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! 

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.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

The Ultimate Ways To Unwind At Home*

There are many things which we all like to be able to get from the home. One of the biggest is the ability to truly unwind and relax. This is something which is not only enjoyable, but actually essential for better living and for keeping your health in the best possible state. However, a lot of people have trouble truly unwinding in their own home, which is something of a travesty, and it’s a good idea to think carefully about what you can do in these circumstances to help improve this situation. In this article, we are going to look at some of the things you can do to ensure that you are unwinding in your home much more easily - and more often.

Chilling With A Cuppa


There is something about Tea and Coffee which just help you to unwind more than anything else, and for this reason it’s a good idea to make sure that your home is always stocked up on these essential supplies. It might even be worth getting a number of different kinds of teas and coffees in the home, so that you always have a good selection to choose between. Sometimes, unwinding really is as simple as sitting down with a cup of tea or coffee and just being. If you are someone who appreciates this in your life, then do whatever you can to try and make it happen a little more often.


Reading A Book


It wasn’t too long ago when most people would sit with a book as their main form of entertainment. Although this art might be somewhat less practised now, it is far from having died out, and it is unlikely that it will ever die out. If you consider yourself a proficient reader, then it might be a good idea to put the phone down once in a while and instead pick up a book. Reading is not only good for the mind, but it’s also one of the best ways in which you can hope to unwind in your home. If you are not sure what book to read first, try to seek recommendation from your friends, or just think about checking out your local library for their latest additions to the shelves.

Watching A Film


That being said, there is still absolutely nothing wrong with curling up on the sofa and watching a film. If you are something of a movie buff, you might well have a collection of DVDs which you have been dying to watch, but just can’t seem to get around to doing so. Watching a film can be a great way to switch off the brain, and is often perfect for the end of a long day of work. Similarly, many a Sunday afternoon can be easily improved by sitting down to watch a film, so you never know when this might be a good option.


These three are all good ways to unwind at home, and it’s worth bearing them in mind next time you are wondering what to do in the home to relax a little.



*Disclaimer: This post is collaborative content.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Books To Take Us Into Spring

Can you believe we're officially entering spring now? Sometimes I think the UK no longer has defined seasons The weather is pretty blustery and it's rained almost every hour of this week, but I'm trying to think ahead to the crisp spring mornings, and when the flowers all start to blossom. I don't think I'm one to change my reading habits with the seasons, but I thought I'd commit my reading plans to this here blog for the months ahead. I track all of my reading over on Goodreads, so give me a follow and say hello :) 


I'm quite conscious of the fact that last year I read next to no non-fiction, and I asked my loved ones for various non-fiction for my birthday. Added to my slowly growing pile, is Misogynation by Laura Bates. Published in late Feb, Bates' latest collection of sexist woe highlights how interwoven sexism really is in our day to day lives. Of course, as someone who tries to champion women at every available opportunity, I'm sure this will make for fascinating reading, even if it is pretty bleak. Another book I'm excited to get my hands on is Of Women by Shami Chakrabarti. Released last year, Chakrabarti delivers a powerful, urgent and timely polemic on why women still need equality. Even Jeremy Corbyn called this "a vital book on how we bring about equality", so that's good enough for me. I recently finished the audiobook of Animal by Sara Pascoe and it's really highlighted to me how recent some of our triumphs in equality have been. I think Of Women will build on this, and like Misogynation, will no doubt be a truly thought-provoking read.  
Some fiction now, and I'm loving the look of The Cactus by Sarah Haywood. It's received quite a bit of praise from some of my favourite authors and has even been compared to the smash hit Eleanor Oliphant is Absolutely Fine, which is high praise indeed! I'm an absolute sucker for some YA so no reading list would be complete from me without at least one title, and this time around my choice is Big Bones by Laura Dockrill. If you haven't seen the cover of this, then all you need to know is that it features a Bakewell tart - consider me sold! The mini blurb for this calls it a 'body-positive, sassy food diary with belly laughs' so I'm hoping it'll be an enjoyable read.
 

