Balance Transfer Your Life with MoneySupermarket

My family is probably fairly typical, we’re always busy-busy, always on the go, juggling work and family responsibilities. Don’t get me wrong, we have a lot of fun, but sometimes some mundane tasks get forgotten about, or put on the back burner until someone can be bothered to sort it. I often fantasise about having my own PA to deal with all the really boring stuff like bills and paperwork, giving us more time to make cakes and go for walks by the river and so forth.

Somewhere a fairy was listening and waved her magic wand, MoneySupermarket got in touch to tell me about their “Balance Transfer Your Life” scheme (or #BTYL if you’re on Twitter). Balance Transfer Your Life is a really, really cute competition, you just tweet them your neglected job, for example, painting the bathroom, new clutch for the car or maybe a trip to see Granny in Wales, whatever you’ve been meaning to do but couldn’t either find the time, motivation or money to do, tweet them and they’ll pick ten of the best and make those dreams come true.

For our part, we chose to treat our son on his birthday. The big day was fast approaching but we’d not managed to arrange anything special, nor did we have many spare pennies to splash out on the kind of treat he deserved. Very kindly, the MoneySupermarket fairy arranged for us to go out for a fabulous meal on his birthday, complete with a brilliant cake, balloons, singing and ice cream.

We had a slap up meal in Zizzi in Didsbury, Manchester. The staff couldn’t have been more welcoming and lovely with us. Our meal was delicious, my Ravioli Di Capra was among the best I’ve had and Hubs had a Calzone which he happily polished off and said he’d definitely have again (praise indeed from my man of few words).

The small boy had a build your own pizza which looked really tasty, we’re fans of a thin base with extra cheese and he got exactly that. Then they brought out the huge chocolate lion birthday cake, the small boy loved the fuss and the cake (who doesn’t like chocolate cake?). We  had a thoroughly memorable family meal and a proper birthday treat.

balance transfer your life

Moneysupermarket started the ‘Balance Transfer Your Life’ competition because they knew that some people end up paying high interest rates on their credit card debts. Although there are offers available which let you transfer your outstanding balance to a zero per cent balance transfer card, leaving you interest free on your debt until the deal expires, it’s something which is easy to put off. Despite being a big money saver, the process of sorting it is one of those little tasks that people put on the back burner.

Things like finding a credit card with a free balance transfer, there are loads of these little niggling tasks that we just keep putting off, which is why MoneySupermarket is getting involved and offering you the chance to ‘balance transfer your life’ – no matter what the little chore is.

You can find out more about this great (and really easy) competition from MoneySupermarket on their website.

balance transfer your life

Decking the halls with The Christmas Boutique

One of my favourite Christmas traditions is putting some carols on, mulling some wine and decorating the house for Christmas with my family. It’s one of my favourite Sunday afternoons in December and really gets us all in the mood for Christmas. This year, thanks to Christmas Boutique we can add to our collection of treasures to trim the tree with.

Like most families we have favourite things to put on the tree; we favour a traditional theme, reds, greens and golds, with white lights strung around the house. I love Nordic style decorations and have picked up a few, small but very treasured pieces on our pre-baby travels. I was thrilled a couple of years ago when they suddenly became fashionable and I could find the things I loved virtually everywhere. So sticking to that theme I chose some new treasures.

Christmas Boutique

The small boy is obsessed with penguins (who isn’t this year), so I chose a pair of cute felt penguins (£9.99) for the mantlepiece, you can hang them from tree, but we’ll put them  with other penguins and polar bears in our collection. The cute hanging Mr and Mrs Gingerbread (£4.99) fit right in with our scheme and I’m a little bit in love with the two fluffy moose in bobble hats (£8.99), which I’ll hang on the tree.

Christmas Boutique

I loved the look of these Christmas Sacks (£8.99 each) you can choose between a Father Christmas face or the Christmas Tree (above), they are nicely made with good stitching and they seem strong and durable. We’ll lend this to Father Christmas to fill with presents and leave under our tree.

My favourite thing was the Nativity set (£34.99). This set contains the baby Jesus, three Kings, Mary, Joseph, a stable & two animals. It’s made out of resin and the figures are nicely detailed and solid enough not to break easily if they’re picked up by little toddler hands. It arrived well packaged too, so after Christmas you just put the pieces back in their protective box which will keep them safe for next year.

