Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Review: Astonish Cleaning Products

It is a truth universally acknowledged that cleaning is just a right royal pain in the behind. I don't necessarily hate it, I just struggle for time and there is always something else that I need to be doing other than cleaning. Having said that, I do enjoy having a clean home, and I love new cleaning products.

I was really chuffed to be asked to work with Astonish. This was for two reasons:

1) I really like their products
2) It would give me the excuse I need to finally get a move on and shift some grime out of this house!


Now myself and Warren share the cleaning. We both work and we both have extra-curricular activities - I am a blogger and a student and Warren is a drummer in a band. This makes us super busy, so we have to be on the ball if we are to manage the housework. I wouldn't say our house is dirty, but its...shall we say...lived in.

So in order to test these products fully, we decided that the best way would be to just go for it and blitz the whole of the downstairs. (Upstairs could wait, of course.)

We used the anti-bacterial spray everywhere, stuck a dishwasher tablet in (OK not the hardest job, I know.) We scrubbed the tiles with the tile cleaner and scrubbed the oven down with the oven and cookware cleaner (my word - I can see through my oven door.) I also cleaned the windows and sprayed the downstairs bathroom with the bathroom spray.

So basically, we did everything. I'll be honest...I was astonished. The products are great (special mentions to the window cleaner - no streaks!) But it wasn't just that, a bit of effort and the house was all spic and span. It made a nice change and two days later, we are keeping on top of it and trying to keep everything clean and tidy.

I wonder how long it will last....


Disclosure: We were sent a selection of cleaning products by Astonish in order to write this review. All words and views are our own.

Music Campaign with Bratz! and Alice!

We were delighted to be asked to work in conjunction with Bratz! to review a lovely doll and have a little chat to Alice about what music she likes. Alice is 4 and loves to dance. We spent a week in Spain in April and she absolutely loved the mini-disco - we all love music and dancing in our house, it is such good fun.

I was asked to pose a few questions to Alice, and report back her answers here. I love blog posts like this - lots of memories to save and look over.

What song makes you happy?

*Alice starts singing* "Now it's giving me a rush, dnerr dnerr nerr"

I think it is Zara Larsson and Lush Life.


What song makes you want to dance?

Oh my word. Alice is singing to me again. This time it is:


What song reminds you of your favourite people?

Well, she obviously got thinking about the Spanish holiday and settled on this one:


I think that was enough music questions for one day, and besides, Alice is very busy playing with her Bratz! doll.


We love how the doll has such lovely clothes and Alice especially likes her hair. We are a bit doll mad in this house and Bratz! dolls are definitely a firm favourite!

Disclosure: We were sent a Bratz! Doll free of charge for the purpose of this review and campaign. All words and views are our own.

Review: Lalaloopsy Style N Swap

My kids absolutely adore Lalaloopsy. They always watch the episodes and often play pretend games with each other and tell me all about the characters. We were really excited to hear about the new Lalaloopsy Switch N Style range.



In each set, each character has their own set of hair styles, dresses and shoes to choose from and comes in a handy little carry case. Alice and Rosie were very excited when the package came through the door!

These are available for all your child's favourite characters: Crumbs Sugar Cookie, Mittens Fluff N Stuff, Peanut Big Top and Spot Splatter Splash. The SRP is £9.99 each for these - I think they would make a good present for any child who loves these. One thing I would say is to definitely keep hold of the box - I let them play with the parts and we had a good hunt around for all of the pieces afterwards!



Our girls loved playing with the set. They enjoyed changing the hair styles and the especially the shoes. In fact, I would say they were a little bit obsessed with changing the shoes around! It was also a test in teaching them how to share (again!) and work together. I swear it is like having twins right now - they are learning how to play and interract with each other and toys like this are a good way for me to teach them how to share.

Disclosure: We were sent the Lalaloopsy Style N Swap free of charge for the purpose of this review. All words and views are our own.


Thursday, 19 May 2016

Review: My Daddy Peppa Pig Book

We were delighted to be asked to create a personalised Peppa Pig book called My Daddy by Penwizard. The kids really enjoy books, and Peppa Pig is obviously flavour of the month (years and years of Peppa Pig in this house now!) So what could be more perfect than to combine their love of Peppa Pig with the love they have for their Dad!

