Custom kicks with Dylon & Shoezone

IMG_20150222_153534Dylon noticed how much fun I was having customising clothes and shoes that they sent me a whole new project, this time including shoes from Shoe Zone! I spatter-dyed them with the dye, then drew sort of graffiti-style words “Love” and “Peace”, one on each shoe. I lined around them with the gold glossy paint, and painted hearts on the heels with the red glossy paint – it has a raised appearance. Deciding they needed a little something else, I ordered some ribbon laces form eBay and bingo! The finished product was as perfect as it was going to be.back side love side peace side top Then, DISASTER! I tried the shoes on and they are too small! When I looked at the reviews on the Shoe Zone website, they all say to buy a size larger than you normally would. I am gutted. So now they are for sale, if anyone wants to put in an offer, so that I can buy some more and customise them for ME!! I also used the fabric paint to make a Batman cape for my aspiring superhero: IMG_20150319_090658And, bought two pairs of hi-tops from H&M and customised two pairs, one for mini-Batman and some minions ones for his friend. IMG_20150319_213809IMG_20150318_215234I used fabric paint and sharpies for these and I found the sharpies ran quite badly, especially when I tried to waterproof the design with a spray. Luckily they were white shoes so I cleaned the edges up with some white Dylon fabric paint, and sprayed a clear varnish over them to seal – which made bits run again, especially on the toes – and so I touched them up with more Dylon 3d paint. I’ve had loads of fun though, and have had requests for more shoes to be customised too, so send me a message if you’d like some. All this fun with Dylon started when I re-dyed some faded Toms I had, and said Toms have now been decorated with fabric paint as well now. IMG_20150325_084943I’ve definitely found a new relaxing and enjoyable hobby. I definitely need more practice but it’s been so much fun.

Review: Adagio Teas

IMG_20150313_140326I thought I would start with the tea bag. The unique blend of tea sent to me as part of the Tree House Bags set from Adagio Teas comes in the most beautiful pyramid tea bag that I have ever laid eyes on.  I’ve drank a few teas in my time – fruit teas, masala tea, cleansing teas, traditional teas, roobios tea, some well dodgy Chinese medicine brew once for my skin – but never before have I laid eyes on a tea bag this cute.

I’m not sure what the bag is made from but it’s definitely a cut above your bog standard tea or herbal tea bag.  You can see the dehydrated contents nestling inside, itching to be soaked with boiling hot water and turned into a delicious refreshment.  The contents are, depending on the tin, roobios/honeybush tea and a variety of fruit and cocoa pieces.  When the teabag is liberated from the hot brew, all the little fruit bits have soaked up water and look like fresh fruit.

the tine

The set that I was sent was supposed to be for my little boy and me to both try because they are caffeine-free, but he refused to sip the full bodied and flavoursome brew, and just sniff-tested them instead.  I however, have been supping them like crazy, with half a spoonful of honey, just to sweeten them slightly.  My favourite is the Tea Rex, maybe because it has cocoa nibs and chocolate chips in it but I love the rich red fruit blend and it’s soothing aroma.  The rocket fuel is light in comparison and fresh, very citrussy and an exceedingly refreshing drink, maybe great for a lunchtime pick-me-up.  Monster brew is a slightly lighter tasting but equally full and sensual blend and a perfect lifter after the school run.

They come in the most adorable tins, and tins are so useful.  This would be a lovely gift for somebody, and I love the look of the Story Time and the Fairy Tales bags as well, especially the Sleeping Beauty blend, with lots of rose petals and flavours.  They don’t just sell children’s teas though but a massive and well-thought-out selection of tea bags and loose tea as well.

Thank you Adagio teas for sending me these teas to try, I have really enjoyed them.

