Valentine's Gift Guide: Small businesses

This year as well as my usual Valentine's gift guides I have decided to feature some lovely little business who make some wonderful handmade items.  I think its so important to support little businesses and each item is made with care and attention to detail.




Rainbow felt designs 


Clancy is the owner and creator of Rainbow felt designs. Clancy makes a wonderful range of cute and adorable felt gifts. Some of her Valentine's range include these cute sequined heart and lip treat boxes as well as the adorable felt olive or pickle keyrings. All items are handmade and are great prices too, why not head over and see what other cute products she's made. 




Maria Parker Design


Maria is  the woman behind Maria Parker Design. Maria makes and sells a wide selection of items that make perfect gifts. One of her favourite things to make are her stunning scrapbooks . These beautiful mixed media handmade scrapbook albums are the perfect personalised gift. For one of these gorgeous albums, maria can work with you to make the colour or theme of your choice. They are completely personalised to your request and they are made using different mediums like paper, paste, ink sprays, art alchemy acrylic paints to name but a few.

Emma's Bathroom Delights 


Emma is the diva of bath bombs with something extra special about them. At Emma’s Bath Bomb Delights,  you will find an array of homemade hand painted, vegan friendly, SLS free bath bombs, soaps and shampoo bars. Emma started her  little business about 15 months ago, it has been a journey of self healing and self growth for her.



This is the forget me not, a perfect combination of hearts and flowers ideal for your Valentine. Scented in sherbet, the bottom of the bomb has been sprayed blue so that it colours the water and doesn’t interfere with the fantastic art show.





Nordic Touch Shop


Elina is the lady behind Nordic Touch shop where you can find some wonderful pieces of handmade jewellery. Why not treat a loved one to these  Beautiful ear cuffs to fill your outfit. They all are handmade and unique pieces. You can adjust them to fit your ears and press around the cartilage and you are ready to go.






 Kerrie is the designer, owner and general dogsbody for Kerrie Davis Jewellery.  She  has been playing with jewellery in one form or another for a few years but only really found her love for wire wrap in the last year. She loves the dramatic different designs you can create,  from truly intricate to sweet and simple. This gorgeous copper rose is available in copper or silver and handmade to order on various vegan suede necklaces!  I honestly love all the detail Kerrie puts into her work and this necklace will make such a wonderful and unique Valentines gift.





Sue started needle felting just over two years ago. At the time it was all about relaxation and having a hobby. Time passed and she started making felted items for friends, family and paying customers. Shy Sheep Felties is now a small business, selling bespoke felted items on Etsy, Facebook and in a local craft centre. Her latest felted item is a single red rose, designed for that ever lasting gift. Each one is totally unique and costs just £15 plus postage.



Blue Sky Bags

Vicky McCreadie is the owner and maker of Blue Sky Bags where she makes bags to order to brighten up your day.  Mother of 2 boys, wife, full time worker she fit this in as well because she loves making beautiful things. With so many stunning designs available Vicky is sure to have something that would be the perfect Valentine's gift.

Giveaway: NORM OF THE NORTH: KEYS TO THE KINGDOM DVD


 Take to the ice this half-term as Norm of the North returns for another animated adventure. The latest full-length feature from our favourite polar bear – NORM OF THE NORTH: KEYS TO THE KINGDOM – is out to download from 11th February and own on DVD from 18th February. 



Norm, the newly crowned king of the North, travels to New York with his son to accept the keys to the city. But Norm goes from hero to villain when he’s framed for a crime he didn’t commit! While he is trying to uncover the real criminal, back in the Arctic a vicious bottled-water company has moved in and is starting to steal the ice. Norm must rely on his friends, both old and new, to clear his good name and help save his kingdom in a thrilling winner-takes-all hockey match. He also learns some good lessons about leadership in this fun new film.


Fancy getting your hands on a copy? Well you are in luck as I have 3 copies to give away! To enter complete the rafflecopter below.

Terms and conditions
-To enter you must be 16 and over 
- This competition will close on 13th February 2019 at 12.00am GMT 
- The winner will be chosen at random and notified via email, twitter or facebook
- If the winner doesn't reply within 30 days another winner will be drawn
- The prize will be sent from DNA PR

- Please have a look at my privacy policy on how how I collect, store and use data and please do contact me if you have any questions. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Little Loves: January 2019


We are finally near the end of the month. January has really dragged and i guess its not helped that we've spent most of January waiting to hear about survey reports, exchanging contracts and getting a completion date as first time buyers.
It's all been stressful and we still have quite a bit to sort out before moveng into the house in February.  Even though its been busy I've still managed to get some me time fitted in and so here are my little loves for January.




