Having a Green Valentine’s Day

Having a Green Valentine’s Day

Having a Green Valentine’s Day
Image courtesy of photostock and freedigitalphotos.net

The Valentine’s Day card market was worth £42.5m in 2012, and its value continues to increase in spite of social networking and texting. Although it ranks below Christmas, birthdays and Mother’s Day, the Valentine’s market is still big business, and its card and gift market still causes lasting damage to the environment- particularly when you consider that £262m is spent on flowers alone! So, this year, ditch tradition and do something green for Valentine’s Day. Here are our suggestions:

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Upcycling Tips to Decorate Your Home

There are many fabulous home décor applications for upcycling, and it doesn’t always have to be about saving the environment, or penny pinching to offset rising housing costs like home insurance.

Those serious about preserving the environment, creating healthier living spaces, living more sustainable and money wise, have found upcycling not just smart, but a lot of fun too. Not everyone has to live in a shipping container home, or forego all modern conveniences to do their part and flex their creative side. However, it has just become common sense to look for ways to upcycle, before the waste involved in sending things to be recycled.

So what are some items you can have fun with upcycling, and turning into useful and decorative objects at home?

  1. Cans & Jars

One of the most common items that get tossed in the rubbish or take up room in the recycle bin are glass jars and tin cans. Instead turn your glass jars into fun and useful items such as romantic bathroom, patio or garden lighting, desktop and kitchen utensil organizers, and even planters. Paint and punch holes in cans to make decorative hanging planters, birdfeeders, lamps, and more.

jam jar vase

  1. Upcycled Clothing

Few think of repurposing clothing, yet with the emotional ties and amazing memories they represent, upcycling just makes sense. With so many upcycling ideas for clothing there is no more pressure to cave into giving up those faded retro t-shirts or Christmas sweaters. Turn worn clothing into throw pillows, furniture covers, and even wall art by folding them over frames or putting them in your empty frames. How about turning your old festival gear or wooly sweaters into a quilt or blanket for reminiscing on cold nights?

framed t shirt

  1. Corks

Find yourself tossing out corks galore? Stop. There are many highly useful and money saving ways to upcycle your corks. Save them up and put them together as desktop protectors, hot mats for the kitchen, pin boards on the walls, safe flooring for young ones, and maybe even entry mats.

  1. Skateboards

For those that have children, and even spouses that refuse to grow up, the pile of old skateboards can stack up quickly. That can add up to a lot of awkward, but memorable scrap, yet precious trees and other resources that shouldn’t be treated frivolously. Instead of constantly tripping over old skateboards or being driven mad by the mess why not explore new ways to upcycle these fun home décor materials? Skateboards can be repurposed as unique shelves, children’s chairs and toddler’s picnic tables, step ladders, and even long lasting sports themed headboards for kids’ rooms.

skateboard shelf

Small Upcycling Projects with Big Results

Saving energy, fuel, waste, and budgets is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the big potential even small upcycling projects can add up.

Offsetting home insurance costs, being able to use more home insurance money for necessities rather than frivolities in the case of disaster, saving to go on holiday, or even finding the surplus to build a new green, completely sustainable home, with lots of fun, memorable, and educational quality moments with family and friends on the road all come as significant perks.

If this sounds like too much work – recycle, offer your items to neighbors who are into upcycling, or save in other ways such as moving your home insurance to Shield Total Insurance.

Tips on Travelling with Your Kids this Christmas

Travelling can be stressful at the best of times, but throw in a couple of children, a hectic festive schedule and the Christmas traffic and it soon becomes a complete nightmare – but it doesn’t have to be. So, round up the kids, pack up the car and follow these top tips for travelling with your kids this Christmas:

Be prepared

No one likes to think the worst, but as the old saying goes: if something can go wrong, it probably will– so always prepare for the worst case scenario. If you’re driving cross-country, make sure you pack some blankets, spare clothes, bottled water, non-perishable food, a fully-charged phone and a torch. In case there are any accidents along the way, it’s also a good idea to take a child-friendly first aid kit, such as those available from Steroplast Healthcare.

packing car

 

Take it easy

It’s all too easy to get swept along in the Christmas rush and try to pack as many things as possible into each trip – but you’ll get far more out of your travels if you plan ahead. Try to take things at a slower pace and be realistic about how much ground you can cover.

