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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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Mamma Reviews

What is Lock Bumping

Security is one of the most vital elements of any office or other business location. It’s critical for businesses to be able to deter theft and vandalism, which can have a devastating impact on their bottom line. That’s why ensuring that your locks are safe and secure should always be a top priority.   One of the first things you should do when protecting your business is to contact a reputable key and lock service. Every area of your business needs to be secure; from the front door, to the offices inside the building itself.     For many, security is a greater concern than ever before, especially since thieves and vandals are employing ever more sophisticated breaking-and-entering tactics. One of the more well-known ways that trespassers get onto private property is through the practice of lock bumping. This article will seek to inform you as to what lock bumping is, and what steps a good home or office locksmith can take to avoid it.

How Do Locks Work?

Before we can explain exactly what lock bumping is, we’ll need to discuss how exactly locks work. Of course, not all locks are the same, and some are much more secure than others. Most standard locks utilize the pin tumbler mechanism; an ancient, and very simple way of keeping locks locked without the proper key.  The lock itself is surrounded by a casing of steel or some other strong metal; inside of the casing is what is known as a plug. On one end of the key is a keyway, where the key is inserted into the plug. The plug itself has a number of holes in it (usually five or six) and inside of these holes there are key pins. The key pins are round bits of metal of various lengths; the different lengths means that they will not align without the proper key.    When the correct key is inserted, the pins will line up, pushing another set of spring-loaded pins known as driver pins upward. Once the key pins and driver pins are aligned and pushed upward by the correct key, they will no longer prevent the plug from rotating.     As you turn your key, the plug turns with it, retracting the bolt and unlocking your door. This method is used on most locks in homes or offices and is effective, safe, and secure. However, many pin tumbler locks are vulnerable to a tactic known as lock bumping.

How Lock Bumping Works

Lock bumping is one of several ways to gain access to a pin tumbler lock. Unlike other methods of lock picking, it doesn’t require much in the way of special equipment. However, lock bumpers do require a special type of key to gain access to pin tumbler locks; specifically a type of key known as a bump key. Bump keys are simply keys that, instead of having teeth like ordinary keys, have a serrated pattern of peaks and valleys that can align with the pins of a pin tumbler lock. These types of keys can be purchased, or they can simply be made by filling down the teeth on an ordinary key.    Lock bumping, utilized by professional home and office locksmiths for years, has also become popular among burglars due to its speed and ease of use. A lock bumper will usually carry several sizes of bump key; with them, they’ll be able to access many different locks.    The process for lock bumping is simple, however the bump key must be the correct size for the particular lock it’s being used to pick. Too large or too small of a bump key and the process will not be effective.

Lock bumping is also noisy, as it requires actually physically “bumping” the key in a loud way in order to effectively gain access to a business or residence. A spring is slid onto the bump key, which is then partially inserted into the keyway and turned slightly. Of course, the pins will not align and so the cylinder will not begin to rotate. However, the back of the bump key is then tapped repeatedly with a blunt object of some kind. In this way, the key pins are forcefully pushed upward. As they are spring loaded, they’ll quickly pop back down, but if the pins are aligned just right and the key is turned quickly enough, the cylinder will turn, the bolt will slide back, and the lock will be opened.     While the process might take a few tries for the bumper, this will allow most locks to be accessed fairly easily. In fact, the more expensive and high-quality the lock, the more easily it may be bumped, unless the proper countermeasures are taken.

How To Protect Yourself From Lock Bumping

While lock bumping can be used by a professional office locksmith to help you gain access to your building when you’ve forgotten your key, it can also be utilized by criminals and so you need to take proper security measures. You should ask your locksmith what they offer in the way of tamper-proof locks.    Many locks feature anti-bump features; they are often fairly simple in and of themselves. Many of them make use of additional pins; the more pins in the cylinder there are, the harder the key will be to bump.     They can also make use of specially made keys of unusual shapes and sizes; it will be more difficult for a criminal to access a lock if they don’t have the proper key blank. While most locks can be still be accessed in some way, the idea is to make your lock too difficult and inconvenient for a vandal or thief to get into. Frustrated, they’ll leave and your home or business will remain safe and secure.

