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Sunday, 26 March 2017

Keeping Your Wallet Healthy and Your Kids Happy

Children can be needy—it’s normal. They want the latest games, they want McDonald’s, they want a pet dog and they also want a new laptop. However much we love our children, the one thing we probably hate is how they expect us to spend so much money on their toys and games, only for them to throw them out in a week’s time or use them so much that they need to be replaced.

If you want to keep your wallet healthy and make sure your kids are happy, then here are a couple of money-saving tips that will help you stay out of debt.

Image Source

Buying second-hand or refurbished
Let’s say your children want the latest Nintendo console. Unfortunately, not only is it very expensive, it’s also sold out in most locations. This is when we can turn to eBay and second-hand stores. If it’s cheaper to get something refurbished or pre-owned (it usually always is) then why not get it for less? Your children might not enjoy the fact that it’s second-hand, but at the end of the day, the device will still work, you’ll save money, and your children will be happy. When being second-hand, pay attention to any terms and conditions the seller might have—especially if you’re buying from Most of the time, you’ll have some protection from fraud and scammers thanks to PayPal and eBay’s terms and conditions, so try to avoid buying with cash from someone local.

Refurbished products typically have a warranty policy as well and are repaired to state that is close to factory new. In some cases, refurbished products are even better than factory new because if there are defects within the original manufacturing run, they are typically fixed in refurbished versions. A good example of this is game consoles that have heating issues. A refurbished unit usually comes with a better cooling solution to make sure it runs smoothly.

Looking for a deal
Depending on what your kids want, you can usually get better deals if you wait for sales or look at websites such as for coupons and offers. If it’s a video game that your children want, then you can usually wait for summer or winter sales before getting it. If it’s a games console or some kind of electronic gadgets, then Black Friday is the perfect time to buy them if it’s coming up. Make sure you search online to find the lowest price you can pay for something. It doesn’t take long to head over to a search engine like and type in “cheapest x”. Just keep in mind that occasionally, the price of shipping will push the cost of something over your desired budget. You might also get great deals by searching in local stores.

When grocery shopping, it’s never a bad idea to buy your kids’ favourite meals and snacks in bulk when they are on sale. However, don’t make it a habit of giving them all of those goodies in one go. Focus on locking them away in your pantry so that they don’t stuff their innocent faces with sugary snacks, or make it a treat when they eat up all their veggies.

Budgeting advice

If you aren’t already doing it, then you should start using a budgeting app to help you manage your finances. You basically need to split your expenses into things you have to pay for and things you would like to own. Once you’ve calculated how much money you can spend on your children each month, you can make more realistic approximations to what you can and can’t afford to buy them.

By teaching your children about budgeting, you prepare them for the future when they finally get a job. You can teach them valuable lessons about money, such as saving money for future purchases, being frugal and not being wasteful.

Image Source

Resale value

If your children go through the latest electronics and keep on nagging for replacements, then consider making them a deal; tell them that if you can sell their old electronics and toys, you’ll buy them updated replacements. It’s a great way to teach your kids how to manage their finances and not be wasteful. Electronics that are only a year old can sell for close to 80% of their initial price, meaning you’ll get a nice chunk of money back and you won’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of money every year to buy them new toys.

Not only is this the perfect solution to constant tech upgrades that we see today, it’s also a fantastic way to clear out the clutter in your home and make more space for storage and other things. Sooner or later, your home will make you look like a hoarder with boxes and crates everywhere that are full of toys and video games. As long as you keep those items in good working condition, you’ll be able to sell them for a decent chunk of change.

Make a stand

Far too many parents cave in and buy their children things that they can’t afford. Whether it’s taking out a loan, buying something on finance or being guilt-tripped into paying money for something that your children don’t need, you need to make a stand and you have to maintain some level of authority over your children. Their tantrums won’t last, their arguments will die down, and they will eventually appreciate what they have.

You never want to spoil your child. Be it the types of food they eat, the games they play or the toys they own, you need to discipline them about saving money to that you don’t let them force you into debt with incessant whining and crying. You have to learn to manage your finances and your frugality has to rub off on your children if you want them to be successful, smart and responsible with their money in the future. Think of it as tough love, it’s something you need to do in order to teach your children lessons about life.

