Tuesday, 28 June 2016

My approach to debt

Sometimes you have no choice but to borrow money, as long as it’s well managed it’s not an issue.  I think if its for a proper reason like an investment in your business or a car you NEED to get to work (assuming public transport is not feasible!) then its worth considering getting into debt if it means you will have better prospects in the future.

It’s not so sensible if you just want a top of the range computer or the latest console to “keep up with the Joneses”, because those are luxuries that should ideally be saved up for not ones that you should take out a loan for.  Also a definite no-no is getting a loan just to meet your current outgoing bills.  If you need a loan to pay the mortgage what will you do the following month when you need to pay it again and your loan repayments on top – then it’s a slippery slope into unmanageable debt.

I have had various debts in my life, student loans, a car loan, a mortgage, basically the ones that aren’t frowned on, and then a few naughty bits on credit cards when I did get carried away wanting material goods.  I have since learnt my mistake, getting in to too much debt can put a real strain on your marriage, its hard wondering how you will make all the payments.  Although I am quite open to taking on debt for sensible reasons, like when hubbie took on a commercial property through work – which should (hopefully) improve our finances quite quickly in the long run but a new TV forget it!

Sometimes you might need a loan when you have bad credit fortunately there are still options like glo loans but again I would consider only using it for reasons that will benefit you in the future, if its for a fancy bit of technology (unless your job requires it) step away from temptation.  It’s easy to be materialistic, especially if your friends and family have nice things, but if you can make what you own last a bit longer than it will save you in the future.

Finally make sure you fill out a budget planner to make sure you have enough left over for your repayments.

Getting the most out of a small garden

If you have a small garden don’t let it put you off getting stuck in, it’s amazing what can be achieved regardless.  My friend says my garden is 10 times bigger than there one but I would say they have managed to achieve so much more.  Size has nothing to do with it and if you need another reason to get started then this fact will do the trick, apparently older gardeners have between 37% to 47% less chance of getting dementia.  

It makes me happy my dad spends so much time tinkering in the garden.  I might have to encourage my mum to join in.  I certainly plan on doing more as the boys get older, for now it’s a bit of a mixed space which they have the monopoly off with a go-kart, scooters and bikes, little push around cars and a big trampoline!

If you want to learn more reading this helpful infographic from Compost Direct will inspire you no end. 

Personally I would love a vegetable patch, I think its important to be self sufficient in the wake of uncertainty with the EU and feel we can provide a bit more for ourselves from our own garden and save some money in the process.  Whatever spot we pick its important to remember it will need a good amount of sunshine for the veg to do well.

I like that potatoes can be grown out of bags, we should try this as we do have mainly tarmac not earth to plant in.  We buy lots of spuds too, I am partial to the odd jacket potato and my youngest loves mash.

Tomatoes and peppers also do well out of grow bags, so that’s another option to consider even when you don’t have a very green garden space like us.  If you have a little back yard too it goes to show you do have options and can grow a surprising number of different vegetables.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Celebrities as role models

It’s amazing how much influence celebrities have as you grow up, I remember being in awe when I was younger.  I would have posters dotted around my room; I would want to be just like them in terms of fashion and interests.

These days its my children wanting to do the same, not so much fashion yet but more their hairstyle, apparently it needs to be “swag!” where their hair is a bit longer and swept across their forehead in one direction… my husband had to cut their hair with that in mind, so we have started but I am not sure how far the influences will progress.

Then again they are only seven and nine at the moment and according to this Telegraph article teenagers are most influenced by celebrities.  In a way it’s a shame they don’t identify with their community more instead of celebrities but it can’t be helped really celebrities seem to lead such interesting lives that capture the attention of our children, making them want to aspire to look and be like them.

I am sure the clothes and accessories will follow on shortly though now that they are paying more attention to what celebrities are looking like.  But hopefully they will still find role models elsewhere, I know they are very close to their grandparents and seem to take on board what they say (more than mum and dad sadly!).

