Buying baby gifts made easy

Buying a gift for the baby of a friend or your family can sometimes be a tricky task. You want to make sure that the gift you buy is appreciated by the parents and also something that is not just going to be thrown in to a cupboard and forgotten about.

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To help you through the minefield of buying the ideal baby gift we have drawn up a list of 5 essential tips that you should follow. Take them in because they’re going to make your life a lot easier in the future. Do you have any great tips that you’d like to share with everyone? Or any experiences you think can help? All you have to do is pop your thoughts down in the comments section below this article, I can’t wait to read them.

Is the present practical, sentimental or for the future?

This is a very big question that you need to ask yourself; do you want a present that is practical, a present that will be used for a long time or maybe you would prefer to buy something like an ornament with sentimental value.

Practical – clothing, blankets, nappies or baby blankets.

Long-term – toys, books, baby photo albums.

Sentimental – engraved gifts, rattles and keepsakes.

Picking the right size

When you’re buying clothes for a baby the best idea is to pick the size 0-3 months and upwards. Don’t worry if the baby is newly born because in the first few months babies grow rapidly, buying new born sizes is just a waste when buying a present because after a few months they will no longer be of use. The best materials to look out for are organic cotton and wool.

Don’t forget mum

Of course becoming a mother is a big gift within itself, but you shouldn’t forget mum when buying baby gifts. It’s always a nice little touch to buy something special. Some great ideas include; massage vouchers, a weekend away, candles or a big hamper full of goodies for both mum and baby.

If you are looking to not break the bank on gifts then always keep your eye out for bargains or groupon vouchers that will help you get some amazing deals!

Athletics Shoes Explained

We all like to stay active or have made plans to get fit in the new year as part of our many resolutions. One thing that is important, no matter what your goal, is to make sure that you have right type of athletic shoes on your feet when your exercising. So it is important that you pick a pair of shoes that match your routine and also your body.

Before you make a start you should set yourself a budget, be lenient because you might find that the perfect shoe for you are a little over budget. If they will improve your performance and make the experience better then they are certainly worth the investment. My advice would be to look for special offers or do as I do and check out what great discounts with groupon you can find.

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Running Shoes or Cross-Trainers?

If your main reason for buying a pair of athletic shoes is because you jog or walk regularly then running shoes are the way to go. This is simply because they have been specifically designed for the heel-to-toe motion. I would almost certainly chose this toe of shoe per walking shoes because running shoes have been designed for a far wider range of foot type and they are also built to last much longer. Cross trainers are for you if your regular routine includes activities such as aerobics, kick boxing or weight lifting – really any activity that is perfumed on a tough surface where you will be moving from side to side.

What type of foot do you have?

There are many different designs of athletic shoes which cater for varying types of feet. They have been specifically designed to lessen the impact that your feet take so that it prevents injury and also improves performance. You should really get an expert to take a look at your feet to let you know what type of feet you have. But here’s a little guide if you want to do it yourself, you will have to look at the soles of a pair of worn shoes to tell.

– Top Outer Edge Worn – This means you’re a supinator, and supinators’ tend to have feet with high arches that will roll in an outward direction. To compensate for this you will need trainers that have cushioning which will absorb the shock.

– Evenly Worn – This means your feet are neutral and you plant your feet with an equal weight distribution. The ideal trainers for you will be ones labelled stability or moderate stability, which will give you an even balance between support and cushioning.

– Top Inner Edge Worn – You are what is known as a pronator, this means that your feet will always roll in an inward direction. Pronators’ feet commonly have either flat arches or low arches. The perfect trainers for  you will be the motion-control or high stability designs, they will make sure that you feet stay in a better position to be aligned with your legs.

Inspiration – All Around You

Here’s а challenge: Find inspiration іn ѕоmеоnе whо bugs you. Yes, seriously. Find whаt іt іѕ thіѕ annoying person gіvеѕ tо thе world. Lооk fоr whу thіѕ person іѕ special. Yоu wаnt tо knоw why? Bесаuѕе whеn уоu dо that, уоu realize thаt wе аrе аll beautiful, special individuals. Wе аll соmе frоm thе ѕаmе creation. Whеn уоu саn ѕее wіth nеw eyes thаt еvеn thоѕе people іn уоur life whо annoy thе heck оut оf уоu bring light tо thе world, уоu wіll bеgіn tо realize hоw special уоu are! And hоw muсh уоur light іѕ needed. Bесаuѕе wе аrе аll connected; wе аrе аll mаdе оf thе ѕаmе stuff. And please, don’t compare!

