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Mamma Fairy

Fairy Travels

Holidays and Family celebrations – perfect combination

glasses on restaurant table

Pic Credit: Pixabay

This is a big year in the Mamma Fairy house, my parents are 40 years married and my husbands grandparents 60 years married. Added to that 2 big birthdays (ill be in trouble if I reveal their ages!) and a family wedding, not the wedding itself rather a family get together in advance.  What we really wanted to find was large group accommodation  where we could all be together but yet have our own space. Somewhere not too far away and somewhere that had the option of different activities for the range of age groups that would be attending.

conservatory

The conservatory at Charnwood Forest Estate Pic Credit: www.partyhouses.co.uk

Due to the age range we would also need somewhere child friendly and accessible friendly and if at all possible pet friendly!  I know this sounds like a seriously tall order and a  mission impossible. However no task too daunting for a travel obsessive like myself and…..(drum roll please…..)…..we found partyhouses.co.uk.

Party Houses have a range of properties available to rent catering from 12 people up to 80 plus thus making them ideal for family celebrations right up to corporate events or perhaps even weddings. For me the huge benefit is they are spacious properties allowing us to all be under the one roof yet have the luxury of some privacy. I have fallen completely in love with Charnwood Forest Estate. Have a nosey, you will not be disappointed. It is situated on  over 13 acres of land in the East Midlands. With 17 bedroom it can accommodate 48 guests, (the bedrooms – wow). For some added luxury there is an indoor spa pool, treatment suite, spa garden, and a hot tub. The sounds absolutely ideal.

It would also make a great location for a relaxed hen party or corporate team building day or night away. What I really like is that via the site you can book additional activities such as in house treatments, chauffeurs, cocktail making or even musician or entertainer hire.  The beauty of this is that you can tailor the offering to really meet the needs of the guests which can be a very important consideration when you have a group as diverse as ours.

I know people think im crazy taking on the task of organising such a mammoth gathering of getting a wide of family members together all under one roof!  We lost the main man of our household in late 2015 and since that point we have vowed to mark all the celebrations and milestone the family members reach. We have been determined to keep his wish and this for sure is what he would have done and thoroughly loved.

Family was at the heart of everything he was about and he was the backbone of our house, the glue that held us together. In the spirit of the man who was our world we will and always will maintain his wish for us to celebrate all that’s good about life. After all….”Life is not measure by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away”.

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

Top tips for helping get through the cold and flu season

You might recall earlier this year our post featuring our top tips for dealing with the summer weather with thanks to Lloyds Pharmacy. We are back again with some top tips from Lloyds on how to help with the inevitable cold and flu that comes with the advent of Autumn/ Winter. This time we have some expert insights from Denis O’Driscoll, Superintendent Pharmacist at LloydsPharmacy. Denis very kindly gave me some of his time to run through my own questions.

girl with cup of tea suffering cold and flu

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Question: I dread this time of year for the kids as its the inevitable they will pick up colds, flu’s etc. What practical tips would you advise to try to keep sickness at bay?

Answer: In the main, colds and flu are viral and self-limiting. Here are my practical tips for children and adults:

  • Maintain healthy eating and diet
  • Eat loads of vegetables and fruit
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Use a disposable tissue and dispose correctly after use
  • Wash hands after sneezing /coughing, use a hand sanitizer if necessary
  • I would also recommend visiting your local pharmacist to discuss getting the flu vaccination. The flu vaccination not only helps to protect against catching the flu, but also ensures the infection isn’t passed on.

Question: Are there any multi vitamins or supplement you would recommend?

Answer: In winter there is a need for more Vit D3 as people tend to feel tired. I would recommend a multivitamin that contains Vit D3- your sunshine vitamin and Vit B which gives energy. There are many products, but the one I am currently using myself is Revive™Active for Adults. This product is also available for children aged 5-12 and teens. Your local pharmacist is best placed to give you this advice, dependent on your child’s diet and daily activities.  In my opinion as a pharmacist and a parent, I always ensure that my children are eating healthily and they’re getting enough fruit and vegetable. If this proves difficult, I use any product with B-complex and VitD3 such as Revive for Children. This should always be taken with an antibiotic if prescribed, and I would also provide them with a probiotic.

