Thursday, 28 November 2013

Party Time With F&F!

I'm not very good at buying clothes for the boys. It's not all my fault though, there simply don't seem to be that many nice clothes for boys, not the same way there are for girls anyway. I've come to the realisation that the best thing to do is simply dress the boys like their dad, then at least I can apply the same styling rule to three people. Because I'm so clueless, I was pretty excited to be gifted a voucher by F&F to buy some lovely kids party wear for the boys for Christmas. Luckily, we've already had an opportunity for the boys to showcase their lovely new clothes as they went to a Christening on Sunday.

Borg Fleece Lined Jumper from F&F from £12

Borg Fleece Lined Jumper from F&F from £12

Borg Fleece Lined Jumper from F&F from £12
 with F&F Canvas Chinos from £8
 As you can see it wasn't easy to get the boys to keep still during the photography session! However, I've already washed the clothing once and it didn't need ironing at all, which is a definite plus! The trousers are comfy as well as nice and thick for winter. The jumper is really really soft and warm, I've been looking for something like this for a while and I'm really impressed with the overall quality, it should last for ages.

Son 2 also had some lovely partywear, starting with the F&F Signature Twisted Seam Chinos from £14. Again, these have already been washed and didn't need ironing, because they are turned up I think they will last for quite a while, and as with all the trousers for kids, the waist has an elasticated button section so you can slacken and tighten as the child grows.
F&F Signature Seamed Chinos

Striped Raglan T shirt from F&F along with a Grey Cardigan.

If you look closely, you can see the missing front tooth, a long story.
I've never bought anything online from F&F before but I thought the website was really easy to use and I like the fact that there wasn't a ridiculous amount of clothing to choose from which in my opinion is a good thing as it makes it quicker.

All in all, I'm really impressed with the clothing, the quality and the price too. I think we will be buying quite a lot of the boys clothes from F&F in the future due to the quality, easy of ordering and the really good value.

I was gifted a voucher by F&F to buy the boys some party clothes, but all thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Review - Aldi Champagne BARGAIN!

 It's no secret that I love a lot little bit of bubbly. Over the years I've dipped in and out of all sorts of different types of bubbly; cava, prosecco and lots and lots of different brands of champagne. In fact, I love champagne so much that we've been there twice, last year for a week long holiday (see my post about holidaying in Champagne). I've traipsed round Moet, Veuve, Dom Perignon, the lot. I've tasted big brands and small boutique "maisons". One of my favourite brands of champagne up until now is the boutique brand, Tribault. This "maison" is farmed on the same fields as Dom Perignon and apparently tastes very similar, it's also worth noting that Tribaut is around £10 a bottle. Understandably we stocked up.

So it's pretty obvious, I'm keen to try lots of different types of champagne, and it isn't always the case that most expensive is best. Most people would say they like Moet and Chandon, but to me it has quite a sour taste and is not one of my favourites at all. I've heard on the grapevine that Aldi has some lovely champagne which is priced at £11.99 a bottle, total bargain, though I was lucky enough to be sent some by Aldi for the purposes of this review, happy days! At this price it's perfect for a Christmas present or buy a couple of bottles in just to "have", there doesn't always need to be a special occasion for Champers

The champagne was totally lovely. It was light and fresh and I thought stacked up well against far more expensive brands. We had it with food but I can't see why it wouldn't work at any occasion! I actually think it would be great for a party as you could buy a case of it and at £11.99 a go it would be fab value.  

Did you also know? "Already this year, Aldi’s beers, wines and spirits range has received 82 accolades from internationally recognised competitions, including 33 awards at the International Wine Challenge 2013, 20 awards at the International Wine and Spirits Competition 2013 and 10 awards at the International Spirits Challenge 2013."

After doing my weekly shop at Aldi I was really impressed how many brands there were and how much cheaper it was than going to the other supermarkets. I was worried that the meat and fresh sections wouldn't be up to scratch, but actually I thought they were great. It's definitely worth a try, if only for this amazing value and delicious champers!


Yummy Aldi Champagne

This champagne was gifted to me by Aldi for the purposes of this review, but all thoughts are my own.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Review, Hunter Wellies!