Hopefully, these points have given you some idea on how to control your child’s urges while also maintaining some level of financial freedom. Having a child isn’t cheap, and keeping them happy can cost a lot of money. But as long as you take a stand and teach them how to manage their money from an early age, they’ll grow up to be frugal and obtain financial freedom.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Skinn Skincare - A Birthday Gift From Idealworld.TV

It's Idealworld.TV's 17th birthday this March and to celebrate they have a great offer on one of their hero skincare products - the Skinn Collagenesis range from Skinn.

Skinn skincare products from

Skinn is a top selling international skincare and colour cosmetic brand and the brainchild of industry veteran Dimitri James, a professional makeup artist and licensed esthetician whose work has been seen on the runway and the red carpet, as well as national and international TV shows and magazines.  As well as training makeup artists and estheticians for renowned beauty brands, he is the author of two books, "Becoming Beauty" and "Naughty Makeovers for Nice Girls".

Skinn say they focus on what goes into the jar and how it will make you look, using the company motto “what counts is inside” and they only use pure, natural ingredients and traditional methods of preparation. It is this, they say, that makes Skinn different from other cosmetic brands.

I was sent four products to try:-

* Skinn Collagenesis 24 Hour Cream 50ml
* Stem Rejen Face Serum 30ml
* Stem Rejen Eye Serum 15ml 
* Lip Stem Rejen 15ml

The 24 hour youth preservation cream is fortified with plant derived peptides, Collagenesis which contains no waxes, no parabens, no petrochemicals and no mineral oil.  It can be used both day and night to help keep skin feel softer as well as help to even the skin tone and firm the skin.

The facial serum is formulated has three key ingredients, Glacier Water, Snow Algae Powder and Alpine Rose. Glacier Water helps to keep the skin moisturised, whereas the Snow Algae helps to increase the longevity of skin’s smooth, radiant appearance. Alpine Rose helps to enhance skin’s natural vitality and allows skin to cope better with climate changes.

The eye serum is formulated with a natural plumping active derived from the resin of the Indian tree Guggul, as well as the key ingredients from the facial serum.

Lastly the Collagenesis Lip Stem Rejen Serum Elite 15ml is formulated with a naturally derived active obtained from sesame seeds that help to smooth lines around the lip including, marionette and nasolabial folds, for a more rejuvenated and youthful appearance.  You can use it morning and night on your mouth area and laughter lines and as and when needed throughout the day.

I liked the value for money advanced skincare formulations, the elegant packaging and the lovely colours of the potions - a bright pink and yellow.  I found the 24 hour preservation cream curiously springy in texture but with all four products a little went a long way.

I found the products to be gentle on my skin, easily absorbed and unfragranced which my skin certainly appreciates.  I have found that as I have got older, my skin has become increasingly sensitive and prone to break out.

My favourite of the four was the lip serum designed to minimise those annoying tell-tale lines around your lips - you know the ones - the lines that seem to absorb red lipstick!  I found it had an instant effect and will be popped in my handbag.

If you would like to try the four Skinn products above, you can find all of them at Idealworld.TV. Usually this collection retails at £120 but from Wednesday 29th March they are giving you a birthday gift by offering them at £39.99.

Not only that but they are including two extra products, Skinn Insta-Fill for Eyes,  a line filling treatment designed to instantly create smooth skin around the eye area, and Insta-Fill for Lips,  which will stop your lipstick from feathering and make your colour last longer.

Skinn Insta Fill Lips

Skinn Insta Fill Eyes

If you would like to try premium skincare at a budget price this March then remember to visit Idealworld.TV from the 29th March.

Disclosure: I received a selection of Skinn skincare for review. The opinions below are my own and unbiased.


Friday, 24 March 2017

No Or Low Cost Mother's Day Gift Ideas

It's Mother's Day in the UK this Sunday and if you haven't bought a gift yet or are struggling to find the funds to get your mum something nice, the following articles list a selection of cheap gift ideas which are within most people's budgets - or even free.  Just click on the link.

