Monday, 30 July 2012

The snail and the whale and my very own tour of Leeds....

Yesterday we had tickets to see the famous Julia Donaldson children's book The Snail and The Whale at the Carriageworks in Leeds. Taking a four year old and a 17 month old to the theatre was never going to be easy, but actually they did really well, although my four year old did shout really loudly in the ear of the lady in front, much to her surprise. For obvious reasons we plied our 17 month old son with food and drink to keep him "quiet" but actually he was fine for the most part. In fact in general the audience was much better behaved than when we went to see The Gruffalo at St Georges Hall in Bradford a few weeks ago.

The theatre itself is in one of my favourite parts of Leeds, just off Millenium Square near the city museum and the amazingly stylish champagne bar, Epernay. If you didn't know it was there, you might miss it, but we had been there before, in fact to a Kaiser Chief's after show party a few years ago (name dropping, more on that later).
Carriageworks Theatre
Being in Leeds yesterday made me think about the city I call home, even though we live around 45 minutes outside the city centre now, for me it will always be my city. As a child, living in Wakefield, Leeds was always the big smoke to me, the place where things were going on, the best nightlife was and  the only shops worth shopping in. I always strived to live there the way some people might strive to live in London, indeed in the North of England it's the closest we will come to anything like London, as Leeds is always innovating and changing before our very eyes. There was an unfortunate period a few years ago where some bright spark decided to build a load of trendy flats which I am told, now lie mostly uninhabited now, but we've put that behind us and there is loads of regeneration work going in previously no-go areas like Holbeck and Meanwood, things are looking up. Of course, all of this is at the expense of Leeds' previously wealthier neighbour Bradford, but that's the way it goes, right?

Anyway, I decided to do a little tour of Leeds and take a couple of photos of some arty bits, though I might take a special trip in to take some more shots of the less obvious parts, the Leeds side streets that I slip down as Morrissey once sang.

Just behind the Carriageworks, is Leeds City Museum, great for kids and always something new going on there. There is also a little known about cafe which serves kids meals.
Leeds City Museum
It really reminds me of the industrial era, it's quite dark and menacing from the outside, but lovely and light on the inside, ultra modern really.

Great for shopping, though out of most people's price range, and used mostly for posing in Breton stripe t shirts, is Leeds' beautiful Victoria Quarter; an ornate shopping arcade which is decorated gloriously in what I call Belle Epoque but most probably isn't.
Leeds Victoria Quarter Shopping Arcade
Ha, there is even someone in this picture wearing a Breton stripe top!
I took a few more pictures just to show it for what it is.

Lovely glass ceiling
There is some amazing stained glass on the ceiling of the Victoria Quarter which I have never noticed before, but I took a picture as it looked amazing with the sun light streaming through...
Victoria Quarter Leeds Stained Glass
There are many many other lovely parts of Leeds, and not just in the city centre either, there are other vibrant areas like Chapel Allerton (home of the 20 something "professional"), Street Lane in Roundhay, Headingley and Meanwood, all almost like little towns in their own right.

And of course a post about Leeds wouldn't be complete without a mention of Leeds' favourite sons, The Kaiser Chiefs, who I have seen many times and have been lucky enough each time to have VIP tickets, it's not what you know, you know....

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Happy Anniversary, A Night Out and Chapeldown...

Yesterday was our six year wedding anniversary, I don't know where the time has gone.

I wasn't one of life's natural brides, I didn't particularly enjoy choosing a wedding dress and to be honest I'm not girly enough to relish all the bits and bobs that go alongside planning a wedding. We invited 120 people to our wedding as we both have big families and it was quite conventional although we didn't get married in a church as we don't attend regularly and I thought it would be hypocritical.

At the time I had only been living back in the UK for two years after living abroad for a while. I was still pretty out of it and had no sisters or many friends who had been married to refer to for advice. Though it was a great day, I would do it quite differently now, not so conventional and more relaxed, but at the time I was happy to follow the status quo (not the band).
Cake cutting
Apart from the ones taken by the official photographer, I hardly have any other photos since hardly anyone seemed to take any pictures. This was in the days before iPhones and the like but luckily my brother took as many as he could so we do have some. He also captured our first dance, thank you bro!



One thing that hasn't changed is my love of all things sparkly, and this includes champagne. I love this English Sparking wine (not strictly champagne), it's my fav (this isn't a sponsored post by the way!)
Chapel Down, I Love!
So last night we had a long awaited night out and a meal at a local restaurant, it was so lovely to get dressed up and go out for a change, amongst real live people and everything! I bought a new dress from Oasis which is absolutely gorgeous. No point going on a night out if you can't wear a new dress is there?!