Just to finish, here’s another cute tea bag picture :)

Adagio Teas

 

FLORENCE, THE ART CITY

Piazza della SignoriaHeaded to Florence, the City of Art, with the whole family? You couldn’t have chosen a better city! Florence is a perfect place to vacation with the kids, as the city organizes many activities and events just for children. It is a city full of art, museums, park, and rich with ways to have fun as a family. Especially if you have a big family, it is important to book your accommodation online beforehand. Sites like Venere.com make it easy to find the perfect place for a big group. I recommend the areas of Santa Croce or San Marco, which are close to the historical center.For example, at Campo di Marte, big rooms are available from just 32 euro per night. Now, what to do once you get there:

Museums

The first Sunday of every month the Museums of the City of Florence offer free entrance to all. This is part of the initiative “Un bacione a Firenze – La domenica del fiorentino,” or “A kiss to Florence – Sunday of the Florentine!” Here are the museums that offer free entrance to all visitors, Florentine or not: Museo di Palazzo Vecchio (hours 9 am to 11 pm), Museo Novecento (hours 10 am to 8 pm), Museo Stefano Bardini (hours 11 am to 5 pm), Fondazione Salvatore Romano (hours 10 am to 4 pm), Museo di Santa Maria Novella (hours 1 pm to 5 pm), Cappella Brancacci, in Santa Maria del Carmine (hours 1 pm to 5 pm), Scavi del Teatro Romano (hours 9 am to 11 pm) and Torre di Arnolfo (hours 10 am to 5 pm). Many museums also offer English language guides.

Il giardino di Archimede

Or, “Archimedes’s Garden,” is a museum dedicated to mathematics. From October to May, one Sunday a month becomes “Math Sunday!” This means special activities and guided tours especially targeted at families with young children. The activities run from 4 pm to 5 pm. You should definitely book ahead and can do so at the following number: +39 055 7879594.

Il Museo Nazionale Alinari della Fotografia

This is the National Museum of Photography, located in the gorgeous Santa Maria Novella square, near the train station. It is a special exhibit space dedicated to contemporary photography. There is also the splendid permanent exhibit wing, which is dedicated to the techniques and history of photography. Kids love photos, and the National Museum of Photography is sure to have something to delight everyone in the family. For upcoming events, check out the calender on their website:

Libraries

One Saturday every Month the library “Biblioteca delle Oblate” hosts “Le letture di Sara,” or “Readings by Sara.” This is a great circle of animated readings that shows kids how fun books can be. It is so important to get kids reading at a young age, and these Saturday readings with Sara get the kids excited about books, storytelling, being creative and using their imaginations. For more information you can visit the website: or call: +39 055 2626512.

L’associazione Libri Liberi

Last but certainly not least, the “Association of Free Books” offers wonderful events almost every weekend for the whole family. Some of the upcoming events in March are a laboratory for kids ages 6 to 10 that investigates the work of archeologists. Kids will get to learn hands-on what archaeologists do, as well as try some of the various techniques. They also offer various theater performances. For example on Sunday, March 15 a troupe performed “Fischietta, torna a casa” or “Whistle, come home.” For more information and book a spot (they fill up quick), call +39 340 5413759 or send an email to: teatrinodelgallo@libriliberiofficine.it

Incredible Kid day

incredible kid

I hope you will join in too.  This is one of my #RAKTivist missions, I hope it inspires you.

I wrote a simple letter, in words that he can hopefully read himself.

Some Mothers do av’it

From cooking and laundry, to cleaning and chauffeuring, mums do everything for their children.  And, as the following infographic shows, mums will also go above and beyond to protect their children, even in the most dangerous circumstances.  Did you know, for example, that female octopuses would rather ingest one of their own arms than stop protecting their eggs, or that meerkat aunts and sisters are responsible for caring for the pups in a tribe, even though they didn’t give birth to them?  Nothing can be compared to the love that a mother has for her child. Read more about it here.

CI_MumsInfo_06

Win some Really Good Stretch Mark oil

BLACK FUSHI LOGO with symbolHigh res copy
good strech mark lifestyleI’ve recently discovered Fushi.co.uk, an amazing website selling ethical beauty, wellbeing and fitness products.

Their Really Good Stretch Mark Oil has been winning awards and I am pleased to be able to give some away as a competition prize.

Here’s some more information:

DESCRIPTION

  • Award WINNING oil at the Natural Beauty Awards 2014
  • 100% natural and fragrance free
  • The Really Good Stretch Mark Oil is a specialised unfragranced natural formulation that helps improve the appearance of stretch marks, scars and uneven skin tone.
  • Formulated by using an innovative in-house infusing technology, it contains triple strength Indian Tulsi also known as Holy Basil for its superb skin healing powers and renowned benefits for stretch marks. Blended with African Baobab oil, which holds the properties of omega 3, vitamin E and D, it is ideal for scars, blemishes and stretch marks. These work together with penetrating vitamin E rich Wheatgerm oil and Avocado oil, which strengthen the skin, providing a preventative element that will help the skin heal faster. And finally combined with the powerful Pomegranate oil and Grapefruit seed oil this formulation will effectively tone the skin and promote skin elasticity.
  • Safe for use during pregnancy.