Yоu аrе needed, nоt bесаuѕе you’re better, but bесаuѕе уоu аrе you. Thаt іѕ key. Yоur “annoying” friend іѕ special tо thоѕе whо resonate wіth hіm оr her. Yоu аrе special аnd inspiring tо уоur “peeps” whеn уоu аrе walking іn уоur true nature – bеіng thе beautiful YOU thаt уоu are. Whеn уоu compare, compete, judge – уоu hide thаt light а lіttlе bit mоrе bесаuѕе уоu bеlіеvе thаt іn comparison, you’re “less than” оr “more than,” whеn іn fact, wе аrе аll thе ѕаmе beautiful creation іn dіffеrеnt packages. Generally, people annoy уоu bесаuѕе there’s а behavior thаt reflects bасk tо уоu ѕоmеthіng іn уоur оwn life you’d lіkе tо change.

Or, thеу demonstrate ѕоmеthіng уоu wіѕh уоu соuld dо but аrе afraid of. If уоu flip thаt around, уоu јuѕt mіght find thаt inspiration саn соmе іn thе strangest оf forms. Frоm уоur annoying friend. Or еvеn non-friend! So, саn уоu spend thе week finding inspiration іn everyone, еvеn thе mоѕt annoying оf people? Thіnk аbоut hоw finding inspiration іn thеm will, perhaps, inspire уоu tо ѕее hоw special уоu are. And maybe, fоr them, finding inspiration іn YOU wіll аllоw thеm tо appreciate, love, оr finally ѕее what’s special аbоut themselves. It sounds simple, аnd іt is. But аѕ usual, аlthоugh іt mау bе simple, thаt doesn’t mеаn it’s necessarily gоіng tо bе easy. Thаt is, untіl wе decide іt is.

Candles; 3 Essential Safety Tips

Candles have become something that everyone seems to have in their household, especially during festive and holiday periods. They are a fantastic addition to any home; their scent and relaxed lighting set the perfect tone for any occasion. Yankee Candles have some of the best options on the market right now!

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Of course we all know about candles but we must never forget that we must always exercise caution when using them. Candles are brilliant, I for one love them, so follow these must do safety tips to make sure everything goes to plan the next time you want to set the perfect mood in your home.

Trim the wick

This is such a simple thing to do and the best part is that it only takes a few moments! When you trim the wick of your candle it will change how the flame will burn. The idea is to get s relatively short length of wick, this is because the flame will be under control and also extremely steady. If you light a candle that has a long wick then the flame increase in size and you will notice that it flickers uncontrollably. If you have a long wick the chances of it catching on to a nearby decoration or cloth is increased. The ideal length for your wick should always be around about a quarter of an inch.

Move decorations away

Of course, if you have your candles perfectly positioned in between your beautiful decorations it does look beautiful and illuminates your decorative pieces – this is however an accident waiting to happen/ You need to move decorations to a safe distance where the flame has no chance of reaching them, this includes all decorations! If a small draft comes in to the room the direction of the flame can change in an instant and set a light to the surrounding decorations. So put your candles in a safe place, out of areas where a draft might come in and always out of the reach of your kids and pets.

Keep an eye on them

Once you have lit your candle don’t instantly forget about it, you should pay attention to it. If you can, sit there and watch whilst it burns for a minute or two to make sure that it is burning correctly. Then come back to it every now and then to make sure that everything is in order. Try to avoid burning candles in rooms that are not always occupied such as bedrooms and bathrooms, this is because you will not know there is a problem until it is too late. As a rule of thumb – if you cannot directly see the candle them don’t light it up.

Common mistakes to avoid for beginner inline skaters

Inline skating looks easy doesn’t it? You just put one foot in the front of the other and off you, some people think it’s as simple as walking but soon realise that it is is far from that! Anyone who thinks that it is as easy as walking should remember one thing – we all had to walk before we crawled! It is important to spend a lot of time making sure that we our time when trying to learn inline skating. The great news for all beginners is that it is much easier to learn how to skate than walk!

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I’ve listed some mistakes that a lot of beginner skaters make, and even the advanced ones, try to avoid these and I guarantee you that it will save you a lot of pain and frustration!

 

Choose the skates that fit you

 

If you don’t want to end up on your backside all the time then don’t borrow someone’s skates, especially if they have a different size foot to you. You have to remember that it’s your first time skating and you can’t put yourself at a huge disadvantage. If the shoes are too big your feet will be moving around all over the place in there. Not only will you have difficulty standing up but you’ll also wake up with some of the worst blisters you’ve ever had! Check out Locoskates for some awesome options!

