Thursday, October 5, 2017

Mommy Must-Have: Minos Moka Pot

It's no secret that I'm a coffee lover. I have three different kinds of "coffee machines" at my home. But, one of those machines stands out. When I really need a boost, when I really need something more than just a standard cup of coffee, I go for my Minos Moka Pot. Why? One word: Espresso. That beautiful beverage that is somehow relaxing and energizing all at once.

Now, I've had other stovetop espresso makers in the past. And, to be completely honest, I shied away from using them regularly. Not because I don't like expresso (clearly, I do) but because they were either slow to brew, difficult to clean, or just a hassle to use in general. But the minos is much different. Although it seems to work basically the same way, it's somehow more efficient (no waiting around FOREVER for my coffee) and much easier to take apart and clean (no weird vacuum happening). It's also a just much prettier pot. I can leave it out on the countertop for display instead of having to hide it away in the cabinets. I also love how you can change the silicone on the handles. It's a little touch, but one that makes this Moka pot feel much more customized.

The finished product is also, of course, important. The espresso comes out smooth (no grounds present at all!) and rich. Just how expresso should be.  Overall, this little pot packs a whole lot of punch. Effective, pretty, and all around easy. Perfection!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

How Busy Moms Can Ensure Their Careers Are Just As Rewarding As Their Home Lives

Written by a contributing writer

Most people love being at home with their kids, but pretty much always find something negative to say about their jobs. Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t parents find ways to make their careers just as rewarding as the life they lead at home? The truth is, they can!

Here are some suggestions to help you if you want to feel more fulfilled in every aspect of your life:

Choose A Career That Incorporates All Of Your Transferable Skills

Think about all of the transferable skills you have that can be used in a new job role. This doesn’t just mean the skills you’ve acquired in other ‘official’ jobs, but the skills you’ve acquired as a parent! There are so many skills and roles that parents take on daily. Just some of the skills you’ll have after having children include:
  • Communication and listening
  • Problem solving
  • Crisis management
  • Supervising
  • Mentoring and teaching
  • Time management
  • Financial management

There are likely so many more too. Can you think of a career where you can use the skills you picked up as a parent?

Of course, the skills you have as an individual and skills you’ve picked up in previous jobs make all the difference too. By choosing a career that incorporates all of your skills, you’ll feel more fulfilled each day.


Pick A Career That Really Makes A Difference

If you want your career to be just as rewarding as your home life, you’re going to need to pick a career that you know really makes a difference. There are all kinds you can go for depending on the qualifications you currently have and whether you’re willing to go back to school/training. You could become a nurse, a teacher, a counselor, or even a social worker. Becoming a social worker is a great option, as you’ve raised your family so you may be effectively able to work with other families. But what is a Social Worker exactly? You’ll be expected to make sure children and adults are safeguarded from harm, keeping an eye on families or individuals who may be considered a risk. You can really improve the outcome of people’s lives in a role like this. That being said, you could make a difference in just about any role you choose to take on!

Define Your Priorities

If you’re going to pick a job that leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling, you need to make sure you’ve defined your priorities. Which is most important to you right now; your home or job? If your kids are still young, it’s likely your home. If they have grown up and are mainly doing their own thing now, it may be your career. Make sure you know what you can't compromise on to make the best decision for you at this time.

Set Boundaries At Work And At Home

Whatever you do, you need to make sure you set clear boundaries at work and at home. Learn to say no if you struggle with that at present. By learning how to set these boundaries, you’ll be able to remain present and focused on the task at hand and have a happier time doing so. You won’t feel rushed off your feet doing things you don’t even want to do!

Choose Something Flexible

If you want a great career that you’re able to fit around your family time, there are a number of options you can go for. Here’s a list of options that could help you in terms of setting a flexible schedule:
  • Financial planner
  • Interior decorator
  • Accountant
  • Makeup artist
  • Hairdresser

There are many other options too, but it’s up to you to do your research and figure out what will suit you the best. You could even start up a side business or offer your services on the side online. These things allow you to make your own money while making sure everything fits in with your current lifestyle. Many people are doing this and you can make it work if this is something you really want. People are selling the most weird and wonderful things, so don’t limit yourself. People are earning a living by drawing cartoon characters for various purposes, doing voice overs, and plenty of other things on sites like Fiverr.

Are you ready to make your career just as rewarding as your home life? Use some of these pointers and see what happens. Contrary to popular belief, work doesn’t have to feel like work! Leave any tips that have worked for you below!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

How To Make Your Kitchen Fresh Again

Written by a contributor writer

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Your kitchen is one of the most functional and used rooms of the house. It’s where all your food is prepared and it’s where a lot of people come to have a chat to whoever it is that is making the dinner or lunch that day! Because of the huge amount of use you get out of a kitchen, it can soon get incredibly boring to look at and use, so we need to change it up every now and again. But what are the best things to do to make sure it stays fresh?

Install New Appliances

When you look at a kitchen, what do you see that takes up the most space in the room? If you’re saying the appliances, then you’re 100% right! Kitchen appliances/units are the biggest factors in the looks of your kitchen because they dominate its space. This means that they’re going to dominate the tone and mood of the room too, so we’re going to want to change them if we want to spice everything up again. Buying new kitchen units means that you’re also going to get a different functionality out of your kitchen. Different units have not only different stylings, but different builds mean that the storage space that they carry is going to change slightly.  Hopefully, this will allow you to do something you couldn’t do before! Do keep in mind, though. that replacing all of the kitchen units in a kitchen is a very big job so make sure you hire a skilled laborer to do this for you as you’re not going to be able to do it yourself and could make a mess if you do!

Replace The Cooker

Your cooker is what is going to be getting used the most out of all of the items in your kitchen; it contains a stove and an oven meaning that you’re going to be using it every night when you want to cook something so it can get dull pretty quickly! Not only that but it can get damaged very easily too if you’re not careful, so sometimes we need to replace it. But even if we don’t need to, it can still change the feel of the room. The cooker is a focal point, so if we change it then we change the room! A popular choice is getting an induction cooker; this only affects the stove but it’s a much more futuristic way of cooking. Flames are not used, instead, magnets are used to generate heat to the stove which is much safer than using flame.  Just be careful with the little ones as they might be tempted to touch it! For this, you’re going to also need the best induction cookware as it won’t work with most cookware, so have a look!

Put In A New Surface

Similarly to the kitchen units, the kitchen work surface is another very large part of your kitchen and adds to the overall look of your kitchen in quite an unusual way. Your kitchen top is important because, obviously, that is where all of the work takes place! It’s where you’re going to be cutting and putting everything that you’re preparing, so it’s important to get a good quality kitchen surface that isn’t going to stain when something is inevitably spilled on it! From afar you’re not going to immediately notice what the kitchen surface is like because you’re not close enough to it, so from the entrance of your kitchen it’s really not going to matter at all, however, the more you get into the kitchen and the closer you get to it, the more you are surrounded by it and the more of it you can see which means that once you’re right up against it, it becomes the biggest thing in your eye line and therefore will dominate the tone of the room. This is what is known as subjective dominance, so make sure you like the look of your surface before you put it in!

