Name A Star: Review and Giveaway 

Are you looking for a last minute gift idea? Or do you get stuck when looking for presents in general? Or perhaps you are simply on the hunt for something abit different? Whatever the occasion, I love finding thoughtful gifts; something handmade, personal or unique in some way. But sometimes it can be difficult to come up with the perfect idea. Until now…

Naming star, own star, star name registry, gift ideas, outdoors, stargazing

Star Name Registry is the UK’s number one online registry company who offers this unique gift. There are a variety of packages to choose from, with prices ranging from £14.99 for a standard star to £69.99 for a binary star gift set, as well as several other options inbetween. Their gift set version of each package comes with a framed certficate beautifully presented in a silver box, whereas the regular version comes in an envelope. If you need it in a hurry, you can choose to have it sent via email for an extra £4.99 (sent within 12 hours of order received) or £6.99 for next day delivery (paper version). Gift sets can also be sent via next day special delivery for £8.49. So handy to remember as a last minute present too!

I originally found out about naming your very own star with Star Name Registry last year, when I was contacted by their lovely team to review their extra bright star gift set and host a giveaway. It really is such a fab gift idea! It is ideal for the person who has everything, anyone with an interest in stargazing or outdoors in general, or for someone who just likes something that bit different!

This lovely set includes your very own star that you can name, and choose which constellation you would like it to be located in too. It also has an explanation of the star, free download of software, map and framed certificate in a gorgeous silver box. It does make a really unusual and very lovely gift.

Star Naming Registry Uk, name star, own star, gift ideas, outdoors, Living Life Our Way

For my original review, I took quite sometime trying to decide on the name of my star and considered a couple of different options; for example, I thought about naming it after my daughter, or even her nickname ‘Squiggle’. But then I came up with the perfect idea: I chose our family name, because then the star represents all of us together. Wherever any of us are, we can look up at the night sky and see our star, and know we are together. It even includes our furbabies! Perfect.

This time, I didn’t have to think so hard because I knew it would make the perfect gift for a family member! So I named it after them, along with a short personal message to them to show our gratitude for all they do. They were very grateful!

And one lucky reader can win an Extra Bright Star gift set too! To be in with a chance of winning, enter my rafflecopter giveaway below. Good luck…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Competition closes 29th March 2018. Open to UK residents only. Winner will be emailed a coupon code to redeem the Extra Bright Star gift set prize themselves. Other T&Cs apply.

Star Naming Registry UK, name star, own star, gift ideas, outdoors

*Disclosure: I was gifted Extra Bright Star gift sets free of charge for the purpose of review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Mud & Bloom Nature Crafts and Gardening Subscription Box: Review, Discount Code and Giveaway

Mud & Bloom is a fab new monthly subscription box for nature lovers. Each month the box contains two seasonal activities; a gardening activity and a nature craft. There are also quizzes, spotting cards, information sheets and so on. The boxes include everything you need to complete the activities, except occasionally for everyday items that would generally be around the home anyway, such as finding some kind of pot for planting – a yogurt pot or other such item would suffice. It is aimed at approximately 3- 8 year olds and costs £7.95 per month with free UK shipping.

Mud and Bloom nature crafts and gardening subscription box - image of contents

About The Creator

This lovely idea came from a mum of 2 young children, Anja, and was inspired by her love of nature. The activities have been created by qualified teachers and are influenced by various educational approaches.

About The Box

The box I reviewed (February) contained the following activities; grow your own cherry tomatoes, grow your own basil and paint your own pebbles. (This doesn’t get old even if you have done it before!) The only things we needed to get ourselves were the actual rocks and pots for planting, plus a plastic bag.

It also contains a nature spotters activity for things you might see in February, which is a nice little activity to do whilst outdoors on a nature walk. (And might encourage you and your littlies to venture out in the cold even if you don’t usually!)

A Sample Activity

We have only done the grow your own basil activity so far. (Squiggle is still unwell and hasn’t felt up to it but was keen for me not to do it without her!) It was a simple activity that children of any age can enjoy doing.

