Top Tips For A Less Stressful Move

Most people find moving stressful. It takes time, money and energy. There are often mixed emotions and always plenty of practical considerations. Whether you are single, a couple, or a family of any size, there are ways to minimise the stress involved with moving….

Top Tips For A Less Stressful Move

Consider Costs

Moving home can be very expensive, so taking into account of the costs, and budgeting accordingly from the outset will prevent financial worries further down the line. If you are buying a property, you will need to remember stamp duty, solicitors fees and surveyor costs, amongst other things. For renting, you will need a deposit and there may well be agent fees to pay too. In either scenario, you will also have actual moving day costs, possibly as well as energy supplier and other services set up costs too.

Be Organised

Try to declutter as much as you can beforehand. Moving is the perfect opportunity to get rid of your old junk so you only take what you really need. Sell unwanted items, take them to a charity, or pop them on a freecycle site, to avoid contributing to landfill if possible.

Also, try to start packing your belongings you won’t need prior to the move into boxes as soon as possible. It often feels more manageable to do it in small stages rather than have mammoth task all in one go. (Unless you decide to pay someone else to do it of course!)

On the day, make sure your solicitor is available to receive the money and release the keys as early as possible if you are purchasing a property. If you are renting, ask the landlord or agent how early you can get the key.

You will also need to notify utility companies. It is likely that you might also need to get broadband and other services booked in to be set up asap too.

Get help

My advice is to get as much help as you can. Whether it is someone to entertain the kids, having friends round for a packing party or hiring professional assistance, extra pairs of hands will make the workload lighter.

If your budget will stretch, and especially if it is a big move, you might want to take a look at removal companies. For example, GetAMover will help you to find removals London and elsewhere, and other services to assist your move. This also saves time and fuel costs, which could be significant if you have a fair distance to cover and/ or would have to make multiple trips yourself. When you factor this in, it certainly goes some way towards countering the cost of hiring removals.

Key in hand at front door

Moving is rarely an easy time, but if you plan your budget, get organised and enlist some help, it can certainly minimise the stress for everyone involved.

What are your top tips for moving home?

*This is a collaborative post.

Shopping for Big and Tall Men

Clothing for big and tall men is potentially frustrating. If you know someone who wears big and tall sizes, you’ll need to consider several factors. For instance, he might be tall, but he’s not big. Or it might be the other way around. On top of those problems, you might find a big and tall clothing store that simply doesn’t know the difference even though they sell big and tall sizes.

Shopping for Big and Tall Men

Determining Which is Right

Tall men usually fall in the category of 6’2” or above. These men are considered tall, but may not be big. Big men usually have larger hips, waists, and chests. This type of man might need a big shirt, but not necessarily a long one. Additionally, a big man might need a broader waist size, but don’t require a longer inseam.

It should be a straightforward exercise to determine which the man in your life needs. Does he have a short torso and long legs? There’s the potential that he can buy either his pants or his shirts from a regular clothing store, but might need to purchase the other from a big and tall shop.

Finding What He Needs

Keep in mind that knowing what you need and finding what you need are two different things. It can be difficult to find store clerks who can help locate exactly the right size. You might find a big size but not a tall size. Or vice versa.

Also, some clothing manufacturers have clothing sizes that don’t make much sense. Plus, sizes aren’t consistent across clothing lines which makes finding the right fit even more frustrating.

Going Well-Armed

The best thing you can do when shopping for big and tall clothing is to have the most accurate measurements you need. This gives you the ability to make better purchasing choices in a challenging area of clothing.

Rack of mens suit jackets

Remember, big and tall clothing doesn’t have to be confusing. Just be sure you’re armed with the knowledge you need.