Any of these things is going to make your kitchen like new again. Whether it’s getting a new kitchen surface in to make everything feel new again when you’re cooking, replacing all of your old units for new ones, or getting a brand new cooker, they’re all going to make your kitchen a much more exciting place to be in! Of course being in the kitchen means you’re going to have to cook things, but what are the best things to cook? Well, read this and you’ll find out!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Cruelty-Free Hair Products (Affordable Options)

That's right! I've taken my cruelty-free journey to hair! Now, while I don't exclusively use cruelty-free products, I am trying to make the effort to find cruelty-free options and switch to cruelty-free products that are comparable to the products that I currently use. So far, most of my day-to-day makeup is by cruelty-free brands. So let's see if I can find some CF hair products as well!

Maple Holistics Tea Tree Shampoo

I LOVE this shampoo. It leaves my hair clean, shiny, and it doesn't dry it out. I like the smell of tea tree oil so, of course, I love the smell of this shampoo.  The brand, Maple Holistics, specializes in cruelty-free and all-natural personal care products. I will definitely be trying more products by them! (You can get free samples from Maple Holistics here!)
Live Clean Argan Oil Restorative Shampoo and Conditioner
I used these products up! Which, unfortunately, is a rarity due to my product testing schedule. But, in all honesty, I just loved how my hair looked with this shampoo and conditioner. They make my hair completely revitalized and healthy after months in the Florida summer sun. The shampoo does have an earthy vanilla scent that took some getting used to simply because I am used to very strong fruity scents when it comes to hair care products. This scent was much more subtle and soft. I also love that you can find them in the drugstore and at Target (my Publix even carries them) at a pretty affordable price point! Live Clean also makes hand, body, and baby products.

Alba Botanica Conditioners in Coconut and Plumeria

Alba is a popular brand and probably one of the first people run to when they decide to go cruelty-free. Alba's products are hit or miss for me. And every time I get a miss, I want so badly for it to be a hit. I liked these conditioners but wasn't wowed by them.  The plumeria scent was my favorite, but I felt like I had to use a lot of product to get my hair fully conditioned. Overall, I would recommend these conditioners if you have short or medium length hair. But if you have long hair or need intense moisture, I would look elsewhere.

Baptiste Dry Shampoo

This one is a bit controversial. Baptiste has claimed they are cruelty-free, yet some sources report that they sell their products in China. (China requires animal testing in order for the product to be sold there.) To be honest, I'm not sure which is true and can't find anything from the brand other than this statement:
"Batiste Dry Shampoo is not tested on animals. While we have no connection to the Leaping Bunny Program, we use a rabbit icon to draw attention to the fact, as stated on the can, that we do not test our product on animals."

So, taking the brand for its word, I've included Baptiste on this list.  And it's my favorite dry shampoo. I've tried higher-end brands and I always come back to Baptiste. My favorite scent is Bare. It's very light, clean, and not perfumey at all. The dry shampoo soaks into my hair, leaving it soft, and feeling/looking clean. It's super easy to use, not messy, and there is no fussing with it to get it to work.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

5 Epic holiday ideas for the adventurous type

Written by a contributing writer

If you’re already planning what to do on your next big vacation, how about you go on an epic once in a lifetime adventure? If you’re the adventurous type, then typical vacations of laying down at the beach with a cocktail in your hand will definitely not do it for you. You would want something more thrilling, something that would get your adrenaline pumping right?

The good news is that there’s so much the world has to offer for those people with a thirst for adventure. Whether you want the adventure on land or under the sea, there will be something that can satisfy your thirst for something different. Check out some of the places you can go and things you can do below.

1. Swim with sharks in South Africa – sure there tours that let you get closer to whale sharks, which are not man-eating and is considered a friendly giant, but if you want the thrill of danger, go on a cage diving tour in South Africa. If you don’t consider yourself a daredevil yet and cannot swim without cages, this is the perfect tour for you. You will get to see one of nature’s most majestic, not to mention dangerous, creatures – the great white shark.

2. Trek the world’s highest peaks - if you’re looking for the most scenic and beautiful mountains, there’s probably nothing that can come close the majesty of the Himalayas. You will not only appreciate Mt. Everest, the highest peak in the world, but also the small mountain villages all over the place. The key to a great adventure in the Himalayas is that you get experts to guide you through the area. If you’re thinking of going on this adventure, get more information over at They can definitely take you on the adventure of your life at the Himalayas.

3. Whitewater rafting - for those who want to ease their way into being an adventurer, you can try white water rafting first. While there are areas that are highly dangerous given the kind of rapids they have, you can try to look for some that are perfect for beginners and even families if you want to bring your kids with you. From there, you can level up and discover the more dangerous and popular routes, such as the Great Zambezi River in Zimbabwe.

4. Discover the rainforests of Costa Rica – if you want a break from mountain or water scenery, why not go on an epic adventure through the rainforests of Costa Rica? This is perfect especially for those who truly enjoy appreciating the many animals and plants that nature has to offer. You’ll see wonders such as rivers filled with crocodiles and rare orchids and birds. A trip like this should be experienced by every person at least once in their lifetime.

5. Hang Gliding at Rio De Janeiro - if you’re not the type to be deterred by heights, hang gliding from the Pedra Bonita is definitely a sight to behold. You’ll get to appreciate the Sugarloaf Mountains while traveling to the beach for your landing. Don’t forget to look for the famous Christ the Redeemer statue while enjoying the sights of Brazil!

Friday, September 8, 2017

What to Look for in Renovation Quotes

Written by a contributing writer

Deciding to start a home renovation project is a big step for any homeowner. That is why the process of finding the right renovation expert to complete the job is so important. When you are searching for quotes and getting estimates for your job, it is important to understand what that quote should include and what your rights are to change it before you sign a contract with the renovation professional. Here are three important things to look for in home renovation quotes.

Scope of Work

An important part of the estimate is knowing that both you and your contractor are on the same page when it comes to a variety of project specifications. This part of the quote should spell out clearly what the contractor will be expected to complete and the timeframe in which they will complete it. Additional information such as inspection fees, permit fees, and other costs not related to material and labor should also be clear before signing a contract.

Standards for Quality

Contractors have to meet safety requirements for each job they do, but there is no governing rules or licensing to guarantee high-quality work. If you are worried, you can include in your quote and your contract specifications for contractors to follow manufacturer instructions on materials, that all employees must act in a workmanlike manner and that they follow the standards of local trade associations, even if they are not members themselves. While you may not have to pay more to meet these standards, it may affect the original quoted timeline for the length of the project.

Bid and Allowances

When it comes to money, you want your contractor to be as transparent as possible. A good bid should provide you with the best estimate on the cost of materials (which can change depending on the type of materials you want to be used for the project), cost of labor, how many hours of labor will be required, repairs for possible damage and cleanup materials. Most quotes will have room for an allowance, which gives the contractor a certain amount of wiggle room in case costs of materials are higher. These allowances should be researched by the homeowner to determine if the contractor is providing a fair estimate in material supplies.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Loving Mom: Showing The Family How Much You Care

Written by a contributing writer

It is easy to take people for granted. As a mom, it probably happens to you on a daily basis. The kids don’t say thank you for making dinner or the husband doesn’t realize how much work it takes to get a clean house when you have kids. However, most mothers move on to the next day without a second thought. But, instead of hoping they show they care, why don’t you make the first move? If you start the process, they are more likely to reciprocate. And, let’s face it – very few things get done around the house without a mother’s touch.

Here are four simple ways to show your family you love them.


Smile When You See Them

The majority of moms can’t help but shine their cheesiest grin when they see their loved ones. Whether it’s the hubby or the kids, they make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Still, there are times when you've had it with them or when you are not feeling at your best mentally and physically. It’s these times which are the ones which cement your love. By flashing a loving smile when they walk in the room, they will know they are the center of your attention. You don’t have to speak because a smile says a thousand words.

