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Are Halloween costumes age-appropriate?

Haunted house Halloween Pumpkin Kitten Halloween Pumpkin

I have blogged about Halloween a couple of times over the last couple of week. I’ve discussed make-up ideas and outfit choices and made it quite clear that certain costumes are a no go for me because they’re simply not age appropriate in my eyes.

At the time I thought I might be a spoil sport, but a recent study among 2000 people in the UK, conducted by MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, revealed that I am not the only one who isn’t too keen on the majority of Halloween costumes available (more details here):

  • 66% of women stated they thought costumes on sale were over-sexualised
  • The majority (76%) of those aged over 55 felt that the costumes on sale for children were not age appropriate
  • Parents are not impressed with children’s Halloween costumes on sale, with 83% finding them to be inappropriate for the age at which they are marketed.

Surprised? I’m not! The motto in stores seems to be the gorier the better and it becomes a real struggle to find Halloween costumes that don’t show bones, open wounds or leaking brains. Admittedly, it’s fairly easy to find cute and fun outfits for girls as they can always go as cats or witches, but costumes for boys are usually everything but age-appropriate, if you ask me.

Amy as a witch ready for our Halloween party

Frankenstein, zombies or the Grim Reaper are only a few of the costumes available for boys in all the mayor supermarkets and I personally think there are more age appropriate alternatives out there. To be fair, I wouldn’t mind not dressing Amy up at all, but I don’t want her to miss out when all her little friends go trick or treating. I didn’t when I was little and I don’t feel like I’ve missed out at all. Okay, Halloween wasn’t as commercialised as it is now, but it wasn’t until my 16th birthday that I actually dressed up for the very first time – as angel! Not exactly gory, but I think out of 20 party guests to our Halloween party only 3 looked really scary and let me tell you something: it was absolutely fine and didn’t mean that our party was any less fun. It’s not necessary to look scary and gruesome to have fun, especially not when your three years old.

What do you think about the Halloween costumes available for children? Do you think they are age-appropriate? Do you even need Halloween costumes to have fun and celebrate?

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The kitchen of my dreams

With our move a little less than three weeks away, I have been thinking about interior design more than ever. We will be downsizing quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean that I want to compromise on style and storage space, especially in the kitchen. I haven’t quite decided on the style I want, but mood boards are a great way to play around with different colours, surfaces and styles and that’s exactly why I have created a couple of them.

So far, this is my favourite. It’s modern, colourful and I hope it will cheer my up when I pop in there for my first cup of tea every morning:

my dream kitchen

A must-have for me are built-in appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers. I’m not so strict with my fridge, but anything that comes underneath a counter just looks so much better, if it ties in with the overall design of the kitchen. It’s sleeker, looks less cluttered and makes your kitchen so much more expensive than it might have actually been.

Another important aspect is the flooring. With an active pre-schooler prone to spills, it’s essential that it’s easy to clean, good quality and not too light. Let’s face it, none of us wants to spend all day cleaning up and mopping the floor. Tiles or hardwood are great options that with the right design and colour are timeless additions to your kitchen that will last you for years and years to come.

Despite liking colour, I prefer surfaces such as worktops and cupboards in neutral colours. That way, the room doesn’t become too overwhelming and can easily be changed, if you want something new. A feature wall and accessories are a fab way to inject some colour or even patterns and textures. Think curtains, fruit bowls or blinds – the possibilities are endless and they will really give your kitchen some character.

How does your perfect kitchen look like and what are must-haves?

Disclosure: This is a promotional post in association with BEKO.

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Throw a Game Village Bingo Party for the girls

bingo with the girls

When you’re a mum, it’s not always easy to get child care so that you can meet up with the girls in the evening. One way to get around this is to stay home and have a virtual night with the girls instead.

And what better game could there be to base that girls’ night around than bingo? Online bingo is being played all over the world by millions of people every day, and as well as offering the potential to win some amazing cash prizes, it also gives people a social outlet too. As there’s no need to concentrate on the game itself because the software will daub your numbers that match the calls automatically you can play bingo while you chat to friends in the bingo chat rooms.

