Education Preparation

When your little one starts school, it’s all very overwhelming. What do you mean they get homework in reception?! Foundation, KS1, KS2 – what does it all mean? Curriculum meetings, PTA meetings, reading daily and don’t forget that Mrs Thingy in Peacocks class is collecting milk bottles this week.

It’s all so much to take in and lest us not forget the never ending ironing uniforms, teeny tiny Pinterest approved packed lunches, reading, spelling tests, after school clubs and PUT YOUR SCHOOL SHOES ON, PLEASE DARLING.

After attending the meetings and reading the weekly newletters, I understood KS1 (key stage one, years one and two), I got what the curriculum was about and what was and wasn’t expected of Noah. He nailed his SATS in year two, and actually enjoyed them so much he wanted to do them again. By the end of year two, I felt I knew it all, but uh oh, here comes year three….

This is where Education Quizzes comes in – a subscription based all encompassing site that covers all curriculums from Foundation all the way up to GCSE with enjoyable and easy to use quizzes devised by teachers. While I know there are no national tests in year three, and fingers crossed, the only tests we’ll come across this year will be weekly spelling tests and times tables – for the last week or so I’ve been reading and familiarising myself with what the year ahead will bring. Including knowing that Noah can now learn a language, what will be covered in PSHE (personal, social and health education) and what on earth Citizenship entails.

While I don’t want to overload Noah with too much more work, I don’t see any harm in preparing myself of what to expect so I can help him along the way rather than being clueless and needing to run off to google his latest subject and completing the odd quizz on an extra curricular basis.

How do you prepare your little ones for the new year at school? Do you have any tips?

Autumn Fashion Wish List with Simply Be

I know, I know, it looks like that was the last hurrah of summer, eh? But it’s OK, before we start lamenting our loss of sunkissed days and pack away the flip-flops, playsuits and dresses, because at least the new season can guarantee one thing even if we’re not too sure what the weather is doing – SHOPPING!

While I’ve been digging out my Autumn/ Winter clothes and packing away the kaleidoscope of summer colours, I’ve felt very uninspired by all the dark, sombre jumpers and coats. There are basics in my wardrobe, and the odd piece that I still love but I feel it needs an injection of this season’s trends.

I thought I’d look on Simply Be as I haven’t shopped there before and I feel as though I’ve already seen everything my regular shops have to offer.

Pyjamas:

I know it’s not STRICTLY fashion, but I have to buy a new pair of pyjamas for the colder months, since I’ll be hibernating in them for just as long as I’ll be wearing normal clothes – it’s the law. And this star-printed, lounge suit looks perfect for cosy nights in.

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Jumpers:

Ah, the trusty knitwear is fighting it’s way from the back of the wardrobe. Paired with skinny jeans and chunky boots, a good old jumper is my staple look of the season and I really like this space dye version, which I can see working for both day and night with some statement jewellery.

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Just because it’s autumn doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with prints and I always have a hard time saying no to leopard print – this animal print burn out jumper is a great piece to layer and team with ripped jeans.

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Coats:

Let’s face it, it’s going to feel like we’re living in our coats, especially those of us seemingly always on the school run, so we might as well make sure we have a decent jacket or coat to keep the worst of the British weather at bay. To keep on trend while I can still get away with it and relive my youth while I’m at it, this burgundy bomber jacket is great for the transitional period between summer and autumn.

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And for the colder a weather, you can never go wrong with a big, warm parka with a cosy hood. Also, little style tip, these are great for covering up the fact you’re still wearing your PJs on the school run.

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Now the change from summer to autumn doesn’t seem all that sad, right? After all, with the right clothes, you can conquer almost anything. Well that’s my excuse anyway.

What are your key piece picks for the new season?

How to Keep the Bugs at Bay This Winter

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As the cold weather becomes more commonplace and the chance of a sunny day diminishes, it is time to take stock of our health and the health of our family. All too often, people find themselves full of colds and wintry aches and pains during the colder months, but with the right precautions, you could stave off the illnesses usually associated with this time of year.

