Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Great British Budget; being the master of your own money

This February I'm taking part in a campaign to help people take charge of their money. Part of the reason I am passionate about being the master of my own money and helping people to do the same is tied in with my faith. The most misquoted verse of the Bible is Timothy chapter 6 verse 10.  Usually people say money is the route of all evil, but actually the Bible says 'the love of money is the route of all evil'. Money itself can't be evil, money has no power unless we give it power. That means that we need to be charge of money,  make money serve us not the other way around. 

If you are in debt and are worrying a lot about money, it is in charge of you.

 I'm hoping this campaign will help someone put money where it should be in their life and help me to improve my budgeting skills.

About the campaign: It's called The Great British Budget and the aim is simple, to encourage as many people as possible to set and stick to their budgets. have created a budgeting app and are on a mission to get Britain budgeting.

As part of The Great British Budget campaign this February I am going to be sharing my experience of saving money and living on a budget as well as money saving tips and some more budget friendly recipes like my Vegetable Frittas, and Spicy Pepper Soup.

Jamie and I are already living on quite a tight budget due to me being on maternity leave. We have also been giving 10% of our income to charity and saving 10% of our income every month for nearly 2 years now. The process of choosing where our money would go and working out how much 10% of our monthly income was, helped us to take charge of our money. We do have a credit card, but as a rule we always pay it off. We didn't pay it off immediately only once, when we bought out tickets to Cambodia. It took us 3 months.

We aren't perfect, we spend too much money on random spending sprees, and we do like treats in our weekly shop. We also have been meaning to cancel our love film subscription for a couple of months but we just haven't got round to it!

We are saving money for a few reasons; 
  * one day we want to buy a house.
  * we really like holidays
  * we would like to have enough set aside for emergencies such as the car breaking or long term illness.

What about you? Do you have subscriptions you could cancel? What are you saving for?

There are a few different ways to get involved with The Great British Budget this February. You can join in with the twitter competition to by tweeting a picture of something relevant to the days photo challenge. You can win shopping vouchers :)

Follow @yourwealthuk on twitter for money saving tips and to take part in the #GreatBritishBudget photo challenge.

You can commit to sticking to your budget for February on The Great British Budget website and download the app to help.

I am going to sign up and try out the app. I will let you know how it goes.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

A day out: The Harry Potter; Warner Brothers studio tour

Last Friday Jamie and I got to use our Christmas present to each other, a ticket to the Harry Potter studio tour, we were both very excited as we are huge Harry Potter fans.
Fred was less excited.

 Our tour started in the Great hall, the tables were set and costumes from the films lined the walls.

 From the great hall we entered a huge room with many of the original film sets within it. Including the Gryffindor boys dormitory, the Gryffindor common room, the potions class room, and many more.

The huge props that were made especially for the film were really impressive.
Below is the door from the chamber of secrets.

After exploring the hall full of sets and props we ventured outside to taste butter beer. It wasn't as nice as I imagined it would be. It was foamy and toffeey but it wasn't thick enough. I know this is wrong but I also always imagined it would be warm...

What wasn't a disappointment was seeing the Knight bus, it was HUGE! Cool fact- they had to add 4tons of weight to the bottom of the bus to make sure the fullsize triple decker wouldn't topple over!

The rooms with the make up and animatronics were astonishing. They had a full size moving hippogryff that actually bowed. The masks for all of the goblins were really detailed.

 All of the sets had to be made up in card before being created full size,  below is the village of Hogsmead.

  As we walked in the the room with the huge model of Hogwarts people gasped. It is almost silly that a model of a castle can have that affect on people but again it was incredibly detailed and impressive. 
It was covered in 'snow' for the winter :)

We had a good time, but I do think it is a bit over priced. It took us three and a half hours to take the tour. and we paid £30 each. We wouldn't pay that for a theme park that we would spend all day in. 
We also made the mistake of having a light lunch in the cafe we had a sandwich, yogurt and cold drink each and it cost us £18! 
It was a long day, as it was a 3hr drive each way, but it was definitely worth it.

On the way back we stopped at a service station with big mirrors so we took a family 'selfie' :)

Ordinary moments: Our daily walk

Possibly the most Ordinary Moment is our daily walk. Even when we are both ill, grumpy and unwilling to socialise we still,most days, go for a walk.
 As you know, if you have been reading my adventures for a while, Fred is not a good sleeper especially during the day. He will sleep in his pushchair and if I'm lucky he will stay asleep in there for up to 3 hours!
I enjoy our walks, we don't go far, or anywhere special, but it is really sweet to watch him drifting off.

