July 2014 archive
Hello Kitty has become a true phenomenon over the last few years, and is a favourite amongst girls of all ages, from 5 and 6 year olds through to pre-teens and teenagers. And lots of adults love her retro cool look too! The cute Japanese bobtailed cat with the bow in her hair (sometimes a red bow, sometimes pink, and occasionally green!) has become a familiar sight around the world; hospitals have sprung up in her name in places such as Taiwan, and you can even your hands on a Hello Kitty Bank of America Bank account, should you wish to. She has been immortalised in a pop song sung by Avril Lavigne, and the 40 year old cat, first designed and created by Yuko Shimizu for the Sanrio Corporation in 1974 appearing on a coin purse, has become a true modern cartoon classic. Her name comes from Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s book ‘Through the Looking Glass’ in which Alice calls a cat ‘Kitty’.
Hello Kitty’s phenomenal popularity is thought in part to be because she has a certain ‘retro’ cool – she is part of ‘kawaii’ culture in Japan, which means cute or pretty, and is associated with Manga comics and anime, both amazingly popular amongst Japanese kids and teenagers (and lots of adult too!). And as all things retro and vintage are so popular right now, Hello Kitty is certainly bang on trend!
There’s been much debate about Hello Kitty’s lack of a mouth, some quite outlandish ideas have been put forward, but the most likely explanation is that her designer wanted the Hello Kitty character to be empathetic, and so you are able to express your emotions through her. You feel happy, she feels happy, you feel a bit blue, so does she and you’re not alone.
Hello Kitty lives happily with her mum, dad and sister Mimmie – who is only distinguishable from Kitty by the yellow bow on her right ear, rather than the red bow on Kitty’s left ear. They live in London, and Kitty’s favourite food is her mum’s home baked apple pie. She rarely sees her boyfriend Daniel as he is often on safari in Africa.
So, your daughter decides she would like you to throw a puurrfect Hello Kitty party for her birthday. With all the Hello Kitty merchandise around, nothing could be easier. And if you are feeling creative, or would like to do things on a budget, Hello Kitty’s simple shapes and colours mean doing it yourself is well within reach, and you and your daughter can have great fun planning and putting party things together, unless you and she would like it to be a surprise.
- Invitations – simply print a Hello Kitty template from http://hagiographic.com/hello-kitty-printable-coloring-pages/hello-kitty-face-coloring-pages-template-57646-2/ , transfer the shape to white card, and decorate with a red bow. Maybe tie a red ribbon bow around the envelope if you are handing out the invites to your guests.
- Decorate your venue in red, pink and white using streamers, balloons, and Hello Kitty bunting, banners and scene setters available from http://www.partybagsandsupplies.co.uk. Ask your guests to come in fancy dress, or at the very least with a bow in their hair!
- Games and crafts. Set up a Hello Kitty craft table with some plain white paper plates, felt tip pens, glitter and sequins for your guests to create the perfect Hello Kitty face mask. Cut out a large Hello Kitty face shape from white paper or card, a large red bow, attach to a door or wall and blindfold your guests for ‘Pin the Bow on Kitty’. It’s not too tricky with themes like Hello Kitty to adapt traditional party games to make them a perfect match.
- Food – if you’re feeling creative, create cupcake toppers from white royal icing, mix some pink or red food colouring in, and create a cute bow for each cake. Apple pie may not be traditional children’s party food, but it is Hello Kitty’s favourite…. And a Hello Kitty birthday cake can be created from a round sponge cake, white and red and black royal icing and some liquorice laces.
- Party bags – to save you time and money you can find pre-filled Hello Kitty party bags at http://www.partybagsandsupplies.co.uk/themes, along with lots more Hello Kitty party goodies – tableware, banners, balloons and fillers if you wish to select and fill your own bags.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the household chores that you have to do on a day to basis. You may find yourself struggling to cope with the heavy workload at times. What you may not know, however, is that you can make the task of doing your chores easier. With the help of some simple tactics, household chores can be tamed and made manageable.
