Thursday, 18 May 2017

Visit to the Decleor Boutique and Day Spa and Skin Tips

If you read my last blog post then you would know I applied for a ticket at a event at the new Decleor Boutique and Day Spa opening at 187 Westbourne Grove, London. They offer a range of treatments from a full body treatment to a quick 15 minute face shot for beauty on the go. Their products are also sold there with specialists around to help you.

I was very excited when I received a email to say I had been invited and went along today to hear author Giovanna Fletcher and Decleor's skincare specialist Fiona Brackenbury host a Q&A all about skincare, specifically focusing on skin care for mums on the go.

Skincare Top Tips I picked up today:

  • If you are in a rush and find it difficult to find time to focus on your skincare, as many mums do! then focus the majority of your skin care for night. This is when your skin is most receptive and the skin cells are at their peak. Therefore this is when your skin care treatments are most effective. This was very reassuring because generally the mornings are when I find it difficult to concentrate and have time for a skincare routine.
  • You do not have to have a massive skin care routine and lots of different products. Learn to know your own skin and pick the right products to focus on areas you want to see improvement. There are so many different face products on the market that it is really important and cost effective to choose the right ones. 
  • Fiona Brackenbury was asked if there was one skin product she would take to a deserted island, which one would she take. The answer was a face serum. Now I have to be honest I used to be quite confused about serums and wondered what on earth they were. Basically serums are product you apply after cleansing but before moisturising with the purpose of delivering powerful ingredients on to the skin. They are made up of smaller molecules which penetrate deeper into the skin and are able to deliver a higher concentration of powerful ingredients. Serums take seconds to apply and have a popcorn effect on lines and wrinkles and make them plump up and also have a great effect on any dark circles you may have. There are also serums focusing on different skin types and conditions. I must pick one up targeting the skin of women over 50, my nan has always told us the importance of taking care of our skin and would love to try their serum.
  • Exfoliation is so important. This is something I really do need to remember to do more often. Exfoliation removes the dead skin cells clogging up your skin and opens the way for serums and moisturises to penetrate the skin more deeply, therefore making them more effective and your skin feeling and looking healthier.
  • The number one cause of skin damage is the sun! so be sure to protect your skin and use sunscreen.
  • Lastly, something a lot of women are guilty of, do not sleep in your make up. Always be sure to properly cleanse your face from all those make up products at the end of the day and start your skin care routine.

I had a really great time this morning and will be using all those tips picked up. I was also very lucky to be given a goody bag with four Decleor products; a body exfoliator, a face serum, a gel-cream and some micellar water. I have already used the exfoliator and serum and both are great. Very easy to apply and have made a difference to my skin. The face serum I am obsessed with and would really recommend it. It has made my face feel so soft. Decleor offer a whole range of different products so have a look at their website or visit the new store.

On a side note after the talk we were able to browse, have a bite of brunch and have a chatter. Giovanna Fletcher was absolutely lovely and really down to earth as were all the women who worked at the Boutique and Day Spa. 

What is your best skincare tip? Answer in the comments below


Friday, 12 May 2017

Fabulous Friday Frugal-5 Frugal Things I have done this week 12/05

I feel so passionate about saving money. It is so important to my family we save as much money as we can right now so we can hopefully move this year. I am a strong believer that saving money does not mean you have to go without however. I just find ways to save money on the things we like to have and do. Here are 5 ways I saved money this week:

1. Had a free game of bowling
I have a hobby of entering competitions, mainly simple online ones. So far I have won over £500 of prizes this year including a £100 gift voucher for Red Letter experiences, a light box, £50 of Munchkin baby products etc. I entered a namco funscape competition via Facebook and a runner up prize was a free game of bowling for up to 6 people at my local bowling alley. I took my partner Dan and son Michael today and we had a great time. It really cheered poor Michael up, he has had a ear infection this week. If you see a online competition, enter it! You may not win the big prize but many give runner up prizes. It only takes two minutes. Let me know if you would be interested to see a separate blog post on entering competitions. 

