A while back now I mentioned that I would write more about the enclosure we have for our beautiful pair of bunny furbabies. They are a larger breed and we couldn’t find anything on the market that we felt offered them enough space, but equally we are not DIY minded enough to make anything secure enough ourselves. So we set about having an enclosure custom – made by a highly rated ebay seller, and gave our exact specifications. We found this to be a relatively cheap option, it arrived very easy to assemble and is great quality construction; just what we need!
We didn’t want anything to be able to dig in or out of their new home, so we laid down some wire mesh flooring, secured to the enclosure using cable ties, then covered it over with rolls of turf so the bunnies would be none the wiser! Then we added a shelter, plus some tunnels for them to play and hide in as well. They love their enclosure!
Step By Step Guide
Measure the wire mesh to slightly larger than the enclosure area and cut it to size. Lay it down flat. Overlap any joins and cable tie them securely.
Put the enclosure frame on top of the wire flooring, making sure there is an overlap around the edges.
Secure the wire mesh to the bottom of the enclosure using cable ties. Make sure they are very tight so can’t be chewed and cut off the end being careful not to leave sharp edges.
Lay rolls of turf over the floor to cover over the wire. Take care to ensure there are no exposed edges or sharp bits of wire anywhere.
Shelter and Accessories
We then added a dog kennel from Pets at Home and burrow pipes from runaround for shelter and protection too. We also left the extra roll of turf we had spare in the enclosure as a little hill/ mound as well. We will introduce new things over time for further enrichment of course.
The wire roof has a fold back panel opening. Once closed it is secured with padlocks and then partially covered over for extra protection.
Ideally this would be connected to a shed and/ or have extra adjoining sections. We hope that we can build them an extension soon! However, free range access to the garden under supervision for daily exercise is a good alternative too though.
Do you have pet rabbits? What type of enclosure do they live in?
We have all been there; despite doing your best to stay on top of the finances, somehow the money doesn’t quite stretch to your next pay check. Maybe an unexpected expense has cropped up that really cannot wait until the end of the month. Or an unpaid invoice messes up your carefully planned budget. Or perhaps it is simply that an error has occured somewhere along the line. Whatever the reason, realising you have a cash flow problem can be very stressful. Here are some top tips on how to tackle it…
Nip Issues in the Bud
First of all, start trying to address the issue as soon as you realise that your money won’t stretch. If you see a shortfall coming and react immediately, you will have more options and less of a problem than if you bury your head in the sand and wait for the inevitable.
Immediately cut back on any unnecessary spending – and evaluate what you actually consider to be necessary to ensure it truly is absolutely essential. Even small budget cuts to groceries shopping for example, or walking whenever possible to save petrol money, could help to narrow that gap significantly.
Also check you don’t have any non-essential direct debits coming out and cancel any you don’t actually need to pay; for example, subscriptions. Although do be aware of minimum notice periods for any cancellations, or potential charges as per contracts, when doing this – you don’t want to find yourself in a different type of financial difficulty instead!
Raise Some Cash – Fast
Next up, try to raise the shortfall money. There are several ways to potentially do this, depending on how fast you need to raise the cash how much you need. Here are some suggestions:
Have a clear-out. Sell any secondhand items in good condition that you no longer actually use or need. While sites such as ebay are the obvious first choice for many people, I have personally found that it is actually often quicker and easier to sell on local selling sites via facebook, if your area has one.
Get some extra temporary work. I know this can be a very tough task, and it depends on how much time you have, but it is sometimes possible! Take on extra shifts at work, or enquire about overtime. If this is not an option, you could try temp agencies or online sites like fiverr. Or look into casual work, such as at local bars. You could also just generally ask around to find out if anyone needs an extra pair of (paid) hands for one-off jobs; you never know, you might be asking at just the right time for someone to offer an ideal opportunity! (Note: Make sure you disclose paid work of course!)
Exchange gift cards for cash. Do you have any gift cards that you haven’t yet spent? Assuming you can’t spend them on essentials, try selling them on local selling groups, or sites such as Zeek.
And if all else fails…
If you have tried and failed to resolve the issue using the advice above, and anything else you might have thought of, then you may feel that it is time to consider borrowing. One possibility might be to ask friends or family, whereas for others this may not be an option, or you might simply prefer not to go down this route. A payday loan, using a credit card if you have one, or extending your overdraft are other options to explore. If the cash flow crisis is due to an unexpected item replacement, buying it on finance may be another option. It is important to compare fees and rates if you do borrow, in order to find the solution that is right for you. And remember to pay the money back as quickly as possible, and most definitely on time, so that you don’t fall further into debt.
Last But Not Least
Once you have resolved the cash flow issue, try to reflect on what went wrong and take stock of your financial situation. Consider if and how you could try to avoid a cash flow problem happening again in the future. Review your budget and make sure you stick to it. Start a savings account if at all possible; try to put 10% of earnings into it if you can. The more prepared you are for any financial scenario, the less likely you are to get caught out again next time something crops up! (I do realise this is often easier said than done of course!)
