Helping an Elderly Relative to Stay Independent

There comes a time in a lot of people’s lives where they need to start making arrangements to help their elderly relatives. A lot of people get older but want to remain in the home they’ve known for decades, and that means making their environment safe and suitable for their additional needs, if they have limited mobility, sight or memory problems. There are lots of ways that you can make a home suitable again, and today we’re looking at five of them.

Stairlift

If your elderly relative lives in a house with more than one storey, getting up and down the stairs can be really daunting. As well as the physical effort needed to climb the stairs, the risk of a fall gets worse as they get older. This is where a stairlift could really help. It allows people to travel safely between floors without the risk of falling, or needing to expend a lot of energy to make the climb.

Alarm System

A lot of elderly people worry about having a fall in their home and not being able to call for help, so personal alarm systems can give a lot of peace of mind. They allow people to call for help in an emergency and an ambulance to be sent remotely so that they aren’t left by themselves in an emergency.

Walk-in Bath

Although showers can be built on floor level so that you don’t need to step up to get into them, many elderly people prefer the security of sitting down in a bath, although getting into one can be very tricky. A walk-in bath has a sealed door which opens and closes and allows people to sit comfortably to wash, reducing the risk of slipping and falling when you’re at your most vulnerable.

Video Doorbells

Many elderly people fear opening the door to an unknown person, especially once the sun has gone down, and this can leave them very isolated, especially in the winter. There are lots of video doorbells on the market now which allow people to see who’s at the door without needing to answer it, and this could give your elderly relative the freedom to know when it’s safe to answer the door.

Remove Obstacles

This is the simplest, and cheapest way, to make surroundings safer for your elderly relative. Thousands of accidents happen every year when elderly people, especially those with limited eyesight, trip and fall because of things like rug edges, electrical cords and low items of furniture. It could be a good idea to get an expert to come in to assess the house as they’ll spot hazards that you might miss.

Sausage’s Bedroom Makeover

It’s got to that point where Sausage wants her own space. She’s starting senior school in September, so instead of being surrounded by her sisters toys and games, she wants a proper grown up space where she can chill, watch her own programmes and do her homework in peace. As we’re in a three bedroom house, Husband will be giving up his office space and moving his desk into the dining room, and we’re planning a bit of a makeover of the room so that it feels more like Sausage’s own.

The first thing we’ll do is replace the floor; there’s carpet in there at the moment, and while it’s good quality, we want something a bit more modern for Sausage, so we’ll opt for Quick-Step Impressive laminate flooring as it’s so versatile, easy to fit and simple to keep clean.

She’s also requested a change of colour – the walls are a plain magnolia at the moment, but we’re planning to replace that with three walls of light lilac, plus one wall of a darker purple colour. It’s a nice colour scheme for a kid of Sausage’s age, but one which I think will grow with her and won’t feel horribly young when she’s in her teens.

Another thing I’m planning is a multi-functional space which will double up as both a dressing table and a desk so that she can use it for doing her homework and then use it for doing her hair and make up at other times (she doesn’t go out in make-up, by the way, she just loves to practice at home!).

She currently sleeps in a single bunk beds that she shares with her sister, but we’ve decided to give her our king size bed so that she has more space and can have friends sleeping over when she wants, without needing to find extra sleeping space! Our bed is currently a neutral wooden colour, but we’re planning to give this it’s own mini makeover with some nice chalk paint.

In terms of finishing touches, we’ll be adding shelves for books and nick-nacks, plus colour co-ordinated curtains, lamp shade and other little touches to make it feel like Sausage’s own little haven of peace and tranquillity! I’m really excited to do this for her, and I know she’s going to love the end result. I’ll be sure to share pictures with you all when it’s done!

How To Add an Accent Colour and Futureproof Your Rooms

When it comes to home decor, trends change on a pretty regular basis. Every year, new colours come into fashion and lots of people jump onto the bandwagon, using the colours all over their houses. For the last couple of years, grey has been a major interiors trend, and be honest, how many people do you know who’ve got grey in at least one room of their house now?

