Author Archives: mumjd

The Outcast Son by Jacobo Priegue

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Outcast Son by Jacobo Priegue to review. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

The Outcast Son by Jacobo Priegue

Here is the book blurb.

Laura Costa, a charity worker settled in London, tries to escape from her dark past by travelling to Cusco, Peru, where she hopes to find the redemption she seeks. When she discovers Jaime, an abandoned two-year-old boy injured and on the verge of starvation, Laura thinks she has finally found a purpose, and decides to devote herself to saving the child. However, what looks like a case of neglect turns out to be something much darker, and Laura finds out very soon that to save Jaime she will have to fight ignorance and superstition, not only in the slum in Cusco but also back in England. In her search of happiness for her and her family, Laura’s life becomes an eternal struggle against prejudice and ignorance that makes her doubt about everything she knows, only to discover that the greatest obstacle in her way is none other than she herself.

The book starts with Laura encountering a neglected injured malnourished toddler in the market square in Cusco, Peru. The superstitious locals have abandoned him, fearing that he is a reincarnated witch. He is near death and with the help of her boss Mark, she takes him to the hospital and subsequently adopts him. The timeline of the story moves back and forth many times, so we discover that Laura is in Peru escaping from her past in Spain. After another time-jump, we realise she is now married to Mark.

They return to England, but Jaime frequently gets into serious trouble at school, even getting expelled. When he was 7, they took him back for a visit to Peru, but Laura gets freaked out by a family who keep pointing at them in the airport, and then by a scary tale that Mark’s friend in Peru, Patrick tells them.

Their family is complete when Laura has a baby. Jaime loves his baby brother Marcus, but his misbehaviour at school is escalating. Mark gives an ultimatum, but that is all I’m going to say.

Plenty more excitement to come in the story. However I did find all the jumps in the timeline very confusing.

The Outcast Son is available on Amazon, currently priced at £8.99  in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. An interesting read with some unexpected twists and turns.

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MamaMummyMum

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh by Carolyn Arnold

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh by bestselling author Carolyn Arnold to review. This is the third of Carolyn’s titles for me, so I was very much looking forward to reading this one. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh by Carolyn Arnold

Here is the book blurb.

In Egypt’s Western Desert lies the tomb of an unnamed pharaoh that hides a secret so powerful, it could destroy the world as we know it.
 
Archaeologist and adventurer Matthew Connor has made a career of finding legends the world has all but forgotten. Though there’s one in particular that has fascinated him for years—the Emerald Tablets. Myth says that they possess the knowledge of the universe, allowing humankind to traverse Heaven and Earth, and have the power to bestow wealth and wisdom upon whomever possesses them. But if they fall into evil hands, it could cause a global disaster.

So when a former colleague stumbles across an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic map that promises to lead to a pharaoh’s tomb and the Emerald Tablets, there’s no way he’s turning down her invitation to join the dig. He only has one stipulation: his best friends Robyn Garcia and Cal Myers come with him.
 
The road ahead isn’t going to be an easy one, and their shared dream of recovering the Emerald Tablets is being crushed at every turn. And just when they think it’s all over, they learn there are a few clues they have overlooked. But they’re no longer the only ones searching for the Tablets. Now, the fate of the world hangs in the balance, and soon they’ll find out that when it comes to hunting legends, they can’t trust anyone.

This is the second title in the Matthew Connor action-adventure series and works perfectly as a stand-alone read.

The story starts with archaeologists Alex and Jasper looking at the hieroglyphics in a tunnel they have just discovered under the Egyptian desert which they decipher as meaning that a pharaoh son of Khufu is buried nearby, although we are about 200 miles away from the Great Pyramid. And that is not all, it also points to the Emerald Tablets, which from legend are rumoured to turn base metal into gold. Just the sort of thing you don’t want to fall into the wrong hands. The fate of the world could be at stake.

Alex invites “myth chaser” Matthew to join the team, who insists that he will only come if his friends Robyn and Cal are included too. Tensions run high and then the tunnel caves in behind them, so with no escape the only way is forward in the dark including swimming and snakes.

What do they and don’t they find? Who are the good guys and who are the baddies? I would compare this thrilling adventure to a modern-day Indiana Jones.

