Living Arrows - February 2020

This year, I'm making an effort to take part in more linkies, especially ones that are solely about the kids - my favourite subjects to photograph and document. I started the year with my first Living Arrows post for 2020 and hopefully, it is going to be something I will stick to as they are lovely to look back at. I had an array of different photographs to use for March but these shots really stood out to me - they really make me smile.

We are lucky to live in a part of Lancashire which is surrounded by picturesque countrysides and lush woodland areas and they just so happen to be two of our favourite types of places to explore. I pack up a bag full of supplies and fill our flasks with hot chocolate and we are good to go. We can spend hours together outdoors, collecting sticks, searching for rocks, and examinating bugs - great for stretching your legs all while enjoying the fresh air together.

Living Arrows

3 Simple Ways To Make Moving Home Easier

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In 2014, after years of renting, we were fortunate enough to place our feet firmly on the property ladder. We were accepted for a mortgage, despite my maternity leave, and we took to looking for our first home right away. They say that you know when a house is right for you, it's a feeling you get in your gut and we sure had that feeling and decided to place an offer on the house the same day. It wasn't pretty, in fact, it needed an endless amount of TLC, and there was a lot of admin to go through before we could get started. Our first port of call was looking into online conveyancing solicitors to help us on our journey. Once all the paperwork was done it was then time to get on with the renovation.

The house was dated, with avocado coloured bathroom, a bright red 40s kitchen, and green floral bedrooms and it had never had central heating and needed a full rewire. 
however, that didn't put us off. The walls were knocked back to brick, the floorboards were ripped up, we totally gutted the entire house. Thankfully, we didn't let all the work ahead of us put us off - we could see it's potential as a great family home for Nick and I as first-time buyers.

There was that much work that needed to be done that we had to live with our inlaws for six months. It was a difficult time, trying to parent an infant, work on the house almost daily, all while living with other people. In between all the renovation work we had the task of packing up all our belongings, to then transport to our new home. This has led me to write this post - here are 5 ways to make moving home easier.

1. Read or watch anything by Marie Kondo
I don't think I'll either be as minimalist as her but I would like to be - that's the dream for sure. Marie Kondo offers a plethora of tips both in her book and on the hit Netflix series. She is also such a sweet person and she makes me smile every time I see her on my screen. She teaches people how to organise, sort, and throw/donate anything that doesn't spark joy! This is also something you could do on a monthly or seasonal basis - not just when moving home.

2. Sell, donate and recycle things you no longer want or need
My Marie Kondo tip leads me nicely onto my next suggestion. Don't dispose of things you no longer want or need, it's so wasteful and you are adding to landfill when you really don't have to. If there's still life left in a product consider selling, donating, or recycling it. Online recycling sites make it easy to recycle apple products and other old electronics taking up space in your home. I also like to donate a multitude of other items, from clothes the kids have grown out of, to crockery and artwork - usually to our local RSPCA charity shop.

3. Hire a removal company
Last but certainly not least - hire a removal company! Moving home is exhausting, especially on top of everything else which needs to be done. Hiring a cheap removal company costs next to nothing and helps out tenfold. I wouldn't move without hiring one again - that service is a must-have for me.

Do you have any tips you would like to share?

We got a great tip from someone that was thinking of moving house in a few months. They used a moving checklist and priced out each important stage using online comparison websites covering conveyancing, surveying, house insurance, and removals. They managed to identify professionals that provided fixed fee quotes. The result was a budget that they could rely upon. Some comparisons websites ask for personal details upfront which results in emails and calls which of course is far too early when you are just gathering prices. They used the Homebuyer Conveyancing quotations website which provides a wide range of local and national Conveyancers. In your own time, you can view the fully inclusive legal fees and disbursements without the need to enter your personal details.

Baby Born Surprise Bottle House Playset - Review

AD - I received this product for the purpose of this review.

I've said it once and I'll say it again - my children are obsessed with collectibles! You name a range of collectibles and I can guarantee we collect them or have done in the past. They really love to collect and one thing which keeps them both interested is when the brand release playsets to use with their collectibles.

