Rental Insights

During the last 12 years we have rented a few properties through letting agents, all new builds, and all have been a dream, until something goes wrong. Thankfully nothing major has ever gone wrong for us, although the alarm was once sounding full volume for hours and hours whilst we waited for the company to turn up to fix it. We have always used well-established letting agents who vet landlords and act as a middleman.

Renting is such a ‘norm’ today, but it’s so important to make sure you’re with a reliable company. I hear so many horror stories about landlords not bothering with the upkeep of their properties and occupants being left in life threatening conditions. You really need to research your rights as a renter and source out trustworthy letting agencies who are very transparent.

We always went with well-known letting agents and landlords, and we have not had a bad experience.

As a tenant it is important to know your rights, you have the right to:

  • live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair
  • have your deposit returned when the tenancy ends – and in some circumstances have it protected
  • challenge excessively high charges
  • know who your landlord is
  • live in the property undisturbed
  • see an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
  • be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent
  • have a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than 3 years

But, also as a tenant you have responsibilities too:

  • You must give your landlord access to the property to inspect it or carry out repairs. Your landlord has to give you at least 24 hours’ notice and visit at a reasonable time of day, unless it’s an emergency and they need immediate access.
  • take good care of the property, for example turn off the water at the mains if you’re away in cold weather
  • pay the agreed rent, even if repairs are needed or you’re in dispute with your landlord
  • pay other charges as agreed with the landlord, for example Council Tax or utility bills
  • repair or pay for any damage caused by you, your family or friends
  • only sublet a property if the tenancy agreement or your landlord allows it

Your landlord has the right to take legal action to evict you if you don’t meet your responsibilities.

And don’t forget to get the right insurance that covers you as a tenant!

Leading landlord and tenant insurance providers HomeLet have released the fourth in their series of landlords advice eBooks and it includes some interesting facts and figures from a recent survey which asked tenants exactly how happy they were with their landlord or letting agent.

  • Overall 86% of people were either very happy, quite happy or somewhat happy with their landlord or letting agent
  • 75% of people surveyed claimed to be happy with the response to maintenance requests
  • 43.6% of tenancy agreements do not allow pets
  • 12.5% of people surveyed have had their deposit withheld with 39.1% of these down to cleaning and 19.3% down to re-decorating costs

So, whether you’re considering renting or currently renting, research your rights and your responsibilities, and get the cover you need.

#RentalInsights

The Ultimate Shopping Experience

Is there such a thing as the ultimate shopping experience once you’re a parent? With your kids, no, but without, then yes. Or is this just me being a bit cruel? Ha! My boys hate shopping, unless it is toy shopping of course, but even then it’s usually a traumatic experience. I tend to avoid shopping with my kids and the majority of my shopping is done online nowadays.

Pre-kids I used to love shopping for hours and hours, sometimes a whole twelve hours. Shopping and perusing were some of my most favourite past times. Then my little bundles of joy came along and shopping turned into more of a chore. It was a rushed process, I no longer perused in my own time, I had to be organised and be quick. The joy soon withered away regarding shopping, but the love I have for it is still there, buried but still there, and every so often it gets rekindled and I remember how much I love it.

I do, however, go shopping in a much more organised manner nowadays. My trusty lists help me. I plan which shops I need to go into, this makes it so much easier to not become overwhelmed and to lose the joy of shopping.

Comfortable shoes are also a must! There is nothing worse than going shopping and having to wince at every step you make because you’ve worn heels and your feet feel like balls of lava.

At least one coffee pit-stop is also usually required, sometimes two, and maybe even three if it’s Christmas shopping. I carry a bottle of water too, the changing rooms are often hotter than the Sahara Desert!

I also love going to the beauty counters in department stores too during my shopping trips. Nothing warms my heart more than a few samples of the latest perfumes and make-up products to trial at home. It gives you  little spurt of shopping energy too a little pick-me-up!

One of my favourite shopping centres is The Trafford Centre in Manchester, I’ve been a few times and have always had a great shopping experience there, but my shopping goal for 2017 is to visit Liverpool ONE. Its reviews are amazing (you can see what’s on in Liverpool if you’re interested here).

No matter where I shop I think my favourite time of year to shop has to be Christmas, I love the smells, the lights, the decorations, the coffee specials, and the general atmosphere. What’s your favourite time of year to shop?

Are you an organised shopper? I’d  love to know how you make sure you have the ultimate shopping experience!

#ultimateshoppingexperience

 

The Modern Face Of Marriage

The Modern Face Of Marriage…

Tying the knot is, for most people, a chance to confirm their love and commitment to their partner in front of their family and friends. A chance to celebrate their memories and look to the future. It’s long been a tradition and for some it’s the traditional vows and commitment that make it so appealing. In today’s age, however, there isn’t just one face of marriage. From the ceremony to the commitment, marriage means something different to everyone.

