Going Ape for these plant-based snacks



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This post is part of the Ape snacks x Mumsnet partnership

As a family we are always trying to make small, healthy changes to our daily lives, one's the kids will approve of that are easy to implement and sustain. While I am vegetarian, not vegan, I do try and bring as many plant-based meals and treats into our daily lives as I can and with such tasty snacks such as the new Ape Puffs which come in three different flavours, including Really Cheesy which has recently been awarded the Mumsnet Rated badge.

We spend a lot of time outdoors so taking food with us is key for helping keep those hangry moments to a minimum, as well as being the more budget-friendly option for a family day out. I always put together a well-balanced pack with some water, fresh fruit, maybe a sandwich or two and some treats such as a pack of crisps or cereal bar - this will usually keep us going for a few hours and the same can be said when it's raining outside and we decided to have a bit of an indoor picnic to switch things up and keep boredom at bay. If we can keep things as natural and wholesome as possible the better, although of course, we do allow for the odd treat too because moderation is good too.

Ape Snacks

Now we have tried a variety of plant-based snacks before and while some have been amazing others have fallen short, mainly on taste or texture and I find kids are often the best critics because they don't hold back when it comes to what they do and do not like. So I am glad to report that these Ape Puffs are BIG on flavour and they really have got it right, in fact, their Really Cheesy flavour has recently been awarded the Mumsnet Rated badge, creating the perfect tasty on the go snack for all the family. What's even better is that these puffs are baked not fried, are of course vegan-friendly, gluten-free, contain nothing artificial and in a recent test of 135 testers, 83% said they would recommend the Ape Puffs range.

But it doesn't stop there - they are also a very ethically minded business and have undertaken the mammoth tasks to offset their entire carbon footprint to become one of the few food companies that is Carbon neutral. They also support 1% for the Planet which means they donate 1% of sales revenue to good causes so these Vegan Society approved snacks really are a win-win all round.

Ape Snacks

As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day and being a freelancing busy mum of two active boys means that while we are trying to do as much as we can for the planet in terms of what we eat and our daily lifestyle, I also have to be practical. We have already long switched to reusable water bottles, coffee mugs, shampoo bars, bamboo toothbrushes and the like so when I can get ethically-minded snacks easily to add to the kids packed lunches, it makes life a whole lot easier.

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13 ways to enrich your time at home



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For many over the coming weeks, life is going to look a little different, with many now working from home and along with lots of families having children at home full time. Whether you are a family, a couple of single living in your own space, I wanted to share a few things you can do to enrich your time at home and help break the monotony.

I work from home as it is so that part for me is not such a big adjustment but regardless it takes time to get into a routine but it's really important to break that up and make time for the things you enjoy, Perhaps in your day job you commute for an hour each day and that gives you time to catch up on news or read a book, so make sure you still have moments like that, that allows for some downtime.

When you’re at work, whether your self-employed or work for an employer, you should be taking care of your mental health, and employment law for employers shows them the ropes for this. At home, you’re in your own space and can be in charge of your own mental health there but it also opens you up the possibility of feeling isolated or not sticking to any kind of routine, which can occasionally be problematic so looking after yourself must be made a priority. 

Here are 10 ways to improve your wellbeing at home  

1. Enrich Your Mind

Whether it be reading, completing puzzle books, like crosswords and sudoku, or even learning a new language, the options are endless. With apps available for almost everything and many of them being free, you don’t even need to worry about lugging a huge book around with you. It couldn’t be simpler.

2. Make time for exercise

It’s no secret that exercise is super important, not just for your physical health, but your mental health too. There are lots of free youtube videos with everything from Yoga to leg workouts that can be done from the comfort of your own home. At the moment we are also allowed to go outside for short brisk walks (please adhere to social distancing) and some fresh air will do you a world of good. This is also a good one for kids and I highly recommend Cosmic Kids Yoga

3. Listen to a Podcast or Audiobook

Alongside reading and learning languages, our smartphones are the best place to find podcasts to listen to. These have become extremely popular in recent years, as they require little concentration, but provide laughs, scares, sadness, and everything else in between.