 

*This is a collaborative post

Introducing McDonald’s Vegetarian Happy Meal and Spicy Veggie Wrap (AD)

*Disclosure: This post is part of a paid project with McDonald’s UK and BritMums, promoting McDonald’s Veggie Happy Meal and the new vegetarian menu items.*

McDonald's vegetarian wrap Happy Meal

I have some exciting news! McDonald’s has just launched a brand new Vegetarian Happy Meal and a Spicy Veggie Wrap, available now. As a vegetarian myself, and Squiggle has chosen to be too, I am delighted that there is a new meat-free option available. And of course, you also don’t even have to be vegetarian to appreciate more variety on the menu!

I love that McDonald’s are always looking for new ways to improve their menu; hence why they have introduced the tasty new veggie wrap, which is available as a Happy Meal and as a Spicy Veggie Wrap for adults. The flavour of the vegetarian wrap was chosen following an exclusive BritMums tasting session, where bloggers and their children helped taste and select the final flavour, so these new menu items were genuinely created with the help of real families!

McDonald's veggie wrap Happy Meal - ordering new vegetarian options

As you might have spotted on my Instagram stories, we went to McDonald’s to try out these new permanent menu items. Squiggle is sometimes reluctant to try new food but she was delighted that they have introduced a Happy Meal veggie option for kids and was keen to tuck in. This tasty wrap is made from red pepper and pesto goujon with tomato ketchup and shredded lettuce wrapped in a soft, toasted tortilla. She said it was yummy and gave it the big thumbs up! And at 209 calories it is a reasonably healthy option, especially paired with carrot sticks, as Squiggle had. The RRP is £2.49 which is great value too!

Squiggle opening McDonald's happy meal veggie wrap

I also tried out the brand new adult Spicy Veggie Wrap, which is 364 calories, RRP is £2.99 and absolutely delicious! It is made from two red pepper and pesto goujons, with tomato, lettuce and red onion, and a generous dressing of spicy relish, all wrapped in a soft, toasted tortilla. It’s really tasty and full of flavour. I was really impressed! (And I confess I have already had another since – they are THAT good!!!)

McDonald's spicy veggie wrap

We are thrilled to be part of this BritMums project and really enjoyed being amongst the first people to sample the new vegetarian options. Thank you McDonald’s! Why not pop along to your local branch to try them out yourself too…. and don’t forget to let us know what you think!

Squiggle and Katie Living Life Our Way holding McDonald’s Vegetarian Happy Meal and Spicy Veggie Wrap

Dealing With Death: What To Do When Someone Dies

As I have mentioned in previous posts, my grandad died last year. This certainly isn’t the first close family bereavement I have had; my other three grandparents have also passed, and my mum died back when I was just 21, so around 18 years ago now. However, this time was different. My brother and I were next of kin, and so, for the first time ever, the practical side of dealing with death became our responsibility.

Now, I won’t lie; my brother took care of practically everything, due to my own difficult circumstances. (I have mentioned previously that the bereavement led to Squiggle having a full-on mental health crisis). However, I did pick up some useful information from him along the way, which might help other people going through the same thing…

Dealing With Death: What To Do When Someone Dies

Register the Death and Notify People

The first thing to do is report the death, and the coroner will come to take the body away. At this stage, you might feel overcome with emotion and struggle to see them leave, or you may feel entirely numb. Or anywhere in between. And whatever you feel, that is ok and normal.

You will also need to register the death within 5 days. To do this, you need the medical certificate and you will be asked some simple questions about their personal details. Taking a form of their ID along may help with this. You will then be given the death certificate.

In your own time, but sooner rather than later, you will need to let people know the sad news. As well as friends and family, you need to let anyone working with them – either through employment, volunteering, or carers – know too. Plus HMRC/ benefits, banks, housing, and bills, will all need to be notified as well.

With housing, depending on the situation, please note you may then be on asked to clear-out and vacate the property within a limited timeframe, so be mentally and physically prepared for this task ahead too. For example, my grandad was in a rented home run by a local charity and we were given a month to hand over the keys to an empty home.