Every mum wants the chance to relax!

This is an American site so the costs are in dollars but the ideas would work just as well here.

Sample ideas:-

* Create a Memory Journal

"Every family has made plenty of funny, sad, and crazy memories over the years... Ask everyone in the family to write down their favorites in a journal. It can be serious or silly, whatever you choose, and you can continue to add to the memory journal when the next Mother’s Day rolls around.

* Give the Gift of Sleep

For mums of babies or young kids, this is the ultimate gift. Let her sleep in for once, and make sure she knows beforehand that she has the entire morning to lie in bed. Alternatively, consider setting aside a few hours during the day for a much-needed nap...

Last Minute Mother's Day Gifts That Are Cheap, Easy & Surprisingly Thoughtful -

9 more brilliant ideas from our friends over the Pond.

Sample idea:-

* List the reasons you love her

Among the DIY Mother's Day gifts suggested by is a decorated mason jar stuffed full of adorable and funny messages about why mom is the greatest. For example: "You give the best hugs," or "You don't snore as loud as dad." The idea is that mom can open up the jar each day or whenever she needs a pick-me-up, and get a reminder about how amazing she is, and how much all of you appreciate her".

Pink candle and crystals on a bed with white bedding, glasses, cup of tea, magazine and laptop

24 Ridiculously Easy DIY Mother's Day Gifts -

Sample ideas:-

* Transform thrifted tea cups into candles to dress up any tea party.

* Stencil your mom's most inspiring words on a tea towel to let her know you've been listening.

* Make a DIY box for your mum's favourite bon-bons

Cheap Mother's Day Gift Ideas - The Balance

Sample idea:-

* Cut flowers are nice, but they don't last very long. For a gift with longer-lasting appeal, choose a flowering perennial for her garden instead – she'll enjoy your gift this Mother's Day and every one thereafter. For an even cheaper take on this idea, just place a packet of seeds inside a card, and schedule a time to help her plant them.

So there you have it - plenty of ideas to make Mum's day special.  In my book though, you can't go wrong with letting Mum have a nice lie in and bringing her a cup of tea in bed.  Bliss!

What's your favourite Mother's Day treat?

New Releases, Free & Bargain Books Link-up Week 13 2017

New Releases Free & Bargain Books Link-up Badge

How are you all this week?  It's Red Nose Day today so Caitlin and Ieuan have duly gone to school wearing their noses.  I'm not sure I'll be sitting through tonight's telethon although I know a lot of people are excited about seeing the cast of the film Love Actually back together again.

Happy Red Nose Day!

The clocks go forward on Sunday (just in time for Mother's Day) so lighter evenings are on their way. Time to get out in the garden and hose down the garden furniture in time for a little early evening reading with a glass of wine.

Did you catch my review of Into The Air by A.K. Downing?  It's a fabulous debut novel for young adults set in a post apocalyptic world with a feisty young female heroine searching for her lost father.

As usual, there are some great books on the linky - and don't forget you can always add your own to spread a bit of the book love.

Don't forget that I still have plenty to be won on my competitions page and don't forget my problem page here.

Happy bargain and freebie book hunting on this link.

Have a great week!

Sharing the Love of Books
Enjoy our selection of New Releases / Free & Bargain Books this week

Authors please feel free to add your own books
Readers please free to add your own finds
(any genre except erotica welcome)

This weekly link up is hosted by Beck Valley Books & these awesome book loving blogs...
 Life as Leels | IrishdaisylovesRomance | Book Babble | All Romance Reader
It's My Side of Life | Celticlady's Reviews | First Time Mommy Adventures 
Beck Valley BooksCinnamon Hollow Reviews
Miki's Hope | Nicki's Nook
Ebook Addicts | I Love Romance | Colorimetry | The Ultimate Fan Blog Mother Distracted
Totally Addicted to Reading | 3 Partners in Shopping | Angie's Angle I Create Purty Thangs | Wishful Endings
Lynchburg Mama | LibriAmoriMieiAli - The Dragon Slayer | Wondermom WannabeDeal Sharing Aunt | Rambling Reviews 

For Pre-orders post - PRE-ORDER / genre / title /author
For New Releases post - NEW / genre / title / author
For Free Books post - FREE / genre / title / author / end date 
For Bargain Books post - SALE / price / genre / title / author / end date
(Strictly no Erotica please.  Steamy romance is fine but watch those covers people, incase any underage child is viewing it!)