Share Regular Meals

It is true that families don’t share the same dynamic any longer. Thanks to technology and a fast paced environment, people don’t appear to have time for a family dinner. However, sitting down and eating together is an amazing way to create a bond and keep it alive. The simple act of asking the kids and your partner how their day was is a sign you care. After all, who would ask and listen to the response if they were just going through the motions? Also, the dinner table is a place for fun and laughter, and these two elements are sure-fire signs of a loving household.


Tell Them

Of course, the most basic method is to say it with words. Sometimes, there is no need, but people like to hear it all the same. It isn’t like the jury is out; it’s more like it feels good when it comes out of the blue. Just saying the words “I love you” is a great place to start, but you don’t even have to have the conversation face to face. If you prefer, you can slip personalized thank you cards into your family’s lunch. The feeling of warmth when they see their surprise is hard to replicate any other way. Leaving notes on the bathroom mirror has the same effect.

Use Grand Gestures

There is nothing better than a surprise which ticks all of the boxes. A card at lunch is nice, but it is human nature to want more. For example, the kids might want a trip to Disneyland over the summer, and your husband might want a new car. Although they are big gestures, they do go a long way when used sparingly. Plus, it is always nice to enjoy a vacation and come back to a brand new car!

Usually, you can show them how much you care by being the mom of the house.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Time to Find the Ideal Gift for Your Husband? Here's the Route to Success

Written by a contributing writer

Buying gifts for men is one of those things that’s always hard to do and get right. It’s just so much easier to find that ideal gift for your female friend than it is to find it for your husband. So, it’s a good idea to start thinking about this early. If his birthday is coming up, or you want to plan things extra early for Christmas, this guide will teach you how to get your approach right and get your hands on that ideal gift.

You want to find him something that he will truly appreciate. But that doesn’t mean that you have to be conventional. Sometimes, it pays off to think outside the box and take risks when buying gifts. Whereas, playing it safe can often backfire or disappoint. Learn more by reading on now.

Think About the Gifts He’s Loved and Hated in the Past

First of all, you should try to think about all the gifts that your partner has received in the past. Which ones did he love? And which of them did he hate? This information can help you a lot when you’re deciding what you should get for your partner this year. You’ll know what ideas to avoid and which to take inspiration from.

Offer an Experience

It doesn’t have to be the case that your gift is something that you wrap up and give to your partner physically. There are many experiences that can also be given as gifts. It’s often the case that the best gifts for men come in the form of activities and experiences. You could give them the chance to fly a plane or drive a sports car around a professional competitive track. Or you could give them a travel-related gift or some tickets to see their favourite band or sports team. There are so many options out there.

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Keep His Hobbies in Mind

Every man has certain hobbies and interests and these should really be kept in mind when the time comes to buy them a gift. If you can find a great gift that is in some way linked to the hobbies they have and the things they spend their time doing, it will be a gift that they use and love. That’s just what you want for your next gift. Of course, what you buy will depend entirely on what they enjoy doing and spending their time on, so only you can decide what that gift should be.

Choose Something You Know they NEED

Finding something that your partner really needs is a good way to ensure that they don’t end up hating whatever it is that you buy for them. They don’t want to be saddled with an item that will be filed away in a drawer and never used again. This is what happens to all too many gifts and you don’t want it to happen to the one you give to your husband next. It certainly won’t happen if you know that he’s been looking for something in particular and they need it for some specific reason. It will be used and that means it will be appreciated too.

Stay Away from Work-Related Gifts

Being something that they need shouldn’t extend to buying them something for work. Think about it; does your partner really want to be reminded about their job when they’re opening gifts on their birthday? Probably not. So, you should try to stay away from those kinds of gifts. They are usually pretty dull and boring, and that’s not what a gift for your partner should be anyway. There are so many better options out there. So, unless your partner genuinely loves their job a lot, this might not be the best route to take.

Don’t Give a Gift That Acts as a Not So Casual Hint

This is a mistake that so many wives and girlfriends make. They think that they’re being helpful by buying a gift that they can use to better themselves in some way, but it can sometimes come across as an insult. For example, if your husband has been trying to grow the perfect beard, buying a razor for him to shave it all off with might not go down well. That’s just one obvious example, but you want to try to avoid all gifts that could be interpreted as not so casual hints regarding what you want your husband to do.

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If you take all of this advice on board, finding a gift that your husband is going to love should become a lot easier.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Around The Edge: Tampa To Miami Via The Coast

Written by a contributing writer 


They don't call it the Sunshine State for nothing! Florida has some fantastic attractions and not just the major theme parks we all think of! If you're looking for a way to enjoy the sunshine while also seeing what the state has to offer then why don't you take a trip from Tampa and follow the coast around to Miami stopping at a few places on the way? Here are just a few hidden gems you may want to stop at along the way.


Tampa is a thriving city and the area has many fantastic shopping outlets, museums, an aquarium, and large zoo. But if you really want to enjoy some fantastic views, then you need to go to a restaurant with views of Tampa Bay. Taste of Boston serves up a lot of deep fried seafood including scallops, shrimp, and oysters, as well as the famous New England clam chowder. And the view is spectacular.



If you're traveling with the family in tow, there are some fantastic, peaceful county beaches where you can relax and enjoy the sunshine. But if you looking for something a bit more adventurous Seashore Eco Tours offers kayaking lessons as well as guided kayak tours through the mangroves. If your young ones aren’t thrilled with kayaking there are plenty of paddle boarding lessons available too.

Cape Coral


If you have an interest in the wildlife of Florida, you could venture down to the Tom Allen Memorial Butterfly Garden based in Rotary Park which preserves butterfly species. Once these butterflies have hatched safely away from the hunt of predators, they are released back into the wild, and you can see the life stages of the butterfly on guided tours. You can also learn about the specific characteristics of each butterfly species.

The Everglades National Park


Right at the South of Florida, this National Park is truly a great natural treasure. But apart from the swamps and unique wildlife, there are plenty of other things you can do in this beautiful park. You could go to the Ernest Coe Visitor Center which educates visitors on the varied species of the Everglades. Or, if you wanted to experience the Everglades up close, you could go camping. There are plenty of front country and backcountry camping sites available.



Once you have made the trek around southwest Florida, you will end up at the party capital of the state. But while many choose to kick back with some cocktails, there are still plenty of other things for you to do in Miami. You could go to the Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science which houses an aquarium, a planetarium, and two wings that feature interactive exhibits for all the family. But if you are looking for a little less education on your trip to Miami, you could frequent the many eateries and drinking establishments, such as the Versailles restaurant. Here you can indulge in traditional Cuban food. Or you could go for ice cream at the Azucar ice cream company!

As far as a road trip around Florida is concerned you've got plenty to keep you busy, so take in the sunshine and enjoy the sunshine state!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Birthday Planning: How to Make Your Child's Big Day One to Remember

Written by a contributing writer

Every parent wants their child’s next birthday to be one that they will remember for a long time to come. But actually making that happen can often be more difficult to do that many people imagine. If you don’t have children, the stress of an upcoming birthday is hard to imagine. So, for parents out there, here’s how to start birthday planning and make that day one that will stick in their mind.

