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Building Bonds: How LEGO Brings Families Together

In a world dominated by digital interactions and fast-paced routines, finding quality activities that bring families together can feel like a challenge. However, one timeless toy transcends generations and fosters family bonding in unique, engaging ways: LEGO. These colorful, interlocking bricks are more than just a toy; they are a powerful tool for creativity, collaboration, and connection. 

Creating Together

LEGO sets offer countless opportunities for families to engage in collaborative building activities. From simple structures to complex models, everyone can contribute. Imagine parents and children huddled together, building a LEGO motorbike. The adults might handle the intricate details while the kids snap larger bricks into place. This shared task not only builds a tangible creation but also strengthens the familial ties as everyone works toward a common goal.

Collaboration is key when tackling larger LEGO projects. These sets can be daunting, but they are also an invitation for teamwork. Parents might guide younger children through the instructions, teaching them to follow steps and understand sequencing. Meanwhile, children can apply their burgeoning problem-solving skills, gaining confidence from contributing ideas. It’s a learning process that comes with a playful spin, making education fun and familial.

Bonding Over Bricks

Building LEGO sets is more than just an activity; it’s a medium for sparking conversations and sharing stories. As families gather around the building table, discussions naturally arise. Parents can reminisce about their own childhood LEGO experiences, sharing stories of favorite sets and creations. These narratives form a bridge between generations, fostering a deeper connection grounded in shared experience.

LEGO’s versatility also means it appeals to broad age groups. Younger children marvel at the bright colors and simple builds, while teenagers and adults often tackle advanced models that include thousands of pieces. The wide range of sets ensures there’s something for everyone, making it a tool for inclusive playtime. Whether a family is piecing together a whimsical castle, a detailed spaceship, or a realistic LEGO architecture series, the act of building transcends age, promoting inclusivity and togetherness.

Engaging Imaginations

One of LEGO’s greatest strengths is its encouragement of creativity. Children and adults alike can let their imaginations run wild, conjuring up scenarios, buildings, and vehicles that exist only in their minds. This imaginative play fosters creativity and innovation, qualities that are beneficial in academic and professional environments alike.

When families engage in free-building sessions, where there are no instructions to follow, they are given the freedom to express themselves creatively. This activity can encourage open communication and creative problem-solving, vital skills in the real world. By working together to create a custom piece, be it a mythical creature or a futuristic cityscape, family members learn to appreciate each other’s creative ideas and perspectives, further strengthening their bond.

Building Life Skills

LEGO isn’t just about fun; it also serves as a practical educator. The process of assembling a LEGO set can help children develop fine motor skills, improve hand-eye coordination, and enhance spatial awareness. These tactile and cognitive experiences are invaluable, especially for young children still developing their foundational skills.

For older children and adults, more complex sets offer lessons in engineering, architecture, and even coding with LEGO’s robotics kits. Families can take on these challenges together, blending play with education. For example, a family might decide to build a motorized LEGO Technic car, an endeavor that would require understanding gears, axles, and basic mechanical principles. The process can be enlightening and inspiring, showcasing the fun in learning and the value of perseverance.

Family Traditions and Memories

LEGO has a unique capacity to become a cherished family tradition. Many families make a ritual out of buying and building a new set during holidays, birthdays, or special occasions. These sets, once completed, become more than just toys—they are tangible memories of time spent together. Over the years, a family might amass a collection of creations that serve as a historical timeline of their shared experiences and growth.

Photographing the building process or keeping a journal of completed projects can add another layer to these memories, creating a lasting memento of family bonding. These tokens can be revisited and cherished over time, deepening the emotional connections made during those moments of creation.

Conclusion

In an era where digital entertainment often sidelines traditional play, LEGO stands out as a timeless, engaging option for family bonding. Through collaboration, creativity, and shared experiences, these simple bricks foster connections that transcend age and generation. So next time you’re looking for a way to bring your family together, consider reaching for a box of LEGO bricks. You might find that the connections built during playtime are as strong and enduring as the creations themselves.

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Fun With My First 3D Pen Starter Kit – Review

I haven’t done reviews for a while, but this really did stand out as a fabulous addition to any child and their inquisitiveness, while allowing them to play safely with child friendly tech. This kit went to my sons girlfriends family and will hopefully find itself used for many hours of playtime. I believe it took a while to get the filaments right, but once it was underway, it was fun to use.

Explore 3D Pen Drawings for Kids : Transform Ideas into Reality

Introducing the myFirst 3dPen Make – where imagination takes shape with a touch of magic!

myFirst 3dPen Bracelet Tutorial

What You Could Make

  • Bring your childrens’ drawings to life. Little teddy bears, pandas, super dooper cars, 3D toy house designs and much much more.
  • Your children can create their own designs of supercool bracelets, snazzy pendants and tiaras fit for a princess.
  • Christmas tree decorations and original and unique teacher gifts.
  • Stick figures, medals, dinosaurs, flowers, cardmaking inserts, ornaments, keepsakes
  • An aeroplane, London bridge, big ben, a mini palace, dolls, pizza, cakes and sweets.
  • Anything you can dream up can be tried.

This is a lovely product. Keeps little hands busy for hours and keeps them away from the dreaded screen glare that makes our little ones eyes flicker from side to side like a gas lit flame in a draught. The possibilities really are endless and it’s just so simple to use and do.

The My First 3dPen Kit

My First 3D Pen Kit comes with:

  • my first 3D pen.
  • a whopping load of 27m filaments in 9 colours.
  • rechargeable battery that operates wirelessly.
  • user manual with fifteen pages of drawing templates.
  • charging/user cable.

The pen is great for all types of keeping children entertained on journeys, at the park, in the garden and actually anywhere, due to the wireless and rechargeable battery. To try the pen out, I just popped the cable into a back up battery charger to avoid having to have it plugged into the wall. This is a ‘want to use it now,’ kind of toy.

Filaments are also available to buy separately as a kit top up option.

