Top 5 Tips For Spreading The Cost This Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner, you are probably already wondering how you are going to pay for the gifts and items for everyone on the gift list. With this said, there are a number of ways to spread the cost over the holiday season so that you aren't burdened with one giant bill to pay off at once.

These are the top 5 tips for spreading the cost this Christmas, and affording everything you want (and need) to buy.

1. Catalogue shopping

With many online catalogues offering to finance for up to 36 months (or longer), you can truly spread the cost out. Not only that, but most catalogues sell a variety of items so you can buy several gifts on the shopping list, all in one place, rather than having to visit several department stores. Some offer interest-free credit too.

2. Online Surveys

Ever done online surveys? Seems foolish to many, but many companies are willing to pay you for your opinion or enter you for a prize draw. So, if you get a survey after shopping, consider doing it. Survey sites are worth signing up for and not only will many companies gift you gift cards or money back options, they will also offer free gifts in many cases as well.

3. Credit cards

Sure, you don't want to use them, but for many, this is an option they need. Many credit cards will offer the option for 0% interest-free financing, especially for a balance transfer. So, if you qualify for free financing, and pay off the entire balance by the promotional period, you won't have to worry about high-interest charges looming over you either. Watch out for an arrangement fee though.

4. Department store cards

They are typically very easy to qualify for, and most stores offer free promotional periods, meaning no interest if you pay the item off (typically 6 to 12 months with most stores). Some department stores offer an additional percentage discount (5 to 10% off) when you use their store card too. So, it is a double bonus as you don't have to worry about interest, and you receive an additional discount simply for using the store card.

5. Layaway

Many retailers offer the 'layaway' payment option for their shoppers. If you are purchasing a large gift, like a gold necklace, a gaming system or pricey electronics, you can pay it off over time. Some retailers offer weekly payment options, others offer monthly options. If you visit stores now, not only do you have about three months to pay off the entire purchase, most retailers offering the layaway payment option do not charge interest as long as you pay off the entire item prior to picking it up. I know when I had my own jewellers we did this and it is often seen in independent stores.

These are a few simple, and creative ways for you to go about holiday shopping this year. Not only will it allow you to buy all the items and gifts on your holiday shopping list, but it also allows you to save on interest, and receive great promotions and discounts when shopping. Consider shopping early, and getting these purchases out of the way now, so you can take advantage of these different methods of spreading out the cost of holiday shopping this year.

Do you use any of these methods wisely to spread the cost of Christmas?

Edinburgh Travel With #NoFilter Photographs

Edinburgh is a beautiful historic city, and one with such a variety of amazing things to do and see. From the Georgian elegance of New Town, to the preserved medieval Old Town and the world-class shopping of Princes Street, history buffs, foodies, shoppers and lovers of culture and fun all love Edinburgh equally.

When I say lovers of culture and fun, of course, I am referring to the Edinburgh 'Fringe' festival. Below are some of my favourite photos that I took when I visited the Edinburgh Fringe festival a few years ago.

Photo - Singers Serenading Tourists

I took this photo while I was having lunch in the Grassmarket area, with Edinburgh castle towering above. I was sitting down with my son, when, from out of nowhere this comedy group appeared and started serenading a table nearby.

Why I Like This Photo

It sums up the impromptu and fun feeling of the festival. A feeling that anything can happen and it shows that it truly does.

How To Take A Photo Like This

Carry your camera with you everywhere. Expect the unexpected to get that natural unposed look. I love the interaction involved. I was going to crop the photo but the look on the face of the man far left says it all! A great tip I learnt is about the rule of thirds. A subject that is third of the way from the edges of the frame, can help create a more interesting photo rather than one with the subject in the centre. The fence here creates interest and helps takes the viewers eye to the subject of the photo - the serenading group.

The joy of the face of the singer in the centre and the movement of their arms really adds to the fun aspect of the photo. Itfeelsl like you can almost hear their witty ditty. 

Photo - Unicycling Juggling Fire Eater

Yes, you heard me correctly. Again this was taken in the historic Grassmarket area, which was jam-packed full of people at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Why I Like This Photo

You can't not like a unicycling jugging fire eater, can you? It's an unusual subject. This photo shows the concentration on his face too and leaves the viewer wondering what happens next.  I would have liked to capture him looking at the camera but then he may have fallen off his bike! 

How To Take A Photo Like This

Pay attention to street performers, unusual characters and people in general. To get a great candid photo catch the subject unawares so the photo comes out natural and unposed. I did crop this image to focus on the subject, but no filters or any other edit tools were used as with all the photos here.

