Education · Kids

Getting Ahead with Tutor Hunt

Tutor HuntLiving where we do, the secondary school situation can be pretty competitive. We’re lucky enough to have two amazing girls schools nearby (one of which, my old school in fact, is ranked in the top 60 of the whole country!) and we’re hoping that Sausage will pass her 11+. The exam itself is said to have got a lot harder in recent years and I know that a lot of her peers will start receiving tutoring in the next year or so, to help improve their chances.

Tutor Hunt is a brilliant service which allows you to find a tutor in your area, letting you narrow down the choices to find exactly the right person for you. You can even find an online tutor so that, as with us, living remotely shouldn’t be an issue. It also allows you to narrow down the search by price range, which will allow you to only look at tutors you can afford, making life SO much easier.

The really unique thing about Tutor Hunt is that it’s not actually a tutoring service, it’s simply a matching service, so although there’s a small fee for matching you with a tutor, they won’t charge ongoing commission, which means that your tutor takes home every penny you pay, which ensures a really high standard of tuition (and is also great for motivating teenagers to study, at a later stage)

Tutor Hunts says “Most tuition agencies will select your tutor for you, based on who they think would be suitable. Tutor Hunt doesn’t work this way: we believe the parent, or the student themselves to be the best judge. They will know better than an agency assessor who is the right tutor for them.

Most agencies work by commission, taking a cut of the tutor’s earnings. This has the effect of driving up the tutor’s hourly rate considerably, as the tutor will seek to recoup their lost funds. This effectively passes the cost onto the student; and with ongoing lessons, the cumulative amount can be quite significant. The hourly rates of tutors signed up with Tutor Hunt are less than tutors working for agencies, as they are in complete control of their rates, we do not take any commission from them.”

One thing that we’re seriously considering is teaming up with another family to make tutoring a more affordable prospect for our families. One of my friends has a son who is in the same year of school as Sausage and his parents are also keen for him to attend a grammar school, so getting both kids tutored at the same time would be economical and convenient for all involved.

If you’re looking for a tutor or simply want to know more about the whole tutoring process, head over to the Tutor Hunt website for more details.

Health · Home

How Five Kinds of Massage Chairs Can Help a Mum Stay Healthy

There are days for any mum when you feel what you really need is several hours in a spa and an expert massage. Unless you’re a film star, it’s probably just a dream to have that on tap, but you could partly enjoy it with a massage chair.

Massage Chairs

Massage chairs have been around for some time, and earlier models had drawbacks, but the technology has vastly improved over the past decade or so. They’re popular all over the world — the BBC highlights how big they are in Singapore and other parts of Asia.

Like hands-on massage, a good massage chair can offer an impressive range of health benefits, from stress reduction to quicker healing from pulled muscles. As the Telegraph reported, they were incorporated into Britain’s first supermarket for the elderly.

It’s important to find not only a quality massage chair, but the right kind for your needs. If you’re unsure, back2.co.uk are a massage chair supplier with a range of chairs to choose from.

Five Kinds of Massage Chair

Back2 offers a number of brands and types of massage chair. These include:

  • The Alpha Techo AT-90 is a basic, affordable massage chair offering a range of effective settings. It’s perfect if what you mainly want is to relax and de-stress, although it offers more advanced benefits. All the family can enjoy a massage from this chair.
  • The Inada FED-500, on the other hand, offers a high-end, comprehensive range of massage features and techniques, including shiatsu and rhythmic acupressure, either pre-programmed or customised.
  • The Human Touch ThermoStretch™ HT-275 combines heat and stretching techniques to offer a head-to-toe massage that can relieve stress, back pain and sore muscles.
  • The BackSaver Zero Gravity Massage Chair incorporates zero-gravity technology which was developed by NASA for their astronauts. The chair can benefit your sleep pattern, spinal health and blood pressure, among other things.
  • The Panasonic EP-MA59 Reclining Massage Chair represents a new generation of chairs, combining relaxation and ergonomic functions with a comprehensive suite of massage techniques, using automatic or voice guide systems. And, like all these chairs, it’s a beautiful piece of furniture that will look great in your home.

Prices range, reflecting the sophistication levels, but a basic massage chair should be within anyone’s reach. More advanced models represent a major investment, but as Janine Huldie points out, “Anyone who’s suffered from debilitating back pain will know that technology allowing you to lead a reasonably normal life is valuable beyond price.”

You and the whole family get to enjoy better health and feel more relaxed and invigorated as you face the stresses of life.

Cooking and Recipes · Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef

The beauty of slow cooking is that it’s often cheaper cuts of meat which respond really well to “low and slow”, which means that we can enjoy healthy, protein-rich meals without having to spend a fortune. I’m still using the slow cooker, on average, about 2-3 times a week so as well as saving on the actual meals, the cost of cooking is lower too as it’s much cheaper to run a slow cooker, even for 8 hours, than a conventional cooker.

Today’s experiment is Mongolian Beef; I’ve seen a few different recipes for this around the internet and they all call for brown sugar (a whole cup of it, no less…), which is something that Husband and I are trying to avoid at the moment, so as with the Pulled Pork, I replaced the sugar with erythritol to get the sweetness without adding sugar, although you can also use a little agave nectar. Find the best ones at Monica’s Health Mag.