The problem with following trends is that, in a few years time when the colour is out of fashion, your house could end up looking pretty dated if you’ve got it everywhere. So today, i thought I’d show you a few ways to add on-trend colours to your house without leaving you needing to redecorate again in a years’ time!

Flooring

Grey is a nice neutral colour, so using it for something like a floor won’t leave your room looking outdated for years to come. Our tip? Lifestyle Flooring UK – Cheap wood floors are easy to buy and fit and allow you to change the whole look of a room without going overboard and painting every surface.

Feature Walls

Choosing one feature wall in your room to paint and keeping the rest of the walls a neutral colour is a great way to add an accent with minimal effort. It’s easy to paint over when you want something different, won’t require the whole room to be prepped and covered with dust sheets and is achievable in one afternoon, if the rest of your room is in good condition.

Soft Furnishings

If your room us a pretty neutral shade and the accent colour you like goes well with it, you could simply invest in cushion covers, lampshades and curtains or blinds in your chosen accent. These are all relatively low cost items which can totally transform the look of a room.

Faux Flowers

Keeping a constant stream of fresh flowers in your house is both expensive and unsustainable. However, investing in some good faux flowers can add a splash of colour to your room and will last as long as you need them to. Faux flowers have come on a lot in the last few years, and some of them look more real than the real thing!

Art

Adding a piece of art to the wall can help you to add a stunning splash of colour to a room, and if you hang it in a central place, you can change it as often as you like. There are companies who make large canvases with traditional art pieces on them, or you could even try making your own with a blank canvas and some paints in your chosen colour.

3 Keto Baking Recipes the Family Will Love

Keto Chocolate CookiesKeto Chocolate Cookies

The key to the keto diet is to get as close to eliminating all carbs as possible. As such, traditional pastas, breads, and baked goods are a no-no. That doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a sandwich or even indulge in some cookies, but you will need a modified version of these staples. Try out a few new recipes and you will learn which ingredients need to be swapped. No matter what recipes you use, baking will remain enjoyable for you and your loved ones. Check out these three keto baking recipes that will teach you that eating a keto friendly diet doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to delicious baked goods.

Keto Chocolate Chip Lover’s Moist Cookies

The key to a good chocolate chip cookie is combining the perfect amount of chocolate chips with a rich and decadent dough. In order to make this cookie keto diet approved, you have to substitute regular flour for something else. You can use ground flaxseeds, coconut or almond flour, or even psyllium husk. You can’t use regular sugar either so you will have to get a sugar substitute like stevia, monk fruit sweetener or erythritol. Some of these items can be picked up at the grocery store but other items may need to be purchased at a health food store or ordered off the web. The good news is that the baking process is fast and simple, so you will be able to enjoy your Keto Chocolate Chip Lover’s Moist Cookies in just minutes.

To make these cookies you will need the following; 1 cup of standard flour substitute, 1/3 cup butter, ½ cup of sugar substitute, ½ cup sugar free chocolate chips, 1 egg, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon baking powder, and a sprinkle of salt. First, mix up all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. The butter should then be heated on the stove or in a microwave until it is melted. Next, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

After the butter has melted, you want to add in the egg and vanilla extract to it. After it is well blended, pour it over the dry ingredients and mix gently. Use a tablespoon to make evenly sized dough balls, then flatten them as you place each one on a cookie sheet. Your cookies will need to bake for 10 to 12 minutes before they are golden brown and moist.

Low Carb Sandwich Bread

Bread can be a major point of contention for those trying to eat a low carb diet of any kind. There are plenty of pre-packaged varieties, but there is nothing like making something delicious from scratch. You might want to make a keto friendly specialty bread like challah that contains cheese and tomatoes so you can make it a meal. Make modifications to existing recipes so that you can enjoy biscuits, flatbreads, and even dinner rolls while on the keto diet plan.

