The Cost of Being a Motorist

Living in the middle of nowhere means that we have no choice but to drive everywhere. The school run alone is 7.6 miles each way, and although I’m working on my fitness I don’t think more than 30 miles of walking a day is hugely realistic for me! Having said that, our current car is getting really old and I’m not hugely confident about the MOT, which means needing to save for something new and that’s not all that easy when you factor in what we’re paying in every month to keep THIS car on the road!

New research by affordable car hire company autoeurope.co.uk reveals British motorists will drive over half a million miles in a lifetime – the equivalent to 22 times around the earth. They
will also fork out £168,880, on running costs of vehicle ownership, have 1,935 rows – and 2,709 episodes of road rage in a lifetime. Scary stats! Here’s a few more for you to get your head around:

When you look at the cumulative cost of having a car, it’s quite shocking to think that we’re all spending that much on it! Having said that, I’ve often said that learning to drive is one of the best things I ever did because of the amount of freedom it’s given me over the years. I’ve had my licence for 14 years and I still love driving, to this day. Aside from the obvious issue of being stranded where we live now, I think I’d be totally lost without a car to use on a daily basis. It’s my little space (and is usually full of empty coffee cups and biltong wrappers, if I’m being totally honest!) and I love it.

Are you a driver? Would you ever consider giving up your car? Do you find the cost of owning a car is just to high these days or are you happy to pay for the privilege of being able to get around independently? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear what you think.

Getting #ASoundSleep with MattressNextDay

Ever since I was little, I’ve always preferred falling asleep with noise in the background, be it the telly playing or music, and Husband is the same. Over the years I’ve developed a preference for certain TV shows to watch in bed and fall asleep to and some of them have such a soporific effect on me now that I think watching them at ANY time of day would help me to drift off! MattressNextDay is currently running their #ASoundSleep campaign, asking people to share their aural bedtime preferences and I thought I’d give you a little run-down of my favourite shows to watch (or, mostly listen to!) in bed:

The Golden Girls

My current favourite bedtime viewing is the complete boxset of The Golden Girls. I absolutely ADORE this show and never fail to be impressed by the topics they tackled way back in the Eighties. There’s something about the incidental music that I find really comforting, which makes it the perfect show to drift off to.

The Good Life

This is probably one of my favourite TV shows of all time and even though there were only 30 episodes made between 1975 and 1978, I could probably watch them all on an endless loop! There’s something about the gentle humour and banter between Margot, Jerry, Tom and Barbara that makes me drift off to a restful slumber.

Red Dwarf

This one comes from when I was a kid – I was allowed to watch TV in bed on a Friday night, on an old black and white TV which used a dial to find the channel, and Red Dwarf was always on at 9pm, right after Gardeners World. I’d sit through the end of Alan Titchmarsh warbling on about hardy shrubs so that I could watch Red Dwarf straight after and would inevitably fall asleep within about 2 minutes of the show starting, but I still adore it to this day and get super-cosy vibes from the theme tune.

The Mighty Boosh

I’d never seen The Mighty Boosh until I met Husband but it soon became a huge favourite and I still watch it in bed fairly often. I absolutely adore the humour in the show and there are a couple of episodes that I can’t have on while I’m trying to doze off as I’d spend more time laughing than drifting off!

Alan Partridge

I’ve come to the conclusion that Alan Partridge is the televisual equivalent of Marmite – people seem to either love it or hate it, or at the very least can’t handle the sometimes ENORMOUS cringe-factor that Steve Coogan injects into his most famous character. However, it’s an all-time favourite of mine and I know the episodes so well that I could recite them in my sleep. It’s perfect for watching in bed and always sends me off with a little chuckle!

Are you a bedtime TV watcher? What graces your screens while you’re trying to doze off? I’d love to hear all about it so do leave me a comment below.

