Saturday, 13 December 2014

A Christmas fit for a Pug

You may remember that Elsie was super prepared for Christmas and wrote her letter to Santa way back in October. She must have been on his list of well behaved doggies because recently she received this wonderful parcel of goodies courtesy of Pets at Home....

Elsie was overjoyed with everything (there was an awful lot of sniffing of the box it all came in!) though I think her favourite item is the Christmas pudding costume as it is made from super soft fleece which keeps her nice and warm at home. 
She's not worn the outfit out yet but we are anticipating that she'll get loads of fuss from everyone she meets..... it is just so ridiculously cute!

We've bundled up everything else ready for the big day but until then, she's enjoying having an advent calendar 'chocolate' every morning with her breakfast! 

Thanks Pets at Home!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Winter Days

We've had almost a month of nasty chest infections and colds in our house and it's left us all with little energy. We've not been getting out much or as far as we'd normally like to but we are so blessed to have wonderful places nearby to get a bit of fresh air and walk the dog.

This was probably the first time I remembered to pack my camera in weeks. I wanted to share how lovely and peaceful the Longshaw Estate is at this time of year, even on the most grey and drizzly day. I'll be honest, if it isn't too cold then this is absolutely my favourite kind of weather..... I know that i'm in the minority though!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Happy 14 Months!

Today Emilia turned 14 months old and what a month it has been! From illness to new teeth and taking those magical first steps all by herself, we've had a bit of everything! She's really very much a little girl now, absolutely into everything and very sociable towards everyone she meets. 
Much to my delight, she's slowly becoming rather fond of cuddles too and I love nothing more than when she takes those wobbly steps towards me with her arms open wide ready for me to pick her up! 

*all photos taken with my phone as I've not had the camera handy this month, oops!

Here's a little update on some of the main things during the past few weeks....

Sleep - Night time sleep continues to be generally very good! She had her first proper cold a few weeks ago (I'm amazed she made it to 13.5 months before getting a proper one!) which really affected her sleep but she soon settled back into her routine once it had cleared up. Obviously it was our first experience of a cold in a baby but we found that raising her cot by sticking a few sturdy books under one end really helped and we also used the Calpol Vapour Plug for about 7 nights which was amazing at soothing her and clearing her nose. 
Currently we start her bedtime routine about 6.45pm and aim for a bedtime around 7:30pm though most nights she won't actually drop off until around 8pm. She'll generally sleep until around at least 6.30am but we've had a few very early starts recently which have been quite hard, especially when it is so cold and dark!  

Naps are still all over the place but we're not too bothered about it. I'm sure she'll be dropping the morning nap for good pretty soon and we'll settle into a new routine again.

Doing - Emilia took those wobbly yet completely magical first steps all on her own this month and she's not stopped since! She's so happy to finally have mastered it and doesn't stop smiling when she's showing off her new skill. She's doing so well and she just loves to be outside, waving to everyone she meets and practising walking as much as possible!
At home she loves her books and snuggles with mummy or daddy. She also loves playing with Elsie and feeding her treats. She's a very active little girl and loves a bit of soft play too so I'll often take all the cushions off the sofa for her to climb on or let her play on our bed! In addition to this she loves climbing stairs, hiding in things or crawling under things. We often play peekaboo as she finds it hilarious if she thinks I can't see her! I've had to rescue her a couple of times from underneath our bed though after she's crawled under and can't work out how to get out!

Saying - Emilia is incredibly vocal and loves saying "hi!" to everyone she meets. This month she has started saying "ta" for thanks when we pass her things, very cute! Her little voice is so precious and she's very keen to communicate with us constantly.

Eating - Still on three milk feeds a day and we're yet to find a beaker that she will properly drink out of so she still has her milk in a bottle. She absolutely loves her milk but we think the amount she has is starting to affect how much she'll eat throughout the day. She'll often pick at meals now and is very fussy about what she will eat. Pasta, some meats and fruit are no problem but we'll keep trying new things and definitely reduce her milk intake over the next few weeks! 
Emilia loves using cutlery and is getting very good at using a fork and spoon. Yogurt is her favourite and mealtimes can be quite messy because even though she's good at picking things up, we're not yet at the stage of food always going in to her mouth! Great fun though!