Grow your own basil - mud and bloom - packet of seeds and instruction card image.

The instructions are detailed but still written in a straightforward way. They are well explained and easy to read/ follow. They are high quality and very well produced in my opinion!

Image of Squiggle reading grow your own basil instruction card.

I liked the fact that it came with soil pellets that are part of the fun – and save messing around bringing soil in from the garden!

You just put them in warm water for 10- 15 minutes and they expand. I used that time to grab the stuff we needed (pots and a plastic bag) while Squiggle watched them grow.

An image of everything needed for grow your own basil. Soil pellets expanding in water.

Squiggle did find it tricky to get the seeds in the hole – you would think we have never planted seeds before! However it would be very simple if she had been carefully pinching a few seeds from her hand or the packet with thumb and forefinger, rather than just pouring them – I would think this goes without saying generally though of course, she just wasn’t quite with it bless her!

Our Verdict

We really like these boxes! The packaging has been carefully thought out to avoid waste wherever possible. The activities are good for a range of ages and are still fun if you have done them before. The instructions are clear and everything about the contents feels high quality. I personally feel they are reasonable value for money given the price includes postage and the subscription is flexible; it can be stopped or paused anytime. They get a thumbs up from us!

Discount Code

For 50% off your first box please use the code LIVINGLIFEOURWAY

Giveaway!

One lucky reader can win a 3 month subscription to Mud & Bloom. Enter via rafflecopter below. UK only. Ends 25th March 2018. T&Cs apply. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: I received a 3 month subscription in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Love Layla: Witty Birthday Cards, Gifts and Wrap (Review) 

Love Layla is a small independent retailer of greetings cards, gifts and wrapping paper for all occasions – with a difference. Their unique range is witty, cheeky and sometimes downright offensive… but all in good humour!

Love Layla greetings card, wrap and wine label for favourite child range.

I was kindly sent a sample selection of their range to review. I chose their ‘favourite child’ theme to feature because this is one of my personal particular faves; I think it works really well in a range of contexts. For example, Squiggle thinks it’s hilarious because the joke is that she is our only child! But it is also funny if you have siblings too of course, and even as an adult ‘child’ as well. It is very much my husband’s humour as a middle sibling to give his mum a ‘favourite child’ bottle of wine as a gift too.

Love Layla greetings cards, wine label and wrapping paper.

The wrapping paper is very thick, absolutely brilliant quality. It costs £4.25 for one A1 size sheet (841mm x 594mm). You can purchase the ‘From Your Favourite Child’ wrap here.

I managed to mess up putting the wine label on slightly, as you can see in the picture. I swear I hadn’t been drinking it before putting the label on, I was just getting distracted by my own favourite child, Squiggle! I can assure everyone though, it is easy to stick on as long as you actually have one moment to concentrate! The wine labels are £2.50 each.

Love Layla also have a funny 2018 calendar, available in both wall and desktop versions, which is now heavily discounted at only £4.50. So grab yourself a bargain!

Love Layla 2018 calendar. January page.

All prices include postage and packaging, i.e. delivery is free, which is fantastic! They post to UK only, and dispatch next working day by first class Royal Mail.

All in all, fab selection and great service!

*Disclosure: I was sent items to write a paid review but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

PalmistryHD: Review of Palm Reading and Horoscope App

Are you a fan of reading your horoscope or do you think it’s a load of nonsense? What about other forms of fortune telling? I have to say, I am abit of a sceptic about such things!

Don’t get me wrong, I am very spiritual and believe that our universe has amazing mystical powers. I also realise that humans only use a small percentage of our brains, so we do not even begin to fulfill the potential of what we could achieve with our minds. Therefore, I firmly believe that some individuals are capable of things that others aren’t – or, more accurately, are more tuned into certain abilities that we all possess but do not access – such as telepathy and psychic awareness for example, as well as the more basic sixth sense that comes from a strong intuition. But I feel that some types of fortune telling, such as horoscopes, are just too generalised and gimicky.