Personalising Your Stationery with Basic Invite

Anyone who knows me knows that there are a few things about which I’m passionate. Eating a keto diet, lifting weights, spending time on my blog and social media are a few (aside from Husband and the kids, obvs!) but the other thing I love is stationery. When I was a kid, I’d get my pocket money each week and the first place I’d want to go would be WH Smiths to buy pens, pencils, notepads and anything I could use to write and draw with.

As an adult, I love stationery that I’m able to have a hand in designing (I made some beautiful thank you cards for Sausage to send to people a few years back and I’ve been hooked ever since) and Basic Invite is one of my favourite sites. It has so many unique features that make making our own, personalised stationery an absolute delight.

As well as offering almost unlimited colour options on the actual design of your invites, grad announcements, thank you cards or whatever else you’re making, there’s a choice of over 40 colours for your envelopes too, allowing you to really dial-in the colour scheme you’re aiming for. Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual invitation so they can see exactly how it will print as well as the paper quality before they ever have to place their final order.

Grad Announcements Basic Invite

However, I think my absolute favourite feature of the site is the free address collection service. In just three easy steps, you can share a link with the intended recipients of what you’re planning to send asking them to give you their full address, making the whole process of collecting everyone’s details a doddle. Anything that can make my life exponentially simpler is a complete win, in my opinion!

We’ve got a lot of important stuff coming up in the next few months; Sausage is having a surprise party for her birthday (she knows she’s having it, she just doesn’t know what the party will be!) and we’ll be needing some special custom invites, plus a few family members are graduating this year too, AND one of my best friends is having a baby so there will be a bunch of reasons for using Basic Invite and I couldn’t be happier about it. There are also a load of really gorgeous free printables on the site, perfect for a birthday party or baby shower.

Free Baby Shower printables

You can check out Basic Invite on all of their social media channels (FacebookPinterestInstagram and Twitter) and you can also follow the link above to head over to the site and see all of the wonderful design options for yourself. he whole process is really simple and fun to do, and it’s a HUGE amount cheaper than commissioning someone to design something for you. We’ll definitely be using the service a lot more in 2017 and beyond! 

Off to Uni with Free the Fresher

Free the Fresher2017 is quite a landmark year for our family because not one but FOUR of us are starting University! I’ll be working on my English Lit and Language degree from home with Open University but Husband, my sister-in-law and our cousin are all doing the proper Uni thing and going to school to get their degrees. My little (or, not so little because he’s actually A GIANT) brother will be going in 2018 too,  so it’s fabulous that we’re all doing it at the same time and knowing that in a few years there will be several people with degrees in our family.

Just recently, I heard about a service called Free the Fresher and it struck me as something which would be amazingly useful for people who are striking out and leaving home for the first time. It was created by former Uni students as a way to help first year students to make their lives a little easier while they’re getting used to a completely new way of life.

You pay a one-off fee to Free the Freshers and they send you everything you’ll need for living in halls, including bedding towels, kitchen stuff, loo roll and even stuff like pens and planners for, you know, the actual studying part! You receive three packages throughout the year and at the moment, membership is reduced to just £50 for the year. It takes a massive load of stress out of the pre-Uni period where you’re worrying about buying everything you need and enables you to just settle into your new digs, get on with your studies and meet a load of new people.

Another awesome feature is the Christmas and Summer upgrades – for an extra £5 per pack you can include Christmas cards, ornaments and January exam prep material, plus in Summer you’ll get moving boxes to help you pack up after your first year of study. It’s a really innovative and unique service which I can imagine would be a huge help to anyone starting Uni.

From the point of view of a parent, even though my girls are still WAY off the Uni stage, it would be really good knowing that there’s a service like this out there, where people have been able to apply their real-life experience to knowing exactly what a Fresher needs. Delivery is free, and Free the Fresher have also teamed up with a whole bunch of brands, such as Nandos and Poundland to give you discounts which last your entire first year.