Organize a Group Activity All Their Friends Can Enjoy

Birthday parties need to have some kind of structure. If there is nothing much for the kids to do, things can get pretty chaotic and difficult for you to control. There are all kinds of birthday party places out there. You need one that offers a group activity that your child and all of their friends can enjoy.  If your child is doing something that they genuinely enjoy, they will remember the day for a long time to come. And it will mean that they never get bored or have nothing to do at the party, which matters a lot too.

Prepare Goody Bags

Next, you should prepare some goody bags for all the kids to take home with them. These are fun ways to finish the day and they ensure that everyone leaves on a good note and in a good mood. This will make the day better for your child and all of their friends. Everyone should have goodies to take home that you feel are appropriate. You don’t need to spend a fortune on these things but they should be memorable in some way.

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Send Out the Invites Early

It’s essential to making your life easier by sending out the invitations early. But first of all, you need to make sure that you invite the appropriate people. Remember, this is your child’s party and if you forget to invite one of their best friends, this party will not be as great as it can be.  So, talk to your child about who they want to be there and make sure you make their best friends priorities. Send out the invites early and request that parents RSVP so you can organize everything smoothly and accurately.

Have a Bespoke Cake Professionally Designed and Made

The cake is often the big centrepiece of the whole birthday. Therefore, you need to find a way of making it stand out. If you’re not much of a baker yourself, it makes sense to call in the professionals to take care of this matter for you. That’s usually the best way to go about things. They’ll be able to make sure that the bespoke cake that your child gets is professionally designed and tastes great too. Those are the things that matter and professionals can offer them. The photos will be looked back on for many years to come, so you want the cake to look great. Of course, you don't have to spend a fortune on a cake or any part of the party. If you or family members are great at DIY, you may not need to hire anyone. The importance is the thought behind the birthday and creating a day that is all about your child doing things they love with the people they love.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Back To School Survival Tips Every Mom Should Read

Written by a contributing writer


It doesn’t seem too long ago that our kids were running out of the school doors excited for summer break. Now we are in the middle of August and pretty soon the school gates will be opening again (if they haven't already) to welcome our children back for another school year. To help you get ready for the new academic year, here are some back to school survival tips you may find useful.

Order classroom essentials online
Save yourself a lot of time and head online for the supplies your child needs for school. We recommend you take a look at the special offers at and go to the Walmart section for some great opportunities to save on classroom essentials. Having everything delivered to your door will cut down on legwork from going from store to store trying to find everything and will save you a lot of last minute stress.

Check the school uniform

Remember, your children grow up fast, so make sure their uniform/clothing still fit. You may still decide to buy some new gear, especially if there are holes in the knees of their trousers or nasty scuff marks on their shoes. While you could buy the clothing online, you may prefer to head to the local store for this one so your kids can try on clothes before you buy. Better to be safe than sorry and you will save them a lot of discomfort to boot!

Sort out the paperwork

Schools tend to send us a lot of paperwork, so make sure you are up to date with everything. Keep everything in one folder, from the school calendar to a copy of the classroom rules, and sign any consent forms needed for the year ahead. Keep a backup of important dates and information with the app from, which is especially useful for those of us prone to forgetfulness.

Ready the body clock

There is nothing wrong with you letting your kids stay up an extra hour or so during the holidays. However, in the run up to the new school year, get back into a routine early. Your kids will need time to adjust to early mornings again, and so will you. Therefore, you won't run the risk of your kids being late on the first day of school and you'll ensure you all have time to prepare yourselves.

Get back into school mode

When you’re young, school holidays seem to last forever. Many will be looking forward to getting back to school and seeing their friends and some will be trying to hold onto the last clutches of freedom they have before they return. In either case, prepare your kids for the inevitable. Get them back into ‘school mode’ and practice their reading and writing with them and encourage them to think positively about the return to school. Younger children especially will need your reassurance, so offer plenty of love and support. Follow the advice we gave you here at, and remember to care for mental well-being during the preparation for the new school year.

Good luck for the year ahead!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Secret To Looking Great - No Matter Your Age

Written by a contributing writer

Our culture sometimes seems to have a lot of hang-ups surrounding the concept of age. The truth is that your age doesn’t need to matter all that much, as long as you know the approach to take. When it comes to looking your best, age is not some kind of hurdle which needs to be overcome. No matter how old or young you are, you can look fantastic regardless, so long as you know what you are doing. In this post, we are going to discuss some of the things you can do to ensure that you look your absolute best, no matter what age you happen to be.

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Invest In Your Body While You’re Young

Funnily enough, the world of investment can actually teach us something interesting about the idea of looking our very best. The best time to put money aside is when you’re young, as this gives you the most amount of time possible to gain interest and widen your portfolio. Well, the exact same happens to be true for your appearance. As it turns out, investing in your appearance when you are young is also going to be a great idea. And it’s one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself later in life. So how exactly do you go about investing in your appearance when you are young?

The first thing is to make sure that you get enough exercise while you are young, as this will having a profound and positive lasting effect. People often make the mistake of thinking that exercise is just a temporary solution to look better now. But the more you exercise and keep yourself in shape, the longer you will carry on feeling and looking amazing, so this is one investment you should definitely make. On top of that, you might want to think about eating as healthy as you can from the youngest age possible. This will work wonders in terms of keeping you healthy and vibrant, which can affect how your skin looks even years later.

On top of all that, it is also true that when you set up these healthy habits, you are much more likely to continue them in later life as well. Clearly, starting young will often mean that you carry on being healthy for longer as well.

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Change Your Fashion As You Age

If there is one major faux pas which makes older people seem considerably less fashionable, it is trying to hold on to the fashions of the past. Although you might well have looked great in a particular type of clothing or outfit in your twenties, you might not look quite the same in your fifties. And the style may give a dated appearance. Instead, consider gradually changing your fashion to suit not just your age, but your changing tastes in life as well. If you know where to look and you have the patience, there is always fantastic clothing to be found for people of all ages, so you don’t need to worry about being short of items. You might even want to specifically look into finding dresses for women over the age of 50, as this can help you to fill out your wardrobe with the kind of items which you will look great in. Having a wardrobe that suits your age and your tastes is most of the hard work, so get that right first and foremost and you should be fine.

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Catch Up On Your Sleep

As you grow older, you need less and less sleep, until eventually, you will probably get by on only around four to five hours. However, just because you feel you need less doesn’t mean you won’t function better on more. The truth is that sleep helps your body repair and generally look its best, no matter what your age might be. So if you are serious about looking great at any age, you will definitely find it beneficial to get a little more sleep than you might be used to. This alone can make a huge difference to how you look - and how you feel.

Done right, your age does not necessarily have to make that much of a difference to your appearance. The important thing is to remember that there are always things you can do if you want to look a little better. As long as you are taking steps, you can look your very best, regardless of what age you happen to be.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The One And Only: Nurturing The Individual In Our Children

Written by a contributing writer

It's a tough balance to get right as a parent. We want to do everything we can for them and we need to be sure that we are addressing the difference between nurturing our children and having to tell them what to do. But you want your child to grow up to be someone where their individual personality shines through and not just someone who follows the pack. So where is it best to begin to make sure that your kids are not only well-rounded human beings but also people with their own thoughts, opinions, and personality?


Leave the Controlling Aspect Within Yourself Behind

It's always much easier as a parent to tell your child to not do something rather than debating the issue. But it's important to support your child in a way that helps them develop properly. Your child's development during the first three to five years of their life is very important. This is when their personality that governs the rest of their life forms. So embedding habits in your own parenting methods are also important. This means stopping and thinking before you bark orders. Instead, think about working with your child to help them realize the error of their ways. For example, if you don't want them to touch something because it's unsafe, it's better for you to assert that it is off limits rather than putting it out of their reach without explaining because children will need to learn why certain actions are "wrong" as well.