The less you feel you have to cram in, the less stressful and more enjoyable the trip will be.

Know your place

If you are travelling with another family, make sure each adult has a their own task or responsibility, such as minding the kids, making sure certain things are packed or taking turns at the wheel. Sharing the load will make the trip far more enjoyable for everyone.

And, if you’re traveling by bus or rail, work out who’s getting on first, who’s getting on last, where everyone is sitting and who is storing the luggage to make sure no-one gets left behind.

Eyes in the back of your head

kids in car

If you’re traveling with kids alone, it may be worthwhile investing in an extra rear-view mirror pointed towards the back seats so you can keep an eye on the kids without having to turn around.

If possible, you may also want to think about bringing along a selection of books, toys or portable game consoles to keep your youngsters entertained while you concentrate on the drive.

Take a break

You will also need to plan regular stop-offs along the way. Children always need plenty of toilet breaks and it’s important to take time to rest and eat, especially if you’re tackling a long journey.

Do the packing for them

Although you might think it’s a nice idea to let the kids pack their own rucksack, particularly if they’re getting a bit older, you should always do the packing for them. Unless you want bags full of teddies, comics and trading cards, you will need to ensure that all the kid’s essentials are ready and waiting for you when you reach your destination.

The History of the Bike

Steve and I are cycle-fiends. We’ve decided in the approaching winter months it is going to replace kayaking and become “our thing”. Only when it’s not raining, of course.

Cycling in China
Cycling in China

We like to cycle around new cities on holiday, mountain bike, and cycle with Phoebe in tow along the canal near our house. It’s my fave form of fitness as, unlike on a treadmill, you actually feel like you’re going somewhere!

Cycling in Barcelona
Cycling in Barcelona

Bikes are one of those items that have become ingrained in human life and you can’t go far without bumping into one – sometimes literally. Have you ever thought about the history of the bike? Where it came from, and what did early bikes look like? Well, if you have, see the infographic below and you might get some answers.

A Gumtree graphic - The history of the bike

The History of the Bike is a graphic produced by Gumtree.com.

The Time For Electric Bikes Is NOW

With the New Year fast approaching, we will start getting geared up for a host of people saying “New Year, New Me” and saying a lot of things they are going to give up in hope of a healthier lifestyle.

Usually, we would condone this from our social media timelines, but this year there is one product that could make us join in – the electric bike. Seen everywhere in London, electric bikes are the future of transport and can cut down huge amounts on emissions.

Sunstar electric bike

Not only are electric bikes great for staying fit, but they will save you a fortune on fuel costs to and from work too – some of the bikes even have a range of up to 50 miles. Saving money and doing your bit for the environment in the process is a no-brainer really.

What’s more is electric bikes can be enjoyed all year round too, so during the summer, you can enjoy seeing new things you wouldn’t necessary appreciate stuck in traffic and during the wintery months you can mess around in the mud – if you opt for the electric mountain bike of course.

A couple of years ago, when electric bikes started making their way into the mainstream, they looked hideous. Now, they look like any other bike you can buy on the market. In fact, some are even smarter than a lot of the bikes on the market.

So, if there was one thing that you should give up for the New Year, it should be using your car for the daily commute. Of course, if you live miles and miles away from your work and don’t fancy being Bradley Wiggins during the Tour De France each day, then you could opt for an electric car, but if you live up to 50 miles all-round away, give an electric bike a chance.

Do Pets and Clean Homes Go Together?