This infographic below by Gearooz a supplier of DJ equipment shows just how much fashion has altered over the years! 

It would show that some celebrities seem to have gone more conservative (Lady Gaga looking very sophisticated in a black dress!) whilst others seem to want to wear less and less!  Celebrities tend to alter their own appearance based on trends or just to create a shock factor to get more attention!  Hopefully the boys will steer clear of the too outlandish fashions and go for a happy in between.  I am all for a bit of creativity about what you wear but some celebrities take it a bit far for me, but then again I have never been one for being the centre of attention.

It's all about having the confidence to do it your own way, but as a child your still developing your personality and likes and its easy to be swayed by celebrities.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Garden Wishlist #timetogetcracking

I was at my friends the other evening and I was so impressed with how much they have done with their garden, it helps her partner is quite talented in that area but still it made me realise just how little we have done with our own.  Technically we have a much bigger garden but it means nothing their small space is more attractively presented and a better asset for their house.

Her partner has become self-employed as a gardener and creator of garden features because he has developed a knack in that area, he has a flair for making their garden into an attractive but practical space.  They have a section of timber decking similar to that on Arbordeck with seating overlooking the lawn, he also makes planters like in the picture below.

Anything he puts his mind to he seems to be successful at creating.  

My garden is a bit boring if I am honest.  Our garden has one raised section of lawn (I use the word lawn very loosely, overrun wild garden might be a much closer description – let’s just say hubbie is not a fan of running the mower around!) and then the rest is tarmac.  We want to add decking to the raised “lawn” so we have a nice spot for our BBQ’s with a better view and then hire a digger to get rid of some of the tarmac and create a grassed area for the kids to play.

I want to think carefully about any changes we do make, as we went in hastily when it came to house renovations and we made some expensive mistakes.  So this time I am doing my research and taking it slowly.  It helps I can quiz my friends partner for ideas and he is so knowledgeable on the subject.  I know if we let him have creative license over our garden it would be truly beautiful when he finished.  But with a small budget we will have to order in the materials and take control of the project ourselves.

I know if we do have decking installed its important to maintain it with a yearly deep clean.  Also regularly treating with decking paint will enhance the colour again and make it look well kept and help it stay hard wearing.  But its worth that bit of TLC to keep it in good condition for all those enjoyable get togethers.  Hopefully if the garden started to take shape we would feel pride about it and want to keep it looking that way.  Plus any investment will be returned if you sell according to this article titled five steps to growing the value of your garden.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Kitting the kids out for summer

We stocked up for our holiday in Lanzarote with lots of essentials, as we were optimistic for good weather.  I bought the boys the most gorgeous trilby hats from Sainsbury’s.  They had a palm tree design, ideal for the summer months and were a bargain for £6, we were surrounded in palm trees in Lanzarote so I thought it was very fitting.  

The boys looked a bit more dashing in a proper hat rather than their usual baseball caps!

It’s quite scary how damaging the sun can be so it’s important to give your children adequate cover to protect their delicate skin.  We really like Boots Once 8 hour play spray its very thick on initial application (think Casper the Friendly Ghost consistency!) but makes all the difference in keeping their skin from harm.  Plus they like that it lasts longer than most sun creams so I do not have to keep coaxing them to reapply quite so often.

I didn’t spend much on t-shirts because frankly they are still growing so quick!  As long as they wash well and are comfortable to wear, that’s my biggest concern really.  Forget designer or anything fancy.  It’s a big bonus if it comes out of the tumble dryer quite crease free too - life is too short to iron!