The testimonials on the site are really impressive, too:

“Finding FTF was a God sent, my freshers pack was waiting for me the day I moved in, saved so much time, money and effort” – Abbey Miller- Bristol UWE

“I knew coming to University would be expensive , and surprise, surprise my student finance was late, I honestly don’t know what I would have done had I not signed up for Free The Freshers in the summer, I had everything I needed for class and accommodation , had I not done so the notes from my first 3 weeks in lectures would have been on my hand” – JJ Smith – KINGS COLLEGE

“If you want to get the most out of Freshers week , sign up and save some money , that’s what I did- and had more money for snakebites (beer, cider , blackcurrent) lol” – Justin Green -Cardiff

” Was very impressed by this service  I thought there would be some hidden cost when I signed up, but I honestly only paid £50,  the quality  of my stuff was good and came on time” – Ian Stammers – UCL

Do you have a child going off to Uni (or are YOU going to Uni for the first time this year, like us?!) and would you find this service useful? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Making Our Own Raw Chocolate with Indigo Herbs

Indigo Herbs Raw ChocolateSince I’ve been on a ketogenic diet, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about nutrition and what we should be putting in our bodies, which in turn has made me hyper-conscious about what is in the food we eat. Even on a rare “cheat” day, I’m checking labels and have still been known to shun food which are pure sugar or artificial ingredients, which is why I was really intrigued when Indigo Herbs offered to send me one of their raw chocolate kits, containing everything we need to make our own raw chocolates.

So what, I hear you ask, is raw chocolate? Well, the guys at Indigo Herbs say it a lot better than I can:

“Much of the Cacao bean’s natural goodness gets destroyed in the heating process of conventional chocolate making. Consequently the feel good factor often experienced when eating chocolate is significantly more noticeable with raw chocolate because much more of the feel good chemical compounds remain intact. The Cacao bean is naturally so rich in nutrients that when the ingredients are handled and processed at low temperatures, these micro-nutrients remain available.”

The kit was really beautifully packaged and would make an excellent gift for an health-conscious foodie, and it was so simple to make that I let Sausage and Burrito Baby help too. The instructions on the kit are really clear and concise and I think Sausage could actually have managed all by herself if it wasn’t for needing me to sort out the bain marie. We made them at the dining room table and the whole room smelled AMAZING by the time we’d finished.

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In terms of taste, the chocolates were genuinely some of the best I’ve ever tried. The brazil nuts and goji berries, combined with the slightly bitter raw chocolate flavour made them feel decadent and satisfying – there’s no way you could over-indulge on these because one or two is enough to well and truly satiate your sweet tooth. Before I cut carbs out of my diet, I had a monster sweet tooth and could eat chocolate almost endlessly, but eating a diet which consists mostly of savoury food has sort of reset my taste buds, making even the smallest morsel of sweet food enough.

Making our own raw chocolate from @indigo_herbs! One hundred stirs to mix in the agave nectar.

A post shared by Mum's the Word (@mumstheword84) on

Obviously, the beauty of these chocolates is the ingredients. There’s literally nothing in them which isn’t totally natural and the sugar comes from agave nectar which is a low-GI sweetener and doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar. Nutrition-wise, the chocolates have 72 calories per portion, which is made up of 4.9g carbs, 3.1g fat and 1.2g protein – perfect for someone like me who is on under 20g of carbs per day – keeping these in the fridge to have with a cup of coffee as an afternoon pick-me-up would not only be a welcome addition to a largely savoury menu but is also a real morale booster. There’s huge mental value to being able to treat yourself to something which is basically guilt-free when you’re on a restricted diet.

I’m genuinely really impressed by the kit on so many levels – it looks good, it contains everything you need, its easy to use and the results are fantastic. I’d be thrilled to receive one of these kits as a gift and also love the fact that I feel confident in giving them to my children because the ingredients are all natural. Thanks to Indigo Herbs for introducing us to raw chocolate – we’re definite converts! (Get Your Raw Chocolate Kit here)

Family Friendly Flooring – Wood you  look?

