The UnNatural Mother

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  Since moving out of our parent’s house 15 years ago, both Lee and I have lived in 3 rental properties before buying our present home earlier this year. Luckily for us, all 3 landlords…

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After 10 years of being a Blue Peter presenter, Konnie Huq knows a few things about creating crafts. She has recently teamed up with the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) to create a series of fun, creative and educational crafts to inspire more children to consider careers in engineering.The toys are designed to make learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) more accessible and affordable to all families. The IET conducted a survey of over 2000 parents and found that on average parents spent £182 per child on electrical tech toys. This series of STEM toy crafts have been designed to use low-cost materials that can be easily found in your kitchen cupboard or local craft shop.

David Lakin, IET Head of Education, says: “There is a significant shortage of engineers in the UK, which is posing a threat to the economy. With our STEM toys of Christmas, we want to inspire children’s natural curiosity about how things work and why – a key principle in engineering. Exciting children about STEM and its endless possibilities will set them on an exciting path that could lead to a fulfilling career in engineering and technology.”

Engineering contributed £486 billion to the UK GDP in 2015** and engineering jobs account for 19% of the total UK employment. Despite this, EngineeringUK predicts 186,000 people with engineering skills will be needed annually through to 2024 in order to meet demand. The IET research found that boys were almost three times more likely than girls to receive a STEM-themed toy at Christmas. The IET challenges these stereotypes and they hope that by making homemade STEM toys accessible to both boys and girls it will open up a career in Engineering to more females in the future.

So why not grab a few ingredients from your kitchen cupboard ( citric acid can be bought for £1 from Wilkos) and turn your little monster into a Junior Engineer for the afternoon.

 

 

You can check out  Konnie’s demonstrate the Dissolving Egg and all the other STEM Toy crafts over on the IET’s YouTube channel.

 

 

For a list of all the activities and material required for each STEM Toy  just click HERE for a printable copy

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This was a collaboration with the IET but all my thoughts & opinions are my own.

So, yes before anyone says it these toys are suitable for little girls too !!! But just for today Indulge me and let me talk about what I have been buying for all the little men in my life. Now if like me your little male darlings are very hands-on and inquisitive then for an amazing variety of action-packed gifts you need to be looking on Wicked Uncle. The whole site is filled with fun, unusual and different presents for children of all ages and with the handy addition of a gift wrapping service they had me at the first click. So, today to save you clicking on the 2000 and odd gifts on offer I thought I would pick the Top Ten Gifts For Boys Under 10  from the site. There should be something for everyone in this selection and all ( inc the Emoji game ) have an educational feature. So sit back, grab your debit card and start clicking away …………

Grow Your Own Bug Eating Plant – £10.95 – This interesting box set has everything you need to grow your own carnivorous plants from the seeds to the compost discs, all you need to do is provide water. Comes with packets of Venus Flytrap and Pitcher Plant seeds, together with a bug eating booklet with bug-based puzzles. Insects and bugs are a source of endless fascination at this age – banish those flies and make it snappy!

Hexbug Scarab– £12.99 – This high energy beetle-like micro robotic creature darts this way and that, jumping back and changing direction as soon as it encounters an object in the way. The result is a truly frenetic mechanical bug that looks completely alive. Battery powered, he is also capable of popping from its back to its feet if placed upside down. Fits in your hand – very impressive!

Mixed By Me Thinking Putty – £19.95  Make five different putties using the clear putty provided. Add some colour, sparkle, shimmer or glow effect from the concentrates, simply stretch and fold to blend your creations together. The fun isn’t over once the putty’s made, you still need to design the tins and play with your putty – stretch it, bounce it, pop it, sculpt it, tear it and knead it! When the mixing is done, the fun’s just begun!

The Human Body Science Kit -£28.99 – Explore the external aspects of the human body with 26 fun experiments to learn about the inside anatomy. Examine your fingerprints to learn how unique you really are and find out what happens to the food you eat. Test your lung capacity or build a stethoscope, listen to your own heartbeat and learn about your heart pumping blood. Relate your experiments back to the human body systems, including the internal organs, skeleton, muscles and the circulatory system. With clear and accurate illustrations, a great aid for future doctors.

Magic Music Monkey – £29.95 – Not only a high-quality speaker, but also a fantastic dancing partner, watch as this cool chimp bops up and down to the beat of the music. Plug this funky monkey into the headphone port of your MP3 device or computer using the included USB cable, power him up and listen as he plays your favourite songs (even the dodgy ones!). Standing at 21cm tall, this musical monkey can also be operated using batteries making him easily portable. Fantastic entertainment sure to have you busting a move wherever you go.

 

 

 

Anti Gravity Magnetic Levitation Kit – £19.95 – This intriguing magnetic science kit has seven fun anti-gravity projects with a detailed guide on how to build them. Make a pencil float in mid-air, construct a metal sculpture that defies gravity, build a random motion machine, engineer a personal transporter using the Magley train principle and more. Great scientific fun for the genius minds of the future.

My First Drone – £39.99 – The perfect drone for novice pilots, extra safe with a unique protective propeller design, remarkably robust and made of impact resistant plastic. Featuring flashing LED lights and realistic sound effects, you can fly both up and down, auto-hover and turn to the right using the very simple remote control. Easy and fun to fly indoors with a flying time of 8 minutes and a range of 8 meters, recharged via the remote control. With a takeoff and landing mat, plus an emergency stop button, this is a really fun present.

