Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): How Light Therapy Can Help 

As the clocks go back for British daylight savings time, the darker evenings draw in are getting shorter and the hours of daylight less, many people begin to feel the affect on their mood. ‘Winter blues’ is more common than people might realise and full- on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can begin to hugely affect people’s lives at this time of year. 

SAD, seasonal affective disorder, winter blues, light therapy, Needlite

SAD is considered to be a form of depression. There is plenty of information available about possible causes and the treatments available; including CBT, talking therapies, light therapy and meds if needed. Light therapy is highly recommended by most experts on this subject. It involves being closely exposed to artificial daylight for substantial amounts of time, in order to produce chemicals in the brain that helps to improve mood and alleviate some of the symptoms of SAD.

SAD, seasonal affective disorder, winter blues, light therapy, Needlite

Needlite is a daylight lamp that can be used at your work desk. It provides much needed imitation daylight that is very close to the real thing, available at any time. It is useful for improving exposure to the amount of daylight on a daily basis, despite being indoors, which therefore supports wellbeing and can assist in the treatment of SAD. I previously wrote a review of Needlite a few months ago and I will be interested to see how effective it continues to be over the winter months too, when it potentially at its most beneficial.

Needlite is available to buy from Well Working. You can also try it out for free, check out the website for further details and availability in your area. 

*Disclosure: I was sent a pair of Needlite lamps for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Songmics Bamboo Shoe Rack: Review and Giveaway 

As it starts to get more wet and muddy outside, having somewhere to store our shoes and wellies is essential! So it was handy to be sent a Songmics bamboo shoe rack to review.

#bamboo #eco #sustainable #interiors #home #review #songmic

The shoe rack was really quick and easy to assemble. It comes in four pieces screwed together with 8 screws. It took 6 minutes to put together and that was certainly on the longer side of how long it would take your average person. This is a video demo of assembly…

The shoe rack itself is nice and sturdy. It looks great and is very practical; the bamboo is very easy to wipe down and keep clean. I also like the fact that it is made from bamboo, which is highly sustainable.

#bamboo #eco #sustainable #interiors #home #review #songmic

The shoe rack measures 70cm long x 25cm wide, which fits several pairs of shoes in a row. The height is 33cm, with the bottom shelf starting at 8.5cm from the ground and a gap of 18.5cm between the shelves. This leaves space for small, flat shoes (e.g slippers or plimsolls) or other items on the floor below the bottom shelf, normal shoes fit on the bottom shelf and then wellies or boots go on the top shelf.

#bamboo #eco #sustainable #interiors #home #review #songmic

The rack can also be used for other purposes too. For example, it makes a stylish bathroom organiser. It looks modern and neat so would fit well in any room. I love it!

You can be in with a chance of winning one of these fab shoe racks by entering the giveaway below. One lucky winner will be drawn randomly by rafflecopter after the competition ends. UK residents only. Competition ends on 25th November 2017. Other T&Cs apply.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: I was sent this item for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. The post contains amazon affiliate links. This does not cost the buyer anything extra, but I make a small amount from sales made via the link. Thank you.

How To Make An Apple Bird Feeder: Protecting Birds in Winter

As it is starting to draw closer to winter and food for wildlife is becoming more scarce, I thought it would be a good time to share this simple, fun activity we did at home recently.

bird feeder, protecting wildlife, birds, winter, garden, nature, how to guide, childhood unplugged, outdoors

How To Make An Apple Bird Feeder

You Will Need…

  • Apple
  • Twigs – Thick enough to be a perch but thin enough to fit through an apple.
  • String or raffia
  • Peanut butter
  • Seeds

    bird feeder, protecting wildlife, birds, winter, garden, nature, how to guide, childhood unplugged, outdoors

    Step by Step Instructions

    Step 1

    Core the apple.

    bird feeder, protecting wildlife, birds, winter, garden, nature, how to guide, childhood unplugged, outdoors

    Step 2

    Carefully push the sticks through the apple. You might need to use a knife to help make a hole first.

