Laminate is Great

When I was but a wee babe in arms (actually about five), I can remember our household going into turbo overdrive one Christmas. Was it Santa’s impending visit that was causing my brother to act as if he’d just consumed four espressos in one sitting? Was it the thought of escaping Christmas dinner duties by us all piling round my aunties on the big day causing my mother to skip with glee? Was it the mere prospect of acquiring a fat juicy bone in his stocking causing our dog Sam to howl wistfully into the cold night air? No. No. And no.

It was laminate flooring.  Yep, you heard that right folks. Laminate flooring.

Back in the day (the eighties to be precise, or a bit more vague) it was all the rage to rip up your carpet, smash your tiles or hide your painted shame with the L word. To become a family with laminate flooring in my neighbourhood back then was being cool and trendy. And it was in our kitchen! After a lifetime (literally, for me) of living with some strange red tile-type monstrosity that was our kitchen floor, we were finally getting laminated. I can still remember the first time my foot touched the soft spongy veneer. It was heaven.

(Full Disclosure Note: Despite the new floor being perfect, it wasn’t heaven for everyone for long. My brother calmed somewhat when he learned he could no longer traipse muddy boots through the kitchen. My mother’s skip morphed into a shuffle when my auntie saw the new floor and duly invited the entire family round to ours for Xmas dinner instead. And as for Sam getting his juicy bone – that could never have happened. We didn’t own a dog. Just a cat named Thomas. )

Then came the 90s. And the noughties.  Everyone decided to ditch the kitsch. Laminate flooring went quiet for two decades. Very quiet.




But thank God for the Twenty-Tens! Laminate is back, and it’s back in a big, big way. More importantly, this time it’s here to stay. How sure am I? Well, I’ve just kitted out my bedroom, living room and, yes, my kitchen in the latest design. That’s how sure I am. It was quick, it was easy, and it looks absolutely stunning. I opted for a white oak laminate flooring with gloss finish for the kitchen, but with so much variety to choose from, it really is a buyer’s market.

It’s not all heaven, of course. My son now has to be reminded to take off his muddy boots before leaving the garden. My mother has invited everyone she knows and a few she doesn’t round to mine for Christmas dinner and Sam is still howling away for that juicy bone that will never come because he isn’t real.

So whatever happens with the turkey and the sprouts come the Queen’s speech, and no matter how badly I mess it all up, I can be safe in the knowledge that everyone will be secretly admiring my spectacular new floor.

Except my auntie. Strangely, she was the only person not to get an invite from my mother.

Interior design tips to help your child get a better night’s sleep

Most adults spend around a third of their lives asleep apart from, it often seems, when they also have children. Babies and young children can certainly disrupt parents’ sleep but, even more importantly, young ones need settled sleeping routines for the sake of their own development.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep directly impacts a child’s mental and physical development. Sleeping patterns start to develop at about six months old, and children need more sleep than adults. Babies and infants will sleep more than they are awake, while toddlers need around 11 to 14 hours of sleep in each 24-hour period. By the time they reach 6 to 13, children still need between 9 to 11 hours of sleep every night.

There are a number of things you can do to encourage a healthy sleep pattern in your child. Children need a settled bedroom routine, and a healthy diet and active daytime can also help. Distractions and worries should be avoided if possible. This can be difficult to achieve, especially as children grow up, but there are things you can do with the bedroom environment that can be easier to control.

The human body is designed to react to light, so it is very important to have control of the amount of light allowed into your child’s bedroom in the early morning, especially if there are man-made light sources such as street lighting near the bedroom window. Blackout curtains and modern window shutters can be very good at blocking out exterior light and helping to prevent children from being woken up too early in the morning. Shutters and blinds can be particularly good options, as they can be partially opened depending on requirements.

You should avoid bright lights, especially backlit screens such as laptops and tablets, for at least an hour before bedtime. Some children find it difficult to sleep without nightlights, but it’s usually a good thing if you can wean them off this and get them sleeping in darkness. Psychotherapist and child sleep expert Heather Turgeon suggests using a red bulb if a child does need a night light, or if parents need to make feeding and potty trips for their infants in the middle of the night, as red light is less activating to the brain. Make sure standby lights on electronic gadgets and any other sources of illumination are turned completely off during the night.

Where a child actually sleeps is extremely important and should be safe and appropriate for the child’s age. Once children are out of cots and sleeping in an actual bed, make sure it is big enough, with a supportive mattress and pillows. If your child suffers from allergies, hypoallergenic bedding could help.