Many people wonder if it’s genuinely possible to maintain a clean house when you have pets around. While it’s likely you won’t have to clean up after fish all the time, having a dog or a cat is certainly something that troubles homeowners who would rather not have fur strewn across floors and carpets.

Bess and Tilly fighting

We’re certainly not going to get rid of our animals as a result of this dilemma, although can be forgiven for feeling that way on occasion if we constantly have to clean up after our animals at a noticeably troublesome rate. So what exactly can you do to prevent your animals from affecting the cleanliness of your home?

Your pets are always going to leave fur lying around as well as a dander, while there’s also the chance of a potential “accident”. The first thing you need to know when adopting a pet is that you are probably going to have to commit more time to your cleaning schedule.

Let’s look at dogs for starters. There are some breeds of dog that shed quite a lot of hair, such as border collies, while Schnauzers and Labradors have smoother, shorter fur and thus create less of a mess with their fur. In most cases, the dog breeds that shed their fur do it twice a year, so you can keep note of how often it occurs this way.

When we notice that dogs are leaving fur behind, we tend to grab the vacuum cleaner instantaneously to get rid of it. Whilst the vacuum is certainly an effective way of getting rid of dog fur, too much and you can end up blocking the vacuum. Try and moderate your use of the vacuum when cleaning a home with pets and inspect the vacuum every now and then for blockages.

In truth, you can minimise the amount of work you need to do by focusing more on your dog instead of the cleaning up afterwards. Proper grooming is an excellent way of keeping on top of your dogs shed hair and any vet would suggest that you groom your pet a few times a week. You can collect any loose hair on the brush and prevent it from reaching the floor.

With cats, grooming is actually quite important. They tend to look after themselves a lot more than dogs. However, cats can suffer from certain health problems as a result of their hair. Hairballs and constipation are commonly associated with cats that look after themselves instead of their owner grooming them.

cat licking

You can prevent the risk of hair building up on floors and carpets even more by making sure you brush your pet outside. It’s not likely that you’ll be forced to groom your pet indoors at any time due to weather conditions, so you should be able to do this all year round.

There are also a range of differing tools that are best suited to specific breeds of dog or cat that make the grooming process more efficient. You can learn about these grooming tools from your vet.

A lot of pet owners wonder if it’s a good idea to bathe their dogs or cats at all to assist the grooming process. Cats certainly don’t need to be bathed as they tend to wash themselves, whereas dogs need the odd bath to make sure there isn’t any dirt in their fur.

dog bath

However, dogs should only be bathed once a month at most as you can interfere with the natural oils produced by the skin otherwise. Some cats may need bathing on occasion if they are old or incapable cleaning themselves.

The next thing to consider is the number of pets you have in your household. If there are a number of dogs or cats in one property, the amount of fur you have to deal with will increase. What’s more, having certain breeds with longer coats, such as Persian cats or Husky’s, will mean that fur will build up much faster throughout the home. If you fit one of these categories, you should probably check your air filters every now and then depending on the amount of hair your pets shed.

If you’re finding the hair-cleaning process too much of an issue, there are alternatives to simply adjusting your approach to cleaning. You can change the layout of your property entirely to suit your cleaning regime.

This could incorporate taking up your carpets and replacing them with wooden flooring (to stop dander from clinging to fabrics and causing allergic reactions), switching upholstery to leather and introducing a room for the dogs or cats to sleep in regularly.

So there you have it. If you take these helpful cleaning tips and guidelines on board when looking after your animals, you’ll probably find that having a cat or a dog really isn’t as demanding as you might think.

If we’re going to provide our pets with a new home, we need to make sure we’re looking out for them as much as our own belongings, so the biggest tip of all would be to make sure you’re prepared to make any changes the day you decide having a new furry friend in your life is necessary.

Alana Burton has a young family and has 2 cats and is aware of the best ways to keep a home clean when there are children plus pets to consider. As a writer she covers relevant issues for Apple Clean, carpet, curtain and upholstery cleaners in the south-east.

