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online exercise classes

Online Exercise classes from home with Flex – Social Home Fitness

 

Online Exercise classes help with feeling Angry!

I woke up today feeling angry. Not a good place to be starting the day. The children were quiet and good this morning which helped, they obviously detected the anger. We did the school run without incidence or shouting (I only felt like crying on one occasion). Once the last child was dropped at school I needed to dispel the anger. The school run is a 1.5 mile walk but I extended it by doing a bit of power walking and I had managed to get in 5000 steps by 9:30. I came home wrote an email of everything I was angry about and sent to my friend of 30 years and life coach Becky. That helped to get the anger out of head.

Then I did an online exercise class with Lucia on Flex, the class was called ‘experience the light of yoga’. It was a lovely 30-minute session live with Lucia where we did some empowering yoga, some beautiful salutations (my favourite) and ended with a meditation session focusing on the self and acceptance. This class was absolutely what I needed to put pay to the anger and continue with my day in calm and peaceful way.

Flex Trial

I have been trialling the Flex online exercise classes for 5 weeks now. In January I made the decision to stop my Pilates classes that I attended. Despite being a fantastic class that was doing a lot of good it was costing quite a bit of money, £40 a month, plus I had childcare issues as well. My class was on a Monday morning which I loved from a ‘getting set up for the week’ point of view but it was also a time when Jack wasn’t in school so childcare was an extra stress I didn’t need.

The new exercise regime I chose was to use Flex. Flex is an online fitness subscription where you can view live classes at any point in time with access to a huge variety of classes. There is everything from relaxation yoga to strengthening to high impact training to dance & barre. There is also a fab section for pre-natal and post-natal classes.

You simply find the class you want to try, there has been one starting within 30 mins whenever I have looked. The class will pop up on screen live with the instructor. You can watch it on the laptop or on a smart internet enabled TV. I have been using my laptop.

Flexibility & Variety

The thing I love about is that you can try new online exercise classes that you might have heard about, like ‘Mash it Up’ which I tried on Tuesday in the privacy of your own home. Mash it up, by the way, is a dance class of African origin where you jump around to African inspired dance music. You can see if you enjoy it and if it has the desired impact that you wanted. So far, I have tried traditional Pilates (I stuck to what I knew to start off with!), I then tried some Pi-Yo a high impact combination of Pilates and yoga. I tried Mash It Up dance class and today I tried a yoga class.

Variety is so important in exercise so I love how you can do three classes in a week and mix it up. Or maybe Thursday just doesn’t feel like a strength and toning day and you want some relaxing yoga. You can choose whatever class you want.

Social Aspects

Flex are trying to encourage groups of friends to join up together and do classes at the same time, so there is a strong social presence on the website where you can share your planned classes on social media with your friends so they know what you are up to. You can invite your friends to join in with the same class. You can also chat to the instructor during the class or afterwards. I just sent Lucia a message to say thank you for the yoga class, and got a speedy reply.

Perfect for busy, time poor people

This is a perfect solution in our busy lives to fit in exercise and well-being. We all know that we need to exercise to keep ourselves healthy and this makes it so convenient for you. Just switch on the laptop, find a class, do the class and you are done. No getting the gym or village hall. You can try so many different classes that you are never going to get bored as you might do with a fitness DVD.

Free 1 month Trial offer

The first month of Flex is FREE, hurrah. There is commitment free trial where you don’t even have to put in your credit card details. This will give you a great chance to explore and work out what you want to do and when. They have a program to help you plan your classes as well where you put in your exercise preferences and time preferences, this will give you a suggested exercise plan. After the first month, your trial will end and you can opt to sign up for the subscription which is just £9.99 per month.

Sign up here now for your free trial.

I received a years subscription of Flex in return for this post.

complain-to-bt

How to Complain to BT and cancel your contract with no penalty




How to Complain to BT and cancel your contract with no penalty

I treat my broadband and phone like any other annual bill that gets reviewed each year. I mostly swop service providers each year to make the most of rather generous new customer offers and high cash back available when I click through via TopCashBack.

Last year I swopped over from EE to BT. They were reasonably priced for landline and broadband and I received £120 cashback.

Problems from Day 1

The problems started pretty much from day 1 when the transfer over from EE to BT failed on 2 separate occasions. The switch was due to happen in July and ended up being completed in September. I made a complaint at this point as I had to spend hours on the phone sorting out the issues, I won’t bore you with the story, but I was passed from department to department, had to explain my story multiple times. Eventually I got a resolution and received some compensation of around £50 for the inconvenience.