It’s simple to pick a game that suits everyone who’s going to join you and to choose a time to all sign in to the bingo site and be online together.

And if you’re introducing new players to the site, they can take advantage of the welcome bonuses that are available. At Game Village Bingo, new players can also make their money go further. Deposit £5 and get a bonus of £20 added before even buying your very first ticket.

And if you think the idea of staying at your own house to play bingo with your friends feels too remote, you could always get together with your laptops at one person’s house, leaving your partners to mind the kids at home. It could become a regular event, with a different person hosting each time. All you need to do is have a decent internet connection so you can all get online at once, and have enough drinks and snacks in for everyone.

The beauty of hosting your own bingo parties is that you can be as chatty and as loud as you like with your group of friends without any risk of disapproval from other players – as might happen in the bingo hall in town. And, of course, your little cherubs will be tucked up in bed, knowing that mummy is never too far away!

Disclosure: This is a promotional post. Image by Anders Ruff Custom Designs.

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Win a Samsung Microwave with Birds Eye

Frozen food giants Birds Eye have just launched two new products to add to their steamed vegetable range and to celebrate they are hosting a Pick and Mix event at Waterloo station where commuters can choose their favourite vegetables and have them steamed for a quick lunch.

win a microwave with birds eye

Obviously not everyone lives in London and that’s why the Pick and Mix stand comes to you, well, at least virtually. Over on Birds Eye’s Facebook page, you can Create Your Steamfresh and win fabulous prizes like a weekend break, stylish mircrowaves and more. All you have to do is pop 6 vegetables onto your virtual chopping board and create an award-winning combo.

Before you run off to try your hand at creating your own Steamfresh, make sure to enter the giveaway below. Birds Eye are kindly offering one lucky reader the chance to win a brand-new Samsung microwave. It’s compact, features a ceramic enamel interior that is easy to clean and will never scratch or crack, hygienic and odour free.

To enter, simply fill in the Rafflecopter form below following the instructions provided. Please make sure to fulfil the mandatory entry requirements first before moving on to earning extra points. Invalid or faulty entries won’t be counted or entered into the prize draw. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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A random act of kindness by a complete stranger

I know we are always trying to teach our children about stranger danger and to stay clear of people they don’t know and to a degree that is absolutely right, but when I watched a YouTube video about Anthony Nolan’s ‘Kindest of Stranger’ campaign raising awareness for blood cancer and their bone marrow register (you can find out more on the Thank you stranger page), I remembered two cases when complete strangers were absolute lifesavers to me.

Ok, they didn’t pull me out of a burning house or stopped me from drowning, but they offered to help me when they could have just ignored me. I thought the campaign was a great reason to tell you to sign up to the bone marrow register and maybe save someone’s life and also talk about both occasions when strangers did something nice for me – because let’s be honest, we don’t share these positive stories anywhere near enough.

The OAP that ditched his wife

Last week, a couple of bloggers and I attended a forest school morning in a forest just outside Bristol. My friend Liska, her little boy Aaron, Amy and I decided to meet up in town and catch the bus there together. With wise foresight, we joked that getting lost together might be better than on our own, so on the bus we hopped. The bus driver told us where to get off and we thought we’d be at the venue within a couple of minutes. After all, the website told us, it was easily accessible via public transport. To cut a long story short, it wasn’t: at least not from the side of the forest that our bus stopped on.

To get from the bus stop to the venue, we would have had to walk along a busy road without pavement with a three and a four year old and that for 3km. Luckily, a lovely old gentleman and his wife spotted us on the side of the road and offered to give us a lift. Their car was tiny and there was no way, we would have fitted into it, so his wife jumped out of the car, let the four of us take a seat and decided to wait on the side of the road while her husband dropped us off at the forest school. How nice was that? They could have simply driven past, but instead they went out of their way to help us – just because. We were incredibly grateful because it meant we got to the event safely and on time.

