Why is outdoor play so important?

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

As regular readers will know, we have what I'm pretty sure could be described as the worlds smallest yard!

It has had several different feels to it over the 12 years since we bought our house, going from BBQ central to dog friendly and many different Child friendly variations.

Liv absolutely loves being outside doing anything, she is a social butterfly and generally happy to just be out! At various times we have squeezed in a play house, sand and water table and an extra small trampoline. Right now she has a picnic table with a sandpit inside, a basketball hoop and plenty of outdoor games, anything fun that encourages energy burning.

I absolutely love sitting outside in this wonderful weather we are having and listening to the children out in their gardens having fun, squealing with delight and getting moving, it reminds me of being young when we were out to play straight after school every night.

These days we all know how tempting it can be to leave the kids safe watching TV or on their devices for an extra 30 minutes to allow us to get to get that extra load of washing done, run the hoover over or sometimes just to have a hot cuppa! However the sad fact is, so many Children now are being left on these electronic devices without any adult supervision or time restrictions at all. While its fair to say a lot of Parents simply feel their Children are safer at home, it can cause other problems along the line. For example the rate of obesity in Children at the moment is truly shocking, with over 1,000 children being referred to hospital as a result of obesity, and 1 in 3 children between the ages of 2 and 10 being classed as overweight.

Finding a happy medium between physical exercise and screen time is key, it also helps if you can trust that your Childs school is doing all they can to help keep them physically moving and burning off energy, especially during break times.





Livs school has recently been fundraising for some wonderful playground markings and wooden climbing frames. They have just been installed in the last week or so and the Children already absolutely adore them!

 


For example Liv came home Yesterday telling me about games they have made up about jumping to different letters to spell out rhyming words, exercise and phonics work in one!





It's brilliant seeing all of the Children enjoying everything in the morning. I love that the school are investing both time and money in our Children's exercise needs, especially when I'm sure there is a hundred other places that money could have been equally helpful.

I can be confident that Liv is not only enjoying physical exercise on the yard but socialising and learning too. What more could you ask for?

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Do your school have any floor markings or equipment to encourage physical play? Please let me know in the comments, I would love to pass our head some more ideas.

Christmas in July 2018!



Yes it's that time of year again, where I bring you some festive ideas in the middle of Summer! If you are anything like me you will already be planning things for Christmas, organisation is key I say!

Here are a mixture of some things I have bought previously and some that are on wish lists this year.

I hope they inspire you!
 
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Track days driving experience



 
Do you know someone that would like to feel like James Bond for a few hours? How does driving an Aston Martin V8 Vantage sound?

Why not make their Christmas extra special with a Track Days experience! They can visit one of 9 UK venues and feel the power as they put their foot to the floor in this thrilling driving experience!





With plenty of cars and bikes to choose from as well as some Junior experiences, anyone who loves driving would be thrilled to receive a gift from Track days this Christmas.

I bought this for my Dad last year and he absolutely loved it! This particular experience is also an absolute bargain, currently reduced from £99 to just £39! Why not take advantage of the offer now? Gifts are valid for 10 months from date of purchase so plenty of time to book.
 
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A smart new suit



Right at the top of my Husbands wish list is this lovely Dobells Sharkskin suit.

This tailored fit grey sharkskin suit features a single-breasted jacket and two-button front fastening.

The suit trousers are lined to the knee, with a button waist, slanted hip pockets, belt loops and buttoned back pockets.

Available in chest sizes 34 to 48, waist 28 to 36 and short, regular or long length leg, priced at £99.99 with the option of adding a suit bag for £2.99, he will be very pleased if Santa leaves this under the tree this year!

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Cosy hats!



Everyone loves a nice cosy hat for winter right? Well look no further, I have my Mum sorted with the beautiful Buffwear beige knitted hat. With a stylish knitted look, fleece lining and pompom too, this one size hat will definitely go down well on the big day.

