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What’s Hot and What’s Not | Social Media

I’m a firm believer of trying different methods to achieve a goal and while it's hard to stay positive about everything 100% of the time (and practically impossible) I don’t think there is any harm in trying something that could improve your wellbeing and overall mental health. 

As the digital world gets a pretty bad rap for being a tool to use to promote strong mental health, I believe it’s all about the way we utilise it. So I have written some suggestions on how we can enhance our connections during the second lockdown.




What’s hot vs. What’s not

Now, although we are practically spoilt for choice when it comes to the number of video apps out there to facilitate our social proximity fantasies, from google hangout to WhatsApp video call, and newcomer House Party which has basically managed to break the internet with a record-breaking 2 million downloads seen in just one week! Confirmed in an article by the Financial Times. But how do you discern what apps are reliable and which ones are convenient for both work and play? Well here is a shortlist of my top video call apps which are suitable for everyone! 

Ready your webcam…

Social distancing, so make it virtual

An app which was first popularised in the business sphere has exploded into one of the most used video-conferencing platforms in the COVID-19 is Zoom

What makes it soo popular is that it holds more than 50+ people in a room at one time making it perfect for pub quizzes or a catch up with mates and extended family while cooped up indoors. Zoom allows you to work and play on the same app - it really doesn’t get any better than that.



Which leads me on to the most socially popular app right now - House Party. Now, whilst I wouldn’t recommend having your morning work meeting via the app it definitely provides those spontaneous and random interactions that you would expect at an impromptu Saturday night house party. Recently, however, they have faced some competition with a new social media app on the block Clubhouse. 

Twitter’s new audio spaces will allow people to gather for live conversations with another person or a group of people. Now if all this talk of newly updated apps is far too fussy for you, you can always rely on the trusty Facetime/Whatsapp video for the more intimate conversations, acting as an advisor to friends and family. It’s nothing new that we rely heavily on digital means of communication now more than ever as we grasp at any remnant of normal life. 



As all these apps are available on both iPhone & Android you might be feeling that your phone cant currently facilitate a 20 min girl chat or discussion about your favourite series take some time away from your phone. 

You may have to giffgaff’s Check your draws in case you lose track of where you put it and stumble across some old phones you totally forgot that you had! 

So what about you, have you taken up video calling more or have you managed to avoid facetime and stuck to more traditional methods? Let us know below or continue the conversation on our social channels 

Elyse & Connor

Statement: Collaboration

Ways to keep the family occupied and off the internet


In a world where using the internet has become such a huge part of our days and lifestyles it can be hard to switch off. From the moment we wake up we are checking emails, sending funny WhatsApp messages and making sure we haven’t missed someone’s birthday on Facebook (I know i'm not the only one). I think it’s more important than ever that we seek ways to ensure we stay as connected as possible in the physical world as well as digitally. Here are some of my top tips that we all could use to have fun without any disruptions from the world of technology.

Sowing New Seeds

Now, the next option could vary slightly depending on how big your garden is. But take time out to spend with nature, this may be planting some new shrubs in your garden. This is also an easy but fun activity you can do with kids as they’ll be able to take charge and grow what they’ve planted. If you need a little bit of inspiration Metro has an excellent round-up of easy and edible fruit and veg you can grow (yes even in Autumn). 

For those of us who don’t have access to a garden, taking care of the plants in your house is equally as beneficial and gives you a sense of responsibility as you need to remain consistent to keep them alive. Also, talk to them too. They love it!

Let's get our DIY on!

Vision boards which are great for adding a pop of colour to your room whilst acting as a way for you to manifest your goals. If mood boards aren’t your thing try your hand at DIY - from home decor to reinventing an old pair of jeans, DIY allows you to focus your efforts on reinvention without any limitations (well as long as you don’t run out of supplies that is). Put on a classic film which gives you nostalgic vibes

And Breathe…

I know it’s so cliche to say but taking time to reconnect to yourself is so important. Meditation is a fabulous way to calm the mind. Other activities such as journal writing and if you’re of the witchy sort, pulling a daily tarot card can help you attune your brain and ask yourself questions which the digital noise has been blocking. 

