Christmas Shopping? 8 Ways To Keep Your Cool.

There are times when those of us prone to getting a little ‘tired and emotional’ need to treat ourselves with a little more care than usual and especially if you are menopausal!  And Christmas shopping is definitely one of those times.

If, like me, you find yourself getting too hot, too tired and decidedly cranky with kids in tow, here are eight ways you can mitigate the damage before you either blow your top or end up spending far too much money because you just want to go home!

Here are my “keep cool when Christmas shopping” tips.

keep cool when Christmas shopping - indoor shopping mall

Keep cool when Christmas shopping

Decide how much you are going to spend on presents

This is THE most difficult aspect of all but you really need to be clear about your budget and how much you can afford to spend on each present.  It’s so easy to feel pressured into spending too much but we all know that after the kids have the thrill of ripping the wrapping paper off, so many toys languish ignored after a day or so.

Make a list of what you’re going to buy.

An oldie but a goodie.  Make a list of what you’re planning to buy for everyone and stick to it.  The list should include stocking fillers as well as main presents. It is amazing how bits and pieces such as novelty chocolates and tiny games can add up.

Research prices online before you go.

For bigger ticket items, it makes sense to at least have an idea of what the big retailers are offering and most of them will price-match (John Lewis, for example).

If you’re shopping for gadgets, make sure you are comparing the like for like technical specification and check what extras are included.

You might also want to check any consumer reviews you can find in magazines like Which? or on Amazon. Whilst you need to be able to read between the lines when looking at reviews, generally, you will get a sense of whether a product is OK or a complete dud not worth your precious cash.

Check sites like Topcashback, Quidco, and Vouchercloud to see whether there are better online deals for your gifts.  Sites like these also have mobile apps you can use to check prices and earn cashback on the go.

There are numerous other price-checking apps for your smartphone that you can use in-store such as Red Laser or Price Grabber.

Cash or credit?

Make sure you’ve set a budget and know how much you can afford to spend.  If you’re spending on your credit cards, make sure you’ll be able to make the necessary repayments without incurring hefty interest charges.  Nobody wants to start a new year with a Christmas debt hangover.

Plan Your Route

Once you know what you want to buy and where the best deals are likely to be, it’s easier to plan your route.  Make allowances for the day and time you go shopping.  If you hate crowds, first thing on a Sunday morning will be a nicer experience than mid-afternoon on a Saturday!

Dress Appropriately

I like to wear warm, casual clothes in layers with a stylish but comfy pair of boots that I can walk for miles in. You can find a great selection at Esprit.

If you’ve got kids, make sure they don’t get overheated in all-in-one bodysuits and that their clothing is easily removable for dashes to the toilet!

Plan A Break

Particularly if you have kids, you’ll need to schedule a toilet/drink break.  We like John Lewis as there is a good choice of food and snacks for kids, plenty of room, clean toilets and a welcoming environment for families.  Trying to cram into a tiny coffee bar with a pushchair and umbrellas is never a nice experience!

Make sure you have some bottled water and some healthy snacks (mini boxes of raisins or bananas) to stave off hunger pains.  If you’re on a diet, a little snack pot with some fruit and nuts and perhaps a few cubes of cheese may help you avoid an enormous slice of fudge cake and a calorie-laden festive coffee.

Keep Receipts

Why not start a folder specially for Christmas present receipts?  Just pop them straight in when you get home and you’ll know when to find them should anything need to be taken back after Christmas. Lots of retailers will now email you your receipt to save on all those annoying bits of paper.

Do It All Online Instead!

If you can’t face the crowds, online shopping is the answer.  Just make sure that you take into account any delivery charges, last order dates and returns policies.  Not all online retailers offer to cover the postage costs of returning item.  If you’re ordering a perishable gift, such as a cream tea hamper, make sure the recipient will be in to receive it.

It also helps to sort out a safe place for delivery as there is nothing more annoying than coming home to a missed delivery card.

With a bit of planning before your shopping trip, you can minimise the stress and hopefully save yourself some cash into the bargain.

Do you have any “keep cool when Christmas shopping” tips to share?




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Is It Time To Get Christmassy Yet?

You’ve probably noticed the gradual appearance of the Christmas TV ads and, I have to confess, here in the Hobbis Household we have already consumed several boxes of Mr Kipling’s Christmas Slices.