 First he gets a stare on, then after 5- 10 minutes of staring he starts to long blink. Sometimes it takes a while, other times he blinks only twice before his eyelids become too heavy to open.

As I walk I listen to audio books. It is great to have some me time at the same time as looking after Fred. 
And it is guilt free - new mums dream.


Thursday, 23 January 2014

Review: NappyKind boutique, baby legwarmers

I was asked by NappyKind Boutique to review their baby legwarmers. For this review I was given a discount code so I could order them from their website at a reduced rate.

Amazingly these leg warmers only cost £1.99 full price. I chose this cute dinosaur design, as Fred (or maybe his parents) has a thing for dinosaurs.

The  biggest benefit of these leg warmers are that we don't have to worry if they will fit over Fred's nappies! NappyKind also suggest they lead to quicker nappy changing, but I haven't tried it out because as soon as we take Fred's nappy off, he kicks around like crazy. He often gets poo on his feet as it is! So I felt leaving the leg warmers on while we change his nappy would be counter productive.

There are so many different designs of leg warmers on the NappyKind website, you could be spoilt for choice. Whilst browsing the website I had one of those rare moments where I thought, 'this would be more fun if Fred was a girl.' There are loads of cute frilly/ spotty ones that Jamie would not let me get for Fred!

Now that we have had a chance to try out our leg warmers, this is what I think:

These leg warmers are really well priced and good quality. Often clothes 'cut for cloth' are really expensive.
There is no worrying that they won't fit over the nappies, and they will probably fit him for quite a while.

The top of the leg warmers has soft stretch elastic so it doesn't dig in to his ultra chunky thighs.
The design is really cute!

As you can see they are a little big, they come in only one size. I'm sure we will get more wear out of them as he grows.

They aren't really suitable for winter as there are bits of precious baby skin that stick out, we are looking forward to trying them in the spring summer though.

I wouldn't dress Fred in these if we were going out and about. I think they would work loads better on a girl under a dress maybe.

If you are struggling to find trousers to fit over your babies cloth bum and you don't want to splash the cash these are a great option. 

NappyKind also do a great range of leggings with designs on the bum. I'm thinking of getting Fred a couple of pairs. :)

As a side note, I found taking Fred's photo for this post really difficult! 
I think up until now I've never purposely taken a picture with his legs in it.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Ordinary Moments; tummy time

Tummy time is not something Fred has enjoyed, it has been endured.

Why mummy insisted on putting him on his front so he was left licking the floor was beyond him.

Until recently. Suddenly he has the strength to hold up his head. To look around and to wiggle his butt!
There is definitely no rolling yet but it will come, for now we are happy to look around at what is going on until his neck gets tired.

Lifting his head for a few minutes without face planting or crying has been a long time coming. We practice a little every day. This extraordinary feat is my ordinary moment this week.

I have linked up again with Mummy Daddy Me. I hope you like my ordinary moments posts. My aim is to join in every week : )

If you like my ordinary moments post you should have a look at all of the others!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Snood Knitting Pattern / Recipe

I can hardly call this snood pattern a pattern, it is a really simple recipe that can be changed in many ways and it would still work.
So far I have made two, one for my Mum and one for my friend Charlotte who blogs over at the fatty crafter and is very appreciative of hand made presents.
Next I am making one for myself!

This snood is a great project for a new knitter or for an advanced knitter to knit when watching TV or on a journey.
 To make this snood you will need chunky weight wool and size 10 needles:

Cast on 19 stitches
Knit 1 purl 1, repeat until the end of the row
turn and do the same.
this makes a moss stitch.
repeat the same knit 1 purl 1 for the whole snood.
knit until the scarf measures 60 inches. 
Cast off and twist the scarf once before sewing the two ends together.

You can make many variations of this snood:

 * Use thinner wool and smaller needles - just cast on more stitches. 

 * Make it really colourful with lots,of different coloured wool just make sure the wool you use is all the same type and weight. 

* Knit it longer and thinner so that it will wrap around your neck more times.

* If you find purling too difficult can just knit, it still looks effective. 

 There are many more ways you can make this pattern your own. 
I hope you are keeping warm this winter. 
If you are cold you could make your self a snood!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Help my hair is falling out!

While pregnant my hair was lovely, shiny and full of volume. It grew long and I loved it!

