A Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

I used to be of the opinion that Valentine’s Day was a bit of a pointless occasion, just another excuse for shops to sell cards. “We don’t don’t need a special day to show each other we love each other, we can do that EVERY day” my husband and I would tell each other. And then we had kids…

When you have children, as couple, your priorities shift. Some of the things that used to be high on the list, slip waaay down. Like spending quality time with each other. I mean, Stephen and I haven’t been out on a date since I was pregnant with E!

So now? I welcome Valentine’s Day as an excuse to shower my hubby with gifts, attention and appreciation (and vice versa). Because let’s face it, most of the time, life gets in the way.

Today I’m sharing a Valentine’s Gift guide of products that couples can enjoy together…

 Our Life Story Diary*:

Our Life Story is gorgeous hardback book filled with 1080 pages for you and your lover to complete with photos, stories and facts. Essentially, you can use it to ‘scrapbook’ your love story. There are some pre-printed pages for you to fill out, such as a world map, to show where you’ve traveled together… and where you plan to go next! This is a proper little project that you and your partner could work on together, choosing your favourite photos from over the years and writing down your precious memories. I love the idea of giving this to our children when they’re older as sort of ‘History of Mum and Dad’.

Our Life Story is available from FindMeGift.com for £24.99 (usually £34.99)

Hot Rocks Massage Stone Gift Set*:

Treat your other half to a spa style treatment in the privacy of your own home with this Hot Rocks massage set. This set comes complete with massage stones, a scented candle and incense sticks – so pop on some relaxing tunes, turn the lights down low, and you’ll have everything you need to create a relaxing environment and de-stress from the day.

What I love most about this set is that, unlike massage oil, it doesn’t run out. The rocks can be re-used again and again!

The Hot Rocks Massage Stones Gift Set is available here for £12.99 (which I think is a bit of a bargain!)

His and Her Roller Skates:

Want something a bit different, this valentine’s day? Why not treat yourself and your partner to some roller skates? Relive your youth and take up skating together. It’s a lovely excuse to hold each other’s hands again! ;)

There is a HUGE variety of roller skates to suit everybody’s budget and style over at skates.co.uk

I, personally, am in LOVE with my pair of blue and gold Rio Roller Quad Skates* (pictured above).

Jenny Wren Belgian Chocolates*:

I couldn’t not mention chocolates in my Valentine’s gift guide, could I? This gorgeously designed box of belgian chocolates is available from Sainsbury’s for £6.50. The box contains 3 layers of yummy chocolates (x4 milk, x4 dark and x4 white) which are perfect for sharing (or not!)

Oh and the packaging is way too pretty to throw away, instead it makes for a cute little trinket box.

So, there you have it. I hope this gift guide has given you a few ideas of Valentine’s gifts that you and your partner can both enjoy together.

If you’re unable to spend Valentine’s Day with your other half, either because you live in a different city or your job means that you are based away from home a lot, there are still ways that you can send your Valentine a special gift. Check out My Parcel Delivery to find the fastest and cheapest courier services available so that you can have your gift delivered to your loved one.

If using couriers such as UPS or Parcelforce, you can choose to leave your gifts at a designated drop-off point or you can even have them collected from your very own home. “Too far” is never an excuse as there are plenty of couriers that operate across Europe and the rest of the world.

How will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day?

Jenna xx

Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post. Products marked with an asterisk were gifted to me for the purposes of this gift guide but all thoughts and opinions are my own.  :) 

Why I’m planning to have a ‘no spend month’
and how I’m hoping to do it

Why I’m planning to have a ‘no spend month’…

I have a confession to make. I’m addicted to shopping.

Not the kind of shopping that you might first think of when somebody says their addicted to buying things. I don’t spend a fortune on handbags, clothes or shoes. And I’m certainly not in debt.

But I still buy things we don’t need or even have the space for, purely for the ‘buzz’ of it. I like the feeling having new stuff. Whether it’s buying a pack of nice pens (I do love my stationary) for £3 or a bottle of kitchen cleaner for £2 (even though we have about 6 bottles of kitchen cleaner under the sink at home already).

I. Can’t. Seem. To. Stop. Buying. Stuff.

And this is why I’m going to try my very best to make February a ‘no spend month’.

Why now?

1. I’m fed up of the clutter.

I’m sure it takes me twice as long to tidy my house because of all of the ‘stuff’ we’ve accumulated. Most of the things I end up buying don’t serve any particular purpose and just end up gathering dust.

2. I want us to be able to afford a holiday abroad.

We’re very fortunate that we live comfortably in terms of keeping a roof over our head and food in our cupboards. And I realise that this is very much a ‘first world problem’ but right now we can’t afford to go on an overseas holiday this year.