The nun who saved our holiday

Another occasion that saw a stranger help me out was when I was on holiday with my best friend and her family. We were 14, her parents wanted to go shopping and we fancied going to the local swimming pool, so they dropped us off and her mum gave us a 10 minute speech on how we should look after our towels and bla bla bla. You know the deal, when you’re 14, towels aren’t really on top of your priority list and you just switch off when someone starts their lecture. Well, the inevitable happened and my friend lost her towel and we both knew that that was not good news, so we had the glorious idea to pack our bags and pop into town to get an identical towel, so her mum wouldn’t find out that we’d lost the towel.

We put our last bits of small change together and believe it or not, found an identical towel. Unfortunately, it cost a couple of D-Mark (yes, it was well before the Euro) more than we had on us and we were getting a little panicky when a nun tapped us on the shoulder and said, she’d pay for the towel for us. We were so desperate not to get into trouble with my friend’s mum that we took her up on her offer, let her buy the towel and raced back to the swimming pool – you know, just so it would look like nothing had happened. We even made sure to get the towel wet, just so my friend’s mum wouldn’t notice and to this day she has no clue that the towel we presented her with was not the towel she thought it was. The whole story is so random, but a stranger’s kindness probably saved our heads – or the holiday.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness or have you ever helped a complete stranger? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to share your story on Twitter using the #kindeststranger

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Family photos: 10 Unique Ideas

family photo ideas, ideas for family photosWhen planning a family photo session, most parents want to take unique photos that are genuine to the family dynamic. By hosting a unique photo shoot, you can have pictures that will not only last a lifetime but will fit your family personality. While most families want to be unique when picture-taking, it can be difficult to decide what type of photos to actually take. Below are a few examples of unique family photo ideas to create unique memories for your family.

#1 Be Silly

One way to create unique photos is to be silly. Think of silly poses or themes to show each family members personality. You can even create a lovely photo that is serious and then pair it with a silly version for a unique family collage.

#2 Fashion Forward

For an interesting photo-op, create a fashion forward photo. Dress in high-end fashion or unique designs to create a runway style photo. You can create a luxury photo with simple items in your closet or rent pieces to create a one-of-a-kind family photo.

#3 Individual Portraits

Consider taking individual portraits of each member of your family as well as a group photo so you can create a photo wall in the home. By hiring professional photographer such as Wimbledon Studio Photography, you can take individual photos and have portraits of your children as well as yourself to hang and enjoy in the home for many years to come.

#4 Personality

Remember to consider the family personality and dynamic. If your family enjoys video games, consider dressing up like your favorite gaming characters. If your family is sports oriented, choose a football field or sports venue as the backdrop for your photo shoot.

family-portrait family photo

#5 Costuming

An interesting way to take photos is with costuming. Dress as superheroes or royalty to have an exciting photo shoot. Any costume choice can be made or rented to create a fun family photo.

#6 Color Coordination

A traditional option for family photography is to color coordinate. You can choose a color you love or base your color choice on the season. For fall, most families use black or browns to create a cohesive look. In the summer, bright blues or pinks are used as a pop of color. You can choose whatever color you enjoy to create a personalized look for your family photos.

#7 Every Season

For a wonderful photo collage of your family, consider scheduling photos of every season. Head outside during the spring, summer, fall and winter to be able to have a unique collage of your family. Color coordinate to have an even more unique look.

family_ideas family photo

#8 Think Outside the Box

You can also think outside the box from a traditional photo shoot. While most people will choose traditional options for photos, you can do something interesting. Head to local train tracks or a unique brick wall in your town to have an interesting backdrop. Think of areas you enjoy in your town or unique features that can be used to create the best photos for your family.

#9 Fantasyland

Open up your imagination and create a fantasy style photo shoot to not only have fun but have interesting new photos for the home. Don’t just dress up for Halloween, dress up for a photo shoot too!

#10 Simple Silhouettes

A silhouette is an interesting option for family photos and one that a professional can create. Do something different and create black or gray silhouettes to remember your children’s or family profile as everyone changes with age.

family-ties family photo

Disclosure: This is a promotional post with images from hottotrot via Flickr, Ilyas Guertelli, Marianne Wiest Photography, Wendy Vonsosen Photography and Anne Darling Photography.