Anyway, happy anniversary hubby! Chink chink!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Plus Size Summer Dresses!

When I first started writing this blog it was called Bargain Mummy Buys, the premise was that I was going to scour the internet looking for bargains to share with you on my blog. I quickly got tired of it, especially as it took ages and no-one seemed to have any money to buy anything anyway. But for me, that's one of the best things about the internet - shopping. For those who find it difficult to get out of the house, it's absolutely essential to be able to get good quality items online. Nothing beats the thrill of seeing the postman (or woman!) come trotting down the drive with a huge parcel. You can then try the item on in the comfort of your own home without having to brave a changing room with a screaming child. I used to fear sending stuff back that didn't fit, but actually it's really easy as most items have free returns and you just have to go to the post office and they sort it all out for you. Just remember to always keep proof of postage!
Anyway, back to bargain hunting! I love this time of year for sale shopping, especially this year as it's been quite dire weather wise so there are more bargains than usual. I've been having a look at shopping site Marisota to see what they've got on offer at the moment. Marisota is for women of size 12/14+ and have some really lovely flattering clothes. My particular favourite is this Mix and Match dress whichi s now £26. I also love the wrap dresses on the website as these are really flattering for curvaceous figures, buying dresses with slightly longer sleeves is also worth keeping in mind as well as they can see you through winter with some tights and long boots (and possibly a long cardigan).
Marisota Mix and Match Dress
I really love all the bright colours and bold prints at Marisota and definitely approve of the "next day delivery as standard", that is what all stores should do!  When you're a busy mum it's fab to wear a dress as they are so easy to wear and take no thought at all, just pop it on in the morning. I'm wearing a summer dress today and actually find it more comfortable than anything else. It also means less washing (everything of mine is now "one wear") as you are actually only wearing one item rather than 2/3! Summer dresses, everyone's a winner!

This is a sponsored post.


Friday, 27 July 2012

Hallmark Recordable Artwork Review!

As anyone who reads my twinkl blog will know, I'm making it my task this summer to really get my boys doing lots of creative outdoorsy arty sort of things, especially as my oldest son is about to start school and he could do with strengthening his wrists and hands a little to improve his fine motor skills.

With this in mind, it was a happy coincidence that Hallmark sent me their Recordable Artwork kit to review at home, since it is very arty indeed!

Hallmark Recordable Artwork
The idea is that your child uses the paint to create a masterpiece on the canvas, then together you record a story describing the painting and their reasoning and thinking behind it. When son 2 went for a nap (otherwise we would have two children fighting over it!) today, we set to work, only it wasn't work, it was lovely.

First of all, we did a little practice on another piece of paper, as I explained to my son that once the painting was done, it couldn't be undone, as this was canvas and very special. After a few practices, we decided on a Goldilocks and The Three Bears picture as he liked the idea of telling a proper story into the microphone. I sketched out a bear and then my son did the rest. To be honest he was more keen on just covering the canvas in paint rather than creating anything recognisable, still I didn't like to stifle his creativity and instruct him too much, so I just let him get on with it.
First attempt by my own little Picasso!
After several spilled water pots and a few arguments about what colours should be in a rainbow, we were ready to record the story to go along with the picture. It's really easy to do, you just hold down the record button and talk away. The only slight difficulty is getting the back off the battery area to set the button to "unlock" so you can record. But I bet most people wouldn't actually have to spend over an hour finding the right size screwdriver, they would have a good idea where they are kept!

Here is a short video so you can get an idea of the sound quality when it's played back. I think it's pretty good actually. During the recording my son chose that exact moment to spill the pot of paint...

video

The Recordable Artwork now has pride of place on our wall, I really like the idea of it keeping a record of my son's painting, his voice and his thoughts, something we can keep forever.

Priced at £12.99 Recordable Artwork is available from June 2012 in Hallmark stores and at www.Hallmark.co.uk.

A belated Thrifty Thursday, £3 JoJo beanies, BARGAIN Isabella Oliver Jeans and £5 Office shoes!

It occurred to me yesterday (actually it was pointed out to me!) that yet again I have failed to update my thrifty Thursday page. I can only apologise and tell you that it's down to my new job blogging and tweeting for www.twinkl.co.uk that is taking a lot of my time up at the moment!

