Sunday, 12 August 2018

Life Lately - Trips, Tips and Trying Things Out

We are not even halfway into August yet, and I am already feeling somewhat exhausted by it. I'm quite lucky in that my job is term-timely so I get this mammoth amount of time with my family. However, I had an unexpected (and somewhat expensive!) trip back to my parents at the start of the month to attend a family funeral, and I seem to have been chasing my tail ever since. Of course, I appreciate that I am fortunate enough to have been able to go back to be with my family, but it just highlighted the how big the gap is between us. Joe and I have both agreed that we would love to go back 'home', but uprooting your life 300 miles is a costly, and stressful, task - even if you have already done it once before! 



Because of my trip North, Joe has been working pretty much every hour he has available to fill up the dent in our budget, and this means I haven't really spent that much time with him over my time off. We are going away on holiday to York for the week on Monday, so I shouldn't complain really. We're staying in an airbnb for the first part of our trip, and then meeting up with my parents for the second half and staying in their motorhome. Joe has said he can't wait to enjoy the first half of the trip and endure the second half - but at least the boys will enjoy it! Dylan and I stayed in the motorhome while I was pregnant with Robin, and Dylan adored it so at least we know they'll be happy. Let's pray this rain goes away before then, though!

I mentioned in my last post that I was hoping to do something with Joe for our sixth wedding anniversary, and I managed to book us in to a new restaurant that had only been open for a week. The food was incredible, and we really enjoyed the evening. If you're ever in the Taunton area, I would recommend you check it out! Other things I've been up to include breaking my toe (fun!), finishing The Cactus by Sarah Haywood - and unfortunately not reading anything else! - and relaunching my little shop.

You might remember that last year, I designed some tote bags with my friend Dannie to raise money for our chosen charity helping women in need of basic healthcare.  Since then, we still have a steady flow of bag sales, but I have also created my own range of candles. From a logo redesign, to picking out the glass containers, I have found every aspect of pouring candles to be so enjoyable and relaxing. I'm definitely the type of person who always has a bit of a busy mind buzzing away in the background, but being able to take some time out and mix fragrances has been such a joy. I would love it if you could have a little look, I'm hoping to expand the range slowly and add some new scents too. 

As I'm typing this, I guess I should be sorting through our clothes and packing everything away but I feel that can wait. It's definitely one of those 'when the kids are in bed' type of jobs! If you've got any tips for a trip to York with kids (or without, ha!) then I'd love to hear them! 

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

How To Stop Your Pets Eating Through Your Money*


Are you spending too much money on your pets? Here are just a few tricks to stop your animal companions eating away at your funds.

Buy supplies in bulk

You can save a lot of money on pet supplies by buying them in bulk – a huge bag of pet food or rodent bedding could be a lot cheaper than buying the same quantity in small packs. Local pet shops and supermarkets may not always sell these supplies in bulk, however online wholesalers are likely to sell these bulk pet supplies. Be careful of buying items such as wet dog food in bulk that could expire before you’ve had a chance to use them.

Make your own pet toys

If you’re constantly buying new pet toys, it’s possible you may be able to save money by making your own DIY toys out of everyday items in your home. For example, you can make your own DIY tug rope for a dog by twisting together a few old t-shirts and knotting them at the end. Empty cereal boxes and cardboard toilet roll tubes meanwhile can make fun rodent cage toys.

Shop around for veterinary care

Vet bills can often be one of the biggest expenses of being a pet owner. However, you can often save costs by collecting quotes from different clinics and not just choosing your local vet. There are low cost vets out there that specialise in offering treatment for pet owners on a budget. There are also pop-clinics to consider, veterinary colleges and clinics with payment instalment plans.

Consider pet insurance

In many cases, it can be worth taking out pet insurance to help cover the cost of vet bills. Pet insurance is often cheaper to take out when your pet is young without any health problems – fixed rate schemes can ensure that you pay the same amount throughout your pet’s lifetime. Older pets with existing ailments can be quite expensive to insure and you may be better off going without insurance. Make sure to shop around for insurance in order to find the best rates.