The website is easy to use. You can have two child characters and a Daddy. There are plenty of options for hair style, eye colour, facial hair and glasses. Names are also personalised and there is also the option to have a caption or a dedication in the inside cover of the book.




We were absolutely over the moon with the book when it arrived. The characters are just perfect - it is simply my family in a book - absolutely gorgeous. A lovely little treasure to keep, I think. I also think it would make a great Father's Day present.

Penwizard's website is brilliant - there are plenty of other books to choose from such as In the Night Garden, Ben & Holly and The Snowman. There are also other options in the Peppa Pig series such as My Grandpa and a birthday book.

Love our family!
I am sure that this would make a lovely gift for someone special. We absolutely adore our little book and it will always have a special place on our bookshelf.

Disclosure: We were sent this book free of charge for the purpose of this review, all words and views are our own.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Landlord Advice


Among my many roles in life; mother, wife, student, etc, I used to also be a landlord. I will be honest and say that sometimes it was stressful, I had so many things to juggle, being a landlord is not easy! However, I am sure that the rewards outweighed the drawbacks. I am pleased to be contributing to part of a Landlord's Advice eBook published in conjunction with Homelet. I have listed below some key tips for anyone thinking about becoming a landlord.

1) Insurance

Make sure that any items you have left in your house are insured. If you have not left any contents or appliances then ensure that your buildings insurance is up to date and compliant with the rules regarding landlord insurance. Google is your friend.

2) Tenants

Vet your tenants carefully. If you do not want pets or smokers then specify. Do a rent check and ensure that the tenants can afford your property. The last thing you need is to try and evict someone for non-payment.

3) Gas Appliances

If there are any gas appliances in the property ensure that they are safe to use and registered with the \gas Safety Register. Hand the tenants the relevant certificates, and ensure they are kept up to date every year.

4) Maintenance

Maintain your property. Carry out any necessary repairs and ensure that everything is in good working order, including getting the electrics checked.

5) Rent

Ensure that the rent that you set is reasonable for the house size and area. You do not want to risk having your property empty as the rent is too high and equally you do not need to be short-changed. Again, Google is your friend here.


Monday, 16 May 2016

Square Peg, Round Hole...

I'm waiting at the bus stop with the two babies after school. Our house is only three stops up but they like the bus and it saves me some time. I've just finished work and I'm planning a pie for tea - it'll take some time. Speaking of time, the bus is taking plenty. Rosie is sat in her buggy chatting away and Alice is climbing up the yellow seats of the bus shelter. "Be careful!" I warn as she swings her leg round, narrowly avoiding a fall.

I hear a man's voice "Where are you from originally love?" I tell him Manchester. He tells me he used to work there, so knows it well. We chat a little bit about the traffic and the weather. "You know..." he says, leaning in as I watch Alice precariously balancing on the yellow seat, "...I never understood all that Manc versus Scouse stuff. It's nonsense you know." I smile, grateful for his comment, and scoop Alice up off the seat before she does some damage. When I look back, the man has gone.

Strange that this man said these words. On this day. Strange then that they actually made so much sense. There will always be people who do not accept me, you, or anyone, or whoever we are. There will always be people who, for whatever reason are like the flowers in Alice and Wonderland, screeching "We don't want weeds in our bed!" There is nothing worse than feeling like you don't quite fit in. Anywhere. You are neither one thing nor the other and now and again people make their feelings felt, and you feel like an imposter or a second class person. No identity. Neither fish nor fowl. What did I do wrong and why didn't I just stay where I was?



I take a step back and breathe. I think.

I've lived in Liverpool for close to eight years now. and yes I am a square peg in a round hole a lot of the time. I run from work, to uni, to the house, to school. I don't fit in a lot of the time, and I know that I don't try hard enough, I don't have time anyway - I know that, but that's me and I am what I am. I can't change.

But some days, I do get what it is to be Scouse. I identify with this beautiful city. I love my life here, I love our family and somehow I manage to fit in. I don't force myself into the round hole, because I am not round, I'm square...and it's not all to do with being from Manchester. It is a myriad of oddities. But it doesn't matter. The city has accepted me, and I have accepted the city as my own. I may not be Scouse, and I don't describe myself as such.

But I know what it is to be Scouse and I identify with that and with our whole McGiveron family.

