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Mamma Fairy

Features

Supermarket Christmas Offers 2018

Already looking for the Christmas deals this year? Well, look no further. Supermarkets just across the border are already on the lookout to release new Christmas ranges in their grocery and home aisles. So far, some of the major chains have announced some of their new Christmas lines. Take a look below. Disclaimer: Some of the items below, such as preorder items, may not include VAT. To find out more about VAT in the UK on your purchases, call the VAT Contact Telephone Number.

Tesco

Although Tesco has officially closed their Homeware/Clothing website, their grocery website still remains. In order to find out the latest Christmas deal in the clothing and homeware departments, call the Tesco telephone number and speak with a member of the team. Elsewhere in the store, you can expect to find some amazing food offers, such as:

Asda

ASDA are always on top of their homeware game, and this Christmas will be no exception. As well as some amazing Christmas homeware, ASDA also has some great pre-order Christmas food on their website.

Morrisons

Morissons, although not heavy on deals, mostly offer voucher codes, However, they do already have some great Christmas items on their website!

Aldi

No Christmas shop is complete without an Aldi feast. Their Christmas range is currently available to preview on Grocer magazine.

Thanks to  Gina Kay Daniel for kindly guest posting for us this week. Some great tips above. I just love Christmas myself and love being prepared well in advance.

Features

Halloween Shopping – decisions decisions

My pair love Halloween, maybe its all kids but mine literally start counting the days until Halloween from September once the school starts.  Selecting costume is no easy task, who knew kids took this so serious.  They are allowed to wear them into school so you can imagine this is big decision in the calendar of a 6 year old!!

Credit: Prop Shopper

The very lovely people at Prop Shopper allowed the boys to select a costume each from the very vast selection on their website.  The selection is fantastic so trust me this was quite the mammoth task.  The youngest went for the spider web costume and the oldest went for Ghostly Ghoul costume.  There is a huge selection of options available and even better the price point is fantastic, definitely budget friendly.

Prop Shopper also do a large range of adults costumes, again naturally more expensive than the kids but still good and budget friendly. I really do begrudge spending huge amount of money on a costume that will literally be worn for a couple of hours.

For the more adventurous amongst us Prop Shopper sell a range of make up, wigs and accessories. I’m just not creative, the costume needs to be complete with little intervention for me!!

Do check them out, loads of choice and dare I say it my kids loved that they were that little bit different than in the supermarkets.

Sneaky pic of the oldest in his Ghostly Ghoul costume. My camera shy spider web point blank refused a pic!

For some reasonably prices costumes do check out www.propshopper.ie you wont be disappointed.

 

 

Note:  Prop Shopper kindly sent us to costumes for Halloween, however I retain full editorial control

 

Fairy Travels

Golden Circle DIY drive with Lagoon Car Rental

We arrived in beautiful Iceland after a short 2 hour WOW air flight from Dublin on a Friday afternoon, grabbed our bags and quickly headed towards the meeting point to meet the rep from the car rental company.  Having carried out a lot of research we choose Lagoon Car Rental for our trip. Lagoon are a family owned business with offices at both  Keflavik airport and Reykjavik.  Some of the key factors which influenced our decision to go with Lagoon were firstly; their cars are all less than two years old, there was a huge selection of options and additional extras.  While getting value for money is important one thing I will never scrimp on is car safety.  That is even more important in a country where we are driving on a different side than we are accustomed allied to the fact the weather conditions in Iceland have the potential to be unpredictable.

The Car

lagoon car rental desk

Pic Credit: Mamma Fairy Blog

We met the Lagoon Car Rentals in the arrivals hall of Keflavik airport and took the short trip in their mini bus to their desk just outside of the airport grounds.  We were lucky it was nice and quiet at the time being later in the afternoon so the entire process was quick and seamless and we were sitting in out Kia Sorrento in a very short space of time.  The kids loved the hot chocolate in the waiting area! We went for a 4*4 automatic and added on the 2 car seats and gps.   The vehicle itself was immaculate inside. We took our time going through the condition before signing off to take it away. This is something I would strongly urge anybody to do. I took a lot of pictures too in case of any disputes, of which thankfully there were none! And with that we hit the road for our hotel in Reykjavik.

We spent the first night relaxing at the hotel and get to bed early so that we could depart early for our Golden Circle tour. I had read loads and done a lot of research so I had it more or less planned out so that we could make the most of it.  We were truly blessed with the weather. While it was cold it was bright and crisp without a drop or rain or snow in sight! There is a saying in Iceland that if you don’t like the weather wait 5 minutes.  Iceland is prone to huge variations in the weather conditions even within the one day so my advice is to have the car well equipped.

