Friday, 17 August 2018

Preparing for our first car*

At 23, I'm really at that point now where having a car is becoming a necessity. For quite a long time I've been okay with my previous journey with learning to drive (long story short, I did a lot of lessons but the theory side I struggled with so stopped) but as you get older, have more responsibility and just generally want to go further afield, there's only so far public transport can take you. With a plan in place for George and I to have our first car hopefully within the first half of 2019, I've been doing lots of research into all of the things we need to consider and think about when taking this step so I hope if you're in the same position, this post is helpful.
Preparing for our first car*

Choosing our first car

Used cars are cheaper than new - As much as I'd love a brand new mini cooper for our first car, it isn't going to happen. It works out far better value for us to buy a used car as it reduces the overall expense, insurance premiums are lower and repairs should there be any required, will cost less. With used cars though it's important you get it checked over with an MOT for any potential safety issues before getting out on the road. As tempting as it can be to pick a nice looking car, that's really not the most important factor and we've seen some great ones that you wouldn't even know have been used before.

Expenses - It's important before buying your first car that you are 100% sure you can afford it. For a long time we've been very much about putting any extra money aside for holidays and weekend breaks or just using it for other things and money for a car just wasn't a priority, or there wasn't enough spare for it to be something worth doing yet. It's only now we're in a better position we find we can do both and it's the time for us to really make a start on driving and getting that car. Unless you have a guaranteed amount coming in each month that you know you can set aside for the expenses, it's really worth waiting it out. There is so much more you need to pay for than you might first realise.

Insurance - When choosing what company to go with for car insurance, it can be an absolute minefield! I've looked quite a few times and each time there's been a different outcome. You can check for yourself online with the help of insurance calculators. The main thing to look for when pricing it up is fully-comprehensive cover. Whilst third party cover and third party fire and theft cover are also available, if you were involved in an accident, you'd have to pay for the repairs to your own car and the insurance would only cover any damage to other people involved. Fully comprehensive cover looks after your car and actually works out the cheapest compared to others.

Safety tips

MOT Testing - With a used car it's important to get an MOT so it can be checked over for any potential safety issues before getting out on the road. An MOT test will check that you car meets the road safety and environmental standards and you need to do this by either the third anniversary of the car's registration or the anniversary of it's last MOT, if it's over 3 years old. 

Check your tyres and exhaust - Tyres are the only part of the car that actually comes into contact with the road so it's vital to keep them in good order so you and your family are safe on your travels. A few things I'm already aware of are checking tyre pressure regularly, checking the actual tread of the tyres and also something else to consider is the exhaust. For a lot of people this may be something they don't really think about but it's actually an integral part of the car's engine and the main role of it is to carry out the waste gasses to reduce any pressure building up and creating issues. Choked exhausts can cause a lot of problems, but can easily be resolved by Ossett Tyre House.

Car brakes - Aswell as your tyres and exhaust, it's incredibly important that you check your brake pads occasionally. Wear and tear can occur which can prevent your car from a quick halt so it's important to look out for a few warning signs. Ensure you listen to your brakes as you come to a stop, most brakes will indicate when the brake pads have started to wear thin by letting out a loud, high-pitched sound. You should also feel your brakes as you stop, if you're pushing the brake down to the floor but it doesn't come to an immediate stop, this is another indicator, and if you feel the brake pedals are pulsating or vibrating this can mean your rotors are warped. All of these things can be checked by a professional if you're not sure, another reason why MOT's are so vital as I mentioned earlier.

Prepare for all weather conditions - In the UK we're used to the weather being all over the place but it's important to be aware of how to drive safely in any condition that could arise. In snow and ice, you need to drive a lot slower as your stopping distance becomes significantly longer. This also applies to heavy rain. If you see huge water puddles, slow right down otherwise your vehicle can start to hydroplane which means your tyres can't hand the amount of water it's encountered. Having your headlights on so other drivers can see you at all times too is important. Finally, whilst driving when it's sunny isn't usually a hazard, it can affect your visibility at times. Be cautious of other drivers as they may not be able to see you as clearly due to the sun, avoid any sudden stops and make sure to stop slowly and in a timely manner so drivers behind you have plenty of time to react.

