Thursday, 7 July 2016

A new found passion for football

After Wales doing so well its football fever at home and in the boy’s school, yes we might now have been knocked out but we are still extremely proud of how the team performed and what they achieved.  It’s actually encouraged a new love of football for my boys; a passion for the sport they did not have before!  Years ago they both tried football training but never really got into it.  But things seem to be changing.  They have started playing FIFA on the XBOX and kicking a football around at school more.  

I like it as lots of their friends follow football and its nice seeing them developing an interest too, although I am not quite so accepting of all the 50p’s they are spending on stickers for their Euro 2016 book!  It’s spiralling out of control… I dread to think what the combined total spent would be, according to the Maths genius in this article he reckons £374!  Having two to fill, we could have booked a nice holiday instead.

On the back of their new-found interest I would love to fundraise to organise one of the school football club tours with Absolute Travel.  Another parent raised a considerable amount and booked a session in the fun centre for their child’s class but I think a football themed trip would be ideal after the excitement of Wales in Euro 2016.  The boys were a little down about the result so a trip would be very welcome right now to lift their spirits.

Tours mean they get to see behind the scenes of the places where the action happens.  They can learn more about the facilities and even take part in training.  Last time I did some fundraising for the school I gave it to the committee to decide how it was spent, my two fundraisers made a grand total of £1,000 – that went on things like curtains – which might be necessary but is also quite dull!  So if I did fundraise again I would pick out and book a tour myself.  I want my boys to get more out of life and experiences like that will create memories to last a lifetime, curtains on the other hand will be quickly forgotten I am sure!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

The Kitchen Spruce Up

The kitchen is finally looking better; hubbie gave it a much-needed lick of paint.  It needed a couple of tubs, as it’s quite a big room, I hate seeing the £££’s add up but it’s a wise investment I keep telling myself.  Least hubbie did the painting himself, in our old house once as he was so busy with work we hired a painter and decorator and then the pounds really did fly out of our bank!  It’s been quite a long drawn out process, lots of preparation, I get bored waiting to see something happen, but apparently getting decorating right means doing it properly!  So the walls have been duly cleaned with sugar soap.

We have put up some pictures on the wall and made it look a bit more fun in there.  I really like simple black frames and poster prints from Desenio at the moment, our “the kitchen is for dancing” slogan is my favourite and suits us as hubbie always dances in there when he does the dishes!  Picture courtesy of

But despite the obvious improvement with the walls, the room is still let down with the ghastly flooring.  Our ex commercial property has anti-slip flooring in a colour that never looks remotely close to clean, it’s brown with flecks of black and always appears dirty!  I am not quite sure what was going through their mind when they picked out this particular choice… yes its probably practical, its anti-slip for sure I have never (touch wood) gone flying even after the influence of many glasses of wine!  But that’s not enough of a reason to keep it.  I want something beautiful not the remnants of a house that was meant for another function.

Next time we are away I will look at vinyl flooring in Chelmsford I need inspiration, but I think I will go for black with the black frames hopefully it will look good.    Whatever we pick out I want it to be durable, the kitchen is also the dogs room so it gets traffic even at night when she no doubt sniffs round for crumbs!  Most of all I just want flooring that is easy to keep clean.  The one we have always looks filthy, when you have people visiting I feel embarrassed because you can notice their eyes wondering downward taking in the current floor.

Another project in there is the tiles, reading this article about renovating on a budget makes me want to refresh them.  They are white at the moment and I want something bold instead.  I have a valid reason to replace them too, not only are they not to my taste many of them are chipped or broken and the grouting always looks dirty!

I am really excited to see how it all turns out.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Buying a shed

Lately the boys clutter seem to be overtaking the house, the hallway always has an assortment of bikes, scooters and a skateboard to trip over!  

It gets worse with every birthday with whatever new variant joins the others – the latest being a Green Machine, which is rather on the large size!!!

Finally enough is enough we really need to buy a sizable shed to store it all away out of sight!  I want visitors first impressions not to be how cluttered our hallway is, to be fair it would be a good size if it wasn’t for the boys long list of vehicles.

