When it gets to December I usually find myself looking back over the year and wondering how it’s gone by so quickly.
I also take time out to think about how much I’ve achieved (hence the monthly blogging month posts) and what I’d like to accomplish in 2020.
I know that I love learning new things, baking, interiors and travel, so I want to try and incorporate elements of these into new experiences in 2020. That’s the plan anyway.
And I'm pleased to say that I've started as I mean to go on by enjoying a whistle-stop getaway to a place called Aachen in Germany a few weeks ago. As VIP heads up the German department at a school, he was offered a weekend ‘taster trip’ and was allowed to bring the family with him.
We had a whale of a time, trying out a range of activities, visiting the Christmas markets, making the most of the youth hostel and enjoying a day at Phantasialand.
But while I was there I had a secret mission of my own – test out a new money travel card called Currensea to see if it was any good. The beta version of the card was being rolled out and I was asked if I wanted to test it. As it's linked directly to my bank account and eliminates international transactions fees, I thought ‘why not?’
Making holiday money easy
What I liked about the card (apart from being easy to order and set up), was that it allows me to spend directly from my own bank account – I didn't have to worry about moving money around or load up a different card.
There are no hidden fees, no transaction fees and the card offers competitive exchange rates – all win-wins for me, and the company has teamed up with a number of high street banks including Lloyds, Bank of Scotland, Halifax, RBS, NatWest, Ulster, Nationwide, Barclays, Santander, HSBC, First Direct and TSB.
I was only planning on using my card in a couple of places while we were away, but as we didn’t get any euros out in time for our trip, I ended up using it across the whole weekend – at gift shops, cafes and restaurants, supermarkets and even at Phantasialand. And you know what? It worked a treat – every single time.
And what I REALLY loved about the experience was that just a few moments after using the card, I’d receive an email telling me where my card was used and how much I had spent, showing the amount I had paid in both euros and pounds.
It’s a no brainer really isn’t it? No hidden fees and no transaction fees means that my Currensea card has now become a stay-in-my-purse card, ready for our next adventure. Roll on 2020!
I had the opportunity to try out a new product called Scoof. VIP and I like our coffee, but I’m forever finding it a pain to clean out the cafetière. Most of whatever is left goes in the food compost and then I’ll stand over the sink or bin trying to clean the darn thing.
So when I saw this innovative little product called Scoof, which offers a dual purpose, I had to give it a go. First things first, I made VIP a coffee and used Scoof to stir the granules (you just raise and lower Scoof into the coffee and the blades automatically turn like a spinning top to mix the coffee).
Later that day he remarked how nice the coffee was that I made him earlier, commenting on how it was more flavoursome. No word of a lie – he hasn't really done that before. I thought he might be hinting at wanting another cup, but he wasn't – he was simply saying it tasted nice. So I showed him Scoof and what its purpose was and he was impressed.
What I was more impressed with though was that it made the whole clean-up process much easier and mess free just by twisting it. Oh and it's dishwasher safe too – another brownie point!
In the process of trying out Scoof, I also learned a few new things about coffee granules and what they can be used for. You might be interested to know that they are a good nitrogen rich compost or fertiliser; they can be sprinkled around precious plants as a green barrier against slugs and snails; blended with olive oil to make a facial scrub; and even mixed with sawdust to make fuel logs.
Scoof would make an alternative pressie for coffee lovers who like to use cafetières to appreciate good coffee and is available on Amazon from £9.95 – enjoy!
The organising bug
Another one of my December Favourite Finds is a series I came across on Netflix called Tidying up with Marie Kondo. I just happened across it one day and decided to watch the trailer. Well, three hours later I was wishing I hadn’t. I had managed to get through the first three episodes and was hooked. But I’d also lost three hours that could have been better spent. Ah well.
The good news about the newfound series is that watching it makes me want to start organising my whole house from top to bottom – that’s the effect it has on me! I remember watching Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners and feeling a sudden urge to clean everything and Marie Kondo had the same effect except with tidying.
I’m looking forward to New Year’s Eve as I believe the next series of You is out. Roll on 2020!
A little lift
I was lucky enough to be sent a gift box from littlelifts this month. The charity works directly with hospitals in Norfolk and Suffolk, where boxes are given out to patients during chemotherapy planning or review meetings with their oncology or breast care team.
It’s such a thoughtful gift – and it’s wonderful that charities like this exist; ‘Little Lifts’ is an apt name for a box that can bring those undergoing chemotherapy a lot of joy.
There were no expectations in sending me the box – they just wanted to put a smile on my face – and what a smile. Let’s just say that it brought me more than a ‘little lift’! In fact, I was surprised at how much they managed to pack inside the box – and that they'd thought of all eventualities.
The gift box included herbal teas, a heat pack, face and body lotion, an eye mask, notebook and pen, Elderflower and cucumber cordial, a water bottle, chocolate, lip balm, grow your own plant, lolly recipes and moulds, toothpaste and a soft toothbrush, hot chocolate, plastic cutlery, crosswords & puzzles, a selection of sweets and crisps, cordial, tissues, some chilli oil and mixed herbs, crisps, chewing gum, munch seeds and a tote bag.
I can’t believe that they had managed to cram so much into the box – and even though I’ve completed chemo and I’m now on radiotherapy, the contents of the box have come in very handy. This is such a thoughtful gift for those undergoing treatment and packs in so many useful items – I’d definitely consider gifting this for someone going through chemo.
In the run up to Christmas I’ve been doing a lot of shopping – both on and offline. I learned my lesson this year though, feeling particularly rushed as Christmas Day hurtled towards me at great speed; so much so that I didn’t feel prepared at all.
It left me feeling a little annoyed at myself for not better preparing for it. And a few times I found myself vowing that next year will be different. So you’ll be pleased to hear that on Boxing Day I popped down to Sainsbury’s and made a start on buying next year’s Christmas Cards. Yep, so far I’ve picked up packs of 10 cards for just 65p each. I also purchased some Christmas labels and bought a few gifts that were reduced – they’ll make ideal birthday gifts for friends throughout the year.
I’ve also vowed to buy gifts that I think people will like throughout the year – I mean, really spread the cost of Christmas. Just think how smug I’ll feel if I manage to get pretty much all my Christmas shopping done and dusted by the end of November. That’s going to be one of the promises I make to myself.
I’m also going to start paying attention to what my friends like – to discover the products that they use time and time again. And because I realise that my memory isn’t great, I’ve decided to keep a book to write it all down in. Goal setting right?!
Anyway, what I really wanted to write about was my mini shopping spree at The Works on Black Friday. I had my eye on this 3 Tier Storage Trolley for a while and was delighted when it got reduced from £40 to £25. At the same time I bought a Dual USB Port In-Car Charger for just £3 (reduced from £5) and the total came to £28.
Because I had spent over £25 I got free delivery. BUT I went through Top Cashback and got a further 12% off, so the total came to £24.64 instead of the original £45– a bargain! Just thought I’d share that.
What have you been enjoying recently? Any great products to share?