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.

Sunshine Dreaming With Simply Beach

[AD] I’m sure I’m not the only one that is longing for a bit of sun now and I for one can’t wait for Mr Sunshine to show his face so that we can make the most of the great outdoors and hit the beach.

Over the years my beachwear choices have certainly changed and a trip to the beach with my brood requires a pack horse rather than a nifty little bach bag. However this doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style and with the help of Simply Beach I have compiled a wish list of items that I would like to see me though the summer.

Swimsuit – I am well past the days of wearing a bikini on the beach which I am perfectly happy with to be honest. There is such a great range of swimsuits available now that they can look just as stylish as a bikini whilst allowing you to have a little more confidence by covering the areas you might not be so happy with.

Tummy control swimsuits have been my best friend for a while now and this Lush Lanai Pin Up Swimsuit is definitely on my list.

Cover Ups – A good cover up is essential for me to shield myself from the hot sun and to quickly whip on when you need a trip to grab a bite to eat. I have fallen in love with this Melissa Odabash Maxi Dress that offers great coverage as well as looking effortlessly cool.

Beach Bags – Of course a good beach bag is a must and mine needs to be big enough to fit swimmer, snacks and all the other paraphernalia that comes with a big family. I love a classic basket style bag that can be filled to the brim whilst still looking great. My top pick for this summer is the Seafolly Oversized Beach Basket that has a classic design with pretty detailing in the twisted handles and tassel.

Flip Flops – Last but not least is footwear which for me on a trip to the beach need to be easy to slip on an off and waterproof as the little ones spend the majority of the time up and down for dips in the sea, walking along the seafront and not so glamorous toilet trips. These Vix Solid Flip Flops are the perfect, lightweight shoe for any beach trip.

I hope I’ve given you a little inspiration for those warmer months ahead and I would love to know your go to pieces for the summer.

A Year In Pictures – 2018

This year has been a bit of a mixed bag for us and to be honest I was being a bit of a negative nelly about what we had done and what I had achieved until I started scrolling through my trusty iPhone where I saw that we had in fact had some amazing adventures and I had come a lot further with my work than I was giving myself credit for.

My blog is all about capturing moments so instead of a long winded post about my year I’m simply going to let the pictures tell the story.

We started the year with meeting the Teletubbies…

We started our family fitness journey with David Lloyd…

We met Adam Hargraves at the Mr Men launch with MiPac…

We had some success with Frankie’s food allergies…

We enjoyed the snow…

I embarrassed Izzy with my lack of skating skills and she was over the moon to meet Frankie from The Saturdays..

Oscar got to meet of his favourites…

We had a trip to the seaside…

I got to work with the lovely Nadia Sawalha and had some amazing opportunities with Mumsnet…

We loved every minute of our work as ambassadors for Chessington World Of Adventures…

The boys love toy testing with Little Tikes in Hyde Park…

Darren and I got a much need night away…

Little Tikes treated us again to a trip to Silverstone and an awesome helicopter ride…

I got some quality time with Izzy on a photography course with Sharp Shoots…

The amazing Laura Shaw brought out my confidence in front of the camera…

We had our first festival of the year at Elderflowerfields…

Izzy meet some more celeb crushes at  a Num Noms event…

More fun at the beach…

I celebrated at my Sister’s hen…

We picked strawberries…

We had a fabulous photo shoot with Rachel Thornhill…

We had our first family trip to Alton Towers…

We went to a  brilliant screening of Hotel Transylvania3…

Oscar left nursery and started school…

We braved the storms at Camp Bestival…

We picked the coldest week of the summer to visit Chichester…

We went to our first fashion show…

We took to the red carpet…

We had a VIP trip to Legoland with Warner Bros that was out of this world…

Isla visited her first pumpkin patch…

The boys explored the Natural History Museum…

I meet the lovely ladies from George at ASDA…

We moved house…

At Christmas we visited Winterville, Winterwonderland, London Transport Museum and rounded it all  of with a trip to the fabulous Lapland UK.

Investing More In Creating New Memories

Memories are wonderful things. They can transport us back to precious times and amazing places as well as allowing us to remember moments that may not have been so pleasant. Regardless of how the memories make us feel they can aid us in the future decisions we make which is oh so important.

I was very fortunate to have a wonderful childhood and my parents have built some amazing memories for me that I love to think back on. Many of which I probably bore my children with time and time again and lots that I use to recreate those happy time with my own children.

At this time of year especially I think back to all of those wonderful christmas traditionans my parents created and have probably been passed down through the generations. One that my Mum will certainly agree with is letting the children decorate the tree and then as soon as they are tucked up in bed completely rearranging it again!

My blog was first set up to capture all of these memories we make and as a digital tool to look back on in years to come, an online diary that can be accessed as an when we need to see all the amazing adventures we have shared as a family over the years. But last year I realised that it was all of the big things that were being documented and those little moments that are just as important were getting lost and probably forgotten about in the fast passed, hectic lives we live today.

This is what got my “celebrating the small things’ section of my blog started so that each week I can record all those precious little moments such as losing a tooth or getting an award at school – simple little things that actually mean a lot!

