Thursday, 20 September 2018

Zoe's Model Experience with Tommee Tippee

A few months ago I stumbled across a post on a local parenting facebook group looking for kids to feature in a Tommee Tippee online video campaign. I don't know what made me email them but it sounded quite fun and Zoe is such an insta-kid I thought she might enjoy it too. I honestly didn't expect they would pick us - it got quite a bit of interaction on facebook so I figured they would be swamped with applications. A couple of weeks after that initial email I heard back that they loved her unique look and gorgeous red curls and wanted us to come along for filming.

The premise of the shoot was for some under 5s to run riot in a fancy bridal boutique with juice in Tommee Tippee cups and beakers, to show how they don't leak "All Thrills, No Spills". I thought it was such a cute idea, and can confirm we had zero leaks!

Inconveniently my husband had been sent to London for work right before the filming day so I had a bit of a last minute childcare/work crisis, but thankfully my lovely Mother in law and Sister in law came with us and spent the afternoon with Zoe so I could rush back off to work straight after filming.

The day started really well. They staggered the kids arrival so it wasn't too overwhelming for them and Zoe went first. They had colouring books and stickers for them all to play with, and the staff were so great at speaking to the kids on their level and making them feel important.

The film crew were amazing with her too and within minutes she has shaken off the initial shyness and was laughing and joking with them all. She followed instruction really well and I was so proud watching her shine.

After they got those first shots of her on her own (the ones from the start of the video) we were sent off for an hour or so, we wandered around the Discovery Museum and grabbed some tea and cake. We were called back for a final group shot - the bit of the video where they were all running around - and this didn't go quite as well. You can see Zoe briefly on the right of the screen but then no sign of her again, this was mostly because she got stuck behind some dresses. She was wearing a tiara and she was suppose to hide in the dresses and when they shout GO she was to jump out and run in a circle. But her tiara got caught on a dress and she was stuck! It was such mayhem we didn't notice at first, then when they shouted 'STOP' we just heard a little voice say 'Mummy? I am stuck!'. She waited so nicely because she didn't want to hurt the dresses or spoil the video.

It was such a lovely experience, and I was almost tempted to go down the modelling route a bit further. I asked some friends about it and researched it (she was invited for a test shoot) but I think because we work full time and don't drive, we probably wouldn't be able to make the most out of it, or the return on the initial investment. It's a shame though as I mean I know I am hugely bias, but she is so bloody cute!

Here is the final video;

Little Wedding Crashers 60s from Tommee Tippee on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Eyebrow Threading with Superdrug.

This summer Punky Moms UK has been working with Superdrug on a range of activities from mystery shopping to a hair dye contest. As a member of the Punky Blog Squad I was asked to go along and try out an in-store beauty treatment.

My store was a bit busy to snap photos, so I got this from the superdrug website

In all honesty I had no idea Superdrug offered beauty treatments and I was a little bit apprehensive. My local store (Newcastle, Northumberland St) has a brow bar offering threading, tinting and a range of lash treatments.

I am pretty low maintenance when it comes to beauty treatments, the last time I got my eyebrows seen to by a professional was just before my wedding - a year ago. I tend to just either let them roam wild, or twease occasionally - it always seemed a faff or expense I didn't need.

I am here to say I have changed my tune based on this experience. Let me tell you why;

1. Pain -I've never had threading before and had heard it was really painful, which worried me. I found waxing painful and everyone I spoke to told me threading was worse. The threading itself was honestly fine, it stung a little towards the center but all in all compared to waxing it was a walk in the park and the redness went down much quicker (10-15 mins)

2. Time - I work full time and struggle to find the time between work and kid to fit in self care stuff like this. I walked into Superdrug at 3:15pm and was out by 3:28 - that included queuing to pay! It was super quick and easy, and I could easily see me fitting it into a lunch break.

3. Cost -You know how it can be for mums prioritising themselves financially. I am the kind of mum who wears primark while my kid struts around in Boden. I just feel all the guilt splurging on me knowing she needs new shoes or a term of gymnastics to pay for. The eyebrow threading at superdrug is really affordable at only £8.

4. Staff - The girls who work on the brow bar were so lovely, they spent time explaining how it worked and were really knowledgeable and professional. I felt completely confident and comfortable in their hands, which is definitely a huge plus for me as I often feel too polite to say anything if I am not happy.

My only slight gripe with the experience is the location, its a very cramped store and while you are getting your treatment people are walking by shopping which isn't ideal, although for how quick it is I didn't mind. I wouldn't want to be doing anything longer or more dramatic like tinting there. The store is pretty run down too, it hasn't changed much over the last 10 years, I wish it looked more like the picture at the top.