However, I do find the whole subject fascinating. And I am definitely open- minded and curious about it all. So when I found out about the new PalmistryHD app I must admit I was quite intrigued and wanted to give it a try!

The app can be downloaded on both IOS and android. It does a basic palm reading for free and for a charge of £11.99 it can go into more detail. It also has a daily horoscope section too.

Screenshot of Palmistry HD app showing palm reading and daily horoscope options.

I tried out the free palmistry feature of the app (android version). It was very quick and easy to use, it literally only took a few seconds. The instructions were very straightforward and easy to follow too.

A screenshot of the palm reading app

I found the results an interesting read. I think some of the reading rang quite true but I do also remain somewhat cynical to be honest, as I suspect that perhaps alot of things stated are vague and general enough that they can be interpreted in whatever context the reader chooses and can relate it to. Here is a short excerpt from my personal palm reading…

Screenshot of an excerpt from my personal palm reading results.

I have only tried out the app on myself and, to be honest, I do also wonder how unique my reading is. In other words, if a handful of people tested all it out, would we all get entirely different results? I don’t know the answer to this but I would be keen to find out. However, the app is abit of fun and some people might find it insightful potentially. Why not download the free version of the app and decide for yourself!

Here is a YouTube video that explains more about how palmistry works:

What do you think about it? I would love to hear your opinions!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Dicovery Channel Smart Phone Telescope and Smart Phone Microscope Review: Educational Resources – STEM Science

Over the past couple of days, we have been having fun trying out two Discovery Channel products; a smartphone microscope and telescope. I was kindly sent both of these items to review from Paladone. Here are my thoughts…

Dicovery Channel Smart Phone Telescope and Smart Phone Microscope Review: Educational Resources - STEM Science

Discovery Channel Smartphone Telescope

RRP £19.99 (Buy here via Amazon)

Description

Capture images from a greater distance than ever before with a standard smartphone or tablet camera using this 11.5cm telescope with an incredible 10x zoom. The Discovery Smartphone Telescope can be easily clipped onto the phone/ tablet and has a mini stand to steady it further.

Review

I found this abit fiddly to use with my particular phone (Samsung Galaxy S8+) as it took a few minutes to get it aligned. When I tried to adjust the lens it then slipped again. However, perhaps it is easier to use on different make/ model phones or other devices.

Discovery Channel Smartphone Telescope

I was abit disappointed to discover it didn’t seem to work in the dark, unless I was doing something wrong maybe? But I did expect a telescope could be used at night to study the stars to be honest.

However, I decided to try to spot Santa in his sleigh indoors under artificial light instead, to see how it fared under those conditions. I used the telescope from about 5 metres away and found it zoomed in very well, it lost a fair amount of quality to say the least, but it did the job of making it seem closer up.

I think it would probably be better to invest in an actual telescope but this does make an interesting novelty item. It is ok for exploring the principle of telescopes and discussing how they work.

Dicovery Channel Smart Phone Telescope in use - photo on phone vs telescope

Discovery Channel Smartphone Microscope

RRP £9.99 (Purchase from Amazon here)

Description

This microscope smartphone lens captures images in microscopic detail and is compatible with most smartphone cameras. The lens has a powerful 30x zoom, enabling you to capture images with your camera phone in great detail.

Review

I really liked this smartphone microscope. It aligned easily on my phone and worked well under a range of conditions, including in the dark. See the photo below for an example; it is of ice particles and was taken outdoors at night under the microscope.

Ice particles under the microscope

I tested it out using different items, including man-made materials and natural items too. I compared it to the zoom on my phone and was really impressed with the detail and quality!

Discovery Channel Smart Phone Microscope: comparison of photo taken on phone with no zoom, zoomed in on phone vs microscope.

In summary, I think this is really good value for money and works very well. It is definitely worth buying in my opinion!

Discovery Channel Smart Phone Microscope - leaf under the microscope.