In our defence, this was partly because their use by date was 6th December and partly because Ieuan went on strike until his passion for them was sated.  If only he felt the same way about vegetables.

I find in the run-up to Christmas I feel a growing combination of stressed and excited which varies depending on my red wine and mince pie intake.

Now is a great time, of course, to get ahead of the crowd and to start your Christmas shopping or at least planning your purchases.

Once Halloween and Bonfire Night are over, the festive period usually swings into place immediately so you may as well bite the bullet and get Christmassy.

Hopefully, you have budgeted for some of your Christmas purchases and have an idea of the kids’ main presents.  If you’re especially organised, you may even have planned their stocking fillers!

Whilst as a busy mum many of us rely on the internet and spend the late evening on our laptops, there’s nothing quite like visiting a shopping mall like Liverpool One to enjoy the lights, the fake snow, the early sales and a Pumpkin Latte or two.

With so many brands under one roof, it’s easier to contrast and compare gifts and to check you’re getting the best deal.  You’ll need a plan though and Christmas shopping can be exhausting so you’ll find some ideas to cope with this post.

We all have our little rituals though, don’t we, to get in the Christmas spirit – because if it wasn’t for us mums, let’s be honest, Christmas wouldn’t happen at all in some households. I always treat myself to either a beauty advent calendar or a Yankee Candle Advent Calendar.  Having a daily treat in the run up to the big day cheers me up no end.

Time to get Christmassy

If you need a few suggestions for your Christmas shopping list, how about these?

*Treat yourself to some festive Christmas underwear – how many of us actually treat ourselves?!

*Kit the family out in festive jumpers for a funny family Christmas day photo

*Festive foodie treats like Stollen and Pannetone make great gifts and make a nice change from the more usual Christmas fare – or how about wrapped Amaretto biscuits in pretty tins?

*For nieces, nephews and the impossible to buy for, gift cards from their favourite store will be welcomed.

* For the selfie-obsessed, how about a selfie stick or, for girls, there’s plenty of makeup available to help your complexion look insta-ready.

*On the same theme, you probably won’t go too far from with mobile phone cases or accessories either.

Whatever you do, make sure you get enough rest and relaxation so that you are in peak shopping condition – and this is the time of year to treat yourself to a taxi home too.

Woznow.co.uk – Shop The Sales From The Comfort Of Your Sofa

You may remember a while back I wrote about a great new online shopping mall, Octer.  It’s an online portal which allows you to browse and shop your favourite retailers whilst being able to compare and contrast the things you want.

My physical shopping trips usually involve a hefty amount and to-ing and fro-ing the length and breadth of Cardiff’s shopping centres which, if you have the time and energy, is a very pleasurable pursuit.

Usually, though I’ve got the husband and kids in tow and the boys do not do shopping.  In fact, Ieuan’s idea of purgatory is the Pandora shop (which Caitlin and I love) and he’ll flounce out and sit like a grumpy pixie on the floor outside the display window.

You don’t need that on a Saturday, do you?  So, particularly where Christmas shopping is concerned, I, like many parents have been doing it mostly online.

Now I’m very fond of saving money and whilst most retailers have a ‘sale section’, wouldn’t it be great to be able to compare those sale bargains side by side online too?

Good news.  There is now a new site very similar to Octer which does just that called WozNow (www.woznow.co.uk) and it’s updated almost daily with the newest bargains.

WozNow guarantees that all its sale prices are real sale prices and that every product has been previously listed at a higher price on the retailer’s website. They are setting themselves apart from “discount retailers” who have never-ending sale prices.

WozNow allows you to search by category (e.g. Women, Men, Kids), department or store and then to drill down further within each of these to find exactly what you’re looking for.

You can check size and stock availability without running around from store to store.  (I’ve lost track of the times we’ve had to hike from one Clarks Shoe Shop to another in the quest for a particular shoe in the kids’ size).

So for example, clicking on jeans gives you the choice of skinny fit, straight leg, wide leg, tailored etc.  Clicking on Shoes & Boots gives you a choice of Casual Flat, Smart Flat, Heels and so on.

Once you have found your item, clicking on the link takes you directly to the retailer’s site which happily opens in a new window so that you can not clicking back and forth on your browser back button.

