Valentines Day: What Do Women Really Want?

Do you celebrate Valentines Day? And if so, how? Of course everyone is different, and no doubt there is no exception when it comes to this special occasion, but Rattan Direct are seeking to discover more about Valentines Day preferences and habits by carrying out a survey. 

(Click here to take the survey)

Valentines Day, Rattan Direct, survey, special occasion, what women want, Living Life Our Way
Stock image

The survey asks questions such as how and where you would choose to spend Valentines Day, how much your budget usually is, who you think should organise and pay for the date, and what your thoughts are on this special occasion. Do you think it is all a making money con, or do you throw your heart and soul into it? Would you rather go out to the cinema, have a nice meal, head to a bar for a few drinks, snuggle on the sofa for a cosy night in, or spend the evening having some time to yourself? Do you think under £100 is ample enough budget or do you splash the cash to the extreme and budget £500 plus for it?!

Personally, I think the budget range should have started much lower; the first option was 0-£100, which I honestly think is a massive range and imagine most people I know would fall somewhere in this category probably! If I were celebrating, I would say a budget (well) under £50 would be enough.

Valentines Day, Rattan Direct, survey, special occasions, Living Life Our Way
Stock image

I personally think both people in a couple should treat each other equally, so if one person organises and pays then that shouldn’t always be the same person! Or plan the ideal night together and split the cost. For me, equality all the way…

As for what I would choose to do, all of the options sounded nice to be honest! I think it’s more about spending time together than about what you do specifically. 

And what do I think of Valentines Day generally? Well, I think it’s nice for couples to spend time together obviously! But I also think that should be something that occurs regularly, not just a big gesture on one day of the year. I admit that I do think Valentines Day is over commercialised, but then again, it is what you choose to make it!

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written in collaboration with Rattan Direct.*

Bakerdays Letterbox Cake: Review and Competition

When bakerdays tweeted me asking if I would like to review their letterbox gift cake I was quite excited! Admittedly, I am not a particularly big fan of cake generally (I know, I know… it’s weird) but I was really intrigued by the concept of a cake that can literally be delivered straight through the letterbox. Would that really work?! I had to find out. And I knew that Squiggle would jump at the chance to share some cake with me too!

bakerdays, letterbox cake, Valentines Day, special occasion, gift, dairy-free cake, gluten-free cake, review

The website is very user-friendly and there is a massive selection of designs to choose from for all different occasions, including options to personalise with text or an image. I spent ages trying to pick my favourite design because there are so many great choices! 

bakerdays, letterbox cake, Valentines Day, special occasion, gift, dairy-free cake, gluten-free cake, review

I finally settled on this design with my own personal message that I knew would make Squiggle giggle…

bakerdays, letterbox cake, Valentines Day, special occasion, gift, dairy-free cake, gluten-free cake, review

There were a selection of sponges to choose from too. I really like the fact that all of the designs in their entire range can be ordered as a gluten-free or dairy-free option, rather than there being a restricted selection of choices, as is often the case. It is worth noting that the dairy-free option is not vegan, as it does contain eggs. 

bakerdays, letterbox cake, Valentines Day, special occasion, gift, dairy-free cake, gluten-free cake, review

Whilst we avoid gluten as much as we can, medically we do not need to be strict about it, so I decided on the dairy-free option instead. We do generally try to eat as closely to vegan as we can manage anyway but, apart from anything else, I was keen to test how the dairy-free version tasted! 

The cake didn’t take long to arrive and, as promised, it plopped through my letterbox without fuss. The box landed face down and I must say I felt a slight wave of anticipation, as well as excitement, as I picked it up to check the contents! 

bakerdays, letterbox cake, Valentines Day, special occasion, gift, review

I need not have worried; the cake comes very well packaged, secured in a cake tin, inside the cardboard box. It also has plastic packaging to keep it fresh and well protected within the tin itself. It even has thoughtful instructions on how to remove it carefully without damage!

bakerdays, letterbox cake, Valentines Day, special occasion, gift, dairy-free cake, gluten-free cake, review

The cake itself was delicious! The sponge was light and fluffy, with a lovely buttery filling (which incidently is on the bottom of the cake as opposed to in the middle, due to the letterbox design!) and the icing was soft and tasty. Squiggle was very impressed too; she declared “thank you for sending the cake, I love it!” 