While I was browsing, I couldn't resist this
Lena blush hat for Liv. Suitable for age 4-12 years, in a beautiful blush pink with Love applied to the front, this hat also has a full fleece lining for extra warmth on those cold Winter days.

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 For the dog in your life



How about this cosy personalised Pet bed from Giftpup. Priced at just £24.99, this small dog bed is personalised free and dispatched within 48 hours! 

This cosy bed feels soft and fluffy to the touch, manufactured from 100% polyester it features a cute paw print design around the outside. Dimensions 46cm x 40cm x 17cm.

Highly recommended by our puppy!


 
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For the music lover!



How about a Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset?

As you would expect from the brand name, these are a high-quality pair of in-ear headphones, providing the exceptional sound quality you expect from Sennheiser, as well as ultimate comfort thanks to a special ear hook design. The built-in microphone lets you take and make calls too.
                     
Unlike other headphones the Ambeo smart headset is the world’s first intuitive, compact, and mobile 3D sound recording headset.

Its earpieces are fitted with omnidirectional microphones that capture the sounds in your environment just like your ears do. With the Smart Slider you can adjust the mic sensitivity to normal or loud, i.e. concert, environments. This results in a stunningly three-dimensional and immersive sound experience, which can be enjoyed with any headphones on any stereo-capable device, allowing the listener to experience audio as if they were actually there.

The earpieces possess a unique feature called Situational Awareness. Using the rocker switch, you can either make the outside noise heard, allowing you to stay safe when you are on the street, or you can deploy the active noise cancellation, blocking out your environment to enjoy your music undisturbed.

 
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The all important drinks!


Franklin & Sons have partnered with Portobello road gin to launch G & T in a can! Perfect for those unexpected guests over the festive season.

 

For the visitors that are driving how about some grown up soft drinks? Franklin & Sons have some wonderful flavours sure to tickle your guests taste buds. My favourite is Wild Strawberry & Raspberry with cracked black pepper while my Husbands is the traditional dandelion & Burdock, check out the full range online.

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I hope I have brought you some gift inspiration this Christmas in July!

How to monetise using social media

Sunday, 8 July 2018

 
Back when I was growing up in the 90's, adverts were found on TV, radio and in newspapers. Today you can find them everywhere! For example bus stations and public transport have a lot of posters now, but the biggest change by far has been social media. Unheard of when most of us were growing up, today almost everyone uses one platform or another.

Famed for being a cheaper and faster way to interact with your target audience, it's fair to say done the correct way, monetising social media can greatly improve your business.

Before you decide to start ploughing money into adverts, I have noted some points you may like to consider.





Use the right platform for your audience

For example, if the majority of your engagement and traffic come from Twitter and Facebook, a big campaign on Instagram is probably not the best way to go. It may be worth seeking professional advice here to ensure all of your hard work from this point on won't be wasted.

Engage engage engage!

Unlike printed or televised adverts, Social media promotion allows you to directly interact with your customers and prospective customers. The people behind these accounts are usually the first your Customers come into contact with - first impressions matter! Interact with your followers, take the time to respond and chat. While you will have to deal with some less positive comments along with the good, this can actually be beneficial. I have personally used more than one company or service after seeing their helpful attitude on social media. Where possible try to avoid copy and paste responses - people will remember you for all the right reasons if they feel like they matter.

Track all of your campaigns

Simply because if they are not attracting the attention you would like them to - change them!Sometimes it may be beneficial to look at another platform or check your budget is being used efficiently. If you have tried these and are still struggling it is definitely time to call on www.click.co.uk for some professional advice.

Whichever platform you choose, I wish you well!

Do you have any tips or advice to add? I would love to hear from you if you do.

Becoming Landlords, it's a possibility!

Way back in 2005, my then Boyfriend and I started discussing living together. He already had a council flat but we quickly decided that we wanted to get on the property ladder and buy our own house. By 2006 we had a mortgage on our first terraced home and after a proposal on our first Christmas Eve, a wedding to start planning. Exciting!

