Pets

Caring For an Older Dog

FullSizeRender (3)Having an older dogs brings with it added responsibilities. When Sausage was born, Chuck was a spritely boy of just 4, whereas when Burrito Baby came along, he was getting on slightly, closer to the age of ten, which meant that we made sure we gave him extra space and also a little extra love when the girls weren’t around as our attentions were so divided during the day that he sometimes missed out.

Nutrition is extra important, now that he’s older, as his joints are feeling the wear of age so we tend to opt for food which has added glucosamine, chondroitin and green-lipped mussel as it helps to bolster his joint health. He also has issues with a sensitive gut, which means that hypoallergenic food is better and gentler on his tummy. Luckily, there are some great brands out there which cater for all of these aspects.

Exercise is equally important as he needs to remain mobile whilst maintaining a healthy weight – it’s so common to see older dogs getting fat, which just adds extra pressure to their joints. Instead of taking him on long walks, which potentially cause him pain, we tend to take him on shorter walks but more often to give him the level of exercise he requires, with plenty of rest in between.

Sleep and rest is also all-important and we ensure that he has a bed which provides him with adequate padding and warmth. We also place his bed on a large memory foam pad, which we also add a heat pad to in the winter to ensure that he doesn’t get too cold as he’s short haired and his joints also seize up when he’s too cold.

In time, we’re also planning to build a set of steps for our old boy – he’s never been the sort of dog who isn’t allowed on the bed or sofa and we don’t want to stop him as he gets older, so a set of steps will enable him to get up onto high things without jumping and causing himself harm.

Keeping stress to a minimum is something we also find hugely important as he gets older. He’s never left alone for long as Husband works from home and I’m always in and out, but if we know we’re going to be away for a few hours, we’ll also ask my MIL to check in on him to make sure he has plenty of water.

Lastly, the most important thing to give them is plenty of patience and understanding. He’s not able to walk quite as fast any more so we make sure we allow plenty of time even for shorter walks and on the VERY rare occasion that he’s had an accident in the house, we remember that it’s not a behavioural issue, just that he can’t cross his paws for quite as long these days!

Hopefully if we carry on with all these things, we’ll have many years to come with our lovely fur baby and see him grow old in health and happiness.

Crafts · Kids

Be Prepared: 5 Ways to Keep the Kids Entertained this summer

Kids are off school during the summer, which means there is no more homework to keep them busy (and quiet) in the afternoons – so they can become restless and noisy which ends up giving the parents a huge headache. Two options spring to mind – you could switch on the television and put a DVD on for them or you could go a step further and get the kids involved in some arts and crafts to release their creative streaks and keep them entertained for longer. Let’s go with the second and examine some ideas.

Keep a scrapbook

Kids are only young once so why not keep a scrapbook of their summer holidays? This is a great craft idea because kids can make memories of their favourite days by sticking pictures, tickets, brochures and maps of their adventures on the pages of their scrapbook. Craft Superstore have everything you need to make your kids’ scrapbook wonderful, including fun and colourful stickers to really enhance the creative appeal of the book. When they grow up, your kids can look back at the summer of a lifetime.

Egg Carton Boats

Take some old egg cartons from the fridge and paint them with your kids. Add a stick with a mini sail and test the boat’s endurance on the water. This will be perfect for the extra hot days of summer when kids are splashing about the paddling pool and need something to play with. They can take their favourite toys on board (if they fit) and pretend they have just set sail for an epic sea adventure. The plus side is that this craft will also encourage you and the kids to recycle more instead of just throwing used cartons away.

Button Bracelets

A handy summer craft for kids that they can do indoors or on rainy days is making their own button bracelets. This is also a great excuse for you to use up all those old buttons in your sowing kit. According to Martha Stewart, the steps to making a button bracelet are to thread elastic through shanks and turning every second button upside down to allow it to overlap. Once the bracelet fits around your kid’s wrist, it’s time to trim the elastic and tie it in place.

Birdhouse Decoration

Invite wildlife into your garden this summer with a decorative bird shelter, stocked with food and treats to attract all sorts of birds. Before hanging up the house, give your kids the chance to paint it how they please. They can add polka dots or draw little chickens on the wood to make it seem more homely for the birds – www.parentmap.com advises that you use peanut butter, birdseed and pine cones mixed together as the perfect bird treat.

