Tips For A Sound Sleep

As we near the countdown to sleeps till Santa, I’m pleased to be able to bring you these tips in collaboration with Adjustable Beds.

Some of you may be baby-related sleep-deprived, some, like me, chronic-illness-related sleep-deprived, some of you work- and stress-related sleep-deprived, some just simply uncomfortable-bed sleep-deprived. Whatever the reason, we could all use some of these tips for a sound sleep:

Tips for a sound sleep

Getting enough sleep is a must if you want to function properly. OK, so the odd night of disturbed slumber is no big issue. However, if you consistently fail to nod off when you climb into bed at night, it could be time to take action. After all, a lack of sleep can have a major impact on your physical and mental wellbeing. By following these top tips, you may be able to increase the amount of shuteye you get.

Invest in a comfy bed

It’s surprising how many people put up with sleeping on lumpy mattresses and dodgy bed frames. Once you get used to poor-quality beds, you might not think twice about using them. It’s only when you change these products for new and improved versions that you realise just what you’ve been missing out on. If you think that now’s the right time to bin your bed and get a new version, it’s worth checking out the products offered by Adjustable Beds. These items take luxury to a new level and feature a relaxing massage system that helps to boost blood circulation and ease away aches and pains.

As well as selecting the right bed, you’ll need to ensure your mattress is up-to-scratch. If you plan to buy a new version, an Aveon pocket sprung mattress may be ideal. Make sure you select products that are sufficiently firm to support your body.

You’ll need to spend some money to get your hands on a top-quality bed and mattress, but this should prove to be a savvy investment. It could dramatically improve your ability to nod off at night.

The 'Elite' from Adjustable Beds.

The ‘Elite’ from Adjustable Beds.

The 'Heritage' from Adjustable Beds.

The ‘Heritage’ from Adjustable Beds.

Create a calming environment

Of course, it’s not only your bed that makes a difference to your ability to sleep. Details like your decor and window dressings play an important role too. As a general rule, opt for a calming colour scheme in your bedroom. Also, if you’re disturbed by light from outside, it’s worth buying blackout curtains or blinds.

Stick to regular hours

If possible, you should stick to regular sleeping hours too. By going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time each day, you will help to programme your body clock.

Think before you eat and drink

The things that you eat and drink can disrupt your slumber too. Try to keep your caffeine intake down and stay away from coffee and tea in the late afternoon and evenings. The effects of these drinks can take a long time to wear off. If you want a hot drink before you head to bed, have a herbal tea or a comforting milky beverage instead.

Don’t eat large meals or drink too much alcohol before you hit the sack either as this can disrupt your sleep patterns.

Relax before bed

Always allow yourself some time to wind down before you try to sleep. For example, you might want to do some gentle yoga to ease away any tension. A warm bath is another option and reading in bed can help to prepare you for sleep as well.

 Address any worries

Even if you go through all of these steps, you won’t be able to sleep if there’s something on your mind that’s causing you to worry. If you’re concerned about the following day, try writing a list of the things you need to do after you get up. This could help to clear your mind and prevent troublesome thoughts from keeping you awake in bed.

Also, if you find you really can’t nod off, get up and try relaxing activities. There’s no point lying in bed getting more and more anxious about the fact you can’t sleep. Once you feel tired again, return to your bed and try again.

Of course, these tips aren’t a panacea to insomnia. However, they can make it much easier to fall asleep.

sweet dreams

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Thank You!

Sunday, although a horrible dizzy migraine day, also turned out to be quite inspiring. I’m doing the #30daysofpaper challenge this month on Instagram with The Reading Residence and Sunday’s prompt was ‘small.’ I dug out my little old hymn book from primary school.


small hymn book

Small hymn book from when I was a very small girl at a very small primary school :)

Later that day MumTurnedMom provided us with our writing prompt for this week which, with the US tradition of Thanksgiving Day in mind, was ‘thankful.’

My head was instantly filled with an old favourite from the little book above, a very melodic hymn called ‘Thank You.’

Thank You hymn

I’ve adapted the verses but some of you may remember the tune!

Thank You

Thank you, for every morning sunrise,
Thank you, for evening sunset skies;
Thank you, for Mother Nature’s glory,
That’s surrounding me.

Thank you, for every smile that greets me,
Thank you, for every friend I see;
Thank you, for comfort and companions,
On this long journey.

Thank you, for the living I earn,
Thank you, that I still love to learn;
Thank you, for all the words and numbers,
As the years go on.

Thank you, for a family that loves me,
Thank you, for that family tree;
Thank you, for every boy and girl branch,
Every single leaf.

Thank you, for many happy memories,
Thank you, that there’ll be more of these,
Thank you, that even during sad times,
I didn’t try to flee.