“The greatest fear in the world is of the opinions of others. And the moment you are unafraid of the crowd, you are no longer a sheep, you become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom.”
Fashion is something I’ve always been passionate about, but it wasn’t always an easy hobby to have as a chubby girl in school and college, with limited options to wear to hide my fat. I never had the confidence to fit into the kind of clothes my friends wore, this was the biggest beauty-anxiety and insecurity, I struggled with throughout my adolescent and teen years.
I tried my best to loose weight, from GM Diet, aerobics, yoga (inspired by weightloss journey of Kareena Kapoor and religiously doing 50 surya namaskars every day), skipping meals, to diets and more diets and I would be lying if I say it dint loose, I did loose but it was a temporary weight loss and I gained back again within 2-3 months.
But the truth is, I know better – we all know better! Happiness is not a number on the scale. Happiness is from inside, its believing in you, self confidence. I learnt it the hard way after years of diets and exercise, I looked in the mirror and asked myself why I spent so much time hating my wide hips, lack of a thigh gap, thunder thighs, cellulite, stretch marks, thick knees? I asked myself, was wasting time focusing on the outside, worth being trapped in a mental prison of unhappiness on the inside?
“You get to be a beautiful, “flawed,” and perfectly imperfect human being. You can choose to go from being a victim to becoming the hero of your own life story. There is no room for failure as YOU become in charge of yourself!!”
From that moment on, I made an effort to focus on accepting things about myself I once considered flaws. That was the day I got the confidence to pursue my love for fashion and be a fashion blogger, try new looks and styles and wear what I like. I love to dress up and I do it, I love wearing red and hotpink, and no one can tell me to not to wear as it might make me look fat. Well I say, let it be “that’s who I am. I love myself for who and how I am, and will continue to love myself forever.”
“Your body size will fluctuate but the love you have for yourself will forever remain,
Self-love is unconditional, no rules, no criticisms,
I was tagged by The Mum Diaries to write about ten things that make me happy in celebration of International Day of Happiness. (Yes, I do realise I am very late!) So here goes…
1. My family. Ok, granted, they also drive me crazy and make me want to run away screaming sometimes too. But, you know… balance is everything 😉 They definitely come top of the list! Squiggle in particular needs a special mention here. 💜
2. My furbabies. Also part of the family of course, but they deserve a separate mention. How could I not smile at these little cuties!
3. Photography. I am by no means an expert, I don’t even have proper equipment, but I really enjoy it as a hobby. It brings out the creative side of me and that makes me happy!
4. Writing/ blogging. I started writing a semi- private blog shortly after Squiggle was born, partly as a journal for those early days as new parent and as a way to share our latest news and developments with family. Over the years, this shifted in focus and naturally evolved; firstly to document our home ed journey then to share our love of nature, before developing it into a family lifestyle blog. I am a self- employed blogger now and am grateful that I can earn a small income from my interests!
5. Outdoors. I love getting outside in nature, it is so relaxing and helps with my overall wellbeing, and therefore my happiness.
6. Live music. Whether it is at a huge festival or local pub, my favourite band or newbies playing covers, I just LOVE it. Seriously get all the feels!
7. Nights out. These are fairly rare, like many parents! But having the odd proper night out on the town now and again, catching up with friends (often involving drinking and dancing too!) gives me a chance to let my hair down and socialise. If the night out includes live music, even better!!!
8. My guilty pleasures on TV. Big Brother, Love Island, TOWIE, Made in Chelsea to name but a few…. I can’t help it, I love them!
9. Travel. I want to do more of this. The excitement of new adventures; visiting new countries and exploring new places is something that makes me really happy.
10. Myself. Ultimately happiness comes from within. Looking after my own wellbeing, keeping myself balanced and maintaining my sense of inner peace, all leads to truly being happy.
To mark the end of world breastfeeding week, I am taking a look back at my breastfeeding journey. Here is my story…
I was very determined to breastfeed but our journey got off to a rough start after my c-section. (You can read my birth story here). I found it really difficult to begin with; I couldn’t get the latch right, she was unsettled and fidgety, and I was recovering from the birth. She was fractious and had to have blood tests to check her sugar levels. I was warned she would have to be topped up with formula if things didn’t improve, which left me feeling stressed and upset. I felt as a new mum that my very first choices as a parent were being undermined. If I remember rightly, during my two day stay in hospital I was told several times that the lactation consultant would see me but I don’t recall they did.
Once home, we continued to have lots of problems with latching on. The midwife was bolshy and grabbed at my breast heavy handedly, trying to get her to latch. I felt… well maybe violated is too strong a word… but uncomfortable would be an understatement. It didn’t help. I was ridiculously sore everytime I fed her and so I was recommended nipple shields. I think they may have been helpful and necessary in our case but they also interferred with the natural dynamics of breastfeeding and were fiddly.