I actually really enjoyed writing this post, would beauty related stuff be of interest in future posts? I mean I am no beauty blogger but I could share my low maintenance mum make up looks, or skincare routine? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I received the treatment for free in exchange for an honest account of my experience, all thoughts are my own

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Monday, 17 September 2018

Meal Plan Like a Boss - 17/09/18

Last week went well money-wise, as I didn't need to do any top up shops and resisted buying lunch at work. I didn't stick to the plan though as I had a couple of days of leftovers and an unplanned meal out one night.

I made this delicious tofu noodle dish on Monday, I have never cooked with Tofu before but would definitely do it again. Might blog the recipe too;

This week is another odd one, but it is the last week with Paul working away, so hoping to be back to normal the week after.

Monday Leftover Roast Chicken Risotto.

Tuesday Just me tonight, so roast veggie pasta for one, with extras for lunches the next day.

Wednesday King Prawn Ramen Bowl - experimenting a bit here, will report back if its good.

Thursday Scrambled egg on toast with avocado.

Friday Pizza - going to get one from the supermarket, not takeaway.

Saturday Just me and Zoe for dinner tonight, going to make fajitas.

Sunday Roast chicken dinner

Adding a slightly new element to this weeks meal plan, and that's a shopping list;

1. King Prawns
2. Eggs
3. A pizza - I really like aldi's own margherita (from the fridge not freezer)
4. Wraps
5. Roast Chicken
6. Veggies for roasting (peppers, courgettes, onion)
7. Avocado
8. Spring Onion
9. Fruit for snacks
10. Brown Bread
11. Milk
12. Sandwich fillings for lunches
13. Wine - necessary when solo parenting.

I have everything else I need in the cupboard/freezer already, so should be a light week.

Whats on your menu this week?

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Saturday, 15 September 2018

Our First Wedding Anniversary.

It's our first wedding anniversary! How was this a year ago already?!

In true 'us' fashion we have nothing planned, I had thought Husband was working away in Lndon this weekend but I got my dates wrong and didn't organise a babysitter. But to be honest it is more our style to stay in and watch a movie or something. #old

Anyway, here are some of my favourite photos from the day, just because.

You can read all about our day here, and about how we did it on a budget here.

Huge thank you and all the love to Lifeline Photography for capturing our perfect day so beautifully.

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Monday, 10 September 2018

Meal Plan Like a Boss - 10/09/19

Meal planning has gone well and truly out of the window in our house of late, and I am definitely noticing an spike in spending on adhoc supermarket trips and take aways. Meal planning and cooking is something I really love doing, so why am I not doing it? I think the shift of returning to full time work has made me very time poor and if I am honest a bit lazy. "I've been at work all day I don't want to think about cooking now" I am sure we have all had those days, but when those days become the norm its not OK.

In my last post I talked about finances and goals, and I am definitely overspending on eating out. Last month I spent £271 on eating out (that includes grabbing sandwiches for lunch or a sneaky greggs breakfast a few times a week) it all adds up! So here I am once again trying to reign it in and get back to enjoying food and cooking for my family again.

Monday I am home alone tonight as Paul is in London and Zoe will eat at her childminder, so I have some leftover fresh pasta and sauce to use up, I'll throw some veggies in to bulk it out and give some leftovers for lunch tomorrow too.

Tuesday Alone again, I have some tofu to try, I have been researching recipes on pinterest recently so going to try some sort of noodle stir fry or ramen bowl.

Wednesday Paul gets home but not until after dinner, so just me again, haloumi and chickpea salad (pictured) is on the cards. I will blog this soon as it is so tasty.

Thursday Thai green curry with brown rice

Friday Prawn and roast garlic risotto

Saturday Homemade veggie soup and bread

Sunday Roast chicken dinner If there are any recipes you'd like me to blog just shout, I have been hitting pinterest hard for inspiration, trying not to get stuck in a food rut again.

Whats on your menu this week?

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Life check-in and goal setting for Autumn.

September is here, I don't know why but September always feels a bit more of a new beginning that January to me. Perhaps its the change in season, or the years spent in school and now working in higher education but I really love this time of year.

A chance for a fresh start.

Things have been busy since I went back to full time work, it has been 7 months now and I feel like I have an OK rhythm going, but it still feels like there aren't enough hours in the day sometimes. I mean we all get where we need to be, we all are fed and watered and clothed etc... All the essentials are getting done. I just struggle with the juggle sometimes.

So with the change in seasons I am reflecting and setting myself some goals. My main issues right now are around fitting in housework and spending too much money.

