Friday, 17 February 2017

When it pays to buy quality

Being frugal and living simply is about more than just saving money, it is about spending your money wisely and investing in things that will last. It might be tempting to buy something cheap, but if it is not well-made, it will just end up costing you more in the long run. Sometimes it just makes sense to splurge on something of quality because you know it will save you money somewhere further down the line.

What frugal living is about

Living a frugal life isn’t just about being cheap and saving as much money as you possibly can; it is more about using your money wisely. It is absolutely fine to spend your money on the stuff that is important to you, whether that be a once in a lifetime family holiday or a beautiful Chesterfield sofa that was built to last. For me, the main goal of frugality and living simply is to allow me to save for those things that truly do matter, and for those emergencies that life throws at us all from time to time, by making smart, sensible choices with money.

Too many people get caught up in the idea of finding the cheapest version of whatever piece of furniture, service or appliance they need without taking quality into account. Doing this may see them with more money in their pocket in the short term, but when that cheap toaster breaks down after a couple of months, and the next one does the same, and the next one, and so on, they will soon be worse off than they would have been investing in the expertly manufactured toaster that cost £30 more than the cheap model they actually bought.

When it pays to spend more

That’s all well and good, but how do you know when it pays to spend more? Simply by balancing price and quality if you want to make the smart spending choice. If, for example, you are buying a new pair of jeans that you will wear every day, you should maybe buy a more expensive pair that has been expertly crafted from the most durable material. They may cost £100, but they’ll last you for several years, whereas a cheap £10 pair could be showing signs of wear and tear by the end of the month.

If, however, you are buying something that will rarely be used or which you do not consider to be important, such as cleaning products or a lamp for the guest bedroom, it is usually fine to go for the cheapest option. After all, it won’t matter if they don’t contain the latest fancy ingredient, or they don’t look as good as the other stuff in your home, as long as they get the job done.

Therefore, if you are going to use something regularly or it is of great importance to you, spend more. Otherwise, you can afford to be frugal, and the saving your make will enable you to spend more on what truly matters to you and your family.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Magic Kingdom // Our trip to Walt Disney World, 2016

I've saved my Magic Kingdom post until the end because well, it is truly the most magical place. I get quite emotional looking at my photos from here because I have waited so long to see that castle in real life. And it didn't let me down either!

Really, what can I say?! We spent most of our holiday in Magic Kingdom, there is just so much for little ones to see and experience. Kiddo is used to the layout of Disneyland Paris so I think Magic Kingdom felt quite familiar for her and so here is where she felt most comfortable.

Our days were filled with meeting princesses, riding Dumbo and Goofy's Barnstormer endlessly, eating hot dogs from Casey's Corner (honestly they are filthy but so blummin' good!) and just trying to do. it. all. It's a Small World was probably our most frequented ride, along with Under The Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid. We did everything though.... and we loved it all! 

Honestly, we really appreciated how good Magic Kingdom was for young children. The use of interactive queues were a godsend with a young child, especially the circus themed playground in the Dumbo queue and the interactive walls whilst queuing for The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh. So good, Disney.... so good

We dined all over too, I have the fondest memories of Jungle Skipper Canteen and Tony's Town Square Restaurant. We ate at Be Our Guest..... Numerous times! We much preferred the evening dining experience there, the food was absolutely incredible. And of course, getting to meet the Beast in his castle.... well, you can't really get much better than that!

Meeting Tinkerbell was probably our favourite character experience of the whole trip. She really took her time with kiddo. Lots of hugs and even more kisses! It will be a memory we treasure for a long time and the photos we got were amazing. 

Anyway, let's have some photos shall we?! 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Epcot // Our trip to Walt Disney World, 2016

Oh, Epcot! As with Hollywood Studios, Epcot was another park I really wanted to spend more time in. It's huge and spread out, which seems even more overwhelming when you have a 3 year old with you! 

Our holiday coincided with the International Food & Drink Festival which my husband was super excited about. Unfortunately we didn't get the chance to eat our way around the world though as kiddo was feeling a bit poorly so instead we let her decide what attractions and things we saw during our time in Epcot. This meant we spent a whole lot of time on the Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros, a super fun musical boat ride housed in the Mexico pavilion. The queues for this were consistently less than a 5 minute wait so I have definitely lost count of the times we went on that ride! Kiddo loved it! 

We loved The Seas with Nemo and Friends, the turtle talk with Crush, boarding a "Clamobile" on an undersea adventure with Nemo and of course, seeing thousands of sea creatures including dolphins and manatees in the Undersea Observation Deck.
I had a bit of soft spot for Living With the Land too, a boat tour that cruised through various greenhouses and a fish farm. Bonkers but incredible!