Try KetoLogic’s recipe for keto bread and you will have a recipe that can be used to make bread at any time. This recipe is great for beginners as there aren’t many steps, but the end result is still a flavorful delight. Whip up a batch, slice up the entire loaf, and you will be able to reach for a piece of bread whenever you want – without feeling guilty.

Creamy Keto Sugar Free Cheesecake

If you ever get in the mood for a really decadent dessert while on the keto diet, then you have to try out this next recipe. The really great thing about cheesecake is that it is easy to make because there are not many ingredients in it. You will need to make the crust first, then the filling, but each step is super-fast to execute. Next up, a sugar free keto friendly cheesecake to die for.

Measure approximately 2 cups of flour substitute, ½ cup of melted butter, 4 teaspoons of sugar substitute, and a teaspoon of almond extract, then blend well to make your cheesecake crust. Roll out the dough and then carefully place it on the inside of a pie shell. Press down firmly so that the crust falls into the corners.

To make the filling for your keto-friendly cheesecake you will need; 3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese (softened), 2 eggs, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. All you have to do is blend all of these ingredients well and then spoon the mixture into the pie shell. Smooth the top of the cheesecake, then bake for approximately 45 minutes at 375 degrees.

It can take effort to find the right ingredients needed to make these delicious keto-friendly recipes, but once you taste them you will be more than happy to put in the work. Enjoy keto bread so that you can make scrumptious sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, and even a slice of cheesecake while still eating smart. These recipes can be addicting so try to enjoy them in moderation.

Our Ideal Home

Cupola HouseImage Source: http://www.tumbarumba.co.uk/

The other day, Sausage and I were chatting away in the car and she asked my what my ideal house would be like. I love the location of our current house and there are things about it that I like, but if money were no object I realised that my ideal home would be pretty different to this one! It got me thinking about what my ideal home would be like, so I thought I’d share my vision with you all here:

Bedrooms

Ideally, I’d like us to have four or five bedrooms, so that we could have one room each for Husband and I and both girls, and then a spare room for guests and a room where Husband can use as his office. Our current house is three bedrooms, but the girls currently share as we’ve got an office, but Husband is going to be giving his space up soon so that Sausage can have her own room. I’d also love to have South West Upholstery come in and give us some bespoke upholstery in the house.

Garden Room

I’ve always loved the idea of garden rooms, and having a space that I could set up as an office/sewing room/reading nook, so that I could have everything set up in order for me to be productive. If it was inside the house, there would be a temptation to be in it all the time, but if it was at the end of the garden, I’d have my own space but a healthy amount of separation so that I’m not checking emails at midnight!

Kitchen

I don’t need some massive state-of-the-art kitchen, but I would like a LOT more cupboard space. I’ve also always had a bit of a thing for kitchens with an island in the middle, which I’d love to have some sort of breakfast bar at one end so that the kids could eat there in the mornings and people could hang out in the kitchen with me while I cooked.

Conservatory

I’ve always been a sucker for a conservatory – I blame growing up on a council estate in the 80’s and 90’s where a conservatory was a sign that you’d really made it in life! I’d love a conservatory with enough space for a dining table so that we could eat there on summer evenings, as well as some sort of sofa so that we could sit out there and enjoy the sun even on cold days.

Cupola

This one is a bit niche, but bear with me! There’s a house where we live with a cupola on the top and every time I go past, I fantasise about living in a house with some sort of cupola or turret so that I can sit up there at night and look through a telescope at the stars, or snuggle up in a blanket on a rainy day and read a book with a cup of hot cocoa. Imagine watching a lightening storm from inside your own cupola?! I know finding a house with one is probably a pipe dream, even with a hefty lottery win, but it’s always been something I’ve loved.

Outside buildings can often add value to your property so if you’re thinking about adding some additional space, it might be well worth it in the long run!