READ

For 2019 I've set myself a goal of reading 60 books by the end of the year. 60 books works out at 5 books a month which I've managed to do for January. 

Confidence by Katie Piper
I find Katie Piper such an inspiration not only because of her courage and determination but because of helping others with their own struggles and helping them to be more confident in many areas of their lives.

The Handmaids tail by Maragret Atwood
As well as my reading goal I set myself up a reading challenge in which I wanted to read a vintage classic. I'd heard about the Handmaids tail being a tv show so I decided that as I don't have the channel its on, to see what the book was like instead. I can't put much into words my thoughts on it so I'd definitely say give it a read and decide for yourself.

Books by Lisa Jewel : I found you, Then she was gone and watching you.
Last year I came across Lisa Jewel and enjoyed The girls. As I love the crime /thriller genre I decided to read 3 books of hers in and row and found them all to be gripping. Lisa Jewel is definitely becoming one of my favourite authors and i flew through the 3 books I read as I just had to know what was happening.

Breathe magazine
I'm currently getting through my copy of the recent breathe magazine. As usual I'm loving the beautiful illustrations and enjoying the self care articles.





WATCHED

It's been a good Netflix month for me with some great programmes and a film watched.

Birdbox- loads of people have been raving about it and so I wanted to jump on the bandwagon and see what the fuss was about. I actually really enjoyed it and recommend giving it a watch if you are yet to.

You- another program I'd heard mentioned frequently and i loved it! I found it gripping and I'm excited to find its based on a book so I want to get hold of a copy. Obsessed with an aspiring writer a bookshop manger goes to extreme measures to be in her life.

Tidying up with Marie Kondo - Marie Kondo helps clients to clear out the clutter and only keep items that spark joy. The series has a series of inspiring home makeovers and certainly got me wanting to organise before before we move.

Luther -  I spotted this on Netflix and chose to give it a watch. It's about a detective who tries to keep a grip on his personal life while dealing with physiological factors underlying the crimes he solves. 



HEARD

On Friday 25th we heard that we had completed on our house so we can finally sort out removal companies, cleaners etc. We've also decided a date we want to move in which is fast approaching. We certainly have some exciting and busy times ahead.


WORE

Winter coat - I had to buy a new winter coat and i got myself one just in time as its got so much colder all of a sudden. 

Boots - again I had to get new ones and was in good timing. I live in boots most of the year (except summer) so it's important I have a pair thats excellent quality and will last me. 



MADE

I've done not really made anything this month however Blake made a delicous ham and mushroom pasta bake at preschool which was delicous and we will definitely be trying the recipe for it ourselves.


AND LASTLY

I've been really getting into mindfulness colouring this month. It's such a relaxing thing to do and I tend to drift off into my own world for a little while. 
I recently got a Johanna Basford colouring book and some colouring pens so I've got plenty to do when I have a spare moment to zone out. 


Effective Ways to Add Value to your Home

Whether you have just purchased your first home, are looking to sell, or have purchased property as an investment from the likes of RW Invest, there are so many ways in which you can breathe a new lease of life into your property. Consider adding some extra space, or modernising existing features there are so many avenues that can be explored to add some value when it’s time to sell.

Before you set your sights on adapting your home it would be worth your while consulting your neighbours to see if they have done anything similar. Looking at Rightmove to find out the ceiling price of your road will also get you well equipped and checking with your local estate agents to check if your home improvement vision will even add much value to your property will serve you well.

Ultimately, you need to be sure that the cost doesn’t outweigh the profit, otherwise it is a completely pointless task. When renovating and enhancing your existing build you should always run it past your local building control office to see whether you require building regulations. This is so important to abide by, particularly when it comes to selling.



Build Upwards  
In order to add significant value to your property it may be good to consider converting your loft as it is a safe investment policy that can be performed relatively easily. Often, this is the easiest way to add an extra bedroom to your home and can really help propel your house into the next price bracket. Founder and managing director of Hatched, Adam Day, stated that a bedroom normally adds somewhere between 10% and 15% to the value of a property.


Build outwards
Choosing to add an extension, conservatory, or an orangery is one of the easiest ways to increase the value of your home, as they allow you to increase the floor space and add an extra room/rooms. Extending the back of your home can help to make your kitchen more open plan or allow for a kitchen/diner area. Whilst building on the back of your home you could consider building down the side too, as this will really maximise the space.
Converting your garage is another great point of call that can really make your home a great investment. Gone are the days when people parked their cars in a garage, as most of the time a driveway will suffice. That’s why converting your garage into a useable room can really boost the value.


