A Lifestyle & Parenting Blog

Monday, 31 October 2016

A Hobbis Family Halloween

We love Halloween and this year it was made all the more special by seeing the burning of The Wicker Man at St. Fagins (National Museum of Welsh Life) on the Sunday.

Wicker Man St Fagins Cardiff, Halloween 2016

When the wicker man burns you are supposed to make a wish and the crowd were asked to scream as loudly as they could to repel evil spirits for the forthcoming year.

Caitlin at Wicker Man Burning, St. Fagins, Halloween 2016

Ieuan at Wicker Man burning, St. Fagins, Halloween 2016

Hobbis Family at Wicker Man burning, St. Fagins, Halloween 2016

I love decorating the house and the kids were on red alert for trick or treaters but this year we only had 2.  I know lots of people really don't like this tradition - particularly since it can be scary for the elderly, younger children and pets but it is nice when you find fellow Halloween enthusiasts!

2 pumpkins, Hobbis Family Halloween 2016
The Husband and kids did a great job of the pumpkins this year

Skeleton in hat and shoes, Hobbis Family Halloween 2016
Mr Bones announced he needed a holiday

Hobbis children with Nain Brooks, Halloween 2016
The kids with my mum, Kay

Ieuan in Grim Reaper fancy dress, Halloween 2016
Ieuan as the Grim Reaper

Caitlin in gothic bride fancy dress, Halloween 2016
Caitlin as a gothic bride

Linda Hobbis in Zombie Bride fancy dress, Halloween 2016
I'm a zombie bride 

Hobbis children with Taid and Nain Brooks, Halloween 2016
The kids with my parents, John and Kay.
I always think it's important to take every opportunity to celebrate the yearly events in the religious calendar or those times which were marked by rites and rituals by our Pagan forefathers.  Life goes by so fast and it's good to make some memories, isn't it?

When you're an older mum, like I am, you are very conscious of the passage of time so these times have an additional significance.

Did you celebrate Halloween?  What are the events which mean the most to you?  I'd love to know.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Time To Take Steps To Stop Your Child's Screen Time Affecting Their Education?

Many parents will be familiar with the weekly Sunday night battle to get the kids to finish off their homework.

And how many of us secretly curse ourselves for not being stricter with the screen time that has overtaken the spare time that could have been given to homework?!

It's so easy, isn't it, to see the kids happy on their gadgets whilst we do household chores or take a little precious 'me-time' but the problem is it's like entering a vacuum.  The time just goes and it's Sunday evening again.

Gadgets are so prevalent now in our, and our children's lives that parents and teachers are starting to notice a negative effect on our kids' education.

Social media is everywhere, from Facebook to Twitter and Instagram to Snapchat and we now lead our lives by connecting with each other through our social accounts. For many of us, our phones are the first thing we check in the morning and the last thing we check at night. And our kids are picking up our bad habits.

A new study conducted by the leading voucher website in the UK, My Voucher Codes, looked into the ramifications of children living their lives on social media, specifically looking at the way social media can affect education.

In the survey, entitled "Distracted To Failure" 2,500 parents were asked a number of questions based on their children’s internet usage including how long they spend each day online, whether there are any restrictions such as banned apps and whether they think that social media sites affect their child’s education.

The survey discovered that 23% of teachers feel that children in their classes don’t get enough sleep to get the most out of at school and 75% of parents feel that mobiles, tablets and gaming devices create a negative effect on their children’s education.

The survey discovered that the majority of children are spending 2-3 hours online every day, with a staggering 34% of children spending between 3-4 hours a day online.

Here are the results to the question "how long do your children spend online on mobile or tablet devices?"

• Under 1 hour a day - 0%
• 1 to 2 hours a day - 25%
• 2 to 3 hours a day 41%
• 3 to 4 hours a day 34%
• Over 5 hours a day 0%

Much of this has been blamed on the parent’s reluctance to monitor their children’s online activity especially when it comes to social media and, in fact, 38% of parents also admitted to not monitoring their children’s online activity.

When asked ‘do you restrict their time on mobile or tablet devices?’ 42% of parents said yes, while half said no and the remaining 8% said that they didn’t need to either because their children knew the rules or stopped of their own accord.

Over a third (34%) of parents stated that they removed mobile and tablet devices while their children were studying, with 16% saying that they were thinking of doing so. Half of those polled said that they did not remove mobile phones or tablets when their children were studying.

The survey went on to ask ‘do you think using mobiles, tablets or gaming devices late at night, has a negative effect on your child’s ability to concentrate in school?’ A staggering 75% of parents admitted that they felt mobiles, tablets and gaming devices created a negative effect on their children’s ability to concentrate in school, while 25% disagreed.

When it came to the question "do you think social media sites have a negative effect on your child's education", parents were split 50/50.

Commenting on the findings Chris Reilly, Managing Director of My Voucher Codes said: “It’s interesting to see that three quarters of parents feel that mobiles, tablets and gaming devices have a negative effect on their child’s education, yet half admit that they do not restrict the time that their child spends on the internet".

I think we can all agree that monitoring your child’s internet and social media usage is now more important than ever because despite benefits such as increased communication and access to information, there is also the risk of online bullying, depression caused by online altercations and exposure to inappropriate content.

Arguably we should all be setting ground rules, checking privacy settings and monitoring what our children are sharing to ensure their safety - as well as enforcing sensible amounts of screen-free time.

In fact excessive internet usage by children is becoming such an issue that the safety of children online is currently being discussed in the House of Lords and it will be interesting to see whether pressure is brought to bear on the social media giants themselves to assist parents in managing their children's online time and increasing security.