The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh is available on Amazon, currently priced at £10.99 in paperback or £4.57 in Kindle format. A different genre to her other titles that I’ve read but still a gripping story full of twists and turns. I’ve now added City of Gold, the previous Matthew Connor story to my wishlist and hope there will be more of these adventures to follow.

Here are the links to my reviews of other books by Carolyn Arnold.
Remnants
Power Struggle

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MamaMummyMum

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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Self care for pain relief plus giveaway

Between work and family, I have a busy lifestyle with not much “me” time squeezed in, so I was pleased to be offered a free self-care package from Combogesic.

The package included the following goodies aimed at helping me to relax, unwind, and relieve stress – the perfect combination for a much needed self-care routine from my hectic schedule.

Spa at Home Candle (cedarwood & vetivert)
Bath Bomb
Tea Tree moisturising Korean face mask
Boots £10 gift card

Self care from Combogesic

Whether you struggle to overcome back pain, headaches, period pain or muscular pain, here is some expert advice from GP Dr Dawn Harper on effective pain relief and self-care techniques to help ease the symptoms:

BACK PAIN:It might seem obvious but poor posture is one of the most common causes of back pain. That said, most of us don’t know what good posture is or how to correct bad posture. Over time bad posture generates an increasing amount of pressure on your back which can lead to persistent aches and pains. The trick is to try and not stay in the same position for too long.  Whether you’re sat in a chair at home or at your desk in the office, it’s important to keep re-positioning yourself, taking frequent breaks and moving around to prevent your back becoming stiff.”

HEADACHES:Dehydration is a common trigger for migraines.  With busy lives, it can be difficult to remember to keep drinking fluids, so try drinking a glass after every bathroom break as a regular prompt.  Drinking between two and two and half litres a day might help reduce the frequency, severity and duration of your migraine attacks.

PERIOD PAIN:A light, circular massage around your lower abdomen can help reduce pain.  Alternatively, try some stretches aimed at easing the pain.  For instance, lie on your back with your legs straight out, bend one knee and pull it up to your chin. Hug your knee with both hands and hold the position, then repeat on the other side.”

MUSCULAR PAIN:Use a foam roller, you often see these at the gym, but they can easily be used at home and are very affordable. A foam roller is what can only be described as a padded log. You use it by laying the roller underneath the sore or tender muscle and you simply roll on top of it, allowing the pad to press against the sore or tender muscle. The rolling movement is good for local blood circulation and applies pressure, helping reduce muscle stiffness.

I do always try to drink plenty of water, but I don’t think I manage as much as 2 litres. I had better try harder, as I’ve always suffered from lots of headaches. And I know I’m guilty as regards posture, since after a day at work mainly on screens, my favourite form of relaxation is sitting with my laptop, writing a blog post.

But a foam roller is something I must get myself. I’ve been having physio recently, due to tearing a muscle in my foot and it is something that my physiotherapist has particularly recommended. Pity there wasn’t one included in my self care package along with the other goodies.

I really must focus more on taking time to look after myself, from the inside, out!

Combogesic pain relief

And if you do need some pain relief, then Combogesic is an innovative pain relief product that combines paracetamol and ibuprofen into one convenient tablet, to deliver over 30% more pain relief than taking either ingredient on their own.

Furthermore, its double action formula works faster than the maximum dose of over the counter ibuprofen alone. Combogesic has a much simpler dosing routine, requiring consumers to take 1-2 tablets up to 3 times a day. Visit www.combogesic.co.uk to find out more.

Combogesic comes in packs of 16s (RRP £3.99) and is available to purchase at the pharmacy counter in Boots.

You may see a review here from my other half, when he tried Combogesic last year.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a self care goody bundle to one lucky winner. It will be fairly similar to the goodies that I received, although the face mask and candle may possibly be different brands. What a nice pampering prize.

comper friendly badge

a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d be interested to hear your top tips for self care and pain relief.

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Disclosure. This post mentions products I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

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Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern

I loved reading the first two Madam Tulip titles, so I was very pleased to receive a free e-copy of the third book in the series “Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance” by David Ahern to review.

Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern

Here is the book blurb.

