New Cousin

Can a Samsung SSD be installed by a 7 year old boy?

New Cousin
New Cousin!

 

The people at Samsung asked me if I would like to install an SSD (Solid State Hard Drive) into my MacBook Pro to show how easy it is.  With my schedule being tight I asked Curly Headed Boy if he fancied it instead (as the Big Hairy Northern One was jumping up and down in excitement about an SSD – apparently they are faster and he’d been looking to get one).

Of course CHB was right up for it,  so I’m going to pass over my blog to Curly Headed Boy and his ‘new’ cousin Jonny or ‘His Trusty Side Kick’.

As an aside before you watch the VERY funny video (even if you care nothing for computers), don’t you think it is lovely how ‘the trusty side kick’ has been accepted by CHB and Little Dimples (he’s a ‘new’ cousin despite being 23 as one of my brother’s has just got married).  Jon arrived on friday, and was launched upon by two very excited children immediately and they didn’t let go until monday morning (they are currently in mourning!).

For any geeks in you there is also a video of the difference in boot time with and without the SSD (ooooh!).

So over to the boys:

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Samsung SSD instructions
Samsung SSD instructions

When Samsung offered to provide one of their top of the line SSD drives for us to review the offer was very tempting. Claims of faster boot-up times, file searches, app starts-ups, less downtime and lower power usage.  It all looked good.

But in a MacBook Pro?

After some reading and discussion, the decision was yes.  Having finished the reading the process to replace a hard drive in a MacBook Pro wasn’t complicated.  But could a 7 year old open a MacBook Pro, remove the old Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and put in a new Solid State Drive (SSD)? That was the challenge I put to curly headed boy. I may have mentioned he risked Christmas if it went wrong (as you will see!).

The only tools required to do the job are a screwdriver and a torx driver. Oh and a 7yr old prepared to risk Christmas!

The steps involved are
1.    Format SSD to Mac OS
2.    Clone the original HDD
3.    Remove the old HDD
4.    Install the new SSD

 

Step 1. Format SSD to Mac OS

The new drive was connected to the MacBook Pro using a USB/SATA cable. After a minute the new drive showed up but it was not recognized and needed formatting. Open up disk utility and erase the drive reformatting to Mac OS.  This took a few minutes.

 

Step 2. Clone the original HDD

The cloning was completed using Carbon Copy Cloner (http://www.bombich.com) and was a simple process.  Download the software, select the source, select the destination and press go.  Copy time is about 1GB a minute, so the cloning process can be lengthy if the original drive is quite full. This cloning went without a hitch again using the USB/SATA cable.

 

Steps 3. & 4. Install

Was a case of handing the drive over to curly headed boy. In his own style he then proceeded to follow the instructions.

The whole process from start to finish took about 3 hours as the donor hard drive was not that full and the majority of the time was the cloning. At the end of the video the new machine is booted and to the relief of everyone worked fine first time.

(There was a slight glitch as the instructions were for a PC and we didn’t have a torx driver).

 

Difference

The claims will only be realized over time, but initial impressions are very positive.  The first claim of faster bootup can be tested easily here as we have two identical MacBook Pro’s (well they were until the SSD was installed)

As can be seen the SSD is 5 seconds quicker which is a great start for the new SSD.  The biggest change is in the start time for things like email etc, which are now pretty immediate.

I’m expecting it to be more resilient, especially with the hard wear that the lap tops get, and something that is very hard disk intensive e.g. video or image processing will be faster.

Curly headed boy is over the moon with his first installation and Christmas has been saved!  (No, of course we wouldn’t have cancelled Christmas!).

Update: The Big hairy northern one did a fresh install (big time difference) and a shorter version of Curly Headed Boy, check out his post here:

 

*Disclosure – we were given a Samsung SSD worth around £400 for the review, but our opinions are our own.

Blogs

How to start up your own parent blog and why you want to!

I went to chat with the deliciously ditzy Sophie Sulehria on the last bank holiday at BBC3 Counties Radio about how I got into blogging.

Have a listen to her, I really hope that BBC3CR give her a permanent slot soon, as she has a great warm air about her that just makes you smile.  Plus at the moment their schedule is ALL MEN (tut tut BBC3CR!!):

 

I am REALLY passionate about blogging, because it can be:

1) Cathartic

2) A great support community

3) Fab diary of your children’s younger years

4) A way to learn new skills

5) Gets you to read interesting, educational and funny blogs

6) Possibly even a way to earn money or get treats for the family

 

I think that it can be magic for people, as long as they don’t go into it with pre-concieved ideas of what they are going to get from it.  You don’t have to do it the way I have, where it has taken over my life, it can just be a once a week/month quick post.  Just start writing about whatever is going on with you and then change as your interests change.