Anyway, here are some great buys I've spotted this week.

Firstly I would like to give some credit to my lovely neighbour Jemma who noticed some bargain end of sale buys in JoJo recently. I really love these beanie hats which are now £3 (was £10)
JoJo MamanBebe Pansy Hat £3.
There are loads of other hats (boys ones too) but this one really caught my eye. I also think these red check baggies, also from JoJo, are really good value at £5.
Red Check Baggies £5

Onto other things, I've always been a fan of Isabella Oliver and have been waiting for their skinny jeans to go into the sale for ages. My waiting has finally come to fruition with a fab deal on some slate ones which are now £39 down from £99! There is a 10% off code for sale as well but you have to spend £49. Drat.
Isabella Oliver Skinny Jeans Slate
There are a few other good buys, but I'm only buying really wearable things at the moment and I'm not convinced that a lot of their stuff is everyday enough for me.

And finally, Office have a great sale on summer shoes for men, a lot of them are £5 down from £35+! What a bargain!

None of these links are paid, I just think they are great bargains!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Plus Size Women's Clothing Online!

Finally the weather has improved! I've found myself with an actual need to wear summer clothes, but I don't seem to have anything suitable. Since reaching my 33rd year, I finally know what my style is and what suits me. I no longer just buy stuff because I like it on the hanger, I only buy clothes that will actually suit me. This is mainly down to a time saving need but has actually stood me in good stead. I now have some rules (a bit like on Gok Wan!):
  • I don't buy anything in pale colours, it washes me out. Likewise, no black.
  • I have narrow shoulders so I buy boat neck/slash neck to give the  illusion of having a more in proportion body.
  • Flared skirts work well for me as I have wide hips. Avoid pencil skirt styles. 
  • No to skinny jeans.

As regularly readers of my blog will know, I'm a great lover of online shopping, and very keen to find out about cool websites.  I've seen the Simply Be Women's Wear adverts on TV and always wondered what it was, turns out it's a cool online shop for women of size 14+.  For women over a size 14, it can be a nightmare trying to get clothes in high street stores, so it's fab that there is such a cool and trendy shop online with some great lines. There are also wide fitting shoes which I didn't know about which are great for me, with my big clown feet. Simply Be is especially great after having a baby, when you might be carrying a little extra weight and don't have time to go into shops to treat yourself to something new, Simply Be would be a fab alternative to actual real life shopping and some of the designs are ideal for a post baby body, like this dress. 
Simply Be Maxi Dress
Set yourself up with a set of "rules" like mine, then it makes shopping much less stressful and time consuming so you don't have to trawl through racks and racks of clothes, or pages and pages on a website. I also try to buy things that will fit in well with what I already have to create a kind of "capsule" wardrobe. Or maybe you have your own rules already, what are they?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Finding a Job as a Mum

In an ideal world, everyone would have built up their career to an amazing level before having a baby so that they can easily afford a whole year off work, then go back well able to afford childcare on the salary they are on. Unfortunately this falls down in several ways. Firstly that if you are in a really well paid job that allows you to easily afford childcare then chances are your employer won't be best impressed with you taking two weeks off when your child has chicken pox, or the nursery rings you after they vomit. Your employer also won't want to hear that you haven't slept in over 14 months or see you cry sitting slumped at your desk. Not that this is reserved for well paid jobs, I suspect this covers all employment!

The other thing is that not everyone has planned things so minutely that they have actually got where they want to be in a job, or perhaps you are self employed and can only take 2 hours off after giving birth? Whichever way you look at it, working after you've had children is very very hard.
It must be even harder for those people who are made redundant, or need to find a new job when they have young children. There really are very few flexible options available, even so called child friendly jobs like teaching are becoming more and more difficult to function in if you have small children. I am lucky in that I have recently found two new part time jobs, but it wasn't easy and I had to do a lot of leg work to get there. There are quite a few useful websites you can use when looking for a new job, but as a working mum I like to have a browse at http://www.workingmums.co.uk every couple of days. I just tailor it to my local area and it tells me what suitable jobs there are, and they are all advertised with mums in mind. A lot of the jobs are either work from home or working flexibly.

It might be worth having a look at even if you are in a job as there are loads of useful opportunities on there and I'm also assuming that the companies that advertise their jobs on there are already thinking along the right lines by advertising on a "working mums" job site? I wish all employers were so forward thinking. I am more focused now than I've ever been and since having children I've so much more stamina and maturity.

Take a look at the site, let me know what you think and if you have any success?

