Monday 31 August 2015

Working Mum or Stay At Home?

So tomorrow marks the start of a new journey for Me and for Millie too... I’m starting a brand new job and it’s FULL TIME! After only working part-time since early 2011, it’s a bit scary to go back into it working 5, 9 hour days a week and of course, doing it alongside looking after a 2 year old and studying part-time definitely mixes things up a bit. I’m definitely looking forward to it though but before I decided to take the plunge and start working Full-time, there was obviously the question of whether it would be the best thing to do and why don’t I just be a stay at home Mum? Well, here are my answers...

I’ve always worked. Since I was 13, I’ve had a paper-round and then when I turned 16, I got a part-time job in Halfords which allowed me to fund holidays, my car and saw me through until I was 18. I’ve worked in gyms, hotels, receptions, bars, nightclubs - you name it, I’ve probably done it but I was sick of working in a dead end job and that’s when I decided to go to uni and do something that I would enjoy. Of course, that never worked out due to falling pregnant and you can read more about it here. 

I don’t think the benefits of being a working Mum necessarily outweigh the cons but there are definitely a few things to consider if you’re looking at going back to work or even considering not working:
  • Your time with your children is obviously cut short but it means that you’re more appreciative of the time you do spend together.
  • Money isn’t everything but it obviously helps and I think one of the main worries for everything parent is money. Having 2 incomes is much better than one.
  • You get your sanity back! Having an adult conversation can sometimes make a bad day good. Just imagine not speaking to an adult for 8 hours... It can drive you a bit crazy, trust me. 
  • Social life resumes. Unless you have babysitters you can call on every time you want to go out, having a social life is harder than it sounds and although you might be working, you get some of that social life back when you start work.
  • You do miss out on milestones in your childs' life though - this is something that I struggled with especially when Millie was 12-18 months old. 
So, even though I was working from when Millie was about 12 months old, the main thing that made me want to get a job was money - living on just one income is hard and unless you’ve been there yourself, it’s something that you can’t imagine having to do. So being able to bring in an extra bit of money was definitely making working more worth while but when it come down to it, it wasn’t actually all that. Considering being a stay at home Mum is a big deal and although I was only home for the first 12 months, it’s a big old job: 
  • Everything is down to you when you’re the one that’s in the house all day whilst your partner works - washing, cleaning, ironing, cooking etc etc. You can’t expect them to go out and work 9 hours and then come home and clean the place, can you!? 
  • You get to experience every milestone that your child reaches - walking, potty training, first words. It’s such a special feeling knowing you were there to see it for the first time! 
  • You get to have playdates with other Mummy friends, trips out when the other kids are at school and general quality time together! 
  • You learn to appreciate your partner too and they appreciate you. Sometimes I think men find it hard to understand what it takes to be a Mum but when they come home and ask what you’ve done today - it can be a little insulting so just make sure you thank him for doing what he does and he will you. 
Everyone’s preferences to either work or stay at home are obviously going to be different - some women are lucky enough to not have to work and others choose to go back as soon as they can. It’s different for everyone but I know that whatever choice people make, is their choice to make and they shouldn’t be judged on it. Being a stay at home Mum isn’t “the easy way out” it’s actually more tiring than being at a desk all day - trust me. But on the other hand, there are definitely days that I would rather be at home painting and playing with Millie than stuck in work. I guess that’s just how it is. 

Are you at working Mum? What made you choose to go back to work if you are? 

Thursday 27 August 2015

Slimming World Eats: Chicken & Chickpea Curry

One of the meals I have been loving lately is a Slimming World friendly curry that can be adapted so much that everyone is bound to love it. You can add to it, change the heat and even make it vegetarian - it’s completely up to you and better yet, it’s so easy and cheap to make that once you’ve made it a first time, you’ll be doing it again and again.

(Serves 2/3 people) What you’ll need:
Chicken (optional) for this portion, we used leftover roast chicken but 2 or 3 breasts will do
1 Medium Onion (red or white) chopped
4 cloves Garlic chopped
1 carton (400ml) Passata 
1 can Chickpeas drained
1 Chicken stock cube
4 tsp Ground Coriander
2 tsp Tumeric
2 tsp Yellow Mustard Powder
2 tsp Chilli Powder
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tsp Cumin
1tsp Garam Massala 
1 tsp Curry powder (optional)*
Salt & Pepper to season 
  • Add the onions and garlic to a large pan and fry for 3 minutes (or until start to brown), add your chicken and cook until slightly golden. You can also add courgette, potatoes or quorn if you want to make it vegetarian. 
  • Add in the Passata and drained chickpeas with the spices and stir well. Cook for a further 5 minutes. *Curry powder used to infuse with more spices/heat but is optional. 
  • Add the stock cube to the empty tin of Chickpeas and fill with boiling water (300ml approx.) Dissolve stock cube and add to the saucepan. (Be careful when picking the tin up as it will be hot!)
  • Stir well and then transfer to either a slow cooker or a casserole dish and cook for 2 hours (200 if using oven and cover with foil. Stir every 45 minutes and add a little more water if needed). 

