Survival Kit for Warm Weather

Kids’ Survival Kits for Warm Days

Kids' Survival Kits for Warm Days

Even for those who work full time, there is something about the long school-holiday season that impels us to continue thinking of it as a “lazy” time of year. Maybe because things at home are a bit easier without homework and the daily routine of school on top of our own daily routine. Working hours feel a little softer, daylight stays with us longer. It seems we humans are still wired to appreciate this seasonal cycle. Loads of day camps offer wonderful activities for children to keep them occupied during the day, and they’ll need a different set of gear.

 

  1. Backpack

If they don’t use one for school, they should have one for camp, as these are often outdoors, with the kids hiking about parks and cities alike. Get a pack with a lot of pockets because holiday adventures always require multiple compartments. If your family is planning a trip, a new roomy backpack with a personalised name tag can also inspire them to help with the packing, but don’t be surprised if their list of essentials includes a rainbow wig, a rock collection, and their favourite stuffy. Don’t get too precious about the backpack because it’s going to get dirty.

 

  1. Sun protection

We probably don’t need to mention this one, but we will. Research has confirmed that sunburns at an early age raise the risk of melanoma later in life, and the medical community is still united in its support for sun protection. Roll-on or sunscreen sticks are more expensive, but if you’ve ever had to clean zinc goop out of the bottom of a bag, you’ll find it worth the money. Have one that just lives in the backpack at all times. Lightweight protective clothing should also have a place in the bag. Of course, skincancer.org recommends wraparound sunglasses, but we won’t hold our breath for the day the average 7-year-old remembers to put those on or doesn’t lose them.

 

  1. Stainless steel bottle with a wide top

Much easier to keep clean and to sterilise when necessary than plastic bottles, steel bottles can also take the banging around they’re sure to receive during an average week’s adventuring out of school.

 

  1. Their first wallet

Between field trips and snacks, children will sometimes need a little spending money at camp. Don’t send them with money if they aren’t going to need it, as it may get “traded” or used unwisely among young children.

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Little Darlings Afternoon Tea at Blythswood Square

When I think of afternoon tea in Glasgow, it conjures up memories of sitting in my great auntie’s flat in the south of the city, scoffing a Scotch pie accompanied by the finest HP sauce, washed down by some premium vintage Irn-Bru and finished with a nice coconut ice bun from the bakers. What we were treated to last Sunday was an all together more sophisticated affair.

Blythswood Hotel

 

We were invited along to the Blythswood Square Hotel to experience their afternoon tea, specifically their “Little Darlings” version which is suitable for children 12 and under. Originally, this was supposed to be for Erica & Erin, as a kind of “Ladies what Lunch” day out. I managed to negotiate an invite by offering my exceptional chauffeur skills. There’s a lot to be said for a lift there and back!

Afternoon Tea, Glasgow

We were greeted at the door of this impressive Georgian townhouse hotel by a cheery doorman who warmly greeted all of us, but in particular Erin, with that trademark “Glasgow charm” and pointed us in the right direction. We were seated in the lovely dining room on a very comfortable couch next to the window, giving us great views of the square itself.

Little Darlings Afternoon Tea

As we settled in and got comfortable, we were presented with our menus and offered drinks. All fairly standard stuff, right? Well yes, but I have to say that the service was exceptionally good from start to finish. Everyone was smart, welcoming and had an almost effortless way of making us feel that we were the only people they had in that day, even though they were very busy indeed.

Blythswood Square Hotel

We ordered two adult afternoon teas and Erin had the Little Darling afternoon tea. When they arrived, the waitress described what was on each stand in detail, which all looked very impressive. The star of the afternoon version for myself and Erica was the Coronation chicken tart, which was made with the best pastry I’ve tasted, closely followed by the coconut & mango macaron. Erin chose the honey roast ham wrap as the main element on hers but she is a dessert girl at heart. She picked out the chocolate brownie and ice cream cone as her favourites. She also really enjoyed the glass bottle of Irn-Bru she had. Well, you can’t remove the Glasgow element completely!