A surprise role in a movie takes actress Derry O’Donnell to a romantic castle in the Scottish Highlands. But romance soon turns to fear and suspicion. Someone means to kill, and Derry, moonlighting as celebrity fortune-teller Madam Tulip, is snared in a net of greed, conspiracy and betrayal.

A millionaire banker, a film producer with a mysterious past, a gun-loving wife, a PA with her eyes on Hollywood, a handsome and charming estate manager – each has a secret to share and a request for Madam Tulip.
      
As Derry and her friend Bruce race to prevent a murder, she learns to her dismay that the one future Tulip can’t predict is her own.

This is the third in the series of thrilling and hilarious Madam Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant amateur detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life, drinks borage tea, and fails to understand her parents.

The story starts with actress Derry being unemployed again but a movie opportunity comes up in Scotland where they want her to play Madam Tulip with no audition. She doesn’t wish to do this but agrees to play a gypsy fortune-teller instead. Her friend Bruce also gets a role in the movie.

Meanwhile her artist dad Jacko has purchased a ruined castle and her gallery owner mum Vanessa is opening a new a gallery in Edinburgh.

Derry arrives on set to be asked by Jessica, PA to executive producer Jim Carson if she would come and tell his wife’s and daughter’s fortunes that evening. She is annoyed but can hardly say no, since he is funding the movie. Rab, the very charming estate manager drives her there and Sally, Carson’s wife begins by asking Derry if Hamish who has disappeared is dead.

Also millionaire Alex Dunbar keeps inviting Derry out and then cancelling. And then Derry gets harassed by the press, who are accusing Madam Tulip of being a fraud.

So lots of different threads to this story to which the reader keeps asking why? But they are all drawn together as the story progresses and things heat up.

Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance is available on Amazon, currently priced at £2.87 in kindle format. Another far-fetched mystery. It didn’t hit the spot for me quite as much as the first two titles, but still a great read which I am happy to recommend. I am certainly looking forward to book 4.

Here are the links to my reviews of the previous two Madam Tulip titles.
Madam Tulip
Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts


About the author

David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland but ran away to Scotland to become a research psychologist and sensible person. He earned his doctorate but soon absconded to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series and winning numerous awards, none of which got him free into nightclubs.

Madame Tulip wasn’t David Ahern’s first novel, but writing it was the most fun he’s ever had with a computer. He is now writing the fourth Madam Tulip adventure and enjoys pretending this is actual work.

David Ahern lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, two cats and a vegetable garden of which he is inordinately proud.

You can learn more about David Ahern and Madam Tulip on his website www.davidahern.info

Connect with David Ahern on Facebook: www.facebook.com/davidahernwriter
and Twitter: www.twitter.com/daveahernwriter

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MamaMummyMum

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

A Perfect Bedtime Routine

Up until the end of last year, I was working shifts including a block of 7 nights every 6 weeks, so my body clock tended to be all over the place. Since then, even though I’ve been trying to maintain a reasonably regular bedtime routine, I’ve struggled to get to sleep and frequently wake at least once during the night. Then come morning, I’m grumpy because I still feel tired. So I was very pleased to be offered a free sleep goody pack from Nytol.

#SayGoodnytol goodie bundle

I received the following products.
Lifebee Wake Up Light alarm clock
50ml Nytol Anti-Snoring throat spray
Boots £10 gift card (to purchase Nytol Herbal Simply Sleep One-a-Night tablets)
Eye mask

So I popped along to Boots to buy a packet of the Nytol Herbal Simply Sleep One-a-Night. This consisted of 21 tablets, currently at an RRP of £5.99, for which the recommended dose is one tablet, 30 – 60 minutes before bedtime. The tablets contain Valerian root extract, traditionally used for decades to induce sleep and promote calmness. The packet does warn you that as the effects may not occur immediately, the tablets should be taken continuously for 2-4 weeks. I decided to take the full packet before telling you what I thought of them.

Nytol Herbal Simply Sleep One-A-Night

I hadn’t heard of Valerian root and my initial reaction on opening the packet was that I didn’t particular like the smell of the tablets. But no problem, swallow it quickly. The first two nights that I took them coincided with particularly bad headaches and unfortunately they didn’t help me to sleep better. But after that, things improved significantly and I found I was soon sleeping through the night without waking. What a bonus. However I don’t want to take sleeping tablets on a regular basis, so I was pleased to note that Nytol products are aimed at relieving temporary sleep disturbances and helping you get back into a healthy sleeping rhythm.