It’s such an adaptable recipe that you can really make it how you want it. If you like your curry hot then add more Chilli powder and Cayenne pepper or use a Hot Curry powder and add to the mixture. If you don’t like Chicken, use lamb or beef but ensure that it’s cooked beforehand (leftover Sunday dinner meat is perfect!). You can add veg to it, spinach, carrots, peas - whatever you like. This is the basic recipe to allow you to create your own and its all SYN FREE! 

You can always double the ingredients up too and make extra portions to freeze or use for lunches for work as it heats up really well and is a syn free lunch that will keep you full for so long! Add in some speed food and you’ve got yourself a fab SP meal for a few days! 

Let me know if you make it and how it went for you, better still, link me to your pics if you review it! 

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Netflix TAG

Question 1: What is/are your favourite series' to watch on Netflix? 
I'm not too sure whether I can narrow this down to just one so I'll list my favourites: Gossip Girl, The Originals, Dexter, American Horror Story and Pretty Little Liars. 

Question 2: What are you currently watching on Netflix? 
Gotham, Ru-Pauls' Drag Race and also just watched ‘Blackfish’. 

Question 3: If you could have any series, old or new, put on Neflix; what would it be? 
Old: True Blood or Sex and the City. New: The Walking Dead 

Question 4: What is your one pet peeve about Netflix? 
When it catagorises films that don't even fit that category i.e. 'Because you watched...’ 

Question 5: What are your essentials for a perfect night in with Netflix? 
Cider, crisps, a comfy sofa with a blanket and candles! 

Question 6: Recommend one series or film for someone else... 
Series: Dexter or The Originals (TVD Fans especially). Films: The Help, The Purge, Filth, The Rise or Horns. 

Question 7: Name one series on Netflix that you keep meaning to watch but haven't yet... 
Once upon a Time 

Question 8: Did you discover something awesome because of Netflix? 
American Horror Story and Dexter. 

Question 9: If there was one thing you could add/change about Netflix, what would it be? 
Download ability to download a series/film to watch offline. 

Question 10: Scroll to your ‘last watched’ section and tell us what it is you ‘last watched’... 
Despicable Me 2 (Millie watches it!) 

I’d love to read yours if you’ve done the NETFLIX TAG so let me know!

Thursday 20 August 2015

Store Loyalty Cards Worth Having

What girl doesn’t have a Boots card? There are so many store loyalty cards going these days that it’s hard to know which ones are really worth having. If you pop into a shop on a one off and they offer you their loyalty card, don’t just take it for the sake of adding it to your stash, take it because you’re actually going to benefit from having it! I’m going to try and recommend the store reward/loyalty cards I think are worth while so that next time you’re out, you can grab one yourself...

Number 1, the good old Boots card. For every £1.00 you spend, you get 4 points - it doesn’t seem like a lot but if you’re a keen beauty shopper then those points will soon add up. Boots are really good with their offers too; double points, triple points, extra points when you spend a certain amount etc, etc, but you do have to have a valid Boots card to take advantage of a lot of their in-store offers. Each point is worth 1p to spend so you’d need 250 points to get something that was £2.50 or under.
P.S. Ones for the Mums out there, join Boots Baby Club and you get 10 points per £1.00 spent!! 
*also available as an app.

Next up, I’d recommend a Nectar card. We don’t shop at Sainsburys for our main shop, more for bits and bobs but we use our Nectar card every time we go in and get points on our cards. You do only get 1 point per £1.00 spent but you also get vouchers, discounts and money off items when you spend over £10.00 in store so one shop may save you money on your next one! Tesco Clubcard is very similar but we don’t actually have a Tesco near us that we use regularly enough so our Clubcard isn’t as useful as our Nectar! 

Back to Beauty and it’s the Debenhams Beauty Club Reward Card - you get 3 points per £1.00 spent on Beauty, Fragrance or Electrical Beauty and once you reach 500 points, you get a £5.00 voucher! You do have to spend the voucher within 6 months of claiming though so make sure you do! There are loads of other perks too including Free Delivery online, Free samples, Free Make-overs in store and a Free Benefit Brow Wax on your Birthday! 
*also available as an app.

The Body Shop ‘Love your Body’ card is another good one if you’re a keen Body Shop user. You do have to pay to become a member but once you do this, you can then claim 10% off all purchases made in future. It’s £5.00 to join and then on your Birthday month each year, you get to pick a product worth up to £5.00 so you actually get what you paid for to start with back! Again, like the Debenhams card, once you have 500 points, you receive a £5.00 voucher to spend within 3 months of claiming! 

