Do you listen to audio books? I have to admit, I didn’t really think it would be something I’d do. Back when I was a librarian, audio books were on cassette and generally borrowed by blind people, I guess that’s why I was reluctant to take the first step.

Then I discovered Audible by Amazon. I joined up with a free trial and downloaded my first audio which was a book of meditations. I’d already completed an online course, The Activation Game, which had a weekly meditation that I’d become used to  listening to in bed on my phone and found it incredibly relaxing. So I was looking for some more meditations to listen to and are plenty to choose from on Audible. To start with I tried this one, Mindfulness for Health by Vidymala Burch.

mindfulness for health cover on audible

I found it really helpful and having it downloaded to my phone meant that I could listen to it in bed. Vidyamala Burch has such a relaxing voice. The good thing about these meditations is that it doesn’t matter if you fall asleep, you can listen again anytime, but it’s job is done if you are relaxed enough to sleep. I have recommended many friends to try these type of meditations to help them sleep, there are so many available.

Recipe Books

Now I have shelves full of recipe books, many of them used over and over and have the stains to prove it. Cooking by ear was a different experience. Yes, you can listen to your recipes while you prepare them, it’s so much easier than flicking the pages or finding a clean spot for your book…or if you are like me trying to put your glasses on to read while your hands are covered in flour or garlic. My first Audible recipe book was a Paleo Diet one. If that’s not your thing there are many more recipe audio books available. Perhaps you’d like to hear how to make something sweet?

make a cake from scratch cake recipes on audible

Fiction

It took a while for me to head into fiction, I like reading books and I didn’t think I would enjoy listening to them so much. However, there are times when listening is really useful, for instance, on the bus or train. I found that reading too long was causing me eye strain, even with my reading glasses. Unfortunately my condition comes with eye problems which cannot be corrected with glasses, so to keep on enjoying my books I had to consider listening to them instead. I’ve found them really comforting during those long hours I spend in hospital receiving my treatment. I’m saving The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins for my next session. (If I can wait that is!)

the girl on the train cover on Audible

There is so, so much more available on Audible, autobiographies, non-fiction, children’s books, crime thrillers, sci-fi and educational books.

You can sign up to Audible for a 30 day free trial and after that it’s £7.99 per month. You will get a free download every month you are a  member. You can cancel anytime. Visit the Audible help centre for more information.

If you are a member of Top Cash Back you can get money back for joining, at present they are offering £10 cashback and half price subscription fees for the first three months. (£3.99)

Are audio books something you may be interested in?

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links

It’s a while yet until Spring arrives and bedrooms this time of the year need to feel cosy and warm. However, we don’t really want our rooms to feel dull and boring either, especially not the kids bedrooms. My kid’s room have been the centre of my attention lately. I don’t have much cash to spare, it’s that time of year when Christmas emptied the bank account but I’m now saving desperately for our holiday. So I’ve been thinking of ways to make their bedrooms better without costing too much and now I’d like to share my ideas with you.

Here are some simple ways of cheering up a child’s bedroom.

Tidy Up

Quite obvious really, a clean bedroom is much nicer than a messy one. This is a cheap and easy tip to make your kid’s rooms much nicer. There is an added bonus, you can pick out some stuff they no longer need and may even make a bit of profit off Ebay. Or you could donate them to a charity store, they love receiving old toys and clothes. I honestly believe that a tidy bedroom helps to encourage restful bedtimes too. Just think of the time wasted trying to find that much needed teddy that they just can’t get back to sleep without!

My kids bedrooms were in much need of a tidy up and I’m afraid to admit, it’s an ongoing process, we have already filled one charity bag and I have a heap of clothes that have barely been worn to go on Ebay. There is profit in a good clean out for sure.

Tidying up can involve a simple sort and clean, but you may also wish to buy some new storage. This can in the form of cupboards or shelving, or opt for the cheaper option of a toy basket. This one would look great in my girls room and the ideal place to store all of those cuddly toys which they refuse to part with but barely ever look at. No doubt the basket would remain until they were teenagers, maybe even longer.

soft toy basket in light grey colour with stars

Toy basket from Room to Grow

Change the Bedclothes

Put on some lovely fresh clean bedclothes, what a simple and quick way to cheer up any bedroom. But you could even splash out on some new sets. At Room To Grow They have some fabulous sets at prices that won’t break the bank. I got some for my kid’s beds and they loved them. I let them choose themselves which ones they wanted. With the girls their room is pink and purple so most sets would fit in nicely. Of course, it would look neater if they had the same but with two very different personalities they obviously went for different sets. Star chose flamingos, while Boo went for Unicorns. The prices are great too, just £15.75 for the Unicorn single duvet cover and pillow case, and only £12.50 for the Flamingo set.

a bed dressed with a pink flamingo bed set, a second bed covered with a pink unicorn bed set

Room to Grow Pink Bedsets

The Little Man’s room is magnolia, I’m going to get around to painting it soon, I promise. I wanted something bright and light and this lovely Animal Kingdom set was perfect. The Little Man agreed and when we put it on we spent an age looking at the map on the pillowcase and talking about where all the animals lived. Educational as well as pretty! Also, a bargain at just £15.75

Lovely Animal kingdom bedset and close up of the pillow with a map on

Now my kids have their new bedclothes they can’t wait to get into bed!

