September Reads


The Girls by Lisa Jewell

You live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbours for years and you trust them. Implicitly.
You think your children are safe.
But are they really?

Midsummer night: a thirteen-year-old girl is found unconscious in a dark corner of the garden square. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?


Admittedly this was a book I started at the end of August and finished at the beginning of September. I really enjoyed the mystery and danger in this book and it got me hooked from the first page. This being my first read by Lisa Jewell I am very impressed with her writing and believable characters I'll definitely be reading more from her. 


Raising Sebastian by Choo Kah Ying

Raising Sebastien is a training manual that aims to empower parents with the skills to cultivate and promote their autistic child's growth and development. With firsthand experience of raising an autistic child, author Choo Kah Ying understands the challenges involved. She encourages parents to view these children not as individuals with disabilities, but rather, unique individuals with strengths and special talents that parents should strive to cultivate and promote. This book contains two sections. In the first section, Choo chronicles her observations on her journey in raising Sebastien, her son. These thoughts would later contribute to the development of Choo's training procedures. In the second section, Choo provides practical strategies and approaches for raising and educating the autistic child. She teaches parents how to design a customised learning programme for their child, deal with their child's socially inappropriate behaviours in public, achieve objectivity by using alternative healing approaches, and negotiate with professionals and government agencies on the management of their child. 

This book is extremely helpful to me with giving practical ideas for me to be able to understand and support Blake.


The witchfinder's sister by Beth Underdown

The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six...

1645. When Alice Hopkins' husband dies in a tragic accident, she has no choice but to return to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witches, and of a great book, in which her brother is gathering women's names.

To what lengths will her brother's obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?


An interesting and gripping historical fiction based on the witch trials before the ones in Salem. I loved the tension and mystery in this book.


The Dead Ex By Jane Corry

Vicki works as an aromatherapist, healing her clients out of her home studio with her special blends of essential oils. She's just finishing a session when the police arrive on her doorstep--her ex-husband David has gone missing. Vicki insists she last saw him years ago when they divorced, but the police clearly don't believe her. And her memory's hardly reliable--what if she didhave something to do with it?

Meanwhile, Scarlet and her mother Zelda are down on their luck, and at eight years old, Scarlet's not old enough to know that the "game" her mother forces her to play is really just a twisted name for dealing drugs. Soon, Zelda is caught, and Scarlet is forced into years of foster care--an experience that will shape the rest of her life . . .

David's new wife, Tanya, is the one who reported him missing, but what really happened on the night of David's disappearance? And how can Vicki prove her innocence, when she's not even sure of it herself? The answer lies in the connection among these four women--and the one person they can't escape.
 


Having read Jane's other two books Blood sisters and  My husband's wife I knew I had to read this one when I spotted it in my local library.  I found this to be a gripping read like her other two books but have to say out of her 3 books Blood sisters is my favourite.  


Three little lies By Laura Marshall 
Someone told a lie.
Someone knows the truth.
Someone is watching you.
*****
When Sasha North comes into Ellen's life, Ellen falls under her spell. As Ellen is welcomed into Sasha's family, she doesn't see the darkness that lies beneath their bohemian lifestyle. Not until a brutal attack changes all their lives forever.
Ten years later, Ellen and Sasha share a flat in London, still bound together by that night. When Sasha disappears, Ellen fears the worst. The police won't take her seriously, but the events of the past give Ellen good reason to be frightened.
What really happened that night? Who is telling the whole truth? These are the questions Ellen must confront when searching for her friend. But someone knows Ellen is looking. And they don't want the answers coming out . . .
Having read Laura's debut friend request and enjoying her writing I really hoped this book was going to be a good one. I was not disappointed, I was kept in suspense throughout and really enjoyed this page turning psychological thriller. 



The sapphire window by Dinah Jefferies 
Ceylon, 1935. Louisa Reeve, the daughter of a successful British gem trader, and her husband Elliot, a charming, thrill-seeking businessman, seem like the couple who have it all. Except what they long for more than anything: a child.

While Louisa struggles with miscarriages, Elliot is increasingly absent, spending much of his time at a nearby cinnamon plantation, overlooking the Indian ocean. After his sudden death, Louisa is left alone to solve the mystery he left behind. Revisiting the plantation at Cinnamon Hills, she finds herself unexpectedly drawn towards the owner Leo, a rugged outdoors man with a chequered past. The plantation casts a spell, but all is not as it seems. And when Elliot's shocking betrayal is revealed, Louisa has only Leo to turn to...