We demolished it pretty quickly, but the 5″ letterbox size is easily big enough for 3 or 4 generous portions, as it suggests. We really enjoyed it.

bakerdays, letterbox cake, Valentines Day, special occasions, gift, review, dairy free cake, gluten free cake

I like the novelty factor of getting a cake delivered directly through the letterbox, it was nicely presented and it was yummy too! So I think a letterbox cake would make a great unique gift for Valentines Day, or any other occasion.

bakerdays, letterbox cake, Valentines Day, special occasion, gift, dairy-free cake, gluten-free cake, review

For more information about bakerdays…

Websitewww.bakerdays.com

Facebookfacebook.com/bakerdays

Twitter: @bakerdays

Last but not least; to be in with a chance to win a 5″ letterbox gift cake in your choice of design, enter my giveaway via the rafflecopter app below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ends at midnight on 8th February 2017. Open to UK residents only. Prize will be sent out by 1st class Royal Mail. Other T&Cs apply. (See rafflecopter for details).


*Disclosure: bakerdays sent me a free letterbox cake for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Home Security Tips For Peace of Mind

It’s that time of year when people are thinking about booking a holiday, and starting to plan ahead for their next trip. As stated on Police.uk homes with no security measures in place are five times more likely to be burgled than those with simple security measures. Therefore if you spend alot of time on days out or travelling, or if you are simply planning  your next holiday, it is important to think about home security. There are many ways to leave your home more secure when unattended. Here are some top tips for home security to leave you feeling reassured while away from home… 

home security, travel, days out, holidays, living life our way
Stock Image

Simple Measures

  • Make sure all doors and windows are locked, including gates.
  • Leave keys and valuables out of sight.
  • Be part of a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme or informally agree with neighbours to look out for each others’ properties.
  • Have a visible security system in place, such as this Panasonic outdoor camera.
home security, travel, days out, holidays, home, living life our way
Stock Image

Night Security

  • Arrange for curtains to be drawn at night then opened in the morning.
  • Make sure you have good outdoor lighting. Outdoor solar lights are relatively cheap and eco friendly.
  • Put indoor lights on a timer or use an app to control them.
home security, travel, holidays, planning trips, home, living life our way
Stock Image

Holidays/ Travelling

  • Arrange for Royal Mail to hold your post using their keepsafe service. (Or ask a trusted friend/ neighbour to keep it safe for you).
  • Have a neighbour park their vehicle in your driveway.
  • Avoid using pet sitting companies that advertise their services on their vehicle – this also alerts potential thieves that you are away!
  • Avoid talking about specific details of your travel plans publicly or posting about it on social media.
  • Remember all of the simple security measures and night security tips above also apply here too. 

    Happy travels everyone! Do you have any top tips to share?

    This is a sponsored post. It also contains an affiliate link. 

    The Bedtime Tag

    What are your worst sleep habits? Do you have a bedtime routine? I have been tagged by the fabulous Lynette at Reclusive Fox to share my bedtime secrets with you all! Here goes…

    Describe your usual bedtime routine.

    I don’t really have one personally. My daughter has created her herself one that includes me, but I don’t have my own.

    What are your favourite pyjamas?

    I don’t wear pyjamas per se, I usually sleep in vest tops (or a long sleeve tshirt if it is cold) and leggings.

    What is your current bedtime reading?

    Erm, twitter and facebook? LOL 😉

    What would I find on your bedside table?

    Nothing, I don’t have one.

    What scent makes you sleepy?

    Fresh bed linen!

    What is your usual bedtime and wakeup time?

    It varies because of my daughter’s additional needs. But generally speaking, I tend to be a night owl. I am NOT a morning person.

    What are your top three bedtime products?

    Erm… my bed, my pillow and a duvet sound like good answers to me lol!

    What is your most common sleeping position?

    On my side.

    Do you have anything you like to take to bed with you?

    My phone. I know, I know….

    What is your worst bedtime habit?

    See above. I have a bad habit of looking at my phone in bed! 


    The Bedtime Tag, #thebedtimetag, sleep, blogger, about me, living life our way

    I now tag the following lovely bloggers to take part:

    Coco Butter Blog

    Hello Wanderer 

    Johanna Montana

    Becster

    The Amphletts

    Beauty And The Bird

    The Bedtime Tag Questions

    Describe your usual bedtime routine.

    What are your favourite pyjamas?

    What is your current bedtime reading?

    What would I find on your bedside table?

    What scent makes you sleepy?

    What is your usual bedtime and wakeup time?

    What are your top three bedtime products?

    What is your most common sleeping position?

    Do you have anything you like to take to bed with you?

    What is your worst bedtime habit?