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Making 2018 #MySafestYearYet

As a parent to two young children, being safe is something I think about a lot. Everyday household objects can become lethal in the hands of a child, and don't get me started on the outside world. We live in a fairly new housing development, so everyday there's diggers and whatnot within walking distance from us. One quick let go of my hand, and who knows what could happen? Of course, being involved in a freak digger accident is hopefully a rare occurrence and not something I let consume my thoughts. Slater and Gordon Lawyers have been looking at how we can ensure our own safety this year, and that's why I'm sharing #MySafestYearYet. 
At home, there are really simple things you can do to make your house safe for yourself and your loved ones. We rent our home, so luckily we have lots of carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms which are checked regularly to ensure our safety. Another thing we have to keep an eye on at home is ensuring possible dangerous objects are kept well out of the boys reach. This means we have those super annoying cupboard latches that are incredibly fiddly and make opening the cleaning cupboard near-on impossible. I struggle with them, so Robin has absolutely no chance! In this cupboard, we have all the usual cleaning suspects such as bleach, washing detergent, carpet cleaner etc and we also have our food waste bin in there as well. By locking these things away, it gives us peace of mind, because although you can try your hardest to watch your kiddos every second of the day, they are pretty much always up to mischief! 
And it's not just the home to consider. I walk to work, and during the winter months I always ensure my jacket has reflective patches on it. This means that I'm visible to drivers and other road users, and hopefully ensures my safety. Even during the lighter months, I keep my jacket in my workbag as you never know when it might be raining heavily or foggy on a morning. With the kids, Dylan has all reflective stickers on his bike, scooter and his skateboard - yes, my plaster cupboard is fully stocked incase of bumps and bruises! - and also on his helmet and protective pads. Kids coats generally always have some reflective markings on them, but if not you can buy them pretty easily to add your own. I did this with Joe's running jacket, as it weirdly only had a tiny reflective strip, and added some more jazzy patches, much to his disproval. Don't you know it's safety over style, in this case! 
I'm not trying to scare anybody with this post, but there are so many simple ways to keep yourself this year - and every year after that! While you can't predict what will happen in the future, you can arm yourself with these little tips and hopefully avoid anything disastrous happening in the near future for you and your loved ones! 
*Disclaimer: This post is a collaboration with Slater & Gordon. Content written by myself.

Perfect Planning Tips For A Budget-Friendly Kids Birthday Party*


It’s no secret; Parenting is rarely easy. Although, there are times that are a little more stressful and difficult than others. One such time is planning your child’s birthday party, especially when you don’t have a lot of cash to splash on some extravagant event. However, cutting down your budget doesn’t have to cut down your kid’s big day. Here are some tips to help you plan the perfect birthday party without breaking the bank.

Take Time Planning
If you’re on a tight budget, it always makes sense to give yourself as much time to plan as possible. This will give you a few extra weeks to shop around and compare prices of essentials so that you don’t have to buy things you’ve forgotten last minute for well over the regular price. Pound shops are a great place to look, as they tend to have great party supplies for much less than your average party supplier.

Order Online
Shopping online doesn’t always save money, but it often can do, especially if you give yourself some time to do some proper research and look through a few different websites. Ordering online also reduces the chance of you impulse buying, which can also save you a fair bit of cash. You can also order online without your children knowing what you’re buying, so you don’t have to arrange childcare for while you’re shopping.

Party After Lunch
Party food can get pretty pricey, especially if you’re catering for a lot of guests, so you should aim to reduce the amount of food you need to buy. A great way to do this is to have your party after lunch and end it before dinner so that you’re not expected to provide a full meal. Then, you just need to get a few basic party snacks, like chips and cake.

Ask Parents To BYO
Alcohol is also fairly pricey, so, if parents are also attending the party, ask them to bring their own, rather than provide it yourself. If you don’t want to look stingy, you could get a few bottles of wine or a Little Hamper Company prosecco hamper, but your focus should be on drinks for the children. They’re who the party is for after all.

Skip Hired Entertainment
Hired entertainment can be fun, but it isn’t necessary for a great party. Instead, plan some free activities and games, like musical chairs, hot potato, and duck, duck, goose. The only thing you’d need to buy for these games is a prize, like a small toy or some sweets, both of which can be bought cheaply.