Photo - Olympic Rings Near The Assembly Rooms

I was queueing to go into the Assembly Rooms to see a comedy show in 2012 when I took this photo of the Olympic Rings that were installed to celebrate Great Britain holding the Olympics that year. 

Why I Like This Photo

Natural sunsets are stunningly beautiful. I like the colour of the sky and the silhouette of the iconic Olympic rings installed for that year's games. 

How To Take A Photo Like This

I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time but if you are keen to get a great sunset, scope out the area in advance to find places with a great view. Find out the time of sunset and be there in advance. Doing this will allow you to take multiple photographs and you will have more chance of getting that perfect photograph. The silhouette of the Olympic rings is a great point of interest, especially being placed within the viewfinder by the rule of thirds. In low lighting conditions consider taking a tripod for perfect steady pictures on a long aperture.

All of these photos were taken on a compact camera so I hope you can see you don't need special equipment to take fun interesting photos.

This is my post for the London City Airport #NoFilter campaign. The challenge is to share photos without the use of any filters.  I hope the judge Keith Savage from the Traveling Savage blog enjoys my photos as much as I did taking them.

24 Hours In Dubai

If you have never been to Dubai, I urge you to go. It a melting pot of cultures and traditions, with incredible architectural styles both old and new, amazing shopping from the designer malls to bargains in the souks and many fun activities for both young and old. 

I was asked recently by Travelbag to come up with an itinerary of what to do if I only had 24 hours in Dubai. This is my post.

10.00am - Visit Atlantis The Palm Waterpark, Aquaventure

In the amazing opulence that is Atlantis, The Palm hotel is the Aquaventure water park. Visit in the morning before the heat is too oppressive, and don't forget to slap on the sunscreen and take plenty of water. 

This vast waterpark has adrenaline rides galore for the adventurous among you, whilst families can enjoy the river rides and children's play area. 

Other attractions in Atlantis Palm include the Lost Chambers Aquarium where you can get up close and personal with the sea life, including a once in a lifetime experience of swimming with sharks. In the Marine park, there is also the opportunity to swim with dolphins, meet the sea lions and scuba dive.

2pm - Afternoon tea in the Burj Al Arab hotel

This incredible iconic hotel is a feat of engineering, being built on an artificial island and designed to mimic the sails of a ship. This is Dubai's self-proclaimed '7-star hotel'.  On the roof, there is even a helipad for the millionaires that stay here. 

Visiting the Burj Al Arab is a once in a lifetime experience for some. You can't even venture across the bridge to the hotel unless you have a reservation, and once inside the 24-carat gold pillars and impeccable service sets it apart in a class of its own. Fountains of water dance in the foyer, staff are dressed in smart uniforms and if you stay overnight you have your own private butler.

Afternoon tea is made up of on dainty sandwiches, warm scones and incredible desserts. Food is plentiful and has many little courses, and it is easy to spend 2 to 3 hours here eating and chatting whilst soaking up the atmosphere.

Champagne, if ordered, is poured so the bubbles go up the centre of the glass and my son was suitably impressed with his glass of sparkling date juice.

6pm - Shopping in the modern malls or traditional souks 

Dubai is known for it's shopping, both traditional and modern. For real bargains try the souks. These traditional markets are full of colour and real local characters. Haggle for the best prices in gold, spices, and textiles. Many souks are open in the morning, then closed in the afternoon but open again later until 10pm.

The modern Mall Of The Emirates is shopping on a different level. It has more than 700 stores, a cinema, Magic Planet - a family play centre and even a ski run. Yes, you heard me right, in a country known for its sand and heat, you can even ski in the centre of Dubai. Leave the children at Magic Planet while you go shopping for designer goodies in Cartier, Gucci and Burberry. For fashionistas that can't stretch to these prices try Michael Kors, or if you want a touch of home, Harvey Nichols and Marks and Spencers both have shops here. Have dinner at the Cheesecake factory for a slice of American heaven, or if you are still full after afternoon tea, pick up a snack in one of the food stalls or cafes.

9pm - Cocktails in the Burj Khalifa

To see Dubai's skyline in all its glory, go to the top of the World's tallest building the Burj Khalifa. At over 829m or 2722 ft no other building compares in size. If it's good enough for Tom Cruise to hang off in the Mission Impossible films it's good enough for me to visit! You are whisked up to the top of the building in a little more than a minute in a state of the art lift, and it is incredible to see the tiny buildings below.  

Cocktails can be taken at the Atmosphere lounge 442 meters up, which I recommend at sunset for the best views of the city. Alternately eat at the Michelin Star restaurant for some of the best food in the city.

So this is my 24 hours in Dubai. There is so much to see and do in this intriguing city that this is just a taster. If you are looking for holidays in Dubai try Travelbag.

