quick cleaning jobs to tackle this weekend

8 quick cleaning jobs to tackle this weekend

I don’t know about you but I like to try and start each week feeling like I’m at least a bit in control and on top of things.

Which means on a Sunday I like to get lunches made for the next day, and try and get the house a bit cleaner and tidier.

There’s not always the time, or the inclination, to do loads of housework though.  On those weekends it’s still worth doing one or two quick cleaning jobs that will have an impact on how clean and tidy the house feels on Monday.

Here are 8 ideas for jobs like this that you can tackle this weekend to start next week with a cleaner home.

 

1. Dust your living room

Chances are your living room is one of the rooms you spend most time in, so giving it a quick once over with a duster will impact how clean your house feels overall.  If you have time, and the inclination, whizz round the other rooms with the duster too.

 

2.  Clear off your coffee table

Stack up any magazines or books neatly, take cups and dishes out to the kitchen and give the table top a wipe down.

 

3.  Tackle the mail

Grab all the mail, both opened and unopened, that’s been piling up all week and tackle it.  File the things you need to keep, put things to be actioned in your diary for next week and recycle everything else.

 

4. Shine up the mirrors

Grab a cloth and some cleaning spray (or white vinegar) and polish up all the mirrors in the house.

 

5. Declutter one little space

Don’t get carried away and empty out your entire wardrobe, but instead think about sorting through your underwear drawer, or going through your herbs, spices and sauces and throwing away anything past its use by date.

 

6. Clear the stairs

You know those little piles of stuff that accumulate on the stairs, waiting for someone to take them up?  Deal with them this weekend!

 

7. Clean the screens

Give your TV, computer, tablets and mobile phones a good wipe down.  And do the remote control while you’re at it.

 

8. Go sofa diving

Sorry this one isn’t as fun as it sounds!

Take off all the sofa cushions and dive down the edges to dig out any little toys and bits and pieces that have fallen down there.  If you can, try and get the hoover hose down there to really give it a good clean.  Then hoover the rest of the sofa, under the cushions, to get rid of any crumbs before reassembling.

 

Which of these jobs will be you tackling this weekend? 

Which one do you think will have the biggest impact on how clean and tidy your home feels?

screen free activities

Screen-free ideas to keep the kids happy and entertained

With the summer holidays just around the corner I’ve been starting to think of things to do to with the children to keep us all happy and entertained.

I’m generally quite relaxed with my children using the computer and the tablet but I’m very aware that if I let them they could easily spend the whole six weeks in front of a screen.

Last year we did a couple of completely screen-free days in the summer and I think we’ll do that again this year.  As well as making a point to do more screen-free activities in general.

If this is something you’re thinking of doing with your children too, then here are some ideas for things you can do that don’t involve a screen of any sort!

 

Draw a life-size self portrait.

Grab a big roll of paper (or stick smaller pieces together to make a big piece) and draw a self portrait.   They can lie down on the paper and you can draw round them to get their size right.

If you have more than one child then they can draw each other once they’ve drawn themselves.

 

Blow bubbles

So simple but still a lot of fun.

You can buy a pot of bubbles, a big bubble wand, or go all out and get a giant bubble kit.  You can keep extend this activity a bit more too by getting the children to make up some homemade bubble mixture.

 

Have a Lego competition

See who can build the biggest tower.  Or the most creative house.  Anything you can think of really.

 

Build a domino run

Make it as elaborative as you can.  If you don’t have dominoes, use books or blocks or whatever you have.

 

Have a go at some origami

Get a book from the library, or search online and print out some instructions for a few things to make.  Gift boxes are quite simple to make and can then be used to put homemade goodies in to give to friends and family.

 

Have a picnic

Make up some sandwiches, grab some crisps, fruit and a sweet treat and have a picnic.

You can go to the park, the beach, your back garden or your living room floor.  It really doesn’t matter where you go, the children will just love the fun of having a picnic instead of a normal meal!

 

Go on a nature walk

Head to the nearest park or woods and go on a nature walk.  If you’re organised you could write a little list of things to spot while you’re out, like a scavenger hunt.