 

Going down hill is not the best idea

 

It sounds simple right? Go to the top of a hill, point your feet downwards and off you go – wrong! Too many people have fallen out of love with skating so quickly because they headed for the hills and ended up hurting themselves. Remember, it’s always best to say no until you are ready because your body doesn’t need to take the pain so early in your skating career!

 

Always use protection

 

Make sure that you’re ready and wearing the right gear, going skating with out protection is a major no no! It is a crazy idea to hit the road without wearing all the padding that is needed. Remember that when you start you are going to take a few falls, make sure you have enough protection on their to keep your skin and bones safe.

Passport to style: Travel inspiration for the home

The interior design of a home reflects the personality, likes, and interests of the homeowner. Elements of international home décor, from individual items to complete room styles and decorations, may also make their way into the interior design of the home. Whether it is a way of honoring one’s ethnic heritage or a means of remembering a favorite vacation destination, adding a touch of international flavor to the interior design of one’s home can be accomplished in a variety of ways.

Asian-style home décor tips

Asian-style home décor tips

Exotic and enchanting, Asian décor is most often associated with the Far East, particularly China and Japan. Asian décor draws from natural sources and is often very minimalistic in style. Interiors are designed to create a sense of peace and balance; the color palette is very natural with varied shades of earth tones and greens dominating. Additionally, more luxurious interpretations of Asian style include bold accents of red, black, and gold.

East Indian décor, a sub-style of Asian décor, features intricate embellishments, bold jewel-like colors, dark woods, and brass accents. Moreover, tapestries are a staple of East Indian design, as are canopies.

African-style home décor tips

More than simply animal prints and tribal statues, African-style home décor is as rich and complex as the massive continent that inspires it. The color palette for African style is warm and neutral, with bold geometric patterns, dark woods including mahogany and ebony, as well as sturdy styles of beds, chairs and, tables being the norm. African-style home décor can mesh very well with contemporary décor and modern styles, making it easy to work in elements.

Home décor from around the Mediterranean

Countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, including Italy, Spain, Greece, and North Africa, have been intermingling styles since the time of the Roman Empire. Not surprisingly, Mediterranean interiors and sub-styles blend together elements from these different cultures, using a lush color palette of aqua, terracotta, azure blue, coral, and natural browns and greens in a wide range of patterns and textures to create relaxing, refreshing interiors. Mediterranean home décor also makes use of luxurious touches such as plastered walls, textiles in silk and wool, as well as rustic wooden touches, wrought iron accents, and hand-painted tiles.

The Greek sub-style utilizes a rich azure blue as a primary color, with a light neutral or, preferably, pure white background, while earthy shades and bright blues and oranges are more frequently seen in Spanish sub-styles. Moroccan sub-style is easily recognized in warm browns and purples, as well as intricate pattern fabrics and Arab-influenced accents.

Adding international accents

It is easy enough to add some accessories and furniture pieces to the home to give rooms an international accent. Old-fashioned travel posters, particularly those with an Art Deco-style, add international flavor, as do old photos, prints, and paintings of world destinations. In addition, framed maps are a nice travel oriented touch, as are old suitcases and postcards.

Adding a globetrotting touch to a home may be small-scale or all encompassing, with a wide variety of international styles and ethnic décor from which to choose. From Africa and Asia to the ancient culture of the Mediterranean, international style can dress-up a home to suit anyone’s taste.

 

 

Things to do in Budapest

Budapest is one of Europe’s most up-and-coming destinations. With cheap direct flights from the UK and inexpensive accommodation to be found right in the city centre, Budapest is a great value option for a long weekend.

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Fabulous accommodation right in the heart of the city can be found on Air BnB (www.airbnb.com), where large apartments are rented out very cheaply – the best thing about this service is not only the extra space and privacy compared to a hotel room, but also that your host will be a great source of in-the-know tips for exploring Budapest and a useful contact for any problems that might arise.

It’s not only the value of the city that’s impressive; the capital itself is both beautiful and interesting, with hundreds of things to keep visitors busy throughout their stay. Here are just a few of the highlights:

Thermal Baths

There are several baths to choose from in Budapest. The most popular is probably Széchenyi Baths, for its enormous size, lavish surroundings, and hot water temperature. Even in winter, it’s a wonderful place to have a soak with the steam of the water meeting the cold air, creating a dramatic visual effect. Old men play chess with each other during a morning dip and it’s one of the public baths in which both men and women are allowed – many others have regulations on the times at which each gender can visit.