Podcasts or Audiobooks are also perfect for lunch breaks or in the evening when you are starting to wind down and relax.

4. Write a Gratitude List

One interesting idea, which many bloggers and YouTubers use daily, is a gratitude list. The idea behind this is that you list a few things that you’re grateful for every morning. It could be something as small as:

Your mum sending you a lovely message the night before.
Your kids giving you a big hug
Eating a delicious lunch

Whatever the list contains, this is a really fantastic way of remembering the small things, and injecting some positivity into your day. Amongst it all, it can be easy to tune out the small things and focus on the big and bad things. Don’t forget that the little bits and bobs that make you happy are also what makes us human.

5. Listen to Some Music

Music is an amazing way to help people express emotions and feelings. It truly has the power to make you happier, and more positive for the day ahead. While music can sometimes be a distraction, why not take some time out to enjoy it, over morning coffee, or your lunch break or have a dance in the kitchen while making supper.

6. Read Up on Your Industry

If you don’t fancy using your brain for general life skills, you could use this time to educate yourself on your particular line of work! Every day, new and interesting insights into every career pathway are brought to light. Use this time to browse through LinkedIn, read some blogs or articles, and just enrich your mind with useful tips.

7. Write Some Lists

Now is a good time to start noting down any goals you have, from long term to short term goals, things you want to achieve or just a snag list of things you want to do in the house, such as paint a door or re-design a room.

A really popular past time these days is to create a bullet journal; a beautifully designed notebook with to-dos and lists for the week ahead. So, if you want to get crafty, and let your creative juices flow, this is the perfect time to get your mind prepared for the day.

8. Call a Friend or Family Member

Why not use this time at home to have a chat with your mum or dad, your best friend, or your sibling. You could even call up someone you haven’t spoken to in a while and there is no excuse these days with free apps such as Skype, Zoom and Whatsapp which allows you to make calls and video calls across the world for free. Who knows, you might even rekindle a lost friendship along the way.

9. Explore Some Positive Social Media Accounts

One of the more modern commuting problems is the exposure we now have to negative online content. Especially in situations, such as the one we are currently in with Covid-19, this negative content could be difficult to ignore. To combat this, try to take care of your mental health by following social accounts that make you feel good about yourself. Be it body positivity, inspiration and motivation, or something creative and fun.

10. Explore Some Mindfulness Apps

Mindfulness is such a key part of living a happy and healthy life. So, whether it be meditation, gratitude, motivation, or anything else which keeps you thinking about your mindset, there are hundreds of apps available. Just head on over to your app store, and you’re bound to find something that could help you flip the positivity switch.

11.Try Some Brain Training Apps

If you really want to keep your mind active and improve your brain health and cognitive function, brain training apps are perfect. They keep your mind active, wake you up before work, and are likely to benefit you in the long run.

12. Declutter

Why not use this time to get some of those jobs on your snagging list you have had no time for? Maybe your doors need to be painted or your spare room needs to be sorted out? Decluttering is a really positive thing to do for your overall wellbeing so now is a good time to do that although no need to take it all on at once - maybe just one room or one small corner.

13. Just Pause

In the modern world, there’s little time to just sit and reflect. We’re constantly distracted by work, people, phones, and general life woes. With that being said, there’s no need for you to “self-improve” or “be productive”. In a world of side hustles, be someone with a good work/life balance. So, take this time to just look out the window, and watch the world go by. When else do you ever get a chance to just get lost in your own thoughts?

These are just 13 ideas or ways to enrich this extended time at home we have during the current pandemic and hopefully help ease stress and anxiety. Do let me know what your best way to use this time is in the comments below.

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How to Wear Cufflinks


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Firstly what are Cufflinks?