Finding Anti-Bump Locks

Contact a reputable office locksmith and ask them about anti-bump and tamper proof locks. They’ll be able to make recommendations for you as to what type of lock will be most secure for your place of business. If you are in the Vancouver, Washington area, we recommend Harry’s Locksmith. They will be able to bring decades of experience with locks of all kinds to help keep your place of  business secure.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Reviews

5 Ways To Ensure You’re Working With A Reputable HVAC Company

A properly functioning HVAC system is one of the most critical features of any home. After all, if your air conditioning and heat aren’t functioning, you are likely to find yourself miserable during the hottest and coldest months of the year. That’s why it’s important to have regular diagnostics and repairs done by a reputable HVAC company.

While there are a lot of HVAC companies out there, many of them are unfortunately neither reliable nor reputable. Here are five ways you can ensure that you’re working with a reliable HVAC company:

Read Reviews

This first step may sound obvious to more tech-savvy people, but not everyone is in the habit of reading reviews before hiring an HVAC company. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to make use of social media and home maintenance resource sites to thoroughly research any company you’re thinking of employing.  Check several different websites to make sure a potential company is an established one. If they’ve been around for a while, they’re more likely to be reliable. Often, less reputable businesses disappear after a short time. Some companies, like Entek HVAC, have been in business for generations, which is a very strong indicator of their reliability.   By reading online reviews, you’ll also be able to hear from satisfied customers, who will often go into great detail about their experience. This information is invaluable when seeking an HVAC company.

Check the reviews to see if the company performs tasks in a timely manner, if they were upfront with their business dealings and did not make use of hidden charges, and ensure the staff was friendly and easy to work with. Of course, if you’ve had a great experience with your HVAC company, don’t forget to write a review of your own!

Check Credentials

HVAC systems are highly complex and require a great deal of training and expertise to work with. That’s why any reputable HVAC company will make sure its staff all come highly credentialed.   Look for certifications such as the Building Energy Assessment Professional certification from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Less reputable HVAC companies will not bother to have their employees go through the ASHRAE’s certification programs, but this means they most likely will not bring the knowledge, experience, and skills to the table that certified workers will.     You’ll also want to check if your potential HVAC company is a member of any safety organizations. Commitment to safety is of course a critical requirement for anyone working on your home. If your HVAC company is a member of ISN or a similar organization, that’s a pretty strong indicator they’re a reliable HVAC company.

Check the Paperwork

A reliable HVAC company will always be meticulous about their paperwork, working hard to ensure all the proper permits are in place before starting any job. They’ll be able to present your with any permit that you request, as well as proof of insurance, workman’s comp, and any other paperwork that’s critical to the legality of doing any necessary HVAC maintenance.  One sure way to know that a company is not reputable is if they try to avoid showing you permits and insurance paperwork; if they dodge your questions, or they try to explain to you why insurance is not required in this particular situation. A good, reputable HVAC company will always have their paperwork organized, and be ready to show it to you or any officials any time its requested.

Think About Cost

When choosing an HVAC company, the issue of money is critical. While an HVAC company’s prices shouldn’t be exorbitant, you also should be wary of opting for the cheapest one in your area. Usually, if the cost seems too good to be true, it probably is. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for, and if you settle for an ultra-cheap HVAC company, it could end up costing you thousands of dollars in avoidable repairs when you need to call in a second company to fix the mistakes the first one made.    HVAC repairs require highly trained professionals and specialized equipment. If the cost is too low, the company may be missing one or both of these critical factors. Don’t allow yourself to get scammed by an improperly equipped or trained business.

Ask About Payment

You should also establish how the company wants to be paid before any work is performed. There are certain red flags you might see from a disreputable company; for example, if they want to be paid in advance because they need to buy the proper equipment, then that’s a sure sign you’re not dealing with professionals.   While many companies will require a deposit before starting work, this isn’t the same thing as not being able to start because they don’t have enough cash on hand to buy the equipment they need.    When it comes to money, you should make sure everything is understood well in advance. A reputable company will be perfectly clear about what you owe, when you owe it, and how they prefer to be paid.

