Saving some pennies

Back in January 2016 I decided I wanted to try and save money for the expense of December.  I can’t help myself during the festive season and always over spend.  From October we have eight family birthdays as well as the big day itself so its not just presents, but days and nights out and lots of extra bits – i can’t really account for where it all goes, but what i do know is i’m broke come January!

So i trawled pinterest and the web for some money saving ideas and came across the “365 penny a day” challenge.  Its really simple, day 1 you save 1p, day 2..2p , day 31…31p.  So i got myself a mason jar and started the challenge.  The first couple of weeks were easy, the first week you only save 28 pence.  I just had to keep reminding myself to do it, and rather than spending the spare cash in my purse it went straight in the jar.

I printed off the below sheet and taped it to the inside of the kitchen cupboard where i stored the jar and ticked off the days so I knew where I was and which day I was on (image from pinterest & oh so Amelia).  The incentive of getting to the final sum definitely kept me going.

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At the end of July I decided to add it up to see how I was doing and if it was worth continuing and was chuffed to realise I’d saved just under £200.  All by putting away the loose change in my purse.

I have to admit, the last couple of months were harder.  Saving £2 or £3 a day started to feel like a lot.  Some weeks I would put the money in daily, and others i’d add up the weekly amount and put that full amount in so I  knew I was covered.  I did this more so later on in the year when the amounts were that bit higher, but I kept at it and i’m so glad I did.

As I was saving the money for Christmas I decided to stop on 30th November, and at that point the total was around £550 which was just bloody amazing and a real relief that so much of Christmas was already covered.

I’m definitely going to be doing it again this year, but have decided to do it in reverse.  So i’ll be saving the most in January and then it will slowly reduce to saving just £4.96 in December.  With a wedding to pay for in October along with all the birthdays at the end of the year I think this will be better for me and also get me to the full amount of £667.95.

Happy Saving!

 

 

 

 

 

The Christmas PJs

25th December 2014

It’s Christmas morning, my favourite day of the year.  I hear my eldest daughter excitedly calling Mummy from her bedroom and go running in to greet her all bleary eyed and full of expectations of what the day will bring.  She’s wearing the White Company Christmas PJs that i’d picked out way back in September when the catalogue first arrived on my doorstep, the ones that I’ve thought about them both wearing on Christmas Eve for months.  The ones that would be in that picture perfect photo of us all together on Christmas morning harmoniously opening our presents, that i’d print and put in a frame and use for next years calendar!

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When does anyone’s Christmas morning look this easy?

My fiance who’s gone into get our 2 month old Leni calls out Lau..help, with an urgency in his tone that can only mean one thing.  As I walk in he’s stripping her off, all while trying to avoid smearing her with anymore poo than is already on her.  This is one of those explosions that goes everywhere (i’m still amazed its possible), up her back, round the neck, its even in her ear.  While he’s doing this and Isla’s jumping round asking for her breakfast, all I can think about is the Pyjamas – i know they’re going straight in the bin, that stain isn’t coming out and i’m not going to get the photo that i’ve been planning for months.

This feeling of course doesn’t last long, Leni is quickly thrown into a standard slightly grey tinged babygrow, Jonny tells me to get a grip and we head downstairs to watch our 3 year old open presents, eat chocolate before 9am and start our day.  It hasn’t ruined Christmas, not by a long shot…if anything it stopped me striving for the perfect day and photo and just enjoy it for what it was and for what I love about it.

The PJ’s are forgotten about once they’ve been chucked but when I sat down to think about it after the festivities were over I realised my quest for the “perfect christmas” at times can be all consuming.  I love Christmas…really love Christmas, but the catalogues and emails with the perfect Christmas family photo on the front give me ideas of recreating this festive morning that isn’t going to be achieved with a now 4 and 2 year old who are best friends one minute…arch enemies the next, a fiance who would happily give Christmas a miss and an extended family of divorced parents, scattered siblings and grandparents across the country.

So this year, like the last few – I will put them in their matching pjs (this tradition will continue until they won’t let me) and I will be taking photos but I won’t attempt to line us all up on the sofa to say cheese, or get cross if one them would rather play with their new toys than look at the camera and i’ll try to treasure the photo of Leni throwing a strop because she doesn’t want to eat her Christmas dinner when she’s eaten her weight in quality streets already.

I’ve just got to keep reminding myself, it is just one day and this is what Christmas looks like in my house, crap covered PJs and all!

Here’s my choice for this year, I love GAP for sleepwear and they’ve 40% off ending tonight if you sign up to their emails (this isn’t an ad, just wanted to pass it on).