This is a sponsored post.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Bargain Beauty Buys

In lieu of Thrifty Thursday, which I have to confess I completely forgot about last week, I thought I would bring you a selection of my favourite beauty buys today, and some ideas for money saving wherever possible.

I still think that this is one of the few areas where what you get is what you pay for, but there are some exceptions and bargains to be had.

My first bargain buy is something I recently discovered free with this months Marie Claire, it's an Avon Mascara, RRP £10, but the magazine costs something like £2.70 and the mascara itself is FAB, really thick, non smudgey and really lifts lashes.

Free Avon Mascara with Marie Claire
I normally shy away from buying magazines as there is hardly any editorial anymore, but I needed a mascara anyway so thought this would be a good idea. As predicted, the magazine was dire.

For quite a while now I've been a fan of Bare Minerals make up. When I first bought it I was sold the wrong shade foundation which was quite aging and looked plain silly. However I went back to store and got the pale-as-a-ghost shade also known as "fair" and am now completely in love with it. It is a little drying but lasts much longer than creamy foundations and has no line at the jaw. I use a bright pink cheek blush with it which gives the false illusion of healthiness. I also love their Pure Radiance powder for a subtle glow (though not so good on freckly skin). Having said that, I'm also a big fan of Origins pinch your cheeks blush, which is like a stain but lasts all day and looks really natural. However it's £13, though I buy it from Yorks Designer Outlet in one of the beauty shops for much cheaper. Speaking of the designer outlet, that's also a great place to get MAC products, mainly eyeshadow but also the elusive face and body foundation which can't be bought in concessions. If you like Clinique you can also get discounted moisturisers, cleansers and the like there.
Bare Minerals

Anyway, back to Bare Minerals. It's pretty pricey to be honest, but bargain mummy here has a special ebay store that I buy the foundation from for half the price! The packaging looks slightly different which I am putting down to it being from the US. It does the job though so I'm not asking too many questions (like why is it half the price of Bare Minerals in Debenhams?!). I also love Well Rested, a concealer also by Bare Minerals. It is since using this that people no longer comment on how tired I look, it saved me through my 14 months no sleep hell.
My last beauty bargain has to be the delightful TK Maxx, it's a great place for St Tropez fake tan and is much cheaper than Boots etc. There are also loads of "high end" shampoos and conditioners on offer. I recently bought some Louise Galvin shampoo and conditioner for £6.99 each down from £22 and it's divine.

What are your beauty bargains?!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

I love Scarborough..at the Sands Resort.

Some of my friends occasionally comment that I'm a bit of a snob. I like to think that rather than being a snob I just like nice things. I'm more of a champagne than beer drinker and only have a mild Yorkshire accent which leaves me open to suspicion in this part of the world.  To be honest, my roots are rather humble, I was brought up in Wakefield, went to a state school and did my A Levels at a local college. But my parents have always been far more cultivated than I am and I suppose some of it must have rubbed off on me! They both speak good French, have a great general knowledge, and are generally pretty brainy (which I put down to a 60s Grammar School education but there you go).  Where I went to school, it was cool to be thick, people thought it hilarious to skive off school, not work hard and not do well. It was such a shame as there was a great waste of potential.

Anyway, getting back to Scarborough...we are staying there this weekend. It's lovely, really lovely. We are staying at the amazing and gorgeous Sands resort in a huge apartment which is far nicer than my house, with a wrap around balcony and views of the bay.

The Sands Resort Scarborough
I must admit that Scarborough itself is rather low brow, but the weather is so lovely for once I don't care. And actually, all the things that used to fill me with horror (fairgrounds, amusement arcades) kids actually love! So everyone's happy, especially me enjoying a lovely Kir Royale, hic!

Happy holidays everyone and let's enjoy this lovely weather, it makes a nice change.xx

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Win! AVG Family Safety Software...

As your children get older and spend more and more time online, you might want to start thinking about their online safety, since being online is clearly going to play a large part of their lives.

I can remember back in 1995 when I first had access to the internet at home, getting emails from someone claiming to be some sort of priest and requesting my help with putting some funds in a bank account. I was totally taken in by the email and although I didn't actually help with "his" request, I did email back saying I was ever so sorry but I thought he must have got the wrong person. How naive.

Today most of us are pretty cybher savvy but even hard nosed techies like me make mistakes sometimes, only recently I clicked on a "you've got a virus" link which promptly gave my computer a virus!
I've also had phone calls from people claiming they know my computer has a virus and asking me to give them my credit card details so they can put the software on my computer to get rid of it. Even though this makes no logical sense, I must admit a part of me was convinced.

