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.

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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. 

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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.

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.

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!

#EveryMomentCounts Photo Challenge with Families Online

Families Online set us a photo challenge to capture a special moment every day for a week, on a different theme each day. This is the compilation post of our #EveryMomentCounts challenge.

Families Online have set selected bloggers an #EveryMomentCounts photo challenge to capture a special moment daily over this past week, with each day having a different set theme. The aim of this campaign is to remember that even the seemingly ‘little’ family moments throughout each day are precious and actually do matter. Every moment really does count! The themes for the challenge are as follows…

#EveryMomentCounts, Families Online, family, general life, family time, mindfulness, childhood unplugged, home education, photo challenge, Every Moment Counts, Living Life Our Way

I don’t think these are ‘official’ rules of the challenge whatsoever, but I also set myself the additional challenge of picking just one single photo for each day. Each ‘moment’ captured was on the actual day of the challenge too – no throwbacks – because for me personally, I felt the point was to focus on being ‘in the moment’ and embrace those special little moments as they actually happen. That was just how I chose to interpret the challenge though, and also I felt this is how I would get the most out of doing it as well. 

So here are my moments throughout the week…

Day 1 – Together

Monday was a tough day. But for days like that, it is even more important to capture and remember the special moments.

We don’t often spend time at home all playing together (it is usually either one or the other of us with Squiggle when we are at home, not both) so it was lovely to grab a few minutes together. I particularly love this photo because I captured Squiggle affectionately stroking her daddy’s stubble too.

#EveryMomentCounts, Families Online, family, general life, family time, mindfulness, childhood unplugged, home education, photo challenge, together, Every Moment Counts, Living Life Our Way

Day 2 – Tradition

I struggled to imagine how I might find much tradition in a regular Tuesday in September to be honest. But I decided to just get on with our day regardless, and see how it all worked out. After all, I feel that the whole point of the challenge is to just be in the moment, enjoying family time, and making every moment count!

As it turned out, we found ourselves outside embracing the beautiful signs of Autumn, collecting acorns and leaves. Of course this is a tradition! We do it every year, ever since she was tiny. I remember spending many afternoons during my childhood doing the same with my parents, as no doubt they did with theirs, and one day maybe Squiggle with her own children too.

However, I chose this particular photo, which is taken in the same spot we collected our autumn treasures just minutes later, because it is my favourite moment of the day. Squiggle had the biggest smile as she carefully jumped on and off the moving roundabout. And look at that lovely traditional style play area! They had those same rocking horses that you can just see in the background when I was her age, they were one of my favourites infact. Fun times!

#EveryMomentCounts, Families Online, family, general life, family time, mindfulness, childhood unplugged, home education, photo challenge, tradition, Every Moment Counts, Living Life Our Way

Day 3 – Laughter

On this morning I could hear lots of giggling from my bed, as Squiggle played with her daddy whilst I caught up on some rest. It is lovely to hear her enjoying precious moments, even if they weren’t mine to share with her! But ‘the moment’ I chose for Wednesday was when Squiggle was delighted to discover that the paddling pools are STILL open at one of our local parks (brrr lol!) and ran through them, giggling and laughing happily. This photo really captures that. Love it!

#EveryMomentCounts, Families Online, family, general life, family time, mindfulness, childhood unplugged, home education, photo challenge, laughter, Every Moment Counts, Living Life Our Way

Day 4 – Three Things

Continuing on with our Autumn exploration from earlier in the week, on Thursday we visited a beautiful local park that we hadn’t actually been to before, for a lovely nature walk and Autumn hunt. We found these 3 little treasures which we collected from different trees (obviously!) within a few metres of each other. We paused under a gorgeous horse chesnut (conker) tree with huge fabulous branches to take this photo of our little collection.