Religious or civil, big or small the type of service you choose can be a reflection of you as a couple. And for some, marriage isn’t even on the agenda. Cohabiting couples and single dwellers are more than common in 2017 with a distinctive lack of pressure to get married compared with previous generations. Multiple marriages are no longer a taboo either, with many people choosing to re-marry if it didn’t quite work out the first time around.

Slater and Gordon, a family law firm in London, recently carried out a survey to find out what the modern face of marriage really is. Here are the results;

  • 69% of people believe the biggest benefit to marriage is the commitment to a relationship…

  • …whilst 42% see increased financial security as the main benefit.

  • 53% of those surveyed believe they would (or did) choose a civil ceremony as opposed to a religious one.

  • Out of all those surveyed, 54% of people have experienced a close family member getting divorced.

  • 23% of people have been divorced themselves.

  • 69% of people believe there is less pressure to get married compared to 10 years ago.

I was 21 when I married my husband, he was 20. I’m now more in love with him than I have ever been, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. But marriage is hard work, even more so once yo become parents, so I make a conscious effort to be a good wife.

When you fall in love you forget the world around you. Your every waking thought is consumed with this exciting, butterflies-in-tummy, love. Your world is a bright place, with kites and bunnies, sunshine and lollipops. You feel madly in love! The reality though is that this is not love, not real love anyway. Real love is not always pretty.

Some days my husband comes home to Mary Poppins; the kids have behaved, the house is clean, the kids are fed and bathed and already in their pyjamas, I have clean hair, my makeup is still intact, dinner is in the slow cooker, and there’s a smile on my face. Other days my husband walks into the lair of Cruella De’ville; the kids have misbehaved since morning, they don’t know how to share, they fight, they cry, they refuse food, they shout, every task has been a battle, there’s been wee on the floor, food on the floor, four million poops, sand all over my kitchen floor, chalk on the walls, paint in their mouths, things have been thrown, things have been smashed, inedible items have entered the digestive system, mommas had no time for breakfast or lunch, everything’s gone wrong, mummy wants to cry, mummy’s mentally packing her suitcase, mummy feels not up to the job, mummy didn’t have time to shower, mummy’s got greasy hair, and there is no food in for dinner. Whatever the mood, my husband gets the brunt of it both good and bad!

Some days I am madly in love, and can’t wait to see my husband, other days I feel so exhausted and just want to go to bed at 7pm to recharge, but this will not help my marriage.

Relationships are hard work. They require maintenance, and without it they end up being scrapped. They die, yet all they needed was a drop of water, something to revive it. I make a point of telling my husband several times a day I love him, I write him little notes to leave in his lunch bag, I send him silly pins on Pinterest. He deserves my best, not just my derailed self first thing in the morning with huge hair and mascara stained eyes, or end of the day stressed-out me. I want him to see me at my greatest even though he loves me regardless.

Being a mummy subconsciously robs you of some of your identity as a wife – not in a negative way, your children become your priority, and makeup etc seem less significant because time is precious and totally used up. This is why you have to consciously make an effort; wear makeup, wash your hair, look good, feel good – YOU still matter!

I’m a nightmare for going to sleep at 6:30 with our boys. Some days are hard, and tiring, and all I want to do is sleep (& sometimes I do), but I force myself to get up and spend some time with my husband, and our relationship gets invested in, and ultimately grows stronger.

When weeks are busy I get so grotty and unbearable, I snap at my husband, even his breathing irritates me, yet I always discover it’s because we’ve not spent any time together for a few days – I’m a weird one! The quote “Leave me alone, I’m lonely” describes me to a tee. Once we spend time together I feel so much better, united, revived, and loved. Even five minutes together makes all the difference.

This is our modern marriage.

Relationships don’t come with a lifetime guarantee, you have to keep renewing it. But I vow to forever.

#themodernmarriage

 

 

A Video For The Mothers With A Different Story

What is a mother? A mother is a million things, all different, but all just as important!

Take a look…

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Whatever your story, you matter!

Share with somebody who you think needs reminding.

Sentimental Songs

I absolutely love music, always have, and I guess I always will. My taste is VERY broad, but it does always tend to lean towards the cheesy side, or so my husband likes to tell me. I am a sucker for a great love song, or a song written from the heart. I love lyrics that I can relate to. Over the years i’ve listened to music that expressed emotions that I felt unable to, a kind of therapy I guess. I have so many old mix playlists from the last 20 years, I could listen to them all day still.

