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Mamma Fairy

Fairy Travels

Top Tips When Travelling by Car With Children

With the rising costs of airfares and package holidays, and the increasing time it takes to get through security at the airports, more and more families are deciding to travel by car for their holidays.  Families are electing to take more road trips, both within the UK and Ireland, and wider afield in Europe. To make your journey easier here are some top tips to remember while travelling by car with children.

Most of us with young children are returning to the days we grew up in, where our holidays consisted of our parents packing up the car with us, bags and other essentials, and setting off to travel within our home country. My parents couldn’t afford holidays abroad, so we often travelled to other counties of Ireland for our summer holiday. I fondly remember a hot week in June spent in Salthill in Galway when I was 15. I also remember the windy beaches of Tralee in County Kerry when I was around 12. There were also regular camping trips to Brittas Bay or Courtown, two seaside towns on the east coast of Ireland. And getting there was a road trip.

As a family we’ve been travelling by car with our son since he was four months old. The first long trip was to Ireland via the ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare. And since our epic two-week USA road trip in 2017, we’ve become huge fans of travelling by car with our son. You can move from place to place and see much more of a country than just holidaying in one spot for a week or two. This is a huge advantage to road trips that we’ve come to love.

But, how can you beat the age-old question “Are we there yet?”, uttered by little people in the back. Well, here are some top tips to help your car holiday go a lot easier with the kids in tow.

Top tips when travelling by car with children  

1 Decide what time of the day suits your kids for travelling.

You need to decide if your kids do better in the early morning or evening hours for travelling? You know your kids better than anyone, so this is really your choice. Some people elect to travel at night when the kids are bound to be asleep. However, you need to ensure who ever is driving isn’t too tired behind the wheel. Others, like us, prefer to travel during the day, taking in the scenery and sharing the driving between the two of us. Whichever is best for your kids, plan your travel to match. For us, leaving early in the morning is best and our son will nap in the car is he gets tired. I’d also prefer us to sleep in a bed and get a proper night’s sleep than try and catch the zzz’s in the car.

2 Don’t leave home without the snacks and drinks.

Make sure to pack some snacks and drinks for everyone in the car. Yes, you might be able to stop along the way, but snacks can calm hangry children and they can also fill a gap if there is a way to go before your next stopping opportunity. Drinks are also essentials, particularly if you are driving during the summer on a hot day.

Stock the car with water or juices and bring snacks consisting of fruit, cereal bars, biscuits, crackers, crisps and even some homemade sandwiches. Keep them handy so you can pass them over without having to stop the car to fish them out of the boot.

3 Bring some entertainment.

Bring some colouring books and crayons or pencils, sticker books, travels games and even electronic devices like Gameboys and tablets. And let the kids use them if necessary. You could even bring personal DVD players and use a mounting brace to mount them to the back of the front seat headrests. Just remember individual headphones if you’ve got more than one child so that you don’t end up with a volume war.

Pic Credit: Passports and Adventures

 I’d also recommend ensuring you have some music that the kids like in the car. We’ve created a playlist on our Spotify account for our son with his favourite songs and we add to it from time to time. This can be a sure-fire way of keeping him entertained for a while in the car.  And you don’t have to limit yourself to this type of entertainment. Playing I-Spy or other games can be fun. We even created a game in America called “Spot the Mack truck” shouting out “Mack” every time we saw a truck that looked like Mack from Disney’s Cars. And a pair of toy binoculars provided hours of entertainment for our son in Yellowstone National Park.

4 Pack an overnight bag and keep it handy.

If you have an overnight stop somewhere, or are only staying a few nights in one location, why not pack a 3-day bag with 3 days’ worth of clothes for everyone in it, rather than packing one individual suitcase for each person. Use colour coordinated packing cubes for each member of the family so every knows where their clothes are.

This is much easier than hauling 3 or more suitcases into a hotel or AirBnB every night or two. You can do this for a road trip that consists of several short stops along the way. It will mean you take one suitcase of clothes in every three days. Keep your family toiletries in one large clear bag so it can be brought in with your one bag.

