Thursday, 24 March 2016

What To Look For In A Family Car



Friends of mine have had a baby in recent weeks, and they have been talking about getting a new car. It brought me back to when I had a young child, and I remember the sheer terror of driving with her in the back. The roads are scary enough when you are out on your own, let alone with a precious bundle of joy strapped up in the back!

Of course, for most people with families, the last thing you want to spend money on is a new car, and the only set of wheels you think about are the ones on a buggy. But, making sure you have a vehicle ready for the extra baggage that comes with young children will make your life easier, I guarantee!. Here are a few things to look out for when you are buying a family car.


Safety first

The first step is to look for the safest vehicle possible - it almost goes without saying. You want to avoid old, rusty motors like the plague. But, even the paper thin cheap and modern models won’t give you much more confidence. My advice is to check out the Euro NCAP website. They list all the safest cars available on the road, with the highest being given a five-star grading.

You should also be aware of your responsibilities, too. Make sure you are having a service once a year so that your car doesn’t develop any major issues. It’s a good idea to source some cheap tyres as spares, too. Keep one in your vehicle at all times so that you can switch it over if you get a puncture on the roads. Nothing is worse than being stuck in the middle of nowhere with an unhappy baby late at night!

Space

Another big issue to look out for is space. You might have got along fine in a Smart car for the last five years, but you need a lot of room in your car from the moment you have kids. Buggies, toys, sterilisation equipment - it all takes up an awful lot of room.


A hatchback might prove to be a wise move, and if you have several children, think about a seven seater. You can put the back two seats down and create a lot of boot space with these cars. It’s also worth investing in a roof box and bar rails. Again, this is a little more expense, but for any long journeys or days out, they will be a blessing.

Car seats

Finally, you have a legal obligation to put your children in a car seat. It’s worth investing a bit here, as buying second hand can often lead to problems. Car seats have expiry dates, and you need those guarantees they are safe. Buying new will give you a level of confidence you just won’t get otherwise, even if it’s more expensive.

Your kids will be in their seats until they are twelve years old, or reach a certain height. And, as they grow from baby age through to tween, they will need bigger seats. Check out the government’s info on child car seats for a detailed look at what to expect.

OK, so there you have it - a few simple tips for you. Good luck with the car hunt - and stay safe out there!



Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Fun Ways to Spend the Day in the UK



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The months between Christmas and the summer holidays can seem endless. Apart from a few bank holidays, work tends to dominate. Therefore, it’s important to make the most of your free time. If you’re stuck in a bit of a rut, check out these fun days out.

1. When was the last time you went to the zoo? This is not just something that’s fun for children. It’s fun for adults too. There are lots of zoos throughout the UK, each with individual themes and attractions. And if you don’t fancy travelling opt for a local petting zoo.

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2. If you’re craving adventure after months of sitting at your desk, opt for an experience day. They come in all shapes and sizes and include a variety of activities. Why not try something new like driving a race car or paintball shooting? There are several UK paintball sites, and you shouldn’t have to travel too far.

3. It may be that your life is so busy that all you want is some time to relax. Make a list of the relaxing activities that you would do if you had the time. Schedule a day to yourself. Sit back with a book or some magazines. Or book a pampering day at your local spa. If budget is an issue, then create your own pamper day at home.

4. Visit a historical building. We are lucky to have so much history surrounding us in the UK. Most regions include historical buildings and sites of interest. Spend the day immersing yourself in a bygone era. Wander the halls and corridors of palaces and castles. Enjoy Victorian walled gardens or get lost in a maze. Take a packed lunch if the weather is kind.

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5. Enjoy a nature walk. Wherever you are in the UK, you don’t have to travel too far to see green fields and forests. Walking in nature can leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated. It’s great for physical and mental health. Explore your local area and combine your trip with a hearty pub lunch.

6. Spend the day at the beach. One of the advantages of living on a small island is that we are surrounded by the sea. Travel to your nearest coast and spend the day at the beach. Take everything you need, including books, games, food and drink. Walk on the sand and paddle in the sea. Don’t forget to pack a towel.

7. Visit a new town. Jump on the bus or train and explore the shops, museums and restaurants in a different town or city. Spend some time walking around and taking in the sights. Find a place to grab some lunch or sit and enjoy a leisurely coffee.

8. Go to the fair. Inject a little excitement in your life and go the fair. Either visit a large amusement park or a local fairground. Embrace your inner child and enjoy the thrill of the rides and the sights and sounds.

It’s easy to get bogged down in day-to-day routines. Sometimes we forget to look up and remember there’s a whole life out there. Wherever you go, the important thing is that you’re taking some time for yourself and expanding your experiences. 