Let me know, have you ever been to Dubai? Would you like to go? If you want to read more about my travel adventures check out my travel posts here.

* Photos are my own except Atlantis Palm courtesy of Claire from Ninja Killer Cat. A sponsored post.

Beautiful Feet In Seconds? Does the Micro-Pedi Live Up To The Hype?

I am one of those people that have hard skin on my feet. It's not a pretty state of affairs down then I can tell  you. I actually feel embarrassed to have a pedicure when I do, a couple of times a year. I really should take more care of my feet, so when I was offered the chance to try the Micro-Pedi Limited Edition manicure and pedicure set I jumped at the chance.

The Micro-Pedi limited edition manicure and pedicure set

I tried something similar from a competitor last year and was really dissapointed as it hardly took any hard skin off my tootsies, so I was hoping the Micro-Pedi lived up to it's promises.

In the Micro-Pedi limited edition you get a range of items for a complete pedicure or manicure. The only thing that you need is nail varnish for a complete look.

Now using the Micro-Pedi roller I didn't expect a miracle cure for my feet, but I thought I would give it a try. Firstly the instructions say to wash your feet and dry them thoroughly, after inserting an AA battery, I then remove the protective protector on the device and switched it on. 

The Micro-Pedi roller is a buffing device - it feels coarse like sandpaper. As it rolls you run it over the hard skin gently rotating as you go. I used this continuous, rolling it and rotating it over my heels for approximately a minute, taking care not to use it in the same place too long.  Superficially it worked on my feet and took off a fine layer of skin. I could see this wasn't an instant cure but that a gentle course of treatment was needed. At this point I thought that I would tackle the hard skin over a course of a few days, and would see what they would be like after a 3 day course of treatment.

After I finished using the Micro-Pedi I then smoothed the Ultra Finishing Foot Cream into my heels. This specially formulated product with coconut extract felt very nourishing on my feet and had a pleasant fragrance with top notes of coconut and an underlying floral tone. 

So what did my feet feel like after my first go you may ask? Well they were definitely smoother and softer but I can still feel hard skin on my heels. 

The next day I used the Micro-Pedi again. I took the device and rolled it over the hard skin on my heels for the same length of time as before. The skin comes off in a fine dust, so I recommend doing it on a towel or over a hard surface that you can clean easily. Again I applied the nourishing foot cream after treatment. I really rate the cream, as it glides on the skin and feels like it is penetrating into my heels. It feels like it is actively make them softer.

The last time I used the Micro-Pedi was the next day. After repeating the steps again as above, and smoothing in the foot cream I checked my feet for the final result. Before I give you my final verdict I felt it was important to show you the rest of the set too.

The manicure and pedicure attachments

This Micro-Pedi Limited Edition also comes with a manicure and pedicure set. This includes toe separators, mini scissors, and nail clippers as well as a range of tools to cut, buff, polish and shine, it makes a great gift. Unfortunately the nail clippers broke, and I don't know why, I can only imagine a manufacturing fault.

I'm no expert in the manicure and pedicure department but the instructions were simple and easy to understand.  I buffed my nails with the tools that attach to a different roller. I particularly liked the cuticle tool to push back the cuticles. 

Using the cuticle attachment

My verdict:- Beautiful feet in seconds? Not quite, however, if you have a problem with hard skin and want a gentle solution to removing it consider a course of treatment with the Micro-Pedi. 

Before and after

In my opinion it is just as important to use the Ultra Finishing Foot Cream after treatment as this softened and nourished skin.  In the future I will use the Micro-Pedi to keep my heels soft and prevent hard skin developing. The manicure and pedicure attachments are a nice addition to the range, however I did have a fault with the nail clippers which broke. Overall that let the set down which was disappointing.

My rating 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

* I was gifted the item by Pedi Reviews

How To Support World Rhino Day

Today is World Rhino Day. World Rhino Day was first announced by WWF-South Africa in 2010. Everyone knows about the fact that elephants are killed every day for their tusks. According to National Geographic, over 100,000 elephants have been killed in the last three years, but rhinos are killed too for their tusks, which some cultures believe have medicinal properties.

Of the two types of rhino in Africa, the black rhino and white rhino -  there are only 20,000 remaining of the white rhino and only a handful of the even rarer northern white rhino. The black rhino is even more endangered being on the critically endangered list with a population of only approximately 5,000. As you can see these magnificent creatures are under major threat.

The very real risks of both elephants and rhinos face in Africa will be around for as long as there is demand for their products. Rhino horn is used in some traditional Asian medicines for a variety of conditions from a high fever to blood disorders and even as a hangover cure whilst in Vietnam where some people believe rhino horn cures cancer. It is important to note that there is no scientific basis for these claims.

