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50 days of Xmas with Boots - what did I choose?

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Christmas! I love making my lists, decorating the house and spend hours and hours getting the tree just perfect.

But the thing I love most is that excited feeling of handing over a beautifully wrapped gift. You excitedly hope that person will love it, and then watching their face as they take in what is inside.

I work really hard to try to find the perfect gift for everyone, and I think I usually succeed - or at least I hope!

When Boots approached me and asked if I would like to take part in their 50 days of Xmas campaign, I immediately said yes and got to work browsing the Christmas gifts section. As I'm sure most of you do, I buy quite a few gifts from Boots every Christmas so I wasn't surprised to find I quickly had a basket overflowing with possibilities to suit a wide range of people I buy gifts for.

After spending a loooong time narrowing down my choices, here is what I chose!

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Firstly I was very happy to tick off my Husbands Godmother, she has several health issues so treat food/drinks/smellies are out of the question unfortunately. 

She does however seriously love her tea so I was pleasantly surprised to find her lovely gift first!

How lovely is this English Heritage tea tidy set? Containing a beautifully decorated ceramic tea tidy in the shape of a tea pot with a matching ceramic handled stainless steel spoon, it is perfect for a tea lover, and who doesn't love tea?

Priced at £7 and available in the 3 for 2 offer.

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Next I headed to the Christmas gifts for him section where I chose this lovely Eternity gift set for my Husband, containing a 30ml bottle of eau de toilette and 100ml body wash. 

As this is his all time favourite aftershave, so I try to find different combinations to gift just to keep it a bit more interesting for him - and to stop him guessing what it is as soon as he sees it! I always find the smell lasts longer when combined with a body wash or lotion and of course it looks better in a gift box - not to mention easier to wrap!  I know he will love finding this under the tree. 

Priced at £33

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With my Mum being the hardest person to buy for, I always try to get her ticked off as soon as possible. While scrolling the Boots website I found one gift in particular that she will love. 

This Nivea treat yourself gift set contains a 75ml hand cream, MicellAir water sensitive make up remover 200ml, Rose and Argan oil lotion 200ml, Rhubarb and raspberry shower silk mousse 200ml, Pearly shine lip balm 4.8g and 1 shower puff. All packed away nicely in a lovely festive box.

Even with her sensitive skin, I know she is safe with these Nivea treats, another one that's easy to wrap too.

Priced at £15 and available in the 3 for 2 offer.

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Any regular readers will know Liv is a huge My Little Pony fan so I couldn't resist these super cute gift sets I found.

On the left is the My Little Pony 50ml Eau De Toilette and cosmetic bag. I know Liv will love this Pinkie Pie perfume with adorable pink ponytail! The bag will be very handy to keep her hair bits and pieces in too so also a Mummy win! 

Priced at £10 and available in the 3 for 2 offer.

On the right is the second set I bought, the My Little Pony true beauty bath and shower gel gift set, containing a 150ml bath & shower gel, 100ml body mist, Pinkie Pie hair brush and pink hair scrunchy - I may have to borrow this and take a trip down 90's memory lane, so many scrunchies!

Liv loves nothing more than a lovely bubble bath and will no doubt use these Christmas morning. Both would be perfect for any little ones that are also My Little Pony lovers.

Priced at £8 and available in the 3 for 2 offer.

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After all this shopping for everyone else I decided to treat myself to a little something too!

After receiving a Ted Baker body spray last year, I couldn't resist trying the other scents when I spotted this Ted Baker floral fancies mini body spray trio gift set, containing 3 x 50ml scents. I knew I loved the white one and couldn't wait to smell the others, I am happy to report that I was not disappointed!

Priced at £9 and available in the 3 for 2 offer.

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So those are my choices, what do you think? I hope they have given you some inspiration.

*Disclaimer: w
hile all products where kindly provided by Boots all opinion and thoughts are my own.

The reasons we don't want to move home

Monday 12 November 2018

As regular readers will know, back in 2006, my then boyfriend and I decided after just over a year together, that I would move in to his council flat. With a 10 year age difference he had been living independently for nine years while I was just 19, fresh out of college, working in the local hotel and still living at home with my parents.

A few months later I got a very good job offer meaning we would be able to comfortably afford the mortgage repayments on a small house of our very own! How exciting!

Both of us had been brought up in the same village with the vast majority of our extended family still living here too, with that in mind and the fact that neither of us could drive we quickly made the decision that we wanted to stay local. We had a meeting with a financial adviser, a lot of questions late, we were approved and the search began . . . .

After contacting some local estate agents, we quickly realised there really wasn't a lot available in our local area, so we knew we were going to have to sacrifice some aspect of our "dream house" in order to stay in the village we both grew up in.

After waiting for a few weeks, and viewing everything available in our price range, we finally narrowed our viable options down to two.

