It’s official, UK inflation has hit an all-time high.  What does this mean for your family budget?  Fuel and food prices rising and continuing to rise with the average household having to spend £000’s more on the likes of fuel, food and utility bills.


While there is nothing a family can do about the situation that plays out in the economy, it is possible to take steps to reduce the impact on your family budget.



As a mum of two teenage boys, I know how difficult it can be setting and sticking to a family budget, but it’s a very useful tool keeping track of your spending – it is a visual aid which you can use to reduce or cut back.


While the old-fashioned method of pen and paper is sound, most of us own smartphones which are by our side night and day, so I decided to road-test two free-to-download budgeting apps to see how they work and if they could help track our family spending.


Wally App (available on iPhone & Android)

The Wally App is a personal finance app that helps you compare your income and expenditure, it also allows you to set goals and keep track of your spending.  One of my feature features of this app is the option to add a photo of your receipt – that way you know exactly what you purchased, where, when and for how much – it is a real eye-opener seeing all your receipts in one place!  The app is totally free with the additional bonus of being advert free!


Toshl (iPhone & Android)

Toshl Finance is an app that allows you to keep track of where your money goes with an additional feature of being able to set a reminder of when you need to pay bills.  It is very straightforward to use and it is easy to place your spending in to separate categories or setting up new categories.  The easy to use budget calculator shows how much money you have left once you make purchases but an excellent feature is that you can set a goal of what you want to spend, it will then let you see how much you have left – a fantastic visual way of knowing the amount you have left in the bank!  Another clever feature is the ability to set a reminder on the app which will notify you to add your spending – extremely useful for all busy parents.


Smart shopping

For some families, grocery bills can be a bank balance strain – especially with teenagers in the house!  Over the past year, I have tested several apps and have saved £000’s on my grocery shop. These smartphone apps could help you stay within your household budget or even reduce your grocery bill with the added benefit of you not having to turn in to an ‘extreme couponer’ to benefit from free grocery items or money off!


Put quite simply the following apps give you back money you spend on items that they have listed on their particular app.  The difference between the app as opposed to a coupon is that you need to purchase the product first before getting your money back.  Each app has a different selection of products with some at times offering 100% cashback – making the item free!




This app allows you to claim cashback on items you’ve bought from some of the major supermarkets and other retailers such as Superdrug or Boots.  Free to download, the offers change or update each week.  The offers can be valid for in-store or online so it’s best to check the terms and conditions for each item.  It is extremely easy to use, you buy the product, when safely at home take a photo of your receipt, upload it via the app and receive the cashback directly to your bank account or Paypal account, although there is a minimum payment withdrawal of £5.



Another cashback app which is very straightforward to use, you browse the products on the app, make a purchase, scan the item and upload your receipt in the comfort of your own home.  Payment is normally within 72 hours and is automatically transferred to your bank or Paypal account each claim you make.  A great feature of this app is the option to view the nearest store to you where you can make a purchase, so you should have no problem knowing where to go!  While most of the items are grocery items there are times when they offer a discount on wine or beauty products.


If you use my referral link you can claim a box of Cornettos!  Use code KMHECCCP.


Have you used any of these apps before or are you going to start using them?  We would love to hear your comments.  Let us know your thoughts and especially let us know how much you save!


Happy money saving!


Elf x



save money





Summer can be a stressful time for families, especially when school is out.  As hard as we might try, our budget is often stretched during the summer as we try to keep our boys entertained.  So, I’ve been trying to research what we can do with the boys over the long summer months here in Northern Ireland.  We have 8 weeks holiday in Northern Ireland compared to the English holidays which are six.


I thought I would share some of the activities we plan to do that won’t break the bank!


Going to a museum

Most museums are free and you can spend hours looking round all the exhibits.  For us the largest is the Ulster Museum and to have a mummy in the exhibits always excites me!  We have been a few times before but they often have new exhibits which keeps it fresh for the boys.  Oh, and not to mention a great coffee shop to sit down for a cuppa and some cake!


Going for a picnic

Going out with the boys can be expensive especially purchasing something to eat.  Now that they are teenagers, a child’s portion won’t do!  Having a picnic is a great alternative.  Of course, it really does depend on the weather but if you plan it will make for a great day out.  We love eating outdoors – how come food is much tastier in the great outdoors?


Go on an adventure

There are so many places close to where we live that we haven’t been.  I’m sure there are some in your area too.  Why not go and explore?  Indeed, leave the car behind and go on public transport and see where you end up.  Our regional bus and train service do fantastic deals over the summer for families.  I’m sure those local to you do too.  Go explore!


Learn something new

I have recently taken up sewing.  There is so much help to be found on the internet that can help you with developing a new skill.  It has been great getting ‘lessons’ for free to enable me to learn how to make things.  I’m hoping that I can convince my boys to think of something they would like to learn and use the internet to develop it.  I will keep you posted if this one works!


Don’t let being on a budget stop you and your family having fun this summer.  Also, check your local listings to see what other things are free to do this summer.