Copyright LifewithLiv

We have now lived in our little terraced street in the small village we both grew up in for almost 12 years - where does time go? While most of the properties in the street are lived in by their owners, we also have a few private rental properties all of which are owned by the same Landlord.

Luckily he is very approachable and helpful when we have had any questions or issues about our neighbours - for example when we first moved in we discovered next door liked to party all night, every night! Thankfully he quickly let us know that due to this and many other issues, they were already in the process of removing them from the property. That is the only issue we have ever had and thought he must have changed his outlook on tenants after having to evict those ones.

Recently he popped round to let us know that he is in fact retiring and selling one of his properties in the street - next door - for way below market price as it needs a lot of work  doing. Suddenly we started discussing the possibility of taking it on to let out ourselves eeek!

We have been for a viewing and noted that a lot of the work required is cosmetic like modernising the dated kitchen and taking out the avocado green bathroom suite. While not a small job, it doesn't require any building work so costs can be kept down by doing the work ourselves and roping in family members in the trade. Once that work had been completed we would need to decorate and decide how furnished we would like the property to be depending on demand, decisions decisions!

One thing we do not need to discuss is using HomeLet. They provide referencing including a credit check, speaking to employers (to verify income), and contact the prospective tenants previous landlord for a reference, giving peace of mind that our property would be safe.

HomeLet also offer rent guarantee and buildings Insurance which automatically covers you for up to £500,000. Peace of mind indeed

We would also need to set up a deposit scheme to protect both us and the tenant, all things that need looking into before a final decision is made but it is definitely something we would like to do.

Do you have any experience as a Landlord? Any tips or pointers would be gratefully received!

#MyFirstRentalHome


 

Great Tips for Booking a Trip for Yourself or an Opera Loving Friend

Friday, 29 June 2018

If you’re a fan of opera, or you know someone who is, you may want to consider booking an opera inspired getaway. What better way to enjoy your annual holiday, than by catching an opera show in a beautiful, foreign country?


Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know to book a trip for yourself or an opera loving friend. 


Book through a specialist agency


Although it’s totally possible to book an opera getaway yourself, it is much easier to turn to the help of a specialist agency. Companies such as Opera Tours Italy, have been organising opera inspired breaks for many years. They have relationships with opera houses, can book the best possible tickets and they arrange absolutely everything for you.

Just like using a standard travel agency, it’s much less stressful to book through a specialist opera break agency. 


Research the best opera getaways


You’ll be surprised by how many opera inspired breaks there are available to book. Therefore, it’s a great idea to research the best opera getaways onlineIt’s worth noting that what’s considered best right now, will likely change next year. So, you’ll need to make sure you’re looking into opera breaks that are available around the time you plan on going.


Don’t forget to check out online reviews too. It’s always a good idea to see what other travellers have to say about the opera breaks out there. Were they worth visiting? What was their experience? This will give you a good idea of what to expect and also ensure that you don’t waste your money.


Make sure you get good seats!


The last thing you want is to arrive at the opera house, only to discover you can’t see anything! So, it’s essential you make sure you’re booking good seats. If you do book through an agency, they’ll typically have access to some of the best seats in the house. However, if you’re booking the break yourself, you’re going to need to pay attention to the seats before you book.


These are just some of the things to consider when booking an opera inspired break away. There’s some truly beautiful opera holidays out there that you can experience. 


Whether you choose to head to Venice, Verona, Brussels or Milan – you’re sure to have an amazing and memorable experience.

SEO Tips for Bloggers

Thursday, 28 June 2018

For most bloggers, growing your blog by increasing traffic and reader engagement is the ultimate goal. Of course, many of us blog simply because we enjoy doing so, but if nobody is reading your content, it can be incredibly disheartening. 


