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Cooking tips for dummies

the best cooking tipsCooking is a hobby for many while it is a chore for others. It’s not rocket science though and you don’t have to be a five-star restaurant chef to rustle up a nice meal. All it needs is a little common sense and some patience. If you are new to cooking, then here are some basic cooking tips that will help you prepare simply unbeatable food.

Planning

Planning your menu and lining up the ingredients accordingly is the best and most systematic way to start cooking. Arrange all the ingredients including the measuring, chopping and mixing parts and keep them at an easy-to-reach distance. Don’t keep them too far away as it would mean longer time to take the particular ingredient- you may risk burning your preparation in the bargain.

Order

When you start cooking, start with the dish that requires the longest time to cook. The dish that gets prepared quickly must be prepared last. You can utilize the time between for preparing other items.

Boiling Tips

If you are boiling milk or custard, grease the inside of the pot lid with a small amount of oil. This would keep your milk from boiling over. In case of double boiling, you can place a few marbles at the bottom of the water pan. When the level of water gets low, the marbles rattle warning you to fill it with more water.

Food Handling Tips

Corn

In order to maintain the same level of taste, boil corn by directly putting it in water with no salt. This would retain the taste of corn.

Cheese

If you plan to grate cheese, then freeze it for half an hour to make grating easier.

Eggs

While boiling eggs, add a pinch of salt or pour a drop of vinegar. This will keep the egg in the shell even if it cracks.

Wilted Vegetables

Wilted vegetables are not always spoilt. They sometimes wilt due to extreme temperature differences. Soaking them in water with a drop of vinegar in it would help the vegetables bounce back to life.

The above cooking tips minimize the work load on you especially the clean-up process after cooking gets easier with these. Find out more about cooking tips online. There are plenty of tips that will help you reduce your stress and enjoy the whole process.

What’s your best cooking tip?

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Coping Strategies for Women with Urinary Stress Incontinence

how to cope with usi urinary stress incontinenceA relatively common ailment to afflict mothers shortly after giving birth is urinary stress incontinence (USI). The rigours of pregnancy and childbirth can negatively impact on pelvic floor muscles, which sometimes leads to incontinence. In many cases, something as innocuous as a cough or sneeze can lead to accidents, and such a condition as the potential to cause serious embarrassment.

The good news is that this is usually a treatable condition. Most mothers will be able to overcome the problem with the help of physiotherapy and a series of pelvic exercises. However, in some rare cases surgery may be required in order to permanently address the issue – but only after all other avenues have been exhausted.

If you are currently experiencing urinary stress incontinence, there are several options available to you:

1. Seek help from a physio

If your symptoms are mild, a physio might suggest that you do Kegel exercises on a daily basis. They involve the clenching and unclenching of your pelvic floor muscles in order to strengthen them after giving birth. These are the muscles you will use to control the flow of your urine when the sensation arises. The great thing about these exercises is that they can be done almost anywhere, including sitting at your desk at work.

2. Take your time in the toilet

It’s important not to rush things in the toilet; you need to give yourself time to fully empty your bladder. Once you have urinated, wait 30 seconds or so and try again. This process will ensure you aren’t caught short again in just a few minutes.

3. Limit your caffeine intake

Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it will make you need the loo more often if you’re constantly consuming soft drinks, tea or coffee. Try switching to decaffeinated products, or simply stick to sipping water.

4. Utilise one of the many incontinence products on the market

Despite your best efforts, you may still experience the odd accident as your body readjusts after giving birth. Wearing an absorbent pad will help to limit the impact of incontinence – especially if you’re determined to continue living an active lifestyle.

5. Change your lifestyle

Some cases of urinary stress incontinence are exacerbated by lifestyle, so you may benefit from making a few changes here and there. Manage your intake of alcohol, and try to eat a well balanced diet. There is limited evidence to suggest that a healthy lifestyle can lessen the effects of incontinence.

