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.

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.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Being A Young Woman In Local Government

I bleat about it often enough, but if you didn't know, in May I was elected to be a councillor in my local district. The district council is the middle out of three - town, district then county - so it deals with a wide range of issues, and it works closely with the other branches of local government. When I was elected, I became the youngest councillor our district had ever had, and honestly in 2017, I feel like that's a bit shitty. At 25, I am at least 20 years younger than the previous youngest councillor, and the vast majority of councillors are retired or close to retiring age. It probably won't surprise you that the majority of councillors are men, either. This does not represent our district. It doesn't really represent any district. 

Our district is currently experiencing a boom of young workers coming to the area to help with the development of Hinckley Point C, and all of our secondary schools are close to oversubscription, if not there already. Young people - and really, this could be anyone under the age of 35 - are not being represented by the councillors. More importantly to me, young women are being neglected here. Women are quite literally half of the population, and yet the Fawcett Society found that just 33 percent of all councillors in England, and 28 percent of councillors in Wales, are women. At the current rate of progress in English county councils it will take 48 years for us to reach gender parity. In Welsh councils it would take 82 years. We simply cannot wait that long.

If you follow my Instagram Stories - and really you should, as it's mostly cute vids of Robin - you might have heard me recently talking about the documents councillors receive all have Miss/Mrs/Ms in front of the women's names, and nothing in front of a man's. I am hoping to discuss this today at a full council meeting, and ask that the council joins the real world in 2017 and puts a stop to this. I'm hoping to highlight key issues from the Fawcett Society, and show how little things like this actually contribute to sexism and the lack of equality for all. 

Hopefully I'll be able to get back to you all and let you know that it's been a right ol' success, but I fear that a lot of these councillors are stuck in their ways and are quite happy to continue as they always have. Now, isn't that exactly what you want to hear from your local government? 

Friday, 21 July 2017

Little Bright Sea - An Introduction

I seem to be getting into the habit of only posting once a week - so sorry about that! As always I have been keeping myself incredibly busy and doing too much at once. In a week where I started a new job after an extended maternity leave of 11 months, I also soft-launched my own little webstore and hardly slept because Robin is ill. So it's pretty safe to say my little brain is pretty frazzled right now. 

It seems to be the done thing now that bloggers are launching their own stores, so I guess I'm a bit behind the curve with launching my own. However, when Dannie and I designed a bag to sell in aid of women in vital need of basic healthcare over in Ireland after our government signed a deal with the DUP, I felt like I could do more. We used a website called Mercht to create our campaign, and while this was handy because we didn't need to put forward any upfront costs, it did eat into our profit, and therefore the money we could give to the charity. Never one to be deterred, I decided that as the bag had been popular, I would sell them my own way, without the restrictions of Mercht. 

My own store, which as I said before is still in soft-launch mode and therefore a bit ugly looking at the moment, is called Little Bright Sea and it's something I've been thinking about for a while. You might remember that I mentioned it a little in this post. The name is a mixture from the meanings of Dylan and Robin, and I already have a cute idea I'd like for the logo. Originally, my big plan for the store was to sell baby products that I could make at home, and this was all set to go until I managed to bag myself a full time job! Luckily for me, it's within a school, so I'm hoping I can get that some items made over the summer holidays. 

Now, I'm hoping that I can follow in the footsteps of some 'mama merch' stores I really love and admire, these include Bloody Nora PamMutha.Hood and Mere Soeur. Ideally, I want to create products that I would buy wear and use myself - so things like t-shirts, tote bags and enamel pins as well as baby friendly items like bibs and little teether toys. It's a big dream, but we've all got to start somewhere, right?

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Little Loves - Life Updates, Meetings and More!

A few weeks ago I shared my very first Little Loves, and then didn't continue on with it. Although I think Little Loves is meant to be a weekly occurrence, we all know that life gets in the way a bit, so I'm just going to keep this as a semi-regular thing. There's enough pressure in everyday life, so I like that my blog is a little higgledy-piggledy at times. I mentioned in the last LL instalment - can you call it an instalment if this is only the second one? - that I had an interview that I was pretty hopeful about, and thankfully they hired me! They called me up a few hours after my interview and I honestly couldn't believe it. I was the youngest interviewee there, and felt like the others must have had more experience or knowledge than I did, but somehow my charm and eye for detail won me the role. It really changes things immensely for us at home, and I'm pretty excited about it going forward!


