06 December, 2017

What to Buy in the Boxing Day Sales

As much as I look forward to Christmas I'm also extremely excited about the Boxing Day sales. For me saving money is much more important than spending money. Why pay more for an item when you know it's going to be on sale? Everything now a day is about money and if I can save money here and there then I'm going to.  My readers will know that one of the ways I save money and a lot of money is through buying presents in advance using seasonal sales.

In this post I'm going to talk you through my Boxing day tips and what items are best to buy, so if you are looking to be more organised for next year keep reading! If you want even more help on saving money for next Christmas take a look at my post on 10 Ways to Save Money for Christmas.

First up I say to myself what do I need then what do I want as these can be two completely different things. I then make a list of practical items and my treat items, below is the system I use to complete my Boxing Day shopping.

Wrapping Paper, Gift Tags and Cards 

Now these are already fairly cheap items so after Christmas, they are going to be pennies but I always stock up.
 Last year I was able to get wrapping paper for 5p a roll but just a couple days before they were at £2 a roll. So I bought 20 rolls and saved myself £39 which is an amazing saving. To make my money go even further I bought all year round wrapping paper (themed with stars and stags) saving me extra money on birthdays or events where I needed to bring a wrapped gift.

I then do the same with any cards and tags etc and put them in a draw that I call The Present Draw. The Present Draw is always filled with cards, wrapping paper, tags and then small gifts that can be used if needed.

Small gifts 

I love popping into the supermarkets and places like Boots and Superdrug on Boxing Day to stock up on small gifts and stocking fillers.
Again pick non-Christmas themed items and you can use them all year round. Also, any small kids gifts are perfect for those last minute school parties!

Items I like to buy are things like....

- Stickers
- Stationary
- Kids crafts
- Kids books
- Christmas Stocking Fillers
- Beauty gifts
- Candles
- small toys
-Blind bags

Christmas Clothing 

Christmas clothing will be next to nothing, perfect timing for buying clothes for next year and what I do with the boys is to buy one -two sizes up to cater for any growing. I also do the same with hats, gloves and any other Winter themed clothing.

Christmas Decorations 

Decorations will be slashed from Christmas Eve if not before so get stocked up whilst you can, Christmas can be expensive and if you're like me and love having a house filled with Christmas decor then the sales are the perfect time to stock up!


We all want to treat ourselves after Christmas and the sale is the perfect opportunity, this year I have asked for Money so I can buy a few new bits for my camera so that will be my treat this year. I'm hoping to find some good deals either instore or online so I'm already on the lookout.

(Image Souce)

Christmas Presents 

Last but by no means least is buying presents for next year, now a lot of people always say to me but I won't know what to buy for such and such next year.  If you find it extremely hard to shop for a certain family member or friend and don't think you could guess what they might like then my advice is to put some money away as a starting point for their gift next year. I always have a rough budget per person so I would put that money aside in a Christmas jar, by December I would have the money sat waiting. But if you do want to buy and know what sort of things they like then go for it and start your shopping early. For the presents, I purchased last year for this Christmas I know I saved about 80% off the original retail price.

Many companies bring out the same gift sets year after year so buying them in the sale will save you so much money.

I hope you have found this useful and if anyone has any other tips they would like to share or have any questions then please leave them in the comments below. 


25 November, 2017

10 Ways To Save Money for Christmas

Christmas is just weeks away but luckily I have already saved over £300 on my presents.  How did I do that? Well, the simple answer is by planning and taking advantages of coupons, deals and glitches.

Today I'm going to share with you my top 10 tips on how you can save money and get the most from your money at Christmas.

1. Start on Boxing Day 

Some of you who know me will know that for me Christmas for the following year starts on Boxing Day, Yes this may be a bit premature but you can really save yourself a lot of money. Every Year I wake up or go to bed late to take advantage of those boxing day deals online.  You can end up buying rolls of wrapping paper for as little as 5p a roll! I also do the same with Christmas cards and stocking fillers as these are normally extremely cheap with some places offering up to 75% off.

2. Make a List 

I always make lists and Christmas is no exception. Having a list or several in my case keeps me on track on what I'm spending and who I'm buying for.

3. Freebie Websites

I love a freebie and they can be great little gifts, from beauty products and food to candles and baby products.  To find all the latest Freebies UK it's fantastic for searching for all the latest freebies.