One of the other things that can bug me when I’m struggling to sleep, is if my partner is snoring away. It just makes it so much harder for me to get to sleep. Luckily he doesn’t snore every night. So when I saw the Anti-Snoring throat spray, I asked him to test it out, but sadly he refused, so I can’t comment on how effective that is. However a 50ml pack is available from pharmacies and grocery stores with an RRP of £12.99 currently.

Both these Nytol products are only suitable for those aged over 18 years.

Lifebee Wake Up Light alarm clock

And finally I must tell you about the Lifebee Wake Up Light alarm clock. I was surprised that I had to install batteries (not included) but apparently this is just for a backup power source in case the electricity is down. However what was slightly more disappointing  was that its power adaptor was missing. Luckily it also came with a USB cable, so I have been using that instead. The Lifebee has both a sunrise wake up light simulation and a sunset light, with a choice of 6 different nature sounds or radio for the alarm. It also has a full spectrum of colour choices for the light. I tried them all, but settled on the basic white as my preferred choice. I do like these type of products. We already have a Lumie Bodyclock which I mentioned on my blog last year, so this one will now be going in my son’s room.


6 things to do in the 30 minutes before bed to help get a better night’s sleep.

With a constant bombardment of emails, texts and social media alerts via our mobile devices keeping us plugged in for longer, the Nytol sleep study (carried out in December 2017) reveals that nearly half of us admit that we now have no bedtime routine at all, or that our current routines could be improved significantly.

As a result, many of us have inadequate psychological recovery and go to bed with racing, muddled minds. Statistics show that 38% of people say they lie awake at night fretting about their worries and almost a third confess that a lack of sleep has caused them to fall asleep at work the next day.

With almost 1 in 5 people admitting they feel tired everyday due to a lack of sleep, Dr Neil Stanley shares the six things you should do in the 30 minutes before bed to help you re-establish a good sleep routine:

  • 30 minutes. Use that last half hour to prepare for sleep and start by completing any final tasks for the day. Send that last email, pay that gas bill you’ve been meaning to pay all day and try and put aside any cares and concerns you have. Write down your worries and your to do list for tomorrow and then that’s it. Research conducted by Baylor University in Texas discovered that people who took 5 minutes to write down their to do lists before bed found it easier to drop off to sleep.
  • 25 minutes. Reduce your exposure to blue light – blue light is known to suppress the release of melatonin, which is the body’s signal that it is time for sleep. Therefore, using screens before bed will disrupt sleep. Research shows that nearly 1 in 5 of us check social media before going to be so try and put your phone, laptop or tablet down, and if you need to use your phone for your morning alarm then turn it over, or pop it in your bedside drawer to avoid being disturbed. However, it is not just blue light that can affect our sleep, it has been shown that even ‘paper white’ screens can also be disturbing, so avoid light levels above a normal lightbulb.
  • 20 minutes. Do brush your teeth and remove your make-up well in advance of getting in to bed, so that you are not left feeling alert at the time you want to be relaxing into bed. This can also act as a cue that the body should be preparing itself for sleep.
  • 15 minutes. Take a 5-minute hot shower. Not only is this relaxing, but by heating the periphery of our body it actually helps us cool down. This is important because in order to get good sleep we need to lose about 1oC of body temperature. Only 12% of people have a bath or a shower before they go to sleep so give it a go and see if it makes a difference.
  • 10 minutes. Conclude any activities you need to do before getting in to bed, such as visiting the bathroom so that you’re not having to get in and out of bed to run to the toilet. A staggering 42% of people say they don’t get enough sleep because they need the toilet in the night so make this one of the last things you do before bed.
  • 5 minutes. Bed means sleep and at the end of the 30 minutes it is time for bed – no more chatting to your partner or scrolling through Facebook! The bed should be for sleeping only and so when you get into it, it should be with the sole purpose of going to sleep and nothing else.

