Top Tips For Hair Care

I will be the first to admit that my hair is not in the best condition it could be. I am a busy mum and too often it just gets scraped back into a ponytail and ignored. However, I have been thinking about various (natural, if possible) ways to care for hair and thought I would share some top tips with you all…

General Healthy Hair Tips
First things first; don’t overwash it! Hair benefits from producing its own natural oils to keep it healthy. Some people even opt to ditch the shampoo completely and let their hair do its own magic! Even if this approach isn’t for you, Wellness Mama has a useful recipe for making your own natural shampoo and Eco Fluffy Mama has written a handy post about DIY natural dry shampoo too. Also, try to minimise the use of products and appliances. We all know that heat and too much styling damages hair. Keep your hair as natural as possible!

Treatments/ Conditioners
There are lots of natural treatments that work well to generally keep hair naturally looking and feeling its best too. Here are some favourites…

Coconut oil is my personal go to method. I find it works equally effectively on both mine and Squiggle’s hair, even though we have very different types of hair. This is also the preferred method of Hollie from Thrifty Mum to keep her hair beautifully soft and healthy.

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Thrifty Mum after her coconut oil treatment.

Apple cider vinegar is also brilliant; it is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory, it is a natural exfoliator and it is packed with nutrients too. Pretty impressive! Coconuts and Kettlebells has written a post with more detailed information. This is a favourite method of Daisies and Pie.

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Daisies and Pie after apple cider vinegar rinse.

Jade from Raw Childhood uses the ‘Curly Curl Method‘ so doesn’t use shampoo and only uses approved conditioners without drying alcohols, silicones etc… She uses olive oil protein treatment for her hair, which leaves it naturally glossy and tangle free.

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Raw Childhood post olive oil protein treatment.

Banana gets mixed reviews; some people swear by it whilst others find it messy and hard to remove. I think it depends on hair type somewhat, so proceed with caution! Using over-ripe bananas that are thoroughly blended and strained, preferably mixed with oil, is my best advice. 

Dry Hair/ Flaky Scalp
The natural treatments named above also effectively combat dry hair or a flaky scalp. Any of them can help, so find the method that works best for your hair.

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Squiggle’s previously dry curls post coconut oil treatment.

Hair Loss
Hair loss is sometimes caused by having a dry flaky scalp, hence the importance of the above tips. Of course there are also various other reasons for hair loss too; including stress, hormone changes or imbalances, vitamin deficiency, autoimmune issues, and other medical reasons (including cancer treatment for example). Or sometimes it is simply in your genes! But whatever the reason, hair loss can affect a person’s confidence and self- esteem.

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Hair loss

Whilst in some cases hair loss is only temporary and/ or can be rectified by addressing the underlying issue, for example through proper nutrition in the case of vitamin deficiency, in other cases this may be more difficult to tackle. If it is not just a temporary issue, and other methods have failed, then there are also potentially other options to consider; such as hair transplants in extreme cases, or Advanced Tricho Pigmentation Treatment. This is especially worth considering if it is really affecting the person but they are not at the stage of hair loss where a transplant is an option, or if they cannot have one for whatever reason. 

I firmly believe that beauty comes from within and we don’t need to change our appearance to feel good. But I also think that if something is making someone feel stressed or miserable, and bringing them down, then doing something about it is a positive thing. It can really help that person’s overall wellbeing! 

What are your top tips for healthy hair? Tell me in comments!

Now I am off to take my own advice on general good hair care… 

*Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Harley Street Hair Clinic. 

Needlite: Bringing Daylight Indoors 

Needlite are a small, Danish start-up who invented and designed a unique daylight desk lamp, which launched in the Nordic market just under two years ago. The idea is simple: provide the user with efficient work light and provide the much-needed daylight at the same time.

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Needlite, daylight lamp, health, mental health, wellbeing, indoor lighting, home decor

The Needlite has a simple, modern design. It is easy to use, either via the sensor or by downloading the iphone app. One simple touch allows you to turn it on/off, and change the brightness. There are various other functions too. I love how funky and modern it is!

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But there are more important benefits to the Needlite. Did you know that many people in western countries spend more than 23 hours indoors per day on average, all year round? That is not enough daylight! Yet humans need daylight for numerous health reasons; including energy, mood, digestion, sleep, recovery from illness etc… General indoor lighting is poor on quality and never contains daylight; the blue wavelength is not present in traditional lighting, which makes Needlite different to other indoor lighting.