Eat

Budapest has a huge range of dining options, so you needn’t spend the whole weekend feasting on goulash – although it is delicious! There are two Michelin-starred restaurant (and undoubtedly there will be more to come), Costes and Onyx. For something more traditional, the Central Market Hall sells a huge range of Hungarian food and is a good place to find lunch. Local food is also served at Múzeum, which has been a Budapest institution for over 125 years.

Drink

Budapest is certainly not short on bars, the most famous of which are the ruin bars. Szimpla Kert is the most well known and a great place to get chatting to fellow travellers; the quirky bar has good music and a buzzing vibe. For something less alcoholic, Gerbeaud is one of the city’s top spots for coffee and cake dates. It’s a good place to write your postcards and call home, something that doesn’t have to be pricey.

Sights

There is so much to see in Budapest, but some sights not to miss include the ornate St. Stephen’s Basilica, the statues of Memento Park, the incredible façade of Parliament, best viewed from the Buda side of the Danube, and the colossal Great Synagogue.

Golden Oldies Music Shows 2014

It looks as if it’s going to be a bumper year for music festivals featuring some of the greatest musicians ever to have emerged in the world of rock and pop music. With many long-established musicians and bands doing well at the Grammy Awards, such as the gods of heavy metal Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, and Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr picking up an award too, the stage is set in 2014 for some great performances from stars both old and new.images (76)

Ever since 1969’s Woodstock Festival, which featured among others Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead, music festivals have been a magnet for music lovers of all ages, mixing acts that appeal to an older audience with newer performers that pull in the younger crowd. The great thing about festivals is that everyone gets the opportunity to listen to music they might not be familiar with, whether it’s Bruce Springsteen and Elton John or Mumford & Sons and Pharell.

So what’s happening in 2014? Here are a few of the best festivals around.

Glastonbury

Perhaps the granddaddy of all festivals now, this iconic festival in the magical setting of Glastonbury, England, is a global event attracting the music world’s biggest stars. The Rolling Stones headlined in 2013, U2 have played, and the organizers like to keep the full line-up under wraps until closer to the end of June event. Confirmed acts already include Dolly Parton and Blondie, and there will always be a massive surprise in the run-up to the event.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Kicking off towards the end of April, here’s a festival to attract fans of all ages. Eric Clapton, the doyen of blues musicians is on the bill, and fellow bluesman Johnny Winter is also performing. The Latin/rock sound of Santana will get the feet tapping, and the all-out intensity that comes with one of rock’s greatest stars, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will prove a huge attraction.

Soundwave 2014

Head Down Under to catch one of these Australian festival events at the major cities of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. Featuring the likes of Green Day, Korn, Alice in Chains and Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro, there’s something for everyone’s taste in the line-up.

Bonnaroo

Head southeast of Nashville, Tennessee to Manchester to catch the amazing Bonnaroo Festival. It’s a brilliant mix of the old and the new, with Elton John and Lionel Richie among the former, and Kanye West, Jack White and Arctic Monkeys for the younger crowd.

Hellfest

Taking place close to Nantes in France, Hellfest is the ultimate festival for lovers of heavy Metal. The classic purveyors of doom and angst, Black Sabbath will be one of the headliners there in June, and, and will be in the company of other British heavy rock household names, including Iron Maiden, Deep Purple and Status Quo. With top American rockers Aerosmith also on the bill it’s a great showcase of pulsating riffs and dazzling guitar solos.

 

A guide to planning an alternative family holiday

There’s no reason why you have to stick to the same tried and tested family holiday model every time you go away – especially if you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous. We’re going to give you some tips about how to plan an action-packed family break, as well as suggest a few options that are open to you.

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Start planning…

Firstly, it’s best to plan your holiday as a family, because this will help get the kids really excited about where you’re going and what you’re doing – a real blessing if you’ve got disinterested teenagers.

Secondly, to give you peace of mind when you’re arranging your break – and to make it easier for you – it’s best to go on an organised tour. This doesn’t mean you’ll be restricted in terms of what you do; in fact, it could open doors that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

The companies that offer adventurous family trips have extensive knowledge of the destinations they serve, which means they can introduce you to parts that you may not find on your own, as well as having connections with a host of activity providers who can make sure your holiday is full of thrills and spills.

