Thursday, 28 July 2016

Kitchen and Bathroom Renovations

We moved into our home five years ago this Autumn. The house is big with large gardens but the kitchen is tiny. For a family of seven things were tight in the kitchen with two double floor units, 3 single floor units and one wall cabinet. We had to combine our washer & dryer and then all we had room for was a fridge freezer. The kitchen is accessible from the lounge which means that one wall in the small lounge can not be used due to it having two doors on it and then access to the electric/storage cupboard. I've never been happy with the kitchen layout and when I saw that my area was listed for a new kitchen I initially thought that due to the kitchen only being five years old that we would not be listed for a new one. So when we were offered a new kitchen and bathroom from the council we were rather happy. 
The kitchen in 2011
When the contractors came I was itching to be able to design the kitchen to make the best use of the space we have. I didn't think we would get much say with it being a council house, I thought we would get to choose a colour from a small selection and that was that. How wrong was I. Whilst talking to the design team they said we could have what we wanted(within reason of course) so when I asked if the door to the kitchen could be moved to the hall they said yes, no questions asked. Moving the door creates more space in the lounge and changes the kitchen into more of a galley kitchen.
We selected our colour choices, opting for ivory doors with an oak block worktop(I have dreamt of this kitchen for years). The flooring we have gone for a dark grey colour. I think a lighter colour would have looked more aesthetically pleasing however, from past experience light flooring does not look its best after it has be trodden on a few times with mucky feet from the garden. The vinyl floor tiles we currently have are a nightmare to clean and never come up nice after scrubbing and using a steam floor cleaner on them.  
With the kitchen chosen all that was left to do was wait and de-clutter the house. When speaking to the council they said it would be after Christmas before the kitchen would be fitted. Then a surveyor came knocking on the door to inform us that it would in fact be done in a few weeks, coinciding with when the children break up from school(talk about bad timing).
So with a rush of de-cluttering and finding places for everything out of my kitchen and bathroom I have been rushed off my feet. We have set up a small kitchen area in my hallway(thankfully the hall is large) and yesterday the contractors came to make a start. 

Day One
Kitchen and Bathroom Rip Out Day

We were warned prior to the work starting that when they rip everything out, back to the bare shell of the house it will not be a pretty sight. Due to the house being a pre-fabricated house and not a traditional built house the bare shell looks bad. I was actually eager to see how my home is built. The house shakes in strong winds, during the summer they are like greenhouses and in the winter they are as warm as a static caravan. But the sight that I was met with when I returned home yesterday was not as bad as I envisioned. I can now see why the upper floor creaks with every step. The small wooden baton on top of the metal floor joists creates the creaking noises. The insulation is not at its best either but considering the houses were not built to last they are doing pretty well. 

The bathroom is the same as the kitchen only if I stand on the bath(like all normal people do) I can see right outside and into the eaves of the house. I am sure the birds that were nesting there are not impressed and we will have a flurry of creepy crawlies move in but only one week to go before it is sealed back up again.

Today as I sit in waiting for the plumbers to arrive I shall be browsing online and making a shopping list of new items that I would like for my new kitchen. I think the only thing that will get me through the next few weeks of renovations is coffee and lots of trips out to burn off the children's energy.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Hobbycraft Teepee Play Tent

A while back Hobbycraft kindly sent us a Teepee Play Tent for review. The teepee comes ready for you to decorate however you or your child wishes to do so. The only things you need is some materials and a little bit of imagination.
I pulled it all out of the box and inserted the wooden poles and tada it was up, in my living room I might add. Inside is where little lady spent the next few hours after collecting every stuffed toy she owns for a private tea party. I stared at the blank white canvas from the outside, little lady stared at it from the inside. Little lady wanted to paint handprints as shown on the box, little T recommended doing a minecraft theme but mummy2five won when I pitched my idea. I wanted a woodland theme. I pictured hedgehogs, foxes, owls and rabbits. Being a little bit crafty I had all sorts of materials and wool that allowed me to create a few little animals. But I wanted a special touch so I decided to look through clothes that had grown too small or baby clothing that I had saved from when the children were little. 

After creating templates I got to work cutting into the clothing whilst recounting great memories  from when they wore the clothes. A snip here and a stitch there and we had an owl. A little while later and Herbert the Hedgehog was created. Next was the rabbit and flower. I had found some bee appliqu├ęs and sewn a line of stitches to show where Billy the busy bee had flown from.