    Step 3

    Tie the string through the apple. Use it to also hold the sticks in place if possible.

    bird feeder, protecting wildlife, birds, winter, garden, nature, how to guide, childhood unplugged, outdoors

    Step 4

    Use the peanut butter as ‘glue’ to stick the seeds on.

    bird feeder, protecting wildlife, birds, winter, garden, nature, how to guide, childhood unplugged, outdoors

    Step 5

    Hang it onto a tree branch. Then just sit back and observe the birds enjoying their treat!

    bird feeder, protecting wildlife, birds, winter, garden, nature, how to guide, childhood unplugged, outdoors

    Do you feed the birds in winter? What type of feeder do you have?

    Dubai: My Ever Increasing Travel Bucketlist 

    This is my travel bucketlist of must- do things in Dubai. From beaches to brunches, and from malls to Mosques, this list has something for everyone! Dubai is yet another destination on my bucketlist of travel goals. Read for inspiration and ideas on what to do in Dubai.

    I have had Dubai on my bucket list since Squiggle was very young, after a friend moved out there and we talked alot about to going to visit her. We didn’t make it over to see her, but I did do many hours of research whilst we were seriously considering it, and in doing so it somehow found a little place in my heart.

    Far more recently, my Sister in Law lived and worked in Dubai for a year or so. During that time, seeing her beautiful pictures and hearing her adventures reaffirmed its place on my travel bucketlist!

    Dubai, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

    I don’t really know what it is about Dubai that I have such a soft spot for; with its man-made beaches, so many imports and lack of public transport, it almost feels like a guilty pleasure! However, The Clumsy Colibri offers some great tips about sustainability in Dubai so I will get some inspiration from there, if and when we go! Destination2 also has some brilliant ideas and useful information about Dubai generally too. But anyway, here is a list of must-do things when visiting Dubai, as told by my sister in law…

    Dubai, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

    Beaches

    Dubai beaches are probably the main attraction. Dubai has year-round sun and many free, clean, white (man made) beaches. In addition, many hotels and bars have their own private strip of beach, which are even nicer. Kite beach is a favourite because it has a great view of the Burj Al Arab and offers activities as well as a chance to relax.

    Dubai, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

    Indoor Activities

    There are lots of indoor activities to do in Dubai, to cater for the incredible heat. Visit the Mall of the Emirates with its well known large indoor ski resort and snow centre. Or hang out at Dubai Mall, where there is an aquarium, ice rink and VR experiences. And of course you can shop, eat or catch a movie too.

    Dubai Mall Fountains

    Catch the evening water fountain show with moving music which is sure to give you goosebumps. Be wary you’ll need to get there early for a good spot!

    Relax

    Many hotels offer day access to their spas for some lovely relaxation time. That’s always worth it!

    Dubai, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

    Brunches

    Brunches are where it’s at in Dubai. You can choose from party brunches at Atlantis or more sophitisticated affairs at places like Le Meridian.

    Abu Dhabi

    While in Dubai, it is relatively cheap and easy to take a trip to Abu Dhabi to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

    Dubai, Abu Dhabi, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

    That sounds like quite the list! Have you been to Dubai? What is top of your list of things to do? I would love to hear more ideas too!

    Dubai, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

    *Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

    Common Health Conditions: Where To Go For Advice and Information

    I came across an article the other day discussing the ethics behind health bloggers; in particular, the dangers of non- experts giving advice and writing beyond their level of expertise. As a family lifestyle blogger, I have a health and wellbeing section, and cover this topic fairly regularly. 

    It got me thinking, should bloggers shy away from covering certain topics? Perhaps just leave it all to the professionals? I think it largely depends on the context it is written. Of course, nobody should be claiming to be an expert if they are not, or offer advice that could potentially be harmful. I guess some subjects are therefore by nature more controversial than others. But I do think well written and responsible health blogs have their place, and can be a very valuable source of information.