Fix any existing problems
Carrying out cosmetic solutions can hide any problems from potential buyers but are very unlikely to fool a valuer and therefore the value of the property. It may be worth forking out some cash to tackle the problem head on and work to get it resolved rather than take the chance and lose money in the long run. Prioritise leaky roofs and any damp walls as these will only go on to cause you further issues. Structural cracks may start to form which is enough to put off any prospective buyer. Although these works can be expensive during a renovation project, they are absolutely essential when it comes to adding value. Any other small and superficial defects will not dramatically affect the value of the property, but they may prevent your home from selling at its absolute optimum. 

*This is a collaborative post 

Upping Sticks and buying our first home

Late last year Stuart and I sat down and had a chat about our plans for the future. One of our main goals is to own our own house instead of renting. We currently live in Bedfordshire and have found the constant rising house prices meant that living here is just far to expensive. We decided that even though its a hard decision to move away a bit up north.  We are now in the process of purchasing our first home in Lincolnshire. 

At the moment we are currently waiting to exchange contracts and to get a completion date which we ideally want by the end of the month. We need to be out of the flat by mid February anyway so it's all systems go with decluttering and packing so you can imagine its a stressful time for us at the moment. 



With that in mind its likely that my blog is going to be on the quiet side as we are definitely going to be busy over the next month or so. At the moment I'm pretty anxious about it all but our solicitor has told us that the contract will be sent out next week. Honestly I didn't realise how sky high my nerves could be! 

I'm definitely feeling an overwhelming mixture of feelings from excitement about owning our home and exploring a new area to feeling anxious about moving away and not having family and friends as close.


We are also hoping to head up there at some point before we move to measure up and take some photos.  I'm hoping to share with you some home related posts especially as we want to decorate and there are some rooms we want to get done more sooner than others such as Blake's bedroom. We also need to sort out a new window in the attic room  and also want to get a new front door sorted.

I'll definitely be back with a house update soon.

Getting to Know the Finer Points of Reverse Mortgages


Reverse mortgages are home loans specifically available to you when you are 62 years of age or older. Although you have probably seen advertisements telling you how beneficial they are to retirees, you may not understand the intricacies of how they work. You may also be unsure of exactly what benefits you can get from them. That is why it is important to explore the finer points of reverse mortgages and what they have to offer.





How to Qualify for a Reverse Mortgage

Qualifying for a reverse mortgage is fairly easy, as long as you meet the age requirement and own a home with a high enough amount of equity to borrow against. Your reverse mortgage lender may also require you to undergo a credit check and make sure you have enough financial stability to perform maintenance on your home and pay the taxes and other expenses you must pay as a homeowner. For the most part, the only disqualified homes are homes that are not your primary residence, are not worth enough or are large apartment complexes, but there may be some exceptions.

Types of Reverse Mortgages to Pick From
There are two types of reverse mortgages. For example, you can get such a loan from a private reverse mortgage lender. You can also get one from a government source. Government agencies market reverse mortgages as “home equity conversion mortgages,” or “HECMs.” That is because the loans allow you to spend part of your home  equity to make your retirement financially easier.

Both types of mortgages are established in similar ways. For example, a reverse mortgage calculator is used for either type to figure out how much can be borrowed. It is difficult to calculate that amount because of government regulations and the influences of market values, as well as other factors. In addition to both taking advantage of reverse mortgage calculators, both loans are long-term mortgages with no immediate payback requirements on your part. However, they do differ in the fact HECMs are more closely government monitored and insured. Nevertheless, even private reverse mortgages are subject to some government regulations.

The Terms of Reverse Mortgage Agreements

The exact terms of reverse mortgage agreements may vary, but in general your agreement will allow you to receive an amount of money equal to a percentage of your home equity. You will then be given an unlimited amount of time to pay the money back, as long as you remain in the home and continue maintaining it properly by paying taxes and other expenses. Over the duration of the loan, which may be many years, interest will accumulate. However, in the short-term you can spend the extra retirement funds without repayment worries.

Another variation in loan terms is how you choose to borrow the money. There is a lot of flexibility in how you can be paid. If you have an existing mortgage, funds from the reverse loan must be used to pay the balance right away. Fees and closing costs of the reverse mortgage will also be taken out of the amount you can borrow ahead of time. After those expenses are paid, you can receive the remainder in installments or as one payment. You can also opt for a line of credit, which will allow you to tap into your home equity as needed by extracting varying amounts. The choice you make will depend on your current retirement living expenses.


My 2019 Reading challenge

If you read yesterday's goals for 2019 post you will know that one of my goals for 2019 is to read 60 books which works out at 5 books a month. I've set my goal up on goodreads and I've now decided that I want to challenge myself with some prompts to get me reading a more diverse range.





There are so many reading challenges and I've actually found the choice quite overwhelming so instead of joining in with a particular one or few I've taken some ideas from a range of challenges and made my own prompt list up.



