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?

Monday, 13 February 2017

My First Pre-loved Kilo Sale Haul

At the weekend I went to my first vintage weight and pay sale armed with £50 and low expectations.

To be honest I had no idea what to expect, but I thought it'd be full of stuff that wasn't good enough or interesting enough to be sold anywhere else. I mean, £15 a kilo is cheap!

Turns out that wasn't the case! Don't get me wrong, you have to search through a lot of stuff to find your treasure but my arm was aching with the weight of all the dresses I had grabbed!

This sale was run by Preloved Kilo, who tour the UK with these pop-up sales. It costs £1.50 to attend unless you've bagged an early bird deal. You're given a big plastic bag to fill with your purchases then you take them to a payment area where they weigh your bag and charge you accordingly. Pretty simple, eh?

I basically grabbed everything that I fancied and then filtered through my pile to remove anything that wasn't the right size or that wouldn't suit me and I ended up with 12 dresses for £49.50!

There aren't any changing rooms there so I was amazed when I tried them on at home and loved every single one! What the hell?! Here's a bit more detail:

A few need repairs and alterations, and there are one or two marks that'll hopefully come out in the wash with some stain remover but I'm so chuffed!

Have you been to a kilo sale? I'd love to hear your experiences!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Healthy Bird: Week 1

One of my Wishes For 2017 is to get back to a weight and fitness level that I'm happy with, so I started the new year with a bang (as we all do!) and made a plan of what to eat and how to exercise.

I was going to join Slimming World because a few of my friends are having great success with it but I decided to try out their free 7 day plan to see what it was like first and take it from there. It's actually been really easy and most of the food has been good, especially the Spicy Lentil Soup, Quick Vegetable Risotto and Baked Eggs With Peppers, Spinach and Tomato. I'm eating lots of mushrooms, eggs and wholemeal toast for breakfast and loads more fruit but I'm still having a nice biscuit (or two!) with my cup of tea. I'm not rigidly sticking to it but whatever I'm doing seems to be working because I've lost 3.5lbs in my first week!

As far as exercise goes, I'm taking it quite slowly. Although I go on walks with Allan and the girls, my general fitness isn't as good as it should be so I've started with Sky's Fit In 5 program thinking it would ease me in but it's actually quite tough! The first few days showed me exactly how unfit I am but I've started doing two sessions a day and already feel the benefits.

It just goes to show how a few small changes can make a big difference to how you feel! Let me know if you have any good advice or favourite recipes for me to try out!

Friday, 6 January 2017

My Wishes For 2017

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a fantastic Hogmanay/New Year's Eve and are enjoying the start of 2017!  Each year I blog about my wishes for the coming year and how I did with those for the previous year but last year we were moving house and I completely forgot! So let's start from scratch, here are my wishes for the coming year:

Become fitter and lose weight

After having the two girls and subsequently losing some weight I've reached a plateau and now I'm ready to get back to a size and shape I'm happy with! I have a wardrobe full of fantastic clothes that I haven't worn since before Sorsha and my goal is to get back into them.

Get back to basics with my blog

It seems I'm one of a number of people having a bit of a blogger's epiphany right now and I've realised that my blog has taken off in a direction which I'm not really into so I'm going to take it back to the original plan of blogging what I want, when I want with more life-in-general type stuff. Sound good?

Organise Our Wedding

With only 19 months until our big day it's probably about time I start taking this planning business a bit more seriously! Hopefully by the end of the year we'll have it pretty much sorted!

It's shaping up to be a pretty exciting year and as promised above I'll be blogging all about it! What do you have planned for the year ahead?

Monday, 19 December 2016

A Rustic & Cosy Bedroom Makeover

In my last post I mentioned that we haven't done much of anything to the cottage since we moved in, except for the bathroom which has really only had a lick of paint! I've decided that the next room I want to tackle is the bedroom because I think it should be a room to relax in and just now it's a bit cluttered and mismatched.

At the moment we have one green feature wall and the other three walls are a sort of white with a hint of very pale green. Our furniture is oak, carpet is grey, curtains are purple, bedding is a bit of everything and we have a nice big built-in wardrobe with sliding doors. So yeah, it needs a makeover! Here are some ideas I've put together:

I've gone for a bit of a rustic, natural theme because it suits our country cottage and it seems to be pretty in right now.

I love wood effect wallpaper but oh my gosh some of it's expensive! The one I've found is from I Want Wallpaper and is only £15.99 a roll which is a bit more affordable!

Our built-in wardrobe has plain white doors but would look so much nicer with some oak framed ones to match our other furniture and mirrored ones would make the room seem bigger and give us a proper full length mirror in the house. These are from a range at B&Q.

This bedding set from Next is totally up my street and with the wild animals it's not too busy but not too plain.

Probably the most important thing in anyone's bedroom is the mattress. It's definitely worth investing in a good mattress so you sleep like a log and wake up refreshed after a comfy night's rest! This one's from Fishpools and has a removable topper.

Chuck on a cosy throw like this one from Debenhams and some pillows to add textures and, more importantly, warmth to your bed!

Finally, how awesome are these antler lamps from Next?! They have a matching ceiling light too and I've had my eye on it for ages.

These are just a few ideas and I'll be adding more to my Pinterest board if you want to have a look!

This post was written in collaboration with Fishpools mattresses

Friday, 16 December 2016

Our First Year In The Country

I can't believe it's only been a year since we moved from our flat in Aberdeen to our forever home in rural Angus! It feels like home and that we've been here forever, although it didn't always feel that way.

After the excitement of selling one place, buying another, packing and unpacking, Allan had to return to work and it was just me and 7 month old Sorsha, and I felt very alone. I was in a strange place with no friends or family, and started to feel quite down about this house which was meant to be our dream home.

As I was on maternity leave we didn't have much money to do things and, to be honest, I didn't really want to go out and about and was quite scared to. I had no idea what to do or where to go and getting our internet hooked up was a major hassle so I couldn't just Google things.

But slowly things started to fall into place. I met another mum at the local baby clinic and luckily she's the chatty type and we discovered we live closeby and our kids are about the same age. She's introduced me to loads of clubs and classes and other people too.

The library was also a great help. I used their free internet find out more about my local area, where everything was and when everything happened. It was also my sanctuary when the local area flooded and I needed to find alternative routes home.

So now we know our way around and lots of people and are getting more involved in the community! The girls go to the local playgroups, I've joined the SWRI and we're getting married in the village hall!

Since moving in we've done very little to the decoration apart from paint the bathroom. If anything the cats and kids have done more damage than we've improved! While we're saving for the wedding and the house is livable it'll remain on the back-burner. Allan however has been busy in the garden! He took great pleasure in knocking down the rotting shed, building walls and gates, and clearing out the poor abandoned garden so that the girls can play safely.

We've also had some good news on the job front and have been transferred closer to home with a job share when I start back after my maternity leave. That means that Allan and I will split the role between us so there's no need for childcare and I'll be able to return to work and keep my company benefits too!

I'm so glad we've all settled in and are enjoying our new life in the country. Although it was a bit scary to start with and we miss having friends and family so close, it's a small price to pay for the space, peace, and privacy!

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Maira Gall