Have a Regime
One of the best steps that you can take is to have a house cleaning regime. Such a regime might mean that you have days which are dedicated to one aspect of cleaning. For instance, you might have a day that is dedicated to vacuuming. You will want to organise your days in a fashion that is best for you. Time consuming tasks might need to be allocated to those days in which you have a lot of spare time, so that you do not feel under pressure.
If you can, you might want to get the kids to help you. You could choose to delegate and assign tasks based on what you need to do. By having one person who is in charge of a specific room, or cleaning task, you will be able to make things much more manageable. There is also the option of creating a rota, so different people are assigned a different task each week. You will need to make sure you are enforcing any rules you create.
Get Some Help
You also have the option of hiring an outside firm to help you get the household chores done. For instance, you might hire a firm that is willing to do the cleaning for you. The firm you pick will depend on what you struggle the with most, and least enjoy doing. For example, to save time you may want to find firms that do dry cleaning delivery. Such a firm will take your dirty clothes from you and deliver them back to you, cleaned and ready to wear.
Don’t Let Things Get Bad
The steps mentioned are useful when it comes to making chores easier to manage. However, you might find it even more beneficial to prevent things from getting this bad in the first place. There are a number of ways in which you can do this. You may choose to allocate a little bit of time every day, when you do a light bit of cleaning. You may also decide to clean up messes as soon as they happen. Provided that you do a little bit of work each day, you should be able to keep things manageable.
No More Chores?
It is unlikely that you will be able to eliminate your household chores completely. However, you can make your household chores much more manageable. You can do this by engaging the help of everyone in the house. You might also want to call some outside help to assist you in getting the job done. Regardless, you no longer have to feel overwhelmed when it comes to completing your household chores.
Gumtree infographic baby versus career is an infographic that was produced by Gumtree
There are so many things that are mentioned in the media on a weekly basis when referring to teen pregnancy. The problem is that what we see on TV is usually an exaggeration of a reality that is totally different. We can say that those cases are actually a lot less common than we might believe.
I saw this infographic on women juggling children and career and it had some interesting facts. There were things I read that I didn’t know, or expect, before I read it. That is why it is important for everyone to take a look at the infographic. It is a guarantee that you will learn some new things that you had absolutely no idea about.
For instance, it would seem that 49% of women are in their 30s when their babies arrive and that the average age is 29.7. I would have assumed that women had children at a younger age, although I shouldn’t have been surprised, as women are starting to put careers first, which is commendable. The question of whether or not to postpone a family because of a career path that was taken is one that has been daunting on women for a long time. It makes sense to get a steady career first and then settle down to think about starting a family and having children.
Whatever the age of the mother, at the bottom of the infographic you will see some great tips on how to balance a life/work with being a capable and good mother. For example: Delegate, which I like to do as much as possible in life anyway!
Choosing a career over a family can have negative effects on the evolution of the woman and her desire to have a baby as the body will find it more difficult to carry a pregnancy as time passes. The best thing that any woman can do is to simply think about priorities and see what the best situation is. In UK it is not legal to fire a woman if she is on pregnancy leave or if she is pregnant. However, as you can easily notice from the infographic, everything is connected to the career in the sense that you would need to hire a nanny in most cases and that costs a lot of money.
It is a very good idea to take a look at all the information included in this infographic. You can even see the best careers for women that currently juggle both a career and a family. There are always solutions but you have to be dedicated and you need to know what to expect. The truth is that maternity leave does not really have an effect on your finances. With this in mind, you may want to reconsider the career first, family later approach. You cannot wait too long until you get pregnant as this would lead to more problems in the future. Choose wisely or consider the career that is best suited for you if you really want a family.