The Real Issue With ‘Toxic Masculinity’

toxic masculinityI’ve written before about how feminism isn’t something with which I identify. Don’t get me wrong, I’m passionate about equality, but I feel that there’s been a massive swing towards more radical aspects of feminism which say that females should be given preference over men, and for me, this goes completely against the idea of everyone being equal.

We’re hearing a lot lately about the concept of ‘toxic masculinity’ and how certain male traits are wholly negative – I’m sure we’ve all seen the Gillette advert by now and have read the frankly ridiculous hysteria from the likes of Piers Morgan who would, quite honestly, boycott anything if he thought it would get his face in the papers.

But I have to say, the whole concept of ‘toxic masculinity’ makes me really uncomfortable. Wikipedia gives the following definition: “[toxic] Hegemonic masculinity is defined as a practice that legitimizes powerful men’s dominant position in society and justifies the subordination of the common male population and women, and other marginalised ways of being a man”.

On face value, I think we can all agree that deferring to a system of power where men, by default, are in charge is negative, and not something that any of us want, but the problem for me is that ALL male traits seem to be being viewed as negative.

I want to add in here, that I’m not someone who’s grown up in a bubble of privilege where no man has ever mistreated me – I’ve suffered child abuse, sexual assault and some pretty shitty relationships in the past, so I know what some men are capable of. But that’s the key word – SOME. Equally, I’ve met some women who are awful people, too.

I’m really uncomfortable with the way some people are acting like ALL men need to be feared or somehow preemptively treated like an abuser.  Yes, I’ve met some bad men, but I’ve also met a lot of men who are kind, mindful and caring, all while managing to be assertive, occasionally dominant and pretty damn ‘manly’.

Why is it that we can revere sportsmen who show assertiveness on the pitch or court, but expect their intrinsic maleness to disappear off of it? Husband and I were discussing this at some length the other day and he raised a really valid point; if things like assertiveness and physical dominance are such negative qualities, why are ‘role play’ costumes for couples predominantly for things like firemen uniforms or policemen? Those roles are traditionally associated with ‘brave’ men who rescue people, not usually a job done by people who lack assertiveness or physical dominance, and it’s considered okay for women to fantasise about them in a sexual sense.

The fact is, a lot of the male traits that we’re writing off as ‘toxic’ are evolutionary aspects of being a man and for many years were prized. In the animal kingdom, the biggest, strongest creatures with the best plumage and best hunting abilities are the ones who get a mate, and while I’m not expecting Husband to go out hunting with a spear, I think sometimes we need to accept that men have evolved one way and women have evolved another, to an extent. How would we feel if the negative aspects of being a woman were roundly labelled “toxic” and we started to be judged on our gender before we’d done anything to deserve it?

The saddest part about ‘toxic masculinity’ is that it causes men to hurt themselves in quite a prolific way. Boys are taught that they shouldn’t cry and shouldn’t express any emotions other than anger, then we act surprised when we’ve got whole generations of males who don’t know how to process things like grief or trauma in a constructive way. Maybe if we taught boys that anger isn’t the only emotion, it wouldn’t be their default setting and we wouldn’t be dealing with the highest male suicide rates on record.

So, instead of labelling boys and men as “toxic”, maybe we should be more mindful of the standards that we set for them in the first place. Maybe if we started giving our boys different standards to grow by, their maleness won’t be toxic. All I know is, that as a woman with a Husband, nephews, cousins, uncles and a Dad who are all MEN but definitely not TOXIC, the very phrase itself leaves a lot to be desired.

How to Make Any Dress Work in Winter

I don’t know about you, but I hate the fact that when the weather changes, half of my wardrobe gets consigned to the archives. I’ve got items of clothing that I love and am super comfortable in, so I love to find ways to make them work all year round. I’ve recently been looking at the Esprit website, given the fact that my favourite maternity jeans of all time were made by the brand. I love the fact that the company makes clothes which aren’t seen everywhere, and are both comfortable and stylish.

Anyway, after spending time lusting after a whole bunch of stylish winter dresses from Esprit I thought I’d share with you some tips on how to style dresses so that they last all year.