Cufflinks put simply are an alternative for buttons on the cuffs of shirts. Some shirts, especially formal dress shirts, are made without any buttons at all. They often have simple holes, perfect for cufflinks to come in to tie the cuffs together! Cufflinks offer the wearer to showcase a bit more of their own personal style, and add a bit of flash to a formal outfit.

History of the Cufflinks

Wearing cufflinks became common place until around the end of the 18th Century. It was in the 19th Century, with the emergence of a bigger middle class, that more and more men came to wear suits and tails for the day and evening respectively. It was at the end of the 19th Century when cufflinks really became popular. It seemed like every man (and some women) in the upper and middle classes wore cufflinks. The industrial revolution helped keep up with the demand for cufflinks, as they could be easily mass-produced. It also meant that cufflinks could be produced at a cheaper price, and so they became more accessible for others – not just those in the upper and middle classes.

Edward VII helped introduce gemstone cufflinks to England, or at least helped make them popular! His first coloured cufflinks were actually Faberge cufflinks no less.

During the 20th Century, cufflinks were even more sought after. This allowed designers to really get stuck into different designs. Cufflinks became available in varying colours, materials, and sometimes included intricate designs. This was also around the time that many shirts were being designed in a more ‘sporty’ style. The sporty style had un-starched cuffs which could be easily fastened with buttons, instead of cufflinks.

Cufflinks dipped in popularity slightly in the 1970’s, as most shirts were produced, already having buttons sewn on, instead of two holes for cufflinks. However, thankfully the 1980s saw a resurgence in traditional male attire and with it resurgence in cufflinks and now you can get a whole range of unique antique jewellery cuffs.

Types of Cufflinks

There are many different types of cufflinks, incorporating different materials such as: gemstones, gold, platinum, and titanium, knotted silk or soft cord (the more affordable choice).

There are two common styles of fittings for cufflinks: bullet back, and whale back cufflinks.

Bullet Back

These types of cufflinks are very durable and easy to use. They have a hollow frame with a small tube or bar of metal that sits inside the frame. The tube then rotates at a 90 degree angle, which allows the cufflinks to lock, leaving the hollow frame as the post. Bullet back cufflinks only have one decorative face, with a simple tube of metal at the back.

Whale Back

These types of cufflinks have a flat head with a solid straight post. There is a ‘whale tail’ at the end (hence the name) that twists completely flat against the post. Similar to the bullet back cufflinks, the whale backs are very durable and easy to use.

There are also other various types of cufflinks such as: chain link, ball return, stud or button, and locking dual-action.

Chain Link

Chain link cufflinks have two decorative faces, typically identical decorative faces. The faces are connected with a short length of chain. They are usually looser fitting than other fastenings. Chain link cufflinks are perhaps the most traditional style of cufflinks.

Stud or Button

This style of cufflinks has no moving parts. Instead they have a large decorative face which is attached to a small solid post with a smaller face or backing. They are put into place by manoeuvring the smaller head through the button holes.

Ball Return

Ball return cufflinks have a small, heavy ball of metal on one end, and the decorative face on the other end. They have a looser fastening than other style of cufflinks, but a tighter fastening than chain link cufflinks.

Locking Dual-Action

This particular style of cufflinks is very contemporary in style. They work like a clip, or like the fastening of a wristwatch. The locking dual-action cufflinks has a hinge in the centre that allows them to slide into the buttonholes, which then clips shut to hold the cuff together.

How to Wear Cufflinks

There are a couple of ways you can wear cufflinks: the barrelled cuffs, and the kissing cuffs.

Barrel Cuffs:

This is a casual cufflink wearing option. It makes the cuffs appear thinner, giving the shirt a more contemporary look. The wearer places one cuff on top of the other and then lines the hole up. This way it fastens just as it would if a button were attached.

Kissing Cuffs:

The wearer needs to make sure that the bar of the cufflink, if it has one, is pointing straight down, then they need to line the two holes up on the cuff. The wearer then needs to insert the cufflink into the two holes with the ornate face pointing up; twist the small bar back to the original horizontal position to lock the cufflinks in.