Then you simply check out via the retailer’s site in the normal manner.

WozNow is incredibly easy to use, up-to-date and rather addictive.  If there is a downside to it I’d say that it becomes fiddly if you want to use cashback or voucher code sites to save more money.

You would have to make a note of the item and then enter the retailer’s site via Topcashback (or whoever) instead.

That said, generally, the cashback and voucher offers I have come across are not usually useable on sale stock so this may be a bit of a red herring.

You do have to be quite quick off the mark too as lots of the bargains I had my eye on were already out of stock when I clicked through to the retailer.  Those bargains are vanishing as quickly as the site updates! For that reason, avid shoppers should visit the site often.

I’m afraid I did succumb and bought this fluffy faux fur coat from ASOS.  You can never have too much faux fur, can you?

 

Barney’s Originals Ombre Faux Fur Coat From Asos £58 reduced from £95

I’ll be checking back in the lull over Christmas to see what other bargains have appeared.  Just think – no endless queuing for the car park, no overheated shops and no stropping from Ieuan outside Pandora.

Much less “Oh what now!!!” and more “WozNow”.

Bliss.

A Better Way To Find Black Friday Weekend Bargains

Brace yourselves because Friday 25th November marks the start of Black Friday Weekend.

Ah, Black Friday.  Three words that conjure up visions of amazing deals, frequent confusion and occasional brawls in supermarkets.

shopping mall at Christmas

No wonder then, that many of us would prefer to beat the battles in the stores this November, and find the best deals online with our feet up in the comfort of our own home.

This isn’t without its frustrations either though because online home shopping often involves trudging through a thousand websites with fifty tabs open whilst you look through items you don’t want before you get any seriously good deals.

It’s at this point that you find out your item has sold out in your size or your colour choice isn’t available.

Or, even worse, the retailer’s website crashes completely so you don’t know if you have actually bought anything.

But I’ve discovered a website that brings all the sales across the internet in one convenient place with the aim of saving time and money, and keeping your stress levels manageable.

Lovethesales.com  brings together all the sales from over 500 of the top brands and retailers across the UK for you to choose from including fashion, homeware, electronics, outdoor and a kid’s section, making finding those hidden gems so much easier.

You can search the sales in your tailored sizes so you won’t be disappointed and can also sign up for sale alerts for your favourite brands so you never miss a sale again.

If you’re looking to find something a bit warmer over the Black Friday weekend, then the UGG sale  is a great place to start for warm, fashionable shoes and accessories from this world renowned brand.

These gorgeous gloves  feature a snug wool  lining and come in purple, grey, brown & black, a perfect Christmas present to tick off the list (and we bloggers do love a list, don’t we?).

Classic 2point gloves, was £125 now £49. 61% off

Sticking with the warm theme, there’s nothing like updating old and tired coats for new and vibrant colours. In the coats & jackets sale you’ll find plenty of durable winter coats that will brighten up any outfit while keeping the chills at bay.

The Barbour sale mixes cool quilted jackets with waterproof winter coats, like this zip up waterproof parka.

Barbour waterproof parka, was £199 now £140, 30% off

Whether you’re getting your Christmas shopping done early, or stocking up for change of season clothing, this is a great way to shop the sales and avoid a shopping center meltdown!

*collaborative post

Summer Bank Holiday Fun On A Budget With Ideal World

There’s something equally poignant and special about the last bank holiday before autumn sets in.  

It’s our last chance to pull out all the stops and ignore the fact that it has been raining for weeks, the Husband’s locked himself in the shed and the kids have been rendered mute by iPads.

Many of us have blown our budget on days out around the UK, not to mention the fact that our offspring have eaten us out of house and home.  We are still trying to dig our way out of a crisp packet mountain having naively thought it was actually possible to win a holiday on that Walkers’ Spell & Go promotion.

So, are there ways you can have fun cheaply without forking out another £100+ on a theme park family ticket for the privilege of inspecting the motorway tarmac as you roast in a traffic jam and then spend 2 hours queuing for a ride which lasts less than 5 minutes?

Well, possibly – but it might involve a bit of fibbing and a lot of “well that’s what we used to do in the good old days”.

