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Dear Daisy, It is your first day at school...

Natural Cleaning Products: What are the choices?

You may or may not have seen my latest post all about the rise of the cleaning bloggers. As the beautiful Mrs Hinch and her army grow by the day so does the controversy that surrounds some of those cleaning products that not only they are using, but we all are. (well most of us)

I have thought a bit about it recently and thought what could I be doing differently? Would it make an impact on the environment if I start moving to more natural products? The answer is it is a start, the more people that have that mentality and start making the move it can only be a positive transition surely? In the past when I have looked I was shocked to see how premium some products were, the prices of some of the products on the shelves surprised me. It just wasn't affordable to the majority of us. But recently I have been seeing some dupes out there and some reductions in prices.

natural cleaning products
Image Source: http://www.theherbshoppepdx.com


I just wanted to share what I have found and what options are out there for us. This is in no way sponsored, it was more a bit of research that I thought I would put out there.

First up there are truly natural products, Items you may have kicking around your house already and that can be bought almost anywhere:


  • White Vinegar
  • Bicaronate of Soda
  • Essential Oils
  • Lemon Juice
  • Olive Oil (Stainless steel magic!)
  • Soda Crystals
And then you've got the products that you can buy ready mixed in the supermarket. 

Method. So, Method was created as a collection of eco-friendly household cleaning products at the forefront of the green cleaning revolution, when people first started moving over to this way of cleaning. But I will be honest I found it expensive. Expensive when it is not a product I a picking up once a week but daily, using freely to clean our home. As a standard price in the likes of Tesco it is £3 a bottle but I am now starting to see it being promoted more and more and often it can be picked up for less than £2. However, in my local store I was unable to find more than 2 varieties, so a little disappointing. 

Ecover. Another brand out there that is similar to Method in the respect they are trying to make cleaning cleaner. And I am all for that. Again you're looking at anything above £2 for to get your hands on one of these products. 

I would buy the above products when they are on offer, but would I by them on the regular. I am not sure, and it does pain me to say that! 

I switch between Lidl & Aldi for my shopping usually, unless I am doing an online shop. And recently I have found them both to be offering some kind of dupe for these products. I knew it wouldn't be long before they caught up with the trend and as they usually do, lead the way. Especially when it comes to affordability. 

In Lidl I was pleased to see some Clean-ology products on offer the last couple of weeks. Clean-ology surface cleaners are at base price about £2.50 but they were on offer for two for £3!! They do some lovely scents so I have stocked up on them and I actually do love using them. My only issue being that you just don't know what you find in store week to week. 

I have also just seen that Tesco have started their own range too called Eco Active but I am yet to see this with my own eyes in store or in fact online. According to articles I have seen online though they are amazingly priced so I will be on the look out for them products in the future. 

What products do you use that we should all be trying?


Do You Need a Fancy Camera for your Blog? | AD

This is something I see get asked time and time again. And in my opinion the answer is NO, not necessarily. Not in all instances.

However if you want more control over your photos and the end product then they will certainly help. The impression you can get online is that perhaps the days where you could take photos on your phone and use them for your blog posts have long gone but that isn't true in every instance. If you are familiar with the blogs, chances are that you’ve come across some bloggers using professional photography for their content. People are now investing in high quality camera equipment to shoot photos for their blogs which sometimes are businesses too. But saying that I have seen lots of photos taking with a phone which have been beautiful. Half of my photos are taken with what I call the "big camera" and the other half which are more instant which are taken on my phone.

mirrorless camera Sony
Photo by @Benchallphoto (My husband) on our Mirrorless Camera


An expensive camera with more megapixels doesn’t make you a photographer, just someone who dabbles in professional equipment. But there’s more to photography than a really fancy, good camera. 

We have had a DSLR for a few years now and I have self taught (with some help from my husband) myself to use it. Although we now use a mirrorless camera most of the time the same principles apply. But if you have one of these cameras then you need to know how to use it, otherwise you may as well stick to your phone camera. We all know these things come with the biggest manuals we have ever seen and that they stay stuck in their boxes rather than being read most of the time. However with what I like to call a "big camera" there really are some aspects you should read up on.