Where to go

When you’ve taken the decision to be adventurous with your family break, the world really is your oyster. There’s such a wide variety of places to explore when you open up to the possibility of going off the beaten track. The following are just a few of our picks that we think are particularly good for families.

Borneo

Borneo in Malaysia is a wonderful choice if your children love wildlife, as there are some amazing reserves and sanctuaries on the island. Of course, Borneo is most famous for its orang utans, which you can get unbelievably close to at a rescue centre in Sepilok.

You can also go on jungle walks to see some more of the local wildlife, such as the proboscis monkeys that live in this part of the world, or even take a trip down the river to explore a little further afield. Mum and dad will certainly appreciate the chance to unwind in the natural hot springs in Poring, while you can all round off your trip with a bit of rest and relaxation on one of Borneo’s beautiful beaches.

Costa Rica

For plenty of action and adventure, Costa Rica is a fantastic choice. It boasts a wide variety of landscapes, including volcanoes, rainforests and beaches, while it’s become something of a mecca for travellers looking for an action-packed break.

On a family getaway here you can go white water rafting, fly through the rainforest canopy on a zip line, canoe along the coast, cycle around a volcano and go horse riding with the local cowboys. There’s certainly a lot to keep people of all ages occupied, making it a fantastic choice for families with older children who’ve got an adventurous streak.

Gozo

You don’t have to fly halfway around the world to find action and adventure, though, as there are lots of places in Europe that have plenty to offer on that front. One such example is the island of Gozo, which is part of Malta.

The emphasis here is on coastal activities, with kayaking in sea caves, mountain biking along coastal trails, abseiling and climbing on cliffs, and snorkelling in the warm Mediterranean waters that surround the isle among the things you can look forward to.

 

Tintagel: the castle and beyond

If you love myths, legends and history, then a staycation is absolutely bound to suit you. Why? Because there are so many wonderful castles and other characterful historical sites to explore right here in the UK. In my opinion, if you want the ultimate experience you should make a beeline for Tintagel Castle, which you’ll find on the north Cornwall coast.

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Below, I’m going to tell you all about this spectacular castle, as well as clue you into a few of the other things you can do in the surrounding area. Meanwhile, if you’re after some practical information on organising your trip, like listings of good places to stay, Sykes Cottages is a really reliable resource.

All about Tintagel Castle

One of the most magical things about Tintagel Castle is that it’s steeped in legend – something that helps to draw visitors year after year. It’s said to be the birthplace of King Arthur, a story that has fascinated locals, visitors and historians alike for around 800 years.

Standing on a really dramatic part of Cornwall’s coastline, the castle occupies what’s known as Tintagel Island. But, despite its name, it’s actually no island, being attached to the mainland by a narrow strip of land.

The surrounding scenery is absolutely breathtaking – think the crashing waves of the coast, dramatic cliffs and wild headlands. In fact, it’s actually the views that a lot of people come up here for! The castle is reached by climbing up around 100 stone steps – a walk that helps get you in the mood for the brooding ruins that await you at the top.

Heavy walls, steep steps and cliff edges will greet you on arrival, and you can walk through the shell of the castle picking your way across cobbles and flagstones, as well as grassy, rocky patches where nature has triumphed over the bastion.

Once you’ve finished exploring the castle itself, you can take a walk to another legendary site, Merlin’s Cave, which is located just below Tintagel Castle. Be careful though – it’s only accessible at low tide; at high tide, it fills with water.

Local sights and attractions

While the castle is what most people come to see, that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to do in Tintagel. The village of the same name, for instance, is an absolutely brilliant place to visit – especially since it has embraced its associations with Merlin with gusto, allowing you to continue the experience you began at the castle.

Things to do in the village include visiting the ancient church of St Materiana’s, which is on Glebe Cliff. An impressive example of Norman architecture, it has barely changed over the past 900 years. What’s more, it’s also home to some fascinating historical artefacts.

It’s also worth paying a visit to Tintagel Old Post Office, which probably sounds odd at first, but this 14th-century building is incredibly atmospheric. Once upon a time, it was a farmhouse, but these days it’s managed by the National Trust and hosts an array of events – most of these are family friendly, so coming here could be a particularly good choice if you’ve got the kids in tow.

And, just as a parting tip, if you’ve got a sweet tooth (like me!) then make sure you don’t leave without heading to Granny Wobbly’s Fudge Pantry – you’ll be bowled over by all the amazing flavours. Plus, all the fudge is made onsite, and in a traditional fashion.