This article was provided by Island Blogging.

What Parents Need To Know About Bed Wetting

About 15 percent of children over 3 years old struggle with bed wetting, otherwise known as enuresis. The majority of them deal with primary enuresis, meaning that children haven’t developed bladder control at night, accidents occur at least twice a month, and they are not triggered by stressful situations.

Flickr Creative Commons
Flickr Creative Commons

Facts About Bed Wetting

It’s important for parents to know all the facts so they can help their child and get the best treatment options, including a bed wetting alarm.

  • Bed wetting is not your child’s fault and often occurs because they are such sound sleepers and can’t wake themselves to go to the bathroom.
  • Only around five percent of primary nocturnal enuresis has an underlying medical or emotional reason. Secondary nocturnal enuresis involves emotional stressors like a parents’ divorce or a recent move, and involves no accidents for six months and starting up again.
  • Bed wetting often runs in families. If both parents struggled with bed-wetting, there’s around a 75% percent chance your child will too, while if only one parent did, there’s still around a 40 % chance your child may wet the bed too. If neither parent had issues, this lowers the likelihood to around 15 percent.
  • Researchers have identified that certain genes, ENUR1 and ENUR2, affect nighttime enuresis and how often your children needs to urinate and how easily they can be awakened.
Image from Flickr Creative Commons
Image from Flickr Creative Commons

Tips For Dealing With Bed Wetting

  • Reassure your child that this is not their fault and avoid criticizing or teasing them. Avoid using punishments as that will only make them more nervous but do praise them if they successfully have a dry night.
  • Encourage your child to drink fluids earlier in the day and limit fluids later in the day, especially water before bedtime, and caffeinated beverages. These increase the amount of urine produced, making more nighttime trips to the bathroom.
  • Remind your child to use the bathroom right before bedtime.
  • Try waking your child once or twice during the night to empty their bladder.

Treatments For Bed Wetting

Early intervention is important as enuresis can become expensive with extra loads of laundry, as well as disposable training pants. Medications are also costly and sometimes ineffective, and your child may become embarrassed to attend sleepovers or camp-outs because of their issue.

Therefore, a new idea known as a bed wetting alarm has become popular. They are among one of the safer treatments and children that use them are around 12 times more likely to stay dry throughout the night than those who don’t use them. These alarms feature a moisture sensor that is placed by your child’s underwear and can detect the first sign of wetness. It signals a lightweight alarm which can be clipped to the shoulder or collar on their pajamas. Depending on what works best for your child, you can choose a rapid succession of beeps or sounds or melodies to be played on the bed wetting alarm.

At the beginning, you will probably have to awaken with your child and have to almost sleep-walk them to the bathroom, but it will get easier. If you try this method, it’s beneficial to attempt it over summer vacation or a long winter break as it takes several weeks to learn a new habit and even longer until it becomes routine.

THE GREAT BENEFITS OF ORGANIC BABY FOOD

Phoebe has clearly inherited her appetite from me. And her sweet tooth. And it may be too early to tell for definite yet, but possibly her podgy hips and ass as well. What can I say, I’m a giver?

No, I won't eat that green crap!
No, I won’t eat that green crap!

Whenever the word food is mentioned, we often recall our favourite dish which makes our mouths to salivate. Food is essential to the growth and development of our body systems. It is a source of energy, in addition to boosting our immune system. Taking into account the importance of food in our lives and the fact that most of us usually have a minimum of three meals a day, it is an essential need that we can’t afford to ignore.

A newly born baby is a bundle of joy, he or she cries and even laughs gracefully. Most importantly we as parents have come to learn to respond to their cries, knowing when they are hungry. Just as food is important to us adults, it is vital for the baby. Why is this so?