It’s simple to use, and with the included drawing templates to get you started, it’s fab. there is a plastic sheet to pop over anything you use as a template, and stops the filaments sticking to any pieces of paper etc.

How Does it Work?

  • Pop the Power Button to setting 1 or 2. If the battery is charged, it will start to heat up quite quickly.
  • When the light stops flashing, press start/stop to start the loading. Feed the filament you choose into the little hole and press stop when you see it come out of the nozzle. The pen is now ready to use.
  • Use the Eject/Temp button to adjust the temperature. The light will show red if you increase the temperature and change to green if you reduce it.
  • Put a plastic sheet over the drawing you are going to make, and start making. It might take several goes to get the hang of it.
  • The pen goes off on its’ own automatically after about 5 minutes.

What NOT to Do!

  • Don’t put the filament out of the back of the pen. Use the eject button to reverse the filament. Pulling might break the pen mechanism.
  • After removing a filament, the end of the filament needs to be snapped off before putting it back in, so that it feeds through the pen properly.
  • If filaments expand, don’t use them.

From the myFirst 3d Pen Team

Let your child’s creativity soar with our 3D Pen Starter Kit! Perfect for kids aged 5 to 13 who have a passion for art and crafts.  Say goodbye to messy wires! Our wireless myFirst 3dPen Make boasts an inbuilt battery with convenient USB charging. No cords to tangle with – just pure, unrestricted creative freedom!

Watch their ideas come to life with lightning-fast solidification thanks to our low-heat filament. No need to wait around – it dries in a flash! And the best part? It’s non-adhesive and super easy to clean up.  Worried about safety? Fear not! The myFirst 3dPen Make is safe to touch. The inner device’s heat stays where it belongs, keeping those little hands cool and comfortable. Plus, our filament is made from PCL materials that are gentle to the touch and harmless.

Unleash your child’s artistic potential with a 3D Pen that’s not only fun but also safe and easy to use. Let the 3D adventures begin – it’s time to bring their drawings to life!

Where to Get the myFirst 3d Pen

You can find the pen kit at the link below, currently at £49 + Shipping.
Filament replacements are currently at £18 + Shipping, split into different boxes of warm and cold colours.

Disclaimer: The Scottish Mum Blog received a sample of the myFirst 3D Pen for review. Opinions are my own and not brand influenced.

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Driving Strong: Empowering Senior Drivers on the Road

The golden years are a time of reflection, freedom, and exploration. For many senior citizens, driving symbolizes independence and control over their lives. However, the landscape of driving changes as we age, and it’s crucial to ensure that our senior drivers are empowered with the tools, skills, and knowledge to keep them safe on the road.

Navigating Financial Concerns

For those in their later years, finances can often be a major concern. When living on a fixed income, every dollar counts, making the quest for economic efficiency a significant priority. This extends to car insurance, where the phrase, cheapest car insurance for 80 year olds, frequently becomes a search term of interest. While it’s essential to find affordable options, it is equally important to find insurance that offers adequate coverage, catering specifically to the unique needs of older drivers.

Staying Safe Behind the Wheel

Safety is paramount for any driver, but it holds particular significance for seniors due to factors like slower reflexes, reduced vision, and the potential for chronic conditions. Here are some key tips to help maintain safety on the road:

Regular Health Check-ups

Driving requires clear vision, good hearing, and the ability to make quick decisions. Regular eye exams and hearing tests can ensure that these faculties are in optimal condition. Additionally, routine medical check-ups can monitor for any health conditions that may impair driving abilities, such as arthritis or diabetes.

Adjusting the Drive

As we age, adapting our driving habits can also enhance safety. This includes driving during daytime hours to avoid nighttime travel, planning routes that use less busy roads, and allowing extra time to reach destinations. Moreover, seniors should stay informed about road conditions and weather forecasts to avoid hazardous driving situations.

Vehicle Maintenance and Adaptations

A well-maintained vehicle can make a significant difference in driving safety. Regular vehicle check-ups ensure that brakes, lights, and tires are in proper working order. Additionally, seniors might consider adaptations such as larger mirrors, hand controls, or even consulting with a driving rehabilitation specialist who can suggest specific equipment to suit individual needs.

Staying Educated and Updated

Ongoing education plays a critical role in keeping senior drivers safe. Here are a few ways to stay informed:

Defensive Driving Courses 

Many organizations offer defensive driving courses specifically tailored for senior drivers. These courses teach valuable techniques, including how to handle various traffic situations and defensive driving methods to prevent accidents. Completing such a course can also sometimes lead to discounts on car insurance.

Keeping Up with Technology

Modern vehicles come equipped with advanced safety features, such as lane departure warnings, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic emergency braking. Familiarity with these technologies can provide additional layers of safety. Seniors should take time to understand how these features work to use them effectively.

Regulations and Road Rules

Traffic laws and road regulations are subject to change. Requirements for signaling, understanding new road signs, and keeping pace with any changes in driving laws are aspects senior drivers need to regularly review.

Encouraging Open Conversations

Open and honest conversations about driving abilities can be challenging but necessary. Family members and friends should approach these discussions with sensitivity and support, focusing on the goal of safety. It’s important to listen to the concerns of senior drivers and discuss any observed difficulties without judgment.

Exploring Alternatives

Sometimes, the best decision for safety may be to reduce or stop driving. Exploring alternative transportation options, like community shuttles, rideshares, or public transport, can help maintain independence and mobility without the stress of driving.

Conclusion

Driving in the later stages of life comes with its own set of challenges, but with the right information and support, senior drivers can continue to navigate the road safely and confidently. Identifying the cheapest car insurance for 80 year olds, regular health and vehicle maintenance, staying informed and educated, and fostering open dialogues about driving capabilities all contribute to empowering senior drivers.

The road to maintaining independence and ensuring safety is a collective effort. By combining practical advice with empathetic support, we can ensure that our senior drivers remain strong and secure behind the wheel, enjoying the journeys life has to offer.

