Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Blue skies

Things that are keeping me happy at the moment....

Blue skies. Warmer days. The magnolia tree in our garden. Picnics in the garden with Emilia. The scent of my 'Seashore' candle by True Grace. Sorting out paperwork and taming the paper beast. Evening walks with Elsie (and the iPod!). New Adam Lambert music.  Cucumber and lemon water. Date nights with my husband. Getting out and doing different things. "Swan Songs" by Lord of the Lost (see video below). Our upcoming holiday. Getting tattooed in a few weeks. Drawing and being creative with Emilia. Getting a good nights sleep. & Emilia cuddles, lots of Emilia cuddles!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Money Saving from December to April....

It's been a while, hasn't it?! I think I've been putting off this update because we haven't really been super active in money saving these past few months. We did get carried away with spending at Christmas and the cold winter has seen us having the heating on far more than we'd usually like for example. We have maintained our spending quite nicely though and we're busy making some nice plans for the future. Onwards and upwards, yes?! 

Here's a small update on some of the things we have done during the past few months to save a few pennies.... 

The mortgage. After we made two 10% one-off payments last year, our current monthly repayment is well under average now. I am super thrilled about this and is really inspiring me to continue with the overpayments if we can! It means that we'll be able to move house now if we want or maybe save up for those pesky jobs that need doings around the house to make it more liveable and safe!

Savings. Recently we opened a savings account (trust fund!) for Emilia. I'm really determined that our little lady is looked after and has a bit of freedom when she's older. This is a great way of ensuring that she gets that!

Broadband and phone. Finally free from the clutches of EE when we swapped to Sky for our home broadband recently. Much cheaper and so far, we're finding them to be a lot friendlier. Bills are much easier to understand too which is great! 
My brother sold me his old iPhone 5s recently and I've taken on his old contract. My monthly bill is super low as our provider did us a renewal deal with a bit of money so i'm pleased that's sorted for the next 12 months.

eBay. Upping my eBay game as I still have plenty to get rid of. Coming up soon I have bulky baby items we don't want to keep any longer (things that never got used with Emilia!) and my wedding dress..... eek! Really hoping to make quite a bit of money from these. 

Sealed jars. I currently have a couple of sealed jars on the go and I'm just clearing out my purse every week or so, getting rid of loose coins. I'll be cashing these in every time they are filled. 

Not buying 'stuff'. This is key, isn't it?! Whilst I'm busy clearing stuff out via eBay, etc.... i've been really strict about not letting anything back in. I honestly can't remember the last time I bought anything for myself (apart from essentials & clothes!) and this alone is saving us so much. No more frivolous perfume, candle or magazine purchases. 

Considered purchasing. I'll always maintain that money saving does not go hand in hand with buying cheap. Good quality, well made products will last longer and in my experience they maintain their resale value when you need to buy new. We've had to make a few household purchases recently (including new laptop, kitchen bin, etc!) and we've gone for the best that we can afford rather than the cheapest. 

Surveys & Cashback. Still using various websites to claim cashback and claim vouchers from filling in surveys online. I'm quite the fan of Valued Opinions as it doesn't take long to reach the threshold for a Topshop voucher! 

Attraction vouchers. Planned well for our upcoming holiday by cashing in Tesco vouchers for attraction vouchers meaning we won't have to worry about entrance fees whilst we're away!

Library ebooks. Found out recently that our local library lets you borrow ebooks and an amazing range of magazines for free. Country Living and Ideal Home, here I come!

I'd love to here what you've been up to recently if you're on a similar journey. Maybe you have some money saving tips you'd like to share with me too! Leave a comment below and let me know!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

10,918 memories

I've been a member of flickr since 2005. 10 years. A third of my life. I routinely paid for a pro subscription at the beginning of every year and publicly documented so many occasions and aspects of our life.... our engagement, our wedding, pets, concerts, holidays, events such as bringing Elsie home and of course, the birth of our daughter. 

Since our simple life journey began last year, we have cleared out so much stuff from our home and seeing the benefits of this has really pushed me to challenge all aspects of my life. Virtual clutter is a big one for me. Inboxes, various shopping accounts and social media are currently in my firing line.

I've debated deleting my flickr account for a couple of years now. Uploading had become a real burden and I no longer enjoyed sharing my photographs there. Yesterday I went ahead and finally did it.... 10,918 memories wiped from the internet at the click of a button. 
I'll not lie, it was emotional. Crazy, huh? All my photos are backed up in multiple places offline so deleting the photos wasn't an issue. It just felt like a really big deal to me. At the same time though it was a journey that had most definitely reached the end of the road. 

I can tell you that already it feels so good to not have that pressure (from myself) to keep it updated, to leave no gaps in our virtual timeline. It's gone and I think it might just change our life. 
I want to be conscious of how many places I am uploading images of Emilia to. Heck, I might even want to go on holiday and not feel like I have to permanently have my camera out. I want to have new and exciting experiences and it's time to move on. I feel quite excited about that!  

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Blossom Time

One of the many reasons that I love having a dog is that no matter what the weather or how shitty I'm feeling, she needs her walkies. She gives us that kick up the bum to get out the house each day and for that I am grateful. 

