Friday, 12 January 2018

♥ This Week's Loves ♥

Check me, posting two weeks in a row, must be the New Year!

♥ This Week's Loves ♥ was/is meant to be my regular post about things I've loved over the last week and is usually about stuff I've done but this year is getting off to a slooow start and I'm easing in by doing very little! That will change as I slowly unfurl from my festive cocoon but for now here are some ace things I'm loving this week:


I randomly found out about Lizzo when I was reading an article on "How to create your bridal shop moment with your online bought dress" on Offbeat Bride and now I love her sassy, positive tunes. Feeling good as he-ell!


I've well and truly kicked off my 2018 reading challenge! We took the tv out of the living room at the end of last year and now I can put the kids to bed and chill out, distraction-free on the sofa reading my book. I'll be posting monthly updates on what I've been reading and if it was any good!

My New Mascara

In the sales I treated myself to a dinky little Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara because I'd heard great things about it and it was CHEAP. I've only tried it a few times but it separates my lashes so much better than anything else I've tried recently and I need that help cos my lashes love to clump together and find their own direction when my lash lift is overdue!

Body Fixers

Has anyone else been watching this? I love it, especially when they genuinely help to change someone's life and build their confidence. Some of the stories are so sad and everyone comes out looking so fabulous that I nearly shed a tear for these random strangers! You can catchup on All 4 if you've missed it.

It's Just Kelli

I came across Kelli's YouTube channel when I was researching menstrual cups and she has such a relaxed but informative approach that makes you feel like it's your pal telling you all about it over a cuppa! She has quite a few videos on different sanitary products and other aspects of being a woman too but this is by far her most watched video. PS If you use a menstrual cup or are thinking about it and want to get in touch with me, do! I think I'm gonna go for it!

So those are my loves for this week! What are you loving this week?

Monday, 1 January 2018

My Goals For 2018

Happy New Year!

It's become a tradition of mine to start the new year off with some big plans for the year to come and this year will be no different!

Last year I achieved everything I wanted to but not quite to the level I'd hoped to. I managed to lose a reasonable amount of weight, just not quite as much as I'd hoped. I took my blog back to basics, but didn't actually post anywhere near as much as I wanted to. I did, however, manage to plan most of our wedding, so that was good!

I also went back to work after having our second daughter Willow, we went on our first family holiday abroad, got two new kittens, I hosted four Abzmeet blogger meetups, and watched proudly as my little brother got married!

2018 is going to be just as awesome, because this year I will:

Get Married!

Yes, in August Allan and I are getting married! Although the main things are already organised, I feel I can start planning the detail with the festive season out of the way!

Travel More

Our family trip to Lyon last year reminded me how much I love to travel so this year we have booked our honeymoon and have also planned a trip to Northern Ireland to visit friends. Hopefully we can explore more of Scotland as a family too.

Read At Least One Book A Month

I was given a Kindle Fire for Christmas which suggested I joined Goodreads so I have, and I'm setting myself a target of one book a month for 2018. On paper that sounds like nothing but in reality it has been so long since I took the time to read a book from cover to cover that I'd rather chose an achievable goal.

Sew Something

I want to start putting my sewing machine to good use and this year I'm determined to dust it off and make something, ideally something I can actually wear! I also want to learn how to alter some of the clothes I have, especially some of my vintage finds.

Blog More!

I hardly blogged at all in 2017, partly because I used Instagram a lot more, partly because I lost all motivation and felt that I wasn't doing much worth blogging about. This year I WILL be more motivated and you can expect more posts on all of the above plus days out, our home, regular monthly posts and more about our family life!

So 2018 will be a pretty busy year for me! What are your goals for this year?

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Review: 4DX Experience At Cineworld Aberdeen Union Square

Being a movie fan I was quite excited when it was announced that Cineworld in Aberdeen was going to get a 4DX screen. I was even more excited when I received an invite to their preview showing last night.

4DX is a technology that creates an immersive cinematic experience, stimulating all fives senses using motion seats and special effects including wind, rain, snow, lightning, fog, and even scents.

Unlike the motion chairs of D-Box before it, the 4DX seats are blocked together in 4s, and they move back and forth, up and down, and side to side. They also vibrate and shake and "tickle". They're fitted with some of the special effects such as jets of air, water, and smells while the rest come from big rigs attach to the wall or on the floor at the screen.

Our screening was revealed as Justice League but before the feature there was an advert showing what 4DX could do and the cinema went a bit wild with laughter and gasps and general excitement!