Funeral Arrangements

If the person had pre-planned their own funeral, as my grandad had done, then this makes some of the arrangements easier to deal with. Make a note of any specific last requests for the funeral, which might be written, or simply in the form of information left with somebody. Things to consider are; type of funeral to hold (burial or cremation), type of service they would like (religious or not for example), arranging flowers (or donation to charity, or some other alternative), transport, any readings and song choices, and what to do afterwards. Some people also like some kind of memorial; words in a book or remembrance, a plaque on a wall, or even a bench, or a tree planted.

All of these aspects are very personal choices and so therefore there are lots of difficult decisions to make at this time. Funerals are also expensive, so cost might be a factor too. It can be a difficult time, but you need to be gentle with yourself and remember you are doing the best you can for them.

Legal Documents and Settling Estate

We found this more time consuming than expected, despite it being a relatively straightforward set of affairs in our case. A solicitor maybe needed depending on the circumstances; we did it ourselves. You will need various documents in order to close bank accounts, and make sure you check any relevant policies too. Any goods sold, including property sale if relevant, will then need to be added to the total amount to be distributed. The final amount should then be shared out as per stated by the testator. Depending on how much it adds up to, you might need to pay tax on it too so remember to notify HMRC.

Sunlife have also written a useful guide on what to do when someone dies, which includes handy checklists to help remember everything during this difficult time. You might find this very helpful to refer to.

Final Thoughts

It can be hard to process all the emotions when you are hit with a bereavement, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed with the practical tasks too. Be sure to reach out and ask for help and support when needed. Also consider seeking counselling if things get too much to cope with. Looking after yourself, and those around you, is important.

*This is a collaborative post.

Boom25 – Shop and Win Your Cash Back!

Boom25.com is a shopping site with a difference. When you purchase from particpating online stores via the website or app, you are in with a chance of winning your cash back!

Screenshot Boom25 - step by step how it works

The way it works is very simple; the site gets commission for every sale made, and it uses some of that to offer prizes; making it a unique and fun way to shop! The site is fully registered under UK laws, and has dished out hundreds of thousands of pounds in winnings so far, with over a quarter of a million registered users.

There are lots of well known stores taking part, so you can easily use it to shop at your usual places. For example; Ebay, Groupon, Superdrug, Asda, Moonpig and Tesco all participate, amongst many others. There are almost 900 shops currently, and counting.

Boom25 - a selection of popular participating stores

It doesn’t cost any extra to shop through boom25 cashback site and there are no hidden charges. The system works out the winner, usually every 25th person to shop at that store (although look out for specials too, there are sometimes more frequent winners on selected sites!)  and the winner is paid back the amount they spent by paypal.

It is a very simple idea, which puts extra fun and excitement into shopping! I personally think it is good for purchasing essential things that you need to buy anyway, as you never know when you might find yourself getting your money back!

Here is a video explaining it further:

So why not sign up and shop through the site; you might just find yourself winning back what you spent! Enjoy.

*This is a collaborative post.

Vegan Menu at City Spice, Brick Lane, London: Review

A couple of weeks ago I was invited along to City Spice in Brick Lane, London, to review their new vegan menu. As most of my readers will probably know, I am a vegetarian who regularly enjoys vegan food, and I took along with a friend who is vegan.

City Spice, Brick Lane, London
About City Spice

City Spice is a multi award winning restaurant in the heart of East London’s Brick Lane. Since being crowned as ‘The King of Brick Lane’ back in 2017, it has won several other awards and has a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor.

Vegan Menu

City Spice also offers an extensive vegan menu; the first of its kind to grace East London’s famous Brick Lane.  It has 14 delicious dishes, perfected by owner Abdul Ahad, and recently won Best Indian Vegan Restaurant award at the
Bangladesh Caterers Association Award, decided by a vote from the 12,000 member restaurants of the Bangladesh Caterers Association.

Owner, Abdul Ahad, developed the menu following a huge demand from Veganuary last year. The menu has proved very popular; resulting in a 170% increase in bookings for the restaurant in the two months following the launch.