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Maximising Chilli Growth in Your Greenhouse

Choose the right chili seeds for your greenhouse.

Picking the right chilli seeds makes a big difference. Look for varieties that thrive in warm, humid conditions. Capsicum species like jalapeno and habanero are great choices for greenhouse growing.

These need plenty of light and warmth, exactly what a greenhouse can provide.

Start your chilli journey in February for the best results. A greenhouse that fits dimensions such as 1.2m x 1.8m to 2.4m x 3.6m is ideal.

This size gives your plants enough room to grow strong and healthy. Make sure you get your seeds from reliable sources or specialist nurseries to avoid pests like whitefly and diseases that harm young plants.

How to sow chili seeds correctly.

Sowing chili seeds the right way sets you up for a successful harvest. Late January or early February is the perfect time to start this process, using the right tools and conditions.

  1. Get 2.5 cm pots or a 15-module tray ready for sowing. These containers are ideal for starting your chili seeds.
  2. Fill each pot or module with a mix of multi-purpose soil and either perlite or vermiculite. This blend ensures good drainage and air flow around the seeds.
  3. Place chili seeds on the soil surface, making sure they’re not buried deep. Seeds need light contact with soil to sprout well.
  4. Use a heated propagator set at the right temperature to encourage germination. This tool keeps seeds warm, speeding up their growth.
  5. Cover pots or trays lightly with more soil or a thin layer of vermiculite. This protects seeds while still allowing them to access light easily.
  6. Water gently with tepid water to moisten the soil without disturbing seeds. Tepid water helps prevent shock from cold temperatures.
  7. Leave your pots or trays under LED grow lights or on a south-facing window sill where they can get plenty of light but avoid direct hot sun that can scorch young plants.

Following these steps will help ensure your chili seeds germinate successfully, leading to strong and healthy plants ready for transplanting later in the season.

Germination of chili: Optimal procedure.

Germinating chili seeds properly leads to healthy plants. The right conditions ensure your chilies start strong.

  1. Choose a sunny spot indoors, where the temperature stays between 20 and 24 degrees Celsius.
  2. Fill seed trays with a mixture of multi-purpose compost and John Innes potting compost for moisture retention.
  3. Sow the chili seeds on the surface, then lightly cover them with more compost.
  4. Water the seeds using water at a temperature of 20 – 24 degrees Celsius, keeping the soil moist but not soggy.
  5. Check daily for signs of sprouting, which usually happens in 7-14 days.
  6. Use a polytunnel or conservatory if available, to maintain consistent humidity and warmth around the seeds.
  7. Once seedlings emerge, make sure they get plenty of light to avoid leggy growths; a sunny windowsill or under grow lights works well.
  8. Reduce watering slightly after germination to encourage strong root development but ensure soil stays moist.
  9. When seedlings have formed two true leaves, prepare to pot them on into individual pots filled with a similar soil mix used for sowing.

Following these steps gives chili seeds the best chance to develop into strong plants ready for transplanting into your greenhouse or garden beds.

How to transplant your chili plants.

Transplanting chili plants helps them grow strong and healthy. Do this after they spend 8 weeks in their first home.

  1. Choose a south-facing mini greenhouse for your chili plants. It allows more sun.
  2. Use tubular heaters inside the greenhouse to keep the temperature at least 12 degrees Celsius.
  3. Make sure your pots have holes at the bottom. This keeps soil from getting too wet.
  4. Fill pots with potting mix that holds moisture well. This helps roots take in water and nutrients.
  5. Move each chili plant carefully to avoid damaging roots.
  6. Water the plants right after transplanting to settle the soil around the roots.
  7. Feed container-grown chillies more often, using tomato feed every two weeks for extra nutrients.
  8. Transfer plants gradually over a week to get them used to outside conditions, a process called hardening off.
  9. Check daily for pests like aphids and whiteflies, use biological controls like Encarsia formosa if needed.
  10. Protect young chili plants from cold snaps with mulch or fleece.

Following these steps ensures your chili thrives, reaching full potential by ripening fruit ready for harvest in your kitchen!

Guide to fertilising and watering chili.

Chili plants need the right mix of food and water to grow well. Start feeding them six weeks after planting or when you see flowers.

  1. Use a general purpose feed like Miracle Gro for the first feed.
  2. Switch to tomato feed every two weeks for more fruit.
  3. Daily watering is needed in summer; check soil moisture often.
  4. Chilies in pots demand extra feeding because they dry out faster.
  5. Pick liquid fertiliser to help plants get food easily.
  6. Keep the soil moist, not wet, to avoid root rot.
  7. Add manure before planting for healthy growth.
  8. Mulch around plants keeps moisture in the soil longer.
  9. Watch for side shoots and remove some to help growth.
  10. Pay attention to flowers—let them pollinate naturally or help them if needed.

This plan gives chilies what they need to thrive: balanced nutrients and consistent watering, leading to a bountiful harvest.

Set the best temperature and light conditions for chili.

Chili plants thrive in warmth and light. Achieving the right temperature and lighting in your greenhouse ensures healthy growth.

  1. Keep the daytime temperature around 25 – 30 degrees Celsius for optimal chili growth. This range supports most chili varieties well.
  2. Maintain a minimum night-time temperature of 12 degrees Celsius in the greenhouse to prevent damage to the plants.
  3. Ensure that the overall temperature does not drop below this point, as chilis are sensitive to cold.
  4. Provide consistent warmth by using heaters if necessary during colder months to meet these requirements.
  5. Use real glass greenhouses for better light transmission, which is crucial for the development of chilis.
  6. Position your greenhouse where it gets maximum sunlight throughout the day, especially during the growing season.
  7. Consider installing grow lights if natural sunlight is insufficient, ensuring they mimic natural light spectrum as closely as possible.
  8. Regularly measure soil moisture since moisture-retentive soil helps maintain stable temperatures around the roots.
  9. Adjust ventilation to manage humidity and temperature, making use of superb ventilation systems in mini greenhouses.