Remember blogs posts are:

1) Short and pithy.

2) Pictures are great.

3) Have lots of white space.

4) Always have a WHITE background, not black with white writing.

5) You don’t have to be a writer or have any qualifications to do it

 

I didn’t realise I could write, or would enjoy it.  There are hints right from my child hood that it is ‘what I’m meant to be doing’, but it took a while for me to notice – doh!  I’ve been a geek, and a tree-hugger, but now due to my blog I’m an ‘author‘ too.  Loads of people I’ve met have found a new career through blogging, not necessarily to become a writer, but maybe a new interest or a career in PR, social media or even radio!

It’s free to start, just go to blogger or wordpress.com (my fave).  Pick a name, but first make sure no one else has got the same blog name (i.e. google for the ” blog”).  Your blog can be totally honest, partially (my choice) or completely anonymous if you prefer.

There can be some downsides of course!

1) It is highly addictive (unplug frequently)

2) The technical/social media stuff can be overwhelming (just take it one step at a time)

3) Blogging can be competitive and bitchy (ignore, ignore, ignore!)

4) One sign of success is getting trolls (doesn’t happen until you are really successful normally).

 

St Albans is the blogging capital of the UK and there are loads of bloggers in Herts, Beds and Bucks, so if you are local you will find lots of people to help you out – just come and make contact with us on twitter and start reading our blogs and commenting and we will reciprocate.  It’s like normal relationship, you don’t become best friends straight away, but you do get closer as time goes by; I have some fab friends online now a days, many of whom I have met face to face (I’ve been blogging for 4 years).

Another place to find blogs is on awards list.  As it would happen I’ve been short listed for a Brilliance in blogging award and could do with a vote, meanwhile you can check out the other fab blogs (but remember it’s me you are voting for!!!).

 

If you are a new blog, or are in Herts, Beds and Bucks and what to meet fellow bloggers, remember to add a comment below.

Got any questions about starting a blog?  I’m happy to help.

I’ve been shortlisted in the Brilliance in Blogging Awards – Please vote for me!

Thank you so much to who ever nominated me in the BiBs2013, I’ve been shortlisted in the video category!

I was a little surprised about this, as it was my plan to really start getting into videos this year, and I didn’t feel I had embraced it properly yet.

But it’s given me a boost to do lots more, thank you!

And if there is any chance that you have a couple of seconds to vote for me, I’d be really chuffed!  (Check out the other blogs if you like and then click on the bit that says ‘vote in the 2013 BiBs’ to actually vote).

What have I done?

Here is my YouTube Channel, it’s got lots of bits and pieces on it.

I had a think about what videos I have done:

 

My kids are the stars of the show of course!:

 

My most popular is the gorgeous David Tennant!

 

Most recently there have been my Weight Loss Diary Vlogs:

 

I even embraced a Google Hangout and have several more planned for this year to get everyone healthy, fit and strong.

 

There have been lots of radio interviews in my Lifestyle correspondent role for Radio Verulam:

 

And a few BBC3 Counties Radio Interviews too:

 

I’ve even used a video to sell my book:

 

So I suppose I have done some video blogs.  But so have the others – I’m up against some tough and great competition.

So if you would like to see more of my face and the fact that I seem to have a much more noticeable lisp than I thought, then:

VOTE FOR ME!!!

Get me into the finals, I would be really chuffed!

 

 

Chatting with Iain Lee on BBC3C Radio about Mum’s ages – Is it selfish to be older

The other day I was on BBC3 Counties Radio chatting to Iain Lee about wether you are ever to old to be a Mum.

Check us out here:

 

I’m and ‘older mum’

Living in Hertfordshire means that there are lots of ‘older mums’.  Whereas when I fell miraculously pregnant with Curly Headed Boy at 36 I was considered ‘geriatric’ in Peterborough (I wasn’t meant to be able to have kids).

Falling again at 40 with Little Dimples, the difference in my body has been REALLY noticeable.  Plus it’s been very tricky since getting Fibromyalgia.