I spent the next year using BT broadband. I was never particularly happy as the broadband speed was very slow and often sporadically stopped working. Whenever I called to complain they assured me that all was fine with my line. I knew that I would be leaving this company at the end of my 12 months as I had had enough of mistakes and poor levels of customer service

Contract Issues

What I hadn’t quite appreciated through not reading the T’s and C’s properly when I signed up was that I had signed up to a 12-month phone contract and an 18-month broadband contract. Sneakily done there BT.
complain-to-bt

THIS IS ME PULLING MY HAIR OUT!




When its came to month 13 I was tied in and had to revert to standard monthly landline billing of £20ish per month. I was raging at this point that they had tricked me into a contract that was mismatched. So, I asked to leave. I was told the cancellation fee as I was still in broadband contract was £180!!

I was not going to accept this and by this point I wanted out. I was not going to pay a penny more to BT for anything with the terrible customer service, shoddy slow product, high prices and sneaky customer lock in tactics.

Complain to BT

I complained and complained and complained until the compliant was escalated. Eventually I was passed through the customer resolutions department. Tip 1 ask to be put straight through to here if your complaint warrants it. I was appointed my own complaints person who listened to my troubles of the past year and agreed that my issues were a huge concern and none of them should have happened.




This one lovely man agreed for my contract to be ended with no penalty payable thus allowing me to swop everything over to Sky instead.

Moving to Sky

I am now paying the same price with Sky as I was with BT, but have fibre broadband with speeds of maybe 10 times what I was getting with BT. I did also get £80 of cashback as I processed the broadband transaction through TopCashBack.

Sky is not perfect, I hate the amount that we pay each month for Landline, Broadband and TV, we have sky sports being the big expense. But it works, and on the odd occasion when I do have a problem their customer service has always been first rate.

Don’t accept the terrible customer service from BT and give up if you have an issue. Escalate to the customer resolutions department and ask and ask again for compensation if things have gone wrong. As a final goodbye, they gave me a £40 credit to my bank account to say sorry.

Have you had issues with BT, how did you get a resolution?



How to Bake Chocolate Easter cake using Aldi ingredients




How to Bake Chocolate Easter Cake

Josh, my middle son and I love to bake. If we have a spare couple of hours on a Saturday or a Sunday afternoon we will often make a marble cake or knock up a chocolate cake. It’s such a lovely activity to do with your children and Josh really enjoys it. I love that it is something creative we can do together.

This weekend we attempted a twist on a cake we have made before. We turned it into a Chocolate Easter cake by adding chocolate eggs into the cake and mini egg for decoration!

All of the cake ingredients were from Aldi and its worked out at just 39p per slice. A bargain cake so I have included ingredients costings for you too.

Moist Chocolate cake with Easter Eggs

This is a tried and tested chocolate cake recipe that is simple to make and tastes lovely. It is moist and fudgy and keeps for 5 days in an air tight container. It is loosely based upon a recipe that I found in BBC Good Food that I have adjusted over time.

Cake Ingredients

  • 225g/8oz plain flour Aldi price 45p for 1.5kg = 7p
  • 350g/12½oz caster sugar 99p for 1kg = 35p
  • 85g/3oz cocoa powder 1.69 for 250g = 57p
  • 1½ tsp baking powder 69 for 160g = 3p
  • 1½ tsp bicarbinate of soda 69p for 200g = 3p
  • 2 free-range eggs 12 eggs for £1.75 = 29p
  • 250ml/9fl oz milk 6 pints £1.45 = 11p
  • 125ml/4½fl oz vegetable oil £1.09 for 1 ltr = 14p
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract 75p for 38ml = 20p
  • 225ml/9fl oz boiling water
  • Mixed Mini Eggs 1 packet = £1.49




Cake Topping

  • Melted milk chocolate 200g = 85p
  • Mini Choc Eggs 1 Packet 65p

I have quoted prices for the items to buy from Aldi and then price per measurement for cake. All prices are correct as of 20th March 2017.

The total cost of the cake is £4.78. It’s a big cake, making 12 slices so I make it 39p per slice.

The cake in the picture and video is actually topped with dark chocolate and double cream but it wasn’t that nice, too bitter. So I would actually use melted milk chocolate instead.