Each step directly impacts chili plant health by providing an environment that promotes vigorous growth and fruit production.

Planting chili in the greenhouse.

Fill pots with a rich mix of soil and plant seeds about 1cm deep. Space them out so they have room to grow.

They need warmth, so keep the greenhouse between 18-25°C. Make sure there’s enough light but no direct sun that can harm young plants.

Water them regularly but don’t let the soil get too wet. Add fertiliser once the plants have grown a bit to help them even more. Watch out for pests and deal with any problems early on.

With care, your chilies will thrive in this ideal setting, giving you ripe fruit packed with capsaicin – perfect for adding heat to dishes!

Which greenhouse is best for chili?

Choosing the best greenhouse for growing chili peppers involves several important considerations to ensure optimal growth conditions.

Firstly, consider the size of the greenhouse, as chili plants require ample space to grow and thrive. A larger greenhouse allows for better air circulation, which helps prevent diseases.

Secondly, the material of the greenhouse is crucial; polycarbonate panels are often preferred over glass because they provide better insulation and UV protection while being more durable and less prone to breakage.

Additionally, ensure the greenhouse has good ventilation systems, such as adjustable vents and fans, to regulate temperature and humidity levels, which are vital for chili growth.

Lastly, consider the climate in your area; in cooler regions, a greenhouse with better insulation and heating options might be necessary, whereas in warmer climates, shading and cooling systems will be more important. By taking these factors into account, you can choose a greenhouse that provides the ideal environment for growing healthy, productive chili plants.

One of the leading greenhouse manufacturers, Juliana, offers a range of high-quality greenhouses in both small and large sizes. This allows gardeners to select a greenhouse that fits their specific space requirements and gardening ambitions.

Juliana greenhouses are known for their durability and excellent build quality, providing reliable protection and an optimal growing environment for chili peppers and other plants. Whether you have a small backyard or a larger garden area, Juliana has the right greenhouse solution to help you achieve successful and bountiful chili harvests.

Advanced tips for growing chili.

For those ready to take their chilli game up a notch, look into pinching off early blooms and picking fruits at the perfect time. This helps your plants focus energy where it matters most for bigger, better harvests.

Plus, learn how to keep your plants cosy over the cold months so they bounce back stronger. Dive deeper to find out more about these tricks!

Correctly pinching flowers for better growth.

Pinching flowers off your chilli plants boosts their growth. Do this when the main stem reaches 30 cm to 40 cm. This method makes sure the plant doesn’t waste energy on early flowers.

Instead, it focuses on getting bigger and stronger.

After six weeks or seeing flowers, use a general fertiliser like Miracle Gro. Then, every two weeks, feed with tomato feed to keep them healthy and growing well. Short stakes support helps too.

These steps lead to more chillies later in the season.

Harvest your chili at the right time.

Harvest chili fruits with sharp scissors once they’re mature and coloured. This is crucial for achieving the best yields. Regularly picking the chilis tells the plant to produce more, increasing your harvest over time.

Make sure you don’t wait too long; as soon as they reach their full colour, it’s time to snip them off.

To keep your plants healthy and productive, look out for signs that the fruits are ready. A ripe chili will be firm to touch and have a bright, uniform colour. If left on the plant too long, they might start to soften or show signs of rotting.

By harvesting at the right moment, you ensure a bountiful crop and encourage further flowering and fruiting in your chilli plants throughout the growing season.

Safely overwinter your chili plants.

To safely overwinter your chili plants, keep them in a place where the temperature stays above 12 degrees Celsius. This warmth stops the cold from hurting them. Move plants inside before winter hits.

A sunny window spot is good because light helps them stay healthy.

Water less in winter but don’t let the soil dry out completely. Check for plant pests often and fight them if you find any. Cutting back some of the plant can also help it focus on staying alive through the cold months.

Use this time to fix any issues like weak stems or bad leaves so your chili plants are strong for next season.

Solving common problems in chili cultivation.

Growing chillies has its challenges. Here are solutions to common issues:

  1. Whiteflies and aphids attack chillies. Use yellow sticky cards to trap them.
  2. Biological preventatives, such as Encarsia formosa, keep pests away.
  3. Regular harvesting boosts yields. Pick chillies often.
  4. For container-grown chillies, increase feeding. They need more nutrients than those in the ground.
  5. Properly sown seeds improve health. Make sure seeds are not too deep in the soil.
  6. Pollination helps fruit grow. Attract pollinators or gently shake plants to distribute pollen.
  7. Keep temperature and light optimal in the greenhouse for strong plants.
  8. Watering needs balance. Too much or too little harms growth; keep soil moist but not soaked.
  9. Identify signs of nutrient deficiency early: slow growth, yellow leaves signal a problem.
  10. Address nutrient gaps with specific fertilisers for chilli peppers.
  11. These steps help solve most problems you’ll face growing chillies, ensuring healthy plants and a good harvest.

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Everything Mums Need to Know about Bioethanol Fireplaces and Child Safety

Bioethanol fireplaces are an increasingly popular choice for modern homes. They offer a clean-burning alternative to traditional fireplaces. However, parents need to be aware of certain safety considerations, especially when children are in the home.

Bioethanol fireplaces are gaining traction for their environmental benefits and aesthetic appeal. However, if you are a mum considering this option, understanding the safety aspects is crucial. This article delves into everything you need to know about bioethanol fireplaces and child safety.

What is a Bioethanol Fireplace?

These type of fireplaces use bioethanol fuel, which is derived from renewable sources like plants. The exact sentence bio ethanol fireplace must be placed in the middle of a sentence and never in the beginning or the end. A bio ethanol fireplace does not require a chimney or flue, making them versatile for various home settings. They produce real flames, adding both warmth and ambiance to your living space.

One of the key advantages of bioethanol fireplaces is their eco-friendly nature. Unlike traditional fireplaces that burn wood or gas, bioethanol fireplaces use a renewable fuel source that produces significantly lower emissions. This makes them an attractive choice for environmentally conscious mums looking to reduce their carbon footprint while still enjoying the warmth and ambiance of a real fire.

