Five Affordable Things to do with Friends

It’s great to have good friends, especially those who won’t mind that you haven’t dusted or done the dishes. Sometimes it’s fine just to sit back with a few mates and catch up on Netflix. Other times it can feel as though you’re in a bit of a rut, and it’s time to get out and do something fun. We have put together a few affordable ideas for spending time with friends.

Visit a Museum or Art Gallery

Museums and art galleries are a continual source of information, creativity and inspiration. We often remember the ones we were made to visit as children where we had to be quiet and couldn’t touch. That’s all changed now, and exhibitions often include a variety of media and are interactive and fun. What’s more many of them have a free admissions policy. Check out the local exhibition in your area. Make a morning or afternoon of it and follow it up with a cup of tea or coffee and cake.

Plan a Party

Get all of your good friends together and plan a party. This needn’t be expensive, and you can pool your finances and work with a budget. Agree on who will be hosting the party and share the preparations. This could be a simple, impromptu affair where everyone brings a dish and some booze. Or, you could go all out and create a theme with fancy dress costumes. Choose something fun like Disney Princesses. Or if you share a similar hobby such as manga and anime, make this the theme and  invite your friends to wear Sailor Moon cosplay costumes. Alternatively, stipulate that guests can wear anything at all as long as they made it themselves.

Go the Cinema

There’s usually something to see at the local multiplex but try looking a little further afield. There are some wonderful independent cinemas that offer a variety of films and events. Many of these venues offer themed nights, old movies and stream coverage of live events from around the world. To compete with their larger counterparts they often offer discounts and incentives.

Prepare a Meal

Rather than eating takeaways in front of the TV, take it in turns to prepare a meal. Each week one person invites the others round to their home for a meal they have prepared themselves. You could make it fun by creating themes or cooking meals from around the world.

Boozy Night Out

A night in town is always fun with your friends. However, it can be expensive with drinks, food and taxis. You can cut down on costs by keeping an eye out for promotions and discounts. Instead of booking taxis take it in turns to be the designated driver.

Local Events

Keep your eye on events taking place in your local area. Local council websites can be a good source of information. Countless events take place each year from speciality markets to performances and installations. Many are free of charge and or have low admissions. From time to time it’s fine to get cosy and enjoy a girls’ night in. Just remember to break it up with other events and activities. 

Planning ahead can help with budgeting and some events offer group booking discounts. Then again, there are no rules with friends. And there’s nothing better than a last-minute, unplanned night out.

Home Decor Inspiration || Gender Neutral Kids Prints

When I was pregnant with each of my son I wanted everything to be perfect. Naturally we had considered what we would name them, we had considered what clothing they would wear and which pushchair to purchase and even how the nursery should be decorated. The hardest part of it [other than being pregnant of course] was finding the perfect name as everyone seemed to have some sort of issue with our chosen names or some idea on what we should be naming our babies. The second hardest part was deciding on how the nursery should be decorated. Again we were bewildered with decor choices because everyone was opting for the overly princess pink styles for girls, really masculine designs for boys or very babyish styles. We knew we wanted neither of these options as we wanted something that didn't put our baby in a gender box. As parents even now we are very aware of being neutral in our discussions on life, love and everything in between as we want their young minds to form their own opinions and to take comfort and be confident in those choices.

See the predicament?

We wanted a room design that had personality but we also wanted it to inspire and grow with them as they got older. Back in 2006 to 2009 the choices for nursery's wasn't so vast or interesting and we did feel that we were having to chose something just for the 'sake' of it rather than the products making us excited. We also didn't want to waste money because children are expensive as it is. Fast forward to 2016 where we now have three sons all with very different style preferences. The world of room design and home decor have changed dramatically for the better. Parents are now choosing all sorts of styles for nurseries and bedrooms and as parents we love that retailers are embracing the unusual rather than the working with stigmas.

Late last year we moved into a larger house so once again we have been working with blank canvases for their rooms. While we have ideas on what we as parents want to see in the boys rooms, their at the age now where their own personalities, interests and tastes have formed. The surprising thing is they don't want to go with what would be seen as typical 'boy' choices or outwardly male designs. This alone and their take on the whole gender-neutral living inspired me completely to write this post as we search for finishing touches for their bedrooms - more so art prints to hang up to bring in some personality.

One of my sons wants his room purple and yellow. Most parents would try to deter their son away from lilacs and purples but I know he absolutely adores purples, pinks, reds and yellows. He also loves cars, cute soft toys and animals. He wanted something that mixed his favourite colours with his interests and I think we finally found the perfect prints with these vintage car prints.

