1435 posts Posts by Jayne

How Unique Are You?

Me? Probably not very unique at all, to be honest. Blue eyes, mousy hair – I’m pretty ten a penny! My kids, on the other hand? A LOT more unique than me! Sausage has red hair, the least common hair colour in the world, and she’s super proud of it, too – our little Viking! BB not only has green eyes, she’s also got segmental heterochromia, making her a special little mutant – only 1% of the whole world has this genetic mutation.

Not BB’s eyes!

Roulette Online have put together some fun research into people’s uniqueness and shared it with us in this fun infographic:




View Interactive Version
(via Roulette Online).

How unique are you?

Planning for School Holidays

Planning for school holidays- the stress-free way

For kids, the six-week school holidays fly by in no time at all. For parents; they seem to drag on and on.

It can be hard to keep the kids entertained during the summer school holidays. Everything seems so expensive with days out costing a small fortune and if you have to fit work in too, finding childcare can be a nightmare. All in all, the school holidays can be a very stressful time for parents.

So here is a list of tips to help you plan a stress-free school holiday that everyone will enjoy.

Make a budget

Money is often one of the biggest stressors for parents and in the summer holidays money plays a huge role in just about every decision. The kids may be eating you out of house and home or wanting to go on days out and if you must take time off work or hire a babysitter, your costs are mounting day by day.

So, make a budget at the beginning of the holidays to help you manage your finances. Factor in any time off work or childcare costs and set aside extra money for the weekly shop. Once you have the essentials down you can plan how much money you have to spend on trips out or spending money for any holiday you have coming up. Writing it all down will mean you are not worrying and stressing about whether or not you can afford something as you will know exactly where you stand financially.

Plan ahead

Planning days out ahead of time can greatly help to relieve any stress. Last minute decisions or kids claiming boredom can be very stressful for parents but planning days in advance can give you and the kids something to look forward to. It will get any moaning kids off your back and booking in advance online often saves you money too. Looking at a long range weather forecast can give you a good idea when it is best to do outside trips like the zoo or beach and also gives you a heads up if you need to look at indoor day trips too.

Work with other parents

Parents up and down the country will be in the same boat as you this summer and it is a good idea to get your heads together with your kids’ friend’s parents to keep each other sane this school holiday. Arrange play dates to keep the kids entertained but also to give each set of parents a helping hand if they need to work or run errands. Work together to reduce each other’s stress levels- as the saying goes, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and working together will benefit you all.

Make the most of it

At the end of the day, kids aren’t kids for long. Try to shake off any stress and worry and just enjoy having your kids around more than usual. You don’t have to spend money to have fun- grab a picnic and head to the park. The kids will make friends to play with and you can enjoy the (hopefully) good weather as you watch them have fun being a kid before school starts again.

 

Products We’ve Replaced with Natural Alternatives

Since having kids, I’ve been a lot more aware of what’s in the foods we eat, as well as the products we use around the home and on our bodies. Obviously, we want everything around us, including ourselves, to be as clean as possible, but I really worry about the ingredients used in toiletries, cleaning products and other stuff that we’re exposed to on a daily basis. Recently, I’ve been trying to replace some of these things with more natural products, and I thought I’d share with you a few of them:

Aftersun/Moisturiser

Having as many different skin conditions as I do (psoriasis, dermatitis AND eczema) means that I have to be really careful about what I put on my skin and although the girls (thankfully) don’t have the same issues, they do both have sensitive skin. Many moisturisers are too heavily scented and full of preservatives for me, so I tend to opt for natural products containing Aloe Vera, like AloeClear. It’s soothing and moisturising and never irritates my skin like other products do.

Facial Cleanser

This one might sound bonkers, but I recently started using a facial oil to cleanse my face and realised that it’s basically just sunflower oil, scented with a few things! Once I’ve run out, I fully intend to start using grapeseed oil to cleanse my face as it’s great for your skin and a really neutral oil, with minimal odour. Adding a few drops of geranium oil will make it smell amazing, too!

