7 money saving secrets for your Winter break

Friday, 12 October 2018

With Summer now officially behind us and the holiday season fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to look at getting some Winter sun and enjoy some quality time with loved ones. 

To help you save money for you and your family, Vanquis Bank have given us some exclusive tips you can use when arranging your Winter break! 

Check out the best deals online  
Before booking your Winter break, makes rue that you are getting the best deal possible for yourself. There are many great comparison websites, which can help you save money and get a great deal. 

Clear your browser cache and cookies 

When planning a holiday, most people look up the price of a flight on comparison websites or airline sites several times before they make a booking.
Then when they finally click through to check out, they may notice the price has risen.
“Airlines and booking sites can record your browser history by installing cookies on browsers, meaning they can compare their price with what you have viewed previously and bump up the price as they see fit,” the Revolut team explained.
To avoid this, clear your browser cache and cookies and turn on private browsing before you go window shopping on airlines or booking sites, they advised.

Consider taking an indirect flight

If you don’t mind hanging around for a few hours, and entertain the kids  (we suggest packing books, I-pads and other things to keep the family entertained)– you can make a great saving. In addition to saving money, you can even see the stop over as a bonus because you get to see another place.

Pack lots of snacks

Pre pack some healthy snacks for the family before you head off. 
This not only helps you to save money at airport lounges, but when you get to your destination too. Knowing you have some healthy snacks to hand can also help you to avoid any potential grumpiness whilst travelling as well! 

Eat in at least once a day

Many restaurants offer lunch specials where items on the dinner menu are offered for a fraction of the cost you’d pay for the same meal in the evening. If you can, pop to a local supermarket and stock up on food items for your room, you’ll save a lot of money and time that you can use to sight see or relax! 


If you're going down the hotel route, always check for special family deals, from discounted rates to free meals for children; many international chains offer these. Most hotels and guesthouses provide breakfast, but unless it's included in the room rate, it's often a waste of money for children, particularly if they only eat a piece of bread or a bowl of cereal. If breakfast isn't included, try asking for 'complimentary' ones for the children. 

Buy excursions online before you head off

Pre-booking holiday activities can not only save you the hassle of purchasing tickets abroad, but you can also take advantage of special offers that are only available online.  It would be a smart idea to do your due diligence and check that the website is credible. Be security conscious and check if they have a review page. Better yet, snoop online and look whether they have been mentioned on Trip advisor. 

The Presents New Mums Really Want

Monday, 1 October 2018

From baby clothes and toys to photo frames, there are plenty of thoughtful gifts out there to celebrate a new arrival. But if you want to treat a mum to something she’s guaranteed to really want, where should you start? Keep reading for present ideas that are bound to tick the right boxes.

Nappy cakes

For such small things, it’s amazing how many nappies new babies go through - so parents can never have too many of these essentials. Rather than simply handing over a regular pack of nappies - which, let’s face it, would be distinctly lacking in wow factor - why not give your loved one a carefully crafted nappy cake? Designed to look like delicious baked confections, these presents feature disposable nappies and other baby must-haves such as socks and muslin squares. You can take your pick from a selection of different nappy cakes from BabyBlooms and other specialist retailers.

A keepsake book

Before the birth, parents tend to race around making sure they have all the practical things they’ll need for the new additions to their families - and so sentimental purchases often take a back seat. Given that the first months and years of the baby’s life will probably pass by in a blur, a great idea for a gift is a beautiful keepsake book that mum can record all those important milestones in. From birthdays to first steps, this book will hold treasured memories that all the family can revisit year after year.

Pampering sets

It’s no secret that pregnancy and labour can take its toll on mums, and then there are all those sleepless nights to contend with. So, what better present to give to your loved one than a luxurious pampering set? Spoil her with everything from hand creams and body moisturisers to cuticle and nail balms and lip salves. You can also get sets with soothing bath soaks and a variety of other treats in. Having the chance to spend even just a little time relaxing and looking after herself should help mum to start feeling human again.