I am still reading I'll Eat When I'm Dead by Barbara Bourland. I feel like after my amazing reading boost a few months ago, I'm going to keep stalling with reading now. It always feels like such a luxury to sit down and read a few chapters when I should be getting on with household chores or what have you. I'm about a third of the way through, apparently, so maybe it'll only be another month or two before I finish it! 


We finally caved in and signed up to Sky tv. It's never really something I've had any interest in before, but they were doing a pretty good deal which featured the sports channels so Joe basically couldn't say no. The past week or so I've been watching the last series of Game of Thrones as I somehow missed it completely last year, and I've also been watching Broad City - yasss, queen! - and the Marvel Spiderman channel, curtesy of Dylan. 


My colleague at work likes listening to Breeze FM - I'm not sure if it's available everywhere in the UK or not - and it's basically really easy listening. It's fine, and I know most of the songs as they tend to be 80s ballads, but every now and again they throw in an Ed Sheeran song and it makes me want to pop my eardrums #sorrynotsorry. 


I recently soft-launched my online store! It only has a few items at the moment, but I'm really excited to add to it, and hopefully it can become something we can run in our spare time, and a good source of income while Joe is studying in the autumn. It's called Little Bright Sea, and I'm super excited about it! 

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

My Favourite Apps!

We definitely live in a digital age, and I would be lying if I said I didn't rely heavily on my phone. As a busy mam/councillor/worker, I use my phone for keeping in touch with family or constituents, updating my calendars - yes, thats plural! - and taking photos of the boys on the go. I use it for navigation and for finding my nearest coffee spot as well as a welcome distraction when travelling long journeys. I'm definitely the type of person who will check the app store before heading to a website if I can, and I'm usually always persuaded to try out the latest life-changing app - it helps if it's free, too!
I feel like I spend half my life scrolling through my social media feeds, so you can bet your bottom dollar that Twitter and Instagram are top contenders for my favourite apps! I'm actually quite annoyed with myself on how much I use Instagram. I feel, and I think I'm not alone here, that Instagram have just stopped listening to their users, but that's a rant for another day! It's still one of the first apps I check when I wake up, which is a bit cringey to admit. My all-time favourite apps are Goodreads and Pinterest. I hardly ever use the desktop versions of these, but I love checking my reading goals and what my pals are reading on Goodreads, and then working out how to organise my bookshelves on Pinterest pretty much immediately after. 
Outside of social media, I also use apps to organise my life and to relax a bit. My newest app is Stylebook, which is basically an app version of Cher's wardrobe from Clueless. It's amazing. It's changing everything. It's showing me that I wear the same clothes day in, day out. Another good app that I use as often as possible is You Need A Budget. We use the desktop version to keep on top of our finances, so I love that when I'm out and about I can quickly update our budget without needing to be tied to the laptop. 
Carphone Warehouse completed their own research into our favourite apps, and I was completely surprised to see Facebook as number one. I seriously thought Instagram or Snapchat would be first, but I guess when half the world use Facebook it does make sense that it would come up trumps. Almost stereotypically, they found that men were more likely to check their wifi speeds or download games whereas women downloaded more 'shop' type apps. It also found that women were big fans of Goodreads, which matches what I said above. I found the research to be really interesting as you can really narrow it down from age, location and even income level! They've really put some effort into it, and it shows. 
*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with Carphone Warehouse. Content written by myself.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Everdine - Review & Discount for you!