Organisations that focus on saving these beautiful creatures should, in my opinion, be applauded. Tusk is one such charity that funds conservation and community development in Africa. Tusk has set up important surveillance projects to monitor the black rhino population, and protect them from poachers. 

So what can we do in the UK on a simple level? We can donate to Tusk through their website and also through initiatives where companies donate their profits of a product to this worthwhile charity.

One such company is Asimi Silver. Asimi Silver feel so strongly about the cause that they have pledged 100% of the profits from both their silver elephant necklace and their silver rhino necklace to Tusk.

These beautiful pendants are full of character and very unique like the animals themselves and come complete with sterling silver chains, beautifully presented in a lovely Asimi presentation box, and tied with a bow. Inside is a silver care card as well as a note confirming your support of these animals through the charity Tusk.

These gifts are perfect for animal lovers everywhere, jewellery lovers and lovers of the diverse African continent. The hand-finished pendants are different and special and make a perfect Christmas gift.

Asimi Silver also have other animal pendants for sale, including a very cute hummingbird, hippo, giraffe and whale pendant.

Let me know what you think of these pendants. Did you know about rhinos being endangered? Have you been to Africa and seen these beautiful creatures in the wild?

Rockface For Men Review and Competition - Ends 16/10/15

Rockface for men is a really cool brand that my husband buys regularly. He loves the way that each product works effortlessly to keep him well groomed and smart, and I like the way that the citrus fragrance makes him smell, totally fresh and yummy. That's the beauty of the Rockface products - they are multi-tasking, performing like an aftershave as well as a toiletry. He has been given a selection of products to try from the wide range and these are the highlights below.

Rockface Shave Butter – 75 ml £4.99

This product is supremely nourishing containing illipe and shea butter and coconut juice amongst other things. This is my husband's favourite product and he has bought it since it came out. He applies is and lets it sink into his skin for a minute. This allows his bristles to soften and his skin to hydrate before he takes his razor and shaves. The razor glides over the skin easily without any harshness and the skin is left smooth, hydrated and perfectly nourished. It can also be used as a post shave product moisturiser. A massive thumbs up from him indoors.

Rockface Post Shave Balm – 100ml £4.99

Especially formulated with aloe vera and allantoin to hydrate and allantoin and soothe the skin. This is a really useful post shave balm, my husband applied this when his skin was particularly irritated and sore, and it seemed to soothe and comfort.

Rockface Face & Body Scrub – 150 ml £4.99

A really good face and body scrub can be useful when you skin is bumpy and uneven. Containing a clever mixture of crushed walnut shells and ground rice this scrub is both gentle enough to be used on your face and tough enough to be used on your body to slough away dead skin cells and produce radiant skin. We both feel this is great to use when you want to look your ultimate best, before a night out with your mates or a date with your partner.

Rockface 48 Hour Antiperspirant Deodorant Spray – 150ml £2.99

With a stunning fragrance that is incredibly fresh without being overpowering this product has also guaranteed protection for up to 48 hours. I have packed this off with my son for his first term at uni, maybe he will get a girlfriend now, fingers crossed!

Rockface Anti-Ageing Moisturiser - RRP £5.99

My husband is out in all weathers windsurfing, and years of not taking enough care of his skin means he can do with all the help he can get - so I was eager to see if this would improve his skin. The special formulation has an active ingredient called Fucogel®which soothes and moisturises skin, as well as radish root, a natural anti-bacterial agent and five essential minerals. The antibacterial agent is a clever touch as he often complains he gets spots as well as wrinkles!

So does it work you may ask? Short term his skin looks smooth, soft, and supple, only time will tell on the anti-ageing properties but at this price I am happy to buy for my husband on a regular basis.

Rockface Energising Facewash - RRP £3.99

When you feel tired and need a pick me up consider this energising facewash. Invigorating and stimulating, the green coffee extract stimulates the skin, whilst the clever formulation containing chickpeas exfoliates and removed dead skin. Easy to use, jmy husband just massaged this into his wet face. A perfect product to use after a night out when you have had a little too much to drink or when you are tired and have to go out.

Rockface Shower Wash RRP £ 3.75

Another multi purpose product this citrus fragranced shower wash is perfect for hair and body especially first thing in the morning when you need that wake up push from the invigorating scent. Another product I am sending off with my son who loves his late nights but has to get up early for uni.

So these are the highlights of the products we were sent. Other products in the range include Rockface Shave Gel, Rockface Active Body Spray,  and Rockface All Weather Moisturiser. 