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Getting Money Online Guide




There's no question that we all want to have more money in our pockets, but in this day and age, the living wage only just covers everyday bills leaving very little to actually enjoy yourself. I have often ummed and ahhed about ways to make a bit of extra cash and after a lot of digging around, I have come up with my three favourite and fail-safe ways to add to your piggy bank.

1. Dropshipping

Dropshipping is the business of selling items online but never having to stock them. Confused? Let me explain. With dropshipping, you sell items online and you set your own price. Once an order is placed, you go to the website that dropships, place the order and pay for it with the money the customer has paid, the company sends the item and you are in profit! It's basically selling without having an inventory. Setting your own prices mean you are guaranteed to make a profit and it is a great way of starting out in a selling business. A great website for this is Foxy Print.

2. Casino's

This may seem like a way to throw away your money but honestly, If you know which sites to use and how to use them, you could walk away with a lot more money than what you started with. Many casino websites offer a 'welcome bonus' which doubles your first deposit for gaming. To ensure your financial safety you should use only well-known and secured sites, like MansionCasino.com. You should practice for fun, improve your strategy and then try to play for money.

3. Online Studies

Everyone has an opinion and we like to think we are free to share those opinions with others. After all, if it wasn't for getting people's outlook on certain matters, many things we know today wouldn't have happened. A great site for sharing your opinion is Prolific Academic. On here, you are invited to take part in studies depending on how you have filled in your profile and you are paid a varying amount each time for them. You're not going to get rich quick but it's a great way to earn a little pocket money just for sharing your opinion.  

There are so many ways to make money online and I hope this post has given you some ideas of what there is available. If you know of any others, please feel free to leave a comment and share them with everyone.


Monday, 21 March 2016

Short of Cash? How to Make Some Extra Money



Are you short of money? Times are tough, and life can be hard. You can usually find some money if you really, really need to. Selling your old unwanted goods online is a handy way to make some fast, easy cash. It doesn't cost much to list things on sites like eBay, and they are always special deals where you can list items for next to nothing. Sometimes you can even do it for free. If you want saves time there are apps you can download. This will save you a lot of faffing around the best thing is that they are usually free to use.

 

If you can take extra work on, then it might be enough to get you out of a bind. It's always worth asking you employers if we have any extra hours or some overtime available. If you’re going to need more money in the long term, you might have to look for a better paying job. In the meantime, take any training that your bosses offer. It’s always handy to have extra strings to your bow and might help you advance in your career.

You might decide to take out a loan. What sort of deal you can get will depend on your credit rating. You can check it online without leaving an imprint that could hamper future applications. It’s always useful to know how your credit rating is faring. Do make sure when you move you remember to sign back up to the electoral roll. It’s very hard to get credit if you aren’t on there!

If you own your own home, then you may choose to take out a secured loan. The problem with this sort of borrowing is that if you can't pay it back, you could lose your home. Think very carefully about whether or not you can afford the repayments. If you can't you could find yourself in all sorts of trouble and potentially homeless. So unless you are really sure,  just don't take that risk. It's not worth it. Evolution money homeowner loans only lend money to those who can really afford it, which is the sign of a responsible lender.

This should be a last resort. You don't want to risk losing your family home. Illness or redundancy can happen to just about anyone so you really do need to make sure that you can keep up with any outgoings should the worst happen. Unless you have substantial savings, you're probably in the same boat is the majority of people! Many would find themselves in trouble if they lost their regular paycheck in no time at all. Don't add to your financial burden - you have already got enough on your plate. If you have money worries, the last thing you want to do is add to them.

Have you got any tips for raising cash in a flash? Please do share them in the comments? Who knows, you might help out someone with your own hacks! 



Thursday, 17 March 2016

How To Throw An Awesome Kids Party For Next to Nothing


So, you’ve what you’re going to do been putting off exactly what you’re going to do for your little one’s birthday. You might have planned to keep it a low-key affair, after all, they are still young! But the invites for their little friends birthday parties have been coming thick and fast, and they want their own party now. You may have maintained that you weren’t going to succumb to the pressure, however, even the best of intentions can go awry. Especially when your little one looks up at you with their big baby blues and say please. Dammit, they've got us wrapped right around their little fingers. Well, that’s a big part of what being a parent is all about!


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It looks like you’ll be having that party after all. Yes, you’re weak, but they’re only young once, right? It’ll be a blast. Just keep telling yourself that and it will be ok! But what if you’re on a budget. That might have been one of the reasons you were putting it off in the first place. Well, don’t worry. It can be done, and you'll still have a great party your little one will love. Kids are not as fussy as adults, and as long as you’ve got a few basics in place, your offspring will be over the moon. And you’ll be the best parent in the world, showered with love and kisses for at least a minute. That’s better than nothing, though! It’s always nice to feel appreciated by your kids, even if it is cupboard love…

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to make sure your little one and all their friends have an awesome time. If you’re looking for cheap decorations, then you can’t go too far wrong by looking online. Wholesale party supplies used to be only available to trade customers, but now the general public can save big money too. Buying your partyware this way means you’ll have more money left over for the important things, like food!