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So whilst it might not seem very relevant to consider investing in a daylight lamp at this time of year, it is actually beneficial all year round. I am going to be trying it out further over the coming months and will share my thoughts with you in an update post later this autumn, but I can already see how it would be useful!

Needlite is sold in the UK through www.wellworking.co.uk at RRP £399 (although it is currently on sale at £359 at the time of posting). Check the Needlite website for stockists in other countries.

*Disclosure: I was sent the Needlite daylight lamp free for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 


What Does Family Mean To You? #FamilyMadeSimple 

What does family mean to you? The truth is, family means different things to everyone. Long gone are the days of 2.4 children as standard. I look around me at friends and aquaintences, and I see a wonderfully diverse range of family units that include single parents of both genders, same sex couples, multicultural families, married and unmarried partners, and blended families. In addition to the childless couples, family sizes range from one child to half a dozen or more. Some families live in close proximity, whilst other (still close knit) families are geographical far apart. Some are related by blood, others aren’t. There is no standard; every family is beautifully unique in one way or another.

For us, whilst I wouldn’t consider my own family unit particularly diverse, we do have an only child, with no plans to extend our family; it feels complete already. Our family lifestyle is somewhat different to most too, in that we home educate Squiggle rather than taking the traditional schooling route. I guess that shows how modern family life can differ in other ways too!

The following infographic What Makes A Family? has been produced by Slater and Gordon Family Lawyers and has some interesting stats and information about modern families.

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What does family mean to you? 

I asked some fellow bloggers this question. Some came up with lovely, sentimental and insightful answers…

Family means Christmas Day, Sunday lunches and the only kind of hugs that make you feel better.Planes, Trains and Meltdowns

Family means those who you can rely on and who support you and make you happy! Family is not just blood. The Smallest of Things

Love, support and understanding.The Incidental Parent

Family means everything to me. My Mother doesn’t do anything with me, and my kids and I think that’s one big reason to why I keep the rest of my family close. They are the ones I can go to if I need a chat and we’re always there for each other.Life As Mum

Being together through thick and thin. Being happy to be just spending time with family, whether you are on a fun day out or relaxing at home.Dillydrops

To me, my close family are the people who know me better than anyone else, who I can completely be myself around, and who love me without judgment. And vice versa.Five Little Stars

Someone to support you through the tough times and celebrate the small victories!Two Hearts One Roof

Family means to me being around people who want to spend time with me and will be there with me no matter what. Always have my back and stand up for me.The Mum Diaries 

Whilst others had a more witty, lighthearted response…

People to argue with that are available on tap.The Money Shed

But Beth really sums it up perfectly…

Quite simply – Everything ❤️ ~ Twinderelmo

So, what do you think makes a family? Tell me in comments and/ or join in the discussion on social media using the hashtag #FamilyMadeSimple

*Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Slater and Gordon Family Lawyers.

What To Look For When Renting/ Top Tips For Landlords #RentalInsights

Recently homelet.co.uk carried out a survey and have found some interesting stats about tenants:

  • Overall 86% of people were either very happy, quite happy or somewhat happy with their landlord or letting agent
  • 75% of people surveyed claimed to be happy with the response to maintenance requests
  • 43.6% of tenancy agreements do not allow pets
  • 12.5% of people surveyed have had their deposit withheld with 39.1% of these down to cleaning and 19.3% down to re-decorating costs

We are long term renters but have also been landlords ourselves too, so we have seen it from both sides of the fence. We have had some poor experiences as tenants, but have also had some very positive ones as well. Over the years, we have rented privately and through letting agents, in house shares, as a couple, and as a family, and have had our homes managed by many different companies along the way. Therefore I am pleased to take part in HomeLet’s #RentalInsights campaign, to share our experiences and top tips!

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Renting as a family (especially with an SEND child) means that our experience, and our priorities, maybe different to other people in some regards. I know that before we started a family, we personally had a very different view on renting, whereas what we look for has shifted now that we are parents. For example, we used to move around every 6 months or so; a scenario we are most definitely very keen to avoid now! We both used to work full time so rarely gave any thought to how much notice we were given or how often access was ‘required’. Infact we were probably pretty quick to complain if things weren’t dealt with very promptly! These days, that is a disruption that we want kept to a minimum and we need flexibility with regards to timings, with as much notice as possible given too.

The top priorities we have when looking for a family rental home, aside from location and so on, are three fold:

Firstly, it must be a long term let. As a family, and especially with an SEND child, long term means years. Many agents consider 6 month contracts to be a long term let, so it is important to clarify what is meant by ‘long term’ for the particular property that you are considering. 

