Kelly Allen Writer

A family lifestyle, arts and culture blog.


Build a Better Future for Yourself and Your Family.

Everyone wants their family to have a solid and stable future. You might not have much say over what your kids do when they leave home, but you can make sure they have the skills and attitude to make it in the world. More importantly, perhaps, you can work to make them happier and healthier while they're still at home. Creating a better future for yourself helps to make a better future for your family too. Working on yourself improves things for everyone, and there are lots of options available to you if you want to make it happen.

Create Financial Stability

Money worries can easily dominate your thoughts much of the time. You can worry that you don't have enough, whether that means you might struggle to pay the bills this month or you're not sure if you're saving enough for the future. Before making future plans, financial stability needs to be your first goal. Of course, this is easier said than done. There are two main things you need to aim for: a regular income, and reducing your expenditure. If your income isn't so regular, being able to save for a rainy day is an important skill. If you can comfortably cover your expenses every month, more regular saving is your next step.


Buy a Home

For some people, owning a home might seem like an impossibility. But renting can often feel very unstable. You never know when you might need to move home next. If you're able to start saving money, saving for a home is one of the things you can do to improve your future. Paying off a mortgage might not be easy, and it doesn't mean that your home is never at risk, but you're secure as long as you can make your payments. When you've paid off your mortgage, you have a home for the rest of your life or a valuable asset that you can sell or borrow against, or even leave to your kids.

Prepare for Your Retirement

Many people feel that they're not as prepared for retirement as they could be. Some worry that they won't be able to stop working until they're forced to. It's important to start preparing for retirement as soon as you can, and it will help both you and your family to do so. The more you can support yourself during retirement, the less help you will need from your family. Saving and investing should help you to prepare for when that time eventually comes. You should think about how much you're going to need to live on when you're retired, including any possible care needs. A financial advisor could help you out.

Advance Your Career

If you're thinking about how to become more financially stable and prepare for the future, it might be time to think about how to grow your career. Advancing in your career could help you improve your income so that you can save more and worry about money less. Taking the next step in your career can be tough when you're trying to care for a family and work at the same time. You might find that studying online helps you to reach your goals. Nurses can take an online MSN program to take the next step in their career without taking time off work. You can study for an online MBA and become a business whizz. Or there are diplomas and other courses that are more affordable and quicker to complete if you're not feeling as ambitious.


Volunteer Together

Improving things for yourself doesn't have to be something you do alone. You could do something with your family that benefits all of you. Volunteering is one example of something that you could all enjoy. You can all learn new skills and make valuable connections that might help you in the future. Volunteering with your teenagers might be easiest, but there are family volunteering opportunities suitable for younger children too.

Get Healthy Together

Not everything is about money or careers. Sometimes, being happy and healthy means more than your skills or how much is in your bank account. By being healthy as a family, you can make sure everyone has healthy habits that they will hopefully continue for the rest of their lives. You can choose to have a healthier diet, be more active and even talk about your feelings more.

Making a better future for yourself helps to make things better for your family too. It's important to put yourself first sometimes so that you can be there for your family.

Relaxation, Rest and More: What to Expect at The Big Retreat Wales.

Title with a field and people looking out.

With just over a month to go before The Big Retreat Wales, I thought I'd share an insight into what you can truly expect from this lovely Welsh Festival. You may have already seen my other post, 10 Reasons to Attend The Big Retreat, but this time I want to go into a bit more depth about this gorgeous event...

The Big Retreat Wales is definitely the kind of festival suited to most people. It's focus is on well-being and self-care, with entertainment, gorgeous food and drink offerings and other activities adding to the overall experience. As I've mentioned before, your ticket includes most of the activities, with only some massage, treatments and water sports at an extra cost. 

The Big Retreat has so much to offer, whether you're keen to get stuck into every activity or you'd prefer to just chill with a tasty gin cocktail and admire the view, you're sure to have a fabulous time. I am really excited about this festival because it feels somewhat cut-off from the real world (I think that's the magic and beauty of Wales to be honest!), and I love that it focuses on the well-being of your mind and body.

A selection of photos and quotes about the event.
Photo credit: The Big Retreat.

However, just because there's tonnes of yoga and fitness classes to attend (we LOVE yoga!), it doesn't mean you have to! Your version of relaxing might mean meeting up with friends and family whilst relaxing in the sunshine, it might mean attending one of the workshops with a best friend for a giggle, or it might mean heading out on your own to one of the live talks...