Nothing like a good old fashioned game of  “hunt for the rusty bicycle”

If you’re all out of bribery tactics and wine o’clock is now commencing when the sun is over the yard arm anywhere in the world,  here’s some budget friendly suggestions for the last ‘blow out’ of summer.

*  plan ahead – you can save money by booking attraction tickets online in advance and there may be some last minute hotel bargains to be had from sites like lastminute.com.

* save on train fares by investing in a Family & Friends Rail Card which gives you 1/3 off fares and 60% off the kids’ fares 

Thankfully the kids haven’t noticed that the sea is approximately 5 miles away

* check for offers on your loyalty cards, such as Tesco Clubcard and dining cards like Tastecard which for a small annual fee gives you up to 50% off in over 7000 restaurants across the UK, plus a range of other attractions and cinemas.

*If the weather’s fine, just pack a picnic and a football and head off to your local nature reserve or the beach (but be prepared for queues as usual).  Don’t forget the suncream

*Of course there’s the standby of the Great British Barbecue, even if it’s raining!  

*Or what about a movie afternoon with popcorn for the kids and something made out of grapes for mum?  

* If it’s raining, a family boardgame challenge will pass a couple of hours – the old favourites are best – Monopoly, Cluedo or how about Kerplunk or Mousetrap?  

If all else fails and the kids strop off to their bedrooms with their gadgets, you could always catch up with a bit on online shopping and snap up some of the bargains to be had.  

Why not join the fun with Ideal World (Sky 654, Freeview 22, Virgin 747, Freesat 812 and at www.idealworld.tv) who are giving free postage and packing on everything until 9 pm on Monday 29th August.  

They’ll be running lots of fun competitions throughout the bank holiday weekend with some fabulous prizes on offer.

No queues, no public transport, no stroppy kids.  

Actually that sounds like quite a fun bank holiday to me……

Review: Lose Yourself At Octer.co.uk – An Online Shopping Mall You’ll Want To Revisit

I was recently introduced to online retail site Octer.co.uk, a new website which not only allows you to search for your favourite items but lets you select your purchases by store as well as item type.

Octer website screen

Octer is a start-up company developing mobile-first, e-commerce technology with the goal of making online shopping simple. As you might expect you can shop using Octer via your mobile or tablet too.

The best way to describe it is as an online shopping mall.

I was given the chance to try the Octer shopping experience by selecting a maxi dress.

You select the category – in this instance “Women’s” and you can either search by the item category “Dresses & Skirts”, shop by brand or shop by store.

Octer women's fashion screen

If you select “Dresses & Skirts”, you are given a further set of options to select from.  I chose “Maxi Dress” and was taken to a page with loads of fabulous dresses to choose from.

Octer - display of maxi dresses

These options give you an incredible amount of choice!

Once you have selected a dress, you simply click straight through to the retailer.

Whilst looking for your maxi dress, Octer will suggest loads of similar styles you might like and allow you to check details such as price, size and availability by a one-click link through to the relevant store.

Each item clicked on appears in a separate window and everything is under one ‘virtual roof’ so that you don’t have to keep clicking to and fro from other websites.

Technically this will speed up shopping.  In reality, I found I could spend hours on Octer! You don’t just get one or two alternative suggestions, you get pages of them which you can sort according to low or high price too.

Not only does Octer offer fashion but it also offers beauty, technology, interiors, gifts and sports products.

So what did I choose?

Linda Hobbis wearing a green maxi dress from Octer
My lovely Jarlo Yara Green Maxi From Asos.Com

I found this lovely green overlay maxi dress from Jarlo Yara Maxi Dress at ASOS.Com.

Octer is well worth exploring if you fancy a full shopping experience without the stress of a crowded shopping mall on Saturday.  And if you’ve ever tried that with kids in tow, you know exactly how stressful that can be!

Nail Polish Hacks From Diet Coke + Essie

Until 24 May Diet Coke and essie have teamed up to give Boots shoppers the chance to pick up a 500ml bottle of Diet Coke and an essie nail polish in one of three shades – Cocktail Bling, Fiji or Fishnet Stockings at the special price of £5.99 (standard price £9.39).

If you fancy being a little more experimental with your mani, Diet Coke and essie have come up with some quirky and fun ways to jazz up your nails.

Embrace texture

Some of the textured nail looks need a super steady hand, but you can achieve a sophisticated textured look with one tool you’d never dream of: your Diet Coke bottle lid.