I found this to be an interesting and action packed historical fiction. The story is based in Ceylon in 1935 where Louisa Reeve goes through heartbreak and betrayal from her husband Elliott finding out his secrets after his death. 

Why a garden designer maybe a good option for you




The garden is an area of the home that most people love spending time in and relaxing. However if you have children you need to look at the garden design and may want to look at getting a garden designer to look at your options so that you have a garden that is suitable for you and for the whole family.

Having your garden designed can be an expensive you can be looking at between £5,000 to £50,000 depending on the size, quality and condition of your garden. Even with a small garden you are looking at forking out at around £5,000 to £7,000 for a simple design. 

If you are wondering why its so pricey its becuase you need to factor in 
- Design fees
-  Materials 
- Plants
- Employing contractors 

If you are considering getting a garden deaigner but are still unsure below are some of the reasons opting to get your garden designed is a good idea:

Increase the value of your home
A well designed garden is an investment in the long run. A badly designed garden can decrease the value of your home so on the flip side a well designed one can increase the value making it an investment that is worthwhile. I can definitely see why this is the case as an easy to maintain and lovely designed garden that doesn't need much work doing certainly is one of the things we will be looking for when we buy our own home. 

Benefit experienced professionals
A garden designer knows their stuff. They can help with bringing your garden to life and give ideas of things you may not have thought of such as seating, lighting and other features. 

Eliminate worries
Designing a garden yourself is doable however by getting a garden designer you are able to brief them and they do all the legwork. This means you are not having to worry about any problems that may occur and you can opt for a garden that is low maintenance and safe for your family to play in. You also won't need to worry about sorting out employing a contractor as they will do this all for you. 


Have the garden you want
Garden designers listen to what you want and aspire from your garden whether a relaxing environment for playing, eating or for enjoying doing a bit of gardening yourself.  This way you are able to have the garden you want and a garden designer can also do a planting plan that you can implement yourself making it all a bit more easier for you to keep on top of. 



*This is a collaborative post 






September Little Loves




What a month, its hard to know where to begin. We are now sort of getting use to our new routine with Blake being at preschool in the morning's instead of afternoon's. Although he has already had time off with illness thanks to the bugs going around. It's been lovely to see the changing of the leaves now that autumn is here. I'm definitely looking forward to the cooler weather and wrapping up in cosy jumpers and cardigans.


So without further ado here are my little loves for September 




Read

The Girls by Lisa Jewell
I really enjoyed the mystery and danger in this book and it got me hooked from the first page. This being my first read by Lisa Jewell I am very impressed with her writing and believable characters. I'll definitely be reading more from her. 

Raising Sebastian by Choo Kah Ying
This book is extremely helpful to me with giving practical ideas for me to be able to understand and support Blake. Choo definitely has some great insight and advice surrounding raising an autistic child. 

The witchfinder's sister by Beth Underdown
An interesting and gripping historical fiction based on the witch trials before the ones in Salem. I loved the tension and mystery in this book.

The Dead Ex By Jane Corry


Having read Jane's other two books Blood sisters and  My husband's wife I knew I had to read this one when I spotted it in my local library.  I found this to be a gripping read like her other two books but have to say out of her 3 books Blood sisters is my favourite.  


Three little lies By Laura Marshall 

Someone told a lie.

Someone knows the truth.

Someone is watching you.
Having read Laura's debut friend request and enjoying her writing I really hoped this book was going to be a good one. I was not disappointed, I was kept in suspense throughout and really enjoyed this page turning psychological thriller. 


The sapphire window by Dinah Jefferies 
I found this to be an interesting and action packed historical fiction. The story is based in Ceylon in 1935 where Louisa Reeve goes through heartbreak and betrayal from her husband Elliott finding out his secrets after his death. 




Watched

The innocents 
I finally watched all of season one which I really enjoyed and really hope they do another.

The originals 
A must watch if you love vampire diaries. I've been watching season 5 this month and am still hooked.

Cable Girls
I've only started watching this the other day and so glad I've come across the show. 
It's the 1920s and Spain has just gotten its first national telephone company, located in Madrid. For four young women who get jobs there, it's more than just work. It represents progress that is being made at the time as women are gaining more equality with men. This drama series follows the ladies, known as "cable girls," who feel attached in different ways -- to their families, their partners and their memories.