#EveryMomentCounts, Families Online, family, general life, family time, mindfulness, childhood unplugged, home education, photo challenge, nature, autumn, three things, Every Moment Counts, Living Life Our Way

Day 5 – Colourful

We had a day at home on Friday and we actually used the theme as inspiration for one of our activities. Squiggle and I went into the garden with the challenge of getting as many beautiful natural autumn colours into one photo as possible.

I adore this photo because of the vibrant red and orange berries on bold green leaves against the bright blue sky with gorgeous yellow and brown leaves in the background. So much colour at this time of year!

I really loved this moment of our day because it’s a great reminder that not only is it important to savour precious moments, but that sometimes we need to take the time and effort to actually create those special moments too!

#EveryMomentCounts, Families Online, family, general life, family time, mindfulness, childhood unplugged, home education, photo challenge, colourful, Every Moment Counts, Living Life Our Way

Day 6 – Love

Of course this picture would include Squiggle, whom I love more than anything! And this particular photo captures us outdoors in nature, which is one of our biggest loves.

But beyond that, this moment also captures us watching some charity fundraisers and volunteers at the park – an act that no doubt comes from a place of love. And even though these people were random strangers, we felt grateful that we were able to witness this for a few moments too.

So lots of love in this moment from Saturday, in various different forms.

#EveryMomentCounts, Families Online, family, general life, family time, mindfulness, childhood unplugged, home education, photo challenge, love, Every Moment Counts, Living Life Our Way

Day 7 – Reflection

For the last day of this photo challenge, how better to end it than with a moment of reflection. I stood on this bridge, looking out at the water, and took just a moment to myself to reflect on the wonderful moments we shared as a family throughout the week.

As a busy parent, taking a moment to myself is sometimes just as important as those precious family moments, hence why I chose this particular photo. I am grateful for the rare moments alone, as well as the many I share with those I love!

(By the way, we spent lovely quality time together as a family, right before and after this particular moment for myself, going for a wonderful walk in the warm sunshine. It was a beautiful sunny Sunday!)

#EveryMomentCounts, Families Online, family, general life, family time, mindfulness, reflection, peace, one moment, parent, photo challenge, Every Moment Counts, Living Life Our Way

I really enjoyed taking part in this challenge; I loved how much it helped me to really be in the moment and focus on, and celebrate, those ‘little things’ each day. It amazed me how I noticed things so much more than I usually would, depending on the theme for the day, and generally too. I practice mindfulness anyway, but I am still genuinely surprised by how much difference taking part in this challenge made!

Thank you to Families Online for inviting me to take part in #EveryMomentCounts 

Feelings Of Nostalgia: Childhood Memories

I gave Squiggle my favourite childhood toy a while back. It is a cuddly toy called a Popple; I literally slept with that thing every night for years and it is now well over 30 years old. 

80s toy, childhood memories, popple, nostalgia, growing up, 80s child, 90s teen, Living Life Our Way
My Popple

She loves it and took it to music class with her. The teacher confused it with a Wuzzle, another popular toy from the early 80s, which led to alot of discussion once we got home about Wuzzles, and other childhood toys. We even did a mini project; we researched the names of all of the Wuzzles, discussed the inspiration behind their design (each is a combination of two different animals), found out which one(s) a selection of people owned and also she designed her own Wuzzle too.

Wuzzles, 80s toys, nostalgia, childhood memories, home education, freedom to learn, Living Life Our Way
Squiggle designed her own Wuzzle called HoppySeal (rabbit and seal combo)

But I am starting to digress slightly! This all sparked off so many wonderful childhood memories and made me feel really quite nostalgic! I have lots of fond childhood memories; from fun filled adventures at my Grandparents’ house on Sunday afternoons, playing with my cousins and racing around the huge gardens of their pretty bungalow, to the time we came across a stray tortoise in an alleyway and took it home until we could reunite it with its owners. 

I remember sleepovers with my cousin, top to tail in one bed, comparing (and sharing) our latest toys and making perfume from flowers to sell to neighbours! Alot of my childhood memories involve my cousins and playing at various relative’s houses. We spent much of our time doing that and I am so glad we did! 

