As a parent, it can be awful to even imagine our children in pain but it’s this desire to look after our own that we can use to make a difference in the world. There are hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children around the globe and it’s our charity that can change their lives.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to get accurate information on many of the world’s issues, so it seemed sensible to put some facts into a post and with any luck, we can come together to save some of society’s most vulnerable children.

This shortlist is just the tip of the iceberg, so if you’re interested in seeing how you can help, it’s always worth doing a little more research of your own.  In the meantime though, here are some of the places around the world where children need our help.

The most vulnerable children

Syria

Syria has been plagued with war and conflict for a very long time and as a result of the ongoing hostilities, the children of the nation are suffering. There are some scary statistics about the young people there, with an estimated 8.6 million of the 10 million children in the country requiring immediate assistance to survive and of those 8.6 million, an estimated 6 million have been forced to leave their homes.

On top of these huge numbers, you have to keep in mind that many of these children will have lost at least one parent – often both. Presented with these figures, you start to wonder how people can help when the situation is so dire? Fortunately, there are multiple charities working to help the young people in Syria. Most charities focus their support on supplying food packs, shelter and other everyday essentials to Syrian families; it’s always a good idea to check what your money is going to before you donate to any causes.

Somalia

Somalia is another country with a long history of civil conflict that has resulted in extremely challenging modern-day circumstances for the average citizen. In particular, the infant mortality rate in Somalia is unimaginable, with up to 9.5% of children dying before the age of five.

Most of these deaths are the result of diseases and illnesses like diarrhoea, pneumonia and neonatal disorders. The major concern is that the medical services in Somalia simply aren’t equipped to help the children and citizens with more common illnesses.

Most charities supporting Somalia do so through the implementation of fresh water systems as well as medical aid, which both make a huge difference to the young people living there.

The world's most vulnerable children

Yemen

Yemen doesn’t make it onto the news that often but the country has spent its entire existence in and out of civil war and conflict, crippling the infrastructure and citizens of the nation. The children are some of the worst affected, with at least 30% of children under five suffering from acute malnutrition and that figure is set to rise if things don’t change soon.

Yemen is in need of every form of aid and different charities focus on different types of support, though most direct their funds towards supplying food and shelter throughout the country.

As mentioned at the beginning of the post. This is just three of the worst cases in the world but the truth is, there are many millions of vulnerable children who need help. If you have some spare change, it’s worth donating to a charity supporting these young people. I hope this shortlist has highlighted some of the forgotten issues our planet is facing. We can make a difference!

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

For the last few years I’ve been making little treats for the children to give to their teachers at Christmas.

We’ve made biscuits and chocolate bark a few times before, so this year I wanted to try something different.  These Irish cream chocolate truffles were the perfect choice for a quick and easy gift to make.

I always thought truffles were quite tricky to make for some reason, but honestly these are so simple to do and so tasty too!

Quick and easy Irish cream chocolate truffles

 

This recipe makes about 40 truffles, and takes around 30 minutes of work to create (with about an hour more needed for chilling the mixture).

What you need:

  • 200 g milk chocolate
  • 150 ml double cream
  • 50 ml Irish cream (I used Merlyn, but any Irish cream will do)
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

Merlyn chocolate truffles ingredients

How to make the truffles:

  • Break the chocolate up into chunks and put into a microwave safe bowl.

 

  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave, in 30 second  blasts until fully melted.  If you’d rather you can melt the chocolate gently in a saucepan, or in a bowl placed over a pan of water on the hob.

 

  • Once the chocolate is melted give it a good stir, then mix in the cream and Irish cream.

 

  • Stir the mixture quickly and thoroughly to combine the ingredients together.

Merlyn irish cream chocolate truffles melted ingredients

 

  • Put the bowl in the fridge for the mixture to chill.  If you want it to chill and set a bit quicker you can transfer it to a bigger tupperware dish.

 

  • Leave in the fridge for about an hour to set.

 

  • Once the ganache is set you can make it into truffles.

 

  • Use a teaspoon or a melon baller to scoop out bitesize pieces of ganache.  Roll them into balls using the palms of your hands, then roll the balls in the cocoa powder to coat them.

 

  • Set them on a plate as you make them, then put the plate back in the fridge once you’ve made them all to stop them getting too soft.

 

  • The truffles are best kept in the fridge, so leave them there as long as possible before serving.  If you’re giving the truffles as presents then make sure you let people know it’s best to put them in the fridge as soon as they can.

Simple Merlyn irish cream chocolate truffles

 

These truffles are lovely and chocolatey, with a nice amount of Irish cream flavour.  If you want a bigger Bailey’s hit though, you can change the proportions to 100ml double cream and 100ml Irish cream.