Ice Cream, Afternoon Tea, Blythswood Hotel
After a very relaxing and enjoyable two and a half hours we said our goodbyes and thank you’s and headed back to the car feeling very full and satisfied, with the girls happy they’d invited me, otherwise they’d have had to roll down the hill to Glasgow Central train station rather than falling into a food induced sleep in a comfortable car! At the price, I’d say it was not cheap but it was good value for what we had. And not a Scotch pie in sight!

Blythswood Square Hotel Afternoon Tea costs £28 for adults and the Little Darlings Afternoon Tea is £12.95 and is located in Glasgow city centre.

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Sensory Dining with Nespresso

We’ve been Nespresso fans for a while now, we bought our machine three years ago and we are club members. When the invitation to enjoy a sensory dining experience arrived, I couldn’t believe my luck. To say that a five course sensory dining experience with Nespresso infused dishes appealed would be an understatement!

Coffee with Currys

Nespresso have just launched their latest machine, the Prodigio. The Prodigio is the world’s first connected coffee machine. Not only can you manage your stock levels and reorder via your mobile phone, you can also have the machine make your coffee automatically via an app. Perfect for those lazy Sunday mornings.

Nespresso

The event kicked off with a tour of the Nespresso machines over the last thirty years. I loved the first ever Nespresso machine, how retro does it look compared to current models?

Sensory Dining

Inside the private dining area, each plate had a carefully folded blindfold. It quickly became apparent what was in store for us!

Our first course was eaten blind and we had to guess what it was.

Nespresso Sensory Dining

It was a classic Italian Caprese salad with an unusual garnish of Nespresso Rosabaya infused sauce. I loved it and it’s one I will be attempting to cook at home. Eating blindfolded? Probably not something I’ll try at home!

Sensory Dining

With blindfolds off, the full menu was revealed to us. Each course had a different Nespresso infused element.

Nespresso Sensory Dining

Our next course was an Italian risotto flavoured with Nespresso Cosi which has a bitter finish to it on the palate.

Nespresso Sensory Dining

The pan fried venison was served with an unusual fried custard flavoured with Nespresso Kazaar, the flavour definitely complemented the venison but the texture wasn’t to my taste. This kicked off a discussion about how we would have used coffee in the dish, we agreed that venison rolled in a seasoning mix that included coffee could really work.

Nespresso Sensory Dining

Dessert was definitely a highlight of the meal, and a contender for one of the nicest desserts I’ve had this year (alongside this chocolate and caramel tart). The pannacotta was flavoured with Nespresso Vanillito.

The evening was rounded off with fresh coffee (of course) from one of the many Nespresso machines dotted around, Nespresso Indriya and Frangelico truffles (love Frangelico, reminds me of a drunken night with my friend Becky…but we shan’t talk about that), and a particularly strong Nespresso martini.

Thanks to Nespresso and Currys for inviting me along, I had a great time and plan to get create over the next couple of weeks discovering how I can use Nespresso in my cooking!

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30 Kids Activities To Do In April

Guest post by Kirsty Herriot

I love a list, it makes me feel organised and can help keep me on track as well as giving me a sense of achievement when I can score things off of it. I make lists for nearly everything and this one is dedicated to the kids. It’s easy to get distracted, especially when you work from home, so I thought it would be nice to make a list of activities that you can do with the kids in April. They don’t have to be done in a specific order and some are quick and easy to fit in amongst a working day, whilst others are for family days off and out together. I’ve done this before and pinned it to the fridge so everybody could see what was planned and have a say in what we got up to. I found the kids loved seeing that even for just a little while on some of the days that some of my time would be reserved just for them.

Feel free to use my suggestions or to make your own list!

