Sunday, 29 March 2015

Rough Guide to Family Finance - The Kids Take Control!

Over the years, I think I've become quite savvy about ways to save money and how to get the best deal. I never buy anything without a voucher/offer code, and I use cashback websites like Quidco to get up to 10% cashback on everything I buy online, it soon adds up and I just think - why wouldn't you?

A few years ago when I was on maternity leave with our second child, we suddenly had a whopping big tax bill - my husband worked for a bank at the time and we'd been using his staff discount to get a good mortgage rate, but what we didn't know is that we were supposed to be taxed on that as a benefit in kind.  Thousands of people were hit with thousands of pounds to pay in one go, it was pretty horrendous. Ever the adapter, I suddenly went into famine mode and did everything I could to save money on our weekly bills, from changing energy supplier, cutting back on our sky subscription, limiting lunches and lattes out and changing car insurance companies.

Thankfully we're no longer in that position, though obviously with a third child on the way things will probably be a bit tight for a while. Last month, we made the decision to get rid of my car, so we are now a one car family. Hubby now gets the train to work and I drop him off and pick him up every day. We've been doing this for a month now and I can honestly say there have only been a few occasions where it's been a bit of a pain. We are saving on car insurance, the lease fee of the car and all the other costs that go along with car ownership. I feel strangely liberated from car ownership since our remaining car is a company one, so we have no responsibility for servicing and the like, it's just one less hassle in my life as far as I'm concerned.

One thing I don't think we have got right though, is making our children see the value of money. It seems that every other weekend they are bought a toy, and every outing seems to involve them getting bought a cupcake or comic to keep them quiet! We don't really do pocket money at the moment, maybe we should?

What I decided to do then, was to give them a budget for the day to see what they came up with, and how they spent it, to see whether they understood that money does not grow on trees.

There's a new book out for families - The Rough Guide to Family Finance which has loads of good ideas for families to save money, and there's a great quote that fits in nicely here, "Though it may be convenient for one person to be in control of the family budget and pay the bills, it’s a good idea if everyone is involved, including the youngest members. Encouraging a sense of financial responsibility in children helps them to be aware of the importance of budgeting as they grow up"

I gave them £25 for the day between them to spend, which had to involve paying for an activity and ensuring there was enough money left over for tea. Immediately they decided to head for Toys R Us which I immediately had to veto, this wasn't going to be easy! 

We sat down and talked about the cost of going to various places - bowling, cinema, museum - and how much they would be left with at the end of the day.

They both immediately decided on visiting Eureka in Halifax, we already had a yearly pass for this so it seemed to make sense, so off we went! Arriving at Eureka they were dismayed to discover that there is a £3.50 parking charge, which they had never been aware of before. Dutifully they dipped into their £25 budget and paid it, Son 1 commented that it seemed unfair that we had to pay it since it wasn't in the middle of a town or near anything else - haha! I also factored in £5 for petrol so they now had £16.50 left.

Eureka in Halifax - total crowd pleaser and you only have to pay once for the whole year!

Once in there they immediately wanted a drink, I gave them the option of drinking from their water bottles or buying a carton for £1.50 each. Again, they sensibly opted for their water bottle, maybe we were getting somewhere!

We had a good time at the museum and as it edged towards lunchtime, they started to talk about being hungry. I reminded them that they had £16.50 left to spend, and asked what they wanted to do. They agreed that a picnic would be cheaper but we didn't have one with us, so I pointed out a nearby Pizza Express or a Morrisons Cafe. We looked at the different prices and they soon realised that Pizza Express was unaffordable, so we headed to Morrisons. We all had lunch for under £10 which is pretty reasonable, though now they only had £6.50 left! 

They were pretty fed up of money saving by this point, so we had a quick look round for something for tea, and we decided to make our own pizzas. We already had bread flour and semolina at home so we bought some cheese, ham and tomato puree as a topping. When we got home, we actually had a great time rolling out the dough and making our own pizzas - we had a grand total of £1.50 which I said we could save for buying sweets as a well done for thinking so carefully about our budget. 