Question: For the times we do get hit by the dreaded winter colds and flu’s what advice would you have for helping us feel better until it passes?

Answer:

  • Keep hydrated with warm drinks

    drink of hot lemon and ginger to help with cold and flu

    Pic Credit: Pixbay

  • Keep warm, and get plenty of rest
  • To manage the symptoms:
    • Sore throat lozenge and pain relief
    • Gargling salt and warm water is something to consider
    • If nose is blocked, use a recommended product or a saline nasal spray
    • Use disposable tissues. There are a number of products to help with stuffy nose and runny nose
    • Sometimes using tissues caused the nose to be a little painful so we would recommend using a little petroleum jelly or some Sudocrem™

 

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Home & Interiors

Top Tips for moving house

We have moved house 3 times over the last 10 years each a different stage, before kids, with one kid and when pregnant with our second. While im no expert I can certainly share from a practical point of view what worked for us thus making a stressful process a little easier on all involved.

  • Planning – I know this may sound like im stating the obvious but planning really is key from the outset, line up the trades, the dates, the help etc.
    House for sale sign

    Pic Credit: Pixabay

    The aim is that it will flow as seamlessly as possible.

  • Removal Company – Unless you have access to a van or lots of help you will like us most probably need to assistance of a Removal companies. The key here is to shop around, get personal recommendations if you can.  You want somebody who will pack and transport as quickly and as efficiently as is possible.
  • Charity/ Dump/ Sell –  You need to be a little ruthless when packing up. If you haven’t wore it or used it in years what are the chances you will now? Lots of options to either donate good quality clothing, dump or even use site like ebay or local deal site to sell goods.
  • Labels, labels, labels – I went a tad crazy with while labels and my sharpie, every box has labels, notes, instructions and priority rankings as I was never going to  have it all unpacked in a few hours! Slightly related also is a tip from my Dad to take a pic of the cabelling for TV’s etc as for the non techie like me, trying to piece that kind of thing back together wouldn’t be the easiest task.
  • Help! – Take all the help you can for either packing or unpacking or even making dinner until you get sorted. Particularly if moving any large furniture yourself

Ill be the first to admit moving is so stressful but hopefully with these simple tips it can make it a little easier.

 

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

The journey of a fair trade coffee bean

coffee cup

Pic Credit: Pixabay

I work full time as an Accountant, have two young kids so  life is hectic to say the least, coffee is my thing.  Its not so much that I need it (although I probably do) its my five minutes of sanctuary, its the chat in the kitchen in work. I just love it.   Recent figures revealed by the British Coffee Association (BSA) paint shows coffee consumption increasing from 70 millions cups a day in 2008 to 95 million cups a day in 2018.  Obviously coffee beans don’t grow locally in Ireland or UK, and it took a lot of manpower to get you your morning pick-me-up!

And, if you’re a fan of drinking fair trade coffee, that journey is all the more wonderful and varied. You see, the journey of a coffee bean depends on which farm it came from, the grower of the bean, and how it was processed.

Obviously, a large-scale coffee plantation will operate a lot differently from a simple (and much smaller) fair trade coffee farm. Sure, you know about the ethics surrounding fair trade coffee, the issues of pay and the treatment of workers, but it goes far beyond that. The number of workers, the use of waste water, the difference in fair trade coffee production can’t be understated. The process is more eco-friendly and more worker friendly!

As an example, CIPAC’s fair trade honey and coffee co-operative in Guatemala has in excess of 140 members working for them. It may be a remote area, but it’s a fantastic area to grow coffee all the same.  Numerous farmers here are performing a trade inherited from many family generations. There’s lots for CIPAC’s farmers to do before the beans are ready to be made into the delicious coffee we know and love. So what exactly happens on the journey from bush to mug? Let’s follow some of CIPAC’s fair trade coffee growers to find out…

Harvesting coffee beans

coffee cup with beans

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Winter is typically coffee-harvesting season for many farmers. On family-owned farms, the whole family might get involved. Coffee ripens at a slightly different time within this period, depending on the climate, the altitude, the type of soil and the variety of coffee. Some farmers even live in areas with their own microclimate, which means the coffee they produce has its own particular and quality flavour!

