Monday, 28 September 2015

The Perfect Family Car

I have had a number of cars over the years. I remember my very first one - a baked-bean coloured Vauxhall Corsa. It was my little pride and joy. That was until I realised that it had a faulty engine and I had to have it scrapped....

Anyway, since then I have had  quite a few cars. It was a lot easier before we had the babies - there is much less to consider, you can just pick a ca because you like it. However, with the kids obviously we have to think about them. You need something that is big enough to fit them all in as well as being economical on fuel. Chances are if you have a few kids, you might be running them here there and everywhere for a number of years so it's important to pick the right car for your family. Here is what we took into account when we purchased our Ford Focus:

1) Room

There had to be plenty of room in the back. We have three children so we needed to fit the cars seats in. We also had to take into account all of the kid's "stuff" - they just tend to cram their things in the car with them, they can't help it. Elsa dolls, shoes, books, half-eaten apples... everything tends to end up in there with them so we needed a car with plenty of room.

2) Child-Locks

This was essential for us. Kids mess and fiddle with everything in cars and it would be terrible if they could open the doors, it's bad enough that they mess with the windows! So we have the child-locks on ours and gives us peace of mind.

3) Entertainment

We have  CD player and a radio in ours. We don't have a DVD player but that would be nice. We tend to use the CD player and radio and sing along with them on long journeys. We all sound brilliant. Brilliant-ish.

4) Fuel Economy

We do use our car a lot. We use it in the week for work and then we try to get out and about most weekends. We needed our car to be economical on fuel as well as being reliable.

5) One with a separate noise-proof section for the kids, like this:

Just kidding.

This post was brought to you in association with Parkway. All words and views are my own.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Student Money Saving Tips

Now I don't like to brag here, but I am definitely brilliant at money saving. I am a penny-pinching money-saving Mother. I am also a student, which naturally means that as I pay for my education I don't exactly have thousands in the bank to squander. So, below I have prepared my favourite money-saving tips for you. Pennies do make pounds and saving a little bit adds up to a lot.

1) Shop the Sales

Sounds really obvious, right. Don't buy your summer clothes in summer - get them in the winter sales! Buy your winter boots, cardis and coats in the summer sales! It is something that sounds so simple, but it really does save you a fortune. When I do this it means that I can buy clothes and items for myself that were once quite expensive and decent quality, but because I shop smart I get them at a fraction of the price. Brilliant!

2) Meal-Plan

As a busy mother of three children it really does make sense that I meal plan. Even if you have no kids and are a student it still makes a great deal of sense. Every Sunday I sit down and plan seven meals for the week. I then make my list and shop according to the list. I try not to deviate from the list. This means that we all eat healthy, balanced meals and there are no unplanned trips to the supermarket. Unplanned trips to the supermarket do not do anyone's bank balance any good - believe me, I've been there!
Studying/Meal Planning/Budgeting all in one!

3) Use Price Comparison Websites

If you are looking for insurance or a cheap phone, a loan, a credit card - whatever it is, use a price comparison website. I tend to look on Martin's Money Tips quite a bit and see what the best deal is for me - don't settle for the first thing you see - shop around!

4) Open a Student Bank Account

Student bank accounts are a great way to save your money. A lot of accounts have interest free overdrafts and sweeteners when you open your account. Do check them out and find the best deal to suit you.

5) Use the Library

Again, sounds obvious but my second home is the library. I very rarely buy new books - they are expensive and the university has a cracking library for me to borrow books from. If I really love the book then I will go out and buy it. Using my NUS discount card of course!!

This post was brought to you in association with TSB current accounts. All words and views are my own.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Cake Baking with Cake Boss

As a bit of a wannabe-baker I was really excited to be sent some goodies from Cake Boss. Cake Boss supply a wide variety of cake-decorating and baking tools and gadgets - definitely something that I am always looking out for!

We were sent the following items:

* Fondant Rolling Pin
* Fondant Rolling Mat
* Smoother
* Cake decorating Kit

We couldn't wait to get cracking with this one and get baking. I do love baking cakes, especially the kids birthday cakes and on special occasions. Now my cakes are never going to be Pinterest superstars - I don't apply filters to my photographs I generally just tell it like it is - however, I was pretty sure that with the right tools my cake would be amazing, and I wasn't wrong!

So we decided to bake a normal sponge cake with butter cream and jam filling. A very simple recipe (I used a packet mix Ssssh don't tell anyone.) As is always the way when you decide to do these things I opened the fridge to find just one egg and I needed two so Warren had to steal an egg from his Mum as it was Sunday night and no way were we trekking out all over to buy eggs. And so, reality checked, we started the baking!