#whatchristmasmorningreallylookslike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An adventure with the girls – Airbnb & Salcombe

We decided we wouldn’t have a family holiday this year, a combination of money, work etc and a family reunion in Norfolk at the end of August meant we were staying put at home.

But then the summer holidays were looming and although we had some plans, there was still the longing to want to get away for a few days but without the hefty price tag that comes with the kids breaking up from school.

My mum had talked a lot about wanting to spend some time with the girls on a beach, or by the seaside and with Jonny working we decided we’d try and book something.  Hotels were either fully booked or way too expensive as we’d need two rooms and most holiday rentals wanted a minimum of 7 days….so with the location of Salcombe in mind (straight down the m5) I decided to try Airbnb.  I’d heard great things from friends who had used Airbnb before and a home from home sounded good to me especially when this was the first time I was taking the girls away without Jonny.  We were lucky to find a small but perfectly put together 2 bedroom flat in Kingsbridge (about 3 miles from Salcombe) set right on the estuary, that came with everything we needed for the four of us.

What I loved most about booking was how flexible it was on how many nights we stayed, even in the first week of the summer holidays there was no minimum stay required.  I know some Airbnb rentals do have this but luckily not ours.  The owner was contactable for questions before booking, and immediately after I had a direct email and mobile number to contact her on should I have any questions.  When we arrived the keys were waiting, the place was spotless and there was a note from the owner telling us to make ourselves at home – they’d even left us a basic shop and anyone who provides me with coffee after a 3 hour journey with a car sick toddler is a friend of mine.

When I mentioned we’d chosen Salcombe to friends, I was flooded with praise of the area and some great suggestions of places to try with the girls.  As a massive fan of eating, restaurants are my/our thing and the lovely Cheltenham Maman and another friend recommended The Winking Prawn .  This place is definitely up there in my top restaurants to visit with or without the children, but especially with. A treasure chest filled with dress up clothes, sand pit and toys that they can take to and from your table, fab childrens menu and amazing waiting staff who do not bat an eyelid when your child excitedly runs into them whilst they’re carrying a tray of food (sorry about that). You can choose to eat inside and have the a la carte menu or outside (there is a covered area) and go for their BBQ option.  We actually ate there on  both nights as we were so impressed and tried both options.

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Yes that is my child rebelling against traditional dress up in a favour of a Cruella Deville wig!

We visited North Sands beach and Hope Cove, both easily accessible for families with push chairs and the copious amounts of bags, bucket and spades, food supplies etc.  Although i’m sure it would become a squeeze at peak times, we even found parking to be fairly easy.

Weather wise we were pretty lucky, but one morning the heavens did open.  Luckily whist having a mooch round Kingsbridge the day before we discovered Bumble  a cafe/softplay/playarea for parents with little ones. I loved this place, half was a cafe with coffee on tap and the other half separated by a white picket fence was a haven for an over excited toddler and 4 year old.  With a combination of soft play, dress up, chalk board walls, ipads and toys galore this was a fantastic rainy day activity . £2.50 per daughter bought 2 hours of kindle reading, coffee drinking fun for me and energy exerting fun for them.  They even had a hairdressers station in their (racing car and JCB seats included) for you to book your little one in for a quick trim.  I really loved this place (and i’m not one for soft play), just wish they had one in Worcester.

Salcombe really did live up to my expectations, it was wonderful to see the girls so happy exploring and playing and despite the toddler deciding sleep wasn’t on her agenda our first trip away without Jonny was definitely classed as a success.  The ease of using Airbnb was fantastic and we’ll definitely be using it again.  We’re already planning our next trip back with my brother for his birthday, luckily there is no end of choice for larger properties too!

With only 2 nights and 3 days we didn’t get to do or see everything that had been suggested to us, so here’s a couple more options if you’ve got longer to explore!

  1. The Crabshell Inn, Kingsbridge – set right on the estuary, this pub has some cracking reviews and seems a firm favourite with locals and tourists combined
  2. Dartmouth – my mum almost persuaded me to do a boat trip to Dartmouth just as we were about to leave as the sun had come out (and she’d just bought the yellow mac from Joules and wanted to show it off), but I was more concerned with the 1 year old sleeping on the way home.  Dartmouth and especially Blackpool Sands was mentioned to me by a number of friends so it will definitely be on our list when we return
  3. Events – Salcombe and neighbouring areas seem to have an event, food festival, regatta, town fair on most weeks over the summer months.  I didn’t look into this before we went and wish I had, as there was so many things on that we could have seen or did see but didn’t know what was going on!

