Saturday, 28 October 2017

Brussels, Books and Being Busy

You know, I had the best intentions to get a bucketload of blogging typed up, pictures taken etc during half term. I'll have so much time to schedule posts, I thought. I mean, clearly I forgot that although I'd be off work for the week, so too the kiddos would be off school and I'd still have councillor and political party member duties. I've even struggled to spend quality time with Joe and he's had most days off as well! So naturally, my best intentions sort of slipped away and now you're getting this ramble! 

Still, as a busy gal, I've got plenty of news to share with you! Last week, I attended a very interesting talk with my local Member of European Parliament, ahead of a trip I'm going on next month as part of a Women In Leadership campaign. I've mentioned it a few times over on Instagram - so go and follow me, I'm hilarious - that I'm going to Brussels to visit European Parliament with a small group of awesome ladies in a bid to discuss why politics still carries a massive barrier to women. I think it's fair to say that a lot of the issues we cover will also mimic the barriers women face in everyday life - so I'm very excited to see if we can go ahead and fix a faltering system! Plus, I've never been to Brussels before so yeah. Excited! 
In other somewhat political news - I have decided to tackle mental health issues in my local area, as well as getting a fair wage for young workers. Can't say I don't keep myself busy, now! I'm the youngest councillor by at least 15 years, so I feel like it's my duty to be a voice for people like myself who might have felt unrepresented in the past. If you know of any excellent charities I could try to work with - I've already got Young Women's Trust in mind, as well as some of the bigger mental health charities - then please share them. Also, any schemes which you think have worked well in your local area that I could possibly try to replicate. 
I've managed to get a bit of my reading mojo back, and recently finished reading Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard. I'm still woefully behind in my reading challenge, but I've just started Sara Pascoe's Animal as an audiobook, so I'm hoping that the new format might help mix things up! Also, I received a few nonfiction books for my birthday - thank god for the birthday wishlist, amiright? - so they should make a nice change from reading fiction too. I'm pretty positive that I can keep it up and I could possibly reach my target by the end of December. Maybe I should start including some of the ace kids book I read to the boys? Ha! 
I had a really lovely birthday and managed to spread the celebrations out for an entire week, which I think in itself is pretty impressive. We had a meal with family, a meal out with friends as well as bunches of flowers and some pretty fantastic gifts - again, thank you wish list! - but that didn't stop me from purchasing the most ridiculous jacket from Monsoon earlier this week. I keep banging on about my capsule wardrobe, but I couldn't help myself. It's so pretty! I manage to wiggle 20% off with my NUS card, so although not strictly a bargain, I'm trying to justify it that way. I think it's pretty much sold out online but I asked the lady in store and managed to pull one out of their stock for me. I'm thinking it will look great with a plain dress and then therefore won't damage my restricted capsule wardrobe too much. 
What's new with you? Let's catch up in the comments!

Friday, 13 October 2017

I've Made over £10,000 from Matched Betting - and You Can Too!

When I went on maternity leave, I was faced with a huge cut in my income, as the maternity pay I received was less than half of my monthly wage. I had considered looking at different ways to make money online - be it article writing, rating websites or other such schemes - but nothing really seemed to fit around my life with a newborn baby. That's until I found out about matched betting. 
Matched betting is a tax-free way to make money by utilising the incentive offers that bookings bring out on a regular basis. These offers are the turned into a guaranteed profit by matched betting - as opposed to regular betting which is simply gambling. Matched betting isn't a new thing at all, and some people have even managed to quit their day jobs to become full-time matched bettors.  Depending on how big your starting 'bank' is and how much time you can spare, the amount of money you can make varies. However, I was able to repeatedly make £1,000 a month while I was on maternity leave, and now continue to make around £500+ each month while I'm back at work full-time. 

Where to start with Matched Betting?

I use a site called Profit Accumulator which I initially used to teach me the basics of matched betting, but can also be used for finding the latest offers as well updating you on the best odds to use. As someone who isn't really in to sport, I found this quite helpful - you definitely don't need to be a footy fan to be a successful matched bettor! When you sign up the the free trial with Profit Accumulator, they give you two offers try out - allowing you to instantly make £45 risk free! This allows you to test the waters a bit, to see if you understand what to do before decided to purchase a membership. At this point, I went ahead and bought one as the free offers covered a couple of months payment. 
I find it's best to keep a pot of money aside so you can access all the best odds when they're available, as they certainly move about closer to kick off. If you can, a pot of around £200 is a great start - but I've heard some people leaving £1,000 aside for their pot. A good way to build up your pot is to simply keep your winnings in your bank account until you've reached your ideal 'bank' threshold

How can I make £1,000 a month?

