Garden Ideas for encouraging imaginative  play

I’ve got my sensible parent hat on today so thought I’d revisit one of the very topics which lead me into blogging in the first place; child development. While I may have hung up my hat in that industry coming up 4 years ago, it still crops up in conversations and remains the baseline from which I parent my kids. Albeit with much looser reins these days. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from raising teenagers it’s that there’s a lot more trust in them making the right choices and less rule setting, but I still have a 3-year-old to help teach independence and educate on the healthier side of life.

Take the turn in seasons, for example, longer warmer days means less excuses to hibernate. And while I still yearn for duvet days, watching movies and trying to stay in my pj’s for as long as possible, the reality is I have a little boy who needs exercise as much as the dog. He goes stir crazy if kept inside for too long so while we get the odd late start to the day, we’re always up and dressed by midday at the latest and off out whatever the weather. On days when I’m overloaded with housework and work-work, my mum comes to the rescue. Either way, he’s never had a day when we’ve stayed in unless ill.

So back to that child development thing I mentioned; well all this thought of being outside more has got me thinking about how I can vamp up my small front garden. My boys will be 4 in a couple of months so the toddler slider and builder tray of sand just don’t cut it anymore. At his age, he’s very much about imaginative play and role play. So I’m going to have to bite the bullet and go for a mud kitchen. It actually pains me to say that, but a quick scour of Pinterest I’m sure it’s the way forward (and a lot cheaper than a garden full of brightly coloured plastic)

trying to find some ideas to encourage imaginative play in the garden

So, let’s say, for argument’s sake, I’ve acquired some pallets and created a corner in the garden where said mud kitchen will go, now it’s let’s think about what I’ll need to make it a go-to place while I sit nearby and crack on with some work. (I’m thinking ahead now to the 6 weeks summer holiday where I try and juggle work with mum stuff.)

I’m on a water meter so ideally, some sort of rain collecting system would be ace, nothing too big but large enough to allow him to access water when needed. And then there’s the mud, obs, I quite like the idea of these old tyres which I can fill with mud, leaving him to dig and scoop to his hearts content and to finish it off, some small water play tables for mixing said mud and also, where he can wash his hands quickly before coming in the house. I’m not completely insane and I quite like my grey and white decor WITHOUT a 3-year-old height brown hand splatter pattern

In an ideal world, I’d have another little corner where I can create a little den. Think tree house minus the tree. This is the point at which I stopped searching Pinterest for outdoor play ideas and my imagination ran wild.

No harm in having a vision and I consider this parenting without guilt; My boy can play, get fresh air, work on all those senses and physical development skills while I get to work and do boring housework, meal prep stuff.

And who knows, I may even dive in and join him!

This is a collaborative post


What Are Benefits of Having An Artificial Christmas Tree?

I’ve got no loyalty when it comes to the never-ending debate of real versus artificial Christmas tree. I’m avoiding the word fake, on the grounds of attempting to eradicate all negativity from my life over the festive season.and fake being a negative word. My PMA is through the roof right now as I push bad thoughts away and saying fake, to me, reeks of things trying (and failing) to match something good.

I say fake, what comes to your mind? fake snow, yeah, that’s total pants. Fake money, worlds worst practical joke, how fake boobs, see where I’m going with this? I’d be lying if I hadn’t contemplated it. Being a size 6 has it’s good and bad points, but I’m still not convinced I’d pull off fake boobs at 90 in the nursing home when everything else has gone south. replace it with artificial and boom, it’s a little more woolly. We tried to make it real, but the nearest we got was artificial.

We’re not mentioning the F-word.

So, cleared that up and now back to my question, what are the benefits of having an ARTIFICAL Christmas tree

Now, this is where I’m struggling with an air of authenticity. You see, I’m typing this while sitting 10 foot away from a glorious real Christmas tree. It smells lush, it looks lush and the dog is well impressed we have some greenery in the house. In all my years of home owning (about 20 now, I think) I’ve only had a real tree 3 times, this year is the 1st time I’ve gone out and bought it myself.

