Kelly Allen Writer

Cardiff family lifestyle, arts and culture blog.


Review & Giveaway: Beautiful Photo Canvasses From Canvas Champ.

*This is a sponsored post. Thanks to CanvasChamp for our free canvas. All thoughts are 100% honest and my own.

Recently I was asked to review a canvas from CanvasChamp, and I couldn't wait to head on over to their site to see what was on offer! I have been meaning to buy a set of canvasses for a while, you might already know how much we love hanging up pictures, paintings and photographs, so it made total sense to add a few more to my basket!

I was gifted a 8x12 canvas (currently £7.19), but I also opted to purchase (with my own money!) three 8x8 canvasses (currently £3.89). The website was really easy to use: you simply click on Canvas Products and then Canvas Prints from the drop-down menu. To the right you can select your canvas print size, they come in 20x20, 8x12, 11x14 and 16x20. You can also create your own custom sized canvas if you have a particular idea in mind! Once you've decided what size your first canvas will be, simply click 'start order' and you'll be taken to a page where you can choose your canvas options and then you click through to upload your photograph.


The Silent Killer: Sepsis & Septicaemia Signs and Symptoms.

hospital beds and title septicaemia and sepsis signs and symptoms
*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

When I entered the register office in Birmingham I did not expect to see the words 'septicaemia' written at the top of the 'reason for death' list. I didn't click, even when he showed the signs and symptoms of septicaemia. My father had lung cancer, he had COPD, but he didn't have septicaemia... did he? I felt my rage burn inside as I read the certificate, fully aware of how and when things had gone severely wrong for my father. The truth of his experience pieced together inside my mind like a jigsaw, and I saw nothing but red. The lady who handed my mother and I the certificate seemed oblivious, as if we already knew... but we only fully understood the situation when we saw it in black and white.

My Father's Death Story

My dad was sick for a very long time. I remember finding out about his lung cancer whilst shopping in Tesco. I was pregnant with George and all I wanted to do was stop whatever was coming for him, change his path, keep him alive for as long as possible. Unfortunately we don't have these magical powers, but we do have the precious time before the light goes out.

He wasn't given long to live (6-9 months if I recall correctly...), but he surpassed their expectations. Truth be told, I don't think doctors always know the reality of how long someone will live, they have to guess based on the facts. He lived for many years after his diagnosis and towards the end he was skin and bone.

I remember feeling quite selfish as my parents cancelled a day out with me, because he wasn't feeling well. I remember thinking it was odd when I went to visit and he was totally knackered, tucked up in bed. For some reason I'd bought him a small angel wind-chime to hang in his room, and this was when I found out he'd been prescribed heart medication from his GP for his suddenly increased heartbeat. Something didn't feel right, but for some reason I couldn't work it out. We queried it amongst ourselves, but never went any further with it, because we trusted the GP.

It didn't take long for his body to give way to the poison, and he was soon in hospital. My mother and I sat in a room with a doctor who told us that was that; no reasons, no explanation, not much comfort.

'He has a day or two, say goodbye now.'

I'm not being accurate with wording here, but this is how it felt from my point of view. I called friends and family, told them to come and say goodbye. And always there was this niggling feeling in my mind about his illness, what was really going on, I felt duped because it wasn't supposed to happen like this. What weren't they telling us?!

When the certificate was placed in our hands I flipped. The penny dropped. He most likely had pneumonia that led to septicaemia. We'd missed the signs, yes, but so had a fully trained GP...

During the months following his death, I toyed with the idea of filing for medical negligence, but I felt it wasn't my place and my mother wasn't keen. I still think about it. Not for money, but to hold the GP accountable, because who knows how many other people have died because of misdiagnosis...

I can't even think about it.

So there's my father's death story. He didn't die from lung cancer, he died from untreated and undiagnosed septicaemia.

I have wanted to write this for a very long time, and I feel there's so much more to say. I do want to end this post in a helpful way, so I've created a checklist for sepsis/septicaemia, and I'm also going to talk about the difference between the two.

Septicaemia is a widely used term, but there is a difference between this and sepsis. Septicaemia is often referred to as 'blood poisoning', because it refers to large amounts of bacteria within the blood running through the body. Sepsis is more widespread, affecting organs within the body, or the entire body itself, but it doesn't mean blood poisoning is occurring at the same time.