The Rockface range is available from Sainsbury’s, Superdrug, Tesco and Waitrose.  More information at, and you can follow them on twitter @rockface4men.

So if you want range that works really hard, is well priced and smells divine then consider buying this for yourself or the man in your life.

Today I am giving you a chance to win a selection of Rockface products. To enter just answer the questions on the Gleam app below. You can bookmark this page and come back for a daily entry via Twitter too. Terms and conditions are on the bottom on the app. Good luck!

You can also enter my other competitions runnning if you feel like it too :)

Win a selection of Rockface products

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

Win A Names 4 Ever Necklace - Review And Competition Ends 16/10/15

As I have said before I am a great fan of personalised jewellery. Jewellery that is unique to you. Names 4 Ever is a company that produces exactly the sort of pretty personalised jewellery that has become popular in fashion, in a choice of silver and gold.

One such design that has come back into fashion and is popular with Names 4 Ever is the name necklace like the 'Carrie' necklace. Made popular by the series Sex In The City, the 'Carrie' necklace was worn by Carrie Bradshaw who was played by Sarah Jessica Parker and was acquired when she went shopping with her best friends in the show. It symbolised being single and free.  The popularity of it grew and before long it became worn by women of all ages, single, in a relationship and married - women that adored the personalised scripted jewellery.

A design that is similar to the 'Carrie' necklace is the 'Petra' necklace. In a beautiful script, what makes this necklace stand out is the heart bottom right of the design. It is particularly popular as it is often gifted by a partner due to the symbol of love in the design.

'Petra' necklace with the personalised name Emily

Another popular necklace by Names 4 Ever is the 'Infinity' necklace. The 'Infinity 'sign is used for ultimate bonds, like love and friendships - heartfelt concepts of eternity. A lovely gift for your first love or perhaps for your partner on your wedding day, the unbroken bond of the 'Infinity' necklace is forever.
'Infinity' necklace personalised with the names Ralph and Danielle

The 'Bar' necklace is a design made by Names 4 Ever, that is simple, chic and stylish. If you want a classic look that won't date consider this necklace with your choice of engraving. If you do not want names engraved, a heart felt message or words that you live your life by can be lovingly scripted on this beautiful necklace.

'Bar' necklace personalised with the inscription Love Hope Faith

As you can see Names 4 Ever have a wide variety of personalised designs and there are so many more on their website, including engraved charms, mother and child necklaces and animal and zodiac pendants, to name a few.

Prices are realistic too for example the silver 'Petra' necklace is only £27.95. I know what I will be asking for this Christmas, that's for sure! With free shipping and delivery, there are also no hidden costs, which is great.

Today I am giving you the chance to win a name necklace in silver only. Entry is through the Gleam application below which picks the winner at random. It's easy to enter honestly, for a guide on how to enter check out this post by Super Lucky Di!

If you like the competition why don't you bookmark it as you can enter daily. If you enjoy entering competitions, I have more competitions running on my competition page here. Good luck!

Win a silver name necklace

UK competitions at ThePrizeFinder

10 Travel Safety Tips For Women

Travelling to different places around the World is so exciting. At the same time, most women worry about safety, even seasoned travellers. Yet it is absolutely safe for a woman to travel wherever she wants if she makes sure to adhere to a few safety tips. 

Here are 10 travel safety tips to ensure that women make the best out of every adventure, and I hope this is especially useful if you are on a solo trip.

Image copyright Antonio Guillem Shutterstock

1. Keep your valuables on you
Do not take anything that is too valuable or expensive and you cannot afford to lose. Leave the expensive jewellery and family momentos at home. As for the other things like your phone, laptop, and camera, take a day bag that you can carry on you at all times and never leave it out of your sight, or place in a secure safe in your hotel.

2. Take only what you need
When you are out exploring, take only the essentials with you. You do not have to carry stuff like your credit cards, all your cash, and your passport with you at all times. You can leave them locked up safe, and just carry an essential amount of cash. Just take what you need that day.

3. Control drinking
Make sure you do not drink too much. It is essential to drink sensibly and to never accept drinks from strangers.

4. Spend money to stay safe
Make sure you stay in a reputable place that is safe, even if it is costly. Remember, safety is of utmost importance. I would chose a hotel over a motel anyway as most motel rooms can be accessed from outside the building whilst most hotel rooms can only be accessed from inside the building and through a secure reception area.

5. Get travel insurance
Travel insurance is necessary to help you out even in the worst situations. Make sure you get comprehensive travel insurance to cover all eventualities such as losing buggage, accidents, natural disasters, and robbery, to give you peace of mind.

