18 January, 2017

My Top 10 Tips For Giving Presents

I love buying presents for people, Birthdays, Christmas, Anniversary you name it!  I love to make a gift personal and something I hope they will really enjoy and love. 
I know some people hate shopping for others or finding buying gifts a struggle so I've put together my tops tips when buying gifts for others.

1. Budget 

Set yourself a budget and be realistic, you can do so much with £20 trust me!
Some of the best gifts I have given have been done on a small budget.

2. Occasion 

What is the occasion? Is there a theme to the party that you could include in your gift etc?
For example, if they love Disney why not do a Disney movie package or help them start a collection. 

3. Avoid cheap toys

If you haven't got a lot of money to spend don't go and buy cheap toys from the 99p shop as nine times out of ten they break after 5 minutes.  However, depending on what you're getting some items can be fab bargains!
My advice would be to shop around, look for deals, sales, and clearances to get more for your money, whilst still keeping the quality. I've easily made £20 stretch to create a lovely hamper. I use places like Amazon, TK Max, Home Bargains, Craft shops etc. 

4. Make sure you have enough time

Don't leave gifts until the last minute! Write down birthdays in advance, that way you can be prepared. If you know what you want to get then you can shop for deals earlier.
For Example, I have brought a present for my sister already for Christmas this year and I saved over 70% on the item because I found it in a clearance sale. 
I also do this with Alfie's school friends and buy things in advance in sales and clearances, it's really handy and saves us  so much money! 

5. Do some research 

If you're not sure what to get as a gift become a detective and find out. Look on their Facebook and Instagram for ideas. It could be that they mentioned what their favourite flower is, a book they want to read and so on.

If all else fails then themed gift baskets are always a lovely thought.
For example a movie night basket, you could buy some popcorn holders, sweets, drinks, and a DVD and a Netflix's subscription.

6. Pretty packaging 

I'm a sucker for a pretty package and so I love to do the same with gifts, trying to make them unique by using hampers, boxes, pots, bags and buckets. Be creative it's amazing what you can make. 

7. Personal touch

I recently did a birthday hamper and I wanted to match the hamper their home decor so now they have the option to use the "gift box" as decorative storage. 
You could also use ribbons, bows, tissue paper and plastic flowers etc all matched to their decor. 

8. Cake and card 

Make sure you get a card! I always forget cards and they are such a lovely thoughtful touch. I always like to add one memory or quote into the card to make it extra special.

If you haven't got a lot of money to spend why not make a cake or cupcakes. Everyone loves cake! and you can make them for less than £5! 

9. Vouchers 

If you are shopping for someone who is really difficult to buy for then vouchers are always a safe bet. Choose a voucher for their favourite shop, restaurant, cinema or what about an experience day! There are so many things to choose from, from being a zookeeper for the day to driving sports cars and spa day packages. 

10.  Be creative

Today homemade gifts and personalised gifts are extremely popular, baking, painting and craft work are just some of the popular choices for gifts. I personally love homemade items especially, cakes they taste so much better than shop bought ones and I love that someone has taken the time to actually bake me a cake. 

I hope you enjoyed my post and it's given a few of you some ideas, remember though at the end of the day it's the thought that counts! 

I'd love to know what you do for presents, do you give vouchers? Home make items?  leave me your answers in the comments below. 


How To Save Money on UK Holidays

I  love to save money where I can and holidays are no exception. I want to share my tips I use to help keep the costs down when holidaying in the UK. You don't have to go broke or spend silly amounts of money.

Firstly decide where you want to go, the UK can be more expensive for holidays especially when you can find really cheap deals abroad. But if you shop around and plan in advance you can get some great deals. The first step is deciding where you want to holiday.

1. Summer / Winter 

If you're planning to go away think about when you would like to go, holiday firms tend to put their prices up in the summer and at Christmas. Also, school holidays are gold mines for companies so they will always increase their prices. These two things that need to be thought about as they will affect your budget.

2. Accommodation 

Accommodation is key because this will be a huge chunk of your budget. Don't just go for the easiest option of booking through a holiday site or hotel. 
Look for other forms of accommodation, youth hostels are much cheaper and also websites like Air BnB can save you so much money with the choice of flats, houses, huts and mobile homes to choose from. 