    The Bedroom Tag Rules

    • Thank the person who nominated you, and link back to their blog.
    • Display the Bedtime badge; which you can find at the top of this post. (save the picture)
    • Answer the ten questions included above.
    • Nominate between three and five fellow bloggers to take part, and set them the questions.

    Bidvine: Connecting Customers With Service Providers Needed

    Bidvine is a tech start-up based in London that connects customers to the local service providers they require. Like most people, I don’t have spare time to spend looking up services and getting quotes when I need something done. This website takes the hassle out of it and is a real time saver!

    Bidvine, tech start-up, local service providers, mobile app, making life easy, general life, living life our way, review

    It is really quick and easy to use; you simply type in your postcode and the specifications of the service you require, submit your request, then wait for the bids to come in. It is simple to do this via the website on desktop, tablet or mobile, or you can download the app if you have an IOS.

    Bidvine, tech start-up, local service providers, customer journey, making life easy, general life, living life our way, review

    I have been thinking about getting some professional headshots done, since I am determined to continue developing my blog further this year. However, it always ends up being put lower down my priority list, and therefore not getting arranged, because it takes time to organise and there is always so much else to do. But with Bidvine, I just pulled out my mobile, tapped in my postcode and selected that I need a photographer. It then asked me a series of questions in order to ensure that the service would meet my requirement; such as budget, travelling distance or whether I wanted them to come to me and a few other details. They were tick boxes and only took a few seconds to answer, it really was so straightforward.

    Bidvine, tech start-up, local service providers, finding a photographer, time saver, life hacks, living life our way, review
    An example of the specification questions.

    Once I had submitted my request, it was simply a case of waiting for photographers to email me with their details, while I continue with my busy daily life. Simple!

    Bidvine, tech start-up, finding a photographer, local service provider, time saver, life hack, living life our way, review, useful website, local services app, general life

    Generally, responses take anywhere from 4 hours to four days. However, I was surprised to find bids came in almost immediately, and I was contacted by five different photographers within a few hours. They all met my exact criteria and provided all the relevant information without the need for further correspondence. So it was then just a case of comparing them and choosing one. It made the entire process incredibly quick and stress-free. Great life hack! 

    Bidvine covers a range of services too. You can search for anything from cleaners to painters, and piano lessons to plumbers. I can see myself using this alot in future because it is so user-friendly and makes life so much easier!

    Find Bidvine here:

    Website: www.bidvine.com

    IOS app: itunes.apple.com

    Facebook: www.facebook.com/Bidvine

    Twitter handle: @bidvine

    Instagram: www.instagram.com/bidvine


    This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Bidvine. Thoughts and opinions are my own.


    Reasons Why I Am #RockingMotherhood

    Parenting is hard. And it is easy to focus on the mistakes we make, the things we haven’t done and the things we could do better. All too often we criticise ourselves, and give ourselves a hard time, rather than celebrating our own achievements as a parent, the things we did right and how much we actually rock! So I really appreciate both Mama Wilkos and The Baby Boat Diaries tagging me to write this post about the reasons why I am, in fact, rocking motherhood

    • I know my child. Ok, this sounds like I am stating the obvious, I’ll admit. But she is a very complex child with some major additional needs, and I really get her. It doesn’t always make it any easier to deal with of course, but at least I understand exactly where she is coming from!
    • I am her mum, teacher, friend and therapist. I am her rock. I am even her business partner! I do my best to be absolutely everything she needs me to be.
    • I have taught myself the extra skills that I need to support her as fully as I possibly can with her needs, including CBT. 
    • I have adapted our lifestyle and carved out our own path to better suit her unique needs, even though it isn’t always easy to go against the grain. 
    • I support her in finding and developing her true passions in life, and to follow her interests.
    • I give her the freedom to learn at her own pace, and allow her the time and space to enjoy a raw simple childhood.
    • I teach her to be comfortable and confident with herself and who she is. 
    • I make sure she is never afraid to fail or try out new ideas.
    • I help her to be a solution-focused, free thinker who throws away the box completely! 
    • I nurture her sense of wonder and exploration of our natural environment and the world around us, and teach her how to protect it. 

    RockingMotherhood

    I tag the following awesome mamas to take part in this challenge too!

    Friendly First Foods

    Me Becoming Mum

    Better Together Home

    Cups Of Charlotte 

    Mrs Mummy Harris 

    Rules

    • Thank the blogger(s) who tagged you and link to their blog.
    • List 10 things you believe make you a good mother (This is just a guideline, it can be more or less, I really don’t mind)
    • Tag 3 – 5 bloggers to join in the #RockingMotherhood Tag.
    • Grab the #RockingMotherhood badge and add it to your post or sidebar.