We did this during our road trip in Central Portugal at the end of the summer. We were stopping at three different locations for either two or three nights each and I packed one 3-day bag for our first stop, rotated clothes for the second stop and then we brought everything into our last location’s accommodation as the car was parked in a shared carpark and away from our accommodation. It made it much easier when it came to empty the car with a boisterous four-year-old in tow.

 

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Fairy Travels

Family friendly places to visit in Penang

beach scene

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Are you thinking of holidaying in Penang with family? Well, you are indeed just on the right track! After all, this Malaysian island is just perfect for families, and one can indeed look forward to a memorable holiday with their children. Start planning the trip and take advantage of Hard Rock Hotel Penang online booking for the most comfortable and affordable accommodations.

Penang boasts of several family-friendly tourist attractions, and there is something for everyone here. You can spend precious moments with your family as you enjoy exploring those museums, swimming pools, parks, and temples. The tropical state of Malaysia has loads of beach-side resort towns. You can book the best hotels in Penang for your family for a memorable stay and experience. Enjoy world-class facilities in the leading accommodation in Penang.

Here are some of the most popular sites and locations for families holidaying in Penang.

  • This indoor playground of Adventure Zone– The fabulous Adventure Zone at the Golden Sands Resort is a big hit among families with children.  Enjoy those fabulous and fast drop slides with your kids. There is even a specialized play area for the toddlers. Just explore the attractions, and you can even play hide and seek here.

  • Train to Penang Hill– If you are looking for a cool and calm escape from the hot city and its crowds, just make your way to the 18th-century style station. Hop on the train to Penang Hill that will take you the hill, and you can already feel the fresher breeze. Enjoy those fantastic views of Penang Bridge and Georgetown.

  • Penang Butterfly Farm in Entopia- You must visit this lovely spot near Batu Ferringhi where the butterfly farm displays hundreds and thousands of butterflies. There are other animals such as lizards, fish, and turtles.  Part form those, the informative displays will keep the whole family busy.

  • Canopy Walkway in National Park. You children are sure going to love this place. Explore the lush scenery of this vast rainforest. The highlight is the 150-meter-long Canopy Walkway that will take about half an hour to complete. You can climb different exotic trees to get a birds-eye-view.  

    Pic Credit: Pixabay

  • A cyclo-rickshaw ride for short trips- It is indeed an enjoyable experience to rise on those bicycle powered cabs which are also known as “beca” locally. Those rickshaws remind one of the Chinese influence on the island and are purely meant for the tourists. You can take short trips to local attractions.

  • The interesting Snake Temple– Built in 1850 by a Buddhist priest, the temple gets its name because it is a safe haven for poisonous snakes. You will come across green tree snakes and Wagler’s pit vipers. However, these snakes are harmless and are a friendly breed. Still, be wary and keep an eye on the children while exploring the area. Other highlights of the temple include the Buddhist sculptures and carvings
  • The Penang Eco Park– If you want to admire Penang’s natural beauty, then you are sure to find it here at Penang Eco Park. It is indeed a tremendous outdoor attraction for the whole family who can come here and spend quality time. They can go for long hikes through Forest Park or simply let the kids play in the playground.

  • Fun at Penang Interactive Museum – Another spot which the whole family will like is the Penang Interactive Museum that displays three-dimensional artworks. You not only feel a part of the history and culture of Penang, but it is great fun to click photos of those trick arts and murals. Learn about the island’s traditional way of life through the section of miniature figures.
Note: This is a collaborative post
Features

How a Pet Helps You Feel Better When You Are Sad

If you already own a pet, then you’re likely to be well aware of the uplifting effect that a pet can have on your mood when you’re feeling sad.  But have you ever wondered why this is?

Here are a few scientifically-backed reasons as to how a pet is genuinely able to make a person feel better when they are feeling down…

FEEL-GOOD BRAIN CHEMICALS

Your brain produces a number of different natural chemicals that each have their own effect on your mood.

One of these chemicals is called oxytocin. When the brain releases this, you immediately feel happier and more loved.

Not only that, but the oxytocin then sends signals to the other neurotransmitters in the brain, encouraging it to release other feel-good hormones, such as:

  •     Serotonin             
  •     Dopamine     
  •     Adrenaline
How are these feel-good brain chemicals linked to pets? 