You can also make the truffles richer and more indulgent by using good quality dark chocolate instead of milk.  And if you don’t fancy they rolled in cocoa powder then you can use chocolate sprinkles instead.  I also think they’d be lovely rolled in finely crushed amaretti biscuits.

 

One issue that a lot of homeowners face is that they struggle with disorganised and messy pantry areas in their homes.

While it’s understandable that most pantries can be a little over cluttered, they don’t necessarily need to look disarrayed. If you’re wondering how to efficiently organise your pantry in a neat and tidy way, I’ve got some excellent ideas for you. These pantry decor ideas are tried and tested and will give you the results you’re after.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Decor ideas to make pantries look supremely organised

 

A designated space for the pantry

Before we get into the details of how you should organise your pantry, you need to make sure that you have a specific space in your kitchen that is designated as the pantry area.

A lot of people make the mistake of storing utensils, crockery and cutlery and food items in several different cabinets and drawers that are spread through the kitchen. Doing this will only create further confusion and chaos. The best way to proceed when it comes to kitchen storage is by designating a pantry space.

Having a designated pantry space will make it much easier for you to keep track of your food items and other utensils.

 

Make proper zones for items

If you’re just going to stock everything randomly on the shelves of your pantry, it is going to cause major problems for you later.

You won’t be able to find something when you need it and you may need to empty out a large part of the pantry to find a specific item. The best way to organise your kitchen pantry is by making sure that you allocate specific zones for specific items. For instance, your dry fruits can be laid out in one corner of the pantry, snacks can be kept together in one corner, different types of pasta can be placed together on a particular shelf and so on.

 

Storing dry foods in see through containers

Dry food items like sugar, flour and other such products need to be stored in see-through containers or glass containers so that you can keep a proper track of the quantities that are left of each item. Refilling depleting dry food containers becomes easier when you can easily see the quantities that are remaining of each item. Further, you also need to plan your storage in such a way that items that you use on a regular and daily basis should be easily accessible and at the forefront of your pantry.  

Organise your pantry with clear jars

 

Perform a cleaning ritual

One mistake that a lot of homeowners create is that they don’t spend the time to perform a cleansing ritual for their pantry. You must to make sure that you clean out your pantry from time to time. When cleaning out the pantry, get rid of food items that have crossed their expiry date, refill depleting boxes of dry foods, donate canned foods that are extra and so on. Also, make sure that you thoroughly dust the pantry and clean it before restocking the place.

 

Labelling can prove to be very effective

You need to ensure that all the items that are stored in the pantry are properly labelled. Labelling proves to be effective not only for you but also for other people in the household. Labelling the items will make it easier to find them and put them back in their proper place. If you don’t have a label maker machine, you can use simple sticky tags on the containers and label these tags with a black permanent marker. Make sure that you label each and every one of the containers that you keep in storage.

 

Decorate your pantry a wee bit

If you’re lucky enough to have a largely-sized pantry, you can decorate the space a wee bit. Installing artificial landscaping products in the pantry area can give the space a less cluttered appeal. You can install an artificial ivy wall in the pantry to give the surroundings that natural and mesmerizing appeal. Faux hanging plants are also an excellent option if you have limited decor space in the pantry. If your pantry has high ceilings, you can put large artificial outdoor trees in the corners of the pantry. You can also place artificial flowers around the pantry to add colour to space.

 

Prepare a list for the pantry

In order to prevent confusion and chaos, keeping a proper list of all the items that you have in the pantry is essential. You can tack the list to the door of the pantry and keep updating the list as and when you need to. A printed list or a handwritten list will come in handy when you are going grocery shopping. With the help of this list, you will be able to restock your pantry in a hassle-free way as and when you need to.

 

Paint the pantry walls as you like

At the end of the day, the pantry is yours and yours alone. You can brighten it up by painting the walls in bright and vibrant colours. You can select shades of blue, green, yellow and other such captivating colours to liven up the pantry. If your pantry walls don’t have any storage racks installed on them, you can also get a professional artist to paint a beautiful and scenic nature painting directly onto one of the walls. When selecting wall paints for the pantry, make sure the colours you choose are in sync with the rest of the decor of your home.

 

There you have it, simple and easy ways to organise and decorate your pantry. These tried and tested ideas are extremely effective and will prevent any confusion and disorder that you may be facing otherwise. The kitchen pantry should always be well organised so that the members of the household don’t have any hassles in case unexpected visitors show up for a meal, or food items are needed in the case of an unforeseen emergency. Start making these changes in your kitchen pantry today!

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

If you’re looking to sell your home then chances are you have thought of lots of big things you could do to increase its value and attract a buyer.  It might be a loft conversion or renovating the whole kitchen, but whatever it is you need to weigh up whether the cost is worth it.