It’s no secret that as a nation us Brits love our pets, sometimes more than our own kids! However, when it comes to kitting out your home, both can pose as a bit of a problem. This is no exception with flooring and it can leave you feeling pretty limited when it comes to choice. Now, many experts would probably advise that you stay away from real wood flooring and play it safe with laminate or vinyl. However, if you’re someone who is looking to achieve that ever-increasing popular ‘rustic’ look and are able to deal with the odd dent or scratch then real wood might be the one for you!

Personally, we would recommend either Oak or Walnut flooring, purely because these materials are the most durable and cost-effective in the long run.

Oak is an incredibly popular choice when it comes to family-life. We all know how much mess children and pets can make, if you’re sick of plugging in the vacuum cleaner then why not consider Oak? It only requires a simple sweep and a once over with a mop (at a push), making it one of the easier to clean flooring options. Oak can withstand a lot of wear but if it does start to look dilapidated over the years then it can be re-sanded to bring back to life! Furthermore, Oak flooring does not collect dust or mould as easily as other floors, which makes it ideal if anyone in your household suffers from allergies.

Another thing to consider is what type of finish you want your floor to have. There are two prominent choices; Lacquered and Oiled, both have their advantages and disadvantages. Lacquered flooring will definitely get scratched more often, however it is a lot more durable, easier to clean and will brave the challenge of a pet extremely well.

On the other hand, oiled floor is harder to scratch, but the floor will need re-coating more frequently. The decision really depends on how committed you want to be when it comes to maintaining the quality of your floor.

There are a few things that you personally can do to ensure scratches are reduced; maintaining the length of your pet’s claws is one of the obvious ones. Also, add extra protection by laying rugs/runners down in areas that see heavier traffic from both humans and pets. As with all flooring, if you do have any mishaps or spillages then try to clean them up as soon as possible to avoid stains and marks from occurring.

So there you have it, just a few reasons why Luxury Flooring think that the real thing is the best for your family home!

Gardening and DIY with Kids This Spring

When it gets to this time of year, where the weather is a bit more clement, my mind is always full of all of the DIY and garden stuff that I’d like to do and now that the kids are older and a little more able to get involved (don’t worry, I won’t let Burrito Baby hold any power tools!) I’ve been thinking about things we can do together. Luckily, my friends from the blogging world are the BEST source of inspiration, so I thought I’d share some brilliant posts with you of my favourite projects that they’ve done.

How to Make a Tardis Wardrobe

I’ve you’ve got a gaggle of mini Whovians living in your house then this guide to making a tardis wardrobe is perfect for you. Husband and I really encourage the girls to have their interests and try to indulge them as far as possible so I absolutely love the fact that Penny at Parentshaped has nurtured her daughter’s love for all things Doctor Who with her bedroom furniture.

CD Fish Bird Scarers

CD fish bird scarers

I absolutely LOVE this idea for DIY bird-scarers that Liz over at Me and My Shadow made with her daughter to protect their home garden patch. As well as upcycling and making use of old CDs, thus keeping them out of landfill, they look really pretty too. Such a great project to do with kid as you can be as creative as you like with how you decorate them.

DIY Matchbox Drawer Chest

Red Ted Art DIY matchbox drawers

Something that we ALWAYS need more of in our house is storage, so I love the idea of making ourselves some storage solutions out of other things. These cute little drawers from Red Ted Art are the perfect place to keep art supplies and school stuff, and I’ll definitely be making some of these with the girls.

Top Tips for Gardening With Children

At the risk of going a bit meta, Carolin at Mummy Alarm has put together another rundown post, sharing a whole load of other posts about gardening with kids. It’s a real wealth of information which will be useful in the months to come and I’m going to go through and read all of it with interest.

Bedroom in a Box

Dulux Bedroom in a BoxMaking design decisions can be really tricky, especially when you’re trying to stick to a theme, which is why Dulux decided to make the “Bedroom in a Box”, which Sian at Helpful Mum reviewed. She chose a jungle theme for her kids and takes us through exactly how she dealt with the makeover, as well as giving her opinion on the results.