Secondly, we need somewhere that accepts pets. They are part of our family; rehoming them is absolutely not up for consideration. However, as the survey suggests, this reduces our options by roughly half before we can even begin to think about any of the other factors that we need to consider. Sometimes a personal letter to the landlord, an offer of a higher deposit and/ or clauses added to the agreement can help with finding a pet- friendly property.

Thirdly, we look for a suitable landlord/ letting agent. If initial conversations suggest that the attitude of the landlord, or approach to property management, is going to cause us stress and/ or prevent us from feeling like it is our home, we dismiss it. We also ensure that we are upfront about our own circumstances (home educating, SEND child etc…) so that we can find a good match for us. 

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We have had some totally appalling experiences along the way though, both as a couple and as a family. This includes landlords letting themselves in without warning, agents showing round viewings after we have said it is not a convenient time, drastic rent increases regularly, keeping deposit without justification (prior to the compulsory deposit schemes) and even being evicted in the midst of our child having a health crisis (through no fault of our own; it was simply because they decided to sell). It can quickly turn into a nightmare if you find yourself in a difficult situation, so I recommend both landlords and tenants are clued up on their legal rights and responsibilities at all times. 

The key points we would give to landlords/ agents is to build up enough of a working relationship with your tenants that you understand their personal priorities, and vice versa. Are they the type of tenant who will want every little detail dealt with immediately? Or do they need any essential work done around their schedule? Are they away alot anyway so people letting themselves in (with prior written notice of course!) is irrelevant to them, or are they a homebody who values their privacy and wants to be left alone as much as possible?

The absolute crucial thing to remember is, for the period that they live there, it is the tenant’s home. And most people want, and need, to feel at home. It can be stressful living in a property where you feel like you are just visiting, or are made to feel uncomfortable in any way, and that in turn can affect peoples’ health and wellbeing. So putting yourself in the shoes of your tenant is a must.

Understanding abit about the tenants and their situation, and knowing what matters most to them personally, helps everyone to have a more enjoyable, relaxed and positive experience. 

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post written as part of HomeLet #RentalInsights campaign. 

Omlet Eglu Go: Rabbit Hutch and Run Review 

We have three rabbits; two are paired up and I will be writing more about their enclosure soon, but the third is a smaller breed who lives alone. Having chewed through the wood on his previous enclosure, it was time for a replacement!

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We wanted a home for him that provides freedom to be inside or out at all times, gives him plenty of space, and allows him to graze without fear of him digging out. (After all, this is the bun who was once found by a neighbour in the middle of the road after he dug a hole and escaped!) After some research, we decided that the Omlet might be a good fit for him, and they kindly agreed to let us review the Eglu Go hutch and 2 metre run.

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The Omlet took quite a while to assemble! The instructions were not as clear as they could be, but there is a YouTube video to watch, which makes it clearer. We made a couple of minor mistakes, which added to the time it took. Plus we had to take a section of the hutch apart because one of the pre-fitted internal nuts had come loose. It was easy enough to sort that out ourselves though without any major hassle. It was fully assembled and ready to use within 3 hours, so I guess that’s not too bad in the scheme of things.

Once put together though, it is low maintence, easy to clean and it is obvious that it is very durable. There are lots of little features that I really like, such as the hay rack and bottle attached to the door and slide out tray for easy cleaning. I also like the attached floor to ensure nothing can dig in or out.

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Patchy, our bunny, is given access to both the hutch and run at all times (personally I feel it would be far too small to ever shut him in the hutch alone) and he has free-range access to the garden under supervision sometimes too. He has plenty of space to hop, stretch and periscope!

Omlet, Eglu Go, rabbit, pets, hutch and run, review, furbabies, furry family, bunny, enclosure

Omlet, Eglu Go, rabbit, pets, hutch and run, review, furbabies, furry family, bunny, enclosure

Squiggle and one of our cats also demonstrate how much space there is…

Omlet, Eglu Go, rabbit, pets, hutch and run, review, furbabies, furry family, bunny, enclosure

Omlet, Eglu Go, rabbit, pets, hutch and run, review, furbabies, furry family, bunny, enclosure

We have been using the OMLET Eglu Go hutch and run for over a month now and it has been thoroughly tested in that time. After just a few days of Patchy moving in, we discovered a fox trying hard to get into the Omlet. Given that my daughter had commented that she heard a banging sound quite a while beforehand, I suspect it had been trying for quite sometime. We even spotted muddy paw prints on the hutch roof!