I had created two scenes and realised I had nothing to make a red fox out of so I am waiting for little lady to allow me to cut into one of her orange tops to create a red fox and a red squirrel. Trying to persuade a five year old that has somehow inherited your own stubbornness is no easy feat. 

In the mean time she wanted to play with her new teepee so out in the garden it went. Her and her two little cousins love it. Their own little den where their imaginations can run wild. It is one of the first thing little lady asks for me to pull out on sunny days. I am sure it will provide her with years of fun whilst providing me with great memories of the clothes she once wore.

Whilst I patiently wait for my daughter to lose a bit of stubbornness I made some bunting and a pillow for her teepee. Maybe I should admit defeat and buy some material for the fox.

The teepee is 140 x 120cm. The canvas comes plain ready for you to decorate however you wish and the quality of the canvas is great. I was impressed with the quality especially with the teepee only being £35. When your child is not using the teepee it is easy to fold up and store upright in a shed or even inside the house which is where ours is stored on rainy days. I would recommend the Hobbycraft teepee to family and friends, we loved decorating ours.

Disclaimer: I was sent the teepee for review. All opinions and images are my own. 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Fairy Mountain with the Irish Fairy Door Company

Turn right at the butterfly house, through the gate. Move carefully forward five meters past the prowling cats and you will step into the magical world of fairy mountain. Up on fairy mountain two old trees provide the fairies of fairy mountain wonderful homes. Three homes in all but the residents stay hidden. Only when the garden falls silent do the fairies come out to play and tend to their garden.
We had previously told you about the colourful doors that the Irish Fairy Door Company provided our fairies with. Now I must show you the cute accessories that have been delivered to fairy mountain.
The Irish Fairy Door Company sent our fairies a garden set, a fairy treats plate, two packs of decal wall stickers and their fairy force book.
In the garden set they got a new wooden bench so they can rest and soak in the morning sun, a rake to tend to their gardens, a watering can so they can water their plants and a little flower to place on their table when they enjoy afternoon tea. They also received a fairy treat plate so we can put out delicious fairy treats for them. I can't speak for the fairies but I know my children adore the cute accessories from the Irish Fairy Door Company. Their imaginative play really does come alive when they play on fairy mountain. The accessories have been well played with endured all weather and still look great.
As our fairies live outdoors we have not had chance to use the decals just yet. Little lady has read through the Fairy Force book with me and enjoys the story of how Ben's bad dreams are kept away with the help of the fairies.

If you want to create your own magical fairy garden we all at mummy2five highly recommends The Irish Fairy Door Company for all that your fairy garden needs.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

To my beautiful daughter, I know your heart is breaking

Today you reached breaking point, 
today you broke down and I was not there for you.
Dad was though and I am pleased he was,
he will protect you and have your back.

School has been a struggle for years, 
we've always known that, we were prepared for that.
What we were not prepared for was the bullying,
for 3 years it has gone on, all from the same boy!

A boy, since when did boys bully girls, 
for years you have tried to hold your head high.
Been told by the teachers time and time again, 
it's just banter! Banter it is not.
I wish you would have told us how scared you were earlier, 
instead of keeping it in.
It is our job to protect you, make you feel safe, 
It is our job to ensure you are happy.

Now we know the full story we will, 
this I promise you.
I will not stop until you feel safe, 
until he is reprimanded.

Things will get better, I promise you that, 
Tomorrow we will get answers.
We will not stop until you feel safe at school, 
We will protect you.

The sad thing is you've decided not to attend prom, 
prom that you have been talking about for years.
The dress, the hair, the nails, 
how you will travel there.

We sat and we hugged and we cried together, 
we will do something special.
I don't know what and I know it will not make up for missing prom, 
but I know that you will feel safe.

I know that we will make it special, 
I know that your memories of it will be happy.
I sit here now writing this and my heart breaks for you, 
you should not be made to feel this way.

You're beautiful, you're funny, 
you're brilliant at creating great hair styles.
Far better than me,
you have your future at your feet.

To my beautiful 16 year old first born, 
I love you and that will never end.
I will fight your corner, 
that will always be the case.

I can not make up for missing prom, 
I can not promise that it will be as flash as prom would have been.
But I do promise that happy memories will be made, 
you will get a new dress and you will be with people who love you.


