Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Yes, You Can Buy Great Gifts For Even The Most Picky Of People*

I don't know about you, but when it comes to gift giving I tend to go about 'extra'! I like to find things that people will love and treasure and while it is super fun to see the smiles on their faces when you achieve this, it can be a bit of nightmarish process, especially if you are looking for gifts for picky people, or even worse still, those folks that already have everything. Luckily, I have a few suggestions that can ease this burden, and all you have to do is read on to find out more.

Go for a fun adventure

One way to impress picky gift recipients is to eschew a physical item and go for an experience instead. After all, who doesn't want to go and do something fun and have it paid for them? Particularly good suggestions include race car driving days for the petrol heads, or you can even consider a tank driving lesson?


Could a cooking class be an ideal gift for the budding chef in your life?

Of course, there are plenty of other options from to choose from too such as divinely luxurious spa days that include treatments, as well as cooking classes, and even survival days for budding explorers.

Pick something personalised

Another way to ensure your gift is well received no matter what the recipient is like is to personalise it. Happily, this is something that is pretty easy to do as they are many websites and businesses that can customise a whole range of products.

In fact, the sky's the limit here, because you can get everything from mugs, and cushions imprinted with your own messages or image to marshmallows. Yup, that's right your gift recipient could be eating their own face by the end of the day if you choose this option. Don't worry though, it not as gross as it sounds!

Of course, there are other personalised options as well including private reg plates from PrimoRegistrations, which are perfect for those that love their cars.  Alternatively, why not go for a pretty piece of personalised jewellery something that can be particularly well received by mums, as you can add each child's birthday, name, or birthstone to give it that exceptional touch.

Everyone eats

Lastly, it is generally accepted that everyone eats and that they enjoy eating things that taste nice. What this does is to present you with two opportunities that are bound to please even the pickiest of recipients.

The first is to provide an edible item or selection of items, something you can do in the form of a hamper, or even a homemade treat.


The second option is to go for some dinner vouchers or a gift card that the receipt can use to treat themselves and the person of their choice to a slap up meal out somewhere. Extra bonus points are available if you pick their favourite restaurant or cuisine, and who knows you might even luck out and get asked to go with them, making this gift option in particular a potential double win.

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

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! 

Monday, 21 May 2018

3 Special Ways To Say Thank You*

In today’s increasingly impersonal world, it’s not surprising that we may feel a little isolated from time to time. Our reliance on technology sees us walking through life with our heads bowed or our capped with a pair of soundproof headphones. It seems like we’re putting ourselves in a  bubble that we’re increasingly reluctant to come out of. There was a time when we used things and loved people. Now it seems we’ve got it the other way around, we love things and use people. We use social media apps to communicate with our friends and swipe through dating apps to find our perfect mates. More and more, it seems that our attitude towards choosing a life partner and buying groceries online is becoming and increasingly blurred line. Yet, every once in a while we’re reminded that not only do we rely on other people more than we’d like to admit, other people are actually… pretty awesome!


If a friend, a relative, a work colleague or your significant other has done something lovely for you recently, it can seem like the words “thank you” simply aren’t enough. If you want to say thank you in a more special, lasting or significant way, there are lots of ways to say it…

Say it with a letter

In an era where we communicate increasingly in GIFs and emojis, the lost art of letter writing is a beautiful and personal way to say thank you. Go all out and use posh paper and a calligraphy pen if you want to go all out. Let’s face it, rarely these days do we get anything other than bills and junk mail in the post these days and a letter is not only a pleasant surprise, it’s a unique and personal gift that is inexpensive and readily available but extremely thoughtful.

Say it with chocolate

Sure, we all remember those old adverts, “say thank you with Cadbury’s Roses”, but while these may be fine for casual occasions, you might want to go all out if you want to say an extra special thank you. For a high spec riff on the familiar chocolate box, say it with a gift box from Hotel Chocloat, or better yet how about a personalised chocolate gift from Thorntons with your own message iced on the chocolate itself or printed on the box?

Say it with a hamper

There was a time when hampers consisted of a tin of spam, a battered looking plastic wrapped cake, a few pork pies and a bottle of third rate bubbly. Thankfully, when you send a hamper today, you can do it with much more elegance and class. There are a wide range of different hampers out there to suit all tastes.

From boozy hampers to hampers filled with tasteful accoutrements for the home. From hampers packed with beautiful baby clothes to hampers brimming with lavish bathroom products. Whether your intended recipient unwinds at home with long hot bath, a hot flat white or a tall gin and tonic, there’s a hamper out there for them.

So the next time someone does something wonderful for you, don’t just say thank you, make a gift of your thanks!




*Disclaimer: Collaborative content.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Top Tips for Millennial Renting

In the UK, there seems to be a real lifestyle shift with young people, or millennials if you are aged between 22 and 37, being a part of Generation Rent. Whether you choose to rent so that you can travel more and life with flexibility, or whether it's because you just cannot get on the property ladder, no matter how many avocado-on-toasts you turn down - it's a serious change from the lives generations before us have lived. My parents worked hard and owned their first house together by their mid-twenties, for me it feels like a very distant dream - if it happens at all. Not to be one for doom and gloom, I'm sharing some of my top tips if you happen to also be a millennial renter. 



Find out the finer details before you sign your contract

This might seem like an obvious one, but you don't want to get halfway through the signing agreement (and have already paid those non-refundable estate agent fees) to find out that they won't accept you based on xyz. We have a dog so we made this clear from the very beginning and asked to only see properties that allowed pets. To get to the final stages and then casually mention you have a Great Dane is definitely a no-no!

Make sure you have contents insurance


We had to provide proof of having contents insurance within one month of signing our contract but even if it's not a set requirement, it's a really good thing to have. Your landlord will already have the building insured, but if something horrible happened and you lost all your belongings, you'd be pretty gutted! Most insurers allow you to get separate contents insurance, but HomeLet offer a pretty great one which includes tenants liability insurance too. These are definitely a must have from me. 

No wall fixtures allowed? No problem!


I'm not DIY savvy at all, so if I can avoid using a drill then that's great for me. We use command strips to add photo frames to the walls and they are a renter's best friend. They're super adhesive so you don't have to worry about a mirror falling off the wall, and they leave zero marks on the wall too!   I also use washi tape to put up my kid's artwork in the office, or even posters in their bedrooms, and they also leave no marks on the wall when it comes to removing them! This is great for us, because the boys often have one huge love for a certain character (currently Iron Man) which quickly fizzles out within a few months so being able to chop and change their posters with no traces is perfect!

Want to add some personality to your room?


I hear ya - nobody wants to live in a completely magnolia fortress! We did stick with the move-in standard walls when we first moved in, but with two small kids it always seems in need of freshening up! We bought some fairly inexpensive giant tubs of emulsion paint from our local B&M and this is great for a little spruce. Most landlords ask you to return the house in a neutral colour (if not the original) so we went with mostly white, and then a very light grey to make a feature wall. If the landlord decides he's not happy with the grey, we have plenty of white left over! When I first moved into a rented property, I didn't realise you had to pretty much return a blank canvas when you moved out, so I spent a small fortune on some jazzy pink patterned wallpaper for my bedroom and was gutted when I had to strip it all off myself and then repaint it all for somebody else to enjoy. Of course, you don't need to repaint if you already have a nice neutral space - we have pops of colour in our cushions and also use throws on the sofas to make it look more personal to us. 


So that's my top tops for renting as a millennial! What are your top tips?


*Disclaimer: Collaborative content. Content written by myself.
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