Keep nibbles simple but be sure to offer some choice. Kids can be notoriously picky eaters. You can’t go wrong with a few different types of sandwiches, think cheese, ham, and even jam. Make sure you’re considerate and supply options for vegetarians. It’s worth asking parents in advance if their child has any allergies, but lay safe and don’t include anything with nuts in your buffet. No one wants a child having an allergic reaction to your food! Obvious items to knock off the list are things like peanut butter. Remember too that popular brands of chocolate spread may contain allergens including nuts too.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on a party entertainer. Sure they’re lots of fun, but it’s an unnecessary expense. There are lots of other ways to keep the kids amused, and they don’t need to cost much at all.

Don’t forget the party bags, either! Noo kids birthday celebration is complete without them. You fill them cheaply with little novelty items. Buy multipacks of pens and mini notebooks to help keep costs down.  Make sure you include a slice of cake too! Including a thank you note is always a nice touch too, and it saves having to send out notes to your guests later. A party full of kids might take a few days to recover from; it can be pretty hectic. 


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Choosing Schools For Your Kids: The Earlier The Better!





When’s the best time to start looking for schools for your children? You hear a lot of stories these days about pushy mums trying to put their children’s names down almost straight after they are born. While this might seem a little premature, it’s easy to see why some parents go down this route. The best schools are always busy, and there are no guarantees your child will get in, even if you only live next door.


So, when it comes to choosing a school for your kids, I agree that earlier is better. It gives you time to take a look at your options and plan a move if you feel it is the better choice. There is a lot to think about - and I have to admit it’s something I have been considering recently. So, I thought I would cobble together all the best advice I have seen so far.


If you have a toddler and are worried your best local schools may not offer them a place, read on. I hope you will find this advice as helpful as I have!


Schools are less unequal than you think


First of all, try not to worry too much that your little one will end up at a nightmare school. There are a hundred or so exceptional schools in the country, and few children get the chance to attend them. However, for the vast majority of the rest of them, there isn’t much to choose between them. Of course, you should always keep an eye out for poor performers, but you should also bear in mind that these are often targeted for improvement. If you plan early enough, things might have got a lot better by the time your child gets to school age.




Speak to the head


All schools success and failures are down to the quality of teaching, of course. However, the real driving force behind success is a fantastic headteacher. If there are open evenings at your local school, I suggest you go to them and try - if possible - to speak the heads. Some headteachers have big jobs on their hands, but if they inspire you enough, you can bet they are doing the same to the teachers. And, this can often make the difference between an excellent school and an average one.


Look into the future


When schools expand, it’s seen as a positive thing. It means they are ticking all the right boxes, and they have earned trust from their local authorities. So, if your local school has lots of new or used temporary classrooms, it can often be a good sign. If they have been given permission to set them up, it’s a sure sign that they will have a budget for new buildings. It might not happen for a while, but it might even have started by the time your child reaches school age.


Talk to parents


Final
ly, make sure that you talk to parents at all the schools in your neighbourhood. You will get some vital info from them that you won’t get anywhere else. How well does the school deal with discipline, for example? Do they provide enough facilities and help for less able children? What’s the environment like - is it more academic, or is it arty and creative? These are vital things to know, as it will help you choose a school that suits your child’s personality.


Hope this has helped - and good luck with your search for a new school!



Sunday, 6 March 2016

Iceland Frozen Millies Cookies :: Review


Millie's Cookies are the bedrock of baked goods, you can't help but stop and buy some of their cookies when you walk past their stall. I find myself always buying some when I head into town and I have tried and failed to re-create them at home. Don't get me wrong, they taste great, but Millie's have a certain flavour and texture that make them completely unique.



When me and Carl were wandering around Iceland, I was really surprised to come across Millie's at home cookie dough that claimed to recreate Millie's cookies at home. Of course I wasn't going to ignore these pastel boxes of deliciousness and with them being two for £5, it was a no brainer! We went for the milk chocolate and white chocolate varieties but they also had triple chocolate aswell.


Upon opening the box, the cookie dough is divided into six pieces which was a pleasant surprise as I was expecting it to be in a huge slab that I would have to chop up myself. The instructions could not have been any more simpler if they tried. Preheat the oven to 180°C, place the cookie dough pieces 2cm apart on a baking tray and throw into the oven (not literally, we're not that brave) for 14-16 minutes. When I read instructions like that, I tend to go for the happy medium so I set the oven timer for 15 minutes.


When the timer was done, the cookies were perfectly cooked and were still very gooey but after a few minutes of being left to cool, they were firm enough to be put on a plate. I then repeated the same process with the second batch.