If you want to use the dark chocolate frosting you melt 100g of dark chocolate in with 100ml of double cream and you leave it to cool for an hour so then spread on top of the cake.

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180 or gas mark 4, and butter two 20cm cake tins. Or just the one if you only have one like me, bake one cake then bake the other using the same tin.
  • Add all the ingredients except the water into a big bowl and mix up.
  • Then add the hot water bit by bit and mix in.
  • Add half the mixture to the cake tin and plop in half the bag of mixed mini eggs.
  • Bake for 35 minutes.
  • Stick in a skewer to check it come out clean and your cake is ready
  • Leave the cakes to cool and place one on top of the other.
  • Once the cakes are cool add the melted chocolate on top and decorate with the mini chocolate eggs.

Josh and I filmed this video to show you how we made it.

 

Disclaimer – I received vouchers from Aldi in return for this post



5 Frugal Things post 21 – Shoes, Pastry and Pocket money




5 Frugal Things post 21

It really felt like Spring has begun this week. I wore my new patent flats one day this week, wore my sunglasses for 3 days and the boys have had fun playing out the front of our house on their bikes and scooters with the neighbours children.

Here are my 5 frugal things post 21.

Birthday planning 12 days and counting until the big 40

I’ve done a frugal thing and a non-frugal thing here. I am having a party and I checked the booking this week. The hire of the hall was costing £220 as I had booked a large hall and side room. I spoke to clerk and cancelled the side room, we don’t need another room to clear up at midnight! That saved me £50.

However I bought 2 dresses from an American website thinking they would be perfect party dresses. They were cheap and I should have know they wouldn’t be right for a 40th birthday party. They arrived and yes they are unsuitable and fitted badly and look cheap. £40 wasted!

Boots 3for2 Offers

I love a 3 for 2 offer and took full advantage this week on a gift for a friend who has just had a baby. I chose a gift for mummy rather than gift for baby. I was looking at the gift bags filled with Ted Baker goodies but the bottles were actually quite small. Instead I went for full sized Ted Baker bath foam, shower gel and body cream which cost £22 rather than £30 on the 3 for 2 offer. Popped them in a pretty bag (I always keep gift bags;-)) and gift was sorted.



Bargain shoes

I appear to have turned into a creature of habit. I love the flat pumps from Next and buy a new pair every year, well this is the third year running. They look wicked with a pair of jeans and are super comfy once you’ve worn them in a bit. Last year I had a nice pair of bright orange ones, but they didn’t have those this year so I went for black patent. They cost £25 which I think is a bargain for nice shoes that you wear a lot and they don’t get smelly. Here is a picture from Instagram as handily there was a competition on Instagram, post a pic of your #nextshoefie to win shoes for a year! Thanks for the prompt Super Lucky Di Coke

New shoes. Patent leather summer flats to match Trev the kit/cat #nextshoefie

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Go Henry pocket money cards for the boys

I have been thinking about pocket money for the boys for a while and have been looking into the many ways that it can be done. I thought I would give Go Henry a try to see what it teaches them and how they react to having pocket money. Its feels awfully grown up for them to have a pre-paid Visa card that can be used in shops and at the cash machine. I have a parent account which I keep topped up, and I chose what to transfer into their accounts each week. I’ve gone for £5 at the moment. This is only for Dylan and Josh at the moment who are 9 and 7. If you are interested in finding out more take a look here.



Great use of leftovers

On Monday I made a pie!! I was so pleased with myself I made pastry from scratch and filled the pie with the left over veg from the Sunday roast and some left over chicken I had frozen for another time! It was super yummy, even the boys loved it. And I felt most proud of myself. I made a youtube video of the process!

I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week linky.

How to Write a Book and Self-Publish in 3 months




How to Write a book and Self Publish in 3 months

I know it’s quite a statement but I am not exaggerating I co-authored a book with Emma Bradley, we edited and self-published in 3 months.

Here is how we did it

The SHOMO Awards Sept 2016

Back in September 2016 I attended the annual UK Money Blogger Awards, exciting times as I was nominated for a few awards. I met fellow blogger Emma Bradley there and we got on like a house on fire in the social bits. Part of the day was a big discussion on blogger rates of pay, Emma was on the expert panel and I was a rather vocal member of the audience. Quite a discussion transpired with many a differing view in the audience and the words were uttered ‘someone should write a book about this’. The idea was sparked. The very following day Emma messaged me and asked ‘did I want to write a book?’. It took me about 30 seconds to respond back with a big fat YES.

