In association with Smart Home Week

Smart Home Week

According to research for Smart Home Week, (which is this week), nearly a third of homes now have at least one smart technology.

Are you one of them?

To be honest I was surprised it wasn’t higher, as I’ve been feeling a little bit left behind lately, like everyone had a Google Assistant or a smart lightbulb apart from me. I would make lists in silence on scraps of paper with a pencil I found on top of the fridge and feel like a right chump.

Not any more though. Now I have so much smart home technology that I suspect my various devices could potentially team up and beat me in a game of Trivial Pursuit.

The research also highlighted however that 47% of us find smart technology overwhelming and honestly, I feel your pain. When these smart home products started arriving for me to test, I was SCARED. I would open the boxes and stare at the cables and feel a genuine sense of utter bemusement. I wrote a little bit about it here.

What I quickly discovered though is that the whole thing is really not as scary at it first seems. In fact, the beauty of smart technology is just that – it’s SMART. Often it’s just a case of switching something on and letting it set up ITSELF, but in every case instructions were simple, clear and intuitive.

To help you feel more comfortable with things and to encourage you to think about adding some smart technology to your home, I’m going to give you a quick run down of the seven new products that we’ve added to our home this month. Each is just an overview as they can all do loads of fancy stuff, but if you have any specific questions about set up or how they work then please leave a comment and I will do my best to help.

Okay, here goes…

Ring video doorbell

I’m going to start with this one as this is something that Belle has wanted for a LONG time. I’m not sure what it is about it, I think it reminds her of the good old days when she used to watch MI HIGH and spend her pocket money on spy glasses to help you see behind yourself.

I feel like all of the smart home technologies have this element of ‘I’m a spy’ about them, (because I am old), but the Ring video doorbell is probably the product for me that most solves an actual problem. Where everything else is really fun or useful or saves me time or money, the Ring doorbell means I no longer have to worry about missing parcels while I’m at work. I can literally answer the door from my desk, via my phone. We also have ours connected to a Ring Chime Pro, which can tell you when someone has rung your bell as well as when motion has been detected.

The postman was a bit confused the first time I spoke to him seemingly from nowhere, but I think he liked it. ‘Just leave the parcel behind the bin at the side of the house please!’

‘Okay,’ he said, ‘but don’t forget!’

He knows me so well. View Post

Today I had an intriguing email. It was titled ‘looking for a single mummy.’ It was from a man, I can only presume, who introduced himself as Henry.

Hey, am Henry from Africa, Nigeria to be presided. Am 25 of age and am really looking for care and support from any single mummy around for a son to take care of. I saw your email online so I decided that I let you know that someone is interested in your caring. Thank you for audience, I hope for a positive reply. Thank You.

Well. I had only been thinking to myself just this morning how I didn’t feel like I quite had enough to think about, so this seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

Hi Henry,

Thanks so much for thinking of me for this role! Just to clarify – exactly what tasks would I be expected to perform? I’m assuming cooking and washing up as a given, but I should warn you that I’m not very good at ironing. Should I start practising or could you do without that?

Would I need to move to Nigeria or would you live here?

I eagerly await your reply.

Jo

P.S. When you say you preside in Nigeria, does that mean you are president?

I didn’t need to be eager for long, Henry was quick to respond. View Post

In association with Smart Home Week

Smart Home Week

Today is the first day of Smart Home Week.

It’s going to be a fun week for me as I’m teaming up with Smart Home Week to showcase some of the latest smart tech for your home. Over the last few weeks I’ve been installing various gadgets, chatting to my postman via video doorbell and even rewiring a thermostat (a bit scary but made me feel super powerful) so that I can explain how various things work, how simple (or not) they are to use, and how they can benefit your home.

I bought my first ever house last year, so the project was well timed for me. It has made me feel very grown up, like I am taking charge and creating a home that works for us as a family.

That’s not to say I didn’t have doubts at first. I am the woman who gets confused by TV remote controls remember?

This time last month my idea of running a ‘smart home’ would have been remembering to lock the front door before going to bed, so it’s fair to say I was slightly nervous at the prospect of filling my home with smart tech. Technology isn’t something that comes naturally to me, and I pictured myself sat on the floor next to my router, fist fulls of leads, lights blinking, sobbing quietly.

You’ll be pleased to hear it wasn’t quite like that, although I DID end up with a lot of leads and things plugged into my router.

Top tip: invest in one of those boxes where you can tidy away all your cables.