*Disclosure: I was sent both of these items for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

VonHaus 2 in 1 Stick Vacuum: Review

I was recently sent a 2-in-1 Stick Vacuum to review. This convenient little budget vacuum is part of the VonHaus range and is available to purchase from Amazon RRP £39.99 (at the time of writing it is currently on sale at £29.99). Manufacturer 2 year warranty is included.

A picture of the vacuum cleaner with title VonHaus 2-in-1 stick vacuum review.

This is a 1000W (max) Stick Vacuum Cleaner. It is 2-in-1 because it can be used at full length with its extendable handle, or you can easily remove the handle to convert it into a handheld device. Because of its size and suction, it does feel like it creates a high level of vibration, particularly when using it as a hand held, and it is not the quietest cleaner we have ever had! However, we found it to have very good suction from a small vacuum and it does the job well.

The vacuum is bagless with a 1.3L transparent container, which is easy to remove and empty the contents straight into the bin. It also features an innovative HEPA filtration and sponge system, which locks in microscopic particles that other vacuums would re-circulate back into the air. This system prevents the spread of bacteria and allergens, leaving cleaner air and a healthier home.

VonHaus 2-in-1 stick vacuum using handle.

One of main design features of this vacuum is that it gets in the difficult corners and hard to reach areas. It makes doing the stairs really quick and straightforward, and it is easy to whizz around furniture. It comes with a few attachments, including a useful crevice tool, which is really effective. It also has a 6m quick release power cord, so it is fairly easy to access all areas. It is suitable for most floor types too.

VonHaus 2-in-1 stick vacuum in handheld mode with crevice attachment.

Overall, I think this is a good budget vacuum cleaner. It has some minor faults but it also has alot of positives and certainly does the job.

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

Activ8rlives Heart Rate and Blood Pressure Monitor: Review 

As I recently mentioned in a previous post, I was sent an Activ8rlives heart rate and blood pressure monitor to review. This handy, easy to use device usually retails at £59.99 including free P&P. (Although at the time of writing it is on sale at £49.99). Activ8rlives Blood Pressure2 Monitor is available in two cuff sizes for the upper-arm: Small to Medium (17-32 cm Pink) and Medium to Large (25-48cm Blue).

Activ8rlives Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Monitor

Setting Up

The monitor comes in a compact box and is a single integrated unit. There are no wires (other than the USB charger of course) and no complicated setting up required; it’s really quick and super easy to set up using bluetooth.

You just download the app, turn on bluetooth on your phone, scan the code (really easy and it tells you exactly what to do anyway) then press a single button on the monitor. It literally could not be more straightforward!

USB charging of battery takes 120 minutes, with battery lifetime 500 charges. Mine came charged already anyway, so no need to mess around with this when it first arrives.

A picture of Activ8rlives Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Bluetooth Monitor box and contents.

How To Use

You place the monitor on your upper arm as instructed. There are clear, easy to follow, step by step instructions on exactly how to position it correctly. Once it is on, you press the button and it begins taking the measurements. As with all blood pressure monitors, there is a tightening/ squeezing feeling as it takes the reading, then it releases again.

Screenshot of Activ8rlives app during blood pressure monitoring.

The Monitor

The small screen on the actual has a bright-LCD back light that displays green, yellow or red colour depending on where your reading falls in comparison to the WHO blood pressure classification. This makes it easy to see at a glance if your blood pressure is high, low or normal. However, the device also automatically uploads uploads the data to the free app.

Screenshot of Activ8rlives app showing blood pressure and heart rate results.

Activ8rlives App

The app itself has several settings so it can be kept very basic just to record results if you wish, or it can be used on more advanced settings to record a whole variety of things related to health and wellbeing. I love how versatile it is, making it genuinely useful and suited to the individual users needs. The app complies with EU privacy laws, with UK-based secure cloud servers.

Screenshot of Activ8rlives app dashboard showing weight, BMI, heart rate and blood pressure.