Well, research shows that when you stroke a pet, this triggers your brain to produce and release an increased amount of oxytocin. This, in turn, will quickly have an uplifting effect on your mood.

In fact, you don’t even necessarily need to stroke a pet to experience these benefits…

Simply looking into your pet’s eyes can have similar effects!

couple walking dog

Pic Credit: Pixabay

COMFORT AND EMPATHY

Not only can many animals sense your emotions, but they can also tell whether you are feeling happy or sad. This is a concept officially known as emotional contagion, and it is something that is being increasingly studied.

While research may still be ongoing, what we do know is that pets, whether they can sense your sadness or not, offer so much comfort and empathy.

Your pet will be there to support you whenever you are feeling down, and your pet is also guaranteed to be one of the best listeners you will ever find! Just talking to your pet about whatever it is that is bothering you can actually increase your problem-solving abilities, meaning that you may even find a logical and productive way to overcome your sadness.

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

While a fish or a hamster may not provide this benefit, other pets, such as dogs and cats, do tend to encourage their owners to spend more time outdoors.   This is especially the case with dogs, and dog owners will likely find themselves outdoors so much more than they would have been, all because of their dog. Did you know that spending more time outdoors can have a direct effect on how happy you’re feeling?

Even if you just spend half an hour a day at your local park with your dog, you will experience:  

  •     Less stress         
  •     More empathy         
  •     Increased concentration and creativity         
  •     An increase in physical fitness         
  •     An improvement in overall health    

As you can imagine, when experiencing all of those different benefits, your sadness will soon disappear!

Pets add so much to our lives, and the fact that an animal can almost immediately make a person feel happier is a huge added bonus for pet owners. Whether you own a dog, a cat, a fish, or anything else, try turning to your pet the next time you are feeling sad for an instant mood lift.

WHY ESA’S ARE AN IMPORTANT OPTION

Out of the world’s entire population, one in four people will suffer from a mental condition at some point in their lives. For one in 25 adults, this condition will be quite serious, and will interfere in some way with at least one of their regular daily activities.   With mental illnesses becoming so much more prevalent, it only makes sense that people are now exploring a wider variety of treatment options, one of which are emotional support animals. Certapet.com is a great resource to learn more!

Note: This is a collaborative post
Home & Interiors

Our sitting room makeover with DFS

Over the last number of years on the blog you will have seen references and posts about our renovation project. We are so very close to completion. The final piece of this mammoth undertaking was the sitting room. We decided that this would be the last room completed. Its the first room you meet when you come in the front door and what we really wanted was a calm, relaxing, clutter free place to chill out together as a family or to entertain family and friends when they called over.  We deliberately took our time on this as we wanted it to be perfect.

Generally my house is like any home to young kids full of toys, food stains. I had the kids well warned in advance that the new sitting room would be a food free zone!  There are plenty other places to eat in the house, the sitting room just wont be one of them.  Life in the Mamma Fairy is hectic, from full time work, to school work, to kids sports/ activities and day to day living therefore quality downtime is paramount, that’s time to chat, converse and enjoy each others company. I suppose in reality the sitting room is the heart of our home. If I was on Home of the Year I would be putting the red circle here as my favourite spot.

Here a little pic of the before, there wasn’t anything wrong with it as such but it didn’t invite or encourage that vibe that I wanted to create.  The wallpaper  had got to the stage I pretty much couldn’t look at it any longer, I was so sick on my second wee man that I spent days on end staring at that while on bed rest.  The mere sight of it brings back those emotions.

The Dada Fairy is in the construction business so he is mega fussy and incredible safety conscious about all work that goes on in the house and products we buy. Quality products are of paramount importance and he knows quality when he sees it 🙂

The products

A little drumroll please……………………and here is the finished product. I love love love it, its exactly the vibe I wanted to encapsulate, calming, welcoming, soft natural tones.