Simply apply a base level of polish and let it touch dry. Then lightly brush another polish into the ridges on the side of the bottle lid. Once you have done this, it’s time to get creative. You can create track marks by pressing down on the nail (try creating a track mark down the middle of your nail) or rolling the lid across the nail.

Go ombre

If you’re a fan of ombre hair, try the trend out on your nails. All you need is two of your fave polish shades and a Diet Coke bottle label. Here they’ve used essie’s Fiji shade as a base.

Let it touch dry for about 3 minutes, then roll up the bottle label into a tight tube and paint the Cocktail Bling polish onto the top of the tube. Then blot starting at the tip of the nail. Give the tip more heavy coverage and then blot lightly up to the middle of the nail to create the ombre effect.

Freeze-dry your mani

Nail polish dries more quickly in cool temperatures and you can freeze-dry your polish in place in just 5 minutes. Before painting your nails, fill a bowl with ice cold water (ice cubes included). Once you’ve painted your nails, let them air dry for 2 minutes before submerging them in the icy water for 3 minutes. Voila, your nails will be ready for their next outing.

Easy + fun nail art ALERT!

Use a kirby grip to make perfect dots on your nails. Here they’ve used essie nail polish in Fishnet Stockings – the bold shade contrasts nicely against the pale essie nail polish in Fiji to give real impact.

These essie polishes are available on promotion at Boots now (buy a 500ml Diet Coke + essie polish for £5.99 while stocks last).

Smooth finish 

Just as the great taste of Diet Coke is best enjoyed ice cold, nail polish also performs best in the fridge. For your polish to go on smoothly every time, keep it in the fridge or even pop it in for 15 minutes before application.

Diet Coke + essie would love to see photos of you trying out our Diet Coke + essie nail polish hacks using your 500ml Diet Coke bottle and the essie nail polishes.

Share the photos with @DietCokeGB on Twitter & Instagram, use the hashtag #DietCokebeautybreak and they’ll send a ‘Like’ your way.

Offer starts 27.04.16 and ends 24.05.16 or while stocks last, participating Boots stores only, age 13+. Terms & conditions apply: http://CokeURL.com/o erterms © 2016 The Coca Cola Company. DIET COKE is a registered trademark of The Coca-Cola Company

Giveaway: £45 Off Your First FoodZube Online Shop At Tesco

There are loads of food sites which offer meal plans.  There are also lots of supermarkets who deliver.

What if there were a site that helps you to combine your meal planning with your shopping in one location and suggests suitable recipes into the bargain?

 

FoodZube is a very clever site that allows you to plan your meals according to your taste, budget and the time you have available.  (I’m guessing limited if you’re a parent).

FoodZube helps you to organise your favourite recipes in one place, create meal plans and do your weekly shopping in one go, either on your PC or your mobile.

If you would like to try the service, FoodZube offers a free one month trial which doesn’t require a credit card sign-up.

Once you have filled in your basic personal information, you will be asked about your preferences – the food you like, dietary requirements (e.g. gluten-free), any nutritional limits (for example protein or carb limits), the time you have and the number you are cooking for,

There is also an option to choose low budget recipes and a very handy ‘up to 30 minutes’ flag for when there’s little time to cook.

You then have the option to add your own recipes, together with the date you intend to cook them so that you create a meal planner.

You can also import recipes from other websites to keep them in one handy location.

Or simply click on “Instant Organizer” which gives you a great list of recipes to choose from based on the requirements you have input on the preferences page.

For someone like me whose repertoire tends to revolve around a combination of pizza, spaghetti bolognese and fish fingers, this is a fabulous tool.

I actually find thinking what to have for tea more stressful than having to cook it.

Once you are happy with the recipes suggested, simply click on “Weekly Shopping” and FoodZube will create a shopping list for you.

It’s easy to edit the ingredients you would like and you can also add other non food items to complete your weekly shop in one go.

Click “Buy Online” and you’ll be asked to confirm which recipe ingredients you would like FoodZube to add to your shopping list.

Then, very cleverly, FoodZube does your shopping by filling your virtual basket for you to sort through, adding and removing items as necessary.

Currently the supermarket used is Tesco but I imagine there will be a wider choice in the near future.