Elf x




summer on a budget






Out of all of the rooms in your home, your bedroom should be the space that best reflects you and your character. It’s the most personal room after all! So if you’re into vintage aesthetics, you should make sure that your room exemplifies this. One main issue that people have with creating a vintage look in their bedroom is that they want to avoid making their rooms look simply old fashioned or outdated. So here’s a quick guide to creating a modern space with a vintage vibe.


vintage look




Lighting makes all the difference to the atmosphere of a room. You need to consider both the style of the fitting and the quality and tone of light that it gives out. Avoid extremely modern and sleek fittings like spotlights. Instead, opt for pendant fixtures and quaint little lamps. You will be able to find so many beautiful true vintage or antique lamps at car boot sales, vintage furniture fairs and online. Alternatively, you can choose brand new items with a vintage design. These will be easier to get your hands on but lack the unique quality of genuine vintage goods. When it comes to the bulbs, try to find something with a softer, warmer glow. Avoid blue tones. Manufacturers have actually started making vintage style light bulbs, so keep an eye out for these in your local hardware store or home store.




You should have minimal furniture in your room so that your space doesn’t look too overwhelming. But the items of furniture that you do have should be statement pieces. Go all out. This might be a four poster bed or a chic chaise longue. Again, check out vintage furniture fairs. These are affordable and you will be able to find some real gems. Bedside tables, cabinets, bookshelves. You name it, there will be something there to suit your needs and your living space perfectly.




Accessories are the subtle items that will make all of the difference to the overall look of your room. Choose them wisely. A good place to start is bedding. Depending on the era you are trying to emulate, designs will be different. For fifties country, you might consider soft gingham check bedding. For the sixties feel, bold and bright prints and patterns. Seventies summer of love? Silky fabrics in bright oranges, reds and dark browns. Regardless of the bedding, make sure that you still have luxury mattresses to keep things soft and cozy. Extreme comfort is definitely one of the perks of modern day life.


vintage vinyl


Wall Art


Search online for vintage posters or vintage reproduction posters. These will add a cute vintage touch to your room and will also give people an idea of your interests. The poster could be for a favorite band or a preferred film. Have posters framed to avoid making your room look like a teenage den. You can also get frames that perfectly fit an LP record. So frame your all time favorite record or piece of album art too!



vintage bedroom



When it comes to the summer (usually just a two-week heat wave followed by rain in the UK), we want to get out into our garden and enjoy the balmy nights as much as we can. However, lighting goes a long way towards making your garden more atmospheric and generally a nicer place to be. Here are the top lighting trends for this summer, and how you can incorporate them into your own space.


Fairy lights

Fairy lights are perfect in a garden, as they emit a nice warm glow rather than a harsh bright light. They’re also incredibly versatile – they can be wrapped around trees, draped along your fence or strung across an open area.

Natural influences

To make your lighting blend naturally into the garden, go for pieces that have a natural finish – wooden lanterns and so on. They will blend naturally into the landscape for an earthy look.

Using lights as focal point

You can use lighting as a way to bring attention to the focal points of your garden; trees, rockery or even your home. Using lighting on the focal points will bring your garden together seamlessly.


Lanterns aren’t only a source of light; they also make a fantastic decorating feature. They come in many different styles – you can light them with tea lights, with full sized candles or even artificially with LED lights. They look good as a centrepiece on outdoor tables, or strung up on fences.

Rope lights to highlight borders

The borders of your garden can sometimes be overlooked by other features like flowers and plants. However, you can highlight these neglected areas with LED rope lighting, which is surprisingly affordable, yet effective. You can even use this lighting for your pathways.

Statement lighting

Chandeliers, pendant lighting and other statement pieces are no longer just for indoors. Lately, we’ve seen an increase in the number of outdoor chandeliers that will transform any outdoor space into a sophisticated environment.

Solar lights

Solar lights are yet another affordable way to bring lighting to your garden. They’re energy efficient, simple to install and often pretty weatherproof. It’s usually trial and error with solar lights, so try a variety of brands until you find a reliable one.

Ground lights

Ground lighting isn’t just good for ambience in your garden, it’s also important for safety. Use rope lights to define pathways, and downlights on features. If you have decking, recessed decking lights are safe, weatherproof and also very effective.


Shadow lighting

If you have an interesting statue in your garden, why not use lighting to highlight it? Use a spotlight pointing upwards to achieve this, and you will cast a shadow on to your fence or home. This also works for plants and trees.



garden lighting




As you know I love all things vintage.  So you probably know then that I love watching vintage sitcoms such as The Good Life.  I would love to live off the land just like Tom and Barbara.  I love growing my own vegetables but I have to admit I’m not very good at it!  Over the years I have attempted many things with little success.  So this year I have decided to concentrate on two things.  Surely I can’t go wrong?



Salad is a staple for us during the summer.  Buying lettuce from the supermarket is pretty hit or miss.  Often it goes soggy in the bag.  So this year I have decided to grow two types of lettuce leaves.


grow your own lettuce

My idea is to continually sow the seeds throughout the summer.  As you can see here these salad leaves look great after 4 weeks.  Although you can already see those pesky snails eating the bottom leaves!


lettuce leaves

As you can see from the lollo rosso mix above, they just look so delicious.  Doesn’t look like the snails have made their way to these ones yet!


See a full range of salad leaves here.



Apparently onions are virtually maintenance free!  I do know the last time I grew onions they worked!  Either I did something right or they are indeed maintenance free.  I planted these onions in spring time, they should be ready in late summer when the foliage yellows and starts to die.  Hopefully I will be able to lift them up and dry them out.  They should last for a good few months in the garage.

If you are interested in growing onions, you could try here.




As you can see, there are some weeds starting to appear.  That’s a job for tomorrow though!


I’d love to know what you’re growing in your garden?  What vegetables have you found to be the easiest?


Elf x



grow your own