2. Gave a RSVP to the launch of the new Decleor Boutique & Day Spa with Giovanna Fletcher
I follow Giovanna Fletcher who recently shared a Instagram post announcing she was going to be attending the launch of The new Decleor Boutique and Day Spa in Notting Hill, London. It is a free event to those lucky to get a ticket by emailing the company. I took a chance and emailed them and sure enough I am on the guest list. I am really looking forward to it. There will be a talk by skincare specialist Fiona Brackenbury, brunch, treatments and a goody bag. Look out for events like this, they are often free and can be a lot of fun. I have gone to a Body Shop event and seen exclusive preview of The Smurfs film this year via applying online. Look out for a blog post on the launch next week!

3. Earned a £10 Sainsburys' voucher
If you want to earn a little bit of money, one way is via online surveys. I use One Poll and Valued opinions and would recommend both. With One Poll you will get a small amount of money for each survey you complete until you reach the payout of £40. Valued Opinions you can complete surveys until you reach a £10 payout. You can choose which voucher to use this £10 credit on. I like Sainsbury's vouchers as they are great to be used on gifts throughout the year. They had a great sale on toys this week so my free £10 voucher was spent on some toys to be put away for birthday and christmas gifts. You will not get £100s via online surveys but they can help a great deal towards birthdays and christmas shopping or towards your food shop each week.

4. Collected free lego cards from Sainsburys 
If you read my blog post on our April/May favourites, you will know my son Michael is obsessed with the free lego cards from Sainsburys. There are 140 lego character cards to collect and you place them in the official collectors album. You get a pack of 4 when you spend over £10 although if the cashier likes you then you may be handed some more. Michael loves trading/collectors cards but they can be very expensive so these are a great alternative for him to collect. We have been asking our friends and family to pick them up for him as well when they shop in Sainsburys. 

5. Had three no-spend-days 
Not only are we saving money to move this year(hopefully!) we are also trying to tighten our belts this month and next as we have a lot to pay out for. We have alot of family birthdays coming up which require presents, cards, travel etc. While we are careful with how much we spend on these, the sheer quantity of birthdays means it all adds up. We are also going away the beginning of July for Dan's 30th birthday so of course we want money to put away for this. One of the ways we save money is to take part in no-spend-days. This is what it says on the tin. You do not spend any money that day, instead you plan and use the resources you already have. The only expenses were Dan's oyster fare essential to work. However that was the only money spent. When you avoid the shops a no spend day is relatively easy to do so give it a try.

So that was my 5 ways I saved money this week, what do you do that saves money? Let me know in the comments below.


Thursday, 11 May 2017

Best Free Apps for Preschoolers

Not everyone is a fan of screens for children and I totally get that. However I personally think they can be useful, fun and educational for preschoolers if moderated. Michael has a children's tablet Robin from EE and he usually plays with it for half an hour most days. Usually when we want to cook dinner without him disturbing us every two minutes whining for food! These are our favourite free apps:

1. YouTube Kids
Like many other children, Michael loves to watch YouTube videos. However many are not suitable for children which makes YouTube Kids such a great app. The app filters out the unsuitable videos and tries its best to show only appropriate videos for your child's age. You can keep search on or if you really want to limit videos, you can turn the search off. The videos are also categorised (music, learning, explore and music) to make it easier for your child to watch the videos they want. My favourite feature however is the parental timer. I love knowing I can set a timer of how long Michael can explore the app before it turns off. He will hand the tablet over straight away because he thinks the tablet is now turning off.
Image result for youtube kids

2. BBC CBeebies Playtime Island
We have a Sky box and the original bundle which means we do not get a lot of children's channels. As a result Michael only really watches the shows on Netflix, Tiny Pop and CBeebies. Naturally he loves this app because it features all of his favourite characters such as Peter Rabbit, Andy and Topsy and Tim. The app has many different games, all of which are fun and educational.