I loved R Kelly, Eternal, Spice Girls, Pink, Christina Aguilera, Britney, Westlife, Damage, Boyzone, Kylie, Jason Donovan, Nsync, Kirk Franklin, Bobby Brown, Kci & Jojo, Boys II men, Mariah, and Celine Dion. The list is endless, but some songs mean a lot more to me than others.

Do you have special songs like that from over the years? Lyrics attached to memories and emotions?

Here’s 8 of my most sentimental songs;

Kirk Franklin – Lean on me

Pink – Family Portrait

Beyonce – Best thing I never had

TLC – Dear Lie

Westlife – Flying without wings

Kelly Clarkson – A moment like this

Kci & Jojo – All my life

Whitney Houston – Greatest love of all

All of these bring back some great memories or helped me sing what I was feeling, and there are so many more. I love nothing better than playing a cheesy mix playlist whilst having a nice relaxing bubble bath. Music is good for the soul, and it does wonders for mine. I love having a sing-song, usually via my tab though as I can’t hear the laptop or TV in the bathroom. I really need to invest in some speakers. I’ve heard such great things about the Panasonic Multi Room speakers so I’ll definitely be choosing from their range. I need something wireless and with bluetooth capabilities and this Panasonic range caters for both of those needs. They look fab!

I’d love to know some of your fave throw back songs too…

Will You Hang On To Hygge In 2017

In 2016 we didn’t just say “Hi!” to Hygge, we embraced it in our hoards. So much so that The New Yorker crowned 2016 the Year of Hygge. Inspired by what is apparently the happiest of nations, by the end of last year many of us found ourselves cosying up in corners in an effort to unearth our inner Hygge. We strived to spend more time with our heads in good books or slurping our time away with large mugs of hot chocolate or Glögg . Some of us spent our Sunday mornings with a stack of pancakes or snuggled up with a colouring book. However,as we emerge from what must be the most Hygge of all the seasons, will you be hanging on to Hygge in 2017? Once winter has waned and the weather warms up – will you put out your open fire, clear away your scented candles and let your Hygge hibernate? Or will you commit to pursuing the comfort and contentedness of Hygge in the months to come?

Share the love
Pleasure and presence are the values that lie at the heart of a Hygge lifestyle and for the most part they are goals you can aspire to, whatever the weather. While you may struggle to indulge a love of sledging when spring arrives, there are plenty of hobbies and interests that you could potentially make time for all year round, and in keeping with all things Hygge, they needn’t be expensive either.

Why not make it your priority to share more feasts with friends this year? Take it in turns to host a cheap and cheerful dinner party and you’ll find a one pot recipe and a bottle of vino goes a long way when it comes to putting a smile on your face. Or, channel a Scandi spa with an at home pampering session with your girls. Facemasks, a good film and homemade smoothies combined with gossip are all you need to get your session started and can make you feel like you’ve had a Hygge hug.

Other at home Hygge friendly activities include potting plants indoors and out, spending lazy days with a pot of tea and a stack of magazines and re-reading your favourite books for guaranteed warm fuzzy feelings. If you’re a dog owner, you already have a Hygge edge. Cuddling up with your canine or taking your pooch for a spot of people watching in the park are cost free ways to regularly enjoy the simple things in life and being a dog owner has been proven to be good for your mental health too.

Hygge design hints
When it comes to interiors, Hygge has been embraced as the ultimate comfort trend thanks to its association with candle light, roaring fires and soothingly soft blankets. But who wants to sit in front of an open fire in summer?

Firstly, you can still do these things in the warmer months – just take your Hygge on the move! Huddling around a campfire or in a beach hut during a rain shower are just some of the Hygge-esque activities that the British spring and summer readily offers up.

Secondly, The Hygge aesthetic is far more than a few rugs and blankets. It’s about surrounding yourself with things that make you smile and take you to a happy place. In fact, you may want to create an at home happy space to help you on your mission. If you’re not lucky enough to have a conservatory, hobby or study room where you can explore your interests and have a little me time, why not section off a little snug for yourself? You’ll find lots of inspiration for homemade room separators on Pinterest or you could opt for a more permanent solution such as fitting floor to ceiling bi-folds you can use to cosy behind or open to allow light through depending on your mood and activity. If there’s a particular time, place or person that makes you smile, remind yourself of them by decorating your Hygge nook with well placed photographs that in turn will inspire you to go on to create more magic memories.

Did you get into Hygge in 2016 or are you planning on turning over a Hygge leaf in 2017? What are your favourite things to do to release your inner chill? Do you like to get outdoors and closer to nature or plan get togethers with your bezzies? I’d love to know!