This technique works well with single cuffs, or double cuffs, as long as you line up the hole correctly.

When to Wear Cufflinks

As I’ve mentioned above, cufflinks are typically worn for semi-formal and formal events, such as weddings, and sometimes work.

There are many different styles of cufflinks, some that are more of the playful, fun side that could work well in a more dressed-down look. However, it is advised that cufflinks should be avoided when wearing a completely casual outfit, especially if it doesn’t include a suit or dinner jacket.


Cufflinks can introduce some energy into an outfit, and weddings can be the perfect time to experiment with this! Add a pop of colour, or an interesting design to your wedding outfit in the form of cufflinks.

If it is in keeping with your personality and your chosen outfit, then why not branch out into novelty cufflinks. Novelty doesn’t mean that they can’t be stylish. Think outside of the box when it comes to wearing cufflinks at a wedding.

Black Tie

I recognise that I’ve just emphasised the use of fun and novelty cufflinks, throw all of that advice out of the window! When it comes to a very formal event, it is best to stick with the classic and traditional designs, which are more subtle.

Work and Business

When it comes to business and work attire anything too crazy is again not the best idea. Simple designs are the way to go. However, colours and materials can still be incorporated, just in an understated way. As with most things, it is wise to match the metal of your cufflinks to any other accessories you are wearing – matching here is key.

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The rise of the School Prom's in the UK


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School Proms used to be something you would see in American teen films but now they have become a regular occurrence here in the UK and it's got me thinking whether that's a good or a bad thing especially in terms of young peoples wellbeing and mental health. On one side it's a great way to celebrate your time at school and have a fun night out with your friends but on the flip side, there is also a lot of pressure for young people to look a certain way, spend a lot on outfits and keep up with everyone else.

When I was growing up, during my teen years, we had much more relaxed school discos or small dance parties at friends houses or local halls. There was a lot less pressure in terms of what you wore and I never even put any makeup on as it was a more casual affair all round. Of course, there was the typical peer pressure that comes with being a teen but in general, was a lot more low key than Prom's are today.

There are of course some real positives to School Proms and that's what should be the focus as we can support our children, boost their self-confidence and encourage them to make memories with their friends. You want their Prom night to be filled with laughter and smiles and not stress or have a negative effect on their wellbeing. I think as parents our role is to be there for our children as they grow older and face more formal socialising situations and usually at this point they have a close-knit circle of friends. What is a good idea to ease any nerves is to host a pre-prom meet and greet at your house, where all your child breast friends come with their Prom dates, have a few canapes and take photos before heading to the dance together, this also gives a good space for parents to be able to share the experience together as well as any worries they have.

You also don't have to spend a small fortune and I like to think I instil in my kids that life is not all about show. There is no need to hire a limo, hairdresser or expensive dresses when you can shop around. You can also call in favours if you know someone with a nice car or have a friend who is a dab hand with makeup then get them involved. There are some fantastic sites if you do your research for a Prom Dress Finder that will help you find the perfect dress without a huge price tag. This way children can feel good in what they are wearing without the extra pressure on parents.

The vintage look is also very popular right now so don't completely cancel out spending some time with your child visiting different vintage and secondhand stores as you never know what you could find. This is also a nice way to support your child and chat over coffee and lets them know you are there for them, because a Prom is more than just a dance, it's often a farewell to high school and moving forward in a new chapter of their lives.

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Win a beautiful Lioness necklace & Wall Flag



Lioness necklace

So wow what a week, it's been a bit of a rollercoaster for everyone with regards to the havoc that Covid-19 is causing. So I really wanted to do something a bit more positive and fun and also with it being Mothers Day this month I thought it was about time to run a giveaway.

The wonderful people at Jana Reinhardt have sent this absolutely gorgeous sterling silver Lioness and Cub necklace, which is apart of their Out of Africa collection. It's such a lovely depiction of maternal love and this necklace is handmade in the UK by expert goldsmith Jana Reinhardt in her Sussex seaside studio.