Have you got any tips on preparing for your first car?

I just wanted to quickly add that I'm going to be taking a bit of time off from my blog now as we're away next week. I've got two scheduled collaborations but aside from that I'm going to spend my week chilling out and I can't wait. I've got lots of posts planned for when I'm back so I'm already excited to get back to it!

*This post is in collaboration with Ossett Tyre House

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Thursday, 16 August 2018

My Favourite Blog Posts #3

With blogging I find it can be so up and down sometimes. As I mentioned in my blogging slump blog post, it can be so easy now to compare yourself to others and feel like you're not good enough but YOU ARE. We all are and we all bring something different to blogging. Whilst I do struggle sometimes and put myself down either about how my blog looks, my posts or my social media (which is completely normal) I do also have times where I am so incredibly proud of what I've achieved and can't believe blogging was something I once knew nothing about. I still stand by what I've said many times that starting a blog is the best thing I've ever done and every so often I do like to have a read back through some of my posts. I've done two posts like this where I've gone through and picked some of my favourite posts from the previous year and I thought it was about time for another. So here are 8 posts I'm really proud since 2017, I'll leave links to them all in you want to give any of them a read.
My favourite blog posts including musical theatre, christmas adverts, tips for improving DA, London, York and getting married

We Got Married 

This had to be at the top of this list. I still remember posting about being engaged after such a special weekend so to finally be able to say we were married after what felt like forever of saving and planning before just making the jump, was amazing. It was a pretty short blog post but I love reading it back as I know just how happy and excited I was.

Planning a Small Wedding 

Following on from the wedding post, not too long after I posted my tips for planning a small wedding. I'd actually love to do more wedding related posts as they make me so happy and this one seemed to be really helpful for a few people. When planning a wedding as small as ours (literally George and I and two witnesses) it can be hard to find out much information as lots do go for the traditional wedding so I hope if you want a small wedding too, you find that post useful. I also really love reading it back too just because we really did do it our own way and it was exactly like we'd hoped.

Why I Love Musical Theatre and Why I'm No Longer Embarrassed by it 

Since 2016 I'd been posting a few theatre posts here and there, usually just when I'd been to see a show or something similar but this year as my love for all things musical theatre grew, I just wanted to share that on my blog. After really struggling with blogging for a while and not knowing what to talk about anymore, I decided I just needed to stop worrying so much about what other people thought and just post about what I truly love and musical theatre is one of those things. This post about why I no longer feel embarrassed about it anymore got such a great response and since then I've only felt even more compelled to talk about musicals and I've thoroughly enjoyed every post I've put out about it since. Seeing my first ever West End show, Wicked a few years ago just sparked something in me I never knew was there and now I can't imagine being without it.

Five Years From Now Book Review

 I've absolutely adored reading more this year, after such a long time not even considering picking up a book. At the moment I love nothing more than getting cosy in bed or on the sofa with a nice drink and a good book, it's such an escape and really chills me out. As I've been reading more, I've ventured into book reviews on my blog and like with musical theatre, it's something I'm so glad I've started talking about more. Out of all of the book reviews I've done recently, the one that stands out to me is Five Years From Now. I've lost count of the amount of times I've spoken about this since I finished it but it was outstanding. I was gripped from the beginning and heartbroken by the end of it and I genuinely still think about it now months later! I think you can tell in my review just how much I loved it, or I hope so anyway because I genuinely couldn't recommend it enough. The author herself has also read the review and tweeted me which made my week!

2 Nights in York

 I love love love a weekend break. Just a few days every so often for George and I to get away and relax is always something nice to look forward to and York was a place I'd dreamed about for so long. After getting married we thought instead of doing a big honeymoon, why not do a few little breaks instead? So we started with 2 nights in York, then the next month we had 3 nights in Paris and then finally a week later, a night in London to see a show. I love that we did it like this and got to celebrate in a few different places, each one I adored for different reasons. York was such a breathtakingly beautiful place and I've been so keen to go back since. Though we saw pretty much everything in those few days, I wish we'd had more time there, it was everything I hoped it would be and more.