Afterwards I asked the boys what they had learned from their budgeting day and they responded, "I didn't realise things were so expensive", and "saving money is really boring, you can't do what you want". I explained that although it's boring in the short term, being careful with money is actually a good way of ensuring that you can do more exciting things in the long term. We don't waste money on things like smoking and going out loads, as to me that's not the behaviour of a responsible adult. If you want good things in your life, sometimes you need to deny yourself in the short term, to achieve your long term goals. I think this delayed gratification is a really important lesson to learn, and it's those people who can't seem to delay gratification that always seem to end up being unhappy. Lecture over!

My top tips for budgeting: 

1) Be organised - if you leave things until the last minute you will always pay over the odds. This is true for holidays, Christmas, travel and lots more!
2) Shop around. Ring around insurance companies and energy suppliers. Lazy people always pay more!
3) Before you buy something, e.g. clothing, online, sleep on it. When you wake up the next day reassess whether you actually need it.
4) Buy season tickets and yearly passes and use them! It gives you a reason for getting out and about at the weekend and means you don't have to keep paying out.
5) Buy a coffee machine and save on your latte costs! We paid £35 for ours in a sale and we use it every single day.

What are your top tips?

This post was written in association with Legal and General.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Post Pregnancy Fashion Buys!

I've now totally given up on buying any maternity clothes (only 9 weeks to go!) and am planning my post pregnancy wardrobe, to give me something to aim towards! Last time I had a baby, it took about 6 months to get into my normal clothes, which I know isn't bad, but any clothes I bought in the first 6 months went to waste, so I'm keen not to make that mistake this time.

I've already spotted some lovely bits in All Saints - their clothes are pretty expensive considering the thin material, but the cut is great and they also do really good sales, so I've picked these two bits out in advance...

All Saints Relian Dress £78
I really like this All Saints Relian Dress for Spring/Summer - it's light and comfortable as well as having a nice twist down the seam to make it look stylish. Nice, not sure about accessibility for breast feeding though.

All Saints Rivieria Stripe Dress £98
 I LOVE this All Saints Rivieria Stripe Dress, I love the differing lengths and think it looks really "different! and wearable at the same time, though I'm yet to work out what shoes I would wear with it. I don't think I'd pay any way near £98 for it but I'm keeping my eye out for it in the sale in mid Summer. There are lots of other Riviera dresses in different materials and colours if stripes isn't your thing. Love this!

I'm a bit of a Baukjen fan (and Isabella Oliver maternity stuff too) but not too keen on their longer length tops, as someone who is all legs and no body it makes me look a bit bottom heavy. But for those of us with narrow shoulders, this Ashby off the shoulder top is great at balancing things out - it reminds me of a few slash neck tops I bought in Warehouse many many years ago that I lived in (and sadly had to bin because they were worn out). At £59 it's not the cheapest but there are plenty of offer codes for Baukjen if you look around, though I'm not sure this one will go into the Summer sale.

Baukjen off the shoulder top £59

Speaking of Baukjen, and getting back to my point about breastfeeding, I think this wrap dress is great, and good value in the outlet store as well at £49. Comes in grey, black and dark pink.

Baukjen wrap dress £49
I'm a little bit in love with this dress,  but would I wear it for hanging around the house which realistically I am going to be doing for at least the next 6 months? Probably not.

Have you spotted any clothes that would work well post baby and for breastfeeding?

Saturday, 7 March 2015

4 secret tips for longer lasting flowers

With Mother’s Day around the corner, you’re guaranteed to receive at least once bouquet of flowers so; wouldn’t it be nice to find a way to prolong the life of your gorgeous blooms?|3|Our-Bestselling-flowers|4x5|R2C5|Image

Choosing the right flowers for anyone can be tricky – whether they are from a local supermarket or reputable online florist; a great deal of thought goes into the choice. So, here are your ultimate tips on how to save the life of your flowers, allowing them to brighten up your home that little bit longer. 
That’s right, aspirin doesn’t only get rid of headaches, it can also make your flowers last longer. Just one tablet in the water of your flowers works to mimic typical flower food and provides the nutrients the cut flowers are after. Ensure you crush the tablet before placing it into the water.
Top tip: Trim a little off the stems each day to ensure they can absorb the maximum amount of water.

Vodka doesn’t just make those amazing martinis; it can also be used to help extend the life of that gorgeous bouquet your child bought you. Vodka is thought to slow down bacteria growth in the water which causes the wilting of flowers. Simply add a shot of vodka to a glass along with a few drops of water and a teaspoon of sugar – add this to the flower water and watch your blooms flourish.