We had changes of clothes, food, rain gear and walking gear.  Just in case! But that is the luxury of having a car you can just dump all in the boot!.

Golden Circle Stop 1- Thingvellir

car at thingvellier park

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

We departed Reykjavik bright and early. The sky was so clear and so blue, we were so excited. Stop one was Thingvellier National Park which is a UNESCO listed site which once housed the Icelandic Parliament. The kids were particularly excited to see the rift in the landscape cased by the separation of the 2 tectonic plates. Its quite remarkable to think where you are standing and what is going on in the ground beneath you!

We parked up and walked one of the trails, which is a little uneven so do bring good walking shoes. It wouldn’t be buggy or wheelchair friendly the particular section we choose so do plan your route in advance.   The entire landscape here is breath taking. I actually don’t thing any photos could even do it justice.  No matter which way you look its simply stunning. One thing I did notice was how crisp and fresh the air felt.

You could spend hours here, looking at the old stone ruins and walking the trails but we were on a tight enough time scale so departed after maybe 2 hours and a hot cup of coffee!

Mamma F Top Tip– Parking needs to be paid for in the visitors centre as apparently they read the registration on the way out. Loads of toilets and coffee shop there so well worth a quick stop.

After a quick coffee and rest of the legs we headed back to the car to get to our next stop – Fontana Thermal Spa.

Golden Circle Stop 2 – Fontana Thermal Spa

Fontana SPA

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Fontana is ideally located about half way along our Golden Circle route.   It serves as the ideal spot for some lunch and a total relax in their geothermal baths.  We opted for the buffet lunch upon arrival and it was so good. The food was tasty, fresh and plentiful with something for everybody. However I cannot forget the bread. In fact im drooling right now thinking of it.  It was incredible. It is baked underground for 24 hours in the hot black sand.   It is no exaggeration to say it was quite possibly the tastiest bread I have ever eaten. (Quite the accolade for a bread loving Irish family!)

Lunch eaten and we headed to the changing room to get ready for our dip in the geo thermal pools. One thing to bear in mind is that you must shower before you go to the pools and not doing so is viewed as being very disrespectful by the locals.  The changing rooms have lockers and plenty space to get organised.  The layout and setting of the pools is really lovely. There are a number of pools each with different temperatures. Onsite there are also sauna and steam room and for the brave amongst us you can take a dip in the ice cold lake. Its apparently very good for the body and heart to alternate the temperature but im quite happy to take somebody else’s word for this!!

 

fontana geothermal spa

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

We met a lovely couple here who were doing a similar trip to us but in the reverse direction and advised us of a lovely farm with home made ice cream just before our next stop. He mentioned salted caramel ice cream and I was sold! We dried off and hit the road again for Geysir via the ice cream stop!)

Mamma F Top Tip – have lunch at Fontana and follow up with home made ice cream at Efstidalur II, you will not be disappointed. So so so tasty and the setting is lovely looking out over the farm.

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Home & Interiors

Features walls – im a little obsessed!

I know everybody is probably well and truly fed up of listening to my renovation tales. It has been a crazy but fulfilling couple of months. We are now inching ever closer to having the house completed exactly to the spec and design that we wanted. Yes it took a lot longer than I hoped, it also went over budget (that a whole other post!) and it probably did put some strain on marital relations!

One of the biggest bones of contention around here was under stairs toilet v under stairs storage.  I was firmly in the camp of storage, im thinking school bags, sports gear, endless pairs of shoes and runners. The Dada Fairy wanted the downstairs toilet. His thinking was handy for the kids save them running upstairs, handy too for visitors and their school pals. So after much debate I reluctantly agreed to the downstairs toilet.

bathroom sink

Pic Credit: Pixabay

The space is teeny! Add to that the fact it will actual be quite a visible room being in the hallway. I wanted to keep the base neutral but jazz it up. I have visited a local show house and they had a feature wall where the toilet and cistern sat and I really liked it.  It added depth to the small space and almost made a talking point of it.  So off I went researching feature walls. Who knew there was so much choice out there! We ended up going for stone split face tiles in grey keeping with our neutral tones around the house. The tiles are are actually suitable for indoor and outdoors.

I would strongly advise ordering samples and trying them out in your space. I originally thought I wanted the exposed red  brick look but having taken a couple of samples home it just did not work when compared to the cool neutral tones around the house. Its funny  how something can look fab in a show room or even show house however we you take it back to your own house it just doesn’t work. That’s a really long winded way of staying take some samples home!