Thank you, for creation all around me,
Thank you, for books and poetry;
Thank you, for this amazing planet,
That inspires me!


Prose for Thought
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Woof Wednesday: Safety First In The Dark

Keeping Your Dog Safe in the Dark

It’s that time of year again when it’s dark when you wake up and even darker when you get home from work. Unfortunately, these dark days and the icy weather doesn’t mean that walking your dog can get put on hiatus and so it’s important to keep you and your pet safe whilst out walking. From clothing choices to carrying a torch, there are plenty of things you can do to stay safe whilst walking your dog in the dark, here are just a few ideas to help prepare you and your pup for as safer walk as possible.

Carry a Torch

It may seem obvious and on those dark evenings you’re likely to already do so, but carrying a torch on your walk has a multitude of benefit. Firstly, it can be useful for ensuring your chosen path is safe enough to walk on and that there are no unexpected potholes or puddles up ahead. Secondly, a driver, cyclist or other pedestrian will see the light and be able to safely pass you and your pet, just remember to use the torch responsibly and avoid shining it in anyone’s eyes. Lastly, although not safety related, a torch can be useful when scooping up poop – trust me, it’s more useful than you’d expect!

Light Up

It’s not just torches that can provide light in order to alert other pedestrians, cyclists and road users to your whereabouts and there are a whole host of other things you can use to do so too. You can purchase LED and solar powered dog collars, harnesses and leads which will light up around your dog’s neck, making them instantly more visible, or alternatively, you can attach clip on flashing lights to their collar. Companies such as Collars and Tags are a fantastic company to check out if you are considering investing in these items and they have a wide variety of options to suit you and your pet.

Dress Weather Appropriately

Dressing your dog up does not necessarily have to be for fashion reasons. If you want to ensure your pet is extra safe, consider purchasing a dog sized reflective jacket to help make them more noticeable, especially if the route you walk is close to or on a road. A jacket like this can also help add a little extra warmth and protection from the adverse weather conditions to smaller dogs with thinner coats. As important as it is to make your dog more visible, it’s equally as important to keep yourself safe too. Although it may not be the most chic of clothing items, a reflective jacket will help keep you safe and make you more visible to cars and other passersby.

Be Alert

It may be tempting to stick in your headphones whilst out walking your pup, we’re all guilty of it, but as appealing as this may be, it’s really advisable that you avoid doing this. When out walking, you need to stay as alert as possible to both noises and movement, as although you might be trying to make yourself and your pet as visible as possible, other people such as joggers and cyclists may not be quite as well prepared. Having music blasting in your ears will distract you from dangers like this which can be especially dangerous if you’re walking route takes you close to busy roads with no streetlights or paths. You should also remember to walk towards traffic as this will allow you to see what’s coming and allow you more time to react and move out of the way.

Tag Your Pet

As much preparation you do in terms of safety, things can and will go wrong. If you want to ensure your pet is extra safe, ensure that you have tagged your pet and attach the relevant contact details so that if your pet does run off or go missing, they can be identified and returned to you as soon as possible.


Mum got the information in this post from Collars & Tags and I’d like to say that she bought my red name tag from them years ago and it’s the only one I haven’t managed to break or lose! I’ve also had a look on the website and highlighted a couple of useful things that both Mum & I would love.

collars and tags screenshot stella recommends


She already makes me wear a reflective bandana when it’s not even properly dark so I think something more fashionable is in order! 



I’ll be writing a Christmas gift guide soon too so that you woofers can get your letters sent to Santa Paws!

Stella pawtograph new blog colour 2014

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Mini Mince Pies with Marzipan Stars

You may remember that last week I made my first mince pies in years. Well, last weekend I made some more, but, this time, I did them all as miniature versions as I was taking them to a birthday tea.

mini mince pies stage 1

I made 10 marzipan stars to put inside half of them and then another 10 for the tops. The other half had a flower top with a piece of cranberry in so that I knew which had marzipan in and which not for those weirdos guests that don’t like it.

mini mince pies stage 2

I’m still of the thinking that life’s too short to make your own pastry, especially when it turns into crumbly lumps like mine, and, as I had no bad reaction to the wheat in the last batch I used ready-made again. It’s so much quicker and these only take 15-20 minutes to bake.

They are very hot when you take them out of the oven though so it’s best to leave them a few minutes rather than trying to taste test them straight away!

mini mince pies stage 3

I may have been over generous with the spoonfuls of mincemeat but they’re so lovely! Still not getting the full marzipan effect I want though so I may bake them first and add marzipan after next time.

mini mince pies x 2

Does anyone else put marzipan in their mince pies? I’d love some advice on how much and when it’s added please!