TERMS & CONDITIONS

  • Ship to anywhere in the UK and channel islands
  • 1 prize for 1 winner
  • Standard shipping 3-5 days
  • Entry only via rafflecopter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Competition: Win a mother’s day hamper with Elevease

hamperI’ve reviewed Elevease a few months ago here, it’s a great and unusual gift for Mums, for use in the shower, shaving your legs and whatnot. Well, they also thought that you might like to treat yourself to one, as part of a gorgeous Mother’s day hamper*.

*Please note the the image of the hamper is for example purposes and the products included will differ. ProductNoPrice

Just enter via rafflecopter below.

Usual rules, no cheating, multiple entries, and we can post to Europe only.

Happy Mother’s Day

elev_logo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Ultimate Formula One Grand Prix Party Guide

grand prix 1
Image by: Silverstone Circuit

I’m Fernando, I drive go-karts and I want to be a Formula One driver”

Suffering two blows to the head during a test run in Barcelona a few weeks back in February, Spanish Mclaren driver Fernando Alonso awoke after a severe concussion to reveal that in his mind he was back in 1995 after he smashed into a guard wall during a test run.

And to make matters worse, other teams are threatening to boycott the race altogether as a result of the accident. We haven’t seen this level of sports excitement (and drama) since Luis Suárez took a bite out of opponent Giorgio Chiellini during the football World Cup.

Although dismissed by most of the F1 GP brass, the show will most likely go on. Other racers were concerned it had something to do with hybrid technology used in many of the cars and fear for their own safety. Others think they’re just getting cold feet and chickening out because there’s always a risk of a technical failure and it comes with the territory.

Whatever the case, with a buildup like that mere weeks before the Formula One event, seats all over the world are sure to be filled, with onlookers glued to their television sets. Where will you be?

The Ultimate F1 Grand Prix Party Guide

With such an event percolating as it is in advance, we thought we’d put together our best advice for throwing the ultimate F1 Grand Prix party!

Food

Let’s be honest – while watching the race is an exhilarating experience, it is the food that house guests are really after. Make sure your guests arrive with an appetite and leave full. The extra food in their bellies will also keep the lightweights from getting too inebriated.

From gluten-free options like baked potatoes, dips, and meat lover carnivorous options like hoagies, sliders, slow cooked crock pot meats like pulled pork, chicken wings, kebabs, nachos with all the fixings –uh, getting hungry! – to low fat alternative items that look fattening such as black bean and corn salsa, jalapeno poppers, baked zucchini fries, baked chicken fingers, and sweet peach guacamole; your guest will never stop thanking you.

Drinks

This one is a no-brainer, however perhaps you’d like to put your own spin on it; in addition to the popular beers most sports lovers drink, why not include some creative cocktails or craft beers? And of course, be sure to have plenty of water around to keep everyone hydrated.

Décor

Everyone in attendance is already likely hyped up for the event now that there’s been so much dramatic preamble, but continue the mood with turning the inside of your space into the race roadside.

Turn the event into a main event of the season for all of your friends with poker tables, photo booth hire in London from Blue Steel Booths, an F1 Cup inspired punch bowl, and a whole lot of F1 paraphernalia.

Think: Man cave on steroids. Be that host that others envy and secretly hate.

Activities

We’ve come a long way since Pin the Tail on the Donkey; consider some adult-friendly activities for breaks in the action, such as friendly bets, or a few good games of Cards Against Humanity.

Cards Against Humanity proudly offer their decks for free download under a Creative Commons license, and allow you to create your own “real” looking decks at home. Why not create an F1 themed deck? Everyone loves CAH.

My favourite life hacks

PicMonkey CollageI’m a big fan of anything that makes my life easier in a simple and cheap way, and I’ve been a bit of a fan of the Crazy Russian Hacker, whom I can waste some good time watching.

Some life hacks are so simple that you wish you’d have spotted them twenty years earlier, some are things that your Grandmother told you, like hanging creased clothes in the bathroom while you take a shower to iron out wrinkles.