Home-cooked meals

Proper nutrition is a must for new mums, but finding the time to prepare tasty, healthy and comforting meals can be impossible. So, one way to show you care is to get busy in the kitchen and rustle up some delicious food. For example, you could box up a week’s worth of home-cooked meals - and why not throw in a selection of healthy snacks to help keep mum going too? She’s bound to appreciate the effort and thought you’ve gone to.

A TV or film subscription

The chances are, there’ll be long periods of time when mum is at home on her own with the baby, so another thoughtful present is a TV or film subscription. For example, you could arrange for an Amazon Prime or Netflix subscription so she’s got plenty to watch and keep her entertained for those potentially lonely hours. Or, if your loved one’s more of a reader, perhaps a gift voucher she can use to buy books on her e-reader would be better.

The key to choosing a present that a new mum really wants is to try to put yourself in her position and think what she might miss or need. If you’ve not had kids yourself, you could ask someone who has for their suggestions.

Donating my hair.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Back in 2015, we were heading off for a fortnight all inclusive in the beautiful Dominican Republic, when I realised that my bottom length extremely thick hair was going to be hard to handle in the heat!

Copyright Life with Liv

My hair has a tendency to expand width ways in any heat or humidity and the sheer weight of it would cause a headache if restrained into a ponytail. So I made the decision to cut it off to save me the time and worry of styling and trying to calm the frizz while away.

I felt it was such a shame to waste all of my hair that would be cut off, after seeing two members of my family suffer terribly with a hair loss condition called alopecea, I really became aware of how your hair makes you feel as a person.

If you think about it, it can give you confidence when it looks good, it can be used to hide behind like my Mum and a way to express your taste.

It’s quite devastating to have that taken away from you suddenly. Both of my relatives were young women, one lost small patches of her hair which she was extremely conscious about covering and the other simply lost her hair. Virtually over night. All of it.

I mentioned this to a friend one morning over coffee and she asked me if I had thought of donating my hair to the Little Princess trust. I looked them up and discovered that they provide real hair wigs free of chargers children and young adults up to the age of 24, who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments and other illnesses. They do this with human hair donations which means they look very realistic and are able to be styled too.

So, the date was arranged, the hairdresser looked a little pale when I told her my plan and kept asking if I was sure! A few snips later I had just over 18 inches of hair in my hand ready to package up and post.

Copyright Life with Liv

If you are thinking of donating, here are some guidelines from Little Princess Trust:

Hair we are able to use: 

Clean, dry hair in good condition (no split ends) from any gender, and of any natural colour
Straight, wavy, curly, permed or chemically straightened
Containing the occasional grey (less than 10%)
Dyed, bleached/highlighted (any dyes must be of a natural colour)
Ponytails(s) cut a long time ago, preserved in good condition

My then 3 year old was amazed and said I was like Rapunzel in Tangled now!

While I was looking into the different options, I found out that The Harley street clinic are providing a new hair loss treatment called a FUE procedure which is essentially a very clever hair transplant.

If like me you are wondering “How does a Hair transplant work"  I can tell you a little about it.

What is FUE?

FUE (follicular unit extraction) is hair transplant surgery. It involves extracting individual hair follicles from a donor area of the patients body - usually the sides and back of the head, which 
are then implanted in the areas that are affected. 

How does it work?

During the process, individual follicles – typically between 1 and 4 hairs – are removed under local anaesthesia. The extraction procedure utilises a micro surgical extraction instrument, between 0.6mm and 1.0mm in diameter, to remove the follicles.

The surgeon, using specialist micro surgical needles, then punctures the scalp area that is to receive the grafts. The surgeons at Harley Street Clinic are experts at blending the hair in, inserting the grafts at an angle and density that matches the original hair, so it will resemble a natural and realistic hair pattern, permanently.

How long does it take?

The length of time for an FUE procedure varies depending on how many grafts are needed. A smaller procedure, where only around 200 grafts are needed, can be completed in a couple of hours. However, a larger procedure of around 2,500 to 3,000 grafts will require a session that stretches over two days.