The Christmas Boutique website has lots of interesting Christmas accessories and decorations to suit different tastes, the decorations I received were well made and of good quality and I would recommend checking them out, especially if you’re looking for something a little bit different, a little bit modern and a little bit stylish.

Note: The Christmas Boutique sent me a selection of products for review purposes. All images and opinions are my own.

The Truth about Pasta with Pesto

1. Pesto is more expensive than gold. Even “value” pesto is equal in price to solid silver. Probably.
2. If you’re under the age of ten, pasta with pesto has the same addictive qualities as crack cocaine.
3. Pasta with pesto is equally delicious served hot or cold. Other serving suggestions include fresh from the kitchen floor and from down the side of the sofa cushion with extra fluff, all equally delicious.
4. Pasta with pesto makes an ideal breakfast, dinner, tea, supper or midnight snack.
5. It is physically impossible to eat too much pasta with pesto. I know, I’ve seen it happen.
6. Pasta with pesto is the secret to world peace. Maybe. If it can keep a four year old happy and in quite a pleasant mood, just imagine its impact on the Middle East.
7. You can spend the day lovingly creating the most nutritionally balanced, organic, free range, delicious meal in the world. But pasta with pesto will always be better.
8. Pasta with pesto does not count towards your five a day. Dammit. Why is that? It’s green, it totally should!

This post is NOT sponsored by the pesto marketing board.

Pasta with pesto

In the Frame Again – funky photo frames

I love Instagram. I can’t leave the house without my camera phone. I can’t go out for a meal without taking a picture of it. Every move my son has made from the moment he was born has been papped, snapped, uploaded and viewed a hundred times online. The problem with this is there are no photo albums to flick through of an evening, scroll through yes, but it’s not quite the same.

Over the summer I took a picture of my son that I loved so much I immediately made it my lock screen on my iPad (that’s the modern day family photo on your office desk that is). I adore the photo and gaze at it for a few minutes each day. I figured it was high time I got it framed and up on the wall for everyone else to gaze at too. That’s where Frame Again came in.

You might have heard of Frame Again, they were on Dragons Den earlier this year, got an offer from Peter Jones, turned him down and then crowd-sourced the funding they needed to develop their business, anyway, I digress. Frame Again is a really cute, innovative photo frame product. You can link to your Instagram page, or upload pictures directly from your mobile phone onto their website. If you’ve got a picture in mind for framing it literally takes only a couple of minutes to order your framed photo.

I was incredibly impressed with their really simple to use website. I just uploaded the image I wanted from Instagram and then chose my frame to go with it. Because the picture has a black background I went for a black and pink frame. The frames have magnets in them so you can build your collection and they will stick together, perhaps on a windowsill or mantelpiece. They have a small hole in the back if you want to hang them on the wall too.

Now, below is a picture of our photo in its frame, they are terrible pictures of a great product, I hold my hands up and hang my head in shame. It was the hardest thing to take a decent picture of.

Frame Again

The frames are 7×7 inches and are made of plastic, they are currently sold for £9.99 per frame which includes the printing and framing of your photo. There are a large number of colour combinations to choose from to compliemt and enhance your image. I also understand that they do international delivery, making them great presents to send to friends and family abroad.

My frame arrived in super-quick time and was stylishly packaged, so it felt like I was opening a little treat. I was really impressed with the quality of the photograph and the frame itself. I immediately stood it on the windowsill in my bedroom, where it stayed for a few days until I hung it from a spare nail in our dining room; it will probably move again, it’s such a lovely object to have, I’m thinking of getting a few more framed up to go with it for my bedroom.

It’s a funky looking frame and I think the price is spot on, I’m really impressed by it and a little bit in love with it too, I can see why the Dragons were so keen on it. If it’s good enough for Peter Jones, then it’s good enough for me.

Note: Frame Again sent me this frame free of charge for review purposes. All images (yes, sorry about that again) and opinions are my own.

WIN a Hive Giant Floor Puzzle from Ravensburger

Little hands love a jigsaw puzzle and what else could be top of a puzzle-mad tots Christmas list than this really lovely jigsaw from the popular TV series. I have one The Hive Giant Floor Puzzle from Ravensburger to giveaway to one lucky giveaway winner.

This giant floor puzzle from Ravensburger features your favourite characters from The Hive, including Buzzbee, Rubee, Barnabee, Jasper, Miss Ladybird, Debee and Sidney Spider, Snail and Worm. This busy (buzzy) and hugely colourful puzzle is cut to 24 large sturdy pieces, and measures 69 x 49cm when complete. This giant jigsaw is priced at £8.99 and would make a wonderful gift for any fans of The Hive.