A copper penny
Search under your couch for those one and two pennies and use them to help your flowers prosper. Simply place one at the bottom of the vase along with a teaspoon of sugar and hey presto! Your cut flowers are guaranteed to last that little bit longer.

We use bleach to get rid of germs in our toilet, so why not use it to lose the bacteria lurking in our flower vase? Bleach will prevent mould from growing in the vase which ultimately causes our flowers to wilt, so add a quarter of a teaspoon of bleach to the water and be sure your plants will stay healthier for longer.
With these tips in mind, you can be sure that your gorgeous flowers last that little bit longer in your home.

This is a guest post.

Friday, 6 March 2015

All-In Pop Up Restaurant!

There is NOTHING I love more than going out for a lovely meal. However, now I'm 30 weeks pregnant, there doesn't seem to be much point. I do find that without a glass of wine to go with my main course, it's just not as much fun anymore. Plus I am SURE my taste buds have altered as I don't seem to be able to enjoy food in quite the same way. Annoying but true.

The other thing is that the food I usually enjoy when I have a meal out seems to be sort of off limits now - no point in having a steak as I can't have it rare. No point in having anything spicy as it gives me heartburn! Argh! Of course it will all be worth it in the end etc etc.

I've also sort of given up on going out in the evening now as I'm just SO tired, and I seem to have lost my sense of taste, weird?!

We did go out to see a band a few weeks ago which was fun, though I did find it quite hard to fit in the seats, so I think I might pass on going out in the future!

There is one way to kill two birds with one stone though, with the recent trend of funky pop up restaurants! One such pop up recently took place in London at Jones and Sons. The idea is that you can offset your winnings in the casino against an awesome meal, which means you can have a £50 meal for as little as £10! Good eh?

You can choose from queen scallops (yum), lamb chops and pear tatin, which to me sounds like pretty awesome food that I can actually eat!

There are now plans to roll the All-In Kitchen out across the UK. Of course, if you prefer you can skip the casino part and simply pay for your meal as normal. Sounds posh eh?

This post was written in collaboration with Pokerstars.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Can You Really Feed Your Family Well On A Budget?

Having a family means being able to support and provide them with whatever they need. No matter how big or small our family is, some of us still encounter budget constraints that might stop us from feeding our families well. Feeding the family on a budget requires a lot of work and a load of planning. If you find the right resources and keep a tight budget, you can achieve that incredible feat of feeding your family on a budget. Here are some tips that can help you feed your family well even if you're operating on a small budget.
Keep on couponing
Couponing has swept the nation as evidenced by the slew of reality shows that feature couponing addicts spending almost nothing on their purchases. Couponing requires a lot of logistics and planning. Start by looking at the coupon sections on your newspaper and on store websites. You can easily download and print coupons that you can add to get great savings. Take note of the fine print and read the coupons properly so you can tell whether the offer is still valid or not. By collecting coupons, you can easily cut the costs by more than a half.
Go bulk
Another way to save is by purchasing by bulk. Items purchased by bulk are given a discount by some specialty outlets in your local area. It's ideal to purchase items that are not prone to spoiling. You can buy canned goods, powdered ingredients, and condiments in bulk that you can stock and use in the future.
Buy what you need
One alternative to buying bulk is by purchasing less. Buying only what you need can help you save a lot. Make it a habit to control your expenses by sticking to your grocery list. At the start of the week, list down the recipes that you're going to follow and find out the ingredients that are needed. Buying only what you need can help you control your expenses, preventing you from going over budget with goodies.
Plant and sow
Planting herbs and vegetables right in your garden is one way to save up. Instead of buying produce, you can grow your very own. Growing a garden ensures you that you have clean produce because you grew them yourself! Often, we have no idea what products were used in the items on the supermarket. Cultivating your own land can definitely help you cut costs.
Support local
Instead of going to the supermarket, you can also try cutting the middleman by going directly to the source. Scour nearby local farms that can provide you with vegetables and dairy products at lower prices. You can buy fresh meat and poultry products as well and some local farms even allow you to order burgers online!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Having a baby on ebay...