But I’ve often thought I would have been a great ‘young mum’, awful 20’s-early 30’s Mum, and am glad that it happened to be later.

 

What did everyone else say?

When I asked on twitter and facebook, I was really surprised that the age limit people were talking about was 40.  I was expecting them to be saying late 40’s as the upper limit.

 

Being the child of older parents

My mum was 43 when she had me (my brothers are 20yrs older than me).  That’s not a problem in itself, apart from the fact that I was a ‘young carer’ for both my parents from around 5 years old.

Some responsibility and learning about empathy and taking care of people is good.  The mistake they made was relying on me totally for things and not getting proper qualified help at times.

My Dad died when I was 20.  I didn’t have an adult relationship with him.

My Mum died when I was pregnant with Curly Headed Boy.

They smoked, drank a lot, didn’t keep fit or eat healthily.

They didn’t make sure that someone else was lined up to ‘watch over me’.

There is no one on the worst days or the best days to call.  There is no one who cares enough to listen to the boring, repetitive minutae of my life.

I’ve found the lovely Nanny Bets in Tesco’s who is like an adoptive grandparent for the kids (and gives me lovely hugs), and one of my brothers makes a big effort with his new wife.

Most of the time it’s OK.  Sometimes it isn’t.

 

So yes, I do think that it is selfish to have children when you are older, if you don’t try your hardest to be healthy.

Of course, this is why I am ‘ME’.  It’s why I’m so passionate about keeping yourself healthy.  It’s why I’m so good at my ‘job’ as I learned so young.  I wouldn’t change ‘me’, so why would I change this?

 

What do you think?  Do you worry about it?

Or do you think that a woman has the right to have a child whatever age she is?

Even push the boundaries of science and have them when her body has gone into the menopause and she is in her 50’s?

 

 

Weight Loss Diary: Week 7: How Life Gets In The Way Of The Best Laid Plans

Those of you who can add up can probably see that there was a Week 1, Week2, Hangout in week3, and then week 4, 5 and 6 are missing!

Yep, life totally got in the way!

Check out my video and my small amount of progress weight wise, but lots health wise:

 

I mention in there the progress I have made on my pain levels with Fibromyalgia by cutting out sugar and the research I did into sugar, sweeteners and the natural alternatives.  I was only having 3 teaspoonfuls of sugar a day in a cup of tea, no biscuits, but maybe some chocolate and cake.  The sugar is all gone, and the chocolate is now 1 piece of dark chocolate a day, and the cake just an unusual treat.  I can actually feel the difference if I have a day when I eat too much sugar, which is great because it is proving how much it affects my body.  I really recommend you think about it.

Thank you!

By the way a BIG THANK YOU to whoever nominated me in the Brilliance in Blogging awards 2013 in the video section – I was a bit surprised, but I’m assuming it is because of the stuff I’ve been doing about weight, unless it is because of David Tennant?  I would love some votes, as to be a finalist would be fantastic!

 

More help

If you are a little further along with your weight loss journey, remember that there are more tips here:

On weight loss

On Nutrition

And Exercise.

Or if you realise that you aren’t quite ready because you are too tired and too stressed, then check out my book ‘6 Steps To a Sparkling You And Enjoying Being a Mum‘.

Any questions, pop them in the comments.

 

Join Me Next Time Or Get More Direct Help!

I’m going to do a two more of Google+ hangouts about getting Healthy, Fit and Strong:

My next will be on understanding ourselves, because that is important in order to link our goals to what is important to ourselves.

Then I will do a hangout on the linking exercise to get us (AND ME!!!) motivated!

Fancy joining me?  You can either join in, or watch live and chat us questions, or watch afterwards.

Join my FB page and contact me in my FB group.  You will need a Google account too (here is my profile and page).  I need to know your current weight, goal, and what methods you are using at the moment if you have already started.

Don’t worry I will record the hangouts and put them on my Youtube page and post them here on my blog.

 

Weight Loss Tips For Mums

Weight Loss Hang Out No1! Problems, Goals and Plans

Weight Loss Tips For Mums
Weight Loss Tips For Mums

Phew, that was a little scary!

Due to some technical problems and diary issues we just had Liska one very brave Mum (and her gorgeous 2yo son!) on the hangout and then 3 others watching live.

But that meant that we got through A LOT!!

 

Starting your new regime right

 

Starting right makes such a difference to wether you get going at all, and keep going.