Since moving to the "countryside" about six years ago, I noticed quite a large amount of mud. It's everywhere, I think it's because it rains so much here on the hills of Yorkshire, it kind of drives me mad. Every time we enter our house there's a huge influx of mud that seems to come with us. The boys are well used to wearing wellies everywhere we go, especially in winter. We sort of, hose them off after every outing, all part of a good day out! Anyway, where I'm going with this is that up until now, I have refused to join the welly brigade. Yes I would far rather spoil a perfectly good pair of boots and hop around avoiding puddles, it never works.

So, for my birthday, hubby bought me a pair of wellies. They were from Joules, but to be honest, they did nothing for me. I already have sized 8/9 feet and the wellies he bought me had vertical stripes on, it wasn't a good look, so back they went. Therefore I was pretty happy to be sent this pair of AWESOME Hunter wellies from Cloggs the other day. I've been waiting for an opportunity to wear them, and it happened today on a short trip to Ilkley - a very muddy place. I wore some Joules welly socks with them, and I never thought I would say this, but my wellies were amazing! Really comfortable, really warm, no rubbing at all even though they are new. Who would have thought it?!

So now I'm a complete convert to Hunters, I don't think I would ever buy another brand of wellies now, not that I intend to buy them very often, if ever.
Here they are, in all their glory. You have to agree with me that they are gorgous. The colour is really
vibrant, I think it's been captured well in this photo.

Pink Hunter Wellies, awesome.

Awesome, gotta love those welly socks too.
Are you a welly wearer? What do you think of them? Girlify them up and you'll be surprised how glamorous they can look, honest!

These items were gifted to me for the purpose of this review, but all thoughts are my own.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Will you be taking a short break in 2014?

 For the last few months, we've been arguing talking about where to go on holiday next year. As for every parent with young children, holidays aren't always the relaxing stress free breaks that you see on the adverts. Last summer we made the brave move of going away for a fortnight, to France, just the four of us. The first week was fun, the second was trying. For us, the main problem was the fact that the boys aren't very good at going to sleep in places that are unfamiliar to them, so we end up going up and down stairs all night long trying to get them off to sleep.

Holiday picnic fun!

So this year, we are saving our money (for ourselves, obviously) and have decided to holiday in the UK. Yes, the weather can be unpredictable, but that's why it's worth considering a break at a "fun" style holiday park where everything is laid on and you don't have to THINK. As I've learned, there's almost no point in trying to get the children to sleep at a reasonable time, as they don't seem to want to co-operate. So you may as well go out in the evenings and just "go with it".

I remember as a child, being extremely jealous of anyone who was going on a Butlin's holiday, as it sounded like amazing fun. I know for a fact that my children would have a great time and enjoy the swimming pool, the clubs, activities and general atmosphere. I'm starting to think that stress free UK holidays are the way forwards - what's the point in working hard all year for two weeks of stress stuck in the car the whole time.

If that sounds like your idea of a good way to spend your holiday time as a family, the Butlins 2014 UK holiday breaks are available now.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Christmas come early...

Was I the only one to notice all the Christmas adverts on TV during the adverts in X factor last night? John Lewis and the like unashamedly advising us to spend our money in order to make Christmas a really special time? I can't have been the only person who felt a tad cynical, thinking about all the people who will actually find it very tough to buy presents this year, and for whom it must seem even tougher when faced with adverts like that. The only advert that resonated with me was the Asda one, not trying to sell people stuff they don't need. Just telling us that their prices for the things we do actually need are lower than their competitors. Enough said. Having said all that, my children completely love Christmas and are already 100% on countdown. I keep telling them it's only 20 days until Advent but they keep thinking there are only 20 days until Christmas. Whoops.

I remember before we had children I always thought I would make Christmas completely about the true meaning rather than just make it about presents (aka plastic tat). However when faced with the day to day pressures of parenting, I hope I am not alone in insisting there are "Santa cams" scattered around, Santa is on speed dial (8) on my phone, etc etc.

Anyway, in an effort to buy into it all, I wanted something a bit different for their advent calendars this year. Son 2 is soon to undergo a general anasthetic to have his front tooth out (he fell over and smashed it) so I thought it might be rather counter productive to give him lots of chocolate and sweets. I was pretty pleased then to spot some awesome Lego and Playmobil advent calendars where it seems that the whole point is to get enough pieces each day to eventually build something at the end of it. No sweets or chocolate, but hopefully lots of learning and fun times together too.

Here my boys are with their booty! They are now counting down to when they can start counting down, if you know what I mean.
Playmobil Advent Calendar for Son 2

Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar for Son 1!