The planning stage

We met soon afterwards for a ‘bashing heads, go-no go’ planning session. In the meantime, we did our research. I spoke to Tom Church of the website Latestdeals and to Di Coke of SuperLuckyme who had both written books, to ascertain the commercials and process. They were most helpful with time and information and helped to make the go, no go decision.

We came up with 18 chapters and picked the ones we were most comfortable with writing, taking 9 each. I worked on a time plan and the commercials. At this point it was late Sept and we wanted to have the book out by 1st Dec for the Christmas sales period. It was going to be tough and mucho work but we knew we could do it.

The writing

The first job was to brain dump the chapters, and we reviewed each other’s brain dumps adding ideas to each other’s work. We then got to it and started writing. We stuck to the time plan regimentally with weekly google hangout meetings and chatting all the time on messenger. The best thing about co-authoring a book is that you get into competition with each other. Emma would message me telling me she had written a whole chapter and 3000 words..so the next day I would do the same. We had originally planned to take the October half term holiday as a week off but we ended up using it to finish the writing stage. The 18 chapters were done by the end of October.

The Proofreading

Firstly, we proof read the book, let me tell you how dull this task becomes and brain numbing as we ended up with about 14 different versions of proofs! The first proof was the hardest as we picked up all the inconsistencies between our writing styles. We had set rules at the beginning things like writing in the first person but there were things we had missed. For example, Emma used a double space after a full stop when I used just the one!!




We then passed the book to a good attention to detail friend Emma Wright who proof read the book for consistency, spelling, does it make sense’ kind of thing. We made these changes then passed it onto 8 different people for more proof reading, thank you to Faith Archer of Much More with Less in particular who spent so much time giving us advice and revisions.

After all changes were made, we did a final read through, made plenty more changes and we had a final draft.

Self-Publication

We had decided after advice to go with the self-publication route. Mainly due to time as we wanted to write the book and get it out there. Here are the pros and cons in my view.

Pros of Self-Publishing

  • You have more control
  • You take a bigger cut of sale proceeds
  • The rights to your book are yours
  • Speed to market is super quick
  • Self-publishing is mega easy with create space

Cons of Self-Publishing

  • You pay for all costs yourself, promotional costs, book stock, design costs, website costs, proof costs
  • All PR and sales is your responsibility and this is the hard bit
  • You do a lot of proofing yourself. Publisher would do that for you

Pros of Publishing

  • You might get an advance payment, normally split 3 ways, on agreement of book, submission of first draft, final draft agreed.
  • If your book is highlighted by your publishers as a star you will get good PR by experts
  • Prestige of being a published author

Cons of Publishing

  • Much smaller cut of the sale prices comes your way and not until the advance had been recouped.
  • Loss of control
  • Ownership of book is the publishers

 Costs of Self-Publishing

  • We set up a website to sell the book from as well as selling through Amazon. There are paperback and eBook versions.
  • We have bought some stock of the book to process the website orders. Packaging and postage.
  • A designer to design the front cover of book (how good does this book look!!)
  • Photography costs for the front cover
  • Proofing costs
  • PR costs, much can fall into here, competitions, travel to events.




As you can see from these costs they can be as big or as little as you want, we pulled in a lot of favours so we didn’t spend much. Except the purchase of stock, we did invest a fair amount there. But you don’t have to do this, you could just publish via create space which is print on demand.

Promotion and sale of the book

I’ll leave you hanging on that one and will save it for another post…as let me tell you..it’s hard. It’s incredibly difficult to get someone to part with their hard-earned cash and buy a book!

There you have it how to write a book and self-publish in less than 3 months. We met on 10th Sept and the book was available on Amazon on 21st Nov!!

The book is available here, go on you know you want to buy a copy. Do you dream of writing a book? Can you do it?

5 Frugal Things Post 20 – Free train tickets, chocolate cake and a dress



5 Frugal Things post 20

I’ve had a lovely busy weekend which actually started on Friday where I took the day off and headed over to Essex to spend the afternoon with my uni best mate Gem. It was her 40th birthday celebration on Friday night. Saturday night was back in Knebworth for a charity school ball. I’m a tad late in posting my 5 frugal things post 20 but have lots of pics to share from 2 big nights out.

Free Train tickets

I booked my train ticket from Knebworth to Chelmsford on Wednesday to pick up from the machine at the station rather than buying on the day. Prior planning with tickets pays. The return ticket was £39.50 and I used £20 worth of clubcard vouchers to get £40 of spend at Red Spotted hanky so saved myself the £39.50 train fair.