And The Little Man doesn’t want to get up in the morning either!!

little man snuggled in his bed

Add a Bit of Colour to the Bedroom

If the room is looking a bit dull you could consider painting the walls, or adding wallpaper. If you don’t have the time or money for that, why not add some colourful new prints or even a wall sticker. There are plenty of wall stickers to choose from, just take a look on Ebay or Amazon. I have a wall sticker on my bedroom wall (which is magnolia because it’s another room we haven’t got around to painting yet) and it really makes a difference. I may get one for The Little Man’s Room , maybe some animal stickers to match his new duvet cover. (I’m not just using this as an excuse to get away with painting his room, honestly!)

animal wall stickers, giraffe, leopard, monkey, koala bear

 

 

Light it Up

What’s the perfect way of brightening up a room? Add lighting of course! In a kids room this can be in the form of a lamp which they can use on the desk, or one for the bedside table.

a selections of colourful desk lamps

Or you may just want to replace the lamp shade, there are some great, colourful kids ones available.

The girl’s have a bedside lamp which is often left on all night! I don’t mind, I just put a low bulb in it. The Little man also has a bedside lamp but his comes on when he touches it, so he’s quite happy to turn it off while sleeping as he knows he can simply reach out and it will come back on if he needs it.

Hopefully once I’m finished the rooms will look much brighter and the kid’s may even spend more time in them. I live in hope.

How do you brighten up your kid’s bedrooms?

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: I was provided with new bed clothes in return for writing this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own

I think I may have mentioned a few times before how much I love my photographs. I have boxes of printed photos from my past, some in boxes, some in albums, some in photobooks, some printed as canvas and some framed. I love them all, so many memories captured to be enjoyed over and over.

In 2016 I got married to my long term partner and father of my youngest three children. It was a very special day for us and I had most of my photos from the day put into a wedding album. I have a couple of favourites which I framed but they are just average size. What I really wanted was a big version of my favourite photo.

wedding photo of me, my husband and our three children

The problem was finding a frame to fit a bigger photo.

Hello Canvas

That’s where Hello Canvas came in.  I could get the photo of the size I wished already framed for me.

Using the Hello Canvas site is really easy. First you upload your photo, then you choose your photo frame size, whether you want landscape or portrait and if you want a passepartout (border around photo.) Then you have a choice of 3 colour effects and 6 filters to play around with. You also get a choice of photo frame colours from black, white, oak and whitewash oak. The end result can look exactly how you wish and it’s all so simple.

On each page of Hello Canvas there are detailed instructions on what you need to do to create your perfect print. It’s really foolproof, and so customisable.

I chose not to have editing of my photo but the option is there if you need it. All you have to do is explain what you want in the box provided while ordering your print. Here are some of the ideas taken from the website.

Black & white with colour highlight, add texts, backgrounds fade, improving colours, delete objects, repair and refurbish old photos. In short, nothing is too crazy!

You get to preview how your photo will look before you order it.  Once you are happy you put through your order and your framed photo will arrive just a few days later.

The Result.

My framed photo came well packaged in cardboard with supports but there was less over packaging which you tend to find these days. The box was recycled by my lovely daughter Boo, so there was little waste.

Once opened I found it was ready to hang so no messing around. The photo was framed by a thick card passepartout which is acid free so it will not discolour the photo, it also serves to enhance the photo. You can choose to not have this but I like the way it looks. I chose a whitewash oak frame, it was difficult to choose as they all looked good, but a lot of my frames are already whitewash oak so I figured it would fit in better. The photo is protected by an acrylic sheet that looks and feels just like glass but is much hardier. It was so clear and shiny I had difficulty taking a photo of my framed picture because of reflections.

my framed photo

 

If you don’t fancy a framed print, Hello Canvas can also provide you with a canvas, metal print, wood print and floating frame. You can also have a personalised phone case or a poster . Also available is a fabulous selection of World Maps. (I was so tempted to go for one of these, they look great and are so educational.)

a map of the world

Pricing

The prices vary on which product and size you choose. For example, my framed photo measures 80 cm by 60 cm and would cost £69, but it’s one of the most expensive products. Prices start from less than £10 which is great value.

So what do you think? Do you have a favourite photo that you would like framed?