The kids were sort-of interested in the baking, but it wasn't long before they disappeared. Once the sponges were out, burnt bits cut off and filling applied, it was time to get creative with the tools we had been supplied with.

Cutting the "well done" bits off the cake...

That was when the kids all of a sudden came running back in and I found myself tripping over each of them as they all wanted a go with the rolling pin and the "Plasticine." (Icing) *sigh*

Getting to work with Cake Boss
Anyway, I was very impressed with the fold-away mat. Not only does it have the measurements handy for covering your cake, it is non-stick, as in, the icing just does not stick to it at all. The rolling pins are the same - the icing just doesn't stick to them, it was brilliant. I usually have an absolute nightmare with my wooden rolling pin and I use a ton of icing sugar all over the worktop to stop the icing sticking and I make a right mess. This time it was easy!

Everyone getting stuck in helping out - sort of!!

I also loved smoothing the icing onto the cake - the tool to do this really does work and this is definitely the smoothest and best-finished cake I have ever made.

Smoothing and cutting like a (messy) pro baker!
The cutters are also brilliant. The design we chose was just the plain flower motif as you can see from the photos. There are also 3D cuters for leaves and flowers, it was very easy and looked really impressive. I could also use the cutters for biscuits too so I think these are really great.

The finished cake!

As you can see from the photos - we really enjoyed baking and using the Cake Boss items. They really helped us and made the finished cake a lot more professional-looking than it would have been otherwise, I'd definitely recommend checking out their website for any cake-baking items

Eating the cake!

I was sent the Cake Boss supplies free of charge for the purpose of this review. All words and views are our own.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Giveaway: Family Ticket for Here Be Monsters at The Epstein Theatre, Liverpool

I am so excited to bring you this lovely giveaway from The Epstein theatre in Liverpool. We have visited the Epstein on a number of occasions and absolutely love it and the shows that they put on for the kids are amazing. Rosie and Alice are just about old enough to really start appreciating this type of family show and we can't wait for this one.

Here is what they have to say:

"The Epstein Theatre has a little scary pre-Halloween treat to keep your little monsters entertained this Autumn.As part of its line up of fabulous kids’ shows, Mayflower Productions will present Here Be Monsters on Saturday, October 24 and Sunday, October 25, 2015.Set sail with the villainous Captain and his fearsome crew in the thrilling musical adventure Here Be Monsters as they journey through monster-infested waters in search of a mysterious island crammed with jewels and gem stones.The Captain is certain that “monsters simply don’t exist,” but as they near the island and the mist closes in around them, his crew are not so sure…This thrilling new musical adventure is performed by five talented actor musicians who bring this exciting story to life.Let your little monsters loose and what’s more, if they come dressed up as their favourite spooky characters, they can win a family ticket to the glittering pantomime Cinderella which will be staged at the Epstein Theatre this festive season!"

I've teamed up with the Epstein to offer one lucky family a ticket to the show. The ticket is a family ticket for 2 adults and 2 concessions - what a lovely Halloween treat this is! We can't wait to see the show.

To enter just fill in the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

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Winner will be notified within 48 hours of giveaway ending
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Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Review: Chemist Direct

I was recently asked to review an order from Chemist Direct - an online pharmacy that stocks all kind of medicines and toiletries. As we have just about finished renivating our bathroom, this review came at a great time.  was quite keen to stock up on all of the bathroom essentials. Having three kids means that they have different products to us - shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrushes. My order consisted mainly of shampoo, conditioner, shower gels and other bath time essentials.

When the order arrived although everything was in bubble wrap, one of the hand wash bottles had burst open, so I did have to have a little bit of a clean-up before I could unpack everything. This was a bit annoying but I suppose when you are ordering goods like this online then you might expect this type of mishap - it wasn't a massive catastrophe as the handwash was still in tact and put to good use!

The products themselves were great - the website offers all kinds of products that you might like to get delivered. They do offer some of the products in bulk - so you might save some money if they stock what you need. I found the main benefit to this website to be the ease of ordering online - a couple of clicks and you are done. This saves time and petrol for yourself, and it would be great if you wanted to bulk-order as you were short of time.

Overall I thought this website was easy to use and the ordering system and delivery was handy. If you are after a few bits and pieces to be delivered in bulk then this might be the website for you.

We were sent a voucher code to cover the cost of our items. All words and views are our own.

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