Find Out What Services the Company Offers

You may just be looking for basic maintenance and repairs, but with an HVAC unit, there’s always the possibility you’ll need more work done. There’s also the chance you may need emergency repairs at an unexpected time. Since this is often the case, you’ll want to make sure your HVAC company has a plan in place to help you.   Of course, maintenance and prevention are always the best choices when it comes to being well prepared, so look for a company that will be extra thorough in cleaning, maintaining, and repairing your heating and cooling units.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Reviews

Parenting 101: New Ways to Unwind After A Long Day

Parenting is a job that is around the clock and as a result, can be pretty demanding. Your days usually consist of high-energy kids, tidying up, meal planning, and trying to minimise the chaos. As a result, you may often find that you’re extremely tired on some days and desperately looking for a pause button. The reality that there is no visible pause button as a parent, so you have to create one of your own.  You may be reading this because you’re in dire need of some relaxation and need a few ideas on how to get it. If so, you’re in the right place as you’re going to find three ways that you can unwind after a long day below.

Bubble Bath

When looking for ways to unwind after a long day, one of the first things to consider is a bubble bath. This is a great way to unwind physically as parenting and working can be somewhat draining. In addition to this, a warm and soothing bubble bath can also give you the opportunity to clear your head and arrange your thoughts. There are so many bath products out there and all of them serve different purposes in terms of how they make you feel. Some bath products to consider trying include the Laura Mercier Crème Brulee Honey Bath, Molton Brown Delicious Rhubarb & Rose Bath & Shower Gel, Origins Ginger Bubble Bath, and Floris Rose Geranium Bath Essence. If you drink wine, you could also consider having a glass with accompanying music.

Nature Walk

For all nature loving parents out there, another idea to consider is taking a walk in nature after a long day. The good thing about this is that there are several places locally that you’re likely to find glorious park or woodlands to explore, so you don’t have to go far to do this. You could decide to sit in your garden if you have one, take a walk in the park or walk around your neighborhood.

Try New Hobbies

Finding a new hobby can be exactly what the doctor ordered. You could try meditating, yoga or even gardening. If you enjoy vaping, then you could even head to redjuice.co.uk and view the abundance of flavours which include refreshing apple, tangy citrus or e-liquids that resemble a custard tart. Either try something new, or if you have a hobby you already love, make more time for it.

Relaxing Exercises

Sometimes, the best way to unwind is by engaging yourself in relaxing exercises. There are several types that have the ability to help you relax your body as well as reduce stress levels. For starters, you could try breathing exercises for stress which you can do before exercise or before bed. To do this, make yourself comfortable and let your breath flow deep down into your belly through your nose and then slowly breath out through your mouth. Aside from breathing exercises, you can also try yoga and stretching as they can also be quite relaxing as well.

Parenting is a job that takes you through a whirlwind of emotions. It teaches you how to multitask, manage, and balance, but while learning these things, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and burnt out. However, by taking time out to unwind every day, you should find that you have time to regather yourself and start afresh.

Note: This is a collaborative post

 

Mamma Reviews

3 Reasons to Go Back to School in 2018

Have you ever thought about returning to work and getting your career back on track? What about when the kids are old enough to take care of themselves? Do you have dreams – personal dreams – that you want to achieve?

A lot of full-time moms ask themselves the same questions quite a lot, usually because they do have a lot of unfulfilled personal dreams and goals. There is no shame in having objectives you still want to reach; they don’t make you a worse mom in any way.

In most cases, the first step to take in order to achieve those objectives, whether it is a career or earning a degree – is going back to school. Fortunately, 2018 is the perfect year to return to school for several important reasons.

More Programs to Choose From

One of the best things about going back to school this year is the fact that you have more courses and programs to choose from. For starters, universities are opening their courses to more students. There are distance learning programs and online courses that you can take without having to abandon your role as a mom.

There are also schools that allow you to master specific skills. If you want to pursue a career in healthcare and help more people, for example, you can look into surgical tech schools in Oklahoma to get started.

Even better, there are hundreds of short courses and classes you can take from home. All you need is an iPad and you can learn anything from knitting to mobile app development and advanced financial management. Picking up new skills is never this easy.

More Market Opportunities

If your goal is to return to a career once the kids are older, you are on the right track too. The boom in our education system is the result of other booms happening across the market. The rapid market growth is not showing any sign of slowing down at all.

In fact, experts believe that we will continue to see this kind of growth for another five to ten years. This means you will graduate to an even better market if you start your education today. A better market means more – and better – jobs to pursue and more rewards to earn.

More Flexibility

laptop

Pic Credit: Pixabay

As mentioned before, courses and other programs now come in different forms. The surgical tech program mentioned earlier allows you to become a surgical technician in as little as 18 months. Other courses let you master specific skills and earn certifications faster. 