With all this mind, I've got two AVG Family Safety licence vouchers up for grabs (details on the website and below). Simply leave your contact details here (twitter handle is fine) and I will randomly choose two people to win.
AVG were one of the stall holders at the Cybher conference back in May, and seem to really know what they're talking about when it comes to online safety.



Competition closes 26th July.

AVG Family Safety®

Keep your family safe online.

  • Protect your children from unsuitable websites
  • Monitor their searches
  • Be notified of cyber bullying and grooming

Saturday, 14 July 2012

I have the biggest feet in the world..

Ok, so hands up if you have large feet, I mean, really big, like humongous. Hands up again if you are a size 8 nearly a 9 (all my cousins I know your hands are up). My name is Heather and I suffer from big feet problems. There is something very unfeminine about a woman with size 9 feet. I'm not even mega tall either, about 5ft 8 (ok 7) which isn't massive is it? In fact when my feet aren't actually on the ground they don't look too big, it's when they are pressed down that they spread to the far flung corners of the earth.

I also have really skinny ankles which might sound good but they actually make my feet look even bigger by contrast! Since having two children my feet are even more unsightly (see here). Oh the shame.

Buying shoes has always been a problem for me, I find it a singular activity, a sort of conspiracy between me and the sales assistant. They take one look at my feet and instinctively know that I want to be left alone to shoehorn the tiny dainty shoe on my feet without spectators. In the end I usually end up going to Next or M&S and looking in their old lady extra wide range.

I've googled this extensively and the only online shop I can see is http://www.duoboots.com/ who specialise in wide fitting shoes and even show you how to measure your canoes on their website.
What I'm generally looking for in a summer shoe is something open toe (to prevent rubbing) with a slight heel and a structured look, nothing floppy. However if the shoe is too inflexible that also makes them uncomfortable.  It also has to be something I can run in (not for fun, to catch suicidal lemming toddlers).

So I've had a look at Duo who currently have a sale on which makes their shoes very reasonably priced.

My two favourites are the Delta and the Leila shoe. I'm not saying they are really glamourous but they are definitely something I could wear every day. The Delta is now £50 and the Leila is now £45.

Duo Black Delta Shoe

Duo Navy Delta Shoe
I'm pretty excited about ordering from this site as I'm at my wits end with the current selection in the high street stores. Sometimes I look at other women in stomach churning toe pinching shoes and just wonder, how and why?

Although I do love Duo shoes and will be ordering some, this is in fact a sponsored post. 

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Thrifty Thursday, bargain Reiss breton top, Joules gilet bargains and Jojo £10 towel robes!

This weeks Thrifty Thursday is going to be incredibly easy to write since most of the sales are in full swing and there are some really good deals at the mo!

I'm going to start with Reiss as they have a lovely bracelet and a breton top that I love and is also very wearable (and by that I mean would you actually wear it regularly). Let's start with the bracelet which is £19 in the sale, which might sound a lot, but it really is very lovely, plus everyone knows Reiss is over priced. They've also got some lovely belts that would look great with one of my lovely H&M pinafore dresses (I blogged about these here)
Reiss Edith Leather Charm Bracelet £19
I'm a bit of a fan of breton tops this summer as they go well with chinos and jeans (which considering the weather I have mainly been wearing). As I mentioned, Reiss have a couple of nice breton tops in the sale, but this is my fav. There is free delivery and returns at the moment.

Reiss Nellie Breton Top - £41
The next sale I like at the moment is Joules, I know it's for rah rah horsey fleece wearing types, but to be fair they do have some nice kids and mens stuff. The womens stuff is a little old fashioned/oxbridge/not edgy enough for me though I do have a few bits and bobs for when I am pretending to be out doorsy. I like this boys gilet which is £19.95 though there is a 20% off sale code floating around somewhere too which makes this about £16. There is actually a similar mens gilet for £39 which is lovely, might be worth buying now in preparation for the forthcoming rain!
Joules boys gilet - £19.95 with an extra 20% off at the mo.
The mens stuff is pretty cool and great for thirty somethings, I picked this top out for my husband, was £54.95.
Sebastian Polo Shirt Joules, £29.95
In the sale I find it bizarre that there are wellies still costing over £40! I'm not the welly type, but if I was I would get some nice flowery ones for £10 from the local garden centre.