Baby Born Surprise has done just that with their new Baby Born Surprise Bottle Playset - one look at it and I knew Ava would be in her element! It's a huge, colourful bottle, which opens up into a little house full of accessories. Included is a bath with working showerhead, a pretend bottle of talc, baby wash, hairbrush, teddy bear, bottle and an exclusive Baby Born Surprise doll.

It's the perfect home for Baby born Surprise dolls - bound to inspire little one's imaginations and role-playing skills. With four different rooms spread over two floors to explore there is plenty to do for youngsters. The ground floor features the playroom with baby gym and teddy bear. On the opposite side is the baby changing table with powder bottle and brush to get BABY born ready for her day. The top floor features a hanging mobile and bedroom ready for the Baby Born Suprise doll to hopefully, sleep the night through. There's also a space for the bath, which can be removed and played with elsewhere.

The bath is a nice touch as it can be removed from the bathroom and has a real working shower - perfect for washing your baby and to watch her hair change colour when washed with iced water. We did have a little trouble getting the water to come out of the shower - it was very temperamental, however, a friend has this set too and didn't have a problem with it.

I also like how there are a few elements which are a bit more interactive, like the mobile, the safety gate on the cot, the front door - other than that there isn't much else to it. Ava seems quite engaged with it though as she's spent a lot of time playing with it and looking after her babies. She also really enjoyed "opening" the babies eyes, seeing her nappy change colour, working out her name, and so on - which you can do with all Baby Born Surprise Dolls - read more about that here.

The Baby Born Surprise Bottle Playset is suitable for children from 3 years of age, retails at £34.99 and is available to buy online and at Smyths.

7 Tips To Follow When Buying Flooring Online

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Most of us have been there. You order something, you’re excited, it comes, then it’s completely different from what you expected and then you have to go through the returns process which can be stressful and time-consuming. Buying new flooring is an expensive and disruptive project, so you’ve got to be sure you’ve got it right before going full-in! Here are a few tips to make sure you’re completely satisfied and don’t encounter any disappointments along the way.

1. Order lots of samples
You may be eager to order your flooring and enjoy it in your home as soon as you can - however, it’s important to be sensible about it, especially when buying online. No matter how good the pictures are and how much you might trust the company, you can never get a proper idea of what it’s like until you’ve seen it in the flesh. This is why it’s so important to order samples of all the flooring you’re considering- if you can, order multiple samples of the same product as this will give you an idea of the natural variation you can expect to see across your new floor! Also, you might be really keen on one online then when it comes it’s nothing like you expected, as well you might see one online that isn’t so perfect but when it comes it’s much better than expected! You can directly compare it against your interior and see how it’ll go. Most companies post samples free of charge too.

2. Make sure you know exactly what it is you’re looking for
With there being countless flooring options available online, whittling them down to the perfect one can come as a bit of a challenge. Is it a cheap fix you’re looking at or are you wanting something with full luxury? Once you’ve decided on your priorities, then it becomes a much less daunting task! It’s not just flooring types you need to be clear on, there’s plenty of colours and surfaces to choose from too which is a whole other story.

3. Consider budget
Like anything, flooring differs in price and quality. If you’re buying a house, you wouldn’t dream of looking at properties that were out of your budget, well it’s the same with flooring! The best way to approach it is don’t torture yourself looking at flooring that’s too pricy, instead filter down the pricing on the company’s website, this will stop you from being tempted by something that’s not within budget!

4. Check the features of each flooring type
Flooring isn’t just about aesthetics. Your flooring is going to endure a lot of abuse in its lifetime, so of course, check the durability and practicality ratings of each type. One of the most important features to consider is whether you want underfloor heating. Natural materials such as solid wood cannot cooperate with it due to its warping and shrinking under heat, whereas flooring such as engineered wood and vinyl can. This can make or break your decision, you don’t want to find you’ve ordered flooring that can’t withstand differing temperatures when this is something that you have in your home!

5. Don’t book your fitter before your flooring comes
This is something a lot of us do and on the face of it, it makes sense! You want to reduce the amount of disruption time, so having your fitter ready the day your flooring arrives seems sensible. However, this can cause a lot of problems. Sometimes there can be issues with the delivery and it doesn’t come on time, but you’ve still got to pay your fitter. As well, if you’ve purchased solid or engineered wood then it needs to acclimatise for several days before it can be laid. Our advice is to not book your fitter until the goods are on-site and you’re satisfied with them. 
Take a look at handyman services near me in Concord or elsewhere for fittings and more.