4. Present Ideas 

 Over the course of the year, I make little notes of things my friends and family have said they liked. Some of the things I write down are things such as a scent or specific perfume, books, DVDs, and even home decor anything I think may be useful I jot down in my notepad.

5. Deals 

Always look for the deals first, I never pay full price unless I really have too! Would you rather pay full price for three items when you could have saved the price of one if you used another store that had it on offer on 3 for 2?  Shop around and you will be surprised by the deals you find.

6. Store Sales

During the run-up to Christmas stores put on sales, for example, a couple of weeks ago I went to the Sainsburys toy sale. I know it's on every October but the date may not always be the same and they do not advertise the date in advanced.  I keep a check on this by using couponing and money saving Facebook groups as the dates normally get leaked.
I save over £60 on gifts in the Sainsburys Toy sale, so it really pays to be patient and organised.

7. Coupons

If you aren't a couponer then now is a perfect time to start, there are many websites with free downloadable coupons which you can use on a variety of items from food and pet items to beauty and baby.  Be clever with your coupons and wait until they become on offer in store as then you can potentially get your items for free!
Also if you have a store card like a Boots, Tescos and Nectar watch out for your Christmas coupons!

8. Apps 

Downloading apps such as Checkout Smart and voucher codes will also give you another platform to save money. All you have to do is find an item on the list and check for a money back offer or online voucher. If you're using Checkout Smart you can take a picture of the barcode and then upload the receipt, once you've done this you will be rewarded to your account on the app and once you reach a certain amount you can withdraw into your own bank account. Very handy for food over the festive season and if you combine it with actual coupons you can basically walk away with free food.

9. Glitches 

I love using couponing Facebook groups such as Extreme Couponing and Freebies for finding glitches. If your unsure of what a glitch is then it's an error on a product online or sometimes in store. Normally the items are at really reduce price and sometimes you can even stack this with promotional codes and offers. However, with a glitch, you have to be quick and sometimes stores don't honour them.

10. Discounted Website 

I love love love love love! using sites like Wowcher and Groupon they are perfect for finding gifts for Christmas, they are also great for days out and events so do go and have a look. I would be extra careful when ordering though as sometimes I've had to wait longer for delivery on certain items so bear that in mind when shopping close to Christmas Day.


24 November, 2017

How to Survive Black Friday Weekend

 (image sourced from Pixabay)

Black Friday is set to be one of the busiest days of the year, with shops going all out to give you the biggest and best deals they have to offer. 
Today I want to share my top tips on how to survive the Black Friday weekend and how to make your money stretch even further. 

1. Make a List 

Only buy want you really want/need people go crazy buying because they are on a deal but if you don't need it don't waste your time and money. 

2. Check and Compare 

Check and compare your items with other shops, you'd be surprised to see how different each shop prices their items! One shop had a lego set I wanted for £15 but I doubled checked through other online stores and I found the same item for £9.99 in the clearance section! So it definitely pays to shop around.

3. Cashback 

This is the perfect time to get your cashback, sites like Quidco, TopCashback, Swagbucks, and  Nectar allow you to shop in all your favourite stores via their sites and log your transactions to reward you with your cashback. 
Some bank accounts also offer a cashback reward system so check yours before doing your shopping!

4. Online 

Going into store can be helpful but the likelihood is that it will be packed, so for stress-free shopping, I suggest online. You can do it from the comfort of your own home and without any of the crazy feral behaviour you sometimes see with the Black Friday events. I know I will be staying well away from the shops this weekend, me and two kids in the middle of a Black Friday event is probably the worst idea ever! 

5. Coupons, Vouchers & Reward Cards

Now every store is different but always check for any extra codes or vouchers there may be floating about especially online.  
If you have a student card use that for your extra discount too! Just because its already on a fabulous deal doesn't mean you cant get it even cheaper!
And Lastly, don't forget to use your reward cards for earning extra points or for spending on if you're like me and save the points up all year round its free money to use! 

Bonus Tip 

If you are on Facebook there are many money saving groups and pages that will be posting some of the best deals this weekend. I highly recommend joining them and setting your notifications to alert when they post so you don't have to do all the hard work. 

Pages like 10 ways to have more money, Playpennies and Extreme Couponing and Deals UK are favourites of mine. 

