Sunday, 19 February 2017

Anyone Can Make a Beautiful Birthday Card

I love making personalised greetings cards for people but for a long time I held back as I believed it was only a pursuit done by super talented crafters. Sadly, that's not me - I have writing like a 10 year old and quite a limited imagination so I thought I had to hold back for fear of my cards looking like a toddler had made them.

However, I've found a formula that works for me and every person I give one of my home-made cards to always comments about how nice they are. I think people feel a little special is you take the time to make something you know they would like.

I wanted to share with you my card-making formula that can easily be copied by anyone and you always end up with a great looking card. Even my 9 year old's can make good looking cards for their friends.

1. First up, gather together the items you need.
I recommend a trip to The Works (or shop online) as they have a wonderful ever-changing supply of card making materials for really great prices.

You'll need -
Blank cards and envelopes
Patterned paper
Plain coloured card or paper
Double sided tape
Washi tape
Card toppers
Stick on Gems

2.  Choose your patterned paper that will act as a base on your blank card and stick it on with double-sided tape. I find this far less messy than glue and you don't have to wait for it to dry.

3.  Add some Washi Tape. In this design I have put two stripes down the side of the patterned paper and this is good as it covers any uneven edges, on other cards, I might just use one vertical or horizontal stripe or do it across a couple of corners. See some of the designs below.

4.  I used a stick on Happy Birthday Greeting that I had bought in a pack at £1.20 for 30 of them, so they work out at hardly any money each.

5.  Choose your card topper. You can see from the picture below that I tried out the different bird toppers in different places before I choose which one to stick down and how the finished card should look. To keep costs low I normally just try to use one topper per card but I think the one with two does look lovely.

I often use stick-on gems to glitz up the card too, as you can see in a couple of the examples below. These normally cost about 99p for over 100, so they are super cheap. All the card blanks and toppers in these cards I bought from The Works and I hope you'll agree they look effective.

I mentioned earlier that even my little girls an make nice cards for their friends using my easy card making formula and here are a couple of cards Miss E has made recently ready for upcoming birthdays.

If you have any tips of easy card-making then do leave me a comment. Many thanks, Mich x

Monday, 13 February 2017

Review: Puressentiel Anti-Lice Treatment and Repellent

I hate head-lice. I'm sure no parent likes them but they have been the bane of my life for about the last four months. Thank the Lord that the kids seem free of them right now, but before Christmas I was spending so much on treatment and all different brands and I'm not sure if the products were not effective or if I had missed just one nit sack or such but basically I just couldn't get them out of one of my daughters hair and seeing as it is waist length, it was one major pain in the bum!

When I saw that the respected French brand Puressentiel had launched an anti-lice treatment and preventative spray, I immediately asked to sample and review the products and I'm pleased to tel you that I like what I see.

Anti-lice treatment -
I actually tried this on myself as whilst I could not find any evidence of a live head louse I have been itching for months and keep getting bumps around my hairline, so I was convinced I must have them and as this product is all natural I decided there really is no harm in my trying.

Unlike some products it had quite a pleasant smell and you can really detect the lavender, which is quite pleasant as it does not straight-away scream head lice like the smell of tea tree oil does. The four essential oils in the product also are soothing to the head and help to alleviate the itching, which was what I needed too.

The 100ml bottle only did one application as my hair is about 4 or 5 inches longer than my shoulders. So the cost of one treatment is £8.66 if you buy it from Amazon which was the best price I found (RRP £12.99). It therefore isn't the cheapest solution on the market but since research is showing that head-lice are mutating and surviving many different chemical insecticide treatments now, it is good to find one that the lice are unable to develop a resistance to and that doesn't have all the nasty side effects of silicone based products.

The solution comes in a bottle like you might get for hair dye and this means it is easy to apply and you don't get too messy. It is an oil based product so is oily on your hands but washes out well with any shampoo. It contains plant oils of coconut, calophyllum, jojoba, sunflower, sweet almond, castor, which act mechanically by obstructing the respiratory openings of the lice, larvae and nits. The lice are unable to develop resistance due to the asphyxiation mechanism.

I really like the fact that the product works in just 10 minutes and left my hair very soft after washing it out. The comb that is included in the pack is probably the best included one I've ever seen. It has fine grooves in each steel tooth, much like a nitty gritty comb and was very effective at combing my hair out.

Puressentiel products contain no dyes, preservatives or synthetic perfumes and are kind to the environment too.