Developing Their Personality

While to an extent their personality will start to shine through after 6 months or so, you can help to nurture it in certain ways. It's a cliche that we tend to become our parents as we age, and it can be true to an extent, so it's important for you to think about what attitudes and judgments you will bring to the table. Remember that your outlook may rub off on them.  As humans, we grow to emulate what's around us, which can be evidenced in many ways, even our accents are borne from a subconscious mimicking of our environment. As you are the biggest influence on your child during those early years, it's important for you to reassess your own beliefs and ask yourself if you want to pass them on to your child.

Style And Substance

A lot has been spoken about the fact that we are dressing our children in clothes that aren't suitable for their age. And every parent has their own reasons why they're dressing their child in clothes that are deemed "inappropriate." However, dressing for comfort, the weather, and the activities at hand is most important. Something that is appropriate for their age is also preferable. For example, just because dirty jokes written on baby/toddler clothes exist, doesn't mean they will be well received. Quirky baby tops are a great option for something unique, comfortable, and appropriate.

Encourage Independence Early On

This is a step that can be difficult to do. If you are a parent that worries a lot, it can be quite difficult to allow your child, in essence, "free reign." But it's very important to give them that opportunity to play by themselves (but within view) when they can, especially during that clingy stage every child has, which is difficult for both of you. That's not to say that you should abandon them, but if you can maintain a little distance and stay where they can see you, it will help to lessen their anxiety while also developing self-resilience, which every child will need, especially as they get older.


The Topic Of Encouragement

There are two schools of thought when it comes to encouraging your child. While a lot of people are very quick to give a ton of praise for performing small tasks, this can be perceived as "over encouragement" by others. This means they will later become discouraged if they don't receive praise from others and base the value of their accomplishments on what others express rather than their own inner voice. Instead, if you ask them to do something, it's better to respond with graciousness as opposed to praise. The same applies if they've done something of a high standard, it's not enough to say "good job" or "well done" as it doesn't give much information on why it was good. Instead, refine your praise to give them the power to evaluate themselves. At the same time, the effort is as important as the final result. You don't want them to be resting on their laurels throughout their life, you most likely want to instill tenacity and a mindset in which to work hard to achieve their goals.

Nurturing the individual in our child as opposed to someone who is just towing the line is a big challenge for any parents. Any parent would like an easy life and while we all have our own sets of values that we like to communicate to our children we realize that they will grow up to be their own entity. So, helping them to think for themselves is a very good thing.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Making A Mini Mark Twain: How To Encourage Creativity In Your Kids

Written by a contributing writer

We all know that raising kids can be tough. With feeding and sleeping, changing and helping them through their developmental milestones, being a parent is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. But not only have you got the day to day care to provide for them, but as they start to grow and show off a little more of their personality, you have their emotional, educational, and social development to think about too. When you start out, you can often find yourself sticking to some of the basics like sports, but there’s definitely more interests you can introduce to your kids.

No matter their age, whether they’re a toddler, child, or teen, you can always work on their creativity. School often covers the bulk of their academic development and it’s very natural to get them into sports, but you will often find that nurturing your kids in a creative sense can be great for their futures. Not only may they develop a passion or maybe even a life calling, but working on your kid's creativity can help them become well-rounded. So if you think you’ve got a future writer, artist, singer, actor, designer, or creator on your hands, here are a few ideas on how to encourage them.


Although education often gets a wrap for focusing on the more scientific or academic areas, there’s no reason why your children’s education can’t nurture their creative sides too. Regardless of what they enjoy the most, here are a few ways in which education can increase creativity in your kid.


English classes are great for your kids for a bunch of different reasons. Not only are they compulsory and help to aid with reading and writing in small children, but they can also really open up your children creatively. As they get older, the reading lists that they’ll tackle will broaden their knowledge of literature and creative writing, but that’s not all. They will be encouraged to think about literature and writing in different ways, which can also inspire their imagination and the way they look at the world.


Then there are also art classes. Although your kids may not elect to take art as they get older, starting out with art in school will help to encourage their creative pursuits. If your child shows a talent for any form of art, you may want to guide them towards taking elective classes in high school too.


With drama, most children will experience their first formal introduction to the art in middle or high school, but some elementary schools will put on plays and pageants that they can get involved in. If your children love to sing and dance and act at home, be sure to encourage their dramatic involvement in school in any way that you can, particularly when it comes to taking classes in high school.


Next, there’s also music to consider. Even if your child doesn’t show a passion for music when they’re young, you can still encourage it in school. There are lots of different instruments for kids to learn, some suitable for kids as young as 7 or 8. Taking up guitar, violin, clarinet, or even trumpet can be good for your kids when they’re in elementary or middle school.


School can offer more to your child’s creative encouragement than what’s on the syllabus. You can often find that their choice of extracurricular activities can also work wonders at developing their creative side.


Although not all summer camps are connected to educational facilities, they can still offer incredible extracurricular activities for your kids. You can even find camps that are creative specific that specialize in performing arts or general camps that will look to provide them with well-rounded fun. Either way, camp can offer your child another developmental perspective on their creativity.

Glee Club

Next, if you have a child that loves to sing, you’re definitely going to want to enroll them in glee club. Not every school will have a glee club/choir, but most do. When you want to nurture a talent like singing, a professional teacher can be the next step. Not only will your child be able to have a lot of fun as a member of the glee club, but they will learn how to train and control their voice as they develop their talent too.

The Paper

When your children love to read and write, it’s often a really beneficial idea to get them involved in their school paper. With a faculty member there to help out, they can work on their creative writing and get an insight into what the working world of a writer is like. Whether your child is twelve or 18, it can be a nurturing experience for them.

Poetry Club

If you’ve started to notice that your child's interest in writing is a lot more creative than writing fact or fiction, you may want to think about encouraging them to join the poetry club. Writing and reading poetry is a sure fire way to deepen creativity. It won’t be for every kid, but it’s definitely one way to work on building a passionate, creative outlet.

At Home

With school and extracurriculars, you don’t have an awful lot of control over the creative encouragement. However, when you’re at home, it’s your domain, so you’re free to encourage creativity in any way that you see fit, through parties, activities, and of course, family time.


It’s not every parent's favorite activity because things can get a little messy, but it’s definitely an activity that can help develop your kids creatively. Painting can encourage artistic expression, help with visualization and imagination, and of course develop and passion for art in your children too. Whether you choose to use watercolors or kiddy paints, it’s an activity you can do with toddlers and grown children alike.


Following on from the idea of painting at home is trying out a few different crafts. Crafting with your kids is a great way to engage them in a fun activity and bring out their creativity. Plus, there are so many different crafts that you could consider doing. Making things, creating jewelry, and even playing with textures can be fun, but as your kids get older, you may find that something like sewing can unearth a budding creative passion in them.

Talent Shows

Another firm favorite that kids always seem to love is being able to put on a talent show. When you want to bring out confidence in your kids or encourage them with performing arts, shows are a fun way to do that. They can sing, dance, act, tell jokes, put on a magic trick, or anything else they like to do to bring out their creative side in a non-competitive way.


Then there are also games that you can play as a family. Aside from some of the more obvious activities, you’ll always be able to find a range of toys and baby or children accessories that can encourage their creativity. Some of these you can even play as a family, including imagination games that can really encourage them to be creative.