Summary

This is a handy device that is quick and easy to set up and simple to use. It is genuinely useful, and is especially good for adults who need to monitor their blood pressure regularly, perhaps due to a previous condition for example. (Please note self- monitoring at home should never replace seeing a professional and seeking medical advice when needed).

*Disclosure: I was sent this item to review. All opinions are my own.

Educational Gifts For Children (Gift Guide) 

Are you looking for childrens gifts that provide educational value as well as fun? This educational kids gift guide will give you some great gift ideas!

As home educators, we often look for gifts that inspire learning and provide educational value. There is no reason why presents can’t be both fun and useful! So I have compiled this gift guide full of fab educational ideas…

A collage of the items featured in the gift guide. 'A Gift Guide...' written at top. Title 'Educational Gift Ideas for Children' in middle.

Whotchilli Games

Whotchilli games by PLYT are competitive, fun and mentally stimulating number games, suitable for families of all ages and abilities to enjoy together. They are perfect to play at home or take on your travels so are a very handy addition to any family. PLYT games are also endorsed by National Numeracy and leading maths consultants, so these really are effective from an educational viewpoint too.

There are several different games to play with the Whotchilli set, and more games will continue to be added too. This helps to keep things fresh and fun, which makes this longlasting and great value for money! The games available so far are:

Lookin’ hot – This game is about reading the minds of your opponents to work out whotchilli they’re playing whilst using cunning and skill to bluff and double bluff each other. The hottest player wins the game leaving everyone else feelin’ chilli. A fast, fun game for 3 to 6 players

Salsa – A game of logic for 2 to 3 players as you try to work out whotchillis are in your opponent’s Salsa recipe.  Build your rating and try to be the first to unlock the recipe.

Chilly Chilli – A game for 2 to 6 players where you try to stay cool by remembering whotchillis have moved where.  The coolest hand wins the game.

Scorchio – The aim of this game is to build the hottest score by correctly predicting the number of tricks you will win. 

The rules for these and future games will be available on the PLYT website and they will also send them via email.

RRP £9.99

A photo of the Whotchilli game boxed.

Azoomee Premium

Azoomee is an amazing edutainment app aimed at children aged 5 to 9, which provides a safe and secure space for them to watch, listen, play, learn, make, do and share. Learn and have fun with 1000s of the best videos, games, tutorials, learning content and audiobooks along with a packed creative tool box for this age group, all carefully selected by children’s media experts, teachers and parents. With a huge library of content including favourite kids shows such as Charlie & Lola and Horrible Histories, there’s something for every child!

There are no in-app purchases and no adverts to worry about, making this super child- friendly. An online safety curriculum – Smart Safe KindOnline – is threaded through the app: a programme of short films, games and activities, unique to Azoomee, which shows how to be independent, safe and responsible online.

They’ve also launched a fantastic coding game called Run Marco which teaches young minds the concept of coding to not only stimulate their learning but stretch their imagination with creative and challenging ideas. No wonder they’re BAFTA nominated! It is even supported by NSPCC too.

The app is available on Google Play, the App Store and Amazon Appstore.

Buy an annual pass to Azoomee and give a child 12 months of unlimited safe entertainment on any mobile device. The gift card will be posted to any address in the UK on a beautiful coloured Oomee postcard. The perfect gift for any child.

1 Year Gift Pass to Azoomee £44.99

Readers can get 50% off monthly subscription for 12 months by using the code FAMILY.

An image of Azoomee saying the safe entertainment for kids. App logos. Photo of a tablet on a wooden floor with a few toys around. Azoomee app is open on the screen.

Wise(ish) Words – Book of Everyone

Wise(ish) Words is latest book by The Book of Everyone. This is a wonderful way to inspire children and offer words of wisdom and advice. The books are totally personalised so you can choose the style and content that will best match the child, from jokey to heartfelt sentiments. £1 from every book sold will be donated to WellChild, which is a brilliant national charity for children living with serious illness or exceptional health needs in the UK, and gives them the chance to thrive at home with their families.

