Jul 27, 2016

Where Do The Smart Families Go When They Visit The UK?

Little old England. It’s a place that many of us want to visit at some point if we haven’t been already. But where should we go once we reach the island’s shores? After all, there are so many places to see and things to do crammed into such as tiny space. Here’s where the smart families go when they visit the UK.

Yorkshire

Why do so many visitors flock to Yorkshire each year? Well, there really is no place like in on Earth. Yorkshire is an area renowned for its strong identity and culture. This is a place where you’ll find some of the best restaurants and attractions in the country. In fact, there are more Michelin-starred restaurants per head here than in any other part of the country.

The great thing about Yorkshire is that it is full of wide open spaces and even a couple of wildernesses. North Yorkshire is far from the hustle and bustle of life in the South East. If you visit, make sure you go to the North York Moors. Here you’ll experience what it truly means to traverse an English wilderness. The Moors themselves are all but deserted. To the south, you’ll find little market towns, like Pickering and Malton. And you can stop off her for a classic pub lunch or fish and chips. The perfect finish to a family adventure.

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If you prefer, you can swap the bleak beauty of the Moors, for the lush, sweeping valleys of the Dales. The Dales are about fifty miles to the West of the Moors. Yet this is a landscape with an utterly different feel and character. It’s also the home of Wensleydale cheese. There’s a good lad, Gromit!

Blackpool

Blackpool has been drawing in the crowds for well over a hundred years now. And the coastal seaside town is still going strong as the UK’s most famous family resort. Blackpool tourism is fuelled by a combination of the beach, the attractions, and the rides. The seafront is littered with arcades and amusements for all the family. Many Brits make a habit of going to Blackpool every year because there is nothing quite like it. It’s a must-visit on any whistlestop tour of the UK.

But Blackpool isn’t just about getting an adrenaline fix or a tan. It is also a town that knows how to put on a show. Every year thousands of people flock to see shows on everything from magic to hypnotism. There is something for everybody in your family.

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Lake District 

The Lake District is the UK’s finest exhibition of natural beauty. Here you’ll find the country’s biggest lakes and tallest mountains. But you’ll also find a charm and at atmosphere which is verging on the magical. The Lake District, a couple of hours drive north of Blackpool, covers an area about twice the size of London. Packed into this small space are thousands of hotels and pubs, waiting to meet the needs of tourists.

This is the type of place that you go if you’re a family that loves adventure. Here you’ll find some of the best walking in the whole of Britain. You can walk around any one of a dozen lakes, including Windermere and Derwentwater. Or you can climb a mountain trail, what the Brits call footpaths, for stunning views. The best views can be had from the top of Catbells near Derwentwater and the Old Man near Coniston.

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The Lake District was a place that inspired the famous eighteenth-century poet, William Wordsworth. The grandeur of the lakes inspired Wordsworth to put its majesty into words. Now there’s a museum in the small town of Cockermouth, dedicated to his legacy.

Suffolk

If you want a UK beach holiday, Suffolk is the place to go. It’s far enough from London to avoid the crowds. And it hosts some of the UK’s finest seaside towns. There are no doubt, places in the world with better weather. But if you want to go to beaches with real history and charm, you can’t beat Suffolk. Frinton is a popular destination on the Suffolk coast. At this old Quaker town, you’ll find a sandy beach with a long promenade. There is a fish and chip shop, of course. And plenty of space to park. Go further up the coast, and you’ll end up at Southwold. This has a stony beach. But it’s an area famous for its amber jewelry.

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Finally, you can visit the Broads. Here’s a place where the family can get up close with nature. It’s one of the UK’s richest areas of wildlife. Here you can get up close with hundreds of rare species.

Jul 25, 2016

Ways To Help Your Teens Drive Safely At College #BeThereMoments

Today's conversation is sponsored by Michelin's Be There Moments campaign. 

Both of my daughters start their fall college classes in a few short weeks. This year, I have two student drivers that I panic  have great concern over. My older daughter has more experience under her belt, but my younger girl has very little. One of the things I have learned in my experience of being a mom to teen drivers is I need to try to worry less. I honestly don't know if that is really possible, but I try very hard.


Our girls are commuter students and make the drive back and forth to campus each day. I know they are already dreading the back-to-school traffic jams. They have to make sure to leave early enough each morning to secure a decent parking spot in the garage, as well as avoid getting stuck in traffic. I don't know what it is about a college campus that seems to make drivers really impatient (and crazy). I'm constantly telling my daughters to be mindful of their speed and allow enough space for sudden stops that they may have to make. Trust me, driving around a college campus means a whole lot of slamming on brakes will be happening daily. I've been on the road around the University during peak school hours and my nerves are usually shot.