6. Check returns policy
This slips a lot of us up, no matter what you’re buying! There’s nothing worse than when you go to read the returns policy after you’ve bought it to then get a nasty shock that you’re not eligible for a return! For something that is such a large investment like flooring, the returns policy becomes more important than ever. Each company has different rules, don’t assume they’re all the same.

7. Make sure you’ve got the right underlay and accessories
Although something most of us finds boring, spend some time reading up on the correct underlay and accessories – we promise you it’s more boring if you get it wrong and it isn’t compatible with the flooring you’ve purchased! A lot of companies don’t accept returns on under-lay or glue that’s been opened and used either.

Less Stress During Home Renovations

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Home renovations are always going to be a bit stressful, if only because it’s impossible not to make some mess no matter how small the job. Taking a logical, step-by-step approach will help the task go smoother with a minimum of stress and fuss for everyone.

Initial Planning
Taking a step back and pausing for thought before plunging into a renovations project lets you see the bigger picture and can give plenty of clues for how to get started.
● What materials do you need? Estimate quantities and costs, make lists and tick items off as you collect them.
● Do you have a clear result in mind? Be sure about colour and texture choices. Samples and tester paint pots really help.
● Have you fixed your budget, and can you stay within it? Overestimating how much money you’ll need to complete the project will give you a bit of wiggle room for any unexpected problems or expenses.
● What storage or packing arrangements do you need to make so you can carry on as normal a life as possible during work? Everyday tasks can turn into ma-jor undertakings during kitchen or bathroom renovations, for instance.
● When is the most convenient time to start? School holidays might not be the best, for example, if children at home will slow down work or put them in any danger.

Preparing Your Work Area
Start by clearing your space. If you need to move heavy furnishings, decide ahead of time where they’ll go, and collect some boxes to store items as you empty cabinets or sideboards before you try to lift them. With a clean work area, do the prep for the type of job you’re doing. If you’re sand-ing, lay down dustsheets; if you’re painting, make sure woodwork or walls are dust-free, clean and dry before you start. While you’re stripping wallpaper, have rubbish bags handy so you can bundle up the scrap paper as soon as it comes off the wall. Put pets somewhere safe while you're working - wet paint and dogs don’t mix well.

Tips for Storing and Safeguarding Possessions
Do you have a place to put all your belongings? When you are renovating, things are bound to be displaced. They can crowd your bedroom, hallways, or whatever room is free. In boroughs that have small housing options like Ealing, this can make your renovation unnecessarily difficult. You may want to look into companies that can give you the space you need. Henfield's self-storage facility in Ealing comes to mind. They can be a temporary or long-term solution for your clutter problems. With their help, you can keep the walkways clear and protect your items from the dust and damage of back-to-back construction work. Henfield self-storage facility in Ealing comes to mind. They can be a temporary or long-term solution for your clutter problems. With their help, you can keep the walkways clear and protect your items from the dust and damage of back-to-back construction work.

Clearing your space, as mentioned in the previous section, is easy to say but harder to do. Bigger renovation jobs mean you’re likely to need a lot of alternative space in which to store the things you’ve cleared. Put all the smaller, loose items into boxes rather than piling them on the floor or dot-ting them around other rooms. You’ll save on breakages, protect items from paint spatters, and make replacing them easier when you’re done. Plus, it gives you the chance to have a bit of a declutter, which is never a bad thing. Consider self-storage for larger items of furniture, or if you have a lot of boxes that would otherwise get in the way. Some renovation projects can take several days or weeks, and life can quickly get stressful and muddled if you’re tripping over boxes piled up around the house, especially if you also have small children. If you don’t need a whole self-storage room, some self-storage facilities also provide lockers. You might also want to consider these if you’re hiring contractors and want to keep valuables secure. Make sure the items you pack up to keep at home are well protected. Use old newspapers to cushion breakables in boxes. Towels and tea towels are also handy for wrapping up delicate items. Creating a work plan, clearing space and organising materials before you start helps the project go faster. You’ll be able to just crack on and create your perfect new space with a lot less stress.

Do you have any tips you would like to share?