Disinfectant

There are a number of all-natural disinfectants out there, but to be totally honest, you can’t beat white vinegar and bicarb for cleaning things around the home. They tend to do a better job of cleaning, don’t leave streaks over everything and I don’t have to worry about what the kids are breathing in.

Carpet Deodoriser

Because we have a dog, I’m always super conscious about the smell of our carpet, but all of the highly-scented carpet powders seem to make us feel chesty when we use them. Opting for bicarbonate of soda works just as well, if not better, at soaking up odours and it’s a fraction of the cost, as well as being totally natural. You can also add a few drops of essential oil if you want to make it smell nice, and it also makes your vacuum smell good when you use it, too!

Oven Cleaner

I’m not gonna lie, chemical oven cleaner SCARES ME. I used it once and splashed some on my arm and got an actual chemical burn – I am FAR too clumsy for hazardous materials! These days, I make a paste from bicarbonate of soda and apple cider vinegar and smear it all over the surfaces that need cleaning, leave it for a couple of hours and then wipe off with a scourer and warm water. Great cleaning power and no chance of losing layers of skin!

Do you use any natural alternatives? I’d love to hear them.

Cool Grandparents Rule!

When it comes to ‘cool’ grandparents, my girls really do know a thing or two. Husband and I both had really close relationships with our Nans and having the same thing for our girls is really important to us, which is why we’re so lucky to have Husband’s Mum just round the corner from us.

Nanny L is the best Nanny ever! The girls absolutely adore her and she’s basically a cross between Willy Wonka and the Fairy Godmothers from Sleeping Beauty – she’s the kindest, most caring Nan with cupboards which look like a branch of Thorntons! The girls love spending time with her and I think they prefer her house to ours at times!

My Dad, Grandad P, is cool in a very different way – we don’t get to see him as often as we’d like because we live a little ways away and all have busy lives, but it doesn’t get much cooler than a motorbike riding Grandad! He’s popped over a few times without ringing first and I absolutely LOVE seeing the girls faces when they hear Grandad’s bike on the drive and run out shouting “GRANDAD’S HERE!”.

Husband’s Dad and his wife live in the States so we haven’t seen them for some time, and we miss them like crazy. They lived here for a while and the girls used to love going to their house for dinner on a Friday evening – their stash of craft supplies was second to none and we used to spend a lot of time laughing together and enjoying music (and a glass of wine or two!).

Did you know that you can save for the future of your grandchildren tax efficiently, in a Young Savers Plan from Shepherds Friendly? They’ve done some research into what makes a cool grandparent and put together this awesome infographic – take a look!cool grandparents

 

Do your kids have cool grandparents? Are you a cool grandparent yourself? Do leave me a comment below!

Soccer for Children: A Guide to Getting Started at Different Ages

One of the very best things about soccer for kids is that they really can start at any age. It’s a very inclusive sport and is suitable for anyone regardless of height, strength or speed. Soccer is a relatively easy sport to learn when you’re just starting out, and it involves a lot of continuous action and running, which means it’s a great way for kids to exercise. Communication and cooperation are key skills on the field, which makes it a really nice way for kids to learn about teamwork.

In fact, soccer is officially the most played sport in Australia, so they’ll always have friends to play with. According to a survey conducted by the Australian Sports Commission, 1,104,815 Australians participated in soccer in 2016. That’s over 400,000 more participants than AFL, and four times that of Rugby League.

There’s no ‘right’ age to start soccer, but here you’ll find some of the basics in terms of what you can expect in each age bracket, from 5 years old to 12 years old. Take a look…

5 – 7 Year-Olds

It’s really all about getting out and having fun at this age. Teams will be smaller, with usually only four players on the field, and each half of a game will only go for around 15 minutes. They also probably won’t have a goalkeeper. While they’ll start to learn the rules, they probably won’t be very strictly enforced – it’s more about getting familiar with the basics and giving them a chance to develop a love of playing.

Starting at this age can set up a great foundation for building skills and understanding the fun that can come from exercise. It also gives them an opportunity to develop strong friendships across their years of playing.

