Thursday, 21 June 2012

How a banana cures piles, plus views and news

Old wives' tales for the digital age? 

I'm all for self medication (natural remedies, not drugs!) so I was quite intrigued by How a Banana Cures Piles. I don't have piles right now but it's worth noting down just in case it works! This article is a list of weird remedies, such as wearing socks in bed to beat insomnia, eating a sugar cube to end a hiccup and coughing to ease the pain of injections. I'm going to try some just for the fun of it.

Samsung Bike Week 2012 - deflated like an old tire? 
Who is giving a damn about it this year? Not much media coverage so far and the events in Cambridge, the cycling capital of the UK, are disappointing to say the least. Most are linked to cycling-to-work initiatives, nothing for families at all. Now I know why I couldn't sell my feature on family cycling. Nobody gives a damn and it's all about the footie and the Olympics.

War on separate bedrooms syndrome 
Lovely photo but not really representing the press release's target market

Since pregnancy I have become a light sleeper so a separate bedroom is a must for me. According to a press release from The Sleep Council, one in four couples now sleeps in separate rooms, so the council is offering tips for sharing a bed, which is weird - separate bedrooms equal higher sales of beds and accessories. 
The argument: “Sharing a bed is the ultimate intimacy and research from America suggests that this intimacy helps to lower stress hormones and encourage feelings of safety and security. Unfortunately, over time, all sorts of practical issues can get in the way and – particularly among more mature couples whose children may have left home – the call of the spare bed becomes increasingly difficult to resist! The result is a growing number of couples sleeping in separate rooms and unfortunately that can be the beginning of the end for many marriages.”
 The tips (and warning bells for your relationship - my comments in italics): 
  • Both partners going to bed at the same time at least three nights a week. Different body clocks mean many couples tuck up at different times – alarm bells should sound when that starts to happen every night of the week.
  • Ensure the shared bed is comfortable for both partners. Modern technology means even couples with different preferences can find a bed that suits them both thanks to zip-and-link or zoned mattresses. Where duvet hogging is an issue, separate single duvets can work wonders. Separate duvets can also work for bed sharers who have different temperature requirements.
  • Buy as big a bed as budget and room size allow. 
  • Ensure the bedroom is an oasis of calm and tranquillity – i.e. no tellies or any other technology likely to distract attention away from sleep and intimacy (what about the children???)
  • Make sure window coverings effectively block out the light. Long summer days may be welcome in many ways, but light can have a detrimental effect on body clocks and sleeping patterns (steal that light-blocking blind from your child's room)
  • Remember that caffeine, alcohol, smoking and exercising or eating too close to bedtime can all make it more difficult to grab a great night’s sleep.
  • When snoring becomes a significant and ongoing problem, seek help. 
  • ‘Roll together’ is a sure sign the shared bed has had its day and needs replacing. It may be a charming characteristic in the early, heady days of a relationship but, like snoring, it’s one that all too soon wears extremely thin. A new bed will end the bickering.
 If you can't be bothered to read the above, this is the "sale message": buy a new, huge, technologically superior bed and use single duvets. If you sleep in a separate room, your marriage is in trouble. And no, snoring is not a good excuse to make a dash for the guest room.

Chilli Pasta Bake (courtesy of Philly's press office)

Serves 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

300g extra lean minced beef
1 large jar ready made chilli con carne sauce
300g penne pasta
100g Philadelphia Light with Garlic & Herbs
1 egg
150g tub 0% fat Greek yogurt
40g reduced fat cheddar cheese, grated
Salad, to serve

1. Heat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Heat a large frying pan, add the mince, brown then add the chilli sauce. Cook over a reduced low heat for 5 minutes.
2. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the pack and drain well. Mix with the chilli sauce to combine and pour into an ovenproof dish.
3. In a bowl with a whisk, mix the Philly, egg and yogurt and half of the cheddar cheese. Pour the Philly mix over the top of the saucy pasta and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until browned on top. Serve with salad.

Parental pinch: families reduce spend on kids' activities

New research from Capital One reveals that a third of parents is planning to reduce the amount spent on their child’s extracurricular activities. At present, these activities cost UK parents £50bn every year, but this looks set to fall dramatically.

·         1.3 million parents will reduce spend on children’s sporting endeavours
·         1.1 million to cut back on music, art and cultural extracurricular activities
·         800,000 parents to reduce children’s participation in academic extracurricular education

Children in younger families are set to bear the brunt of these cutbacks, as 52% of parents aged 18-34 plans to spend less this year on their child’s activities.

Cutbacks on children’s activity spending over the next 12 months
Number of UK parents planning to cut back
Average amount spent per month per activity
Leisure activities e.g. cinema
Birthday parties and celebrations
Sporting clubs and classes
Non-educational school trips e.g. ski holidays
Music/art/cultural clubs and classes
Extra-curricular academic studies e.g. tutoring
Educational school trips e.g. history museum
Girl guides/ scouts/ brownies

Capital One's money-saving tips:
  • §  When organising activities for children, take advantage of discount voucher websites such as ‘Groupon’ or ‘Quidco’ as you can often save as much as 70% on meals and days out
  • §  Make the most of free activities that are appropriate for all ages, from museums and galleries to street festivals
  •  §  If you use a credit card, make sure you are rewarded for your spending by making the most of cash-back offers and other reward schemes
  • §  The most convenient supermarket is not always the most cost effective. It often pays to shop around and take advantage of reward points offered for loyalty.
Notes: Research conducted by Opinium Research amongst 2010 UK adults in 2012. All figures are based on the percentage of survey respondents answering this option. The survey is representative of UK adults aged 18+. ONS population figures show 49,924,000 adults in the UK in 2012, therefore all figures are based on percentages of this figure.

Not sure about this one as I'm spending more now that I have a school-aged child!

New search engine for kids

A recent government report highlighted that a third of 10 year olds had viewed explicit material online, with children as young as 11 becoming addicted to online pornography. With many parents aware of how difficult a task it is to constantly track the websites their children are visiting, has been created to ensure that children are kept safe when online. The new search engine creates a safe environment within which children can browse the web without being exposed to explicit content or adverts. 
I gave it a go by keying poo (I know, lame) and got a list of swimming pools, then tried cock horse (now renamed hobby horse not to expose kids to lurid pics) and got zero results. Result? You have a go...

National child safety week
Ei Electronics sent me a press release to state they are the UK’s leading manufacturer of fire 
and home safety products and will once again be supporting this year’s national Child Safety Week, which is organised by the Child Accident Prevention Trust and runs from 18-24 June 2012. 
Each year, 1 million children under the age of 15 are taken to accident and emergency units after accidents in the home, with the most severe of these accidents relating to burns and scalds involving fire or hot water. Child Accident Prevention isn’t about wrapping children up in cotton wool, it’s about identifying and understanding potential accident risks in the home and taking some basic safety steps that will keep your child safe and give you peace of mind. Although numbers have fallen, fire is still one of the biggest killers of children in the home. Thick black smoke from a fire can fill a home and kill in less than a minute, which is why early warning is essential. 

Then there was a tedious spiel about smoke alarms, at which point I switched off. I do have plenty of smoke alarms in my house and despite the good points made at the start the rest is too boring to read. A case of a press release written with an engineer in mind not stressed, busy parents with lots of stuff going on in their lives and limited attention span...

Back-to-school retail season... Already? 

School is not out yet but supermarkets are having uniform wars. Apparently you get get the whole kit for £4.50 at Tesco. See price comparisons here.

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