Food Glorious Food

Autumn and Winter are the perfect seasons to indulge in some good old fashioned comfort eating. Now, this doesn’t mean eating any old thing, but rather using seasonal fruits and vegetables to make some hearty meals packed with essentials vitamins. Protect your family’s immune system by feeding them foods rich in vitamin A, such as Pumpkins, and foods bursting with Vitamin C including potatoes, oranges and dark green leafy vegetables such as kale. The NHS website has some great information about how to keep healthy during winter by eating the right foods and also provides a collection of ways your lifestyle can also help you stay fit as the seasons change.

Beat the Bedtime Blues

Did you know that lack of sleep can have a massive impact upon our health. A good night’s sleep is essential to keep our minds, and immune systems healthy. If you and your family have been struggling to get the recommended 7 to 8 hours sleep per night, the problem may lie in your choice of beds and mattresses. Investing in a sturdy yet comfortable bed could aid sleep and even the right type of mattress topper could help. Online bed company, Bedstar has compiled a helpful list of tips in a recent blog which suggests that by investing in a mattress topper you can prevent heat escaping through your mattress. If you couple this purchase with a dual season mattress, you are certain to feel the benefits – and the heat required for an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

Plan Ahead

A common cause of stress during the winter months is the hectic nature of festivities and the planning associated with it. Maintaining your mental health is extremely important, and things can become all too much for some people at this time of the year resulting in poor mental health and associated physical ailments. Christmas may seem far away, but it is in fact fast approaching, and with a little organisation you can stop yourself getting into an almighty tizz by planning ahead. If you are hosting family and friends for Christmas, or having a party, make a list well in advance of all the things you need, be it presents, food, or decorations and begin to purchase them gradually so you won’t be in a rush to by them nearer the time. Take time out during preparations to pamper and rejuvenate yourself so you are ready for the next thing on your list. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to others, especially if you have an abundance of things to organise. By being prepared you will enjoy the season and can avoid becoming ill due to any pressure or stress.

Lasers and Other Ways to Undo Skin Damage

Skin damage is bound to happen to everyone at some point. Maybe you have some wrinkles, scars, discolored patches, or other blemishes that you don’t want to deal with anymore. Whatever the problem is, lasers or other skincare methods may be able to help you undo that damage and get back your youthful appearance.

Remember That Skincare Treatments Are Quite Complex

Before you undergo any skincare treatment, you should know that all of them are complex in their own ways, even if they seem simple on the surface of things. That’s why they all take a lot of thought, and if you choose to use one then you will also have to invest a lot of time and effort in it.

Laser Skincare Treatments Are Good Examples

One type of complex skin treatment category involves the use of cosmetic machines that use lasers. You see, lasers can be divided into multiple categories. There are those that only treat the surface, those that treat lower skin layers, and those that treat all skin layers.

In addition to that, lasers are also complex treatment options because some of them are better suited to only treat light colored skin or skin that isn’t overly oily. If you happen to suffer from acne or excessive skin oil, or if your skin is just a dark shade, you might have difficulty finding a laser machine that suits your needs.

Chemical Peels and Microdermabrasion are Also Complex Options

Both microdermabrasion and chemical peels are just as complex in terms of deciding whether or not to use them to treat your skin. Chemical peels can bleach the skin they treat, either temporarily or permanently, and microdermabrasion can often aggravate oil glands, which can make you have an acne outbreak, especially if you are prone to acne outbreaks.

Even So-Called Simple Treatments Require Thought

Some treatments are thought to be about as simple as skincare treatments can get, but they still require you to think and be prepared for the process. For example, you shouldn’t use any skin cream or lotion you come across. You should find one with the best formula for treating your specific skin issues. You will also have to remember to use that lotion or cream faithfully as directed each day.

Similarly, intense pulsed light treatments or sound wave therapies shouldn’t be undertaken until you know what to expect from the procedures. For example, both light therapies and sound therapies don’t tend to be as strong as lasers or other methods, which means that it can take more treatments and a longer time period to see results. That’s why you should take the time to research the treatments thoroughly before you actually make any sort of skincare appointment at your local clinic.

The bottom line is that you need to talk to your skincare professional before you rule any skincare procedure in or out. However, the chances are good that he or she will tell you that your skin damage can be reversed somehow. It’s just a matter of developing the right skin treatment plan and post-treatment daily skincare routine.

Warner Bros Studios The Making of Harry Potter Review

A few weeks ago, Noah and I were absolutely delighted to get the chance to go to WB Studio tour, the Making of Harry Potter . I grabbed my sister in law and nephew, charged my camera batteries, made a packed lunch and set my face to stunned and we were ready to set off to Watford.

