A New Look With Blown Away London

[AD] My hair has never been my greatest asset, partly due to the fact I never spend more than five minutes on it. A quick rough dry, scrape it back into a ponytail and this is pretty my day and evening look.

When youth was on my side and five pregnancies hadn’t stripped the life out of my hair this was never a problem. I am now however in need of a little more tlc and when the lovely Frankie from Blown Away London asked me to visit I was hopeful she could work some magic!

Blown Away London is a mobile hair dressing company that also works from the gorgeous RE NUE London in Banstead a couple of days a week.

Frankie is an expert in both blowdrys and balayage, offers tape extensions and so much more.

I am one of those annoying clients that enters the salon with not much idea as to what I want. Frankie talked me through a lot of different options that would be good for me and we finally came up with a look that I wasn’t really expecting to go for.

I must admit I was a little hesitant as I hadn’t gone for a lighter colour since my teens but felt it would be a bit softer for me now unlike the usual dark brown I opt for.

The colour started and there was no going back! My faith however was in Frankie and she happily sat and chatted whilst I was waiting for the colour to develop which made the time fly by!

Next up was the cut and having such thin hair I always worry that it will be to thinned our as it has in the past which means me leaving feeling deflated.

In the end all this anxieties and worries were taken away as she unveiled an glossy, bouncy and much welcome change to my hair.

I really couldn’t have been happier with the cut, colour and most importantly the great company!

Turning 13 With A Bang At Project B

[AD] It wasn’t until this year I realised that 13th birthdays were such a big thing now. I happily breezed through this age with the other two having a simple day out…however it seemed this wasn’t going to be the case with Izzy!

Every weekend has been filled with ferrying her back and fourth to different parties and the planning started for her own months and months before the actual big day.

The brief for me was that she wanted somewhere ‘cool’. This is a dangerously brief description when it come to teenagers as it has the ability to go terribly wrong!

I took a look through the internet and with the help of Google I came across Project B in Croydon which looked like it would fit the bill perfectly.

I went along to meet one of the owners who was warm, welcoming and more than happy to cater for a room full of hyper teens!

They have home a huge variety of different events and parties and really want to make your event work as well as it can. I mean with hours fun I g all through the day until 4am they really do cover a whole host of angles.

The venue is split into two floors of which you can hire both or separately. We opted for the upper floor that has a huge open space, cosy sofas and tables, an area to home a DJ or bring along your own music and and an amazingly Instagramable wall which was a big selling point for me.

As well as the main room there is a smaller bar area to the side which would be perfect for adult parties and worked wonderfully for us as it gave the children their own space without us being to far away.

Izzy didn’t want a particular theme so we just went for lots of props to use while they were taking photos, a sweet table which went down a treat and as she didn’t want a birthday cake a popped some bottle sparked onto nonalcoholic fizz that went down a treat with a room full of screaming teens.

To be honest the decor is super cool and quirky so it all really speaks for itself and is a world away from having to try and make a dingy hall something special.

A few parents were a little apprehensive about the party being in the centre of Croydon but I can honestly say that the set up made it perfectly safe and there was no way they could venture out and do their own thing, and to be honest they didn’t even feel the need to as they were all to busy dancing the night away!

Project B made Izzy’s 13th one to remember and if you are looking for a children’s party then I highly recommend you get in touch as it was the perfect venue for us and could be for you too.

Making A Place At The Table For Everyone With Notty Reclaimed

[AD] My husband and I disagree on just about everything from where we want to eat to the clothing each other wear, and these disagreements are always magnified when it come to choosing items for the home.

I love something a little alternative while he always favours something a little more classic. Nine times out of ten I always win, but when it came to choosing our dining table we amazingly agreed on the first one we set eyes on.

After scrolling through Instagram simply for inspiration I came across a gorgeous feed called Notty Reclaimed. Just by luck they were a local company that produced amazing furniture from reclaimed wood.

It was one of their dining tables with benches that really caught our eye and after chatting I knew that the warmth and love they showed for their products was going to make for an amazing piece for our home.

Having a large family and more often then not a few extra visitors at dinner times we needed something that was going to seat a lot of people comfortably and this was the main reason we opted for benches as this way we could fit plenty of little bottoms round the table at one time.

Both the table and benches were made from gorgeous reclaimed scaffold boards that were homed on chunky metal bases.