Unfortunately, some cases of incontinence are just too severe to respond to everyday changes to your lifestyle, and surgery may be the only option available. Vaginal tape can be used to strengthen the muscle walls – allowing for more control over the entire pelvic area.

According to a leading Women’s Health Hospital, the use of tension free vaginal tape for the treatment of urinary stress incontinence is successful between 70 percent and 95 percent of the time. However, not all incontinence is related to pelvic floor muscles. Indeed, the same problems can be caused by bladder-related issues, as well as a range of other ailments. This means seeking the attention of a medical professional if your symptoms persist for more than a few days is of paramount importance

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Get US beauty brands straight to your home

beauty vloggers youtube

I’ve talked about it on the blog before, but if I have a couple of spare minutes, I love watching beauty videos on YouTube. I find it so relaxing to watch someone else do their make-up and talk about the products they like, that it’s one of my favourite things to snuggle up on the sofa with a hot drink and watch Essie Button, Miss Glamorazzi & Co do their thing.

I follow ‘beauty gurus’ (that’s what fan girls half my age call them) from all over the world, which means that I often fall in love with beauty products that aren’t available in the UK. Don’t worry there, there are still ways to get your hands on them. You can, of course, ask friends or family to pick up a product or two for you when they visit the USA, but let’s be honest? People don’t usually travel more than once or twice a year and once a woman has set their eye on something, they want it now and not in 7 months when the next family trip to Disney World is on the maps.

beauty products from over the pond

Online beauty websites such as Beauty Encounter are a great alternative because you can shop for your favourite products from the comfort of your home and buy everything your heart desires from low to high end beauty make-up, skin care and perfumes to accessories, hair care and gifts. I’ve only recently discovered the website, but I have absolutely fallen in love with it – not only because its huge range of brands and products, but also because you get amazing deals. Americans do love a bargain and on top of the perfume sale and the amazing offers in the beauty section you can also add coupons to your shopping basket, which makes this website a true goldmine for any make-up lover.

Are you looking at YouTube for beauty inspiration and what are your favourite beauty products? Let me know in the comments below…

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How to avoid catching a cold

how to get rid of nasty bugs and fight a coldIt’s every busy parent’s worst nightmare; your child comes home from school, sniffling and coughing, suffering from a fever, and you have to spend the next couple of days at home taking care of them until the illness finally leaves. It’s a common occurrence, but can really throw a spanner in the works when it comes to all those jobs and responsibilities we have to take care of during the week. How, then, can you ensure your kids aren’t struck down by illness and infection?

First off, if you’re in the midst of cold and flu season, washing hands is an absolute must- do! Of course, that’s more easily said than done, especially if one has younger children, so demonstration is the key unless you want to be stood watching over your kids whenever it comes to any mealtime or trip to the bathroom. Make sure your children know to wash, with warm water and soap, for 20 seconds, and equally ensure that they know not to put their hands near their faces after they may have touched something germ-ridden in the Spring and Summer months, and to completely avoid touching their faces in Autumn and Winter.

wash-your-hands-and-keep-up-a-good-hygiene-to-fight-bugs-and-avoid-catching-a-cold-or-the-flu

It’s nice to think of our bedrooms as sanctuaries away from the contagions endemic in the outside world, but unclean bedclothes, pillows and mattresses can be a hub for all sorts of nasties. Ensure all sheets are cleaned once a week, especially during cold and flu season or if a member of the family is ill; flip over mattresses every couple of months and replace every ten years or so; and wash and vacuum pillows every few months. After your beds are clean, make sure to use them; sleep deprivation severely restricts the body’s ability to fight off illness. Follow these tips and you and your family will be fresh and healthy!

Being outside in the cold weather having an effect on one’s chances of catching a cold is a totally incorrect old wives tale that persists to this day! The fact is, however, that we should be getting more exercise outdoors during the fluey winter months; regular, moderate exercise can reduce one’s chances of catching a bug annually by up to 50%, thanks to exercise’s ability to boost the activity of cells that make up the immune system. Eating lots of foods rich in vitamins C and D can also boost the immune system, as can eating probiotic yoghurts!