Due to the nature of my work I find it pretty easy to get out with the younger children and create precious memories but as a family on a whole with my husband working long hours and the older children having their own social lives or being drawn to the online world rather than getting out and about; making these memories can sometimes be pretty challenging.

This is why in the new year I am setting a challenge that at least twice a month we will all get together and do something as a whole family so that we have precious moments to look back on and hopefully this will help to shape a good memory bank of things to look back on in their adult life a give them experiences to relate back to when they start to stand on their own two feet.

How do find ways to create precious memories with your families? Do you agree with me that events and memories from your past shape your decisions in the future? I would love to hear your thoughts on this and hopefully I can pick up some tips and ideas for my New Year challenge.

*collaborated post

Baby Shark Xmas No.1 GIVEAWAY

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year you couldn’t have failed to have missed the phenomenon that is Baby Shark!

I was actually first introduced to it when my granddaughter was a tiny baby and I couldn’t believe how the catchy song had her completely mesmerised. It wasn’t long before the boys then found a love for it along with millions of other children.

Baby Shark has in fact been such an internet sensation that it has amassed a huge 1.9 billion views, making it one of the most watched YouTube videos ever! It has amazingly spent seven weeks in the Official UK Top 40 Singles chart and is in a great position to become this years Christmas number 1.

To help celebrate the success of this song I am giving away a fantastic bundle of Baby Shark goodies over on Instagram. My boys have had an amazing time playing with their bundle and I can assure you it would certainly put a smile on your little ones faces this Christmas.

The bundle comprises of a limited edition Baby Shark plush toy that are currently completly sold out online, a promotional copy of the official Baby Shark album – ‘The Best Of Baby Shark’, an official heather grey unisex Baby Shark t-shirt, official sticker sheet, exclusive official Baby Shark socks that aren’t available anywhere yet and finally snap on Baby Shark official wristbands.

I’m sure you will agree this is an amazing prize so head over to my Instagram page by clicking HERE and get entering!

*We were sent these products for the purpose of this post and giveaway and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Premier League Writing Stars Competition

Earlier in the year a few of you may remember that I was lucky enough to attend the Premier League Primary Stars One Year On event which introduced me to the fabulous community project that has been set up to help develop literary skills amongst primary aged children.

After hearing the children recite the winning entries I was absolutely astounded at the time, thought and love that had gone into these entries and the look of pride that beamed from the children’s faces was a clear indicator of what an amazing initiative this is.

Last year the project reached out to over 25000 schools and brought a fun and different way to engage the children in learning, opening up a different world to so many of them who ordinarily may not have had an interest in the written word before.

This year they are back with another poetry competition that has the theme of diversity. This is a great way to get the children thinking about and celebrating everyones differences as well as similarities and why these are so important.

This subject is close to my heart as since starting school the differences and segregation that comes with Frankie’s food allergies have been hightened and I think that getting his feelings written down about this could be really cathartic for him; and reading through other entries may open his eyes to all the differences in the world and how each and everyone of these makes that person special, individual and just as important and anyone else.

They have inslisted the help of poet Joseph Coelho who has written a poem entitled ‘Beautifly Different, Wonderfully The Same’ which I’m sure you will agree is just perfect to get the childrens imaginations and creativity flowing.

Again this year they have a star studded panel comprising of former Premier Leaugefootballer – Rio Ferdinand, author – Lauren Child,  singer/songwriter – Olly Murs and Joseph Coelho himself who will have the tough job of picking winners based on a whole range of different criteria. The lucky winner will get their poem published in a limited edition book whilst there are other great prizes such a Premier League trophy school visits and author-ledwriting workshops up for grabs.

I’m sure that after reading this many of you will see just how much this project could enrich your children’s own school and if they are not already signed up to Premier League Primary Stars then all they need to do is sign up HERE.

The competition is running until 21st December 2018 so there is still plenty of time to get those creative juices flowing.

*collaborated post

Keeping The Magic Of Christmas Alive With Thorntons Cheeky Elf

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Thorntons Cheeky Elf academy last week for a lesson in how to keep the magic of christmas alive with the help of their new Cheeky Elf.

I didn’t know what to expect before I arrived at the Elf Academy and I was more than presently surprised when I arrived at the super christmassy venue that had been covered in candy canes and pretty decorations and was filled with super friendly elves that I joined once I had doned my elf hat and christmas jumper!

I know all to well that the magic of christmas is something special, something that should be treasured and sadly something that can be short lived once the realisation that Father Christmas is a fictional character comes to fruition.

I’m not saying that christmas isn’t just as magical without the believing – I’m 38 and still get more excited about it then the children, but that pure unadulterated innocence is something special and something I always try to keep alive for as long as I can.

We are now a camp of three non-believers and two belivers with one of those already asking a few questions, so I’m on a mission to keep the magic there for as long as possible and the Elf Academy was a perfect way to pick up some great tips from Santa’s elves themselves.

We were taught 10 tricks in total, some of which I already implement at home and a few new ones I will certainly be trying this year.