The whole experience from ordering through to delivery was absolutely faultless and it felt great to be able to get something that was using reclaimed materials and from a local small business who have invested so much time and effort into everything they do.

They offer much more than just dining tables and will go above and beyond to make sure your own personal needs are met.

This really is a focal point for our dining room now and many great memories have been created around it. We can’t thank Notty Reclaimed enough and I urge you all to take a look as I know there will be some that everyone will love. If you do please feel free to use my discount code JOYOFFIVE10 to receive 10%discount on any dining set.

Getting The Kids Out And About With Micro Scooters

[AD] It is always a worry for me that the children don’t spend to much time indoors stuck to screens instead of getting outside and enjoying some good old fresh air and exercise.

I try my hardest to squeeze as much outdoor time into our days as we can and a great way to do this is through scooting.

All of my children have loved being able to hop on a scooter and pop to the shop, grab it from the boot and scoot to school or make a day of it at the skate park.

Over the years we have tried a large variety of scooters but have always favoured the three wheeled Micro Scooters for whole hosts of reasons; but the biggest pull was their amazing steering system that allows the scooter the turn the way the child leans into the turn. This saved so many falls that we had with other first scooters and allowed them to build confidence at a much quicker rate.

Now the boys are growing their need for a bigger, two wheeled style scooter was coming and Micro Scooters were not someone I would have thought about for this age range. So when we were asked to try some out I was pleasantly surprised what Micro Scooters has to offer.

For Oscar who is just five I wanted something a little sturdier to offer the transition to a two wheeler less daunting so the Micro Scooter Cruiser seemed to be the perfect option.

The Cruiser offers a wide foot plate, large wheels and bicycle style handle bars for a sturdy ride. This is brilliant for them to gain confidence and I really feel in love with the retro style so it was a win from all parties.

Oscar has loved nipping to the shops with me and when he has had enough as with all Micro Scooters it is super easy to fold up and carry.

Frankie wanted a little more than just a straight ride from a scooter so for him we opted for the Stunt Scooter. His older brother was a fan of scooting for many years and in fact competed so I think as he gets older this is something he wanted to try out for himself.

This scooter has been perfect for him to try out all kinds of jumps, spins and tricks due to its streamline and lightweight nature. The handlebars are also positioned higher than a traditional scooter allowing ease of movement.

As well as being perfect for the skate park this scooter has also been great for the trips into town and playing in the garden with his brother.

As well as the scooter themselves Micro Scooters offer a whole host of safety equipment and accessories to make you scoot safe as well as fun!

Micro Scooters always have been the first choice for me and since trying out these different styles I have fallen in love with them even more.

The attention to detail and really knowing what both kids and parents want shines through with every step of choosing, ordering and using the scooter.

What style do you think you would opt for, for your little ones?

Staying On Top Of My Finances With Youtility

[AD] Housing costs are at a 13 year high with no hope that things are set to improve anytime soon. The bills that are coming in highest are housing, fuel and power which are obviously necessities and not something we can get on without. This coupled with huge costs of rent/mortgage payments, travel to and from work, food and clothing can often leave people with very little to spend on free time which can be extremely hard on family life.

Due to this keeping an eye on money coming into and out of the house is of upmost importance and sadly I am the worlds worst at organising my finances. I don’t keep track of anything coming in and out and very rarely shop around for cheaper deals which is so important when it comes to getting the most from your money.

I know that for me this is an extremely poor way to deal with things, especially as I am trying to run such a large household, so when I was approached by Youtility to try out there app I knew it was the perfect time to get things into order.

Youtility offer a one stop app to revolutionise the way you organise your household bills so that everything you need is all in one place.

Every Bill In On Place – Youtility allows you to add every bill you have to the app so you know exactly what you have and how much is going out in, all in one place instead of having to log into each account separately to get all your details.

Track Your Homes Performance – This was something I really loved about the app. You can see how efficiently you are running your home compared to others in your area. It really makes you think about things like your electricity and gas consumption and has really prompted me to make changes in these areas. Having shorter showers, turning the thermostat down a notch or two and making sure that the house isn’t continually like Blackpool illuminations are all great ways to make small changes.

Compare And Change – As I said earlier making time to make sure we have a competitive rate on our bills is something I rarely look into as I never seem to find the time to do it. With Youtility it is all done for you, so if a better deal comes up for you then it can all be done through the app.