1st – Bark Rubbing: Head out to your local park or woodlands with some paper and crayons and make some bark rubbings on the different tree types. If you want it to be a bit educational too, take a pocket tree book and use the information to identify the trees. The first time we did this it was for a school project but we enjoyed it so much we have done it purely for fun on several occasions.

Kids Activities April

2nd – Visit the Edinburgh International Science Festival: This is so much fun. We have gone every Easter for the last 6 years and there is always so much to do. It runs from the 26th March to the 10th April, there are so many workshops to choose from as well as drop-in activities. You can book online at www.sciencefestival.co.uk

3rd – Get some fresh air at the Botanic Bunny Golden Egg Hunt: Follow the trails around the garden and discover the beautiful nature and wildlife along the way. The trail is appropriate for all ages and there is no bookings required, just pick up the £1 trail map from John Hope Gateway reception desk or the East Gate entrance.

4th – Make some homemade doughnuts together: This is a great and easy recipe and you can get creative with glazes and toppings.

April activities

5th – Build a den: Get some blankets, close pegs and what ever else you have around the house to help and make an indoor den. Doesn’t matter how old you are, this never ceases to be fun.

6th – Finger printing: Painting at home doesn’t always have to be a big and messy job. We use lots of different inkpads rather than paint pots and you can get lots of creative ideas from pinterest.

7th – Let the kids choose and make dinner: Get your recipe books out or trawl the thousands of recipes available online and let the kids decide what’s for tea, make a shopping list and cook dinner. We do this in our house at least once a week and turn it into a bit of a come-dining competition between siblings.

8th – Friday Night Movie Night: Pick a family movie to watch, get your jammies on and make some different flavours of gourmet popcorn to enjoy. Nice relaxing end to the week and start of the weekend.

9th – Find a beach to fish around the rock pools: Take a fishing net and wellies and keep your eyes peeled and you could spot whelks, limpets, crabs, starfish, jellyfish or even shrimp and lobsters. If you can collect some pebbles and rocks too you can use them for another activity later in the month.

10th – Sunday Roast at a Carvery: We’ve been to many. Kids love piling what they like on their own plate and many in Edinburgh are excellent value for money.

11th – Choose a new games app: Every month I let my kids pick a new app for the ipad. They have to read the reviews and pick one and decide which of their previous downloads they are going to delete. Sometimes they are purely for fun and sometimes they are a bit educational too (always a bonus) but they have to critically evaluate to choose anyway so that’s a learning process on it’s own.

12th – Paint monster rocks: Use the stones collected from your beach visit. Paint them bright colours and glue on googly eyes and pom poms for noses. We make little stories up for ours too.

13th – Get a new book from the library: It’s always nice to visit your local library and all chooses a book to borrow. We do this on our way home from school.

Kids Activities April

14th – Make a no-cook cheesecake: Nice and easy with the only bit of cooking being melting the butter for the biscuit base. Once you have your basic recipe you can get experimental adding different flavours. Our favourites are adding lime and mango or choosing favourite crumbled sweets to add – maltesers and mint aero are delicious.

15th – Star Gazing: It’s almost the weekend again and if it’s a clear night then this makes a great evening outdoor activity. Kids love getting to explore outside when it’s dark. We take a blanket, some warm cocoa in a flask, torches and some print outs of star maps to see if we can spot them. Sometimes we make up our own too.

16th – Adventure Golf: Great family fun at the weekend especially if the weather isn’t kind. We recently visited Paradise Island Adventure in Livingston and had a great time.

Golf Livingston

17th – Day out in North Berwick: one of my favourite places to visit. We get the train and then depending on the weather decide what to do. You can climb the Law, the beaches are great, there’s the seabird centre, a great play park, a swimming pool, putting greens, lots of nice little shops and we always finish off with dinner in Poon Thai’s beautiful Thai themed garden. They have heaters and shelter so you can eat outside no matter what the weather is like.

18th – Plant sun flower seeds: April is the month to plant your sunflowers either in pots for indoor or outdoors or directly into garden borders. So get some seeds and make it into a competition to see whose grows the tallest.