What are your tips to fight flu and colds?

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Win a Sewlomax baby towel set

sewlomax baby towel

Today, I’d love to introduce you to a range of new baby products by a relatively new brand on the nursery and baby market – Sewlomax.

Emma Lomax, the woman behind the company, has been taking the fashion and beauty world by storm for the last two years with her ethically produced collection of stylish wash bags & accessories, now she has brought out her highly anticipated baby range!

Her debut collection of must-have essentials consists of beautifully designed and ethically produced muslins, dribble bibs and baby bath time towel and flannel sets, all of them available online. Here a little sneak peak for you:sewlomax muslin cloths

sewlomax dribble bibs

sewlomax towels

To celebrate their launch, we have teamed up with Sewlomax and are giving one lucky reader the chance to win one of the adorable towel and flannel sets in the colour of your choice (blue, green or pink).

All you have to do is fill in the Rafflecopter form below following the instructions provided. Please, ensure to follow the mandatory steps first before moving on to earn extra points. Good luck!

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Things to do in London on a child-free weekend

London is the perfect place for a fun weekend with the family or a child-free weekend for loved up couples. There’s plenty to see and explore from museums and galeries to parks and historic sights plus there are some of the country’s best restaurants and bars inviting guests of the capital to wine and dine after a busy day in the hustle and bustle of London.

a child-free weekend in LondonIf you are planning a child-free night or even weekend in London, but have no idea what to do with your precious free time, here some ideas for you.

1. Have a lie-in! You don’t know when you’ll get another chance of sleeping as long as you want.

2. Order room service and have breakfast in bed – don’t worry about the crumbs, someone will have hoovered them up by the time you’re back from your day in the city.

3. Soak up London’s history. Stroll down the Mall and see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace before walking through Hyde Park and down to the river, past the Parliament and Big Ben.

4. Jump onto a river taxi and see the city float past you. Get off at St Katherine’s Docks near the Tower of London, grab a bite and walk through the walls of London’s most popular tourist attraction.

5. Go back to the hotel, freshen up and visit one of the many musicals in the WestEnd or the English National Opera. It’s located just off Leicester scare and shows some of the world’s best operas, like The Marriage of Figaro, La bohème and more.

6. Getting hungry? No worries, you’re in the perfect location for some delicious food. There’s Soho, if you like it casual and Asian or you could head into one of the many restaurants along The Strand. The Savoy is just around the corner, if you really want to end your night on a culinary bang.

Whatever you do, make the most of your time in the capital. Be relaxed and don’t plan too much each day. You need a reason to come back after all!

What would you do on a child-free weekend in London? What are your favourite places to stay or eat out?

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Parenting over the centuries

Parenting is an exciting journey. A fun one, a tough one and an incredibly rewarding one, but has parenting always been the way it is today? Of course not, but unfortunately there’s no one around to tell us how parenting changed when infant formula was invented in 1867 or the first disposable nappy came out in 1947.

Did things get easier or did the unknown make parents question themselves and their skills? Has sending your child to kindergarten changed the way mothers saw themselves. New inventions have changed parenthood and will continue to do so. They might make certain jobs easier, but they will never take from us the responsibility of raising loving and caring children and that’s what makes parenting one of the scariest but also one of the best jobs in the world.

If you want to see the inventions and innovations parents faced over the last couple of centuries, check out the infographic below. It makes for an interesting read:

The evolution of parenthood timeline

Parenthood timeline Infographic by benenden health

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Are pets just for kids?

when is a child old enough for a petThe numerous experiences kids can gain from a household pet can be crucial to development. From learning to care and think about another living creature to gaining a loving companion; pets and kids go hand in hand but it would be a mistake to believe that it is only children that have something to seek in this relationship.