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How to grow your business in one simple step

Have you watched the video above? I don’t know about you, but I think hearing success stories like Charlie Mullins’ can be incredibly inspiring for business men and woman who find themselves at a similar starting point to the plumber who now employs over 200 people when he started his career. I know that it makes me focus on all the things I want to achieve for myself and my business and it shows me that there are some simple steps out there that I can take to grow my business without spending a lot of money, because let’s face it, that’s what small businesses usually don’t have anywhere near enough of.

Going virtual, e.g. using a virtual phone service such as Everreach and forwarding and managing your company phone calls via your mobile phone, can be an option that doesn’t only save you money, but also allows you to look more professional and credible to your customers and potential business partners.

Virtual services let you choose landline numbers in every city in the United Kingdom and provide callers with personalised audio greetings and voicemail 24h a day, 365 days a year. This means, that your customers receive the highest-level of customer service all day every day.

Another bonus is that all your calls and mailbox messages are stored for you, which means that you can track your call performance, analyse busy call periods and reoccurring patterns in your business calls.

For around £10 a month, the service is affordable and something I will seriously consider for myself in the future. It would mean that I don’t have to get a second phone line for business phone calls and I don’t have to hand out my private telephone number to people I’d rather not share it with.

What do you think about getting a virtual landline number based in any city of the UK? Is this something you’d use for your business?

Disclosure: This is a promotional post.

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10 Halloween face-painting and make-up ideas for kids

10 scarily easy face-painting and make-up ideas for halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, but if you aren’t really into the whole dressing up game, but your kids still want to go trick or treating with their little friends, why not transform them into their favourite animal or character with the help of make-up or face-paint?

If you need some inspiration for your little trick and treaters, here are 10 face-painting and make-up ideas for Halloween – most of them are really quick and simple to do and only a few of them are for the more advanced face-painter or make-up artist. Face-painting kits are really inexpensive and widely available, and a lot of the designs can be achieved with make-up items you’ve already got at home, so I thought these ideas for Halloween would be helpful to a lot of you guys. I hope you like them!

Cute and colourful kitty cat face-painting

cute kitty cat face-painting for halloween

I love this cute and colourful kitty cat face-painting. It’s perfect for little ones as it uses bright and cheerful colours and no one will get scared. A little more advanced, but I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it with a little practice.

Spiderman face-painting

spiderman face-painting ideas for halloween

This cute and simple Spiderman face-painting will have your little super hero’s heart beating faster in an instant. All you need is three colours, a sponge and a paint brush and you’re ready to save the world. To make it even easier, ditch the paintbrush and swap it for an eye-liner pen.

Vampire Make-Up Look

vampire make-up look for halloween

No Halloween party is complete without at least one vampire. This vampire make-up tutorial really pushes the boat out as it uses red contacts, but you really don’t need them, when you are transforming your little ones into a sharp-toothed undead. The rest is fairly simple and can be achieved with your day to day make-up kit.

Frankenstein face-painting

frankenstein face-painting

The world’s most famous monster can be created following this four step Frankenstein tutorial. It’s super simple and kids will absolutely love it. If you don’t have fake blood, although it’s easily accessible in supermarkets around Halloween, simply use some red lipstick to create cracked scars and lips.

Pumpkin face-painting

cute pumpkin face-painting for halloween

Especially for younger children, monsters and vampires can be a little scary. A cute and colourful pumpkin face-painting can make a fabulous seasonal alternative that can be achieved in just a couple of steps.

Devil Face-Painting

devil face-painting

They all can be little devils from time to time, so why not create a devil face-painting to match their cheeky character? This tutorial only uses red and black face paint and shows a super easy way to transform into a devil this Halloween.

How to create fake scars with face paint or make-up

how to create fake scars with facepaint for halloween

Older kids or teens will probably want to go for a more grown-up and gory look, so adding some fake scars to their face will be a great way to give their outfit the scare-factor. Here’s a fabulous tutorial that explains step by step how to create fake scars with simple means.

Skull Face-Painting

skull face painting for halloween

Halloween is all about undead and spooky creatures, so of course, we can’t leave out one of the most popular Halloween make-ups of them all: the skull. This scary skull design takes you no longer than 5 minutes and can be achieved by complete face-painting beginners – that means even me!