Overall verdict? These little babies are fantastic. They taste and smell exactly like Millie's cookies and they also look like them as well! And if that wasn't proof enough, all 12 cookies disappeared within 2 hours of me making them!

Considering 6 cookies from the shop is around £5, you're getting 12 for £5 instead so it's a bargain. I can't recommend them enough, they're perfect and save you having to trek into the town centre when you can make them from the comfort of your own home.



Friday, 4 March 2016

3 Creative Trips to Take With Friends



It’s widely reported that friends are important to our mood, health, and wellbeing. We probably know this from our own experience. However, it’s not always easy to keep in touch with people who mean a lot to us. There are many reasons we might have unintentionally fallen out of touch. We all have work commitments and worries. Some of us have families to put first or financial constraints that make taking time off difficult. Whatever the reason holding us back though, it can be important to plan some time with our friends. Even if only for a few days, time with our friends can give us the energy and motivation to return to our everyday lives fully refreshed! No-one makes us laugh like they do, or know our individual quirks so well. Facebook, email, and text messages can all be lifesavers but they are never a replacement for face to face interaction. When we do eventually get together, we should make those minutes and hours count by doing something we may not have thought of. Ditch the bar. Save the meal for another occasion. This time, we’re doing something different.

A Caravan

After spending time apart, what better way to get back into the rhythm of each other’s company than by squeezing into a caravan? Believe it or not, caravans can actually be surprisingly roomy. Their lounges are often able to accommodate large groups of friends and family. Bedrooms can be individual, double or king sized! Air awnings are also a great way to expand space outside while still staying warm and sheltered. With some cold beers, great music, and shareable food, you’re in for a trip to remember.


Memory Lane

A nostalgic trip can be a great way to reconnect with old friends. Think about a place that meant a lot to all of you. If you have all moved away, now might be the time to return to the place where you grew up. Perhaps you had a favourite haunt like a bar or a pool hall. Maybe you were lucky enough to live near a beach and play there during the summer. Chances are, the places you and your friends used to get together were not too glamourous or expensive. Especially if you were students or teenagers when you met! Wherever you go, the main aim will be to return to that sense of carefree nostalgia and relive all the ways you had fun together.


A Treehouse

No, really. You read that right. There are now holiday packages that offer you and your friends the opportunity to stay in a treehouse. For the ultimate return to a childhood fantasy, you and your friends can eat and sleep among the branches of a real tree. The views from the houses are unbeatable. Whether you stay at home or head abroad you can see the local beauty for miles around. Watching the sunrise or sunset from a height, surrounded by friends, maybe with a glass of wine in hand is hard to beat.



Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Why Relaxing is So Important and How to Do it Properly



So many people don’t realise how important relaxing is. It’s good for both mental and physical well being. If we don’t take enough time to ourselves to relax, we can wear ourselves out and end up feeling exhausted. If you’re wearing yourself out with work or running around after family, you could end up feeling depressed and lethargic. Relaxing both your mind and body is essential if you want to feel amazing. Here’s how to do it properly:

Do Something You Enjoy

If you never take any time to yourself to do the things you enjoy, of course you’re going to feel tired and fed up of life! Make sure you’re trying new things, just for the simple fact that you like them. You don’t need to try to get any financial gain out of them, or even recognition. Make jewellery if you enjoy it. Try out pottery. Go to a judo class. Do something that lights your soul up. It’ll do you the world of good!

Meditate

Some people think that meditating is a waste of time. After all, to the untrained eye, it could look like you’re sat there not doing anything at all. However, meditation is such a fantastic tool. It helps to quieten the mind, and many people who meditate say that this is when the most important answers come to us. It can also help you to be more creative, alert, and in tune with yourself. It’s amazing! Even doing it for just 10 minutes a day can make a huge difference.

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Take a Bath

Have a hot bath with epsom salts to help detoxify your body and relax your mind. If you exercise or you’re always running around after others, it can help you to ease tension in your muscles.

Have a Spa Break

Why not treat yourself to a spa break? Spa breaks are great ways to relax, as you have so many different options. You can have a massage, take a swim, or simply relax in a sauna. A spa break every so often could do you the world of good, even if you have to do it alone.

Listen to Your Body

Make sure you’re in tune with your body, and you listen to it carefully. It’ll give you hints as to when you need to take some time to yourself. If you ignore your body, you could end up injured.

Get Outside

Going outside and enjoying nature is a really fast way to relax. We aren’t supposed to be cooped up indoors all the time! Sit down and get some sunlight and fresh air. Take in the sights and sounds. You should feel great in no time.

Now you see why relaxing is so important and you have some ideas to do it properly. Ideally, you’ll take some time to yourself each day. Even if you only have 15 minutes, it should help you to feel better. If you have any ideas that work for you, let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!