My first impression of the necklace was just how beautifully it's made, such quality workmanship and this would a perfect gift for that special person in your life. Depending on what materials are used these necklaces start at £95 and you can also have 3 characters engraved to make it even more unique.

Lioness necklace

Alongside this beautiful necklace, I am also giving away a "Listen to Mother" wooden flag by Fox and Weave - another fantastic UK based independent company which specialises in Wall art of kids and home as well as stunning prints, embroidered t-shirts and bag tags among a few other creative things.

This wooden tag retails at £9.95 and is perfect to hang up in your home and all their product are made right here in the UK and now couldn't be a more important time to support local homegrown businesses.

Listen to Mother

I am super excited to be able to give the chance for one reader to win both the Necklace and wooden Fox and Weave flag - with the total value of prizes over £100. 

The giveaway will run until the 4th April 2020 and is open to all UK residents. All you have to do is enter via the rafflecopter form below and good luck

*Please not there may be a slight delay in postage due to the coronavirus. All items are new & will be sterilised before postage

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Stay safe online when making friends, dating or business networking



Coffee shop style

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So much of our lives have become intertwined with the online world that I think it's easy to forget there are some real dangers out there as well as having a false sense of safety, especially when platforms like Instagram and Facebook can make you feel like you know someone personally when in fact you have never met and possibly know very little about what they are really like and this can leave you open to a variety of dangers from personal safety to fraud, spam and blackmail to name a few.

This post is in no way trying to put you off making meaningful connections online, so of my closest friends in real life are the ones I met online first and I think there are some great platforms for meeting like-minded people and broadening your social group and helping with things like loneliness and parenting.

Many of us use social media and the online world in a variety of ways, I myself have met up with potential work clients for coffee from connections we have made online and the majority of dating is done from Apps and a uk free dating site these days because it's easy and convenient and the digital world is very much apart of our real world. But as always we still need to be sensible and have safety in mind at all times. So here are a few tips you should always implement when meeting someone online.

1. Don't give too much personal information away

While we want to make meaningful connections, don't give too much personal information away upfront. Rather start off with a vague bio such as your favourite hobbies. Never been to specific on where you live, rather give your closest city or large town than anything more identifiable than that, also don't mention the company or business you work for in the early stages as initially is always better to air on the side of caution.

2.  Use the right apps

Different apps have different levels of security measures to ensure the person you are speaking to is real. As I said above you don't want to give too much personal information to someone right off the bat as you can make yourself more vulnerable towards being scammed in some way. You also need to use common sense and if someone's profile has very few photos or friends and just don't feel right or add up then best to follow your instinct, you could also do basic checks like an image search which you can do easily from your phone and can tell you if their profile image has been lifted from somewhere else.

If you're looking for more than just friends and want to try dating there are some really secure sites such as match me happy which has a strong infrastructure and AI technology to help keep people safe.

coffeeshop date

3. Meet in Public Places

I have made a few work connections over the year, and have met up with clients for coffee but still have always applied the same rules to if you are dating or meetings an online friend in real life for the first time. Meeting in public for the first time is always the safest option and is a good starting point when finally coming face-to-face and getting to know the person not the profile. It's also always a good idea to make your own way there and if things are not going as expected you can either by upfront or make an excuse and always let a family member or someone you trust know where you are.

4.  Avoid Scammers

Despite most of us being pretty digital savvy, once you start to develop an online relationship whether as friends, work colleagues or romantically you still need to be aware of the following

1. Declarations of love or being best friends, if this is done within a matter of weeks (or even days) then alarm bells should be going off. While it's not impossible to have strong feelings for someone quickly it can also be the start of someone trying to take advantage of you so proceed with caution.

2. Requests for money - surprisingly a lot of people get scammed, after making a meaningful connection the person will then often try to gain sympathy to get you to hand over some money. While you can offer support do not give money to people you don't know if real life as the likelihood of getting back is slim.

