Saving for University

Saving for University

I was never the most attentive student at school, don’t get me wrong I was fairly smart and passed all my exams I just didn’t put in much effort. I could do the work and seemed to thrive when it came to exams, the issue was I knew this so didn’t try my hardest.

Luckily for me, my girls enjoy school and enjoy learning. Even though they are still in primary school the topic of what they’d like to do has cropped up a few times, with Mia wanting to become a teacher and Aly...well anything to do with computers.

Read More

A Woodland Walk

You can tell when the weather improves and Spring is on its way by the fact that the girls want to go on a walk in the local woods. Last weekend with the weather warming up a little bit the girls asked if we could have a walk in the woods. It was a little muddy but there were lots of signs of Spring plus it gave me the chance to grab some photographs. As a bonus the girls also let me take a few photos of them...this doesn't normally happen.

DCA_4762-2.jpg

As anyone will know the trick to a good woodland walk is having the right sort of stick to assist you. This was Aly's first aim when we ended the woods, some were too weak, some too small but in the end, she found the perfect one.

DCA_4753.jpg

Mia, on the other hand, was more than happy just to relax and enjoy the fresh air. There was also some tree climbing to take part in and somehow neither of them fell off which was a nice surprise.

DCA_4757.jpg

Below is a collection of photos I captured of them, I'm not very good with words so I'll allow my photos to do the talking.

DCA_4770.jpg
DCA_4747.jpg
Country Kids

It’s Pie Week!!

There are certain times of the year that I remember…the girls birthday’s, the start of the F1 season and pie week. It doesn’t get the credit it deserves, the classic pie should never be forgotten; it's a thing to enjoy and treasure. I’ll admit something…there was a time when my girls were younger that I may have neglected the pie. I’m ashamed of myself.

Fast forward and Aly who’s 9 has developed a real love of having pie for dinner and this means we get to enjoy it lots and it’s our special meal. Of course, there are many beautiful pies you can savour like a warming steak pie but our personal favourite is a chicken pie.

IMG_2399.jpg

To celebrate pie week what better meal to have than a chicken pie, some roast potatoes and a selection of vegetables. We’re a busy family with work and after school clubs and working the dinner that we prepared was all frozen. The #PowerOfFrozen is all about tasty food that is high quality and also convenient. It allows us as parents to be able to feed our girls quickly.

IMG_2400.jpg

A good pie needs perfect pastry and lots of filing. Too often you get more sauce than actual meat and that’s just wrong. The Iceland pies are bursting with flavour and meat and you won’t be able to tell that they haven’t been made using Nan’s secret recipe. There’s no making of the pastry, no pre-cooking the meat, simply place on a baking tray and 30 minutes later you have an amazing tasting pie.

IMG_2401.jpg

There are only 2 pie lovers in this house (shocking I know) and Aly was so impressed with them, she asked if we could have them again tomorrow. Lucky we bought a 4 pack of Iceland’s chicken pies so that we can spread it out across 2 meals! They are full of goodness and I’m safe in the knowledge that if Aly has one of these after swimming that she’s getting a good meal inside of her.

Pie week is something to celebrate, so what is your pie of choice?

This post is in collaboration with Iceland Foods.

Should Your Next Family Workhorse Be An Automatic?

While some people get by with a small to medium-sized vehicle, many parents with families in tow need large people carriers. They offer cavernous space inside and some cars can even seat up to seven people, including the driver. Family cars are useful for the short-haul school run journeys and long-distance motorway journeys alike. It’s no secret that most people in the United Kingdom drive a manual car. You don’t need me to talk to you about the advantages that a manual car offers. But, it seems that automotive technology is influencing car buyers to opt for automatics instead!

Just twenty years ago, you’d only find a few automatic cars on the road. And many of those would typically be high-end cars like Jaguars and BMWs. Today, it’s not unusual to see even small hatchbacks such as the Volkswagen Golf with an automatic gearbox of some description.

6058643277_f8a44010c9_b.jpg

Image Obtained From Flickr

If you’re in the market for a new car, should you ditch the clutch and go for an auto box model? The answer is yes, in case you wondered! Confused? Let me explain why that makes perfect sense:

They use less fuel

An automatic that uses less fuel than a manual? Surely that’s got to be some kind of mistake, I hear you exclaim! The truth is, today’s modern automatic transmissions are electronic. Their computer brains make thousands of decisions a second and work with the main ECU in the car.

As a result, a new automatic car can shift up or down quicker than you can in a manual. Don’t believe me? There’s a tonne of evidence online to support that fact!

They are super easy to drive

When you get into an automatic car, you’ll notice that you’ve only got two pedals; the brake and the accelerator! You don’t have to change gears manually in an automatic, so there’s no need for a clutch pedal. Simply stick the gear lever into “Drive” and away you go!