The lego is available at Argos online here and it's pretty reasonable priced there compared to elsewhere. I'm actually starting to look forward to Christmas a bit more (see an older post about why I hate Christmas) as I'm looking forward to seeing what is in the Lego and Playmobil advent calendars. Happy days!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Time for a new bag?

Ok so although I'm going to be moaning a lot about what a waste of money Christmas presents are in the next few weeks, and ways to save money on them, that doesn't mean I'm not thinking about what I want for my own presents! I'm starting to wonder whether it might be time for me to have a new bag, though if it's a great offer that will of course be a bonus. I like these Kipling bags, in particular this one, it looks really practical for when I'm on "Mummy duties" and other times too (though not sure when those times are). This one looks great as it zips up, goes across the body and is also pretty cool looking. It goes without saying that these bags are currently on sale.
Kipling bag, £49.50
 For something a bit more formal, perhaps for the one Christmas party I've got lined up, I like these Visconti bags especially as they have lots of laptop bags, which is something I also need.

Visconti Bag £59.99
This might be something that I could get for my mum, great quality, really practical and looks great too.  Aside from that, something I really really want just generally are some Ash shoe boots. Baukjen had some on offer a few weeks ago, but they are beige and everyone knows that beige shoes get ruined fast.

What do you want for Christmas this year? Or is it just a great big giant rip off?

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Weekend Money Saving Pledge...

I don't know about you, but for us, the most expensive part of the week is definitely the weekend. Lunches out, shopping, miscellaneous/pointless trips to TK Maxx and Laura Ashley to stock up on rubbish essentials. Not only is it tiring work, it's for the most part pretty pointless. I never sit on a Sunday evening and think, "I'm so glad I wasted spent £95 in B&M Bargains today, I really needed those giant angry birds for the boys bedrooms, where would we be without them?". No, instead I think, "why oh why did we even set foot inside that retail park? The boys hated it, it tired us out, we gained nothing from it as a family, it ate away at our weekend and we bought things we didn't even need. Or possibly want. Did I really need to spend £10 on something that makes my hair into a bun shape? The answer is no." (Speaking of those bun shape things, did you know you can make them really easily out of old socks? Yes, true!)

So this is my advice. One weekend a month, don't spend anything. Yes, that's right. Leave your wallet at home. Go for walks in your local area, play in the park, cook food from your freezer and cupboards that have been there for ages. Make models from stuff in the recycling - like this (from Arty Tots)

Yes, a dolls house made out of milk cartons!
You too can be the proud owner of this awesome dolls house! The thing about staying home and stopping with the splashing of the cash - it actually feels good as a family. You spend time together rather than walking round shops shouting and chasing 2 year olds about. You don't have to worry about your child's behaviour in restaurants, you go back to basics (as John Major would say) and you know what, it's actually pretty cool. Don't sweat the small stuff. One weekend a month make a pledge to spend no money at all, on anything. Stay home, work in the garden, pick up acorns and conkers. Make collages and home made play dough. Make mud pies in the garden and forget about stuff.

Buying stuff won't make you happy, believe me, I've tried.

Can you do it?

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Save money - be a funny shape?!

I was chatting to a work colleague today (not in person you understand, does anyone do that anymore?) about money saving and asking for her tips As she is ten years younger than me I wondered if she might have a different take on things and some ideas I hadn't thought of before - and she did! "Be a funny shape", she said, "like me, I have no hips so I get the small jean sizes no-one else can fit into, so I snap them up in the sale."

Hmm, it got me thinking. I'm a size ten top and bottom so I thought - well I won't be able to take advantage of that. How wrong I was! If you think about it, there is probably something about you that isn't, how shall I say it, regular? So for me, it's my feet - I'm near enough a size 9 now, which is pretty huge for a woman. That means I can snap up whatever I want in the sales as no-one else wants that size, bonza! 

What do you think? Have you picked up any irregular sized bargains?! 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Save £100 a month with my Sunday money saving tips...

So on Friday I found out some amazing news, I am a finalist for Savoo's UK's Smartest Shopper! How cool is that?! So this weekend I will be going down to London along with nine other finalists for my "interview"! So excited as the prize is a cool £10k. Since we are about 10k short of the house of our dreams, that would come in very nicely thank you very much indeed.

So since this blog was mainly created to share as many good deals as possible, and I seem to be more fixated more recently with spending money, rather than saving it (owing largely to a change in our financial circumstances), it only seems right that I share a few of my money saving tips that I've picked up over the years....