Give your pet a healthy lifestyle

Keeping your pet healthy can also reduce costs. Many medical problems later in life that require expensive veterinary treatment including diabetes, heart problems and arthritis can be prevented by not letting your animal get overweight. Regular exercise can help to prevent this. When it comes to dogs in particular, walks can have all kinds of health benefits such as naturally trimming a dog’s nails and keeping them mentally stimulated. As for their food intake, keeping to a healthy amount won’t just save you money in vet bills, it will also save you money in food shopping too.

*Disclaimer: Collaborative content.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Providing Your Pooch With the Best Quality of Life Possible*


Believe it or not, the majority of households have at least one pet, and seeing as dogs really do lay claim to the title of man’s best friend when it comes to popularity, chances are that you either have a canine companion or are planning on getting one. So, if this is the case, here’s everything you need to know in order to ensure your pet has the best quality of life possible!

Veterinary Care and Insurance

Your pet is going to need dedicated veterinary care through their entire life, so make sure that they are signed up to a local veterinary practice such as Vetcare. An experienced vet will be able to ensure that your four legged friend gets all of their necessary vaccinations, worming treatments, and flea treatments. They will also be able to carry out more complicated procedures and even surgery if your pet experiences illness or injury. It’s important to remember that veterinary care does come at a cost though, so it’s always best to have a comprehensive insurance policy to ensure you can always foot the bill!

Nutrition

Dog food is widely available and tends to be sold in almost any supermarket or corner shop. This isn’t all too surprising considering so many of us have canine companions. But not all dog foods are created equal and believe it or not, some will prove a whole lot better for your pet than others. Seeing as your dog is entirely dependent on you when it comes to eating a healthy and balanced diet that meets all of their nutritional needs, it’s extremely important that you don’t just throw down the cheapest or most convenient feed in their bowl each morning or night. You need to do your research to find what’s best for them! The best source of information regarding the best food for your pooch is your vet, but you can find the flavours and textures that your dog prefers by a means of trial and error. Once you’ve found something that keeps them nourished and satisfied, you can just pick it up each time you’re at the local pet store or grocery store.

Grooming

All dogs have different coat types. However, generally speaking, there are six main coat types that you should familiarise yourself with - smooth, double, silky, wool, wire, and combination. The type of grooming that your pooch will require, as well as the length of their hair, will ultimately determine what grooming regime you will have to carry out for them. Most shorthaired moulting breeds will only require an occasional bath at home. This is relatively simple to carry out yourself, as long as you are particularly careful around their eyes, and try to avoid letting water running into their ears or mouth. Your vet can then clip their nails and take care of their anal glands. Long haired or non-moulting dogs are likely to be a little more tricky, as their fur doesn’t shed, so will grow and need trimming. Curly haired dogs’ fur is also more prone to matting and will need to be brushed out. For these kinds of dogs, a trip to a professional groomer is preferable. These specially trained individuals will know how to wash, brush, and cut their fur into shape.

These are just a few areas to focus on, but as long as your dog is in good health, is well fed, and is well groomed, chances are they’re going to lead the long and happy life that they deserve!

*Disclaimer: Collaborative content.

Monday, 16 July 2018

How to Save Money and Still Enjoy The School Holidays


The summer school holidays are quickly approaching and if you're not careful, you could end up spending a small fortune in an effort to keep the kids satisfied. Whether it's last minute trips to an attraction or over-priced buckets and spades from the seaside - it soon adds up and the expenses could have covered a well-earned weekend away once the holidays are over. Although this is my second real 'school holiday' with Dylan, he certainly has a taste for the finer things in life, if finer things include Iron Man toys, Pokemon cards and ice creams every time he hears the van chime along the street. I might as well get shares in Mr Whippy by the time the holidays are over! 

Have some old fashioned fun

There are plenty of articles out there that say children are growing up too quickly. As they grow up with more advanced technology then we could have ever imagined as kids, these tech-savvy children haven't experiences the true joys of climbing trees or going on a scavenger hunt for beetles and funny shaped feathers. Becky from Baby Budgeting shared a fun old fashioned summer holiday checklist of things you can do with the family - and thankfully most of them are cost-free! It includes a number of games such as What's The Time, Mr Wolf? and Piggy in the Middle and my all-time childhood favourite of building dens. I loved all sorts of dens as a kid - whether it was under a load of blankets and cushions in the living room or fashioned out of cardboard boxes in the garden! There's plenty of old favourites to make you feel like a big kid again, too. 