8 – 9 year-olds

By this age, there’ll be more players on the field, and there’ll be a goalkeeper too. The length of each half will probably be more like 20-25 minutes. Of course, it’s still mainly about having fun, but with more of an emphasis on preparing them for higher levels of the sport. Additional rules will be introduced, and some of that earlier leniency with enforcing them will start to reduce, giving them a chance to fully understand the details of the game. Some experts believe that 8 years old is the ideal age for kids to start playing soccer in a competitive team environment.

10-12 Year-Olds

This is when coaches will really start to focus on skills in order to provide them with a solid foundation of technical competence. At this age, children are ready for a more structured approach to training too. The number of players allowed on the field increases to 9 a side (at 10 years old) and then to 11 a side (at 12 years old). The length of the game also increases, with 12-year-olds playing full 30 minute halves.

While things are more focussed at this stage, the emphasis will still be on having fun and building positive experiences.

All children are different and it’s hard to say whether there is an ideal age to start soccer. But, whatever their age, there are many benefits of choosing soccer. It is a contact sport, but it’s not a collision sport, which means its relatively safe compared to a lot of other team sports (especially other forms of football).

Beyond that, it’s well known that there are a lot of benefits for kids who play sport – it contributes positively to their physical health, can give them a great range of social experiences and can give them a great sense of achievement as they build their skills. If your child is interested in sports, soccer may well be a great place to start.

A sports camp can be a great entry point and there are many soccer school holiday programs in Sydney or your local surrounding area that your kids can get involved with.

Forget Your Wedding Day Jitters: 10 Signs That He Really Is The Man For You

(pixabay)

Most people get nervous before the wedding, and it’s a perfectly normal reaction. Nagging doubts creep in. Is he the man for me? Does he love me? Am I doing the right thing? Should you be about to get married, you have probably experienced some of those pre-wedding jitters yourself. Considering the wedding day is one of the biggest days of your life, you don’t want to waste your time walking down the aisle with the wrong guy.

We can’t tell you if you’re making the right decision or not. However, it’s still good to remind yourself why you’re marrying the guy you have chosen. Here are ten signs leading up to the wedding that should indicate he really is the guy for you.

1. Your engagement ring is closer to something from 77 Diamonds than anything resembling a novelty gift from a Christmas cracker. When he is willing to spend his hard earned money on you, it’s a good sign that he’s probably a keeper!

2. He can’t stop talking about the wedding and is as excited as you are about the big day. From looking at wedding catalogues to watching wedding programmes on tv, he literally can’t contain himself when it comes to thinking about your forthcoming nuptials.

3. Despite being allergic to horses, he is still going along with your plans for a horse-drawn carriage on the big day. He is sacrificing his own needs for your idea of a dream wedding.

4. Nobody else is convinced about your paper bouquet idea, but he is behind your creativity 100%. Respecting your ideas even when other people don’t is a sure fire way of knowing he cares about your feelings.

5. He surprises you every day with a romantic gesture. A bunch of flowers one day, a box of chocolates the next. The next day…well, you will just have to wait and see.

6. He knows how you’re feeling, despite your emotional mood swings. Feeling stressed? He’s there to calm your worries. Feeling down? He’s there with a comforting word and a cuddle. Need to be left alone for awhile? He respects your space. He knows you!

7. Despite having a bad day himself, he will still listen to your woes before telling you about his own. Not only does he listen, but he asks questions, pays attention, and genuinely seems to care.

8. He still wants to marry you, despite knowing all of your deepest, darkest secrets. What’s more, he wouldn’t tell another living soul, not even his mother!

9. Despite not liking some of your friends, he is willing to put up with them just to be in your company and has even let you reserve seats for them at the wedding.

10. He tells you he loves you on a daily basis. Sentimental? Maybe. Reassuring? Definitely!

If your guy lives up to each of those signs, then he is bordering on perfect, so don’t worry if you can’t relate to all of them. Provided your husband-to-be shows you love and care on a daily basis, then you should have no reason to worry about the big day. We wish you every happiness!