Likes - Tummy tickles, cuddles, doing forward roly polys, watching Sofia the First, going to the park, seeing and stroking animals (especially dogs!), walking, playing with empty bottles in the bath, exploring in the garden, sorting things into piles and stacking them into towers, hiding, crawling underneath things, pressing buttons, chasing the dog, pretending to answer the phone, walking outside and going to new places!

Dislikes - Emilia has been generally very good this month and we've had massive progress with nappy changing, dressing and teeth brushing! However, we still have massive problems going into shops, supermarkets, the post office, or inside any building. I generally try and avoid having to do it at the moment (good on the bank balance I guess if there's an upside to this!) as it makes me very anxious when she has a complete and utter meltdown as soon as you step inside anywhere.
As with all other things we try and handle it well and believe that this too is a phase that will pass. My goodness, I really hope it is soon though!

Happy 14 months, my princess! 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Super Nice Hair on a Super Small Budget....

I'll admit that I'm no stranger to popping into Boots for one thing and coming out with a huge bag of assorted cosmetics and hair products! As 2014 has been the year of cutting back on our spending however, these impulse shopping trips have becoming a thing of the past and instead I have been thinking about the products I use and looking for cheaper alternatives. 

I've never been faithful to any product or brand when it comes to hair. My natural hair is some crazy curly/wavy phenomenon (think Brian May!) and it needs an awful lot of taming to look acceptable. 
I think I've pretty much nailed the hair routine now with the help of a select few products, so much so that sometimes I can just blow dry my hair and leave the straighteners alone. I wanted to share these products with you today as I've been so impressed with them. 

Budget products can be amazing too, who knew?!

1. Essential Waitrose shampoo & conditioner - £1.10 each. 
My husband picked these up for me recently and I was dubious as cheap shampoo and conditioner can be really quite dreadful but no, these are really super fantastic! No fuss, nice smell and don't weigh my hair down. Lovely!

2. Superdrug Style Expertise straightening spray - £2.99
Semi-permanent spray for straightening curly hair with built in heat protection and wheat protein. This is definitely a product that I can't live without now, it's a little bit of magic! Simply spritz about 10-15 times over damp or wet hair and then proceed to blow dry and straighten. It's super easy to use, has a really nice spray cap allowing even distribution and a bottle of this lasts absolutely ages! 

3. Fudge "Instant Smoothie"
I know this (and the product below) are not really classed as "budget" purchases as full price they can set you back about £8. However, Poundland and Bargain Buys have been stocking Fudge Urban products recently, so it's really worth stocking up if you see any in your local store!
Instant Smoothie is quite the wonder product, use this after you have finished drying and straightening your hair and simply brush through to achieve sleek locks in an instant. This product smells amazing and really does what it claims to without weighing down your hair or making it greasy.

4. Fudge "3 in 1 Miracle Moisture Stuff" with Argan Oil.
Again, pick this up from your local Poundland or Bargain Buys if you see it! A fantastic little multi purpose product enriched with the revolutionary dry Argan Oil. You can use this product in multiple ways by either using before you blow dry to protect and condition, applying to dry hair to defrizz and seal dry ends or using post straightening to leave hair smooth and straight. I tend to use it for the latter as I find that is what works best for me. 

5. Bleach "Beach Lights" Balayage Hair Kit - £7.00 from Boots
I'm no stranger to DIY hair dyes and i'm a massive fan of Bleach products. The last one I used was this kit and I was really pleased with the results, so much so that I've not actually dyed my hair for quite a few months now. The instructions are super easy to follow (though there are heaps of tutorials on youtube!) and included in the pack is a balayage board, helping you get professional looking results without a hefty salon price tag!

6. Salon Performance Thinning Shears - £8.29 from Boots
As mentioned in a previous post, I've started trimming my own hair recently. Obviously when I want layers cutting in or a restyle I'll be going to the hairdressers but this is a really nice money saving way to maintain your hair in between visits.  If you're going to do this yourself then invest in a pair of scissors designed for cutting hair. I have super thick hair so these ones are ideal.
If you're not sure where to start then take a look on youtube where you'll find loads of easy to follow tutorials. If you're feeling daring, you might want to also try adding layers..... this is a great video to watch as you'll see how easily it can be done!