Throughout the season, the same coffee plant can be harvested up to two or three times over. This is because only the ripe cherries are hand-plucked from the bush to guarantee a high quality coffee. On large coffee farms, the harvesters must travel up steep hills and down into valleys to collect the cherries in a basket — which can be exhausting.

The de-pulping process

Once the coffee has been harvested, it is moved on to the farmers. This involves the harvesters often having to travel up and down hills and across rickety bridges to reach the end destination, where the cherries are de-pulped within 24 hours. While large-scale plantations use heavy machinery to quickly take off the coffee-cherry skins, farmers at CIPAC either use a small electric de-pulping machine (where the cherries are poured in the top and emerge de-pulped from the bottom) or their own energy. The coffee beans are closely inspected as they’re poured into the machine, and any beans that don’t look quite ripe enough or are too ripe are taken out.

 

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Features

Weddings, Anniversaries and more Weddings

engagement ring

Pic Credit: Pixabay

The Mamma Fairy house has been gripped by wedding fever lately. We have just hit 7 years married, my wonderful parents 40 years married and the Dada Fairy’s grandparents the remarkable achievement of 60 years married.  With my own brother about to tie the know himself, naturally the conversation has been drifting to the differences in weddings over the years form the ceremonial differences to the cost differences. Even in the 7 years since we have been married I can see a lot of differences in perceptions of weddings, certainly amongst my own friends its a lot more realistic with smaller numbers and less about the pomp and extras.

My mum and my husbands grandparents rented their wedding and bridesmaid dresses, they borrowed cars. Certainly lavish honeymoons weren’t the done thing. Its funny we got married in the height of boom time so in hindsight there was certainly some unnecessary spending on extras.

I don’t regret it one bit the day was so special. With the benefit of hindsight I have been telling my brother not to stress about the small details.

Purely for some shock value I sent him an info-graphic produced by Chill Money which looked at the cost of some of the most well know fairy tale weddings!

  • In the style of Pearse Brosnan and Keely Shay Smith I did let him know that I expected to be transported to (incidentally the same venue) in one of a fleet of 15 helicopters and round off the night watching a €34 k fire works display!
  • He knows the brides dress is bought and thats about all, im sure he almost fainted when he saw the cost of Kate Middletons stunning gown coming in at a whopping €360k.
  • He is also under no illusion ill be expecting the Kim K “glam squad” to turn me out for the day at a cool €320 per person!!!
  • We saved hard to fund our honeymoon which cost more than the wedding itself, we toured Australia, Singapore and Thailand and of anything spent on our wedding I don’t regret one penny of that. I love travel and will probably always will. They have decided to wait until the summer for their honeymoon and do some nights in nice properties around Ireland immediately afterwards. I gently pointed out somewhere like Ballyfin costing €25k a night needless to say he doesn’t agree!!!

I think they key message he is do what makes you, as in the couple happy when spending on your wedding, it is after all your day. My husbands grandparents who have just turned 60 years married who wed in a borrowed dress are no less “married” thank Kim K or Kate Middleton in the eye wateringly expensive gowns.

wedding dress pic

Pic Credit: Chill Money

 

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control
Reviews for Mama & Babas

SuperZings Series 2 – Our review

With the kids fully back to school, naturally along comes the next school yard collectable.  This term it is SuperZings series 2. My pair were already big fans of the first series so were only too delighted to get their hands on series 2.  So whats new with series 2.  Mammy is so out of touch with these things that I roped in my oldest to fill me on all the new features:

  • 80 new multi-coloured characters, each with a matching ‘rival‘
  • New hideouts
  •  New key character which for series 2 is the extremely rare and elusive  ‘Professor K’ – the inventor of ‘Krystaline’, a special substance that creates the SuperCrystal SuperZings.
    collectable toys

    Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog Some of our SuperZings collection

    There are 24 ‘SuperCrystal’ characters to collect

  • Lots of new  SuperZings vehicles  in the form of a range of SuperJets – motorbike, boat, helicopter and quad, eight to collect in a variety of different colours.
  • Ultra cool new play sets, such as the Police station, Secret lab and Kaboom Race Set

My oldest loves the excitement of getting one of the rare ones and we can excitedly report that we got one of the rare silver finish ones”Super Riff” – can you spot him in the pic opposite?!