For the record, I didn't actually have head lice and I actually now think maybe I had a sensitivity to a silicon based product that I used about a month ago when I was treating my girls. the redness and flaky, itchy scalp match the description for silicon sensitivity/allergy.

Preventative Spray -
This 75ml aerosol spray has a strong lavender smell and contains Citriodiol® from 100% natural origin (derived from lemon eucalyptus essential oil) whose repellent action has proved itself to be as effective as most synthetic chemicals.

It has been proven to work for 24 hours to repel lice and stop infestations and that makes it perfect for spraying before school. My daughter with shorter hair needs about 6 sprays and the one with waist-length hair about 12 sprays and the smell is quite strong, so it is good to do with a window open or even in the garden!

This handy spray cleanses the scalp and soothes itching using lavender floral water and lavandin, without leaving the hair or scalp feeling greasy or damaged. The spray retails for RRP £9.99 and I didn't manage to find it any cheaper than that.

It has 0% Neurotoxic repellents, is 100% natural in origin (No chemical agent - No silicone - No dimethicone - Preservative-free), is propellant gas-free and synthetic perfume-free.

Both products are suitable for children aged 3 years plus and they are available from Boots, Day Lewis, Lloyds pharmacy, Amazon and selected pharmacies nationwide.

Conclusion -
I am really happy with the Puressentiel products that I have tried out and I'd happily use the anti-lice treatment again and we will keep on using the preventive spray and see how it goes. Lets pray that is the lice infections over for at least 2017 for my family!

Disclosure: I received these products free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

6 Little Known Gems to Visit in Edinburgh

I've only been to Edinburgh a couple of times so far but I have absolutely loved it and the stays have been far too short, so it would be great to get there again. Especially as my friend Kate lives there and I've not seen her for some time. As we chatted the other day I asked her to give me some recommendations of places to visit when I next go there and here are her six little-known gems in Edinburgh. Four free to visit attractions and two delicious eateries. Of course you'll want to easily get around the city once you are there so why not check out Capital cars for all your taxing needs, including airport transfers.

City Art Centre
This former Scotsman news building now houses six floors of art in large, light and airy gallery spaces. There is a huge variety of art from the 17th century to the modern day. Entrance is free to the main gallery and there are loads of exhibitions changing throughout the year, for which there is an entrance cost. The centre is currently closed on Monday and Tuesdays.

The extra fun part is that they have an ArtSpace which is open all the same times as the centre and you can have fun using their inspiring art materials to create some modern art, a landscape or perhaps a portrait. Or join them between 2 and 3pm on a Saturday when there is facilitator leading the session. I'd love to get stuck in.

2 Market Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1DE, Tel: 0131 529 3993

Image Credit: Edinburgh Museums

Dovecot Studios
This amazing Tapestry studio is housed in the former home of a Victorian swimming pool, the renovated building itself is stunning but actually the tapestry's on show in the gallery and the weavers themselves are the real treasure. For more than 100 years stunning pieces of tapestry have been created here. Make sure you get to see some of the weavers at work from the Tapestry Studio Viewing Balcony from Noon to 3pm on Thursday and Friday and from 10.30am to 5.30pm on Saturdays.

10 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1LT, Tel: 0131 550 3660

Image Credit: Dovecot Studio

National Museum of Scotland’s Rooftop Terrace
The National Museum of Scotland is of course the most visited attraction in the city so you may wonder why I have listed it here. Well, the hidden part is the rooftop terrace. Everyone knows that the museum itself is worth a visit but very few make it though the museum maze to the beautiful rooftop terrace which sports some stunning Scottish fauna but more than that there are views all across the city. Head up there early in the day to beat any crowds.

Chambers Street, Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF, Tel: 0300 123 6789

Image Credit: Wow 247

The Royal Observatory
It is totally worth heading off the average tourist track to go and pay a visit to the Royal Observatory Visitor Centre but only if you have booked a visit. During the winter months there are weekly Friday open nights and monthly in the summer. You'll get to see through one of the biggest telescopes in Scotland, learn a bit more about the night sky and be able to handle meteorites, The site itself is also stunning.