 

From this point, all you have to do is check out in the usual way and wait for your shopping to be delivered.

You’ll find you’ve saved quite a bit of time on your shop because you don’t have to look for all the ingredients – and you might even save some money since I find when I’m searching it’s very easy to add one or two extra treats to the virtual trolley!

You can even start your own food blog on FoodZube’s site and connect with other FoodZube bloggers.  This is a service I have never seen offered by any other food-based website.

There are over 50 specialised designs from which to choose and dozens of recipe templates to give your blog a professional edge.

The FoodZube team will even set up your blog’s Pinterest account and help you launch it!

FoodZube is free for the first month and costs £7.99 per month thereafter, which I think is incredibly good value.

And I have a fabulous giveaway of £45 off your first FoodZube shop at Tesco.com.

Please note that the winner must sign up to FoodZube in order to receive the prize.  This is free and you can cancel after one month.  No credit card details are required to sign up with FoodZube. The prize will be delivered from Tesco.com which will require an online account with them. Again, there is no charge to do this.

There is no cash prize. The winner will be required to send an email with their home address to FoodZube who will sort out their delivery for them.

Entrants must be over 18 and able to receive deliveries from Tesco.com.

Not in the UK and want your meals delivered?  Click here for more info.

Entry is via the Rafflecopter.  Terms and conditions apply.  UK entrants only.  The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Saturday 30th January 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Further information about FoodZube is available at www.FoodZube.co.uk, on Twitter or Facebook.

Other people’s kids driving you bananas in the supermarket?

The ear-splitting screams made everyone at the check-out turn round.

Three kids, two boys (roughly 13 and 7) and a girl (maybe 6) were sitting on the bench at the end of the till run making full use of the acoustic properties the Tesco superstore offered.

People winced, the screaming was that loud.

On and on it went, driven by the annoyance of the other shoppers.

The mother, who had a fourth child in a pushchair seemed to find this activity funny and gave the youngest girl a loving hug as they walked off (still screaming) leaving the rest of us muttering “why didn’t she tell her kids to shut up?”.

Her three miscreants were certainly old enough to know their behaviour was getting on others’ nerves and yes, we probably all did stuff like that when we were young.

The difference is most of us were not allowed to carry on doing it.

Now there are those who think that self expression is a good thing and must not be stifled but, surely, when others are being irritated, the first course of action is to consider others’ feelings?

This was not a family on its uppers.

No form of societal judgement could be made on them based on their outward appearance.

One might charitably suppose that, since it’s the long summer holiday, the mother was at her wits’ end but she seemed remarkably calm and upbeat if that were the case.

We mothers love to judge other mothers, don’t we?

But it sometimes seems as if children are increasingly just being allowed to run amok.

This may be a result of the ineffectiveness of some of the more liberal forms of discipline such as “positive time out” but, woe betide anyone who dare suggest that a more stringent method of discipline might benefit  – the “S” (smacking) word must never be uttered.

We need a ‘third way’ but I’m not entirely sure what that is.

As for keeping your children occupied in a supermarket, why not give them their own list and task them with retrieving easy items?

I often wonder why supermarkets don’t offer creche facilities because I’m sure they’d quickly recoup the cost of staffing by the extra sales from parents who could actually concentrate on what they came out to buy.

Kids love to shout, scream and, above all, run the length of those gleaming aisles.

My two do and, hands up, it is hard to constantly check their behaviour but that’s the job of parenthood, isn’t it?

To teach them how to behave in society?

And it is our job, not that of teachers or childminders.

It’s not something we can delegate.

There is much muttering, currently in the UK about the developing of a perceived “nanny state”.

Only this week a report by the United Nations Human Rights Committee has suggested that Britain should ban smacking and many feel that whilst violence towards children can never be condoned, it is not for some governmental body to tell us how to raise our children, thank you very much.

Possibly, just possibly, if there were a groundswell of support and encouragement for positive behaviour of children (and their parents!) in the public arena, then maybe there would be fewer grounds for any interference by public servants desperately struggling to find a way to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.

Over 50? Should you really be shopping in here?

There are some shops I find it difficult to go into.  Not least because the level of background music makes my ears rattle, nor because the staff are all young enough to be my child, no it’s the happy clappy, we love ‘yoof’ type marketing that puts me off.