Of course, going from a manual to an automatic can take a lot of getting used to. As strange as the suggestion is, you may wish to consider taking a couple of driving lessons to get used to driving an automatic.

You can still drive the car like a manual (sort of)

There are various types of automatic transmissions in use today. The most popular type is the dual-clutch and Tiptronic designs. They have the typical Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive gears that you’d expect in an auto. However, you can shift up or down five or more gears as if you were in a manual. The only difference is, you don’t need to use a clutch to shift!

No clutch replacement costs

All manual car drivers know that a clutch needs to get replaced every so often in a vehicle’s lifetime. With an automatic, you never need to do that! In fact, most transmissions only need an oil change every 100,000 miles.

So, when will you take the plunge and buy an automatic family workhorse? There’s plenty to choose from nowadays, so you’ll be spoilt for choice!

Guest Post

It All Started In Barcelona

We are by no means massive travellers, we've visited a few places and most of them hold special memories. From our first holiday as a couple, first family holiday or the first time the girls flew on a plane, they all have their place in our heart. One trip really stands out and that's Barcelona which was in February 2007. The plan was for us to enjoy a short break in the lovely Barcelona, just the two of us.

We had been trying for a baby for a little while, but not a long time. Mrs LADs had bought a pregnancy test while in the airport before we had left England but she decided not to tell me. After dropping our bags at the hotel before we head off to have a look around and grab some dinner she heads to the bathroom and a few minutes later comes out with a look on her face, straight away I can tell "We're having a baby!"

The words you'll never forget, the words that will change your whole World.

By this stage, we'd been a couple for 6 years and married for almost 3 years so we knew we were ready to start this next chapter.

Before we left for this little break we'd just had the news that the landlords wanted our flat back by the end of March. Laura at the time had said that these things happen for a reason and now we knew what that reason was.

Barcelona would always be in our memories.

Once the excitement had died down slightly we wanted to make the most of Barcelona and all that it had to offer. When we travel we get very organised and plan what we want to see and on which days.

The first place to visit in Barcelona is, of course, Gaudi's amazing La Sagrada cathedral which after over 100 years still isn't finished. It's a remarkable sight and you can visit many parts of the cathedral and around it, you'll find lots of gift shops and plenty of places to eat.

Being a massive football fan I couldn't visit Barcelona and not make a trip to Camp Nou. If you're a sports fan then you need to visit one of the iconic stadiums in the World. We didn't get to see a match but if you can then I would really recommend it.

We tried to fit in as much as possible so we visited the Sea Life centre, the Barcelona Zoo and enjoyed lot's of yummy food.

Barcelona is a city that will always hold a very special place in our hearts and in the next year or so we will try and visit again with the girls.

The team at Avis have produced its own Barcelona travel guide. It’s well worth looking at if you want some hints and tips for visiting the city.

If you plan on visiting then we'd suggest getting a car to hire so it makes it easier to get around, check out Car Hire in Barcelona and really enjoy Barcelona.

The article has been sponsored by AVIS

Preparing for a Newborn in the Family

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to having a child. There will be an ever-growing list of tasks to accomplish, and it can feel like you don’t have much time to finish them all. From telling your parents to notifying your boss, then making home improvements and learning how to feed your child and how to deal with the mental stress of balancing work and family—it’s a tough time. However, it doesn’t need to be stressful and it certainly doesn’t need to take its toll on your health. Preparing for a newborn isn’t as difficult as some people make it out to be and they usually grossly exaggerate the situation. This article will go through the truths about having a newborn in the family and some of the steps you have to take to prepare yourself both mentally and physically. It will be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to sap away all of your strength and livelihood. So without further ado, here are a couple of tips, tricks and things to look out for when preparing yourself for a newborn in the family.

pexels-photo-235126.jpeg

Picture Credit

Learning About Pregnancy

Unless you like surprises and dealing with unexpected issues, it’s a good idea to check up on the pregnancy process. It can help put your mind at ease when the mother experiences issues, gets worried about certain things or starts to have problems with their body. You can also consider taking birth classes if you want to learn more about the stages of labour and what to expect. You can also take lessons in pain management if you are worried about complications that might arise or pains and aches that are the result of pregnancy. The actual delivery process also depends on the mother. For example, you can have natural births, water births, and delivery by c-section. There are many surprises that can happen during the pregnancy period, so make sure you’re prepared for everything that can happen and that you learn about all the stages of pregnancy so you can better understand how to deal with issues or how to react to certain things.