Keeping You In The Know – There are breakdowns of how much you have spent and what you have ready to come out which makes it really easy to budget. They will let you know about any high bills that you may need to take a look at and keep you informed of when contracts are coming to an end which is great to make sure you are taking a look at everything you are getting is as you need and if not then changes can be made at the right time.

The Advantages Of Buying A Second Hand Car

[AD] Buying a new car can be scary territory for many people…myself included as there are just so many different factors to consider.

Shall I buy brand new, shall I buy second hand. Shall I buy privately, shall I buy from a dealer. The list really is endless and even when you finally decide on where you are going to purchase your car there is the worry that whoever you are buying from is going to be trustworthy and ultimately if the car is going to be roadworthy.

These days buying secondhand is a good option for many reasons. And for me the price is certainly the biggest pull.

Did you know that if you buy a car that is only a year old you can save as much as 27% off the price of a brand new car. Places such as KAP Motors offer used cars at really competitive prices so are a great one to check out.

Here are a few top tips for what to think about when buying second hand:

  • Buying from an established dealer – This is probably the safest way to buy second hand as you have a secure base to go back to if there are any problems once you get your new car home.
  • Check details and history – It is extremely important to make sure that all the car details and history have been checked and all safety procedures have been carried out before you even consider buying.
  • Inspect and test drive – You can either inspect the car yourself or get a knowledgeable friend or family members to check out to over look it and always take it for a test drive to ensure you are happy with everything.

Our March…

March seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye and as I still here going over what we have been up to I think it’s probably the fact we have been so busy it has just flown by.

Archie started off the month with landing himself his first real part time job. It is on a church retreat and he had the job of cooking, cleaning and serving the guests. He seems to be thoroughly enjoying the more tasks he is set and meeting new people who all seem to have sixth amazing stories to tell.

I have to admit when he first told me about where it was(down a load of country lanes with no public transport) I was moaning like made as I knew this was going to fall back on me to get him there and back. But it wasn’t until someone said instead of moaning you should be proud of him for taking the time to find himself work and apply himself that I realise I should suck it up and praise him for his drive and want for independence.

Frankie has one of his routine trips to the hospital for an eye check and the good news is he is nearly done with patching. There has been a huge improvement in this sight and they have got it to a leave that is now remaining stable, so the daily battles with the patch I’m am happy to say are now over!

I fast forwarded the year and stepped straight into summer at the Next Happy Hotel event where I got to look at a whole host of products from homeware, clothing and beauty that are set to make for a pretty great summer. There were some fantastic pieces in each and every section but I think I was most surprised by the amount of other beauty brands that are available through next. I had no idea they stocked Benefit…did you?

From a event on my own to one with all the family at Chessington World Of Adventures. For those of you that regularly read my blog you will know that I have been an ambassador for them for the past few years now and absolutely love watching the changes each and every year. This year the have a new interactive attraction based on the much loved book – Room On The Broom. The children loved it and it’s a must see for any fans of the story.

I have been up and down with my exercise but Jemma’s Health Hub has kept things pretty constant for me so I’m hoping to feel a lot healthier and less self continuous this summer.

Whist we are in the subject of health I had a little bit of a scare with some chest pains that I was referred to the hospital for. My blood pressure isn’t really what it should be and I am waiting on a scan just to check that everything is ok and it’s actually given me more of a push to shift these pounds and get my exercise back to being an everyday routine rather than a chore.

Peppa Pig is still very much a favourite in this house with the boys…even though Frankie wouldn’t let on to anyone; so we were very excited to go along to Leicester Square to see the new film that is put this Easter. The boys absolved it and I’m sure it’s going to be another big hit.

From this screening we went straight to the Royal Opera House to take a look at one of their family fun Sunday events. I was more than a little apprehensive about taking the youngest two as they don’t really scream Royal Opera house! I needn’t have worried though as it was such a relaxed atmosphere where they got to enjoy lots of crafts, storytelling sessions and witness the most amazing ballet and modern performances. It really would come highly recommend from us.

With Mother’s Day on everyone’s minds I was invited along for afternoon tea with Paperchase. We got to chat to lots of lovey mummies and take a look at all the amazing products Paperchase had to offer this year.

A highlight for me probably more than the children this month though was a screening of the new Dumbo movie. It is most definitely a childhood favourite for me and I was so pleased that Disney had worked their magic and managed to recreate a different but equally as thought provoking and heart warming movie as the last.

