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A Guide to Unusual Art Supplies

When your hobby is arts and crafts the opportunities to be creative are limitless. But along with a healthy imagination sometimes you need a new medium or artistic path to go down in order to take you to unchartered territory. One way to kick start a new creative chapter in your hobby is to explore new materials and use different techniques. You may find your new favourite medium to work with or it may just give you ideas of using other materials in novel ways.

Here is a rundown or some unusual art supplies for you to try. You can get many of the products below at superb supplier www.georgeweill.com, so have a look around, order what takes your fancy and experiment on new creative pathways.

Tjantings

tjantings art suppliesUsed in the Indonesian discipline of Batik in which the artist dyes fabrics and creates patterns using wax resistance. Tjantings (or cantings) are beautiful pipe-like instruments used to apply the fine lines of the wax designs to the fabric. The width of the wax is cleverly controlled by the heat of the wax.

French Curves

These templates often made of plastic or sometimes wood or metal, much like rulers, are great tools for get different degrees of curves in a picture of pattern you are producing. You can also use the tool for cutting curves in fabric or other materials with a craft knife.

CMC Powder

Carboxymethyl Cellulose powdered granules is used in silk paper making. Silk papermaking is a more professional version of papier mache sculpture. Using silk fibres mixed with CMC, the artist can make textured paper/fabric or 3D sculptures. It’s a great technique for making tactile pieces or adding 3D details to pictures.

Felting Needles

make cute little felt animalsFelting needles create 3D objects or work to embellish fabrics during the felt making process. Needle felting is a fantastically creative hobby which involves jabbing the felting needle in wool fibres to form sculptures. You can use needle felting to create anything from puppets to details on garments.

Marbling Paints

For an interesting effect marbling paints create mesmeric effects and can be applied to card, paper or fabric. As well as the paint you also need a marbling medium such as carrageenan or methyl cellulose and a comb or cocktail sticks to manipulate the pattern.

Natural Art Supplies

natural art supplies like leaves and petals

Alternatively, you can use materials found in the great outdoors for your next project. There are some wonderful ideas on the world wide web to give you inspiration on how to turn nature into art. Leaves are a favourite of a lot of artists; spray paint them, collage with them or simply preserve them in wax. Some people like to paint pebbles, there are all sorts you can do with twigs or you could create stamps using potatoes.

Which art supplies do you use when crafting? Do you use specialist material or di you try to keep it as simple as possible?

 

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4 Small Changes You Can Make to Enjoy a Healthier Lifestyle

It can be hard making big changes in life. Habits can be tough to build or break, and the energy and time commitment needed is often too much to handle. However pursuing a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to involve big changes, just one smart step in the right direction can pave the way to a healthier life. Making small changes to begin with will increase the likelihood of wanting to stick with these changes and wanting to do more to stay in good health. Here are four small ways you can adapt your lifestyle to lead to a healthier you.

Find an exercise partner

find an exercise partner to help you maintain a healthier lifestyle

A motivating fitness partner will help you to reach your fitness goals – you can motivate, challenge and help each other out. How often have you found an excuse to not go to the gym? It’s easy to find a reason to skip a day of working out but with a fitness partner you have a commitment and are more likely to go as you know you’re letting someone down if you cancel. Your fitness partner will be there witnessing your achievements and successes which is a great motivator when he/she acknowledges your flatter stomach or toned arms.

Buy a food processor

making fresh smoothies or juice can help you maintain a healthier lifestyle

A food processor is a worthwhile investment as its saves time and is easy to use. We are bombarded with information that encourages us to eat better, yet it can be difficult to fit in that all important ‘five-a-day’. With a food processor you can blend together all your favourite vegetables or fruit to make delicious soups or smoothies, allowing you to have your ‘five-a-day’ in one meal. We are encouraged to cook from scratch to avoid preservatives which can be a time consuming task. A food processor will save you plenty of time by doing all the chopping, grating, grinding and mixing for you. You can buy one of these multifunctional products at www.electricshop.com.

Go to bed earlier

go to bed earlier for a healthier lifestyle

An early night can change your lifestyle in many ways. Going to bed just an hour earlier can make all the difference. If you haul yourself out of bed earlier in the morning your energy levels can be greater which means you can squeeze some time in at the gym (with your new exercise partner) or an extra hour at work. Many of us drink endless cups of coffee a day to keep us alert and awake. An earlier night might mean you can lose the caffeine addiction – and save a few pennies while you’re at it.

Cut out processed foods

Processed foods are an illusion that often appear to be healthy, stating that they are low fat, low carb, containing omega-3s etc. However, they are usually loaded with added sugar or High Fructose Corn Syrup which are strongly associated with some of the world’s leading killers including heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. Reducing processed food can lead to a range of health benefits including more energy and losing weight. For those who are reliant on processed foods you will start feeling healthier in as little as a week.

How do you make sure you stay happy and healthy?

 

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My holiday must-haves when holidaying in the UK

holiday must-haves

I love exploring new countries and trying out new things, but when I’m on a short break in the UK, I’m a creature of habit. I guess it’s because I know that I can have all the products that I enjoy on a daily basis whereas on a holiday abroad the adventurer in me comes through.

When holidaying here, I like to take my favourites with me:

My Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Body Wash

I have used this body wash every single day for the past two years and I’m not prepared to make an exception on holiday. The scent of lime is incredibly refreshing and gives me a kick start in the morning.

Fruit Tea

I don’t know what it is with people in the UK, but wherever you go, the only tea available is Earl Grey or English Breakfast tea. I don’t like either of them, so always make sure to pack some bags of my favourite fruit tea – usually something cherry or berry based.

Chargers for everything

I seem to have a phobia of being disconnected from the outside world, so whenever I go somewhere, I triple check that I have chargers for absolutely everything on me – my phone, my camera, my laptop, Amy’s Leap Pad and everything else there is.

Magazines

I’m a magazine addict, so before every holiday or short trip, I pack some of my favourite magazines. With Amy around, I don’t really have much time to read them, but I always think that holidays are different – usually they’re not and I bring them all back home without having even touched them.

Towel

I know it’s odd and I also know that most places provide you with towels during your stay, but I have a huge grey beach towel that I take absolutely everywhere. It’s so soft and the perfect size to cover your entire body in after a quick shower in the morning or a long soak in the bath. It takes up masses of space in my suitcase, but I never travel without it.

What are your holiday must-haves? Is there anything you never travel without?

This is my entry post into the holidaycottages.co.uk UK holiday must-haves competition

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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.