Blogging is most fun when people are reading your content and engaging with you, whether it is by commenting on your blog or sharing your posts. Of course, blogger communities are a great way to boost engagement and chat with fellow like-minded bloggers within your niche, but the reality is that if people aren’t visiting your blog, you are much more likely to lose interest in blogging.


Luckily, there are a number of ways in which you can work to boost your blog’s traffic and engagement. The digital environment is constantly adapting and evolving, and along with the regular updates to Google’s algorithms, it is important to keep up to date with the latest online trends. 


One of the most enduringly popular methods of improving traffic is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) which is the process of organically growing your blog’s rankings in Google search results for specific keywords and phrases. 


Although this tactic is usually employed by businesses looking to increase traffic, sales and conversions, it is still applicable for bloggers looking to grow their own readership.


For those new to the world of SEO and digital marketing, the whole concept can understandably seem a little overwhelming. However, for bloggers looking for continued success, it is important to stay ahead of the game. 


If you are interested in learning more about what SEO can do for you and your blog, keep reading for some top SEO tips for bloggers!


Pick the Right Keywords


First things first – you have to pick the right keywords and phrases to targetThere are multiple ways that you can find keywords, but the best rule of thumb is to try and pick ones with decent search volume, low competition and, of course, ones that are relevant to your blog. Similarly, it’s important to get the right keyword density and variation in your content when optimising for SEO. Try to include your chosen keyword approximately 2-3 times per 500-word blog post andinclude a mixture of long-tail variations as well as the exact match keyword. A word of warning – avoid keyword stuffing!


Put Your Keywords in the Right Place


Of course, it’s important to have the right keyword, but if it is not in the right place on your blog, you won’t reap the benefits. As well as being in your posts, your keyword should be in the title ideally, or a header within the article if not. In addition, your keyword should also be in the page’s title tag,meta description and post URL where possible. Some blogging platforms like WordPress have additional SEO packages that you can add to your blog, which will enable you to easily take care of the SEO side of things.




Utilise Your Meta Description


Once you start to optimise your blog for SEO purposes, it won’t be long before you come across the meta description. This is the short snippet describing your post that is displayed in Google search results and is an integral part of marketing your blog. When writing a meta description, you should always keep in mind that potential readers will be deciding whether or not to visit your blog based on your meta description, so it is important to make it as engaging and appealing as possible. Don’t forget to include your keyword!


Optimise Your Images


No matter how good your content is, every blog needs good images to accompany the text. 


Go for images that are relevant to the topic of the post, well-lit and in focus. Although this isn’t strictly SEO related, your images should always be your own, where possible, or if not, fully credited to the rightfulowner of the image.




On the SEO side of things, you should always make sure to optimise the alt text of each image you upload to your blog. Not only are these employed by screen readers for people with poor eyesight, but search engines read alt text to understand the content of the image, making it the perfect opportunity to boost your rankings and add in a few targeted keywords.


Although the benefits are clear to see, it is worth mentioning that SEO is not a quick-fix solution. Effective SEO strategies can take months, possibly even years to perfect, especially for bloggers in competitive niches. However, this isn’t to say that it can’t prove beneficial to your blog. 


With dedication, commitment and perseverance, your blog’s traffic should begin to grow and hopefully, it won’t be long before you’re well on your way to meeting your blogging goals!

Finishing touches with Posterlounge - review

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Often when you are decorating, things don't look complete until the finishing touches are applied don't you agree?

When Posterlounge asked if I would like the chance to place an order with them to try out their services and products, it's safe to say I jumped at the chance!

The first thing I noticed was the quality of their website. It is bright and very easy to navigate, with lots of sections to search and a search bar which allows you to simply type "Unicorns" for example. Once you find an image you like you simply click on it and look through the options available for that design. All options are laid out in a straightforward manner enabling you to chose your final size and materials easily.



