of the garden through winter when summer gear isn’t claiming all the space. Not only is there more room for playing in the snow (if we’re lucky enough to have some), but it’s uplifting to have a view of a clear garden through the windows.

Preparing your garden for Autumn may not seem necessary but spending time on these little jobs can really help you make the most out your garden.

Michelle
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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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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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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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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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My-Picture.co.uk Framed Photo Print | Review

9 comments
Disclosure - We were gifted a framed photo for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own.

framed photograph
Every time we take a Disney holiday we come home and try to decide which of our photos we will turn in to a large print to hang in the living room. My-Picture.co.uk had offered us the chance to review their service and choose from their framed photo prints so we wanted to make sure we chose the perfect photo.

Once we had decided which photograph to use we then chose a framed print from the many options available and uploaded our photo.

Once the photo was uploaded we could see a little preview of what the frame would look like. We then needed to choose our preferred size.

Sizes available are

24x24 cm

34x24 cm

44x34 cm

44x44 cm

64x44 cm

framed photograph
Once you have chosen your size you can then customise your frame. You can choose from

Black Matte

White

Vintage Silver

Walnut Flair

Oak Vintage Flair

framed photograph
You can then to choose whether to have the photo as it is or change it to black and white.

We then proceeded to checkout and waited for our framed photo print to arrive.

The whole process to order from My-Picture.co.uk was very easy and we are really happy with the quality of the photo and the frame. The finish is lovely and looks perfect in our living room.

Michelle

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Photowall Canvas Print | Review

10 comments
Disclosure - We were gifted this canvas for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own. 

Personalised Canvas
We love our family pictures around the house and have a number of canvas and framed large pictures that we like to  keep up to date as much as possible. Choosing a provider to bring your digital photographs to life on a large scale can be daunting as there are so many different services offered these days. For our latest canvas we wanted something a little bigger than we have had previously, and Photowall had exactly what we wanted.

The online process was simple enough. As you would expect we needed to upload our photo, in the highest quality possible. The higher the quality of the picture, the better the final version of your canvas is likely to be. After uploading its time to choose the size of your canvas. Finally you can choose whether you want the canvas to stretch over the sides of the frame, or to leave the frame on view. We always choose the stretch option, as we like the photo to go all the way around.

Our canvas was printed within 24 hours and dispatched really quickly. It arrived less than 48 hours after ordering which was a really impressive turnaround.  When the canvas arrived it was not the shape we expected!  Instead of a large rectangular parcel, we had a long, but small parcel that would be more at home when posting an umbrella or something of that nature.

Personalised Canvas
We quickly realised that the canvas needed to be self built from the included rolled up canvas, frame pieces and screws.  Every other canvas we have delivered has been ready made, however this was a bigger size than we have had before.  Instructions are provided and overall it isn't difficult to put the canvas together, although I was a little nervous as the canvas itself is delicate.

Personalised Canvas
Once you attach the four frame sides to the canvas and push them together, there are pre drilled holes for you to put brackets over and fasten with the screws that are provided.  Honestly, it took me two goes to actually get the canvas on to the frame properly as I always seem to miss an instruction somewhere along the way with anything involving construction.  However once completed, the canvas looks fantastic, with the quality of the finished product evident when it is up on the wall.

Personalised Canvas
So, if you don't mind a small amount of DIY, and are looking for a quality canvas then you should give Photowall a try, you won't be disappointed with the final outcome.

John
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Win A Get Out And Grow School Gardening Kit

64 comments
Disclosure - I have been compensated for my time and involvement in this campaign. 
Sudocrem Get Out and Grow Poster
Encouraging the boys to play outdoors is something I feel really passionate about. Luckily they do both enjoy being outside whether it's playing football, heading to the local park or exploring in the woods. You may have seen recently that I am supporting Get Out and Grow offering a lucky winner  a gardening kit to help get kids outside more. Today I am so happy to be able to offer one of my readers the chance to win a Get Out and Grow School Gardening Kit for their chosen UK School or Nursery.

Just in time for summer, Get Out and Grow, is launching an incentive encouraging students to head outside and get planting, growing and learning about just where fruit and vegetables come from.

Little J is interested in gardening and whenever he brings home plants or seeds that he has planted we always take them to the garden to plant them in the soil. 

In a recent survey, 90% of children said that they would like a garden at school and at one primary school in Lincolnshire, a school garden made all the difference when it came to pupil’s behaviour.

The Benjamin Adlard Primary School, run by headmaster Sam Coy, was previously rated by Ofsted as one of Britain’s worst schools. Four years and one school garden later, and the Gainsborough school has won the national Pearson award for School of the Year: Making a Difference.

Headmaster Coy insists: “The children absolutely love den-building, just generally getting dirty and nature hunts. One child recently told me that he loves going to the forest school on a Tuesday afternoon so much as it helps him to behave all week as he never wants to not be able to go.”

Little J went to forest school last year and he still talks about it now. It was probably one of his favourite experiences ever.

Sponsored by British skincare brand, Sudocrem, the Get Out and Grow project was created following research that suggested gardening is being forgotten and that many children lack basic knowledge about the natural world and where their food comes from.

Starting in June and running throughout the month, Get Out and Grow will award school gardening starter kits to 20 schools nationwide. The kits will include children’s wheelbarrows, gardening gloves, mini-trowels, seeds and lessons on how to make the most of a school garden. And the good news is, anyone can enter! Nominating your local school or nursery is easy. Just fill in the widget below and enter the details of your chosen school or nursery to be in with the chance to win. 

Good Luck

 Michelle

Giveaway closes 16/06/2019 at 11:59pm

Upon entering this giveaway you agree that should you be the winner your details can be passed to the promoter to arrange fulfilment of your prize.
All other entrants details will not be used in any way. They will not be added to a database, mailing list or passed to the promoter. 
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. 
Their nominated UK school or nursery will receive the gardening kit
Playdays and Runways will contact the lucky winner within 3 days of the competition closing. 
The winner 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 : Get Out and Grow School Gardening Kit
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