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The One About The Dishwasher In The Sad Fitted Kitchen

Last April I gave my kitchen a little makeover, only a little one because my health just wasn’t up to the disruption anything bigger would cause.


I’ve promised myself that if I get a windfall I will replace it though. Why? It looks quite modern still, and, in comparison to many it is. 

However, behind the cosmetically fine exterior lies an absolute nightmare of fitted appliances, strange electrical connections, my notorious-for-breaking-down boiler, missing bits, and, just mess.

I had to have an electrician inspect the whole property when it came to light that, despite saying to my solicitors that no work had been done, the previous owner had done a lot of work himself. He was a carpenter by trade apparently which is why on first glance the cabinets look professional, but ( I won’t go into detail here as it’s a very long, very unfunny, and, very expensive story), everything else was pretty appalling and I needed faults putting right in just about every single room.

The first appliance to fail was the dishwasher. I’ve never had a dishwasher before so I was very excited to have one in my lovely new fitted kitchen. It was a joy for a couple of months and then stopped working properly. Things weren’t getting clean. I tried different detergents and cleaned every part of it I could get to with no improvement.

Time to call an engineer out. For the price of a call-out fee and a flash of his builder’s bum (I wish I was joking!) I was told that the back of the machine would need to come off to be inspected properly. OK I said, let’s move it out. The engineer shook his head and said he wasn’t prepared to do it. I assured him I was good to pay for the extra time and he said he didn’t doubt that, but, the machine had fittings missing underneath and he was pretty sure that if he dislodged it the whole worktop on that side of the kitchen (including sink, fitted oven and fridge freezer)  would become unstable and, probably collapse and he was very sorry but he just wasn’t prepared to work on it.

Codswallop, I thought and called a different engineer. This one did manage to do some work to it but, again daren’t move it to carry out a full inspection, as the first chap was right, it wasn’t fitted properly, and, though he didn’t think the whole of that side of the kitchen would be affected, he did suspect that the worktop and sink were improperly supported.

The dishwasher now works again, only on one setting, but, at least it works, so instead of the whole load needing to be done again, it’s usually only a couple of items. 

My poor oven rattles when it’s turned on and the fridge (strangely installed right next to the oven) unsurprisingly fails to keep a consistent temperature. Can’t even get to the socket to switch anything off to work on as no-one (not even the electrician or his mate) can reach the extensions that everything is plugged into! Worryingly the electrics for the hob are housed with the sink unit so there’s a lot of praying for no drips going on too! Freezer defrosting time is very, erm, thrilling!

So, if the right finance and opportunity came along, I’d love to have the whole lot ripped out and start again. This whole palaver has left me dubious about fitted appliances, which is a shame, as they do look tidier, but, I’m going for standalone rather than integrated next time for a chaos-free safer kitchen. 

As for the next dishwasher, I dream about being able to buy a new one and after a few hours spent browsing online, I found some good deals on Tesco Direct. I may opt for a slimline version and get more storage space. With all of my baking stuff and all of Stella’s accoutrements, cupboard and shelving space is terribly lacking and yes, we do need everything! 

tesco slimline dishwashers

I really like the look of the graphite Hotpoint models but I bet I’ll be able to get one in purple by the time I’ve saved up! 


This post is written in collaboration with Tesco, but, unfortunately, the sad fitted kitchen story is my own.





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One Photo No Words; 23rd November 2014 Ice the reindeer

 Share a Snap @ Nicer Than New
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How To Fight Fraud with NatWest

Having been a victim of card fraud not once but twice, I was pleased to be given the opportunity to share Natwest’s ‘How To Fight Fraud‘ interactive tool.

In both cases I was very fortunate in that my bank dealt promptly with the fraud team and I got all my money back. This was several years ago and the way we are targeted is getting evermore sophisticated, so, as according to the Financial Fraud Action UK, fraud cost the British population more than £600m in 2013, I’d say prevention is better than cure.

From NatWest:

When we say ‘fraud’, we’re referring to criminal attacks and scams that take place through a variety of methods including computer malware, identity theft, telephone banking and online shopping. To help reduce fraud in 2014, we think it’s important to understand the tactics that criminals are using, and more importantly, learn how we can protect ourselves.

Using data compiled by the Financial Fraud Authority, NatWest have created a tool that takes users through the 11 most common types of fraud. The aim is to inform and help users with the prevention of different types of fraud.

I think we’re all trying to be more savvy about online and offline fraud but it can’t hurt to learn new information when it becomes available.

I won’t go through everything but the first subject to come up is especially pertinent given the time of year. I’m sure I’m not the only one of us that has done, or intends to (get a wriggle on, only 32 shopping days!) at least some of their Christmas shopping online.

online fraud screenshot


Where are you doing your Christmas shopping? Online or on the high street? 

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