Friday, 5 February 2016

The Growth of Inclusive Sport in the UK

If you think sport is just for keep-fit fanatics, Sunday footballers, and those with too much time on their hands, think again – sport can play a part in everyone’s life to not only maintain a healthy body, but a healthy and active mind too. 
And that goes for everyone, regardless of age or ability level.  The growth of inclusive sport means that virtually anybody can get involved and experience the physical and psychological benefits that are associated with sport, exercise and social-interaction with like-minded people.  

The Inclusive Sport programme is a Sport England initiative designed to increase participation among disabled adults and young people from the age 14 upwards.  
The project is part of Sport England’s wider remit to increase regular sport participation by disabled people, and so far there have been two rounds of Inclusive Sport that have seen 88 projects benefit from almost £20 million of National Lottery investment. 
It’s not all about getting everyone playing football, netball or cricket though, as traditional team sports are simply no fun for those who have sensory issues, and difficulties with communication and social skills. 
Similarly, more individual pursuits such as running and cycling may not be suitable for those who limited mobility or who suffer with fatigue, though there are real strides being made to make these pursuits more fully inclusive, notably adapting bicycles for those with special needs. 
What are the benefits of physical activity? Physical activity benefits both the body and the mind and participation for people of all physical-abilities, is inextricably linked to both better physical and mental wellbeing and the noticeable benefits include: 
  • Improvement in muscle coordination, flexibility, muscle strength and endurance, all of which can increase life expectancy. 
  • Improvement in self-confidence, social skills, behaviour and academic performance. 
  • Positive experiences of achievement and accomplishment, both personally and as part of a team. 
  • Increase in attention span and responsiveness to others. 
  • Can help cut secondary health complications like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. 
  • Offer and outlet for physical energy that can help alleviate stress, anxiety and depression. 
Promoting physical activity If you know someone who is simply not interested in physical activity it can be near impossible getting them out and about, so you need to think outside the box and suggest activities that promote movement without being to ‘sporty’ or excessively vigorous. 
So you could consider things such as: 
  • Walking around the local park and collecting rocks, leaves, and flowers which can be used later on as part of an art project. 
  • Gardening can also be a great way to promote outdoor physical activity and have tangible end results to be proud of. 
  • Playing catch with a friend or even the family dog 
  • Learning skills such as juggling, balancing or kite flying. 
  • Playing games with hula hoops, gymnastic ribbons or skipping ropes. 
  • Taking part in sports that can still be fun without being overly competitive, for instance bowling, table tennis or swimming. 
Playing video games On the face of it, encouraging kids to play video games is a sure fire way to promote a sedentary lifestyle, but there are games designed to get everyone up and active. This can be a fun and practical way of introducing physical activity, especially to anyone who is self-conscious and would prefer to exercise in the privacy of his or her home. 
Instead of sitting in front of Mario Kart or Call of Duty, try some of these instead:  
  • Wii Fit Plus has a balance board and game software that promotes all kinds of physical activity such as yoga and Pilates, and even things like boxing and tennis on Wii Sports can offer a fairly rigorous workout.  
  • Just Dance is a game that is available on all consoles and promotes exercise through fun dance routines to famous songs. 
  • Kinect Sport Ultimate Sport Collection is similar to Wii Sports but is available on Xbox. This game includes sports like basketball, football, beach volleyball and boxing, all of which must be played using bodily movements instead of a traditional controller. 
Have you seen first-hand the positive effect being active can have on an individual? Or have you come up with some inventive ways to promote physical activity? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below…

Friday, 18 December 2015

Portable North Pole

Portable North Pole or PNP as most people know it has been used by us parents for many years. This year was the first year I have had a gold subscription to it. On previous years we have always created a video using the free subscription. I must say I am rather impressed with the gold subscription. You have access to unlimited videos, when you have five children this comes in very handy. I can now create a video for the run up to Christmas and a special one each on Christmas Eve. Not only that you can add extra details on the gold subscription. That is not all the gold subscription has to offer. You also get access to unlimited phone calls.

 My children all received their phone calls today much to their delight. Little lady who is poorly with bronchitis was very quiet when he called. Little T was as giddy as ever and said yes a lot. Big T who still believes in the magic of Christmas was thrilled that he made it onto Santa's good list.

I can not wait to show them their Christmas Eve videos before we go outside to see Santa's sleigh cross the sky at 5:20pm.

For just £9.99 you can get unlimited videos and calls. For all of Mummy2five's readers I can offer you 20% off any paid products, to redeem this offer enter BLG20PNP

I hope your children enjoy the Portable North Pole as much as my children do.