Basically, take some time to yourself. 

I give you permission!

Elyse & Connor

Statement: Collaboration

Fun lock down activities for you and the family

Lockdown life is sure a Corona-coaster of emotions. We are all feeling for want of a better word, weird. These are unusual times and it can be hard not to dwell and get anxious. Therefore, to fill time and to keep my mind occupied I have taken up a few activities which allow me to not dwell too much on the current situation and below is some inspiration from the projects I’ve tried.

Making videos

We’ve all spent hours in a YouTube whirlpool and no doubt you’ve also joined me in thinking of a topic that you’d like to make a video about. Well, now is the perfect time to experiment with making your own videos. Free software such as YouTube’s editor and phone editing tools such as iMovie and adobe, there are few barriers to stopping you from learning the basics online now and it’s simpler than you think! 

If you’re not ready to create a full Youtube video yet there are platforms such a TikTok which provide great opportunities to get creative. With trends beginning and taking hold of users' imaginations appearing on feeds worldwide every day, there is always something to inspire you that can create as a family - or just on your own if you're looking for a solo project. 

Learn basic code 

I’ve wanted to code for a long time but never found the right project to dedicate the time too which is why I was delighted when I found the giffgaff academy. I’ve found the how to make a game of tic tac toe from code very useful at distracting my brain from negative thoughts and I handed it over to my sister and she felt the same and said it was a great project with her children as well. Get in! 


If you want to invest your time into something bigger, codecademy and w3schools are epic places to begin starting out with digital language skills such as coding and HTML. 

Embroidery and craft

Needlework is a great project to do solo and as a group or with children. There are lots of projects to choose from such as Cross Stitch, for example, is a great starter craft and you can find lots of templates and inspiration for projects online on sites such as Pinterest and Instagram. 

Another great craft project can be to reuse old clothes into something new. This can be as simple and funny as making a monster from old items of clothing - great if you are working with younger children!

So, we hope that we have managed to inspire you to try something new! Make sure to share your work in the comments section below or on our social media. 

Elyse & Connor

Statement: Collaboratio

Moving House | How To Deal With Internet Down Time


When you are someone who spends a lot of time on the internet browsing, playing games and working from home the prospect of living without the internet becomes a scary reality. 

But what can you do so as to stop any necessary downtime?  


Make sure you contact your ISP beforehand

Whether you want to cancel or transfer your current package to your new home, then you should contact the Internet Service Provider two weeks before you need it installed so as to ensure smooth transitioning. Hopefully, you will not have to deal with any blunders and the internet gets installed on the date they give you. Personally, I've never had any issue with my provider (Sky) and disruption was minimal. 


Plan a temporary method for internet access


The reality is that you will be without the internet for a couple of weeks, so before your internet goes down you should look for a way to get your fix! things like the following are good ways to get yourself through this hard time:


 Go to a local library - This is a good way to get free internet and if you get sick of Googling you can always pick up a book, or not. Just be sure you behave yourself here, as laughing at some of the crazy things posted in the comment section of the Daily Mail website is a sure way to get you chucked out. 


 Make friends with your new neighbours - Chances are your neighbours are stand up folk, and if they are sympathetic to your plight then they may even invite you to share their Wifi if they aren't then you can scratch them off of the Christmas card list.


• Get your self a Pay as you go mobile wifi (MiFi) - Not ideal for marathoning your favourite show on Netflix or binge-watching cat videos on Youtube, but for basic browsing, light social media and composing emails these are a godsend. They come either wired or battery power but both of them do the same thing. Some come preloaded with a data sim of varying sizes and others require you to purchase them separately. Keep an eye on your data usage and you will be able to tide yourself over without forking out too much. 


I have the Huawei one from the picture below. It was £29.90 and loaded with an EE 2gb data sim which cost £7.63, both of them were found on Amazon. 




 Move back in with Mum and Dad for the duration - Maybe not...


So do not fret when you are going to move home and have to do without a stable connection, there are options and if you do a bit of hunting beforehand with proper planning, you will not do without!