Although I pride myself on my excellent organisation skills, I cannot for the life of me make a meal plan. I've scoured Pinterest, read countless blog posts and yet I can't get my head around it. Luckily for me, I married a chef so on his two days off a week I know I'm in for a culinary treat, but those other days? man, it's tough. I've always preferred baking to actual cooking, so when it comes to picking what to have at tea time, I tend to stick to my trust favourites week in, week out. 
When I was invited to try out Everdine - a company that curates delicious meals delivered to your door - I couldn't wait to give it a go. There seems to be a few 'meal in a box' subscriptions out there, whether they send you a box of ingredients or quickly-frozen meals, like Everdine does. Everdine prides itself on creating clean and wholesome gourmet meals, and the dishes I ordered definitely fit that bill. 
The Everdine experience for me went really well. From Lentil & Quinoa Moussaka to Sea Bream Thai Green Curry, the dishes really do push the boat out and it felt like I was eating something fancier than a microwaved meal at home. The flavour combinations worked really well together, and they've definitely sparked up the little chef within me. The sheer speed of cooking a meal in the microwave as opposed to the time it would have taken me to prepare and cook each meal is in itself a worthwhile factor for a busy mam like myself. I also liked that the meals themselves were packaged in a way to ensure minimum waste and impact on the environment, as this is something I'm quite conscious of. 
I did feel that as someone who has to watch what I spend on a food shop, that over £55 for eight meals did seem quite expensive. Of course, the ingredients used in the meals were of the highest quality, and the meals really were delicious. I think however if you were expected to be out of action for a few weeks, either after an operation or perhaps moving home, then this would really help out and be a lot healthier than a week of takeaways, especially when pizza for two people can cost over £20 from some places!
If you'd like to try out Everdine, I have an exclusive offer which will give you £25 off your first order.  You can get the discount by clicking here.
*Disclaimer: I was invited to try out Everdine in a collaboration with Tornado. Content written by myself.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Little Loves - Burgers, Manics and All Things Go!

Quite a few bloggers that I follow take part in Little Loves, a little way to share some of the great things that have happened that day/week/month. It follows a set of prompts that help you to share what you've loved. I always enjoy reading these posts, and I'm a sucker for starting a new blog series and never finishing them, so hijacking somebody else's seems like a natural progression from me. 


I haven't made a lot of progress in my book this week, but I'm currently reading 'I'll Eat When I'm Dead' by Barbara Bourland on my kindle, and I'm pretty sure that if I actually dedicate some time to reading then I'll actually get somewhere with this. 


I haven't started any new series recently, but I'm up to date with Pretty Little Liars and cannot wait for the final ever episode next week! I'm in a dedicated WhatsApp group with some other PLL fans and its safe to say that no theory has been left undiscussed. We're all hoping for a corker ending, so fingers crossed it doesn't disappoint after 7 years of keeping us on edge! 


I saw Manic Street Preachers as part of Bristol's Harbourside festival, and they were so good. They're the band Joe and I have seen the most now, and it never disappoints. We've been eyeing up some other gigs in the future as our last three gigs have been the Manics so it might be time to mix things up a bit now! 


Maybe nothing in the traditional sense, but I'm pretty glad I made the decision to order this amazing Marla Singer burger from Spuntino before we went to the gig. It was a massive burger, with pulled pork, homemade BBQ sauce and american cheese in a lovely toasted brioche bun. It's a combination that's been done to death but I very much enjoyed it. 

and lastly...

I've had a pretty exciting week as I was offered an interview that sounds really promising, and we viewed a house this morning. I went with Joe's mam as he had to zip off to work, but I'm hoping we can view it together next week after I send in our application forms tomorrow. As well as all of this, I was officially made a Women's Officer for my local Labour Party, and had an official email welcoming into the fray. I'm really looking forward to what the future holds for Labour!

Little Loves Coffee Work Sleep Repeat

Monday, 19 June 2017

Don't Mess With Me - It's Down To My Starsign

Sometimes I think I was destined to be a bit untidy. I've always loved the idea of a spotless, pristine home, but when you have two wild kiddos, sometimes things slide a little. Plus I've never been much of a domestic goddess at any stage of my life. I remember I once managed to bribe my Dad into swapping bedrooms with me, as logically if I had a bigger bedroom then surely I would have more space to put my things and my room would be tidier. Naturally, we swapped and I just ended up with more space to create a mess. 'Floor-drobes' is the phrase my Dad became quickly accustomed to.  
Now that I'm a wife and mother, I think I thought I would instantly love ironing and doing mundane chores like that, but alas, it's evaded me. Luckily for me, a link has been found between tidiness and our horoscopes. Check it out below!

I'm a Libra and although I'd say that my organisation skills are lacking a bit more than suggested here, I'd definitely agree that I'm more interested in having an aesthetically pleasing space, than an efficient one. I would say I'm quite creative in small doses - hence my bullet journal! - and my starsign definitely backs this up. We're currently in the process of decluttering the house, and this means that my bookshelves are being jiggled about and it's absolutely turning my creative side on it's head! I keep trying to dot my little trinkets about, but Joe feels like there's no place on the bookshelves for them. Luckily, if we need any extra storage space (yes, I know we're decluttering, but still!) then we could always get some next day office furniture to make use of the space. 