6. Check in regularly
Keep in touch with at least one family member regularly. Give a copy of your itinerary so that they know where to reach you and keep up-to-date with them on Skype, Facetime or by phone/email.

7. Keep a copy of your documents online and some secret cash
Even if the worst happens, make sure you have a copy of your documents online, and some secret cash stashed away in your luggage to help you out. Consider taking an amount of travellers cheques that can be replaced when lost or stolen or a prepaid card.

8. Blend in
Try not to look like a tourist especially in areas off the beaten track. Try to blend in to the place you are in and act as a local so others do not take advantage of you.

9. Don’t trust easily
Keep your watch and do not trust anyone too quickly. Stay on your guard and keep your wits about you. If someone knocks on your room unannounced ring reception to check who they are. Beware local scammers, on the streets that use distraction techniques. In Paris a group tried to persuade me that I lost a gold ring. I knew it wasn't mine. I then saw them try it on with someone else.

10. Make use of thorough research
Read up on your destination before you get there. This will help you get around, and blend in. Be sure to read about any unsafe areas and orientate yourself on a map so you don't go there by mistake.

I hope these travel tips have helped you stay safe with your travels. Have a great journey. Bon Voyage!

Orlando Money Saving Tips

Orlando, Florida is the fun capital of the USA. I have been to Orlando on a number of occasions with my family, visiting the theme parks and enjoying the beautiful weather. 

Here is my guide to saving money on a holiday to Orlando.

  1. Booking a hotel and flight yourself often has considerable savings on a package holiday. If you are new to a holiday in Disneyworld Florida and Orlando then get a holiday brochure for ideas and replicate the package you like. Book using a credit card for extra protection. 
  2. To compare the cost of flights use websites such as Skyscanner and Kayak. When you are ready to book a flight online, clear your cookies on your computer or go incognito or through private browsing, as it may give you a cheaper price. 
  3. If you are nervous of a DIY holiday consider a package with ATOL protected companies such as Low Cost USA, Ocean Florida and Teletext Holidays, companies that are very cost effective. 
  4. If you can avoid peak times such as school holidays in the UK, Christmas and Spring Break everything will be considerably cheaper. Booking a flight midweek is often cheaper than the weekend too. 
  5. You have to buy an ESTA to travel to the US for a small fee. Beware unofficial sites that can charge you extortionate prices.

  6. If you are buying travel products and accessories such as adaptors, travel cushions and suncream have a look in your local reputable bargain shop such as BM Bargains or Poundland. Much cheaper than buying at the airport. 
  7. If you are looking to stay in Disney accommodation, there are often offers for free Disney Dining if you buy park tickets at the same time. 
  8. Consider staying in a villa or apartment with self catering facilities. It can save a fortune even if you only have breakfast there every day. 
  9. If you are looking to book a hotel, check out the popular budget chains such as Homewood Suites which give free breakfast and happy hours with complimentary snacks and drinks. 
  10. Travelzoo and Groupon have regular deals for Orlando on hotels, attractions and restaurants. Go to the US version of these sites for the best deals and when you go to pay use the zipcode of the accommodation you are staying at.

  11. Sign up for emails with hotels and restaurants before you go for special offers. It's worth registering with the restaurants just before you go as occasionally they will send you a discount voucher via email straight away or a couple of weeks after you sign up. If you have a birthday while you are out there you may get freebies too. 
  12. Hiring a car can save on taxis if you are not centrally located, but you do have to budget for petrol and parking in the parks. Alternatively, use public transport - the Lynx bus goes from International Drive to the main tourist attractions and the IRide Trolley goes up and down International Drive. Some hotels have shuttle buses too. 
  13. If you do hire a car, consider renting a SatNav from eBay or buying one in Walmart. This is much cheaper than hiring one from a car hire company and if you buy one you can resell it later or keep for next time. Alternatively, if you have a smartphone the Navmii app allows you to use your phone as a SatNav. 
  14. Most parks will let you take in snacks and drinks, and some are even more lenient. It's not unheard of for families to take a picnic into some of the theme parks. Always check with the attraction website first though for restrictions. Refillable cups in Disney and Universal parks can also be cost-effective if you are going to be there all day.

  15. If you are happy drinking water you can get a cup of iced water free in most theme parks. This can save a fortune on soft drinks. I have heard of families taking a small bottle of concentrated squash to add to the water for fussy kids. 
  16. If you are booking any tours in advance search for discount codes online. Sites such as Viator often have discount codes at certain times of the year. Check their social media pages. 
  17. Portions can be huge, especially appetisers. Consider sharing portions - most places will let you do that if you are not in an upmarket restaurant. Some restaurants may charge a fee to split the meal, most won't but you can still save money. 
  18. Buy souvenirs outside of the parks as it is much cheaper. Most of the outlet malls have Disney merchandise for sale as well as Walmart. 
  19. Give your children an allowance for the holiday for souvenirs. This helps them manage their own money and really think about buying any extras. Reinforce that once their money is gone, it's gone.