Pirate Face-Painting

adorable pirate face-painting for halloween

Pirate outfits are a firm favourite when it comes to dressing up at Halloween or birthday parties and with this adorable pirate face-paint tutorial in your back pocket, you’ll easily transform your landlubber into a member of Captain Hook’s crew.

Butterfly face-painting

elegant butterfly face-painting

Little girls usually like it a little less scary, but full of colour and glitter. This pretty butterfly tutorial combines all of that while still being super easy to recreate. If you want to draw an elegant butterfly face-painting in less than 6 minutes, make sure to follow these tips.

What are your little ones dressing up as for Halloween and will you join them?

Disclaimer: Credit for all images and videos lies with the creators. I just thought I’d round-up some pretty fabulous Halloween face-painting ideas for you.

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Amy takes being messy to a whole new level

messy kids collage 1

If you’ve been following my blog over the last couple of years, you will know that Amy has always been a messy pup. As soon as she learned to hold things, she used them to create havoc. Dinner turned into what we lovingly call the broccoli massacre and a simple afternoon of colouring resulted in rainbow-coloured vomit all over the kitchen floor – Amy had taken a liking to her crayons and bitten chunks off of them.

Once she started walking, Amy’s interest quickly shifted from crayons to Sudocrem and paint. At first, she only smeared it around her mouth or on the table, then she took it to a whole new level…

messy kids collage two

In a quiet moment, she grabbed a pot of red finger paint and gave our bedroom a little makeover. I can laugh about it now, but I was absolutely devastated when I found her in our bedroom, covered in paint and with a proud smile on her little face. There was red pain everywhere. On the walls, on the doors – it looked like a murder scene and there was no way of getting the paint off the wall. We scrubbed and scrubbed and in the end, we painted the room not once, not twice but 6 times to cover her colourful masterpieces. Chocolate smeared faces I can live with, unwanted wall paintings however not so much.

The mess however that got Amy the most giggles from my friends and family was her African tribal painting. While ‘peacefully’ playing in her bedroom, she must have climbed onto the top shelf of her wardrobe where I stored her toiletries and her Sudocrem, and ehm discovered the healing benefits of nappy cream.

She looked hilarious, but admittedly, she almost scared me to death when she stood on top of the stairs with the face of a ghost.

messy kids 4

Have a messy tot yourself? Share your story with Jen from Mum In The Madhouse and be in with a chance of winning a £500 Amazon voucher as well as many other prizes. More details here!

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Amy prepares for Halloween

Haunted house Halloween Pumpkin Kitten Halloween Pumpkin

Halloween is creeping up on us and whenever we walk through the aisles of our local supermarket, Amy starts planning her costume – in detail. I didn’t think she’d get into the whole dressing up thing quite that early, but after banking herself lots of sweet treats when she went trick or treating with her cousins last year, she seems to have caught the Halloween bug.

I’m not a massive fan myself, but as Amy enjoys dressing up in fancy dress costumes, not only for Halloween may I add, I play along and let her embrace the spirit of Halloween while cringing behind my hands. We’ll pick up a cute little outfit for her, carve some pumpkins and visit some houses in our street, so that Amy can practise her scary face – if you ask me, if she puts on the one she shows me at 7.30 every morning, her little bucket will be full within a couple of minutes.

Amy as a witch ready for our Halloween party

Last year, Amy dressed up as a little witch and I absolutely loved her costume. We ordered it last minute from Tesco Direct and it was delivered free of charge the next day to our local branch.  She’s been wearing it until it fell apart last weekend, which is a bit of a shame as it really was utterly adorable. It was cute and girly and most importantly, it was age-appropriate. I hate nothing more than little girls and boys dressed up as zombie brides or the Grim Reaper. It just doesn’t sit right with me when there are outfits out there that are so much more appropriate for them.

Luckily there are lots of cute costumes available at the moment. Here are some of our favourites:

Halloween costumes for little ones

Have you thought about fancy dress costumes for Halloween yet or have you maybe even bought your little ones outfit? I’d love to know what they’re dressing up as!

This is a post written for Tesco.