Meanwhile, I for one, certainly need to be far stricter with my kids' screen time - and as I'm sure many bloggers would agree, my own.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Keeping Your Pets Calm On Halloween & Bonfire Night

Already there are fireworks being let off late into the night and, with the anti-social bangs, you can hear dogs barking right across the village.

I can't understand why fireworks are still available for sale to the public given the risks to health and safety, particularly to our children and animals.

But, whilst we have to put up with it - and the late night explosions seem to start earlier every year, here are some things you can do to keep your pets calm, especially on the night itself.

And since it's Halloween on Monday night, there's the extra possible disturbance of trick or treaters ringing the door bell and setting pets howling or running for cover.

Animals have very acute hearing and loud noises can cause them real distress so here are some simple steps you could try.

As Kennel Club Secretary, Caroline Kisko says, “dogs can react very badly to the unfamiliar sights and sounds that are common around Halloween and Bonfire Night. Fireworks, people in costumes knocking on the door, flashes of light and other things that dogs would not normally experience can be terrifying for dogs and could result in them behaving unpredictably which could put their safety, or the safety of people, at risk."

Try to keep them indoors

In the days when we had Samson, my beloved old black and white moggie, we always made sure he was kept indoors and that the curtains were drawn. It was a little easier for us because Samson was an indoor cat anyway and it's obviously more difficult if your cat wants to go out for a loo break!

Walk your dog earlier in the day

For dogs, the simple solution is to walk them a little earlier in the day so that they can be safely indoors when the banging and flashing starts, or when people in scary costumes start turning up.

The Kennel Club advise dog owners to walk their dog before trick or treaters start their rounds and keep a firm grip on the lead as many dogs are frightened by people in costumes and could potentially react aggressively through fear.

Distract them

A special chew or some extra kitty biscuits might go some way to taking their mind off the din.  Obviously you don't want to feed your dog any chocolate from the Halloween sweet stash.  You might also need to keep pets' water bowls topped up as dogs in particular will drink more through the extra panting that results from being scared.

Create A Safety Zone

If you are having people around which will add to the noise and stress for your pet, you could bed them down in a separate room away from the hubbub.  The staff at Battersea Cats & Dogs Home suggest this could be something simple like a blanket draped over a table and to set this up so that your pet has a chance to get used to it before it needs to be used.

Try A Firework DVD or CD

The Kennel Club suggest that, in the run up to Bonfire Night, you could try playing a sound CD with firework noises or firework sound videos on Youtube at a low level to let your dog get used to the sound in the background.

Behave normally

Close the curtains and turn the television or radio up and try to behave as normally as possible to encourage your pet to do the same. Don't shout at your pet or tell them off - it's not their fault they're scared.

Ensure your pet is chipped or tagged

If they run off you'll have a far better chance of getting them back again if they have been micro-chipped and are wearing an ID tag.

Fix Broken Fences & Gates

Check that your pets can't escape from your garden if you have one. Fixing that broken fence before the festivities start might be a good idea just in case your pet makes a break for it.

Talk to your neighbours

Ask your neighbours if they are planning any parties or firework displays of their own.  That way at least you'll be prepared and could even relocate to somewhere quieter for the evening.

Talk to your vet

There are calming sprays and plug-ins that might help and it's always worth asking your vet for some advice.

With a little preparation you may be able to make Halloween and Bonfire Night less of an ordeal for your pets.

Do you have any tips for helping to keep pets calm?

Friday, 28 October 2016

New Releases, Free & Bargain Books Link-Up Week 43

How are you all this week?  We're surviving half term and it's a quiet one for us as the Husband is 'doing DIY'.  This means copious visits to Wickes and ScrewFix for things I really don't recognise and lots of demands for coffee.

We've not put the Halloween decorations up yet and I'm steeling myself for attacking the two large pumpkins we've bought to lit the way for the Trick Or Treaters.  My Halloween competitions are closed now but there's plenty still be to won on my competitions page including that Elizabeth Shaw Chocolate Hamper worth £50.

I hope you caught my recent review of "The Fabulous @50 Re-experience" by Dianna Lee Bowes.  It's a great primer for those of us in our 50's wondering how to make the most of our later years.  There are 4 signed copies to win in Dianna's giveaway too which ends on Sunday and this giveaway is open internationally.

And don't forget my new problem page here.

Happy bargain and freebie book hunting on this link.

Have a great week!

Sharing the Love of Books
Enjoy our selection of New Releases / Free & Bargain Books this week

Authors please feel free to add your own books
Readers please free to add your own finds
(any genre except erotica welcome)

This weekly link up is hosted by Beck Valley Books & these awesome book loving blogs...
 Life as Leels | IrishdaisylovesRomance | Book Babble | All Romance Reader
It's My Side of Life | Celticlady's Reviews | First Time Mommy Adventures 
Beck Valley BooksCinnamon Hollow Reviews
Miki's Hope | Nicki's Nook
Ebook Addicts | I Love Romance | Mother Distracted | Colorimetry | The Ultimate Fan Blog
Totally Addicted to Reading | 3 Partners in Shopping | Angie's Angle I Create Purty Thangs | Wishful Endings
Lynchburg Mama | LibriAmoriMieiAli - The Dragon Slayer | Wondermom WannabeDeal Sharing Aunt | Rambling Reviews 

For Pre-orders post - PRE-ORDER / genre / title /author
For New Releases post - NEW / genre / title / author
For Free Books post - FREE / genre / title / author / end date 
For Bargain Books post - SALE / price / genre / title / author / end date
(Strictly no Erotica please.  Steamy romance is fine but watch those covers people, incase any underage child is viewing it!)

Click here for this weeks awesome selection!