What do you think of the infographic? Does it match your tidying style? 

Saturday, 17 June 2017

King of Old Cool!

Growing up, my Dad really was my best friend. When my parents separated when I was a nipper, I stayed with my Dad and it seemed like the most obvious, most natural thing in the world to do. My Nana used to tell me that when I was a baby I would cry endlessly if anyone babysat me, but stop as soon as my Dad walked through the door. Through thick and thin, we stuck together and despite all the wonky pigtails he gave me, I'm still incredibly close with my Dad. 
Now, they say that straight women end up with a man like their father, and on the surface that couldn't be further from the truth for me. My Dad owns his own fabrication business and works with sheet metal every day, he's a biker and spends most of his weekends at various bike rallies and he's a man of simple tastes. Joe on the other hand, is a chef - which requires a delicate hand to ensure all the dishes look amazing. He's a big lover of music, coffee and keeping fit. I mean really, there's nothing crossing over between those two! Of course, deep down they are both kind hearted, warm, bend-over-backwards to help kind of guys, and the greatest dads. They both love me and the boys, and I'm pretty lucky that one's my dad, and the other is the father of my incredible kiddos. 

My Dad has always believed that life should be lived to the max. Unfortunately, his own father, my Grandad, died when my Dad was only 22 so I believe this is something my Dad has hung on to since then. You never know what tomorrow might bring, so make today worthy of your time. This advice is something I try to remind myself of every day, and when the boys are old enough to understand, it's something I'll pass on to them as well. 

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

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Father's Day Gift Guide

I love Joe. He's a great dad to the boys, and a great wife husband to me. If I'm being honest, I don't often give him the credit he deserves, but with Father's Day coming up, there's no excuse to not spoil him. I used to love getting my own dad a special gift for Father's day when I was a nipper, and I know Dylan is already excited to pick something out too. Although if I let Dylan have his way, Joe would end up with a fidget spinner or a Pokemon-related toy. 

Maybe calling Joe a gamer is a bit too strong, but he currently has an Xbox One and always says how he never has time to play on his games. As they tend to be a bit more on the gruesome and gory side, he can't exactly play them when the kids are awake. In comes Nintendo Switch! I think everyone has fond memories of playing some sort of Nintendo device, and the Switch is the latest best seller. Joe really wants to play on the new Legend of Zelda game, and I know Dylan really wants to play the Super Mario games too! As it's more family friendly, Joe would get more use time out of this, and maybe the dad in your life will too!

Friday, 26 May 2017

5 Things You Can't Do With A Poorly Baby

We've been struck by illness this week, as Robin seems to have picked up some sort of bug that has completely unsettled him and knocked us all for six. Now, I don't know if it's because he's a baby or because he's a boy, but man - this kiddo is really putting on a show of being ill. I keep saying he has TinyManFlu, which doesn't go down well with Joe! Of course, it's always worse when your child is ill, and like any parent I wish I could be ill for him instead. Instead of feeling all sorts of woe for him, I thought I'd make this somewhat tongue-in-cheek post about all those things that get pushed to the back burner when you have a poorly babe. 