It tends to be more time consuming than strip surgery, but does not leave the obvious and typical scars that strip surgery does.

It's great to know these options are out there, I will definitely be passing on my findings to anyone I know struggling with hair loss.

How to Include Your Dog on Your Wedding Day

Thursday, 26 July 2018

How loving and adorable it would be if your best friend could take active participation in your wedding ceremony? Dogs are lovable creatures which can make you laugh even in the saddest moments. How can you forget your furry friend when it comes to the happiest day of your life?
There have been weddings where people have come up with amazing ideas on how to include pets on thewedding day. Below you can find some ways to justify it.
But before this, it is important to know few things and gather some ideas about your dog. It entirely depends on what type of dog you have and how will it behave on your wedding day. With little preparation, you can manage it all perfectly. 

Plan a Proposal With Your Dog
How cute would it look when your furry friend helps you to pop the question? You can place a ring on its collar or a makeshift bowA different way to ask the most important question you will ever ask!
Include Them in the Engagement Shoot
This doesn’t mean that your pet will accompany you in every single picture. But some classical shots will make the day memorable with your pet. You can put a signboard and get more creative by even placing the engagement ring with your pet. 
What is Necessary to Include Your Pooch on Your Wedding Day?
Dogs are still animals and you can’t judge how they are going to behave in certain situations, especially when you are expecting numerous guests in an enclosed space. You can hire a pet sitter which will look after your pet for the whole day, or ask if someone doesn’t mind keeping an eye on them. Just do not forget to bring food for your fury companion, otherwise it is going to be a long day for them!
Of course, before making such plans, it will be wise to check with the venue that they allow for pets. That is unless you are holding the ceremony or reception in your own back garden, in which case you may want to consider laying down an artificial lawn in order to reduce the damage that can come as a result of numerous guests. You can check this page out for more information. 
Make Your Dog the Ring Bearer or Flower Girl
Dogs are amazing creatures, loved by everyone. Here, you can make your pets wear beautiful leather collars to be a ring bearer for the wedding. Also, you can make them the flower girl by decorating their collar with beautiful flowers
Carry Them With You
If you are a guardian to small dogs, then carry them along with you at the wedding venue. Create a beautiful bucket and carve them with flowers or bouquet. Everyone present at the ceremony will adore your idea and creativity. 
Pet-Inspired Cake
If in one or the other case, if your pet pooch is unable to accompany you, don’t worry as pet inspired cake will include them in your ceremony. This gesture of love will truly inspire your partner and the guests about your love for your pet.

Why is outdoor play so important?

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

As regular readers will know, we have what I'm pretty sure could be described as the worlds smallest yard!

It has had several different feels to it over the 12 years since we bought our house, going from BBQ central to dog friendly and many different Child friendly variations.

Liv absolutely loves being outside doing anything, she is a social butterfly and generally happy to just be out! At various times we have squeezed in a play house, sand and water table and an extra small trampoline. Right now she has a picnic table with a sandpit inside, a basketball hoop and plenty of outdoor games, anything fun that encourages energy burning.

I absolutely love sitting outside in this wonderful weather we are having and listening to the children out in their gardens having fun, squealing with delight and getting moving, it reminds me of being young when we were out to play straight after school every night.

These days we all know how tempting it can be to leave the kids safe watching TV or on their devices for an extra 30 minutes to allow us to get to get that extra load of washing done, run the hoover over or sometimes just to have a hot cuppa! However the sad fact is, so many Children now are being left on these electronic devices without any adult supervision or time restrictions at all. While its fair to say a lot of Parents simply feel their Children are safer at home, it can cause other problems along the line. For example the rate of obesity in Children at the moment is truly shocking, with over 1,000 children being referred to hospital as a result of obesity, and 1 in 3 children between the ages of 2 and 10 being classed as overweight.

Finding a happy medium between physical exercise and screen time is key, it also helps if you can trust that your Childs school is doing all they can to help keep them physically moving and burning off energy, especially during break times.