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef

Here’s how I made it:

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef
Recipe Type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Asian
Author: Jayne Crammond
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
A slow cooked beef dish with ginger, garlic and carrots.
Ingredients
  • 800g diced beef
  • 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup erythritol
  • 1/4 cup corn flour
  • 2 grated carrots
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
Instructions
  1. Place the beef into a ziplock bag with the corn flour and shake to completely coat the meat
  2. Place the meat in the slow cooker with the oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chilli flakes, water and sweetener
  3. Cook on low for 6 hours
  4. Add the grated carrots half an hour before serving
  5. Serve with egg noodles or a side of your choice and garnish with the chopped spring onions

This is exactly my kind of slow cooker recipe – aside from a minimal amount of prep, it really is a kind of “chuck it all in and wait” dish, which makes it perfect for busy days. It’s really cold here today so getting through the door after a chilly school run and smelling our beef cooking away was truly dreamy!

I’ve never tried it with the brown sugar instead of the sweetener, so I can’t compare, but I have to say it was absolutely delicious, even without the sugar and I certainly wouldn’t ever bother making it the original way. The meat was incredibly tender after being cooked for so long and the depth of flavour was really impressive for such a simple recipe. The girls and Husband really loved it and overall, it was pretty cheap to make, if you’ve got a few basics in the store cupboard. This will definitely be one that we add to our regular dinners.

Have you tried Mongolian Beef? Let me know what you think!

Home

Dining Room or Reading Nook?

Reading Nook ideasI’ll be completely honest; since we moved back in September, we’ve still not really got the house how we’d like it…by which I mean we still have a room full of boxes instead of a dining room! Our dining table was damaged before we moved and we haven’t got around to fixing it yet, but we’re finally getting around to getting it sorted, so I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with the room to make it lovely. The room itself isn’t huge but it’s the warmest room in the house so I think it could be amazing with a few tweaks:

Bookcases

One wall of our dining room will be lined with bookcases, holding all of our books (and believe me, there are a lot!) There’s not really space for them in the lounge so the dining room is the obvious place for them and I think it could be quite a sweet little reading nook.

Occasional Chair

If we’re going to sit in there to read then we need to think about occasional chairs. I’d love a big fabric chair like this occasional chair from Fishpools to sit in to read or listen to music and a couple of matching chairs, and perhaps a footstool, would set the room off nicely. Obviously, I’d like something which both looks beautiful and is comfortable to sit in, but also something which will last a long time, which is why leather could be a really good option.

Lamps

The overhead light in the room is fine for when we eat in there, but it’s a little bit dingy and because the ceiling is very low, it’s been tricky to find an appropriate lampshade for the room. If I’m honest, I actually MUCH prefer lamp light as it makes a room cosier and less stark, so a couple of standing lamps or perhaps a table lamp will be an absolute must.

Drinks Cabinet

I’m not a massive drinker at home but every so often, Husband and I will enjoy a tipple together and I’ve always loved the idea of having a proper drinks cabinet. I don’t necessarily mean a Del Boy style bar in the room, just somewhere to keep Husband’s 16-year Lagavulin and my gin, along with some soda and a few nice glasses!

To be honest, I’m not sure we’ll even have space for our enormous oak dining table and chairs once I get my readind area set up but the more I think about it, the more I really like the idea of a dedicated space for reading, so perhaps we’ll have to carry on eating off of our laps!

Happiness · Health

Quit Smoking, Start Vaping

I, rather embarrassingly, was one of those kids who tried cigarettes at FAR too young an age. In fact, I first got caught smoking at the age of 11 (and got my legs slapped all the way up the stairs to my room). That love affair with nicotine continued for many years and by the age of 20, I was on 20-30 a day, something which I shudder at now when I think of the money I spent and how badly I was risking my health. I finally quit in 2007 – I had horrendous morning sickness (although I didn’t even know I was pregnant at the time) and it completely put me off of cigarettes and I managed to quit without even trying.

I’d tried to quit a few times before as Husband had already given up over a year earlier and I hated being the only weak one, but I struggled. I wish I’d had an e-cigarette back then as I think switching to vaping would have made my life SO much easier. Here’s an infographic containing some interesting facts about vaping:

Vaping as a Safer Alternative to Smoking

According to the most up-to-date research on e-cigarettes from brands such as smok uk, they are a massive 95% less harmful than tobacco, and they’re supported by Cancer Research UK, who feel that they are an excellent tool in helping people to move away from the toxic chemicals within cigarettes.

I must admit, I can’t quite get used to seeing people puffing away on them indoors and I find the massive plume of ‘smoke’ that is exhaled absolutely fascinating! A good friend of ours, who’s girlfriend has just given birth to their first baby, has managed to successfully quit cigarettes by using an e-cigarette and it means that he still gets a nicotine fix without tons of harmful chemicals (and lets face it, serious STINK!) clinging to him when he wants to indulge.

Are you a fan of e-cigarettes? Have you successfully quit smoking because of them? Have you switched to vaping and love it so much that you’ll carry on doing it? Are you one of the few remaining skeptics? I’d love to hear from you so please leave me a comment below.