Monday, 31 August 2015

DEGUSTABOX | July 2015

Well I'm so sorry this is so late! I've really tried to make sure that we'd tried all of the things in the box this time before writing up my little review, and only in the last couple of days did we have the last bits.

The July Degustabox was a decent enough one.  It hasn't blown me away, but similarly we did enjoy (between us) what was in there. So without me waffling along, here's what I had :)

Lambrini - £3.29
It's been YEARS since I've had Lambrini.  My memories of it are mostly heartburn, but enjoying the taste.  Well this is their So Strawberry version, which I can say is super duper yummy! Both the hubby and I demolished it, and it didn't give us heartburn, YAY!

Newtons Appl Fizzics - £1.20
This is an apple juice and sparkling water drink - this is one the hubby had (I'm not great with apple juice) which he really loved.  He said it was tasty and refreshing, so it's got the man stamp of approval!

Lambrini and Newtons apple juice

Tasty Little Numbers - £3.49 (each)
These were ones for the hubby too as they both had meat in them and I'm vegetarian.  He had these at the weekend and on toast.  He said they were nice, pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a 'nice' ready meal and said that he'd be happy to have them again - he also added that yes they're a bit expensive, but they were better than Sainsburys ready meals, so he said if you want a nice one, these are worth paying a little extra for :)  In our box we had the beef sausage & beans one, and the chicken tikka masala one :)

Tasty Little Numbers (ready meals)

Fru Snax - £1.25 each
These are a low calorie high taste snack (just 45 cals a pack).  They're a bit strange, but not in a bad way.  They have dried (well, dehydrated from freezing them) pieces of fruit in them, and rectangular shapes of yoghurt.  My favourite pack was the fig with cherry yoghurt melts (even Squidge liked the yoghurt melts!), the strawberry was a bit overwhelming in flavour for me!

Fru Snax

Quinola Mothergrain - Tex Mex Quinoa - £1.99
I haven't tried this yet... Squidge is too young for it and well, I keep forgetting we have it!  I love quinoa though, it's packed with protein and a good source of it for us veggies!  I love that they only take 30 seconds to heat up too.

Taking the Pea - £1.50
Now these were tasty! Think wasabi peas, but cheese and onion flavoured (yeah, weird!).  The hubby and I made short work of these!

Quinola Mothergrain and Taking the Pea

Vitamins Jele... 
Now I'm not sure this was supposed to be in the box as it's not listed on the card - however, it was in the June box (hence the confusion!) and listed as £1.20... the hubby had it in June, and I had it this time around.  I absolutely loved it, it's packed with flavour (like Ribena) but with little jelly pieces in it (think Aloe drinks), yummy!

Jele Vitamins drink

Weetabix On The Go - £1.49 each
These were interesting! I had the vanilla one, and the hubby had the chocolate one.  He really loved his, I liked mine but found it odd.  It's like a thick drinkable yoghurt.  It kept us reasonably full until lunch time (as good as having a proper breakfast) too :)

Weetabix on the go

Say Yes to No - Sour cream & Onion toasted bread chips - £1.49
In all honesty, I wasn't a fan of these.  They were packed with flavour, and the format I liked (toasted bread chips), but they just had a bit of a tang that I didn't really like.  They're not something I'd buy if I was in the shop, but I would be happy to try other flavours of these :)

Say yes to no

So there you have it, a pretty decent box, lots of things we liked and only a couple of things we weren't as fond of :)  If you'd like to try Degustabox I have a voucher code that'll give you £3 off your first box, just enter the code 73CEX when you get to the checkout to apply it.
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Sunday, 30 August 2015

BOARD GAMES | Timeline - Historical Events

One thing I want to incorporate with my blog's new direction is board game reviews.  If you follow me on Instagram, you might well already know I'm a board game geek.  Over the years the hubby and I have accumulated quite a collection.  I'm not talking about games like Monopoly and Cludo, I'm talking *real* games.  Games like Pandemic, Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride (Europe) etc.  I'm hoping to bring you at least one board game review a month, preferably more :)