The Over 50’s Still Enjoy Shopping You Know!

You know the type of place – lurid pinks, greens and yellows, signage that looks like it’s written by my 5 year old and the inclusion of those teeny tiny packets of sweets, mints and bonbons. There are acres of things that dissolve in a bath plus enough lip balm to keep an Olympic bob-sledding team kissable.  It seems to be the law that 80% of all merchandise for the under 12’s features a badly printed graphic of One Direction (with a big X through Zayn).

But when you stop and think about it, whose money are the kids spending?  That’s right.  Ours – unless the ‘Saturday job’ has returned (little chance of that thanks to zero hours contracts and ‘flexible working’) and the kids are spending their pocket money or birthday gift cards.

And, ask yourself this question – which age group of women have the highest levels of disposable income?

In a recent piece about the election, the Daily Mail identified “Boomer Woman”, that is women born between the years of 1945 to 1965 (I was born in 1964).  Her profile makes interesting reading.  For instance she has “high disposable income, little debt. She is likely to be mortgage-free or equity-rich, having bought property in the 1980s or before. She has the highest value of assets, disposable income and consumer expenditure of any age category.

So, with a few notable exceptions of House of Fraser (and its champion, Mary Portas), Debenhams and John Lewis, I cannot for the life of me understand why the High Street does not better reflect the needs of shoppers like me.

Some of the retailers I grew up with seem simply not to know how to treat women my age, viewing us as happiest with tea, scones and a Lakeland catalogue.  Now that is certainly one aspect (and yes I love a Lakeland catalogue), but it does not mean that I have left my love of clothes somewhere in the past with what’s left of my oestrogen and am ready for prints that would give Picasso a headache and enough elastic to launch a small missile into space.

There are signs, though, that the High Street is beginning to wake up.  I am cheered by the appearance of plus size ranges in many stores.  That is one market segment just crying out for love and the recognition that fabulous clothing is not the prerequisite of the skinny fashionista.

But it is time to recognise that ‘Boomer Woman” is heartily fed up of being ignored.  Hey retailers – how about some fashion love for us?  Let’s have some chic, understated stores, subtle lighting, gentle music and well trained staff.  Let’s have a bit of research into how we live our lives and some ranges that don’t scream “over fifty” but rather, to adopt the French concept “woman of a certain age who is comfortable in her own skin”.

Get to know us.  Heck, some of us have only recently had kids and are a long way off becoming grandparents. Many of us are fitter, sharper and savvier than our younger counterparts.  We love a bargain.  But most of all we love value.

And no, we don’t need any bloody lipbalm or baby tins of mints.

My 7 Bank Holiday Payday Beauty Treats

It’s a bank holiday and payday weekend.  Here are the treats at the top of my list this month.


Zoella Blissful Mistful Fragranced Body Mist

There’s no denying Zoella’s popularity, having taken the beauty blogging world by storm.  I’m hoping a few spritzes of this body mist will inspire me.

Zoella Blissful Mistful – £9.00 – feelunique.com

This is described as “a super light and feminine body spritz to scent your body with fresh and floral notes”. The spray is enriched with Vitamin E and fruit extracts and is designed to be sprayed all over.

Sleek Blush By 3 in Pumpkin

Sleek Blush By 3 Pumpkin – £9.99 – Superdrug.com

This palette contains three blushes in one compact being a mix of matte, satin and shimmer shades. Highly pigmented and suited to all skin tones.  One reviewer has advised “not to be afraid of the orange” as it blends really well

Benefit Roller Lash

Benefit Roller Lash £19.50 – benefit.co.uk

Benefit’s latest mascara claims to be a roller for lashes with a trade marked Hook ‘n’ Roll brush which separates, lifts and curls. It has an instant curve setting formula which holds for 12 hours. Based on results from a consumer panel of 31 women after 4 weeks, 87% said it gave a long-lasting curl and 94% said it made eyes look more wide open. 

Unless Benefit’s “They’re Real” mascara, which I found very difficult to remove, Roller Lash claims to be easy to remove.  It also contains Provitamin B5 and Serin, two ingredients known for their lash conditioning benefits.