Listen to the hangout for tips on:

 

1) NEVER mentioning DIETS or WEIGHT or WEIGHT LOSS …. only getting Healthy, Fit and Strong

2) Why Healthy, Fit and Strong are so important for Mums

3) Why it’s important to be clear on ‘the problem‘ and how we got there

4) Some questions about what is important in our lives; this is so that we can be sure the goals are really suited to us and so that later on we can do the mind set exercise.

5) Why it’s important to measure ourselves in SO MANY ways

6) Setting goals, with mini goals in between

7) Not expecting to do it all at once, but why a gradual ramp up every 6 weeks is ideal

8) Creating a plan of action

9) Making sure your plan includes rewards for your body (even 15 minute baths are good), and for yourself (e.g. new knickers).

10) Tips for snacks, and increasing water

 

Watch the hangout here to give your health kick a boost:

 

If you are a little further along, remember that there are more tips here:

On weight loss

On Nutrition

And Exercise.

 

Or if you realise that you aren’t quite ready because you are too tired and too stressed, then check out my book ‘6 Steps To a Sparkling You And Enjoying Being a Mum‘.

 

Any questions, pop them in the comments.

 

Join Me Next Time Or Get More Direct Help!

I’m going to do a more of Google+ hangouts about getting Healthy, Fit and Strong.

My next will be on TBA.

Fancy joining me?  You can either join in, or watch live and chat us questions, or watch afterwards.

Join my FB page and contact me in my FB group.  You will need a Google account too (here is my profile and page).  I need to know your current weight, goal, and what methods you are using at the moment if you have already started.

Don’t worry I will record the hangouts and put them on my Youtube page and post them here on my blog.

 

 

Muffin Top From Side

Weight Loss Diary: Week 2: successes and plans

In this post you can listen to my lifestyle feature on a radio show, see my weekly vlog and get details for my google hangouts on getting Healthy, Fit and Strong; it’s a packed post!

Firstly, thank you everyone for all your lovely comments cheering me on here, twitter and Facebook!

 

An Overview of How to Lose Weight

This month’s lifestyle feature for Radio Verulam’s Drive time show with Danny Smith this week talking about weight loss if you would like a quick 20 min overview of what makes Weight Loss Success.

It’s worth reading through this previous post of mine on why weight loss appears so difficult sometime.

 

 

My Progress This Week

Here is this week’s Vlog where I talk about how I did last week, what I did to achieve it, and my challenge this week.

 

 

I have picked an obvious target for the end of June; the BritmumsLive conference, which means an average weight loss of just under 1lb per week, which is practical at this level.

My focus was on comfort, and how losing weight can really help us to feel more comfortable, so I thought I’d show you this photo to show why I’m uncomfortable.  It’s all very well standing up, but sitting down is another matter!

Muffin Top From Side
Muffin Top From Side

 

Muffin Top From Above
Muffin Top From Above

 

Join Me!

I’m going to do a series of Google+ hangouts about getting Healthy, Fit and Strong.

My first will be on Wed 27th at 10.30am.

Fancy joining me?  You can either join in, or watch live and chat us questions, or watch afterwards.

Five keen Mums have already signed up for this hangout.  There is space for only TWO more.

Join my FB page and contact me in my FB group.  You will need a Google account too (here is my profile and page).  I need to know your current weight, goal, and what methods you are using at the moment if you have already started.

Don’t worry I will record the hangouts and put them on my Youtube page and post them here on my blog.

Don’t forget to check out all my other Vlogs and Tips on weight loss for busy mums.

 

Weight Loss Diary Muffin Top Photo

Weight Loss Diary: Week1: The problem and the goal

Vlog

I’m starting a weight loss diary – bet you never guessed that from the title heh!

I also thought I’d vlog it; you know, try something new!

So in this vlog I talk about the extent of my weight gain problem, why I gained it, and what my goals are.

 

 

Previous Posts

It’s important when you start to be clear on the problem and what you would like to set as a goal, I wrote about all this previously:

Starting: the rules of weight loss

How to measure the starting position: important to have several measurements

Setting goals: if your goals are pants, it will make it difficult to get into smaller pants

The Photo’s

And Just to make it really embarrassing I’m doing photos.

I’m sorry (not!) that I don’t have photos of previous times I had to lose weight, but if you are heavier than me, bear in mind that the first time I used my method I lost 3.5stone (pre-children), and the second time I lost (2.5 stone) (post children).