The Dada Fairy did the work himself which was great as he is in the building trade. However for the non DIY among us there are lots of helpful guides an how to tutorials online. I’m hopeless at DIY thankfully the Dada Fairy doesn’t mind tackling it otherwise we would probably be still living in a building site.

The bathroom is almost done and ill hopefully have a big reveal shortly.  I haven’t told him yet that I think he was probably right to push for the downstairs toilet!!!

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control

 

 

 

Home & Interiors

Central heating, so many choices?!

oil heating

Pic Credit: Pixabay

With the time of year that in it naturally all our attention has turned to turning back on the heat. We have been lucky to date and its been pretty mild but I think the time has come to think about it again. For most of us this side of the world the cost of home heating can be quite a substantial bill this side of year.

When we moved into our house we had lots of decisions to make regarding our central heating system.  The previous owner had gas installed half way to the front driveway and an oil burner out the back. However the oil burner was as old as myself so we need a new central heating boiler. 

Who knew there was so many choices available for boilers and heating systems available.  It wasn’t a concern in our old house as we inherited the gas system and just went with what was there but this time around having to select the type of system and type of boiler meant lots more decisions to be made.

I think like anything when it comes to home renovation or new builds it is critical to shop around and talk to the relevant tradespeople.  Its also important to know and understand your own objectives and requirements and to discuss how they might fit in with your budget constraints.  I remember somebody once saying to me invest in the items like wiring, pluming, heating buying the best you can within your budget.  Consider the longer term and the potential saving particularly for the likes of heating systems  This is particularly relevant with advent of lots more eco friendly heating systems and them becoming so much more mainstream and affordable.

Has anybody an tips or comments on their current heating system? If so id love to hear them in the comments.

Note: This is a collaborative post  however I retain full editorial control.

 

 

Home & Interiors

Top Tips to Transform a Steel Building into Another Room

steel garden shed

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Let’s face it, we could really all use some extra space in our home, but extensions are expensive and not always the most affordable thing to do. If an extension is too large of a project for you to take on right now, then you may want to instead think about transforming a steel building into another room for your home. So, no matter whether you are looking to create a home office, looking for a space to relax in, or want to provide a games room for the kids, a steel building can achieve this with just a few extra upgrades.

Carry on reading to find out more about our top tips to transform a steel building into another room.  

Installing Electricity

When creating an extra room on your home, you will want it to be a space that you feel comfortable in which for most people, this will mean running electricity to it. Whether you want to simply put on a light to complete your work or need specific electronics to be working, the process of installing electricity is crucial. Other fun upgrades that an electrician can do for you in regards to your steel building is wiring up an intercom to the main house, installing a sound system or installing the wiring for network connections.

Installing New Flooring

Before your steel building becomes an extra room that you actually want to spend time in, you will need to install new flooring. We would recommend hard flooring here over a carpet, as you may find a carpet hard to keep clean with this room being outdoors. No one wants to be constantly cleaning mud and moisture that is being dragged in by family and friends from the main house to the steel building. Furthermore, we would also recommend that you get a good sizes rug and a welcome mat to try and combat the dirt.

Adding Insulation

If you want to make the most out of your shed and give it a room-like appearance, then you may want to add insulation to it. This will provide you with a number of benefits including climate control and it will also help to buffer sounds. Installing a dry wall can then really complete the look of your steel building. You can also get your insulation sorted when you purchase your steel building by requesting it as an add-on. This is something which Armstrong Steel provide which you’ll notice if you price up a building with them through the following link: http://armstrongsteel.com/. Their insulation is a heavy vinyl backed fibreglass that eliminates condensation and ultimately saves you money on energy costs.

Climate Control

Whether it be the weather being too hot where you live or too cold, climate control is something that you will need to ensure is in good working order with your steel building. A HVAC unit is a great idea here as it can be used to both cool and heat your space as you desire between the seasons.

Lighting

After making your steel building more habitable, you will then be able to add the finishing touches such as lighting that will make it feel more like an extra room on your home. You will also want to add things such as blinds to protect against UV rays and furniture to make the room useable.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Home & Interiors

Bespoke Furniture – is it worth it?

bespoke furniture green chair

Pic Credit: Pixabay

I have written numerous posts about our renovation projects and one of the final pieces of the renovation is the big decision of the furniture.  We went for plain floor and walls with the objective of jazzing it up as such with some cool furniture. I wanted the basics to be neutral and stand the test of time but I was happy to experiment with fun colours and materials for the furniture.