Some, are new, for technology, so here are a few of my favourites:

  • Put your kindle in a zip lock bag so that you can read it in the bath.
  • Stack your t-shirts vertically so that you can easily pull out the one you want.
  • Use spice racks to organise your small bottles in the bathroom.
  • Also in the bathroom, use a cake stand to organise your make-up and brushes.
  • Use hooks on the inside of doors to hang your jewellery.
  • Make a scarf organiser that you can hang in the wardrobe with a coat hanger and some curtain or shower hoops.
  • Use beeswax to waterproof your canvas shoes.  Rub on, then blast with a hair dryer.  The wax will melt in and provide waterproofing.
  • Loosen some just-from-the-wash jeans by doing a few squats and lunges.
  • Set a bedtime alarm to make sure you get enough sleep and encourage your body to form a sleeping routine.
  • See if jeans fit you without having to try them on by placing the waistband around your neck.
  • Fold jeans by flattening them out, folding the bottom cuff to the top of the back pocket and then again up from the now bottom crease to the top of the back pocket.  You’ll stack more pairs up, more clearly and neatly.
  • Clean up your computer and upgrade your RAM.  You do not need a degree in computer science to do this, just five minutes and a screwdriver.  Crucial let me double my RAM so now I am flying on bootup.

Have you got any good life hacks? I did find some for folding fitted sheets and t-shirts swiftly and easily but I couldn’t quite seem to do it correctly.

The History of Chinese Emperors and Empresses

The emperors and empresses began their sovereign reign when the Qin Dynasty of China was founded. Since then, there have been more than 550 Chinese emperors and empresses if you included the rulers of the minor states, but there have only been a few official empresses. This is largely due in part to the fact that some emperors named themselves emperors as they were battling their rivals and women and empresses were still seen as “secondary monarchs.” However, these emperors and empresses changed history for better or for worse.

Lady of GuoLady of Guo State, image by Kevin Poh via Flickr

Famous Chinese Emperors and Empresses

According to history books, Chinese history dates back more than 5000 years. Qin Shi Huang was the very first Emperor of a united China, and he founded the Qin Dynasty. He started off as a king, taking the throne as a young teen. He dealt with many scandals but by the time he was 40 years old, he had unified all the warring Chinese states in 221 BC and became their leader. He is most well-known for creating the Great Wall of China to help Northern China, and as can be read at the http://www.thechinatravelcompany.com/, the creation of the Terra Cotta Warriors and their horses.

Emperor Wu was the seventh Emperor of the Han Dynasty and was most responsible for expanding that territory. He was also the first Emperor that brought China together in ideology by organizing a strong Confucian state. In 138 BC, Emperor Wu attempted to form an alliance with the Hun, an ancient tribe that was their greatest rival. Even though the actual alliance failed, he succeeded in opening the Silk Road in Central Asia, which is still used for trade.

teracotta warriorsTerracotta warriors, image by Glancs via Flickr

Empress Lu Zhi was the empress of Emperor Gaozu Liu Bang, who technically created the Han Dynasty. After he died, she became respected as the Empress Dowager and was the first woman to rule as the Empress of China. While she was respected, she was also thought of as a ruthless and cold empress, partly because one of the first acts she did was sentence Concubine Qi, one of her late husband’s consorts to death. She even had Concubine Qi’s son Liu Ruyi poisoned and killed as well. However, she did dominate the political scene for 15 years by governing her people by not really doing anything. She also believed in the importance of literature, and encouraged her people to read, collect, and restore books.

Empress Wu Zetian is the only empress in the Chinese history to actually ascend to the throne and rule China. Despite the fact that Confucian beliefs stated that women were not rulers, during the Tang Dynasty things changed and they did rule. By the time she was a teenager, she was working in the Emperor’s court. She later married his son, Kao Tsung and when he became crippled, she began doing the administrative duties of an emperor. After that, she led a campaign against the original Confucius belief, stating that women should rule the world the way they do their children. While she may seem ruthless, she changed so much about China, including truly developing Buddhism as the preferred religion and creating temples and asking scholars to speak at them. She recruited the best people possible to assist her in running a fair government and the Tang Dynasty prospered more.

If you are interested in the Chinese culture and its rulers, you may want to schedule a tour to see parts of China as you can tour some of the old temples, caves, and territories to learn more about them.