Shirt Dress

Esprit makes some stunning shirt dresses which are perfect in the summer as they’re made from a lovely crepe material. However, if you want to make them a part of your all-season wardrobe, pairing them with thick tights (exrta points if you opt for bottle green or mustard, which are SO in style this winter!), leather ankles boots and a buttery-soft leather biker jacket will look amazing and keep you warm, too.

Maxi Dresses

Maxi dresses are actually perfect for wearing the the colder weather because you can hide a whole bunch of stuff underneath them! Wear over leggings and a long sleeved t-shirt and then top with a poncho and your boho-chic look goes from summer to winter solstice!

Sequin Dresses

I mean, come on, this one isn’t even difficult. Winter equals Christmas and what’s more festive than sequins?! Sequin dresses are perfect for Christmas parties, and all you need to do is wear flesh coloured tights and a gorgeous pair of platforms to keep your legs warm in the chilly air.

Bodycon

Not gonna lie, I’ve never worn a bodycon dress in my life. Plenty of plus sized women do, and ROCK THEM might I add, but I don’t have the body confidence to do it. I have, however, seen other women wearing bodycon dresses but wearing a different skirt over the top, utilising just the top part. Floaty, metallic pleated skirts are all the rage this season and would look fab over a bodycon dress, also helping to keep you a little warmer!

Evening Dresses

When it comes to formal evening wear, the best thing to do is to think about your layers. You’re not going to want to wear a thermal vest or long johns underneath a beautiful Esprit evening dress, but you can layer OVER one. Faux fur stoles, short jackets and wraps all add an air of luxury to any formal outfit and allow you to stay warm without sacrificing any element of your look.

Do you love wearing your items all year long? Have you got any great tips on making dresses last all year? Please leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

How to Make Your Christmas Cards and Envelopes Extra Special

Christmas cards and envelopesI don’t know about you, but the one part of Christmas that I find a little bit of a boring chore is sending out Christmas cards. It’s not that I don’t want to send messages of good tidings to our nearest and dearest each year – it’s more to do with how boring the cards are. Every year, it’s a conveyor belt of cards with “Dear XXX, From XXX” written inside, shoved into boring envelopes and the whole thing feels like a damp squib. I’ve decided this year that I’m going to make our cards a lot more interesting, and I’m sharing some of the ways with you today:

Ditch the Boring Envelopes

Plain white envelopes might be functional, but they’re hardly inspiring, and blend in with the daily post and bills coming through your door. We’ll be switching things up this year by using gold envelopes from Bestbuyenvelopes  for our cards so that each one looks like a little bit of magic, sitting on the doormat. They’ll definitely stand out from the other boring post!

Use Rubber Stamps

Another thing we like to do is use a rubber stamp and ink pad to put a lovely festive image on the outside of the envelopes. It makes it look so lovely and takes only the tiniest bit of effort. In fact, I highly recommend you get the kids involved with this bit because mine love doing all my stamping for me (disclaimer: I won’t be held responsible if you kids end up bickering over who gets to use the stamp!)

Include a Drawing

Speaking of the kids, one thing that Sausage and BB love to do is draw pictures. They spend a LOT of their free time with a pen or pencil in their hands and love nothing more than creating something for someone they love. Give the kids a pile of paper and ask them to do a Christmas doodle to put in each card. It’ll make a sweet keepsake that people can look back on when the kids are all grown up.

Make More of Your Message

I know it will take a lot longer, but making your message a bit more personal can really improve your cards. Include a joke you think the person will like, or even joy down a happy or funny memory you share so that they’ll have a smile on their face when they read their card. Just a tiny bit of effort can really spread joy at this time of year.