Learn From Other Mothers

There are plenty of online communities for mothers to discuss how to take care of their child and to get advice for various things. For example, you might be struggling to cope with something specific about pregnancy and without anyone to talk to, you can resort to online communities. Keep in mind that there are a huge variety of mothers on the internet so you’ll be able to get advice and share experiences with people all over the world. They can teach you how to deal with your newborn, the types of problems you might experience and how to deal with them, and how to stay positive throughout the entire process.

pexels-photo-102170.jpeg

Picture Credit

Getting Time Off

In most parts of the world, mothers are expected to take at least two weeks off of work following the birth of their child. In some cases, this can extend up to four weeks or more depending on the situation. However, many people don’t realise that fathers are also entitled to taking time off for paternity leave. There are many terms and conditions for the parents, and couples are also entitled to take parental leave off work to look after their child. This parental leave can be shared between both the mother and father, so you can essentially take turns with your partner deciding who should look after the child. Make sure that as soon as you know the expected date for your child to be born that you start making arrangements in regards to paternity and maternity. Make sure that you aren’t leaving it till the last minute because the entire process does take some time to finish, and you never want to be forced into work with no one to look after your child.

Get To Know Childcare Services

If you and your partner are busy couples that want to continue working, then you’re going to need to get in touch with childcare services around the city. Depending on what type of care you’re looking for, there are a variety of different services to choose from and you might be spoilt for choice depending on your preferences. For instance, there are some childcare services that are very professional but don’t offer a tailor-made service that accommodates your needs. Other services are much more personal and the carer that is assigned to you can live with your family or become close friends with you in order to provide the best care possible for your family. It’s an expensive investment, but it will be worth the money in the long run.

pexels-photo-254054.jpeg

Picture Credit

Babyproof Your Home

Your baby is going to need a lot of looking after at home. There are many hazards that could harm your children, such as stairs, sharp objects and loose shelves. You need to ensure that your child has the utmost protection at home and that your house is crawl-friendly. If possible, replace as much carpeting as possible with laminate or wooden flooring because it is easier to clean and there’s less chance of dust and small objects harming your child. Make sure you build a secure baby bed and try to dedicate a single room to your child as a nursery. When they grow older, you can turn it into a toddler’s bedroom. Decorate the nursery with bright and colourful wallpapers and toys, and remember to have a gate installed at important parts of your home such as for the kitchen and at the top of stairs.

Tell Others

Make sure you let other family members know that you’re expecting a child. Tell your other children, tell your parents, and notify your neighbours as well in case they are willing to help you look after your child or help you babysit. Some pets can also be trained with special pre-baby preparations. Your family members might offer to take care of your child as well, or they might donate some old furniture and products that are still usable to help you save money on baby expenses.

pregnant-pregnancy-mom-child.jpg

Picture Credit

Get a Bag of Essentials Ready

You can ease your mind on your pregnancy by ensuring that you have an emergency bag prepared for any situation. When you stay at the hospital, you might want to consider bringing some comforts such as your phone, a tablet device, or even a book. Make sure you pack essentials such as medication, toiletries or even your own pillow. It’s important that you try to get as comfortable as you can when you’re in the hospital so that the birth goes smoothly. Make sure to pack an extra set of clothes too for when you leave the hospital and don’t be afraid of packing some additional baby clothes if you have them planned.

Stock Up On Baby Essentials

Think about all the different types of foods and feeding equipment you’ll need. Make sure you have bottles prepared for your baby and read up on breastfeeding if you plan to do that. Don’t feel pressured by other mothers or your friends and family to buy every single baby product under the sun. The basics you need are baby food, toiletries and clothing. You can also buy things such as baby car seats if you plan to drive around with your baby on a regular basis, and you might want to consider a breast pump to extract milk if you want to continue breastfeeding but don’t have the time to do so.

Guest Post

Russell Hobbs 6-in-1 blender and Nutella Cheesecake

I enjoying cooking the problem is that I very rarely get the chance so when the chance to try out the Russell Hobbs 6-in-1 blender I thought this was my chance to set some time aside to give it a test and I also get to make something yummy.

So what can this kitchen gadget do? Well, it is a 600W multi-functional hand blender with food processor attachment and can do 6 functions in one including processing, creaming, slicing, shredding, blending and whisking.

Here is also a little video for you to see its full capabilities.

The idea was to create a recipe using this and for inspiration, they send me a link to a recipe by Nigella Lawson called Nutella Cheesecake well once I saw that I have to give it a try. So here we go.

Ingredients

  • 250 grams digestive biscuits
  • 75 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 1 x 400 grams jar Nutella (at room temperature)
  • 100 grams chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • 500 grams cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 60 grams icing sugar (sifted)

What to do

  1. Break the digestive biscuits into the bowl of the processor, add the butter and a tablespoon of Nutella, and blitz until it starts to clump.
  2. Add 3 tablespoons of the hazelnuts and continue to pulse until you have a damp, sandy mixture.
  3. Tip into a 9inch round springform and press into the base either using your hands or the back of a spoon. Place in the fridge to chill.
  4. Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth and then add the remaining Nutella to the cream cheese mixture, and continue beating until combined.
  5. Take the springform out of the fridge and carefully smooth the Nutella mixture over the base. Scatter the remaining chopped hazelnuts on top to cover and place the tin in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight.
  6. Serve straight from the fridge for best results.