It was a really hands on workshop and we moved from station to station trying out all the tricks. We learned how to age a letter from Santa and create curvy script to look authentic, we created Santa’s footprints with the help of a stencil and fake snow, we make pretty sigh bells to jingle once the children are all in bed and with the help of some coconut shells we make the noise of the reindeers hooves which I though was a brilliant idea.

We also perfected our Santa voices using the area deep in our bellies to get a low and realistic voice…I’m not to sure how convincing mine was!

For me aside from the magic of this time of year, being able to use it to measure their behaviour perfect and we were given the tip of creating our own ‘naughty and nice’ lists the we can tick for good or bad behaviour. This one is definitely something I will be using.

If you need a hand with keeping an eye on the little ones behaviour then this is where Thornton’s Cheeky Elf can lend a hand. He can be place all over the home to keep an eye on what the children are up to and report back to Santa with the news…good or bad! And once Christmas Day is over the chocolate treat can be enjoyed by all.

I’m not really a fan of the ‘elf on the shelf’ craze so this is going to be the perfect alternate for us that tastes a lot better and requires a lot let work.

I would love to know what traditions you have as a family to keep that magic alive and if you need some help then take a look at all the Elf Academy Tips right ‘HERE’.

*collaborated post

Bringing A Colour Splash To A Bare Wall With Desenio

A few of you will know that we have recently moved and I have been really excited to be able to start a fresh and put my own stamp on it. We are lucky enough to have really high ceilings which make for a wonderfully light and airy space but on the downside it has left us with huge expanses of bare walls to fill.

The lounge for us is the hub of the home and the place we spend the most time so it was important to get this room ready first. Our sofas are a neutral cream colour as are the walls so i needed to add some colour as neutral really isn’t me.

I have been lucky enough to work with Desenio who offer a huge range of posters and prints that offer something to incorporate all tastes.

The fact that they have thousands of pieces to offer was a little overwhelming to begin with, especially as I had no idea what I was really after. But with the help of their themed sections and amazing gallery wall that allows you to choose exactly how you would like to see the pieces on the wall it wasn’t long before I had made my selection.

I went for a few motivational quotes which I hope will encourage the children to think positively by seeing them everyday, a little bit of abstract art and of course a big splash of colour with a small palm print and one of my favourite ladies – Freida Kahlo.

The prints all arrived promptly and were beautifully packaged and took no time to put into the frame and get onto the wall. The fact that you can select the frames at the same time as the prints was a massive pull for me as it saves dragging from the shops trying to get frames to fit.

If you are looking to create a gallery wall of fill a small space with something beautiful then Desenio is the place to look.

If you have been as taken with Desenio then please feel free to use the code “THEJOYOFFIVE” at the checkout which gives you 25% off posters between 27th and 29th November. This excludes frames and handpicked/collaberation posters.

Celebrating The Small Things Week Forty Five

I can’t believe there are only going to be a few more entries into this series of ‘celebrating the small things’ for this year.

It’s certainly something I’ve struggled to keep up with due to my unorganised nature but I know it’s something I’m going to love sitting and look back over for a long time to come.

This week it sees me talking about online friends, allergy free ice cream and Nativity Rocks.

Online Friends – When I first started blogging I found the whole concept of chatting to people I had never met before a little strange. Over the years this has completely changed and I have found some firm friends through the power of the internet.

I was so grateful for these relationships and especially so the other night when I attended the ASDA Christmas party.

I walked into a room of strangers and unusually felt a little intimidated by the situation until I saw a familiar face who was Shell from Shell And The Littlies who was warm and inviting and those little online encounters we had had before lead to a fantastic night!

Allergy Free Ice Cream – Frankie’s allergies have been part of his life for the past six years and to be honest he it pretty good at taking it all in his stride, but as a mother it kicks me in the stomach every time the others are free to chose delicious treats that he just isn’t allowed.

So when we took a trip to Yorica the other day my heart literally melted when he looked up at me and exclaimed “what, I can have anything!”. It may seem a small thing to many but for me this was a fantastic moment.

Nativity Rocks – I love Christmas more than the kids and Christmas movies are a huge part of gearing up to the big day for me.

So being able to go along to the preview of the new Nativity film – Nativity Rocks the other day I was absolutely over the moon! I will be talking you all about it tomorrow.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Forty Four

It’s a bit of a eclectic mixture here today for my ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ and I hope it’s not just me who gets stupidly excited for the last one!

Lazy Days – Since moving we haven’t really had the chance to kick back and enjoy it. What with work and everything they come with having a large family we spend a huge amount of time out of the house, so it was lovely to be able to kick back, laze on the sofa and eat way to much!

Chessington World Of Adventures – As I’m sure many of you will know, I have been an ambassador for Chessington World Of Adventures for the past few years now. It’s a role I am extremely grateful for and being so close to it allows us to visit for full days or just take a couple of hours out and enjoy all the fun. We had a pretty relaxed day there on our last visit and I think these ones are always the best.

Christmas Sandwiches – Come the middle of November I am like a mad woman over Marks and Spencer Christmas sandwiches.

I love Christmas more than the children and to have an entire Christmas dinner all rolled up into one sandwich is my idea of heaven…please tell me I’m not alone!