Click here for this weeks awesome selection!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Problem Page Edition 12 2017

This week - your partner's cheating when you've just had a baby and jealousy when your friend makes it big and you feel left behind. Plus, can gift giving mean you're hitting on someone?

Woman's arms hugging a man's back

If you would like any advice, feel free to treat me as your agony aunt. Just message me or pop a comment in the comment box at the end of this post. I promise to be gentle.

Here are this week's questions.

Q: Would you date someone you’re not attracted to because they offer you financial security?

A: Interesting question. In the past, marriages were often made entirely to secure land and wealth but then women didn’t really have much option.

Personally I couldn’t marry someone I didn’t love - particularly if they didn’t know I didn’t love them. Big lies like that have a habit of coming back to bite us.

And seeking financial security from a man is still a little 19th century, don’t you think?

Wouldn’t you feel better about yourself if you made your own way, earned your own money and took control of your own destiny?

Rather than letting a well off bloke you don’t fancy all that much lock you in to a relationship with all the appeal of mud.

Q: If a female friend gives a guy a gift, do they automatically assume she has an ulterior motive? 

My friend got accepted to nursing school (he is the first college attendee in his family). I got him an antique book of medicine that we love. I am afraid if I give it to him, he will think I'm hitting on him. Anyone who knows me knows I am a giver- it is in congratulations for this big step.

A: It’s a lovely gesture you are considering, but there’s a chance he may wonder if it is a romantic overture.

I guess it depends what kind of relationship you have and whether you exchange gifts at any other time - Christmas, birthdays and so forth. If you don’t this may come a bit left field. 

Do you know his family? Have they met you? 

If you will get a lot of pleasure from giving the gift then just accept he may wonder about your motives and shrug it off. 

I think lots of people would say the gifts should be coming from his family though.

I would look for a new boyfriend I can actually spend time with on a regular basis - and closer to home.

Q: I have a best friend who made it to Harvard and I feel worthless when I see all of his achievements. How do I stop comparing myself to him?

A: You know that everyone has different talents and abilities. 

It does not make one person better than another, just different. It is natural to envy someone’s success and to compare their life with ours. 

Rather than wallow in self pity though, why not ask yourself a couple of questions like did your friend work his butt off to succeed? Are you as dedicated? Do you work as hard? Did your friend have a clear idea of his goal in life? Do you know what you want? 

My point is you can use these feelings to examine your own life and see whether you need to make changes. 

In this case comparison might be the impetus you need to take stock and then take action. 

I am entirely sure you are not worthless and even if he succeeds at Harvard that is not necessarily a golden ticket to a dream job, a dream family, a dream life. It’s just a very good starting block to run from. 

Why not make a list of your achievements and then ask yourself what you’d like to add to it in the next few years. 

And go for it.

Q: How bad is it that my boyfriend is very upset with me and I don't really care? 

He stormed out just now and I was just relieved that he was gone. Why? Now I don't have to hear him curse at me or listen to his angry rant about me going out while he does the exact same thing way more often. 

A: It does seem an extreme reaction from him if the only issue is that you go out without him and he goes out without you. Is there more to it than that? 

If not, your boyfriend is being a hypocrite. It sounds like there’s a battle for control going on here and it certainly doesn’t sound like a fun relationship to be in. It also sounds pretty immature. 

You sound as if you have had enough of him and you shouldn’t put up with anyone cursing you or ranting at you. 

I think the pair of you have to sit down and have an honest conversation about what is acceptable in a relationship to both of you - and whether there is enough to salvage to make it worth putting more effort in. 

Because for it to work, BOTH of you might have to change. 

And if you’re already too angry to care, it might be time to find a new boyfriend.