I think it's a bit confusing, but the symptoms are very similar, so I've pieced them together in the below chart...

Sepsis & Septicaemia Signs and Symptoms

infographic/pin with all signs and symptoms.
Please click here for detailed signs and symptoms. 



6 Long Car Journey Essentials for a Family Road-Trip.

blue car with title.
*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

The sun is out and it's time to plan all those family trips, from holidays abroad to camping in the Welsh hills, it's important to make sure you have all the essentials pack into the boot of your car. Long car journeys can be tough, but when you have kids in the car, you need to be 100% prepared for the journey. 

Creating Beautiful Memories With Be My Bear.

a little girl holding her be my bear.
*Thank you to Be My Bear for our bears!

Recently we received a gorgeous box of delights from Be My Bear, a company specialising in high quality bear making kits. Their company has been around since 2001 and they are the UK's original Build-Anywhere-Bear company based in North Wales.

Their website is pretty awesome, and surely any child's dream, with a vast selection of characters to choose from. The prices are also very competitive, with prices starting from as little as £7.00. We were given the chance to test out two kits, one for George and one for Molly. Molly adores puppy dogs, so she naturally chose this one £7.00, whilst George went for a big old crocodile, £10.00.

6 Top Tips for Tax and Self Assessment 2018.

Self assessment title with a photo of calculator and workings out.
*This is sponsored post. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

Yes, the end of the tax year has come and gone, and the self-employed folk are either smug because they've already submitted theirs, or scared to even do it, or just putting it off until January. I'm in the first camp, and perhaps a little smug, mostly because it feels like the weight has lifted off my shoulders. Since mine's complete, I thought it would be good to share my top tips for tax and self assessment in 2018.

There are so many resources out there, but finding them can often be a minefield. I research a lot of things until I can research no more, and I feel like I'm always learning, so if you have any tips please comment below.  



5 Unexpected Financial Problems and How to Fix Them.

*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

Money makes the world go round, so when you hit a financial hurdle it can feel like your world is crumbling around you. We've been there plenty of times over the years, and it's a scary and daunting place to be, but there are ways of of dealing with these financial set backs...

I've popped together a list of unexpected financial difficulties and ways to help overcome them.

5 Unexpected Financial Problems and How to Fix Them!

1. Broken appliances

We've been in this situation so many times, it's pretty unreal. The stress of a broken fridge or washing machine can be a killer, so it's important to try to see some perspective- hard, I know, when you have freezer food defrosting before your very eyes. Still, try to be calm, there are many ways to fix this!

How to Fix it:

  • Reach out to companies who offer reviews for their products, you never know! 
  • Ask friends and family if they have any spare appliances they no longer need, you'd be surprised how many people store this kind of thing in their garage!
  • Check out Gumtree as or other selling sites for super cheap options.

2. Emergency vet bills

Ziggy suffers from epilepsy, so we know what it's like to have a sudden diagnosis. Vets bills can be really expensive, so having some sort of back-up here is essential.

How to Fix it:

  • Make sure you have insurance. We have PetPlan and they've saved us a fortune!
  • Talk to your vet about payment plans, they might be able to arrange for you to pay your bill off over 6 months instead of immediately. 

3. Illness

When you're ill these days it's pretty hit and miss as to how much support you'll get from your employer. If you're self-employed then it's zilch, and this can be a scary time for anyone.

How to Fix it:

  • Start building up some savings. A little each week will soon become a lot, perfect to fall back on during times of illness.
  • Ask family and friends to help, a simple food shop can save you money and it's all you really need when you're ill (once your bills are paid!).

4. Car accident

Warren was recently involved in an accident and it's a very scary time. It's a relief when you know no-one is hurt, but then the money problems begin. Vehicles being written off, higher premium, no vehicle... it's all pretty daunting.

How to Fix it:

  • Make sure you have the best insurance you can get. This way you'll be fully covered!
  • Small loans can go a long way as long as you're sensible with them. You can get a small loan to cover the cost of a cheap runaround if your car is written off or you don't have hire car cover.  

5. Housing issues

Ants, damp, broken boilers, or any other issues relating to your home can cost a fortune. We've experienced plenty of these, but because we rent we have to rely on the landlord we don't have much in the way of power to fix a lot of our problems. If you do own your own house, or even if you rent, these ideas might help prepare you for that 'rainy day' fund...