How To Prepare Your Kids For The Winter Weather

As soon as it comes to this time of year, it always becomes a little more worrying being a parent. Having kids is stressful at any time of year, but winter can be particularly scary. There are many reasons that parents might start to feel a little concerned in winter. One of the most obvious ones is the weather. With the days getting shorter, this is definitely something that any parent needs to think about carefully. The truth is, as a parent you need to ensure that you are doing everything to keep your children safe and warm in the winter. There is often more to this than you might imagine, so it helps to run through it all. Let’s do that now, and see if we can help to prepare your kids for the colder months.

Pic Source

Buddy Systems

Just because it is getting colder doesn’t mean that your children will be less inclined to play outside. Much of the time, it will be even more tempting, especially if snow is a possibility. When allowing your children to play outside or with other children, be sure to have some kind of buddy system in place. Using this kind of system, you can ensure that there is always someone who has their eye on your child. The last thing you want is to not be able to let them outside to play, so this is your best option most of the time. The best buddy systems also have a secret password. That way, you can be sure of your child’s safety at all times, no matter what. If your children are under eight, you should make sure that they are always supervised, regardless.

The Right Clothing

It goes without saying that clothing is always going to be a major concern when it gets to winter. Of course, one of your main tasks here is to ensure that nobody gets a chill. Keeping your kids warm can be surprisingly difficult, however. Most of all, it is about ensuring that there is plenty to layer with. Layering is the best way to make sure that your children stay warm. Of course, you should also invest in at least one good quality, thick coat for the dead of winter. But it is not just about when they are outside. You also need to ensure they are kept warm inside, particularly at night. Finding the right kids pyjamas is going to be an important part of that. Add to that slippers and possibly a hat, and they should be set. The general test for whether your child is sufficiently warm is that their hands and feet are warm. If they are, then what they are wearing is probably absolutely fine. Anything less, and you need to add another layer or two. Clothing is really important, as it can be easy for young children to get quite ill from the cold quite fast.

Pic source

Safety Kit For The Car

Just because it’s the winter months doesn’t mean you need to stop going out and having fun with your family. A great way to pass the time over a weekend or longer is to go on a road trip with the family. Of course, if you do that, you need to ensure that you properly protect the whole family. It helps in these situations to keep a safety kit in the car, for use if the worst happens. In this kit, you should have anything you might need if you break down in the snow or ice. A shovel is going to be one of your main items of importance here, for obvious reasons. It is also beneficial to have sand in the car, as this can help if the car gets stuck anywhere. Tyre chains can be a useful addition, as they can stop the car from skidding around uncontrollably. And no safety kit would be complete without an ice scraper and a flashlight. As long as you have these essentials in your car, it shouldn’t matter too much what happens. Also be sure to have extra layers for warmth. In the worst case scenario, you will at least be warm enough, and so will your children.

Pic source


Finally, a note on sunscreen. This might seem a little odd, and yet that is the very reason that it needs to be mentioned. People often entirely forget about sunscreen at this time of year. However, the fact is that the sun reflects off the snow and can actually be incredibly damaging, particularly for young skin. Make sure your children are wearing sunscreen if they play in the snow for a long time.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

My Problem Page - What Was I Asked In Week 43?

This week I'm talking about dating by text (again!), whether a man should stay 'buff' to keep a relationship and what to do when your annoying mate phones you at 2 am.

If you would like any advice, feel free to message me or pop a comment in the comment box at the end of this post. I promise to be gentle.

Here's this week's questions.

Q: Do I break off our relationship? 

From day 1 she made it clear she'd only stay around if I get buff. I am 6′4 and 170 and we have been going out for 1 year. She loves all my personal traits,but her number 1 condition is me being more macho. I want to be loved for who I am first and then work on my muscles. Her sine qua non is my buffness.

A: If there’s something you do need to develop, it’s not a six pack - it’s a backbone.
I’m guessing quite a few women will be rather amused at your ‘dilemma’ because many women are treated like this all the time - and it’s not pleasant.
My question to you is why do you want to be with a woman for whom your only value is as a living embodiment of Barbie’s boyfriend Ken?
You say you want to be loved for who you are first. I’d suggest you need to love you a little more too. Ask yourself, why am I putting up with this?
Is your girlfriend a stunner? Are you with her because you too value appearance over personality?
If so, it’s hardly surprising you’ve attracted someone who mirrors that kind of shallow attitude.
Don’t put up with being treated like an object. Tell her you’ll keep your body the way that makes you happy and if she doesn’t like it there are gyms all around the country for her to find her next trophy.

Q: My girlfriend is very insecure (she looked through my whole phone when I left it at her house) and expects me to be completely open to her about everything in my life. But when it comes to her phone, she's secretive about the people she texts. What should be my next move?

A: Well firstly you need to tell her that openness is a two way street and, whether she is insecure or not, if you are expected to report back on every contact then she should also be more forthcoming with who she is texting. 

I wonder if you have done anything to increase her insecurity - if that is really what it is. Lots of people experience a twinge of jealousy in a romantic relationship. That’s quite normal. 

Has she ever done anything apart from go through your phone - was that a one-off? Does she check up on you, phone you at work, follow you, check your receipts? These are behaviours which indicate an unhealthy jealousy. 

I wonder also if you object to feeling ‘tied down’. It is reasonable of her to want to know what you are doing within reason. If you are resentful at having to tell her then I’d suggest you might want to think about whether this is the right relationship for you. 

Q: If I like daily texts/communication from men and the new guy I'm dating is silent for 1-2 days after a date, is it time to find a new man? 

A: If frequent and probably meaningless texting is what defines a relationship for you then, yes, this one is probably not a keeper. 

Personally, having to check in every day would drive me nuts but everyone’s different. 

Perhaps he’s busy or has other stuff going on in his life. Perhaps his focus is not on relationships right now and he just wants to have fun. 