This photo was taken in July, I was 6 months pregnant

Then I gave birth and over night my hair changed, it became dry, fluffy, brittle. I thought it could be fixed with a good haircut, it could not. 
The below photo is was taken 6 weeks postpartum. 
It's So Fluffy!!! (and not in a good way)

A month ago my hair started falling out. I knew it was going to happen, (it is one of the things they do remember to tell you) but I didn't expect this volume of hair loss! Clumps of hair fall out every time I wash, brush or tie it up. some areas of the house look like scenes from a wild west movie with hair balls blowing along in the wind! I exagerate, I hoovered yesterday. 

 It is quite horrible and hard to deal with, not only do I have less time to 'do' my hair, I have horrible hair to work with. I have just taken to tying it up in a low bun, but that doesn't solve the problem of my wayward fringe...

 I have two questions that I have yet found the answer to; When will it stop? And will my hair ever do what I want it to again? 

 Yours sincerely Baldy (previously known as Emily)

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Ordinary moments- Difficult nights

This is the first blog link up I have done. I don't know why I haven't linked up before but I do know that this is a great place to start. I have enjoyed reading all of the ordinary moments linked up on Mummy Daddy Me for a while now and it is about time I joined in. So here is my first go...

My first Ordinary Moment was taken on my phone late at night. 
Fred had his second lot of injections on Thursday, they have ruined our bedtime! On Friday night Fred had a temperature which was really sad. :( 
It is taking a lot longer to settle him at night and he is more irritable in the day. 

But he will get better soon and we will work on his night time routine soon, but until then. Jamie is very good at soothing Fred to sleep. 
I love my boys!!!

Friday, 10 January 2014

My aims for 2014

So much happened last year;

 It started in Cambodia where I managed to complete two of my 30 before 30 goals. In 2013 I managed to complete 7 of these goals, but many of them were relatively small.
 Experiencing a different culture and having a baby were definitely not small! I really enjoyed documenting my pregnancy here on my blog. It is already really good for me to look back on!

This Year...

This year started off very differently, I had an early night on New Years eve because I was tired and knew I would have to get up at least twice to feed Fred.

Fred is obviously a massive factor in my plans for the year ahead. We aren't able to go on a big holiday to New York (it is looking extremely unlikely that we will be able to afford it before I'm 30, let alone buying a house. I think I will have to re-think some of my list!) We are planning a few exciting things for this year, even if they aren't big or expensive they will hopefully be enjoyable and I may even be able to cross off some more of my 30 before 30 list.

The things we already have planned...

We have just booked to go on the Harry potter studios tour in a couple of weeks. I cannot wait! It is our Christmas present to each other - yes we are big Harry Potter geeks :)

In February we are going to visit our friends Jane and Greg (the same ones we visited in Cambodia) they now live in Yorkshire.

In March I'm hoping to go to Cake International in Manchester because I LOVE Mary Berry almost as much as I love baking! (Check out the Giant Jaffa Cake I made for Jamie's birthday- I was very proud)

At some point over Easter we are going to get Fred Dedicated. It is an alternative to a Christening. We will promise in front of our Friends, Family and Church family to bring Fred up prayerfully (like carefully but with Gods help!) with a knowledge of God and the sacrifice Jesus has made for him. But we are essentially leaving it up to him to decide if he would like to get Baptised when he is old enough to make an informed decision for himself.

In the summer Jamie along with a few other youth workers always takes a group of Chester young people to a youth Christian festival called Soul Survivor. It is definitely one of the highlights of the year. Jamie wouldn't let me go last year because I was big, pregnant and extra moany. We are going this year and taking Fred! It could be interesting, but to help us prepare we are going to do a camping test run at some point in the spring.

We are hoping our summer holiday will involve staying in a beach hut somewhere near Portsmouth (as you can tell we totally have that planned!). As well as spending a good amount of time with Fred's Grandparents.

In the Autumn are all three of our birthdays and our wedding anniversary. We don't know yet if we will have much of a party of Fred's birthday. Being only one he probably won't understand what's going on will he?!

I can't currently think further then that. 

At some point I will be going back to work, and our life will change quite dramatically. I'm thankful that I only work 3 days a week. I think it will still be difficult to balance child care and both mine and Jamie's jobs. We both work some evenings and weekends and without family around to look after Fred, if we both have to work on a weekend it could be potentially problematic!

30 before 30 aims...

As I said last year I managed to achieve 7 of my 30 before 30 aims. This year ideally I should achieve a similar amount. But I don't think it is going to happen. The ones I would like to achieve are:

        * Learn to cook a good roast ( I may enlist my Dads help with this one as he cooks the best roasts EVER)

        * Give up meat for a month ( This could be difficult if I'm still breastfeeding, although with good planning and a balanced diet it should be fine!)