Check out local free events

Where I live in Somerset, I'm quite lucky to be surrounded by plenty of interesting places just beyond the doorstep. By simply googling 'visit (your area!)' you should be able to find out all the local events happening nearby. On the Visit Somerset website, for example, I found out that there is a Kids Fest happening in Weston-Super-Mare and different activities every day at Radstock Museum for children during the holidays. 

Make sure you meal plan effectively! 

Crikey, I could write a whole different post on meal planning but during the school holidays you need to meal plan to a whole different level. Things you could consider over the holidays is being flexible with meal times - I know when my kids are outside playing football, they often don't want to come in mid-match for food. By serving dishes like bolognese, means you can reheat a portion alongside some pasta when they come in. Another thing to consider during the holidays is that you somehow always end up feeding the entire street! If you're lucky enough to have an extra storage freezer, you could bulk it up with easy kid-friendly things like pizza, chicken nuggets and lasagnes. Or, you could grab a load of ice pops and dish those out for when friends come wandering in for a snack too! 

If you're planning a day trip out but know you'll be home in time for tea, make sure you use your slow cooker! Most people make the mistake of hiding the slow cooker away once the weather warms up, but if you're going to be out all day having fun, you want to make sure you don't waste any money on a quick fix tea - like a take away! - when you could have had something working hard in the kitchen for you while you were out! There's plenty of excellent summer slow cooker recipes on Pinterest, so there's no excuse really!

Have a 'Summer Bag' in the boot! 

A quick trip to the poundshop could save you a small fortune over the holidays. By packing up a bag with buckets and spades, frisbees and other outdoor toys, you shouldn't find yourself paying over the odds whilst out on a trip. You could also store a spare towel and some loose change - handy for ice creams and parking! 

I think sometimes the best thing to do over the holidays is to understand that your budget may take a bit of a hit at some point or another. Although we try our hardest to put money away during the year to put towards petrol or hotels for trips away - which we always need to do, with family living halfway across the country! - you can't predict what will happen in the future! If you've tried all these money-saving tips and still find yourself short, then maybe considering a well-established and reputable short-term lender like Cashlady to help you on your way. 

What are your top tips for saving money over the school holidays? 


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

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Little Loves - Hanging on 'til End of Term

I don't want you all to hate me, but in less than two weeks, I'll get six weeks off from work. Paid. Oh, the joys of working in a school! Of course, this is also marred with the fact that every other child in the UK will be off school, and therefore all the play parks, beach trips and bowling sessions will be heaving. Still, time off with the kiddos is definitely something I didn't want to lose when I went back to work this time last year. Gosh - I actually cannot believe I've been back at work from maternity leave for an entire year! Next month, Robin will be two - sob! - and then less than two weeks later Dylan will be seven. Crikey, better make the most of the holidays! 


READ

I found my kindle earlier in the month which was super exciting. I started reading The Cactus by Sarah Haywood and although I haven't made a lot of progress, I've been enjoying it. There's quite a lot of books I have on my immediate TBR list, including a whopper edition of Little Women and some kindle reads I'd forgotten about too. 

WATCHED

Has anyone else been watching Good Girls on Netflix? I am absolutely loving it! Unfortunately I didn't realise Joe would also want to watch it, so it looks like I'm going to have to stop watching it for him to catch up. I love the three main actresses separately - Retta, Christina Hendricks and Mae Whitman - so of course I should have known they'd be fabulous together. I think I'm around 7 episodes in, and I'm hoping I haven't left myself short with only one episode left or something! Give me more! 

LISTENED

I've been listening to The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon when I walk home from work, and it's been really inspiring. Although I work full-time, I actually have a lot of extra strings to my bow that I work on when I get home or during school holidays. I've been considering launching my own little business to nearly carry all these extra tasks, and this is definitely making me see the potential in myself! 