Livs school has recently been fundraising for some wonderful playground markings and wooden climbing frames. They have just been installed in the last week or so and the Children already absolutely adore them!


For example Liv came home Yesterday telling me about games they have made up about jumping to different letters to spell out rhyming words, exercise and phonics work in one!

It's brilliant seeing all of the Children enjoying everything in the morning. I love that the school are investing both time and money in our Children's exercise needs, especially when I'm sure there is a hundred other places that money could have been equally helpful.

I can be confident that Liv is not only enjoying physical exercise on the yard but socialising and learning too. What more could you ask for?

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Do your school have any floor markings or equipment to encourage physical play? Please let me know in the comments, I would love to pass our head some more ideas.

Christmas in July 2018!

Yes it's that time of year again, where I bring you some festive ideas in the middle of Summer! If you are anything like me you will already be planning things for Christmas, organisation is key I say!

Here are a mixture of some things I have bought previously and some that are on wish lists this year.

I hope they inspire you!
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Track days driving experience

Do you know someone that would like to feel like James Bond for a few hours? How does driving an Aston Martin V8 Vantage sound?

Why not make their Christmas extra special with a Track Days experience! They can visit one of 9 UK venues and feel the power as they put their foot to the floor in this thrilling driving experience!

With plenty of cars and bikes to choose from as well as some Junior experiences, anyone who loves driving would be thrilled to receive a gift from Track days this Christmas.

I bought this for my Dad last year and he absolutely loved it! This particular experience is also an absolute bargain, currently reduced from £99 to just £39! Why not take advantage of the offer now? Gifts are valid for 10 months from date of purchase so plenty of time to book.
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A smart new suit

Right at the top of my Husbands wish list is this lovely Dobells Sharkskin suit.

This tailored fit grey sharkskin suit features a single-breasted jacket and two-button front fastening.

The suit trousers are lined to the knee, with a button waist, slanted hip pockets, belt loops and buttoned back pockets.

Available in chest sizes 34 to 48, waist 28 to 36 and short, regular or long length leg, priced at £99.99 with the option of adding a suit bag for £2.99, he will be very pleased if Santa leaves this under the tree this year!

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Cosy hats!

Everyone loves a nice cosy hat for winter right? Well look no further, I have my Mum sorted with the beautiful Buffwear beige knitted hat. With a stylish knitted look, fleece lining and pompom too, this one size hat will definitely go down well on the big day.

While I was browsing, I couldn't resist this
Lena blush hat for Liv. Suitable for age 4-12 years, in a beautiful blush pink with Love applied to the front, this hat also has a full fleece lining for extra warmth on those cold Winter days.

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 For the dog in your life

How about this cosy personalised Pet bed from Giftpup. Priced at just £24.99, this small dog bed is personalised free and dispatched within 48 hours! 

This cosy bed feels soft and fluffy to the touch, manufactured from 100% polyester it features a cute paw print design around the outside. Dimensions 46cm x 40cm x 17cm.

Highly recommended by our puppy!

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For the music lover!

How about a Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset?

As you would expect from the brand name, these are a high-quality pair of in-ear headphones, providing the exceptional sound quality you expect from Sennheiser, as well as ultimate comfort thanks to a special ear hook design. The built-in microphone lets you take and make calls too.
Unlike other headphones the Ambeo smart headset is the world’s first intuitive, compact, and mobile 3D sound recording headset.

Its earpieces are fitted with omnidirectional microphones that capture the sounds in your environment just like your ears do. With the Smart Slider you can adjust the mic sensitivity to normal or loud, i.e. concert, environments. This results in a stunningly three-dimensional and immersive sound experience, which can be enjoyed with any headphones on any stereo-capable device, allowing the listener to experience audio as if they were actually there.

The earpieces possess a unique feature called Situational Awareness. Using the rocker switch, you can either make the outside noise heard, allowing you to stay safe when you are on the street, or you can deploy the active noise cancellation, blocking out your environment to enjoy your music undisturbed.

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The all important drinks!