There are a few key things that I think you should read up on how to do with your camera and a few aspects of photography that really will make all of the difference to your end results. Lighting is the biggest key thing that will change your photos forever. With the right lighting even a phone camera will produce some pretty fancy photos! Natural photo is best for shooting with a phone because lets face it their flash isn't the best feature but if you can crack the lighting then you will more than likely have something you can work with. Once you've taken a photo (whether that be on your phone or your camera), you can play with the "Exposure" tool in your favorite photo editing app if you haven't used it on your camera to see if you can make the image slightly brighter or less bright, without losing any quality.

mirrorless camera reviews


I am a big fan of a fancy, big camera but I also am a big fan of the apps that are out there now to use on your mobile phones. We can now take high quality photos that are good enough for our blogs and social media channels and edit them without too much hassle, all on the one device. It really does depend on your end subject, what you want to do with it and where you want t take your photography.

If you are interested in learning photography and how to use the various elements to your advantage then a DSLR or Mirrorless camera will be good for you, otherwise just keep at what you are doing and have fun!

Stiperstones shropshire


Hayley x


*This is a Sponsored post but all opinions are my own. 


Dear Daisy, It is your first day at school...

It's true. The time has come for you to head to school. Your uniform is hung waiting for you and your shoes all shiny next to your bag. Today, you embark on probably your biggest chapter yet, and as we rush about getting everything ready; hair brushed, teeth cleaned, back packed, I thought of so many things I wanted to say to you. Things I’ve been thinking of for some time and things I have probably already spoken to you about over the last few months.

A letter to my child on the first day of school


I don't know if you'll feel the butterflies in your tummy or if they'll stay put in mine, but either way I want you to be excited and not nervous. I just know you will absolutely love school and all of the excitement and adventure that comes along with that. I know it will tire you out and I am prepared for the sassy attitude to rear its head at the end of a long day. And I am prepared to be bamboozled with chat when you're ready to tell me all about it. There is no rush, you have over 10 years at school left to go... plenty of time to be telling me about your days and plans. You’ve been looking forward to this for so long.

You have to believe in yourself, believe that you're big enough for school now and that you can do what ever you set your mind to! Put on your biggest smile and embrace it, embrace all of those new friendships that are waiting for you and embrace those that are going with you from nursery. There may be questions from others as they get to know you, but embrace it and let them see who you are.

Have patience. I know you want to do everything now and perfectly, but be patient with yourself. Give yourself time to find ways of doing things and let others help you if you need it. Just because you are a big girl now it doesn't mean you have to do everything yourself, we all have little struggles from time to time.

First day at school poem


I would love for us to be at home together every day but the truth is it wouldn't be enough for you, you deserve much more. And I will always be here waiting for you anyway, you can have it both ways. My heart is aching a little because it feels like a big step but then I know you are ready and you have been for some time.

I know when you put on that uniform you are going to appear tiny, drowning in the smallest size the school sold. But you will soon fill it (that or I will have shrunk it in the wash!!) and it will just be the norm. We will soon be doing the good old sunday routine of washing, ironing and packing the bags ready for the next day. This first day will feel like a lifetime away.

You’re so excited for this day and have been busy telling everyone we come across. I am excited because this is the start of a new adventure. You want to be a doctor for animals when you grow up, and although that may happen when you're a grown up and that feels like a long way away – and there’s so much to do and learn before that – it all starts now, your little life adventure. Whether you still want to do that in the future, I don't know, but I just know you will be great! And I am excited to watch you grow and learn...

Have the best time little lady!

x

Other Bloggers letters to their babies: Surrey mama, Hey Its Romeca,

The Rise of the Cleaning Bloggers


I may have been a bit docile and not noticed that it has been going on for ages or has cleaning taken over the Instagram, blogging and vlogging world this last few weeks? This isn't a post to slate that or bring any negativity to it, I just wonder what it is that the nation loves so much about it? I mean the jist of it is that you watch someone cleaning their house. As simple as that. According to tubefilter.com in 2017, views of videos with “clean with me” in the description got close to 50 million on March 4. This year on March 15, there were over 100 million views of such videos. Which just shows how fast this is growing!




So if you haven't come across it yet you basically watch someone clean their home until it is pristine like a show home and they show you any hacks they use and the products they're loving. Simple right, but weird at the same time. Speed cleans have been around on YouTube for a while and I may have dabbled in it a little from time to time and viewers do seem to like them. I mean if you look at the likes of Emily Norris her YouTube channel really took off and I think a lot of that was to do with her cleaning hacks and speed cleans.