You don’t always need to spend a lot of money when you put your house on the market.  There are some small things you can do to make your home more appealing to potential buyers, and boost your chances of selling and being able to move on.

Here are 4 things to try:

Small changes that can boost your chances of selling your home

1. Add a little kerb appeal

The outside of your house is, obviously, the first thing potential buyers will see when they come to look around.  So make sure you present it at its best.

You can mow the front lawn, add some hanging baskets and tidy up the flower beds.  It’s also worth thinking about replacing or repainting the front door if it’s looking a bit tired.

Then look at the little details.

Shine up the ironmongery, secure the letterbox flap and make sure the doorbell is working properly.  Lastly, take a look at the house number you have by the front door and clean it up or buy a new one if it’s looking a bit shabby.

 

2. Shine up the windows and mirrors

Put a bit of elbow grease in and clean all the mirrors and windows in the house before any viewings.

This will let more natural light in and show the house of at it’s best.

If you want to go a step further then you can add new curtains to the windows.  This is a nice easy way to add some colour to a room that’s been painted in neutral colours.

 

3. Think about how the house smells

We don’t always notice the smell in our home, because we get so used to it over time.  But it’s quite often one of the first things other people notice when they come to take a look around.

So before a viewing make sure you open all the windows for a while to get lots of fresh air in, and give the house a good clean too.

Some people recommend baking cookies so the house smells delicious for potential buyers, but a simpler option is to get a few reed diffusers and place them around the property.  You could also then brew up a pot of coffee just before a viewing so the buyers are greeted with the welcoming smell of coffee when they arrive.

 

4. Fix up any small issues

You can’t really patch over big issues like damp or cracks in the walls and ceilings, but you can fix up small issues and defects that might otherwise make the house look a bit rundown.

The types of things you can look out for and fix up include:

  • Grubby spots on the walls
  • Leaking or dripping taps
  • Black mould patches on bathroom sealant
  • Draughty doors and windows

It’s also a good idea to declutter if you have a lot of ‘stuff’, so that the house looks more spacious and doesn’t make potential buyers question how much storage space is available.

 

Hopefully these tips will help you on your way to selling your home, if you don’t have the time or money to make any big changes.

Anything you can do to make the property warm and welcoming, so buyers can picture themselves living there, will help boost your chances of selling so you can move on to your next home.

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

So here we are, the last siblings project post of 2018.

I’m so pleased that I’ve managed to stick with it again this year; I really love having this little record of my two each month.

What I always find so funny is that I don’t seem to notice day to day, and month to month even, how much they’re changing and growing.  And then I look back at photos of them and realise quite how much they have actually grown and how their little faces have changed.

My photo of them for this month’s siblings project was taken at Bluestone last week after we were lucky enough to be offered a stay there.

We had a holiday there last May and the children hadn’t stopped talking about it since, so we were all extremely excited to get to go back, and experience the resort at a different time of year.

I took a photo of Rhys and Nerys by the dragon on the way into the village, and then found a very similar photo that we took on our first trip.

Siblings project December 2018

 

Siblings project December 2018

 

I can’t quite believe how much younger they look in the photo from last year!

I think because Nerys can remember so much about that first holiday, it feels like it wasn’t all that long ago.  But when I actually think about it, she hadn’t long turned 3 when we went, which just feels a bit crazy.

A lot has happened in the last 18 months, and both the children had some big changes with moving up a year at school and adjusting to new routines and new expectations.

I’m so proud of the pair of them.

Now we’re winding down for Christmas and the end of the year, I’m quite excited to see what 2019 has in store for them.

Christmas celebrations are in full swing and although the big day hasn’t officially arrived yet, many of us are already looking to the future and getting excited at the prospect of a new year, a fresh start and a clean slate.

Although there’s nothing stopping you from accomplishing things at any time of the year, many people look at the New Year to help give them a bit of a push in the right direction and start as they mean to go on.

So, what things can you aim for in the New Year?

Whether you want to kick a habit, try something new or make something succeed – here you’ll find 4 ideas you can use to make the New Year a really special one.

Making 2019 the best year ever

 

Restyle your home

When the Christmas decorations come down, our homes can look a little sad. So, why not shake things up a bit and have a home restyle?

From replacing your skirting boards – check out this skirting boards company for a little inspiration – to creating a new feature wall, to just rearranging the furniture to make the room look a little different. There are plenty of ways you make an impact on your home regardless of your budget or if you’re renting.

 

Declutter your home (and keep it that way)

We’re collectors and hoarders in our own ways, but it’s usually after Christmas – when we’ve been given more things – that we realise we have too much stuff and we need to declutter.

Decluttering your home is good for your stress levels and will certainly give your mental health a boost. It also gives you the opportunity to give to charity, and even earn a little money if you choose to sell some old items. Give it a try.