Sensible Drinking on Friday night

I’m not sure if this counts as frugality, definitely not sensible but I am going with it! The entertainment on Friday night was dinner and a disco and dinner included drinks until 10:45. So we made sure we drank more than enough of our allocation, the butlers (in the buff!) were more tham happy to bring us one last bottle at 10:40. I didn’t actually buy another drink that night, so it really was a night that just cost the price of the ticket.

Best mates.

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Dress purchase for my 40th birthday

In 3 weeks time its my 40th birthday party and of course I have to get a new dress for it. On Wednesday my personal shopper (Jack) and I hit John Lewis and looked at every single dress in the shop. The theme for my party is Hollywood glamour so only certain dresses are going to work. Every dress I looked at was either not right or Ted Baker/Karen Millen and costing £250!! In the past I would have just bought the £250 dress, but not this time. After 6 months of saving and frugality I had to look for something cheaper.

The last brand I looked at was Phase 8 and found 4 dresses, hurrah, to try on. The perfect dress was found and it came in at £130. Its a really pretty pale pink knee length almost 50’s glamour dress that can be worn for plenty of other occasions. So I’m really happy and relieved to have found my birthday dress. Its frugal for me as in the past I would have spent double!

Colouring my hair myself

Unbelievably I only just started colouring my own hair around 6 months ago. I never trusted that I would be able to do it properly so never attempted it. And a colour and cut used to cost me £80. Last week I bought a £5 box of Garnier hair colour and got rid of my greys. It actually looks okay..am happy and it only cost me £5.




So I coloured my hair today..just the top bits that were really grey. I feel like I did when I was aged 15 dying my hair as it’s 1) very dark according to hubby 2) purple according to Dylan 3) not looking great according to me 😂😂 Appointment booked with hairdresser to fix 😣😣 #3positivethings for Thursday 1) I recorded a podcast today with @becleverwithyourcash. Was great fun and a really natural fun chat. I’ll pop a link in my bio. 2) Did a great 45 mins of pilates this morning on my joinflex.Tv subscription. Feeling healthy. 3) Had lots of really meaningful conversations today with other bloggers on messenger, email and in my ‘Blogging Your Way To Riches’ Facebook group. Search for it and join the community.

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Chocolate cake

Last weekend we did some experimentation with baking. I am working on a new idea for a cake creation using Aldi ingredients so Josh and I tried out a cake as a potential for the project last Sunday. We had all the ingredients already in the store cupboard and it satisfied our chocolate craving over the weekend. Recipe and post coming soon. I love it when you make something really special, particularly with chocolate involved when you have the ingredients already.

I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week linky.



Aldi Easter Range – Including Eggs, Cakes, Wine and Beautiful Meats




Aldi Easter Range

I love it when an invite come through to a) make cupcakes, b) taste Easter Eggs and c) taste wineJ. Last week I was invited along to the Aldi eggstravaganza, so I wanted to share with you some of the fabulous products to look forward to and some are already available in store. Prepare yourself for chocolate overload.

Easter Home Baking Range

First stop was the Easter home baking range being showcased by the lovely Miranda Gore Brown of bake off fame. Aldi has a beautiful new range available from 13th April. There are bowls, scales, utensils, tea towels and a very funky electric mixer. Everything you need in fresh Easter colours to make gorgeous cakes and bakes. The food mixer at £39.99 was the star of the show which can be used as a bowl mixer and a hand mixer, super convenient. I loved the non-slip glass mixing bowls, and the non-slip base could be removed for easy dishwasher cleaning.

Next was me getting to have a go at some cupcake decorating. I ‘piped’ not so expertly the topping and decorated with an egg and sugared flowers. See my effort.

New Wines for Easter

Next was wines where I got to catch up with my buddy Sam Caporn, the mistress of wine and the wine buying director. We tried 6 new wines and had a great chat about their wine buying and tasting life. They both have great jobs!! My favourite wines had to be the new red Zinfandel which tasted like strawberry juice. I absolutely will be buying that when it arrives in store. Also, a Crement de Loire, another one of Aldi’s amazing sparkling wines made in the same way as champagne. I really liked this one.