Honestly, the best way I've found is to set myself a daily target. Whether it's £10 or even £50, by holding yourself accountable, it does help to spur you on. I used a super unattractive spreadsheet to log all of my winnings, which I found on the Profit Accumulator member's forum and adapted it to my needs. Another thing I do to make sure I can make a decent amount is schedule matched betting into my day. Saturday is easily the busiest day for matched betting, with so many different sports going on at multiple times during the day, so I try to get some time in on Saturday morning. I also found that trying to catch whatever horse races were on during Robin's nap time helpful as well, as they could easily boost up your profits by a few quid a time! 
Once you've signed up to a few bookies, you'll start getting new offers as an existing member - this is how so many people can do matched betting for a longer period of time, the offers just don't stop! I find these ones can be quite lucrative as they almost always offer a deposit bonus, meaning you technically have free money straight away. Just be careful to read the T&C on any offer you are emailed, and of course don't click on any links from a bookie you haven't signed up with. I actually created a separate email just for matched betting as you can get quite a few on a daily basis! 
I've been really surprised at how well I've taken to matched betting, so if you have any questions then I will try my best to help! 
*Please note affiliate links have been used. They are at no cost to you, but help keep Love In Modern Life ticking over with exciting content! Content written by myself.*

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Creating a Workwear Capsule Wardrobe

Despite the fact that I've worked in an office for a few years now, since returning to work after having Robin, I seem to have zero clothes suitable for work. I've mentioned previously that I'm attempting to create my very own minimalist capsule wardrobe, and although that has had various success - mostly that I never put aside time to actually get rid of my clothes! - I think a work capsule wardrobe might be a good starting point. I've had a bit of time now to think about what colour scheme my working wardrobe could have, and the sort of fabrics that are office-friendly - read: layers to deal with air-con! So now, it's just starting to curate the items I need to have a little work capsule for the ultimate ease when it comes to getting ready. 

Images sourced via

When I was considering creating a capsule wardrobe, I had constantly thought to myself, 'man, I wish I just had a uniform,' as those days really were stress-free. That's why I think a pinafore is an excellent piece for any workwear capsule wardrobe. I've decided to use navy as my base colour, instead of black, as I think black can be too harsh sometimes. Plus, navy lends itself to matching well with mustard and blush pink, which are my two accent colours. Of course, you could pick any colour for your pinafore - in an ideal world I'd have a denim one too, but that's not work friendly for me, sad times! You can wear a pinafore with a silky blouse, an everyday turtleneck or just a stripy breton top if that's your bag - and that's why I need one in my life. Plus, come wintertime and you can just pop a jumper over the top and that's it - sorted! 
The great thing with buying a few tops to match your pinafore, is that they work with a skirt too! As I'm planning quite a minimalist look, I've went for a suede skirt here so that the texture adds a bit of interest to my capsule. Another way to add a bit of interest is with a wraparound skirt, or something with an asymmetrical hemline. Either way, it's a bit more than your standard skirt and helps to keep your outfits looking fresh. My biggest issue with my capsule wardrobe is footwear, to be honest. I can't really wear heels - in general and at work - so that limits me to flats, which are fine. I currently have some Melissa pumps with a tortoiseshell bow, but I'm really worried about them breaking at work or something disastrous like that. With the colder weather coming, some ankle boots are definitely needed, and I think a tan shade instead of black would work well with my little colour palette. 
So there we have it, a few items to kickstart my work wardrobe! Have you tried a capsule wardrobe before? Any tips?

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Time to #RelaxAndRecline with Fenetic Wellbeing*

I think as soon as the weather gets a bit chillier, everyone wants to stay at home and get cosy. As someone who celebrates their birthday in October, I used to wince when family members gave me cosy socks or knitted jumpers as gifts but now I'm all for it. Joe's nana knits the perfect jumper, so we've got at least five in our collection now! When I was asked to take part in the #RelaxandRecline campaign with Fenetic Wellbeing, I couldn't think of a more perfect match! 

I think even before I became a mum, I was all for comfort. Honestly, growing up you would have thought I had a different pair of slippers for each day of the week - did anybody else have some novelty oinking pig slippers? I love staying in and putting on my warmest jumper, some fluffy socks and having something truly comforting for tea - as soon as the nights start getting dark early I'm practically begging Joe to make us a pie! I guess you can take the girl away from the North, but the pie stays with you haha!
Of course, over the years I've been trying to perfect my own little reading corner and you really do need to have somewhere cosy and comfy if you're intending on getting a few chapters read. When the winter days start to come in, I love sitting back and reading Wuthering Heights - which is something I try to do every year - and this year I'm looking forward to reading The Gritterman by Orlando Weeks which is beautifully illustrated and perfect for this time of year. 

