3 Aug 2015

Bedroom ideas for a 4 year old boy.....

With Harry on the cusp of turning 4, we've decided to spruce up and organise his bedroom a little. He's really into the Marvel characters at the moment, but I wanted to make the decor long-lasting too. Who knows what characters he's going to be into in a few months time and we are not going to be re-styling every 6 months! 

We haven't touched the wall colour since we moved in 3 years ago and we've decided to leave it as it is for now until we're 100% sure of what to do on the walls. I really like these wallpapers, but I'm not sure which one I prefer, whether to put the same on all four walls, use both, or have an a feature wall with the other three plain.......
We've gone mainly for a red and blue 'stars and stripes' theme, which I'm happy is both 'boy' enough for him as well as being something he can't really get bored of as quickly as a TV character! 

I was keen to keep the room looking bright and airy, so the bed covers are quite a pale shade of blue and the walls are fairly light. Lots of navy blue could quickly turn a room very dark.

The toy box, which we've recently moved from the living room is also acting as a bedside table at the moment, but I hate the cables on show, so a proper bedside table will have to go here at some point. I love the idea of a mid-sleeper cabin bed for him one day too, which will enable us to use the space under the bed for a desk and to store toys or maybe a small chest of drawers.
When the toy box was downstairs, the entire contents were constantly being emptied out and left trailing through the house. Being upstairs we've found we can rotate his 'downstairs toys' and put the others in the box. Being upstairs now, we've noticed that he is less inclined to keep emptying it! This has also stopped him getting bored of certain toys as when they disappear for a while, he's excited about them again when they come back out.

I've recently bought these 3 star rugs from Next. They break up the carpet a bit, and are really soft and machine washable. He had a rug previously with a train on it, but apparently it was for "babies"!

More fab toy storage from Next... I love this huge bag, which I've used to store the million soft toys Harry has which were previously just piled in the corner of his room. I also got the red star boxes, which have served well to store all his cars, planes, trainers and the little random toys that he's collected.

Harry has quite a lot of Lego, so instead of the finished articles being put straight back into the Lego box, we've displayed them on a shelf above his bed. Again, he's less inclined to keep getting them down and leaving pieces trailing through the house. He's not quite old to build them himself yet, so having them up on display also avoids the frustration of him not being able to re-build them if they get broken.

I made this personalised Superhero picture for him myself using Pic Monkey, and framed it in a square picture frame. There are many internet stores that do many variations of this type of picture, which read 'Boy's are superhero's in disguise', but I wanted to personalise something myself by adding his name.
This funny picture I bought some time ago and I think that's where my idea of stars came from...

I think he would really love this Marvel canvas too, which we may get him for his birthday....
All of Harry's books which we tend to read at bedtime are stored in these square shelves at the moment. I found them really great at storing books as they keep them all upright and tidy.

This Stars and Stripes theme is definitely going to last him a while. Luckily it currently reminds him of Captain America, but it would also suit older boys too. Toy storage is a real must in his room as I want to avoid it looking cluttered. I think it's important that at bedtime we can put everything away and make his room a calm place for him to sleep.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for your shopping experience.

27 Jul 2015

Home Appliances - reducing the cost of your energy bills...

Becoming more energy efficient, is not only good for the environment, but in the long term it can save you money. Even taking small steps in your home, can make a significant impact on your annual energy bills.

As well as switching plug sockets off when not in use, not overcharging devices, and using energy efficient light bulbs, we can all also make energy savings with our larger home appliances.

How many of you leave TV's, DVD players, microwaves etc. on standby? 

By turning them off totally, can save you around £80 per year! That's easily equivalent to a nice family day out together.

The EU energy efficiency label is now a legal requirement on all appliances, so look out for the scale from A+++ to G, with A+++ being the most energy efficient. Fridge freezers have the hardest job of all as they have to stay on all day every day. So why not consider choosing an A+ rated fridge freezer and save around £190 per year?

Did you know that older appliances actually drain more energy than newer more energy efficient appliances? A new energy efficient fridge freezer uses a third of the energy compared to that of a 10 year old model. 

As a Mum (and Wife!), there are often times I need to do an emergency load in the washing machine. Has yours got a half-load option? This setting will only use the amount of water required for half a load. Also, what temperature are you washing you clothes at? Washing at 30 degrees will wash your clothes just as well and will save you cash!

Microwaves often provide a much more energy efficient way of cooking small amounts of food than in the oven. This is because microwaves use energy to directly heat the food, whereas electric ovens also have to heat to air inside the oven!

How do you make savings on energy in your home? Please share this post if saving energy and consequently saving money off your annual bills is important to you and your family.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Panasonic.

24 Jul 2015

My 5 Top Tips To Improve Your Running

Despite fitness being my life and career, I only really got into running in 7 months ago. I went through the usual motions that are typical of starting a new activity.....