We have some really odd and probably small rooms therefore furniture straight off the shop floor either way too big or just didn’t suit the space. So we decided to take some more time, save some more funds and go down the bespoke route for the downstairs room. We are almost there and will look forward to a big reveal shortly with some pretty impressive progress pictures.  However some of the things I have learned throughout the process is:

  • Be very clear from the outset exactly what you want
  • Consider the functionality – exactly what you want the piece to do, consider dual uses to make the most of the space particularly if its small like ours.
  • Use your budget wisely to get the most out of it, for example  consider items like gas struts to close down furniture like counter tops etc when not in use. Makes a great space saver.
  • In a similar vein – agree up front the cost – prevents surprises
  • Be patient – this took me a little while! It does take a lot more time to make a bespoke piece when compared with buying off the shelf but the end result will be totally worth it.

Check back next month to see my pieces.  This has been a total labour of love and resulted in many disagreements (arguments!) but I can finally see it all starting to come together and I am mega excited.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control
Features

Its good to be bored….

This morning at the football sideline (the place of all great debates lately) the conversation naturally drifted to Christmas and what the kids were looking for. By way of context the kids at this football class are between 4 and  7 so pretty young.  There was emphatic agreement that the less technology the better and that we would try dis-way the high end tech (for lots of reasons) for another few years.

bored colouring in

Pic Credit: Pixabay

I recalled some research conducted by  BIC® as part of its Young Artist Award, the study found that kids complain about being bored on average 122 times a month – that’s 1,500 times a year. With the words “I’m bored” being dreaded by 69% of parents.  In response to the findings, renowned child education consultant Dr Martin Stephen said that “boredom is a brilliant platform from which children learn to use their imaginations …. It’s important that we continue to develop core skills such as drawing and writing.” I couldn’t agree more. I recall myself as a child spending hours either outside playing or colouring/ painting (aka making a mess).  With a world so consumed by all things tech it can be hard to to do this.  I remember at a talk up the school where the Principal mentioned for kids nowadays the world exists almost like 5 minute you tube sound bites which is actually a little scary. Life isn’t fast paced, its slow and steady with boredom being an essential component to encourage kids to think outside of the box and figure out themselves what to do.

Interesting findings

I have set out below some additional findings which I think are really interesting and perhaps even for some of them possibly understated!

  • Kids spend just 3 hours a day away from their screens
  • Only 31% of parents admit to giving a bored child a digital device to keep them occupied
  • Kids complain about being bored 122 times a month – that’s 1,500 times a year
  • 69% of parents dread the words “I’m bored”
  • the go-to forms of entertainment for children include watching TV (68%), playing with a tablet/iPad (61%) and watching YouTube (60%)

 

What do you think, do you restrict your kids tech or do you give them free reign? Love to here more in the comments below

Fairy Travels

WOW air – from Dublin to Iceland from €49.99!

Since I was a kid I have been fascinated with Iceland, I can’t quite say what specifically it was that interested me but the curiosity to visit has been there for some time. I’m very excited to say I finally ticked this item off the Mamma Fairy bucket list.  Getting to Iceland is remarkably easy with WOW air offering 2 flights a day from Dublin during peak times and with prices starting from €49.99 each….as I told the Dada Fairy “sure we would be mad not too!!”.

WOW air – History

WOW air aircraft on tarmac

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog Location: Keflavik Airport

Most people have heard of WOW air and know their striking purple livery but who are they?!!  They seem to have exploded on to the aviation scene as a solid budget airline.  Curious to know more myself I did a little digging…..WOW air is an Icelandic airline who operate out of Keflavik airport. They were founded in 2011 and the airline made its inaugural flight in 2012.  Flights commenced from Dublin in June 2015 when WOW began expanding into North American and Canada connecting parts of Europe via Iceland.

The man behind the airline is a well known Icelandic businessman and financier called Skúli Mogensen.

I understand that as of 2018 WOW air operates to 36 destinations from Europe, North American to the Middle East. Quite remarkable for an airline which is still really in its infancy having only commenced in 2012. According to media report, they have a fleet of 20 and carry over a million passengers a year.

Our WOW air flight

boarding WOW air flight

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog Location: Dublin Airport

We departed Dublin on the 11.45 flight on a cool crisp Friday morning. Timing wise this flight is perfect. My pair love their sleep and the earlier option while it would have provided us with more time in Iceland in reality would probably have just meant id have a grumpy pair on my hands by 3pm. Boarding was efficient, we departed on time and the services on board couldn’t be faulted.