Shell Creations

If you’re taking a trip to the beach this summer, bring an empty plastic bag and have your kids gather together their favourite sea shells. Once you get home you can glue them together to make little creatures, which can be painted and decorated. To take it a step further, create an enchanting wind chime with shells, string and a long stick. This is perfect to hang outside the door or up in the childrens’ room.

Fashion and Style

Buying Clothes for Father’s Day

When it comes to clothes, my Husband has a pretty good system going on. Rather than buying lots of items cheaply, he tends to buy fewer items and spend more on each one. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not dripping in designer gear, but he tends to opt for quality rather than quantity. As a result, he’s still got items of clothing that he’s had since he was a teenager, which means that when special occasions come around, I do like to buy him something nice as I know he’ll look after it and enjoy it for years to come.

In the past, I’ve been known to buy him the odd Lacoste polo shirt, to add to his collection and he’s also very partial to a new pair of boots or trainers, although more often than not he buys these for himself as he has very specific taste!

He doesn’t dress ostentatiously, choosing instead to go for t-shirts and jeans, usually with trainers or boots, but you always know that what he’s wearing will have been carefully chosen. One weakness of his is a lambswool jumper – he’s got a couple in muted navys and greens and layers them when the weather gets colder with a shirt and jacket. He;s also a huge fan of anything made of merino wool. Merino is an amazing fabric, especially if you’re a walker, like Husband, as it tends to keep you warm when it needs to, whilst also managing to wick away sweat and help you stay cool in warmer weather.

The girls and I have chosen a lovely sweatshirt to get for Husband for Father’s Day and I thought I’d put together an outfit board to show how we’d style it, if Husband let us choose his clothes for him. Take a look and let us know what you think!:

Menswear

Family · How To · Money

The Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Selling Groups

Facebook selling groupsIn times of austerity, it’s no great surprise that online selling of new and second hand goods becomes more popular than ever. Everyone is looking to make a little more money and the great British public does love a bargain! These days, selling on eBay seems to be less profitable than ever – once listing fees, selling fees, PayPal fees and postage are taken out of whatever you make on an item, it’s almost impossible to make a profit on anything, so more and more sellers are turning to the next best thing – Facebook selling groups.

Enterprising folk are making selling groups, of which there are literally thousands on Facebook, so that people can advertise their goods and save themselves the fees and postage that eBay likes to extract. It can be a tricky world to navigate, so I thought I’d give you a quick beginner’s guide to how to effectively use Facebook selling groups.

1. Join as many groups as you can

To increase the likelihood of selling things, it’s good to join as many groups as you can. They’re usually listed geographically, and the easiest way to find them is to go to the search box at the top of Facebook and type in your town name, followed by ‘selling’. However, if you find your timeline overrun by selling posts, to the extent that you can barely pick out statuses from friends and family, it is possible to ‘unfollow’ the group but remain a member. Simply click on the arrow in the top right hand of any post from the group and click ‘Unfollow’. You’ll be able to visit the group at your leisure without feeling bombarded, but be warned, you may miss out on a bargain if it doesn’t pop up on your timeline!

2. Read the rules

There will often be a pinned post or a link in the sidebar, listing the rules for posting in each particular group. Some groups have no rules and often state that in the group name, but others are closely administered and like you to post in a certain way. Posting outside of these rules is often the quickest way to have your post removed, so save yourself the effort of writing out your post only to have it deleted by brushing up on the rules before you post.

3. Special Interest

It’s often also worth searching for special interest groups, relating to what you want to sell. So far, I’ve come across specific groups for selling baby items, maternity clothes, plus sized clothes, baby slings and wraps, pushchairs and many others besides. Often, these will have a more far-flung member base, so postage might be necessary, or payment via PayPal, but they can also be a great way to sell a slightly more niche item.

4. Etiquette

It’s usually the case, in these groups, that the first person to comment on a selling post gets first refusal. Even if a person asks a question, they should be at the top of the list when it comes to who gets to buy your item and passing people over without giving them a chance to commit to an item is frowned upon. Once someone has committed to buy something, you may notice people commenting after to ask if they can be ‘in line’. this basically means that they want to be in with a chance to buy from you if the first person pulls out. As long as you stay within the timeline of people who’ve expressed an interest, you should be fine.