I ran a lot to begin with, sometimes on consecutive days and then burnt out. I picked it back up again a couple of weeks later and since then I stick to between 2 and 4 runs a week. If I actually practised what I preach, I would have advised myself to not go 'all out' initially with my new found motivation, but rather make running a natural and sustainable part of my lifestyle.

Anyway, I'm happy with the level of running I do each week now along with regular strength training. I tend to run anywhere between 3km and 5km, so not any long distance, but I'm not particularly motivated by distance, rather speed. That's just so typical of my life. Always trying to find ways of doing things quicker!

Along the way, during my 7 month running experience coupled with my 16 year fitness career, I've come up with 5 basic, but useful tips to improve your running. I've put these to the test myself so can vouch for their effectiveness...

Ok, so I know what you're thinking.....it's obvious right! Well, let me explain..... There has been many an occasion when I've gone out for a run but could really not be bothered. I'd probably been sat on my laptop working all day or had a challenging day with the kids. I found myself running slower, more heavy footed and it felt really hard work. However, even on days when you're not feeling it, focus on lengthening your stride, lifting your knees and picking up your pace. You will find that this is a much more efficient technique than running slowly and shuffling your way through. If you're running on the treadmill, just up the speed while stretching out your stride.

Don't let your legs do all the work. Share the load! The arms are key in good running technique and can actually increase your pace. However, make sure your arms don't cross the midline of your body as this causes your hips to rotate which is a common cause of running injuries.

During a run, that's any longer than a few second sprint, it's important to get as much oxygen into your lungs and to your muscles as possible. When exhaling, contract your abdominal muscles and actually push the air out of your lungs. This will help more air leave the lungs, and therefore leave more space for fresh oxygen rich air to come in!

Relax your cheeks! I'm not just talking face cheeks here, but also your butt checks. Relaxing your cheeks will cause your whole body to relax. Your running motion will become more fluid and feel more natural! Try it!

Every time I run, I set myself a workout goal. For example, it could be 3km or 5km, or it could be 20 or 30 minutes. Having a target to reach, whether it's time or distance is much more motivating that just setting off and hoping for the best. If you're running outside, a target may also be a particular circular route, or up and down between two points a number of times.

I hope that the next time you head out for a run, you have a go at implementing one or maybe more of my tips. Let me know how you get on! 

Fitness 4 MamasYou Baby Me Mummy

23 Jul 2015

My Captured Moment - 23rd July 2015

'My Captured Moment' is a creation of Heledd at Running in Lavender. It's all about remembering special moments, both past and present that may have been forgotten without a photo.

This may be a fairly poor quality photo of a photo, but it makes me one very proud Mummy!

I've spoke before about how I'm just not ready for Harry to start school and he's now really starting to sense the change looming... 

We had the choice to have Harry finish pre-school at the end of the Summer school term, or go through the Summer until the end of August. Following the rather traumatic induction morning at his new school along with my need to continue working through the Summer, we decided on keeping him on at pre-school until the end of August. 

We felt that keeping this structure will enable him to transition to school easier come September. We celebrate his 4th birthday on the 12th August, so in his mind, he's already linked his birthday to starting big school. 

The only downside to Harry staying on at pre-school is that a lot of his friends have now finished and gone. It made me sad this afternoon when, behind a quivering bottom lip, he listed off names saying how much he missed them. 

I've realised that the more decision making I do as a parent, the more I realise that there is a downside to every option! My job is to just choose the better one!

Running in Lavender

22 Jul 2015

Walking boots designed for children in mind - Giz Gaz Kids Walking Boots - A REVIEW

We are lucky to live in an area of Shropshire where we have lots of choice for outdoor activities. There are some lovely cycling routes as well as walking routes in our local vicinity, including The Wrekin hill. 

Now Harry is almost four, he gets much more involved in these activities and he loves nothing more than being outdoors, whether it's running around the garden, walking, riding his bike or his new favourite, camping!

My husband often walks our dog around some of our local off-road routes and Harry has taken more of an interest in doing this with him. Due to the irregular terrain, changeable weather and his four-year old clumsiness, I was keen for him to wear something more protective and supportive on his feet.

When Trepass kindly asked us to review one of their products, I was really hoping we could find something that Harry could make good use of.

We chose the Giz Gaz Kids Walking Boots in black. They are available in purple too, between sizes 25 and 33, and they are listed as water resistant and breathable. The sizes correspond to UK shoe sizes, 7 (toddlers) to size 1 (children).

Harry was really excited about them arriving, and spent most of the first day wearing them around the house. I wasn't sure how he would get on wearing them as he'd not worn this type of supportive boot before. 'Breaking them in' indoors on the flat carpet was probably a good idea initially, just so he could get used to them.

It was fairly challenging persuading him to take them off for bed that night...

Harry quite quickly makes it clear if something he's wearing is uncomfortable but these boots have been a hit! Luckily they are lighter than I expected them to be and I've found that they do allow his feet to breath, even on a fairly hot day.