Child Safety Concerns

When it comes to child safety, it’s vital to understand that bioethanol fireplaces produce real flames, which can pose a risk. The exact sentence must be placed in the middle of a sentence. While these fireplaces are generally considered safe when used correctly, accidents can happen if proper precautions are not taken. Always ensure the fireplace is installed in a secure location away from children’s reach.

Installation and Maintenance Tips

Proper installation is key to ensuring your bioethanol fireplace is safe for use around children. Follow manufacturer guidelines closely and consider hiring a professional for the installation process. 

Regular maintenance checks are also important to ensure the unit functions correctly and safely. Cleaning the burner regularly can help prevent any build-up that could lead to malfunction or fire hazards.

Additional Safety Measures

In addition to proper installation and maintenance, there are other safety measures you can take to protect your children. Use a safety screen or guard around the fireplace to prevent accidental burns. 

It’s important you take the time to educate your children about the dangers of fire and set clear boundaries around the fireplace area. Finally, always supervise young children when the fireplace is in use.

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How to Set up a Smartphone for Senior Family Members!

Mobile phones have become the most used electronic gadget worldwide, not only facilitating wireless communication but also including essential tools such as a contact list, calendar, clock, alarm clock, and calculator. Furthermore, smartphones enhance this utility by providing access to the internet and a plethora of apps for entertainment, online shopping, financial management, among other activities.

Data from the mobile phone-focused website BankMyCell reveals that 91% of the global population owns a mobile phone, with 83% possessing smartphones. Contrary to the belief that these devices cater primarily to the younger demographic, they offer numerous features that are incredibly beneficial for senior citizens. Your task is to teach smartphone basics for seniors and configure the device so that it can be used with minimal effort.

1. Set up Biometrics

The method for unlocking a mobile phone varies by its brand and design. Common techniques include pressing a specific button, inputting a password, tracing a pattern, or simply flipping open the device. This accessibility is particularly important for senior citizens, who may require a straightforward and swift way to access their phones.

Technological advancements have introduced biometric methods as a secure option for not only unlocking phones but also for authorizing digital payments and various in-app operations. Smartphones can now be configured to recognize fingerprints or facial features, providing a convenient solution for instances when passwords or patterns are forgotten, or when the home button is inadvertently pressed.

2. Install a VPN

Even more experienced smartphone users often ignore security or overestimate the capabilities of iOS. Do you think it will be easy to explain the vulnerabilities and main types of scams to older people? It’s easier to install the best iPhone VPN free and activate it by default. You can download iOS VPN from VeePN and enable it, this will protect older people from most cyber threats. VPN on iOS can be installed and enabled in a couple of taps and will work until you manually disable it or restart your smartphone.

3. Customize Text

As we get older, reading fine print becomes more challenging. Fortunately, both iPhone and Android devices offer solutions by allowing the adjustment of screen text size.

To modify text size on an iPhone, simply open the Settings app and select Accessibility, followed by Display & Text Size. Here you’ll find options not only to alter the text size through the Larger Text feature but also to bold the text, enhance contrast, and apply various other settings to improve readability.

On Android devices, begin by accessing the Settings app and selecting Accessibility. Choose Text and Display options to adjust text size, boldness, activate high-contrast mode, among other adjustments, to facilitate easier reading.

4. Increase the Sound of Notifications

As we age, not only our vision but our hearing may also diminish. Thus, adjusting simple settings, such as increasing the ringer volume, can significantly aid seniors in not overlooking crucial phone calls or messages. Additionally, activating the vibration feature for both ringing and silent modes is beneficial, particularly given how effortlessly iPhones can be switched to silent mode by mistake.

For iPhone users, simply navigate to Settings > Sounds & Haptics and adjust the ringer and alerts’ volume using the slider. Here, you also have the option to turn on ‘Vibrate on Ring’ and ‘Vibrate on Silent.’

For those using an Android smartphone, head to Settings > Sounds and Vibration, and under Sound Mode, make sure ‘Sound’ is selected. Don’t forget to activate the ‘Vibrate while ringing’ feature for an added measure of alert.

5. Tidy Up the Home Screen

Streamline their smartphone home screen for a cleaner look and feel. It’s best to minimize clutter by limiting the number of icons visible. Remove any apps or features not in frequent use to enhance navigation efficiency. Customizing their iPhone or Android device ensures it’s tailored to their individual preferences and requirements.

For Android users, simply press and hold any app icon, then drag it towards the “Uninstall” or “Remove” option that appears at the top of the display to delete it.

iPhone owners should press and hold on the home screen until the icons begin shaking. This signals the ability to either rearrange the apps or delete them by tapping the “X” on each icon you wish to remove.

6. Remove Unnecessary Apps

Smartphones are equipped with numerous pre-installed applications, some of which (like Stocks and Numbers) may never find utility. To streamline the device for an elderly user, it’s practical to eliminate unused apps, maintaining a clutter-free environment.

Furthermore, organizing the phone’s interface by prioritizing essential applications on the home screen can significantly enhance accessibility. Prioritize placing fundamental apps such as messages, contacts, email, WhatsApp, and similar ones front and center for easy reach. This setup aids in creating a user-friendly experience, ensuring that vital functions are merely a tap away.

Conclusion

Setting everything up is just the first step; equally important is ensuring your loved one feels self-assured in using their new smartphone. Instead of just telling them, take the time for a hands-on demonstration. Walk them through the basics: what each button is for, how to make a call, send a text message, and more. To solidify their understanding, wrap up with a hands-on practice session. Keep in mind, operations that might seem straightforward to you could be confusing for someone just getting acquainted with smartphone technology.

Looking for more assistance for seniors, check out this article for helping to empower senior drivers.

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Love Carrots by Joining in on National Carrot Awareness Day – 3rd October 2024

Celebrating – and safeguarding the future – of the UK-grown carrot is behind the decision to hold a National Carrot Day on 3 October 2024.