She was also jaundiced so we were advised by the midwife that we had to feed every 2 hours around the clock, which meant we weren’t feeding on demand and she got into bad habits of having little and often, and waking frequently. I got mastitis twice, plus we rushed to hospital with an ‘exploding’ boob! (This is not as bad as it sounds; it was just a burst blood vessel. But when my daughter looked up at me with a mouthful of blood that I thought was hers, it gave me a fright that’s for sure!) All in all, our breastfeeding relationship was off to a pretty rocky start!
I don’t think things really clicked and got easier until after 4 months, which felt like forever at the time! By then, I was also incredibly self conscious about breastfeeding in public because I was finding it so tough to get it right even in the privacy of my own home. My answer to this was to express bottles to use whenever I went out anywhere. This was a good temporary solution for me as it meant I felt confident going out and socialising and I think if I hadn’t have done that I probably would have been more likely to just give up breastfeeding completely, but it probably did prolong the issues in the longer run.
I was close to giving up many times but it did finally get easier. I was glad I perservered, as I eventually got to experience how natural and easy it can be. Looking back, that difficult time seemed such a distant memory and I could see that those few months were such a short period in the scheme of things.
I ended up extended breastfeeding full term. I would call it self-weaning but in reality it wasn’t because my milk dried up after several years. She easily accepted it though so I guess she was ready, even though it technically wasn’t her choice.
The bottom line is I did what I felt best at the time, and right for our family. And that is exactly what I think others should do too, regardless of what decision that is.
Are you holding a kids party, and considering ways to make it more eco-friendly? It is not an easy task, as I discovered when trying to organise Squiggle’s 9th birthday party a couple of months ago! You need to get a bit creative if you don’t want to leave behind piles of plastic, wrapping paper, and litter. In some ways we succeeded, others we need to work on for next time! Here are some thoughts…
Eco- and Kid-Friendly Catering
Opt for reusable plates, bowls and cutlery instead of disposable options. Alternatively, create personalised party food packages wrapped up resuable food bags or wraps, or even in scarves or bandanas. They not only make colourful decorations for the table, but this approach can subtly assist with addressing allergy issues/ dietary requirements of young guests, plus they’ll double as napkins and the children can take them home afterwards.
Prepare fruity drinks ahead of time, using jam jars with sealable lids. It saves on packaging and if the weather’s hot and you’re outside, they’re easily kept cool in a cool box or even a bucket filled with ice. Use sustainable straws (e.g. paper or reusables) rather than plastic, and make the drinks more exciting by adding chopped or sliced fresh fruit such as strawberries.
Picnic or buffet areas set aside from other activities help to keep the mess and left overs in one place. They make supervision easier too, so if anyone needs help they aren’t left on their own. Dressing up metal barriers (which you can hire from staging and event specialists) with paper bunting or streaming creates a separation from other areas while maintaining the celebratory atmosphere.
Green Ideas for Party Activities and Take Home Gifts/ Favours
It is traditional to give the party-goers some kind of goodie bag or favour to take home, but it doesn’t have to affect your pledge to organise an eco-friendly party.
How about giving each child a small plant or sapling they can take home and put in their own garden? If you wrap each root ball in hessian, there’s no waste at all since it can go on the compost heap when it’s no longer needed. This is even better if any of the party activities have a similar theme of planting and growing.
For example, you could make ‘plant pots’ by halving empty cardboard roll tubes, then decorate by painting before planting their seeds. Plug each ‘pot’ with balled up newspaper so it will hold some compost. This creates an activity and a gift to take home in one.
Recycled plantable seed paper, for instance, is also an interesting novelty for children.
Nature crafts are fun activities. Have a scavenging hunt with a pile of twigs, mosses and grasses, then make some nature art.
Hold a bug hunt. Make a short list of insects to find, with prizes for all who find some, then invite children to draw or paint their favourites.
You could even get everyone involved in planting a special ‘celebration tree’ as part of the party!
Use Japanese blow up paper balloons rather than latex or foil balloons. These last a long time and are more environmentally friendly.
Reuse decorations. If you don’t want the same theme year after year, pass your old decorations on and source ‘new’ secondhand ones on your chosen theme. Better yet, also opt for decorations that are made from sustainable materials too!
If it is a particularly large party and you plan on having several different activities going on at the same time, or maybe with specific start times if you’re holding competitions or races, it might mean guests are quite spread out at times. Setting up a PA system to make announcements will keep everyone informed and save you a lot of running round. I remember once we had Squiggle’s party on a huge field; that would have been very handy then!
Eco-friendly parties are taking off in popularity, not just because they are good for our planet and build empathy for our natural environment, but also because they’re fun and children enjoy them!
Can you think of other eco- friendly party ideas? Tell me in comments!
*Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Alistage.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
What does family mean to you?
I asked some fellow bloggers this question. Some came up with lovely, sentimental and insightful answers…
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…
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!
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.
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.