Five Easy Foods to Grow with Kids

If you’re planning on growing veg this spring and summer with your kids, Emma at The Syders has got some excellent suggestions of what you can grow. When I was a kid, I loved nothing more than helping my grandad to pick the peas and runner beans he’d grown in the garden and I think it’s really important for kids to see where food comes from…plus, NOTHING tastes better than strawberries grown in your own garden!

Planting and Sowing

Emmy’s Mummy has got another great gardening post about how to get the kids involved with the planting and sowing stage of gardening, perfect for this time of year. They’re growing a whole variety of different fruit and veg which will be a fabulous crop once they’re all grown and ready for harvest.

Easy DIY Crepe Paper Tulips Craft Tutorial

Tulips are one of my favourite flowers (have you ever seen the black ones?!) and this tulip craft is absolutely perfect for this time of year when the flowers are starting to bloom. As Katie says, they’d be the perfect centrepiece for an Easter dinner, but I also think they’d be ideal for Mother’s Day too, especially if your Mum has allergies and can’t have real flowers.

Mainline Menswear – Top Brands and Great Prices

Recently, Mainline Menswear got in touch to see if we’d like to write about them in exchange for some new duds for Husband and being the lovely wife that I am, of course I agreed! Husband and I tend to vary when it comes to clothing. While I tend to buy cheap stuff which invariably ends up worn to death or covered in bleach stains, he goes for much higher quality items which he looks after and last a long time. It’s a running joke that he’s got clothes which are older than me (not literally…but not FAR off!) and he firmly believes that you get what you pay for, which means it’s worth paying a bit more for stuff which lasts.

The site itself is packed full of brands that Husband loves, such as Ralph Lauren, Levis, Armani and more, so after a little while spent browsing the site, this is what he chose:

Mainline Menswear

Paul and Shark polo – £80

Ralph Lauren Sullivan Slim Fit Jeans – £53

Adidas Originals California t-shirt – £23

The package arrived the day after we ordered the stuff, which is really good to know if you’re needing something to wear for the weekend and it’s already Wednesday! The items themselves were really good value and the usual high quality you’d expect for designer clothing. The site was really easy to navigate and each listing shows all of the available sizes at a glance, letting you know whether they’re in stock or not – I don’t know about you, but I HATE it when I’m shopping online, finally choose something only to discover it’s not in stock, but that wasn’t an issue here.

Originally, Husband actually chose a pair of trainers but because he’s a slightly awkward half-size, they were too small and needed to be returned. The return process with some online stores is really complicated but at Mainline it’s simple. All you do is use their online return form, enter your order number and it produces a pre-paid returns label which is deducted from your refund, meaning you just need to drop it off at the post office – simple!

All in all, we’ve been really impressed by our Mainline Menswear experience. Delivery was super speedy, the clothes were great quality, the prices were good and the customer service second-to-none. I highly recommend using Mainline Menswear if you’re looking to buy something for a Husband, boyfriend, male relative or anyone else who loves a label and I’ll definitely be shopping there for gifts for Husband in the future.

Brilliant Family Holidays In Europe For The Adventurous

Image Credit

If you’re from an active family, a quiet, relaxing resort holiday might not be your idea of fun. You probably prefer the call of the wild, getting your hands dirty and your feet wet to lazing on a sun-lounger or paddling tentatively in the sea. Here are just five family holidays around Europe which have an adventure at their heart and adrenaline as their fuel, but which are suitable for families of all ages.

Cycle Austria

The great thing about a cycling holiday is that it’s completely adaptable. Each family member can have a bike, or you can mix it up with kiddie saddles, trailers, and even tandems. There really is no better way to experience the stunning scenery than by bike, though. Around the mountains in Tyrol, Austria, there is something of a cycling holiday revolution going on. There are hilly, fast-paced routes, or more sedate and flatter trails for following, depending on what you fancy, and the scenery is nothing if not dramatic. Comfortable accommodation and other fun sights make this a great introduction to the world of adventure holidays.