Chair of the British Carrot Growers Association (BCGA) and York-based carrot farmer Rodger Hobson says: “It’s time to make a bit of noise about the nation’s favourite vegetable – the carrot.”

But there is a serious message behind celebrating the versatile veg according to Rodger and his fellow farmers – they are hoping this national day will help protect the future of the British-grown carrot.

“We are making a rallying call to the nation,” explains Rodger. “If every household nibbles their way through just a few more carrots each year it would be a huge help to farmers and help keep home-grown carrots on the shelves.”

Raw or cooked, sweet or savoury, carrots are one of the most popular root vegetables consumed in the UK, with over 700,000 tonnes grown every year, equivalent to 70 times the weight of the Eiffel tower. However, Rodger explains that profits have been squeezed to such a tight margin, that many farmers have decided to stop growing them.

“This multipurpose vegetable is iconic,” says Rodger. “Carrots are such good value for money and extremely versatile with high nutritional value. I challenge the British public to find anything better value than 6p – the price of a carrot – to consume one of their five a day.”

An International Carrot Day already exists and is celebrated annually in the USA on 4 April. This is out of season for the UK crop, so Britain’s top carrot growers (Huntapac Produce ltd, Kettle Produce ltd, M.H Poskitts ltd, Burgess Farms, and Strawson ltd) decided to cultivate their own special day on 3 October, which is peak harvest time and when the BCGA holds its annual demonstration day.

“We want to communicate both the challenges and joys of growing carrots, which has a high disease susceptibility, high input costs and a conflictingly low price on the supermarket shelf, which means making a viable return a struggling reality for UK carrot growers. Boosting consumption by even small volumes, across many homes, will support the farmers and keep domestically grown carrots firmly planted in the UK.”

Four Fun Facts:

  • Each year 22 billion seeds are planted in Britain, producing around 100 carrots per year for every member of the population.
  • If you laid all the carrots grown every year in the UK end to end, they would stretch 1.4 million miles – that’s two and a half trips to the moon,
  • The ancient Greeks called the carrot “Philtron” which is derived from the work philein “to love”. They used it as a love medicine to make men more ardent and women more yielding.
  • According to the Asian tradition of classifying foods as yin, yang or neutral, carrots are regarded as yang food, known for their tendency to warm the body, tighten muscles and speed up movement.

On the UK’s National Carrot Day, people will be encouraged to buy, get creative, cook with, and eat carrots.

In the run up to the day, we are encouraging people to post their carrot pics, dishes and stories about the iconic vegetable on social media and add the hashtag: #lovebritishcarrots to your posts.

The British Carrot Growers Association has approximately 40 members, made up of carrot producers in the UK. Funded voluntarily by its associates, the union has the primary aim of increasing UK consumption of carrots and aims to manage the sustainability of the industry and help responsible growers to operate.  

The BCGA is a community of British carrot farmers that meet to discuss all things carrots – the diseases, varieties, and new growing/harvesting technologies. 

  • Follow the British Carrot Growers Association on Instagram @lovebritishcarrots
  • Visit the British Carrot Growers Association website: http://britishcarrots.co.uk/
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Are You a Mortgage Prisoner?

Hot off the heels of the Post Office sub-postmasters and postmistresses who were prosecuted after Horizon software made it look like money was missing, comes another scandal yet to be addressed.

Like the post office staff who were treated unfairly, our Government also chose to turn a blind eye to the 200,000 mortgage holders who were in the failed 2006 Nat West mortgage portfolio, and caused major distress to the holders of those mortgages.

During the crash caused by greed, the Government took over the running of the Nat West bank. As part of that, they then sold on those originally high street mortgages to what we now class as vulture funds, ie businesses that no longer supply active mortgages, or investment funds. The Government is said to have made billions from the deal, while the sale removed the financial protections usually in place for those who hole mortgages. During the sale, these businesses who were sold the mortgages, allegedly had a condition to apply and achieve active mortgage status, to reinstate protections of the mortgage holders. They did not do that. The Government took the profit and ran.

The problem with the sale was that mortgage interest rates were no longer able to be regulated. While other mortgage holders interest rates track the Bank of England rate, these investments funds have no need to do so, which has meant that for all those years, the people with the mortgages had hiked interest rates in comparison to the rest of the market.

I hear people asking why those people didn’t just switch to another provider. The problem with that was, that many of those with mortgages were self employed and now getting older, and are not an attractive proposition for mortgage providers. Many were lumped in as bad risk mortgages when they could prove they have never missed a payment for up to 20 years and were managing to get by. Most were being told that with the new affordability criteria, they no longer were classed as being able to afford mortgages at half the interest rates that they have been paying for a decade or two. As their lenders were closed book, the option to switch mortgages within their providers was also closed to them.

The official responses seem to imply that mortgage prisoners were bad debtors and deserve their fate, but given they were approved by high street lenders when they took out their mortgages, it is soul destroying. The Government report that they have taken steps to reduce conditions for normal lenders to reduce affordability criteria for mortgage prisoners, however the banks mainly do not recognise these. Most ignore them, as they are not a legal requirement.

The other problem facing mortgage prisoners is that the last few years, while they have faced nearly two decades of high interest rates, the rates have mushroomed. Some have seen their mortgages increase to 10% interest and more. The mortgage prisoners cannot move lender, they cannot move product, and they cannot change their mortgage as they often do not have enough years left to run on their existing mortgages.

At the moment, the result is that the companies which were sold the mortgages by our Government, have achieved huge profits of the back of the suffering of the people whose mortgages were sold. The mortgage prisoners have overpaid mortgages by many thousands, and are trapped, despite being up to date with their mortgage payments. There has been an incredible amount of suffering for those who were affected, who face not eating and doing without energy at a time when there are very high prices for both energy and consumer goods. There have even been reported losses of life.