    For example, I often see on parenting groups new parents asking for health advice for their babies. Sometimes they are questions about rashes or temperatures; the kind of thing that it would be best to look up on NHS Direct or go to a pharmacy to establish whether it is safe to treat at home. But other things are questions that can easily be answered by other, more experienced, parents. Sensible, typical suggestions for dealing with a teething baby for example. Or little first aid tips like how to safely and easily remove a splinter. But if in any doubt whatsoever, it is always best to seek medical advice. Likewise, same applies when it comes to any other advice or health conditions for anyone of any age.

    health, medical, health conditions, wellbeing, advice

    It is comparitable to how people might ask friends or family for advice vs going to their GP. Of course, we don’t want to waste valuable NHS resources and professional’s time with things that are clearly fine to research ourselves or safe to treat at home, but if there is any doubt whatsoever then seek advice. Rule of thumb, in my opinion, is to treat blog posts and articles more like you are chatting to your friends rather than speaking to an expert!

    Personally, whilst I try to ensure that my health posts are informative, of course I absolutely do not claim to be an expert and I make sure that I signpost people on where to go for further information, advice and support. I offer ‘common sense’ practical suggestions about living a healthy lifestyle and ideas to support wellbeing, but I am careful not to cross the line into specialist advice. It is important however to reflect on this sometimes though and make sure I am consciously taking responsibility for the impact of the words I write on my readers. 

    Remember: if in doubt, seek expert medical advice. 

    health, medical, health conditions, wellbeing, advice

    Here are some essential sources for information and advice:

    NHS Direct

    The Independent Pharmacy

    Mind (mental health)

    Childrens Health

    NHS children’s health section

    www.healthforkids.co.uk (NHS site)

    www.gosh.nhs.uk/children/about-your-condition

    youngminds.org.uk (mental health)

    Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

    Healthy Eating Made Easy: Roasted Vegetable Couscous Recipe

    Delicious and healthy roasted vegetable and couscous recipe. Ideal quick and easy, yet healthy, meal that will feed the whole family. Make mealtimes stress- free with this microwave recipe. Enjoy healthy, clean eating without hassle.

    Healthy eating is important to me and I generally try to use raw ingredients if possible. But like most people, we are often under time constraints, so quick and easy recipes are a must! 

    I was set the challenge to choose one of these fab microwave recipes to make and blog about it. So I picked this roasted vegetable couscous recipe because it is super healthy and almost vegan. (It does contain honey). As I have mentioned before, we are flexitarian, meaning we choose to eat mainly vegan food but we are also laid back about it too.

    recipe, healthy, vegetarian, microwave, easy meals, clean eating, family dinner, stress-free mealtimes, life hacks, roasted vegetable couscous

    Ingredients

    • 2 Bell Peppers
    • 100g Button Mushrooms
    • 1 Onion
    • 1 large Courgette 
    • 1 medium Carrot 
    • 1/2 Butternut Squash 
    • 2 Garlic Cloves 
    • 1 tsp Paprika
    • Salt and Pepper
    • 3 tsp Honey
    • 300 mls Vegetable Stock
    • 350g Couscous

    The quantities given for the ingredients were more than enough to serve all three of us with a huge portion as a main meal. It would be enough for a family of 4 – 5 in fact probably!

    recipe, healthy, vegetarian, microwave, easy meals, clean eating, family dinner, stress-free mealtimes, life hacks, roasted vegetable couscous

    Recipe

    Vegetable Preparation

    • Deseed the peppers and cut them into bite size chunks.
    • Finely chop the onions.
    • Peel the carrot then slice them thinly.
    • Slice the courgettes.
    • Chop the butternut squash into bite size chunks.
    • Crush the garlic cloves.

    recipe, healthy, vegetarian, microwave, easy meals, clean eating, family dinner, stress-free mealtimes, life hacks, roasted vegetable couscous

    Microwave Vegetables

    • Place all of the prepared vegetables in a large casserole dish.
    • Add a tiny amount of water.
    • Cover and microwave on high for 5-7 mins.
    • Drain and cool slightly.

    recipe, healthy, vegetarian, microwave, easy meals, clean eating, family dinner, stress-free mealtimes, life hacks, roasted vegetable couscous

    Roasting the Vegetables

    Pre-heat oven to 220ºC (based on convection oven – adjust for other types).