Undertake an Arctic expedition

If you’re not scared of a bit of cold weather, the northernmost parts of Europe are amazing adventure holiday destinations. From husky sledding to whale watching, Santa Claus to the Northern Lights, there are active breaks for all the family, and you’re all guaranteed to fall in love. Kids love the snow, and there’s plenty of it up there for making snow angels and having snowball fights. The scenery is out of this world, and so is the adventure.

Explore the Highlands

If you want to stay a little closer to home, head up to Scotland for some great outdoor adventures. Ziplining through valleys and treetops, kayaking and sailing in monster-infested lochs, and abseiling through waterfalls are all the order of the holiday, so if your kids are little adrenaline junkies, this is the trip for you. And once they’re done scaring the life out of mum and dad, the landscape is great for a stroll, a picturesque bike ride, and a good meal in one of the traditional local pubs.

Canoe the Norwegian coast

If you’ve got yourself some water babies, why not explore the beautiful watery world of the Norwegian coast in summer? The fjords and valleys are green and fresh, full of wild flowers and incredible animals. You can kayak or canoe, or if you feel safer, stick to dry land and walk. There are even some great campsites, if you really want to be at one with nature.

Surf Cornwall

Sticking to closer to home again, Cornwall is a great compromise for outdoorsy kids and more indoor-loving parents. Get them booked into a surf school for the day at Newquay while you enjoy a coffee in one of the cute little cafes, or cycle the Camel Trail, before visiting idyllic little seaside villages such as Port Isaac, and feasting on the amazing fish and chips.

Adventure holidays are a great time to burn off steam and gather new experiences, and there are some amazing opportunities right on our doorstep in Europe.

It’s The Thought That Counts: Meaningful Gifts For Mums

Mother’s Day is not far away, and it’s time to start racking your brain and trying to find that perfect present. If you’re looking for something meaningful, remember that it’s always the thought that counts. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.

Mother-daughter day

If you’re a mum yourself, you probably don’t get to spend as much time as you’d like to with your own mum. This Mother’s day, why not treat your mum to a day out or an afternoon together? You could hit the shops for some retail therapy, book afternoon tea at your favourite cafe or even go to a spa for the day. Think about how your mum likes to relax and what she prefers to do in her spare time. If you really want to push the boat out, you could make a weekend of it and stay overnight in a hotel or cottage. Sometimes, time is the precious and meaningful give you can give, especially if you don’t get to see each other very often.

Image from https://pixabay.com/en/photos/mom%20and%20daughter/

Jewellery

Jewellery is a wonderful gift idea because you can keep treasured pieces forever. Even if you don’t have the budget to stretch to diamond earrings or handmade pearl jewellery, you can choose something, which your mum will love and cherish for years to come. Think about her style and the pieces she already owns. If she’s a fan of dressing up and she likes to make a style statement, go for costume jewellery. If she favours a more modest approach, something simple like a gold bangle or a pair of elegant drop earrings could be just the ticket.

Classes

Does you mum love makeup or are they a keen amateur photographer? Does she enjoy spending time cooking up a storm in the kitchen or she is a fantastic baker? If so, why not investigate local classes? She could hone her culinary or bakery skills and learn some new recipes, develop her aptitude behind the lens or get to grips with some new makeup tips and tricks.

Photographs

Most mums have framed photographs all over the house. If it’s been a while since you sent some new photos of the kids or you haven’t had a family portrait since you were little, why not organise a photoshoot or order some more recent prints and get them framed or put onto canvases for the wall?

Mum makeover

Does your mum spend most of her time looking after her grandchildren or running around after others? If so, she deserves a bit of a treat. If you have siblings, club together and book a manicure, a soothing facial, and a haircut.

Frenchnails Manicure Hands Fingernails Nail Design

Image by http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Frenchnails-Manicure-Hands-Fingernails-Nail-Design-259972

If you’re looking for inspiration for Mother’s Day, and you want a thoughtful gift that your mum will love, look no further. Treat her to a day out or a mini makeover, order some family photos, or buy a piece of jewellery that she can treasure for years to come. If she has hobbies or interests, think about booking classes or experience days.