Why did I put it back on?  You’ll have to listen to my vlog for that!

Also, if I had taken these photo’s when I was last at this weight they would have been a LOT worse, as I’ve been doing Pilates for 5 months now.

These photo’s show the problem; being short, and having a muffin top, which I find physically and emotionally uncomfortable.  Apart from the fact that I’m also now overweight, which isn’t going to help my Fibromyalgia at all.

Weight Loss Diary Front Photo
The view from the front
Weight Loss Diary Back Photo
The view from the back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weight Loss Diary Side Photo
The view from the side
Weight Loss Diary Muffin Top Photo
The problem muffin top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weight Loss Diary Dumpy Photo
Dumpy in flats
Weight Loss Diary Boots Photo
Looks OK in high heeled boots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join Me!

I’m going to do a series of Google+ hangouts about getting Healthy, Fit and Slim.

Fancy joining me?

Two keen Mums have already signed up.  There is space for only SEVEN more.

Join my FB page and contact me in my FB group.  Sorry you will need a Google account too (here is my profile and page).  I need to know your current weight, goal, and what methods you are using at the moment if you have already started.

Don’t worry I will record the hangouts and put them on my Youtube page

 

Don’t forget to check out all my other Vlogs and Tips on weight loss for busy mums.

 

Tips for dealing with Christmas

7 Top Tips on How to deal with stressful people at Christmas or special occasions

Tips for dealing with ChristmasIf you ignore the money worries, which are frankly caused by buying presents or stuff for people, then the next biggest cause for trouble at Christmas or other big family events and parties is PEOPLE!

So this months feature for Danny Smith from Radio Verulam‘s drive time show (92.6FM) was all about them and how to deal with the stress.

I love people, but Oh My do they know how to cause trouble when more than one of them gets together, in fact some of them love causing trouble!

So here are my seven top tips for avoiding arguments and break downs/ups during Christmas, family parties or any big special event.  Anything from dealing with your family, the in-laws, your other half and over excited kids.

(I’ll pop the audio at the bottom as soon as I have it).

 

Tip 1- Hold your tongue and don’t get drunk!

Go out for some fresh air

 

I’m not being a spoil sport, but drink and stress don’t go well together.  In fact neither does lots of sugar followed by a sugar low (check out my healthy eating for rubbish cooks for ideas to counteract that sugar buzz).

Take a breather, and get out for a walk.  Just 10mins walking round the block can help you have patience for a few more hours.  It’s pretty easy to come up with an excuse; say you are feeling odd, or have to deliver a card urgently, or need to buy more milk (hide the extra in the garage).

Remember to BREATHE and especially breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth in equal measures e.g. a count of 4 in and 4 out.  The nose will calm you down and it’s important to balance the in and out breaths.

 

Tip 2 – If you do too much for people they will treat you like dirt and show no gratitude

 

This is a very ironic but massive rule to learn in life.  There should always be a balance between how much you give and receive in return.  If you do too much, then the people you did it for will subconsciously feel guilty and then resent you for being a martyr and doing too much.  It pretty much always goes wrong and is one of the biggest causes for an argument.

Instead learn the art of delegation and get everyone involved in helping, even if it’s just with hoovering the lounge and setting the table or doing the clearing up.  Ask people/family to bring provisions or look after the kids with a winning ‘I know you’d love to help’ kind of smile.

Make sure you set their expectations early on, so that everyone knows what the plan is e.g. I’ve had a chat with Curly Headed Boy about the order of events on Christmas Day and that his Grand Dad has had a terrible Flu.

 

Tip 3 – if you are really sure of yourself you don’t need to convince other people you are right

What is success and failure

 

Some people are like energy suckers and love a good argument discussion they drag you into ‘debates’ which become heated and unpleasant.

Just remember this rule:  It really doesn’t matter if people disagree with you, because 50% of the world always disagrees with you.  So there is no need to try to convince them or win the debate.

If other people start up a difficult conversation, just interrupt and suggest to continue it at another time or place; after all you are in charge (if it’s not your party, maybe make a distraction instead).

 

Tip 4 – being clear about your boundaries

Often we get really upset because we have just had hours of abuse or nit-picking.  The key is to knock it into touch at the beginning and do it early enough before you are too upset.