A Christmas Trip To London 

How could I talk about my favourite blog posts and not include one from London? As long as we keep going to London, I'll keep talking about it in one of these because it really is my favourite place in the entire world. Though we've been in 2018 too, the trip towards the end of 2017 is one I look back on so fondly. It was a very spontaneous trip as George had a last minute work trip and it just worked out that I could go with him too, and as I'd been feeling quite low at the time, it was perfect. Though it was a work trip for George we really made the most of it, from having the full day on the Sunday to visit our favourite places and then see Winter Wonderland for the first time which was amazing, to having the full day on the Monday to myself before heading home, it was just lovely. I'm so comfortable in London that I really don't struggle at all by myself, in fact you'd think with anxiety it might be the opposite but it's like home to me and I had the most wonderful day by myself walking around London Christmas shopping and just sitting taking in the views. I think about it a lot actually and just remembering how happy I felt at the time and how at home I was, just makes me smile.

The Christmas Advert Hype 

I loved this idea for a post! Every year I get so excited for the Christmas adverts to start and last year I decided to put some of my favourites into a post. It definitely didn't do as well as I hoped it would but I don't even care, I love it and I'm so glad I wrote it. I remember so clearly the first John Lewis Christmas advert George and I ever saw together (it was the snowmen) and since then it's been something I look forward too as soon as Autumn hits, there's just something really special about it.

My Tips For Improving DA

 I've posted quite a few blogging tips posts recently but one I'm really proud of is one all about DA. The reason I'm so happy with it is because just over a year ago I genuinely had no idea what DA was let alone know how to begin growing it but after lots of hard work, it started rising and improving as time went on and I felt like for once I had something I could help others with! My tips weren't groundbreaking, as with all of my tips posts, it's quite basic but those are what I personally need so I hope if you're the same and can't be doing with anything complicated, it helped.

I think it's so important every once in a while to go back through your blog and re-read some of your old posts. As hard as we might be on ourselves sometimes, blogging is such an incredible thing and we should all be so proud of what we create.

Do you often go back through your blog?

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Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Food I Have Been Loving This Week #29

All I've thought about over the last few weeks is food, I have no idea what's wrong with me but so many amazing meals have been whirling around my head, I'm hoping my love for cooking is starting to come back as for a long time it disappeared and I couldn't think of anything much worse than trying to get creative with different meals. Because I've not had loads of inspiration recently these posts have definitely become a bit more few and far between but I do still love writing them so they won't be going away completely.
Food I Have Been Loving This Week including Millies Cookies, M&S Bakery, Chilli cheese nachos, pulled beef and Red Pop
Spanish potatoes - Anything with potatoes is a winner for me so when I saw a recipe for a Spanish twist on classic new potatoes, I had to give it a try. In Summer I like to try and make our meals a bit more exciting and this was a side I thought would be so nice with tapas bits one night. It's such a simple recipe, just cook the new potatoes as normal, then in a frying pan soften red onion and pepper, add in some chorizo and seasoning (I used chilli powder, garlic, chipotle chilli flakes) a few cherry tomatoes, and then add in the potatoes and give everything a good stir with a glug of olive oil. They were delicious and I think they'll be something we have quite a lot during summer.

Millies cookies - For some reason recently I've been thinking so much about Millies Cookies! A lot of the time if I'm in the mood for something baked, I usually like brownies or a muffin but I recently had a Millies Cookies and I've just wanted loads since. They are the best cookies you'll find, so soft and creamy and the chocolate is just heaven.

M&S Cinnamon Swirls - Sticking with baked things, something else I've loved is M&S cinnamon swirls. I'm not sure if they're new or not, but we seem to have only just got them in the bakery section and they are just amazing, they're almost a mixture of a flaky cinnamon swirl and a doughnut which might sound strange but the pastry is definitely different to others you might find. They're almost a bit of a substitution for the beloved cinnamon swirl doughnuts we've tried in Whole Foods during our trips to London which are genuinely one of the best things I've ever eaten.