Both parents and grandparents can also benefit from the love of a furry friend – and here’s how:

What are the benefits?

  • An increasing number of adults today make the choice to live alone and a pet can provide a much needed source of company

  • Looking after another creature makes us feel needed and consequently having a pet is the perfect way to never feel lonely when living alone

  • Many studies have discovered that having a pet can help keep us healthy by reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and even helping to combat depression – according to these scientific studies

  • Pets can also provide access to new stimulation and relationships, taking your dog to puppy training classes or keeping a horse at a stable can be a great way to gain new friends

What pet to choose?

When considering a possible pet many of us think firstly of cats or dogs but there are a wide range of alternative companions that could be better suited to your lifestyle. Dogs are perfect if you have lots of space and the time for daily walks but they require a more intensive routine than some pets and not everyone is able to accommodate this into their lifestyle.

For instance, mice or gerbils are great if you lack the space but still want a pet that needs a lot of care and attention while fish can be a low maintenance option and fit perfectly into a busy lifestyle.

Pets and the elderly

As pets have many health benefits and keep loneliness at bay, they can provide excellent companionship for the elderly. It has even been determined that they can help speed up recovery after a bout of illness or surgery!

Homeowners at McCarthy and Stone retirement developments should check with their apartment manager to see if pets are allowed in their home and to ensure they select an appropriate companion to suit their needs.

If an individual is unable to care for a pet as well as is needed then there are still ways for them to enjoy the companionship that comes with owning an animal. Pets as Therapy, for example, take animals to hospitals, care homes and many other locations for therapeutic benefits so that people get all the benefits, love and attention of a pet but without the intensive care schedule.

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How to choose the right birth control method for you

Deciding which method of birth control to use can feel like stepping into a minefield. There are so many different options to choose from these days. Combined pills such as Microgynon 30 are often the first port of call for women looking for contraception and can be easily obtained with a prescription from a doctor at a GP surgery or through online services such as onlinedoctor.lloydspharmacy.com. There are, however, a host of other methods available, including progestogen-only pills, caps, condoms, implants, injections, patches, diaphragms, vaginal rings, intrauterine devices (IUD), intrauterine systems (IUS) and natural family planning techniques. Just reading through this list might be enough to make your head spin!

To help you decide on the best form of contraception for you, it’s a good idea to ask yourself some questions.

How effective are the different methods?

For example, it’s important that you know how effective the various methods are. For the lowest risk, you can opt for contraceptives that are more than 99 per cent effective, including the injection, implant, IUD and IUS. If used correctly, the patch, vaginal ring, combined pill and progestogen-only pill are also up to 99 per cent effective.

Meanwhile, the male condom is up to 98 per cent effective and the female condom is up to 95 per cent effective if they are used properly.

Birth control that is up to between 92 and 96 per cent effective, if used correctly, includes the diaphragm with spermicide and the cap with spermicide.

contraception diaphragm for birth control

How organised are you?

You’ll also need to think about how organised you are. If you have a regular routine, you’ll benefit from a wider choice of contraceptives because it’s less likely that you’ll forget to use them. You might want to opt for a method that you take every day, such as the pill, or perhaps you’d prefer something you use each time you have sex, like condoms.

If you’re less well organised, you might be better off choosing a contraceptive that you don’t have to think about so frequently. For example, the contraceptive injection has to be renewed only every three months, while an implant will provide you with protection for three years.

Do you want lighter periods?

If you suffer from heavy, painful periods, it’s worth thinking about using birth control that will make these lighter or more infrequent. Contraceptives that fall into this category include the pill, patch, injection, IUS and vaginal ring.

condoms for contraception and birth control

Do you smoke?

Lifestyle habits can also impact on your choice of birth control. For example, if you’re a smoker and you’re aged 35 or over, certain contraceptives (such as the combined pill or vaginal ring) are not suitable. Being overweight can also have an impact on which contraceptives are suitable for you. You can ask your doctor for advice on this.