Of course we also spent time at home and I have lots of fond memories of that too; especially playing in our garden with a makeshift swing and adventures in our little playhouse. We had a little growing patch too, I forget what we grew but I remember it was fun!

We had a variety of pets over the years from bunnies and guinea pigs, to cats and dogs, rats, mice, gerbils and hamsters, ducks and chickens, fish, snakes – our house and garden looked like a petting farm! My first pet was a rabbit called Snowy when I was 4 or 5 years old. We also had a gorgeous Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Cindy who I particularly adored. I used to dream of owning an animal rescue centre when I grew up.

My bedroom was decorated with Care Bears wallpaper and I had a large collection of these toys. Along with the other toys I have already mentioned, these were one of my favourite collections! I found a Buzzfeed list of must- have 80s and 90s childhood toys and discovered between my brother and I, we had most of them – we were very blessed, lucky children obviously! 

As well as the more regular toys, my younger brother also used to have quite unusual hobbies and collections. One particular thing that springs to mind was a sword collection that he had displayed on his bedroom wall. I suspect it might have come from his love of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I think they used to originally be called hero turtles? Am I right?!) But, you know, don’t tell him I shared that little snippet with you all 😉 

I have no idea where his personal ones came from but I think they looked abit similar to these ones from Swords of Northshire. I haven’t bought from here personally but they have excellent reviews and a brilliant ethos. One review states: “the customer service was outstanding (Bryce Ronquille) and the level of detail available was amazing. The sword came excellently packed and in very short amount of time. Bryce kept us informed of the progress along the way and provided pictures before shipping of the final product, which was nothing less than a work of art. The workmanship in the sword was amazing, extremely well built and detailed. I cannot wait to add more of these to my collection.” 

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Credit: Swords of Northshire

Customer service is their highest priority and their goal is to exceed expectations; they offer a variety of custom- made options, free shipping and 100% money-back guarantee if for any reason you are not satisfied (for 30 days after your purchase). These swords also have interesting origins; they are forged in Longquan, a city in China with over 2,600 years of swordmaking history. They would be quite the piece to own I’m sure!

But anyway, back to my childhood memories…

I was born in the very late 70’s (barely!) but grew up in the 80s. This means I have seen technology change and develop so much as I have grown up! When I was young I had a typewriter and I used it to write my own magazine – about dogs/ pets if I remember rightly! Not long after, when I was still quite little I got one of the early Commodore home computers. I loved it; I did lots of coding on it simply because everything had to be programmed manually. It all took hours! I also had a second generation games console (an Atari) too! Then much later, technology moved onto dial up internet connection… ah, who remembers that noise?! Of course, I didn’t own a mobile phone though until my teens – because they hadn’t been invented yet for consumer use!

Growing up, like now, music was a huge love. I would dance around my room doing karaoke; it used to annoy the heck out of my brother! I regularly watched Top Of The Pops (or was it Mini Pops?!) on the TV too and I remember bursting into tears once because someone changed the channel during my favourite song!!! Isn’t it weird what memories stick in our mind?! Above all, I remember recording the weekly top 10 countdown hits off the radio onto a cassette tape! 

So many wonderful memories… I honestly could go on forever! 

What are your favourite childhood memories? I would love to hear them!

*Diclosure: This is is a sponsored post.

Online Therapy: What is it and Why Choose it?

Why Choose Online Therapy?

Everyone is so busy nowadays. Not only does this cause stress, but it also makes it difficult to find a therapist when you need one. And many of us do need one sometimes. It can be tough to find time to choose a therapist and arrange sessions that do not clash with an already busy daily schedule. It can therefore seem less daunting – and so much quicker and easier – to do all that online. Convenience matters; it is somewhat counterproductive if therapy just becomes another stressor.

What is Online Therapy?