 

Make boats

Rescue that plastic tub from the recycling bin and use it to make a boat, complete with paper sail, and then float it around in the bath.   You could also try making rafts out of lolly sticks glued together and see what floats the best.

 

Make paper aeroplanes

Get some paper in different sizes and have a go at making paper planes.  There are tons of paper plane designs on fold ‘n fly so your children can make loads and see which design flies the best.

 

Make mudpies/play in a mud kitchen

Put some old pots, pans, spoons and dishes out in the garden and let the children get nice and mucky playing in the mud.

 

Play a board game

Go through the cupboards and dig out those boardgames you’ve not played in ages.

If you’ve not got many, then pop to the local charity shop to see if they have any, or let the children get creative and make their own.

 

Bake something

Get in the kitchen and whip up some fairy cakes or flapjacks.

 

Go for a bike ride/scooter ride

Whether it’s round the garden, through the park or somewhere a bit different, heading out for a bike ride or a scoot is a great way to let the children burn off some energy.

 

Play a game of catch

So simple, but still such good fun.  If you have three people you can play piggy in the middle and with more people you can play a game like hot potato.

 

Write a letter

Or make a card to send to a friend.

 

Go to the park

 

Go to the library

And choose some new books to take home.  Most libraries also have DVDs available so you can choose something to watch when your screen-free day is over.

 

Make a kite and go fly it

 

Play spies/detectives

If you’re feeling creative you can set up a mystery at home for your little detectives to solve.  Or they can have fun writing with invisible ink and creating codes to send messages to each other.

 

Cook something savoury

Get the children to pick something new to make for lunch or dinner.  It could be as simple as scrambled eggs on toast or something a bit more complicated.

 

Learn a lifeskill

Teach your children a skill that’ll be useful for them to know, like sewing on a button or making a cup of tea.  Or step it up a gear and go to a first aid course together.

 

Learn a new random skill or trick 

Something like how to say ‘hello’ in ten different languages.  Or some tricks with a yo yo, a skateboard or a football.

 

Go swimming

Whether it’s at the beach, the local pool or splashing around in the paddling pool at home.

 

Visit a museum or art gallery

There must be at least one in your local area that you’ve not been to before!

 

Play giant noughts and crosses

Mark out a grid with chalk on the patio and use rocks and sticks as the game pieces.

 

Make a bird feeder

If you’re not sure how then there are 32 different ideas in this post from Happy Hooligans.

 

Paint their nails

Then let them paint yours too.

 

Put on blindfolds and do some taste tests

You can get a selection of different fruits to taste and see if they know what they all are and decide which one is their favourite.  Or you could work out once and for all if you’re a Coke or a Pepsi person by doing a blind taste test.

 

Do a random act of kindness

Tape some money to a vending machine so the next person to come along can treat themselves.  Take some of the cakes you’ve baked round to your neighbour.  Buy a bunch of flowers for a friend.

 

Learn some photography skills

If your children are old enough then take some time to teach them how to use your camera.  Or you could buy some disposable film cameras and go on a photo walk together.  Then you have the fun of waiting for them to be developed to see what everyone captured on film.

 

Learn and play some card games

You can start with the basics like snap and then learn some more complicated games.  Solitaire is a great one to learn too, because you don’t need another person with you to be able to play.

 

Make your own magazine or comic

Grab some paper and pens and get creative.  My sister and I did this one year, but we each made a magazine for each other.  We included horoscopes, quizzes, tips and all sorts!

 

Do some science experiments

Get some education in with the fun and try out some science experiments together.  You can buy science experiment kits with pretty much everything you need to get started.  Or you can have a go at some experiments that use things you probably already have at home.

 

 

Hopefully there are enough ideas here to keep you and the children happy and occupied throughout the summer holidays!

What are your go-to activities when you want your child to have some screen-free time?

men's grooming kits

Tips for busy dads: Men’s grooming kits and more…

When we become parents, for a while, appearances and grooming routines go out the window. There is always something more important or urgent to be doing, like cramming some work in while the kids nap, putting them to bed, making dinner, and so on. 