Easter Eggs and Chocolate

I have met the chocolate buyer before at the Christmas in July event. It was great to catch up again and get an introduction to the Easter range. Oh, there was a lot to taste, I know my job can be tough, but I do it all for you readers;-). The kiddies range was fabulous, lots of chocolate animals and mini eggs that tasted amazing. Personal favourite was the pink pig. There was a great range aimed at teenagers too.




The grown-up eggs were just stunning with great stories behind them, my favourite was the exquisite collection hazelnut praline truffle, made exclusively at a factory in St. Ives right near my home town of Penzance. The range of adult eggs was great, there really is something for everyone.

 

Hot Cross Buns

Aldi have something to shout about here with their brioche hot cross buns. Luckily there was fresh buttered buns to taste. And these are good. I was fortunate to have a pack in my goodie bag that I took home. I urge you to try them, they are so much better than the standard buns!!

Meat and Produce

I love what Aldi are doing with their fresh meat and produce range by really focussing on British and great value. The traditional Easter lamb they are to be selling will not be beaten on price and it tasted amazing. I actually tried it in a toasted hot cross bun. The rub of beef I knew would be hubby’s favourite and it was so tender and tasty. Both meats perfect with your Easter Roast dinner.




I bring you Flowers

Spring time is the best time for flowers, you can’t beat the colour of the bright yellow daffs or purple and pink tulips. This time of the year I always have a bunch of spring blooms on the dining table. Aldi are showcasing their huge bunch of 100 daffodils for £4.99 with 50p going to the teenage cancer trust.

So, there you have it a fabulous new range of amazing, high quality and tasty products. Don’t you think you should head down to your nearest Aldi and check it out. You won’t regret it and you will certainly save money. See my post from on my top ten favourite products. I have compared the prices of Aldi to Tesco and you will be amazed at the difference.

I was invited to the Aldi event and received a goodie bag free of charge.



Your 8 point survival guide to breastfeeding




Your 8 point survival guide to breastfeeding

Here is a fourth guest post from Rebecca Megson where this time she shares her experience with breast feeding. She had it tough but got through it and has the experience to offer tips and advice on how to deal with many a feeding issue. Please share with friends you know soon to have a baby or those going through the early days of feeding.

Breast feeding is hard. For some people it’s really straightforward but most mums I’ve talked to have had issues, at least in the beginning. You really need a survival guide to breastfeeding.

The first thing that right now you almost certainly cannot imagine is the amount of time you will spend in the corner of your sofa with a baby attached to you. Even if I spelled it out in hours or number of feeds (at one point the Baba bu was feeding over 6 hours a day, up to 22 times per day) it just doesn’t do justice to the fact this is a 24/7 gig that will impede you doing pretty much everything else for the first few weeks. And that’s without any added issues you might face with milk supply, latching technique, colic, reflux, the list goes on.

My experience

My experience was such that although the Baba bu had what was constantly called a ‘textbook’ latch, I also had oversupply and rapid milk let down. This combination meant that I was effectively drowning my baby in milk whenever she fed and so she had to amend her position on the boob. This in turn meant she relatched badly, causing dry, sore, cracked and bleeding nipples and ultimately blocked milk ducts.

All of which came to ahead when my milk came in on day three/four. I became so engorged that the Baba bu couldn’t latch at all. It was 3am on a Sunday morning and I’m not going to lie, the panic set in – ‘Omigod I can’t feed my baby, she needs food now, I’m failing her’ – etc., etc. We simply didn’t have any back up in place such as emergency formula, or a breast pump and of course everything around us was closed.

I was in extraordinary levels of pain and had no idea about expressing and I really struggled to be able to express by hand, no matter how many YouTube clips I watched.



Mastitis

By day five I was diagnosed as having mastitis in my left breast, prescribed oral antibiotics and for a day or so things seemed to improve. But then I went downhill again, this time with flu like symptoms, a high temperature and the red rash on my right hand breast indicating I had a second bout of mastitis. So by day eight of being a mum I was readmitted to the postnatal ward and put on an antibiotic IV drip for 24 hours. Funtimes!!

At the end of that fortnight I got a stomach bug which lasted 72 hours and a week later, having experienced yet more pain breastfeeding, I was diagnosed with nipple thrush, something I had no idea existed. By this stage I decided actually looking after a baby would be easy if only I was well for more than a couple of days at a time!