Franklin & Sons have partnered with Portobello road gin to launch G & T in a can! Perfect for those unexpected guests over the festive season.


For the visitors that are driving how about some grown up soft drinks? Franklin & Sons have some wonderful flavours sure to tickle your guests taste buds. My favourite is Wild Strawberry & Raspberry with cracked black pepper while my Husbands is the traditional dandelion & Burdock, check out the full range online.

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I hope I have brought you some gift inspiration this Christmas in July!

How to monetise using social media

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Back when I was growing up in the 90's, adverts were found on TV, radio and in newspapers. Today you can find them everywhere! For example bus stations and public transport have a lot of posters now, but the biggest change by far has been social media. Unheard of when most of us were growing up, today almost everyone uses one platform or another.

Famed for being a cheaper and faster way to interact with your target audience, it's fair to say done the correct way, monetising social media can greatly improve your business.

Before you decide to start ploughing money into adverts, I have noted some points you may like to consider.

Use the right platform for your audience

For example, if the majority of your engagement and traffic come from Twitter and Facebook, a big campaign on Instagram is probably not the best way to go. It may be worth seeking professional advice here to ensure all of your hard work from this point on won't be wasted.

Engage engage engage!

Unlike printed or televised adverts, Social media promotion allows you to directly interact with your customers and prospective customers. The people behind these accounts are usually the first your Customers come into contact with - first impressions matter! Interact with your followers, take the time to respond and chat. While you will have to deal with some less positive comments along with the good, this can actually be beneficial. I have personally used more than one company or service after seeing their helpful attitude on social media. Where possible try to avoid copy and paste responses - people will remember you for all the right reasons if they feel like they matter.

Track all of your campaigns

Simply because if they are not attracting the attention you would like them to - change them!Sometimes it may be beneficial to look at another platform or check your budget is being used efficiently. If you have tried these and are still struggling it is definitely time to call on www.click.co.uk for some professional advice.

Whichever platform you choose, I wish you well!

Do you have any tips or advice to add? I would love to hear from you if you do.

Becoming Landlords, it's a possibility!

Way back in 2005, my then Boyfriend and I started discussing living together. He already had a council flat but we quickly decided that we wanted to get on the property ladder and buy our own house. By 2006 we had a mortgage on our first terraced home and after a proposal on our first Christmas Eve, a wedding to start planning. Exciting!

Copyright LifewithLiv

We have now lived in our little terraced street in the small village we both grew up in for almost 12 years - where does time go? While most of the properties in the street are lived in by their owners, we also have a few private rental properties all of which are owned by the same Landlord.

Luckily he is very approachable and helpful when we have had any questions or issues about our neighbours - for example when we first moved in we discovered next door liked to party all night, every night! Thankfully he quickly let us know that due to this and many other issues, they were already in the process of removing them from the property. That is the only issue we have ever had and thought he must have changed his outlook on tenants after having to evict those ones.

Recently he popped round to let us know that he is in fact retiring and selling one of his properties in the street - next door - for way below market price as it needs a lot of work  doing. Suddenly we started discussing the possibility of taking it on to let out ourselves eeek!

We have been for a viewing and noted that a lot of the work required is cosmetic like modernising the dated kitchen and taking out the avocado green bathroom suite. While not a small job, it doesn't require any building work so costs can be kept down by doing the work ourselves and roping in family members in the trade. Once that work had been completed we would need to decorate and decide how furnished we would like the property to be depending on demand, decisions decisions!

One thing we do not need to discuss is using HomeLet. They provide referencing including a credit check, speaking to employers (to verify income), and contact the prospective tenants previous landlord for a reference, giving peace of mind that our property would be safe.

HomeLet also offer rent guarantee and buildings Insurance which automatically covers you for up to £500,000. Peace of mind indeed

We would also need to set up a deposit scheme to protect both us and the tenant, all things that need looking into before a final decision is made but it is definitely something we would like to do.

Do you have any experience as a Landlord? Any tips or pointers would be gratefully received!