The immune systems of our children are under constant attack from the modern world. Thanks to traffic and air travel there are more pollutants in the air than at any other time in recorded history. How life expectancy is increasing under such conditions will always be a mystery to me. Childhood allergies are on the increase, and I believe those environmental issues are a contributing factor. Asthma is commonplace in the young these days; thankfully many of them grow out of it as they approach their teenage years.
We cannot control what goes on outside, but we can try to make the home a pleasant place to be that doesn’t exacerbate our child’s allergy symptoms. You will have to change a few things about the house and work a little harder to keep it clean. Here are a few ideas to help you deal with childhood allergies in the home.
Dust has an affect on children with lung conditions, and it can also trigger symptoms of hay fever. Make no mistake; dust is your biggest enemy. Here are a few suggestions to help you keep it under control.
- Never use a dry duster to clean surfaces. If you are going to use cloth, it should be damp so that the dust sticks to it.
- Suck the dust up with a dusting attachment on a vacuum cleaner. The vacuum should have HEPA filters, so nothing comes back into the air. Check out the best vacuum cleaner reviews online before buying one. The top quality machines will be expensive, but they are worth the cost.
- Keep soft furnishings to a minimum. Scatter cushions and throws hold onto dust and shed tiny fibres that will irritate those with a low tolerance to them.
- Use laminate flooring instead of carpets. Though you vacuum the carpet every day, it is impossible to remove every trace of dirt and dust. Use a mop to clean the laminate on a daily basis.
- Use window blinds instead of curtains. You could use the changes as an opportunity to revamp the interior design of your home.
- If your children sneeze every time you cat or dog comes near them, get rid of the pet. What is more important to you, your children or your animals? Do the right thing.
Are you aware of the ingredients that go into concentrated cleaning products? Chemicals such as chlorine could affect our child’s immune system, skin, or lungs if they are exposed to it when they are young. You can replace all of the dangerous chemicals with natural cleaning products instead. Acid cuts through grease, so citrus fruit juice is an ideal substitute for many products. Vinegar will remove limescale in the bathroom and kill the bacteria that makes the plug holes smell.
Keeping your house clean and dust free isn’t an easy job, but when you get into a routine, you will think nothing of it. The family members who are prone to allergies will benefit from your efforts, and they might get respite from their conditions. If you achieve that, well done! All it took was time, effort, and ingenuity.
Your feline friend is your most faithful companion. You want to make sure that she is in premium health. One of the most common illnesses that cats suffer from is worms. While the thought of worms is enough to make you feel queasy, it is important that you are aware of the harmful health effects that worms can cause.
With thanks to Moyan Brenn for the image
The most common type of worm is an intestinal worm. These are known as roundworms and tapeworms. Many infected cats do not show immediate signs of having worms. But, they can become more noticeable as the parasite grows which can affect your cat’s health.
A heavy burden of worms can cause many different symptoms within your feline friend. Typically, the most common symptoms are:
- Weight loss
- Irritation around the bottom
- Failure to thrive
While worms are deeply unpleasant for cats, some worms can be harmful to human health too. For those of us that like to pet our animals, we too can contract worms through sheer love of our kitties. As humans can become ill from worms, you must ensure that you have a worming regimen in place to make sure that your cat is treated against worms. Some medications are preventative, and others are administered to eliminate the burden of worms. Whether you are preventing, or eliminating, worms it is critical that you have the correct medication in order to do so. Wormers.co.uk has a wide range of worming medicine for your cat.
Roundworm and tapeworm can be contracted should your cat have had a recent dose of fleas. As tapeworm are the host animal of fleas, they are contracted through other parasites. While this is unpleasant, your cat will need to be treated.
Roundworms are very common in kittens. Kitten are usually infected by their mother and her milk. If your queen (mother cat) has a burden of worms, it may be advisable to treat all kittens within her litter. It is highly unlikely that one kitten from a litter will suffer from worms.