First things first, finding the venue was very straightforward, it was well signposted and upon arrival, there were lots of friendly staff in the car park to direct us, as if by magic, to the perfect parking space.

The outside area was spotlessly clean, full of smiling, excited visitors and even more staff to assist with tickets and to point us all in the right direction. Huge stills of the film were displayed on the studio walls and giant Wizard Chess pieces from The Philosopher’s Stone were ready and waiting for photo opportunities.

Simply taking our booking number to a booth and getting our tickets, we were ready and very excited to start the tour! After a short wait inside, we were admitted to a room full of screens on the walls, with a guide who explained everything we needed to know about the tour and to get us even more excited about what we were about to see. After the talk, we were let through to a cinema area, took our seats and watched a short video by Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, with lots of clips from the eight films. Once the video was over, there was an audible gasp of joy as the screen rose to reveal the huge, solid oak doors of the Great Hall, which is where our tour began.

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Time to turn your camera on and get yourself ready for the most magical couple of hours you can possibly imagine to find on a hot summer’s day in Watford.

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The Great Hall was set ready for a feast, with mannequins dotted around with original costumes, the Sorting Hat ready at the head of the Hall on it’s stool and costumes of the teachers displayed at the head of the Hall. I could have happily stayed in there for hours to soak up all the tiny details and the magical atmosphere of the Great Hall which I first read about in the first Harry Potter book when I was 11 years old. Noah was in total silence, which I knew was a sign he was very impressed indeed. However, the Great Hall set really is the tip of an enchanted iceberg or indeed, magical ice sculpture.

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After taking countless photos of everything in sight, we walked through to a huge room full to the brim with props, set pieces and costumes and this is where I realised the tour was much, much more than I anticipated. I couldn’t possibly list every detail in this room, from the dungeon Potions Classroom complete with tall labeled jars of grisly potion ingredients to a huge wall of paintings used for display along the walls of the Marble Staircase which are actually portraits of the filmmakers to tiny cabinets filled with Dumbledore’s Deluminator, the Philosopher’s Stone, Reeta Skeeters acid green quill and much, much more.

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There was the opportunity to pose with a broomstick, or better yet, to ride a flying broomstick or the flying Ford Anglia and to buy photos and videos after.

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From here we walked through to Platform 9 and 3/4 where Noah breathed a barely audible “Wow…” at the sight of the gleaming crimson Hogwarts Express and actually got to board the train and walk through to see all the compartments inside.

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By this point the tour had taken around 2 and a half hours and we were ready for lunch as we walked through to the next room to happily find the Backlot Cafe, Butterbeer counter and outside picnic area. If you can definitely try the Butterbeer and Butterbeer ice cream – if you pay a little extra you can get these in souvenir tankards and sundae dishes which Noah was delighted to be able to bring home. I won’t spoil the surprise of how these taste, but the ice cream is really rather special.

Once we were full and rested we were ready to complete the tour, with the Knight Bus, the Hogwarts Bridge and Number 4 Privet Drive right beside us outside in the eating area.

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The Privet Drive set was a special exhibition piece brought back for the Finding the Philosopher’s Stone experience and is open until September 5th.  Inside there’s only one room to view but to see the hundreds of Hogwarts letters dashing down the fireplace and flying around the room for Harry as the Dursleys desperately try to keep him from opening them – it really does add to the magical experience of the tour.

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With yet more photos and even more “Wow, Mummy, look!”, we walked up Diagon Alley, peered at all the shop windows. By this point the boys were rather tired, with one last push we walked through to the darkened, atmospheric room taken up by the scaled down version of Hogwarts itself which is simply breath-taking.

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And then, deep breath, it’s exit through the gift shop time. Be prepared to spend more than you’d think on trinkets and souvenirs as the vast choice is huge and it won’t just be the kids wanting to take everything home, you’ll have armfuls yourself.

And so, with a huge fluffy Crookshanks tucked under his arm, happily eating Fudge Flies, and me trailing behind with everything else and my exhausted camera, we ended our tour and sadly made our way back to the car to go home.

Our experience at the WB Studio tour, the Making of Harry Potter  was truly enchanting, it was everything I hoped it would be and even more besides and we had such a special day, we were very sad to leave. Thank you Warner Brothers for giving us the opportunity to visit and for giving us a day we won’t ever forget.