With all the thanking that will need to be done at the end of the school year, I love these bargain teacher thank you cards for just 85p.

Honey Apple thank you cards
I've been waiting for ages for these JoJo towel robes to go into the sale, now £10. They are perfect for shivery children at the swimming pool or on the beach.

JoJo towel robes £10.
 I received no incentive to write any of this, it's just what I think! I'm sorry for not putting on any links but apparently google frown on it so I have stopped doing it!

That's all for now, have you seen any fashion bargains in the sales?

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Mummy and Daddy Time

It's come to my attention that every relationship needs a little nurture to make it work. I confess that recently I've been very preoccupied with writing my blog, my freelance writing and now my new job writing the blog for Twinkl, that I've barely spoken to my hubby of late. When we do speak it's to discuss factual things like who is going supermarket shopping, the timetable for the boys, that sort of thing.  When you've been married a long time it can become easy to take your partner for granted and just think they will always be there for you. In an ideal world, this would happen naturally, but in reality, as my hairdresser said the other day, your most significant relationship is the most difficult thing to get right.

We are very lucky in that we have never ever had any jealousy in our relationship. I couldn't be with someone who made me doubt them and have never subscribed to the whole, "you need some mystique" thing. How can there be mystique anyway when your other half has seen you give birth?! No, for me, a tempestuous relationship like that would never work, I would find it exhausting and impossible to focus on other things, you know, like living.

We've also never been the type of couple who go out separately, as I've always seen that as a route to the road of ruin. What's the point in being married if you are just going to do your own thing all the time? I'm not prepared to sit at home on my home while hubby has a "pass out" (don't you just hate that expression, says it all really doesn't it, that the person with the "pass out" doesn't see the relationship or the children as their actual responsibility).  Anyway, if either of us went out without the other it just wouldn't feel right, my parents have never done it and to me that's a childish way to have a relationship (I'm talking about nights out, not going out of the house in general!).

So tonight we are having date night, it's been a while since we last spent some real time together, but we are going for a meal and some drinks at a lovely local restaurant, even though we are both shattered, it's important to make this time so we don't forget why we love each other so much.

Do you have date night?

Friday, 6 July 2012

Sponsored Video – Domestos and Unicef Join Forces

Yesterday we got a massive water bill - £370. I don’t know what’s gone wrong, I’m hoping it’s a faulty metre rather than a massive internal leak somewhere that we are as yet unware of. Having said that, I am acutely aware of how lucky we are having immediate access to clean water and knowing that we will not catch a deadly disease due to a lack of sanitation. Not everyone in the world is as lucky as us, in fact according to the Domestos for UNICEF partnership an estimated 2.5 billion people across the world do not have access to sanitation.

Domestos and UNICEF are working together on the CATS programme (Community Approaches to Total Sanitisation)which is a behaviour change programme that promotes good hygiene practices and helps people understand how the sanitisation crisis across the world impacts on disease transmission. To find out more about the partnership, click here .

You can get involved by:
• adding badge to your twitter and facebook, you can find the badges here.
• You can show your support on twibbon.
• You can tweet with the hash tag #domestos4unicef.
• Buying specially marked bottles of Domestos (who will donate 5% to the campaign).


This is a sponsored post.

Renewable energy at home: ways to make it work...

For a busy mum, making the change to a renewable energy source can seem like a formidable task, especially if you’re not quite sure how to go about doing it. However, green energy can help save the environment and could also save you money!. If you’re ready to make the leap to green energy, here are some good ways to go about doing it:

Solar panels. This is the most well-known green way to power a home. Solar panels “catch” energy from light and then convert it to electricity that you can use for your home. While solar panels are expensive to purchase, the first two decades of use in the home offset the costs. After that, you can enjoy free electricity for the duration of your time in the home. Because of this, it may not be wise to install solar panels if you are considering upgrading to a bigger home within the next few years. But for homeowners already in their dream homes, this is a viable way to go green.

Wind turbines. The technology for at-home wind turbines is not as developed as solar panels, but it can be a less expensive way to generate energy in windy areas. You can have a pole-mounted turbine or a building-mounted one, depending on the space you have and the amount of money you want to spend. While turbines are less likely to provide all of the energy that you will need, they work well as a part of a multi-source energy scheme.

Green energy companies. This is by far the easiest way to begin using green energy at home. There are companies that provide renewable energy in the UK such as Good Energy, that work much in the same way that regular energy companies do. The only difference is that they get their electricity from clean, renewable sources such as wind power. You can start using green energy right away with a simple phone call or email saying that you want to make the switch.