    If you would like to, you can also tweet your post to me at @followourpath and/or @whitecamellias (the lovely mum who started this challenge). We would love to read them and RT for you! 

    My Hopes and Wishes For 2017

    ​Moving on slightly from my new year resolution post, I was kindly tagged by Devon Mama and Friendly First Foods to share my wishes for 2017 in different areas of my life. I am grateful to be involved in this because it helps me to focus on my aims for this year; I do like to set myself goals, as I said previously! 

    Hopes and wishes, 2017, goals, about me, blogging, family, twenty wishes

    Personal Wishes

    • To make time to dance, go to gigs, listen to music; do the things I love.
    • To meet more like-minded people and build new friendships.
    • To try new activities/ do different things/ go to new places; be adventurous!
    • To volunteer at a couple of events.
    • To keep developing myself and continue with my inner growth.

    Blog Wishes

    • To increase my reach, so that more lovely people read my blog!
    • To meet some more fellow bloggers in real-life, maybe even make it to one of the blogging events this year.
    • To start my nature linky, which will motivate me to post regularly about our outdoor adventures. It will also help me become more organised about blogging too!
    • To continue my guest series ‘A Quick Cuppa With….’ because it is a lovely way to connect with other bloggers and support small businesses, plus it helps me to have scheduled posts in advance!
    • To seek out more paid opportunities as my blog continues to grow. 

    Family Wishes

    • To organise a good balance of home ed activities that interest and develop Squiggle, whilst giving her plenty of freedom and the flexibility needed, to meet her needs.
    • To explore some new days out, such as Kew Gardens for example.
    • To have a family holiday.
    • To expand our etsy shop to sell more sustainable clothing with Squiggle’s own designs.
    • To continue taking an active role role in protecting our environment.

    Hopes and Wishes

    • That 2017 is a peaceful year.
    • That we stay happy and healthy.
    • That we are able to overcome challenges and find solutions.
    • That we maintain our sense of wonder for the world around us.
    • That we set a good example and inspire.

    So that’s my list of hopes and dreams for 2017! 

    I tag the following lovely bloggers to take part too…

    Han Plans

    Waffle Mama

    The Amphletts

    Big Family Little Adventures

    Life As Mrs D

    Five Little Doves

    Mummy Miller
    I look forward to reading your posts!

    New Year Resolutions

    I don’t usually make any New Year Resolutions, I prefer to generally set myself goals throughout the year. I do get it; new year, new start. But do you know what? Every single day can be a fresh start. Heck… any given hour, or any single minute in fact, we can choose to change our lives in some way. Vowing to make a new start, take on new challenges and aim for new goals is something any of us can do any time we want. New year resolutions, I feel, mean we kind of put undue pressure on ourselves and build it up too much. I think that level of hype works for some but yet can be the downfall for others. 

    So my own new year resolution is very simple; to build on what I started in the past year. For me personally, 2016 was a time of change and inner growth, the year I begun to rediscover me and who I really am, and to find my direction again. So this year, I aim to keep growing, developing and moving forward. 

    New year resolutions, 2017, keep moving forward, goals, motivational quotes, inspiration, about me

    Everyday, whatever the challenges, I remind myself of the ideas that inspire and motivate me. The things that really resonate, and help to lift me higher and to do better. Some of you might relate, whereas I suspect a few of you actually probably hate this kind of stuff! But that’s ok, we are all different. I need them, so I am sharing here as a reminder to myself as much as anything else. Here are some of the inspirational and motivational quotes/ ideas that I live by:

    We all have the same 24 hours in a day. I used to think this was utter nonsense! The original quote I saw mentioned Beyonce, and I just thought “yeah right, she has a tonne of help and support around her to get things done. Everyone can achieve more with so many extra hands on deck, it’s like the equivalent of having a spare week available everyday!” But now I see I was missing the point. Maybe we can’t all be Beyonce (obviously, unfortunately!) But everybody can stay focussed, work hard, use their time effectively, do their best to overcome barriers and achieve (great) things. And as for her entourage, that brings me onto the next thing…

    We can achieve more when we work together. When we collaborate with others and team up, we can achieve more and achieve it faster. Network, seek out others who share similar goals, build up a support system, ask for help, and find your tribe. And on that note, my door is always open (well my inbox is anyway!) if anyone would like us to work together on anything. I am hoping to connect with others who share similar values and collaborate more this year! 