A tidy, de-cluttered room can also help your child fall asleep, as it is less distracting. It can also help prevent parents from stepping on sharp objects in the middle of the night as well – something many of us have experienced.

You can’t guarantee your children will get a perfect night’s sleep every night, but you can arrange their sleeping environment to give them the best possible chance.


Children’s Most Popular Magazines & Comics

Still grieving for Glenn’s untimely demise? Trapped somewhere between shock and disbelief?

Then spare a thought for my little boy.

Ninjago episode 34. That’s all I have to say.

Zane. Immaculately-quaffed Elemental Master and Ninja of ice, who sacrificed his (artificial) life in order to save his team. My son watched aghast as he battled the Overlord and well-and-truly came a cropper.

Sure, Zane was soon back to life, doing his thing and taking names,  but it’s the sheer emotional heft of cartoons and kids TV in general that I’m trying to get at here. Cartoons – once thought of as the quintessential kiddie distraction on a Saturday morning – carry far more emotional gravitas than we give them credit for. Kids know this. We used to know this, but have long since forgotten. Not only do they teach the sprogs invaluable life lessons (such as the aforementioned death, (re)birth and how to cope when you realise you’re not actually human) but are also packed with educational content.

But what to do once you’ve exhausted the show? What to do when you’ve maxed-out your Sky series downloads and literally watched the same episode (34) on loop for hours upon hours? Well, one idea is to move from the small screen to the printed page. Namely, magazines and comics. Once the preserve of only the top tier programs, nowadays you can find a magazine stroke comic on almost any kids’ show at your local newspaper merchant.  Packed with challenging activities, puzzles, games (and let’s not forget the free toy), they really are a fantastic progression of your little one’s learning curve and to calm their insatiable appetite for a certain TV character. have recently published an infographic revealing children’s most popular magazines and I think the results are quite surprising. As while there’s some obvious choices in there, there are some more education based publications in there too.


Maybe Zane’s death was too strong a beginning.

Maybe I should’ve gone with something softer.

Pedro Pony’s classic rendition of the Baked Bean Song, perhaps?

Or the time Gem rescued that poor little orphan boy from the evil Captain Stinker and her band of naughty pirates? (Legal Disclaimer: this may not have happened.)

Or when Kristoff visited Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and Sauna and broke down barriers?

So if your child – be they three or be they twelve – is obsessed with a certain program, or if you’re looking to extend their experience beyond the pixels, then unlock their true potential by grabbing one of these popular magazines today. They’re available in leading supermarkets and all good newsagents. And some bad ones, too.


Now back to Glenn. He crawled under the bin, right? Right?


Keep them ‘appy

Most of the time as a loving mother you are happy and willing to play and stimulate your child. Many an hour will pass where you hang out in parks occasionally checking your Facebook to see all your single friends getting their nails done or enjoying a spa day. Sometimes as a mother however you need to be at home to undergo essential chores, the problem is keeping them entertained at this point.

The ‘go to’ app which most parents install within the early weeks of parenthood is the CBBC app which obviously naturally links to the programmes they will be watching. But what are some alternatives? There are thousands of apps out there and finding a good one is a challenge.

Apps for adults

After a difficult but rewarding day with your children you could enjoy some challenges on the Dream Bingo app where pamper products or shopping vouchers can be won in order to reinvigorate you for tomorrow, however, tomorrow isn’t with you yet so let’s explore some options.

1 – Facebook Messenger (one for you)

Yes – you will probably already have this app already installed on your phone but if not go get it. Why? It’s because it directly links you to your friends who may also be searching for some company for themselves and their family. The best entertainment is usually found outdoors with others. My next suggestion is for younger children whoo are already into children’s TV.

2 – TaskRabbit

Although not yet available nationwide it is within major cities. This app allows you to find tradespeople to get jobs done for you that simply need doing. You cannot wait any longer for your partner to do it ‘when they are in the mood’, they want it doing right now! This gives you more peace of time with your children without niggling jobs in your mind.

3 – Dropbox

This is a well known online cloud based service which keeps all your photos and videos in one place. Proud of your children then take advantage of this site rather than IT rage when you discover your fave photos have been deleted.