Footwear I don’t like to skimp on because the boys are always up to something challenging, climbing rocks, exploring and generally being quite adventurous that needs shoes will good grip.  I like them to have adequate support and well fitting shoes.  Jones Bootmaker had a good selection of boys sandals ones that look like they should not damage their developing feet.  The Jones Terrain (£22) caught my attention as I like sandals that are quite open to allow air to circulate and keep their feet cool (especially when visiting a warmer climate!) but these also offer adequate padding for the long walks we enjoy as a family.  Well I enjoy as a family, whether the boys enjoy it is a bit more debatable!!!  But least with proper sandals they are less likely to complain quite so fast…

Thursday, 23 June 2016

New found travel bug

It's been a busy week since our return from holiday!  Catching up with all the washing in itself was quite a feat.  But we seem to have got on top of it finally.  My hubbie was off for a few days when the boys were back at school so although mainly we were sorting out the house, we did manage to go out for lunch, which was lovely after quite a hectic week.

The only thing is now I have a travel bug, I spend a bit of each evening looking through holiday sites, day dreaming of where I would like to visit next.  Money is tight so its not like we have any chance of actually booking anything, so its quite nice just imaging more palm trees and clear waters.  I am torn between doing more renovation work on the house or enjoying seeing more of what the world has to offer.

Here is my wish list:


I would love to take the boys to all the attractions there, but I was totting up the cost of the theme parks and it was a bit scary!  A fortnight of access just to the Walt Disney World parks can set you back £1,300 for our family of four!  That in itself would have been a big contribution to our last holiday to Lanzarote, which was ALL inclusive and had lots going on to keep the boys amused...  and if you travel that kind of distance you would want to make the most of your visit, so its not just Disney, there is Universal, Kennedy Space Centre and countless others I would love to experience.  I went to Orlando when I was 16 but would prefer my boys were a bit younger to appreciate the true magic of the place!  I still remember the pancake stacks for breakfast though...


I like pizza (especially those cooked on wood burning stoves!) and ice cream but obviously there is so much more to this popular tourist destination.  I had actually booked my hen weekend in Rome when I was with my ex, once the wedding was cancelled when we split up I did not feel like going away to Rome.  Not that it stopped him going on his "stag weekend"!!! So I possibly should have gone and had fun with the girls!  Mind you I was just as keen to explore the ruins. Venice also calls to me, I really would like a ride in a gondola!

A cruise

To be honest I don't really mind where, I would just like to pop into a few different countries and feel I was better traveled. Plus I have seen some ships that look so impressive, everything you could possibly need is catered for.

I think I thought I would have seen more of the world than I have as 40 is beckoning ever closer.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Holiday Footwear

I have just come back from a wonderful break in Lanzarote, we spent lots of time walking, exploring some of the beautiful coastline where we were staying in Playa Blanca.  We spent some time poolside but mainly we do like to stretch our legs and see some of the sights by foot. 

Fortunately I had sandals with a back, but hubbie just had his flip-flops so his feet got a bit tender by the end of it.  Plus I worry with the boys running in their flip-flops because they tend to fall over!  I think it’s important to think carefully about what you wear on holiday, I have picked out a few of my favourite sandals from Brantano that are all about the comfort and support needed if you plan on walking any distance.

I like attractive women’s sandals but ones that are still practical.  We do cover quite an area, even the boys have a taste for adventure and seeing what we find on our walks, so having the right footwear ensures we manage to see more of the island and not retreating prematurely with tender feet!!!  I am a fan of the back strap so my recommendations all feature that.

Clarks Manilla Porta Flat Sandals

The flexible footbed and cushion soft layer mean these sandals are ideal if you have an urge to explore.  Comfort is important when you are off discovering, the promenade was uneven in places so you want sandals with a buffer ideally.

Rieker Tequila Sunrise Flat Sandals

Naturally I would be drawn to sandals named after one of my favourite cocktails, but I love the detailing on these and the fact they are support your ankle and are very comfortable with the elastic side straps. 

Clarks Tealite Grace Flat Sandals

The double density midsole results in comfortable arch and heel support that is well suited to all the different surfaces you may encounter when you’re out walking.  They look stylish enough but are all about the functionality.