In the end, it was an easy recipe made even easier with a kitchen gadget that done it all. The Russell Hobbs 6-in-1 blender has an RRP of £64.99 and is well worth the investment.

We were sent this item for the purpose of this post, all thoughts and opinions are our own. 

Get Creative In Your Baby's Bedroom!

If you’re awaiting a new arrival, or perhaps you’re looking to redecorate your toddler’s bedroom, these ideas and tips will help you to get creative and make the perfect space for them. Take a look and see how you could create an incredible bedroom for your baby! Paint A Mural

If you have some serious artistic skills that you’d like to show off, how about painting a mural for your baby? You could fill a whole wall with amazing animals, stars, flowers, and anything else you can think of. Even if you’re not much of an artist but you’d like to give it a go, there are tutorials online that can help you. If you’re still scared, cheat. Buy a stencil or a wall decal and use that instead! The wall will still look great and no one will be any the wiser.

Choose An Amazing Sleep Space

Your baby needs an amazing, safe sleep space. This will ensure that you have nothing to worry about as they snooze, that they are completely safe and comfortable. Not only that, it’ll add to the look of the room! There are so many options for cots & cot beds, so make sure you choose something that fits your theme and is as safe as can be. Read reviews before you buy to be sure!

nursery-1078923_960_720.jpg

image

Don’t Be Afraid To Go For A Neutral Decor

You can still get creative in your baby’s bedroom with a neutral decor. You don’t need to use all the colours of the rainbow to make their room look magical. Neutral decor allows your baby to make their own decision about the colours they love (when they’re old enough, of course), and it’ll last longer as they grow up. It’s super simple and cheap to switch things up with accessories too!

Capture Their Imaginations

There are a few ways you can capture your baby’s imagination in their bedroom. You can place unusual art in there, hanging mobiles in the shape of the solar system, and so much more. Not only will this look great, it’ll likely help their development too.

Ti-pis and Fairy Lights

Ti-pis are a super cute addition to any bedroom. They may be more suitable for a toddler than a baby, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put one up ready for them! They can use this ti-pi to look at their picture books, or simply play with their toys. However they choose to use it, they’re bound to let their imaginations run free. Fairy lights always add a magical element too!

Play With Textures

Playing with textures is important for any room in the home, but can be especially important in your baby’s bedroom. In terms of decor, it makes the room look more interesting, and can stop any scheme from looking boring. It gives a room more dimension too. Textures in your baby’s room are so good for their development too! You can add texture with their curtains, rugs, and even their wallpaper.

Thanks for reading!

Guest Post

Our Film Date Night

Look at their beautiful faces, filled with excitement and joy as they run to their grandparents for the night. It’s one of those truly blissful moments as a parent but you can’t show your happiness too much, party poppers and fireworks as they leave aren’t allowed. It’s a rare night off for us as we don’t ever get babysitters. In fact, I can’t remember the last time that we went out for a meal, as just the two of us. But this weekend is our weekend, you see two weeks ago it was the 16th anniversary of our first date. How did we celebrate? Well, we didn’t and the day almost passed us by.

But this weekend, on the spur of the moment, the girls were heading off to their grandparents and we did what any parents would do: we decided to have a movie night with delicious food.

We generally always eat as a family, only having meals that the girls also enjoy to keep it simple. But tonight it was different; in our freezer, we have a section that is just for us and it's called 'the good stuff': an Indian selection, spring rolls, chocolate éclairs plus cheese and onion rolls.

I tried to make this a little bit special, so whilst the wind and rain were battering the house outside, the lights got turned off and a few candles were lit.

The #poweroffrozen is the fact it's so easy to cook on the spur of the moment and we've found our food waste has been cut. We can cook the exact quantity exactly that we want and keep the rest for the next time. This meant that on our movie night we could have a selection of everything and boy did we enjoy it.

We haven't been to the cinema for many years, so we've missed out on many films but looking through the channels we arrived at 'Bad Moms' and with the girls out we thought this would be the perfect funny film for us.

The film was exactly what we needed and with all the food right there it meant we didn't have to keep getting up and missing parts of the movie. Why go to the cinema when you can enjoy all this food in the comfort of your own home?

The Indian Platter that we had was amazing and it was so nice to enjoy without having to go to our local and pick it up. Straight in the oven and then within 15 minutes it was cooked. It's yummy, convenient and we didn't waste any of it. According to my wife, the chocolate éclairs were as scrumptious as if they were fresh and doubts anyone would be able to taste the difference.

So next time you find yourself childfree grab yourself some frozen party food and a good movie.

This post is in collaboration with Iceland Foods.