Another thing that is great about winter coming is that you have the best excuse for staying in and having a snuggle instead of venturing out into the cold. Evening TV becomes more interesting and that's pretty great for me. Luckily, we're more of a X Factor family than Stricly fans, so at least there's no arguments there. Whether you're a recliner kinda gal or have a fancy seat that's just for you, then Fenetic Wellbeing have the perfect chairs for you and your loved ones! I think recliner chairs like theirs have a bad rep at the moment as an 'older person' chair, but we always had a reclining sofa when I was a kid, so they just seem like part of life to me. It always seems like the next step forward in comfort - and a bit luxurious! On a weekend, you will often find me snuggled up with the boys under a blanket, relaxed and reclined with some popcorn before watching our favourite movies. I know my Dad always loved having a post-Sunday Roast snooze on them, too! 
What do you love about the change in seasons? How do you relax when the evenings get darker?

*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with Fenetic Wellbeing. Content written by myself.

Monday, 11 September 2017

It's Nearly My Birthday - The Wish List

I really love buying gifts for people. Luckily for me, August and September includes no less than five birthdays and one wedding anniversary (hi Joe!) to pick the perfect present for. When it comes to myself, however, I really struggle to find something that I would like. I think a lot of it is due to being a parent, and how I'd much rather spend my money on keeping the boys clothed and fed, but another part is just that I'm really indecisive. It pains me to pick something to have for dinner, so picking a gift I'm meant to love and treasure forever is a bit of leap for me! 

But not this year. This year, I actually would like a few things! They're mostly clothes, which is always a good shout, I find. I've been banging on for months about how I want to create a capsule wardrobe, and out of all these picks I think only this Alda dress by Boden would fit in with my planned aesthetic. It looks perfect for work and even for a smart/casual type event - not that I frequent many smart/casual events, mind! - and even better, it's iron-free! Gotta love anything that you can just pull on and go. Another bonus? It has pockets. You know I'm one of those girls that loves a dress with pockets. 

My next two clothing picks are from two awesome mama-run brands. Since opening my own little store, I've really come to idolise anyone who can open a store and make it work. Cos it's bloody hard. Anyhoo, much like the tote bag I designed to help women, Black & Beech designed this mega rad A Mother's Place t-shirt and I need it in my life. Parenting and politics are such a HUGE part of my life, and I love that Stacey who runs B&B is so fully dedicated to making people open their eyes to the injustices in the world, and isn't just trying to profit from the latest 'in' cause. The Sister.Hood sweater is next on my list as I've wanted to grab something from Mutha.Hood.Goods ever since they were suggested into my instagram feed, and if this jumper alone can show my support to the sisterhood - and Gemma who runs the show - then, yes please!

Another gem found via instagram is Mother Pukka - who is trying to make flexible working a thing here in the UK. Because it isn't. And because I've been turfed out of work each time I decided to extend my family. Anyhoo, that's a story for another day I think, so on my birthday wish list I am including Parenting The Sh*t Out Of Life by Mother and Papa Pukka. I mean, the cover alone is pretty dreamy, but all the reviews I've read so far make this sound like the book for a mama like me who is just about getting on with things, even if I do have a shoddy milk-stained vest top lurking underneath it all. 

I don't really read a lot of non-fiction, so I've decided to add a few more for my birthday. How to be Champion by Sarah Millican simply because I haven't read an autobiography in years and I really love Sarah. Maybe it's because she's a northerner and I feel like this connects us on a deeper level. Maybe it's just because she's really funny and after the year that has been 2017 (thus far) I feel like we all need a mighty good laugh, and Sarah's the one to bring it. On a completely different level altogether is Talking to My Daughter About the Economy by Yanis Varoufakis. Dylan is at an inquisitive age now, and he often asks about right and wrong, and notices that some people don't have any houses yet some people have lots of houses. I think when I was six, I was more obsessed about getting a pony than about fighting inequality, but I'm so glad we're on the same page now. Hopefully, this brief history of capitalism will not only help me - and Dylan - to make sense of this troubling time, but also inspire us to continue creating a better world for the future.  

I feel like six items is more than enough for a birthday wish list, especially when it's not even a milestone birthday! Have any of my picks made it to your wish list?