Spring definitely seems to have been making an appearance and we have been enjoying this with some time in the garden, plenty of hot cross buns and some spring flowers. I really do love this time of year.

The last few days of March will always be ones to remember as the day we were celebrating Izzy’s 13th birthday party my eldest daughter Alice decided to give birth to my beautiful second grandchild. We don’t like to do things by halves in this family and it was a whirlwind 24 hours but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

After all the chaos it was time to celebrate Mother’s Day and this is traditionally a nightmare day and this year didn’t disappoint.

I think I have this ridiculous expectations that my children are going to turn into angels for one day and the arguing and bad behaviour are all going to disappear! Sadly of course this doesn’t happen and we started the day with two of them devouring my chocolates before I even sat down to breakfast, one then decided to throw the said breakfast as their sisters head and so the day started.

Next year I’m going to lower the expectations in the hope that this will help!

Treating Your Mum And Giving Back To Charity At The Mother’s Day Toy Exchange

[AD] We kicked off our Mother’s Day celebrations a little earlier than usual this year with a trip to Centrale and Whitgift Shopping Centres in Croydon to take part in their Croydon toy exchange.

They set up a fantastic project which allowed families in and around Croydon to take a pre-loved toy along to the shopping centre and exchange it for a gift of goodies to give to your Mother as a treat on Mother’s Day. The pre-loved toys will them be distributed to the families of Rutherford School who help provides wrap-around services for people with disabilities in the Croydon area from age three onwards.

The boys loved dropping their toys into the big box that was already looking pretty full by the time we got there. They collected their cute pink bags they were full of goodies from shops inside the centre including House Of Fraser, Body Shop and Superdrug.

From here we took the opportunity to take a look around the shops to see what they had to offer in the way of treats for Mother’s Day…well once I prized the away from the children’s area that I have to say is a pretty cool way to give the little ones a treat whist you are there.

Centrale and Whitgift Centres have been my go to place for shopping in Croydon for pretty much as long as I can remember. I actually have fond memories of going along there as a child and selecting gifts for my own mother with my hard earned pocket money.

Spring forward a few years to say the least and I relished in the fact I could take my own little ones ones along to help me chose a gift for their much loved Nanny who deserves a medal for putting up with us lot!

There is such a great variety of shops that suit all budgets. There are plenty of the popular high street favourites such as marks and Spencer, House Of Fraser, Zara, Boots, H&M, Topshop and Superdry to name but a few.

It’s a tradition for us to buy a simple bunch of daffodils every year for my Mum as they are here favourites but you can equally find anything from gorgeous clothing, beauty products, homeware or even a voucher for treat herself to a beauty treatment or a new hairdo!

After all our hard work we stoped for a bite to eat which is also something that is pleasure in Centrale and Whitgift Shopping Centres and there is always plenty to chose from. We always opt for sushi that is set right in the middle of the Whitgift Centre so you can enjoy your food whist watching the hustle and the bustle of the shoppers going by.

We had a brilliant afternoon and if you are looking for a shopping destination with all you can look for under one roof then you really should take a look at Centrale and Whitgift Centres.

Bringing Back The Dining Room

[AD] Dinner times in our house are only what can be described as chaotic, more like a chimps tea party at times and are more often than not a pretty stressful time of day.

Since moving through we have gained a dining room and I have been making it my mission to bring back dining as a family as often as we can and making it a place we all want to congregate, eat good food and enjoy each other’s company.

More often than not for ease I stick the little ones at the breakfast bar to eat, the older ones eat as and when they feel like and my husband on his lap when he gets in from work. For us the importance of eating together as a family has been completely lost.

Over the past few months though we have been really making a conservative effort to all get around the table, leave all our devices elsewhere and connect as a family. We allow no distractions and just enjoy each other’s company…well aside from one or two arguments of course!

I have compiled a little list of things I have done or plan to do to get the dining room just how I want it to make a place that is used as much as the other rooms in the house rather than just when people come round.

Benches – When we bought our new dining table we opted for benches feather than chairs for a more laid back feel. With a large family it also allows us to squeeze more people around the table as there is more often than not an extra one or two joining us!

Rugs – We have wooden flooring throughout the downstairs of the house and this can often look and feel cold so I am currently looking for something to go under the table that will add a splash of colour and a little warmth to the room.

Practicality – This is a big one for me as the room needs to work for us all so practical furniture and furnishings are must. As with the benches as I mentioned earlier furniture that can utilised in different ways is so helpful to make the area work on a daily basis.