    It’s never too late to start. Alan Rickman got his first major TV part at the age of 36. Fashion designer Vera Wang didn’t design her first dress until the age of 39. At age 39, Stan Lee created his first comic. Henry Ford found success at age 40. Morgan Freeman got to 52 before he became an international star. Nelson Mandela made history when he became president of South Africa, he was aged almost 76 by that time. It is not too late. Repeat. It is never ever too late to start over, to try again, to begin something new. 

    Keep moving forward. Set goals, achieve them. If it is a difficult patch, remind yourself that it doesn’t matter how slowly you go, as long as you keep going. In a year or two time, you will be glad you kept at it, even if it feels like tiny baby steps that won’t get you very far at the time. Progress is progress. Keep going. If you need to rest, then pause. But don’t give up.

    See the opportunity in everything. Look for solutions, not problems. Don’t be afraid to fail. Mistakes are an opportunity to develop. Failure teaches how to do things better/ differently next time. Challenges can be overcome. Don’t let obstacles stand in your way. Attitude makes all the difference! Don’t stand in your own way.

    Richard Branson ~ If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”


    Balance. Know when to keep fighting, but also know when to let go. Prioritise. Word hard but take time to take care of yourself too. Life is a constant juggle, so figure out how to keep up!

    ………………………………………………..

    So those are the philosophies that motivate me, and have helped me through 2016. There have also been a number of charities and non- profit organisations that have been truly inspirational and changed my life. 

    Thank you to the following in particular: 

    Turning Green 

    The Wildlife Trusts 

    Lonely Whale 

    WhaleFest 

    Ocean Unite 

    Surfers Against Sewage

    If any of your New Year Resolutions include green living, protecting the environment or conservation, then be sure to check them out!

    What are your new years resolutions? I’d love to hear them, let me know in the comments!

    The (Not Big Or Fat) Quiz Of The Year!

    Since it’s the end of the year, here is a little Q&A quiz just for fun, to reflect on this past year and look ahead to 2017…

    What was your highlight of 2016?

    Getting my first paid opportunity from my blog! (Not because of the money itself but because of the sense of achievement and what it represented!) There were lots of non blog-related highlights too, of course, but since I am currently writing this as a blog post and my head is on blogging goals etc… it’s the first thing that came to my mind at this moment in time lol!

    Name one thing you are most likely to remember about 2016 if asked in five years time?

    Hmmm. Brexit and Trump sadly I think will come to my mind. And the loss of so many greats. Hopefully I will also remember it as the year of so much personal growth in all aspects of my life too though.

    Sum up 2016 in one word.

    Change.

    Name one pearl of wisdom from 2016 that you will carry with you through 2017.

    I have surrounded myself with some hugely inspirational people this year. They have helped me to grow in a number of ways that I most certainly will carry with me. I think this deserves a separate post of its own to be honest!

    Do you have any new year resolutions?

    I don’t really do new year resolutions as such, I prefer to set myself goals throughout the year instead.

    How are you seeing in the new year?

    I’ll be at home. We do a fake new year earlier in the evening so Squiggle can get to bed when she is tired, due to her needs. Hopefully she won’t get disturbed once asleep but that’s probably abit optimistic!

    What would you most like to do in 2017?

    Travel. Anywhere really!

    What are your main goals for 2017?

    Continue to grow my blog. Help Squiggle to develop her etsy shop selling sustainable clothes with her own designs. Collaborate with others, and support some awesome charities.

    I tag Mummy FoxThey Grow So QuickThe Baby Boat DiariesJust Average JenSophie Ella and MeAccidental Hipster MumBig Man in the WoodsEmma Plus ThreeWaffle MamaTo Aufinity And BeyondLisa Cowan and Living With A Jude to answer these questions next. I look forward to reading your posts! 

    The Not Big or Fat Quiz of the Year, end of year quiz, 2017, new year resolutions, new year tag, Q and A, blogger, about me

    Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy New Year! 

    Merry Christmas!

    Happy holidays everyone… and for those who celebrate, Merry Christmas! Thank you for all the love and support this year, I appreciate you taking time to read my blog and connect with me!

    Merry Christmas, Living Life Our Way, selfie, snapchat filter
    I love snapchat filters, in reality I was sat in my pjs and no make up when I took this 😂

    I hope your day is filled with laughter and fun. But if today is difficult for you for any reason, as I know it can be, please remember you are not alone. Feel free to message me if you need to, via email or any of my social media accounts. 

    Helpline Numbers:

    Helpline numbers, Christmas, support
    Helpline numbers (UK)

    Wishing you all a happy, healthy 2017!

    Katie xx