 


Streamlining Organizations Operation Efficiency Using CRM

The world today is fast becoming a global economy and people communicate, sell, and buy in different ways. Customer relationship management is critical in facilitating and achieving better communication and analysis by securing, simplifying, and scaling the customer engagements. There are a lot of benefits that businesses and organizations can attain by taking advantage of CRM. Here are just but a few:

Business growth

Some businesses believe that prospecting is a salespersons job, but this is not the case. In fact, it’s the collection of automated and manual information across different channels that can result in a business opportunity. A CRM system helps in prospecting since you can acquire leads from trade shows, email campaigns and websites then send them to your sales people. Additionally, the system can identify market opportunities and new products, and this helps in improving the calling efficiency.

Customer intimacy

Customer intimacy involves the tailoring of client engagements, services, and products to match customer’s industry or business. This is one of the best ways for medium and small sized businesses to compete in an overcrowded and competitive market. CRM system helps such companies to capture their customer and behavior which is great in streamlining sales activities, product development, and also enable target marketing. CRM provides the customer with the impression that you know their preferences and needs and the system can take note of these things for hundreds of customers at a given time.

Replication businesses best practices

Businesses will always have an idea on how to go about engaging their customers, but the problem for most businesses is how to deliver a consistently high-quality customer experience. CRM provides an efficient way to embed the best customer service and sales processes that are effective in guiding businesses through different aspects of customer interaction. There are different websites that outline how Workflow animation and Templates can be used to create and simplify complex processes. That said, by visiting the Salesforce website, you will discover how various activities are automated to reduce the administrative overhead of the CRM and ensure that best practices are followed. You’ll also get answers to questions like what is CRM?

Defining your future business metrics

CRM is a valuable tool, especially when considering events and trends that act as a lead indicator of your profit metrics and revenue. Managers can use the CRM dashboards to consider the lead indicators, especially when pipelining value to spot any indicators of future problems, opportunity creation, and also lead creation. The sales leaders can also view the activities of teams or sales people to trace problems that might affect revenue generation such as the opportunity to close rates, lead conversion rates, customer calling activity, and territorial coverage.

The marketing leader will be able to trace the marketing campaigns and activities to make adjustments to the marketing plan in relation to the failure and success of those activities. On the other hand, the customer service leader will take a closer look at his/her people and take note of the most efficient individuals. Additionally, the service leader will monitor escalations and get alerts in cases that are past due date. It will now be up to the product manager to analyze cases and monitor products to evaluate whether there is any defect and also feature requests that are important in improving the products and services delivery.

CRM presents different advantages that are useful in pushing the business forward. However, it’s important for businesses to consider future goals and business strategy since it plays a huge role in the overall business success.

Three Irish Holidays To Make Your Friends Green With Envy

Ireland has so much going for it as a holiday destination, and it’s easy to forget that considering it’s just a short hop across the sea. If you’re looking for a relaxing holiday somewhere beautiful, though, there’s a lot of charm to a place that doesn’t cost the earth, is quick to get to and doesn’t require you to dust off your A-Level French or German.

In fact, that’s damning Ireland with faint praise. The whole island is filled with spots that grab you by the wrist and demand your attention. The greenery, the small towns and the buzzing cities all have a real pull and once you come back, you’ll be aching to return there. Interested? Then have a look at some possible destinations and get planning.

Belfast

Wikipedia

First up, a place where you won’t even need to calculate exchange rates. Belfast is in Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK — but it’s got a character that mixes the best of British and Irish to make it one of the finest cities in Europe for a family holiday.

The shopping is excellent – get yourself to Victoria Square and Castle Court and pick up a few bargains. For some culture, pick one of the many museums here — the Titanic Museum is well worth the visit, and the area around it has been regenerated into the Titanic Quarter, a thriving slice of the city filled with attractions. Then head back to the city and experience fine dining Irish style. Irish stew, Ulster Fry, or something a bit more esoteric? The choice is yours.