19th – Make Pasta Mandalas: You need paper plates, glue and pasta and then just get creative and make your designs. If you want to make it even prettier you can use dyed pasta but it’s just as much fun using it straight from your cupboard. If you want to know how to dye your pasta beforehand have a look here http://happyhooligans.ca/dye-pasta-easy-way/

20th – Go ten pin bowling: Nothing feels better than a naughty wee outing together on a school night as an extra treat to get you through the week. Ten pin bowling is a great family activity that doesn’t have to go on too late and you can usually get a bite to eat there too.

kids activities April

21st – Write someone a letter: We use emails and social media so much now that sometimes we can forget about the simple pleasure of receiving a letter. This activity is even better if you arrange with a family member or friend to send the kids a reply. Make cards, include what you’ve been up to and even some photos then head to the post office together to get a stamp and post it.

22nd – Family Board Game Evening: We love a family board game and it’s always a nice way to get together as a family, have fun and catch up with each other. Our favourites are Guess Who, Articulate and Pictionary.

23rd – Pedal on Parliament: Get your bikes out and join a mass bike ride to Holyrood. A fun day out for all the family. 3000 cyclists, young and old did it in 2013. Although they’re making a serious point about making cycling safer and easier, the day itself will be light-hearted, with a picnic at the end. Ride over traffic-free roads all the way to the Scottish Parliament. Starts at 11.30 in the meadows.

24th – Relax at the Dalmahoy: After all that cycling yesterday treat yourselves to some relaxation with a kind of Spa day at the Dalmahoy. The Edinburgh Mum’s app currently has an offer that entitles you to a free leisure pass for up to 4 if you buy afternoon tea for at least 1 person. The Afternoon tea only costs £12, so great value and a nice treat.

The Dalmahoy Edinburgh

25th – Bedtime Hot Chocolate Station: You can buy different flavoured sachets of Hot chocolate and set up a wee bar so you can each create your favourite. Don’t forget the swirly cream, marshmallows and sprinkles. Makes going to be much more fun.

26th – Make a Lego Village: Who doesn’t have Lego or Duplo in their house? But how often do you actually sit down and build it with your kids. Every now and again we tip it all out and sit on the floor together building our own lego village. Your kid’s will love the fact you are joining in.

27th – Bathtime fun: Not for every bath time but nice as a fun treat. You can get bath painting soap, tinted water colours as well as bath kneading soap to make what sometimes becomes a chore, a whole lot of new clean fun. This website has lots to choose from.

28th – Create a Jackson Pollock: So much fun! Hang an old white bed sheet from your washing line and let everyone have a shot of splatting it with different coloured paints. Leave it out to dry overnight and if you want cut it up and frame the next day.

29th – Climb some trees: Go for a nice walk together and find some fun trees to climb. Lauriston Farm has some great ones.

30th – Mary Poppins at the Festival Theatre: Going to the theatre can be expensive but whenever I do go I’m instantly reminded how much more magical and nostalgic a trip to the theatre is which always makes it seem worthwhile. Mary Poppins is on at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh from 27th April to 21st May. You can book tickets here

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Paradise Island Golf Adventure, Livingston

I’m always on the look out for alternative indoor activities to do with kids. When you live somewhere that doesn’t always offer the best weather it’s quite often an essential to have a few different ideas tucked up your sleeve!

This week we ventured to Paradise Island Golf Adventure in Livingston, which was handy as it rained most of the weekend. It didn’t disappoint, in fact Erin and her friends had such a good time we’ll probably be back regardless of what the weather’s like.

Golf Livingston

Paradise Island Adventure golf is opposite the Vue cinema in Livingston Designer Outlet. They have 2 adventure golf courses to choose from, you can play both in one visit, at a discounted rate, or save one for another (rainy) day. The décor is fun with shipwrecks, sea caves, desert islands and lost lagoons. The girls particularly enjoyed the interactive elements and those that made sounds.