*Disclaimer: Please note affiliate links will sometimes be used. This costs nothing extra to you, but helps to keep this lil' space alive. Content written by myself.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Recently Read #4

It would seem that I haven't shared any of the books I've read this year on here. For someone who likes to think of themselves as a (sometime) book blogger, that's pretty terrible going. I guess it's mostly because I started the year off badly and really struggled with getting the time to read. Or, more appropriately, I wasn't using my time wisely and making time to read! I've managed to crack that somehow, and now I'm a book ahead of schedule in my Goodreads challenge

It's so refreshing to read a YA novel that isn't about a dystopian future or centred around a great and meaningful REASON but just a bit of fun, and highlighting the importance of great friendship bonds, new discoveries and being true to yourself. This was a light and fun read, and definitely one I would recommend.

Behind Her Eyes
My wonderful buddy Dannie sent me a copy in the post as she really wanted to discuss that ending with somebody. I absolutely devoured this book while I was away in April (okay so maybe this isn't so recently read..) and it helped massively to kickstart my reading for this year. This book has so many twists and turns, that although I maybe guessed one or two, I was still pretty shocked with the outcome! 

Hold Back The Stars
I really enjoyed reading this - I thought the way the author flicked between their remaining minutes to key points in Carys' and Max's relationship was very well thought out. I think the story says a lot for ideals and how you can't always live up to them, no matter how hard you try, and how sometimes you can accidentally fall onto the 'right path' when you least expect it. 

I enjoyed the sci-fi feel to this, but glad it wasn't too heavy and that a simpleton like myself could half-understand some of the sciencey references. A really enjoyable read!

All The Good Things
All The Good Things follows Beth, a young girl who has been completely failed by the system. The story starts in prison, with Beth's case worker trying to help her understand that although she did a bad thing, there are still good things in her life. The reader isn't aware of the bad thing, but Beth feels that she doesn't deserve any good things, any happiness. 

I found All The Good Things to be both completely heartbreaking and life-affirming. I found it to be a really difficult and excruciating read, by the end I was beside myself and wasn't sure if I could continue reading. I'm glad I did, and I would honestly recommend this book to everybody. Life isn't black or white. It made me think about bad things - zero hour contracts, pay day loans and (some) antenatal care. It made me think about the good things in my life, the small things that wouldn't matter to anybody else. A good book doesn't do that, but a really great one does. I gave this five stars and would urge everyone to read it.

'Money isn't everything, but not having it is'. Well, I never thought I'd start a review with a Kanye lyric, but here we are. I think everyone has made a list of all the things they would do if they won the lottery, and when Alice buys her best friend a lottery ticket as a joke present for his 18th birthday, it's completely against the odds that Teddy would win. 

Teddy and Alice have both been handed pretty terribly luck in their lives, so while Teddy embraces how his luck has changed due to this mammoth win, Alice is reluctant to be a part of this life changing event. I found Teddy's reaction to becoming a lottery winner pretty believable, and although the story mostly focused on Alice (as she was also the narrator) I think we got to see enough of Teddy's arc and how he developed as a character. 

Alice's voice was relatable, as a young adult trying to find her way in life, and feeling torn by what she wants, or what she *thinks* she wants. I think most people experience this sort of thing when trying to decide if they want to go to university - and then which university, what course etc. 

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this, and found it hard to put down. I'd say it would be great for fans of Rainbow Rowell and John Green.

*Disclaimer: Some titles may have been provided in exchange for an honest review. No further compensation received.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Stop Losing Your Keys & Get Stuff Done! // Xupo Review & GIVEAWAY

I don't know about you, but I waste countless hours a week searching for my keys. I'd like to blame baby brain, but Robin's one now so I don't think I can get away with that anymore. It's probably more to do with the fact that I have so many strings to my bow - I work in a school, I'm a local councillor, I run an online store, and I'm a busy mam and wife on top of all that too. I'm also one of those dreadful people that has a different bag for each job, so my poor keys are often thrown into one bag from the last in a haphazard fashion.

I'd been considering getting some sort of 'find my iPhone' tracker that was solely for my keys, but they all seemed clunky or fiddly and I honestly don't have time to faff about with things like that. Luckily, that's when Xupo came into my life. The Xupo is a really nice rounded design, and is hardly noticeable on my keyring as it's only 35mm in diameter and weighs in at just 10 grams. I've had weightier biscuits! 
My favourite feature is that as well as buzzing to help you locate your keys, it also has an LED light to help you find it. There's been plenty of times when I've dropped my keys down the side of my couch and a light would have made finding them so much easier! I'm using my Xupo for my keys, but they also have a pretty nifty feature that allows it to call your phone if you lost it, or to track it down on a little map with it's recorded GPS time stamp which works up to 50 metres!
If all of this sounds great and you'd like to win your own Xupo, then enter below!
Win a Xupo #3

The giveaway is open until 29th September, and is only open to applicants in the UK. Please note the T&Cs in the giveaway widget. The prize will be sent directly.

*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with Xupo. Content and all thoughts are my own.
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