Many people are still confused about what online therapy is. Online therapy is simple. You can talk to a therapist online through FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts. Also, you have the option to text message or chat online with your therapist instead if you do not want to do a face to face session. You can also email or visit an online support group to talk to others with similar issues. Even if you don’t have internet access you can do therapy on the phone.

online therapy, mental health, therapy, health, wellbeing, general life, Living Life Our Way

The Pros and Cons of Online Therapy

There are pros and cons of everything, of course. Nothing is perfect. Here are the pros:

  • Convenience – You do not have to leave your home to see a therapist.
  • Less expensive – Many sites advertise their prices up front and some are covered by insurance.
  • More comfortable – You can actually lay in bed in your pajamas if you want to. And for those people who are not comfortable talking face to face, this is definitely for you!
  • More privacy – Some people do not feel comfortable going into a therapist’s office. The stigma of mental health disorders is still a big deal for some, unfortunately. Or maybe you just generally find attending formal appointments too stressful. But you do not have to worry about that with online therapy.

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And here are the downsides of online therapy:

  • Insurance – Until online therapy becomes more popular, it is often only available privately and is difficult to get insurance coverage. However, this is starting to change and some insurance companies are now covering online therapy.
  • Lack of personal touch – Some people need that face-to-face contact of seeing a therapist in person. It is actually therapeutic to some patients with depression to venture out of the house to see a therapist. However, for the initial session, online therapy may encourage those people who do not want to leave the house to get help.

    There are lots of benefits to online therapy and it is a great choice for many. However, if it is not your cup of tea, find a therapist nearby and go see them.

    *Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

    Top 5 Space Saving Tips For New Furniture

    Maximise space with these five top tips for dressing a smaller room…

    Home and garden, interior design, home decor, general life, furniture

    Space can be at a premium. From car parking outside your home, to garden space, and space in individual rooms. Not having enough room can mean that we feel hemmed in, and make the area full and cluttered. But with these ‘space-saving’ tips you can have a stylish and open feel to a room. It is all about colour and choosing furniture carefully, so that it blends and works well together.

    Lighter Impact Furniture

    This may be a phrase you have not come across before, but it is a concept that is all around you. To maximise space in a room, you need to show as much floor space as possible. And this means choosing furniture that is not block like, but lighter on its impact on, and in, the room. For example, consider the wingback chair; iconic in shape and style. You may think the wings make it feel big and cumbersome in a smaller living room. However, it doesn’t and that is because there is a gap between the floor and the underside of the seat. It appeals to the eye because it does not close down the floor space. Simple when you think about it – try it!

    Neutral Tones and Colours

    A small space may not be the place to experiment with dark, moody colours and tones (but we will take a look at this concept in a moment…). So if you crave space and light, then the answer is lighter, neutral tones throughout. That includes the walls, the ceiling, and the floor. Avoiding dark colours means light is not absorbed by the room but reflected within it. And this goes for furniture too. However, it doesn’t mean that patterns are out of the question. But use darker colours sparingly in the fabric, keeping fabric choices light and airy; perfect for making a room feel and look bigger.

    A Dash of Dark Colour

    Interior trends come and go. And when trends dictate darker colours, it can be hard to ignore. But small spaces and dark colours are not natural bedfellows: dark colours soak up light, leaving precious little for the remainder of the room. It can draw a wall or ceiling into the space; unless that is the look you are opting for, it is not a welcome effect of using dark colours. So when you want to add a pop of colour, use it sparingly. For example, in the bedroom, opt for a large, dark coloured fabric headboard and offset this with the rest of the room in light, neutral but complementing tones. In the living room, you could add a dark coloured armchair or two, or maybe add a burst of colour with a rug. Think smaller portions of dark colour rather than a whole feature wall.

    Clever Furniture Choices

    As already mentioned, furniture choices play a large part in how well dressed a room looks. Not opting for block armchairs and sofas that meet the floor helps the feeling of space by maximising the floor space. Choosing low impact furniture helps create a sense of space too but this can cause practical issues that need to be taken care of. In a small space, wall-to-wall furniture seems to ‘just happen’ because, after all, you need storage space. But be clever in your choices of furniture and opt for ones in which there is storage included. For example, forsake the sideboard for hiding away clutter with an ottoman coffee table. And when you do choose additional furniture, such as shelving units for example, keep the overall design ‘open’ so that it doesn’t feel like it is closing down the space.