Q: I have just found out that the father of my 6-month-old daughter has been cheating on me with his female friend. What should I do?

A: I am really sorry if this is the case because when we have just had a baby our self confidence may sometimes be at an all time low as we adjust to the pressures of becoming a mum (whether for the first time or subsequently). 

I am sure you are torn between feeling awful and wanting to kick him to the kerb. 

Pregnancy is often a difficult time for fathers to be and affairs during this time are very common. 

Some men do not have the maturity to cope with lack of sex during their partners pregnancy or may feel pushed out of the new family unit as their partner is totally (and naturally) absorbed with the baby. 

This is no way excuses this behaviour and men like this need to grow up fast. It may, however, explain the reason for his wandering. 

Was everything OK before the baby? You have no doubt heard the term “sticking plaster baby” where a couple is having problems and decides that having a baby will make everything better. It very often doesn’t. 

Do you have proof of the affair? Make sure you have your facts straight and then sit down with him and ask him for an honest explanation. I would speak to him first before you speak to the ‘friend’. 

If he confesses then you either forgive him and gain his reassurance that this was a one-off or you tell him to leave. 

Either way the trust has been broken and it will be difficult to put it all behind you and move on. 

He may, however, be a useless partner but there is no reason why he can’t, in time, be a decent father.

Your initial job is to find out what happened and decide whether your relationship is worth saving. And the female ‘friend’ needs to go if that is to happen. 

I doubt very much that this was anything to do with you. Time for your partner to grow up and face his responsibilities. 

How would you have responded to these questions? I'd love to know. You can find more advice on my problem page.

Disclaimer: All materials included in this post are intended for informational purposes only. This post/information is not intended to and should not be used to replace medical or psychiatric advice offered by physicians or other health care providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom. 

Beck Valley Book Review: Into The Air by A. K. Downing

Like everyone else in the world, Mia Bryn lives in the dark. Buried in an underground compound, her life is spent in brief allotments of florescent light and dwindling food supplies. But when a letter arrives, Mia and her father are invited to embark on a journey that no one else has been allowed to take for over a hundred years. They are asked to leave the ground and travel into the air. But the outside world is more surprising and dangerous than Mia could have ever imagined. To survive, she must trust her instincts, learn about a world she knows nothing about, and accept her destiny.

Available to buy from....   Barnes and Noble    Kobo   Paperback

“Downing’s Into The Air is that fresh take on the YA post-apocalyptic vision we’ve all been waiting for. Mia Bryn is a wonderful character—one who starts out charmingly mortal but soon becomes the heroine we, and her people, need her to be. Can’t wait for the next Mia chapter!” Bruce McAllister, Author of the Cybils-nominated The Village Sang to the Sea: A Memoir of Magic

“There’s a new star in the Young Adult firmament—A. K. Downing’s series, beginning with Into The Air, is sure to be a reader favorite right up there with The Hunger Games and The 100 trilogy.” Richard Snodgrass , Author of There’s Something in the Back Yard

“Did you ever feel so lost that you didn’t know if the ground was above your head or below your feet?”

My Review

Despite the fact that this is story is written for young adults, I have to say I barely noticed, I was so engrossed with this debut novel.  My resolution this year has been to read a wider range of fiction and I am enjoying the challenge immensely.  

Set in a post apocalyptic world where the air has been contaminated and the population forced to survive underground, change is afoot and whilst mutants roam the forests, the government has plans to rebuild and regenerate their world.  

The heroine, 17 year old Mia, is feisty, brave and determined to stand up for herself.  Let loose from the compound in which she has been forced to survive with her father Marshal, she finds herself a fugitive on the run from unseen forces, desperate to find him at any cost to her own safety.  

Her flight takes her deep into the forest where she rescues a little girl and joins forces with a band of renegade guards who find her more than a challenge.  Are they helping her or just waiting to hand her over to the authorities?

I loved that Mia is a well-drawn, modern female character and although the ending of the novel didn't answer all my questions, I suspect Mia's story may continue in further novels.  As the mother of a 9 year old daughter, I would be perfectly happy for Caitlin to read Mia's story.  There is a hint of romance but it is entirely appropriate to the story and not overdone.