Disclaimer: The MiFi device was purchased by me during a period of great desperation.


Elyse & Connor

Statement: Nothing to Disclose

Simple But Tasty | Beef and Ale Stew


I love heartwarming meals that make you reminisce about your childhood. You know roast dinners, homemade soups, casseroles and stews those sort of dishes? One of my favourites is beef-and-ale; there's just something about those two ingredients that work so well and in complete harmony. So what better way to enjoy them both by combining them together in a hearty stew? 

For this recipe, I used Hobgoblin beer, a ruby beer made by the Wychwood Brewery. I particularly like this ale due to its chocolaty, toffee taste and smell. This ale is 5.2% and comes in 500ml bottles at from Aldi. You can literally use any beer that you have to hand. Likewise, if you do not have carrots, you can substitute for any vegetables that you need using up.  


So, how do you make this? Well, I will show you.

Ingredients: 

Cooking oil
100ml of water
500ml of beer
2 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons of Tomato Purée
1kg of stewing beef steak
3 carrots, chopped
3 medium-sized onions
1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 sprigs of rosemary or 1/2 tsp of dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste [opt]

Let's Get Cooking

- In a bowl mix the beef with 1 tablespoon of oil, making sure to cover the meat well with the oil. Meanwhile, mix the flour with the salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Chuck the flour mix over the beef and stir well to ensure it's covered.

- Using a medium-sized pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, stir until they brown. Next, add the beef to the pot and stir until it's browned too. Once the beef is nicely browned you can add the tomato purée and 100ml of water. Reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes. 

- Add half of the beer - I typically use Hobgoblin for depth and flavour - into the pot and allow it to boil. Give the stew a good mix to ensure it doesn't stick to the bottom. Add the remaining beer, the carrots and rosemary. Cover the pot and allow it to cook for 3 and a half hours while checking occasionally. 

- After the long wait, serve up with mashed potatoes and enjoy!

If you enjoy beef and ale then why not give this a go? 

Connor

Statement: Nothing to Disclose

Baby Names | 15 Classic Names


Just like fashion, everything comes full circle and that includes babies names. We've gone through a classic phase, a crazy-zany made up phase and over the last ten years, it's clear to see that things started to settle down with the likes of - Charlotte, Emily, Megan and Ava.

Some people like to think outside of the box when naming their baby and that's OK. Some like to give their babies more classic names because they feel that a good solid name (that's well known) will give their baby a better start, and again, that's OK.

Each to their own. I personally like 'known' names but ones that have maybe fallen to the wayside or are not within the top twenty to fifty popular names for that year. But, then again I also love the sound of words, so sometimes I find myself drifting towards the more earthy and bohemian names types - it's a tough one trying to find names that fit between social rules and individualism isn't it?

So, if you're more of a classic name person hopefully these fifteen names inspire your next choice.

Emily | Hard working.
 Cora | Maiden.
 Florence | Blossoming.
 Phoebe | The shining one.
 Hope | Hope.
 Genevieve | Tribe woman.
 Felicity | Luck and good fortune.
 Rose | Flower.
 Matilda | Strength in battle.
 Maude | Strong in war.
 Eloise | Famous in war.
 Olive | Olive.
 Prudence | Good judgement.
 Viola | Flower.
 Opal |  Jewel.

And not forgetting about the boys, here are some cute but classic options too.

 Orson | Little bear.
 Oscar | Divine Spear.
 Caleb | Faith, devotion and wholehearted 
 Thomas | Twin
 Joshua | A saviour.
 Jared | Rose.
 Seth | Replacement.
 Enoch | Dedicated.
 Adam | The ground or earth.
 Edward | Guardian.
 Theodore | God-given.
 Silas | Three or 'third'.
 Oliver | Affectionate.
 Alexander | Defender of man.
 Harry | Home leader

Have you chosen any of these names for your little ones or are any of these names being added to your 'possibility' list?

Elyse & Connor

Statement: Nothing to Disclose

Smol | Laundry's Latest 'IT' Brand


This is deep guys. You have been warned. So, I'm mum to two teenagers and one nearly pre-teen. Well a few years anyway for the baby but he's still veering a tad to close to being a pre-teen for my liking. However, I digress.