Lush – May Day Bath Bomb – Badger



Lush May Day Bath Bomb – Badger – £2.95

Who doesn’t love Lush bath bombs?  The proceeds of each of these fruity, sweet smelling bath bombs (minus the VAT) will go to the groups behind the “Votes For Animals” campaign which aims to give animals a vote this election.  The groups are Animal Aid, The League Against Cruel Sports, and Save Me. The bath bombs contain fennel oil to stimulate your skin, and antiseptic rosewood oil to soothe and uplift. The fragrance is described as sweet and “sherbety”.

Molton Brown Delicious Rhubarb & Rose Handwash


Molton Brown Delicious Rhubarb  Rose Handwash – £16.00 – moltonbrown.co.uk

I love Molton Brown but it is definitely not the cheapest handwash on the market which relegates it to the treat category in my eyes.  I’m always vaguely disappointed when I don’t find Molton Brown in my hotel room bathroom.  This new handwash in a Rhubarb & Rose fragrance is definitely a treat.  

It’s described as a sweet, moisturising hand wash blended with rose extract and yuzu fruit accord.  It has a ‘tart rhubarb’ heart note, a gentle rose base note and a comforting musk. Too special to leave out for the kids.

Astrid & Miyu Diamante Evil Eye Necklace in Silver


I love Astrid & Miyu’s quirky, yet somehow classic, jewellery designs and this evil eye design might be useful if your boss is anything like some of the joys I’ve previously worked with!  

Astrid & Miyu Diamante Evil Eye Necklace in Silver – £59.00 – astridandmiyu.com

This delicate necklace has a bohemian style and is crafted from rhodium plated brass.  The pendant is designed with concentric circles made up of white and powder blue cubic zirconia crystals. Astrid & Miyu suggest wearing this necklace with a peasant blouse and wide leg jeans for a throwback to the 70s look.

ASOS 70’s Woven Festival Bag

ASOS 70’s Woven Festival Bag – £16.00 – asos.com

This is a rattan weave basket bag with long straps, a leather flap and an amazing pattern woven into it. Perfect for the summer.

What treats would be on your list?

Online Cashback Schemes – I’m Confused!

I’m beginning to realise that making the most of cashback schemes and loyalty cards requires quite a bit of planning and strategy when it comes to your weekly shop.

I had a look at Quidco’s site today and my head was in a whirl by the end of it – and I consider myself quite a savvy shopper. Each time you shop via Quidco, the retailer you purchase from pays them a referral fee which Quidco then pass back to you in the form of cashback. They say it is possible to amass hundreds, even thousands of pounds of cashback over a year. A good incentive to use them indeed!

Not only do they have the Quidco app which allows you to get great deals on your mobile but they also have Click Snap – which allows you to take up deals on grocery shopping, either direct online or at the store, where you have to upload your receipt afterwards to take advantage of the saving.

To benefit from Quidco you obviously have to adjust your shopping to buy what’s on offer – so is that really an economy? Then there are potential savings at Costco Wholesalers where we took out a membership back in May. I know I should be comparing the cost per item against the supermarket item cost to see if I’m really making a saving. At the moment, I’m assuming I am on the basis that we’re buying in bulk.

Factor in voucher sites like Voucher Cloud, other cashback sites like Topcashback and Tesco Clubcard loyalty points and I’m completely muddled.

I’m guessing that, if I want to save on our grocery shopping this year, I am going to have to sit down and create a practical, sustainable budget.

One of my hobbies is entering competitions and I have had quite a bit of luck. I only enter for prizes that we really need as a family. You won’t find me entering competitions for prams now the children don’t need one and then selling it on eBay. I am aware some compers do this but it feels dishonest to me and unfair on someone who might really need that particular prize.

The things I win, such as vouchers, food and clothes, are our family treats and I see it as my way of contributing to the family finances whilst I am a stay at home mum. There is, of course, no guarantee of a win but it adds a fun element to our finances.

If you fancy giving comping a go, a good place to start is www.theprizefinder.com which is completely free and provides a comprehensive list of all kinds of competition which you can sort through according to the date they close, the date they were added to the site or the type of prize you are looking for.

But, in terms of maximising our monthly income, there’s nothing else for it. I’m going to have to create that budget. Here’s one from Mr Money Saving Expert himself – Martin Lewis that I might try.

Has anyone else undertaken a complete overhaul of family finances and how did you do it? I’d love to know.