1–2 days is hardly vanishing off the planet. After a week, possibly but perhaps he doesn’t want to seem too keen. 

I do think you need to relax a bit and give him a chance. Otherwise you risk jeopardising what could be a great relationship because he won’t play the game your way. 

Why not try to find a man you can really trust so that you don’t feel so insecure if you don’t get that daily text? 

Texting proves nothing you know. It’s actions that count.

Q: Why didn't my first date in Manhattan help me get a cab after dinner when he tried to kiss me and I politely declined? 

I told him I never kiss on a first date. The date was less than two hours so I barely know him. He texted right after when I found my own cab to say he had fun and to let him know when I got home.

A: I’m not sure what the problem is here. 

The guy texted you to say he had fun and to ask you to let him know you got home safely. Perhaps he assumed you weren’t that interested when you declined to kiss him. 

And, as you say, it was less than 2 hours so he doesn’t really know you either. 

It sounds like you are trying to find a reason not to see him again - or your expectations for a first date might be a little too high. 

Chivalry is a rare thing these days and at least you got a follow up call. 

Q: My friend called me at 2 am to annoy me. How can I get back at him? 

A: Well assuming you are both older than 12, why don’t you just switch your phone off at night, block his number, change your number or change your friend. It’s not really difficult is it? 

But if you start retaliating, he will just do something else to annoy you. 

You don’t say why he does it - is he just being an idiot or have you done something to really annoy him? 

If you value the friendship, I think you need to sort this out - or find a new friend.

Q: How long should a "break" be in a relationship where she asks for a break but doesn't want a break up?
A: To be honest if someone asked me for a ‘break’, I’d assume the relationship was over.

Otherwise, giving someone “time-off” to go and sleep with other people makes a mockery of your relationship.

You don’t say why she wants a break - that is more important than deciding how long the break should be.

What ‘conditions’ will this break have? Will she be dating others and sleeping with them?

I would tell her that if she wants a break that’s fine but don’t expect to find you waiting for her when the novelty wears off.

And go and have fun yourself.

How would you have responded to these questions? I'd love to know. You can find more advice on my problem page.

All materials included in this post are intended for informational purposes only. This post/information is not intended to and should not be used to replace medical or psychiatric advice offered by physicians or other health care providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

I Got My Bright Little Sparks Crafting For Bonfire Night

On dreary autumn afternoons, a family crafting session is a great way to spend some quality time together. We love the colours of autumn and it's fun to bring back beautifully coloured leaves or shiny brown conkers from our walks.  The reds, browns and oranges make us feel all warm and cosy!

And of course these are the colours both of Halloween Pumpkins and the dancing flames of a bonfire on November 5th - which this year is on a Saturday so we can all go to our local firework display.

Armed with a box of gorgeous crafting supplies and our trusty Bostik White Glue, Glue Dots and Glitter Pens, I challenged Caitlin and Ieuan to create a firework display scene and they've been arguing about who's is the 'sparkliest' ever since!

Caitlin's bonfire features crisp autumn leaves whereas it looks suspiciously like Ieuan's sacrificed a chicken but I've learned not to challenge their artistic integrity for the sake of peace and quiet.

What I love about the Bostik products is there's no mess to clear up afterwards and the glue is strong enough to cope with paper crafting.

Glue Dots are a genius alternative to glue for little ones - simply peel off the backing and leave a blob of glue exactly where you need it.

I love autumn because you are surrounded by fabulous crafting materials - apples, pine cones, nuts and seeds, hedgerow plants like Old Man's Beard, cinnamon sticks - the list is as wide as your imagination.

And for those of you swamped by your children's craft projects and too sentimental to throw any of them away?  Simply photograph them and upload them to iCloud, Dropbox or Onedrive so you've always got a record of your kids' artistic genius, without sinking slowly under paper, card and glitter.

Happy crafting!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Making Time To Look After Yourself When Life’s Going At A Million Miles An Hour

Now, as any mother knows, when you’ve got kids, regardless of whether they’re toddlers or teenagers, life seems to go at a million miles an hour. You complete one task, such as collecting the kids from school, to immediately throw yourself into another. It’s this hectic way of life that can often lead to us mums neglecting ourselves and our health. When I say health, I’m talking about both our physical and mental health, as each is equally as important as the other.

As parents, a lot of us like to think that we are invincible and that we can rush around and leave little time for ourselves, and not feel the impact. Unfortunately, that’s not the case - if we fail to look after ourselves properly, our minds and bodies will feel the impact. So it’s of the utmost importance that even when life is busy, we make time for ourselves.

Of course, for a lot of us mums, that’s easier said than done. It’s not like we can just snap our fingers and add a couple of extra hours onto the day, is it? We might not be able to extend the day itself. However, there are ways that we can ensure that we are able to look after our mental and physical health, and keep ourselves healthy.

Get up an hour earlier

Photo from Flickr

To give yourself time to relax and unwind before the day starts, aim to get up an hour earlier. Use this hour to prepare yourself for the day. Take a shower, get dressed, and then spend some time practising meditational exercise, like yoga. Yoga offers a fantastic way to calm and relax the mind - making it more likely that you will stay calm throughout the day, and feel better for doing so.

Obviously, if you’re going to get up earlier, it’s probably a good idea to go to bed an hour earlier, so that you’re not missing out on sleep. (With a hectic schedule, you need as much sleep as you can get.) There are various apps that allow you to work out how much sleep your body needs, and also, the time that you should go to bed, to get up at a certain time.

Accept help

A mistake that many mums make is refusing to accept help. Don’t fail to accept help, let the people who care about you help you. Whether your parents want to watch your kids or a friend wants to help you clean your house, don’t be too proud to accept help. By accepting help, you will have more time to focus on yourself.