Cork

Wikipedia

The people of Cork have a saying: “Irish by birth, Cork by the grace of God”. This irritates people from elsewhere in Ireland, and might seem arrogant to you until you visit Cork. It really is a gem. Like many of Ireland’s cities, it’s on the coast, and the waterfront areas are beautiful. Nearby, you’ll find Blarney Castle, home to the stone of the same name. Legend has it that if you kiss the stone, you’ll be blessed with the “Gift of the Gab” — which given that most of Ireland’s history has been passed down orally, may be true!

Head back to the city for the night time, which is a special experience. Take your choice from some fine lodgings, including two of the best Maldron Hotels in Ireland, and check out Main Street’s great pubs. There’s live ceilidh music most nights, which is a thing you must experience if you’re on the Emerald Isle.

Dublin

Wikipedia

Finally, the capital city. Dublin has everything that a city needs: it’s soaked in history, some of it tragic and some more uplifting; it’s beautiful, with busy streets lining the banks of the Liffey; most of all, it’s one of Europe’s most vibrant capitals. There’s shopping to be done, and plenty of places to give your credit card a workout. Of course, there are also pubs — a pint of Guinness in Temple Bar is more or less a rite of passage for holidaymakers here.

On top of all that, if you want culture, Dublin has it in spades. Once home to Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and W.B. Yeats, there’s a poetry and a linguistic charm to Dublin reflected in museums to all of those names. In short, it’s a perfect place to round off a trip to a part of the world that will leave you wanting more.

The Advances In Vaping

Electronic cigarettes are always evolving and entering new phases in development. They have come on a long way since they first became popular in 2004.

Like everything else in our lives, from mobile phones to auto-mobiles, e-cigarettes have a beginning, a rise, and a future. In this post, we will delve back in time and take a look at how the e-cigarette came into being, how it struggled to gain a foothold in an era where smoking was cool, and how it looks to develop in the future.

The Original

The first electronic cigarette, believe it or not, was designed and patented in America by a man named Herbert Gilbert. His concept was to develop a smokeless, non-tobacco cigarette, to replace the process of burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist flavoured air. Although the patent was granted, and several prototypes were manufactured, the device failed to catch on. The reasons for this are sketchy, but the most common causes for lack of success are that the devices were cumbersome and heavy, and smoking was in fashion at the time, and its ill effects were not massively publicised. Smoking was literally everywhere – all the Hollywood stars smoked, pubs and restaurants were awash with ashtrays and commercials made the habit all the more mainstream. Electronic cigarettes were up against a brick wall.

The Transformation

A later patent on the more modern design of electronic cigarettes was registered in China, by a innovator called Hon Lik. This design made its way across America and other countries, but only via internet orders – there was no mainstream marketing and investors showed little interest, The fact that somebody could be swayed away from tobacco by such a device seemed a fantasy.

However, the design was to be considered as the fore-runner to the e-cig we know today, although it had to go through several development stages to work as effectively as smokers hoped. Many of the devices we know of today have – somewhat, illegally – copied the original Hon Lik blueprint. Some companies have compensated him for his efforts, but they are far and few between.

Even so, the devices built on Hon Lik’s model failed to impress – by marketing, or by use, nobody can say, for certain.

The Push Forward

Internationally, sales of electronic cigarettes were low. So low, in fact, that their ability to work as a smoking cessation device was somewhat laughable.

It wasn’t until two British entrepreneurs found a way to compact the three part components into a suitable, lightweight size when the industry made its first push forward.

Umer and Tariq Sheikh are, in many ways, the founders of the cartomiser. This small, but important, piece of technology allowed a coil and the e-juice to be easily combined and connected to the battery chamber, via a simple screw and lock method. Launched in 2008, it is now the most popular, and original of cig-alike builds, found in establishments across the county, from petrol stations to local shops.

The Market Blast

The major milestone in e-cigarettes came about – arguably – with Joytech’s eGo range of e-cigs, in 2009. These units introduced the 510 threaded connection, allowing for the battery to be unscrewed from the tank and interchanged with other 510 threaded components. They also introduced the firing button, allowing the vaper to activate the battery when wished – the cig-alikes, although still a popular starting point and activated by simply inhaling, just couldn’t offer as much power and as much choice as the eGo series. With the clearomiser becoming a trendy alternative to the cartomiser, all manner of devices were then put into production, from all of the big names we know of today.