Then you’ve also got your children’s hobbies to work with. Hobbies can often blend with extracurriculars, but they’re also things that your kids can do outside of school independently or in their own time.


If your child has a natural rhythm, you may want to think about enlisting your child in a dance class. There are lots of different dance classes that you can pick from. With ballet, tap, or hip hop, you should be able to find a style of dance that your kid will love and that can encourage them creatively. It may also be great for educational scholarships later on down the line.


If it’s reading and writing that your children are interested in the most, you may want to think about encouraging them to read more in their spare time. Sometimes, it’s enough for them to read on their own. But, you can also find that encouraging them to join a local book club or even start their own is a fun way for them to indulge in their passion and develop their interest further.


When your child shows an interest in art, you don’t always have to assume that they’re going to become an artist. In fact, there is a range of ways that you can encourage them creativity when it comes to art and design. First of all, there’s fashion design to think about, and the drawing and sewing that goes along with it. But there’s also game design or graphic design if they’re interested in tech too.


Finally, when you think you may have the next Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts on your hands, you may want to look into any amateur dramatics that you have in your local area. Drama classes for kids outside of school can be great for developing their confidence and personality, as well as their passion for acting and social skills too.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Children's Shows Can Be Valuable Sources Of Learning Life Skills

Written by a contributing writer

For many, television is a big part of growing up. Educational television helps children to develop emotional skills, understand plot lines, and differentiate between right and wrong. At a young age, the minds of children are still being formed and their outlook on life is yet to be molded. T.V. in moderation can aid their psychological growth, by allowing them to meet different characters and explore their nature and personalities. Too much television can be bad for kids, so a balanced active lifestyle is something parents should aim for. However, what children view when they’re young, also impacts their health, but it's mental health rather than physical. Programming has changed a lot since its conception, and now, even children's shows have complex plot lines and complicated questions. But, what kind of shows are best for children, and why?

Image credit - Julian Tysoe


Many early morning kid’s shows are great to help aid the process of learning. Allowing kids to watch learning shows as they eat their cereal is a great way to make the absorption of information a normal part of their lives. It also helps kids who have special learning disabilities because, often, shows have friendly and warm characters for them to relate to. You could find a particular series, that specializes in certain aspects of education, such as mathematics or English, and make it part of your morning routine with the kids. They may end up building a relationship with the show and becoming motivated to participate.

Finding modern shows

As society has evolved so have the children’s shows, this makes keeping up-to-date is important and can help your children talk and relate to the other kids at their school. Coming to Netflix this August, are shows like ‘A Cinderella Story,' ‘My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic’, and  ‘Arthur and the Invisibles.' All of which have characters which can teach children about respect, being a reliable, being an understanding friend to other children, and doing what is morally correct. These types of shows also have authority figures in them, who the other characters learn to respect and honor, which is great to teach children to obey their teachers at school and listen to your advice.

Photo source - guilherme jofili

Complex interactions

Education is very important, but cognitive and human interaction skills are sometimes overlooked by parents. It’s just as important to teach children how to deal with stress, be patient, be respectful of others, and to empathize with other children, as it is to teach them addition and subtraction. Children will often want to be cool and try and emulate their favorite character in a show or movie they like. If the character is respectful, kind, and thoughtful, this should be encouraged. Children wanting to emulate their heroes can be utilized as a mental state to keep them out of conflicts with other kids because they’ll want to stay out of trouble and lead by example.

Sometimes it can be difficult to teach children about the all of the aspects of life that they may experience. Television shows that are geared towards learning, teaching, and emotionally connecting with children are great additions to their development. Although not to be totally relied upon, certain shows are great to reinforce your values in your children.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Dieting 101: How To Eat Properly If You Want To Lose Weight

Written by a contributing writer

Losing weight is a tough thing for many people to do. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say there have been times when it felt like I tried everything and still couldn’t drop a single pound. You may be running a lot and going to the gym a few times a week, but you’re still not seeing the results you wish for.

Most of the time, failure to shed body fat comes from a poor nutrition plan. In most cases, this means you’re eating bad foods. You might be working out a lot and burning loads of calories, but then coming home and putting the calories back on.  If you’re not in a caloric deficit - burning more calories than you consume - you won’t lose weight. In essence, be careful what you’re putting in your mouth.

Okay, so now you’re probably reading this thinking, well, how do you eat properly if you want to lose weight? It’s mainly a combination of what you eat and how much you eat. This still probably doesn’t give you any ideas but don’t worry! All will be revealed in the points below as I show you exactly how you should eat if you want to lose weight:

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Eat Good Food

Telling someone to eat good food isn’t really good advice. Unless you actually go into detail and explain what ‘good food’ actually is. You see, the problem is that most people assume 'good food' is a term used to describe stuff like fruit, vegetables, and anything else green or from the ground. They think their diet must consist of boring meals that include loads of vegetables and salad.

This simply isn’t the case, good food comes in all shapes and sizes. Chicken, beef, pork, and many other types of meat are all good for you. Furthermore, as you can see here,,20678467,00.html, there are loads of healthy meals you can make that aren’t boring!

The secret is understanding what food you should stay well away from when you’re dieting. For starters, don’t eat fast food. Fast food is normally packed full of bad fats, sodium, and calories, making them awful when you’re losing weight. Secondly, stay away from sweet treats. Things like cakes, donuts, or even a pack of sweets, can contain loads of calories and sugar which are bad for someone wanting to lose weight.

Good food is food that’s relatively low in calories, low in saturated fats, low in salt, and provides nutritional benefits to you. I always say, if you’re going to consume calories, you better make sure they do something for you. A lot of lean meat is high in protein which helps you gain muscle, which in turn helps raise your metabolism, which helps you lose weight. Stay away from foods that don’t provide nutritional benefits and are high in calories and fats.

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Control Your Portions
Portion control is one of the main things letting people down all around the world. It’s easy to wonder why you’re not losing weight if you’re eating things that aren’t bad for you. Well, more often than not, the reason you’re still not losing weight is that you’re eating too much of it. A chicken salad is only healthy if you get the portion size right. If you start piling three or four chicken breasts on your plate, then you’re going to consume loads of calories and render the meal unhealthy.

The same applies to every other meal you have; it's important to control the size of every meal. How can you do this? Well, there are various ideas out there to help you deal with this issue. As you can see here, there are fitness programs that come with portion containers these days. By having a specified container, you know how much food you should put into your meal so that you get enough food (not consuming enough calories can also cause weight gain over time) and not too much.

Another of my favorite ideas is to get a portion control plate. These are plates that are sectioned off, so you have a section for different parts of your meal. It encourages you to have a healthy meal size while also ensuring your meal is balanced.


Cook Your Own Meals

I think an essential part of dieting is learning how to cook. If you can cook your own meals, then you can turn something unhealthy into something incredibly healthy and good for you. A lot of people struggle with their diet as they buy their meals ready-made. This may save time, but companies can add loads of unhealthy stuff into their meals that really boost up the calories and the fat/salt levels.

But, when you cook your meals, you control what goes in them. My favorite example to use here is spaghetti bolognese. This is a meal that most people think is unhealthy and they shy away from. However, when you cook it yourself, it can be a great post-workout meal. There’s protein in the mince, good carbs from the spaghetti, and it fills you up with plenty of energy.