Name The Emoji Flash Card Game -£7.95 -Common and famous phrases are shown as Emojis and you simply have to guess the correct ones. There are 56 cards and phrases to work out, from the simple ‘hammer time’ to the rather more difficult ‘don’t count your chickens before they hatch’. We all interpret Emojis differently, so this game is not quite as easy as it sounds! Fun for all the family and is sure to entertain and amuse

Butterfly Garden – £17.95 – The 30 cm tall reusable butterfly habitat is made of super clear mesh for better viewing and folds flat when not in use. Comes with a feeding pipette, activity guide, and instructions, with a certificate that you send away in order to receive a set of 5 caterpillars (sent March to September). You then watch the tiny caterpillars grow up to ten times their size before transforming into chrysalides – these are then moved into the Garden where you watch them change into beautiful butterflies and release them into the wild, then do it all again next year. A great nature project that’s fun and rewarding, fascinatingly popular with small people.

Zoob Car Design Kit – £29.95 – Follow the instructions to build 13 different car models or use your imagination to build your own car designs. Snap, click or pop the 76 pieces together, including 12 wheels and rubber tyres, to build 3 different vehicles at once. With Zoob, the design of the pieces allows them to move so you can actually play with your creations. `Great for budding engineers!

 

I hope this has made your Christmas shopping a little bit easier and you have found yourself a few bargains for the boys in your life. I can tell you now that it’s not only the little Mr’s who will enjoy these gifts, Dads will be joining in on all the fun. 30 extra minutes of peace & quiet for you on Christmas Day

 

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This post was in collaboration with Wicked Uncle but all my thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

Most of us have already got the Christmas tree up and have the twinkly lights brightening our evenings but to have a seriously cosy Christmas you are going to need a few extras. Starting with the sofa  , get this wrong and you will be watching the Queens speech is more discomfort than normal. You need to be looking for a warm hard wearing sofa like the Ashridge pictured above. Covered in a luxurious mix of velvet and silk, the gorgeous sofa is the ultimate in comfort and a great excuse to stay in and snuggle up with your loved ones while watching old Christmas movies. No snuggle on the sofa is complete without a big blanket or throw to wrap around you. Now if you are looking for ultimate luxury then you need a cashmere blanket but if like me you have 2 small monsters who wipe their chocolate covered hands on anything then go for a washing machine friendly fleece or soft wool blend. The final pieces needed for an extra special sitting experience at Christmas is cushions and lots of them.If you don’t want to spend the extra money and waste space storing them each year just change the cushion covers for the festive season. This way it is friendly in your purse and keeps the Christmas spirit alive. Everyone always forgets about side tables. With extra guests at Christmas and the need for somewhere to put your cup full of mulled wine, each night don’t leave it too late make sure you have plenty of space. Metallic colours are going to stay big for 2018 so ornate gold or silver side tables are not only perfect for your Christmas decor they will see you ‘on trend’ for 2018. I like to swap the pictures and ornaments I have on my side tables over for the Christmas period. I replace my summery scented candles for much a much deeper fragrance like wild berries, Gingerbread and pine trees. If anything is going to make you feel like it’s Christmas it’s the smell of pine trees and gingerbread filling the house.Candles also offer a calming athmospher to a room so after a long day at work or running around town doing the Christmas shopping. The smell and glow of candles and if you are lucky a raging fire can bring some serenity back to your evening.

I hope this has given you a warm, happy feeling and I have inspired you to go that extra step to create a comfy cosy Christmas.  I hope that you get caught under the mistletoe with your loved one and all your Christmas dreams come true.

Merry Christmas

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This post was a collaboration with Fishpool but all my thought & opinions are my own

Welcome the 3rd installment of The Fylde Coast Women In Business Interviews as part of No More Nine To Five – Flexible Working Campaign. This week I am interviewing Suzie from Suzie Dewsbury Bespoke Shoes and Accessories. Suzie specialises in customising shoes and accessories for special occasions and will today tell us how she quit her office job in search of a more fulfilling career in fashion. So sit back, relax and let Suzie Bedazzle you with how she set up and runs such a successful business.

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself, your job history and how you came to own your business.

I’m a creative through and through and always knew I had to have a job centered around design and creativity. I studied for a BA (Hons) Degree in Design, specialising in illustration. I feel most of my working life has been a compromise.  I’ve spent years and years being unhappy in office jobs, always looking for an escape into something more ‘me’. Last year I’d finally had enough, I quit my job and started my business and I’ve never been happier.

2.How do you juggle your work commitments with being a mum?

Being self-employed has made juggling work and family so much easier! I can plan my work schedule to fit around family life. If there’s a last minute school assembly or something, I don’t have to worry whether I’ll get annual leave authorised. I can just rearrange my day. I use nursery and holiday clubs to give me some quiet work time. I find it really flexible and I can easily arrange appointments around school and childcare.

3.What was the hardest part of setting up your own business?

Hmmm… the hardest part is probably having lots of ideas but not quite knowing how to implement them all. It’s a constant learning curve! Lots of research for everything from finding the best suppliers to learning new software.I’ve found networking groups invaluable for advice and support.

4. What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

Happy customers! A year and a half into my business and I’d still say it’s the reactions of my customers! Getting amazing feedback after they’ve received their order, really makes me proud.

5.What are your top 2 secrets to running a successful business?

1. Have more passion than fear!
2. Never give up.
With thanks to Suzie for letting me interview her and showing us how she set up her successful business. If you would like to see more of Suzie’s creations then pop over to her facebook or Instagram pages and to contact Suzie directly you can use the below e-mail.
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