Monday, 6 July 2015

10 Tips For Family Camping

This post first featured on my blog in 2013. We have camped a fair bit since then so I thought I would update the post and share it again.

We are currently in the process of booking a camping break for the summer holidays and I think my mum might even join us for a few days. We are thinking of the Peak District, its not too far away but plenty far enough to feel like a holiday. It is also very pretty and had cakes named after its towns. What isn't to love about that?

1.  Choosing your site - We spend yonks looking for good sites. We prefer rural farmers sites as opposed to holiday camp-sites. UK Campsite is great for looking at facilities, sites by area and reviews. It also tells you how many pitches the site has. If there are more than 30 we are not usually interested. We look for things like location to activities, pubs and shops and also whether they accept group bookings from single sex young groups. No group bookings tends to means a quieter site.

2.  Flat pumps - flip flips might be fine in the day but not so great in the night when you need to make a toilet run and have socks on and the grass is dewy.

3.  An umbrella - for night time toilet stops in the rain.

4.  Entertainment for the children- both outdoor and inside tent activities so you have something for all weather. We have a football, cricket set, Frisbee, crayons, books, top trumps and toy cars. 

5.  Carrier bags- for dirty clothes, sandy clothing, rubbish, keeping clothes dry in shower rooms and general emergencies. Large reusable bags also work really well. If your shower floor is wet and dirty and there are limited dry areas then you can stand in your large bag for life to get dressed.

6.  Plan a meal - think about what time of the day you will arrive. Add on an hour or so to allow you to erect your tent and get everything set up. Cook something at home so that all you need to do is reheat it. It will save you rushing to get set up and find somewhere to eat or a shop as soon as you get there. Or choose a camp-site near the chippy!

7.  Single air beds - even if you are camping with a partner I would recommend buying two single air beds rather than a double. With a double you feel every movement your sleeping partner makes. You can keep the air beds together with a fitted double sheet. It also means that in the event of a puncture only one of you is sleeping on the floor as opposed to both of you.

8.  Fleece blankets - if you are sleeping on air bed you need to break up the cold air in the bed with layers of blankets. One between the tent floor and the air bed and another between the air bed and you should do the trick.

9.  Ignore the children's bedtime routine - the sooner you accept that bedtime is out the window for your camping trip the sooner you will stop feeling stressed on an evening and start enjoying the extra time with the children. They will drop somewhere and at some point in time.

10. Keep Doors Closed -  You wouldn't stay at home and leave all the doors wide open so try not to do the same when you camping (unless it is really really hot). Leaving doors open to bedroom areas not only lets bugs and creepy crawlies in, it also lets the warm air out and the cold air in. If you are having to go to sleep in a freezing cold then then you are going to have a bad night sleep. We usually keep the bedrooms closed all day and close off the living area around tea time. It helps us to keep the tent a nice temperature for sleeping.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Babies & Blankets

I have no idea what went on with everyone towards the end of last year but there seem to be an awful lot of baby announcements at the moment. A little baby boom is going on around me and it is very exciting. All the lovely joy of cuddles but none on pregnancy gripes or sleepless nights.

I don't seem to be able to resist making a blanket for an expected baby. Due to this I seem to have a production line of blankets this year.

BLANKET NUMBER 1 - Spiderman

The first blanket isn't really for a baby. He is my "baby" though. At the beginning of the year Munchie put in his request for his own blanket. He wanted a spiderman blanket. Thankfully I had seen a pattern for a 12 pointed star and I knew that it would work well as a spider man blanket with red and blue wool and some black added for the "web".

Its amazing how quick you can make a blanket when you have a 3 year old asking "is my blanket finished yet" every day (sometimes several times a day). 

It was very cute seeing him so excited for his blanket to be finished. Whenever I changed colour on the blanket he would dash off with it and test it out for size. When it was almost finished he stole it to take to bed for the night. I had to pinch it back from him when he was asleep to finish it. 

I tucked him back up in bed with it ready for him to wake up to it finished in the morning. 

The wool is Wendy Aran with Wool and cost me around £20.00 in wool. I made it much bigger than he is to last him a few years hopefully.

BLANKET NUMBER 2 - A Baby Boys Blanket

Next up is a cosy stripe blanket for a little baby boy a work colleague had. This has been worked with the remnants of Mr C's Christmas gift blanket and so hasn't cost me any further money at all. I do like a "free" project. 

BLANKET NUMBER 2 - A Unisex Baby Blanket

I still have plenty of remnants, mostly Stylecraft Special DK in a range of colours. With still more babies due, (2 surprises and 1 girl) I hoped that by balancing a selection of pinks and blues in with the lilacs, yellows and greens would hopefully make a fairly unisex blanket. We now know that this blanket is for a baby girl, my second little niece. 