To be honest we had quite mixed feelings when we left the screening. It was fun, don't get me wrong, but I'm not sure how often I'd view 4DX and here's why: I found it quite distracting and often unnecessary. The timing is sometimes off so the wind's still blowing when the characters have moved inside. I don't particularly want to be sprayed with water when I'm watching a film (although it can be switched off on your seat) and sometimes cinema screens can be cold enough without wind blowing. The motion can be quite jerky and the "ticklers" left me wondering if my seat was broken. It also costs around £5 more than a normal cinema seat.

However, although it seems quite gimmicky, I like that cinema is progressing and that this is the next step in enhancing the experience, and I think that they'll refine it over time.

I'd advise you to try 4DX, even just once, to experience it but choose your film wisely (a big action adventure or disaster movie would be good) and I'd choose a 3D viewing (ours was 2D) for a more immersive experience. Hey, you might really like it, fellow Aberdeen blogger Anastasia is raving about it!

Cineworld invited us along for a complementary preview evening. All views are my own.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Review: Bowl 'Em Over At Lane7

I'm quite good at 10-pin bowling, if I do say so myself, but recently realised that Allan and I have never been bowling together. As if by magic, I received an invite to try out Aberdeen's newest bowling alley.

Situated on Shiprow in the centre of Aberdeen, Lane7 is a boutique, meaning it's smaller, but more intimate and attentive. The decor is industrial and open, giving it that cool bar vibe which is handy because it also has a cool bar with the usual drinks and some lesser known brands. I tried a Hooper's Plum and Sloe while Allan tried out a High Wire Grapefruit pale ale by Magic Rock, both of which were very tasty.

We strapped on our funky shoes and went to bowl. They have half a dozen immaculate lanes with cool bowling balls styled like giant pool balls so I went for an 8-ball and dusted off my signature leg flick, much to Allan's amusement. All his mockery was short-lived when I beat his ass, even on a rusty day.

But Lane7 isn't just for bowling and drinking. They also have ping pong tables, amusements, pool, a photo booth and soon they'll start serving food. And it's not just for adults either, although they have a late licence which offers a great alternative to nightclubs or casinos, they do accept family bookings during the day and into the evening.

So, people of Aberdeen and the surrounding area, get yourselves to Lane7 for something just a wee bit different.

Lane7 invited us along for a complementary preview evening. All views are my own.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Wedding On A Budget: 12 Months To Go

It's now less than a year until we get married (eep!) and it's starting to feel REALLY real!

Before I took a bit of a summer holiday from blogging, I wrote an update on our wedding planning but a few things have changed so I'll start there!

Wedding Insurance

In the last post I said that we hadn't bothered with wedding insurance, but as we started to pay for more expensive things like the photographer and catering we began to get a little antsy and had a look into it.  As recommended on a Facebook wedding page we went with Debenhams and it only cost £60 to cover the whole shebang so we went for it. We also got £7.50 cashback through Quidco and a £10 gift voucher for Debenhams along with some peace of mind, so that was pretty good!


As mentioned above I have booked a photographer! It is really hard to pick one, especially if you are on a budget! There are some amazing photographers out there but their skills come at a price and unfortunately we don't have the budget for them! So we've picked a company which we feel can capture our day really well in a fresh, documentary-style which is exactly what we want, and they're quite new so they were very reasonably priced. They're also dabbling with audio and some other extras which turned our heads, and they're happy for us to share the images on social media which is a big thing for a blogger!


We've also booked our caterer which is another big part of the budget, although we've gone for a non-traditional option instead of a 3 or 4-course sit-down meal. This took a lot of research as it turns out that there aren't that many catering companies in my area and those outwith had to add costs for transport and travel which took them over what we could afford. What we did do was look at local food festivals and which food businesses would be there so we could go along and try out a few, see if we liked them, and message for prices.

Wedding Diary

As an obsessive writer-down-of-things I've also bought a wedding diary to keep a note of important dates like when things have to be paid, when appointments are, and when I expect to hear back from people. Randomly things pop into my head so I make sure I note them down!

Save The Date

Talking of stationery, 12 months before your wedding is the recommended time to send out those Save The Date cards. We thought long and hard about this one and decided to set up a secret Facebook wedding page for our attendees and posted it there, making sure we sent card versions out to those guests who don't have an account. Out of all our guests only four people/couples/families had no access and the response has been great!

Having this page will also allow us to keep our guests constantly updated with any news, changes, or information, and allow us to ask them about their favourite party tunes and whether they need transport etc.

Wedding Dress Shopping

And finally, I went wedding dress shopping. But that's a post for another day!