This doesn’t have to be the case though. A grooming routine doesn’t have to take up too much time. It can be simple and quick, whilst still making you feel put together and a whole lot better about yourself.

There are a number of useful ways for busy dads to adopt a grooming routine into their day-to-day life. For example, why not opt for a ready-made routine in the form of mens grooming kits? These can take all the stress away of trying to figure out what you need by providing all the necessary products and equipment to look your best. 

Here are some simple grooming tips and tricks for dads who are always on the go… 

 

Invest in ready-made mens grooming kits. 

If you are pretty new to the grooming scene and wouldn’t know where/how to start with taking care of your appearance, don’t worry. There are a range of products and mens grooming kits out there that will provide everything you need to get stuck in and looking like a ‘cool dad’.
The English Shaving Company offer a range of shaving and mens grooming kits, to suit your needs. Whether you’re a bearded dad who needs a range of beard-care products and trimming tools, or you prefer to be clean-shaven using before and after-care products and a double-edged razor – they can provide just that. 

 

Keep it simple. 

If you know your time for taking care of your hair or skin is very limited, keep your routine as minimalistic as possible. There’s no point going out and buying a range of fancy new products if you don’t have the time (or energy) to use them all. 

Find some key products that you know work for you and always have these at hand. For example, everyone needs a good quality moisturiser. Whether you’re an older or younger dad, moisturising at least once a day is essential, if you want to prevent or reduce wrinkles or lines. 

It takes two seconds to slap some moisturiser on, so there really is no excuse. Plus, once you start keeping your skin hydrated, you (and others around you) will notice how much healthier and happier it looks. 

 

Be realistic with your time. 

At first, kick-starting a grooming routine might feel more like a luxury than a necessity. Actually though, dedicating a tiny portion of your day to looking after your appearance can have amazing long-term effects. 

Despite this, there’s no point telling yourself that you will spend thirty minutes each morning shaving and moisturising etc. – this probably isn’t feasible. Be completely realistic with how much time you have to spare in the mornings and evenings, whether it’s ten minutes or less. 

 

Having kids means you have to become good at multitasking, so why should your grooming routine be any different? You can moisturise whilst the kettle boils, whilst watching TV, and more – there are plenty of ways to factor some self-care into your day without having to sacrifice other responsibilities. 

You could even treat yourself to a mirror to put in the shower. This way, you can kill two birds with one stone and shave whilst you shower. The warm water flow will open up your pores for a clean shave. Plus, you can keep your other half happy too by washing your mess straight down the drain!

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

Craft ideas for rainy days

5 easy creative ideas for rainy days

When you’re at home with the children on a rainy day arts and crafts activities can be amazing for keeping everyone occupied and entertained.

The problem sometimes though is knowing what to actually do or make.  There are so many options that you can end up spending half the day debating which art supplies to get out and what to do with them.

If this sounds familiar, then this idea might help save your sanity.

Come up the a few craft activities or ‘themes’, and put together supplies for each of them in tupperware boxes or big zip up bags.  Then the next time you’re stuck in the house on a rainy day you can just pull one out and get started.

Here are 5 ideas for themes for creative activities to pop in your boxes or bags ready for the next rainy day:

 

Princess/fairy themed box

In this box you can put craft materials to make fairy wands and crowns.

You could include coloured card, scissors and glue, glitter, ribbons, pipe cleaners and stickers/gems for decoration.

I’ve got a blog post with full instructions on how to make a fairy wand if you’re not sure where to start with this.

 

Monster themed box

With just a few sheets on felt and some scissors you can make a build-your-own monster busy bag.

This one is great because you have the activity of cutting out the shapes (great for fine motor skills) and then the fun of playing with creating different monsters afterwards.

 

Rainbow themed box

There are so many options with a rainbow themed box.

You can put in some bits of paper and then pencils, crayons, pastels, and paints in the colours of the rainbow to see what different effects you get drawing rainbows with each of them.

You can just put paints and paper in, fold the paper in half, paint one half of the rainbow and then fold the paper and press down to mirror the other half of the rainbow.

Or you can put in paper, beads, feathers, fabrics, stickers, and sequins in the colours of the rainbow and let your child cut them up and create rainbow collages.