The first option was a lovely two bed terraced house complete with a quirky attic bedroom, newly fitted (albeit super tiny) kitchen. It was decorated in neutral colours throughout, including the carpets and nothing really needed doing before moving in. The only downside we could see was the garden was completely separate from the house. You literally had to go out of the back door, walk 2 minutes until you came to a big patch of grass separated into sections by chain link fencing. No privacy at all and unsurprisingly the majority of them where over grown and generally not looked after. Not ideal at all.

The second was again a two bed terrace, slightly bigger than the first - even the kitchen! Also decorated neutrally throughout with lovely flooring and a small, attached back yard - bonus!

This is where the fun started, Barry liked the first house purely because of the quirky bedroom, while I argued that as we wanted a dog and a family someday, not only would the attached yard be better but also the wooden flooring.

Of course he finally saw sense and I won the debate! We placed an offer and bought us a house! We still live in the same house now and I must say it has served us well.

Over the last few years, two dogs and a Daughter later, we have painted, wallpapered, added and taken away many things but one thing that we have never really been happy with is the tiny kitchen. We are under no illusion that extending is an option - we know that is way out of our budget and would also take up the only garden area we have. Instead we would love to start with a blank canvas and design the space ourselves as we honestly believe the space although small could have been utilized in a much better (and modern) way.

Of course we talked about the possibility of moving after spending 12 years here, but its not something either of us wants to do. This house is more than bricks and mortar to us, there are so many reasons we don't want to move house.

My Father in law helped us view and decide on this house before he suddenly passed away, every room holds so many precious memories, even the stairs! I remember so clearly screaming for Barry when the pregnancy test I had just brought downstairs with me finally showed two lines, the sight of him running down the stairs with half a face of shaving foam still makes me giggle. 

I can picture having my hair and make up done on our wedding day, walking through the door as Parents for the first time, so many special moments have made this building more than a house to us.

We simply aren't ready to leave! If one day we are graced with another baby then we would have too, purely for space, but for this is home and will remain so!

Home adaptations for 2019

Thursday 8 November 2018

As regular readers will know, I was quite poorly last year and practically bed ridden for a lot of it. After being misdiagnosed twice and given pain relief gel instead of the treatment required, I ended up in hospital with terrible cellulitis and related complications in my leg.

Since then it has flared up numerous times and has been confirmed recently - during another hospital stay - that I have sustained permanent nerve damage.

While this is far from ideal and has affected my day to day life hugely, I am glad not to be in pain with it like I was. I have never before experienced pain so severe that I couldn't even think straight. It was nothing short of horrendous if i'm honest.

I also suffer with a pain condition called Fibromyalgia which made it even more awful unfortunately. However as I say I am thankful not to be completely debilitated by it at the moment.

However, now I have been told the damage done is irreversible, we have come to the conclusion that we will have to make some home adaptions next year to make things easier.

For example we have a large drop from our bottom stair to the hall floor which sometimes knocks me off balance, luckily a builder friend has assured that this is quite easy to rectify by adding another half stair onto the hall floor.

A big one however is our bath. We have a very large, very deep bath which I now struggle to get in and out of easily, due to the mobility of my bad leg and having poor balance on bad days. 

After looking through the options of walk in baths and wet rooms etc, we are looking at the possibility of installing a rather lovely walk in shower for safety and ease of use.

As well as being functional with a fold away shower seat and grab rails for total safety, it will still look perfect in our modern bathroom. A big plus for me on the above style is the brushed satin finish on the screens and doors. Having had polished metals before, I find they are a lot harder to keep clean and fingerprint free than brushed metal.

With glazing finishes available in clear or frosted options and shower curtains available too, you can customize almost everything to suit not only your needs but style too. For added safety the panels have a shatterproof glazing too, they really have thought of everything.

Do you have any other tips that may help me around the house? Any advice would be most welcome.

Childcare Jobs That Really Make a Difference

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Working with children is one of the most honorable jobs you can choose and we really don’t appreciate our childcare workers enough. Both parents and non-parents can be blinded by prejudice, frustration or stress and have trouble seeing just how great the people that care for our children are.

So, today we’re going to look at those noble people in our society who help our children grow into the best they can be. Maybe this post will inspire you to follow a new career path, or maybe it will just highlight something you didn’t know – regardless, with any luck it will emphasize the great work these people do.
Nursery Workers 

Nursery workers are some of the lowest paid members of our society, which is a surprise considering they nurture the future generation. Nurseries in general have recently experienced a huge hit due to the recent introduction of a free childcare scheme by the government. These new regulations have caused salaries to freeze around minimum wage, as nursery owners simply can’t afford to give pay raises, it’s quite sad really.

Saying this, it’s far from just the government’s fault for these issues as what led to the passing of the legislation, as well as the state of nurseries before it was passed, is a much wider problem with lots of different variables affecting it. The point stands though, these people do a very important job and barely get paid for it. They have a substantial workload and juggle a variety of different tasks whilst simultaneously looking after your children; we should really appreciate what they do more. 