This blanket is being made by using brightly coloured circles and then turning them into squares as I join them with white wool. Due to the leftover wool there is no order to the circles and no specific number of each colour. It all depends on how much of each colour I had left.

Projects that are portable are definitely a huge bonus for me. I can pack a few small bits of wool and spend a lunch break making circles in a coffee shop. If I needed to carry a whole blanket around then it is much less likely to get worked on. 

I must confess I am having a rather large wibble over this blanket. I really really want to keep it for myself. 

I have a lacy border planned for the blanket but I do not want to share too many pictures of it before it has been gifted to its owner.

BLANKET NUMBER 4 - Peek A Boo Girls Blanket

The other baby blanket currently on my hook is another Cherry Heart Peek A Boo blanket in lilac. I hoped the lilac was fairly unisex. For the border, I have pink on hand if its a little girl and blue and yellow on hand if it is a boy. Hopefully I can whizz a border onto it once I know more. 

I really do love this pattern. It is so simple, a perfect pram sized blanket and costs around £10-12 depending on your wool choice.  

This one is made with Wendy Peter Pan DK

It seems just as one blanket is finished another baby arrival is announced. I hope there isnt something in the water!

Monday, 29 June 2015

I Appear To Almost Like Running

One of the many posts I promised to share with you all was my current running pledge to myself. I have started the NHS couch to 5km running programme and I am determined to finish it. 

Around 8/9 weeks ago I decided to join a friend who was trying the NHS Couch to 5km app. She lives in Nigeria so we are not running together but we are trying to spur each other on, check that each other is running when they are supposed to and generally keeping each other in check. She is very good at giving me a kick up the bum when I need it. 

The timing also coincided with me joining weight watchers and also with us investing in a treadmill.

Mr C and I were both finding that the children were a large reason for us missing work outs. We both want to exercise but we are both keen to avoid missing time with the children. We preferred to run when they were in bed. However, with each of us having our own social lives finding time to exercise out of the house was limited. We sat down and worked out that if we could exercise at home when the boys were in bed and the other adult was out then this would be ideal. A running machine seemed the answer.

So, armed with my couch to 5km app and a new (to us) treadmill, off I went. I really had no excuses now. I could exercise at any time.  If the boys are in bed or watching TV or during that lazy part of the morning when people just potter around and don’t achieve much at all. These are all now opportunities to exercise.

I wont lie, the programme is HARD. But, it is achievable. If you told me 8/9 weeks ago that I would be running for 25 minutes by now then I really would not have believed you. All those weeks ago I could barely manage the 60 second runs that the programme coached me through let alone believe I could run for longer. Every single run of every single week has been a task, and taken all of my effort to finish each run. 

But I made it and was still sort of smiling by the end of it. 

Every time I have faced a new week I have been convinced that I would not make it through the run. But I am still standing. The programme is designed to take 9 weeks. I have taken slightly longer as I really struggled with a few in the middle runs so I just repeated them.  

I am currently on week 7 of the programme. There is no way I will reach 5km by the end of the programme but at least I will hopefully be running for 30 minutes solid, 3 times a week. My “run” may be very very slow but it is a start. I can then work on my speed. There are further apps from the NHS to focus on distance/speed or just to maintain what I have achieved so far. 

If you are tempted to start running I would really recommend the app to get you started. It really does seem to work and push you just enough to make progress.

As hard as I have found the programme, I am slowly starting to enjoy it. Not so much the actual running but the regular need to exercise, the 30 minutes peace and quiet to myself in the garage on the running machine. There has even been the odd day when the children are being particularly testing that I have taken myself off to the treadmill to burn off the days frustrations.

Some mornings I am up before everyone and have 2 sleepy children come tottering into the garage to wish me good morning. Other evenings I am on the treadmill while the dinner is in the oven and Mr C is collecting children from the school run. They decamp in the garage with their after school snacks and tell me about their days. 

Hopefully I will be back in a few more weeks to celebrate completing the programme.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Lost In The Blogger Bermuda Triangle

I have been a very bad blogger of late. I have only made a handful of posts so far this year. If you discount Silent Sunday and sponsored posts I suspect you can count on one hand the ”organic” posts. 
Many of these have been triggered by specific events, birthdays, school decisions etc.

So, in order to combat this I have decided I need to bite the bullet and write, anything, something, just get back on the horse as it were. 