    • Put the vegetables onto the oven tray.
    • Chop the button mushrooms and mix them in with the vegetables.
    • Add some olive oil.
    • Season with salt, pepper and paprika.
    • Place in the pre-heated oven on the lower shelf and cook for 25-30 minutes, shaking occasionally, until golden brown and soft.
    • Stir through the honey and place back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

    recipe, healthy, vegetarian, microwave, easy meals, clean eating, family dinner, stress-free mealtimes, life hacks, roasted vegetable couscous

    Cooking the Couscous

    • Mix the vegetable stock with boiling water.
    • Pour 450 mls over the couscous initially then gradually add more boiling water if required.
    • Stand for 10 minutes.
    • Cover and microwave on medium until warm. (Approximately 5 minutes).

    recipe, healthy, vegetarian, microwave, easy meals, clean eating, family dinner, stress-free mealtimes, life hacks, roasted vegetable couscous

    Final Preparations

    • Separate the couscous grains with a fork.
    • Stir in the vegetable mix.
    Serve and enjoy!

    recipe, healthy, vegetarian, microwave, easy meals, clean eating, family dinner, stress-free mealtimes, life hacks, roasted vegetable couscous

    The verdict…

    I made a couple of simple, minor amendments to the original recipe but stuck to it for the main part. It was a fairly quick and easy recipe. Most importantly, it was absolutely delicious! Very filling, and so healthy too. I will definitely be making this one again!

    recipe, healthy, vegetarian, microwave, easy meals, clean eating, family dinner, stress-free mealtimes, life hacks, roasted vegetable couscous

    *Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

    OFFICIAL LAUNCH NEWS: Living Life Our Way Clothing Range 

    Fantastic range of ethical and sustainable clothing designs. Including custom made t- shirts using child’s own drawing to create a unique peesonalised gift. All clothing is made from 100% organic cotton in a wind powered factory and printed using low waste cutting edge technology. Fully traceable from start to finish. Adult and kids t-shirts, hoodies and bags available. Stylish and sustainable, look great while protecting our planet! Chari-tees collection also supports various causes and charities by donating a set amount per sale. Look good, feel good, do good. Shop for our ethical, sustainable fashion eco clothing.

    EXCITING NEWS!!! 

    Squiggle and I are thrilled to announce that we have launched our very own sustainable and ethical clothing range!

    Our Story

    Squiggle loves designing her own clothes and has several tops that she has hand drawn herself using fabric pens. Being the mini entrepreneur she is, toward the end of last year, she asked if she could sell her clothing designs to other people too. However, we both agreed that we would need to ensure that our items would be eco- friendly and so our mission began to turn our ideas into reality…

    sustainable, ethical, eco, fashion, clothing

    And now our goal has finally been realised! We have successfully sourced a manufacturer who almost perfectly aligns with our values – and we are so happy and excited to have found such an ideal match! All of our clothing is made from 100% organic cotton, in a wind powered factory. Designs are printed using low waste, cutting edge technology. Furthermore, everything is ethically made and fully traceable from start to finish. Sustainable, ethical and good quality too, we couldn’t be happier!

    But that is just the beginning of the story…

    Originally this started out as Squiggle sharing her own designs. However, inspired by my lovely friend Maxine and her fabulous My&Me Jewellery range, we decided to extend this to offer custom tees in your child’s own design. This makes a really unique and thoughtful personalised gift for a child – or even a special adult in their life!

    sustainable, ethical, eco, fashion, clothing, custom made, gift ideas

    Chari-Tees

    Inspired by Squiggle’s creativity and drive, and my desire to support causes I feel passionate about, I have designed a couple of products with particular charity campaigns in mind. For each of these sold, a set amount will be donated. Details are on the website under the item description. I intend to keep expanding this collection to help raise money for more fab charities!

    sustainable, ethical, eco, fashion, clothing, charity, causes, fundraising

    Other Collections

    I have also created some general designs too. I often find myself getting creative as a way to relieve stress, so either when Squiggle is having a tough time with her complex needs, and/ or if there has been something major happen around the globe.