I do have to give a specific mention to the pilot on our outbound flight as my kids are still talking about him.  Before the cabin crew ran through the safety demonstration he urged the passengers to watch and pay attention or else he would be out to ask questions!! Now my 6 year thought this was just the funniest thing ever! Throughout the flight he was engaging, witty and set a great tone for the holiday. Similarly the cabin crew were friendly and efficient and seemed to genuinely wanted to make the flight as pleasant as possible for those on board.

Coming home again we opted for the 12 o’clock afternoon flight which again is perfect timing. No crazy early starts! Similarly we left on time despite Keflavik airport being incredibly busy that morning.

On board 

We had the xl leg room seats on both flights and I wouldn’t hesitate to pay for this.  I’m not tall, the Dada Fairy is and he was very impressed with the comfort of the extra leg room. Our flight over didn’t have the USB chargers however our flight home did. The certainly was not an issue for a short flight perhaps if you were en route to the US you might need to charge your devices particularly if you were travelling with kids. We didn’t sample the food offering on either leg but there looked to be the useful fare at usual airline prices.  Again for a short flight we usually don’t bother.

On board the aircraft the purple theme remains with the seats and floor covering.  The aircraft on the flight home to Dublin had some hilarious slogans for the call bells which when you are six years old is pretty funny.

Child friendly 

WOW air aircraft on runway

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog Location: Dublin Airport

My kids are very used to travelling despite their young age therefore an airline who are child friendly is something that would be very important to us. No matter how used to flying kids are they still could be prone to tantrums, sore ears, being upset etc.  I have to say from start to finish the cabin crew and ground staff were fantastic, helped with buggy, getting them settled and getting on the aircraft early to get them settled with little or no queuing. Sometimes I feel there is a perception that budget airlines may be less child friendly or even welcoming of kids. Hand on heart I can’t say this wasn’t the case with WOW air.

In fact we were so impressed not just with WOW air but also with Iceland (yes I have left a piece of my heart there – lots of posts on our adventures there in progress) that we are intending to use them for our long haul trip to Chicago in April.

Our next Adventure – Chicago

We have been fortunate enough to have been invited to experience Chicago as a family friendly destination and what better way of doing it that combining it with a long lay over in Iceland.  I hope on that trip to completely dispel the myth of taking kids on budget flights.  Funny enough my pair were the only kids on the aircraft both ways.

WOW air offer flights to some US and Canadian cities from €99 so that’s some serious value combining that with a trip to the land of fire and ice what more could you want.  I also read recently that WOW will commence flights to Orlando in December this year, making the elusive trip to Disney that little bit more affordable.

The ability to add the layover to the US flight tickets is an impressive add on.  Having spent time in Iceland I can highly recommend making a stop over. I am currently drafting posts on our adventures there.  We spent a day driving the Golden Circle which was in a word….breathtaking. Sneak peak below but do check back for full post which ill link below when it completed.

 

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog Location: Thingvellir Park

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog Location: Gullfoss – Golden Circle

geysir

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog Location: Geysir – Golden Circle

Note: Thanks to WOW air for the support on this trip, all words my own and I retain full editorial control over the content above as all opinions and views are mine or the boys where appropriate.

 

Cuddle Fairy
Home & Interiors

Top tips when choosing new windows

large window looking our over mountains

Pic Credit: Pixabay

We moved into our new house in 2014 with the decision that replacing the very old windows that came with the house was the first job we would tackle.  However….we simply couldn’t agree on what we wanted and shamefully only got the windows replaced in March of 2018.  I am not an expert not even close however I will share some tips on what worked for us in the end together with some key considerations having chatted and debated at length with a lot of window suppliers!

  1. It almost goes without staying – shop around and then shop around some more. We found some huge divergences in cost so using comparison sites for windows can be hugely beneficial especially when trying to compare like with like
  2. Drive around and look at similar type properties to see what works well and conversely what doesn’t for similar styles of houses. For example I love sash windows but they just wouldn’t suit the type of property we have.
  3. Agree key requirements before you start shopping, single, double glazing or even triple glazing- for us it was triple glazing for the back as our house at the rear backs onto a busy and noisy dual carriageway.
  4. Consider the energy efficiency of your windows as this could save you money on your heating in the longer term.
  5. There are lots of types of materials from wood, to aluminium to a alu-clad so decide which material you want within your budget constraints as there can be quite a difference.
  6. Consider options for child proofing – safety latches etc. This was critical for us with 2 busy boys!
  7. Ensure you supplier is reputable, look for references.
  8. Review whether the windows or workmanship comes with any guarantees or quality marks.

If anybody has any other helpful hints do add them in the comments section below.

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control