3. Despicable Me: Minion Rush
Michael loves the minions from the Despicable Me films and really enjoys this app. It is a arcade game where your minion collects bananas, dodges obstacles, flies and defeats villains etc. It has different levels including a recent update of a 80s mission. While it is not really educational, it is great fun and one of Michael's favourite apps. The only thing however is there are in-app purchases so be careful your child can not make app via parental controls.
Image result for minion rush

4. Dino Tim: Basic Skills and Addition
This is a great educational free game. In this app children have to solve educational puzzles in order to save Dino Tim's family from the witches which have captured them. It teaches children about colours, words and shapes and can also teach children other languages. The app easily translates into French, Spanish and Italian which is fantastic if you want to develop language skills. Again this app does have in-app purchases.
Image result for dino tim

5. Disney Junior Play
Michael loves anything Disney related and so naturally really enjoys any apps that feature Disney characters. This app features favourites from Disney Junior such as Mickey Mouse, The Lion Guard and Doc McStuffins. It features educational games, puzzles and sticker scenes you collect the stickers for. You can also dress up various characters, watch videos and sing alongs. A great feature is the app being playable offline so you can play anywhere. While it does have in-app purchases they feature only in a pin protected store so only a adult can access them. The in-app purchases expand the app with more of the Disney Junior characters.
Image result for disney junior play app play

Does your child have any favourite apps? How do you feel about screens for preschoolers? Let me know if the comments below.


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

April/May Family Favourites

I love reading these sorts of blog posts and watching youtube videos of family favourite products and thought now I would start writing one. These are a few of my favourite products this month and some of my family's.

1. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
I first read a book of Jodi Picoult when I was 15. I had received My Sister's Keeper for Christmas and loved it. Since then I have read the majority of her books but it her recent release Small Great Things I have really been captivated by. It is incredibly thought provoking about racism in America today and I could not put it down. It has already been put in motion for a film release with Viola Davis and Julia Roberts and I will definitely be going to the cinema for that!
Synopsis and buy-
Image result for small great things

2. Bruno Mars 24k Magic Album
I was very lucky I was able to watch Bruno Mars live at the 02 in April and he was amazing live! It was a fantastic concert and I had a great time. I have been listening to his recent album all the time since. My favourite track is That's What I Like.
Image result for bruno mars 24k magic

3. The Body Shop Aloe Soothing Night Cream
A couple of months ago I was very lucky to be invited to a Body Shop event at their London Oxford Street Store. There was a talk from a skin specialist and they went into their products. After the talk and demonstrations I did some shopping and picked up this night cream. It is formulated for sensitive skin with no added fragrance, colour or alcohol and has been great for my very sensitive skin, I have been able to notice the difference with my face feeling less dry and irritable so would really recommend it.

Image result for The Body Shop Aloe Soothing Night Cream

4. Burt's Bees Lipstick (shade Brimming Berry)
I love Burt's Bees products because they are provide natural products and are more Earth friendly than some other brands. I like the lipsticks in particular because the colours are great, they help to moisturise your lips and the colour lasts.

5. Imperial Leather Bath Cream-Cherry Bakewell
I do love a bath, it is the perfect way to relax after a long day with Michael and I have been enjoying the new range "Sweet Treats" products from Imperial Leather. They have shower gel and bath cream that smell like sweet treats such as fruit chew, foamy banana etc and they smell divine! I love the bath cream cherry bakewell. It makes the bath smell great and creates a lot of bubbles. I have been using it a lot and Michael likes it as well in his bath.
Image result for imperial leather cherry bakewell

Michael's Favourites 

1. Lego Cards from Sainsburys
Sainsburys are doing exclusive Lego cards of different Lego characters and Michael is obsessed with them. You get a pack of 4 when you spend over £10 and there is 140 to collect. We have the collector's album to hold the cards and it includes fun facts about the world and is very colourful and interesting.

2. Little Dish Pop Pops. 
I am a huge fan of the brand Little Dish. They have a great range of toddler meals and snacks and we like their new range Pop Pops. They are a air-popped chickpea snack that has a range of different flavours. Michael likes the original flavour and has been enjoying a bag on the way home from nursery when he is always hungry!
Image result for little dish pop pops

Do you have any favourites this month?