What attracted me personally to these boots was the velcro fastening, and once I'd shown Harry how to do them up, he was quite happy putting them on by himself. It's great that they've given him a bit of independence, however, we do often have to tighten them up for him. This isn't an issue with the boots though, rather an issue with Harry's ability to pull the straps tight enough!

They provide him with really good stability around his ankle so when he's running around on rough terrain, I'm much more at ease compared to if he was wearing his regular trainers. 

Although one of the boots key features is 'water resistance', the label on the side of the boot states, 'waterproof'. Of course, show a four year old wearing boots water, he's going to test them out!

They didn't let a drop of water in, and thankfully for me (as I didn't bring spares that day), Harry's socks remained bone dry.

I have every faith, that these boots will serve Harry well all through the Summer, Autumn and Winter. He is a UK shoe size 10 - 10.5 at the moment and I ordered these boots in an 11 (Size 29). Although he does have some growing room in them, they fit really well, and I'm sure they will feature a lot in our lives over the coming months! 

Disclosure: We were sent these boots from Trespass for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions are my own.

18 Jul 2015

Our family camping holiday to Lobb Fields, North Devon

We've recently returned from our second family camping holiday where we experienced the biggest mish mash of weather I've ever experienced in a 7 day period.  Despite the changeable conditions, we had a fabulous time and loved every minute......

I'm one of those people who research and research holidays before making a commitment. Making pro's and con's lists, comparing facilities, prices, nearby attractions, under 4 hours drive away etc. We made our decision and we booked Lobb Fields in Braunton, North Devon. 

It was a fairly small site with all the necessaries we required - toilets, hot showers, play area and wifi!  They've got a great website with loads of helpful information on attractions, things to do and local eateries. We arrived on a Friday and although over the weekend got slightly busier, it was generally really quiet and we had lots of space to spread out.

Lobb Fields, North Devon

Braunton is a little village not far from Barnstaple and within an easy drive of the popular beaches at Ilfracombe, Woolacombe and Croyde Bay. It was a beautiful location and there was plenty to do, come rain or shine! One of Harry's highlights was the day we spent at The Milky Way Adventure Park.

Harry at Lobb Fields, North Devon

Lobb Fields, North Devon

The swings at Lobb Fields Campsite, North Devon

Lobb Fields, Braunton

It was great being able to let Harry and Sophie run free and as we were pitched up fairly close to the play area, they often took themselves over to play on the slide.

We often caught them having a little cuddle too.

When the sky wasn't full of thick grey clouds, the views around the site were stunning....

Lobb Fields, Braunton, North Devon

 On our first couple of days we were blessed with some sunshine so we visited Ilfracombe for a ice cream and walk around the town. We also ventured out on a bike ride on the Tarka Trail down to Barnstaple. Paul located a bike shop with a cafe while we were there, so we stopped off for a coffee and cake followed by a visit to a local park for the kids to run off some energy.

The Bike Shed, Barnstaple

Barnstaple, North Devon

They both spent the journey home in the bike trailer fast asleep....

Tarka Trail snoozing

Following three days of constant rain, we managed to get out on a second bike ride on our last day. We hired a 'woo hoo' for Harry this time from the Tarka Trail Cycle Hire Centre as he was a bit uncomfortable in our trailer earlier in the week. The woo hoo was fab, and he had lots more space plus he was able to help me a bit with the pedalling! He did still manage to fall asleep for some if it though.

Tarka Trail - Woo Hoo

We rode the 6 miles south of Barnstaple but stopped half way at Fremington Quay for lunch. They served amazing food and cakes here and have got a really great Pirate Ship play area over looking the water.

Fremington Quay

 Although it was never cold, we did have three days of constant, miserable rain. One of those dreary afternoons we spent at Croyde Bay. A bay renowned for it's sandy beaches, scenery and surfing. 

Well for us, it looked like this....

A misty Croyde Bay

We were kitted out in waterproofs and braved the wind and rain. Paul did a bit of rock-pooling and found basically nothing and almost got trapped by the incoming tide. Me, Harry and Sophie dug and sorted through shells and stones on the beach, collecting them in buckets.

Harry was not impressed by the idea of going to the beach initially. He was totally distraught when sand started to get in his boots, and we carried him kicking and screaming towards the water. As expected he was quite happy once we got there. Sophie's a little trooper. She just gets on with anything.

A miserable looking Croyde Bay

Their sibling bond found a new level during the week, and spending so much time with each other we witnessed some really lovely moments between them. 

 We thoroughly enjoyed our second camping trip and we are definitely converted to the idea now. We still ate out for almost every meal including breakfast, so next time we go I'd like to research a few recipes and organise food a little better so we can eat at the tent. We will also get a couple of inflatable chairs for next time too as the camping chairs can get a little uncomfortable after a couple of hours of sitting in them during the evening!

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