  20. If you stay in one of the Universal hotels, you will be within a short walk or boat ride to the parks, get early admission and if you stay in the three main hotels, you will get free express passes too. The convenience of staying on site with early admission and free express passes can be worth the extra cost. 
  21. Look out for free coupon books in supermarkets and hotels or search online for 'coupon books Orlando' and print off to take with you on holiday. You can get many discounts for restaurants and attractions this way.
  22. If you have children the 'Kids Eat Free Card' can save you money. For about 20 dollars for the card, you get one free child's meal with every adult main meal for 90 days. 
  23. If you are a member of the Automobile Association in the UK (The AA) you can use your card for discounts in the US. If you see AAA discount accepted - show the Arc Europe sign on the back of your card. This link explains more. 
  24. Some hotel chains and many attractions will give a senior discount. It's always worth asking or if booking online search for senior discount and the hotel chain. Age and discounts can vary but Best Western give 10% off to those over the age of 55 for example. 
  25. If you have a smartphone lookout for apps to save money. For example, Free Prints gives you a number of photo prints free, Touchnote allows you to send your photos as free personalised postcards and Free Wi-Fi finder allows you to find free wi-fi.

If you liked these tips have a read of my Top 10 Tips - Planning A Holiday To Orlando.

Tell me do you have any holiday money saving tips?

How To Add Personality To Your Home: Personal Candle Making

Candles come in a huge range of shapes and sizes and are often used to mark special occasions such as birthday parties and romantic first dates etc. According to the National Candle Association, candles are most frequently burned in the living room (42%), followed by the kitchen (18%) and the bedroom (13%). They also stated that 7 out of 10 households use candles on a regular basis, which shows just how popular they have become in recent years. 

A candle provides a source of added comfort and when your home features even just one candle, it can instantly present a warm and welcoming atmosphere, making the space seem more homely and inviting than usual. You can add even more personality and originality into your home décor by creating your own personalised candles.

Homemade Candle Ideas

Whether you want to create liturgical candles, novelty candles, birthday candles, pillars, tapers or even jar candles, it can all be done from the convenience of your own home. You can have them fragranced if you like so that when they burn, the adjoined scent is carried through the room, providing a great source of freshness that can last for hours.

Candle making kits from Homecrafts are ideal for creating, moulding and designing original candles for all ages. Deciding which kit to get can be slightly confusing if you don’t know what you are looking for. Here are a few of the options available to help you to better decide which type of candle you wish to create and by what means:

Tea-Cup Candles: Your home décor will appear more retro thanks to these tea cup styled candles. Paraffin wax is used with these and they are incredibly simple to make. The best part is that they are easy to display as the cup sits on a perfect little saucer, ideal for the kitchen or living room.

Mouldable Wax: This option is ideal for kids because they can squish and mould the wax into any shape that they like to make their unique candle creations.

Beeswax Candles: The wick of the candle is placed along the edge of the sheet and all you have to do is firmly roll it in place. You can create extra decorative candles by combining yours with some mesh or wire to really enhance visual aesthetics.

Bright Side of Candle Making

Making your own candles is not just great for your home décor, they actually act as a great way to de-stress and calm your worries. According to craft activities such as candle making can be therapeutic and can help to ‘wash away your tension and stress’ because ‘inhaling the soothing fragrances will help to calm your mind and lift your spirits’.

They are also great money savers. You can give them out as gifts to friends and family or, if you find that you have a great knack for the craft, you could branch out even further and start your own candle-making business. Getting the kids involved is also advised because the activity will help to develop their imagination, creativity and increase productivity. 

* PR Collaboration

Customised Sandals From K Jacques

K Jacques are a family owned business that are known for their fabulous gladiator sandals. At the heart of this third generation business in St Tropez is fabulous craftsmanship and stunning design.

Producing sandals for men, women and children one aspect of their business that is unique to them is the customisation process. Here a pair of sandals can be customised in a few easy steps. If you are not sure which design you want, you can browse the 'Inspiration Gallery'.

From flat sandals, wedges, stacked heels and moccasins, there are many choices of style you can have. 

To customise a style you have two ways of doing this. 

By using 'Customise All Style' you click on a design you like and go from there. By clicking 'Let's Choose' you select a style and size then click on 'Customize This Model'.

Then every part of the sandals can be customised. The sock or insole and each part of the leather can be chosen in a different design and material. Colours range from black, navy and brown to floral prints, metallic golds and even snake skin and animal prints.