Heard

I've not been listening to any pod casts this month and the only music I've listened to has been when I've been in the car with a mum friend who has been playing the mama mia 2 soundtrack.


Made

I'm cheating on this one as we've not made anything at home this month. However at preschool yesterday kiddycook came in and Blake made pizza pin wheels which I was told he had lots of fun making.

Wore

I've loved wearing ripped jeggings recently from asos they are so comfy and I've been teaming them with my converse slip ons. I've also started wearing cardigans and jumpers some morning's as its been chilly first thing when dropping Blake off to preschool.



And lastly...

I've recently come across some great little Facebook shops and this has got to be my favourite purchase this month. This stunning beauty and the beast themed light is from CC Bargain Gifts who make a wonderful range of items. 

6 ways to increase the value of your home


Getting on the property ladder these days is hard with the ever growing prices. For some of us, choosing a home is about picking a forever home and for others its about making an investment. For us its about getting on the housing ladder and being able to own our first home. 

If you are already a homeowner and wanting to increase the value of your property than here are some ideas to help you out.


Upgrade your Windows 
New windows can be an expensive but definitely worthwhile investment. Opting for double glazed PVC windows are a popular choice and a must have for most potential buyers. This is because they are not only easy to maintain but are also energy sufficient and very secure.

Update front of the home
A lick of paint to your front door and window frames can create a great first impression. If you have a garden at the front keeping that area maintened and digging up the weeds is a must. The first thing someone notices when they view a property is the front of the house so making it look its best makes it attractive to potential buyers.

Paint the house
This doesn't have to be a colour refresh but topping up the colour you already have. This makes the home look new and fresh although you may want to rethink the bright and garnish colours as they can be off putting.

Replace flooring
If your flooring is still in great quality than a good clean should be fine. However any bright colours and patterns are off putting so opting for neutral carpet or wooden flooring is a great option. 

Concentrate on kitchen and bathroom areas
These are some of the important rooms in the home. The condition of these rooms play a huge part in the offer you may get for your home. If you have time and money to do so then investing in doing up the kitchen and/or bathroom is worth while its amazing how you can transform these spaces to look their best.

Ensure the heating system is up to scratch
The central heating system is an integral part of your home. Its important to have the right set up in the home. I've seen many properties online stating that the property has a new central heating system and from my research getting a new boiler can help to increase the value of your home. 




*This is a collaborative post 

Kinetic Sand: Mess Free Play with the beach sand kingdom

Build amazing sandcastles anywhere with the Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom! Today I am sharing with you my thoughts on the set and why we love it. So what is Kinetic Sand? Kinetic Sand is a mouldable sand that looks and feels like wet beach sand, however works in a different way as it kind of sticks together. It's easy to shape, mould and clean up. Although the sand feels wet it isn't and best of all it flows through your hands without sticking. 


Blake loves anything sensory and the sand at pre-school is one of his favourite outdoor activities. Living in a flat with no garden means we wanted to find an alternative and the Kinetic Sand Beach Sand kingdom set is perfect for us! 

Although I don't know fully the ingredients used I know that real sand is part of it and that the sand is wheat, gluten and casein free. The sand also doesn't dry out either so can be used again and again and again....


You can find a wide range of different Kinetic Sand sets that include different coloured sand ( we also own a green set) with different styles of tools and moulds. This set though includes :

- 3lbs of beach sand 
- 8 castle themed tools and moulds 
-  A sand box 

The six castle themed moulds can be used to create walls, bridges, towers and more. Whilst the two tools can be used to cut,dig, rake and shovel the Kinetic Sand. The box doubles up as the sand box to keep everything contained which we find extremely handy.  Once finished playing all you need to do is pop it in an air tight container to be used again. 


 We love that the set gives us a chance to have mess free fun indoors. There is enough sand to be able to fit in the sand box when squished down flat. The tools and moulds make it so much fun for Blake to use his imagination when building digging etc. I definitely think its a great way to bring sand into your home without the mess of real sand.

I love that the box can be used as the sand pit. Although its good at keeping most of the sand contained in the box Blake does tend to love throwing sand and pushing the sand out of the box. Because of this we will be also getting the tuff tray out next time  to pop the box in just to keep it a little more contained. 




Overall the Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom Set is a hit in our household and not just with Blake either as I've found it to be quite therapeutic.  The set retails at £19.99 on Amazon and is suitable for children 3 years and over.