Energy-saving methods. Using no energy is even better than using renewable energy, but it’s not practical at all times. In summer try to dry your clothes outside rather than using the tumble dryer for example. Deciding which of these methods will work best for your home and family will depend on the amount of space you have, the amount of time you can commit to going green, and your green energy budget. But once you make the switch, you’ll be happy to have done it.

Anyone else have any ideas of how to be green AND save money at the same time?

This is a sponsored post for which I was paid.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Thrifty Thursday £7 Warehouse Dress and Discount Bare Minerals Make-up!

I bobbed into our local town this morning, ostensibly to get my eyes checked as I am suffering woefully with hayfever, but I couldn't resist sticking my head in Warehouse (the sales assistant knows my name and life story) and saw this little beauty for £7! It has a zip all the way down the back and is very clingy and figure hugging. It will look great with some leggings and boots in winter and with some sort of heeled wedge sandal thing in summer.  To be honest the stripes are in the wrong place so the black bits are on my thin bits and the pink bits on my fat bits but hopefully I can get away with it. 

That's right, this was £7!
I also needed some more Bare Minerals Well Rested stuff (since using this as a concealer people no longer comment on how tired I look) and found some on ebay for £15.95 which might sound expensive, but it's cheaper than the shops and means I don't have to go to the effort of going into Leeds to buy it. 
Bare Minerals Well Rested
I also spotted this lovely shirt in Miss Selfridge the other day, I nearly bought at full price so was pretty pleased to see this reduced from £32 to £17 today! Do you remember when everyone used to call Miss Selfridge "Miss Selfridges" with an s on the end as if it was dead posh? When I was a youth growing up in Wakefield Miss Selfridge was the height of sophistication. I don't shop there anymore but to be honest I think the quality is similar to Warehouse/Oasis anyway and it's a bit cheaper.

Miss Selfridge Double Layer Top, £17 bargain!


That's all for now, busy busy busy!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Tommys and BuggyFit!

A few years ago, I was having a few problems with this and that, and a charity I'm sure you all know well - Tommy's, really helped me out. Because of this, I've decided to feature this post about some of their fundraising events in an attempt to "do my bit".

Baby Races!
A run with a twist and far more exciting than your average stroll in the park.Tommy’s Baby Races gives families, friends and even your little ones the chance to actively help Tommy’s give more babies the best start in life.



Organized in partnership with the pre and post- natal fitness experts, Buggyfit, the Baby Races are a series of 8K events to run or power walk with your baby in the buggy. Now in its third year, the Tommy’s Baby Races will be taking place in even more UK locations from 1st to 22nd July. Locations include London, Aylesbury,
Windsor, Cheltenham, Ruislip, Bedford, Northwich and Cambridge. Races will also be held in Cardiff and Glasgow in September.

Along with babies and buggies, hundreds of like-minded mums and dads – or other relatives who want to take part – can power walk or run the 8k courses. The routes all follow paths perfect for buggies in beautiful parks and each event begins with an aerobic warm-up, led by Buggyfit’s qualified instructors.




Upon crossing the finish-line, each participant will be awarded a fun-packed goodie-bag which includes goodies from sponsors - Cow & Gate, Forever Friends and Jump - as well as other leading brands. With children’s entertainers to keep little ones happy, the event is something the whole family can enjoy. Prizes for top fundraisers include a term’s swimming lessons from Water Babies, a Mountain Buggy Terrain, and a week’s stay at Clydey Cottages from Baby Friendly Boltholes, plus first past the finish line with a buggy at each race will win a Buggysnuggle.

Tommy’s asks each participant to try and raise £50 sponsorship – enough to pay for one of its midwives to speak to and help up to 20 worried parents. If 200 runners were to raise this, the £10,000 raised would be enough to pay for a research assistant on one of the charity’s vital research projects. Tommy’s is a national charity, funding much-needed medical research into pregnancy complications – such as stillbirth, miscarriage, and premature birth – and provides free information for all parents-to-be on pregnancy health. Tommy’s PregnancyLine is a free telephone helpline staffed by midwives that anyone can call Monday-Friday, for anyone needing emotional counselling support after the loss of a baby or a pregnancy complication.

Registering for the Baby Race couldn’t be easier: just visit www.tommys.org/babyrace for more details and locations.  Entry costs £14.50, which includes your T-shirt, goodie-bag and training plan. Once registered, participants will be directed to set up a fundraising page which can be sent on to family and friends to raise
sponsorship money.