The Timeline tin

I'm kicking off this series with a short, fun and educational game called Timeline. It's a fun and simple game that's really easy to learn.  It's a great introduction into slightly different games if you're looking to try something a little different.  There are 5 different versions of the game, the one I have is the 'Historical Events' version, don't worry, you don't need to be 'good' at history to play this, after playing a couple of times you'll soon learn when lots of these historical events happened :)

Side of the Timeline box

Close up of cards from Timeline
Close up of the cards in the game

The game is made up of a series of small cards.  On the front there is an image depicting the event (I like to use these as clues - often you can look at elements of the drawing to give things away, so look at the weapons being used, the clothing people are wearing or the buildings etc), and the name of the event.  You then have to decide if the card you chose from your hand, occurs before or after the starting card in the timeline (in my pic the starting card is 'The End of World War II' - 1945 - it's the card from the top of the pile, you simply place it down and turn it over to reveal the date to kick off the timeline).

Each player is dealt 4 cards which are date-down.  You have a draw pile which you will draw a card from if you place a card down incorrectly (if you put a card down and turn it over to reveal the date, and you've placed it in the wrong place).  If that happens, you discard the card and draw a new one. The winner of the game is the first person to get rid of all their cards (successfully placing them in the timeline).

A typical Timeline setup for 2 people

A Timeline game in play

The suggested game duration is 15 mins which is pretty accurate, depending on how many rounds you want to play.  The more people you have, the more complicated it gets, as when you have lots of cards in the timeline, it's easier to make a mistake, unless you really *know* the date of the event you're placing down.

It's a fun game to kick off an evening of board games, or just to have a quick couple/few rounds if you have a spare half hour or so.  I'll be taking this one into work to play during a lunchtime (yes, there's lots of geeks where I work and we regularly meet up to play board games at lunch) :)  If you're looking to buy this, it costs £12.99* and you can pick it up from Waterstones, and online at WH Smith and Argos.
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Friday, 28 August 2015

STUDENT | Debt diaries

Pictures of me as a student
Me from my student days :)

Back years ago when I was in uni, I got into a real financial pickle.  And with students about to go back to uni or start uni, I thought now would be an apt time to talk about what I went through, and how I got myself out of it.

My first year in uni wasn't a happy one.  I was seriously home-sick and didn't make any friends in the halls I was in, quite the opposite.  I ended up spending money to try and make myself feel better, but like a lot of these splurges, it was a temporary high and after a splurge buyers remorse would set in and I'd feel even worse than before.

Fast forward 2 years and I'd calmed my spending down, but still had a mountain of debt thanks to me needing to cash bad cheques (for things like food and rent) that put me firmly outside of my overdraft.  Even after leaving uni and getting a resolve loan to sort out my debt, I still needed help as I wasn't earning enough to really live off.  I was earning about £750 a month and my rent was nearly £400.  The resolve loan took over £80 a month of my wages, leaving me only £270 for council tax, water, electricity, gas, phone, TV license, internet and food.  At the end of every month I'd be firmly down to my last pennies, if not worse.

Things eased up when the boyfriend got a proper job and we moved in together, but debt still followed me.  We had quite a few unexpected bills for the car we had and ended up owing a couple thousand on our credit card.  After a couple years of paying the minimum and not really seeing the amount owed going down we decided to go for a balance transfer credit card - we still paid the same amount off each month, but instead of it being 90% interest, every penny we paid was paying the balance off. This was a much quicker way to pay off the debt, and with each month it was paid, it was helping my credit score.

TIP - never taking on any debt won't give you a good credit score.  But taking on some debt, like a credit card or overdraft and using it and paying it off regularly will, just make sure you don't have any late payments, because that won't help :)

That being said, you need to be really careful if you are considering getting a credit card by making sure the interest rate isn't extortionate - store cards are terrible for it and often can have rates as high as 25-30%, whereas a credit card from the bank is likely to be under 20% - that may not sound like a lot, but it really adds up fast.

Another tip is that if you find yourself really struggling and getting into debt, it can be really scary, but go and speak to your bank.  Ultimately, they'll want their money back, so are usually willing to help even if that's setting up an affordable payment plan for you.  I was so lucky to get a resolve loan, that was all because I went in to speak to them, otherwise I could have faced bankruptcy, and you definitely want to avoid that.

I hope this somehow helps - just remember, no store cards and no payday loans and if you're in financial trouble, speak to your bank :)
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