Are you planning to get pregnant in the near future?

Just because you’re not keen to get pregnant right now doesn’t mean you won’t want to conceive in the near future. It’s worth bearing in mind that your fertility may take longer to return to normal after using certain birth control methods.

If you want your fertility to get back to normal as soon as you stop taking contraception, consider using the implant, IUS, IUD, diaphragm, cap or condom. Also, you can get pregnant soon after stopping the combined pill, progestogen-only pill, vaginal ring or contraceptive patch.

More info

If you’d like more information on birth control, you may also want to speak to your doctor or pharmacist or use reliable health information websites provided by the NHS.

How did you choose your birth control method and are you happy with it?

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10 ways to save for a mortgage

10 ways to save for a mortgageYesterday, I took a look at my list of 100 things that I want to accomplish. It’s a list of random goals that I want to achieve in my life. Goals that reach from small things like brushing up on my French to owning a house. I wrote it a year or two ago and to be honest, I’ve been pretty lax with it. I’ve not really achieved many of the goals that I set out when I wrote my list, and I didn’t think I was particularly bothered by that, but seeing it black on white made me realise that I want to make more of an effort, especially with one goal: owning a house.

I know that a lot of people struggle to save for a mortgage and I know that I’m not a big saver in general, so I thought it would make sense to collect some ideas that help save some money on every day expenditures. I hope they’ll help you – and me:

Get an overview over your finances

Sit down with a piece of paper and write down all of your outgoings, e.g. insurance, food, rent, phone bill, eating out etc to get an overview over your finances and see where your money is going each month.

Write a budget plan

Before the beginning of each month, make a budget plan and allocate a set amount to each of your outgoings. At the end of each day, write down how what you have spent during the day and what you spent it on. You will soon see what you waste money on and where you can make savings.

Swap instead of buying new

You have a wardrobe full of clothes but nothing to wear? Why don’t you get together with your best friends and swap until you drop? This way, you can completely revamp the content of your wardrobe without spending a penny.

Meal plan

Writing a meal plan and sticking to it (!) stops you from wasting food and money. When writing your meal plan, look what’s on offer at your supermarket of choice and try to drop brands for value or own-brand ranges. Only having 2 or 3 meat dishes a week will also help keep the costs low.

Shop around

Before taking out insurance, signing a mobile phone deal or extending your broadband contract, shop around for the best deal out there. Take the time to use search engines or sign up for cash back deals to make the most of your money or even get part of it back.

Don’t be lazy

Check, if existing deals and contracts such as insurance, gas or electric are really getting you the best deal. Don’t be lazy and let a contract roll over without checking with competitors or your current provider. Sometimes threatening to leave can lead to considerable discounts – I’ve been there and done that!

Dine In

Having to dine in all the time can get boring, if you’re a social butterfly, so why don’t you throw your very own dinner party with friends? Everyone can bring something to the table and you’ll have a great night for the fraction of the price of a night out.

Be prepared for Christmas and birthdays

Spread the cost of Christmas and birthdays by buying presents throughout the year and storing them in a big gift basket. Sales are great to pick up some bargains and if you stock of them and by bits and bobs throughout the year, you’re not only saving money, you’re also prepared for Christmas or any birthdays you might have forgotten. You can even add unwanted gifts to your box – just make sure to not give them back to the person that gifted them to you.

Collect points

Store cards might seem annoying, but they come in handy when you can swap them for vouchers and gift cards at the end of or throughout the year. You can redeem them in store or use them for restaurant meals, short breaks or days out – making your experience much cheaper or even completely free.

Many pennies make a pound

Empty all your small change into a big jar at the end of each day and save it for a year or a time frame that you set yourself. Put the money into a savings account for your mortgage or use it to pay for your holiday.

How long did it take you to save up for your mortgage and do you have any money-saving tips? If you’re still struggling to get onto the property ladder, are there steps you are taking to save?

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