Panelling

The panelling was completed by Customised Creations by John O’Shea.  We paid for this ourselves, not sponsored or gifted in anyway, we are just extremely satisfied customers. The carpenters who were on site with us were professional, discrete, and so tidy in terms of cleaning up after their days work. The spent some very long days and nights here to get finished up in time for Christmas and we are very grateful for that.  Honestly, would have no hesitation in recommending them. We have had them back since to do built in wardrobes which I will also be sharing on the blog when completed.

Sofas

I’m not sure many purchases generate as much argument debate than the purchase of the sofas in a house.  I really thought I wanted leather, thinking about the kids and cleaning the inevitable spills etc, however a visit to DFS provide a wealth of valuable information.  You can get the fabric sofas coated with a stain proof prior to delivery to overcome this very obstacle.  We fell head over heals for the Zinc collection, fitted my brief perfectly, natural tones, relaxed yet stylish.

However one of the lesser known facts about DFS sofas are that have been awarded the BSI Kitemark indicating they reach the highest possible standards and are guaranteed for 15 years.  That to me shows a dept of confidence in their brand. 15 years of bottoms on seats, of kids jumping around and they are willing to stand over their product for 15 years?? To my mind that shows trust in the quality of their brand.

DFS has was the first and only UK and Ireland furniture retailer to be certified to the BSI Kitemark™ for upholstered furniture.  The BSI Kitemark is one of the most established and  recognized symbols of quality and safety throughout the world thus giving consumers an independently verified quality seal of approval.  Interestingly as a result DFS factories will now receive annual audits to ensure this consistent high standard is met.

 

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Features

Growing your Instagram some tips and tricks from the experts

When I started out on this blogging journey back in 2015, I had no clue about any of the technology side of blogging, hosting, SEO, domain name were all foreign concepts to me. However knowing I loved to write but wanted an audience to read my writing I made a concentrated effort to further my own knowledge. There is a wealth of information available on line to help upskill in this area. For examples sites like myemma.com provide invaluable sources of information on everything from SEO, to trends in marketing and social media. You could spend days perusing the wealth of information. However key is knowing how to put it into practice.

One of the social media platforms which I admit im still very much behind the curve on is Instagram. I love it to look at and enjoy other peoples content, I do however find growing my own audience hard work.  Blogging is a hobby for me and I don’t want it to become a chore. One article from myemma.com which stood out for me was about Instagram and making it work. Did you know there are 500 million users on Instagram a day!!! That is a pretty mind blowing statistic and in equal measure its a captive audience waiting to be reached. I have been very kindly given permission to reproduce the article in question below however to see it in its home place, please see here.

A Sink or Swim look at Instagram

(credit: myemma.com)

Social media advertising has steadily grown in popularity ever since the opportunity to display promotional material on these platforms became available. It’s been a once you pop, the fun don’t stop type of trend.  But creating these targeted advertisements might be unfamiliar for many digital marketers. There are a number of complexities involved in these platforms, and it can be hard to have insight into your return on investment. That being said, the benefits to advertising on social far outweigh the negatives (as we’re sure you know). And Instagram is no exception to that rule.

500 million users log into Instagram every day. Yes—every day.

This visually-heavy platform is an immediate attention-grabber. And it’s an easy platform for consumers and brands alike to browse through thanks to its aesthetic appeal. These factors alone make it a great platform for advertising—again, not to mention the 500 million daily users.

Instagram advertising is booming, and it’s time to jump on board.

How Instagram marketing works

Instagram launched in 2010, and by 2013, the popular social media platform was acquired by Facebook. Any good social media advertiser understands the staggering benefits of Facebook ads. And that success easily transfers over to this image-focused platform.   From traditional posts to sponsored content, IG Stories and more, there are copious opportunities for marketers to take their brands to the next level through visually stunning advertisements.

And with 200 million users visiting at least one business profile every day, your brand has very tangible potential to make an impact on consumers by promoting products and services through images, videos and even long-form content.

And yes—it sells.

In fact, Instagram mobile ad revenue hit almost 7 billion in 2018. Those numbers will grow through 2019 and beyond.   Much like its parent company Facebook, marketers can create a variety of content and target it accordingly. But there’s one thing that differentiates Instagram from Facebook and other platforms—its sorting algorithm.

How does the Instagram algorithm come into play?