It’s not about shouting at people or telling them what you really think.  They key is to say how you feel e.g

When xxx does/doesn’t happen
I feel xxx
If it continues/happens again thenconsequence you are willing to go through with that isn’t inflammatory>

For example:

  • When things like that are said I feel hurt, so if it goes on I’m going to go and have a little walk or watch TV.
  • When no one helps me to tidy up after lunch I feel really unappreciated and don’t feel like doing any more
  • I get stressed when the kids are running around me when I’m cooking, I need someone to play with them please, otherwise it might be dangerous.

 

Tip 5 – learn from your mistakes

Ok, so you might not manage all this, or some of this advice might be a little late.  Don’t get bitter, just make sure that next time works for you!

If you are a bit stressed the night after the event try counting your blessings before you go to sleep, as there is bound to be something from the day that went well, even if it was just how helpful someone was in the midst of the chaos.

 

Tip 6 – make a plan b

Face your fears, and work out what’s the worst that could happen and hen make a contingency plan and store it away.  This is not about worrying about something, this is about sorting out your ‘insurance’ and popping it in a drawer to be pulled out in an emergency, just like we do with cars.  Also, when faced, our fears are often never as bad as we think they will be.

Ideas could be to pull out board games to calm down hyper kids, or to have a new film up your sleeve for when everyone needs a chill.  Maybe putting on some music would help put people in the festive spirit, or going out for a walk stop people from getting too stir crazy.  A big pot of coffee might help with the family drunk, as will not having too much alcohol available for them.

(If however there is domestic violence in your house, I strongly suggest that you get advice from a professional about holiday periods.  Plus be very careful if you are planning on leaving soon, as it’s the point of separation that can be the worst).

 

Tip7 – but expect the best

Is it possible to have romance and kids?I bet you are looking at me with misbelief at this one, but seriously, miracles do happen!  So the most important tip is to focus on how you would like the event to go, rather than on what you don’t want to happen.  If you focus on people misbehaving it tends to happen, maybe because you behave in a way that prompts it psychologically.

This is particularly true of children and awkward relatives.  If we expect kids to be badly behaved we tend to get on their case really quickly, thereby over-controlling them, and making them feel suffocated.  Being nervous around a tricky relative will put them on their guard as well, thus bringing out the worst in them.  Drunken relatives, may still drink, but it’s possible that they fall asleep in the corner, rather than cause a massive problem!

 

I hope these tips help, as memories from special events can last for a lot longer than the actual event.

Feel free to add your hints and tips or success/disaster stories.

Remember there are lots of other tips on here about how people behave and how to feel more contented and Christmas.

Card made by kids

Tips on getting the right gifts without spending a fortune!

I was asked to come up with top tips for people worried about what to by for friends and loved ones from Christmas and Birthdays by the lovely Danny Smith from Radio Verulam‘s drive time show (92.6FM).

It’s a tough job to come up with a present or gift that you can afford, and that they love getting.  But it’s not impossible!  My last post was about presents for children, this one is for the grown ups in your life.

If you prefer to hear Danny and I talking than read this post, check out the link at the bottom.

 

How to cut costs and still send great presents:

 

Benefits Cuts

1) The first rule is don’t go into debt for christmas, unless you are sure you can pay it off the next month.  No one is worth over spending for; in fact I can pretty much promise you that the present will go wrong if you spend too much.

2) If you are struggling financially, especially at Christmas, then cut all the budgets for presents in half.  You can often buy a great present for 50% of what you used to spend e.g. £30 vs £15.  It might take some extra effort, but it’s still possible.

3) If things are really bad have an honest chat with your friends and family; no friends who are worth anything will mind not getting an expensive present or not getting anything at all.  Just ask if you can skip this year, or do a secret santa with a price limit of £5 or £10, which means loads of thought.

4) Cut postage costs at christmas with a thoughtful email with photos and interesting info (not showing off stuff!) or send online cards.  (Some people also make a donation to charity)

5) Hand made presents are still appreciated: some people make lovely candles, cakes, tarts, or a scrap book with photos in it.

6) Do something for them instead e.g. some DIY or fixing something.

7) Don’t over spend on food; it’s not about making sure you become lardy bloaters.  I do my shopping online so that I can keep going back and double checking my 2 christmas food shops (one for big long lasting stuff, the other for perishables).

8) For parties or Christmas dinner ask people to bring something; it’s lovely to feel like you’ve contributed to a meal and helped out.  It’s easy to, as they could bring cheese and biscuits/pudding/starter/wine/chocolates etc.