Ahad used his experience and expertise from around the globe to create his delicious range of vegan offerings. “Having been in the fires for some time, the new dishes were perfected following my humbling visit to Sri Lanka, inspired by tips, tricks and recipes from some of the world’s most talented and award winning chefs, including Michelin-star chef Rupert Rowley. It’s time to show the vegan community, and those who favour vegan dishes, what the King is capable of.”

A selection of food from the vegan menu at City Spice, Brick Lane, London

Veganuary Founder, Jane Land commented: “2018 was Veganuary’s biggest year yet, with more than 167,000 people taking part, a whopping 100,000 more than last year – and that’s just the ones we know about! With societal eating habits changing, and forward thinking restaurants like City Spice reflecting this within their menus, it’s never been easier to go vegan.”

Vegan Menu at City Spice, Brick Lane, London: Review

Review

We visited City Spice on a Wednesday evening. We arrived earlier than our booking but they were very accomodating and were able to seat us immediately. The staff were warm, friendly and welcoming but not overbearing, and they assisted us efficiently.

The restaurant itself has seating on ground level and downstairs. The toilets are also down a flight of stairs, although I am not sure whether there are disabled facilities elsewhere for accessibility, or not. The facilities were basic and clean, and the rest of the restaurant also maintains a simple but clean feel about it. The restaurant was fairly busy for a weeknight and had a nice vibe to it.

For starters, I ordered Aloo Chat, which is a blend of potato and spices, and Liz ordered Vegetable Pepper. Both of these were delicious.

Aloo chat starter, vegan food, City Spice

For mains, I had Palani Potatoes, described as ‘fresh cubed pieces of potatoes are cooked with zesty cumin seeds and curry leaves, to provide a distinct, medium flavour, exemplified by a thick mouth-watering sauce’. Liz opted for a daal dish.

Vegan mains at City Spice, Brick Lane, London

Both dishes were full of favour and really tasty. My dish was noticeably milder, whereas the daal had quite a spicy kick to it. Both quite different choices but equally as mouth-watering! The servings were very generous; infact, we were unable to find room to finish our meals. However, this was no reflection of the quality of food, just the amount of it!

Palani potatoes, vegan food, City Spice, Brick Lane, London

We felt it offered good value for money. Our starters cost £3.95 for Aloo Chat and £4.95 for Pepper, our mains were £8.95/ £9.95, plus our side orders of bread and rice were £2.95 each. So in total, including soft drinks and tip, the entire bill was under £45 for two people, which we consider to be reasonable.

Summary

We both really enjoyed our meal, and our evening. It was good quality flavoursome food, with an extensive vegan menu, and nice atmosphere. We would recommend you give this place a try and see for yourselves!

To book a table at City Spice restaurant, or for more information, check out the​ website ​www.city-spice.london

*Disclosure: We enjoyed a complimentary meal for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely our own. 

 

 

Mis-sold Mortgages: Have You Been Affected?

I bought a flat back in 2005, during the height of the property boom in one of the most expensive cities in the UK. At the time I was a newly qualified teacher and was able to take advantage of a government scheme available that offered me an equity loan, which allowed me to purchase a higher value property than I would have been able to afford otherwise. This loan also meant I got 100% mortgage, so no deposit needed. It also meant an excellent mortgage deal!

Fast forward to 2009 and, now a parent, the property was no longer suited to our needs. But the market had gone bust, making it difficult to sell up and move. Worse still, I had quit my teaching job to stay home with my daughter full time, so was also now under pressure to repay the equity loan within the specified timeframe, because I had left the profession.

After a lengthy struggle (and a massive mess made by the solicitors, which technically left us homeless for a week while the purchase was completed on our new home… but that’s a whole other story!) the property was sold with practically no equity.

This meant the new mortgage was less favourable because of the small deposit. At the time, I considered it lucky that the broker found a mortgage, even though it meant paying higher interest rates and larger monthly payments than was perhaps wise. However, on reflection, this kind of thing is exactly why there are so many mis-sold mortgage claims

Mis-sold Mortgages: Have You Been Affected?