Instagram feeds aren’t the chronologically ordered feeds of social media past. Instead, there’s an algorithm in place that sorts and sifts through posts and accounts. This algorithm is customized to each user, putting content from real people before content from brands.

There are three key indicators that dictate how Instagram organizes a user’s feed:

  • content quality

  • personalization

  • post engagement

Let’s dive a little deeper into each so your marketing team knows what to do when setting out to create Instagram ads.

1. Focus on content quality.

Just like Google and its Facebook counterpart, the Instagram algorithm focuses heavily on content value. It won’t just promote your post because your brand posted it. Instead, the content needs to make an impact. It needs to tell a story. And it needs to drive action.

Your posts have to say something and tell a story in order for Instagram to promote it on a user’s feed.

Some users follow thousands of accounts, with hundreds of businesses included in those numbers. They don’t actually want to see all of that promotional content. Likewise, your brand shouldn’t be posting ads that are too promotional either.

Focus on answering questions or starting conversations. This gets more people—potential customers—involved, and gives your brand a better chance of scoring a top spot.

2. Personalize your Instagram ads to your audience.

This is where Instagram’s nifty native ad functionalities come in. With these Instagram advertising options, you can personalize your content to your specific audience.  And that’s important, considering consumers want more personalization when it comes to their interaction with brands. Only 22% of consumers are happy with the level of personalization they experience from brands.

Be better and give your audience what they want in the form of innovative and personalized messaging, targeting, and imagery.

3. Get your audience engaged.

The last, big-ticket factor in the Instagram marketing and advertising algorithm centers around engagement. The more people engage with your posts organically, the higher they’ll rank on a user’s feed.

Similarly, if you post an ad with high engagement, it’ll be promoted to more people and shared in a way that gets more views, drawing more eyes to your products and offers. Whether you’re using Instagram in the traditional social media marketing way, or you’re using it for paid advertisements, keep these factors in mind when it comes to content creation.

That being said, here are some more tips to develop an Instagram advertising strategy that drives results.

3 tips to boost your Instagram advertising strategy

1. Up your visual design skills.

80% of users follow at least one business account on Instagram. What’s better? 75% of users visit a website to learn more about a product or service they saw on the social media platform.  That means that your brand is already in front of your target audience. Consumers want to follow brands on social media platforms—especially Instagram.  But they’ll continue to follow you to see what visual assets you can bring to the table.

Yes, Instagram is all about the aesthetics. So you need to make sure that while your audience is there and ready to absorb your content, they’ll actually stick around to interact with it. This means you may need to invest heavily in your visual designs, or at least your design skills. Whether you’re promoting images, videos, photography, or graphics, they need to be eye-catching and engaging. There needs to be a very clear design plan in place for your designers, animators, and producers to follow.

It’s your visuals that’ll stop people in their tracks. If your ad is on a user’s feed that knows nothing about your brand, you need to grab their attention with eye-catching images and video. Yet as foundational as that sounds, this takes time, patience, and creativity.

Your first step in creating an Instagram ad is finding the right visual medium to get people interested. One brand doing a great job using eye-catching imagery in their ads—and in their Instagram strategy as a whole—is ONYGO.

The German fashion brand uses high-quality photography, enthusiastic videos, and a clear color palette to entice viewers and lead them on a fantastical journey that takes them to their website. This visual mastery immediately grabs attention and aligns the brand as a fun, flirty, and vivacious leader in millennial fashion.

ONYG) visual mastery
Image Source: Instagram

2. Make use of hashtags.

Hashtags are a very low-maintenance way to instantly boost results: Instagram posts with at least one hashtag see a 12.6% increase in engagement.

Hashtags are a vital tool in the Instagram advertiser’s arsenal. Hashtags target specific groups, conversations, and audiences. There are people who are spending their time searching for these hashtags, or that follow an individual hashtag in their main feed.

Similarly, advertisers can target these hashtags through their ads and posts. Make sure your team is utilizing hashtags in all posts. There’s a sweet spot for every brand, but it’s important that you research and come up with hashtags that makes an impact on your audience.