Apps for children

4 – Peppa Pig – Happy Mrs Chicken

Its scientific fact that all children love Peppa Pig but it is also an inconvenience that the episodes are compacted into small timescales in order to maintain their attention span. So hypnotic is its effect that the only thing stopping you grating them carrots is the constant clicking onto new episodes so this app is a great bridge of the brand and and activities that they will enjoy.

5 – Toca Boca Kitchen 2

It’s a virtual cooking app where kids can be as creative as they want. Cooking or baking offline sounds like a warm, rustic pleasure but the reality is that they will spend 35 mins pouring from one jug to another knocking over flour in the process. You will be left with twelve small cupcakes that taste bland when you could have bobbed to a discount supermarket and buy a pack ready made for less than a quid.

6 – Math on the Farm

This is a creative maths tool where your child can use popular farmyard creatures to improve their numerical awareness. However if you catch your husband using this app at 3AM I would encourage you to have a long and honest discussion.

As a parent you will feel guilty when they are using apps but to run a happy home you need both structure and free time and hopefully these apps will give you a platform to achieve this. As you child approaches primary school like me you will be amazed at how quickly they can swipe, enter passcodes and generally navigate your tablet. At this point you will discover that it is no longer your tablet but theirs, good luck getting it back!

National Wallpaper Week with Graham & Brown – a Nostalgic Bedroom Makeover

You may have seen that this year I’ve been all about the home improvements. I finally had enough of looking at the sticky, grubby child muck on the walls and doing not much more than giving them an idle scrub with a baby wipe. And while I’ve tackled the majority of the house now, after hours and hours of painting and blisters and aching muscles, one room remained…

Our bedroom. Functional, yes. But pretty? Comfortable? Something to be a little proud of? Not really. It was always at the bottom of the priority list as ya know, we only sleep in there, right? How much difference will it make if it looks nice? (A lot apparently, but I’ll get back to that).

I needed help.

The decorating guardian angels Graham & Brown came to my rescue with National Wallpaper Week ( which is the 5th to 11th of October don’tcha know (yes, it’s a thing) and the opportunity to makeover a room with some of their fancy wallpapers.

Shall we have a little “before” action?

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Even my unicorn collection couldn’t brighten it up.

Enough is enough I proclaimed to the sad walls, brandishing my brush of wallpaper paste menacingly in the air.

Part of this challenge was that Graham & Brown wanted to prove that there was a wallpaper for everyone, and that different styles can evoke different emotions and moods. I went with nostalgia – I wanted the room to be timeless, effortless and full of memories and all the different styles I love – an old faithful that I could rely on to make me feel relaxed and content. I don’t like interiors to match too much or look too uniformed, I prefer the quirky feel where different colours and patterns just sort of work together in harmony. Nostalgia to me means kitsch, junk shop chic, slightly silly and bright.

So I set out to find a bold, graphic print and fell in love with Kensington Charteuse – a Victorian style, hand-drawn print with a modern edge and striking colour-way – the perfect focal point for my mix and match style.


Kensington Charteuse Wallpaper £15 per roll, Moscow matte emulsion 2.5 litres £27, Lit Arrow £60 – all from Graham & Brown

To compliment the gorgeous wallpaper I wanted a paint that made the paper the main star, but was still a gorgeous shade in it’s own right. I opted for Moscow by Graham & Brown – a beautiful, muted putty grey.

Within a day I’d managed to paint the room which only needed two coats to cover the somewhat dubious pink it was previously (I know, I don’t know what I was thinking either). Even without putting the wallpaper up, the room began to feel different and had an air of stylish grown up about it.

The next stage was the paper itself. I’ve never put up wallpaper before so knew this could go very, very badly… But even as a complete novice, I can say with some confidence that it was actually pretty easy without any help. The Superfresco Easy paper is designed so that you put the wallpaper paste directly onto the wall, which saved a lot of faffing around as I didn’t need a pasting table and I didn’t damage any paper with my clumsy disposition. Start to finish it took me around 3 hours and we’re so delighted with the end result.





And side by side…

before and after

I never saw myself as a wallpaper type person before this challenge. I always felt they made rooms feel too much, too done but I’ve now realised that there truly is a wallpaper to suit any home, any style and indeed any person.

I can’t wait to spend many an evening curled up in my new room with a good book and as many crocheted granny blankets as I can stand!

To find your own perfect (wallpaper) match and events and ways to join in near you, be sure to check

Disclaimer: All decorating items and products mentioned were very kindly sent to me by Graham & Brown for the purpose of this challenge and post. However all words and opinions are entirely my own.