 

I received a framed photo from Hello Canvas in return for my honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Don’t you think it’s nice when you get something in the mail that’s not a bill? Maybe a card or a letter? You may think why, when you can keep in touch by Social Media or Text, or maybe call each other, but there is something special about a letter received in the post, even if you have to wait that little longer for your reply.

These days it seems that ‘snail mail’ (mail delivered in the post) is left for bills and circulars which is very sad. I spent my younger days enjoying my penpal relationships. I had friends all over the country and even further afield. I would write down my letter, pop it in the post and then wait for a couple of weeks for a reply. Some of my long distance friendships dwindled away quite quickly, others I wrote to for several years. I used to love receiving my letters and always made sure I was settled down cosy before opening and reading them.

Besides my penpals, I would also write letters to my friends. They mostly lived on the same street so I could pop my letters through the door without a stamp. It was still special though we could tell each other how much fun we’d had together and what we were looking forward to most when we got together again. Then later on I would write letters to my boyfriend on days he couldn’t get over to see me. These were days when mobiles and internet did not exist, and if I wanted to speak to him on the phone I’d have to walk to the corner and use the payphone. Of course, he would write to me too and yes, I had a stack of love letters.

If you feel you need a break from the digital age why don’t try something different and send a card or letter to a friend or loved one.

February 7th is Send a Card to a Friend Day, which is the perfect opportunity to grab your pen and write a lovely note to someone special in your life. Over on Hallmark they have a lovely range of friendship cards that would be perfect.

a selection of friendship cards from Hallmark

So, what would you write on your card? Well, sometimes it’s easier to write words down than to say them so why not write something straight from  your heart. Tell them how you feel, tell them you are so happy they are in your life. Talk to them about the things you love doing together, or even invite them for  a day or evening out. Give them a boost, let them know how great you think they are. I’m sure that whatever  you say they will be thrilled to receive your card.

Do you want to include something else, a little gift maybe? It could be something real simple like a bag of sweets with a charming note, like this.

a bag of sweets with a sticker saying, life is sweeter with friends

Or maybe a little momento that lets them know how you feel about your friendship, like this.

a ceramic heart with the text, people walk through our lives but only true friends leave footprints on our hearts
Or if you like to catch up with a brew, why not send a token tea bag with a lovely message.
a teabag in a little bag with the words, love is brewing the ultimate gossip tea for best friends catching up

Or even a small soft toy, like an Itty Bitty, there are loads to choose from and I’m sure you could find one that reflects your friendship.

the lady and the tramp itty bitty soft toys

Would you send a card or a letter to a friend? What would you say?


Disclosure: This post is brought to you by ‘Send a Card to A Friend Day and Hallmark Cards.

 

I was asked if I’d like to review a piece from Kaya Jewellery and couldn’t wait to get choosing. I took special care in picking out the piece I wanted and now I can offer you the same opportunity too. Read on for a fabulous competition where you can win a £40 gift voucher to spend at Kaya Jewellery.

I love how Kaya Jewellery focus on the special bond between a mother and her children and you can see it here in the Mother and Daughter collection. There is also a selection for son’s too, even brother and sister sets, how charming is that.
With having three children I did think it would be difficult to choose but then I remembered that Star turns thirteen this year. Yes, my baby is going to be a teenager! To mark this special occasion I have chosen a beautiful necklace just for her. I remember when I turned thirteen my Mum bought me a silver necklace, it was a little Dusty Bin from the television show 321. So, maybe this can become a family tradition?
I choose to call Star her nickname because that’s what she is, a shining star. With all she’s been through already in her life she is always smiling and making the best of things, and she refuses to change for anyone. So the first thing I looked for was a star and I found a pretty star necklace. Next I was able to add a pretty pink swarovski pearl before choosing what to engrave. On the front I have had her first name and on the back ‘our star.’
The necklace arrived within a couple of days and was packaged in a pretty box. It was really beautiful and I’m so glad I chose it. I’m sure that Star is going to love it too.
 
Now it’s your turn to choose a piece of jewellery that you could win in my latest give away. It’s easy to enter via the widget below and you can gain an extra entry by telling me in the comments which piece of jewellery on Kaya Jewellery.co.uk you would like to win. (If you are the winner you will be allowed to change your mind and buy whatever you like with your voucher.)
Good Luck!

Terms and Conditions

1. UK only (sorry)
2. Giveaway closes  5th February 2018
3. Entries will be validated according to the rules of entry
4. There is 1 prize of a £40 Gift Voucher to spend at Kaya Jewellery
5. The data of anyone that enters won’t be passed on to any third parties or used for any unsolicited marketing communications.
6. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook or any other social media.
7. The winner will be randomly chosen, and will be shown on this post, with further notifications may be shared on social media.
8. The winner will be notified via email, and will need to respond within 4 weeks otherwise a further winner will be drawn.
9. Prize will be sent out after receiving e-mail details via the supplier.

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