Golf Livingston

The girls took a ton of photos of themselves posing next to all the features, I think they enjoyed that as much as the golf!

Golf Livingston

With an Easter trip to the zoo already costing over £60 for 2 adults and 2 children, Paradise Island was also excellent value for money. Children under 5 are only £3.50, 5-16’s are £5.50 and an adult is £7 for 1 course. A family of 4 can play one course for £21 or two courses for £30. They are open 7 days a week, till at least 10pm at night so you could even go without the kids.

Golf Livingston

The girls spent a good hour and a half doing both courses. I picked up a leaflet about their parties too as it could be a really fun option for future birthdays. They do an offer in conjunction with Pizza Hut, which includes food as well as the adventure golf.

Thanks to Paradise Island Golf for inviting us, we had a great time!

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Behind The Scenes at McDonalds

I’ve been lucky enough to have many experiences via this blog including going behind the scenes at Disney and being a cruise ambassador. Last week I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at McDonalds and I had so much fun!

I met Jim, a really nice guy who owns two McDonalds including the one at Silverburn, Glasgow.

McDonalds Scotland

We were shown the new iPads that customers can play on, and the new digital kiosks. As a parent I think this new use of technology will make ordering quicker and easier, they’re even rolling out table service so now you can order and get the kids settled down rather than hanging around in the queue.

Behind the scenes at McDonald's

After trying out the digital kiosk we got to go behind the counter. Waiting for us in the crew area were our very own uniforms and badges (which we got to keep). Jim took us around all the stations and revealed some interesting facts.

McDonalds by numbers…

12 – the millimetre thickness of a quarter pounder
20 – the millimetre thickness of a signature burger patty
30 – the amount of minutes you can go before washing your hands when preparing food
42 – the amount of seconds it takes to cook a standard burger patty
50 – the amount of seconds it takes to make a Big Mac, and just 35 if there is a full team!

I’ve never been bothered by eating at McDonalds, I love all food, as you can see from my Edinburgh food website. I eat everything from Michelin to fast food, and everything in between. I’ve also worked as a fine dining waitress so I’ve seen behind the scenes of a professional kitchen and I can honestly say I have no qualms about the cleanliness and food at either end of the spectrum.

Onto the fun bit, making our own Big Mac. I never worked at McDonalds as a teenager (I worked as a cleaner and a babysitter instead) so I was quite chuffed to have the opportunity to make a burger myself.

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How To Make A Big Mac

1. Toast your bun, which is split into ‘crown’, ‘club’ and ‘heel’

2. Add Mac sauce to the heel and club

3. Sprinkle 7g of ‘de-hi’, that’s onion to you and I

4. 14g of fresh iceberg lettuce on the heel and club

5. One slice of cheese on the heel

6. Add your 7 millimetre patties to heel and club (which have been cooked for exactly 42 seconds)

7. Pop the club onto the heel, and flip the lid closed

8. Pop it down the chute (video coming of this bit!) and hey presto One Big Mac ready to go!
All that in just 50 seconds….and just 35 seconds if there’s a full shift team.

If all this talk of McDonalds has made you hungry, head down to your local branch to sample their new signature menu – the burger patties are bigger than all their others so much more fulfilling as an evening meal. Burgers are currently in Classic, BBQ and Spicy flavours. And the good news? They’re here to stay!

Get more information on McDonalds here.

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Resolutions: Is it time for a screen detox?

Guest Post

So my New Years resolution was to pick up a book before bedtime to unwind rather than do what I have been doing for quite a while now. I think we are all guilty of it, but I read an article recently about how looking at a lit up screen while in bed is not exactly conducive to a good night’s sleep. Your brain needs time to switch off so you can relax; the article also mentioned that not allowing this could increase poor mental health.

So far, with my resolution I’m failing. It’s all too easy to still be checking emails, messages, and scroll through Facebook or be inspired by pinterest when you have your ipad, the internet and even worse your phone, which cannot be good for my eyes.