I really wanted us to go on a ‘big holiday’ this year, before J starts school in September and we’re restricted to travelling in the school holidays and paying extortionate prices.

Small loans can go along way financially, but in order to save for a holiday I need to learn to curb my spending habits. Saving money for one month isn’t going to pay for a holiday – I realise that, but every pound I don’t spend will contribute to making our sunny getaway a reality.

3. It takes 28 days to change a habit.

February is ‘short’ month and not spending for 28 days seems achievable. Also, depending on who you ask, it supposedly takes 28 days to change a habit. We shall see!

How I’m planning to do it:

Realistically, I’m going to have outgoings in February, utility bills, pet insurance, driving lessons etc. and that’s fine. I can’t do much about those things but it’s everything else, the things I can do something about, that I’ll be focusing on.

I’ve broken those things into the following categories…

Food: 

We tend not to bulk buy food, we shop weekly and plan our meals so that there’s little or no waste. This means that we don’t have lots food in our store cupboards and freezer to eat up during February so I plan to food shop weekly as normal. Food is a necessary expenditure so I’m going to try my best to keep our shopping bills to a minimum by planning cheap, healthy family meals. I will not buy ANYTHING other than food from the supermarket. Cleaning products, toiletries and clothes will not be going into my shopping basket – we have plenty already.

I will also be avoiding spending money on lunches and snacks whilst out and about. I’ve realised recently that a couple of drinks and some cake from the cafe after toddler group can often cost me a small fortune.

Travel:

Not spending money on travel should be easy. I don’t drive and seldom use public transport because I’m lucky enough to live in a town where everything is within walking distance (including the shopping centre… gulp!)

Entertainment: 

I don’t want to spend the entirety of February stuck indoors with two littles – I think we’d all go a little stir crazy. Instead, I’m going to use this challenge as an opportunity to explore our local parks and free attractions. E and I attend Hartbeeps (toddler group) on Tuesdays but this has already been prepaid so we will continue with that. I also have a cinema gift card with a fair bit of credit left on it, so I’m planning to use this to take J to the cinema on the weekends. Convincing her to go without her beloved popcorn could be interesting though!

Another few ways I plan to get some free entertainment:

Using my library to borrow some books.

I’m thinking of taking advantage of Netflix’s free month trial too.

Downloading free podcasts to listen to.

Personal care:

The beauty of doing this early on in the year is that I’m already stocked up on smellies from Christmas gifts. I have more shower gels than you can shake a stick at. I shouldn’t need to buy anything in terms of personal care.  If I do, it would just be for the sake of it.

How I’m going to avoiding temptation…

I’ll be skipping any haul videos that come up on YouTube subs page or blog posts that are trying to sell me something.

I’ll be deleting marketing e-mails as soon as they enter my inbox.

I’ll be avoiding both going into physical shops and browsing online shops.

I’ll be leaving my bank cards at home when I go out.

I’ll pack lunches, snacks and drinks when we head out of the house in the mornings.

Wish me luck!

I’m planning to keep a weekly diary of how I’m doing (mostly to keep me accountable) so keep an eye out for those posts over the next few weeks.

Do you have any no spend tips for me?

Jenna xx

This is a collaborative post.

 

5 Local small businesses you NEED to know about… {Bristol}

bristol local businesses

We all know that ‘sharing is caring’ so that’s why I’m going to tell you about 5 of my favourite local small businesses that are based in and around the Bristol area. From the best place to eat out with the kids to where to get your dog groomed, I’ve got it covered…

1) Little Giggles Soft Play

Little Giggles opened up in Yate (BS37) just over a year ago and we are regular visitors there. It’s very different to any other soft play centres we’ve been to (and in my almost-4-years of parenthood, we’ve been to a fair few!) The equipment is best suited to under-5s and the entire layout is open plan so playing along with your children (or keeping an eye on them from the cafe) is much easier. Little Giggles is a family-run business and I am always so impressed with how much the owners listen to feedback from the parents and carers who use their softplay. They’re always changing and adapting the centre accordingly, and always striving to make every visit fun and memorable.

2) Scoopaway Health Foods

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have no doubt heard about the plastic crisis that our country is facing. Thanks to supermarket packaging, we’re using WAY too much of it! I’ve written on the blog before about my hatred of plastic and I’m always looking for ways for my family to live greener and reduce waste. So, when I heard about Scoopaway Health Foods (BS7) I got very excited indeed.  They “specialise in Natural Wholesome Foods and Remedies for the whole family”. But not only that, they minimise their packaging and food waste by making their best selling lines available loose, enabling customers to scoop as much or as little as they need. This lady *points to self* plans to take a trip to Scoopaway, armed with many empty glass jars.