Another effective way to make a splash with hashtags in your Instagram ads is by creating a branded hashtag. Think about your brand, its name, and its core values. Use this research to come up with a hashtag that can accompany all of your posts and compel audiences to use it in their own posts as well.

This opens up the possibility for conversation, which brings us to the last tip to break through for Instagram advertisers.

3. Start and jump in on conversations.

Fact: 72% of users have bought a product they saw on Instagram. So if you can get your product in front of your audience, there’s almost a 75% chance that they’ll take this information and run with it. They’ll Google your brand or visit your website, and this will lead them to learn more, and then ultimately to purchase.

I’m sure you can attest to this—almost certainly you’ve seen products on Instagram and immediately wanted to buy them.

But in order to sell products, you have to have the right messaging. And in most cases, that messaging involves asking questions, starting conversations, and giving your audience something to talk and think about.

This falls in line with the part of the Instagram algorithm that focuses on engagement. Instagram wants to facilitate relationships and conversations, so use your ads to get inside the heads of your audience and get them interacting.

MeUndies effectively started a conversation with its Instagram ads. This underwear brand used its Instagram presence to eliminate stigma around underwear and make people more open to talking about it—and shopping for it online.

MeUndies instagram ads

Image Source: Instagram

Wrap up 

Whether you’re using Instagram to market more traditionally, or you’re using it for paid advertisements, you need to be aware of the complex algorithm that sorts your content. More than awareness, use our explanations and tips to use it to your advantage!

From here, focus on your visual imagery—whether that’s a photo, an animation, an illustration, or a video. Make sure to use hashtags to engage with more audience and demonstrate that you’re an approachable brand.

Then it’s time to have fun! Engage in conversations, start discussions, and use your content to create a dialogue between you and your audience. This establishes trust and lets your audience know that you’re more than just a corporate entity.

 

There is some really fantastic tips in the article above and certainly lots of food for thought, perhaps 2019 will be the year I double my Instagram following, let hope so.

Fairy Travels

Amsterdam calling in 2019

Amsterdam at night

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Back in 2015 we touched down in Amsterdam to hear the very sad new my wonderful granda had passed away. I was distraught. We departed on the next flight back to Dublin. For a long time I had a mental block about Amsterdam, about going back there. The association was tough.  However a press release popped in my inbox this week and made me think. You know something perhaps a return visit is just what I need, a closure of sorts.

I see that KLM has reached an agreement between themselves and Dublin headquartered Stobart Air which will see Stobart provide an E195 jet on an ACMI contract (aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance) for the purpose of operating up to eight flights per day from Amsterdam, including Dublin to Amsterdam. I was intrigued to read that Stobart employ over 500 people.  You might not realise that Stobart are the airline that operates the Dublin-Donegal and Dublin-Kerry Public Service Obligation (PSO) routes, on behalf of the Irish Government, under the Aer Lingus Regional brand. 

I use the Donegal – Dublin route very frequently and its incredibly convenient, for work reason we are split between Dublin and Donegal and this makes it a lot easier. Another huge plus is the view from Carrickfinn runway on departure. The runway literally disappears before your eyes! If I recall correctly it was voted the Worlds most scenic runway in 2018. That is quite the accolade.

Back to Amsterdam! I did so much research before my trip and had it all planned out, Heineken Factory, canal boat cruise, copious coffees along the canals. My youngest was only young at the time we went in 2015 so Nana very kindly offered to take him while we took my oldest, who was 3 at the time. Being the ultimate hoarder I no doubt still have all my notes.

Perhaps 2019 will be the year we pay another visit to this intriguing city. Time will tell.

 

Mamma Musings

Do Valentine’s Online This Year

heart shape

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Christmas may be well and truly in the rear-view mirror, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief that it’s completely over for another full year. However, there are still holidays and birthday throughout the year that we need to prepare for.  For those of you in relationships, the time to relax and unwind on the gift-giving front doesn’t last that long. Because, before you know it, Valentine’s Day will spring right up on you.

That’s right, the one day of the year where you have to show your significant other just how much you love them is almost here, which is why it’s time to get prepared. Obviously, there’s a certain etiquette to have depending on how long you’ve been dating, but that doesn’t mean you should start looking at the latest possible time.  Filled with ideas, buying Valentine’s gifts online is the ideal way to get ahead of the game this year, and this is why.