Most of the technology was actually incredibly easy to set up – much of it had a step by step process through its app, telling you exactly what to do ant every stage. The great thing about it being SMART technology is that it pretty much knows how to set ITSELF up. You just plug it in and off it goes. View Post

In association with Bosch

So, the Bosch Unlimited cordless vacuum cleaner.

Now here’s the deal. I do already have a different cordless vacuum, and I love it. It’s so handy to be able to just grab it from the cupboard when I need to do I quick job on the cat litter that Camille kicks all over the kitchen floor, and I know the cleaner likes being able to wheel it around the house with her without constantly plugging and unplugging.

HOWEVER.

The battery life is not great. I have to remember to add a fully charged battery before the cleaner comes on Monday, and she always uses it up before she finishes the house. The individual batteries take ages to charge, so I always feel like I’m playing a game of vacuum cleaner battery roulette.

(I don’t get out much, so I have to get my thrills where I can.)

The Bosch Unlimited vacuum is different.

Bosch Unlimited review

The new cordless Bosch Unlimited vacuum comes with interchangeable batteries. Nothing new you might think, and you’d be right. The cool thing about the Bosch Unlimited though is that the batteries charge more quickly that you can use them, effectively giving you an infinite run time. 

Oooooh! View Post

I’ve been having a bit of a general muse today about fear and the impact it has on our lives. I think it was brought on by going to London this week to go on a filmed date with a Spanish man I’d never met before called Marco, where I had to speak in Spanish after only learning it for three weeks.

(More on that another time.)

It occurred to me that it’s probably the sort of thing that a lot of people would be too afraid to do.

Would you go on a date with a stranger in another language in front of a film crew? Are there other things that you don’t do because you’re afraid to? And most importantly, what is it that you’re really afraid of?

About four years ago, when I went through that break up that made me really sad, I read a lot of books about fear. The sadness I felt at the time had this permanent edge of fear to it that I couldn’t seem to shift and the longer it went on the more scared I became because I didn’t know how to make it go away and couldn’t see how I was going to cope with it.

One of the books I read was Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway. A lot of it felt a little bit cheesy, but the essence of it is simple – we aren’t actually afraid of feeling or events, were afraid of our inability to cope with them.

The three levels of fear

Susan Jeffers writes about there being three levels of fear. The first level is the incident itself – the ‘surface story’ – and the second is how it makes us feel – the ‘generalised fear’. For instance, we might say that we’re afraid to go on a date in Spanish, which would be the top layer. Dig a bit deeper and we might say that what we are really afraid of is messing up, of people laughing or of feeling embarrassed about the fact that all we can say is ‘tengo tres gatos’. View Post

Post in association with Harris & Jones

It’s a common misconception in my family that I have absolutely zero sentimentality.

If you ask my mum, I would throw away a precious family heirloom soon as look at it, and while she’s right that I’m not a hoarder and don’t keep old stuff just for the sake of it I DO keep things that I think are worth keeping.

I mean sure, I’ve had my fair share of having to deal with children pulling paintings out of the recycling and asking ‘how did THIS get here?’ whilst looking sad, but every parent has that don’t they? Not every single thing your child ever touches is worth keeping. But some are, and so I do.

This post is here to prove that point.

For years I kept all of our special family bits and pieces in a battered old suitcase – one of those old ones that you imagine Laura Jesson in Brief Encounter would have used to run away with Alec Harvey, had he ever been interested in more than just sleeping with her.*

When that became too small – (you see Mother how I amass these treasures?) – I upgraded to a very sturdy plastic box with a clickable lid. Practical maybe, but it doesn’t exactly say ‘precious memories’. Also, it is just one massive box, so everything is jumbled up in a messy heap.

What I needed was something a little more personal to organise things into, something pretty that would make our family memories feel cherished rather than just STORED.

And it was exactly at this moment that Harris & Jones got in touch to see if fancied having a look at some of their beautiful keepsake boxes. (Sometimes these things are just meant to be aren’t they?)

The lovely thing about Harris & Jones keepsake boxes is that they are all handmade. I mean PROPERLY handmade, by husband and wife team Steve and Vanessa and two helpers, Zoe and Clair, all working from converted chicken huts just a few miles from the family home.

(I’m assuming that it’s one very large chicken hut that they’ve converted into a workspace rather than the four of them individually crouched in separate coops or anything like that.)

baby keepsake boxes Harris & Jones View Post