Blackford Hill View, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ. Tel: 0131 668 8100

Image Credit: Royal Observatory Edinburgh

The Gardeners Cottage
Someone who loves food as much as me couldn't possibly not suggest a couple of amazing restaurants. A favourite with my friend Kate is The Gardeners Cottage, which is in Royal Terrace Gardens at the foot of Calton Hill in the heart of Edinburgh's World Heritage Site. The beautiful restaurant is informal with all diners sitting at trestles tables but the factor that tells it apart from its competitors is the stunning local produce, as well as the home-grown veggies, leaves and legumes. The food really is of the best quality and an absolute joy to eat.

1 Royal Terrace Gardens, London Road, Edinburgh, EH7 5DX. Tel: 0131 558 1221

Image Credit: Gardeners Cottage

Mademoiselle Macaron
You'll be transported to Paris in the blink of an eyelid in this beautiful cafe. The owner trained in Paris after being mesmerised by her first taste of the classic French Macaron. You can choose from classic flavours like raspberry and pistachio or go for the more exotic like Scottish Whammy made with Irn Bu. You can't get much more of a french- Scottish fusion than that!

22 Grindlay St, Edinburgh EH3 9AP. Tel: 0131 228 4059

Image Credit: The Herald

I wish you an amazing time visiting this historic and amazing city. Do let me know in the comments if you have any secret gems that would like to add to this list.

Be blessed, Mich x

Monday, 23 January 2017

You have to see Sing Movie #SingMovie

My girls doing karaoke to the Sing soundtrack on Saturday night before we saw the movie on Sunday

Don't let your fear stop you doing what you love!

This is probably my favourite line from the movie and to be honest spending £37 for the five of us to see it will be well worth every penny if my kids take this sentiment with them into adulthood. I think we often miss out on things we would enjoy and even love as we allow ourselves to be held back by a fear or the unknown. We all need to embrace the unknown sometimes and remember 'what is the worst that can happen?' The worst case scenario is never really that bad, is it?

You don't expect to come out of a family movie with a big life statement like that but that is what I love about films aimed at all the family nowadays. They have the innocent story line, the fun characters, the amazing graphics but also the humour and depth to reach the adult audience too.

SING is a fabulous movie, with a rating of U and a run time of 1 hour and 50 minutes. If you like watching things like The Voice, Britain's Got Talent and the X Factor then you'll love this movie. The singing talent in it is amazing, who knew that Reese Witherspoon could sing like that? And I had no idea who the American singer Tori Kelly was before watching this but now both my girls and I are mesmerised by her stunning voice.

I think my favourite character had to be the very dapper koala Buster Moon as I have a not-so-secret crush on Matthew McConaughey who voices him and whilst I might not be able to see Matthew in the film, that beautiful southern lilt is so unique to him and makes my heart melt.

There is something in the film for everyone, our whole family went to see it and my 13 year old son said he was surprised how funny it was and 'so much better than I expected Mum, a bit like Shrek as it has loads of adult funny bits in it'.

SING is certainly one of those films that we will be watching again when it comes out on DVD, it is sure to become a classic family movie like Toy Story, Happy Feet or Madagascar.

SING has gained a 70% fresh tomato score on Rotten Tomatoes and all the critics seem to agree that Illuminate Pictures (the film animators behind Despicable Me, Minions, The Lorax and Secret Life of Pets to name just a few) have again made a fabulous tale

Have a look at the trailer yourself and see if this film might be for your family. I'm sure it will!

Have fun, Mich x

Oh and just in case you are interested here are my couple of loons having fun with Taylor Swifts 'Shake it Off'.

Disclosure: We wee sent a karaoke pack for us to enjoy as a family to celebrate the release of SING at the cinema.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

7 Great Venues to Host your Work Team Building Day in the South East

Team building days at work - you either love them or you hate them!

Done well, I think they are pretty amazing and definitely a way to help you get to know your fellow workers and start to understand what makes them tick. Prior to leaving the University when we moved here I organised a team-building day for our busy HR and development department and it was a tad daunting as so many people were specialists in developing others but luckily all went well and it was probably one of my greatest achievements in my ten year career there.

Our Director had said we had to have at least half a day spent doing work based activities and then half day of pure fun. So the morning was spent doing various team tasks and working with some fabulous facilitators to help us all think through the customer experience. Who was our customer and what did they expect and how could we impact the wider aims of the University?

For lunch we went to the student refectory and ate with the students as I wanted everyone to be able to experience the service our ultimate customers receive. Luckily I was able to choose this option as the eating facilities we excellent and this meant we could all have a really enjoyable meal from the very wide variety serviced.