And that is all that matters.

Family Portrait


Thursday, 12 May 2016

Working Around The Globe

Sometimes I do think that I might like to work abroad. If not forever, maybe for a short time. This handy infographic below has some pretty good statistics. I think it would be interesting to see what employment is like in other countries. I do a know a few people who work abroad on temporary contracts and they love it. It is something that I wouldn't necessarily rule out.



Monday, 9 May 2016

Tips for Increasing Your Warehouse Space for Start Ups!




This is a collaborative post 

Warehouses need more space most of the time they are in operation. Few depositories offer more space than is required and, if they do, it is time to consider down sizing. Warehouse managers and logistics executives would always like more and more space, because it makes life easier when it comes to the day-to-day running of a storage facility. Simply put, the more space you have, the more goods you can fit in and the better you can organise your layout. However, increased floor space means more rental or ownership costs, augmented heating and lighting bills and more time taken getting from A to B. Great though increasing the footprint of your warehouse might be, it is not necessarily the wisest business decision. Instead, you should be looking at the best ways of optimising the footprint you already have. Lower cost alternatives for increasing your warehouse are available, so let's take a look at some of the better ones.

Optimise Shelf Space

If your goods out function has a certain size of carton that is despatches, say 1 metre by 1 metre, for example, then the space where these goods are stored, prior to being picked for orders, ought to reflect those dimensions. Otherwise, items get shoved into spaces they are not really able to accommodate, potentially damaging them. Furthermore, you end up with wasted or dead space on a shelf, if the location was designed to accept a 2 metre side, but it is only used to store 1.5 metre wide ones, for instance. Of course, looking at the size of cartons you use, and diminishing the number of different sizes you have, can help to make your shelving work for you, rather than against you.

Cantilevered Racking

Unlike conventional shelving solutions, which can only store certain sizes of items, cantilevered racking only has uprights at one side, usually the back. Therefore, all manner of items can be stored side by side and organised according to when they might be needed, by the most picked goods or by any other method you choose. Ideal for fast-moving warehouses, you don't have to store things according to size, thus helping to get the best out of your available space.

Partitioning

Many SMEs start off with a relatively modest warehouse function which grows and grows as the business matures. In such companies, the warehouse can spill over into administrative areas and each causes disruption for the other, as a result. Partitioning has the advantage or clearly marking out zones. Shelving can go higher next to a partitioned wall, because items can be accidentally pushed through to the other side, potentially landing on a workspace. In short, partitioning helps the health and safety of your warehouse whilst enabling you to install racking that goes ever higher.

Mezzanine Flooring

Something that many businesses fail to consider is increasing their floor space with a mezzanine floor. Different businesses offer mezzanine flooring service such as
warehouse storage solutions offers mezzanine floor service all over UK to different business. Mezzanine Floors are able to be put to all sorts of business uses, not just storage ones, mezzanines can all but double the amount of space you have to work in without putting a penny on your overhead costs. One of the big advantages of using a mezzanine to augment storage space is that picking can continue to be done at eye level, or close to it, so you don't need specialist high-grabbing equipment.

Pallet Racking

Warehouses without at least some pallet racking are missing out on the efficiencies the system often brings. Goods in are frequently delivered on pallets these days and they can go straight into storage on their racks, with the right equipment. With racking, pallets can be stored one on top of the next, rather than all on the floor, taking up valuable space.


 

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Chill Factor E Parties + Discount Code!

We were absolutely over the moon to be invited to try out a special Chill Factor E birthday party last week. It was no-one's birthday - we were just invited along to try out their parties and report back - can't say I wasn't looking forward to all this hard work!



First of all we arrived and started to change into something a little warmer! We were supplied with warm jackets, trousers and helmets for safety. I had already packed gloves, so we were set to go. I had already decided that I was going to opt out of the fun and games - I could feel a cold coming on and with my last assignment due, I thought it best I sit it out and stay warm. The kids were all too excited to get going though!


The kids spent 45 minutes on the snow. The younger girls spent most of the time in the samller play area - Mini Moose's special play area filled with soft toys, mini doughnuts and a mini sledging track. They absolutely loved being pushed down the hill with Daddy!


As Emily is a bit older, she whizzed down the tubing lanes in the downhill donuts and also went on the luge slip 'n' slide.