I feel pretty happy with how life is going in the most part but housework always seems to drop off the bottom of my list, I very much get to 8pm having put Zoe to bed and feel like I have earned a rest and the idea of starting to tidy fills me with dread. I am lucky that my husband is a tidy person so I avoid living in complete squalor, but I want to get some control back and feel a bit house proud - instead of doing those 10 minute blitz cleans where everything gets shoved out of sight before someone pops round.

I recently started following The Organised Mum and Mrs Hinch on Instagram and they have got me feeling a little more motivated. I find the Organised Mum method a bit restrictive and very much geared towards a certain type of person and home, which doesn't always suit me - but I do like the general idea of 30 minute timers, fitting things around life and doing little bits throughout the day. I also love Mrs Hinch for the little tips and tricks, product recommendations and also just her enthusiasm for it all - it reminds me that its not all just a chore and it can be fun! I am planning on setting my own little daily tasks and ticking them off to keep on top of things better, I am tempted to share some things on IG stories BUT everyone else out there cleaning seems to live in immaculate homes so I am not sure I should really be sharing my shame.

The second focus right now is money, we have lots of plans and things we want to do this year, including taking Zoe on her first holiday abroad. She starts school in September 2019 so we want to get away while we can still do it in term time. Similarly with the housework, the food planning and prepping has taken a back seat. I am doing more little trips to the supermarket, little stops at Pret or Greggs for breakfast/lunch at work. It is all adding up and chipping away at any savings we manage to tuck away. I attended a GiffGaff Gameplan event a couple of weeks ago to learn more about managing money. The Giffgaff gameplan app is launching in January, but they have some info on their website, as well as a free credit report tool.

I attended talks on Mortgages and Savings and picked up some great tips. The mortgage talk wasn't great as it pretty much cemented for me that we are so far away from being able to get on the property ladder, which is a hard pill to swallow. However, the savings talk by Eileen from Your Money Sorted was fantastic. She gave us some great tips and advice so I thought I would share what I found useful with you;

1. Meal Planning - I mean I know meal planning is great, you know I love a bit of meal planning around here, but I have lost my mojo for sure. She reminded me how much you can save by meal planning and being that bit more organised. I am determined to get back into it, so lookout for those posts coming back as well as some midweek meal recipes.

2. Haggle and switch - Switching utilities, or haggling a better broadband deal can reap huge rewards. We do already do this as my husband is a big fan of a haggle, but I hadn't realised just how much could be saved.

3. Apps and tech - There are literally loads of apps and pieces of technology that can help you gain control of spending and save. Based on recommendations from friends and Eileen, I have started using Cleo and Chip. Cleo is a spending analysis tool which utilises facebook messenger. It presents you with all sorts of information and you can ask it questions like "how much have I spent on eating out this week" and it can really hone in on problem areas and give that reality check when needed. Chip is an automatic savings app, it analyses your spending habits and squirrels small sums of money away for you without you really noticing, this is ideal for me as I am very much a 'if I see it I spend it' kind of person. I am hoping to use this to save for holiday spends.

4. Talk about money - Actually one of the biggest take homes for me was that its OK to talk about money, its healthy, its normal. I tend to shy away from money talk and have always felt like a total novice, but after talking to people in the workshop I realised I knew more than others and I felt better knowing others had debt or couldn't even consider mortgages etc... It was really freeing to talk so openly. As a result I went away and checked my credit rating (something I have always hidden from out of fear of it being awful) but actually I have an excellent credit rating and my financial situation is much brighter than I thought! Its easy to look around at others buying homes and shiny things and assume that they must have their shit together, when they just have a different approach to their finances.

So, down to some goal setting. I really want these to be more than just empty promises, I want to set SMART objectives for myself and check in on progress and document when I achieve them.

Goal 1: Set a daily task list for housework, put it up somewhere in the house and tick it off when completed. I will share this more on Instagram for those interested.

Goal 2: Meal plan weekly, blog it, put it on the fridge and get excited about cooking again. I want to start sharing recipes here again too.

Goal 3: Set a savings target, stick to it and try to curb unnecessary spending. I might do semi-regular check-ins on this here, Follow up on how the apps are working for me and any lessons learned along the way. I am also determined to do Christmas frugally this year, so lookout for some content on that!

Anyone else feeling a fresh start at this time of year?

Sidenote; if anyone has any holiday recommendations for a family who have zero clue please let me know, we want a cheap and cheerful all inclusive type sun holiday, somewhere central where you don't need a car, good pool, chilled vibes... Help!

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