To top off the trip I discovered Salcombe Gin, a new distillery that opened up this year.  My bottle went pretty quickly, but luckily some friends have just come back so I made sure I got my order in for another one..bottoms up x

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*This is not a sponsored post

 

 

 

Owning the compliment

What is your reaction when someone pays you a compliment?  Mine until a few days ago would be to scoff, laugh it off or come back with a way of immediately erasing the compliment by saying something like;

Compliment – Your hairs looking really good

Me – ha no, it’s a big frizzy mess at the moment or whaaattt I’m going for a haircut next week, it’s awful

Compliment – I love that jumper

Me – this, I’ve had it ages and it was only cheap

Anyway, last week I was overly excited by my M&S sales purchases (blog post on these and my other sales finds to come soon) and sent the below picture to my friend Katherine, who writes the fabulous Beauty Butter blog.  She replied with equal glee to my purchases (we enable each other) but also complimented me that my skin looks great.  It made me stop in my tracks and look at the photo – I’m not wearing make up, and to me I look tired and ready for that non existent 12 hours sleep.  It was a lovely genuine passing comment that didn’t mean a lot to her and for the first time in a long while rather than laugh it off, I just said thank you.  Just a simple thank you, but I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

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I’ve asked friends since, how do you reply when someone pays you a compliment and it seems I’m not alone in struggling to accept it.  The opinion seemed to be that if we don’t try to rebuff it in some way then we may be seen as “big headed” for saying thank you.

I know when I pay a compliment it comes from a genuine place, so why should I think that when one comes my way it isnt?

Raising two young girls, I’m forever thinking about how to create a positive environment for them to grow up in and to like who they are without worrying about anyone else – yet i’m the first to immediately come back with a negative comment to counteract the good.

Actually the exception to all this is if my 4 year old pays me a compliment – I appreciate her kind words and tell her so and I find it very easy to do.  Why then do I disregard it from anyone else?

We live in a world where there are so many avenues that can make us feel pretty crappy whether that for our looks or what we’ve got to say (there is always someone who can shout louder)  Yet, we also have incredible communities both online and in our day to day lives that appreciate that we’re all just trying to do the best we can.

When researching this topic further, I read this from Melissa McCarthy  and its so true, why negate lovely words – just say thank you and move on.  Let someone else’s words brighten your day, put a spring in your step and hopefully make you look in the mirror and like yourself a bit more…or in other words OWN IT!

 

 

 

 

Fact Sheet

I don’t know about you, but I’m nosy! That’s why I love blogs, I love finding out about people….who they are, what they like, what they eat, where they’ve been on holiday – the blogging community is like the modern day hairdressers salon!

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So, I thought i’d dedicate my first post to some facts about me (this may take a while)

  1. I’m 34, December born
  2. I love Christmas…probably because i’m a Christmas baby but I do.  I’ll count down as soon as August is done and dusted and bask in everything from away in a manger to watching Elf at least 10 times in the lead up.
  3. I’ve got 2 daughters – Isla (4) and Leni (1).  They could not be more different in personality as well as looks but they are wonderful.
  4. My fiance is a Geologist Offshore which means we spend half the year apart.  Its not for everyone but it works for us.
  5. I became a freelance Wedding and Events planner after having Isla but have worked in the events industry for nearly 15 years.
  6. Gin is by far my favourite tipple!
  7. I’m scared of ducks, well most birds but ducks mainly.
  8. As well as planning other peoples, i’m also planning our own wedding for next year
  9. I’m a product whore – put me in front of a Selfridges beauty department and i’m a happy girl.
  10. Ironically as much as I love products, i’m not great at applying my own makeup (or doing hair).  Its something i’m learning in my thirties.  However, my best friend Laura Brem Wilson is a makeup artist which comes in very handy!
  11. I love music & will listen to anything.  From Coldplay to Led Zepplin, Def Leopard to Beyonce i’m there.
  12. I often create Soundtracks to my life in my head…is this weird?  Please someone tell me you do this too!
  13. I love food – in or out, if food is involved you’ll find me!
  14. I’ve discovered a love of the gym.  Don’t get me wrong, its not number 1 in my priority list and some weeks it slips to barely in the top 100 but its changed my body shape and my mindset which can only be a good thing
  15. Before children I was a worrier, but now i worry about EVERYTHING!  Keeping two small humans alive and protected from the big bad world is stressful.
  16. My party trick is I know every word of Rappers Delight
  17. My favourite number is 17

Going to leave this here as I could go on for a while yet!

Laura x