Disclaimer: I was given a family ticket to visit the WB Harry Potter Studios for the purpose of this review, however all editorial and opinions are completely honest and entirely my own.

The Ultimate Guide to Buying Jewelry for Yourself

Although jewelry is most commonly bought in the form of a gift, there is no reason why you shouldn’t go out there and treat yourself to that special piece that you’ve been wishing for. If there’s something that you want to have, you should definitely go out there and buy it for yourself rather than hoping that a friend or relative will buy it for you on a special occasion. But, with so many different jewelry styles and types out there to choose from, making sure that you make the right choices when picking out jewelry for yourself can be tricky.

Your Sense of Style

When choosing a new piece of jewelry for yourself, it’s important to ask yourself whether or not it goes with your usual sense of style. This is especially important if you are looking for a classic piece such as a ring, necklace or bracelet for everyday wear. If you’re purchasing a piece of jewelry to wear every day, ask yourself things such as how it will go with your work clothing and the types of outfits – both casual and otherwise – that you like to put together for yourself. Diamond jewelry is hugely versatile and can be a great choice of jewelry for regular and everyday wear. Visit this website for more information.

Know What You Want

Before you walk into a jewelry store to pick up a treat for yourself, it’s a good idea to know what it is that you want. Even if you’re not exactly sure of the specific piece that you’re after, having a general idea of the type of material, color, and style is essential. If you walk into a jewelry store and simply say that you’re looking for something nice for yourself, you will end up being ushered over to the most expensive pieces by the salesperson and could end up spending more than you at first had in mind. If it’s in your budget and you like it then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go for it, but making sure that you have a good idea of what you want before you go out to make your purchase usually means that you’ll come home with something that you are especially happy with.

Know Your Budget

Last but not least, it’s important to know your budget and stick to it when you are buying jewelry for yourself. Although it can be easy to budget when you’re buying jewelry as a gift for others, buying it for yourself often gives you a little more freedom of choice and therefore there’s more risk of overspending. Make sure that you set a budget for your new jewelry piece which is a little under the maximum amount that you’d like to pay, to give yourself a bit of room if you find something you like which is a little bit pricier.

Don’t wait around for somebody to give you jewelry as a gift – with this guide, you can buy yourself the best!

George Kid’s Bedroom Makeover Competition

Noah and I have been asked by George at Asda to get our thinking caps on and come up with Noah’s ultimate bedroom for their current kid’s bedroom competition. Now, I know what I’d choose, but obviously, my seven year old knows better than me.

Our initial conversation went something like this:

Me: Dude, we’ve got to make a picture of what your dream bedroom would look like. Have you got any ideas?

Him: MINECRAFT!

Me: Oh. Are you sure?

Him: Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft!

Me: OK, let’s see what we can do…

So we I had to see what I could do with my very specific brief of “MINECRAFT OMG”. The news that Asda don’t actually stock Minecraft crafting tables or furnaces was devastating news to Noah, then I had to gently break it to him that we probably wouldn’t let him have a means to smelt iron in his bedroom anyway. Instead we set out to give our mood board a pixelated, colourful feel. I also needed to stick within Asda’s brief of not spending more than £400. This could be a challenge.

Brace yo’self for our creation…

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Honestly, let me explain.

Firstly, the furniture. I chose good quality, kid-friendly pieces with a modern, modular feel. Noah chose the yellow bed because, well, I don’t think he even knows to be honest. It’s cute though, right?

I spotted the brown rug and immediately thought of a Minecraft dirt block with the different tones and pixelated squares. We then found the green rug and cushions to emulate the same feel of pixels. We then made the bed look like a Minecraft bed with a red blanket and added lots of little accessories to jazz up the place.

Noah would love to swap his current carpet for wooden floor, and I’d use tape on the walls to create squares to make his very own, very real Minecraft room.

I think it’s important when going for a “themed room” to not make it permanent and to create the feel and look your going for with accessories and things that can easily be changed, because when your child is suddenly obsessed with XY or Z, it can easily be changed rather than having to completely redecorate.

I calculate that this room, including furniture comes to £393.00 – I may have been cheeky as Noah already owns LOTS of Minecraft bits and bobs we could use.

What would your little one’s dream room look like? I’d love to know!

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