I've been pondering over the difference of going real and not having an artificial Christmas tree. There are benefits to both....Years past have always seen the big decorating day begin with the assembling of the artificial tree. And I’ve been pondering over the difference not having an artificial one this week.

Decorating Is Totally different.

This light bulb moment popped into my head as I looked at the mish-mash of decoration on my tree, and for the tenth time that day rehung the ones which the dog and the 3-year-old had knocked off. There’s less pressure to decorate a real tree.

Instead, it’s just a case of aiming for the most sticky out branches with very little attention to detail. Yet here’s the thing though…… I like that attention to detail.

I like carefully arranging a theme of colours and alternating between things that wrap around and things which dangle. I like making sure my mathematical mind is satisfied that everything is in its place and pattern. I’d go as far as to say my strategically arranged artificial Christmas tree made me proud and when visitors came through the door I’d wait for that,

“wow doesn’t your tree look amazing!”


Other than the odd comment on my current tree having a nice shape, not one person has complimented my decorating skills. And let’s face it, who does love a compliment?

Maintenance is key

Or not if you’re talking artificial. I was the proud owner of my last artificial tree for, give or take, 5-6 years. That poor thing was pushed down the stairs in its box as I navigated it down from the loft then rammed back into a box when it was time to say goodbye. There was no remembering to water it (something I didn’t realise you had to do with my first one which was in a very sorry state by Christmas day, I was young and inexperienced, don’t judge me.) There was no panicking everytime the kids got a little hyped up, and there was no working out what to do with it once it’s served its purpose.

You would never see my artificial tree lying in my front garden shamelessly waiting for the Christmas tree fairies to take it away.

An artificial tree is a good investment.

And finally, I’ve done the maths, and if I was to invest in a new artificial tree for say £100 and kept it for 5 years, (or more!) then that’s worked out a lot cheaper than buying a real one each year. Now don’t get me wrong, my £30 real tree IS glorious and I do not regret buying it one bit. The real bonus, I guess, was being able to support a local business.

But will I do it again next year?

I’m still undecided.


I’d be lying if I didn’t look at my mums with a little envy, sitting all perfectly proportioned with it’s perfectly arranged decorations and wonder if I’ll go back to an artificial tree next year?

I've been pondering over the difference of going real and not having an artificial Christmas tree. There are benefits to both....Disclaimer. 

This is a collaborative post 


Quick And Easy Makeover for a Dark Bathroom

One thing  I’ve learned from living through a big house renovation project is to get advice and opinions from other people. It’s been a few years now since I completed mine, and there are a few things I wish I’d done differently, one is not taking out a few windows. I mean, seriously, what was I thinking? Thanks to poor decision-making (there may have been a good reason for it, but if there was I don’t remember) I have a windowless shower / bathroom room.

I’m not completely irrational, I did install a fan to help with the steam, but this also means that each time a person goes in there, which is fairly often being our downstairs loo, the fan goes on. Which can be quite annoying when that person forgets to turn the light on when they leave!

and guess what, I’ve found an easy fix for that problem……

We now have a new Lumino led illuminated mirror installed when we need a light in there but not the fan! And the easy thing about it is it’s battery powered so no need to call out an electrician to install it. Although I did call on my stepdad and his drill to help out.

It creates a subtle, cosy glow and a pride of place feature in our once stark and bare shower room. I used the opportunity to update the colour scheme in there too before the mirror was fitted, it’s amazing how quickly a room dates! Gone are the boring cream canvas and stark lighting, it’s been replaced with a cool, but modern olive green, making my white sanitary wear stand out, and warmed up with dark ornaments and wooden towel holders to warm it up.

Going green was a big leap of faith for me, I’ve been stuck in a grey and white phase for a few years now, but I fancied going brave in the bathroom, dramatic and cosy was my motivation, with a darker backdrop to help the illuminated mirror as the centre piece, as well as giving a classy feel to the room.

And I’m actually really, rather pleased with the results!

My super easy bathroom makeover with a new Lumino led illuminated mirror. And, even better, it's battery powered!