Dr Neil Stanley is an independent freelance sleep expert and has been involved in sleep research for more than 35 years. He started his career at the Neurosciences Division of the R.A.F. Institute of Aviation Medicine then moved to the Human Psychopharmacology Research Unit (HPRU), part of the University of Surrey, and in 1993 was the Director of Sleep Research and created and ran a 24 bed sleep laboratory designed for clinical trials. In 2004 he received a PhD from the University of Surrey on the basis of my published works and has published 38 peer-review papers on various aspects of sleep research and psychopharmacology. He does not endorse any brands.

I shall have to try these suggestions, as I’m particularly guilty of using screens before bedtime. Do let me know if you give them a go too. And I’d love to hear your sleep tips.

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Disclosure. This post mentions products I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

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Let’s Learn Spanish & Let’s Learn French by Judy Martialay

I have received free e-copies of the books ¡Hola! Let’s Learn Spanish and Bonjour! Let’s Learn French by Judy Martialay for the boys to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.

Bonjour Let's Learn French by Judy MartialayHola Let's Learn Spanish by Judy Martialay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the French book blurb.

Bonjour! Let’s Learn French gives children roughly 6-10 an early and fun introduction to French. Kids board Pete the Pilot’s magic airplane en route to France. On board, they learn their first French words and phrases. In France, they meet Louis, l’escargot and his friends, and follow their adventure while learning French and absorbing the culture. The French words and expressions are introduced gradually during the story, which is told in English. Back home, kids can use and expand their French with family and friends with fun activities. These include a treasure hunt, daily expression, and a skit. The Culture corner explains some of the cultural differences that children encounter during their stay in France. This section includes a traditional French song. In the crafts section, children learn about impressionist art and how to make an impressionist-style painting., as they are encouraged to use their French. Easy to use, whether or not parents know French. The Audio is free and downloadable at website mentioned in the book. It is my wish that all children have the opportunity to begin learning a language early. Although anyone can start to learn another language at any age, children will have more time to become proficient, and they have the ability to acquire native-like pronunciation. In the U.S., there are relatively few programs that introduce a language in elementary school. Parents wishing to give their children the many benefits of knowing another language can “homeschool” French for their kids. Bonjour! Let’s Learn French is a great way to start. Parents can learn or review the language themselves. I hope that parents will also ask their local elementary school to implement programs of Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES).

Bonjour! Let's Learn French by Judy Martialay

And the Spanish book blurb.

¡HOLA! gives children 6-10 an early and fun start in learning Spanish. Parents can use it with their children, whether or not they know Spanish. Go to website http://www.polyglotkidz.com and download the audio. Follow the book along with the audio to learn the pronunciation. Kids take an imaginary trip to Mexico where they meet Panchito the Mexican Jumping Bean. They follow his adventures while being drawn into the culture and learning Spanish. Activities follow to practice Spanish. They include a treasure hunt and a skit. Culture Corner give more ideas for practicing Spanish while learning more about Mexico, including the song for breaking a piñata. Children can follow directions for making a traditional Mexican Mask. Parents should go to Parents’ page on website for more advice on how to use the book.

¡Hola! Let's Learn Spanish by Judy Martialay

These books are a little bit different, in that they are sold as the books, but then you are encouraged to download the audio to go alongside. This is what I tried to do, but I ended up with technical issues, so I resorted to downloading the audio onto my laptop whilst the books were on the iPad. Once I had this work-around tested, I joined in with the boys to read the books. They are written with a mixture of English and either French or Spanish. The audio was very helpful, as we were able to take time to pause and repeat at any point. Also there are useful pages for both books aimed at parents on the website.

So son2 chose to review the Spanish book. This is his first full year of learning Spanish at school, although he did study it for one term only in both the preceding two years. In comparison, I don’t really know more than a few words of Spanish. He really enjoyed this book and is looking forward to being the best Spanish speaker on our holiday this summer. This is what he said about this book.
I liked it because it translated some words into Spanish and at the end it has lots of translations.

Meanwhile son1 chose to review the French book. This is a language he started learning in nursery at age 2, so he is now quite proficient. I quickly realised that he was not enjoying  listening to the English parts of the audio, so we turned off the audio and focussed just on the book. However he still wasn’t particularly engaged and this is what he had to say about the book.
I found this wasn’t really for me as it is too young because I know it all. I would suggest it is aimed at under age 10.