Onto foodie cards, Nandos Chilli Wheel is obviously the first that springs to mind - you get 1 Chilli per transaction of £7.00 or above, once you get 3 Chillis, you can claim a free 1/4 Chicken or Appetiser, 6 Chilli’s is a free 1/2 Chicken, Wrap, Burger or Pitta and 10 Chilli’s is a free whole Chicken or Single Combo meal. But everyone knows that, right? 
*also available as an app.

KFC is my next most used card, although it’s actually an app. The Colonels Club app gives you stamps every time you spend £3.00 or you get 2 stamps when you spend £15.00+. Collect 3 stamps and get a free side, 7 stamps and it’s a free snack, 11 stamps = £5.00 off! There are also offers loaded onto the app too so make sure you check it out before you order your meal! The good thing about the KFC app is that unlike Nandos, once you claim your chilli’s you have to build them back up again, at KFC you don’t! 

Costa Coffee, ah, if you love your Coffee, it’s definitely worth picking a Costa Card up. You get 5 points for every £1.00 spent and then once you have enough points, you can claim it on anything in store. Using your points is the same as Boots, so 1 point = £1.00, you’d need 250 points to buy something that was £2.50. 
*also available as an app. 

Last but definitely not least is the good old Ikea Family Card. Some items have a store price and a family price so you could be saving £100’s if you’re planning on redecorating. You also get free hot drinks in their restaurant Monday - Friday 9-5pm along with discounts on various meals. It’s more of a Loyalty card than a rewards card but never-the-less, it’s always worth having! 
*also available as an app. 

You can also get some great deals at Dealslands UK including 15% off FeelUnique at the moment! Go ahead and follow them on Twitter for more great offers! 

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Cohorted Beauty Box Review

We all love a good beauty box, don’t we?! The excitement and anticipation of not knowing what we’ll be getting until the box comes makes the whole thing completely different to actually going out and buying a few beauty bits yourself. Well unfortunately, after my latest purchase, I think the novelty has completely worn off for me now...

Back in May, I tried to get my hands on one of the June Cohorted Beauty Boxes by Pre-ordering on the date given (15th of every month at 6pm). I anxiously waited for 6pm and tried, and tried, and tried. When it finally decided to load for me, all of the boxes sold out. Next month, I tried again and at 6:20pm, again, the boxes were sold out. In July, I managed to bag myself an August box as they had extended their pre-order dates which allowed more people to get their hands on more of the Cohorted boxes. Excited as I was, I couldn’t wait for the box to arrive mid-august. 

Cohorted Beauty Boxes have featured premium brands such as Urban Decay, Too Faced, D&G and lots more at just £19.99 and a select 5 boxes each month get an amazing surprise and will have an extra goodie in there which have included Naked palettes, Anastasia Beverley Hills palettes and NARS palettes. The selection of brands included is what drawn me to order one but unfortunately, for me, my August box just didn’t live up to expectations. 

In my August Cohorted Box, I got: 
1) Bare Minerals Bare Escentuals i.d. BareVitamins Skin Rev-er Upper RRP: £15.00
2) Laura Geller Baked Eyeshadow Duo RRP: £15.00
3) Bare Minerals Soft Focus Face Brush RRP: £20.00
4) Cargo Cosmetics Eye Colour Quad palette RRP: £10.00
5) Molton Brown Relaxing Yuan Zhi Body Cream 30ml RRP: £6.00

Total: £66.00 for £19.99 inc £2.50 shipping = £22.49

Personally, I was really disappointed with the products I received. I didn’t feel the need to have 2 products from the same brand, or 2 different variations of eyeshadow either! I think without the Bare Minerals Rev-er Upper Primer, I would have been really, really disappointed and annoyed at spending £20.00 on products that I just don’t think I’m going to get use out of. The Molton Brown Body lotion just isn’t my thing, who actually uses tiny bottles of body lotion?! And again, I really would have liked more of a variety of products, not just 2 out of 5 being eyeshadows. 

Overall, the brands used are ones that I’ve not actually tried before, apart from Molton Brown and Bare Minerals (bare in mind that’s 3 of the 5 products included though...) and so in that aspect, I got the ‘Try something new’ box ticked, but other than that, I was really disappointed at what I received. I’d much rather have put £20.00 towards a beauty item I’ve had my eyes on for a while than get 5 items I’m just not wowed by. I’m still debating whether to order September’s box to see if it’s any different. You can order the September Cohorted Box now! 

Have you ever had one of the Cohorted Beauty Boxes? What did you receive in yours and were you happy or disappointed like me? 

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Summer Ready Feet with Scholl + Giveaway!