This process can be tremendous fun and very therapeutic.  I urge you to have a try and unleash your inner fashionista! I particularly liked the soft suede materials in a vibrant blue colour. If you are not sure about your design, then you can save it until you decide what you want to order.

Using the customisation process you can produce something beautiful that are made to your specifications and at a fraction of the cost of a handmade pair.

Although the company is based in France, delivery is in 10 working days and is easily tracked. My sandals were delivered to the UK within this time by Fedex. I chose a two tone pair of wedge sandals made with a beautiful soft blue suede and a dark sole.

I'm afraid I am not hugely adventurous when it comes to design but as I said you can chose many different patterns and materials in the process of making your customised sandals.

An array of designs that you can customise to your specifications 

The quality is excellent too, the stitching is even and perfect and the materials are soft and supple. I find sometimes sandals can be a little tight across on my foot but these were a comfortable fit. You even get a bag to keep the shoes in as well as a box.

So if you want a pair of fashionable customised sandals, of excellent quality, for a fraction of the price of handmade shoes then consider K Jacques. 
Family Fever

Dismaland Review - Banksy's Modern Art Exhibition

It's not often you visit an attraction and hope you are thoroughly disappointed but it's not often you visit Dismaland.

If you haven't heard all the media frenzy over the artist Banksy' new collaboration then you must have lived on Mars for the last month.

Prepared in secret, the pop-up exhibition on the site of an old lido on the seafront in Weston-Super-Mare, opened on the 21st of August for a 5 week run. Locals were told a Hollywood crime thriller was being filmed on the site so were surprised when the true nature of the project was revealed.

We are big fans of modern art in our house, and it's not often you get an exhibition like this within easy driving distance of South Wales, so we decided to see if we could get tickets online and visit this exciting exhibition.

Four thousand tickets are available everyday and we managed to get tickets within 30 minutes of them going on sale, soon after they were sold out for our date. 
Tickets are available until the 27th of September and there are a small number everyday for walk ups as well as the main way of booking which is online. 

I live in a seaside town and the resemblance to a fairground attraction past its prime is spot on.  In fact wandering around Weston-Super-Mare before and after you can see why Banksy put this exhibition here. A seaside town slightly faded from it's 50's heyday and close to where Bristol born Banksy lived. In fact it's highly likely that Banksy visited Weston when he was a child, maybe the idea has been there in his head for years.

Dismaland staff are suitably depressed, unhelpful and sarcastic

Staff are suitably sullen and miserable and it is all part of the experience. My son was stopped by a 'security' person as he was videoing. She stood there whilst he was filming, with her hand over his camcorder whilst eating a Kit Kat. This is all part of the show by the way.

Modern art often has underlying meaning and social commentary on the state of life, the Universe and everything, and the way this exhibition delves into this is no different. A 'fairy tale castle', inside being a overturned princess carriage with the paparazzi taking photos, and the boats full with immigrants looking solemn as they float into the abyss are some such artworks. Thought provoking stuff. Then there is the fun aspect of the exhibition - the hook a duck stall with the prize being a fish finger in a plastic bag for example. 

Like a grown up dystopian apocalyptic fairground, some things add that run down feeling - in the castle wires protrude from the ceiling, signs are shakily handwritten, no bright painted attractions here, everything is, well, dismal. That is except the carousel, bright, inviting to children, fun - oh yes there is a strange model of a man dressed as a surgeon with a knife sitting there...

It's not just Banksy either, 58 other artists are involved including Damien Hirst, Jimmy Caulty and Jenny Holzer.

Would this work in any other country? Probably not. There is something about the great British sense of humour that loves this mickey take of Disney (no pun intended) and the saccharin sweetness that is the American theme park.

“Are you looking for an alternative to the soulless sugar-coated banality of the average family day out? Or just somewhere cheaper. Then this is the place for you — a chaotic new world where you can escape from mindless escapism. Instead of a burger stall, we have a museum. In place of a gift shop we have a library, well, we have a gift shop as well.

“Bring the whole family to come and enjoy the latest addition to our chronic leisure surplus —a bemusement park. A theme park who’s big theme is: theme parks should have bigger themes…

“This event contains adult themes, distressing imagery, extended use of strobe lighting, smoke effects and swearing. The following items are strictly prohibited: knives, spraycans, illegal drugs, and lawyers from the Walt Disney corporation."

Dismaland is bemusing, yet amusing too. A family day out? If your family likes grown up modern art then yes, it's not for little ones that is for sure. If you like modern art then go, and don't forget to exit through the gift shop....

Dragons and Fairy Dust