    For example, my ‘Spread Love‘ design was inspired by an instagram post asking people to share photos of love in response to the Las Vegas tragedy. I try to focus on the love and kindness in the world, especially during difficult times, and my design is a reflection of that.

    sustainable, ethical, eco, fashion, clothing, spread love, hoodie, t shirt, kids top, adult tee

    Another love of mine is music, and I find live music very therapeutic. It is an important part of my life. Hence my ‘Live Music‘ hoodie design. Perfect for wearing to gigs! 

    sustainable, ethical, eco, fashion, clothing, music, gigs, live music, hoodie

    Giveaway

    To celebrate the launch of our clothing range, I have an awesome adult or child t- shirt to giveaway! Enter via rafflecopter below. Open worldwide. Ends 1st November 2017. Winner can choose from any design. Other T&Cs apply. 

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Shop for clothing here. Thanks for your support!

    8 Frugal Ways To Organise Your Kitchen 

    8 frugal kitchen organization tips. How to organise your kitchen without spending a fortune. Interior design and home decor tips for getting your kitchen organised. Guest post by The Home Makers Journal.

    This is a guest post kindly written by Elizabeth Plumb from The Home Makers Journal.

    It has started to get a bit chilly at night where I live, which has me in a fall cleaning frame of mind. More specifically, I’ve been yearning to get my house in order. Since I didn’t really feel like buying a whole bunch of organization products to get started, I decided to see what I could come up with that would satisfy my need to get organized without spending a lot of money.

    kitchen organization, frugal organisation tips, home and garden, interior design, home decor, guest post, The Home Makers Journal

    Kitchen is used to prepare food stuff. So naturally hygiene conditions must be ensured while preparing food. Prolonged exposure of kitchen surfaces and items to dirt and dust may spoil the appearance and cleanliness of the kitchen. As a professional organizer, I am excited that I get to share both my love of organizing with you today, as well as the tidy, frugal ideas that I use to simply keep my sanity in my own kitchen.

    kitchen organization, frugal organisation tips, home and garden, interior design, home decor, guest post, The Home Makers Journal

    Maybe you can use some of these solutions, too? Here we go…

    Remove Cabinet Doors

    Remove a few cabinet doors to have easy access to dishes. Contrary to what you might think, these dishes don’t get dirty simply because they are out in the open. They are frequently used and don’t sit still long enough to gather dust.

    Use A Cookbook Stand

    Use an ordinary plate easel as a cookbook stand. It keeps your book open, clean, and in view while you are creating your newest culinary masterpiece.

    kitchen organization, frugal organisation tips, home and garden, interior design, home decor, guest post, The Home Makers Journal

    Use creativity, not cash

    Frugal organizers think past the label and outside the box. Even when they must purchase an item to complete an organization project, they make creative use of common products like eco-friendly lighting in the kitchen.

    Ever notice that the same item, say, a plastic box with dividers and a lid, can have three different prices when labeled as a box for fishing tackle, a box for small hardware items, or a box to hold cross-stitch thread? At home, the frugal organizer realize that the expensive plastic holders aren’t necessary!

    Keep Only The Best

    Keep only the best of your kitchen helpers. These are literally all of my casserole dishes and pie plates. I never need more than a few of these at a time. You can read more about kitchen cookware choosing tips on thehomemakersjournal.com

    Storing Utensils

    Store your utensils out in the open, in a pot, crock or ceramic pitcher, so that they will be easier to find and to use and to be returned after being cleaned.

    kitchen organization, frugal organisation tips, home and garden, interior design, home decor, guest post, The Home Makers Journal

    Shop your home for baskets and bins

    I sort of have a basket addiction. They come in handy a lot around our house, so when I needed a little more food storage, I put a couple of baskets from our living room to good use. They were only holding clutter anyway, which forced me to organize that little bit too. While searching our house for other baskets, I found a couple of wire ones to hold my cook books and Lola’s pet supplies too. And I repurposed a galvanized bucket sitting on a bookshelf that served a better purpose as a potato bin.

    Fill the Sink

    Always fill the sink with hot and soapy water before putting in the utensils. This will not only save the cost but also the wear and tear of your dishwasher. Other benefit of practicing this is that it will allow you to speed up your cooking process as you can wash and go without having to worry about a big pile of pans and pots.