DSCF2798
Yes, I’d like my main with a side of Salmonella please…

a)      The lifecycle development– Infancy-Childhood is the initial and most critical postnatal stage of development. Every baby needs nutrients which are acquired from food. Any deficiency of particular nutrients could easily lead to immune system deficiencies which might pose a potential risk to the baby’s health for the rest of their lives.

b)      Babys digestive system– a baby’s digestive system is more efficient than that of an adult. Nutrients are absorbed faster into the body as the baby needs those nutrients for development.

c)      Baby’s body organs – infancy is a critical stage in the development of the baby’s body organs. The kidneys, the brain and other organs are not yet fully before birth and usually develop fully during infancy.

d)      The babys appetite– did you that babies and children in general, consume more food on pound-for-pound basis than adults? Due to this, they are exposed to more different types of foods and chemical substances contained in those particular foods. As a result, this pose a greater potential risk to the health and development of the baby.

organic food
Good food, just look for the scary baby face!

 

Organic food is vital for the development of the baby as it provides nutrients that are found naturally in the environment; unlike the modified and some synthetically processed foods. Here are some of the benefits of organic foods:

i.            Higher nutritional levels– organic food has much higher nutritional benefits unlike the processed and synthetically produced foods. A combination of different types of organic foods provide essential nutritional benefits including proteins, fibres and carbohydrates which are vital for the baby’s growth.

ii.            Organic Farming– a major concern when it comes to organic foods is its source. Organic farming entails growing of different crops naturally with minimal use of pesticides and chemically synthesized fertilizers.

Such chemicals when used in large volumes pose a great potential risk to our health. This is more so when you consider the numerous types available for different crops. Chances are that we consume cocktails of these chemicals unknowingly which might cause potential health risk to the baby as their kidneys aren’t yet fully formed meaning that these chemical substances will circulate their body for a longer period of time.

iii.            No additives– additives such as monosodium glutamate, aspartame, brilliant blue, and quinolone yellow have a more potent effect on nerve cells than each on its own. The beauty with organic food is that it contains no additives.

iv.            Going Organic– this greatly benefits the environment as the process of growing crops naturally doesn’t interfere the natural environment. As a matter of fact, it works together maintaining the ecological balance.

WHY WE LOVE ORGANIC BABY CLOTHES

If you’re a perspective parent, the best advice I can give you is to not invest too much money into baby clothes for your newborn. When you’re baby’s born you’ll be given enough clothes to clothe half of Africa (not a bad place to send them once they’ve been outgrown, FYI!), so it’s not worth buying too many.

clothes for kids
Our little snowball!

However, when the initial excitement and overwhelming involvement of your nearest and dearest dies down, and the gifts stop flowing in quite so quickly (and this WILL happen), when buying clothes for your baby or toddler, it’s well worth considering organic baby clothes, and I’ll explain why…

Love them or hate them, babies will always have a special place in our lives. Even if you are yet to become a parent, a baby is a gift that you ought to cherish. There has been a sharp increase in the number of baby clothes especially those being shipped from oversees. The availability of clothes locally has given us, especially we mums, numerous varieties to choose from.

My husband was perplexed the other day when we went out to buy baby clothes for Phoebe. He was surprised to see the variety on offer – endless colours, styles and textures. He even confessed that he wished we would just go to the good old days when we were growing up as the variety then was limited.

No expecting parents should ever buy clothes - you get given a mountain when your kid's born!
No expecting parents should ever buy clothes – you get given a mountain when your kid’s born!

When you enter a baby shop looking for your baby’s or toddler’s clothing, what do you look for? Do you prefer a piece that has a particular texture and colour, or do you just pick those pieces that are your baby’s size?

The former is definitely the way to go. This might sound cliché, but all of us want the best for our kids, even if it means forfeiting some of our own needs so that they don’t lack anything. This spirit should be replicated when it comes to buying clothes for your baby.

Always opt for organic clothes, preferably clothes made out of organic cotton. Take time when you are shopping around to check which baby shop offers these types of clothes in large volumes. This will enable you to have an easier time when it comes to browsing through the sizes and different colours on offer.