In Epcot we had probably one of our favourite meals of the whole trip at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall which proudly boasts a menu filled with Norwegian inspired food. Of course, here is where all the princesses hang out too! We enjoyed our meal here far, far more than Cinderella's Royal Table in fact... the character interaction at Akershus was incredible, they really took their time with children and the whole experience was just magical. After our meal we went to see Anna and Elsa just across the courtyard.... as you can imagine, kiddo was overjoyed!

We rode the Frozen Ever After ride during our time there and we did this only once.... even with fastpasses, the queue was horrendous and we found the whole experience to be a bit of a let down. It was too dark and scary for kiddo yet at the same time, it wasn't very inspiring for us adults! Maybe it's just us though?!

We'll be back later this year for the Food & Wine Festival again so we'll definitely be making a point of spending more time exploring (and eating!) in Epcot! 

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Things I've loved this week // 029

A little Sunday round-up, some of the little things that I've been loving this week!

New tattoos

I added two new tattoos to my collection this week, the first ones of 2017 and I am sure that they wont be my last either! The birds are just under my knee and the hand is down the side of my lower leg. I am so thrilled with them and the artist who did them (@craventattooer) was super gentle, the only pain I experienced was the discomfort of sitting still for a few hours (I ain't used to sitting down, I'm a mama!). 


Co-op Food very kindly sent us a box of goodies last week, inside was all the ingredients needed to make a delicious Roasted Vegetable Cous Cous. I made the recipe earlier in the week and it really was amazing, the combination of flavours was spot on and I am always on the lookout for new meat free recipes to try out so I'll definitely be making it again! 

The box was sent to us as part of the #NowCookIt campaign that you might have seen on Twitter this week. Now Cook It is a simple online cooking course where anyone can learn the basic techniques of cooking at their own convenience and pace. Perfect for someone like me who is keen to learn how to do things properly! You might not believe that up until 3 years ago, I either had food cooked for me or lived of takeaways and ready meals. Shame on me! But I have definitely put a stop to that now and love making things from scratch. 

The Now Cook It website is absolutely packed full of simple yet delicious sounding recipes that i'll be trying out one at a time. I have my eye on that Coconutty Curry.... it sounds delicious! 

The Beauty & the Beast trailer

What can I say?! All the emotions watching this. My favourite Disney movie. My favourite movie ever. I am so looking forwards to seeing this at the cinema!

Family time

This little lady always keeps me smiling, no matter what! She's been very much a 'threenager' this week, listening to me approximately 0.1% of the time, doing the opposite of what I ask her and generally being a bit of a cheeky monkey. But she's always up for cuddles, always happy to play, gives me kisses and makes me laugh. Being a mama is hard work sometimes but I wouldn't change her for the world.... love her so flipping much, she's the absolute best!

Disney planning

.... Because Disney holiday planning is always a good thing! I've had a bit of a rubbish week that has ended with my iPhone breaking (first the iPod, now my phone.... what next?!) so I'm super thankful that I have some amazing holidays and nice things to look forwards to this year. I love watching vlogs and reading Disney forums and seeing other people getting excited about their trips, it all makes me so excited! We have a few more trips away planned before our Disney holiday too so there's lots to look forwards to and plan #getmebacktodisneyasap #alltheholidays

What have you been loving this week? Let me know in a comment below!

Friday, 3 February 2017

Joan Collins // 'I am Woman' Body & Soul Collection

Recently I was given the opportunity to try out the new body and soul scent collection by Joan Collins*. I must admit, I'm not super clued up on Joan Collins.... I know she has a 'Timeless Beauty' range of skincare and cosmetics from watching far too much QVC in my maternity leave days so I was impressed to find out that she also does fragrance too!

The Body & Soul collection contains a 12ml eau de parfum and a home fragrance diffuser, both are the scent of "I am Woman". The scent is described as containing citrus top notes, a sensual musk and wood base with romantic floral scents at the heart. Here's the full description of this scent:

Top notes // Lemon, bergamot, orange, mandarin, peach nectar
Heart // Rose, orange blossom, jasmine, herbs, moss
Base notes // Musk, vanilla, amber, sandalwood, cedar wood, patchouli

This scent is a really glamorous, 'womanly', mature scent. Very elegant, perfect for nights out or special occasions. I'm a girl who sticks to my two favourite scents always (Chanel Coco Noir in the winter and Chanel Coco Mademoiselle during the warmer months) but I always love trying out new things, especially if it involves home fragrance too.... my specialist subject!

The home fragrance diffuser comes with black rattan reeds which have been designed to deliver a continuous and long-lasting scent in the home. The home fragrance bottle has an elegant, timeless design that looks amazing in the home. Guests have definitely commented on the lovely scent when visiting our home recently.... it's quite different to home scents I have used before.

This set would make an ideal gift for Valentine's day or Mothers Day, it comes beautifully packaged in a display box and the products inside are a perfect size to try out this scent before committing to a larger sized purchase. 

You can buy the 'I am Woman' body & soul collection from the Joan Collins Beauty website, M&S stores, Urban Retreat at Harrods and QVC.

