Education · Family

Off to Uni with Free the Fresher

Free the Fresher2017 is quite a landmark year for our family because not one but FOUR of us are starting University! I’ll be working on my English Lit and Language degree from home with Open University but Husband, my sister-in-law and our cousin are all doing the proper Uni thing and going to school to get their degrees. My little (or, not so little because he’s actually A GIANT because he works out with his lifecore 100 daily) brother will be going in 2018 too,  so it’s fabulous that we’re all doing it at the same time and knowing that in a few years there will be several people with degrees in our family.

Just recently, I heard about a service called Free the Fresher and it struck me as something which would be amazingly useful for people who are striking out and leaving home for the first time. It was created by former Uni students as a way to help first year students to make their lives a little easier while they’re getting used to a completely new way of life.

You pay a one-off fee to Free the Freshers and they send you everything you’ll need for living in halls, including bedding towels, kitchen stuff, loo roll and even stuff like pens and planners for, you know, the actual studying part! You receive three packages throughout the year and at the moment, membership is reduced to just £50 for the year. It takes a massive load of stress out of the pre-Uni period where you’re worrying about buying everything you need and enables you to just settle into your new digs, get on with your studies and meet a load of new people.

Another awesome feature is the Christmas and Summer upgrades – for an extra £5 per pack you can include Christmas cards, ornaments and January exam prep material, plus in Summer you’ll get moving boxes to help you pack up after your first year of study. It’s a really innovative and unique service which I can imagine would be a huge help to anyone starting Uni.

From the point of view of a parent, even though my girls are still WAY off the Uni stage, it would be really good knowing that there’s a service like this out there, where people have been able to apply their real-life experience to knowing exactly what a Fresher needs. Delivery is free, and Free the Fresher have also teamed up with a whole bunch of brands, such as Nandos and Poundland to give you discounts which last your entire first year.

The testimonials on the site are really impressive, too:

“Finding FTF was a God sent, my freshers pack was waiting for me the day I moved in, saved so much time, money and effort” – Abbey Miller- Bristol UWE

“I knew coming to University would be expensive , and surprise, surprise my student finance was late, I honestly don’t know what I would have done had I not signed up for Free The Freshers in the summer, I had everything I needed for class and accommodation , had I not done so the notes from my first 3 weeks in lectures would have been on my hand” – JJ Smith – KINGS COLLEGE

“If you want to get the most out of Freshers week , sign up and save some money , that’s what I did- and had more money for snakebites (beer, cider , blackcurrent) lol” – Justin Green -Cardiff

” Was very impressed by this service  I thought there would be some hidden cost when I signed up, but I honestly only paid £50,  the quality  of my stuff was good and came on time” – Ian Stammers – UCL

Do you have a child going off to Uni (or are YOU going to Uni for the first time this year, like us?!) and would you find this service useful? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Cooking and Recipes · Food

Making Our Own Raw Chocolate with Indigo Herbs

Indigo Herbs Raw ChocolateSince I’ve been on a ketogenic diet, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about nutrition and what we should be putting in our bodies, which in turn has made me hyper-conscious about what is in the food we eat. Even on a rare “cheat” day, I’m checking labels and have still been known to shun food which are pure sugar or artificial ingredients, which is why I was really intrigued when Indigo Herbs offered to send me one of their raw chocolate kits, containing everything we need to make our own raw chocolates.

So what, I hear you ask, is raw chocolate? Well, the guys at Indigo Herbs say it a lot better than I can:

“Much of the Cacao bean’s natural goodness gets destroyed in the heating process of conventional chocolate making. Consequently the feel good factor often experienced when eating chocolate is significantly more noticeable with raw chocolate because much more of the feel good chemical compounds remain intact. The Cacao bean is naturally so rich in nutrients that when the ingredients are handled and processed at low temperatures, these micro-nutrients remain available.”

The kit was really beautifully packaged and would make an excellent gift for an health-conscious foodie, and it was so simple to make that I let Sausage and Burrito Baby help too. The instructions on the kit are really clear and concise and I think Sausage could actually have managed all by herself if it wasn’t for needing me to sort out the bain marie. We made them at the dining room table and the whole room smelled AMAZING by the time we’d finished.