AND LASTLY

Like I said to start off with, it's really not long until the school summer holidays begin. So far, we've managed to fit in a trip up north - to York, no less! - and I'm so looking forward to it. Ideally, I'd like to grab a few extra summery clothes to wear, but I feel like any extra money we have will be going directly on the trip itself! A girl can dream though, right? Other than that, we have five weeks with no plans! With Joe only working evenings at the restaurant now, I'm hoping we can fit plenty of day trips into our time together and even a sneaky trip away for the two of us on our sixth wedding anniversary! 


Tuesday, 29 May 2018

You Need A Side Hustle!

Generally speaking, I like to have my fingers in a few pies all at once. As well as working in a school for 30 hours a week, I'm also a local councillor, a volunteer, a part-time crafter, a mam and wife, and even a side-hustler. If you've never heard of a side-hustle before, it's pretty much work you do on the side of your 'real' hustle. Mine comes in a few forms - because clearly I like to keep myself busy - and I'm going to suggest a few ways you could pick up a side hustle too! 



Sell your unwanted items
Ebay has been around longer than the beginning of time - or it feels that way at least - so you've no doubt used it before. While I use eBay as a novice and only list things occasionally when they offer free listings, I know people who buy things cheaply and sell for a profit on eBay. You do need to look into setting up your own business page if you are buying things specifically to sell - but I reckon if you give yourself a good clear out you could easily make £1000 on items lying around the house. 

Matched Betting
I've spoken about matched betting before and how I earned over £10,000 tax-free last year using it. I was able to pick up the lingo and techniques needed while I was on maternity leave and it was a huge boost to our deeply cut maternity income. These days, I dip into matched betting when there is a big event coming up (hello world cup!) as it does require a few solid hours dedicated to it if you want to make a big ol' pot of money. Of course, matched betting isn't for everyone, but if you wanted to see more gambling site reviews before you start then that might ease your mind a bit. 

Become a Virtual Assistant
This is actually something I am in the middle of setting up now! As a blogger and all-round savvy digital gal, I was asked by one of my friends to help them with their social media outreach for their business. What slowly started off as a steady Facebook and Instagram job, soon saw me redesigning websites and setting up newsletters for other local businesses. As I work term-time in a school, I am hoping to really set my VA business up before the summer holidays start and work on some bigger projects while I have the extra time. Keep your eyes open if you've been considering a VA for your own blog or business! 

Of course, the list of side hustles could go on for days, so I might have to do a 'part 2' to this list! If you have a side hustle that's on the more unusual side then I would love to hear about it! 


*Disclaimer: Collaborative content. Content written by myself.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

A Little Life Lately

I haven't posted a life update in aaaages, so now feels like as good a time as any. I guess I sometimes feel put off from posting because I feel like I'm a boring gal with nothing new to tell anyone but I'm hoping that isn't true! 


Since my last update in March - I've slowly slipped back into the habit of reading. I recently finished Big Bones by Laura Dockrill and really enjoyed it. I also read Clean by Juno Dawson, which is the first book I'd read by Juno and although I quite literally couldn't relate to any of the characters, I do enjoy reading about women who don't fit the traditional tropes. I'd definitely like to read more from Juno Dawson as I know they're really popular in the YA bookiverse. I'm about to start Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls which *I think* is based along the time of the Suffragettes and therefore is bound to be right up my street. My pal Gemma let me read her copy, so I really must read it as soon as I can and return it! 
In non-reading news - I have started to study for my Maths A Level! Man, I love to punish myself, don't I? Joe is currently studying Mathematics with the Open University, and I've got to say I've always been slightly jealous. I loved maths at school and even considered a maths-based career, but stupidly dropped the A Level and kept on with another choice instead - which I've always regretted! So, better late than never, I have took a great plunge into self-learning and paid a small fortune for the privilege to take maths again. Of course, A Levels and GCSEs even have had a huge overhaul since I sat them a decade ago and are ridiculously hard so I feel like I've set myself a doubly difficult challenge. #PrayforChelsea

I'm sure loads of other exciting things have happened, but I had my hair cut this morning and now have a cute lil bob. I don't have any decent pictures of it yet, but it will no doubt make it's debut on instagram soon! 

That's about it for now, hopefully the next update won't be so far away! 
OLD
© Love in Modern Life. Design by Fearne.