3, Blackmail - don't be tempted to send any personal images that may be used against you or that you don't want the public to see. Some scammers try to get money out of people for not sharing images or personal information.

5. Follow your instincts

If it seems to good to be true it probably is and I always say it's best to go with your gut feeling about someone. If you don't feel comfortable or something just isn't right then remember you don't have to carry on with the relationship. You can be honest and upfront and if they don't like it or start using mean words you can always block them.

As I said before I have many friends I've made online first that are now really good friends to me in real life so don't let this put you off, rather use it as a guide to staying safe as with anything like this is can be better to air on the side of caution initially until you get to know someone better.

pretty coffee

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A visit to the South Wales Aviation Museum



Vintage plane

*Please Be Aware that Due to the Coronavirus that museums may not be open or advised to visit at the time. Please keep this museum in mind for when things change. Please note I have no affiliation with this museum 

We love exploring what is on our doorstep especially if it's not only fun but educational too so when I stumbled across the South Wales Aviation Museum in Rhoose, which opened last year, I knew we have to stop by and see first hand what it's all about.

Firstly the South Wales Aviation Museum is a self-funded, volunteer-run, non-for-profit charity of which 100% of its admission donations go to the upkeep and running of the museum. Under 17's are free and adults is a £5 donation and I can honestly say it's worth every penny.

Unlike other Aviation museum's we have been too, they actively encourage visitors to touch and interact with the aircraft and exhibits which makes this a fantastic place for all ages and a great way to immerse yourself fully into the experience, it's not every day you can sit on the cockpit of a fighter jet.

Vintage plane

Old cockpit

The museum is made up off a large hanger which contains a variety of planes and jets, as well as three smaller exhibition rooms and the Hanger Round Cafe which offers up a variety of light bites, coffee and cake and has an excellent children's play area.

On arrival, this is plenty of free parking and from the moment you step into the museum the friendly volunteers are on hand to help and answer any questions you have as well as offer great insight into each plane, jet and helicopter.

There are a variety of planes, cockpits, engines, military and aviation displays to see including a passenger jet and Boeing style cockpit children (and adults) can have a go sitting in, as well as a military helicopter and fighter jet. The volunteers also showed the boys how to get strapped into an emergency eject seat and the small exhibition rooms offered a lot of additional insight especially into what life was like in war times and the role of the air force today. 

Kit plane

eject plane

Despite the museum being fairly small (with plans to extended further), we spent over 2hrs here of which the children were fully engaged the whole time. We also made sure to pop into the cafe for a coffee and some delicious cake.

This museum opened in April last year but is still relatively unknown, besides a Facebook page and website there has been limited marketing and promotion done so it certainly is a hidden gem. Only open on weekends, it was quiet when we visited despite it being a rainy day and we took full advantage of that, which mean no waiting to get into cockpits or explore the planes, I am sure this will change as more people discover this museum.

Passenger plane cockpit

Vintage planes

If you're looking for something different to do on a weekend, that is budget-friendly, helps a charity and offers up an exciting and educational day out then the South Wales Aviation Museum is certainly well worth checking out and we all had a blast and highly recommend it.

To keep up to date with what is happening at the museum it's worth checking out their Facebook page which is kept updated reguarly - SWAM Facebook 

South Wales Aviation Museum

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5 simple ways to make your home more eco friendly


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As we move into 2020 there are more and more people who are keen to make positive eco-friendly changes not only to their lifestyle but also to their home to ensure they lower their carbon footprint. With so much advice out there is can often feel a bit overwhelming so I am keeping it very simple and straight forward with 5 ways to make your home more eco-friendly this year.