What do you do to make your Christmas cards special? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Why Nitrile Gloves are a Home Essential #GloveIsAllYouNeed

Nitrile GlovesAs you’ll know if you read my blog on the regular, I’m far from a domestic goddess. Housework is not massively high on my list of priorities, however we do like to maintain a good standard of cleanliness even if tidiness isn’t our forte! One thing that I do like to keep a stash of at home to help me with my domestic duties is disposable nitrile gloves – they’re something that I find absolutely essential for so many things, so I thought I’d share a few uses for them with you here:

Oven Cleaning

This is one that I learned the hard way – oven cleaner is VERY caustic and if it gets on your skin can cause blistering and irritation. I once got oven cleaner on my hands and my skin was in a bad way for days afterwards, so now I make a point of never even going near oven cleaner without wearing a good pair of thick nitrile gloves.

Cleaning Up After Pets

Even though we have a long poop-scooper, I always wear a pair of gloves when I’m cleaning up after Maureen, just for an added layer of protection. Animal droppings can cause myriad health problems and ensuring there’s no bacteria transfer is really important. We have also now added two budgies to the family, so gloves are worn when cleaning out their cage.

First Aid

This one, thankfully, is a much ‘fewer and farther between’ use for gloves, but nitrile gloves are so important when doing first aid. As well as ensuring that my hands are sterile when dealing with cuts and scrapes, it gives me an added layer of protection too, as I’m a bit rubbish with blood!

Car Maintenance

Another thing I’ve blogged about in the past is that I try to do as much car maintenance myself as I can. This means that changing batteries and bulbs, filling up oil and water and even changing wheels and spark plugs are all within my remit, and it it MESSY work! I discovered, after too many times of ending up with ground-in grease on my hands, wearing nitrile gloves while doing car stuff protects me from dirt and grease.

Hair Dying

Although I don’t tend to dye my own hair anymore (TOO risky!), Sausage has had pink, blue and purple dip-dyes for the last three years running, and gloves are absolutely essential for this. The ones that come in the box dyes are worse than useless, so I always end up raiding my own stash of gloves instead, so that I don’t end up with multi-coloured hands.

Christmas Traditions Worth Sticking To

I’ve written in the past about how I feel overwhelmed by certain elements of Christmas. Being a mum in the age of social media means that as soon as Halloween is over, I’m bombarded by images of huge piles of presents, questions on groups about where people are going to see Santa and what people are loading their kids’ Christmas Eve boxes with. Each to their own, and all that, but I do find it all a bit excessive at times. When I was a kid, Christmas was a little more minimal but just as enjoyable.

We do, however, have a few Christmas traditions that we stick to and I thought I’d share a few of them with you.

Christmas Dresses from David Grant

New Dresses

The girls and I always get a new dress to wear on Christmas day. The key features are that it must be pretty, it must be festive and it must be comfortable! This year, I wanted something special for the girls so I’ve been looking at special occasion dresses for children from David Charles. The designs are stunning and I think Burrito Baby would look so cute in them!

Decorating the Tree

This is something that the girls and I do together every year. We set aside the first Saturday or Sunday of December and get the tree and decorations up. We drink hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows, we put a Christmas music channel on the TV and we get properly in the festive spirit while we adorn the house. It’s one of my favourite parts of the Christmas season.

Films

There are certain films that we watch as a family every year – Elf, Home Alone, Gremlins and The Polar Express, to name but a few. Then, on Christmas Eve, Husband and I watch It’s a Wonderful Life once the kids are asleep and share a few hours of peace before bed.

Wrapping

Speaking of wrapping, ours has become a bit of a regular event. I’m a bit of a control freak and love doing all the wrapping myself, so we usually compromise by enjoying a mulled wine while I’m doing it, with Husband delivering me festive treats like stollen and mince pies while I work. It may sound silly, but it’s something I really look forward to.

Boxing Day

Christmas Eve and Day are usually the time we spend with family, but Boxing Day is spent at home, eating junk (we usually buy party food from Waitrose to pick at throughout the day), watching movies and letting the kids play with their toys. Its great to have some downtime after two busy days and I think it’s something we definitely need, as a family.