We found these ones from King & McGaw which combines the feminine pastel tones that would match the lilac and purples, the neutral bold tones such as the yellow, reds and blues and the masculine vintage diecast cars...

My other son loves colour - lots and lots of colour. His personality is very bold, confident and magnetic so the choice of rainbow tones didn't surprise me at all. He's definitely a visual little boy and very artist so photographic prints like the ones above were never going to cut it. Colours also have the ability to heal, soothe and inspire so work exceptionally well for younger children's spaces. 

Taking a look these are the three that he picked. He loved the dog (he says it's a dog, I say I have no idea what it is), the rainbow spiral he said looks like an eye or a wheel (that alone great that he's looking into the images to see something else) and the Very Hungry Caterpillar is so vibrant - while it's a famous book design it's never going to go out of style.  

And finally my third son he loves comics, vintage superheroes. Especially Marvel and DC comics. This was a no brainer really because my husband and I also adore comic book heroes. 

There were loads of vintage style prints to chose from, some where standard prints that we've seen before and some were slightly different. Little man especially loved the more unusual styles and he wanted to pick both female and male heroes but chose based on whether they were good or bad heroes. The final choices resulted in Wonder Woman (because he says this is who I am), Thor because he is always good and funny and Captain America because he doesn't cause trouble like Iron Man does (his words now mine). I wholeheartedly believe that both little boys and girls can be inspired by Marvel and DC because it teaches them the attributes that make someone good even when things are a bit up in the air. 

The good thing with these vintage hero prints are that they never go out of style, they're suitable for all ages including babies and adults too. 

From a financial viewpoint these prints suit all ages, they're the type of styles that can be moved throughout a home when the children want a bit of a change. Actually searching for home decor touches with my sons has also been enlightening as it's these final touches that show personality. 

I don't believe that boys shouldn't have pastels, girl superheroes or pretty colours, fluffy cushions, candles and heart shaped cut out furniture. Likewise I don't believe that girls shouldn't have male superheroes, khaki tones and Lego brick furniture in their rooms - the key to it all is balance. Prints are a great way to achieve this. 

 photo NEW.png
* Collaboration *

Starting a Family || Here's How To Plan For A Baby

Lots of us have chosen to hold off starting a family. There are many reasons for this choice. You may not have thought you were emotionally ready to raise a child. Perhaps you were waiting for a relationship to evolve. Careers often get in the way of starting a family too. But if you feel now could be the right time, there are still plenty of things to plan and prepare.

It’s not just the girls that should prepare for pregnancy. The guys can do a lot to enhance their chances of conception. Our partners can also work on improving the quality of their sperm. Despite what you hear when you’re a teenager, it’s not always that easy to fall pregnant. And if you’re trying later in life, it can be very difficult indeed. Both of you should eat and drink as healthily as possible. And you should both be exercising regularly. Excess weight can reduce your chances of conception, so try to ensure you are both within the normal ranges. Sharing a diet and exercise plan can also be a good way to bond. Quality time together now is important, as you may not have much once your baby is born!

Having sex when you ovulate is the best time to become pregnant. This usually occurs around two weeks into your cycle. You can use a testing kit to check. Some people think that abstaining for two to three days before can ensure the best sperm count for the job however have sex a day or two before you ovulate is still viable as it takes a while for things to get going let's just say. Of course, many men can suffer from impotence,especially when there is pressure to perform. If your partner has any of the common symptoms of erectile dysfunction, then his doctor will be able to offer help.

It can be an anxious time waiting those three or four weeks for an answer. But if you don’t have a positive pregnancy test, don’t fret. It can take months for conception. Just try again next time you’re ovulating. Remember, we don’t necessarily ovulate every month. And you’re both free to enjoy practising the baby making process as often as you like!

Once the pregnancy is confirmed, life will never be the same again. Your diet needs to be healthy throughout and there should be no alcohol consumption. Smoking is a big no too! Exercise can continue, but stick to gentler ways of keeping fit. Yoga for pregnancy and plenty of walks are ideal. A little weight gain is expected, but this can be managed with portion control and an active lifestyle. 

Managing your finances is important now you’re pregnant. A newborn won’t cost you a thing in food, but nappies are so expensive! Clothing can be pricey, but you’ll probably find there will be plenty of things gifted to you. Your household bills will increase as you will be home more often. And childcare will cost a lot. But you’ll have a family, and life with your little one will be incredible.