And lastly, don't forget that this weekend there will be many retail staff working overtime to help provide you with the best deals their company has to offer. Please remember to be kind and respectful to them and each other.


20 November, 2017

Roarin' Tyler the Playful Tiger

Recently Archie and I were sent the newest member of the FurReal Family Roarin' Tyler the Playful Tiger! Fur Real is a well known and long established brand, I remember growing up with many of the fur real toys myself so I had extremely high hopes for this little cub! 

Tyler is a playful tiger with interactive features and sounds effects which can be triggered and activate by petting over his sensors.

With over 100+ sound and motion combos, watch Tyler move his eyes, ears, mouth, and tail as you interact with him.

Tyler loves his toy chicken, pop it in his mouth and listen to Tyler chew and play with it, if he's really cheeky you may even hear him pass wind!
Tyler loves to make sounds as you stroke him, activate purring by stroking Tyler along his back, head and chin. Tyler also likes to chat you will often hear him making lots of cub noises as you play. 

Archie loves his pet tiger, I often find Archie including Tyler into his playing as well as Tyler joining us for dinner and bedtime stories! The little cub has truly become part of the family.

I love the concept of this toy, however, I do think for the price I would have liked to of seen Tyler actually walk rather than just pouncing.

Tyler retails for £134.99 

To see Tyler in action watch the video below.


15 November, 2017

Case App - Phone Case and laptop Review

One of my favourite gifts to give or receive are those that have been personalised, it shows me that someone has taken the time to create something custom to only me which is such a lovely gesture. This Christmas I have many personalised gifts planned from calendars and canvases to photo books and phone cases. 

Recently I was asked to design and review my own mobile phone case and laptop skin by CaseApp. CaseApp is a company that produces custom-made cases and skins for a range of technology, from mobiles and laptops to ipads and phone holders. You can purchase pre-made designs or with the help of their editing suite you can design your own like I did.

Navigating the site is extremely easy, once you have selected the item you wish to design your case/skin for you'll be taken to the editing page.
The editing page comes with an array of features from premade quotes and text to pictures and a vast shade range of colours for your choice of background. 
There is also the option to upload your own images if you so wish to, which is exactly what I did. 

Designing my laptop skin was extremely fun, I knew I wanted my own design and not a premade one. Choosing my photo was extremely difficult much harder than designing the case but in the end, I managed to choose a beautiful picture that I took of my dog Honey. 

I would advise if you are using a home photo, to make sure that your image is of the highest quality as otherwise, it is likely to print out grainy. The photo I used was taken with my DSLR as my iPhone pictures weren't big enough.

For my phone, I made a photo collage of my family using the collage layouts feature. 
This was an extremely easy to use, however, I would like to see more of a selection of layouts and the option to move photos separately as I felt this was limited.

Delivery was quick and my items had been packaged well with no damage. I was extremely delighted by both the service of making my items and the delivery service I received.  

The laptop skin is probably my favourite out of both of the products,  the picture is flawless with no loss of quality. 
Applying the skin was super easy, just like a wall decal if you have ever had to put one of those up. I started in the middle lining up the apple logo with the cut out on the skin, then using my credit card to smooth out any air bubbles. 

I love the look of my phone case the contrast between the black background and the simple design of the college really makes the photos pop.  
The case is smooth with a nice feel whilst you're holding it, it's not oversized and bulky which makes keeping it in pockets and small bags much easier. If you do wish to have a tougher case then this is an option for certain models and makes. 

In all, I am delighted with the overall experience of using CaseApp, a company producing high-quality products at affordable prices. 

If you are looking for gifts this Christmas then how about a custom-made case for your iPhone or laptop? 

CaseApp is giving all my readers  20% off their order when they use the code ANDREALOUISE20. 

On top of that, I am also running a competition where one lucky winner will be in with the chance to win a code to the value of £22 for their very own custom-made phone case or laptop skin. 
To be in with the chance of winning all you need to do is to like and share our post on Instagram as well as liking both myself and CaseApp. 
A winner will be selected at random and announced on November 29th 2017.

All details will be on my Instagram post for you to enter!

Click here to visit my Instagram 

* The products have been sent to me for the purpose of a review post all thoughts and images are my own unless otherwise stated. 