Focus on the task at hand

Image credit

Be more mindful and focus on the task at hand. For instance, while you’re hanging out the washing, don’t obsess over all of the other things that need doing. Instead, simply focus on the present - the here and now. This doesn’t just apply to housework, but to anything. For example, when you’re playing with your little one, focus purely on them and what you’re doing together.

Let your other stresses and worries slip away - you can focus on them later on. The thing is, when we obsess over stuff, it causes us to become wound up and stressed out. This isn’t good for our mental health. As being stressed can cause insomnia and can also make you more prone to conditions like depression. At times when you feel like everything is getting on top of you, stop and take ten deep breaths - inhale, wait three seconds and then exhale. Remember, aim to focus only on the task at hand and nothing else.

Take advantage of the internet

A major benefit that we have as modern mums is the internet. You see, unlike our own mothers who had to leave the house to get anything done, we have the benefit of the internet. We can order anything that we need via the internet. For instance, as well as being able to order food online for direct delivery to your door, you can order contraceptives like Yasmin online. As well as various other medications. Making it easier than ever before to put yours’ (and your family’s) health first.

Not only can we order whatever we need to online, but you can also use the internet to help to make it easier to fit exercise into your daily schedule. YouTube is an amazing resource and one that is incredibly beneficial for busy mums. As there are various tutorials for all sorts of workouts, among other things. There are even online classes and workshops for reducing stress and being more positive. The internet is the most amazing resource and makes it much easier to look after ourselves.

When you’re a parent, life can get busy. However, that’s not an excuse for failing to look after yourself.

*collaborative post

Home Maintenance Tips for Everyone

When it comes to home maintenance, a lot of things are taken for granted. We live our day-to-day lives not thinking much about how to better take care of things that value the most. And that is especially true for our homes, since we spend almost two thirds of our lives in them.

Think of it as cutting your costs and making your life more productive, and also more enjoyable. So here are the most important things to do from time to time, so that your home is always in tip-top shape.

First of all, start from the interiors. If you feel a slight breeze inside even though your windows are closed, try fixing the frames, sealing them, and changing the screens if they are broken. This might affect the heating system as well, and help your house be warmer and more pleasant.

Also, air filters in your air-conditioning need to be clean at all times, so wash them at least once a year, preferably at the end of spring, and make sure they are serviced from time to time. This may prevent allergies with your family members, as can keeping the house clean and free of insects. Make sure your extinguishers are working, and change them if you need to.

Inspect your plumbing in the house. If the water runs slowly, that is extremely easy to fix. Keep your sink clean, and use vinegar or chemicals when you need to clean kitchen sink disposal. Your range hood filters also need to be free from grease.

If there is a space in your house that you do not use regularly, make sure to run water there every month or two. This also includes flushing the toilet in the room. For water to be soft and not harmful to your body, use salt and add it at least once a month.

At least twice a year give your home a full treatment – a whole weekend of dusting, mopping and vacuum cleaning. Pay special attention to refrigerator coils, as when they are clean, your fridge runs more smoothly and spends least energy.

At this point you could also remember to pay attention to the exterior. If everything seems to be in order, check exterior drainage and clean the gutters. Clean the garage, it is usually full of things we do not need in the house, so we easily lose track of what is inside it. As soon as it is done, focus on the plants.

Any trees you might have around your house should not interfere with electrical cables, and also, trim your garden fence and you will get rid of unnecessary dead plants. This will not only help house exterior look better, but it will also prevent weed from growing between the bricks or in small cracks around the house.

Roof is another important thing on your check-list, as it needs to be free of damage, cracks, holes and leaks at all times. Chimney is also important to keep clean, as it keeps your house safe from all the harmful effects of gases. Check it at least once a year.

Then comes the patio, which usually does not require more than a solid wash every now and then The pool requires more attention, so check your Onga or Davey pool pumps (check this page if you want to buy some good ones) for damage once in a while. Finish with driveway for cracks, and then your to-do list of things to keep your house in good order is done.

With these tips, you will be ready to tackle most troublesome home issues without even calling a handyman!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Are You Britain's Most Fruitful Family - Share Your Life Hacks With Nature's Finest To Win £1000

We are all getting busier and busier and I find that there seems to be much fewer hours to get things done once the clocks go back (30th October at 2 am - don't forget!).

As busy parents it's good to have some tricks up your sleeve to get things done in double quick time, especially if you're juggling work commitments with the kids' social life and after school activities.

And getting things done quicker means more time to spend together as a family.

Nature's Finest, who make a variety of tasty potted fruits in juice are searching for Britain's Most Fruitful Family in a fabulous competition they are running on their Facebook page.

They recognise that family time is precious, but with parents often exhausted at the end of a working day and children focused on gadgets we forget to spend just five minutes together. So Nature’s Finest is on a mission to find and champion families who use simple solutions or life hacks to ensure time is spent together.

To enter the competition, families are being asked to send in the life hacks that help them to spend more time together as a family, encouraging others to try the same and embrace a fruit-ful lifestyle.

Inspired by the brand itself, Nature’s Finest offers a variety of tasty Potted fruit only in juice, with no added sugar. Making eating fruit on the go or at home a simple and easy task.

The competition runs from 24th October through to 28th November and the winning family with the best life hack will receive £1,000 worth of Sainsbury’s vouchers – ideal just before Christmas when food shopping bills get bigger.

Just leave your brilliant lifehack in the comments box on the Facebook competition post.

 So how do we save time in the Hobbis household?  Here's my 5 top tips.

* Invest in a slow cooker

Yes there's still a little prep time to make a warming beef stew or a veggie curry but there's nothing better than coming home to a hot meal that's just waiting to be dished up.

*Write out a weekly meal plan

If you can discipline yourself to do this you'll find you won't be hit by the 4 pm angst when you remember you're supposed to throw something together for tea.