Are there any budget hair products that you can't live without? Let me know in a comment below!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Money Saving from September to November....

The past few months have been quietly productive for us. It's been nice. I'm not missing my old job and handing in my notice has given me chance to concentrate on our little family, exciting new projects and i'll be totally honest, it feels like a massive weight has finally been lifted. It's great!
It's been a little while since I last updated here on our little money saving mission so here is a pocket sized update of some of the things we have been up to during the last few months. Not much new but I hope you enjoy reading nonetheless!

Here we go....

The mortgage. Last time I updated we had just made a one-off payment of 10% of our outstanding mortgage balance which instantly bought our monthly repayments right down. Doing this made us quite enthusiastic about reducing our mortgage quickly so in September we made another 10% payment, bringing our payments down even further. Doing this feels amazing and means that we can whack the saved money straight into the savings ready to make another over-payment as soon as we can next year. Be gone, mortgage!

eBay. Selling on eBay is going really well and is really helping us not only in terms of making a bit of money but de-cluttering and evaluating what is really important in our home. Vintage items seem to be a real hit for me so this is something i'll continue throughout next year too as I still have plenty to get rid of!

Budgeting. This is something that both of us are hopeless at normally but for Christmas this year we've been prepared and bought most of our gifts early as December for us is the dreaded month of ALL THE BILLS. Car insurance, home bills.... argh, it all comes at once! Feeling kinda smug though that we're almost on top of gift buying already and we'll hopefully be able to spend next month mostly eating mince pies and watching Christmas movies! 

Beauty.  At the beginning of the year I decided that I would only purchase cosmetics and toiletries if I had run out and genuinely needed to get more (things like toothpaste, deodorant, etc!). This is going really well and it means i'm not popping into Lush to treat myself or spending hideous amounts on cosmetics! 
I boxed up all of our unopened toiletries so if we run out of anything, it's as easy as just picking out the next thing from the box to use up and we're concentrating on using one thing at a time. If I do need anything though, i'll look out for offers and stock up on my favourite products (cosmetics are often on 3 for 2 at Superdrug and Boots!). 

DIY haircuts. Yeah! The ultimate thrifty experience, right?! I'm trying to grow my hair anyway (Ariel-esque lengths would be nice but we shall see!) so instead of visiting the hairdressers for a trim I've been doing it myself. Considering the hairdressers I usually go to charges around £50 for this, i'm saving quite a few pennies! 

Sealed Tins. Finally, I filled my 5p sealed tin! Admittedly once I saw that it was near the top I did go to the bank and change a note so I could finish filling it but shh, don't tell anyone! 
Inside the 5p tin was £75.00 so a worthwhile task to do and we'll probably continue to have a few more tins on the go in the future. Filtering those annoying coins out of my purse is a great habit to get into and they soon add up!

Aldi. This year we discovered the joys of Aldi and now we make sure we use them for everything from fruit to nappies. I've never actually done a full grocery shop there (I don't think I could handle the stress of the checkouts!) but we generally use them for topping up fresh food and stuff that we know is way cheaper. Oh and their ridiculously cheap fake Milky Way bars are the best though I do find myself eating more than I should just because they are so cheap.... oops!

Not buying 'stuff'. And similarly, eating out less. Both of these are a complete revelation for me, I can't believe how much we are saving and how much our lives are changing for the better just by changing a few habits. Buying less and consuming less = saving more, less stress, less clutter, less tidying, more time and most importantly, learning (how to cook, for example!), increased happiness and better clarity.    

If you're interested in reading about what I did during past months you can read back through my previous posts by clicking here

If you are trying to save money for a special occasion or just cut back a bit please do let me know your top tips and how you're getting on!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Happy 13 Months!

A month has passed since Emilia's birthday already. It has been a nice quiet month, she's enjoyed plenty of outdoor time and playing with all the toys she received for her birthday. A lovely, peaceful month overall! 

So here's a little update on some of the main things during the past few weeks...