1) One thing I've learned is that companies make a lot of money from "lazy" people. What I mean is, people who just carry on letting those lovely direct debits go flowing out of their accounts each month. Check your balance regularly, check your direct debits. Are they all correct? Are any higher than you thought? Check them out, make that call, do it today!

2) After you've checked your direct debits make a list of the things you think you can either do without or make cheaper. I noticed our Sky bill was around £90 a month which is frankly, ridiculous. So I rang them. I said it was too high and we couldn't afford it. The lovely lady on the other end immediately gave me 20% off for six months and free fibre broadband too. The cost? Only the time taken to make that call. We saved around £20 a month just by making that call.

3) Look at your car insurance. Don't just let your new premium begin without checking out what else is out there. Make calls, look online, compare. You'll most probably save around  £60 at least just by shopping around!

4) Ring your energy company, or have an online chat with them like I did! If you can't be bothered to swap (which Dave Cameron tells us we should) then just give them a call and ask for their best deal. Easy peasy and you ALWAYS get a better price. We were paying £146 a month for gas and electricity and now we are paying much less!

5) This is one from my friend Dan. Need new tyres, find them expensive? Don't take your car to Kwikfit whatever you do. Google "cheap tyres" and you'll see there are loads of companies that you book through to get cheaper tyres, you just choose the garage closest to you on their website and book it a few days in advance. As always, being organised and booking things in advance saves loads of money. I think our tyres were about £25 cheaper each doing it this way, and we got the tracking done (the curse of Ford) much cheaper this way too!

So that's it for today, with these tips I reckon you can save at least £100 a month! Make that call, don't accept the price you are given, always say "it's over my budget" and you'll be surprised what companies can offer you.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Top Ten Toys for Little Princesses this Christmas

Unless you’re incredibly organised, building a Christmas list that is suitable for your child (without going overboard and spending frivolously on things she doesn’t need) can be extremely difficult. It’s so easy to get carried away when you’re shopping for toys and games – the marketing strategies clearly work in most cases!
When it comes to little princesses, there’s a whole manner of options to add to her Santa sack that would make her day extra magical – but the cost to you may not be quite so enchanting! If you write your shopping list in advance and keep a record of what you’ve spent, you will have more chance of sticking to a reasonable budget. Spread the cost over the next couple of months and your bank balance will thank you. Here are ten top ideas to make a little girl’s dreams come true.
1.       Little People Princess Songs Palace is a perfect choice for little hands that are just learning to handle figures and playsets. With pieces big enough to play with without being a choking hazard, these fabulous Song Palaces are available from Fisher-price.
2.       Princess Dress-up Outfits are bound to be a winner with little girls who love to immerse themselves in the world of fantasy.
3.       A Doll’s House will last them for many years to come, giving them hours of play independently, with you and with friends. Furniture and figures would make perfect stocking fillers, too. Whether you go for a modern house or a traditional wooden house, your little doll is sure to be delighted.
4.       Pretend Play Stocking Fillers are perfect, budget-friendly additions to her stocking. From pretend lipsticks and hairdryers to bracelets and princess crowns, you can find all manner of things in the shops that won’t break the bank.
5.       Dolls. You can’t go wrong with dolls! Give her hours of fun making up scenarios and enjoying her own company.
6.       Sticker Books may not be classed as “toys” but they are fabulous, affordable gift ideas which teach children dexterity and fine motor skills. A princess themed sticker book would be perfect!
7.       A New Bike would be ideal as a ‘big’ present, even though our winter weather can’t always guarantee suitability to ride it. Choose one with girly details like a basket or streamers.
8.       Minnie Mouse Bowtique continues to be a hugely successful range of toys that coincide with the hit television show. Choose from a “bee-u-ti-ful” myriad of figures, playsets, bathtime fun and cuddly toys!
9.       Dora the Explorer’s Backpack will be a hit with any Dora fan in your home. With everything a little explorer needs stashed away inside it, she can feel like Dora herself!
10.   Role Play toys that will give her the chance to be just like you would be a great idea. A toy washing machine, ironing board or dustpan and brush, for example, will make her feel like a grown-up while also keeping her entertained. Or perhaps she’d prefer a tool set, play kitchen or doctor’s case? Anything that gets that imagination sparking is ideal.
Make Christmas truly special for your little princess by treating her to a selection of fabulous toys that will keep her occupied for hours on end.  


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...