Class Teachers

After nursery workers have done their work, it’s the class teacher’s job to look after your child on a day-to-day basis. Both primary and secondary school class teachers take on the different but equally challenging role of educating your child in a variety of different subjects, preparing them for the future and adulthood. Arguably, during the school years, your child spends more time with their class teachers than they do with you – or at least more waking hours. During this time, they have to impart knowledge, balance the different learning styles of each student, plan lessons and deliver tests.

Many feel that teachers have it easy because of their increased holiday periods compared to other job roles but what people forget is the extra time that teachers put in. Lesson planning and marking work regularly brings teachers far into the evening, whilst much of those enviable holidays are spent in school preparing for the next term. The truth is, school teachers do a lot of work that nobody sees and so even when they frustrate us parents, we should try to keep this in mind. Even more so because they genuinely care about helping our children reach their potential. An extra reason to be proactive in appreciating teachers is that the number of teachers is actually declining. How will our children grow without teachers to educate them? In fact, if you’re interested in becoming a teacher or are already qualified, there are countless ways to get involved across the country. From Glasgow to Cambridge, school jobs are always available and in demand.

Careers Advisers

Finally, let’s make sure we remember how dedicated our careers advisers are. Sometimes, parents don’t have all the answers, especially when it comes to career paths and university choices. Careers advisers are how our children decide the path they want to take and with that in mind, we should really make sure that careers advisers know how much they are valued.

Often, careers advisers are brushed over in the school conversation as being an extra-curricular detail but without a good careers adviser, how do our children follow their dreams? How do they know what to reach for? They really are invaluable.

Hopefully this post has highlighted some of the struggles that childcare workers and educators go through. We are lucky to live in a country with many schools and even more people dedicated to teaching our children. 

Let’s make sure we appreciate them.

Making the most of the family budget - how to save for a holiday.

Monday 5 November 2018

Dreaming of a week on the beach with the kids, or even a long weekend exploring some distant land in the sun?

Holidays can be a wonderful way to bond with your loved ones and create memories that last for a lifetime. Of course, they're not always the easiest thing to afford. When you're struggling to stretch the family budget far enough as it is, it can feel as though you'll never have enough cash for a holiday. 

The good news is that you don't necessarily have to give up on a family holiday if you're trying to cut back on your spending this year. Instead, all you need to do is think about how you can adjust your budgeting techniques to make your adventure more affordable. Here are a few tips to keep in mind. 

1. Consider Getting Some Extra Help

One of the biggest problems that families have when it comes to booking a holiday, is that we only have certain times in the year when everyone is available to travel together. Whether you're just taking a trip with your immediate family, and you need both parents to be off work, and the kids to be away from school, or you're traveling as a group, it's hard to make the schedules match up. 

Then, when you do find a time that seems to work for everyone, you may find that it doesn't give you enough space to save up your income for long enough to afford the trip. If that's the case for you, a little help could be the best way to go. A personal loan means you can enjoy your vacation worry-free, and then finish paying it off at a time that suits you. 

2. Look for Ways to Make Extra Cash 

If you're worried about having enough money for your family holiday, or you simply want to make sure that you have enough left over to splurge on souvenirs, then you might want to consider finding additional ways to make extra cash. For instance, there are plenty of websites online these days where you can go to offer up your skills as a freelancer. 

On the other hand, you could always consider a more traditional side-gig, like taking on a part-time job or becoming a dog walker for the people in your neighborhood

3. Save Wherever You Can

Before you even start saving for your family holiday, it's worth sitting down as a group and going through your budget. Look at how much cash you have coming in and going out each month and ask yourself where you might be able to cut back. For instance, would you be willing to sacrifice your Netflix subscription if it meant a dream holiday? Have you checked you are getting the best deals on pet insurance and home insurance? You may be surprised at how much small changes like this add up to every month.

Sometimes, you may not even have to sacrifice anything. Making simple changes like consolidating your debts or switching to a different energy supplier can save you a lot of money every month. The key is to find as many ways to save as possible, then focus on funneling all of your left-over cash into your "holiday fund".

4. Choose a Budget-Friendly Trip

Your decision of where to travel is sure to have an impact on how much you spend on your family holiday. For instance, it's probably not a surprise that a budget trip to Spain is less expensive than an all-inclusive adventure around Disney land. Choosing a place that's both appealing and affordable will make your holiday goals more accessible. Additionally, it helps if you can be flexible when it comes to dates and airfare. 

For instance, if you can pick a day for your flight that isn't a peak time, you can save a serious amount of money on your plane tickets. Even driving a little further so that you take off from a different airport can help to make your journey cheaper. 

5. Travel with a Group 

Another great way to save money on your booking? Travel as a group. You can save a serious amount of money just by telling your travel agent that there are 10 or more people going with you. Additionally, if you get everyone together for a trip at once, you reduce your risk of spending extra money on entertainment for the kids when you're at your destination. More people means more opportunities to have fun, bond, and avoid the boredom. 

Just make sure that you choose a group you feel comfortable spending time with for a week or two!

It is also worth making sure that you are getting the best deals on i