Everyone is always telling us that babies are expensive right? And there is SO much to buy, and you MUST have this and that. Let me tell you, it's all a load of rubbish. In fact, babies hardly cost anything (especially if you're breastfeeding) since they are very small and cannot demand new Skylander/Thomas the tank engine/star wars toys until they are at least two and a half. Make the most of it I say! Here are a few things I won't be buying with my third baby...

1) I will NOT be buying baby cuddle towels. Babies don't know what towels you dry them in, and also they don't really care. Normal nice towels are fine. Tiny bear shaped towels they will soon grow out of are a total waste of money and will clog up your airing cupboard.

2) Babies will sleep anywhere. Actually some won't - mine especially. But they don't care where their cot comes from, they just want it to be warm, comfortable and safe. Go straight to Ikea or Asda, those cots are fine and cost about £50, a snip of a price of the £600 cot we bought from Mamas and Papas all those years ago...

Asda Cot - perfectly fine

3) Bedding bales - again, these will probably never be used. Babies only need a sleep bag and a fitted sheet underneath them don't they? So why bother with all that stuff? It's just more stuff to wash, and who needs the hassle?

4) Muslin clothes are much much cheaper on ebay - buy in bulk, you know you want to. Also plain muslins are a lot cheaper and as everyone knows, babies are not bothered about cute patterns.

5) Baby clothes - babies don't care what they look like, in fact they aren't even that bothered about nice clothes as otherwise why would they be constantly sick on them? Drop unsubtle hints to friends about outgrown baby clothes and they will soon start flooding in. Or buy on ebay or gumtree. I recently paid £16 for a zip up jumper for my three year old that now looks like a limp rag.

6) Baby chairs etc can be helpful but again, you will no doubt have a kind neighbour who is desperate to get rid of theirs. Baby beans bags, bumbos and the rest, leave it, they are space eater uppers and you will be constantly tripping over them.

7) Pushchairs. You will be tempted to buy a super pricey Bugaboo or Quinny then spend three years breaking your back lifting them in and out of the car in the pouring rain. Micralites are by far the best pushchairs and are small and easy to fold. Buy one on ebay!

8) Baby baths - total waste of money. Just put a few centimetres of water in the bath and keep hold of your baby and sponge them down while they have a splash around. Baby baths also get quite mouldy and black before long. Honestly, you'll thank me.

9) Baby changing bags. Some companies get away with charging a ridiculous amount for canvas "changing bags" (naming no names PINK LINING). Totally over priced! Just get a normal large bag with longish handles. It'll get trashed anyway being dumped on wet floors while you're folding up your Bugaboo (!).

10) High chairs will soon be the bane of your life and will need constant wiping. My preference is Ikea again as their white chair is small and easy to wipe. Do NOT get one with lots of nooks and crannies as food will ALWAYS find its way down there and you will be forced to get a very sharp knife to attempt to get it out before it turns green..

Ikea highchair  - total crowd pleaser
What are your top tips for having a baby on a budget?

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Are You Eating The Right Food?

Ever found yourself asking people whether you’re eating the right food? Your diet is usually determined by a number of important factors that vary from one person to another. There’s no perfect way to calculate the amount of food that you should eat unless you visit a nutritionist to help create a rigid food plan.
You can put your best foot forward and try to control the way you eat with these helpful tips that you should consider:
Know your preferences
Sometimes you just can’t force yourself to eat the things that you don’t want to eat. What’s right for others doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right for you. Determine your health goals in the beginning before starting the diet program that you want. It’s important to take note of your preferences as this can help you determine the right type of food that you put inside you. Always remember that your daily food intake should include the items in the food pyramid. Don’t go under the required number of caloric intake as this could change the way you get the energy that you need. 
Put emphasis on real food
When we say real food, we mean those items that doesn’t come in manufactured boxes. Processed foods are known to be harmful for your health, so it’s best to avoid them. Canned goods, junk food, and ready-to-eat meals are littered with preservatives and additives that can cause further harm in your body. Choose to eat real food or those that you prepare yourself. Preparing your own meals not only saves you money, it also saves you from various health risks that may come from processed food.
Check for health signs
If you start eating healthy, your body will point out various signs. Pooping regularly is a clear sign that you’re eating the right food. Eating healthy food can also lower your depression and stress levels. There are a number of health signs that can be considered as a testament to your eating habits.  The best health sign that you’re eating right comes when you have to buy new jeans that are one size smaller than the usual.
Keeping it in moderation
Even though you’re eating healthier, you should always eat in moderation. Eating smaller portions ensures that you fill up the dietary requirements that your body needs. Overeating can lead to weight gain, so it’s best to moderate the food that you eat. Instead of gorging down on your favorite food, try to eat smaller portions. Take time enjoying the textures and flavors of the dish to help you get a better understanding of the dishes that you consume.
Get proper food information
Getting the right information about the food that you consume is an important part of staying fit. Make it a habit to check out the labels of the food that you buy. Knowing the nutritional value of the food that you consume can give you an idea whether you should enjoy or avoid the food item. Labeling is an important part of food items and you should ensure that the food you consume underwent recipe analysis to guarantee a fit for your diet.