You can also choose not the attend classes and study online instead. Online courses offer the most flexibility for moms who want to go back to school since you can basically set your own schedules and study in your own time.

The same flexibility lets you complete any course that you choose at your own pace. Since you are multi-tasking, and you will have to put family first in most situations, having this extra flexibility in terms of time and schedules is a huge plus.

Mamma Reviews

Does Thumb-Sucking Impact Your Child’s Dental Hygiene?

child teeth

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Every parent is concerned with their child’s dental health, especially if your  child is prone to sucking his or her thumb. As far as myths go, thumb sucking is often blamed causing cavities perhaps leading to requiring braces in teenage years. However, what is the truth? Are there any real threats to kids doing this for too long?   

This article hopes to reveal all the answers. If you are in search of a great dentist Newtown, there are some knowledgeable specialists you can consult. If you are  are worried about your childs dental health, getting a check-up and routine advice is highly recommended.

Is thumb sucking bad or good?

Thumb sucking has been known to be a soothing  for kids particularly those getting through the teething process. You should also consider that your child’s baby teeth are only temporary. Their permanent ones have not yet taken root yet. This means there is little harm at this stage that can be done to your child’s teeth.

What’s more important is that kids are getting into good habits as early on as possible. So, habits that become ingrained such as thumb sucking are easier to get rid of the sooner they are stopped. However, it’s good to note that it doesn’t affect children’s baby teeth.

The issue comes when the permanent teeth start growing. Constant thumb-sucking can cause the teeth to misalign which may be an issue in the teenager years possible leading to the requirement for braces. More importantly, it can cause the way the roots form at the bottom to grow differently in an unnatural way.  

Can we switch our child to a pacifier?

Pacifiers produce a similar motion so not really recommended as being a good replacement. However, if you are worried about weaning your child off thumb-sucking, it may be easier to choose a pacifier early on. 

When is it too much?

If its happening occasionally, it most likely should be fine. However, if they are finding so much comfort from the action that they are doing it all the time, it may start to cause issues down the line.

If you ever exhibit your toddler doing it in an aggressive manner, try to intervene at this stage.

When is it good to stop?

The best time to break the habit is as soon as possible. From 2-4 years old, baby teeth start to fall out and adult ones begin to form. It’s crucial for you to keep an eye on your little one’s oral health as if they are thumb-sucking too aggressively it may be having a big impact. If you are concerned, it’s a great idea to visit the dentist and maybe even book an appointment with your paediatric dental nurse to see what they suggest.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post and if you have any concerns about your childs oral health always consult your dentist 

 

Mamma Reviews

The Golden Rules For Amassing an Antique Watch Collection

We are collectors by nature, and millions of people around the world spend their leisure time collecting various items. Collecting can be very addictive, with many people who spend their entire life building up an impressive collection, and obviously, collections like these increase in value over time. While financial gain might not be the main goal, it is nice to know that one day, your efforts could be handsomely rewarded should you ever decide to sell the collection. It might be beermats, stamps, vinyl records, or even antique watches, and with that in mind, here is some very useful information for those who are looking to start collecting antique watches.

Love to Learn

If you have decided that beautiful antique watch your partner bought you for your birthday is the start of a new passion, it makes sense to learn what you can about these precision made timepieces, and the Internet is the perfect platform for doing just that, with many websites that are dedicated to providing information about all aspects of antique watches. If you would like to browse an extensive collection of antique watches, check out https://www.kalmarantiques.com.au/, where you can find many fine examples of antique and vintage watches. The knowledge you gain will prove invaluable as time goes by, and if you are passionate about antique watches, you will naturally want to learn as much about the hobby as possible.

Define Your Focus

Antique watches are a very wide scope, and most collectors will focus on one manufacturer, or type of watch, such as fob, pocket, or wristwatch, and by defining your collection at the very outset, you are eliminating the need to look at anything else. There are many different categories of antique watches, so you need to spend some time deciding which category you will target which will get you started on a firm path.

Go With Your Emotions

Let’s be perfectly honest about this, antique watches are not cheap, and whatever items you acquire will be with you for most of your life, and for this reason, you should only invest in watches that take your fancy. There’s little point in collecting for the sake of numbers, so make sure your collection is filled with quality timepieces that strike a chord with you.