1. Change to an ethical energy provider

I put off doing this for years until my bill with one of the big six became unmanageable & their billing system was way too complicated to understand. I wasn't actually looking for an ethical provider at the time, just a provider that offered a more competitive rate. I came across Bulb energy which not only was a lot more reasonable (I've saved a considerable amount switching to them) but also they provide 100% renewable electricity from solar, wind and hydro and their gas is 100% carbon neutral. Such an easy money-saving change that is good for your wallet and the planet.

wind turbines

2. Light up your home with LED's

There are so many benefits to changing to LED lights that it seems like the obvious easy swap to make. The way LED's are made means they are long-lasting and have an extended lifespan compared to normal bulbs and they are also a lot more energy-efficient, in fact, it only takes a 6 watts LED bulb to produce the same amount of light as a 40-watt incandescent one does and if that doesn't sway you, they are also more reliable, safer and brighter. LED lights also come in a variety of sizes and designs from security lights and floodlights to LED panel lights.

3. Use a food waste bin

I still can't believe how many homes in the UK don't take advantage of the free compost bins local councils provide. If you don't have time to do composting at home or in your own garden then using a food waste bin means your local council will pick it up once a week and turn it into a garden compost product. Also, did you know if food waste goes to landfill it rots and produces harmful gases so do organise a free food waste bin with your local council - so easy and eco-friendly.

vegetarian dish

4. Commit to Meatless Monday

While the vegetarian lifestyle does not suit everyone, bringing in meatless Monday can have some surprisingly positive benefits. Not only is it a good thing for your health to enjoy some plant-based meals but also for the environment. On the Meatless Monday website, it says that "skipping one serving of beef every Monday for a year saves the equivalent emissions to driving 348 miles in a car", now that's some food for thought.

5. Opt for Reusables

You don't have to do this one overnight but switching to reusable shopping bags can have a real impact and is one of the easiest ways to reduce your plastic consumption, as well as having some reusable water bottles and coffee cups, you can even find a place near your front door so you can make sure you don't leave home without them. Another big bonus of using reusable is saving money over the long-term, plus many coffee shops now offer a small discount for bringing your own mug.

reusable coffee cup

All of these changes are pretty painless, actually, save you money and not time-consuming to put into place so it's a win-win situation as not only are they friendly on your wallet but also eco-friendly ways to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment.
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4 simple gift ideas for couples



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Gift buying can be stressful. Knowing that your gift matches the taste of the recipient is something that will be on your mind as no one wants to waste money & getting something practical and needed is a more sustainable choice that just getting a gift for the sake of it. You want to know that the gift that you are buying will be received well and will be appreciated.

Gift buying can get even more challenging when it comes to choosing suitable presents for couples and recently I've found this out with my friends who are either getting married, moving in with each other or expecting a child. While you could buy separate gifts a combined gift is less waste and often less time consuming although you will have two different people’s tastes to meet, not just one so it can feel like buying for a couple is double the stress.

Here are some tips for getting the right gift for a couple.

An Experience

Experiences are something that can create long-lasting memories. Buying a gift of an experience is a great way of giving happiness to a couple by getting them a gift that they can both enjoy together. It may be that you want to pay for them to enjoy watching the sunrise or set as they glide above the beautiful countryside in a hot air balloon. You might want to buy them afternoon tea on a steam train that takes in some of the country’s most gorgeous coastlines. Or, you could hire them a classic campervan that they can drive away for a memorable and relaxing weekend.

A Portrait Of The Couple

Couples portraits can be great for celebrating the love between two people. You might want to get a painting commissioned. Alternatively, you may opt to pay for them have a sitting with a professional portrait photographer, or have you could look at finding a company that print and frame photos. Choose the best photo of the couple or one that you feel as particular memories attached.

Date Night Vouchers

Unfortunately, life can often get in the way of some couples enjoying quality time together. If you are conscious of the fact that the couple you are buying for doesn’t get to enjoy life together for one reason or another, buy them vouchers that they can use to go on a date night together. Think about the type of food that they both like and get a voucher for a restaurant that they might enjoy. Alternatively, you could buy cinema vouchers that they can use to go and see any film that they might enjoy.