Friday, 16 January 2015

My Five Top Tips for Getting The Best Deal!

It's one of my rules of thumb to NEVER buy anything unless I can find a voucher code for it. I don't think I've ever failed to find one SOMEWHERE, even if it means joining a weird birthday club or some such like.

I used to get all my voucher codes over at hotukdeals, but these days I find things move to quickly that not every website can keep up. I now literally seek everywhere! Google is certainly my friend and even sites like Mumsnet can have helpful discounts when you're least expecting it.

For hubby's Christmas present I got an epic deal on a Jack Wolfskin coat. I found one in the sale at Blacks, then I found a 15% off code online, then I got 10% cashback using quidco, bonza! A £150 coat cost me less than £100.

Jack Wolfskin BARGAIN! Got this for under £100 by using a 15% off discount code and 10% cashback with quidco!
 Definitely the more expensive the item the most savings are generally available. Here are my top tips for finding a bargain...

1) If you find something you like online it's definitely worth googling the exact product name to see if it's cheaper elsewhere. Even if it's not cheaper, sites like ASOS sell other brands e.g. Whistles and often have no delivery charge.So you get the same product without the risk!
2) Check out voucher code sites (click here for an example) before you even THINK about buying anything. My rule of thumb now is just to wait it out until a code becomes available, as they usually do. September and April are a good time for codes, e.g. at the start of the season Winter/Summer seasons.
3) If a shop has a sale on, wait until the very end if you possibly can! Most sites now offer staggered discounting which are usually two weeks apart. E.g. they start with 50% off then two weeks later it goes to 60% off etc. It's definitely worth holding out if you can.
4) Keep an eye on the facebook page of your favourite shops as there are often offers and deals on there that are not advertised on the main website. Sneaky but true!
5) If you're a blogger, sign up as an affiliate which means you can earn money back on linking to products, but more importantly you get notified usually a day before the sale starts. Which means you can be super prepared!

What are your top bargain hunting tips?

Is Maths The Most Important Skill A Child Can Learn?

Knowing how to read and write is one of the most important skills a child can learn. But what about maths? Just like reading, maths is a skill that must be taught early in the child’s development. According to some experts, maths is more important when it comes to determining a child’s success in school rather than learning how to read.

Maths is something that your child will carry with him when he grows old. We perform maths tasks daily without even knowing it. Jobs are requiring their employees to have a maths proficiency, especially those who are working in business or technical fields. With this in mind, is it safe to say that maths is the most important skill a child can learn?

Maths is everywhere
Though we may not notice it, maths is everywhere. You need maths when cooking, shopping, watching television, and playing games. It is important for children to learn maths skills early on, as it is a skill that will need for the rest of their lives. Grasping basic maths concepts must start early, so that they have an easier time in school.

According to experts, children who have a good grasp of their maths skills early on are able to learn more complicated math concepts easier. For instance, when they move on to learning fractions, decimals, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, or calculus, they will have a better understanding if they have full knowledge of basic maths concepts.

Why is maths important?
Maths is important, as it also teaches children about other important life skills. Here are some of the things that children can learn with maths.

·         Everyday maths – As I said before, maths can be seen everywhere. Whether you are following a recipe, looking for cheaper groceries, or buying a house, maths is a skill that is needed. Maths skills are also important when your children learn how to budget later on in life.

·         Critical and logical thinking – In every maths problem or equation, certain steps must be followed in order to arrive at the right answer. This teaches children logical and critical thinking, as well as discipline that they can use in their daily lives.