I know it’s hard to call all these rainy days we’ve been having ‘Summer’ but by looking at the calendar and the weather forecast for today, it is technically summer here in the UK. It’s the time to get those pins out and whack on your flip flops and sandals. Being a girl though, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Making sure your legs are silky smooth and golden rather than prickly and as white as milk bottles, making sure your feet aren’t crusty and you don’t have chipped nail polish - it’s all a big faff but I hopefully have the solution for you. 

Scholl have a range of products that will help you get your feet summer ready this year and not only your feet, they’ll help your smelly shoes get ready for winter and help your heels deal with those gorgeous 4inch shoes at that wedding you have next weekend...

So if you’re in need of some moisturiser or a spray for those stinky trainers, Scholl are bound to have something to help you out. They even have pedicure systems, exfoliators and many more things that are proven to help your feet become summer ready.

So if your tootsies need a little help this summer, why not check out more of Scholl’s products here and make sure you enter my giveaway to win your very own selection of Scholl goodies! 
Giveaway open for 7days - UK ONLY!
Please ensure you enter details correctly so I can contact you if you win.

Monday 10 August 2015

Slimming World Eats: Strawberry, Banana & Smoothie

Even though I may not be sticking to the plan as much as I should could be, I still enjoy using the recipes to make yummy meals and drinks. One of my favourites is the smoothie recipe which is perfect if you’re not into breakfasts but still want to get a filling start to the day. I often drink this as a pudding though as it does contain syns (due to the blended fruit) but not half as much as that chocolate cake would...

You can obviously change the ingredients up in this to suit your needs but I really enjoy this version as it just goes so well together. The measurements make a good sized portion or two smaller portions if you want to have this in addition to your breakfast with someone else. 

What you’ll need is:
1 cup of Frozen strawberries (they work better as they keep it cold - 1 syn once blended)
1 banana sliced (4 syns once blended)
Juice of half a Lemon
(HEx A) 1 cup of Skimmed Milk 
1 Muller Light Yogurt (or other variety of Fat free fruit yogurt)
(HEx B) 35g Fine Oats (sachets work perfectly for this!)

  • Chop your banana and strawberries to stop them from jamming the blender (I actually let my strawberries semi-thaw for an hour or so in the fridge so they’re not rock solid) and add them to your blender/smoothie maker/food processor, we use the Morphy Richards Easy blender from Sainsburys
  • Then, add the lemon juice, milk and yogurt and give it a quick shake or stir (I use strawberry or rapsberry muller light to make it extra berry like as I’m not too keen on Bananas). 
  • The porridge oats are optional for this recipe but it fills you up a lot more if you add them so at this point, if you’re using them, add them now and put on to blend for 30 seconds. 
  • Simply pour into glasses and serve with a straw. 

I’m not the only person who enjoys these smoothies - Millie has her own little jars she drinks out of and she absolutely loves them! I’ve tried different variations but this one is by far my favourite combination, it also tastes really good with blueberries added in but it sends it a weird purple colour so I thought I’d leave them out for this one! 

Have you tried making this? What did you think? Do you have a different smoothie recipe I can try? 

Saturday 8 August 2015

TU Clothing at Sainsburys

I’m a sucker for a sale, no matter where it is, whether it’s your high street stores or supermarket clothing brands, if there’s a sale rail, I’m hunting through it quicker than you can say ‘Bargain!’ When I popped into my local Sainsburys for some essentials the other day, I thought I’d have a wander up and see if there were any sale bits left, I know supermarkets don’t always tie in with everywhere else when it comes to offers and this can be a good/bad thing. 

There were still tonnes of clothes and shoes left in the TU Clothing sale so as you can imagine, I was in my element! I scoured the rails for some new tops as I need some ready for when I start my new job in September (read more about that here) and come across a couple that I liked but unfortunately, weren’t my size... As I carried on looking I managed to get my hands on a top, skirt and 2 pairs of shoes all were under £7.00 each! There was also lots of the GOK collection on sale too, much of it better than half price, so if you’re in need of a few bits yourself, I suggest heading down to your local Sainsburys and taking a look at their sale bits!

White flat Shoes was £16 then £8.00 now £4.20
Silver flat Shoes was £16 then £8.00 now £4.80
Parrot print Skirt was £15 now £5.40
Purple collared Shirt was £22 now £6.60

The skirt will be perfect for work teamed with a simple vest top and a cardigan when it starts to get a little bit colder. My job requires me to dress ‘smart casual’ but I refuse to wear boring black trousers. As simple as it would be, I’d prefer to wear stuff I’d normally wear outside of work, dress how I feel comfortable and just be myself. The shoes are an absolute steal, I can’t actually believe how cheap they were yet how nice they are! I don’t usually wear proper shoes, I’m a trainer girl, but these are just perfect. 

Have you grabbed any bargains from sales lately, or even better, have you picked any bargains up from Sainsburys? I’d love to know if you have!