I watched them having fun from the balcony. There are places to grab a coffee or a beer so it was fine for me to spectate. I watched the more experienced people on skis and snowboards - it looked like a lot of fun from where I was sat.


After the play session, which Rosie called her "cold party" we were then invited in for some food at the birthday table. We ate pizza, lasagne, with soft fizzy drinks and had chocolate fudge cake and ice cream for pudd - all with our happy birthday hats on of course!



We had an absolute ball. It was something a lot different to what we would normally do - the kids were absolutely shattered when we left, and kept asking if we could go back at some point!

Mini Moose parties start from £54 for 10 people (excluding food)
Snow Park Party prices start from £145 for 10 people (excluding food)

As a special offer at the moment I have been given a discount code to share with you. For the next two weeks, you can get 25% off a party by clicking on the link below and using the discount code BPARTY25.

Click here to enter your code and receive the discount


Disclosure: We were invited to Chill Factor E free of charge for the purpose of this review. All words and views are our own.

On Killing Bill and Memories

Emily and I sat and watched Kill Bill Volume 1, and Kill Bill Volume 2 last weekend. We had popcorn. She had coke, I had wine. I thought a film that was slightly out of her age range with a strong (if ever-so-slightly-murderous) female lead would be good for us to watch together. It was.


What I didn't tell her, was that I had seen these films, both of them - more times than I care to remember. The films were made around the time she was born and most nights, I would watch some, or all of Kill Bill.


Crazy isn't it. I used to sit and watch as the lead character, The Bride is hurt. Left for dead at 8 months pregnant, she takes her bloody revenge over the course of the two films, killing anyone who gets in her way as she fights to get to Bill, the man who hurt her.


As we watched it together last weekend. I sat and remembered how I was ever-so slightly obsessed with the character of The Bride. The whole film. Watching it with Emily - the old feelings came back. I could feel the old anger rising in me as it rose in her. The sadness. The grief, almost. The need to change a character from victim to victor. And, in the end, winning.


We forget that our lives are composite. We have all of the elements of time running through us. Good times and bad times. Sometimes we make ourselves forget, or are forced to forget, to cover up. Sometimes memories are a burden.


But as I sat and watched that film with Emily, I remembered where I was. I think of where I am now. I have this drive. This passion, this energy that I put into my education. It is blind, it is furious and it absolutely has no end. I will succeed and do what I need to do with this. Because I am the victor, not the victim.


This is not the old story of me having three kids, working, running a blog and "I don't know how you do it." That was not the beginning of me.


I remember the sadness of that girl aged 20. Left alone and pregnant thinking is this my life? I remember the anger and the frustration of that. That was my beginning, and where do you go from there? You don't even know what you are facing. It is sadness, it is frustration, it is anger. Your whole life is the sum of something that someone else did to you. But, like The Bride, in the end it wasn't. Just like that.


I don't have to pretend that it didn't happen, and thankfully I don't have to grab a samurai sword and kill hundreds of people, including Bill, to feel like I have won.


I already have.







Top 3 Engagement Ring Styles Perfect for any Unconventional Woman

Image By riNux via Flickr

If you’re with the right woman, not only will she appreciate the engagement ring, but also the effort that you went through to look for the right one. It is a symbol of your love for her after all. And if she sees that it’s a ring just as unique as her, she’ll be swept off her feet even more.
  
Before you begin with your search, you need to know that looking for the best engagement ring is not as easy as spotting the one with the shiniest diamond (although that would be a plus!). You have to be knowledgeable of the basics, such as the 4Cs and certifications, so you can make a smart decision and don’t end up wasting your money.

And that’s not even it yet. You also have to take into account your woman’s style. Is she into vintage? Does the size of the stone matter? What if she prefers a silver band with her engagement ring? These are just some of the things you need to consider before buying her a unique engagement ring.

We know it might be tedious to some, but it’s tradition. And if you want to show her that you truly love her, taking some time on this gesture will yield results that will sweep her off her feet. For the clueless males, we thought it might be helpful to give you some unique engagement ring styles that you can explore.