5 tips to make moving home easier with kids

Moving home can be a stressful time. Stuart and I know, we have after all moved around quite a bit in the 10 years we have been together. However add children into the mix and the idea of moving doesn't seem appealing at all. Both Stuart and I want to move from our current home for various reasons, so eventually we know its going to happen. So with this in mind I've come up with ways to make moving with your child/ren a bit more easier. 



Involve them more
Let them know in advance that you will be moving. Show them the area they are moving to such as shops, parks and school. Also take them to visit their new home so they can see their new bedroom. Giving children some control such as choosing paint or decor for the new home is another way of keeping them involved and aware what is going on.

Don't show you are stressed
This is a big one for me as I get stressed easily and so by using a house removals company to have one less thing to worry about would be a good idea! If your child/ren see you stressed they may see moving as a negative thing. 


Make moving fun!
Let kids play with the boxes and let their imagination run wild.

Time the move right
If your child/ren are of school age the best time to move will be during the summer holidays; this will make the transition easier. If your child will be staying at the same school though then moving during term time maybe an option you want to consider so you can be organised and moved into your new home without having them under your feet.


Stick to a routine

Children love routine and struggle with change.  By continuing your routine once you have moved into your new home you are making them feel safe with not too much changing at once and see it as they have changed house rather than lost a home.


*This is a collaborative post 

Gift ideas for Harry Potter fans

It doesn’t matter how old kids (or you!) are, if you love Harry Potter, you will naturally want to own as much of the merchandise as possible and luckily enough, there is a huge selection to choose from, but what are the best choices for keeping true Potterheads happy?

There are different approaches to consider, such as buying house-specific goodies, though this will require your particular Potter fanatic to have already been sorted! Or perhaps you could simply focus in on treats that are specific to a favourite character? The possibilities are endless, but I've put together a list of absolute must-haves for any Harry Potter fans, so you can rest easy for a few Christmases and birthdays!



Wands.
No Harry Potter fan’s collection will be complete without a character wand! All of the main stars’ wands have been faithfully recreated and are available to buy, from the Warner Brothers Studio Tour online shop For an extra touch of fun…did you know that you can take a quiz online, to discover what kind of wand would choose you in Ollivanders? So cool!
Hogwarts house scarves.
Any true fans of the wizarding world will have been sorted online, to discover which house they would be placed in, were they to attend Hogwarts. It’s just a fact. If you know which hose somebody is in, that will afford you endless possibilities, in terms of gifts, but I wholeheartedly recommend a house scarf. An understated piece of merchandise, only fellow Potterheads will know what the coloured stripes actually symbolise and there’s nothing wrong with a little house pride! Just don’t get it wrong, as a Slytherin will NEVER forgive you for buying them a Gryffindor scarf. The horror!
Fluffy pets.
Every Harry Potter fan has thought about what pet they would take with them to Hogwarts. Ron has his rat Scabbers, Hermione has Crookshanks, a very grumpy cat and Harry, of course, has Hedwig, a stunning white owl. Living in the dorm rooms at Hogwarts, these familiars are steadfast friends to the students and there are endless plush soft toy versions available to buy. You can even buy a fluffy version of Fang, Hagrid’s beloved slobbery pooch who shares his hut with him!



Sweet treats.
Who can forget the moment when Harry bought the entire sweet cart on the Hogwarts Express? It’s the stuff that kid’s dreams are made of , so why not consider buying a few magical morsels for the Potterhead in your life? You might be shocked to discover that Chocolate Frogs, complete with holographic collectors card, can actually be bought, as can Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. Just be careful not to go too overboard, or you’ll think you accidentally bought some Weasley Puking Pastilles!
Pin badges.
This is actually my favourite suggestion, as there are so many badges to choose from that you could start a collection, buying a new one for each birthday. The pins aren’t just house-specific, so there are plenty to consider, but if you do know a little smartypants, why not start with a house prefect badge? Ravenclaws, in particular, will love them, as they pride themselves on their intelligence.
Something extra special.
If you aren’t as obsessed with Harry Potter as some, you might think that it’s a little gimmicky to indulge in endless Potter-related gifts, but never underestimate the impact the franchise has had on children and adults alike. Speaking of adults, how about something a little more exclusive and upmarket for the grown up Hogwarts wannabe in your life, in the form of some elegant and collectible jewellery? Anyone would love a Deathly Hallows necklace or horcrux ring, but for something a little more classic, there is a wonderful selection of watches to choose from as well.
So there you have it! Regardless of age or Hogwarts house, there are more gift possibilities than you can shake a wand at, available either during the warner Brothers Studio Tour or online. Oh, and don’t forget that for a magical festive touch, you can buy beautiful glass baubles, decorated with house colours or the Hogwarts' crest. If nothing else, you’ll be tempted by one of these for yourself!