More Time to Prepare

Firstly it means you have more time to prepare as you’ll be able to shop around and see what’s out there. This means you’ll not only be able to find gift ideas you hadn’t thought of, but find things you’ve been looking for at a much better price. Also, if you order your gifts earlier, you won’t have that panic of them not arriving in time.

Much More Personal

Another good thing about buying cards and gifts online is that you can personalise them. This eliminates the need to spend hours sifting through card shops for that perfect message as you can type up your own, add a few nice images, and there you go. This applies to gifts as well, as you can get pretty much everything personalised, from mugs and scarves to plates, teddy bears and everything in between.

Skip the Queues

One of the biggest advantages of shopping online is that you don’t have to queue. After all, there’s nothing worse than spending hours standing in line at the card shop or gift store on a weekend, or even your lunch break. You simply just have to load up the computer, or even your phone, and get searching and then it comes straight to your door – job done.

Obviously, there are many more reasons why shopping online will help you out when it comes to buying Valentine’s gifts. But these three are key, so make sure you’re not running around looking for gifts and standing in queues this year, and get it all done early and online.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Home & Interiors

Keep your Home Warm with Stylish Heaters

keeping warm

Pic Credit: Pixabay

The last thing we want when we’re lounging around at home is to be cold, and although we can wrap up with a blanket or jumper, it’s just not the same as being wrapped up in the heat of the house.  Although we may have timed the heating to come on when we get in from work, and we’ve even popped the fire on, sometimes getting warm can be hard – especially given the harshness of the UK’s winter weather. But what about heaters?

Although you may have an image of big and bulky electric heaters that just spoil the room, you can get a wide selection of stylish heaters these days from places like Coopers of Stortford. Let us talk you through your modern-day portable heating options.

Style and Substance

Of course, the last thing you want is something hideous in your living, dining or bedroom. But today’s heaters are a long way from the historic ones you can remember. Now you’ll find them in sleek, slimline designs that resemble something of an Apple product, which sit wonderfully in the corner of your rooms just waiting to be switched on to give you that extra blast of heat.

Old School Charm

Of course, maybe your décor theme isn’t modern, which would make an Apple style sleekly designed product a bit of a no go. However, even if you’ve gone for an older style of décor in your home, you can still find a wonderful electric heater that’ll add a little bit of décor magic to your home, while also bringing that extra bit heat. You’ll discover this in stove style designs that look like old fashion fireplaces, but are on hand for that added warmth when needed.

Hidden Away

Perhaps you prefer a more minimalistic style in your home, in which case the sight of a portable heater, regardless of how sleek and slimline, is just going to stick out like a sore thumb. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept that little chill every now and then. Instead, you can opt for mini heaters that can be easily hidden away. But how you may ask, well that’s easy. These mini heaters can be plugged into the wall like an electronic air freshener, meaning it can be hidden away at all times, depending on where you’ve chosen to plug it in.

And there you have it, three quick and easy ways to add extra warmth to your rooms at all times, without affecting the look of your home.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Features

Spring Fashion – What’s Going to Be Big This Season?

lady on boat

Pic Credit: Pixabay

As the snow and ice grips the country, what better time to look ahead to the warmer, lighter months of spring? It may feel like a long way off, but spring fashion is just around the corner. If you’re hoping to get on trend and rock the latest spring 2019 fashion trends, below you’ll discover what’s set to be big this season.

Celebrate the season with neon colours

There’s a lot of colour trends kicking off the spring 2019 fashion, but neon is one of the major players. This bold trend has been kickstarted by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian in 2018 and it’s set to carry on throughout this year too. Just some of the catwalks neon has been showcased recently include Henry Holland, Naeem Khan and Christian Siriano. Basically, anything which comes in a bright, bold neon colour is what you’ll want to aim for.

This trend is also set to continue throughout the summer too so start stocking up on your neon clothing now to get ahead of the trend.