5. Acronyms

When I first joined these groups, I spent ages wondering why people were signing off their posts with the name “Tia”, when their name was clearly something else. Obviously, I’d missed the fact that TIA means ‘thanks in advance’. You may also see OOS, which means ‘on other sites’ as an indicator that, even if you’re first to comment on the thread you’re watching, someone may have still got in before you on a different page. There are a few of these acronyms knocking about and the best advice I can give is to ask if you don’t know what they mean!

6. Bartering and Payment

Bartering is usually absolutely fine on these pages and many people will actually ask for ‘offers’, rather than explicitly asking a price for an item. Payment is usually cash on collection unless otherwise stated.

7. Safety

This is obviously common sense, but it’s worth bearing in mind that you’re either giving your address to a complete stranger or going somewhere unknown to collect something, so ALWAYS go with another person and never agree to meet someone unless it’s a very public place and you have someone with you. I never buy or sell without my Husband being in the house or car with me and I implore you to follow the same rule.

8. Make sure your goods are salable

Ensure that everything you sell is clean and in good working order, unless otherwise stated. I’m currently selling an oven for spares or repair and it’s CLEARLY stated that it’s in need of a good clean and doesn’t work properly. A lot of the people buying from these sites are doing so because they don’t have a lot of money and are simply looking for things to make their lives better as cheaply as possible, so the least you can do is make sure that things are in the best condition they can be.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask

Unless stated otherwise in the rules of the group, many of them also allow ‘WANTED’ posts. It’s perfectly acceptable to make a post asking for a particular item and stating a budget. You just might find the very thing you’re for, and also prompt someone to make some money off of an item that’s just been laying around, taking up space.

10. Delivery not included?

In the vast majority of cases, items are collection only, however on some local groups people do consider delivering an item, perhaps for a couple of quid in petrol money. If you’re buying a large item, however, you will often find a “man with a van” lurking around in the group, who can collect an item and deliver it to you for a fraction of what it would cost to hire a van. Admins of the group often know of a person who does this and it’s always worth an ask.

Are you a fan of Facebook selling groups? Have you grabbed a major bargain or sold something that you never thought you’d shift? I’d love to hear your stories, along with any other tips or tricks that you’ve picked up along the way.

Family

How to Create and Grow a Family Garden

Family_gardeningThe garden is a space that can be used by the whole family, whether it’s for relaxing after a hard day at work or school, or to grow flowers, vegetables or herbs. It is also a great place to teach your kids about nature and the cycles of life. Before planting trees, it would be a good idea to consult The Local Tree Experts but there are lots of things you can do with little help from others.

Where to begin

One of the first steps to take when you’re thinking of setting up a garden is planning. If you draw out a basic plan of your space then you can decide what part of it is going to be a play area for the children and where you are going to plant your flowers or vegetables, the like of which you can buy from the Bakker. You don’t have to go into lots of detail, as your ideas will gradually change when you start to see your plants grow. Don’t worry if something doesn’t look right immediately you can always change it later.

Get your children to grow some seeds

Gardening can be a lot more fun than it looks and once you and the children start to see some results you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it before. You can start off by sowing some seeds in small plastic yoghurt pots so that once they have grown they can be transferred to a flower bed or vegetable patch. It’s also a good idea to get everyone involved in planting and planning; the Express online has a great article on how to make gardening a family activity.

Setting up a play area

The children will love having their own section of garden to play in but this doesn’t have to be just for the summer. One simple way to save money and allow the kids to play outside all year round is to lay artificial grass; it’s easy to keep clean and doesn’t need any maintenance. The BBC gardening website has a section dedicated to children and gardening, giving them plenty of projects to get them involved in.

Planting flowers and shrubs

Once you’ve prepared the ground and have added some compost you can start planting your seedlings or bulbs. Sometimes it can be cheaper to buy plants that are ready to go straight into the earth and you will also see instant results. Planting can be done in pots or raised beds and this method can make gardening easier as it keeps slugs and snails away from plants. There are, sadly, no guarantees though that you can eradicate these pesky creatures. If you have set aside a section of the garden for vegetables and herbs you must remember that you’ll need sticks to hold up runner beans and netting to stop birds eating the new shoots.

A relaxing area for adults

After a hard day there’s nothing better than chilling in the garden so creating a space just for the adults is just as important as maintaining the plants and keeping the kids happy. Once the garden is established, set out a monthly plan of tasks that need to be carried out. This will prevent the jobs building up leaving you with the backbreaking task of clearing several month’s worth of weeds in one session.