The problem is that most people buy ready-made spaghetti bolognese with mince that could be high in fat and sauce that might also be very calorific. With a few simple adjustments, you can make a spag bol that’s healthy. All you have to do is make your own sauce, so you know exactly what's in it and can ensure it's low in fat/calories. Then, make sure you use beef mince with a very low-fat percentage. Finally, use whole wheat spaghetti instead of regular.

Ta-da! You’ve made an unhealthy meal healthy, and will now consume fewer calories and more nutrients.

While all this advice is very important, this final piece is definitely something to bear in mind. Yes, you need to eat healthy for the majority of the time. However, having a cheat meal now and then is actually good for you. As it shows here a cheat meal now and then can help stop your metabolism from getting used to healthy foods. It’ll speed it back up, which makes weight loss easier.

*This post is not meant to give medical advice. Please consult a medical/health professional before changing your diet.

Cheers! Drinks for a Healthier Lifestyle

Written by a contributing writer

When people are thinking about what they put in their body for a healthier lifestyle, they often think about food. But what you drink can also make a huge difference as well. So, in this article, we will take a look at some common different types of beverage and the health effects that they can have on your body. We all know about the types of drinks that can be potentially harmful (alcohol, carbonated drinks, etc.) so let’s take a closer look at the one that can have a positive impact on the human body.


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Many people are not getting the amount of water they need on a regular basis and there is no doubt that there is no substitute for good old H2O. To start off, it plays a big part in restoring the fluids that are naturally lost during the day through breathing, sweating, and waste removal. General health advice suggests that you drink eight glasses of water a day. If you are the kind of person who forgets about this target, it is worth setting a reminder on your phone.

Tea and Coffee

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The two most commonly consumed beverages after water have numerous health advantages if they are drunk plain. Many studies have shown the positive effects of a controlled amount of caffeine and they are full of antioxidants, which help to fight free radicals in the body. Many people enjoy drinking skinny tea. Check out some of the positive effects this tea can have and decide if it may be right for you. The addition of milk, cream, and sugar is when tea and coffee becomes a lot less healthy, so you should be careful about consuming beverages with too many of these things.


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Fresh fruit juices are always going to be your best option rather than the ones that have been highly processed. Too much juice can be bad for you because of the high levels of sugar that are contained, but that shouldn’t put you off entirely. Pomegranate juice is one of the most celebrated varieties, as it contains plenty of antioxidants which help to prevent inflammation, heart disease, and cancer. Fresh orange juice contains high levels of vitamin C, while beet juice has been shown to lower blood pressure.

Low Fat Milk

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When you are a child, low-fat milk is celebrated as a good source of calcium and vitamin D. But it is also true that the low fat and skimmed varieties provide an excellent source of protein and other micronutrients. These varieties also contain a lot less saturated fat than others, such as whole milk.

So, there was just a bit more information about four commonly consumed types of drink for you to consider. Ultimately, water is always going to be the most important, but if you supplement this with tea, juice, and milk, you should be able to create a healthy balance.

*This post is not meant to give medical advice. Please consult a medical/health professional before making changes to your diet. 


Monday, July 31, 2017

A Mom's Guide To Making Your Kitchen Child-Friendly

Written by a contributing writer

Every parent knows that their home can be a dangerous place for young children. Potential hazards lurk around every corner, and it can be easy for your child to hurt themselves if you’re not careful.

Pretty much every room in your house poses a potential threat, but none more so than your kitchen. There are loads of harmful objects and things in this room that make it very tricky to stay calm when your young child is in there.

Which is why I’ve created a small guide to help you make your kitchen more child-friendly! By reading this, you should be able to have your children in the kitchen without freaking out every five seconds.


Lock All The Cabinets

Kids are nosy, let’s just throw that out there right away. They’re always going around exploring things and just generally doing things they shouldn’t be doing out of curiosity. When they start exploring in the kitchen, it can lead to all sorts of dangerous situations. All it takes is for them to open a cabinet or drawer and get their hands on a dangerous utensil. What you should do is fit all the cabinets with childproof locks. You can get things that fit around the handles and prevent kids from opening them. It’ll make your kitchen a lot safer, that’s for certain.

Get A Safe High Chair

If you have a kitchen table where your children like to eat, this can pose a potential threat. It’s easy for your child to get out of their seat and wander towards something dangerous when you’re preparing their food. So, what you could do is ensure you find a safe, high chair for them to stay in. The best high chair will keep your child comfortable and make it impossible for them to get out or reach for something that can hurt them. It keeps them safe while you’re preparing food so you don’t have to worry about them as much.

Move Dangerous Objects Up High

It’s a good idea to keep anything dangerous as far away from your children as possible. I’m talking about things that you don’t put in the cabinets so they can’t be locked away. A set of knives for example, or your microwave/toaster. Keep them in places that your children can’t get to or reach with ease. The best way to do this is to move them to higher ground and put them right at the back of the kitchen counter. This makes it almost impossible for your children to reach them and you’ll keep your children safe and free from harm.


Turn Things Off At The Mains

If you have anything that’s plugged into a socket or powered by electricity, you need to turn it off at the mains. This prevents your children from accidentally turning something on, such as your oven. If your controls are located within their reach, it’s so easy for them to crawl over and turn a few dials which heat up your oven. Obviously, this is very dangerous and needs to be prevented. So, if you keep it turned off at the mains, they won’t be able to accidentally do this.

Hopefully, you can use this guide to make your kitchen a safer place for young children. As such, you can stress less whenever you’re in there.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Cruelty-Free Drugstore Makeup & Why I'm Making the Effort

Yes! I finally started making the effort to find and use affordable cruelty-free makeup. Now, before we get too far into this, does this mean I will never, ever again buy products that are not cruelty-free? No.  At least not right now.  I may someday get to that point.  But for now, I'm taking my dip into being a more conscious beauty consumer slowly.  Because, to be honest, it's a little overwhelming at first! At least it was for me.  I don't really know anyone personally who shops ONLY cruelty-free products.  So I had to do a ton of research to figure out what brands were cruelty-free and which weren't.

How My Purchases Have Changed

So what exactly AM I doing if I'm not completely cutting out all non-cruelty-free brands? I'm making more of an effort.  I'm making more of an effort to seek out cruelty-free products, educate myself on brand animal testing policies, and to choose to purchase comparable cruelty-free products over their non-cruelty-free counterparts.

Why Now?

So one of the most frequent questions I've received since starting this is "Why now?" Basically, what pushed me to finally make the cruelty-free effort? And, as silly as it may sound, it was a Facebook video. You may have seen it.  It wasn't anything particularly gruesome or graphic (because I don't watch those) but it showed Beagles who had been rescued from animal testing...being taught to walk. Full grown dogs looking very scared and not knowing how to walk out of their carriers. For some reason, it hit home.  I guess I never realized companies test on dogs. I knew they tested on animals of the rodent family (not that that is ok either), but for some reason seeing dogs being victims of animal testing...It just hit home.

And if I'm really honest, I've always had the two thoughts on animal testing for cosmetics. 1. It's just dumb and lazy. Testing on animals to get the perfect lipstick formula? Let's get over ourselves. Plus science and technology have given us so many new and more effective ways to test product safety. Stop simply doing it the way "it's always been done" because you are either too cheap or too lazy to train and/or hire employees who are educated in these cruelty-free testing techniques. And 2. What in the world are you putting in your products that make them so unsafe to put on a person without first testing on an animal? Do I want those ingredients on my skin at all?!