    Think Vertical

    A room feels cluttered when the eyeline seems cluttered. And it feels small when the ceiling appears not too far from the top of your head. The feeling of space in a room comes from vision, not necessarily from the physical dimensions of the room. And that means tricking the eye into thinking there is more space than there actually is. Do this by magnifying and emphasising the height of a room. There are many ways of achieving this, but the traditional design ideas still hold water:

    • Light colours on ceilings – stick with brilliant, clean and crisp white if you can, or if that feels too stark, use a light shade of cream – but no darker. 
    • Hang curtain poles just below the ceiling – the long swathes of fabric will give the instant appeal of the room being tall and the room spacious. 
    • Vertical stripes may seem obvious, but they work – choose a muted striped pattern for wallpaper and if you don’t think it will work throughout the room, use it on one wall for a striking effect. 

    Space saving and space maximising tips are all well and good, but which ones can you live with?

    Sloane & Sons have a range of chairs that give any room, large or small, massive appeal. Traditional and iconic, the winged chair is a piece used in modern interior designs too and is ideal for use in a small living room or bedroom.

    *Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Sloane & Sons.

    Organise Your Bedroom #StorageForTheWin 

    Despite only having one child, and being minimalist myself personally, I find we do still seem to have our fair share of stuff! I think that is down to a combination of reasons; we are home educators, so perhaps by nature we do need more things at home for that purpose. Plus we also spend more time at home than many people because of Squiggle’s needs. But whatever the reason is, a messy house is no use to anyone! I hate wasting time looking for missing things, life is much easier when our home environment is tidy and well oganised. Less distractions and less stress!

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    Stock image

    Bedrooms are especially essential to be tidy and organised. I feel that it is much easier to get restful, good quality sleep in a calm, cosy environment; it helps my brain feel relaxed and able to switch off. Too much clutter visible in the bedroom is not conducive to good sleep!

    That’s why I am pleased to be taking part in Bed Guru’s #StorageForTheWin campaign by sharing my organisation and storage tips for your bedroom. Online bed retailers Bed Guru are sleep experts; they understand that everyone has different sleep requirements and feel it is their obligation to ensure that everybody gets a goodnight sleep! They also have a fab competition running to win an ottoman divan bed base – more info on that below!

    Top Tips To Declutter 

    Ok, so first things first. If you want a neat and tidy bedroom then you need to get rid of the clutter! It is far easier to get organised – and stay that way – if you don’t have too much stuff to stay on top of in the first place. Here are my suggestions for effective decluttering:

    • Sort everything into piles (e.g. tops, shoes, bedding and so on…)

    • One pile at a time, go through each item in the pile. Consider if it is important and still useful to you. Only keep the things that you really need and/ or truly matter to you.

    • For the items you do not plan to keep, organise them into piles of recycling/ upcycling, charity/ pass on to someone else and things to sell (if you so wish – otherwise these would also go in the charity pile).

    • For items to keep, the next step will be to consider how and where to store it! (See below). 

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    Organisation and Storage Tips

    • Only store things in the bedroom that belong in there; it is meant to be a peaceful sanctuary for restful sleep, not a storage room!

    • Shelves are useful for keeping smaller items that you would like to have out on display. Shelves above the bed, or corner shelving, maximises use of space most effectively.

    • Wardrobes with sliding doors are great space savers. You can use boxes within the wardrobe to make best use of all the room available. Alternatively, choose a wardrobe with extra rails, drawers and/ or shelves built in. Or do both! 

    • Find bedroom furniture that can be used for multi-purposes. For example, drawers or wardrobes that also serve as a bedside table.

    • Use drawer dividers to organise smaller items effectively.