Plus having a meal plan streamlines shopping, reduces your bills because you won't impulse buy and allows you to make better use of leftovers.

*Prepare lunchboxes the night before

You can bet the morning you're rushing to prepare a lunchbox is the time you'll discover muddy school uniform and need to get the iron out!

Make things easier by prepping the night before and sticking the whole lot in the fridge to keep cool.  A Nature's Finest Fruit Pot makes a healthier snack / pud to slip in as well.

*Delegate some chores to the kids

There's no reason why kids can't lay a table, put shopping away or (at a sensible age) help with basic chopping and food preparation. I used to peel the potatoes for mum when I got home from school.

*Agree a sensible switch off time for gadgets

We know that we are supposed to turn off our gadgets at least an hour before turning in for the night so having a set switch off time means you have a few more precious moments to read stories, talk about your day and just cuddle.

*Have a homework timetable

If you can it's good to have a designated quiet area for your kids to do their homework.  No TV, no music and no gadgets! It's also worth drawing up a basic homework timetable with the kids so that nothing gets forgotten.

This means checking their school bags when they get home on Friday afternoon because you can bet something will be remembered at 4 pm on Sunday.

You could also incentivise sticking to the timetable by offering a family treat as a reward.  Depending on your budget this could be a meal out, a trip to the cinema, a walk to the park, a movie night at home or even playing a board game altogether. The point is to ensure more quality time together as a family.

I hope I've given you a few ideas and please take a look at the Nature's Finest Competition.  I'm looking forward to learning more tips and tricks to make life just that little bit easier!

The Nature’s Finest product range includes: Peach, Tropical Fruit Salad, Mango, Pineapple and Mandarin in individual posts and sharing pots including Mango, Mandarin, Tropical Fruit Salad, Prunes, Peach, Pear, Pineapple.  There are also larger fridge packs in Peach, Pear, Pear with Peach and Pineapple, Prunes and Tropical Fruit Salad.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Angry Birds or Pigs? Who'll Win The #FrubesMoves Challenge?

Frubes, the largest portable yogurt brand has joined forces with The Angry Birds to celebrate the must-see family film of the year - The Angry Birds Movie.

Not only is there an on-pack promotion which gives you the chance to win a whole host of Angry Bird merchandise in a weekly draw, there is a grand prize of a fabulous holiday for four to spend six nights in the Bahamas up for grabs too. The competition ends on 31st of October so you'll need to get Frubes-Moving!

And to add to the fun, there is a great on-line game which involves a dance-off between the birds and those naughty pigs.

You simply choose a character and a style of music and you can challenge your friends and family to finally settle the question of who reigns supreme - birds or pigs?

Why not have a go at angrybirds.frubes.co.uk.

Frubes challenged us to show off our best FrubesMoves and get the kids dancing.  Caitin and Ieuan love to dance and I think it's an excellent way of getting kids to exercise in a fun way and to show off their creativity. There's something about dance that unites people and lifts the spirit, even if you've got two left feet.

Caitlin has been studying ballet for the past three years and is taking her Grade 3 Royal Academy of Dance exam in November. Ieuan has his own unique set of moves too (rather reminiscent of a funky chicken in places rather than a bird or a pig).

Frubes are tasty squeezable yoghurt tubes which can also help by providing vitamin D and calcium to build strong bones. They come in strawberry, red berry, peach and banana flavours and are ideal to add to a lunchbox or to give as a snack. You can find Frubes in all leading supermarkets priced around £2.

So who would you support birds or pigs?  Do you have some funky FrubesMoves?

"This post is an entry for BritMums' #FrubesMoves Linky Challenge, sponsored by Frubes."

My Problem Page - What Was I Asked In Week 42?

This week I'm talking about dating by text, trouble with solar panels and what to do when your glasses don't fit. A pretty mixed bag, as I'm sure you'll agree.  Sometimes though, it's the smallest things that cause us the biggest problems and all we really need is someone to listen to  us.

If you would like any advice, feel free to message me or pop a comment in the comment box at the end of this post. I promise to be gentle.

Here's just some of the questions I've been asked this week.

Q: I found out my boyfriend is still friends with the girl he cheated on me with. What should I do? 

He cheated on me with her 3 years ago. I saw on the home screen of his phone that they were messaging via Facebook. I didn't snoop but I've found out that they have recently become Facebook friends again.

A: It sounds like they are both still in touch and given that he has already broken your trust once with this girl, I wonder why you have not confronted him about it. Unfortunately by taking him back, you basically gave him the green light to cheat on you again.

There are those who would say that you did right to give him another chance and that people do change. I’m with the other school of thought that says a leopard never changes his spots.

You need to ask him exactly what’s going on - otherwise he’s just playing you for a fool. When you took him back, did you do so on the condition that he broke all contact with this girl? I certainly would have done. And I’d certainly be asking him quite a few blunt questions now.

Q: Is he just not that into me if he isn't pursuing me strongly after 5 dates or is it normal to wait hours/days for him text and ask me out each time?

A: What do you mean by ‘pursuing you strongly’? If he’s texting you and asking you out for further dates then he is ‘into you’.

If you become obsessed by a timetable - by date 6 he must have declared his love, by date 9 he must have bought me jewellery, by date 12 we should be moving in together……. you sending him running for the hills. Try to relax.

I’m assuming he has a life of his own and needy isn’t attractive you know. 5 dates is very early days and you sound like you have spent most of that time glued to your phone waiting for it to ring or bleep.

Think smart, sassy and independent. Make him chase you. That way you will keep his interest.

Q: Can a high frequency noise from my neighbor's solar panel inverter cause permanent ear damage?