Friday, 5 May 2017

Fabulous Friday Frugal- 10 Frugal Things I have done this week!

If there is one thing I am passionate about it is saving money! We are currently on one wage and saving to move so the need to save money is essential. However I do not think you have to miss out on the things you enjoy to save money, it takes a bit of thinking. Every Friday I will be sharing the frugal/money saving things I have done that week to hopefully give others some ideas.

1. I used free children's playgroups to entertain Michael. Children's activities can be expensive which is why I am a massive fan of our local sure start/children centres. We are very lucky we have three different centres in our local area which means we have a range of baby/toddler groups to choose from such as toddler talk, play with a story, make and shake etc. They are free to attend and have a range of toys and activities for your child to play. Ranging from 45 mins to 1h30mins they easily fill some time with your toddler. Some Sure Start centres are currently closing due to lack of funding so more people really do need to make use of them.

2. Picked up reserved books from our local library. Another place more people need to use! I have no idea why some are not making use of their local library-ours is great! Our local library holds free events from time to time, children's story time and a sticker book your child can complete by taking our books. I love reading but buying a new book every week can be costly. As a result this year I set myself the challenge to not buy any new books. Instead I have been making use of my libraries online reservation service and reserving the new hardbooks recently released. Really simple to do, you may wait a few weeks if the book is in real demand, but the library sends you a message when you book is ready to pick up.

3. Picked up cheap/free baby items. My younger brother and his girlfriend are expecting their first child in 5 weeks. I am so excited to have another niece/nephew to get some baby cuddles. I really wanted to sort them our a nice gift without spending a lot so have made it my mission to get baby items as cheaply as possible and will put it all in a large hamper. The stuff in the picture below cost me less than £3! Some items I got free by sending of for free samples, the large pampers I got for only £2 using a coupon, the munchkin products I actually won and the rest of the items are from Poundland/Home Bargains. I still need to get them a bit more and will buy the baby a outfit when we do know the sex but its good to know you can sort out a gift without spending loads. Get a pampers coupon here!

4. Bought Michael's 2017 winter coat in Next Clearance. I always buy Michael's winter clothes in the spring sales this time of year and this week I ordered him a parka coat at £17 reduced from £34. Now you could get a cheaper coat than this, the winter just gone Michael's coat was practically new from Ebay. However I do love Next for children's clothes, I find them great quality, long lasting and nice designs so when I saw this coat I really wanted it for Michael. I have also got jumpers, long sleeved tops, thick trousers in the next size up for Michael put away. It is great if you can buy children's clothes in advance at a reduced prize.

5.Sent off for two adult Thorpe Park Tickets. Every now and again myself and my partner Dan love to go out for the day just the two of us having some much needed couple time. One of the places we love to go together is to a theme park. Theme park tickets however can be expensive, so I use the Sun newspapers coupons whenever I can. You just collect 10 tokens from The Sun newspaper, send them off and you will be sent two tickets to Thorpe Park saving you a lot of money. I also use The Sun's £9.50 holidays and I am hoping they will again have tokens for Legoland again this year. Last year our entrance was free to Legoland for Michael's 3rd birthday. There are 2 for 1 vouchers, free child entrance, 50% off etc for attractions everywhere so before you go to any attraction, look for a voucher!

6.Arranged with a friend a free haircut. This one was sort of spur of the moment. One of my friends is currently retraining to be a hairdresser and wrote a Facebook status asking for anyone with long hair available for a straight cut for her to practice and put in her portfolio. I volunteered, not only will I be helping out a friend, I will also get my hair cut. Double win! Not everyone will have a friend who can do this, but having a look some hairdressers training collages are looking for volunteers so may be worth looking into. Or look into a mobile hairdresser. Not only can you get your hair cut in the comfort of your own home they are often cheaper than going into a salon.

7. Meal planned dinners and lunch. I do this every single week, and have really stuck to it this week since I am currently trying to eat healthy after Easter and a holiday. Knowing what we are eating means I stick to a strict shopping list, only buying what we need. I would strongly recommend this!