Mamma Fairy Verdict

kids reading magazine

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

The boys love these, the highlight was the SuperZings comic which sets out all the characters and their matching rival which is a great way to keep track of the ones you have they tick them off the comic book.  The play sets will be on this years Christmas wish list, a great idea for gifts or stocking fillers. The best thing about this series is  aside from the fact they are so collectable and with the amount of them there seems to be less risk of duplicates but conversely less chance of obtaining the elusive Professor K!

This series is so pocket friendly and another plus for me is the different types of products and associated prices from the character by themselves, to one with a hideout and right up to the play set.

There is also the Super Zings website www.superzings.com with lots  more information and activities.

 

Note: We were sent some items from series 2 to try however all views are mine or the boys where appropriate.

 

Fairy Travels

Planning a Family Vacation to Asia

Taiwan night market

Pic Credit: Unsplash

Many people in the world assume that once you have children, your days of exciting international travel are over. No more hiking through lush rainforests, no more snorkeling over lively coral reefs, no more sliding down cascading waterfalls. The time for adventure is over once you have a family and instead it is time to settle down and stay within the comforts of your home, looking after the little ones. But does this really have to be the case?

Of course not! The world is filled with destinations that cater to everyone, including nomadic backpackers, romantic honeymooners, and even loving families who are in search of an adventure. Asia specifically does not discriminate against travelers with young children, and you’ll find exciting cities and beaches all throughout the continent that the entire family will enjoy. Check out what each of these countries in Asia has to offer when it comes to family-friendly getaways.

Indonesia

The island of Bali is the best spot in all of Indonesia for a family vacation. This island is safe, clean, and the locals are extremely friendly to tourists and newcomers. The tropical climate and stunning beaches make it easy to spend the entire day on the beach building sandcastles, or in the water with some snorkeling gear. The island is well-known for having tons of options for family-friendly accommodations, and lots of hotels and resorts even offer events and activities for their younger guests.

For a day away from the beach, head to the Waterbom Bali waterpark. Your children will get the chance to interact with other kids and teens from all over the world, just by waiting in line to go down the huge water slide. Parents love relaxing along the lazy river, and there are plenty of food options for the whole family to enjoy. If your kids are interested in learning about the wildlife of the island (and around the world), look no further than Bali Safari Marine Park. It will feel like you’re spending a day out on safari in Africa, and also give you and the kids a chance to learn about the indigenous land and sea creatures of Bali.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Sky line

Pic Credit: Unslpash

A trip to Hong Kong can mean many different things. Lots of travellers come here for the exciting nightlife scene, but many don’t know that Hong Kong offers a completely different vibe for family travellers. Take the kids to Hong Kong Disneyland, where they can experience a cultural twist on their favorite Disney movies and characters. Even if you have been to another Disney theme park somewhere else in the world, this is a must-see attraction for families, and it won’t feel like any other Disney experience you have had in the past. 

If your kids are open to spending time out on the water, take a ride on the famous Star Ferry. This historic form of transportation has been around since the late 1800’s, and carries a whopping 26 million passengers annually. Some of the best views of the island can be seen from the deck of the ferry. Other family-friendly spots are the Hong Kong Science Museum, the Hong Kong Park, and the site of the Big Buddha. You should also spend a day perusing the “Toy Streets”, an area completely dedicated to traditional and modern toys of the city.