·         Future careers – Maths is also important when seeking a job. Those who are highly skilled in math are more likely to get higher paying jobs than those who do not do so well in maths.

Maths and children
Some children like maths, while others are scared of it. One thing you can do as a parent is to help your children appreciate maths by making it fun for them to learn. You can do math games, teach them math through daily activities, and help them through the process of learning. You can also seek help from math tutors.

Is maths the most important skill a child can learn? The answer varies, and some might say that there are more important things to learn. However, one thing is for sure. Maths is a skill that must be learned at an early age, as it will help your child on his daily activities.

Friday, 9 January 2015

An Adventure On Your Doorstep

If you’ve been suffering with cabin fever whilst you try in vain to keep the children entertained perhaps it’s time to go outdoors. Even in the cold winter months, the Garden can be a great place to escape with kids.

Wrapped up warm with hot chocolates at the ready, let them get messy with some outside fun and help ignite their imagination.

Rock Painting

Take a walk outside and find some nice big rocks to paint.The bigger the better!

Making funny faces or painting them pretty colours to display in the garden will give them a real sense of achievement.

Treasure Hunt

Gather some goodies and set them off on an adventure.

Making them explore the garden is a great opportunity to learn more about nature and their surroundings.

A Witches’ Potion

If you’ve got a few spare pots and pans lying around and you don’t mind the mess, get them to make some disgustingly fun combinations from the garden. Just ensure the tiny ones aren’t tempted to put any of the non-edible ingredients in their mouths.

Chalk Drawing

Investing in some coloured chalksuch as these, is a great way to release their creative side.

If you’ve got a pavement in the garden get them to make a bright and colourful mural.

Potting Plants

Why not let them create their own little garden?

Have the little ones pick out their favourite flowers at the garden centre.

They could pick out some fruit or veg to have their own mini allotment to look after or some beautiful flowers for a potted plant garden like this one.

Renovate the Play House

If the play house has stood neglected for a while encourage them to have a spring clean.

Dust off the cobwebs and give them some paints for them to decorate it.

You could even use up any of the old fairy lights from Christmas to give it a sense of magic.


Enjoying the great outdoors is the best part of childhood, and with all the steam they’ll be burning off it might give you a well-earned break.  

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Turning Your Kitchen Into A Stylish Yet Practical Room Within The Home

The kitchen is one of the most important areas in your home. It is where you prepare your meals, and if you love cooking, you will most likely spend a lot of time there. Of course, any homeowner would want a stylish looking kitchen that will look inviting to visitors. In some instances, however, the functionality of the kitchen is compromised because of the style. Who says you can’t have both?

Kitchen islands
Having kitchen islands instead of dining tables are becoming a trend. This is a good example of style and functionality rolled into one. If you have a kitchen island extension that can serve as a dining table, you can save space in your kitchen. This works for both small and large kitchens. You can use the island for preparations and you can also eat there with your family.

Kitchen zones
Another practical thing you can do is divide your kitchen into separate zones where you can work. For instance, set one side for food preparation and the other for food storage. Having zones is important, as you will have a good flow of movement when you are using your kitchen. You won’t have to zigzag around the kitchen looking for things. In addition, it also makes your kitchen look stylish and organized.

Cabinets and shelves
Any kitchen is sure to be full of pots, pans, baking needs, tools, and food. It’s important to have enough cabinets and shelves to keep your kitchen organized. For stylish cabinets, work with transparent cabinets. You can also change the knobs and handles of cabinets and drawers to make them match the interiors of your home or the style of your kitchen. Having all the storage you need in your kitchen is practical, and it is quite easy to make it stylish.

One way to make your kitchen look stylish is by adding splashes of color and accessories. Add butcher blocks, colorful pots and pans, and even a few potted herbs by the kitchen window. When accessorizing, add items that you know will be needed in the kitchen. Don’t haphazardly add items that you know won’t be of any use to you, as they will only add clutter to your kitchen.

Choose kitchen items
If you are moving into a new home or planning to renovate or replace items in your kitchen, go for stylish looking kitchen items that do the job. You may be spending plenty of money to get the style that you need, but you also get functional items that you need for your kitchen. In addition, you wouldn’t need to replace the items for several years. It is also good to invest in some kitchen items that you know will last for a long time. Research the best brands to get value for your money.
Now you know how you can get a stylish and functional kitchen. With the right balance, you will have a nice-looking kitchen that has everything that you need to prepare delicious meals for your family and friends to enjoy.