Homemade chilli cheese nachos - I posted a recipe for this a while ago and whilst we don't make it often, whenever we do it's always insane. Recently I've been making my slow cooker chilli quite a bit, it's just so simple so when I planned it yet again a few weeks ago I thought for a change I'd stick it on top of some nachos and make a bit of a feast. I think it was probably the best it's ever been when we've made it so I'm already planning it again!

Red pop - OMG finally! I have found my favourite ever ever ever drink. I first tried this years ago when there was an american shop in our city centre, it then closed and it was only available online, it then disappeared from there too so I didn't think I'd have it again unless we ever went to America one day (dramatic I know but it's amazing!) until last month! I found it again and I had to order myself some. It's strawberry flavoured pop and it might not sound special but it's just the best drink ever. I already wish I had more, nothing else will ever beat it for me.

Slow cooker pulled beef - Another slow cooker meal because it means I can just leave it in the kitchen all day and I don't have to be stood cooking in this heat. I'd only made this once before so it was kind of just guessing work this time but it turned out so well. The flavour from the beef cooking all day was beautiful, and it just broke apart by the end, it's such an easy meal. Leftovers for days too!

Chicken and potato hash - This definitely isn't the prettiest looking meal but it tasted good and that's all that matters. I've been a bit low on inspiration when it comes to cooking recently but after a a flick through Instagram I found a few new Slimming World meals and this was one of them, basically a spicy mix of potatoes, chicken and peppers. It's incredibly simple, just peel 2 baking potatoes, chop into cubes, par boil for 10 mins then put into a dish with chilli powder, garlic, salt and pepper. Pop in the oven for around 45 minutes. Whilst these are in the oven you also want to cook 2 chicken breasts, these took around the same amount of time as the potatoes and when cooked I just shredded them. Once both of these are cooked, set aside and in a frying pan soften a few handfuls of frozen peppers, add in a good glug of relish, a squeeze of tomato puree and seasoning, I used chilli powder, chipotle chilli flakes and garlic salt. When the peppers are soft, add in the potatoes and shredded chicken, give it all a good mix and tip into a dish, top with cheese and bake in the oven for 5 mins. It might sound like there's a lot too it but there really isn't, and it was just so delicious. Incredibly filling and so comforting.

Did you see my last recipe post? The perfect roast dinner with Essential Cuisine

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Advantages of Installing Artificial Grass

Artificial grass is definitely trending. In the past, artificial grass was generally restricted to recreation centers and sports areas but in the last couple of years, it has been revolutionary for home and property owners.
Advantages of Installing Artificial Grass
Older people, busy families or simply those looking to save money in lawn maintenance have turned to artificial grass for it's practicality and low maintenance. Placing artificial grass around the areas of the pool means no muddy areas where dirt and dust can be carried into the pool by dirty feet. Consider it an outdoor carpet that needs little maintenance so you can spend more time with your family instead of taking care of the lawn.

In recent years, the UK have seen an increase in limitations on water usage in the form of hose pip bans. This is bad news for natural grass owners since natural grass needs to be watered regularly even more so during dry seasons. This isn't your problem though when you have an artificial lawn. In other words, installing artificial grass can survive any harsh seasons while substantially decreasing your water usage per household. It also stays green and beautiful to look at whatever the weather situation.
Advantages of Installing Artificial Grass
Artificial grass is a remarkable surface fit for dog runs and playgrounds for small children as it has a very soft texture that doesn't harsh the delicate skin of your kids or your pets. It is also extraordinary for high foot traffic areas since it never wears out and only requires occasional cleaning. You will no longer need chemically formulated fertilizers and you'll reduce your carbon footprint by not using one of those lawn trimmers and mowers. With the latest generations of artificial grass, it can trick anyone into thinking it's a real one.

In conclusion, artificial grass lawns are becoming popular for many reasons. Whether you are living in an area where water is scarce or pricey, you can definitely slow down your water bills once you have installed artificial grass. You will keep yourself and your family away from harmful chemicals used in maintaining a natural lawn. Most of all, you will have extra time to bond with your loved ones in your beautiful (artificial) lawn without worries.

*This post is in collaboration with Flooring Superstore

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