8. Used Youtube videos to work out. On the theme of eating healthily, I have also worked out three times this week. Now gym membership can be expensive and even if I did have one, childcare would mean I would find it difficult attending the gym as often as I would like. However there are a range of workout videos free on Youtube and I mean loads! There is a video for any type of workout you fancy. You can also do a workout in the comfort of your own home. If you do like workouts in a group setting, our local park has free exercise groups running every Saturday so may be worthwhile having a look to see if there is anything in your local area.

9. Added to my birthday/Christmas stash. I buy gifts for birthday and christmas in advance, especially for children's gifts when you know roughly what they like. This week I bought a barbie doll reduced to £2 for a cousin and took advantage of The Book People sale and bought Michael some Star Wars books heavily discounted. Now some gifts I do have to leave and buy full price. Michael's main Christmas present for example I will buy a couple of weeks beforehand because I have no idea what he will want to ask from Santa. However things like books, games, puzzles, sticker sets, clothes etc are perfect to buy reduced and put away for your own child, family children, or birthday parties your child is invited to. On the same note I always have birthday card in the house from the Card Factory where you can buy 7 different designs for £1.

10. Used mini mornings at Vue Cinema. As a family we love the cinema! Michael is really good at sitting at the cinema and sees it as a great treat. However the cinema can be expensive which is why we make use of our local cinema's mini mornings on a Saturday/Sunday and half term mornings. You can see a children's film for £2.50 each. It will be a older film, this week we saw Sing. However Michael really does not care and it is better than paying full price. Also if it is your child's first time going it does mean you lose less money if you do have to leave early. Our cinema also does a children's box for £2 where you get some popcorn, a small chocolate bar and a drink. However a lot of people also take in their own snacks as well further saving yourself money. Other cinema chains offer a similar thing. If you do want to see a new release, we have a  premier cinema not too far away from us where all tickets are £4. May be worth looking into to see if you have one near you.

So that's it for this week, doing things like this does save us a lot of money and does mean we do also have treats. Being frugal/saving money does not mean you always have to go without.

Let me know if you have done anything frugal this week or how you have saved money in the comments below.


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Update on nursery

A couple of months ago I wrote a post on Michael starting a local nursery 2 days a week. When he first started it was a nightmare. He would tell us every morning beforehand how much he hated nursery, getting him there was a massive battle and he would cry every time we left him. We were really worried wondering if he would ever adjust. Thankfully he did!

It took a good couple of weeks but now he loves his nursery and we barely get a kiss goodbye before he rushes off to play. He has greatly developed his social and communication skills and has learnt to concentrate on a task for longer and to join in with a group, something he struggled with before. I am glad we preserved and kept taking him because it really has had a positive effect on him.

We could send him to a school nursery in September (within the local school, 3 hours each day Mon-Fri) however it works for us right now for him to be in 2 days a week, term holidays included. He is happy where he is so we figured we would keep him there until he starts reception school in September 2018. 

Some of my tips for starting nursery are:

1. Most nurseries completely understand it is hard separating for both parent and child. If you ask you can call 5-10 minutes after you have left and will probably find your child is just fine. We would walk round the side of the nursery to peep into the nursery room to find Michael happily playing. It made leaving much easier knowing his tears were for our benefit and he was fine now we had left.

2. Create a routine for nursery days. Michael's nursery does not require a uniform however we put him in similar clothes every week solely for nursery. Every week he will wear joggers, a t-shirt and sweatshirt. Not only are these cheap clothes perfect for nursery play, Michael now associates them with nursery and it helps him understand that day he will be at nursery.

3. Be positive about nursery. We tried not to over do this because talking too much about nursery could upset Michael. However we would point out he could play in a garden at a nursery whereas he does not have one at home, how he could do lots more arts and crafts etc and it did help.

I am so glad Michael has adjusted to nursery, it is fantastic to see he is enjoying it and thriving. Now I just hope he adjust to school next year!

How did your children adjust to nursery? Any tips that made it easier?


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