We were relieved it withstood this assault without any sign of weakness, but we have made a few extra safety modifications since them to improve security further still. This includes a padlock on the run door, cable ties on the joints and a couple of bricks at the back. We also throw a blanket or two over the run at night as well.

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In Summary – Eglu Go hutch and 2m run

  • RRP £360
  • Pros: durable, easy to maintain, secure.
  • Cons: ease of assembly.

Aside from the difficulty with assembly, we really like the Omlet Eglu Go. I think it is a good investment that is best suited for smaller breeds of rabbit, ideally with regular access to the garden too. To purchase, visit the Omlet website. There are also various useful accessories, such as full length clear cover (£24.99) and extreme temperature liner (£34.99).

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Omlet also sell a range of other pet enclosures. See the website for their complete range of products and accessories.

*Disclosure: We received a free Omlet Eglu Go for the purpose of review. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

**This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small amount if you purchase through my website. This does not cost you any extra.

Camping Guide: Get Organised With Halfords

We have been on many outdoor style holidays, staying at campsites or holiday parks. We tend to be caravanners and often, but not always, opt for locations by the beach. We have had lots of precious moments from waking up to see rabbits hopping about outside our window, to exploring Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door for the first time last year, and discovering adventurous nature paths from our holiday site to the beach.

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Dorset

However, I reflect back on our very first holiday as parents – a caravan trip to the seaside – and we were so unorganised and unprepared! Don’t get me wrong; there are lots of special memories from the trip – Squiggle’s first touch of sand, putting her toes in the sea for the very first time, sleeping away from home with her for the first time ever. It was wonderful in so many ways.

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First paddle in the sea.

But the caravan was basic with no heating, so it was very much like camping in a tent. Plus it was out of season too, so not very warm- and as new parents we forgot so many camping essentials! We even had to dash out in the evening to get supplies; we were literally banging on the window of the nearest store just as they closed up, begging them to let us in for 2 mins to make a quick purchase – cue a supermarket sweep style grab for blankets and extra thick sleeping bag! Oops!!!

Halfords have created a useful Guide To Camping with lots of helpful essential packing tips, so luckily you don’t have to make the same Rookie mistakes as we did! There are also suggestions for campsites; from beach lovers to cycling and outdoor adventures, wild camping, and caravanning sites, plus other camping ideas too – there is even a playlist if you need some musical inspiration!

What are your top camping tips? I would love to read them! Leave me a comment.



*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Halfords.

Innovations in Blogging – What Does The Future Hold?

When I started blogging, I did it simply because I enjoyed writing; I believed that it would never be anything more than a hobby. Not least of all because I honestly thought the only people who could ever make any money from it were the people who got in there quick, when the whole blogging thing first took off. I realise now that is true of some things but I seriously don’t know why I thought that about blogging in particular! 

Fast forward to now and I still blog for the love of it… but now I also get a reasonable part- time income from it too. It is hard work, and there is so much more to it than I could possibly imagine before I got into it. But then again, when you do something you love, it doesn’t really feel like a job as such. And in some ways it has been easier, or at least more achievable, to monetise than I originally thought. I guess the saying is true that it often seems impossible until it is done. So I don’t foresee the popularity of blogging dwindling, if anything I think it will continue to grow.

I firmly believe that blogging can kind of be compared to books; in the sense that although the format might change (e.g. kindle books instead of hard copies), people continue to love to read books in one form or another – regardless of how popular TV, film and internet is. Regardless of other media, the love of books still remains strong. 

So in future, I think blogging will still be popular, and YouTube and podcasts will continue to grow in popularity but not at the expense of written blogs. But I also think bloggers are versatile and flexible so will adapt to the latest trend, as an addition to the services they offer. I suspect platforms like wordpress will continue to be front- runners.

Blogging, I feel, has also become more of a supportive community than it used to be. We all have our strengths, our own angles and our unique points; so to an extent there is room for us all. By working together, we lift each other up, and this makes us all stronger. I think in future our community will continue to grow and thrive; with more collaborations, networking and team work within blogging. I think this will be the case both online and in real life via conferences, events and meet ups. I suspect we will also see an expansion on the number of PR agencies, and an increase in websites who connect bloggers to brands. 

In summary, I would like to think that blogging will remain a viable way to earn an income and the community will continue to grow. At least, I hope so! 