Another gripe is hubbie’s tools; he seems to have them in a state of disarray in various locations around the house.  Adding some lockable cabinets to the new shed would mean everything could be easier to find and well organised.  Plus it would be safer if they were locked away rather than anywhere the children could get hold of them.

I have spotted one potential option from Green House Stores I like the look of a plastic shed as we don’t do maintenance, I know if we bought a wooden one it would look great initially but we would not paint it yearly as needed to keep it in tip top condition.  My dad has a plastic shed and it seems to have weathered well for him.  The only difference is I would go for a bigger one; it would be such a relief having adequate storage finally. 

Our house has no garage so buying a shed is a necessity for getting the garden organised.  On top of the boys vehicles and the tools, hopefully there would be enough room to add the garden chairs.  I think it’s important to free up room indoors.  Certain rooms are getting quite crowded storing so many extra things.

I want to make sure I buy the right shed so I was looking at the Which? guide with interest, it sounds like a plastic shed is a sensible purchase as metal ones tend to have more problems with condensation.

Friday, 1 July 2016

How to stop your partner spoiling your night’s sleep

From snoring loudly to stealing the bedcovers, your partner might have a range of irritating nocturnal habits that prevent you from enjoying a sound night’s sleep. As well as affecting your health and wellbeing, this could cause tension in your relationship. The good news is, there are simple steps you can take to tackle these night-time troubles. Keep reading for some tips that could help you bring your bedtime woes to an end.

Choose the right bed

Firstly, make sure you have a suitable sleeping set up. The right bed and mattress can help to promote nocturnal harmony between couples. For example, if your current bed feels cramped, simply switching to a bigger model could help you get more shuteye. Also, try to avoid continuous coil mattresses if possible. Made from a single looped wire, these mattresses are not conducive to a peaceful night’s slumber. If your partner is prone to moving around a lot during the night, these designs can spell disaster for your sleep. In contrast, memory foam or pocket sprung designs allow each partner to turn over and generally move around without disturbing the other.

If you have a different preferred sleeping position to your partner, it’s worth taking a look at the king size adjustable beds now available. Certain models enable you to adjust each side independently, meaning both you and your partner will each be able to adopt the perfect sleeping postures.

Combat snoring

Snoring is a common cause of annoyance in relationships, but there are some effective self-help techniques available that can combat this noisy night-time tendency. 

For example, encouraging your partner to lie on their side rather than their back could help. Also, persuading them to cut back on their alcohol intake before bed may reduce their snoring. Quitting smoking and losing weight lower the risk of snoring too.

If your partner has an allergy that results in a blocked nose, nasal sprays or antihistamine tablets could come in handy. Meanwhile, you can invest in special stop-snoring devices and treatments, including throat sprays and nasal strips. If you’re not sure which products to go for, you and your partner can ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Invest in earplugs and an eye mask

Something as simple as wearing an eye mask or using earplugs could help to stop your partner spoiling your sleep. By blocking out distracting lights or sounds, these products can help you drift off into dreamland and stay there until your alarm rings in the morning. Bear in mind that there are a range of different earplugs to try, and some may work better for you than others. From plastic to foam and wax, there are a variety of designs to test.

By following suggestions like these, you should be able to prevent your partner from coming between you and your much-needed rest. As well as benefiting your health and wellbeing, this could be good news for your relationship.

Our Master Suite #workinprogress

We have very grand plans for our master bedroom; we had two rooms merged into one.  That involved quite a lot of expense, after needing a structural engineer to draw up plans and an appropriate beam to hold the weight installed by our builders.  It’s been messy dirty work; old houses have all kinds in the plasterwork so we found chunks of horsehair.  I don’t see the historical charm myself I think it’s a bit gross… and my husband would agree!

I think it was risky removing a room for our house, when we come to sell it will possibly be compared with other houses with that many rooms, but I am hoping that an adjustment will be made for the fact it’s a generous size!  We shall see, but the main thing is we get to enjoy it eventually for the time we live here.  This is the forever house so hopefully that will be a considerable chunk of our lives.  Plus with the right decoration a master bedroom can create quite an impact, I am always looking for tips and inspiration as I want to get it right.