In conjunction with the launch of the book, a photo series has been created in collaboration with WellChild with the aim to raise money for sick children this Christmas. The series, ‘3 Wise Words for Kids’ is a collection of portraits taken by award-winning photographer David Boni of inspirational people who all work with children, displaying their 3 wise words for kids this Christmas. You can join in by uploading a selfie holding up your own ‘3 Wise Words for Kids’ on social media using the hashtag #3WiseWords.

RRP £23.95 for paperback (other versions available)

An image of the front cover of Wise-ish Words by Book of Everyone and double page inside the book.

Katie’s Classroom

Katie’s Classroom is a fab online teaching resource and she also sells revision cards too. Katie’s Classroom delivers outstanding online video tutorials, with further examples of the practical applications in a lesson summary whiteboard-style tutorial, then there are also worksheets to complete for the final part of the lesson. This is currently only available for Year 4 Maths (which covers all National Curriculum lesson objectives and topics) but Years 3 – 6 in both Maths and English will be available soon.

Subscription is £10 per month or £99 per year.

Revision cards £10.50 per set.

Squiggle sitting in bed looking at year 4 revision maths cards.

Musical Instruments

Musical instruments of any kind make a fantastic gift for all ages. Music teaches many skills and brings out creativity. It can also support emotional development and mental health, plus builds confidence. From perscussion instruments for general musical enjoyment to keyboards, drums or guitars etc… to learn at home or through lessons, there is a huge choice to suit any budget.

A photo of Squiggle playing a Yamaha keyboard.

*Disclosure: I was sent some of these items to review/ for inclusion in this gift guide. The post also contains affiliate links.

Designing A Logo With Logojoy 

Just over a year ago I decided to go ‘pro’ with blogging, so I moved my blog to self- hosted and started to think about branding, including designing myself a logo and banner to use on my blog and across social media. Alot of bloggers and businesses hire an expert to help them do this, but I was keen to save some money so I chose to do it myself. I spent far more hours on Canva (using a free trial) than I care to admit! However, I am very happy with the result.

Living Life Our Way logo designed by Canva

Introducing Logojoy

Logojoy is an AI logo designer that makes it quicker and easier for bloggers and brands to create their own logo themselves. It is simple to use; begin by selecting up to five sample logos that you like then the site generates your logos to choose from based on your preferences. There are then plenty of options to then tweak it as much as you want to personalise it further.

How To Use Logojoy

Time

It is possible to design a professional looking logo using Logojoy in just a few minutes. However, if you are a perfectionist and enjoy playing around with the various settings (as I did!) then you will need to allow more time. You can also amend and re- download your logo too, if you decide your logo needs a few extra final adjustments after downloading it (premium package only).

Cost

Logojoy costs $20 for a simple low resolution logo. A premium package is $65 which includes high resolution files in several formats with full copyright ownership. For an extra $9 you can also purchase the social media kit, which comes with perfectly size logos for each platform – this is definitely worth it in my opinion because it saves alot of time and effort resizing! Lastly you can also get one hour professional design support for $100 too should you require that level of guidance and support. 

Logojoy logo

You can design and purchase your logo on the Logojoy website.

(This is an affiliate link, this does not cost the buyer extra, but means I get a small referral fee. Thank you for your support).

My Logo

Here is my logo…

Living Life Our Way logo designed on Logojoy.

The Verdict

I worked really hard on my original logo and have been using it for over a year, so I must admit I am actually rather attached to it! However, I am really pleased with my Logojoy logo too and am actually quite (very?!) tempted to switch it! If I was just starting out, I would definitely think Logojoy is worth the investment and would be satisfied with the results.

Which do you prefer, my original Canva logo or my new Logojoy one? I would love your honest opinions, I promise I won’t be at all offended either way!

Living Life Our Way Canva logo and Logojoy logo side by side for comparison. Which logo do you prefer?

Thank you in advance for any feedback!

*I was given the chance to review the $65 package and was compensated for my time.

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.