Study Tips: High-Stakes Testing Edition

Tests with high stakes are stressful for students and parents alike. The rewards for success can be as life changing as an ivy league college or a driver’s licence. Many students crack under the pressure and don’t score as well as they should. Taking standardised tests is a learned skill. Help your son or daughter master standardised tests with these study tools and tips.

Practice Tests

Practice tests prepare students for the kind of questions they will be asked, but also the language used in those questions. A good practice test teaches students to read directions carefully and look for essential keywords. These tests also promote the scan technique, a strategy where students scan the test to answer easy questions first. Whatever test your son or daughter needs to prepare for, there are online sites, like Top Tests and 4Tests, that provide practice exams, many of which are free.

Teach Relaxation

All the studying in the world won’t help your daughter if she freezes with stress once the test is in front of her. Take stress out of high-stakes testing with the 1+3+10 system developed by educational psychologist, Dr. Michele Borba. First, remain calm. Take 3 deep breaths and count to 10 (in your head).

Teach a visualization technique so your son can detach his emotions from the stressful situation of the test. Have your son close his eyes and imagine something that is far removed from the test. With this technique, if he becomes stressed directly before the test, he can calm himself with this technique.

Let your child voice concerns. Have him keep a journal of how she feels about the situation as she prepares for these important tests. It can sometimes add stress when a student holds everything inside. Let her express how she feels and address her concerns appropriately.

Seek Outside Help

Teachers will help. They’re full of advice and want success for their students. Many teachers have resources, study guides and perhaps practice tests of their own. If your son has a certain area of study he is struggling with, have him seek after-school help from the appropriate teacher. Teachers often have after-class office hours, and are likely to make time to help motivated kids. For a more personalised and one-on-one study session, consider a private tutor.

Test Strategies

Educated Answer: Almost all standardised tests are multiple choice, though some also have a written portion. In multiple choice sections of a test, a test taker should reason out what the answer to a question is, then read the answers. If any match his reasoning or work, then he’s likely got the correct answer.

Smart Guessing: When a student doesn’t know the correct answer, though does know which answers are definitely wrong, he can use process of elimination. Eliminate the incorrect answers. If he can rule out two of four choices, he has a 50 per cent chance at a right answer, one he’d otherwise leave blank.

Stick with It: A student’s first answer is typically the right one. When a student second guesses himself and doesn’t stick with his instinct, it shows lack of confidence in his own abilities. If he’s prepared, the first answer he chooses has better odds of being correct than if he changes his answer.

Bingo Makes a Mommy Happy!

Life being a mother of a newborn is never easy! Taking care of a baby is simple yet it is one of the most difficult phases you have probably gone through in your life. I personally faced this situation with my newborn daughter who is 26 days old now. This little bundle of joy communicates either through crying or letting off her million dollar smile. The sense of responsibility of life is at its peak when you become parents.

Your Baby hardly sleeps at a stretch and needs to eat quite often at regular intervals. Their tiny tummies need nutritional food at every intervals for a proper nourishment. So, it is not unusual to spend most of the hours feeding the baby at appropriate gaps of time.

Usually, the most common reason behind a baby’s cry is hunger. If not hungry, then surely check the diaper. If even that is not the problem, try swaddling her in a warm blanket. Newborns are used to the tight confinement of the womb. Being out in the world takes time for them to get adjusted to the environment and the overall setting.

Life is like a roller coaster ride when you are a new mommy! It is then when you feel  the saying ‘a mother hardly sleeps’. You rarely get time to look after yourself when your little one is on the top of your priority list! But yes, to keep yourself healthy and happy you have to manage and take some time out for yourself even in your busy schedule. Especially when the baby is taking a nap or sleeping early during nights, you should relax yourself with some of your favourite recreational activities to keep things refreshed and ticking.

In my case, my all time favourite leisure activity is to play ‘Bingo’. All I do is to login to my favourite bingo site New Look Bingo and enjoy the refreshing game of bingo for an hour or two. The best part is that I don’t need to be confined to my laptop or desktop to access the games, as I can access everything through my mobile and that too with the exact same experience.

Apart from the flexibility of platform the site provides a £5 no deposit bonus as soon as you register on the site. With this FREE bonus you can play free bingo games and have a first hand experience of the site and its games. So, to avail more bingo promotions join and be a part of New Look Bingo today.

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