A great cause and a great day out, sound good?

Monday, 2 July 2012

I heart Yurtshire!

You would be hard pushed to find two people less suited to staying in the countryside than my husband and I. We both suffer from chronic hayfever and allergies, we have no suitable footwear, we do not own fleeces and are averse to Hunter wellies. However, this weekend, stay in the country we did. 

Welcome!

Don't you worry though, we didn't slum it. In fact quite the reverse, we glamped! Glamping is the new camping apparently. In this case we stayed in a lovely "yurt" courtesy of Tom from Yurtshire who let us stay in one of his beautiful yurts for the night.

And....relax....
However, despite the luxury of our surroundings, we were no natural campers. However I can report that when my husband drove off in search of a shop that sold a lighter (to light the fire), I managed single handedly to light the fire pit and the BBQ in less than five minutes (he claimed the matches he used were "wet). We both had a go at chopping wood, I was hopeless at it, the axe getting stuck in the bloomin' wood. I was nervous about swinging the axe too hard and too high in case I chopped my toes off. We also learned that you must not chop wood when wearing sandals or tiny pieces of wood can become lodged in your toenail and it really hurts. Really.

Manly chopping

The setting of the yurts was stunning, off a country lane in the idyllic village of Markington in North Yorkshire, there were three yurts in a field with a surprisingly lovely compost toilet (I never thought I would say those words together), an outdoor shower, a hot tub and some friendly swans swimming on a large pond. 

Hello!

The hot tub worked by putting wood (more chopping) into a burner (very scientific description coming up) and lighting a fire which in turn heated the  bath water.  We all tried it out and although it was a chilly evening (in June!), we were perfectly warm inside the bath, getting out was another story, but it was only a hop, skip and a jump back to the cosy yurt.  There was also an amazingly warm outdoor shower with shelves for your shampoo etc made of wood nailed to a tree, very good idea. There is something very natural and lovely about showering and bathing outdoors which I am no stranger to, having lived in Japan in my youth. Back then I thought nothing of searching for outdoor hot springs and bathing in them, there is nothing better for calming frayed nerves.

Wood fired hot tub - it worked really well!

Outdoor shower! Note the handy shelf!
Inside the yurt itself there was an amazingly comfortable and luxurious double bed together with a double futon and single futon which converted into beds for the children. It was festooned with sheepskin rugs and cushions to give it a really cosy romantic feel. There was also a cooking area with hobs, cutlery and plates so you don't need to bring the kitchen sink and you feel that you are staying in something civilised.





I have learned a lot about what to bring (and what not to) when glamping, here is my list for next time:
1. Bring socks.
2. Bring matches.
3. Do not bring a light floaty dress.
4. Bring an umbrella. 
5. Do not bring a bag of salad, you will never ever eat it. 
6. If you bring stuff for the BBQ, actually watch it and do not let it become incinerated.
7. Bring baked potatoes but do not put them in the centre of the fire, this will cremate them and you will be hungry and cry.
8. Bring lots of chocolate. 
9. Bring wine.
10. Bring a bottle opener.

You can tell from this list that we are inexperienced and naive campers, come 10pm and I was crying out for a cuppa soup. However when we got into bed the effect was magical, there was a burner in the centre of the yurt which you can light (we didn't as  I was worried about little hands finding their way onto it!) in case it gets chilly, but actually with four of us in the yurt we were warm enough, especially beneath the cosy duvets.  There are lanterns with tea lights which are fastened to the edge of the yurt all the way round the inside which was a nice touch. When we finally switched the light off we could hear owls twit-twoing and the odd cry from bats circling above. 

The boys absolutely loved staying there and to them it was an amazing adventure, however I wish we had an iPad or something to distract them while we were cooking and lighting the fires as it was quite hard to stop them wanting to join in! We ran round the field looking at the different plants and animals and watching the swans sleeping, for urbanites like us it was a completely new experience, but allowed us to keep some of our home comforts. 

Back to nature

I really recommend Yurtshire for families, couples, groups of friends, anyone really! I can't think of anyone they wouldn't appeal to. In some ways I think I would rather go with just my husband as it was quite a romantic setting but then I wouldn't want to deprive our sons of the experience of  glamping. We will definitely be going glamping again soon, I just wish we had stayed longer!

Champers, wood and a fire, what's not to like?

I received no payment to write this post however I did stay in a yurt for the night free of charge with my family.


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