For example, if you want to book on a caravan site, see if anyone has their own property to rent out via the Air BnB site. Many people do and it's normally much cheaper than what the parks themselves are charging. 

3. Advanced Bookings 

With your holiday booking in advanced as much as up to a year in advance can be cheaper than buying the holiday 3 - 6 months before you go.

4. Budget & Coupons 

Budget your spending money, you don't need to spend £100's a day to have fun. Set yourself a weekly or even daily limit to your holiday and stick to it. 

You can also check online for days out deals on sites like Groupon, you can check local areas so you can see what's available to the area you're staying in.

Have a look online for discount codes on your holiday too, I have just booked us a holiday at Butlins and managed to stack several deals and codes to get £200 off. 

5. Book Tickets in Advanced 

Some places offer cheaper tickets to local attractions and theme parks if you pre-book online before going. You can save as much as 20% off the admission prices which in all helps with spending less.

6. Food & Snacks 

Eating out every day will just increase your spending, the price of one family meal out could cover at least half if not all of the cost of a food shop for a week.  If you're going to a holiday park see if they offer half board packages or food court packages as again this can work out much cheaper. 

The same with snacks, touristy areas can be more expensive to buy in, so I always pre-organise snack bags. I sort out snacks per day and put them in zip-lock bags labelled for each person. Also take a crate of water or even just some sports bottles that you can put squash or water in. It's handy if you're in a hotel and need a drink in the night too! 

 7. Free Activities 

A great day out doesn't need to cost a penny! Visit local parks, rock pools and beaches. Take a picnic and have fun exploring.

I hope you enjoyed my tips for a cheaper holiday in the UK, I'd love to know how you save money on your holiday. Leave your tips in the comments below. 


16 January, 2017

Life update: New Blog, Eyebrows and Anixety


It's been a while! I can't believe it's 2017! Last year was a very flat year for me. I had a lot of issues with anxiety, which I'm still trying to overcome but I'm hopeful that this year will be better for me. If you want to read my goals for 2017 then check out my previous post, Being the Best Version of Me.

One thing I'm looking forward to this year is my follow up treatment on my eyebrows. Last year I had my eyebrows tattooed for the first time by LA Perfection, a local Oxfordshire salon. I am now just waiting to go back and have the follow-up treatment and then that will be me done for the year. I love how my brows look and I really wish I'd of done it sooner. I will be posting a full blog review once my treatment has been finished, so stay tuned for that!

Recently I have been thinking about the direction of my blog and what I want to do. I have decided that I no longer want to feature my children as much as I did and have removed most of my parenting posts. Personally, want to keep my children safe. I already have seen people have their child's images stolen and that's not something I wish to have happened to me. I also feel that I want my blog to focus on other passions in my life, I'm not just a mother and this blog has become a place to escape and a place to feel like a 26-year-old Andrea and not just a mum. This was a massive reason as to why I dropped my old blog name.
I will have the odd posts on parenting but it will be more focused on tips and 'how to' than lots of personal information on my children.

I am looking forward to sharing posts on my other interests in life one being my pets, I have a small fur family and I can't wait to include them on my blog. I am also looking forward to doing more home and lifestyle posts. I'm a sucker for all things being clean and organised and I want to share that.

My Disney posts will also be changing as from February I will be launching my new 100% Disney blog. This is something  I've wanted to do for so long, I'm a huge Disney fan, it's a way of life for me and so launching my separate blog will be my way to really become creative in my own little Disney bubble.  You can follow me on my new Instagram until the launch in February.

For now I'm going to leave it short and sweet and hopefully, over the next few weeks the final changes will be made and my new upload schedule will be all planned out.


01 January, 2017

2017: Being The Best Version Of Me

Another year almost past and as I sit and write this post I reflect over the last year, over the last 26 years and I think to myself " What have I achieved?" "Am I content with the way my life is panning out?" Every year we as a nation set goals for ourselves, some are realistic and some not. And let's face it only a few will keep to their resolutions, so why do we keep making them? 