    • Divan bed bases are a great way to store stuff in the bedroom out of sight without taking up any extra space for storage. Ottoman divan bed bases are especially great because they have a lift up opening base, with the help of gas pistons. This type of divan can store heavier items than the typical sliding drawer version because the bed base is supported by the floor. Some styles of Ottoman even open from the side so can fit snugly into tighter gaps; perfect for smaller bedrooms.

    Win An Ottoman Divan Bed Base

    As I mentioned above, Bed Guru are giving one very lucky person the chance to win an Ottoman divan bed base, so do pop over to their website to enter! With a choice of 19 fabrics, this awesome side opening storage bed will help you to organise your bedroom perfectly!  

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    Find more storage and organisation tips, and share your own suggestions too, using the hashtag #StorageForTheWin on social media.

    *Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Bed Guru.

      Depression: A Closer Look At Mental Health 

      Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world and affects 350 million people worldwide. What Are the Symptoms of Depression?
      There are different types of depression with various symptoms but the most common include feeling sad, hopeless, and depressed for longer than two weeks, difficulty concentrating, feeling guilty or worthless, lack of energy or extreme fatigue, change in sleep pattern (sleeping too little or too much), lack of appetite, weight loss or gain, losing interest in activities you usually enjoy,
      or thoughts of harming yourself. There is no definite cause of depression but there are many theories and risk factors. There are many ways to treat depression, from medical to holistic. 

      ​What Is ‘Wrong’ with Me?

      Do you sometimes feel like something is missing in your life? Maybe you have lost interest in the activities that you used to love, such as biking or swimming. Are you feeling more tired than usual? You may be suffering from clinical depression. Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world and affects 350 million people worldwide. In the United States, over 16 million adults have had at least one major depressive episode. That is close to 7% of all the adults in the United States.

      Who Is Most Affected by Depression?

      Although anyone can get depression at any age, and any gender, women are more than twice as likely to become depressed. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the age group that is most affected is between 12 and 25 years of age. However, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports a higher incidence of depression in adults from 40 to 59 years old. This discrepancy may be due to fluctuating amounts of reports from different years. Either way, anyone can have depression, no matter how old you are. 

      depression, mental health, health, wellbeing

      What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

      There are different types of depression with various symptoms, but the most common include:

      • Feeling sad, hopeless, and depressed for longer than two weeks

      • Difficulty concentrating

      • Feeling guilty or worthless

      • Lack of energy or extreme fatigue

      • Change in sleep pattern (sleeping too little or too much)

      • Lack of appetite

      • Weight loss or gain

      • Losing interest in activities you usually enjoy

      • Thoughts of harming yourself

      Causes of Depression

      There is no definite cause of depression but there are many theories and risk factors. Some of these include:

      • Imbalance of brain chemicals

      • Hormones

      • Genetics

      • Previous mental health condition

      • Environmental such as extreme poverty, abuse, and neglect

      • Alcohol or drug abuse

      depression, mental health, health, wellbeing

      How to Treat Depression

      There are many ways to treat depression, from medical to holistic. The most common way to treat depression is with antidepressant medication, such as Prozac, Wellbutrin, or Zoloft. These medications may take one or two weeks to take full effect, but just knowing that you are doing something to help can make you feel better. Psychotherapy is another common treatment for depression that is effective. Also, research shows that exercise is good for depression because it raises the dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin levels in the brain.

      Talk Therapy

      Talking about what you are feeling is one of the best ways to help yourself feel better. Some people prefer to talk to a psychiatrist, friend, or family member. However, others are more comfortable opening up to strangers in support groups. One thing that has become really popular recently is online therapy. It is extremely convenient to be able to just go online and talk to someone on Facetime, Google Hangouts, or Skype without having to leave your home. This is perfect for those of us who are so busy taking care of the kids, household, and everything else. Some websites offer thousands of licensed therapists who are available 24 hours a day. Go online and check it out. You can start feeling better today.

      *Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.