Now we have a fair sized room to work with, we can dream big!  But it’s all hypothetical at the moment as we ran out of funds doing the main structural work, heartbreaking being close but not close enough to live in there anytime soon.  Mind you hopefully without any major planned for 2017 we should be able to resume in earnest.  2015 saw us re-pointing the front of the house and blowing a good few thousand on that, so 2016 has been more modest in comparison.

I would like to divide the master room not with a barrier of a wall we have removed but with our choice of accessories and furniture, so one part has the bed and another a sofa looking out at the view.  I do want to keep the room quite open though, so the transition from sleeping to living space would need to look quite natural.  One possibility is installing slimline aluminium roof lanterns, or one over the living space anyway.  Then you could a distinction between the two areas.

We will also have an en-suite bathroom, apparently those projects are very worthwhile as they add more value than they cost.  I should have looked at that article before taking out my son’s en-suite but you live and learn, and it was a very dated bathroom!

Thursday, 30 June 2016

How to improve marketing your business

Whether you offer a service or have products to sell its invaluable to look at marketing your business.  It’s a way to attract new customers and hang on to the ones you have already.

Firstly you need to look at your target audience, who you want to reach out and connect with, and then you can begin to tailor your marketing plan accordingly.  You can do this in various ways, below are a couple of suggestions.

Getting involved in your community

Perhaps host an event for a local charity to raise your profile amongst customers in your area.  There is a lot to be said about goodwill, it endears customers to your services and products if they know you are committed to helping where they live.  

Host a competition

You can get more interaction on social media (don’t forget to use #hashtags) or build up your email subscription.  Even a small prize if well promoted can see quite a return in terms of interest.

Add a blog to your business website

You can write content then to really appeal to your audience, you want your customers to relate to you and feel you are an approachable company that really gets them.

Team up with other companies that compliment what you have to offer

RPM did this by working closely with National Trust on the Cadburys Eggsplorer trails.  It benefited both interests.

If your still at a loss then it might be worth hiring an experienced creative agency to give you a hand, make a point of looking at their previous client list to see if they can offer you what you need.  Sites like RPM clearly illustrate how they have helped various customers in the past so you can decide if they are a suitable choice quite easily.  They like to create a stir and get customers to readily identify with the client.  Their campaigns are fun, focused and have very positive results.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

My approach to debt

Sometimes you have no choice but to borrow money, as long as it’s well managed it’s not an issue.  I think if its for a proper reason like an investment in your business or a car you NEED to get to work (assuming public transport is not feasible!) then its worth considering getting into debt if it means you will have better prospects in the future.

It’s not so sensible if you just want a top of the range computer or the latest console to “keep up with the Joneses”, because those are luxuries that should ideally be saved up for not ones that you should take out a loan for.  Also a definite no-no is getting a loan just to meet your current outgoing bills.  If you need a loan to pay the mortgage what will you do the following month when you need to pay it again and your loan repayments on top – then it’s a slippery slope into unmanageable debt.

I have had various debts in my life, student loans, a car loan, a mortgage, basically the ones that aren’t frowned on, and then a few naughty bits on credit cards when I did get carried away wanting material goods.  I have since learnt my mistake, getting in to too much debt can put a real strain on your marriage, its hard wondering how you will make all the payments.  Although I am quite open to taking on debt for sensible reasons, like when hubbie took on a commercial property through work – which should (hopefully) improve our finances quite quickly in the long run but a new TV forget it!

Sometimes you might need a loan when you have bad credit fortunately there are still options like glo loans but again I would consider only using it for reasons that will benefit you in the future, if its for a fancy bit of technology (unless your job requires it) step away from temptation.  It’s easy to be materialistic, especially if your friends and family have nice things, but if you can make what you own last a bit longer than it will save you in the future.

Finally make sure you fill out a budget planner to make sure you have enough left over for your repayments.