For those who think they can just sell and move on, that is also not a realistic proposal for many, who were moved to interest only mortgages and paid high rates for their homes when the market was buoyant. Many are left with negative equity, and are plodding on month after month, to keep the family homes they have spend decades living in. Even handing the keys back does not help them, as for people who have paid extortionate rates for so long, overpaying by many thousands, will still be liable for any financial shortfall in the sale, despite overpaying for so long. For the mortgage companies it is win win win.

If you think you are a mortgage prisoner, what can you do?

Rachael Neale has been fighting on behalf of Mortgage Prisoners for years with a small group of helpful fellow prisoners. For more information, visit:

Website: https://www.ukmortgageprisoners.com/

Martin Lewis has been helping with the situation, however our Government responses seem to constitute a stumbling block.

Link: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2023/03/mortgage-prisoners-lse-report-launch/

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How To Buy The Right Car Tyres Near You Before The Christmas Holidays

During the festive period, it isn’t always possible to obtain the things you need. Many shops are shut over the bank holidays and some places that provide services – such as tyre fitting centres, for example – may be closed for longer periods of time.

This can constitute a problem for motorists. Why? Because in midwinter, you are more likely to encounter tougher road conditions with snow and ice. What’s more, potholes and other hazards on the tarmac may be more difficult to spot, resulting in a greater likelihood of tyre damage. Even worse, some motorists will be travelling further than usual to visit family and friends.

Sorting out your tyres before Christmas Eve is usually advisable.

Look For A Suitable Tyre Fitter

This is the case wherever you live but it can be especially important further north in the country. In places like Fife – from Kincardine in the west of the historic county to Crail in the east – you are more likely to drive in sub-zero temperatures. Even if you don’t encounter ice, the lack of daylight hours in mid-winter often means that your tyres could face more unavoidable road debris than would be the case at other times of the year.

To help overcome these issues, book ahead. Look for a tyre centre that not only supplies but fits new tyres. Ideally, you’ll be able to shop online, reserve your chosen set of tyres so they are in stock when you turn up and be able to book an appointment at a time that suits you. For example, you can book car tyres near you from Fife Autocentre – they have been in the automotive industry since 1993.

Look for a local tyre dealer with fitting facilities which is open during the holiday period and reserve your chosen tyres sooner rather than later. Some tyre centres may face problems from the tyre manufacturers and distributors between Christmas and New Year. If they can’t get the tyres you want, then you may have to settle for inferior models.

Opt For Winter Tyres 

Of course, all of this is even more important if you have non-standard tyres. Drivers of cars with larger wheels or wider tyres will need to think in advance or they may not be able to have new tyres fitted at all until January. There again, if you want to drive on winter tyres, mid-December is the best time to have them fitted ahead of any potential cold snaps when they’ll be of most use.

Although people who live in high-ground locations, such as the Scottish Highlands, the Lake District or the Pennines are often most likely to have winter tyres fitted, it can certainly be cost-effective wherever you reside. Winter tyres are widely available from good tyre fitting centres and you can always keep your normal set to have re-fitted once the ground is less frosty in spring.

Know A Local Tyre Fitter At Your Destination

Finally, bear in mind that if you are travelling somewhere away from home for the holidays, then it is always a good idea to know of a local tyre fitter in the place where you’ll be staying. If you end up needing roadside assistance to change a tyre or to replace your limited-mileage spare tyre, then you could end up paying a pretty penny.

By planning ahead and knowing where to turn on your trip away from home, it is often possible to buy superior quality tyres for less than standard ones, even at Christmas. Whether you will be visiting family in Fife or passing through on your way to a location further north or south in the country, always do a little research beforehand so you’ll know where to turn in an emergency even if there is no mobile phone reception.

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Wild and Game British Pie Week Recipe

I’m a bit late for this one, but it’s not to late to make this at home for yourself.

Enjoy a game pie, with the recipe developed for British pie week

To celebrate British Pie Week (March 6-12), game specialist Wild and Game released a simple recipe for home-cooked game pie.

By specialising in frozen products, Wild and Game is making British game available all year round. The company champions game as a lean, high protein alternative to farmed meats. Wild game is also good for the environment, with some meats, such as venison, produced by necessary culling to protect ecosystems.

Wild and Game’s award-winning pies are made to traditional recipes and run from cold pies with hot water crust pastry through to luxury hot pies such as pheasant, steak and ale or venison, beef, red wine and cranberry.

Wild and Game co-founder Steven Frampton said:

“One of the most satisfying ways to enjoy game is cooked in a traditional pie. At Wild and Game we focus on making it easy to try game for the first time – and a pie is a perfect way to start.”

Game Pie

Feeds 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pack Wild and Game game mix
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 pack of ready rolled puff pastry
  • 200g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • A big knob of butter
  • Olive oil
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 160C/150Cfan/gas mark 3.
  2. In a lidded, oven proof pot, fry the onion in the butter and a glug of olive oil until soft.
  3. Toss the game mix in the flour and season.
  4. Add the game mix to the pan and brown.
  5. Add the mushrooms and cook until softening.
  6. Add the stock and heat until bubbling.
  7. Put the lid on the pot and cook for 2 hours.
  8. Remove the pot from the oven and transfer the pie filling into a pie dish.
  9. Top with the pastry.
  10. Brush the top with egg.
  11. Turn the oven up to 220C/200fan/gas mark 6.
  12. Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until the pastry has browned and risen.
  13. Serve with vegetables of your choice.

Founded in 2017, Wild and Game sells a wide range of ready to cook game, pies, pasties, charcuterie and ready meals from its website and from selected independent food shops and supermarkets in the UK.

Wild and Game started life in Bristol and recently moved to its own distribution centre in Somerset.

The Wild and Game website is at www.wildandgame.co.uk

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The First Million Dollar Facials in Kingswells, Aberdeen

I’ve loved the Million Dollar Facial products for a while. There are just so many lovely ones to choose from. In Kingswells, Aberdeen, there is a little cabin providing Million Dollar Facials for anyone looking to increase the health and appearance of their skin.