Buy The Best You Can Afford

Whenever you are in a position to add to your collection, always try to purchase something in the upper price range, and never forget that a high-priced item is likely to increase in value more than a cheaper model. Be patient when searching, and by using an online jeweller, you have access to a larger collection, and if you strike up a relationship with one, you can ask them to search for specific items on your behalf. A jeweller is much more likely to find a specific make and model than any collector, and with their help, you will always be happy with your next purchase.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Reviews

Smashers – New collectable craze!

Smashers by Zuru

Smashers Toy display

Smashers Toy display

Friday is treat day in our house if the kids are good all week at minders. I like to avoid rewarding them with sweat treats therefore toys like Smashers appeal to me! Reasonably priced yet have plenty of play with them.  We first came across Smashers on a visit to our local Smyths and the kids were intrigued!

Smashers toys

Smashers toys

Hopefully its not just  my pair but they can be so destructive! Smashers seems like the perfect toys for them! As its name suggests you quite literally smash  the ball to reveal a sports character with 100 different ones to collect across themes of Football, Rugby and Basketball.

There are lots of different products in the range from 1 pack, 3 pack up to 8 packs, in different sports themes – Rugby, basketball and football. Like most collectable products there are matching tins to stores your characters in each of the respective sports ball shapes!!

However probably most excitingly for the boys is the “Team bus” which comes in either a football or a basketball theme. It hold up to 50 characters and folds out to either a football pitch or a basketball court. Its a very clever way of making a fun use out of the storage.

I suspect with over a hundred characters to collect the Smashers will be sticking around our house for some time to come! For more on Smashers see here

Note: We were sent some Smashers to try however this in no way influences mine or the boys views
Mamma Reviews

More2Explore Adventure belt

More2Explore Adventure Belt Review

Before I had kids I used to say id never use any of those reins type product for my kids. Roll forward five years and two kids and I have a different view. My oldest is the epitome of sensible from the day he was born my second man well……he is a whole different ball game! Wild with a capital W. At 2 and a half he is not quite out of the buggy but also not quite ready to grasp that he needs to hold our hands as little Houdini can vanish very quickly. And yes I’m speaking from experience!

adventure belt in use

Adventure belt in action

Back in September we were sent the Adventure belt to review by More2Explore and I though bingo….ideal for our upcoming trip to Alvor.  We were about 1 km from the village and we decided to walk down for breakfast one morning and rather than usual buggy battle followed by “I no need hold your hand” we used the Adventure Belt, well my husband did! He is incredibly safety conscious when it comes to the kids and he thought it was fantastic compared to the traditional style reins.

Mamma Fairy Verdict

I approached this product with an open mind and ended up loving it and that’s both myself and my husband giving it a thumbs up. Littlest man used it with no complaints. Its more discreet with it being the belt type so no backpack or wrist type reins. There is a clever safety clip that little Houdini cant escape from and most of all it give the kids the sense of freedom and the parents the sense of security that they aren’t far away.  For the next few years I see this as being  suitcase staple for us.

 

 

 

 

Mamma Reviews

Brainstorm Spider Catcher Review

Spider Catcher

Pic Credit: BrainStorm Toys

I’m going to be straight up here…I am absolutely terrified of spiders. There is a now infamous story in my family about how I made (!) my dad drive 20 miles to my house to get rid of massive spider!! Such was my utterly hysterical state the poor man hoovered my apartment from top to bottom to ensure the offending creature was well and truly gone. I know its totally irrational but I cant help it. Roll forward about 15 years and I now have two amazing little men who think its wonderful to show mama every weird and wonderful creature they can find in the garden.

With our camping trip in the back of my mind when we were asked to review the BrainStorm Toys Spider Catcher I thought why not! Maybe just maybe id be brave enough to capture one (yeah right!!). The boys absolutely love this and love even more showing Mama the lovely (!) creatures they have captured.  Its actually a great item, as you can remove the offending creatures without harming them and returning them back outside.  The long arm on it means they quick literally stay arms length away.  Its really clever item.  Look  – i really despise the little things but I don’t want to harm them.  This is perfect to dispose of them out the back without having to actually touch them!

Spider Catcher in action

Spider Catcher in action

The Spider Catcher comes with a plastic spider.  My oldest man has had tonnes of fun tricking people about the spider in the house and showing them how to dispose of it! While its an incredibly practical item, my kids have had hours of fun with this one and for around €12 you cannot go wrong – fun and functional what more could you ask for!!

 

Note: We were sent the Spider Catcher for review however all view are my own or the boys where appropriate.