How to Find Cruelty-Free Brands

And finally HOW I found cruelty-free brands. The two main sources I used were Cruelty-Free Kitty and an app called Cruelty Cutter.  Cruelty-Free Kitty is pretty good about keeping their information up-to-date. They also delve in a little deeper to  HOW brands are or are not cruelty-free. For example, many brands do not test on animals during the production of their products.  But, because they sell in China (where animal testing is required by law), their finished products are tested on animals before being sold in China. My message to those brands is please pull out of China!  Obviously, many brands know animal testing is, at the very least, bad PR. And that China is a HUGE market.  But there are many brands that refuse to sell in China and do well.  And if enough large brands refuse to sell in China because of their outdated animal testing law, then it may send a message to the country that it's time to get with the times and use the many other ways we now have to test product safety.

While Cruelty-Free Kitty was great for doing research while at home, Cruelty Cutter was my go-to while I was shopping in-store and needed to quickly know right then and there if a product was cruelty-free or not.  With this app, you are able to scan product barcodes to find out their animal testing status.

Cruelty-Free Drugstore Makeup I Love

It has taken months of testing, searching, and purchasing products for me to come up with this list.  I'm sure that, with time, it will only grow.  I was happy to find brands that I already used like Milani and Physician's Formula were cruelty-free.  And that affordable brands like Wet 'N' Wild, ELF, and NYX are also on that list. My thought was "Whew! So maybe this won't be as difficult as I originally thought." For some reason, I always had this thought in my head that cruelty-free brands were less accessible and more expensive. I'm not sure why and I'm not sure if I was alone in that thinking! But, it turns out, there are several affordable, easy-to-find, cruelty-free drugstore brands.  I've listed some of my favorite cruelty-free makeup finds below. Take a look and try them out for yourself!

So far I've found two primers that I like. The NYX Hydra Touch Primer gives my skin a very dewy look (and may be more of a "winter primer" for my combination/oily skin) but is one I would recommend for drier skin. It feels light going on and never had a heavy, "I'm clogging my pores," feeling. My makeup sat on top of it nicely as well.

The NYX Tea Tree Balance Skin Elixir was better suited for my skin in this summertime humidity. Again, it felt light and smoothed out my makeup look.

I'm not going to lie. I was surprised at how amazing many of Wet 'N' Wild's products are. Like many other more affordable drugstore brands, I tried Wet 'N' Wild in high school, wasn't super into really any of their products except the eyeshadow, and never really looked back. I've tried Wet 'N' Wild a few times in between and liked some of their products. But I never really expected for it to become one of my go-to brands. After trying the products listed in this post, it is.  The Wet 'N' Wild MegaGlo line is awesome. And the MegaGlo Correction Concealer is now my everyday concealer. It's smooth with a pretty good amount of coverage, blends out easily, and doesn't crack, break apart throughout the day, or settle in my pores/fine lines.

Physicians Formula's Super CC Color-Correction + Care CC Concealer SPF 30 has been a go-to of mine for awhile. It's light, blends out really well, and looks great even without foundation. The only problem is this concealer can be hard to find and isn't really carried in stores near me anymore.

Wet 'N' Wild is dominating the space on my cheeks right now! I love both the MegaGlo Blush stick and the MegaGlo Cheek & Lip Tint, although I do not recommend using them on your lips. But on the cheeks - yes! They go on smooth and blend into the skin for a natural flush. They also aren't oily or greasy. And they do not make me break out.

Let's talk about ELF for a minute. ELF is one of those brands that's extremely hit or miss for me. Either I love their product or I hate it - there is very little in-between.  But, because they are so inexpensive, I am willing to take a chance on them. Afterall, their Oil Free Flawless Finish Foundation is my new go-to and it's only $6. I love the packaging (it has a pump!) and the finish really is pretty close to flawless. It also doesn't break me out in the slightest.

The Physician's Formula Super BB All-in-1 Beauty Balm Cream SPF 30 and Super CC+ Color-Correction + Care Cream SPF 30 are two products I had in my collection that I loved even before looking into cruelty-free options. I usually prefer the CC cream over the BB cream. It doesn't feel heavier but has better coverage. Both are must-haves for those who don't want to wear a full foundation but also don't want to go completely bare.

You all know Perfectly Posh was going to show up somewhere on this list. And it is with their MelonDrama Caffeinated Lip Balm. I love their lip balms. They are moisturizing, light, and taste yummy.

I'm having a little bit of a hard time finding cruelty-free tinted lip balms that I love. ELF's Beautifully Bare Satin Lipstick is the closest I've come to finding one. Now, these aren't tinted lip balms. They are much more pigmented and much more like a moisturizing lipstick. But I still like them for a night out or special event. They are a little too much for me for my everyday look.

Mascara & Eyeliner
Whew! Finding a cruelty-free mascara that I actually loved...was hard! So many of them either do a whole-lotta-nothing or flake and smudge like crazy. WHY.

But I did find two from, yes, Wet 'N' Wild that I absolutely love. Now while I wouldn't recommend Wet 'N' Wild's more affordable, solid colored mascaras (the ones that are like $2-$3), I absolutely recommend the Max Volume Plus Waterproof Mascara and the Max Fanatic Mascara. Both give pretty dramatic results, have a drier formula ( = less mess), and mascara wands the minimize clumping.

One other mascara I've found that is more of my "everyday mascara," is the
Hard Candy Ginormous Lash Volumizing Mascara
. Hard Candy is a brand I literally have not tried since the 90's (when they had the oh-so-trendy powder blue nail polish that came with a cute plastic ring! Ah, the 90's.)  Not because I never wanted to.  But, in all honesty, because I didn't know they were still around. The only place that carries Hard Candy makeup by me is Walmart. And the section is so small it maybe has 10 products.  But this mascara has an easy to apply, mess-free formula, great wand, and doesn't flake all over my face.

Now, I've said for years that Milani's Eyeliners are pretty close to MAC's Khol liners (smooth, no hassle application without melting all over my face). But I recently found out that Milani is cruelty-free. So, I picked up the Stay Put Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil and have been using it since.

When I decided to try to find cruelty-free makeup items to use regularly, I really didn't change my go-to eyeshadow.  Because my go-to eyeshadow is Kat Von D's Metal palette, which is cruelty-free. So as far as eyeshadow goes, that is the palette I use the most. BUT I did want to give you a cruelty-free drugstore option that I know is a good one. And that is Milani's Bella Eyes® Gel Powder Eyeshadow. They're not chalky, have great pigment, and stay put.  Also pictured is a Wet 'N' Wild Eyeshadow Brush. You can sometimes find these at the Dollar Tree (yes, for $1) and they are soooo worth the price. Are they the BEST brushes I've owned? No. But they're also not of poor quality either.

It's Gonna Be a 'No' for Me Dawg

So in my testing, I came across some products that just did not work for me. They may work for others and there are even a few on this list that beauty gurus swear by. But I was just not into these.

ELF BB Cream with SPF 20
I wanted to like this so bad. I actually did like how this looked on my skin. But it felt heavy and left me with a breakout.

ELF 3-in-1 Mascara
Messy formula. No payoff. Didn't look like I had any mascara on.

ELF Volume Plumping Mascara
Again, messy formula. No volume.

Wet 'N' Wild Photo Focus Foundation
Doesn't break me out but settles into my pores (an issue I usually don't have). It may be better when used with a primer. I am holding on to it to try again since so many love this foundation but I prefer the ELF Flawless Finish much more to this foundation.

Do you have any cruelty-free makeup brands/products you recommend?