  • Tidying up. I'm sorry, dear family and potential house guests, but I have a clingy baby who hasn't let me do anything by myself for the entire day so those precious and very occasional five minutes of peace I get to myself are not being spent hoovering.
  • Dressing appropriately. I struggle to do this at the best of times when I'm not required to leave the house, but thanks to the aforementioned clingy baby also acting like my own personal hot water bottle, then a vest top is about the height of sophistication to me right now.
  • Leaving the house for leisure reasons. If I didn't have to pick Dylan up from school, I doubt I would leave the house at all when Robin is unwell. Everything just seems to be more of a slog when the little one is hot and bothered and actually doesn't want to be strapped into a pushchair for more than ten minutes.
  • Eating anything at the right temperature. When Robin's ill, he seems to set his little body clock to wake from any fleeting nap at the exact time I get comfy and can't wait to tuck into my lunch. Maybe he's really trying to teach me the skill of being able to work my way through a lasagne with only one free hand and a baby on my hip, but I can't say it's one I've ever dreamed of mastering.
  • Dedicate enough time to other family members. Poor Dylan has often been left to keep himself happy as I've slinked off upstairs to try and get Robin to nap in the quiet, and slightly cooler, bedroom. Joe's also been neglected when he gets home from work, as I'm often too exhausted from keeping everyone else happy that I'm asleep by 8:30pm. Heck, even Monty keeps giving me a side-eye when I don't offer him a hand to lick when I finally get to sit down with a quick cuppa. I'm sorry guys, try again next week!
That's the five things I promised, but I can definitely think of other tasks I've been avoiding unable to complete recently. Maybe all households get like this when there's an illness in the house, or maybe you're all somehow managing to get your stuff together and get on with it. If you fall into the latter then please share your tips! 

You Baby Me Mummy

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

It's So Easy To Hate

It can seem trivial to blog about everyday life occurrences after the Manchester attack. My usual posts tend to have some degree of pessimism to them, being that I'm a 'glass half empty' kind of gal, and it just doesn't feel right to write about something so insignificant in the wake of something so horrific. Of course, whenever that has been a tragedy like this, people come together and carry on. We cannot let the terrorists win, and we cannot stop living our lives. 

My good friend Michelle, as always, has found a way to say the things I can't put into words, and so I would like you all to read her post - Wonderful Wednesday in the Wake of Something Awful.

I don't have much more to add today. Phone those far away family members and hold your loved ones if you can. Live your life full of love, not hate.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Encouraging Outdoor Play and Turning #TearsIntoSmiles

You would think that it wouldn't be any trouble at all getting Dylan out and about to play outside. He's a really active kid and always full of energy. Sometimes though, he's more inclined to play inside with his DS or with his toys. As we creep further into British Summertime, I thought it would be time to start getting this wild child outside. 

We're very lucky to live in Somerset, as we're completely surrounded by plenty of beautiful places to go and roam. Whether it's a local woodland - my favourite is the aptly named Great Wood - or a national trust property like Dunster Castle, we're only a short drive away. However, Joe needs the car to get to work, so for five days a week these places are just out of reach. On these days, we try and make use of our garden, or the local play park facilities in our neighbourhood. 

Although Dylan would much rather play football, I'm more of a 'throw things at a stick' kind of girl, so I managed to get Dylan outside for quite a while playing this toss 'n' throw style game in the garden. In fact, he actually managed to beat my score by over 100 points, so maybe I need to learn how football works in order to actually win a game! 

Of course, being a nipper, most ventures outside - or inside for that matter - can result in a bump or a scrape. I used to hate getting plasters on as a child, and have vivid memories of my mam putting some sort of yellow disinfectant spray on any potential wounds , so when I saw that Elastoplast made Star Wars plasters, I knew I wouldn't have the same trouble with Dylan. They have a few different styles, so whether you're on the Dark Side or a Disney Princess kinda kid, there's a style to match. 

I think with kids, sometimes you need to calm yourself down first when you see them have a minor injury. The amount of times I've cooly asked Dylan if he's okay, for him to be fine, compared to the times I've panicked and rushed over with him then setting off the waterworks is astounding. These days, I know to walk over, give the scrape a quick look and go from there. Nine times out of ten, he'll be ready to play again within a few minutes. I always try and encourage Dylan to do the same activity again, too. So, if he fell of a swing, I'd try and get him back on it before we leave the park. Falling down is a part of childhood, and I think it's great to encourage curiosity and excitement while he's still young and pushing his limits. 

This post is an entry for the BritMums #TearsintoSmiles Challenge, sponsored by Elastoplast

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Life Update: May '17

Okay, so its safe to say that I couldn't think of a snappy title but I've made a few life changes and thought I should update y'all on it. I've mentioned a few times before that I've been feeling like I'm in a bit of a limbo with life recently, what with my maternity leave ending but then not actually having anything to return to. It was tricky. As much as I would love to be a stay-at-home-mam to the boys and give them my undivided attention, it's just not possible financially for us and also I would miss regular interaction with adults. In my post regarding my plans for this year, I talked about wanting to find my calling in life and I actually stumbled headfirst into a political career. 

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