Disclosure: This post is written as part of a study by innovationcompany.co.uk on what bloggers see as the future of blogging. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Choosing A Family Car: Important Considerations

Whilst we spend alot of our time out and about on foot, we do still rely on our family car to provide us with more freedom and flexibility. At present however, ‘our’ family car is actually just a company car, which we may not even have access to in the future, so we have been discussing and researching into the possibility of getting a new car.

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Personally, finding an eco-friendly car is one of my first considerations. Ideally I would love an electric car if at all possible, but in reality other factors might prohibit this. However, this is certainly an important part of our research. Auto Express lists their top 10 green cars of 2017, which includes a combination of electric, hybrid and traditional cars. Top of the list is BMWi3 followed by the Toyota Prius. However, I was also surprised and impressed though with how many electric cars are available now.

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Stock image

Of course though, the absolute top priority is safety. Accident Advice Helpline have created an interactive guide to some of the safest cars of 2016 – 2017.  It shows safety percentages for drivers, passengers and pedestrians so gives a clear picture of different aspects of safety. You can also filter based on the type of car you are searching for.

Again, the Toyota Prius appears high up on the list here too, so this car would be a great all rounder if environment and safety were the only two factors we needed to consider. But, of course, budget also plays a part in the decision too though!

However, these guides highlighting key information are really useful. Then it is just up to us to weigh up all the factors and decide on balance which car is best, within our budget. Regardless of outcome though, I feel much better knowing that I have researched properly!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post. 

Bakerdays Letterbox Cake: Review and Giveaway

To help celebrate Squiggle’s 9th birthday recently, Bakerdays kindly sent us a letterbox cake. We were lucky enough to review one of these yummy cakes previously too, which you can read about here

Since then though, there have been lots of developments over at Bakerdays! Their website has had a facelift; now even more user- friendly and is looking great, with new designs and more products being added. 

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Mobile version (android)

The cake arrived well packaged and in perfect condition, same as last time. There isn’t excess packaging or too much plastic either, which I am happy about. There were also thoughtful finishing touches in the box, such as the party blower, some balloons and a little card. I also like the card that says who packed it too.

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I chose this rabbit design after specifically searching the website for the word ‘bunny’ because Squiggle had a pet theme this year for her birthday. I then personalised the writing. Last time I ordered dairy free but I decided to order the regular vanilla sponge on this occasion, just to compare. (Generally we opt to eat as close to vegan as possible but aren’t strict about it!)

Squiggle was really excited that a cake arrived through the letterbox for her! She was very pleased with the design too…

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We took the cake outside for a garden picnic and Squiggle had the honour of cutting her cake…

Squiggle also got to have first taste too as the birthday girl…

Her verdict was “Mmmm… it is YUMMY!”

I enjoyed it too, it was tasty and good quality. I do recall the dairy free one we had previously tasted more buttery (in a good way!) than this one, and it seemed to lack a filling, but it was yummy nonetheless!

The letterbox cake is plenty big enough for 3 people to have a very generous sized slice or two, and stays fresh for a reasonable amount of time too. It definitely makes a lovely novelty gift or surprise for someone!

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Bakerdays are kindly giving away a letterbox cake to one lucky reader! Enter via the rafflecopter below.
Open to UK residents only. Competition closes 14th June 2017. Other T&Cs apply. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: Bakerdays sent us the letterbox cake for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Switching Energy Providers To Save Money

Roughly this time last year, we switched our energy provider to a clean energy company in a bid to make our lives greener. We chose to switch from British Gas to Good Energy via 38 Degrees Big Switch. We found it incredibly easy to do this, it seriously took no effort at all, and we saved alot of money this year in doing so.

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Unfortunately, the fixed tariff has now ended and the one we are automatically transferred to is a much higher rate, so it is time to switch again! We were kept well informed of this though; 38 Degrees were very good at sending out emails to ensure customers were aware, and to offer a new deal with a different company (Bristol Energy). 

If you don’t review your energy provider regularly to ensure you are getting the best deal, for example at the end of a fixed rate period, I really recommend you do so. The amount you can save is significant! There are lots of energy companies to choose from (including several clean energy providers) so it is worth taking the time to shop around and compare the various deals on offer.

There are also various companies who are using people power too, by joining consumers together to get a better collective deal, much like the one we did. These really take the time and hassle out of it all, whilst getting great savings. Google to check the latest one, as they are usually limited numbers and set deadlines.

The other thing to consider is thinking ahead in order to save money. I would imagine that you are more likely to find deals on installation, or home heating oil if you use it, now during the summer months than later in the year for example. So a little bit of planning now could help make savings in winter.


*This is a collaborative post.