 

Flower themed box

This is a great theme for cheering up a rainy day.

You can put in flower-shaped stickers, fake flowers, flower-shaped foam pieces and use them to make pictures.

Another idea is to put in some paper and paints and some items to use to print some flowers.  Think toilet paper tubes that you can squish to make a petal shape.

If you need more inspiration then my flower photo frame and flower pictures and nice and easy to put together.

 

Butterfly themed box

Pop some paint, coloured paper and scissors in a box and you’ve got everything you need to do some butterfly paintings.

You could also make a box with coloured paper, crayons, stickers and other embellishments and let your child get imaginative and decorate a butterfly.  This is a great way to introduce the idea of symmetry to young children.

 

Which of these themes and activities would your child most like to try on a rainy day at home?

 

Show your kids love with interior decoration

Showing your kids some love with interior decoration

Interior decoration is a big part of our lives. The way we dress up our private, familial spaces has a lot of impact on the way we feel and how much we love our homes. And when you’re decorating a new place, or you’ve decided to redecorate the living room after staring at the same wallpaper for 10 years, a lot of thought is going to go into your new interior. 

You’re going to make decisions over what looks good, what will brighten up the space, what would be a good backdrop for a feature wall, etc. And if you have kids, you’re going to want to choose colours that don’t show the dirt, and make your children feel as comfortable as you do!

And to do that, you might just have to include them in your interior design planning.

After all, you can show them a lot of love with the choices you make – here’s a few tips on how. 

 

Build them a hidey hole

Kids love places they can squeeze into and hang out in, without an adult being able to follow them. It’s why tree houses are so popular – a private space out in the garden, high off the ground, where your kids can play and draw and chat to their heart’s content. It’s a lovely little way to encourage rights to privacy and respecting boundaries in your children, so why not think about making them a little hidey hole of their own inside the house? 

The house is a family space, of course, but there’s a lot of kids out there who like being able to withdraw from time to time. They don’t have to leave the room completely, but they are able to sit inside a pillow fort or a castle made out of cardboard boxes and catch their breath. 

When these things are part of the interior design of the house themselves, they won’t get in the way or take up the spare room you need for something else. So it doesn’t have to be any skin off your nose! That cardboard castle could double up as an interesting bookshelf, and that pillow fort could moonlight as an extra bed for when there are guests staying over. 

 

Hang up their art

Kids love to create, don’t they? They’ve got an imagination the size of the universe itself, and they’re always playing make believe or rabbiting on to an imaginary friend of theirs. So, why not put this untapped and unlimited creativity to good use? You’ve got some walls to decorate, and they love to draw pictures for you! 

Get some large sheets of paper out, or invest in a large canvas. Set a protective cloth down on the floor, and then give them some paints, pencils, pens, and brushes. Then, let them get to work! Let them throw colours around and draw all kinds of flowers and animals and shapes, and let them put together a composition that only they could really ever understand. Even if they tell you the cows and the pigs they’ve drawn are friends out in the meadow, it’s a good chance they don’t look like much more than blobs of inky colour to you! 

Then purchase some A3 frames, let the work dry and set, and then hang up these new art pieces onto your walls. Your kids are going to love coming home from school or waking up in the morning to see a work of art of their own creation hanging up in the living room. It might just put a perky spring in their step. 

 

Let them mix and match!

Kids love to be colourful. They love to have wild and wacky colour schemes in their drawings and paintings, and they love to piece together flower crowns made out of all kinds of mixed and matched weeds. So, why not encourage the same freedom inside your own home?

Of course, in the living room, one bright red wall and one half and half blue/green wall might be a bit much. But inside their own bedrooms? Let them go for it! No one is going to see it but them, and you can always paint over if you need to. All in all, letting kids choose the colours they want to live in day by day can really help them to trust the family home. 

 

Interior decoration has a lot of elements to it, but when your kids have ideas of their own, let them out! 

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

Perfect simple flapjack recipe

Simple and classic flapjack recipe

Flapjacks are one of my favourite sweet treats.