Survival Guide to Breastfeeding

Anyhow, having survived AND am not only still breastfeeding but HAPPILY breastfeeding (Baba bu is 4 and a half months old) here is my 8 point survival guide:

  • Go to a local breastfeeding group whilst pregnant – then you’ll know where it is and what kind of support you can get there
  • Make sure you have the following emergency kit, (Amazon links all included) in (esay to return if you then dont use it, but have it in the first instance please!)
  • Buy a C-cushion for breastfeeding, it makes all the difference to achey back and limbs
  • Have a munchies box set up close to your breastfeeding station and make sure your partner/friend/support knows that their job is to refill the box at regular intervals. Fruit, nuts, biscuits, chocolate, cereal bars, energy sweets, energy drinks, 2 litre bottles of water. Breast feeding is seriously hungry work and you’ll be amazed at how you have no time at all to make food and how often you are trapped under a gorgeous bundled of milk guzzling monsterness!
  • Talk to your midwife, health visitor, health professionals, doctors, whoever and get names, numbers and contact details of people you can speak to FOR FREE if you’re having problems breastfeeding.
  • Remember if it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t and you should get help immediately and as many times as you need thereafter. Don’t worry about being a pain, breastfeeding is an important thing that you’re doing for your baby.



  • But also formula is NOT the work of the devil and you are NOT a failure if you need to formula feed your baby either in part or completely. Your job in all of this is to keep your baby live and well and feeding her/him formula might just be the exact right thing for you to do to make this happen. It is in short GOOD mothering, not bad.
  • Finally don’t worry about breaking the rules about using supports – either expressing before the magic 6 week period or using nipple shields for ‘more than a couple of days’. Ask yourself ‘is this helping me to keep breastfeeding my baby now?’ if the answer is yes give yourself a gold star and get your partner/friend/support to make you a ginormous cup of tea and slab of cake.

It gets better, it really does. Usually by about 6 – 8 weeks and definitely by three months. Feels a bit like a lifetime at the time but just get ALL the support in the world you can and trust yourself that however you do this, you’ve got it covered. You love your baby and you’re going to give them a really awesome start to life.

You can follow Bec on Twitter and Instagram and check out her rather fabulous blog here.

This post contain affiliate links to the recommended products all available at Amazon.



5 Frugal Things post 19 on a really busy work week




5 Frugal things post 19

Being frugal this week has been a challenge as I’ve had a couple of work trips into London. Also many big costs have hit this month so a few of my 5 Frugal things post 19 things are how I have saved money on these big purchases. One thing I cant really be frugal on is a football tour to Germany for Dylan that we have just found out about. So I need to pay £225 this week for that one.

Topcashback

I have been waiting for months for my sky broadband cashback to become payable and it finally did today. A few other bits came through too so I have just transferred £85 to my bank account. This now means that I have earned a total of £1,645 in cashback since my account was opened four years ago.

I have written about how cash back works in this blog post, take a read if you are unfamiliar or if you have been thinking about it why not go for it and set up an account using this link. I love getting my cashback on all of my online purchases.



Shopping around for Home and Car Insurance

Its that time of year where both our home and car insurance are up for renewal, the whole process bores me to tears but I will not accept the automatic renewal that comes through! So far my home insurance renewal has come through at £240 and I have got the price down to £210. My car insurance renewal has come in at £260 so I would like to get that down nearer to £200. I use the Topcashback comparison tool so I can get a bit of cashback as well on top of the insurance purchase.

My top ten Aldi Products

I published a really popular post on Tuesday where I highlighted my top ten favourite Aldi products. From Jaffa cakes to Dishwasher tablets, from chicken in a bag to cat food. I compared the products to their branded/Tesco own brand alternatives and worked out how much of a saving you can make at Aldi. I was really surprised about the price difference when I compared it to Tesco.

World Book Day Costumes

We managed to get away with not spending anything here. Dylan was Jezza a footballer vlogger who has written a book;-). Dylan wore a tracksuit! Josh was Dracula, maybe not his favourite book, but it is a book. And Jack was a bearskin soldier. We have a book from Buckingham palace featuring the bearskins. All costumes we already had. Phew.



New Camera Purchase

I have been investigating a new camera for a while as Im really keen to take my pictures and vlogs up to the next level. I got a few recommendations from other bloggers. The recommendations were coming in quite high at around £500 for a camera so I spoke to my friend Adam who takes all my profile/family photoshoots and asked his advice. He recommended a camera that does the job wonderfully but costing £336 instead. I found it on Amazon as I had £100 vouchers there waiting to be spent in my account. So I actually for the camera for £236. It arrived yesterday. I am keen to experiment.