    Use of Lids

    Making use of lids is also an innovative way of maintaining cleanliness in the kitchen. Lids of various containers can be used as a mat for jars and containers which contain sticky liquids. The reason behind it is that it helps to clean only the lids rather than cleaning the whole shelf. This eventually saves time and energy.

    Author Bio

    Elizabeth Plumb loves to share ideas on parenting, home decor, DIY, crafts, recipes and traveling. She writes over at The Home Makers Journal. You can find her on facebook, twitter and pinterest.

    Educational STEM Toy Reviews: Tin Can Cable Car and Salt Water Engine Car (From Wicked Uncle) 

    Tin Can Cable Car review and Salt Water Engine Car review. STEM science and engineering educational toys from Wicked Uncle.

    Quite sometime ago we received a Tin Can Cable Car (RRP £14.95) and Salt Water Engine Car (RRP £15.95) as part of our Wicked Uncle review. Now we have had plenty of opportunity to play with these, I would love to share my thoughts with you all!

    STEM, STEAM, educational toys, science, engineering, home ed, Wicked Uncle, toy review, salt water engine car, tin can cable car

    Tin Can Cable Car Review

    Firstly, the tin can cable car. Here is a quick demo…

    This is easy to set up and is fun to play with. Admittedly it is abit of a novelty item that probably won’t have much longevity in terms of holding interest, but that said, we have had it out a few times and she has played with it for several hours. It is pretty durable too; Squiggle had alot of fun attaching her toys to it so they could use it and it held quite an impressive weight! (Note: it is not intended to be used this way!) 

    STEM, STEAM, educational toys, science, engineering, home ed, Wicked Uncle, toy review, tin can cable car

    Overall, it makes quite a cool gift as long as expectations on amount of use aren’t too high. 

    Salt Water Engine Car Review

    The salt water engine car is great for sparking discussion on natural energy sources. It is also educational in terms of simple mechanics and engineering too. 

    STEM, STEAM, educational toys, science, engineering, home ed, Wicked Uncle, toy review, salt water engine car

    We discovered this kit had far more parts than we might have imagined it and Squiggle personally found it too fiddly to do independently but children with better motor skills and more patience might be able to do so. She enjoyed doing it alongside an adult instead. 

    STEM, STEAM, educational toys, science, engineering, home ed, Wicked Uncle, toy review, salt water engine car

    STEM, STEAM, educational toys, science, engineering, home ed, Wicked Uncle, toy review, salt water engine car

    It didn’t move as fast, or as smoothly, as we hoped but it was on carpet and I suspect we just needed to check connections! However, it was pretty exciting that it went along at all just using salt water! Great learning tool.

    This is the salt water car in action…

    Thanks to Wicked Uncle for these items to review.

    Blogger Recognition Award

    First of all, thank you to lovely Trupti at Girls Glamour for nominating me. Do go check out her blog, she has a variety of posts, plenty of great reading!

    blogger, blogging, blog, blogger advice, blogging tips, how to begin blogging, blogger recognition award

    How did my blog begin?

    Well, in short, it begun as a hobby several years ago now (almost a decade infact!) when I first became a parent. I have written about the beginnings of my blog before. 

    My Top Tips For New Bloggers

    • Network – join facebook groups, twitter chats, and even attend conferences/ events if possible. Put in the time and effort to connect with other bloggers. It is a great way to get support and advice, and make friends too!
    • Take it one step at a time – there are many aspects to blogging and it is likely to be far too overwhelming to take it all on at once. Focus on one area to learn about and work on, until it starts to come more naturally and slots in to your schedule/ process easily, then start on the next thing.
    • Be yourself – whether you have a specific niche or cover lots of subjects, open your heart out or are more reserved, write how you speak or more formally, stick to your own personal style and just do you!
    • Focus on social media as much as your blog – if you want people to find and read your content, you need to engage with others and actually share your blog posts so they get seen!

    I now nominate the following fab bloggers:

    If you would like to take part, the ‘rules’ are simple…

    • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
    • Give your top tips/ advice to new bloggers.
    • Select other bloggers you think should be nominated for this award and tag them in the post. Remember to let them know they have been nominated! Don’t forget to also link back to the person who nominated you as well.

    Thank you to everyone, let’s all keep supporting each other!