This last few weeks I have been watching MrsHinchhome on Instagram grow like you wouldn't believe, she is growing by over 2k viewers some days! How insane is that? People have gone Hinch crazy! I admit I follow her, more out of curiosity than anything, it just blows my tiny little mind! But what is it that people love so much? I asked my Instagram followers what they thought and I was really interested to see their reactions. I had a range of answers from them and it was anything from the videos giving motivation to people to get them cleaning their own homes, satisfaction from seeing the end result and picking up tips and hacks that they can use in their busy lives. I mean we all want an easier life, especially when you are busy with work, parenthood and maybe even a social life, if you're lucky!

I can understand the motivation and also the tips. I too have picked up a product because it has been show on a video and thought that could work for us too. You just have to look at the Zoflora phenomena where everybody and their dog goes mad for it, finding new scents and new ways of using it. That came from the same type of thing, cleaning videos! And I am sure Zoflora are reeping in the benefits of that! Even if my hands do not like it, I find it pretty useful and had I not have seen it online I would never have picked it up because lets face it the packaging doesn't exactly scream pick me up and I would never have spotted it on the shelf in Tesco!

The reactions to my questions were a mixed bag though and I wasn't surprised to see that not everyone likes the cleaning craze that has hit social media lately. People have said its boring, mundane and it is people just pushing affiliate links. There is certainly an element of that with some accounts but then I am all for links of I would be purchasing that product anyway, it isn't going to cost me any extra money if I buy it through the link, so why wouldn't I click that link. Another response was that they made a person feel guilty for not cleaning more, and who needs more guilt in their life? And Yeah I feel this response too, I get enough mum guilt when I don't do enough with the kids, don't think out of the box and get creative enough, don't save enough, don't make enough effort and now for not cleaning? Or on the other hand is it something we could be aspiring to be like?

They're boring. That was what a lot of people had to say about it. And I agree to an extent. I can perhaps watch one or two videos when Is it down to watch my subscriptions but then I am done, all cleaned out. They all appear very samey and I wonder how long the fad will last. If I watch them then they are on in the background whilst I am working or tidying myself, ironic huh? So they do have a purpose to me.



What do you think about it all? Interesting or bore you to death?

Hayley x

The Simple Things: Camping with Children

When I started this blog it was to capture memories from my pregnancies and my children's adventures so I could look back like a diary with photos, so I could reminisce over the times we had when they were growing up. I still do an element of that but I don't just seem to share the simple things anymore. The camping trips where we just arrive at a campsite in wales and camp out for a few days, hoping for some dry, warm weather so we can just explore the beach all day long and let the kids do what they do best, roam about and get mucky.

It is no secret that we love a camping session, and usually in the same spot, Barmouth way (Mid Wales). Camping gives us an excuse to get out as a family away from the day to day jobs and chores at a weekend, otherwise we find ourselves whizzing about here, there and everywhere and not really spending much time together.


camping near barmouth

wetsuits for kids, childrens wetsuits, konfidence swimwear


We recently went to stay where we have been many times before, Caer Daniel, which is close to Barmouth if you know Wales at all. It is a simple site that has sea views and has loads of room for the little ones to run about, they never pack in the pitches so you always feel like you have space to let them play and sit out.

Sadly the British summer has already peaked the month before and August hasn't been all that good for sunshine. We had one afternoon and evening of warm, beautiful sunsets but then it was a bleurgh! It was okay but it did mean we cut our trip short by a day as we just couldn't face packing everything down in the pouring rain that was forecast for the next day.



We have got a tent that we bought last year from Go Outdoors, Voyager Elite 6 Person Tent. We used it a few times last year but really wanted to get some use out of it this summer but sadly the weather has been far too hot to camp (I know, ridiculous to say about the UK) or just miserable. Hopefully we will get plenty more use out of it over the next month!

Go outdoors tent review

If you want to read a post I wrote about our top camping essentials then you find that here too.