Monday, 5 January 2015

When Is The Best Time To Relocate?

For some, owning their dream house and settling down in a neighborhood is the best life. For others, however, moving from one location to another gives a sense of thrill that staying in a permanent location doesn’t give. If you are someone who loves to live in different locations, there are some factors that you need to consider before relocating.

Know the best time
According to research, the best time to move to a different location is November. Why you ask? The summer is the worst time to relocate, as this is the time when fresh graduates flock to the city to look for work opportunities. You will be battling with them in search for a new home. Other times of the year, the rent can go up and you could spend a few extra pounds on your rent. This is why you should know the best month to relocate.

Avoid the holidays
When you already have a place in mind, don’t plan your move during the holidays. Doing this will be such a hassle for you, as everyone will be busy and you mind end up having to pay more than you expect. In addition, you wouldn’t want to miss all the holiday festivities because you are moving to your new home.

Relocate on weekdays
Most people tend to move to their new location during the weekends. Don’t be one of those people. Schedule your move mid-week, so you are sure that you can get all the resources that you need. You will most likely get your desired schedule with a moving company if you choose a weekday instead of a weekend.

Consider other people
If you have a family with kids, it is best to schedule your move around the school calendar. This is crucial, especially if you are moving to a different state where your children would have to transfer schools. Give your children time to say goodbye to their friends and schedule your move so that you don’t have to rush to get everything done. This will get rid of the stress and make your move a breeze.

Temperatures and seasons
Another factor you have to consider when moving is the season. For instance, it would be more difficult for you to move in winter when the roads are slippery and the sidewalks are full of snow. You wouldn’t want to be carrying your furniture in the snow bundled up in bulky clothing. In addition, some of your furniture might warp or crack because of the sudden change in environment.

These are some of the factors that you have to consider if you are relocating. When choosing a new location, you can always seek help from real estate experts such as Johns Island SC so that you get exactly what you are looking for. Relocating may be a difficult task that takes a lot of effort, but if you do it successfully, you will be on your way to starting a new life in a new location!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Roasted Vegetable and Ginger Soup!

So in an effort to be more healthy after a very unhealthy Christmas (and the whole of Autumn to be honest) we've decided to cut down on meat for January and see if it makes us feel better and less exhausted! We've started by making our own smoothie every morning, which actually makes me feel rather sick, but I'm putting that down to the pregnancy...

I had the idea about substituting bread carbs for veggie carbs so I've put that into practise today and made a healthy and also delicious soup. I do make quite a lot of soups on a Saturday lunchtime and both my husband and I agreed this was my best one to date. Here's how you do it:

Any spare root veg you have lying around, e.g. two carrots, half a swede, one sweet potato, one normal potato, one onion etc etc.
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
A dessert spoon of ginger - I used the stuff already chopped up in a jar.
Creme fraiche
Stock cube made up into stock with boiling water.
Fresh parsley if you have it. Though I'm not sure it added much.

1) Turn the oven on to 180 degrees or equivalent.
2) Chop up all the root vegetables into largish chunks and place on a baking tray. Cover in olive oil.

3) Roast in the oven for half an hour.
4) When done, fry the ginger in oil (I used walnut oil but any will do) and then add in the roasted veg after a minute or two.
 5) Add just enough stock to cover the liquid and perhaps an inch more, depending how thick/thin you like it.

6) Cook on a medium heat for about ten minutes.
7) Then blitz with either a hand held blender or food processor.

8) Season then add a swirl of creme fraiche and top with parsley.

9) DONE!

Friday, 2 January 2015

7 Steps To The Perfect Slumber

Sleep is often taken for granted. It’s one of the most important activities in a person’s day, especially considering the fact that it’s during sleep that our body gets its rest. However, how does one get a good night’s sleep?

Have you ever woken up feeling tired due to a less than satisfying sleep? Lucky for you, here are seven tips that will help you make the most of your sleep. Achieving the perfect slumber is not impossible, all you have to do is follow these steps.