Don’t get me wrong, its not all work related stuff that I am doing on these hand helds in bed. I love a game of scrabble; sometimes I’m shopping and have even been known to switch off by playing bingo online.

Another article I read recently was about twin sisters. They were separated by adoption at birth but had become friends for a good few years, playing on the same bingo site only to discover when their search for each other was over that they already knew and liked each other. Quite heart-warming and proves if you choose to play at the right bingo sites you never know what you could find.

So you see, I am actually still reading at night time, just not a book and I really want to get back into the habit of doing so. I’ve always loved reading, have done so from a very young age. Somewhere between the business of motherhood and thinking you’ll never have a minute or peace to read a book again and the increased usage of the world at our fingertips through our phones and ipads, I have lost that love and habit. It’s now March and the last thing I am doing at night is still looking at those little, lit up screens.

I think it’s time to introduce a bedroom ban on these items. Who can recommend me a good book?

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6 Of The Best Soft Play Centres In Edinburgh

When you live in a country that doesn’t always guarantee the best outdoor weather, soft play can become a regular favourite with us mums who want to let our kids let off a little steam, give them some fun exercise and give ourselves a bit of Mummy time too in the process. Here’s my 6 favourite soft plays in Edinburgh.

Soft Play Edinburgh

1. Time Twisters

Think Egypt meets Indiana Jones. The themed décor here is fab for sparking those young imaginations and they are quite possibly taking in a bit of history at the same time as all that climbing, crawling, clambering and chasing too.

2. Gambado

There’s so much on offer here that no two trips are the same and you’ll be lucky if you see your child the whole time your there. It’s always busy and very noisy but the kids love it.

3. Ocean Play Centre

Ball Play, Surf Rider and Zoopa Cannon, even just saying them sounds fun. I like the role-play zones in here, which are nice for younger kids. They have a mini supermarket, pizza delivery play area and garage with real scooters!

4. Tumbles

Right on the beach at Portobello, I’ve found this a godsend when I was trying to have some fresh outdoorsy fun and the weather changed my plans. Good distinct zones for different age groups so that the wee ones don’t get run over by energetic bigger kids.

5. Scrambles Soft Play

The soft play at the EICA only goes up to age 9 (probably because there is much more exciting, climbing related things for older kids to do in the climbing arena) but this makes it a very toddler/tweenie friendly soft play so if your kids are younger I’d recommend here. Their coffee is good too.

6. Jungle Adventure

Brand new to Edinburgh, located at the end of Easter Road, (used to be Leith Waterworld) so expect state of the art playing facilities that include the Biff Bash Forest, Spiders Web Astra Slide, 3D Rope Maze, Roller Challenge Zone and Drop Slide. You can even drive a safari quad around their track. I haven’t been yet but plan to go soon.

So that’s the kids sorted, it might not be a quiet environment for you to have some mummy time but while they are busy you’ll definitely have an hour or more to yourself.

If you’re like me and you can zone out despite the noise, get a coffee and read a book or magazine.

I’ve been known to switch off and de-stress by playing something like candy crush or bingo online, click here for bingo online.

If you’re surfing the web, don’t forget to check out this new app. I’ve downloaded the Edinburgh Mums App and so far I am very impressed. It has loads of special offers and treats for mums for when you have the kids in tow or for when you have some real, no kids me time. All local, just for us.

Finally if it’s too noisy for you to concentrate on any of the above, just look around you. There will be loads of other Mums there too, all there for the same reasons, so why not make a new friend?

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Are you an entrepreneur?

I worked as an employee from the age of 12 through to 21 when I had my daughter. I started my employment in my uncle’s shop. I worked as a babysitter throughout my teenage years. On leaving school I went into administration. I had a short spell debt collecting before working in a nursery. During Erin’s early years I worked part time with a charity and finally as a fine dining waitress. That’s where my employment ended. I can honestly say that during nearly ten years of employment I had very little impact on anyone or anything. I know it now and I knew it then. I was terribly unfulfilled and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just get on with my little tasks like everyonelse.