9) Don’t get conned into spending lots of money on Christmas decorations; they really don’t have to match of have a theme.  Make some if you have none, and then buy them in the sales on Boxing Day for next year.  Remember the Pound shops will help you out with getting loads of buck for your money.  DONT GO TO THE GORGEOUS GARDEN CENTRE GROTTO unless you have your bank with you!

Important Information For Dads

Card made by kidsYes, you may have talked about not spending money on each other at Christmas or for birthdays, but always buy something.  You can get hand creams, pretty bracelets/rings, or a bunch of flowers for £5.

Remember EACH child buys a present for each parent.  So if you have more than 1 child, it is more than one present.
If the kids are young make sure that they MAKE CARDs for mum, covered in as much glitter, goo and stuff as possible to show how much they love her (you are looking for time and effort versus beauty here!).
(Don’t feel bad, the Big Hairy Northern One has fallen foul of all of these, so it happens to the best of them; learn from each others mistakes!).

How to buy presents that people like!

Just as in my previous post about presents for children, the rule of something they want, they need, to wear and to read is a good starting point.  Remember also something to watch or listen to.

The key is to buy something that people actually want, not what you think they want or like!

How?

Be a detective.

Listen to them.

Remember the lost art of conversation.

Detective Tips:

1) What do they have around the house

2) What do they spend their money on

3) What do they spend their time on

4) Who do they spend their time with

1) What do they have around the HOUSE:

Don’t add to a collection if already full!

Something that is going to use up like smelly things is great or a treat they can’t afford.  Check their cupboards for hints: which bottles are untouched (disliked) and which are nearly finished?

Don’t buy paper books if they use a kindle or don’t read!

Are they smart, minimalistic and modern, vintage, old fashioned or cutsey?

Do they love pictures and have a space?  Do they love photos?  Are they running out of space, hows about an electronic photo frame?

2) What do they spend their MONEY on:

People generally spend their money on what they like the most.  With a Mum you might need to think back to before kids though, and then add a dash of common sense about the fact that some of those things she would still love a chance to do and some are now inappropriate!

Also ignore the fact that a Mum tends to spend more money on herself than her kids and check out what she gives her friends as presents.

What does she need to spend her money on; clothes, PJ’s, scarves, hats, bags, filofaxes (oops sorry that’s me!), boxes (me again!)?  What has she forgotten to buy for herself?

(Top Tip: give teenagers vouchers, that way they can buy stuff in the sales and get more for their money)

3) What do they spend their TIME doing:

We again tend to spend our timing doing what is most important to us.  Even the boring chores will be different for each person as to how much of a priority they take.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because they do all the cooking, that they want something for the kitchen though!  When I asked on twitter, Mummy Barrow told us a great story of how her – mother in law was given a food processor, which got dumped straight back in her husbands lap with a few choice words.  Ironically the Big Hairy Northern one is a lover of gadgets, so potentially that wouldn’t have failed for him!

Something clever is a subscription to a magazine as it keeps on giving all year long, or a special posh tea.
I’m part geek and part tree hugger.  Pretty much anything that sparkles, or is related to faeries or looks astonishingly like an iPad mini works for me.  But be careful.  When I say I’m a tree hugger, I’m more your natural cycle type, not into the peace for all the world stuff, so this is where the art of conversation comes in to find out more about the person.  Oh and I might be a bit trekky, but the model of the star ship enterprise really didn’t work for me (so sorry Big Hairy Northern one, but I had to share!).
What do they love, but hardly ever treat themselves too?  Things they used to do a lot before having kids?  Maybe a massage, spa day, day out with the girls?
What do they like reading, watching, where do they like going?

4) WHO do they spend their time with:

The ones that they really enjoy spending their time with, not the supermarket assistants!  Who would they like to spend more time with?  Maybe a trip for the family to a show?  Maybe a national trust membership for the family?  Perhaps organise a surprise visit from their best mate?

What do they think about the latest fads, or shops?  Are they a Cath Kidston type of woman, or an Apple Mac type of man?

 

 And men remember this all important rule: THIS IS NOT LIKE A MAP,

ask …. unlike when you need directions!

Happy Christmas/Birthday shopping guys!
I’d love to hear your stories of best and worst presents here, or your stories of how these tips helped!
p.s. Don’t forget wrapping paper and sellotape!
http://youtu.be/x8D751UEpBY