We all woke up in a bit (ok, a lot) of a grump this morning so didn't want to go out in the car or go too far so we settled on a potter round the Botanical Gardens. We've been there a few times this week as it's that lovely time of year when it's not too busy and gorgeous pink blossom trees are just everywhere you look.

Emilia seemed to be quite fond of all the daffodils, she made a point of sniffing each and every one as we walked round. The magnolia petals were like confetti and she loved seeing them blow in the wind. Small things, yep? I love how she's making me appreciate the little things..... seeing the world through your child's eyes is magical. 

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Happy 18 Months!

All of a sudden my baby girl is a 1.5 year old bundle of energy, keen to explore and try new things. I think this has been my favourite month so far. She's so much fun to be around and she has the cheekiest sense of humour, always trying to make us laugh!

Here is what Emilia has been up to this month.....

Sleep - Emilia has been sleeping really well recently, I'm so pleased with how well she has been doing. Her naps can be so varied but the vast majority of the time now she'll just have one long afternoon nap and then bedtime around 7:45-8.00 pm. Sometimes she won't nap at all during the day so I've been trying to just roll with it and we'll snuggle down and watch tv or something else that's quite relaxing for her!

Doing - Emilia loves being outdoors and loves seeing animals. She really enjoyed her holiday in Wales last month, it was the first time she had been on a beach since she started walking confidently and she really loved the sand and wide open spaces. I'm really looking forwards to getting her back to the seaside next month, I'm counting down the days!
At home she loves playing in the garden, digging in the soil and smelling the flowers. She loves being creative and is a huge fan of stickers and colouring!

Saying - Emilia definetely has her own language at the moment. She loves making dinosaur noises and roaring whenever she sees a lion in a book or on the tv! She's also quite fond of saying that everything is 'broke(n)'. She'll drop things and then shout "UH OH, BROKE!"..... very cute until you realise she's throwing her meal bit by bit from the dining table! haha!

Eating - We've cut back her milk intake this month as she went through a phase of not eating anything, picking at meals then waking up very early due to hunger. This has helped so much and she's really into her food again. She's very fond of peas and sweetcorn, babybel cheese, bananas, pasta and rice. Still can't get her to eat meat but we keep trying!

Likes - Shape sorters, Elsie, dancing, stickers, watching In The Night Garden, colouring, crafting, peekaboo, gardening, riding her trike, tummy tickles, train sets, dinosaurs, gardening, helping mummy with the washing and bath time. 

Dislikes - eating out in cafes!

Happy 18 months, my princess!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

A 1940's Easter Weekend

On Monday we decided to make the most of the beautiful weather and the last day of the long weekend by spending the day at Crich Tramway Village where they were hosting their Easter 1940's weekend. We love Crich as it is a completely dog friendly attraction and with the exception of the catering establishments and the indoor soft play, dogs are allowed everywhere.... even on the trams!

It was a fantastic day. Everyone was dressed up in their 1940's finest and if you had come unprepared, there were plenty of stalls offering everything from clothing to vintage hairstyles. There were re-enactments, a vintage vehicle parade, singers and much more.
I totally had my Blackpool fix during the day too. We explored all the old Blackpool trams and we even took a ride on a Bispham tram which was laced with illumination bulbs. It was so much fun! Emilia really loved waving to everyone from the front seat just behind the driver, I think it was the highlight of her day!

It was a really special day and I'm looking forwards to using our ticket to visit again very soon! 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Creating a toddler craft box

Emilia has shown a real interest in creating recently. She loves anything that makes a mark and I can't tell you how obsessed she is with stickers and felt pens! I've been putting together a craft box recently so that everything is in one place and we can get it out regularly and have lots fun getting messy making stuff. 

Nothing in the box has been expensive and I hope to keep it topped up and varied as much as I can with lots of exciting things to keep Emilia entertained and inspired. I still have a lot of equipment and papers from my university days (I studied fine art!) but I've been really impressed by the range of art and craft supplies that my favourite cheap shops have too. Poundland have an amazing selection, as do Wilkinsons and the Range. Car boot sales are also a favourite of mine too for topping up on craft supplies.... sticker books, paints and colouring books can often be found in abundance for next to nothing!

If you're in the process of putting together a toddler craft box yourself, here are a few ideas for things you could fill it with.... 
  • A3 scrapbook/doodle pads
  • Stickers
  • Colouring books
  • Soft crayons (trusty Crayola are so good!)
  • Feathers
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Small marker pens
  • Finger paints
  • Glitter glue/paint
  • Paint brushes and sponges
  • Sponge stamps
  • Found or natural objects such as leaves, pine cones, sticks, hay, etc! 
  • Play dough (shop bought or homemade!)
  • Coloured card
  • Tissue paper
  • Magazine/catalogue clippings
  • Paper plates
  • Pom poms
  • Ribbon
  • Washi tape
  • PVA glue
  • Glue stick
  • Foam shapes/foam stickers
  • Googly eyes
  • Small fabric scraps
  • Toilet roll tubes
  • Washable stamping pads
  • Felt
..... the list is quite possibly endless! 

It's useful to also make sure you have a messy mat/old towel and a and a long sleeved apron/bib in your box as well as baby wipes for when its time to clean up afterwards! 

Have you ever created a toddler craft box? What did you put inside yours? I'd love to know!