In my case, having looked at all the factors, I don’t think it was missold. But if you got a mortgage since November 2004 – and especially if it was through a broker – you could well have been missold your mortgage; in other words, you were given advice that wasn’t suitable, the risks were not clearly explained to you, or you were not given all of the information you needed. Basically, for one reason or another, if you ended up taking out a product that wasn’t right for you.

Affordability

One example is if you cannot afford your mortgage through no fault of your own. If you had substantial debt and/ or were advised to borrow large amounts of capital, it is possible that their repayment scheme was impossible to maintain in your current financial state.

Debt Consolidation

Another example is if you were told to consolidate your debt into the mortgage. Sometimes this advice is accurate and the best course of action. But if you were advised incorrectly, or not given all the relevant information to make an informed decision, this could mean you were mis-sold your mortgage.

Raising Capital or Extended Mortgage Terms

Other examples are if you took out a new mortgage in order to raise capital, or extended your mortgage terms, without being informed correctly of the risks and downsides of doing so. This includes if you added broker fees and mortgage fees to your payment terms too. Clients advised to increase their capital in this way may be entitled to compensation for the added interest liability paid.

Mortgage mis-sold. Keys and house keyring

If you think you may have a claim, contact an expert, such as the mis-sold mortgage experts for a consultation. You will pay a percentage of any entitlement back to the company, should the claim be successful, to cover the cost of their solicitors and so on. But if you were mis-sold your mortgage and are entitled to make a claim, doing so through a company makes the whole process easier than trying to claim independently.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Helping Elderly Relatives Maintain Independence

As people grow older, they begin to worry about losing their independence. One example of this might be concerns over whether they will stay in their own home or where they will live instead, and what support they might require to live as independently as possible.

If you have an elderly relative, it can be challenging to meet their needs but still respect their wishes, and it can be a daunting level of responsibility to work out solutions with them, and on their behalf. So here is some useful advice on helping elderly relatives maintain their independence…

Helping Elderly Relatives Maintain Independence

Adaptions to Home

In order to help an elderly relative remain in their own home, it is essential to consider adaptions that can be made to ensure their safety and comfort while living independently. If mobility is an issue, as is so often the case, then various aids are available to make life easier, and offer peace of mind.

Unless the person lives in a bungalow, think about buying a stairlift to avoid any nasty accidents and to make both floors more accessible. Well placed handrails in key areas throughout the home are also beneficial. Also consider a walk-in shower if possible too. Lastly, if a person needs a frame or walking aid to move around more easily then make sure this is easily available as well.

And don’t forget the little things! Walk around doing your own safety risk assessment of the home, checking for any potential danger. For example, trip hazards such as loose rugs should be made safe. A panic button that links to someone who can attend the property quickly in case of an emergency is also extremely helpful to have.

Stairlift

Carers

If personal hygiene, preparing food to eat, getting in and out of bed, or other daily tasks becomes a struggle then a carer might be necessary. This could be a live-in carer if needs are quite frequent and intense, or someone who visits daily (or several times daily) as and when needed.

My Experience

My late grandad was adament he wanted to stay in his home during his later years. He was of sound mind, but found physical tasks difficult due to limited mobility. This was in part due to age, and largely due to a partial leg amputation following illness. He lived in a bungalow and used a frame to get around. He had carers visit several times daily, to help him wash and get to bed. His shopping was ordered online for him then delivered and he was able to prepare simple ready meals in the microwave himself. He also had a cleaner. With these simple adaptions he was able to remain in his own home, as he wished.

A photo of grandparents of Living Life Our Way

Alternative Solutions

However, it is not always practical, or even possible, for an elderly person to remain in their own home. It could be that their needs are too intense or complex. One possible solution is for them to live with younger relatives; perfect if you happen to have a granny annex or enough space in your home, for example. There are many benefits to this, and it can be a wonderful experience for all parties I am sure. However, there may also be many reasons why this is not a possibility; not all circumstances are the same.

The other obvious alternative is a care home. Whilst this may seem like a daunting prospect, it can be a very good thing. Staff on hand at all times, plus friendships and company; there is alot to be said for this idea!