My eldest dude is strong-willed, is neither fussed up or down about most things with F1 and cars being the only real exception. He's never been one to fuss or moan and is pretty resilient to life in general - he's awesome. All three of my boys are to be fair and all so strangely different. However, big C had been gently highlighting my flaws at not taking my reusable bags with me when I went out. Then it was a Costa reusable cup. Then picking pens for school that could be filled with reusable ink rather than throw away pens. Then it was 'mum do you really need to buy that item' and he went full out to declutter mode too which as his mum I clearly noticed all of these little things. 

He was definitely taking on a plastic-free, buy less, reuse where possible, eco-friendly and refillable mentality. And, I realised these things were important to him. While he's the strong silent type he clearly cares about the earth, the plant and the future to what degree I will never know because he's the strong silent type, did I mention that? ha-ha. 
But, it's my job to nurture not force. It would be an unwise mother that forced her child to do as she says. That's not me. I considered how I could implement things into our lives and in our house that would make him feel that his beliefs were worthy and being actioned. After all, this house is not just hairy boy and I's house. This is a home that's created from all of us living here, varied and unique hopefully and so, I asked big C to consider what we could do so he knew his ideas were valued. 

We made a few changes, I'll cover those separately but one of the changes was laundry. After all, we use so much washing product and it comes housed in excessive plastic. It costs us around £21 for a month and a half. Which is really bloody expensive. I had consistently seen the add for 'Smol' you know, the one where they offer you '9 washes for £1' and being dubious and distrustful (I'm working on it, y'all) I automatically thought it was a hyped gimmick or that you'd sign up and it would be terrible, or the company would take loads of money from your account and be an utter nightmare to cancel. Much like many other companies out there. 

So I researched. And I researched more, I also found inspiration in From Fiona's post about why she's also becoming more sustainable. The feedback that I was seeing was all positive with normal people asking them to make more products like fabric conditioners etc. This was a positive for me as people don't take the time to request more products let alone comment on a less than favourable company. 

I clicked through. 

Figured once I got to check out there would be a catch or the pricing would be ridiculous. Initially, it asks how many washes you do a week, which type of product you'd prefer and if you're a one capsule or a two capsule kinda gal or gent. I filled it all in and it told me that my 1.5-month capsule subscription would cost, wait for it... 

£3.85 

Yup, £3.85. That's a huge £17.15 saving every month and a half. It sounded too good to be true and I was sure that when my nine wash sample order came that it would be ridiculously bad or not smell as fresh as everyone was commenting. 

Again I was wrong. 



I told big C about the change to Smol and he smiled and said it was good (that's a huge mama win!) and you know, it actually felt really good. These were being delivered every 56 days and I didn't have to worry about running out. They cost us a heck ton less and especially during isolation, I'll take all of the savings I can get. 


Your pack will contain as many of the above capsules to last you for the 56 days. I chose the blue non-bio option so my sons' skin doesn't become affected. Middle C has dry skin and typically we opt for non-bio. There is also a green bio option if you'd prefer. The difference between the both is that the bio contains additional enzymes that break down stains, but in all honesty, I've found the blue does just as good as job as it's major competitor counterparts at washing away stains. 

Also, the sample pack you see above came in 60g of recyclable plastic. But, they have now gone 100% plastic-free so my latest order doesn't have any plastic and that also felt great because the little man will use the cardboard in his many creations and as a family, we're helping to do our part, one small change at a time. 

All because of a teenager.


What I will say is absolutely try out the trial pack. I would be surprised if you cancel your subscription. Wash wise the clothes come out gleaming, stains and dirty marks are all gone and if you have a particularly tough load you can soak them in a melted capsule as a pre-wash and then wash again after. 

The younger generation are pretty fantastic, aren't they? I really don't think they get the applause that they deserve. Either way, consider changing up your lifestyle in some small way and I can bet you will be surprised at how easy the change slotted into your life. 

Elyse & Connor

Statement: Nothing to Disclose. Not collaborated. No affiliate links.