Here is the good news, the cotton acreage is growing worldwide, and this is as a result of the witty designers who are embracing organic cotton, making more appealing clothes that increase the demand and awareness of natural textiles. In the near future, every baby shop and fashion shops will have all-natural textile clothes just for you.

girls clothes

Synthetic clothes are currently, cheaply available compared to the organic clothes. As a result, most parents opt for the synthetic type than the more expensive organic clothes. The synthetic types pose several risks to your child’s health, including:
• Skin rushes
• Itchy allergic reactions

The main reason for these effects is the poor porous fibres that synthetic clothes have compared to the organic ones. As a result, heat accumulates which results into the skin rushes. Some of the synthetic material can cause allergies which might pose a threat to the life of your child.

Your baby or toddler’s health should come first. Therefore, ensure that the outfits you get for him or her are organic and safe. It will be a worthwhile investment which you will live to be grateful for.

Our 5 Hidden Gems in Green, Gorgeous Ireland

If you have visited Giant’s Causeway, the Cliffs of Moher and driven round the Ring of Kerry or just want to avoid the places more likely to be full of tourists, Northern Ireland and Ireland has plenty to offer you.  In the following article we highlight 5 of the best hidden gems the Emerald Isles has to offer, and a perfect start for any road trip around Ireland.

Torc Waterfall at Killarney National Park, Ireland

torc waterfall

Torc Waterfall at Killarney National Park is located at just 4 miles outside of Killarney and features a jaw-dropping 60 ft. drop from the Torc Mountains into the river, cheerfully titled Devil’s Punch Bowl.  Not only is it completely surrounded by thick and beautiful countryside, it is also very easy to access and completely free to enter.

The Mourne Mountains in County Down, Northern Ireland

Mourne Mountains will particularly interest fans of epic fantasy stories such as Game of Thrones and The Chronicles of Narnia.  The mountains and the surrounding area is covered in lots of follies, caves, grottos, rivers and forests that will easily make you feel as if you have transported to another realm.    As well as reportedly serving as the inspiration for CS Lewis when he was writing of the mythical world of Narnia, it also serves as the location for filming HBO’s Game of Thrones adaption.

Glendalough in County Wicklow, Ireland

glendalough

Glendalough is also known as the Valley of 2 Lakes and sits in a valley deep at the centre of the amazing Wicklow Mountains.  The city of seven churches originates as far back as the 6th century when it was founded by a monastic settlement and when you visit here it’s not too hard to see why.  Along with just basking in the beauty of the landscape, you can explore the ancient stone structures, medieval church remains, decorated stone crosses, a very unique round tower and a very old cathedral.

Aran Islands in County Galway, Ireland

The Aran Islands are located just 40 minutes on a ferry away from Rossaveel near Galway and to say that they give you a chance to travel back in time is an understatement.  The Gaelic language is still spoken on the isles and for the most part, locals travel round in traditional fashion either by horse and buggy, bike or their own two feet.  Inis Mor is the largest of the isles and although it isn’t very touristy, it is very popular and features an up market youth hostel, B&Bs and bike rentals.  It is best to experience the island on a day trip by bike and explore the ruins of Dun Anegus, an old and imposing Iron Age fortress that features 3 walled sides and 1 open and a 300 ft. drop that leads to the sea.

Inis Oirr and Inis Meain are the other two Aran Isles and receive even less visitors so offer the chance to see completely unspoiled Irish scenery.

Skellig Michael in County Kerry, Ireland

skellig

You need the help of a fishing trawler and a clear day to get across the choppy waters to Skellig Michael, but it is worth the effort.  Once there you climb the weather-beaten and ancient carved stone steps to the top where you find an amazing sight.  There is a group of beehive-style stone huts that date back as far as the 6th century.  It is amazing to think that people actually lived on this desolate and beautiful but imposing piece of rock.

This article was written by the guys over at www.traveltrout.co.uk who are passionate about blogging and sharing their experiences with other bloggers and readers.