If you cannot go out due to childcare or another reason then why not have a date night at home? Make it really special with a nice film, board games, a bottle of wine, tapas and some extra treats like a jerky gift box along with some nice chocolates for dessert.

Gifts For The Home

Lastly, if you are buying for a couple who have recently moved in with each other, you may want to buy them practical gifts for the home. Pay them a visit and pay attention to things that they may need, or get talking about homeware items casually to work out if there is anything they need. The last thing that you would want to do is buy a duplicate of something they already own.
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Why a good sleep routine is so important - Parenting




AD - Emma's Diary got in touch to ask me to share my personal experience of sleep routine with my children. 

Please note - Until your baby is six months old, the safest place for your baby to sleep is in their own cot, in the same room as you, whether it’s during the night or at nap time in the day.

Becoming a parent is an incredible experience and while you are in the bubble of newborn baby love you slowly start to realise that life will never be the same again. Immediately you are thrust into sleepless nights, feeding routines, navigating so many new situations and often this ends in exhaustion.  While pregnant we prepare ourselves for the lack of sleep, everyone we bump into will tell you that and offload some advice whether you asked for it or not. We know going into family life that sleep will be sparse in the first few weeks and months but unless you develop some kind of sleep routine that can be extended into years and I know, I've been there myself.

Now I would like to point out that I am not a health care professional but I am a mum of two very active boys and I thought I'd share my personal experience as I often found the best advice was from those going through the same thing rather than from textbooks written years ago by people not in the same situation as me and I couldn't relate too. I also learnt a lot through trial and error and each person is individual and so are their families needs so as always do what is best for you.

Firstly I was able to breastfeed both of my boys past the two-year point and I feel that does change how one develops a sleep routine with babies. Unfortunately what I found is breastfed babies do tend to wake a little bit more often during the first few months but preparation is a lot less so no sterilising or warming bottles in the middle of the night, saying that you can and should express some milk so if you do have a partner they can take over one of the nights to give you a break as the first few months really are about survival when it comes to avoiding sleep deprivation and the same goes for formula-fed - get your partner involved and share the responsibilities.

nursery bed

Quiet time

I've always been busy and try to make the most of each day so this is something I struggled with initially but it's so important to keep at least half an hour before bedtime nice and calm in preparation for sleep. This is the time to dim the lights, switch off screens which are known to stimulate babies and young children and allow for some quality time such as a nice warm bath or reading a story. Babies and young children will struggle to go from a loud, active environment to sleep so this step is key in your routine.

Try to keep to the same time

This one can be harder than it sounds, especially if you have other children, but if you can there are real benefits to keeping to the same time each night. I'm a realist and on occasions, we get home late from a day out or plans change so don't guilt your self if you have the odd late night but if you can strive for roughly the same time each night children respond well to that as it helps to regulate their body clock and helps to avoid those overtired meltdowns.

Make the bedroom sleep-friendly

As we move closer to summer and those early morning sunrises, blackout curtains will be your best friend and I 100% recommend investing in some. You also want to make a child's bedroom or baby nursery and calming place so avoid any electronics such as a TV or tablet, instead have a pretty mobile over the bed for babies or a soft night light of your toddler is a bit nervous of the dark. You could also use a night light combined with soothing sounds. I used something similar to this Skip hop sleep trainer so if your struggling to create that relaxing space this could be worth a try. Also making sure your child has a comfortable mattress that is safe and approved is key too as this will improve their sleep quality.

The main takeaways are keeping as close to the same time each night, making sure the half-hour before bedtime is quiet and relaxed and make your child's bedroom as calm as possible, making sure it's free from loud noises and bright lights. There plenty more tips over on Emmas Diary for Baby sleep advice, a really useful resource for parents.

There will be days and nights that just won't go right and may end up with both of you in tears, so especially in those early days take any support that's offered, sleep when you can and don't be too hard on yourself. Parenting is all about trial and error and some things will work while other's won't but you will get there in the end if you're consistent.

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