Both titles are available on Amazon, currently priced at around £4.33 in kindle format and also available in paperback. Highly recommended by son2, but son1 wasn’t so keen.

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MamaMummyMum

Disclosure.  This post is a review of e-books I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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Guest post: Low Environmental Impact Building Ideas

With global populations on the rise, the environmental impact of our day-to-day lives on the forefront of many people’s minds, and fossil fuels proving to be completely unsustainable at the rate we’re consuming them, many are looking for ways to make their lives greener. For those building a home, or looking to retrofit their existing home, the question becomes even bigger: How should they ensure that their living space, potentially for the rest of their lives, have the lowest environmental impact they can manage?

Low Environmental Impact Building Ideas

Image Source – Pixabay

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that all building is going to have some impact on the environment. It’s impossible to go completely green – but that’s okay. Remember, too, that it’s much more environmentally sound to update and retrofit an already existing home, rather than demolish and build from scratch.

Choose your materials wisely
Whether you’re building a new home or adding on to an existing one, be sure to consider the materials you’re sourcing to build it with. Some people choose to look into straw-bale housing, or bags of earth – but more traditional materials can be used, too, depending on how you get them.

Look for what you have in your area, and try to avoid factory-produced materials such as concrete, plastic, metal, and bricks (unless, of course, you’re recycling them – then go all-out!). Things like timber, clay, lime, hemp, and stone can all be sourced locally depending on where you are, and don’t have the carbon footprint things that are factory-produced do. You also don’t have to worry about the impact shipping your materials would have!

Keep it small
Unlike the old adage, bigger is decidedly not better: a small home means less materials, less heating and cooling costs, and less electricity usage. A large home simply cannot have a low impact – it can only take steps to reduce the large impact it has. Don’t fall for claims that state otherwise.

Similarly, a compact house will lose heat and cold less rapidly than a larger house will. If you need a space with 2,000 sqft, try considering a storied home rather than a single-floored home. It’s the same basic principle as the very energy-efficient igloo: the less surface area the home has, the lower the heat loss will be.

Insulate and seal
Surface area is only the beginning of sustainable housing. The smallest house will still bleed heat and cold if it’s not insulated well – and even a larger home will see a huge reduction in energy costs by ensuring it’s insulated properly. Since heating and cooling are the largest energy consumers in the household, accounting for around 50% of household energy consumption, cutting down those costs will have a huge effect.

Sealing air-flow and cutting off drafts is a lesser-known but similarly-impactful way to cut down heating and cooling costs. Areas around doors and windows are the biggest culprits, but looking for cracks and gaps anywhere in the house, including along electrical wiring holes, and sealing them up with caulk or closed cell spray foam, can go miles towards ensuring the heat and conditioned air you’re pumping into your house, stays in your house.

Looking to reduce those costs even more – and willing to try something out of the ordinary? Earth sheltering is on the rise as the lowest-impact way to cut heating and cooling to next to nothing. An ancient technique, it relies on the earth’s natural insulating abilities, and comes with the benefits of being low-maintenance, fire-resistant, and well-protected against storms. There’s a wide variety of ways to work earth sheltering into a home, from roofing to caring into a hillside – learn what works best for you.

Invest good appliances
Using energy-efficient appliances is the quickest and easiest way to reduce environmental impact in the home. While a bit more expensive, looking for an Energy Star label when buying new appliances is a great way to reduce the footprint of an already existing home, or get a new home fitted in the right way. Everything from air conditioners and water heaters, to fridges, toasters, and TVs can have Energy Star ratings, so do your research and look around.

Another, often-overlooked way to reduce impact is to look for LED lighting in your home. LEDs have a very low cost for the amount of energy they provide, so while their upfront price may be more, expect to see drastically-reduced electricity costs – and a longer lifespan.

Even your plumbing can be looked into. Toilets, for example, are being made with water conservation in mind; look for a dual-flush toilet, where you can choose if you need a smaller or larger amount of water. All other fixtures, like showerheads and faucets, can be fitted to have a reduced flow, as well.