Worming regimes should be implemented from a young age. There are, of course, recommendations to doing so. Kittens should be treated every two weeks when they are three weeks old until they are eight weeks old. Once your kitten is six months old, you can implement a lesser routine. Monthly or bi-monthly is adequate for a cat of this age. As your cat reaches maturity, administering worming medication should be done every three months.
Tapeworms are usually a problem that is associated with adult cats. Tapeworms rarely affect kittens. However, the two can be a problem for mature cats, so endeavour to purchase medication that is effective against all types of worms. Your cat’s health should be your priority so a dual medication will be needed effectively prevent an infestation of worms.
Medication comes in various forms. The most useful form of medication, according to cat owners, is tablet form. This is because it can be added to the cats daily feed. As a cat owner, you will know the perilous nature of trying to get your cat to take their medicine.
Exchanging contracts on your first property is the first step on the journey to buying your “forever home”.
When moving day has come and gone, you can immediately start adding value to your home – ready for when the time comes to move further along the path, towards your dream house.
That’s how most homeowners wish they would’ve started out. And it’s how the smart first time buyer approaches their journey today.
Here are three home improvements you should be saving for, that will add instant value and enjoyment to your new house.
1. Made to measure blinds
Well designed, made-to-measure blinds will instantly improve the appearance of your home – from both the inside and out.
It’s simple – but it works.
See, blinds are an elegant alternative to curtains and offer a number of practical benefits too:
- Improved privacy – your private business remains just that.
- Sound-proofing – less sound escapes from well fitted venetian blinds so you are less likely to disturb the neighbours.
- Temperature control – blinds allow you to easily control the amount of light and heat that comes through your windows.
- Improved energy efficiency – made to measure blinds prevent heat escaping, or cold drafts coming through your windows.
Because new blinds help to prevent heat loss in the winter, they also help reduce your energy bills. The money saved will help towards the next home improvement – solar panels.
2. Solar panels
Solar panels are quite expensive to buy outright, but the government offers attractive rebates to people using them in the form of Feed-in tariffs (FITs). FITs pay you for the electricity you generate, helping to offset the cost of the panels.
The electricity that your solar panels generate is yours to use as you need. Any electricity that is unused can be sold back into the National Grid, resulting in a lower utility bill.
The units cost around £7000 to buy and install, but experts believe that using solar panels to generate your own electricity will help cut household bills by around £750 a year.
Some households even claim that solar panels generate up to three-quarters of their annual electricity needs.
These savings created can then be put towards the next home improvement – a conservatory.
3. A conservatory or extension
A conservatory is a useful, all-purpose room that will give you more space to enjoy your new home.
There are plenty of designs available, ensuring you will be able to find a conservatory that fits in with the architectural style of your house. You could also consider fitting wooden venetian blinds from Thomas Sanderson to complete the look, or a downstairs extension as your family grows.
It may take a lot longer to save up to buy a conservatory, but the investment will be well worth it in the long run.
The additional living space provided by a conservatory or extension also adds value to your property. By increasing the value of your house, you will have more equity to put towards your next move up the property ladder.
There are two reasons to save up for home improvements – to turn your house into a home, and to add value to the property.
These three suggestions should, over time, help you to create a house that you love, that you can sell for a profit when you are ready.
Got any questions or any more suggestions to add to the list? Drop your thoughts in a comment below.
As the English National Opera prepares to put on Jonathon Miller’s production of Puccini’s classic opera La Boheme, I give you 5 good reasons why you should see this amazing piece of musical theatre.
It’s In the Top 5 Operas
According to Operabase.com, an authority on Opera statistics, La Boheme is third in the top 5 most produced operas in the world. Only Verdi’s La Traviata and Bizet’s Carmen have been produced more times. Also in the top 10 are Puccini’s other famous works Madame Butterfly and Tosca, proving that Puccini had the magic touch when it came to writing hits.