 

Try being a little more eco-friendly

We’re all becoming a little more aware of our impact on the planet and how our choices are affecting wildlife and the quality of our oceans. So, why not decide to do a little more this year? You might already recycle, which is great but why not try purchasing loose fruit and veg instead of those wrapped in plastic?

Buy local instead of produce that’s been flown thousands of miles. Say no to the plastic straw and get yourself a metal/reusable one. A refillable water bottle that you can have with you wherever you go.

Or you could even try to get friends, family and your community involved and complete some beach/park cleans in your local area. There are loads of ways you can help, you’ll feel great afterwards too.

 

Become more active

This isn’t aimed at losing weight – many people already have goals set aside for this – but this goal is more about moving your body, getting up, getting active and enjoying the benefits.

We’re all living a more sedentary lifestyle which means more time hunched over a computer or slouched in front of the TV, giving us posture and circulation problems.

So, take the stairs instead of the lift, go for that walk at lunch time and get up and move more – your body will thank you for it.

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

It’s Christmas time. But while you are enjoying a much-deserved break with a bit of mistletoe and wine, some other less desirable members of the community are getting prepared to ruin your holly-jolly spirit.

Crime is an unfortunate part of the festive season. During the holidays, rates of theft and robberies spike as Christmas-crimes become as prevalent as elves in the North Pole — just waiting for that special time of year. To make matters worse, crime resolution rates have plummeted with only 1 in 100 crimes being solved in the UK. So if your presents are stolen from beneath your tree, chances are you aren’t getting them back.

So what can you do to stop wannabe Grinches from ruining your festive cheer? We share a few steps you can take to protect your home and keep it as safe and secure as Santa’s naughty or nice list.

Protect your home this Christmas

The Risks of Winter Sun and Social Media at Christmas

You and your potential burglar are probably dreaming of the same thing — a white Christmas. While you are avoiding cold temperatures basking somewhere abroad in the winter sun, thieves are hoping low temperatures will drive even more people overseas.

Why? Because an empty home is all they want for Christmas this year.

 

An uninhabited house is a very easy target for burglars. Especially one that has all of its most valuable possessions either packaged nicely under a tree or stored in boxes ready for wrapping. It makes it a lot easier for them to sweep in and grab a haul worthy of Santa’s sack.

It can be difficult for a burglar to know if a house is inhabited these days. With people wise to their old tricks, many leave lights on timers and have neighbours taking in the mail to make sure their home appears lived in.

 

However, one common mistake people make is advertising they are away on social media, by posting status updates and pictures — 78% of criminals scour social feeds in search of potential targets. By sharing the fact that you are away, you are letting criminals know your home is certifiably empty. It may be tempting to take part in some much-loved #holidaybragging, but it’s a safer bet to wait until you return home before you share your snaps.

 

Secure Your Most Valuable Festive Finds

It’s not the 90s anymore — some might say sadly — so the most expensive Christmas gifts are often tiny gadgets or pieces of tech. That, or classics like jewellery or watches. These presents are very easily snatched from under the tree by a burglar skulking in the dark, but thanks to their size, small gifts are easy to protect.

If a burglar makes it into your home, it can be tough to stop them from taking things — unless they are secured somewhere inaccessible like a safe. Modern safes are highly-effective methods of protecting valuables and small gifts. If secured behind thick metal and advanced deadbolt systems, there is no way a Christmas-crim is getting their hands on that new iPhone or gem-studded necklace locked inside.

It will give you peace of mind knowing you afforded your home the same level of security as Kevin McAllister gave his, but you’ll potentially save yourself some money at Christmas too, by not having to replace any stolen presents.

There are plenty of safes for sale that offer some much-needed protection to high-value gifts. Locking them away during the holiday season is what you need to prevent festive thieves from making away with your family’s cherished new toys. With around half-a-million burglaries taking place annually, a safe can be a valuable long-term investment that keeps everything from phones to car keys secure throughout the year.

 

Deterrence Is the Best Defence

What’s the best way to stop a Christmas-crime from entertaining the idea of reversing the role of Santa and taking the presents from beneath your tree? Make sure your home looks well protected, then they won’t risk spending the holiday season behind bars.

Setting your presents out nice and neatly, ripe for the taking by a burglar, and then enticing them in like putting out a mince pie for Father Christmas by not displaying your home’s security features is asking for trouble during the holidays.

 

But what can you do to deter those festive fiends?

 

CCTV is known to be the best active deterrent you can use for your home, along with visible burglar alarms boxes. If you don’t want your house monitored by CCTV or don’t fancy the investment in a full-scale alarm system, you can always buy fake units that look like the real deal — enough to scare away most would-be burglars.

Other things you can do include installing security lights, making sure you don’t have any easy access points (such as unlocked back gates) and even buying a dog — remember, a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post