My nan, pictured above, could not stay at home as she suffered from dementia and needed more care than could be provided there. She lived in a nursing home for many years before she passed away; it was absolutely the right choice for her and the best place for her to be.

Whatever choices are made, remember every situation is unique. All factors need to be weighed up to decide on the best set-up for each of the parties involved. It is not an easy decision, but hopefully this post will help you consider some of the factors needed to reach a conclusion.

*This is a collaborative post. 

Eco Made Jeans: Review

As with the other areas of my life, I try to adopt an eco-friendly approach to clothing wherever possible. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, I need some new additions to my wardrobe (as much as I still love my oldest favourite jeans, I bought them in Las Vegas back before I was even a mum!) So I was very happy to receive an email asking me if I would like to review a pair of eco jeans from JD Williams

Eco Made Jeans: Review

About

Eco Made indigo slim fit jeans are available in sizes 10 – 32. They are made partly from COOLMAX® ECOMADE fibre, which is made from 97% recycled material such as bottles, so helps reduce the environmental impact of plastic and keeps it out of our oceans.  This innovative design keeps moisture away from the skin to help stay cool in summer (or at hot gigs!) so are perfect for all year round and a variety of occasions.

Price: £40 (RRP) Shop here.

EcoMade slim fit jeans

Review

These jeans feel quite stretchy and are very comfortable. The sizing is as expected and they fit well. Having worn them at two gigs already (and one venue was particularly warm!) the material does indeed seem to feel cool when needed but still as warm as any other jeans on a cold night.

EcoMade jeans dressed up with boots for gig

They can easily be teamed up with different tops and footwear to either dress them up, or opt for a more casual look. For example, I wore them with boots and a long sleeve top for the gigs, which worked well. The fit is flattering, yet relaxed and comfortable enough to dance around, or laze around, or go for a long walk! I love them and would definitely recommend!

Lazing on sofa in jeans

*Disclosure: I was sent these jeans to review from JD Williams All opinions are my own. 

Review: Trasparenze Leggings from UK Tights

I try not to buy new clothes too often, and I don’t have a massive wardrobe. However, I was in genuine need of a new outfit or two to wear on various nights out. I wanted something comfortable, that looked stylish, but also versatile. Luckily, I was contacted by UK tights and spotted the perfect item on their website, Poseidone leggings by Trasparenze, which they kindly sent me to review.

Review: Trasparenze Leggings from UK Tights

About

Trasparenze is an Italian company that specialises in hosiery in unique eye-catching designs. Poseidone leggings are soft and luxurious, with an opaque leg and pretty floral lace design. RRP £51.99. Purchase from UK tights here.

Review

The leggings arrived in an elegant cardboard box, which is well presented so would make a nice gift.

Trasparenze Leggings from UK Tights in box

As they are an Italian brand, I was advised to ignore what size I would normally be and actually check the sizing guide. I did so and went for medium (I am normally a size 10 – 12) which fit perfectly.

Whilst these leggings aren’t organic, which is my preference wherever possible, they are exceptionally good quality so will hopefully last much longer than a cheaper brand. I try to adopt a slow fashion approach that is kinder to our planet than fast fashion, so I generally make a point of only buying clothes that I know I will wear often, and/ or at least around 30 times. (Yes, I know that is alot!)

Therefore, it seems more logical to me to invest in more expensive items that will last the distance. With all that in mind, I think that these leggings are wonderfully versatile and of sufficient quality to be worth the price tag.

Review: Trasparenze Leggings from UK Tights

Summary

I love these leggings! They are expensive, but feel comfortable and look stylish. They are a unique elegant design that stands out and is different to usual, but can also be worn in a number of ways for different things. I would wear them on a proper night out with heels and a dressy top, or they can also be worn on a more casual night out – as pictured below – as well. I received quite a few compliments wearing them and was happy with my outfit choice!

Selfie of Living Life Our Way wearing leggings on a night out

 

* Disclosure: these leggings were sent to me for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.