It is about 15-20 feet from my room and I can now hear almost the same high frequency noise at night even though the noise is not there (tinnitus). The solar panel system of the neighbor was activated about 4 days ago.

A: It’s unlikely. I have tinnitus and I know that stress makes it worse so in your shoes if I were worrying 24/7 about the panels, it would make me more sensitive to noise.

All you can do in this situation is talk to your neighbour and see if there is anything that can be done to reduce your exposure to the noise. Loft insulation? Sound proofing panels?

Did your neighbour have to have planning permission to install these solar panels? I’m assuming these are domestic panels?

I’m not sure if you’re in the UK but noise pollution can be reported to your local authority and there may be something they can do to help.

I’d advise trying to get your neighbour on side first rather than starting a dispute. You might be able to come up with a solution between you. A bit of positive action is needed here rather than stewing angrily about the din. 

Q: How do I relieve irritation that my eyeglasses cause to the area behind my ears?

A: It sounds as if you need to return to your optician to have the glasses fitted properly. They may be too tight.

An optician will be able to warm a plastic frame slightly to bend it into a more comfortable shape.

If you have a metal frame, it is possible you are allergic to the material they are made from (e.g. nickel). However, a poor fit is the most likely reason you are uncomfortable.

While you are waiting to see the optician, get some lightly medicated cream such as a hydrocortisone cream and apply lightly to help with the irritation.

Also, are you showering and not drying behind your ears properly? That might also irritate your ears.

Q: My girlfriend is not friends with someone she had an argument with, but I want to be friends with her. Is this ok?

A: The mature answer would be, yes of course it is OK for you to be friends with her. 

The realistic answer is no it’s not OK if you want to keep your girlfriend. It also depends on what the argument was about. 

I think most girlfriends would expect their boyfriend to take their side in an argument rather than their friend. 

If it was a silly argument and likely to blow over, I’d just keep quiet until things calm down. If it’s a serious rift then you have some thinking to do about where your loyalties lie because it sounds as if you will have to choose between the pair of them. 

This isn’t particularly grown up behaviour, as I have said, but I’m also interested that you seem more interested in taking the friend’s side. The argument wasn’t about you was it? 

You need decide whether you want to keep your girlfriend or whether being free to pursue your friendships is more important. And there’s no easy answer to that one.

Q: Is it time to move on if he hasn't contacted me 2 days after our last date? 

We have been dating a month and he never texted much but I guess my feelings are growing. Since he is texting less after spending more time, I am guessing it’s time to move on? If he was into me wouldn’t he text and ask to see me soon? I am big into communication, are we not compatible?

A: The only way you will find out is by asking him. 

You cannot have a relationship ‘by text’ - and if you are, I’d suggest it’s not a real relationship in any case - particularly if you are no longer teenagers. 

A month is nothing in terms of time to be dating. You are still getting to know each other whereas it sounds as if you have a wedding planned already. 

Have you considered he might actually be busy, or have things going on in his life that don’t involve you? If you don’t know what is going on with him then you haven’t learned much about him in the last month. 

Rather than playing ‘text’ tennis, why don’t you talk to him, get to know him and see if you want a longer term relationship. 

People don’t stick to a ‘texting’ schedule. Some people hate mobile phones and would prefer the good old fashioned method of communication - talking. 

You say you are “big into communication” - what you are actually saying is that you expect him to stick to your schedule. Can I gently suggest that’s a little bit controlling? 

Calm down, take a breath and stop obsessing. If he’s interested he will call but it is 2016 - you don’t have to wait for him to make all the moves. 

The only way you will find out if you are compatible is to put the phone down and spend time with him.

How would you have responded to these questions? I'd love to know. You can find more advice on my problem page here.

All materials included in this post are intended for informational purposes only. This post/information is not intended to and should not be used to replace medical or psychiatric advice offered by physicians or other health care providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom.


Friday, 21 October 2016

4 Things To Remember When Travelling With Kids

Any parent will tell you that travelling with kids can be a challenge. However, there are a number of ways you can ensure your journey is as smooth and fuss-free as possible.

Here are four things to remember when you’re making a trip with your youngsters in tow.

1. Put their health first

Your child’s well-being is a huge priority, especially when you’re about to embark on a big journey. So aside from making sure their overall health is in check ahead of your trip, it’s vital that you consider the other risks too.

For example, depending on where you’re travelling to, you and your brood may need to get vaccinated. These injections are designed to protect you from contracting a serious or even life-threatening disease while you’re away, so it’s crucial to find out which jabs you might need.

Most injections, such as the typhoid vaccine, are administered as a single jab, however there are others that are made up of several injections over a period of several weeks, so it’s important that you leave enough time for you and your family to get this done ahead of your departure date.

It’s also important that you don’t forget to pack any medicine you might need for your kids, in addition to medical essentials like plasters, antiseptic wipes, insect bite cream and a travel sized thermometer.

2. Pack lots of activities

Keeping your kids occupied is key, so don’t forget to pack lots of fun activities. From colouring books and crayons to portable games consoles, there is an array of travel-friendly activities for your little ones to enjoy during the journey.

If you’re hopping on a plane, you might find that the in-flight entertainment is enough to keep your youngsters amused, while a fully charged tablet packed full of their favourite films, TV shows and apps might be more suitable if you’re travelling by car.

3. Dress them for comfort

Comfort is key while you’re travelling, so it’s important that your children are dressed appropriately. The temperature on planes can vary, so if you’re taking a flight, it’s a good idea to dress them in thin layers that can be added or removed depending how warm or chilly they feel.

If you know the journey is going to be long, avoid putting your kids in restrictive clothing, such as jeans. Also, ditch lace-up shoes in favour of slip-ons or footwear with Velcro fastenings. Aside from being more comfortable for your little ones, this will save you a lot of time and hassle when you arrive at airport security.