Lighting – Good lighting always sets the mood and allows the space to be used for a range of different activities. The children can set up at the table during the day for play and getting homework done when the lighting needs to be bright and through the use of side lights you can create a relaxed a calm feel for an evening with friends.

Art – Filling the walls with beautiful, personal pieces of art and photos is probably one of the most important things for me. It’s great to be able to sit back and gaze at something beautiful.

11 Of Our Top Tips For Getting The Most From Your Mobile Phone Contract

[AD] There are countless ways in which we use our mobile phones these days, and knowing that everything from a quick message to a Youtube video is at the touch of your fingertips is often a reassuring way to justify those high-priced contracts.

However, it is important to recognise when you are spending too much and where you can cut costs to ensure you are only paying for what you really need. These top tips have been put together as a simple aid for you, to help you make the best of any contract.

Top Tips for Saving On Your Phone Bill

The cheapest deal on the surface may not always be best

Some deals can be too good to be true as they are often conceding possible hidden charges and penalties, for example having to buy internet add-ons when you run out of data and huge fees for overuse. Yes even a four megabytes over your allowance could cost you, for example Vodafone charge £6.50for every 250mb of data over!

Work out your usage and go from there when deciding how much data you really need. The sweet spot is looking at your average monthly usage and having a little bit to cover you. Using about 1GB a month? Then 2GB is ample.

Stick within your limits

There is nothing worse than going over your data limit and being slapped with those charges for internet overuse. As well as looking for the best contract with the data allowance you really need (and be realistic here – if you like watching videos on the go then your allowance needs to be high!), make sure you also edit your settings to work with Wi-Fi where possible.

Don’t bother with mobile phone insurance

Coverage in case of an accident is important, but it is easy to overspend on insurance. It is worth checking whether your phone is covered by your home insurance first, and if not consider self-insuring by putting money aside rather than paying an insurance firm.

Think twice about cashback deals

Cashback May seem like an attractive bonus but often companies do not make it easy to claim and so you find yourself traveling through monthly bills, just to get a few pounds back. Make sure it’s worth it, and where possible look for deals with instant cash back rather than redemption

Don’t keep paying the same amount when your contract has ended

Check up on the length of any contract you sign up for, and then ensure they don’t increase their prices each year. Once you are tied to a contract it becomes very easy to forget about it and keep the direct debits leaving your account – how often do you actually check the numbers and look for increases? Stick with shorter contracts and make sure to keep an eye on your accounts and what is leaving them each month.

Travelling outside the EU?

Does the contract allow for overseas usage? If texts and calls abroad are covered, great! If not, you are facing huge costs the second you turn on your data. Check out the overseas allowance and make sure you stick to it. Three is the best for this with their feel at home product which also works in the USA.

Go SIM Only

Could SIM-only work for you? By opting for a SIM-only contract, you really do pay for what you use, thus avoiding extra charges and overuse fees. With this option you can source the phone and contract separately, giving yourself the choice of handset you want and still keeping costs down in the long run – though in this instance you will have to face the initial upfront cost to purchase the handset.

The other good choice is to use a pay as you go SIM this site has ranked and compared them with giffgaff coming top. This used to mean topping up manually and each time you use your phone some of your credit is used up. But now with bundling the networks offer a set among of data, minutes and texts that last 30 days. This puts you fully in control as you can’t overspend and there are no tie ins.

Test out the networks

Check out the networks available and see how well they fare in your area. Do they have a good signal where you live? Do they have good customer service reviews generally? These are all important to look at when you are choosing the best contract for you. You might even want to test networks out temporarily first with a pay as you go SIM before tying yourself into a longer deal.

Don’t be afraid to haggle

Haggle! You never know what you can get unless you try, and you may well end up with a discounted monthly charge if you show your loyalty by haggling to stay with the same network. After all, they don’t want you to give your money to another network and so will more than likely accept a lower fee to keep you as a customer.

Compare Deals

Use comparison tools and online sites to review the best options according to your needs and usage. uSwitch, Moneysupermarket, Tiger Mobiles etc all have easy to use filters to find deals.

Don’t discount MVNO or smaller networks

Explore the option of smaller networks, as these are often more likely to give you better details in order to win and retain your custom. giffgaff, 1pmobile, Asda and Superdrug are all worth looking into.