For 2017 I will be breaking a habit, a tradition of the last 15 years on making New Year's resolutions and instead of setting the goals I never stick too, the goals I have in my diaries that have never been started and the ones that I failed at after a couple of days or months, I'm just going to concentrate on being the best version of me. 

Some of you will know I have spent many years a slave to my anxiety, giving in to opportunities, playing it safe and just being boring. I have spent so many years wishing I'd done this wishing I'd done that and now I'm 4 years from 30 and starting to panic that I've wasted so much time. 

I've wasted so much time on how others think, how others see me when really I should only worry about how I feel about myself. As long as I'm happy that's all that matters right? 

2017 is my year to focus on the things that matter, achieving the hopes, dreams, and goals I have been setting for years and the only way I can do that is by being the best version of me. 

The last 6 months have been tough with my anxiety, I've had my first flare up in a long time to the point where I had days where I would just keep having panic attacks after panic attacks. The stress of things lead me to not take care of myself and so I ended up putting on weight and as a result, I've ended up feeling withdrawn and uninterested in the littlest of things in life. 

What I want to do is not give myself a goal this year. Instead, I  want to concentrate on looking after myself spending time on self-care and having regular days to myself doing those little things that make me happy and hoping that the goals I set every year will then fall into place. 

What am I going to focus on? 

This year I have a couple areas I want to focus on, my health and taking a risk. 

My health hasn't been the best over the last few years, 2 years ago I was diagnosed with a form of arthritis that was triggered by pregnancy. I also have PCOS which I was diagnosed with at 14. 
Both of these conditions affect me every single day, from being in pain, to how I feel mentally and emotionally. This year I want to take care of myself, get my symptoms under control and get my body into a healthier and stronger condition. 

The other area I would like to focus on is taking risks. I have played my life so safe, so safe that I won't do something if I have a single doubt. The other day I decided to take a different route home because the usual way didn't feel right. Because I had a slight moment of doubt, a moment where my anxiety took over and convinced me that if I went this way something bad would happen. 
I want to take back that control and say no, to say screw it and just do it anyway even if I'm terrified inside. 
To not worry, to not hide back and hold back. This year I want to show the sides of me people may not see because my anxiety tells me I need to be boring. If you were someone who really knows me you would see so many other sides to me, but my anxiety puts up a wall and sometimes that makes me come across as harsh or uninterested. I'm really actually not like that at all especially if you ask my family! 

I want to meet new people and I want to succeed in life and in work, taking risks is something I really need to do. 

As I've been reflecting I haven't just been thinking about the negatives, I've also been thinking about the positives. What good has come to my life in the last 26 year? 

My children have been an absolute blessing if someone told me I'd be a mother of two at 26 I would have said no way! I always thought that I would have kids but at a later date, maybe starting in my 30's. I had this whole idea that my life would be a bit similar to Friends. You know the living in a flat with friends, working, having freedom to do whatever I want, getting up to fun and mischief at the same time. 

But I'm so thankful that I have my babies, they have changed me in so many ways. I now see the beauty in the littlest of things, from the way my eldest teaches the youngest how to play with his toys,  how their little eyes light up in excitement at new experiences,  to the pure joy of holding my babies and knowing that for that moment nothing else matters and all I can feel is their love for me and my love for them. 

My family have been a major part of my life and I am very much a family girl, my family pick me up when I'm down, celebrate the things I achieve and love and support me. I'm so lucky I have so many people I can look up to, so many people I can rely on and so many people to love and be loved back by. I know some aren't so lucky and I am so thankful and grateful that I have my family. 

I may not have experienced a lot in life,  I may not have been on holidays with friends, been abroad, travelled or gone to uni. But I have so many memories with my family and my children and I still have a lifetime of memories to make, so those goals those missed opportunities can still be achieved.   

 As I finish this post, fireworks fill the midnight sky, an injection of colour brings light to the blackest of skies. I feel a bit like Cinderella being visited by my fairy godmother. My own little moment of magic to signify the start of new beginnings.

  A new year, the same old me, just a better version of me. 

Happy New Year, I hope 2017 is everything you wish for and more. 

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