I have lost my Mojo.  It might be easier to get back if I knew why I had lost it and how to get it back. It is not the stats or the comments. I used to blog for me and stopped checking stats a long time ago. 

I am not lost for inspiration either. I have plenty I keep meaning to share with you all but I never seem to get around to actually sharing.  The ideas come, they sit there waiting for their chance to be typed up but they are replaced by other ideas, other commitments on my time and are soon tossed aside.

I think my direction is a little lost. I seem to lack a middle ground. You will find plenty of posts about lovely family weekends we have had together which may come across to outsiders as “smug” and you will find tales of some of my frustrating times bringing up a very strong willed Munchie. Whilst sharing these difficult times does help I am also conscious that when Munchie is older if he ever stumbles across this blog will it look like we didn’t enjoy growing up together? There seems to be very little in the middle, posts about our life in general.

I think feeling too much like Mummy also has a part to play in the blog silence. This is the place I share our family life. There seems to be very little “me”. The crochet posts, the crafting, wool addictions, coffee, baking and my WI life.  They might night be wild parties and drunken nights out but they are what I am and I want to share more of them. 

I think a new name across all social media platforms is on the cards in the near future. I do not know what to and my family will still feature within it but hopefully it will not be my only focus.  Maybe I should ask for new blog name suggestions?

However, for the time being you are stuck with me under this guise and I need to make more of a conscious effort to get my mojo back. 

A very wise friend uses the metaphor “eat the frog” to stop her procrastinating. Basically if the first thing you do that day is eat the metaphorical frog then everything else left to do that day wont be as bad.

So, I shall take her advice. I have made a list of some of the posts I have been meaning to write about and I shall tackle these over the next week or so. Maybe at the end of these few weeks my mojo will have returned. 

  • Munchies poor bashed up face after a skateboard incident, 
  • My recent crafts,
  • Half Term Fun,
  • How 4 appears to be a much nicer age than 3 (I am scared about saying this out loud though!),
  • Munchie learning to ride a bike, 
  • My running pledge to myself, 
  • Snaffles first overnight school trip, 
  • How it feels like our family has grown a lot lately,
  •  A wet WI Garden Party
Surely that is plenty to get the mojo back? 

If you notice me absent again soon then feel free to give me a kick up the bum and tell me to gat back over here. 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Quick Ways to Spruce up Your Home

Every now and then your home needs a little refreshing. General wear and tear, combined with the ravages of time, eventually take a toll on even the most meticulously looked after home. However, there are some simple and inexpensive things you can do to keep your home looking its best, bringing it up to date with current house designs or restoring its original glory. Here are some tips on sprucing up your home.

Restore Your Floor
So many options are available nowadays that there’s no reason to have a worn-out floor. Natural hardwood looks charming and comes in a wide array of stains to suit your style. Vinyl sheeting that looks just like hardwood but at a fraction of the cost is popular and attractive, while tiles offer visual appeal and are very easy to clean. Replacing old carpet with something fresh will invite the warm, cozy feel that only comes with walking barefoot on pure new wool. Remember: when choosing new floor material, keep in mind not only the visual appeal but also the cost, longevity you want from it, and how much effort you’re willing to put in to keep it clean.

Update Your Kitchen
When considering a renovation, kitchens usually appear near the top of most people’s lists of priorities. A kitchen renewal might mean completely replacing the old one with something new, either by doing it yourself or hiring a professional to design and install it.

If, on the other hand, you’re happy with the layout and size, why not consider re-surfacing cabinets and benchtops? This will provide a fresh, new look for much less than a full renovation will cost, and it takes far less time to complete, meaning less disruption to your daily life. Consider visiting a display home set up by a builder such as Coral Homes to view examples of full kitchens and a comprehensive array of bench and cabinet surfaces.

Let There Be Light
Adding light to a room lifts the mood and atmosphere. Your home might benefit from a skylight or two to introduce refreshing natural light into a previously dim corridor or room. Placement and design of electric lighting such as ceiling lights and standing lamps brightens up a room after dark and, when coupled with a dimmer switch, lets you precisely control the level of light you want. Replacing older incandescent or halogen lights with modern LED and compact fluorescent tubes will also save you money, as you get more light for less energy consumption and get a great new look for your home at the same time.

Re-Upholster Your Furniture
A home doesn’t always need a major restructure to spruce it up. One alternative is updating the fabric on your furniture. While you may love the design of what you have, people and pets have a way of wearing down the covering that eventually forces you to replace the whole unit or just the upholstery. To get the most benefit from your new upholstery, make the effort to match the texture, design and colour with the colours of your carpet or walls.

Have some ideas of your own for sprucing up the home? Share them in the comments below!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.