While I was on maternity leave I did a lot of soul searching. I read Authentic: How to Make a Living By Being Yourself. It was the first book to show me that I had options. I didn’t need to be an employee, I could work for myself. In that moment and during the months and years after, I realised I’d been trying to squash my entrepreneurial self into employed situations.

It took a year or so to make the transition to being self employed. We had to cut back to make it financially viable in the early days. My desire for self employment was strong though, I plowed all my energy into building income streams and gaining a professional reputation.

It has been an interesting , fulfilling, and at times challenging journey. One that I’m happy to have embarked on sooner rather than later.

Are you an entrepreneur in a job person’s body?

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The 21 Hour Work Week

Have you read Tim Ferris’s 4 Hour Workweek? What did you think?

I picked up some really good tips from this when I read it a few years back. The thing is though I don’t want to work for only four hours a week. If you’re doing something you love, why would you? I also feel uncomfortable with taking advantage of others so that I can work only four hours. The human race cannot survive on everyone working just four hours a week, which means there will be some who have to work very long hours to make up the shortfall.

A more workable and fair model is the 21 hour work week. Three hours a day of work followed by rest and recreation time.

There’s no way that cavemen would have been able to hunt for eight hours a day, five days a week. We weren’t designed for this, which is why many people are stressed and exhausted. Too many are on anti-depressants or are absent from work with bouts of stress and depression. It’s unnatural. People are pushing themselves to their absolute limit to pay mortgages and loans for things they rarely have time to enjoy.

A 21 hour work week gives most households 42 hours of ‘work’ time to use to bring in the money they need to survive. The other 19 hours they are no longer working can be spent on doing enjoyable things that will help to keep the requirement for money down; growing their own food, cooking food from scratch, household maintenance and DIY. Recreation time can be spent doing things that are low cost but still enjoyable; sports, craft, reading. When did ‘leisure’ become so expensive anyway? The point is relaxation and enjoyment, not spending money unneseccarily.

The 21 hour week would restore balance. What do you think?

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10 Ways To Procrastinate Online

Over the years I have thoroughly mastered the art of procrastinating online. I haven’t yet succumbed to a site blocker tool, but never say never!

1. Buzzfeed

It’s the internet version of crack cocaine! List upon list of pointless but strangely interesting data that you just don’t want to miss.

2. Facebook

Facebook

The black hole of the internet. Do NOT get sucked in. Everyday I tell myself the same, but when your work involves you being on there it’s kinda difficult.

3. Bingo/Slots

My go to when I have no mojo. A few times of year I end up playing slots or bingo games online (and I’ve been known to be pretty lucky!)

4. Poker

Poker

I used to play live poker three or four times a week. Nowadays I find the late nights/early mornings a killer so I play online instead. Problem is, one tournament can take up a whole night.

5. Reorganising files/deleting images

I have been known to display the odd OCD symptom. If there’s no creativity happening I often resign myself to organising files and deleting images. I suppose it’s good for keeping iCloud clean, ahem.

6. Candy Crush and friends

There are so many games online. I remember when Candy Crush was huge, before that I was sucked in to Cribbage, Othello, and Sims to name just a few.

7. Nonsense Celebrity Gossip

Now I NEVER buy gossip mags or red tops or anything with celeb gossip, but occasionally I see something online and I can’t help but have a nose. I always regret it afterwards though.

8. Articles on Business/Marketing

One of my more productive ways of procrastination, if that’s even possible. I like to stay up to date with news in the business and marketing sector and am always clicking on articles from Entrepreneur, Forbes etc..

9. Instagram

I’m a sucker for a good photo, and on Instagram, well there are reams of them! I can lose a good 15 minutes just scrolling and liking.