I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week linky.

My Top Ten Aldi Products – As good as the brands they look like.




My Top Ten Aldi Products

I have spent most of my life buying branded products. I think I was brain washed into the advertising campaigns and deals in the supermarkets, for 20 years! But it’s time to change. It’s time to experiment with some Aldi versions of products, so close to the branded version even the packaging looks the same. I have tried and tested many products and this is my top ten aldi products that I swear no one in our family of 5 can tell the difference.

I have tried to pick out staple products so common that we all buy them, some are healthy, some are essential, some are snack foods. The price difference of Aldi versus Tesco is astounding. I have shown prices as of 28th Jan 2017, to show you the difference.

Jaffa Cakes

Mmmmm who doesn’t love a Jaffa Cake? We all love them in this house, although I try not to eat a whole packet in one go! The Aldi version tastes identical. I mean it, so similar. Just to prove it they never last very long in this house.

The Aldi version costs 89p for 24 cakes vrs £1.00 (Tesco on special offer at the mo). Saving 11p



Roast-in-a-bag chicken

A new discovery this one as I have always been slightly cynical of Aldi meats versus the butcher. I have never been a big fan of the meat from Tesco, my previous supermarket of choice. You cook the whole chicken in the bag it comes in and it comes out so moist and tasty. You have to give them a go. And the best thing about a whole chicken is that there is a lot of meat that should keep you going for 2 or 3 meals.

Aldi Chicken in a bag is £3.79. Tesco version £5.00. Saving £1.21

Crunchy cheddar cheese

I love cheese, and will always choose a cheese board for dessert over a sweet sugary dessert. This cheese is part of the exquisite range and it a lovely tasty, mature cheddar. Perfect on crackers with a dollop of chutney.

Aldi Price 320g £2.29 Tesco Finest Cheddar 300g £3 Saving 81p

Dishwasher tablets

People are often reticent to move away from branded cleaning products but I have been giving them all a try. My favourite are the Aldi Magnum dishwasher tablets. I have to say I think they clean better than the Finish tablets I have always bought in the past.

Aldi Price 40 tablets £3.49 Finish Quantum 45 tablets £8!! Saving £4.51

Nespresso capsules

A new discovery this one. I have had a Nespresso machine for around 3 years and have always bought the official Nespresso capsules that cost anything from 31p up to 45p. Aldi now do Nespresso compatible pods that work out at 17.9p per pod and taste so similar to me that I can’t tell the difference.

Aldi Price £1.79 for 10. Nespresso £3.10 for 10. Saving £1.31



Cat food

I have 2 cats, Trev and Purdy who love their meat pouch food. In past I have bought Tesco own branded pouches which normally cost £8 for 40 pouches. The Aldi meat is still wolfed down as quick as the Tesco meat, or Whiskers or whatever I try so I am happy to spend less money.

Aldi price £7 for 48 pouches vrs Tesco price of £8 for 48 pouches Saving £1

Both in one Loaf

This bread is amazing and lasts for ages. I always buy 5 loafs to pop in the freezer to last for the whole 2 weeks between big shops. This is a healthy bread perfect for the children’s packed lunches and the best bit is the price

Aldi Both in one 45p. Hovis Best of Both £1. Saving 55p

Chocolate Spread

This is a tricky one this one as the boys have always loved Nutella, but how expensive is Nutella? My kids love it and it is a stable cupboard ingredient that is an essential for sandwiches and a treat on toast. The Aldi equivalent is called Nutoka and they can’t tell the difference. But my pocket can!

Aldi Nutoka 400g jar £1.29, compared to Nutella £2 on special offer. Saving 71p

Baby Wipes

I am not sure what we did before baby wipes! My youngest is now 4 and we still buy them in every shop. Useful for cleaning mess hands, wiping up spillage, wiping the kitchen side!! I don’t think we’ll ever stop buying them

Aldi Price 59p, Pampers sensitive 93p on special offer. Saving 34p



Toilet Roll

Another product that people can be funny about buying non-branded but I really like the Aldi loo roll. Its soft and what can I say, does its job.

Aldi soft toilet roll £1.99 for 9 rolls, Tesco Luxury £3.35. Saving £1.36

Every product at Aldi costs less than at Tesco, even with current special offers. If I was to add everything here together, the Aldi products come to £23.57 when the Tesco products come to £35.38, a huge saving of £11.81.

What products do you love from Aldi and swear are as good as the branded version?