To enter this great competition to win The Hive Giant Floor Puzzle just complete the Rafflecopter widget below, good luck…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Hive Giant Floor Puzzle

Terms & Conditions:

  1. This competition is open to residents of the UK only.
  2. There is no cash alternative offered.
  3. To enter, please use the rafflecopter widget above.
  4. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualifying entries. The winner will receive The Hive Giant Floor Puzzle from Ravensburger, RRP £8.99.
  5. The competition will close on 3rd December 2014.
  6. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this competition.

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/hive-giant-floor-puzzle#sthash.5ctwOY1Q.dpuf

WIN an In The Night Garden Snowy Day book

Christmas is coming and Father Christmas is very busy filling his sleigh with toys and games for little girls and boys. To help Father Christmas out a little bit, I’ve agreed to give away a copy of the book – In the Night Garden: Snowy Day to two lucky children.

The In the Night Garden: Snowy Day book will allow you to experience In the Night Garden in a whole new wintery, wonderful way. Read this enchanting story and discover who has been leaving funny footprints in the fluffy white snow. This book retails at £4.99 and would make a lovely gift for any In The Night Garden fan.

To enter this great competition just complete the Rafflecopter widget below, good luck…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In The Night Garden Snowy Day

Terms & Conditions:

  1. This competition is open to residents of the UK only.
  2. There is no cash alternative offered.
  3. To enter, please use the rafflecopter widget above.
  4. The two winners will be drawn at random from all qualifying entries. The winner will receive a copy of In The Night Garden Snowy Day RRP £4.99.
  5. The competition will close on 3rd December 2014.
  6. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this competition.

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/night-garden-snowy-day-book#sthash.hNEq0LZ6.dpuf

Christmas Lights from LED Hut – Review

December is a dark, dark month, but it would be so much darker without our homes being festooned in Christmas lights. We’re not the kind of people to be putting the tree up and switching on the fairy lights on the first day of December, we tend to save that for the weekend before Christmas, but there’s something very cheering about having Christmas lights up, so we often put up a few lights at the start of advent to start getting us in the Christmas spirit.

I love simple white lights, they go with any scheme and I just find their brightness against the dark outside visually appealing. I ordered some LED Indoor Christmas Curtain Star Lights from LED Hut this year, as I wanted something new to light up our window. These curtain star lights have 64 stars on eight lines which hang from one top strand.

They are quite lovely when they’re lit up and I like the way the light reflects on the window. I think these will be a lovely cheery sight to walk past come December. I love having lights, but I confess I am a bit of a Christmas light snob, there are no neon flashing lights you can see from space on my house, bah humbug etc.

LED Hut

These lights look to be good quality and are easily put up (we have some hooks in our window for Christmas lights, so they just needed hooking over) and easy to switch on. We tend to put Christmas lights on timers which saves us having to think about it, plus it makes it extra nice to come home when its dark and see the lights on.

These lights would look lovely running down a banister, with each stand wrapped around a different spindle, but I think these are destined for our front window, simple, elegant, classy and festive, I love them. LED Hut have  a huge selection of Christmas lights to choose from, both indoor and outdoor, in lots of different styles and designs.

These curtain lights come from LED Hut and they offer a 2 year warranty on these particular lights and a 30 day no hassle returns policy. They cost £23.99 which I think is a good price for the number of bulbs, the amount of space they cover and the quality of the product. I can’t wait to put them up this Christmas.

Note: LED Hut kindly sent me these lights for review purposes, all images and opinions are my own.

WIN £30 to spend at The Toy Scavenger

Growing up in the 1980s I was surrounded by what are now considered iconic toys and collectables. You’d find Thundercats, Transformers, Star Wars figures in our toy box, as well as Superheroes like Superman and Spiderman. My brother and I got hour after hour of pleasure playing with these collectables and for that they were priceless. These days I look back and wonder what the value of our childhood toy collection would be today, probably massive.

It’s no surprise that our childhood toys are now collectors items and highly sought after. I’ve got a few things of retro interest tucked away to give my son when he’s older and when can appreciate them as the incredibly cool things they are.

I have a lovely friend at a brilliant company called Toy Scavenger, they have over 25 years experience of collecting and stock a large selection of vintage, retro and new collectable action figures, vehicles, play sets, and bases as well as a huge selection of comic books.