Children’s Party Planning

I love throwing my children birthday parties. We usually go all out with a certain theme; costumes, decorations, favours, cupcakes, cakes, even the invites. They get so excited choosing a theme and so do I, would you believe I’m 32?! February is always a party planning month ready for my youngest childs birthday in April. He will be 5 this year and I cannot even believe it! Where have those five years gone? It has literally flown by.

I came across a really great website to help me out with my party planning and I thought I’d share it with you. It’s called Bidvine, and it literally has every type of service provider you could think of; venues, balloon artistry, party planners, entertainers, caterers, printers for invitations, you name it they have a company who can do it! It’s even tailored to the age of children you will be inviting and the amount of guests you’ll have. You basically fill in all of your requirements, and then the service providers email you and essentially bid for your custom. It cuts out all of the faffing and searching for hours, they come to you instead. It makes party planning totally stress-free, all they require is your name, email address, and mobile number.

This year we have gone for a super hero theme, my for year old is obsessed with the Avengers. He wants facepaints, and Avenger favours, Avengers balloons and tableware, and a big Avengers cake. I’m also trying to source him an Avengers mascot, which I know Bidvine will help me with. He wants all of his friends to dress up as their favourite Avenger too, so I’m guessing I need to look for some adult costumes too, wish me luck with that one!

Then after April it will be planning time for my 6 years old birthday in October, he hasn’t chosen his theme yet, but no doubt it will be Lego based!

Do you plan parties for your little ones (and big ones)? I’d love to hear about yours, and how you go about preparing for them.

 

Christmas Party Venues

Can you believe Christmas is literally just around the corner? 2016 has whizzed by in the blink of an eye. Some of us have had a great year, and some of us not so much, but one thing we all have in common is that we hope that 2017 will be our best year yet.

I love seeing out the year and welcoming in the new year, do you? There’s something quite satisfying about the year ending and a new one beginning, it’s like somebody hands you a blank slate and all the sadness, mistakes, and unpleasantness of the year disappears and you get another chance at life. Fad diets, new relationships, better self care, more fun, less worrying, we have so many goals for the new year, and rightly so. I rarely make new years resolutions though do you? I can never keep them, so it’s easier not to make them, this is my reckoning anyway!

I love the build up to Christmas then the lead into new year. I love the party planning the outfit organising, the gift buying, the kids nativity plays, the Christmas jumpers, the tree decorating, the Christmas scented Yankee candles, the dark nights, the smell of gingerbread, the carols, and the sound of a big family get together.

What are your Christmas plans this year? We spend our Christmas with my husband’s family, it’s a big family occasion, and we all sleep over, laugh, stuff our faces with delicious food, and generally enjoy relaxing. New years eve is pretty much the same kind of thing, although it usually involves fewer people and a quiet night in, under fives are not very NYE friendly, although hosting our own party to bring in the new year during January has tempted us. A party in January would be an amazing way to begin 2017, to boost everybody’s spirits. Venue Finder is a great site to help find the perfect Christmas party venue and new year venues. Their site offers lots of locations and different options, you can exclusively hire a venue or join in a shared party night, they accommodate everybody. This would be such a  fab start to the new year, and there is something to suit everyone whether you’re a family, a small business, a big business, a church, a football team, an office party, anybody.

I’m really looking forward to seeing in the new year well, and hope it’s sets a precedent for the rest of my year, and yours too!

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

The Works Christmas Shop

Kitchen Essentials For Christmas

Christmas will soon be upon us, how did this even happen? The year has flown by! I have barely started Christmas shopping let alone make a list for the food we need to buy. Have you?

During Christmas the family home is usually the focal point, we decorate, we tidy, we make sure it feels cosy and inviting, and we prepare our kitchens ready for battle. The battle of preparing and serving Christmas food! But is your kitchen ready?

Here is my list of major kitchen essentials to ensure a fun, festive, and relatively sane christmas time:

  • Coffee Machine – We use a Tassimo machine here, and it is one of our favourite purchases that didn’t break the bank. It will be a hit with your guests over Christmas time.
  • Slow Cooker – I would not be without my slow cooker! It provides me with an easy option for dinner, especially during winter months. It has made life with two children much easier (at meal times at least). We love a good beef casserole!
  • Bread Maker – This is on my Christmas wish list this year! The smell of freshly baked bread is something I adore, and this year we are taking the plunge to get one! There are so many recipes out there. Here’s some bread machine recipes by Panasonic that we will definitely be trying out in the new year!
  • Measuring Spoons – If you like to adventure into baking then these are a must have and make life so much easier.
  • Digital Weighing Scales – These are so much easier to store than your conventional ones, and I think they are a lot more efficient.
  • Containers – For all of those leftovers!!

These are not a recipe for a happy Christmas, but they will certainly make it more enjoyable!