I thought the novel was a refreshing change from many of the more saccharine and traditionally 'female' stories available for young adults. This one is certainly an adventure with a bit more bite.

About the author

A. K. Downing is the author of the young adult, adventure novel Into the Air. She grew up in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania and spent her summers exploring the fields, woods and orchards of her grandparents' farm. She studied graphic design at Kent State University and currently works as a Creative Director. She enjoys history, camping, and walking through fields of tall grass, and feels there is no better way to see the world than from the top of a horse. She currently lives in the woods with her husband, daughter, two cats and five chickens. Into the Air is her first novel.

Find the author on the following sites...


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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

8 Tips For Parents To Make Coping With The Clocks Going Forward Easier

This year the clocks go forward on Sunday 26th March at 1 am just in time for Mother's Day!

This is clearly bad news for the sleep deprived and if you have very young children you will probably find you'll be up as soon as they open their eyes.

Baby girl in a pink tutu sleeping on a big white double bed

Luckily, Caitlin and Ieuan are now at the age where we can negotiate with them (i.e. bribe them) to stay into their rooms till a vaguely decent hour (anything past 7 am).  It does get easier I promise you.

I remember though how tough it was when they were younger.

Whilst it is easier for us adults to adapt to the effect of the change to our body clocks, it's less simple for our kids.

I say easier for adults, although I once had a friend who would spend the entire day following a clock change asking "but what time is it really"?

Are there ways to make it easier on yourself?

Here are some things you could try.

Prepare yourself a few days before

You may find you cope better if you adjust your own sleep routine, starting a couple of days before.

You could try going to bed 10-15 minutes earlier each night and waking up 10-15 minutes earlier each morning. When Sunday arrives, you will already be adjusted and when the kids bound into your room at 5 am it won't be so much of a shock (hopefully!).

You could also try the same approach with the children's bedtime / wake-up time.

Watch what they eat close to bed time

We know that certain foods help us to feel sleepy.  For example, milk contains tryptophan which increases the amount of serotonin  - a natural sedative.  Eating a banana with milk also provides vitamin B6 which helps convert the tryptophan to serotonin. Needless to say, high sugar foods close to bedtime are a no-no!  

If your children haven't eaten much that day you could always try a small portion of porridge (not a high sugar cereal) to help settle little tums or even a couple of cubes of cheese.

Reduce nap times

If your children are still napping, consider reducing their nap time by a quarter of an hour or so the day before to ensure that they are a little more tired at bedtime. If you're extra brave, do away with the nap altogether, although this isn't a good long-term strategy because you may find their sleep patterns are disrupted because they get too tired. A one-off won't hurt.

Get busy the day before

Plan a few activities the day before so that you are out and about in the fresh air. It's hard to feel naturally tired if you are indoors all day. We are spoiled for places to visit near Cardiff and can be in the open countryside in about half an hour.

Stick to your usual bedtime routine

Make sure you stick to your usual bedtime routine so that the children are able to go to sleep easily. A warm bath, milk and a cosy story - all the usual weapons in your sleep armoury should be used!

Block out the sun

When the sunlight comes streaming through the curtains it's hard for anyone to sleep. Good blackout blinds or a blackout lining added to the curtains in your children's bedrooms will really help, as will something simple like a venetian or roller blind.

Change the clocks the night before

Get it over with I say!  If you don't change them till you wake up there's a risk you might forget the time has changed and be late for football/church/the pub (kidding!).

Don't forget to alter the clocks on anything that doesn't automatically update.

Make the most of the extra hour

If you're pretty sure you're going to be up extra early, why not prepare a special breakfast with one or two treats like some pastries and fresh orange juice.

You could even go for an early swim, cycle or walk.

Yes I know most of us will be slumped in an armchair clutching a mug of coffee but the thought is there ...

Go to bed a bit earlier on the Sunday

If all else fails, you can all have a slightly earlier night on Sunday, safe in the knowledge that at least you won't have to do the school run.

Here's hoping you all have a restful Saturday night.

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