04 November, 2017

Winter Wonderland Homeware Wish List

With Halloween over its time to talk about all things Christmas! I know, I'm sorry for those who aren't quite ready yet but I love Christmas and I've been itching to put up a few Christmassy posts!

 I have loved seeing our home change from spring into summer into autumn and now Winter. Our decor has changed from freshly cut flowers and the light summer scent of roses into a home filled with the warmth of spiced apple and cinnamon. As the evenings grow darker the lanterns and the blankets have appeared and the house is a cosy snug ready to be enjoyed by all the family.

With the shops filling up with all their Christmas decorations I have been searching for a few new pieces for the home.

The first thing I am looking for is some winter cushions, I love cushions and I do think adding a few festive cushions to the sofa always makes the room complete.  

The snowflake cushion is from Wayfair and I think it's gorgeous, I love snowflakes and it's on sale too which is always a bonus! 
Baby it's cold outside cushion is another fab find and I always think of the film Elf when I see or hear that quote. 
Another gorgeous Wayfair find is the tree scatter cushion, Wayfair has some lovely Christmas bits if you haven't checked out their site before you really should! 

Now, this wreath is something I have to have and you won't believe where it's from! You can pick this gorgeous heart shaped wreath up from Matalan for £15, doesn't it look so much more expensive! 

I am a huge candle fan and this fir tree candle from The White Company looks lovely and festive! I love this natural look with the moss infused into the candle too, it feels all very enchanting woodland-esque.  I'm hoping it smells as good as it looks too! 

Another candle themed item is this winter palace pine cone candle holder it's the exact theme and style I want for my house this year.  I think it would look lovely on my sideboard unit with my favourite Christmas candle burning away inside. 

I recently found the online shop Cox & Cox and they have some gorgeous Christmas bits that I think I really need! 

First up these grey Scandinavian inspired house lanterns, they would look so nice on my fireplace. I love lanterns and anything to do with candles and this is something that isn't too Christmassy so it can be out all winter rather than just for Christmas.  

Every year I have wanted to put stockings up on our mantelpiece but I don't want to drill holes into the lovely Cotswold stone. Instead, I found this star stocking holder on Cox & Cox which will do the job perfectly, you can also get them in other designs such as a car, Christmas tree and a stag. 

And lastly, I love these glass Christmas trees, I love the idea of filling them up with baubles, lights and possibly even fake snow, moss and frosted pinecones. 

                  What theme do you have at Christmas are you grey and neutral like me or do you like bright and traditional? 


03 November, 2017

Super Mario Monopoly Review

We all have a classic family game and in our family that is Monopoly. As a child, I remember many evenings sitting at my grandparent's house with my sister playing the game. It was the perfect way to have quality family time, there is nothing like a good board game night.

Hasbro recently sent us the newest Monopoly and its something we were quite excited for, the Super Mario Monopoly. Two iconic and classic brands merging together it's got to be good right! 

Normally Monopoly collaborations see no change to the game or its classic layout, it's just a themed board with a small change here and there. However, this is the first where the game is extremely different and there is a new set of rules to play!   

The first thing you notice is that the board has been simplified, there are your standard monopoly places such as Go, Go to Jail, Jail/Just Visiting and Free Parking but that is where the similarities end. 
The houses have been reduced from 22 down to 16 spaces, there are also no houses or hotels to be added. There are no chance or community chest cards instead there are Super Mario themed warp pipes that allow you to be transported around the board, a coin block to award you with extra coins and a thomp that makes you lose coins. 

This is also one of the first Monopoly's without a proper English currency used.  Instead, 1 or 5 point coins are used to pay and I do have to say there aren't a lot of coins that did surprise me when I had to sit and pop each coin out from its cardboard sheet. 

Another new rule is that passing Go generates a boss battle, in a boss battle you must roll your dice to win a higher score than whats on your boss battle card if you win the points are yours. If you fail then other players on the board are able to take your points. 

The last big change in the game is the use of two dices, you have your standard dice and then a power-up dice. This dice enables you to steal coins from others, earn more coins and depending on your character will depend on different degrees on your power-ups. There is a card that comes with each character which states each characters power-ups. 

We found the game extremely easy to set up which is a massive bonus when playing with children. My two want to get stuck in and hate the waiting stage so to have it easy to assemble is a massive plus. 

The boys loved the choice of characters to choose from and they loved that you can buy extra figures to go with the game if they wanted too! 