         *Enter a baking competition

         * Make a dress

         * Run in a 5 or 10k race (this one is reliant on my foot not playing up, I hurt it trying to do long jump on concrete wearing inappropriate shoes about 2 years ago. It was a stupid thing to do!)

Other aims for the year ahead:

     *Do baby lead weaning once Fred is 6 months old. (I will be following Red Head Baby Led's BLW series with interest)
     *Knit at least 3 pairs of socks- I am a third of the way through my 1st sock of the year :)

Make more of the presents I give people. I am going to follow the example of The fatty Crafter and embrace my crafting side more.

My big challenge for the year:

Only buy clothes second hand or from eco friendly/ fair trade sources (I am not including a new swimming costume in this challenge).
I am already a fan of charity shops, and I buy a few select pieces from People Tree every now and again. Fast fashion and waste are something I have been trying not to indulge in for a while. This challenge should spur me on to hopefully change my shopping habits for good.

The year ahead is already looking busy and exciting! Do you have a big challenge that you will be taking on this year?

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Baby Fred a 3 month update

Our little Fred is 3 months old already! 

He is a good eater, eating every 2 - 3 hours, over Christmas he upped his milk intake. Previously I fed him just from one breast, now he takes both per feeding.

I'm not sure how much he weighs, I keep neglecting getting him weighed because he is very obviously growing well. At a baby group we go to he is almost as big as some babies twice his age!

During our time away he learnt loads of cool new things. He can now grab the things he wants to. Unfortunately a lot of the time that thing is my hair.

He learnt to laugh and it is a brilliantly dirty chuckle! Things that have Made him laugh include, Jamie singing to him, playing flying with me, bouncing in is chair and singing "row row row your boat".

He is quite a good sleeper, once we get him to sleep. Some evenings it is a bit of a battle getting him to settle enough to stay asleep. But once he is down he generally only wakes twice in the night. Before we went away for Christmas we had a couple of nights where he woke only once!

His napping habits leave a lot to be desired. Some days he hardly sleeps at all, all day. Those days at hard on all of us. But today he had a morning nap of half an hour and he is currently enjoying a nap that started two and a half hours ago!

We are still using reusable nappies and we are loving them. It was a bit of a challenge to take everything we needed and to keep up with the washing while we were away over Christmas but on the whole it worked really well. We also use reusable wipes when we are at home. Using reusable nappies is much easier then I thought it would be and I can highly recommend it. 

Thankfully this month we have avoided ill people and their germs so haven't had any more colds, but he constantly has stuffy nose which is frustrating for him.

It is so lovely to watching him learning things and the concentration on his face while he does it. He has started to stick his tongue out when he concentrates, just like his Dad!

Thanks to Vicky, Fred's Aunty who took the first three photos in this post and to Grandpa for taking the last one :)

Monday, 6 January 2014

Christmas Fun

We are back from our Christmas travels. 
This year we spent 5 days in Southampton, 5 days in Hastings and one day in Cambridgeshire. 

Before we left we were a little worried about how Fred would deal with the long car journeys, but it turned out our worrying was completely unfounded. In total our journeys were 14 hours long and Fred slept for approximately 12.5 hours of them with the worst crying session only half an hour from our house on our way back. He is pretty good at sleeping almost as soon as we put him in the car seat.

The long journeys and the extended time away from home were quite tiring for all of us, but were definitely worth it. Fred has now met all of his Aunts, Uncles and  most of his Cousins. He even managed to woo a few Great Aunts and Uncles.

Anyway that is enough about Fred, this post is meant to be about my Christmas break highlights.

Two of my highlights over the last two weeks are both walks. First was a boxing day walk on Southampton common with Grandpa, Aunty Vicky, Jamie and Fred.

It was lovely to walk in the bright sunshine watching families play, children trying out their new bikes and scooters, sons walking their mothers and toddlers working out how to put one foot in front of another. Best of all was walking with family, Fred slept on Jamie's chest content and peaceful.

My second highlight was a walk along Hastings seafront with Mutti and Grandad, it was also bright and fresh. I love the sea and the sky was beautiful. We wandered slowly, again I watched families playing in the play parks and children bouncing on trampolines. Mutti is wearing her Christmas present from me, a knitted snood. (I'm going to write a pattern for it soon, its only simple but someone may find it helpful!) 

I hope you had a lovely Christmas and are looking froward to the year ahead.