1. Heart Solitaire Engagement Ring

Something to remind her of your love is a heart-shaped diamond engagement ring. This beautifully shaped diamond is held together by a three claw setting, just enough to showcase its sparkle. What makes this ring style special is not just the heart shape but the extra work that comes with it. The cut is not like most traditional rings as the jeweller has to make sure he achieves the perfect true heart shape.

If you’re planning to get your lady a heart-shaped diamond engagement ring, you can take a look at Serendipity Diamond’s hearts and arrows diamonds guide so you know which one to get.

2) Baguette Solitaire Engagement Ring

Minimalist women will love the baguette solitaire engagement ring. It is simple, not too fashionable or too showy, but it looks sophisticated. The diamond is cut in a rectangular shape and it sets edge to edge which makes it easier to see the clarity of the diamond even to the untrained eye.


3) Claw Marquise Twist Engagement Ring



The engagement ring has a unique style with the diamond held together by the marquise twist band. The ring is ideal for the woman with big ring finger since the marquise band is able to accommodate more space inside it. Don’t get us wrong though. Don’t get her a ring without knowing what her ring size is.  You still have to get an accurate measurement of your lady’s finger. Serendipity Diamonds are among the best jewellers that can help you get the right fit of diamond engagement rings for your lady. 

Not all the designs will be for your woman, but we hope these suggestions will give you an idea on what to look for. If things come to worse and you really don’t know what to get, it doesn’t hurt to ask her what she wants instead. You can go ring shopping together, take note of the ones that she likes, and buy her the one that she likes best. Sure, it’ll ruin the whole surprise, but you’ll both feel a whole lot better knowing that you proposed to her with a ring that she likes.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Tips To Deal With Your Teen

There is an almost-teenager in this house. We'll call her Em (because that's her name.)  Emily likes Snapchat, Minecraft and Hollyoaks.

Snapchat, Minecraft and Hollyoaks. That is the extent of her interests at this time. She doesn't like any other following:

School or any kind of "work"
Moving of any kind is a particular inconvenience
Anything that doesn't involve an iPhone is "boring"
Everyone in our family. We're all in her way. Especially me. I am the evil bitch mother from HELL. (Naurally)

And so, I consider myself an expert in teen-management. Here are my tips for other parents who are also in this new fresh type of hell that you didn't think you'd be in. 

Since when did the parenting rule-book have a clause in that said "Your child will adore you until they are twelve and three-quarters. Then they will loathe you for the foreseeable future." ?

Anyway, tips.

1) Avoid All Conflict

They hate you and they want to fight you. They want to have an argument. They wake up in the morning and if you are there, breathing - they hate it. Remove yourself from the situation. In case of any attack, stay calm. Here is an example.

"Why is there NOTHING to eat in this house?"

"There is bread for toast, cereal in the cupboard"

"THERE IS NEVER ANYTHING I LIKE TO EAT IN EVER IN THIS HOUSE!!!"

"ok"

Say it just like that. A lower case "ok" will suffice. Fight that urge to absolutely bollock them for being the most ungrateful spiteful child you ever laid eyes on. Fight the urge and be nice.



2) Be Passive-Aggressive

Sometimes this can work. Sometimes it is funny. Be careful, friend. Tread lightly, read the situation. Passive aggressive can fall flat on its face and then you are straight back to being the PARENT FROM THE SEVENTH CIRCLE OF HELL.

Here is an example:



3) Do It Yourself

If the atmosphere is somewhat tense between you and your teen (for no reason at all, other than you're breathing, naturally.) Don't waste your time asking them to do something for you. Whether it's tidying their room, making a coffee or just passing the salt at the dinner table. DON'T DO IT, I implore you. I know that they have to learn to be usual human beings, but when that mood is there, you can't reason with them or teach them SHIT. If you ask them to do something the answer will be this, I guarantee:



4) Punishment

What can you do? Take their phone off them? Maybe. You can ground them. I just find this causes more problems, (Before you call me weak and soft, I'm not, I'm the bitch mum from hell, remember.)  I just prefer to wait until the mood passes. Because it does pass. It comes back though, don't get comfy.


5) Breathe. It is NORMAL

I'm assured that all of this behaviour is normal. I even watched old episodes of Harry Enfield to remind myself that yes, teens are just, well....dicks.

You just have to ride it out. Until they come back to you. I've been told this happens.

*BRACES SELF FOR YEARS OF HELL.*

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