Nerys loves them too and will often ask for one when she sees them in the shops when we’re out and about.  I hadn’t made them at home for awhile though, so last week I stocked up on oats and golden syrup and made a batch.

These flapjacks are simple and classic and delicious, so keep reading for the recipe if you want to give them a go yourself.

 

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter
  • 125g brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 250g oats

 

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 and line a 7 x 9 inch cake tin with greaseproof paper
  2. Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a pan and melt it all together over a low heat
  3. Once all the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, take the pan off the heat and stir in the oats
  4. Mix everything together really well so all the oats are coated in the buttery, syrupy mixture
  5. Tip the mixture into the lined tin and press it down really well with the back of a wooden spoon or a spatula
  6. Bake at 180 for 18 minutes
  7. Leave to cool for a few hours, or even better, over night
  8. Cut into squares and enjoy

 

Flapjacks are one of those things that seem like they should be foolproof but so often they don’t come out quite right.

I know I’ve made them a few times in the past and they’ve ended up not coming together properly and crumbling everywhere.  Other times I’ve let them bake for a bit too long and they’ve been hard and crunchy when I really want them softer and chewy.

 

The best advice I’ve found for getting flapjacks right is:

  • really make sure you press the mixture down well into the tin
  • bake them until they’re just golden and still feel a bit soft when you take them out of the oven
  • leave them to cool and set in the tin for as long as possible, ideally overnight, before cutting up and enjoying

These flapjacks are classic and so tasty just as they are.

But if you want to you can jazz them up with different seeds, raisins and/or chocolate chips.  You could also add a layer of melted chocolate to the top once they’ve cooled in the tin, then leave that to set as well before cutting into squares.

best herbs to grow at home

Start your own herb garden with these three plants

If you like to cook and want to start using more fresh ingredients then herbs are a great place to start.

You can buy small plants from the garden centre and either keep them on a sunny windowsill in your kitchen or plant them out in the garden.  Either way you’ll love having fresh herbs on hand to add to your recipes.

These three herbs are a great place to start if you’d like to create your own mini herb garden.

Basil

Basil is a great plant to start with if you want to build your own little herb garden.

It does really well in a plant pot on a sunny windowsill but will also thrive planted outside in your garden.  If you can, try planting it alongside some tomato plants.  Apparently doing this can improve the taste of your tomatoes!

Once your plant is growing well you can harvest the leaves by snipping a stem just above the point where two large leaves meet.  Try to do this before the plant flowers, otherwise you can just pinch off the parts of the plant that start to flower.  Getting rid of the flowers makes the plant put all its energy into growing the leaves that we want.

 

Basil is a great herb to have on hand ready to use in salads, sandwiches and paninis, on pizza and in tomato sauces.  It’s also amazing to have around for making your own fresh pesto.

 

 

Rosemary

Like basil, rosemary needs a lot of sunlight to grow well, so keep it on a sunny windowsill or plant it out in the garden.

You also need to make sure that it can drain well if you’re growing it in a plant pot.  And general advice is to water it when the top of the soil starts to feel dry, but without letting it dry out completely.

 

Rosemary is perfect for making infused oils and flavoured butter to use in cooking.  It’s also adds amazing flavour to roast potatoes and is great in simple dishes like baked Camembert.

 

 

Thyme

Thyme is a Mediterranean plant that does well in dry, sunny conditions.

It’s a low-growing plant and tends to spread out quite well, so find a warm spot in the garden with space for it to grow in to.  Thyme tends to grow well when it’s planted along with strawberry and tomato plants.

For the best flavour you should harvest the thyme just before the plant flowers.  It’s worth keeping in mind that the more you trim a thyme plant, the more it grows.  Regularly cutting the plant back will also help to encourage a more rounded shape.

 

Thyme goes really nicely with lemon to add flavour to a roast chicken.  It’s also great with roasted potatoes and carrots.

 

This brilliant infographic from Trago has great advice on the best time of year to plant and harvest these herbs and a few others that you might want to add to your herb garden.

 

You can pop over to their website for even more information on growing herbs, along with other great gardening tips to help get your garden growing beautifully.

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post