However, that is where our positives end, I was extremely disappointed that it was such a change to the classic game I know and love. I found the rules extremely confusing at times and I spent most of the time reading the rules and the power-up cards because I wasn't sure on what was going on. I'm sure over time I would have gotten the rules but it doesn't feel like the Monopoly I know and love. 

For the right people this would be the perfect game but for us, it was more stressful than anything else and for that, I wouldn't recommend for younger children. 

However, if you are looking for a Monopoly game with a twist then this is the game for you! 


25 October, 2017

Simon Optix Game Review

 Simon Optix has had an upgrade!  This 80's classic is now playable via a headset!
Put on the headset watch and repeat the pattern! Following the light sequence using your hands, watch the game intensify as the sequences get longer. Playable on your own or sync with friends. 

The game comes fully assembled just pop in the batteries and your good to go! The headset should fit most head sizes and there are adjustable straps to make it bigger or smaller if needed. 

I have never actually played Simon Optix so for me this was my first time and it was extremely easy to play. Pop on the headset and press the power button, then press the power again to start the game. You will then see a light flash, on the visor, there are 4 coloured ovals these show you where each colour sensor is. Watch the colours light up and then repeat the sequence, keep your hands close if they are too far away it won't register. 

Hear the sounds to help you know how you're doing, there is a sound for a correct sequence and a sound for a wrong sequence.  After a couple of games, extra moves are added from doubles to swoops and double swoops. 

If your lucky enough to have a friend with the headset then you can sync them together to play. 
I didn't have this option, however, the manual explains it all so you shouldn't have any issues. 

What I liked about this game is that it can be social, we were able as a family to all sit and enjoy the game even if we weren't wearing the headset.
Both the boys were able to play even little Archie, at 3 years old I thought he would struggle but with a bit of extra help, he was able to play like the rest of us.

For those wanting new Christmas games then I would highly recommend buying Simon and maybe even a pair so you can play with a friend! 

Simon Optix retails for £29.99 available at most large toy retailers. 


27 September, 2017

Transformers: The Last Knight Dragonstorm Figure Review

I remember Transformers as a child, one toy in particular that I remember playing with was the Optimus Prime transformer truck. I have no idea who's it was but I remember transforming it and being utterly amazed by the idea of a car turning into a robot. 

Now I'm going to tell you a little secret, I haven't actually watched any of the Transformers films as of yet but after seeing the above trailer I think we are going to have to have a movie night. 

Dragonstorm is a three-headed fire-breathing dragon that at the flick of a button transformers into a knight.  Featuring Cyberfire technology which when interaction is made with other Cyberfire  Transformers reveals hidden symbols. 

There is no assembling required except for attaching the Dragonstorm's tail and wings. I actually found the wings extremely annoying as they kept falling off, I think a better clip is needed especially, knowing that children can play rough and these wings will not stay on. 

To Transform the Dragonstorm into the Knight you need to press and hold the handle on the back of the Dragonstorm, pulling the handle up and back to reveal the Knight. It's a one motion change so extremely easy for children to do themselves. 

In Knight mode the arms are posable being able to lift them up and bend at the elbows, However, I was disappointed to see that the legs are fixed and do not move.  The tail from Dragonstorm mode is removed to be used as a sword in the knight's hand. 

There are two ways to activate sound, one by pressing the button on the knight's chest, and secondly by pulling the handle. 
Watch the head of the dragon and Knight light up as they speak, with over 20 sound effects and phrases from the film. 
Phrases include "We are sworn to protect", "Three heads are better than one" and "Quintessa stand down!" roaring and other mechanical sounds can also be heard.

The detailing to the overall toy is fantastic attention to detail has been thoroughly thought out as every single piece of plastic is covered in a design or pattern of some sorts. Even the handle is appropriately designed in the overall style of the product, so doesn't look out of place at all. 

Batteries are required for this toy however they do come included which saves me one less job. 
If you would like to purchase more batteries then this toy takes 2 x AAA. 

Overall I think I don't think I would personally buy this, I feel its ridiculously overpriced for what it is and can do. This time I feel that your really only paying for the brand name on this one. 
The wings and the fact that the legs don't move is a huge letdown and for £79.99 I just can't justify the spend. 

If you are looking to get this then I would highly recommend buying this at a reduced price. 

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