* PR Sample

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Hollywood Studios // Our trip to Walt Disney World, 2016

Disney's Hollywood Studios is somewhere I wish we had spent more time in. The time we did spend there though was incredible! 

Miss E is really into Disney Junior at the moment (what 3 year old isn't?!) and so she loved spotting her favourite characters around the park. We had lunch with Sofia, Jake, Handy Manny and Doc McStuffins at Hollywood & Vine.... probably one of the noisiest but most fun meals we had on Disney property! 
Kiddo danced herself silly at the Disney Junior - Live on Stage! show, she enjoyed every minute of Voyage of the Little Mermaid and of course, she was beyond delighted to finally meet Olaf who gave her the biggest and warmest hugs!

We made sure that we saw Fantasmic! and although we loved it, I can see why so many people have said it's not suitable for young children. I think it was probably kiddo's least favourite part of our entire trip. She's at that age where she's starting to understand the concept of good and bad and of course, there's a whole lot of villains in this show which really freaked her out! 
Saying that though, she blummin' loved Indiana Jones and all the Star Wars stuff. And we all loved seeing the sneak peek of Moana at Walt Disney: One Man's Dream.... which, at the time, was still a month or so away from it's release date. 

My favourite though? Was For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. I laughed so hard, it was hilarious. Definitely a show for all the family to enjoy! 

Food wise, we snacked a lot here. I enjoyed my first chocolate coated frozen banana. And it was good. The only table service meal we had was at Hollywood & Vine, which we loved as it was just perfect for kiddo. We cancelled a booking for 50's Prime Time Cafe so we could have another day in Animal Kingdom so this restaurant still remains on my 'to do' list for next time!

OK, time for some photos! 

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

#PlanAheadToSave // Some money saving tips for 2017

I'd like to think that I pretty good with money. I love a good bargain, don't own a credit card, we're working hard to pay off our mortgage and generally, I'm quite skilled at saving. That said though, I'm always looking for areas to improve. I think being good with money is something that you can really teach your children, even from an early age, and so I want to make sure that I am setting the best example possible! 

We have some pretty big purchases planned for this year and so I think that the beginning of 2017 is the perfect time to make some changes to our money habits to ensure that we are financially organised, ready for the coming months! 

Today I wanted to share some of the steps that I will be taking to save money this year.

Stop buying unnecessary things

During the past few years I have really clamped down on treating myself and shopping sprees. An expensive new candle or new perfume are items that I used to frequently buy for myself but I now save them for my Christmas list. As hard as I try though, I am still guilty of splurging every once in a while. I'm only human!
In 2017 though I really want to clamp down on these 'treat yo'self' moments because not only do they add clutter to our home, they eat into my bank balance! Staying away from shops unless I need to actually buy something is a habit I'm really getting into, no more window shopping for me!

Smarter grocery shopping

Grocery shopping is definitely a big chunk of our household budget. We're a family who love our food and so I always tend to buy the best that our money can afford. We do our grocery shop online and I find that this really helps us to save a lot of money because shopping from my laptop doesn't tempt me as much. I like to get it done and out of the way as quick as possible.

We usually do our grocery shopping online once every two weeks and top up with fresh stuff somewhere like M&S when we need it although something that I have noticed recently is our shopping is being delivered and our cupboards are still full from the last shop. I'm obviously not planning well enough!

This year, I'll be working on making concise meal plans for the weeks ahead, using up what we already have and amending lists to ensure that we only order what we need. This will save us quite a few pennies and might even mean that we can do our grocery shop even less frequently, hurrah!

Ensuring that I have adequate insurance

Quite a few of the big purchases we need to make this year are of the electronic kind. Forgetting insurance for these purchases could quickly become a very costly mistake, especially when it comes to those items that I use all of the time such as my iPhone and iPad. Insurance is one of those products that I don't always automatically consider but actually, it is super important to add it to your purchases whether it is buying expensive electrical products or booking concert tickets and holidays. I'll definitely be making sure I am covered in 2017!

Make extra money online

I am a crazy lady who is obsessed with eBay so this year I'll be using it to clear our clutter once and for all and hopefully make a few extra pounds at the same time! eBay isn't the only way to make money online though, there are heaps of little things you can do that can earn you that little bit more, from survey websites to Facebook selling to claiming cashback online. There are even apps that will help you earn money on-the-go!

Be frugal when it comes to days off

We love theme parks, dining out, seeing live music and taking trips to the cinema but this year I want to spend more of our days off together making the most of things that are free in our area. Whether its an afternoon in the park or visiting a local farm, using our annual passes for local attractions or looking up some local events.... there's always going to be something that we can do that won't cost a penny. A bit of free fun will really help us to save some significant money!

Are you currently saving for a big purchase? Do you have any money saving tips that you'd like to share? Let me know in a comment below!

This post has been written in collaboration with Contact Numbers UK but as always, all content is my own.