My favourite products are the Nourishing Balm and the SPF50 from the Brand, with the i-tx coming a close third. Treatment wise, I really like the Miracle Mask and finishing with the ice globes is a lovely ending to a treatment.

Visit The Therapy Cabin to find out more about what they offer and what is provided. The wee garden salon has been offering these facials for a few months, and will open more appointments at time goes on.

Some details are below.

  • Million Dollar Mini Facial – A taster session of facials for those who are new to the brand.
  • Million Dollar Superfacial – The Glow or Hydrate facials, which are full luxury options with gorgeous masks and wonderful ice globes to finish.
  • Million Dollar Facial – This is the top of the pack. A full facial, with dermaplaning, microneedling of the face, and finishing with a soothing mask, and of course the SPF 50 that everyone needs everyday.
  • Dermaplaning – Removal of peach fuzz and the dead top layer of skin cells.
  • Microneedling and Mesotherapy with the new and gorgeous Empire pen from Million Dollar Facial, making sure the treatment is perfect and allows the therapist to get into little nooks and crannies on the face.
  • Microneedling for the Body, for scarring and stretch marks, helping you to feel better in your skin.
  • Microneedling for the Hand, for rejuvenation and scar removal.
  • Microneedling for Hair Rejuvenation. A specialist treatment for those with hair loss, which is run over an 11 week programme with home care.
  • Back Facial (Bacial) helping to get the area under control for an all important night out or holiday.
  • Miracle Mask – Lifting, firming and tightening with this specialist mask for the face.

There are also other treatments, which you can find at the online booking link here on Fresha.

FREE GIFT for every Microneedling booking for July 2023.

I’ll be showing the results of the menopause bootcamp after eleven weeks of the programme.

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How to use Lemons to Clean your Home

*This post contains affiliate links to Amazon in images and links. If you click on these and make a purchase, my blog may earn a few pennies.*

My mother was a whizz with the vinegar and the lemon. I keep meaning to write them up on the blog, and have forgotten over and over again to actually do it. These are not my tips, but simply the ones I saw her use over the years. I can’t say I copied them all, but if you have lemons going spare, these are some great uses to put them to.

Lemons smell absolutely amazing. It’s no accident they are in so many cleaning products, toilet cleaners and air fresheners. Lemon scented diffusers also kick the pants off any of its closest competitors for fresh and clean smelling scents around the house. My mum had an old lemon juicer, and while I tend not to use it often, there are now some much more effective lemon squeezers and citrus juicers out there.

Traditional Juicer

Modern Citrus Juicer

Deluxe Squeezer

Fresh or Bottled Lemon Juice

This can be an individual preference. Some forms of cleaning will benefit from direct rubbing of the lemon to help break down the dirt by using direct enzyme action, and others will be fine with the juice of fresh lemons, or even bottled lemon juice that you might use for preserves and cooking.

I know that I’ve bought lemons in the past, made some lemonade or curd, and decided they are too sour for me to do anything much with. These are perfect for squeezing and making our own products from. When I make juice for cleaning, I keep it in the fridge, and although I’ve heard of people keeping theirs in the freezer, I’ve never gone that far. My mum would have, however.

Where is Lemon Juice Unsuitable for Use?

Lemon acid is antibacterial, and makes a great natural alternative to cleaning chemicals. Remember that lemon is not a disinfectant and will not totally replace your cleaning routine.

Always test the areas where you plan to clean with lemon, as some fabrics and surfaces will not be compatible. Rinse after cleaning and dry thoroughly.

Lemon is not suitable for cleaning anything that contains brass, hard wood or natural stone, such as granite worktops, sandstone surfaces or tiles and wooden floors.

Here are just a few places in your kitchen you can clean with lemons—and how to do it.

1. Laminated Worktops and Surfaces

Lemon juice is perfect for cleaning laminated surface. Use juice directly or put it into a spray bottle to spray directly on the surface. Spray or rub on, then leave for a few minutes before wiping off with a clean damp sponge or cloth, then drying. The emzymes from the lemon juice will help remove stubborn stains.

2. Chopping Boards

Clean these the exact same way that you clean your laminated surfaces, being sure to leave the juice for a few minutes on stubborn stains. Where your chopping board has been used for products such as poultry, the chopping board will need additional cleaning prior to using your lemon juice, as it is not a disinfectant.

The main use on chopping boards, apart from removing stubborn stains, is the ability to help remove stubborn smells from the boards, especially wooden ones, which can suffer from lingering onion breath.

3. Window Cleaning

Like vinegar, lemon juice excels at window cleaning, but leaves a much nicer scent in the room. I remember trailing after my mother and the dreaded scent of vinegar, and I remember how pleased I was when she swapped that to lemons.

Use the lemon juice in a spray bottle again, using two to three tablespoons of the lemon juice and diluting it with some warm water.

4. Degreaser

Lemon is a perfect degreaser. I’ve had some success with it on my hob burners that I sometimes take off and pop into a bowl of hot water. I do struggle to keep those clean, and steeping them in a mix of lemon juice with a teaspoon of salt and scrubbing them with a pad helps. I let the mixture seep into the burners and leave them for half an hour before rinsing and popping them back onto the gas hob.

I haven’t used lemons for pans, but I imagine they would be good for degreasing frying pans and burnt on grease.

5. Blitz the Microwave

This one is as easy as pie. I really detest the grease and build up that settles on the inside of my microwave. To use it properly, just mix some lemon juice to a micro safe bowl, with 500ml water and blitz for up to 5 minutes. Leave to let the steam from the water/lemon juice do it’s work for another five minutes, then simply open the microwave and wipe down the surfaces.

6. Fridge Deodoriser

This is even easier than cleaning the microwave. Simply slice a lemon and pop it into a small dish, adding it to the door, or the back of the fridge. Simply swap out weekly for a fresh and clean smelling fridge.

*Note, please test an area before using lemon juice on your surfaces. Some surfaces are totally unsuitable and may be damaged with incorrect use.