It’s For Everyone
Unlike many of the other opera out there, La Boheme is for everyone and not just the fancy folk in their fancy limos. There is one big classic death scene but is more touching than anything else and does not take an hour or involve beheadings and Viking helmets. It is simply the story of 2 very poor artists and the woman they both fall in love with. It was written in the verismo, or realistic style and features very natural looking costumes and sets. The elitist critics hated the opera when it debuted in 1896, giving further kudos to it being an opera for the everyman.
It’s Set in Winter
Apart from the great Russian operas, most operas are set in summertime. However, La Boheme begins on Christmas Eve and Act III takes place on a very cold and wintery February morning. The story of the artist heroes trying their best to survive in the icy climates is something that most people can relate to.
It Follows the KISS Principle
La Boheme is different from a lot of operas because it follows the principles of KISS, or Keep It Simple Stupid. There is no need to study accompanying notes or to attend university to understand the ploy. It is perhaps one of the most direct and simple story ever told – boy meets a girl, boy loses the girl, boy gets the girl back, boy loses the girl again. That’s all there is to it, along with the side plots of the love story of Marcello and Musetta and the funny and often heart-warming actions of Shaunard the musician and Colline the philosopher. The easy to follow and understand storyline allows the romantic and beautiful music to take centre stage.
Real Acoustic Singing
While you may have seen opera on TV or at the cinema in the past, if you have never seen it at a proper theatre or opera house, nothing compares to the genuine article. Seeing and hearing it live in the flesh and the performers using the oldest instrument in the history of man and the world, the human voice, is nothing short of sublime. As well as being an enticing and pleasing attack on our ears, it is also a wonderful thing to watch and look at, with complex and beautifully designed clothes, sets and lighting, it all adds to the overall experience.
Most people reach a point in their lives where they face a dilemma; move house, or create more space in their home for a growing family. Sometimes they are so happy in the area that they live, relocation is out of the question.
If you find yourself in that situation, there are several home improvements that will give you a little more elbow room. Here are my personal favourites.
A Two Story Extension
If you have the finances and mental strength to undergo a significant alteration to your home, a two-story extension might be the answer. It takes a long time to finish the extension. You will need the services of a reputable architect to get it underway. They will draw some detailed plans to your specifications and submit them to the planning office. When the planning committee convenes, they will study the plans to ensure that they meet with the local regulations. They may decide to contact your neighbours to see if they have any objection to the project before making a decision. Some blueprints are rejected in the early stages so the designer must make changes and re-submit them.
Only when you have planning permission can you proceed with the extension. The building inspector will visit the site at stages of the construction. He will inspect the work and make sure it complies with building regulations.
You feel as if your home has been invaded for three months or more before your alterations are complete. Expect to come to tears during the process; most people do. If the thought of such a project hasn’t made you run to the estate agents in Chadwell Heath in the search for a new home, nothing will. The extension is the most expensive, and intrusive, project.
The loft has a huge floor area suitable for several extra bedrooms. The engineers will tell you, but you often do not need planning permission for a loft conversion. It will cost much less than an extension to build, and take less time. That is why loft conversions are so desirable. If you live in and old property, the roof may not have to be altered, but in modern homes the trusses get in the way. Even if you must replace the roof, the potential space up there makes it worthwhile.
If you have the bedrooms that you need but need more space for lounging about, a cheap and cheerful conservatory might solve your problem. Well, they are cheap in comparison to the other ideas. If it stays within the floor area limits it does not need planning permission. For much less than ten thousand pounds, this extra room could be yours within a couple of weeks.
Instead of building an extension, would you consider converting your garage into a habitable room? Many people do because it is such an easy project. You must make changes to the lighting and power in there and remove the garage door in favor of a patio door or window. Make the walls good with plaster and fit skirting boards. You could do it yourself if you have a flair for building and carpentry, in only a few weeks.
Those are my recommendations for those who need more space. Do you agree with me or do you have a few ideas of your own? Good luck with your home improvements!