In terms of taste, the chocolates were genuinely some of the best I’ve ever tried. The brazil nuts and goji berries, combined with the slightly bitter raw chocolate flavour made them feel decadent and satisfying – there’s no way you could over-indulge on these because one or two is enough to well and truly satiate your sweet tooth. Before I cut carbs out of my diet, I had a monster sweet tooth and could eat chocolate almost endlessly, but eating a diet which consists mostly of savoury food has sort of reset my taste buds, making even the smallest morsel of sweet food enough.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BSS9WHdDvXs/?taken-by=mumstheword84

Obviously, the beauty of these chocolates is the ingredients. There’s literally nothing in them which isn’t totally natural and the sugar comes from agave nectar which is a low-GI sweetener and doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar. Nutrition-wise, the chocolates have 72 calories per portion, which is made up of 4.9g carbs, 3.1g fat and 1.2g protein – perfect for someone like me who is on under 20g of carbs per day – keeping these in the fridge to have with a cup of coffee as an afternoon pick-me-up would not only be a welcome addition to a largely savoury menu but is also a real morale booster. There’s huge mental value to being able to treat yourself to something which is basically guilt-free when you’re on a restricted diet.

I’m genuinely really impressed by the kit on so many levels – it looks good, it contains everything you need, its easy to use and the results are fantastic. I’d be thrilled to receive one of these kits as a gift and also love the fact that I feel confident in giving them to my children because the ingredients are all natural. Thanks to Indigo Herbs for introducing us to raw chocolate – we’re definite converts! (Get Your Raw Chocolate Kit here)

Home

Family Friendly Flooring – Wood you  look?

It’s no secret that as a nation us Brits love our pets, sometimes more than our own kids! However, when it comes to kitting out your home, both can pose as a bit of a problem. This is no exception with flooring and it can leave you feeling pretty limited when it comes to choice. Now, many experts would probably advise that you stay away from real wood flooring and play it safe with laminate or vinyl. However, if you’re someone who is looking to achieve that ever-increasing popular ‘rustic’ look and are able to deal with the odd dent or scratch then real wood might be the one for you!

Personally, we would recommend either Oak or Walnut flooring, purely because these materials are the most durable and cost-effective in the long run. Ian from IB Flooring says that “vinyl and lino flooring are very popular choices because of their practicality and versatility, ranging in vast a number of colours and designs.”

Oak is an incredibly popular choice when it comes to family-life. We all know how much mess children and pets can make, if you’re sick of plugging in the vacuum cleaner then why not consider Oak? It only requires a simple sweep and a once over with a mop (at a push), making it one of the easier to clean flooring options. Oak can withstand a lot of wear but if it does start to look dilapidated over the years then it can be re-sanded to bring back to life! Furthermore, Oak flooring does not collect dust or mould as easily as other floors, which makes it ideal if anyone in your household suffers from allergies.

Another thing to consider is what type of finish you want your floor to have. There are two prominent choices; Lacquered and Oiled, both have their advantages and disadvantages. Lacquered flooring will definitely get scratched more often, however it is a lot more durable, easier to clean and will brave the challenge of a pet extremely well.

On the other hand, oiled floor is harder to scratch, but the floor will need re-coating more frequently. The decision really depends on how committed you want to be when it comes to maintaining the quality of your floor.

There are a few things that you personally can do to ensure scratches are reduced; maintaining the length of your pet’s claws is one of the obvious ones. Also, add extra protection by laying rugs/runners down in areas that see heavier traffic from both humans and pets. As with all flooring, if you do have any mishaps or spillages then try to clean them up as soon as possible to avoid stains and marks from occurring.

So there you have it, just a few reasons why Luxury Flooring think that the real thing is the best for your family home!

Weddings

Maid of Honor Duties: What You Should Do on the Morning of the Wedding

WeddingOn the morning of the wedding, the maid (or matron) of honor has certain duties to fulfill to help the bride’s preparations run smoothly and make sure things go off without a hitch. Here’s a rundown of some key things the bride’s right hand girl is responsible for before the wedding.