This is why it is very important to have general safety checks before having them take the car back to school. We have a thorough inspection done on the brakes, tires, alignment, lights/signals, fluids and more. I think if you start with having peace of mind that the car is safe to drive, it helps your teens feel more secure. One of the biggest things I try to help the girls remember is that you have to keep a cool head when driving. Being one to get overly defensive about and angry over every little thing other drivers do that you don't agree with makes driving stressful. Calm and collected is the way to go.


Another thing we stress to the girls is not having distracting things that can obstruct your view from all angles. I know they love to show their school pride by sporting flags, decals, and other adornments, but this can backfire on you. If you can't see clearly, you are not going to have a safe driving experience. I know they get a tad annoyed with us, but we are all about safety first. Being cute doesn't matter if you're not being smart.

One more important thing to help your teens drive safely at college is to be sure they have an emergency kit packed in the trunk. Jumper cables, portable battery charger, and phone charger to name a few are helpful if your tire is low on air or the car won't start. The girls know that they should only use the phone in the car for emergencies. Calls can wait. Texts can wait. Both me and my husband try to be the best role models for all of our children and practice what we preach. We do not talk on the phone while driving. No matter how good of a driver you think you are, it is really easy to get distracted.

Ultimately, it is so important for parents with college students to instill values and the urgency of safety and following rules. Are you a parent of a college student or have a high school senior preparing for their next journey? You can share your stories or moments on social media using the #BeThereMoments hashtag and check out the stories on the Be There Moments website by Michelin.


Jul 22, 2016

The Best Hummingbird Feeder You Can Buy

This post contains affiliate links

If you know me personally or follow me on social media, you know my love for hummingbirds. We keep multiple feeders around our yard and love watching those tiny beauties stop by for a sip of sweet nectar. Although this is a very enjoyable hobby, there is an ugly side to it. Earlier this week, one of my feeders was hit by a swarm of bees (probably 200+) and they cleared every drop of nectar. I suspect the fact that the feeder was dripping was attracting them even more. I keep a feeder on a window hook that is attached by suction cups. The problem with the feeder I had on there was that it faded and dripped too much. Also, with the South Carolina heat, mold would start to grow so fast and cleaning the feeder became an unwanted chore. I shopped around at local stores and searched online for something small, lightweight, and drip/leak proof.

I decided to take the chance with the Hummzinger Humm Blossom Hummingbird Feeder. Isn't it so pretty?


I like that it holds only up to 4 ounces of nectar which means I can mix it up fresh daily. I also purchased these cute little brushes to clean the feeding ports. They are the perfect size and can be used for other small cleaning jobs.


My favorite thing about this feeder is that you can see the entire hummingbird while it feeds. How could anyone not enjoy looking at this all day? Look at those precious feet!


This hummingbird feeder is hands-down the best one I have ever owned and I will be purchasing two more to replace my other ones. Oddly enough, they come in purple too. I read the reviews and people say that the hummers are attracted and still feed regularly. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to go with any color aside from the traditional red. I hope to be able to capture some photos of multiple birds feeding at once. It's the sweetest sight! Are you a Crazy Bird Lady like me?

Jul 18, 2016

Choosing to Have Hope - Make Frozen Donor Eggs Your Fertility Alternative


Life doesn’t always work out the way we think it will. Sometimes, even the most perfectly laid plans go awry. If you dream about having a big family, maybe with a black lab and leisurely weekend breakfasts on the porch with the little ones running around, you may feel like your dreams have been shattered after several rounds of unsuccessful IVF.
But don’t give up hope-- remember what your grandmother used to say? When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. With major advances in donor egg IVF treatment, now you don’t have to give up on your dream of working on the Sunday crossword while nursing your infant, and all the other little pleasures that come from being a Mom.

Moving Forward

Whether you’ve already experienced a successful pregnancy or are trying for your first, some couples never find out the reasons behind their negative pregnancy tests, for others the facts can be cold, hard, and inescapable. Those three little words, “no longer viable,” can be devastating for any woman to hear. For many couples, deciding to use a donor egg is one of the toughest decisions they will ever have to make – but it can also be one of the most rewarding.

You and your partner may find it helpful to speak to a therapist or counsellor when weighing up your fertility alternatives, as the psychological impact of using a donor egg needs to be fully understood by both parties. This can be a testing time in your relationship.

Coming to terms with the fact that your child won’t share your DNA can be hard, but knowing that you’ll experience the joy of carrying your own baby and feeling her kick and hiccup inside of you is still a real possibility.

