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.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Now You Are One - Robin's First Birthday

It's so horribly cliche, but I just can't believe I have a one year old! Looking at him now, he is starting to lose some of that adorable baby chub, and his little locks have started to become more wild and curly - something that completely contrasts to Dylan, and you're pretty identical in every other way! And sure, he's walking, climbing the stairs and being an all-round active child, but I just can't bring myself to say I have a toddler. Can't they stay as babies for a little longer?

Robin entered our world pretty calmly, and he's remained the same ever since. We've traveled by car, bus, train and plane and he's never been a bother. Always just searched for a new face to smile at, another new thing to coo and point to. I may have struggled a bit with the adjustment from one kiddo to two, but apart from being a major milk fiend, he's been as good as gold. He slotted into our lives as if he was always meant to be there. 
I think sometimes, when you're moving from one child to adding another, you worry that you might not love them the same amount, or you might love them differently. I did worry about this, how could I possibly love anymore when my heart was already full? Of course, this was a pretty needless worry, and I knew the second I held him close to me that I had nothing to fear. I guess even if my heart was full, it just grew a lil' bigger to accommodate a whole new level of love. 

Dylan was extremely excited to become a big brother, and I'm so glad that we got the chance to extend our family this way. Although when Robin's a bit bigger and more interested in playing with Dylan's Lego, I'm sure he'll wish we'd adopted a pet instead! I have a video of Dylan meeting Robin for the first time, and it makes my heart burst when I watch it. 'He has a tiny nose!' were Dylan's first comments - perhaps Dylan worried that he would be blessed with a corker from his Grandad? Ha, sorry Dad if you're reading! 
All in all, a pretty good first year. 

Friday, 11 August 2017

Can you earn a six-figure salary from your blog?

Talking about making money from a blog is no longer a taboo subject. Where once bloggers were in the dark with how others operated, now bloggers share their income reports, or advise on what bloggers should be charging for sponsored content. But did you know, some bloggers can make thousands of pounds a month? And I'm not even talking about Zoella! 

Running a blog is a fantastic way to earn a passive income - that's an income that works even when you're sleeping! - but it's not as straight forward as simply writing amazing blog content. You need to know how to write profitable content, how to work with brands and how to break into the affiliate marketing world. If you want to learn how to run your own successful blog, then I'd really recommend trying out the new course designed by Emma Drew - Turn Your Dreams Into Money. Emma's own blog is now a six-figure business and her tips have been invaluable to me. 

This course is the complete blogging business roadmap and is great for beginners or longtime bloggers like myself. Emma covers everything you need to know how to confidently create, launch, run and monetise an income-earning blog. You learn the tools, tricks and techniques to build a blog that earns an income from the very start. 

So what will you learn on the course?
  • How to become a brand ambassador
  • Sponsored posts and how to price yourself
  • Affiliate markering and tips for gaining more sales
  • The importance of social media
  • and so much more!
If this all seems like a bit much, don't worry. It's all broken down into smaller, sensible chunks that you can digest at your own pace. Plus, with access to the awesome Facebook group included, dedicated to just course attendees, you will never have a question go unanswered! 
So what are you waiting for? I've come so far since taking Emma's course. I've learned step-by-step how to earn six figures off my blog and secret on making a passive income. This course has helped me set up affiliate marketing, and earn from it, how to price my work right and the possible advertising opportunities I missed. What's standing in your way of making six-figures? Come join me now and watch your income explode too

How much does it cost and how do I sign up?

You can sign up for Turn Your Dreams Into Money for just £197. This might sound like a lot of money, but when you consider the course will show you how to make a considerable amount from your blog you should make this money back pretty quickly.

So what are you waiting for? 

If you want to learn how to Turn Your Dreams Into Money and earn a 6 figure sum from your blog then sign up now!

UPDATE 31th August 2017 – a couple of people have been in touch to ask me if I was offered the course for free in order to review it. This was not the case, I paid for the course out of my own money and I made back the cost of the course after just a couple of weeks, after putting into place everything I’ve learned. And this is just the start for me!

What if I’m not sure the course is right for me?

Just post any questions you may have below and I will answer them for you!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Get Back Your Precious Time with Bidvine*

There's no getting away from the fact that people these days are just so busy. Even though I'm lucky enough to have the school holidays off from work, I'm still finding it difficult to fit in all the various playdates and fun activities as well as all the usual stuff like cleaning, answering emails and other boring things. Plus, with recently launching my own little online store, I'm definitely the busiest person I know. Luckily, if you're struggling and feel like something has to give Bidvine could help you carve back some free time. 

Whether you need to find a cleaner, a handy man to fix those long forgotten odd jobs or even an event photographer, the process to use Bidvine is super simple. You enter your postcode and what you are searching for and answer a few related questions. So for cleaning, it could be how often you need them, whether you need your windows cleaning etc. You add in your availability and what time slots are the best for you. Once this is all submitted, professionals can bid for your job, and it gives you a range of prices to chose from. You can check out their reviews and their company profile, before going ahead and hiring them. Easy!

For me, it's keeping on top of the handy work. Although I don't live in squalor by any means, when you have two small kids sometimes it feels like I am constantly patching things up after them. Having somebody come in a few hours and freshen up the door frames really makes a big difference. Plus, it keeps Joe happy too! He is by far more house proud than I am, so it really bothers him if he comes home and it's not sparkling clean. Thankfully, he appreciates that children pretty much automatically make it hard to live in a show-house standard, but a handy man is really bridging the gap for us.

The process is so simple, and this is definitely the biggest reason I like Bidvine - I just don't have enough hours in the day to be finding all the various odd job men in our area, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how much Bidvine had to offer in my small town. The convenience of having companies coming to you, instead of the other way around, is such a timesaver for me!

*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with Bidvine. Content written by myself.
© Love in Modern Life. Design by Fearne.