Merry Christmas from us all at Mummy2five

Christmas Gift Guide for the Pets in Our Lives

Christmas is a special time and many of us include our pets when we are buying gifts for family and friends. Below is the perfect gifts for our fabulous pets. All products are from Rosewood

Guinea Pigs
Regular readers will know we have five beautiful guinea pigs. Over the last few days they have been putting all of their new gifts to the test.

Rosewood Naturals Chill 'N' Snooze Bed

The Rosewood Naturals Chill 'N' Snooze Bed is a big hit with Bertie. I filled it with his favourite hay and he jumped straight in. I use fleece as their substrate, so it helps to keep all of the hay in one place, which makes cleaning much easier. The bed is made out of water hyacinth and rattan, beautifully woven,  best of all it is staple and glue free so should Bertie fancy a nibble on his new bed it will not harm him.

Carrot Cottage
All of our guinea pigs have put these cute edible hides to the test. Bertie got the medium size Carrot Cottage and our sows got a large Carrot Cottage to share. Guinea pigs are prey animals so must have hides to retreat to, to make them feel safe. The medium Carrot Cottage is suitable for a single guinea pig and the larger size could fit my four guinea pigs comfortably. The hides are made of parchment board which is covered in meadow hay and topped with a real carrot roof which is safe to chew. As you can see Bertie has had a nibble on his as have the sows. 

Meadow Menu Guinea Pig Food
My guinea pigs love this food. I love that is is 100% natural and compacted into quad-shaped pieces to prevent the guinea pigs selecting their favourite bits. You can rest assured that your guinea pig is receiving a balanced diet. Rosewood say their food is "Grain free and closer to nature with only 100% natural and beneficial ingredients. Contains no cereals, added sugar, GM or salt. 100% vegetarian Made from over 40 meadow grasses, plants, vegetable and beneficial seeds cold pressed to retain nutrients Formed into unique Quad-shaped pieces to stop selective feeding Fibre rich and designed to support tooth abrasion; plus good digestive and overall health". I know pet food isn't a gift but giving your pets a good quality food is the best gift you can give to them.

Cats, cats and more cats
 Now we can not leave out our two cats Barnaby and Shadow.

Yeowww Catnip Toy
Rosewood sent us three of their Yeowww catnip toys: Sour Puss Lemon, Green Fish and Yellow Fish.
I have bought catnip toys for them before and they have shown little interest in them. As soon as I took the Sour Puss Lemon out of its box Shadow went a little crazy for it. I didn't even get time to take the tag off before he pounced. He attacked it in true cat fashion leaving the lemon battered and punctured. The great news is it is still going strong. Barnaby our other cat came in from his little cat adventure and took over the Sour Puss Lemon attack much to Shadow's dismay. I am going to place the fish in their Christmas stockings to keep them entertained for the day and hopefully the fish will help to keep them away from trying to pinch the turkey.

Jolly Moggy Mr Mouse Teaser
Barnaby is the more playful of the two and loves a game of chase the mouse. My youngest daughter loves to keep Barnaby entertained by walking around our home trailing Mr Mouse behind her, closely followed by a stalking Barnaby. Mr Mouse is filled with catnip too so it is sure to be a welcomed treat once he finally catches the mouse. The cats at a cat rescue I volunteered at loved these kind of toys, young or old you could guarantee that the predator instincts would kick in, ready to catch whatever is on the end of the elastic.

Silvervine Seagrass Animal
The Rosewood Silvervine Seagrass Animal is made from natural seagrass that my cats love to scratch at. Inside the seagrass tunnel is a large cat toy that is stuffed with silverline which is a natural attractant. It brings out the playfulness in a cat in a similar way to catnip. Barnaby is quite a good hunter and set to work straight away trying to kill the toy. The effects of silverline can last anything between 5-20 minutes so it helps to give the less athletic cats a workout. Shadow carries a little extra weight thanks to his dog like bin raids so this is the perfect gift for him.

We love all of Rosewood's products, we have bought them in the past and will continue to buy them. So whether you have a big or small budget you will find a product that your pet will enjoy.

Next on my guinea pig shopping list is an Options Deluxe Playpen. Our guinea pigs all live in a big shed and we often bring them into the house for human interaction or after a bath so a place to be safe away from the cats is a must. Also summer is only half a year away and I am sure the guinea pigs would love a nibble on our new lawn.

You can buy Rosewood pet products from most major pet supplies and supermarkets.