June 2013 | Mum In The Madhouse

June 2013

Modernise your Lounge: Top Tips for the Minimalist Look

Modernise your Lounge: Top Tips for the Minimalist Look
A minimalist home certainly isn’t for everyone – in fact, it’s nigh on impossible if you have a family home full of messy kids and moulting pets with grubby paws. If you’re the sort of person who would be able to apply a minimalistic approach to your home, then it’s a bang on trend style that can look amazing if you know how.
If you plan on turning your living room into a simple and stylish sanctuary, you need to give some thought to what pieces of furniture you’re going to have in there and where you’re going to store all the clutter that you’ll be moving off the shelves. Choosing a standout piece as a focal point, such as one of the sleek and stylish corner sofas from Sofas and Stuff UK will help to direct the eye to a centrepiece that will set the mood for the room perfectly.
As far as turning your home into a minimalist heaven is concerned, there is no right place to start. Change the way you think, find a place for everything that is out of sight and keep your home decluttered and you will have the basics for the minimalistic look. Simplifying an entire house isn’t easy, so start with one room and move from there. The living room is an ideal place to begin, because it’s one of the main rooms you’ll use day-to-day.
Look at the furniture you have and try to whittle it down to the bare necessities. The fewer items you have, the more minimalist your lounge will look. The trick is to remove furniture without affecting comfort – ask yourself what pieces are essential and take away the things that aren’t.
Other than furniture, your floors and surfaces should be clear. Wooden floors and light, shagpile carpets work well in a minimalist room as long as you can stay on top of cleaning them. Avoid storing things on the floor and surfaces, or stacking things next to your sofa – that defeats the point entirely. Find a home for everything, apart from a choice item or two which will add striking visual appeal – a vase of fresh flowers and an elegant ornament, perhaps.
Living in a minimalist home is difficult but if you can change the way you think about your pad, you will be able to enjoy the simplicity and tranquillity associated with it.

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Tips for LEGOLAND WIndsor with 7 and 8 year old

We love LEGO and we are also huge fans o0f LEGOLAND. We go to the LEGOLAND Windsor once a year and Maxi and I were lucky enough to visit Legoland Florida earlier in the year too. On Fathers Day The Mad Blog Awards hosted their first #MadDayOut at LEGOLAND Windsor and we were lucky enough to be asked to come along and help at the event.

My boys are 132cm and 127 cm, so can go on every ride. Maxi, who is the taller child can go on them all independently. Mini can go on most independently, but needs to be accompanied by an adult on some of the others. We were also gifted a gold VIP wrist band, which I believe is the equivalent of a Q-BOT Ultimate. This meant that we skipped the queue on every ride. We managed to go on every ride in the p-ark in one day and there were no queues! Was it worth it? Well once both the boys are over 130cm we will buy then a Q-BOT Ultimate each, as it made the day so much more special and as a trip to LEGOLAND is a once a year thing for us I would rather save up and do it in style.

So What are our top tips for making the most out of your visit to LEGOLAND?

Get there early – The park opens for general visitors at 10am. Get there early for the park opening. It is quietest first thing on a morning.
Pick up a lost parent wrist band at the beginning of the park (Guest Services). These are invaluable. There are a lo0t of children and it is easy to lose one as Penny will tell you.
Head for the rear of the park first. The most popular rides are driving school and boating school, so it pays to get the queuing out of the way first and we found the queues much less on a morning. We start at the back and work our way forward.
If you stay in the LEGOLAND Hotel you get access to Atlantis 30 minutes early.
Be prepared to get wet. Splash rides include Pirate Falls Dynamite Drench, SQUID Surfer and Vikings River Splash. We use poncho’s to ensure that we have dryish clothes!
Take swim wear or UV wear for children. The new DUPLO Splash Valley and Drench Towers is a superb water area with slides, fountains, water guns and much more. There is a toddler area and an older child area. It is great fun and perfect for when your children are flagging. We managed to both grab a cup of tea whilst the boys made the most of the water.
There can be a lot of walking and waiting, so if you have a buggy take it. Even if your child doesn’t normally use it.
Make use of all your time. We stayed till closing time, a lot of people leave earlier so the queues get shorter.
Turn up for the Pirate of skeleton bay show early (20 mins approx before the start) and put down a picnic blanket a little to the right of the control booth on the corner. The show is brilliant and will be enjoyed by all. The harbour coffee shop does starbucks quality lattes. Even better this is the perfect place and time to have your lunch in front of the show, its fab! And bring a picnic as food is ridiculously expensive.

Ways to keep costs down

Take a packed lunch. There are areas for eating your packed lunch or snacks. You can also go back to the car to get it. There are also lockers at the beginning if you want to store your bags, but they do not refund your coins.
Kids eat free after 3pm in certain restaurants
Get a refillable drink for £7, especially if it is warm. You can use the drinks bottle once you get home too.
Get the shopping over with at the beginning. Set a budget and make sure you stick to it! You can also leave your purchases their to collect on your way home.
Keep an eye out for 2 for 1 deals by search on line.
If you are travelling the park have an affiliation with a number of hotels and you can get your second day free. It is worth checking out booking both hotel and park entrance with these hotels.
We had THE best time, in fact Mini called it Epic. To see more pictures why not take a look at our LEGOLAND 2013 Google+ picture album

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Top ten food safety tips to protect your family from kitchen bugs

Top ten food safety tips to protect your family from kitchen bugs

Last week was Food Safety Week 2013, run by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and this year they focused on ways to reduce the risk of food poisoning at home. Here are some simple tips to help keep you and your family safe.

1. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before cooking and after changing nappies, touching the bin, using the toilet, handling pets or preparing raw food.

2. Wash or change dish cloths, tea towels, sponges and oven gloves regularly and let them dry fully before you use them again.

3. Remove unnecessary clutter and wash worktops before and after cooking to prevent cross-contamination.

4. Always use a chopping board and wash the board in hot, soapy water after using and in between preparing raw and ready-to-eat foods. Better still, use a separate chopping board for each.

5. You don’t need to wash raw meat or poultry as thorough cooking will kill any surface germs. Washing meat can actually splash germs and raw juices onto other surfaces and equipment.

6. Make sure your fridge is set below 5°C to prevent harmful germs from growing and multiplying.

7. Don’t overfill your fridge. Air needs to be able to circulate to maintain the set temperature. If you are using infant formula we recommend you make up each feed as your baby needs it, using boiled water at a temperature of 70ºC or above to reduce the risk of infection, and use it within 2 hours. If you have no choice but to store made up bottles, do so in the coolest part of your fridge, away from the door, and for no more than 24 hours.

8. Cook food thoroughly until steaming hot in the middle to kill harmful bacteria. Food can then be cooled to a suitable temperature for children by cutting into smaller pieces and separating into shallow bowls, or even placing in a sealed container and running it under cold water.

9. ‘Use by’ dates are typically found on perishable products (dairy, meat and fish) and are based on scientific testing to determine how long these foods will stay safe. After that date, food could be unsafe to eat even if it is correctly stored and looks and smells fine. If you need to store a food for longer, consider freezing it.

10. ‘Best before’ dates are used on foods that have a longer shelf life and tell us how long the food will be at its best. After that date it is normally safe to eat, but its flavour and texture might have deteriorated.

To see how safe your kitchen habits are and for more tips, take the FSA’s Kitchen Check online. You can get your little ones involved too by downloading their fun young people’s activities.

Kitchen Check can be found at: www.food.gov.uk/kitchen-check

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Fundraising Ideas for Everyone

Fundraising Ideas for Everyone
Charities in the UK rely solely on the fundraising efforts of the public, together with donations made via their shops and collections and legacies left in people’s wills. They receive no government funding and in times of financial hardship like those we are currently experiencing during this recession charities find that their funding drops considerably.
This is understandable: when your job is unsafe and you are worried about how you are going to afford food and your mortgage, your ability to donate to charity has to come lower in your list of priorities than it usually would. However, even if you cannot afford to make regular donations yourself, you may still want to help your favourite charity. You could do this through volunteering your time or you could organise a fundraising activity.
You may think that fundraising events are organised on a large scale by dedicated fundraising teams. In fact, anyone can host a fundraiser. All you need is a worthwhile cause that everyone can get behind to support, and an idea for what to do to raise the most money possible. You can get everything you need in terms of forms and advertising online.
For example, the RSPCA has a Choices website where you can not only select a particular project to support (e.g. your local rescue centre, or providing veterinary care to the animals helped by the RSPCA to name but two) but can also download all you need to get your fundraiser up and running. You can also set up a fundraising page online that you can promote through your favourite social networks: it’s really easy, all you have to do is fill in your name, brief details of the project and why you want to support it, and what you’re doing to raise the money (and how your friends can help you to achieve your goal).
Are you stuck for ideas on what sort of event you could organise? A lot will depend on the space you have available and the time you have to organise it. A lot also depends on the weather! Since it’s summer and we’re hopelessly optimistic in the UK about how sunny it will be, here are some ideas for fundraising during the summer months to get you started.
A summer fete is the obvious choice, if you can gather together members of your local community to organise stalls and entertainment. Perhaps speak to your local church or even the PTA at your children’s school about coming together to organise a traditional British fete in a location central to your area. As well as selling crafts and cakes, your local school could put together a dance routine to entertain people, and sell refreshments to raise even more cash. Look into local companies that hire out bouncy castles to see if they will be prepared to donate a bouncy castle or slide for the event. You could also organise races like the egg-and-spoon, sack race or three-legged race with a small donation for taking part. Offer chocolate as prizes – this won’t cost much and you might even be able to get a donation from your local supermarket if you ask and explain what the event is supporting.
On a smaller scale, you could organise a car wash. Look for car parks close to main roads where you can put up a sign advertising the fact that you are washing cars for the RSPCA with a suggested donation of, say, £5 per car. Or you could go door-to-door or call in at local offices that have their own car park and ask if anyone would like their car to be washed for charity.
Whatever you do, have fun organising the event and be pleased that you are doing your best to support a charity that is close to your heart.

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