Sleep - Daytime naps are currently all over the place! Sometimes she'll have two, sometimes she'll have one, sometimes they are super short and other times she'll have 2.5 hours in one go! Generally though she'll have as much as she needs apart from the odd occasion where she'll wake up after 20 minutes and then be grumpy until bedtime..... admittedly nothing that a bit of Sofia the First can't fix though!
With the exception of night terrors (which she's had most nights this month), her night sleep is so much better too and she's even sleeping for longer now which I think is due to her being more active during the day. So good.... fingers crossed that it will continue!

Doing - Standing confidently and will happily walk with us holding her hands or if she uses her walker. Her legs and back are getting stronger by the day! On a few occasions at home she has taken a few steps completely on her own, she's doing really well!
This month she's been much happier and loves playing with her toys or watching Sofia the First (seriously, she's addicted and will squeal with excitement if I put it on for her!). She's very sociable and loves exploring her surroundings. Books are a firm favourite, she loves turning the pages and especially loves books with pictures of animals in. She's fond of phones and anything phone shaped too, she'll pick them up and start 'talking' to them or give them to us to speak!
Her absolute favourite thing to do this month however is  to EMPTY ALL THE THINGS. If there's a box, cupboard or shelf within reach then she will do her best to clear it in record time... we have to watch her in shops or she'll start pulling things from shelves thinking it is all great fun!

Saying - We think that "again" might be another new word for Emilia, she'll say it if she wants more of something for sure! No new words apart from that. She's very vocal and loves making different noises, her little voice is so precious! 

Eating - This month we have swapped her regular feeds for cows milk and so far so good! She really likes the taste and i'm quite surprised at how easy the change went. We went for a straight swap but I have read that sometimes people like to gradually introduce it. She still drinks milk from a bottle as we are yet to find a beaker that she will drink out of but this is something we'll look out for during the next month or so.

She had her jabs last week and since then she has completely gone off her food with the exception of fruit/treats. I have read that this is quite normal and i'm hoping that she'll get her appetite back again soon! Up until then though she was enjoying all of her favourite foods and getting quite good at using a fork and spoon herself!

Likes - Tummy tickles, making different noises, playing with 'noisy toys' or anything electrical, stroking the dog, walking with her walker, sorting things into piles and stacking things to make towers, snuggles when she's just woken up, going on the swings at the park, going to cafes, laughing when she's doing something naughty, pressing buttons, waving to daddy when he goes to work, going for walks in the pram and being outside!

Dislikes - Same as last month.... Emilia hates having her nappy changed, being strapped into anything or being dressed! It's quite exhausting for us as y'know, these things need to be done quite a few times a day! 
She also quite violently doesn't like being inside shops and as soon as you enter one she'll start having a complete meltdown. Shopping centres and supermarkets are completely out of the question for us at the moment until we can work out how to best handle it or until she can get out of the pram and be able to walk a bit! I think she wants to touch things but get frustrated when she can't.... and it's probably quite boring for her too! If you have any tips i'd love to hear them!

Happy 13 months, my princess! 

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Christmas Gift Ideas: Pugs

OK, I can finally say it..... Christmas is officially next month! Woohoo! Pugs seem to be everywhere in the shops this year and because I have made it my little mission to own as many pug related things as possible, I have decided to put together a collection of the best pug shaped products (apart from the real deal, of course!). 
Let me tell you, if I had not recently spent a fortune on a nightlight for Emilia I would be getting the lamp below for her bedroom.... it is ridiculously cute and would look amazing at night! 

So if you're a pug lover or looking to buy a gift for someone who is, here are some of my favourite things around at the moment! 

1. Heico Lamp, £70.00 from Urban Outfitters
2. Pugs n Kisses sweater by Gemma Correll, £29.99 from Mama San
3. Necklace, £18.00 from Finest Imaginary
4. Flying Pug gold cushion cover, £20 from
5. Hot water bottle, £10 from Next.

6. Bath Plug Pug, £7.00 from Boots (part of the 3 for 2 offer)
7. Cushion Cover, £40.00 from Mini Rodini
8. Wash bag, £25.00 from Poppy Treffry.
9. Christmas mittens with touch screen detail, £8.00 from ASOS

10. Circus Pug T-shirt by Mini Rodini, £20,00 from Selfridges
11. Lielou Pug, £154.99 from Steiff