4. Relax!

Although you may feel tense at the thought of travelling with your little ones, it’s important that you try to relax. Your kids are more likely to kick up a fuss if you’re acting tense, so to keep any potential meltdowns at bay, the best thing you can do is to remain cool, calm and collected.

What's your best tip for travelling comfortably with the kids?

Remedies To Try When Your Children Are Under The Weather

From cuts and scrapes to bruising and bloody knees, roaming toddlers and active children often end up with a few of these! On top of that you may have to deal with insect bites, upset tummies, headaches, and general coughs and colds.

Here are some remedies for minor aches and ailments that might just be useful for your children to ease you little ones' pain.

Image credit:  Pixabay

Scratchy Sore Throats

Even as adults, when we get a sore throat it can feel like someone is scratching away inside our mouth, so imagine how horrible it is for kids. To ease a sore throat the natural way, try using lemon and honey. Honey is great for soothing soreness and lemon acts quickly to dry up congestion. Try a tablespoon of honey on its own or mix together a spoonful of each and heat in the microwave for 20 seconds until lukewarm. Please remember though to not give honey to children under a year old.

Image credit: Pixabay

Insect Bites

For small insect bites, you can try over the counter medicine or opt for a natural remedy. Both coconut oil and baking soda are both known to stop that annoying itchy feeling. And the fewer times kids scratch the bites, the less likely they are to get infected. If you are using coconut oil, simply rub it onto bites. If you are using baking soda, mix a teaspoon with water to make a thick paste and then apply it to the bite. Baking soda is alkaline, and therefore it cancels out the acidic swelling that bites cause.

Image credit: Pixabay

Online Doctor

If your child has a minor illness such as diarrhea, a cold, sore throat or a fever, you may want to invest in the services of an online doctor. This works well if you are busy at work, the surgery is closed, or you cannot secure an appointment that day with your local doctor. Online doctors enable you to consult a GP, ask medical questions and even send photos of the issue your child has. This is a good way to get advice and give you peace of mind. Online Doctor subscriptions also enable you to keep a password protected clinical record of all your child’s current and past medications.


If your child has a one off nosebleed, you can try treating the bleed with cayenne pepper spice. It sounds like it might burn, but it doesn’t! Cayenne pepper is a spice that acts to clot blood. If your child has a nosebleed get them to hold their head upright and then carefully pinch the nostrils together for a few minutes. Then, using a cotton ball, dab the inside of the nose with the spice where the bleed has occurred. You can also put a teaspoon of cayenne pepper into a glass of water and get the to drink this too. However, if your child has frequent nosebleeds, pleased do go and get checked by the doctor for any underlying conditions.

New Releases, Free & Bargain Books Link-up Week 42

How are you all this week?  The kids break up for half term today so we're planning lots of Halloween themed activities.

Talking of  Halloween I hope you've checked out my great Halloween competitions (UK entries only though) on my competitions page and there are some really great prizes to win - including chocolate!.

I hope you caught my review of "The Fabulous @50 Re-experience" by Dianna Lee Bowes.  It's a great primer for those of us in our 50's wondering how to make the most of our later years.  There are 4 signed copies to win in Dianna's giveaway too.

And don't forget my new problem page here.

Happy bargain and freebie book hunting on this link.

Have a great week!

Sharing the Love of Books
Enjoy our selection of New Releases / Free & Bargain Books this week

Authors please feel free to add your own books
Readers please free to add your own finds
(any genre except erotica welcome)

This weekly link up is hosted by Beck Valley Books & these awesome book loving blogs...
 Life as Leels | IrishdaisylovesRomance | Book Babble | All Romance Reader
It's My Side of Life | Celticlady's Reviews | First Time Mommy Adventures 
Beck Valley BooksCinnamon Hollow Reviews
Miki's Hope | Nicki's Nook
Ebook Addicts | I Love Romance | Mother Distracted | Colorimetry | The Ultimate Fan Blog
Totally Addicted to Reading | 3 Partners in Shopping | Angie's Angle I Create Purty Thangs | Wishful Endings
Lynchburg Mama | LibriAmoriMieiAli - The Dragon Slayer | Wondermom WannabeDeal Sharing Aunt | Rambling Reviews 

For Pre-orders post - PRE-ORDER / genre / title /author
For New Releases post - NEW / genre / title / author
For Free Books post - FREE / genre / title / author / end date 
For Bargain Books post - SALE / price / genre / title / author / end date
(Strictly no Erotica please.  Steamy romance is fine but watch those covers people, incase any underage child is viewing it!)

Click here for this weeks awesome selection!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Win 5 Classic Film DVDs From the Exclusive HMV Collection [closed]

I have yet another treat for film buffs - 5 fabulous classic film DVDs to give away.

The HMV Premium Blu-ray Collection, exclusive to HMV, contains special editions of sci-fi classics Logan’s Run, Soylent Green, Forbidden Planet, Them!, The Omega Man; horror classic The Shining; horror comedies Gremlins 2 and Little Shop of Horrors; and classic dramas Diner and All The President’s Men.

These come to Blu-ray® in the UK in these special editions for the first time from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

These beautifully packaged combo packs (featuring Blu-ray and DVD discs as well as digital download) include director’s cuts and extended cuts never seen before on Blu-ray. Each title is packed with extras and comes with a set of highly collectable film cards .

The 10 titles (£14.99 RRP each) are available to buy exclusively at HMV, right now and I have 5 of these for one lucky winner who will receive:-

The Omega Man
All the Presidents Men
Logan's Run

Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget.  UK entrants only and additional terms and conditions apply to this giveaway which are to be found on my competitions page.

The giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Wednesday 9th November.

Perfect for cold wintery evenings!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

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