As always, if you've had or are planning a wedding it'd be great if you could share your progress or money saving ideas with me, I need all the help I can get!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Wedding On A Budget: An Update

It's now only 16 months until we get married! Eeek! So it's time to start thinking seriously about our big day and turn those plans into reality!

Here's where we've got to so far:

Setting the date

This was actually quite easy! Neither of us had a special date in mind but we decided it should be in 2018 so we have time to save and plan, and we picked a Saturday where the date was easy to remember!

Choosing the venue

Initially we had planned to get married in our garden, but the logistics and costs involved turned out to be too much. We hadn't really thought about bad weather planning and portable bathrooms so, after looking at a few venues, many of which were too grand or expensive, we settled on our local village hall.

The hall is small but has all the facilities we need and it's a blank canvas as far as decoration is concerned. We can use any outside companies we like and really make the day ours. The best part is the price, all it costs is £120!

We will have our ceremony and reception in the same venue, and we're happy to set up the hall ourselves and tidy up the next day!

Planning and organising

I bought a notebook and created a checklist based on a couple I'd seen in wedding magazines and have sections for each aspect of the wedding eg guest list, caterers, flowers. That way we can note down our ideas and record details and costs.

I've written a budget in there (also created from the checklist) which lists each cost, our budget, and the actual cost. It's all in pencil because it's so hard to estimate the costs of these things until you start to speak to companies but once you do you can move the numbers around!

I also have a folder where I put any invoices, receipts etc in order so I can quickly find them.

Booking the officiant

Neither of us belong to any church or religion so our choice was really between a registrar and a humanist celebrant. We decided to go with the registrar because it cost less and we didn't really want to become a member of the Humanist Society. A humanist ceremony can be personalised in lots of different ways, but we're happy with a straightforward one!

Choosing bridesmaids and best men

This was quite an easy one because I have one sister, who is also one of my best friends, and two little daughters who will look adorable as flowergirls! Allan is having two best men which are his two best friends. Simple! Nothing fancy here, we just asked and they said yes!

Wedding insurance

We didn't take out wedding insurance and I'll be honest, we didn't even look into it. We're pretty relaxed about the whole thing and as long as an officiant and us two turn up, then we'll be getting married no matter what else the day holds. We're pretty resourceful and we have a back up plan for everything, and the costs are relatively small so we won't ever be significantly out of pocket. Disclaimer/touch wood: I'm not recommending this route, we might totally regret it because we didn't actually bother to look into it!

Buying the rings

We got our rings for free by using Tesco Clubcard points at Goldsmiths. I blogged about it if you fancy a read.

Other Stuff

We've been to a few wedding fairs to get ideas, information on local suppliers and to try all the cake! We found them really helpful and you can get good discounts on the day and they often have raffles, prize draws, free wedding magazines, goody bags etc.

I also totally recommend following anyone and everyone on Facebook to get deals and enter competitions. We won a package from a local company for our venue decor, tickets to a local wedding show, free sashes on a local wedding selling group, and got 50% off our favours.

So that's not too bad, we're getting there! Our next steps are to revisit the hall and get measurements, play with layouts etc, to keep researching local vendors and going to wedding fairs, and for me to lose that last bit of weight so I can try on dresses (although I already have one, but you never know)!

Are you planning a wedding? Share your progress or money saving ideas with me, I need all the help I can get!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Using Keeping In Touch Days

Tomorrow I go to work for a whole week as part of my keeping in touch days and I have mixed feelings.

For anyone that doesn't know, employees in the UK are allowed to take up to 10 days of paid work during maternity (or paternity, adoption and parental) leave without it affecting their leave or pay. These days are optional and can be part-time or full-time, over weeks or months, and what's done during those days is up to the company and employee to agree upon.

After having Sorsha I went back for all 10 KIT days and really enjoyed it! It can be a great opportunity to get back into the swing of working, catch up on training, refresh yourself on your role (it's amazing what you forget after being off for a while!) and catchup with anything or anyone you've missed! This time though it feels different.

This time I'm going into a new job, at a new location, with new colleagues I don't know. On top of that I feel like I've forgotten so much and I'm going to miss my girls like crazy!

My work have been fantastic and I know they'll be supportive. Allan and I work for the same company and they've arranged for us to do a job-share and relocated us to somewhere much closer to home which lets us spend more time together as a family and splits our roles at work and home right down the middle. The hours we're working will also free up time during the day and I'm really looking forward to days on the beach and walks in the sunshine together.

I'm sure I'll be fine and after spending some time working it'll all come back to me, and Allan will have a great time with Sorsha and Willow next week when the weather is set to improve. I'll let you know how it goes!

Have you gone back to work after having a family? How did you feel?

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Maira Gall