Hayley x

How to Save Money on Holiday | Travel Tips | AD


We all know how pricey family holidays can be, if it isn't the actual flights and accommodation costing the earth then it is the food you need to buy, the drinks that don't stop flowing and all the other expenses that come with travel. Over the years (since having children mainly) we have found ways to become that little bit more thrifty when we are away from home.


cheap family holiday


(1) Be organised when it comes to food. We like to eat out most nights because that is just something we look forward to on holiday. But in the day we often head to a supermarket for some bread, cheese or meat and make up our own sandwiches on the beach or back at our accommodation. Along with a big bag of crisps and a bag of bananas or apples it suits us just fine. It works out much cheaper than lunch out and often it is so much easier with young children because you can just go with the flow rather than forcing them to sit nicely in a cafe/ restaurant when in reality they want to be free roaming about.

(2) If you are bed and breakfast think about what you can do to make the most of that package. What can you do to make it last throughout the day? A little sneaky perhaps but needs must sometimes!

(3) Look into car hire. It may be that you want to get about on holiday and the thought of taxis makes you squirm, they sure know how to rip off a tourist in some places. It is worth looking at car hire well before you go. We have had two weeks car hire in Cyprus before for less than £100. Which just meant it was much easier for us as we could come and go as we pleased but also meant we didn't reply on taxis or transfers from the airport etc. The other tip with this is take your own car seat, airlines will allow you to do this for no extra cost and sometimes to hire a car seat is more expensive than the car hire itself!

(4) This sounds super obvious but don't open that minibar, those prices are often extortionate! Take your own bottled water etc and really save on those un-necessary charges.

(5) Shop around for holidays don't just accept the closest package price you stumble across. There are lots of sites out there available to scour if you have the time such as Holiday Gems' cheap holidays or Travel supermarket.

how to make holidays cheaper



*This is a PR collaboration but all opinions are my own. 






How do I stop my child coughing? | Tips


We have all been there, when our child will not stop coughing. Especially at night when we all need some sleep, you find yourself scouring the internet in the early hours for as many tips as you can find! I thought I would share some of my top tips:

how to stop baby coughing



  • Prop them up. So don't let them lie flat on their back. If they are just babies then a pillow is not advisable so instead I used to roll up towels or pop a pillow under their mattress to elevate them slightly. 
  • A fan. I find my little ones get super hot when they have a cough, which then means they get even hotter when they cough and its a vicious circle because the hotter you are, the more likely you will cough. I tend to pop a fan on them, on a low setting which usually allows them to drop off to sleep. Sometimes if they have stopped coughing once asleep I will switch it off, otherwise I leave it on a low setting away from their bed. 
  • Snuffle babe/ Vicks vapour rub. Depending on their age one of these rubs works really well. You can't use Vicks until they're quite a bit older so always worth checking the ages on the labels. I pop this on their back, chest and the soles of their feet. 
  • A Humidifier. I swear by these things they are absolute god sends! I pop in either some olbas oil or some eucalyptus oil and have it going in their bedroom at night. It means the room isn't dry and the oils help with congestion. It also makes the rest of the house smell like a spa! 
  • Steam helps! I try to get my babies to have steamy showers or sit in the shower room with the hot shower running so they can inhale the steam. It just means their airways can be opened slightly and mean sleeping is a little easier. 
  • Fluids! The more you drink the thinner your mucus will be, or so a doctor told me once! It also keeps the throat nice and moist and prevents that tickly sensation that makes you cough! 

Hope at least one of these helps!

Hayley x

How To Take Photographs of your Children | Blog & Photography Tips

If you have seen my previous posts on blog tips then you will know I am passionate about helping others, I often get asked how I started my blog or why? How do I set one up and now more so than ever I get asked questions about my photography. I thought I would start to share some tips to give you a little insight.

I should put in a disclaimer and say out right that I am not a pro, I don't claim to be but I do think I have some good tips to share.

So children. The trickiest subjects to take a photo of ever. Worse than pets, for sure! However, I have 2 so have had lots of practice...

how to take a childs photo



Here are my top tips!

(1) Only approach at Happy Hour! And no I don't mean down at the local pub. Time your photograph taking at the right time, don't even think about attempting to bribe them before bed time or when they are felling a little under the weather, you will get no where! If you are in the winter make sure they are warm etc, just think about what makes them happy and is it really the right time to be directing them about to get that perfect shot!