Use natural sources instead of grid-based
Getting solar panels installed, especially in climates closer to the equator, are a fantastic way to reduce electricity costs during the day. Reduce them even further by orienting your house in a way that will get the most out of the sun’s warmth, especially in winter, to help offset heating costs. If you’re okay with having less on-demand hot water, looking into solar-heated water is another way to reduce your energy costs with the sun.

Similarly, tapping into rainwater collection is a great way to compliment water-efficient plumbing. Even just connecting gutters and other runoffs to barrels can go a long way towards providing for your home. Untreated, it can be used to flush toilets and water gardens; if you’re willing to look into treating water, rainwater can be used for everything from drinking to cooking.

If that’s not enough, try looking into other renewable resources in your locale. Is your home in a good place for a windmill? Can you tap into the earth’s natural warmth and look into geothermal heating? Explore your options with a contractor who’s familiar with sustainable resources.

Build to last
One of the most overlooked ways to build a sustainable home is to build a home that will last you for years to come. That can mean any number of things – whether you simply want something that will stand the test of time, or if you’re looking for a home you’ll want to live in for years to come.

Sources:
https://jorgefontan.com/sustainable-house-design-21-ideas/
https://www.lowimpact.org/lowimpact-topic/0-natural-building-intro/
https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/top-15-green-home-building-techniques-and-ideas.php
https://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/eco-friendly-home-building

Guest post by Craig Scott – editor at Green and Growing

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Entrapping A Lord’s Love by Tammy Andresen

I have received a free e-copy of the book Entrapping A Lord’s Love by Tammy Andresen to review.

Entrapping A Lord's Love by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

Lady Caroline Crawley’s fall from polite society was a foregone conclusion. Her father had joined the army to escape his debts. Debts he left hanging around his daughter’s neck like a noose. She had few options and thieving seemed as good as any. But she never expected to fall in love with one of her marks. The handsome and mysterious Lord Thomas Fairfield has her dreaming of a future that will never be hers.

Some might think that Tom and his three brothers are blessed. He knows, however, that their fate is a duty at best and most likely, a curse. His brothers have sent him to London to complete a mission. Not only is Caroline Crawley distracting him from his task, but she may just be part of the forces that are trying to thwart him.

This is the third book in the Fairfield Fairy Tales series, set in the Regency period. I haven’t read any of the other titles but this worked well as a stand-alone read.

It is based on the Fairy Tale: A Master Thief which is not a tale that I am familiar with, so after I had finished reading this book, I looked it up on Wikipedia.

Lady Caroline Crawley has lived in a London theatre with her cousin Crimson, Lord Wainscroft since she was orphaned. The theatre was the only asset left after they cleared her father’s debts. And even though everyone in so Society flocks to the theatre each night, every penny they earn is spent. So Crimson forces Caroline to pick pockets to help make ends meet.

Crimson’s latest target for Caroline is Viscount Tom Abernathy, Lord Fairfield, who is building an orphanage next-door to the theatre, in a property that Crimson had hoped to expand into, if he ever raised sufficient funds. And Crimson believes that Tom possesses a magical item.

Meanwhile Tom has a secret and he worries that Caroline and Crimson might know.

Caroline invites Tom to watch the show with her, but they have an instant connection. Will she pick his pocket or not? And what will Crimson do?

Entrapping A Lord’s Love is available on Amazon, currently priced at £2.15 in Kindle format. The third title in the Fairfield Fairy Tales series. A rather far-fetched plot but still a nice romantic read, when you just want something light-hearted in-between reading thrillers.


About the author

USA Today Bestselling Author, Tammy Andresen lives with her husband and three children just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She grew up on the Seacoast of Maine, where she spent countless days dreaming up stories in blueberry fields and among the scrub pines that line the coast. Her mother loved to spin a yarn and Tammy filled many hours listening to her mother retell the classics. It was inevitable that at the age of 18, she headed off to Simmons College, where she studied English literature and education. She never left Massachusetts but some of her heart still resides in Maine and her family visits often.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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The Fed-Up Cow by Peta Lemon

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Fed-Up Cow by Peta Lemon for son2 to review.

The Fed-Up Cow by Peta Lemon

Here is the book blurb.