3) Printsome

If you’ve a need for T-shirt printing in Bristol (Organising a hen do, perhaps?) and want to support a small local business then head to Printsome. Not only can they provide more t-shirt styles and colours than you can shake a stick at, they’ll give you a quote for your garments within 30 minutes. And if you’re in a hurry, you can even have them delivered the very next day. Jobs a good ‘un.

4) The Parlour

We seldom eat out as a family these days as it seems that a good family-friendly restaurant is hard to come by. But just recently I heard about The Parlour (BS6), an independent (and kid-friendly) ice cream shop. It’s been running as an ice cream parlour since 1974 but recently the owner, Nicolo, has turned it into a high quality Italian restaurant. “It’s very much a family vibe; a place in which all ages can enjoy with delicious ice cream, pasta and charcuterie boards on the menu.” Click here to check out the menu and make a reservation!

5) Petsupplies-uk 

I couldn’t not mention my favourite local pet store, Petsupplies-uk (BS37). Every time we visit (myself and the furry member of the family) we get the warmest of welcomes and fantastic customer service. Not only do we pop in for food and doggy treats, but this is also where we get Heidi groomed every couple of months. The grooming prices are very reasonable and Heidi always comes out looking and smelling beautiful (it’s a shame it doesn’t last long before she inevitably rolls in something she shouldn’t!) ;)

So there you have it, 5 small local buinesses I wanted to shout about!

If you live in and around Bristol, I’d love to hear about your favourite local businesses too!

Let me know in the comments!

Jenna xx

Life in plastic, it’s (NOT) fantastic

Social media campaigns have kind of taken over my life just lately. Last month I took part in The Wildlife Trust’s #30dayswild initiative and this month I’m trying to reduce my plastic usage for #plasticfreejuly. Both campaigns have blown my mind.

Being ‘wild’ for 30 days made me fall in love with our planet. My surroundings. My home. My children’s home. I’m ashamed to say that up until recently this big rock we call Earth was merely just a place I inhabited. This planet is where I was born, where I would live and where I would die. I lived without thinking too much about my impact on it. I also lived without thinking too much about the other creatures who we share the planet with and how my actions does/and will affect them.

I feel like I’ve had a wake up call. A sudden slap across the face from the hand of reality. What I do makes a difference. My actions count. And so does yours.

I want to do better. I want to be greener. I’m desperate to make positive changes in the way that I live.

But I’m also overwhelmed.

I’m overcome with guilt and frustration.

I feel so guilty for every time I’ve bought my kids some plastic tat they’ve played with for all of two minutes. Because let’s face it, kids AREN’T as interested in toys as we like to think.

I feel guilty for the God-knows-how-many toothbrushes I’ve sent to landfill in my 30 years.

I feel guilty for all the times I’ve used plastic carrier bags because I couldn’t be bothered to carry around a reusable bag.

I feel guilty for every time I’ve bought a bottle of water when I could have just drank water from a tap.

And don’t get me started on the nappies…

There’s. so. much. guilt.

I get frustrated when I stand in the park, pushing my daughter on the swings, and see litter all over the floor. How can I make a difference when other people seemingly don’t care at all? And am I really any better just because I put my rubbish in the bin? It still ends up in a hole in the ground. What difference does it make?

I get frustrated because when I go to the supermarket almost every single friggin’ thing is covered in plastic. My online food shop came the other day and I kid you not, my bananas were bubble wrapped. Bubble wrapped?! If only bananas came in their own protective layer… oh wait.

I get frustrated because I want to be better. Do better. But I don’t know where to start.

I look around my home and the mere sight of plastic sets my teeth on edge.

I can’t live like this anymore.

I need to set aside the guilt (I can’t undo what’s been done) and the frustration (it’s only getting in my way) and take small steps in the direction of a greener, more eco-friendly lifestyle.

I want to be better. I want to do better.

*Life in plastic. It’s (not) fantastic.

Jenna xx

{ Find me on: BloglovinInstagramTwitter & YouTube }

*Never thought I’d paraphrase the song ‘Barbie Girl’ in a blog post but hey!

 

 

12 Days of Pedigree:
Getting your dog ready for the holiday season

*Countdown to Christmas klaxon!*

Oh, my goodness – it’s almost Christmas, guys! I am so excited to spend the holidays having some quality time with my family. But not just the human members, I fully intend to have our pooch, Heidi, join in with the festivities.

The folks at Pedigree recently asked me to share my twelve tips for getting my dog ready for the holiday season in regards to including her in the fun, but also keeping her safe. I really hope you find them useful.