Despite the trend beginning to expand around the globe, the big tobacco giants still dismissed the whole concept as a bit of a fad. It wasn’t until vape shops and stalls starting to spring up in every town, everywhere, when the tobacco industry suddenly started to take notice and started to panic. Their natural response was to start manufacturing their own e-cig products. Some of the biggest brands we see advertised and for sale on vaping shelves are sidelined products from the tobacco giants.

When one stops to think about this, they can only come to the conclusion that vaping is here to stay, and smoking is now the fad, that will slowly fade away.

Today And Beyond

E-cig technology is now branching out in all directions, catering for every vapers personal taste and style. An e-cig, to a vaper, is just as much a part of their life, and their person, as their mobile phone. The two piece cig-alikes are now available nearly everywhere, and are helping many smokers ditch their habit. The higher end devices can be customised in all manner of ways, giving the vaper the opportunity to give their e-cig its own character and boldness. Coils are being pushed to their limits, allowing for sub-ohm vaping to be utilised, creating mass amounts of cloud in return. Mods and coils can be built from the ground up, making a whole new arena in e-cig use and vaping as a whole.

We really can’t hazard a guess as to what the future holds for e-cigs. We know that smoking is on the decline, and we know that vaping is on the rise. With the industry exploding in every direction imaginable, the future of vaping looks to be on solid and stable ground.

Accessorize in Style: How to Make Your Winter Wardrobe Go from Drab to Fab

Do you think you have to spend a fortune in order to look stylish? Please think again. With the right selection of accessories, anyone can give their wardrobe a much-needed boost. In the name of budget conscious fashionistas everywhere, we are pleased to present a few tricks and tips to add life and interest to your outfits.

Switch up that little black dress

Every girl’s got to have at least one perfect ‘little black dress’ that she can dress up or down any way she likes. Timeless and sleek, your own little black dress can be dressed up with splashes of color via colorful shoes, wrists rife with bangles, and a fabulous tote bag. Dress it down French Riviera style with a printed scarf, sassy espadrille wedges, a cross-body bag, and cat-eye sunglasses, recommend fashion experts at Glamour magazine.

Go for the unexpected

Most girls, when donning a pretty party dress, opt for uncomfortable heels that flatter their legs. Be as bold as you want to be when you pull on a pair of high-end industrial moto boots instead. Heavy lug sole boots can be a surprising fashion accessory, especially when you add flirty boot socks from The Boot Cuff Store.

Never be afraid to shop in any store. Pop into a cheesy mall teen boutique as easily as you would Neiman Marcus, and you’re bound to find all sorts of accessories that work with your oh-so unique style sense. Resale shops, consignment stores, and decidedly un-classy stores like TJ Maxx and Forever 21 offer items that you won’t see on runways yet somehow work perfectly with your wardrobe, advise fashion mavens at Stylecaster magazine.

Go with your own taste, but add a twist that nobody expects. Scrunch long sleeves up your arm, and unbutton one more button. Tuck your boyfriend’s shirt into your most distressed skinny jeans, and wear sneakers to a party where every other girl is barely balancing on stiletto heels. Break the fashion rules, but do so with subtlety. Move with confidence, not arrogance, and for goodness sake, offer an authentic smile every chance you get.

Forget about labels and wear what you like

Any woman who believes that a designer label makes her cool misses the point entirely. Don’t work too hard to be stylish, and always let yourself be a little less ‘done’ than the other women you hang out with. Style is a state of mind, after all. If those super-pricey, red-soled Jimmy Choos pinch your toes and make you wobble when you walk, that is not cool. Wearing a pair of super clunky, uber comfortable combat boots and boot cuffs with your frilly party dress is.

When it comes to style, imagination, and the guts to pull it off matter so much more than anything fashion magazines purport. Wear garments that fit well, keep your clothes in good repair, and don’t be afraid to mix and match items you’ve never worn together before.