How to Fix it:

  • Start saving. 
  • Get decent contents and/or building insurance. 
  • Use sites such as Facebook and Nextdoor to find local helpers or specialists to do the work at a lower rate.

I hope this has been a useful guide, unexpected financial problems can occur out of the blue and it can be very scary indeed. Please remember you're never alone, and if you ever need to talk, I'm here.



Amazing Festival Must Haves Plus a Free Printable Family Festival Checklist!

a family toasting marshmallows with title in front.

*This guide includes some gifted items, all gifted items will be marked with a *. 

The sun is out and we all know what's coming next is full on festival season! There are so many family friendly festivals out there, and we'll be hitting quite a few this year (Beyond the Border, Camp Bestival and The Big Retreat) so I thought it would be a good idea to put together a guide to family festival must haves for 2018.

Having a festival checklist is so important, because it can get really confusing when you're part of a family unit. Having a set list for family festival gear can be essential, and sometimes it can be the make or break of a festival trip!

Below you will find my ideas for family festival gear, and at the end I've added in my own personal checklist to help you to get festival ready!

A Guide to Family Festival Must Haves 2018...



I think wellies are the key ingredient to a family festival. Chances are, you won't need them much, but if it randomly rains then you're covered and you won't have soggy feet! These gorgeous wellies by Joules are from Amara* (£39.95 currently £27.79). I think they're incredibly stylish, and I know from experience just how comfortable they are!

Sun Cream

Safety and health is so important, so when it comes to being out in the sun all day long at a family festival, your skin is going to need protection. Sun Sense offers 50 factor sun-cream* for all the family, as well as a special daily facial cream. This has to be on your list for any festival this year...

A Camping Grill

You can't cook without a grill or BBQ, so I think it's pretty important. They can save you so much money, because you're not constantly eating out! We recently had a little look at CampingGaz Party Grill*, check out the video below for more information...

I think their Party Grill is absolutely fabulous. It's really compact and easy to assemble/disassemble, and I can't wait to use it at all our summer festivals! 

A Festival Trolley

We have only used a trolley for one festival, and it was the best decision we ever made. It meant we could pop the kids in it when they felt tired, or carry some of our bits and bobs as we wandered around.

We recently received a lovely bundle of Varta products* to try out, and here's our little video explaining why a torch and a lantern should form part of your checklist!

Mobile Phone Powerbank

As you've already seen in the above vlog and photograph, a powerbank* is an essential part of festival kit, especially with children! 


Fake Nails

This is obviously an indulgent one, but why not?! When you have kids it's hard to keep on top of the washing, let alone your nails! This set of nails* is perfect for the busy Mom, they simply press on and you're good to go, plus they last up to 5 days; perfect festival timing!

Shimmering Mist

Strictly Come Dancing Dazzle Shimmering Mist* would make a lovely addition to any festival beauty bag. Use it in the day for a glow or spritz it on for a festival vibe during the night's musical performances. 

Self Care

Fungal Nail Treatment

You never know what you might pick up at a festival, and fungal foot problems are easily spread. Being prepared is key, so this fungal nail kit from Excilor* is perfect...

Rescue Remedy

We're all quite nervous travellers in this household, so having Rescue Remedy at hand is key to relaxing our frantic minds, especially during a festival! Comfort and Reassure Rescue Remedy* sounds like the perfect way to soothe any member of the family, because festivals can sometimes be an overwhelming experience.

Special Treats

Foodie treats are the most comforting thing about a festival (or camping in general!), and olive pouches seem like the perfect snack! Fragata snack packs* come in handy little packets, perfect for travelling, and they also come in three different flavours...

Zippo Handwarmer

Keeping little hands warm as the night brings in the cold is so important. A colourful hand warmer from Zippo* would surely do the trick, right? 


A festival wouldn't be a festival if you didn't get a little bit mucky, but you don't need mud to have this kind of fun. Cool Gifts has the answer in the form of Micro Konfetti*, perfect for the kids (and adults!) to create some laughter and fun!

I hope you've enjoyed my little run down of amazing festival must haves, I hope you've enjoyed taking a look. Below is the link to download the family festival checklist, so you can start planning for all the festivals you attend with your family!

Family Festival Checklist!

You can download the checklist here :)

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