1. Book your doggy’s Christmas hair do early!

Just as your hairdresser’s appointment book will fill up quickly during November and December, so will your dog groomer’s. Book your dog grooming appointment early to ensure that your pampered pooch looks (and more importantly, smells) their best come the big day!

2. Store the crimbo choccies in a safe place. 

Like a lot of families, we become inundated with boxes of chocolates, advent calendars and biscuits over the festive period. (Hey, you won’t hear me complaining!) But those tasty human treats can be pretty toxic for our four-legged friends. Even a small amount of chocolate could cause your dog an upset stomach. We put all of our choccies in a Tupperware container or biscuit tin and keep them well out of reach of Heidi.

3. Treat your doggy to an advent calendar!

Just because we’re hiding our chocolates away from Heidi, it doesn’t mean she can’t enjoy her very own treats during the countdown to Christmas. Most pet stores will sell doggy advent calendars in the run up to Christmas and I always think it’s a nice way to include Heidi each day.

4. Enjoy the winter walks, safely. 

I love winter dog walks, especially on cold crisp, sunny days. We tend to walk Heidi twice a day – once during the daytime and again in the evening, after dinner. Of course, this time of year it’s getting dark very early which means taking precautions during those evening walks. I’ve invested in a light-up tag for Heidi’s collar and a hi-vis jacket for myself. Granted, I won’t be winning any fashion awards any time soon but I daren’t take any chances when it comes to our safety.

5. Ensure your dog has a safe retreat.

With lots of visitors to the house, excitable kids and the general chaos that comes with the holidays – it can be a bit overwhelming for our pets. Heidi certainly becomes unsettled when there’s lots of things going on at once or if there’s changes to our normal routine. We’re hosting Christmas dinner at our house this year so I’ll be making sure that Heidi has a quiet space she can go to if she needs a break from all of the excitement.

6. Stuff a stocking for your pooch…

Each member of our family has a stocking which we hang up on Christmas eve for ‘Santa’ to fill. Heidi has her very own stocking which we stuff with healthy doggy treats and usually some kind of Christmas themed squeaky toy (which we regret buying as soon as she gets hold of it)! ;)

7. Get creative with photos of your pet!

Whilst I may enjoy sporting a very fetching Christmas jumper during the holidays, Heidi on the other hand is not so keen. She doesn’t enjoy dressing up, so we don’t do it. So, do you know what I do instead? I create festive snaps using phone apps and free online editing software. It’s loads of fun to do and it doesn’t annoy your pooch! I like to use Picmonkey to add festive ‘stickers’ to photos of Heidi – I think they’d make great Christmas cards!

8. Be tree safe!

We usually put our Christmas tree up off the ground (on a coffee table) and fenced off from the children and Heidi. This ensures that decorations don’t get pulled off and chewed on. The consequences of our beloved pooch eating Christmas decorations (such as tinsel and baubles) are unthinkable.

9. Be wary of which festive plants you bring into your home…

According to  the RSPCA “Some plants and flowers including poinsettias, holly, ivy, mistletoe and lilies can be toxic, so avoid these if you have pets.” I love having poinsettias in our house at Christmas but I’m going to invest in a artificial version to be on the safe side. It also means I can use the same one again and again each year!

10. Avoid overindulgence

We all tend overindulge with food over Christmas and it can be tempting to spoil your dog with tasty treats over the festive period too. Limiting the treats to a few a day will ensure that your dog keeps off the Christmas weight! On days when we give Heidi extra treats, we reduce her portion size at meal times to account for the extra calories she’s already had.

11. Plan ahead in order to avoid your dog feeling lonely this Christmas…

We don’t always host Christmas dinner at our house, other years we’ve gone to stay with family for the day (or longer). On some occasions we’ve been able to take Heidi with us but other times, when we’ve gone abroad for example, we’ve had to make other arrangements for her. For the longer trips, Heidi stays with a pet sitter or with friends. But even when we’re out for a few hours, we like to have someone on hand to pop round and check on her. We generally don’t like to leave her for more than 4 hours without a toilet break and a tickle! Make sure you’ve got dog sitting/walking sorted ahead of time to avoid the stress of arranging last minute petcare.

12. Watch out for needles!

If you opt for a real Christmas tree this year, then be sure to vacuum up the fallen needles frequently. They could cause some discomfort to your dog if they get stuck in their paws. We tend to stick to an artificial tree for this reason (and if I’m honest, I can’t stand the mess of a real tree!)

I hope you’ve found this post useful.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!

Jenna x

This post is a collaboration with Pedigree, but all thoughts are my own. For additional dental care information you can read the following Pedigree Reviews article for tips and advice.