Designing a play area

We all know how important it is to encourage our young ones to play. It is through play that they will develop their imagination, and learn about themselves and the world, while developing many of the skills that will serve them well on their journey through life.
With that in mind, creating a comfortable, safe space in which they can explore, play, read and relax is a great idea. And unlike many other areas of the home, designing a playroom is one area in which you can really cut loose and have fun. Here are some great ideas on how to do it.




Bright and colourful
The details of your playroom design will depend on the ages of your children, their preferences, and your budget, but however you go about it, the key thing is to keep the d├ęcor bright and colourful. It should be a place of fun and wonder, so light tones and brightly coloured furniture is the order of the day. And while you want it to feel like a light and airy space, don’t forget to add colourful rugs to protect your kids’ knees when they’re playing on the floor.
Window shutters
One good way to ensure that your kids’ playroom is bright and full of light, is to consider window shutters rather than old-fashioned curtains. Quality window shutters will give you more control over light levels in the room than curtains and offer the benefit of privacy and noise reduction (which your neighbours may appreciate!). Wipe-clean window shutters also look more stylish and modern than a pair of curtains, which are difficult to keep clean.
Blackboard wall
Let’s be honest, you can’t share a home with children without finding the occasional scribble on the walls or doors. So why not encourage their creativity by introducing a large blackboard to one of the playroom walls, or perhaps to a wardrobe door panel. They not only look striking and fun, they will give your little artists the perfect way to express themselves. And if you aren’t keen on the idea of chalk dust everywhere, you can opt for a whiteboard instead.
Reading nook
Few things can be more beneficial to a child than reading. It is one of the main stimulators of imagination, intelligence and literary skills. One way to encourage them to see reading as a pleasure rather than a chore is to set up a reading nook in their playroom. This should be well-lit area set up with plenty of cushions and bean bags for them to relax on, a few of their favourite soft toys, and a selection of books. It’s an ideal way to help them develop the reading habit.
Conclusion
We all want the best for our kids, and no matter what your budget or experience, with a little planning, care and love, you can set up a playroom that will be a haven for your kids to relax, have fun and let off steam as they let their imaginations run wild!

5 things you need to know about when buying a ski jacket

*In collaboration with Simply Hike

Buying a ski jacket isn't just about finding one that keeps you warm but one that protects from the sub zero tempatures and also aids comfort and performance. Simply Hike are a company that sell a wide range of outdoor clothing and shoes which also includes sections of  ski wear and gear. With that said here are some of the things to look more into when purchasing a ski jacket, so you are prepared for next time you hit the slopes. 









Waterproof

 Waterproof fabrics are often expressed with numbers referring to waterbillity tests. High waterproofing can cut a jacket's abilty to allow moisture and heat to escape though so you have to decide to choose one or the other. Jackets that tend to be the most effective also happen to be the most expensive especially if using fabrics from well known brands such as Gore-tex. As well waterproof membrane fabric waterproof jackets also have a waterproof coating on top to repel water instead of letting it soak in. 


Breathable/ Venting / moisture wicking 

 Most ski jackets also have underarm vents to allow the hot air to escape and cool air in without you needing to undo the front zip. As for moisture wicking jacket linings are often made from quick drying material or mesh that’s designed to wick sweat away from the body fast. Breathable and moisture wicking materials are important for your comfort. 


Durabilty

An effective ski jacket is only good if its durable as well. More layers are hardwearing and tougher materials are also less likely to wear away easily.


Hood's and pockets 

A ski jacket with a detachable or attached hood are great for extra protection. Some roll into the coller and others can often be adjusted which is very handy.  Jackets with loads of pockets is a must for carrying items such as goggles, your phone, lift pass etc.


RECCO

RECCO is an extra feature that may be good for you to look for.The RECCO system is a technology which helps rescuers to find you if you get lost on the ski slopes. Made of two parts the reflector and the detector the reflector is a small strip of material that can be attached to your ski jacket. While the detector is what the mountain rescuers use which sends signals to locate the reflector. Once the signal hits the reflector it bounces back to the detector and warns the user of the detector the location of the reflector.