The Philippines

There are hundreds of islands throughout the Philippines that are perfect for an exciting family vacay, but one of the best of these is Boracay. There is definitely a party vibe on certain parts of the island, but if you steer clear of these areas you won’t regret bringing your family here. There are activities for everyone of all ages, especially for older children who want nothing more than an adventure. The island is known for its amazing parasailing, SCUBA diving, snorkeling, and zip-lining.You can easily spend a day or two hopping between islands, hanging out on beaches with sand like powdered sugar and crystal clear waters.

Puerto Princesa in Palawan is another great family destination in the Philippines. Here you can travel through one of the longest underground rivers in the world – the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park – or just spend your days hanging out on the stunning beaches of Honda Bay. Planning your Philippines trip can be overwhelming, since there are so many family-oriented destinations to choose from. You can simplify things by checking out one of the many Philippines vacation packages available to travellers.

Singapore

Singapore is considered to be one of the best countries in Asia for family tourism, and here’s why. The entire country is culturally diverse, so no matter where you go your children will have the opportunity to learn about a brand new way of life. The people are friendly and have colorful personalities, so treat Singapore like the ultimate classroom for your children. One of the most popular tourist sites for travelling families is Sentosa, which is literally a tropical island dedicated to a wide range of outdoor activities and amusement parks. You can choose to stay on the island for a few days or plan a day trip, but many people find that one day is not long enough to experience Sentosa to the fullest.

Japan

Last but certainly not least, Japan is another great option for a culturally eye-opening experience in Asia. You and the family will get a true taste of Japanese culture just by walking the streets of Tokyo. One of the best sites here is the Tokyo Sky Tree – the tallest tower in all of Japan. Gather the entire family here for some amazing photos (even consider sending them out as Christmas cards for all of your close friends and family members to enjoy). Other attractions near or in Tokyo are Asakusa, the Imperial Palace District, and Shinjuku. For young kids, be sure to check out the Tokyo Disney theme park. You can spend just one day here, or book a room in one of the many hotels in the area for a few days of fun, hanging out with your favorite Disney princes and princesses.

Fairy Travels

The “Off the beaten track” bucket list

camera

Pic Credit: Pixabay

I met my now husband when we were (very) young teenagers and at that time we spoke about our bucket list travel destinations.  I’m thankful he loves to travel as much as me and we have been able to tick many items off that bucket list including recently Niagara Falls and as part of our honeymoon a show at the Sydney Opera House.  Next weekend we will hopefully tick another item off that list being a trip to Iceland. The icing on the cake would be to view the Northern Lights. I’m not getting my hopes up but it would be a dream come true.

This got me thinking, while many of us travel obsessives share common bucket list items like Niagara Falls or seeing the Northern Lights, what other less traditional, more obscure or “off the beaten track” bucket list items do other people have.  I decided to reach out to my fellow bloggers and see if they had any usual or obscure bucket list items.

Obscure bucket list items

First up Kate from Hitchens’ Kitchen volunteered in Africa. Herself and her dad fund raised and taught science in Ghana.  I have the utmost admiration for people who so selflessly give them time like this to others.

Next up Emma from Emma Reed wanted to get married on a beach location not expecting it to be a reality however she ended up making her dream a reality which is really lovely and not doubt incredibly memorable.

I love Terri from The Strawberry Fountain idea of 30 before 30, loving some of the items on her list she accomplished from driving an Aston Martin (mega jealous) to surving the longest zipline in the UK. Sorry Terri I just couldn’t do it. I love this idea (not the zipline!) while im a little bit post the 30 before 30 maybe I could start a 40 before 40?! Now there is an idea…..

For anybody like me who wiles away hours day dreaming about far flung destination click here for some inspiration. I’m super excited about Iceland this weekend and ill be sure to report back on whether or not I ticked the Northern Lights off my bucket list…..keep everything crossed for me…..

 

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

 

Home & Interiors

#WhatHomeIsToMe – some thoughts

I’ve been charting my renovation projects on the blog for some time, we are almost there. Its been a tough and at times incredibly stressful project but I know at the end ill have a house exactly as I want (within financial constraints of course!).  This post is was inspired by an ebook produced by Chill Home Insurance which looks at weird and wonderful home around the world.  It prompted me to think a little bit more about what home really is to me personally.  While in a material sense our newly renovated home will have all we want subject to financial constraints but is it a home?