Using Frozen Donor Eggs

If you and your partner are seriously considering your fertility options, then using frozen donor eggs may be something for you to look into, as there are numerous benefits of this technology. If the high price (typically between $35,000-50,000 per cycle) of using fresh donor eggs is an issue, the good news is that a frozen donor egg cycle generally costs around half as much, and some companies also offer flexible financing plans.

Frozen donor eggs are also much more convenient for women who work or lead demanding lifestyles. With traditional fresh eggs, the donor’s cycle has to be synched to your own, which can mean lengthy delays and high amounts of medication. When using frozen donor eggs, any potential complexities have already been taken care of, and cycle synchronization is no longer an issue. You can start embryo transfer as soon as your schedule is open and your uterus is ready.

You’ll also have access to a national donor pool, which means you’ll have a greater selection of nationwide samples from different ethnicities to choose from, and you won’t be restricted to finding a donor locally available.

But Are Frozen Eggs Successful?

If you’ve done your research, then you’ve probably read that success rates are still slightly higher when using fresh donor eggs; that’s partly because fewer studies have been conducted regarding frozen donor egg fertility treatment. There have been major breakthroughs in vitrification (egg freezing) over the last few years.

Vitrification is a flash freezing process that minimizes the risk of ice crystals forming in the eggs, which was a major problem with previous slow-freeze methods. This latest technology, combined with overall improvements in thawing protocols, means that your chances of success with frozen donor eggs are now higher than ever before. So, now you can choose to have hope by making frozen donor eggs your fertility choice.

This guest post was provided by Heidi Hayes, CEO of Donor Egg Bank, USA

Struggling For Recipe Ideas? Here Are 5 Places To Get Inspiration!

It’s that time of week again parents - time to decide what the family will be eating this week. It’s time to draw up a shopping list, ingredients list and recipe list - even if you’re lacking inspiration.
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So instead of resorting to pizza and chips for the hundredth time, take a look down this list. From eBook downloads to YouTube videos, we’ve gathered all the best places for you to research and read recipes. It’s time for some fresh ideas!

1. Cooking eBooks

The reason I say ‘eBooks’ over regular books is that eBooks can store a lot more data. That means more recipes for you, and more ideas for you! Plus, with an eBook reader, you can store hundreds of individual books. Theoretically, this means you will never run out of ideas.

But firstly; where do you get these eBooks? Most eBook readers have a built in store, so try there. The selection may be limited, though. Alternatively, a site like Tradebit offers users the ability to download dozens and dozens of cookbooks at the click of a button. No more will you be out of ideas!

2. Recipe creation tools

One of the hard parts about coming up with recipe ideas is deciding what ingredients to use. There are hundreds to choose from, but which works best? Which will taste best?

Fortunately, the web is here to help. The advanced search tool on sites like AllRecipes lets you search for recipes by ingredients. So, for example, you could enter ‘buffalo chicken’ and ‘rice’ and be greeted with dishes containing those too. Or, you can choose to exclude ingredients from your search.

3. YouTube
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A lot of recipes are too long, too drawn out and not very engaging. That’s often what leads us to not cooking something very creative, or just whacking something in the oven.

But what if it wasn’t this way? What if recipes were engaging and made you want to eat that food? The advent of social media has seen the rise of many bitesize recipe videos which are plastered across YouTube. These are made with the intent to be shared, and as such are as short as you’re going to get.

4. Family recipes

Our families are full of hidden secrets. Did you know that your Uncle John is a two-time Olympic gold medalist? Or how about your Auntie Susan, whose claim to fame was appearing as an extra in Titanic?

Well, those probably aren’t true - but if they are, what an incredible guess! What’s more likely is that your family has that one special recipe, that secret that’s passed down from generation to generation. If you haven’t heard yours yet, now’s the time to ask - it could give you that inspiration boost that you need.

5. Try alternate cooking methods
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Perhaps you’re a bare-bones type of cooker. You like to stick with a familiar set of ingredients and don’t like to venture outside your comfort zone. And that’s fine! You don’t have to.

But there is a way to do this and still get great new ideas - try cooking the food differently. Instead of making chips, make those potatoes into a delicious sauteed dish. Braised meat tastes like an entirely different creation to roasted meat. Instead of frying those eggs, why not poach them?

The point here is that perhaps your cooking habits have grown a little stale. You’re using the same ingredients in the same cooking methods for weeks and weeks. By changing your cooking methods, you’re still in your comfort zone but are making things more exciting.

And that’s what cooking is all about.

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