So here is my little challenge:


  • A vintage classic 
  • A book published in 2019
  • A fantasy 
  • A historical fiction
  • A book I wouldn't usually read
  • A book about books
  • A book about friendship
  • A fairytail retelling 
  • A self help book
  • A book by a new to me author 
  • A young adult fiction
  • A book that's been turned into A film
  • A book from a favourite author I've not yet read
  • A series 
  • A book based in another country
  • A Horror


I thought I’d also share my current TBR pile, i.e. the books that I’ve bought or been given as gifts recently and haven’t had a chance to read yet. There are currently approxamtly just under 20 unread books sitting on my bookshelves, including the following:


  • In the Dark by Cara Hunter
  • True places by Sonja yoerg
  • Everything I never told you by Celeste Ng 
  • One thousand stars and you by Isabelle Broom
  • Nine perfect strangers by Liane Moriarty
  • A spark of light by Jodi Picoult
  • The Great alone by Kirstin Hannah

Goals for 2019


When I looked back at my goals that I set for 2018  I realised that even though the goals I set were achievable there were just too many of them. So when setting my goals for 2019 I decided that I'm not going to do too many and make my goals SMART.


If you are wondering what I mean SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Relivant and Timebased. Take for example one of my goals is to Read more and here is how I make it a SMART goal. The specific goal is to read 60 books in total in 2019, its measurable as I can work out that its around 5 books a month, Achieveable as 5 books a month was my average for 2018, relevant as I love doing it and time based I  want to achieve my goal by December 31st. 


The goals I am setting aren't life changing but goals that will bring a bit more joy to my year and focus on the positives and important things in life. Of course if I achieve them then 2019 will be a fun and exciting year.




1) Read 60 books 
This year I signed up to the goodreads challenge and have set myself a goal of reading 60 books by December 31st. With that in mind I've never set myself a reading challenge befor however I worked out on average I read 5 books a month during 2018 although some months were more others less. I've got a good stack of books to get myself started on and even though its only the 3rd of January I'm on my second book already.


2. Indulge in more creative activities
Aside from writing this blog and filling in journals this year I'm aiming to do more creative hobbies such as adult colouring for mindfullnes which I've found relaxing and Stuart got me an art kit for Christmas so I'm wanting to do more sketches, painting etc. By the end of 2019 I want to have a complete book of art work.


3. Make time for meditation
I have the calm app on my phone and i want to start using it more often in 2019 to help me relax especially to help me with my anxiety struggles. Eventually by the end of 2019 I want to make it a habit to do daily.

4. Visit new places
We plan to move to Lincolnshire this year and so I want to make it my goal to explore not just the little town we move to but to explore other parts of Lincolnshire as well. My aim is to once we moved there and are settled to find somewhere new to go out once a month as a family.

So there you are 4 simple goals for 2019 that will bring me joy this year.

#Momentsthatmatter with TRUPRINT

As someone who loves taking photos we hardly have any printed off. Stuart and i have thousands of photos from the last 10 years that we have been together, which we have stored on our smartphones or memory cards. This means we are most likely forgetting alot of the memories we have captured. 

When TRUPRINT asked me to join in with their #MOMENTSTHATMATTER  campaign I knew it was something i wanted to be involved in. TRUPRINT want us to remember the big moments, cherish the small moments and capture everything in between. These moments though shouldn't just be stored on a memory card or smartphone but displayed proudly in our homes! 





TRUPRINT want us to start thinking about the moments that matter to us. There are many moments we have captured over the years big ones such as our wedding and  celebrating Blake's birth, little ones such as days out and Blake having cuddles with his grandad and moments in between such as crazy selfies and day to day life. 


TRUPRINT offer a wide selection of gift ideas and I enjoyed picking out a range of ideas to use some of our favourite photos on. I love that there are so many designs for mugs, magnets, keyrings etc. 





Our moments that matter 

Big moments 

It was important to me with the passing of my father in law last year that we had a photo of him displayed from our wedding. I thought the photo of Stuart with his Dad waiting at the church, was a special moment that had to not be just in our wedding album stored away. 


Small moments

Blake adores his grandad and so I knew I had to also include a photo of my father in law and Blake together. We have quite a few photos of them both and so I found it tricky which to choose, I eventually opted for one of Blake at a couple months old. I also had to go for one of my favourite preschool photos of Blake which I had done on mugs for the grandmothers and as keyrings and on a fridge magnet. 


Our in between moments 

For this I had to include a selfie my sister took us with her and her bf. We went out for a lovely walk around Rushmere together which happens to be one of Blake's favourite places . 

*We were sent items from Truprint for being involved in this campaign.