1. Adjust your body clock
You can do this by waking up at the same time every day. In doing so, you’ll be setting your body’s internal clock by making it clear that daytime is the time to be awake, while you have to be in bed at night. When your body clock’s a mess, you’ll be waking up each day feeling groggy and out of sorts. A routine is easy to follow when you have work during the day. If you work at home on the other hand, manage your time so you get to stay in at night and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

2. Make your bedroom as comfortable as possible
A comfortable room is a good place to sleep in. Make it as cold, as quiet, and as dark as possible. Chances are, you’ll be drifting off to sleep in seconds. And you won’t even need to count sheep! Keep your alarm clock handy, but if it’s possible, ditch any electronic devices like your cellphone or your tablet. Keeping these devices within your reach will not only distract you, but the light coming off of them might make it impossible for you to sleep.

3. Eat smart before going to bed
Eating a heavy meal before you sleep is a bad idea. Instead, eat something nutritious that will stimulate your sleep. Honey, for example, has been proven to improve sleep quality because it aids in the release of tryptophan into our brains.

4. Have a bedtime ritual
Doing something habitually before going to bed lets your body know that it’s time to sleep. It could be a warm bath, reading a couple of pages of a book, or putting on relaxing music. Do something that keeps you relaxed as you wind down your day.

5. Do not watch TV before bed
Same principle behind not using your electronic devices before bed. Watching TV before sleeping may only serve as a distraction, and chances are you’ll be messing up your body’s internal clock by sleeping later than usual.

6. Avoid caffeine and alcohol
It’s common knowledge that caffeine stimulates your brain, making it harder for you to relax enough to go to bed. Alcohol, on the other hand, will make you black out faster although the time you’ll be spending asleep will also be shorter.

7. Upgrade your mattress
Like we said before, being comfortable is important when you’re going to bed. If your mattress isn’t up to your standards, then it’s time to look around for quality mattresses on sale. They don’t have to be expensive, but you have to think about your comfort first and foremost.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

How To Stay Stylish And Warm This Winter

 This winter, you don’t need to make your style decisions into a massive problem. All you have to do is to relax and check your closet for instant style inspirations that can hit you like a speeding sleigh. 

Staying stylish and warm doesn’t have to be tough, all you need are a couple of winter essentials that can keep you heated while looking sizzling hot for the new year.


Layer up!

One way to stay warm during the winter is to layer up. ‘Tis the season to wear heaps of clothes on top of each other to stay warm. There’s no rule on how many layers of clothes you can wear, but try to avoid wearing more than 10 items of clothing unless you want to look like a bloated figure walking down the street. You can rock the bohemian-look by layering a warm fleece shirt, long skirt, and a winter coat. Wearing a long skirt allows you to hide your long johns or warm inner wear!


Hats Make It Hot

Keeping your head warm is important so that you can avoid any headaches that may stem from the cold weather. There are a number of stylish winter hats that can warm up not only your head, but your ears, as well! You can opt for a simple beanie of your choice color, or you can knit one of your own! We recommend getting crazy colors to stand out from the whites and greys of the seasonal wear.


Gotta Have Gloves

The temperature can drop in no time so it’s best if you always keep a pair of warming gloves in your bag. Choose the type of gloves depending on the weather condition of the day. If the temperature is tolerable, a nice soft pair of gloves can be easily a part of your winter get-up. If you’re walking through a snowstorm, it’s best if you buy a thicker pair of gloves. There are gloves that are made from weatherproof materials that can withstand all types of weather and can keep you warm while still being in style.


Heat it Up!

Fleece is the best and cheapest way to stay warm this winter season. The material tends to catch the body warm that you emit and uses it to heat your body again, maintaining a nice balance of warmth and comfort. Popular sweaters and jackets are usually made from fleece, some even includes an extra fleece lining that can be detached so that you can re-use the jacket once the winter season is over. You can also purchase coat heaters that run on internal batteries. These portable heats can keep you warm even when your sweater can’t.


Anti-Shiver Shoes

Avoid getting hypothermia by buying the right pair of winter boots. There are a number of designs available that can tickle your fancy. You can go with traditional designs or go for a modern approach. Some shoes are also lined with fleece, maintaining the perfect balance of warm and comfort for your tired feet.


One way to stay warm this winter is to just stay at home and shop for clothes online. You can have these items delivered directly to you and you won’t have to worry about the Christmas rush and traffic!


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