(2) Expect nothing and anything else is a bonus. I never go in with an exact idea in my mind that I would like to achieve. You will be left disappointed most of the time. I like to go with the flow and usually my most used photos are those that were spontaneous and in the moment rather than staged. If you often have your camera out you will find your children get used to it and it isn't such a big deal. Ah the joys of being a bloggers child!

candid photos of a child

(3) Distractions are key. Think bubbles, water, food, things they can explore like nature. Anything to keep their minds off you and your camera. Children don't tend to have much of an attention span either so asking them  to do a certain task such as crafting for a photo could leave you with a very small time frame to get that photo you need. Think outside of the box with this one! Music is often a winner here, get them to sing and dance and this often shows their happy sides too, making it a bit more fun!

(4) Fun! Make sure it is fun for them. Then are children after all and it isn't in their job description to provide you with the perfect image that you want or need! Take them somewhere they love, do something they enjoy, don't make it feel like something they have to do! It also relieves the pressure from you a little too.

tips for photographing children

(5) Set your camera to quick fire! Ensure it is firing shots as quick as it can, that way you may take 100 photos and surely one or two of them will be up to the standard you were after. Children move super fast so making sure your shutter speed is fast enough really is key here too! Continuous mode really is the star of the show here.

(6) Get down to their level. This really does bring a different perspective to your photos, it means you aren't constantly looking down at them and it also means you get their engagement as they wonder what on earth you are doing! If you want to give them impression of them looking bigger than they are then get even lower as if you are looking up at them.

(7) You will no doubt need to crop your images. Don't worry about the fussy clutter around you, you can sort that out at a later date. Just focus on your child and capturing that moment. Also when cropping don’t be afraid to cut part of your child's body off with your framing if it helps the viewer’s eye to focus on what’s important in the photograph, what is it that you are trying to capture?

(8) Don't be worried if they aren't smiling. Some of my best shots are not where my child is smiling. Think candid and natural! You can really capture a personality or a moment that way.



Hayley x

More useful posts:

Blogging tips: 10 tips for photographing children by Surrey Mama


Honest Review of the Leesa Mattress*

When we were contacted about trying out a new Leesa Mattress I couldn't stop myself from replying in an instant. Anything to do with my bed or sleep and I am there! I absolutely love my bed and sleeping, I don't know many people who don't?

We have been testing the Leesa mattress now for just over a month and so wanted to share my thoughts on it with you all.


Mattress collection
When the mattress arrived I was quite surprised to find it in a pretty small box, I quickly was searching the box for labels with kind sized written on. I was thinking perhaps I had ordered a small one by mistake! I knew mattresses could be delivered in a box but was shocked at how small the packaging was, how on earth did it fit in there? It turns out pretty easily! 

We opened it up and put the mattress on to the bed to unravel and within seconds it was starting to expand. The Leesa mattress has been designed with three really soft foam layers that adjust to your body to give you the best support  possible without leaving those awful long-lasting dips in the mattress like traditional memory foam mattresses can. I know first hand from putting a mattress through two pregnancies that it can happen!! 


Mattress Reviews

It has been designed with the three premium foams for cooling, body contouring and pressure-relieving core support. The 2" Avena® foam top layer provides airflow for a cooler night's sleep whilst allowing enough movement for it to remain comfortable. The 2" memory foam layer delivers the body contouring and pressure relief you would expect from any memory foam mattress. The 6" base foam layer adds strength, durability and structure to support sleepers of all sizes, without feeling too firm. Our last mattress was classed as firm, the new Leesa one is definitely softer but is very supportive at the same time.


I have to say the one thing that I have noticed is the smell of the mattress when you open it. Only 2 weeks in did I notice the smell vanish completely. It is not a disgusting smell but there is a smell none the less. I remembered having the same thing with our previous mattress though. It soon disappears and really is worth it.

Honest Review of the Leesa Mattress*


One thing that really impressed me was that Leesa mattresses are made in the UK and they come with a 100 night risk-free trial which means that if the mattress isn't working for you. Which means you can at any point within the first 100 nights of having it arrange for the mattress to be collected and then donated to a charitable organisation.

Overall we have really enjoyed this mattress and found the transition for our old one a pleasure. It was easy to receive via delivery, to unpack and to set up on the bed. It took no time at all to expand and be usable and it really is comfortable.

I have a discount code for you THELITTLETHINGS which will give you £100 off at the checkout. You can find Leesa here.


*This is a PR Collaboration, we were gifted this mattress in return for our own, honest opinions.