Keep everything running smoothly: Being chosen as a maid of honor is a true mark of trust and friendship. You’ve been helping the bride plan this day for the past twelve months. Now it’s her time to sit back and relax, while you keep everyone on track. You should have a copy of the timeline so you know exactly what’s scheduled and when, including hair and make-up appointments. It’s your job to keep things flowing so the bride is ready in time for the ceremony.

Deliver any reception items: Drop off any last minute things that need to go to the reception venue, such as champagne flutes, candles or the guest book. You should do this as early on in the morning as possible, so you can be back with the bride as quickly as you can.

Arrange breakfast for the bride: On the morning of her wedding, the bride is bound to be excited and nervous. Breakfast is probably the last thing on her mind, so it’s up to you to make sure she eats. The wedding day has to begin with a healthy meal, so the bride can sustain herself throughout the ceremony and the reception.

Help the bride get dressed: It’s no small undertaking to get a nervous bride into the most expensive dress she’ll probably ever wear. Make sure everything is laid out beforehand so you’re not rushing around trying to find a missing earring or a spare stocking. You should also be prepared to help the bride into and out of the bathroom in the period before the wedding.

Be the go-to girl: While your best friend is busy making herself gorgeous for the big event, she’ll need your help fetching and carrying things for her. You’ll probably have to answer her phone and be available at all times to sooth her nerves. While you’re juggling all this, you might want to check that the bridesmaids are getting into their used bridesmaid dresses on time.

Keep the groom’s ring safe: Whatever you do, do not let the groom’s wedding band out of your sight. Guard it with your life.

Make sure the bridal suite is perfect: You should have time to do this later in the day, once the bridesmaids have finished getting ready. Make sure they haven’t left any belongings in there and that everything is spick and span. The bride and groom should not have to return to a messy room when their reception is over.

As a maid of honor, it’s your job to make the wedding morning run as smoothly as possible, keep the bride calm and act as a gateway to people who are stressing her out. Most of all enjoy helping your BFF have an awesome wedding day.

Maisie Stephens shares her wedding knowledge online with her informative and very useful articles aimed at all members of the wedding party.

Home · Summer Adventures

Garden Furniture Fun for Summer

This September will be 2 years since we moved to our little place in the countryside and we’re hoping to finally get around to doing some of the bigger things that need to be done. Husband is waiting for the drier weather to paint our bedroom (we have a rather annoying damp problem that makes it impossible to do anything until the weather warms up a fair bit) and I’m hoping to get into the garden and make it a really nice space for us to enjoy this summer. We don’t currently have any garden furniture (a hammock and a trampoline doesn’t count, right?!) and I’ve been looking at Alexander Francis to see what sort of thing we’d like. Here are some of my faves:

Tuscany Black Rattan Corner Sofa and Dining Table

garden furniture

I really like the idea of a multifunctional set like this one. It has comfortable seating and doubles up as a dining area, so we’d have the best of both worlds. There’s plenty of space for us to all enjoy a bit of alfresco dining, plus it would be the ideal place for Husband and I to lounge in the evening anf anjoy a glass of Pimms together. This is also spot-on in terms of current garden trends.

Sicilia Black Rattan Garden Dining Set

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A slightly more formal dining set could also work well for us as we’d be able to enjoy dinner in the garden and there’s more than enough space for us and dinner guests. It would be a lovely place for the girls to sit and paint of craft in the summer, or even a nice place for Sausage to do homework or sit and read.

Milano Large Rattan Garden Corner Sofa and Chair

garden furniture 3

We’re lucky enough to have a really decent sized garden, so we don’t have to worry about space, which means that a set like this would also work well. It’s huge, which means we’d have plenty of places to sit, and the set would look absolutely stunning on our lawn. I can also imagine it being arranged very nicely around our huge paddling pool when we get it out in the summer!

Napoli Black Rattan Sun Loungers

garden furniture 4

I’m not much of a sun worshipper and certainly don’t actively sunbathe, but I do really like the idea of having somewhere to lay in the garden and read while the girls are playing outside. I’m a bit gun-shy after sitting on one of my MILs sun loungers last year and breaking it, but these look very sturdy and comfortable, so it’ll be less of a worry!!

What type of garden furniture do you prefer?