Thinking deeper I think without the Dada Fairy and the boys im not sure the physical house could ever be a home to me.  In reality we could probably set up “home” anywhere and making our current house a home involved the combination of the physical characteristics we selected ourselves and the people we choose to share it with.  Very deep for a Sunday morning!!

grass houses in Iceland

Pic Credit: Pixabay

We are off to Iceland next weekend and one of the things that stood out to me when booking our accommodation was that huge variety of different types there were. Glass domes to hopefully view the Aurora or the grass covered or turf houses as they are known. They interestingly evolved in attempt to circumvent  the harsh climate conditions.

Chill Insurance have included many other example including closer to home in Co Louth is Dummond Tower.  Which incidentally I have just learned can be booked via Air BnB at certain times of the year. The listing gives a sneak peak into the interior of the Tower which has been restored preserving so much of the integrity of the building. The tower is accessed internally via a cut stone winding stair case. Its breath taking. It dates back to 1858 and I think there really is something special about how well this property was clearly loving restored.  I have just dropped some not so subtle hints for my Christmas present. I have always had a fascination with old properties thinking back to what might have went on there in a different time. To see how the features of the house have been preserved and stand the test of time. This is definitely a property to add to my bucket list.

Some other notable mentions in the ebook and much further field include, an 85 square meter almost transparent house in Tokyo! I have done lots of googling but apparently its location is a somewhat closely guarded secret! Or at the far end end of the design spectrum is a Flintstones inspired house in Malibu! Trust me google this you will not be disappointed!

Its no surprise that when asked the question over 60% of people said it was family that make the home. Its certainly my view too. Id love to here what the true meaning of home is to you….let me know in the comments below.

survey results on the meaning of home

The True Meaning of Home (Credit: Chill Insurance)

 

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

Four Cost Effective Lifestyle Changes to Improve Your Wellbeing

canoeing

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Being healthy and feeling good is something everyone wants in life but what many might not realize until they try to achieve this themselves, is that self-care and maintaining a lifestyle focused around their health, can actually become rather costly. From gym memberships to expensive solutions, to everyday problems, the industry around making money from honest, hard-working people, such as yourself, who are just trying to make positive changes in their lifestyle, is huge and growing still. However, taking care of yourself doesn’t need to be such a high cost affair as there are lots of ways you can make changes in your life to improve its quality without breaking the bank. In this article, you will find out some of the easy ways you can start making the positive changes you want to see in your life whilst also keeping your purse strings tight.

Learning easy ways of eating healthy while on a budget

One of the best ways you can save money while making positive changes to your lifestyle is by finding cheap and easy ideas for healthy food. A great way to start this is by doing meal planning which will mean you never buy anything unnecessary when you do the big food shop every week. This also has the added boost of being environmentally friendly as it means you will have much less food waste.

Getting the essentials of your life sorted

While it may not be the first thing you think of when talking about wellbeing in your life, but sorting out the practical essentials you need to make the day to day running of things go a bit more smoothly will have the positive effect of reducing stress and giving you peace of mind so you are able to get on with your life without any extra hassle or worry. A good place to start with this is by sorting out something needed like your car insurance and a way of making sure you are keeping the costs down in by reading a Metromile Insurance Claim review to give you insight into how to get the best coverage without having to spend too much money.

Keeping things tidy

Another way of keeping your stress levels down is by keeping things tidy, particularly if you work at a desk often. You can buy desk organizers at most stationary shops but they tend to be very expensive so, instead, why not look up how to make your own desk organizer so you can save money and have a DIY project on the go.

Making the most of the great outdoors

Gym memberships can be vastly overpriced, and many people don’t even use them regularly enough to make the most of the money they are spending on them. One cost-effective way around this is to trade in your membership card and make the most of exercising where its free. Why not go for a run in your local park or do some morning yoga practice in your back garden before work each day. This is a great alternative because you get to do it somewhere you feel comfortable.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post