This is a collaborative post with Lumino


My Cool, Calm & Relaxing Bedroom Makeover

After months of waking up to badly hung curtains in a bed that was way too big for the room and tell tale signs of my terrible decorating skills, I bit the bullet and assigned my childfree weekend to give my bedroom a complete makeover. I’d spent months looking for inspiration, mainly on Pinterest and finally settled on a cool, calm and relaxing theme of whites, greys and a shot of yellow. The snippets of moments when I considered going all dark and hotel chic were always argued out of my head in favour of something where I could relax in, day or night, more of a de-stress / escape room than a boudoir.

Plus the furniture was already up cycled and time wasn’t on my side, I had a bed to build, a room to paint, more furniture to chalk paint and curtains to rehang (properly this time.) I considered installing blinds and dress curtains but after splashing out on Stylish blinds from VELUX for my teenage son’s room, so kept costs down by fixing black out lining to my existing grey curtains which my sewing machine savvy mum trimmed down to fit my window (they were huuuuge) and made throw cushions out of the left over material.

I gave the whole room a lick of white paint then finished the chimney breast with a grey and white forest print wallpaper. My new trundle-bed (topped off with an unbelievable comfy FUÜM memory foam mattress (read the review here if you’re looking for a new one and need some research) is perfect for hiding all the clutter which had previously lurked in corners on the room and made space for new bedside tables; a bargain find on eBay. I accessorised each one with small bedside lamps with grey shades from Next along with artificial roses in jam jars and yellow picture frames.

And finally, to warm up the whites and grey decor I added a cosy fur throw to my white bedding. That’s one area I can never bring myself to skimp on, once you’ve slept on quality sheets, there’s no going back!

I’ve got one last thing to find and complete my bedroom makeover and that’s a print to hang above the head, but my indecisiveness is still holding me back from finding ‘the one.’ If you’ve got any recommendations of the perfect print please share. I’m loosing sleep trying to find something which I’m not even sure exactly what I’m looking for.


Reviewing A FUÜM Memory Foam Mattress

For me, a good night’s sleep is paramount to anything I can achieve the following day. Bad nights sleep = me walking round forgetting what I’ve walked into a room for and loosing track what mid sentence, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. It’s safe to say I love my sleep, or my bed if I’m really narrowing it down, and a decent mattress (along with pillows) can help make that magic sleep thing happen. So deciding that my sleep sanctuary was looking a little tired (see what I did there?) I decided it was time to give my bedroom a makeover, complete with new bed and mattress;

My once lush superking size one, which dominated my room, no longer served a purpose.  With no kids jumping into bed in the morning (bar one little 3 year old who quite often trudges in in the wee small hours) there’s simply no need for one as huge. So I’ve downsized giving me the opportunity to test out a lovely new squishy memory foam mattress from FUÜM.

A little more delving into the concept of a FUÜM mattress, and after accidentally spending 2 nights sleeping on it upside down (doh!) I found out that it’s made from a solid, foam base layer which creates a high-density base  for the other layers. (I wondered why it was so hard!) There’s a lot more to it that just being a foam mattress.

I'm a big fan of a memory foam mattress, my FUÜM mattress is both supportive and unbelievably comfortable

At the centre of the mattress is an  Airflow gel layer with unique cooling properties that keeps you cool in summer ( I can vouch for that) while warm in winter ( it’s lived up to a few colder summer nights so I guess that’s true.

The lack of springs is the first thing you notice, along with not waking up with aches and pains as instead, your body’s been gently supported by the memory foam. The second plus  was having it delivered, rolled up in a box. This made storing it while I decorated the room and waited for my bed to get delivered so much easier.

Watching it uncurl and take its shape is quite fascinating too! There is a slight chemical type smell which lingers for a couple of days but nothing I couldn’t handle, just worth noting its normal and will go. I’ve had to the  chance to compare a FUÜM mattress to see what the difference is as my son has a cheap and cheerful memory foam mattress and you can really notice the difference, a FUÜM one is much more supportive with loosing its soft, melt into bed feel, if you’re wondering.

I'm a big fan of a memory foam mattress, my FUÜM mattress is both supportive and unbelievably comfortable

So my little bedroom makeovers complete accompanied by good nights’ sleep in abundance!

*******       To get £150 off a FUÜM mattress use the code FUUM150     *******