Merge With Another
If your child’s birthday is close to one of their friend’s, then why not talk to their parents about maybe doubling up. After all, the same guest would be attending both parties, so it makes sense to have them together. This will save both families money and time planning the party, as you’ll be working together and paying half each. Just make sure that each child feels special by having separate presents and seperate cakes.

Planning a child’s birthday party on a budget may seem like an impossible task, but it really isn’t. With these tips, you should find it much easier to stick to your budget.


*Disclaimer: Collaborative content. 

Monday, 5 March 2018

Merry March

I don't want to be one of those people that always seems so surprised by the start of the month, but can you believe it's March? And we're five days in already, too! The start of March is always a bit of a whirlwind for me, because I have three birthdays to celebrate by March 3rd. And if that wasn't busy enough, there's a handful of mothers and grandmothers to think about pampering halfway through the month and then my Dad's birthday at the very end. Plus, this year has a super early Easter. 

I like to think of myself as an organised person - what with the bullet journal and all that - but I'm hoping that the latter end of March might be somewhat slower than be start. Although two snow days from work seemed like the perfect time to relax with the kiddos, it always meant we got super bored of being indoors pretty quickly - it was too cold for Robin to go out, so he was a bit stroppy when Dylan went to make snowballs without him - and I also have a huge backlog of things to complete at work as well. 

In a bid to take things slowly, I've been filling out the weekly lists in my 52 Lists for Happiness journal by Moorea Seal. It's a great way to keep track of all the little things that make you smile and I've found it really helps me to slow down and just notice everything. I think when you're rushed off your feet, it can be quite easy to run on autopilot and let your day pass you by without a second thought. I've also started using Pinterest more and it's fast becoming my favourite app. You should give me a follow, if you fancy it! I'm still practically a newbie when it comes to Pinterest, but I think I use it more than Google these days so who knows! 

On thing I'm yet to do this month - and for the majority of February, whoops! - is pick up a book. I was extremely lucky and won a signed copy of Louise O'Neill's Almost Love before it's even published so I really need to start reading it soon. I started reading Animal Farm last month and misplaced my copy - before finding it tidied away on the bookshelves - so I'm hoping I can finish that nice and quick and move swiftly on. 

So that's how my March is shaping up. What are you up to this month?

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Keeping Safe As A New Driver

You might not know this, but last month I passed my driving test. I absolutely hated learning to drive, but since being out on the road by myself I've got to say I'm a fan of my newfound freedom. I've only stuck to routes I would have travelled on when learning - so this means no motorways just yet - but I've got to say I'm doing pretty well so far. When I rang my dad to let him know that I passed, instead of immediately offering up his congratulations to me, his first comment was that now I needed to know what to do in an emergency. And he's right!


Not long after Joe and I moved to Somerset, we were on the motorway heading along to Bristol. Out of nowhere, we heard a magnificent bang and the car was visibly lower on one side. Joe safely pulled us over onto the hard shoulder and got out to find that one of the tyres had completely burst open. We hadn't owned the car for very long, and had neglected to really check the tyres frequently enough. It turned out that while the front tyres looked brand new, the back tyres were completely threadbare. Not only is this pretty illegal - you could face up to 12 points on your license and a possible ban! - but dangerous too! If Joe had lost the control of the car, we would have been in a very scary situation. 
As neither of us had really anticipated this sort of thing, we didn't know what to do. Did our insurance include roadside assistance? Did we need to let the traffic maintenance people know? Did we phone a tyre service near to where we lived or near to where we situated along the M5? It really made us realise that we needed a plan of action if anything like this - or potentially worse - happened again. We've since created a nifty little folder that lives in the glovebox. It has all our insurance information, including if we have roadside assistance, our emergency contacts and even when we last changed our tyres - if yours might need replacing soon, check out DAT Tyres online to buy new ones. 
Of course, while it's a good idea to know what to do if you crash, you need to be able to relax enough and enjoy the drive. Although I was technically able to drive on the motorway as soon as I was insured on our car, I want to make sure I am properly used to our car - it's a lot older than my instructors shiny new one! - before I try anything new. I'm even considering taking up the Pass Plus scheme that instructors offer, which includes driving on the motorway and in bad weather conditions. But we'll see! For now, I'm enjoying being able to grab some sneaky chicken nuggets whenever I fancy it! 
*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with DAT Tyres. Content written by myself.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Spending Quality Time with Your Partner*

Spending quality time with your partner is important for many reasons, and is even more important when you have a family. Things like looking after the kids, visiting friends and family, and work, take up so much of our lives. It is always good to remember that your other relationship needs some care and attention to. Many parents feel bad about leaving their children and spending some quality time with their partners, but it is essential to happy marriage, and will even benefit your children too. Seeing their parents happy and supportive is a great example for your children. Not to mention having a rest from everyday life and having to be on constant guard when the toddler is wandering around, is something everyone needs! Read on to find some ideas that parents could use to spend some quality time with their partner, you definitely deserve it!