Leopard prints

Worried you might end up looking like a highlighter pen following the neon trend? Another colour scheme taking over this season is animal prints, or more specifically, leopard prints.

crochet jumper

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Animal print clothing appears to be a hit year after year and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, since 2018, it’s actually increased in popularity by a staggering 50%. All of the leading brands are joining in such as Burberry, Calvin Klein and Gucci. So, you shouldn’t have a problem stocking up your spring leopard print wardrobe.

Crotchet clothing

Now we’ve covered a couple of the colour schemes to focus on, what about the type of clothing you should be investing in? Well, crotchet style clothing is one of the biggest Spring 2019 trends to pay attention to. Creating a soft, chic beach look, crotchet style tops are especially all the rage this season. You could team crotchet clothing with a pair of spring sandals from a company such as DAMART.

So, there you have it – some of the key spring 2019 fashion trends you’ll want to keep an eye on. Whatever your usual style, you’ll easily find something to match it in the season’s latest fashions. Or, why not try something totally different and go with one of the more unique fashion trends, such as neon?

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Home & Interiors

Upgrading sash windows to keep the kids safe

Single glazed sash windows look beautiful, they are extremely elegant, and fit perfectly into a period property but they do come with a few drawbacks. These include being noisy, could, draughty, but most importantly if you have young children, extremely unsafe. In this article we will take a look at why single glazed sash windows are unsafe for children and what can be done to improve them to give you peace of mind.

Single glazed sash windows are unsafe and what to do about it

  • Thin glass is dangerous – One of the main reasons single glazed sash windows are unsafe is because of the slender glazing.
    red sash window

    Old Style Sash windows Pic Credit: Pixabay

    Originally sash windows were made with just 2.5-3mm single one glass. This was partially down to cost but just as much technology. Glass this thin breaks far too easily, if you have an original sash window with this thickness of glass it can literally be broken with a sturdy tap from any heavy object. This doesn’t have to be a hammer, something as soft as a tennis ball would be enough to break the pane easily. This normally occurs on Georgian sash windows more that are broken into several panes. The smaller panes gave rise to thinner glass which was viable. A large sheet of 2.5mm thick glass would break far too easily. For larger panes the thickness normally starts at 3mm which is still very vulnerable because of the surface area in total. If a child leant into a pane of 3mm glass firmly it would be a serious problem. So much so, it’s a legal requirement to have a minimum of 4mm glass installed into your sash.

 

  • What to do about thin glass in your sash windows – Luckily you have glazing have two obvious solutions. The first is safety laminate glass. This breaks in the same way as the windscreen on your car. So if an object strikes with enough force it will not break into many pieces, instead the sticky film in-between both panes of glass will hold everything together. Not only is this much safer because it eliminates the risk of your child cutting and seriously injuring themselves on the glazing, it also means that if they were playing a bit rough they wouldn’t be able to fall through the glass as it’s much safer.The other option is toughened glass. This process is exactly the same as the side and rear windows on your car. If struck hard enough, it will shatter into thousands of small pieces. This is a very good solution for your home, to date I haven’t seen an example of toughened glass break in a home and there are many sash windows companies installing this type of glazing that come with an excellent reputation.  To protect kids and adults alike any glazing below 800mm in height, be it sash windows or door need to be toughened or safety glass. This is a legal requirement.

 

  • Single glazed sash windows can open fullywhen a catch is undone a sash window can open fully. Normally the lower sash in most standard properties is at a height that would allow children or toddlers to climb out. This is a serious risk and it makes most parents screw sash windows shut or lock them and never open them. Since the meeting rail where the sash meet and the catch holds things closed is up high enough, that seems to be the average solution but doesn’t solve being able to safely use your window.

 

  • What you can do to remedy a sash window opening fullyThere are sash windows companies that sell security restrictors that are installed just four inches above the lower sash. This means that you can lift your sash four inches but never need to worry about the gap increasing. This makes security restrictors the ideal solution for sash windows and this upgrade isn’t all that costly either, normally in the range of £12-£18 per set. You’ll need an 8mm drill bit and a hexagonal key to install them.

 

In summary traditional sash windows are dangerous but with modern technology there’s no reason you can’t keep your windows as they do look very lovely in a period property.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post