Hilda is FED-UP with being a cow. Spending all day doing not much but moo. There has to be something more she can do. So she decides to be a sheep… … then a pig … and even a chicken. Is the grass any greener on the other side? Join Hilda, the fed-up cow, on her voyage of self-discovery in this daft but timeless story, written in rhyme.

This is what son2 had to say about the book.

I liked it best when she turned into a pig because I love pigs. It was a good book.

The Fed-Up Cow by Peta Lemon

This delightful picture book has been written by Peta Lemon and beautifully illustrated by Maria Dasic Todoric. You may see some of the illustrations on the author’s website. We follow the antics of Hilda the cow, as she tries to become various other farm animals before realising she can be happy as she is. Targeted at children aged 3-5 years.

The Fed-Up Cow is available on Amazon, currently priced at £5.99 in paperback. A lovely rhyming picture book with a message to convey. Thumbs up for this book from son2.

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MamaMummyMum

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating

Regular followers of my blog may remember that last year I reviewed a Naipo Shiatsu Neck and Shoulder Massager. Well Naipo have now sent me another of their products free to review.

Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating

This time I received a Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating. It did have someone’s return slip inside, but all perfect as far as I could see. Not quite the Shiatsu Neck and Full Back Massage Seat Cushion from my Naipo Christmas wish list but never mind.

Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating

This product is very versatile as to where it can be used, coming with both a car adaptor and an ordinary 3-pin plug. I tried it in the car, on an office chair and on a lounge chair. It has 2 elastic straps on the back to secure in place if required. The mains cable is less than 2 metres long, so depending on the arrangement of your furniture, you may possibly need to plug into an extension cable.

Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating

It has 2 adjacent buttons on the side of the seat for heating and cooling. So firstly the heating functionality – press the red heating button once for the stronger setting, a second time for the weaker setting and a third time to switch off. Or it will automatically turn off after 30 minutes, but I found that I could switch it straight back on again. Not sure how easy it would be to do this whilst actually driving. It takes about 3 minutes to fully heat and then you can get nice and toasty warm in cold weather, with the heat coming out of both seat and back mesh areas between the leather sides. I loved this cosy feeling, especially as I’ve never owned a car with heated seats.

Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating

And the blue cooling button works on the same principle of once for the stronger setting, twice for the weaker setting and three times to switch off. It is noisier in cooling mode than for heating, but not unduly so. The cooling fan is situated underneath the front of the seat and I did find this slightly uncomfortable on my legs in the car, but fine on all the chairs I tried indoors. There is also a pocket at the front, but in my opinion, this is only useful to store the cable and adaptors when the seat is not in use, as I found it got rather in the way when sitting down.

Another potential issue that I noticed in the car is that the cable only comes out of the right-hand side of the seat. Therefore as a driver in the UK, I had to carefully run the cable under the cushion towards the centrally situated cigarette lighter socket, to avoid the possibility of getting feet tangled in it whilst driving. Perhaps they could tweak the design slightly to have a cable hole at both sides that the user could choose between.

Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating

And if you really want to take it off the chair and put away whilst not in use, then it simply folds in two.

Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating

Less easy to test how effective the cooling mode is wicking sweat away at this time of year, so I shall need to give you an update in the summer. However the user manual does warn you that it may fade or breakdown if left exposed to sunlight, so I wouldn’t recommend keeping it in-situ on the car seat.

In particular, I plan to test it wearing shorts to see how comfortable it is next to skin. Luckily I have fabric seats in my car, as I know how red-hot some car seats can get when parked in the sun.

The manual also warns the following people to consult their doctor before use.
– Women who are pregnant
– Patients with osteoporosis
– Patients with sensory disturbance
– Patients with anaemia

This seat cushion is available on Amazon currently retailing at £49.99. Good value for a very useful product in my opinion.

Here is son1 feeling a bit camera-shy whilst testing it out. He liked it too.

Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating

Plus I have a special offer to share with my readers. 10% off a Naipo Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating when you use the code FTVYNB8A at checkout. Code expires 15/04/18.

You can take a look at the full product range on Naipo website here: https://www.naipocare.com/. I’d love to hear which products take your fancy.

And where do you think I’ve been sitting whilst writing this blog post? Getting all warm and cosy on my Naipo cushion of course.

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Disclosure. This post is a review of a product I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

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