The Classic

Going out to dinner, or going for a drink is the classic date night most couples go on, and is the good old faithful. No doubt there are restaurants you have your eye on, but have not been able to go because of the kids, this is your chance to go there. Book a baby sitter, or invite a family member to come look after them while you go out and relax. Many restaurants are not child friendly, or don’t have a family vibe, so consider this your chance to explore these places. Check out stylish venues and get on the Montezuma guestlist, for example. Even going out for a few drinks is something to take advantage of, and get cab home afterwards. Take this time to switch off, relax, enjoy yourself, and check in with your partner. You would be surprised how one evening can revitalize your relationship.

Be Adventurous

Why not try out something adventurous with your partner, and get some adrenaline pumping through your body. Are there some activities or sports you really wanted to try but haven’t been able to because of the kids? This could be jet skiing, rock climbing maybe, or perhaps zip wiring takes your fancy? There are plenty of activities like these that you can do for a day, or an afternoon. Experiencing and taking part in something new with your partner can be a great way to reconnect, and even learn new things about someone you have known for a long time. Relaxing, having fun, and even learning some new skills, can be a refreshing and revitalizing experience as well. Try out some new activities that could be lots of fun for your to try, or even take this time to pick up something you used to do.

It is so important to reconnect with your partner, and it is great to make spending quality time together a regular part of your lives. Anything from going out for a drink, a romantic candlelit dinner, or trying out a fun new activity, can be fun with with your other half. Take the time out of family life, to spend time with your other half.



*Disclaimer: Collaborative content.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Beauty School Dropout: How To Get The Best From Your Beauty Recruitment*

When you decide that it is time to expand your new beauty business, you will need to start thinking about recruiting some new hires. When it comes to looking for new recruits, it is absolutely crucial that you pick the best of all the applicants. After all, these new hires will become the face of your business since they will be face-to-face with all of your customers. Not only that, though, but they have to be experts at what they are hired to do - your customers won’t be happy at all if someone messes up their eyebrow wax or manicure! So, there is no room for any beauty school dropouts on your team!

Ready to get out there and find the best recruits for your beauty business? Here is everything you need to know.


Figure Out The Expertise You Need

How do you want to expand your business? In order to answer this, you will need to think about the new services that you want to offer all of your customers. For instance, maybe you want to start to offer some hair services along with your usual beauty treatments. Or perhaps you just want to add another beauty service to your company’s bow. In order to add some new expertise, though, you will need to find the right beauty therapist to bring their knowledge and experience to the team. Now that you know the expertise you need, it will be easier to narrow down all of your applicants to a shortlist.

Be Prepared To Offer Some Training

You will need to offer some onboarding training to all your new hires. As long as you hire some experienced professionals, then this shouldn’t need to include any beauty training. They’ll already know what to do when it comes to that! But you will need to show them the ropes of your salon and business. Any high-tech equipment that isn’t related to their job but you have in the salon, such as an IP camera or high-tech burglar alarm. You will also need to include some training that covers your company culture and expected customer service standard.


Always Check References

When your applicants send in their resumes, they should include the contact details of a couple of referees at the bottom. In some cases, they may simply put that references are available upon request. It’s always important that you get in touch with the referees for references. They will be able to give you a good idea of what the applicant is like in the workplace and how much of a team player they are. Most recruitment guides will tell you to get in touch for references after you have interviewed your candidates, but you can get references whenever you want in the recruitment process-  it’s completely up to you; there is no right or wrong way to do it!

Recruiting for a beauty business can be a big challenge, but the tips above should help you out and make it a whole lot easier!


*Disclaimer: Collaborative content.
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