The first selction I made was for Livs room. As anyone with a young Daughter will know, Unicorns are the big thing right now so when I saw the Rainbow Unicorn Pegasus I knew she would absolutely love it so we ordered the 30 x 40 canvas priced £26.95 




It has beautiful pastel colours which mach perfectly with her baby pink and mint bedroom. It adds a touch of magic and she absolutely loves it! The canvas itself is very strong with the image on lovely thick canvas. The canvas also came fitted with teeth on the back ready for hanging, this gives far more grip that placing the frame on a picture hook. 


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Next we fell in love with this image of a Mule Deer in winter, we selected it on a 60 x 40 canvas priced at £33.95.



Again the canvas is excellent quality, very sturdy and printed on lovely thick canvas. The colours are crisp and vibrant and the image itself is absolutely beautiful, making it look an awful lot more expensive than it actually was.

I think it would be a brilliant festive addition to the house at Christmas but the Husband wants it up permanently, what do you think?

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Lastly we decided on getting something for our kitchen which we are planning to decorate in a few weeks. We chose this Red hot smoking chilli still life, size 30 x 30 cm and priced at £22.95.


It compliments our black and red gloss tiles really well and I absolutely love the finish! Our kitchen is quite small and gets hot quite quickly, we have had canvasses in the past but they end up damaged by the moisture, so we looked into the Alu Dibond option and thought it would be a better fit for our needs.

It also comes with the fixings required to attach it to the wall and will give a floating appearance when it is mounted.

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Our parcel arrived promptly 2 days after ordering, safely packaged with minimal packaging used to ensure safe receivership (unlike some companies that use several feet of bubble wrap and inflated plastic cushions for the smallest items)

With over 300,000 happy customers, free delivery from DHL GoGreen in 2/3 days and peace of mind with a 30 day returns policy, you really have nothing to lose!

I would definitely recommend Posterlounge to Family and Friends and will be back to make more purchases!

*Disclaimer* I was sent the above products in return for a review, however all thoughts and opinions are my own and 100% honest.

Celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary!

Friday, 22 June 2018

Apparently, although I'm not quite sure how, we have been married 10 years in September and together for 14 years! Back in 2004 when I was just 19 years old, I would never have imagined I had just met the Man I was going to buy a house with, marry and have Children with.

We decided last year that we would like to make a celebration out of this anniversary, silly I know but it feels like quite a milestone in a way!

After deciding that a vow renewal, while lovely, just isn't our style, we decided to go for a nice Family holiday instead.


The wedding in 2008!

I have been looking for a while now with lots of ooh's and ahh's from the Mr but nothing really stood out. That was until I came across Alta Vista Property and found the stunning Santa Maria Village in Marbella - pictures below!


Copyright Alta Vista Property


Copyright Alta Vista Property

Copyright Alta Vista Property


We have both absolutely fallen in love with the look of the apartments and the amenities. We are hoping to get everything booked next month. How exciting! I still can't quite believe we have been married 10 years, how time flies.

Our top 3 things to do in Marbella:


1) Vineyard tour and wine tasting at Vina & Bodega Remsamen. We did something similar on our honeymoon so are very much looking forward to this!

2) Art Museum - Museo Ralli. A small local Museum, we are hoping to visit one afternoon and spend a few hours soaking in some culture.


3) One for the kids (and the big kids) - Pirates Park! Ideal for Children up to 9/10, Liv is very excited to spend the day enjoying the rides and shows.


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Two top tips when travelling abroad.

1) Always make sure your whole party are fully covered with medical travel insuranceAny kind of illness abroad can prove to be very costly, even a simple ear infection - as we discovered a few years ago in the Dominican Republic.

2) Another must is full vehicle insurance for rental cars, again something we have unfortunately experienced! I shared our story of fearing a huge bill after a minor bump back in Florida 2013, you can read it here.

Do you have any tips to add or recommendations of places to visit in Marbella? If so I would love to hear them!