10. Anything to do with food!

My nemesis, I can’t resist anything to do with food – and since starting my Edinburgh food website I have given myself an excuse!

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10 Ways To Ignore Valentine’s Day

I have been with a partner my whole adult life. The husband and I got together when I was 15, we got engaged when I was 16 (yes, really!) and married when I was 21.

We have never celebrated Valentine’s Day.

Not even a card.

It’s my least favourite celebration of the year and I avoid it as much as I can.

Why? I just think if you’re in love, you don’t need a set day to show that. Being romantic or showing someone you love them should be a spontaneous act. That said, I don’t judge anyone who does enjoy it, live and let live…

Here are my top 10 ways to ignore Valentine’s Day and enjoy yourself, whether you have a partner or not.

1. Have a chocolate, marshmallow or fudge tasting session at home

Ignore Valentine's Day

Most people will be going out to celebrate Valentine’s Day, the key to ignoring Valentine’s Day is to either stay in or go where they are not going! We did a marshmallow tasting recently in the house and had a great time – you could do it with marshmallows, chocolate, fudge, cheese, wine….the options are endless.

2. Read a good book

Most people wish they had more time to read. Set aside the whole evening to read a good book and immerse yourself in another world while everyone else plays happy couples.

3. Do some personal development

Rather than wishing you had someone to share Valentine’s Day with, spend time on yourself. Read a book by Jack Canfield or discover Michael Neill (www.supercoach.com) or Jean Pierre De Villiers (www.jeanpierredevilliers.com)

4. Plan and book your next holiday

Holiday

If you’re feeling down on Valentine’s Day, a good way to ignore it is to get your holiday booked and in the diary. A holiday is far more exciting than an overpriced bunch of roses.

5. Play online games and bingo

For one night of the year it’s fine to waste a whole evening online, but you’ll want to avoid social media as that will be full of mushy messages and pictures of romantic dates. Instead head for your favourite online games or play some no deposit bingo.

6. Make a plan for the rest of the year

Everyone creates their plan for the year in January, but to be honest many people are not in the right frame of mind right after Christmas and New Year. Spend Valentine’s Day creating your plan for 2016.

7. Watch a box set

A box set is a great way to lose yourself. We’ve enjoyed both Making A Murderer and The Jinx recently.

8. Take the kids for ice cream

Valentine's Day
Every town and city has it’s own ice cream parlour that does amazing sundaes. Surprise the kids and take them for an ice cream – I can’t think of a better way to spend Valentine’s Day!

9. Create a new income stream

I love thinking up ways to make money that will take me closer to my goal of financial freedom. However you choose to spend your money, spending a day investing time in a new money making project has got to be a good investment.

10. Start a blog/update your current one

Blogging is a great hobby and can also become an income stream. If you haven’t already started one, get started (my book might help!) or if you have one already how about creating a new series or breathing some new life into it. I recently launched Foodinburgh, an Edinburgh food website and I’m having a lot of fun with it!

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Book Review: The Moneyless Man

The Moneyless Man

After seeing someone talking about it on Facebook I decided to buy The Moneyless Man by Mark Boyle.

Those who always want something more will always live in poverty, regardless of how much they earn. While those who are content with what they have will always feel they have an abundance

The book chronicles a year of Mark’s life in which he decides to live without money. The book itself is full of helpful tips on how to go moneyless, and some tips that quite frankly few of us would enjoy implementing. I enjoyed reading about his experiences, and while I’m not about to go moneyless it has forced me to question whether I need to be spending as much money as I do. Of course the answer is no and I experienced a slight shift in mindset, especially over my perception of buying second hand, making do with what we have and completely using up what we buy. I expect through this shift in mindset we will end up spending less.

Verdict: This book isn’t just for people who want to live without money, it’s a useful reminder that we’re all spending far more than we need to. This book is great if you want to get back to basics and start spending a little less. Couple it with America’s Cheapest Family for more practical ways of saving money day to day.

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