Their stock includes classics like Aliens, Batman The Movie, Batman Forever, Batman Returns, Batman & Robin, Batman Classics, Batman the animated Series, Dc Comics Superheroes, Demolition Man, GI Joe, Action Force, The Real Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park: The Lost World, Last Action Hero, Lego Pirates, Lego Star wars, Lord of The Rings, The Hobbit, Lego City, M.A.S.K Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, Marvel Universe, Marvel Legends, Marvel Superheroes, Masters of The Universe Heman, MOTU, Robocop, Robocop and The Ultra Police, The Amazing Spiderman, Spiderman, Star wars, Vintage Starwars, Starcom, Bravestarr, Superman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant hero Turtles, TMNT, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 2, Terminator 2: Future Wars, Terminator 2: 3D, Thundercats, Transformer Prime, Transformers Gen 1, WWF Hasbro, X-Men The Series, X-Men Classics, X-Men Future Wars, Visionaries and many more.

Toy Scavenger have very kindly given my blog readers 15% off all purchases until 31st January 2015, if you are a keen collector, or you’re buying a Christmas present for someone who is, just enter the following discount code at the checkout HODGEPD15

Additionally you can enter my competition to win £30 to spend at Toy Scavenger by completing the Rafflecopter widget below…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:

  1. This competition is open to residents of the UK only.
  2. There is no cash alternative offered.
  3. To enter, please use the rafflecopter widget above.
  4. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualifying entries. The winner will receive a £30 code to spend at Toy Scavenger.
  5. The competition will close at midnight on 4th December 2014.
  6. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this competition.

Toy Scavenger

 

Magical Meditation for Kids – making bedtimes better

When I was pregnant I attended a pregnancy yoga class, it was a wonderfully relaxing highlight of my week, mainly due to the ten minute guided relaxation at the end of the session. Over the years hubs and I have returned time and time again to the pregnancy yoga CD which I bought from my teacher, we listen to it at times of stress and it always lulls us into a state of deep relaxation and often blissful and much needed sleep.

The small boy has always been a pretty good sleeper, but since starting school nursery in September by bedtime he’s often overstimulated, bouncing about all over the place, quick to temper and squealing like a Banshee. It’s pretty wearing to be with him when he’s like that, I often feel that way myself, but as an adult I’m able to express and deal with those thoughts, feelings and emotions.

I popped into Healthy Spirit in Didsbury a few weeks back to pick up a few things, when I noticed the Magical Meditations for Kids selection of CDs. I thought they looked pretty interesting. They start at £11.99 and go up to £14.99. Healthy Spirit have a range of different CDs to choose from depending on your child’s interest, I went for Magical Adventures which I thought would interest my little boy.

meditation for kids

The Magical Adventures Meditation for kids CD is by Heather Bestel. It contains four short mediations which are designed to help children find their inner calm as well as helping to build their confidence, self esteem and inspire their creative spirits. The meditation for kids CD is aimed at children aged 4-7 years and can be used in class as well as at home. We chose to listen to it calmly during our bath/bed routine.

The Magical Adventures CD contains four relaxations, you don’t have to listen to them all in one go, but we decided to listen to the CD in its entirety for a few nights to see which ones he was most drawn to. The CD is 34.54 minutes long and contains –
1. Magical Undersea Adventure (9.11)
2. Magical Space Adventure (7.39)
3. The Magic Circus (6.48)
4. Magic Carpet Ride (11.16)

We started off listening to the CD in the bath, but he soon wanted to get out and lie down with us on the bed and have a cuddle. He was markedly more relaxed than usual and lay with us for a while, occasionally chatting about the undersea adventure and the jellyfish, or the spaceship in the space adventure. Not only was he so much more relaxed than usual, we were too, both of us managed to nod off for a short period.

This CD is definitely going to form part of our bedtime routine from now on, especially after a hectic day at school when he needs to really start winding down for bed. After a busy day of work and parenting we can get a bit frazzled at bedtime too, so a little bit of calm won’t do us any harm either.

There are quite a few other CDs in this range and I think they’d make for interesting stocking fillers and Christmas presents. I would recommend a meditation for kids CD, especially if bedtimes can be a bit fraught and your child is overstimulated by school or whatever. I think back to how renewed and centred I felt after my yoga relaxations and I can only hope my son will feel some of that deep peace and sense of calm.

My Sunday Photo 16/11/14

Silent sunday