There's a lot to choose from, and I particularly love the sound of The Cookery Tent, where you can learn about various cookery skills, from Welsh meals with Lisa Fearn to Foraging & Feasting with Jade Mellor. There's even a juicing class for kids, and I'm definitely taking everyone along to see this!

Another area that doesn't involve getting too sweaty (although it depends how sunny it gets!) is their Talk Tent, a place to discover new and unusual things, from Creative Writing (yes, please!) with Chelsea Louise Hadden and business hacks to hot creative success with Celebrity Photographer Dan Kennedy.

There's also the chance to create whilst you're away from the real world, and there's some very exciting arts and crafts available! I am absolutely desperate to get our family involved with making wooden spoons, building dens, bracelet making and lots of other lovely things listed here...

All these things (and more!) are included in your ticket price!

Tents with a beautiful view.
*Photo credit: The Big Retreat.

I'd also like to mention their therapies. These do come at an additional cost, but after having a look at the price list, I feel it's important to mention how cheap these are. A full boy massage for 60 minutes is merely £35, and even though we're now a student household, I'm sorely tempted to book one of these! Other therapies range from £15-£40, prices certainly not to be sniffed at!

Of course, if you're keen to be active, there are all sorts of classes you can attend over the weekend, from Zumba to DanceSing, there's something for everyone who likes to get a little active! 

And let's not forget the music line-up for the weekend, which will get even the most laid back (me!) folk moving and feeling energised. There's Ofelia, Rusty Shackle and there's also a chance for anyone attending to entertain with their open mic session. 

I think the greatest thing about The Big Retreat Wales is its variety and steady pace. There's no pressure to attend this or do that, you're basically expected to enjoy yourself, your way....

Are you going to The Big Retreat? Have you bought your tickets yet? 



7 Ways to Save Money and Give to a Worthy Cause With My Favourite Voucher Codes.

Title and a piggy bank with coins around it.
*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

I believe that when you buy a product, it always feels so good to know that some of the money will go to a great cause. From helping the community to supporting a charity, when a company gives part of their profits to those in need, they're top of my list when it comes to spending our hard-earned cash!

I love the feeling inside when I know I'm helping a charitable cause, and if it means I get to save on my weekly shop, or a take away, or some new furniture for our home, then that's certainly a bonus. My Favourite Voucher Codes have managed to combine savings with charity work, and that's nothing to be sniffed at. 


Home Education: A New Discovery.

George and Molly painting.

Last week I found an old Facebook post I'd written all about our style of learning, and I shared it once again, because I feel very strongly about it. The post read...

I have no idea what kind of home educational family we are, and I am in some ways, unwilling to label it right now, if ever... What I do want to talk about is learning through joy and want, and not through forced worksheets or forced activities... George has become interested in Titanic. Can't say I blame him. Because if this he watched a fairly historical re-telling of how the ship was built and in doing so he learnt that religion was causing conflict in Belfast. He then went on to build a little ship from our craft supply. After this we froze icebergs (yet to be used) and then I built LEGO Titanic. Yesterday they started playing with it, and I heard Molly say, 'I'm coming aboard and going to New York..!' I watched them build and bash into a LEGO iceberg, I hear George explain to Molly it was women and children first, discussing how unfair that was in his opinion. He had asked me how big it was/is, he talks about going under the sea to see it, he painted it yesterday, he asks how many people went on and how many people died, they chose to draw their suitcase for the Titanic trip, George rented out a book from the library about ships... This is learning in our house, whatever it may be it comes with these things: love, interest, passion and freedom x

I truly stand by this kind of learning, and what followed on from me sharing this was somebody pointing out how this follows the principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach. I had never heard of this approach before, so after a little googling I found out some key concepts for this kind of education. 

They include...

1. Learning is based on each child's interests
2. Teachers/Parents learn with their child(ren)

I love both of these points, and I truly believe learning together works for our family as opposed to me leading the learning. For example, they are quite keen to learn Welsh, so we're all trying to learn together, which is pretty comical! We try out new things, each child has their own loves (Titanic, Rapunzel to name just a few...), we love reading books and going to the theatre, the cinema and out for long dog walks, plus oh so much more...

George pulling a face with a dinosaur peg.

Molly cutting out an egg shape.

The more I read about this, and how it should vary from group to group, the more I fall in love with it. It's tailored to each child, it's a massive team effort and it allows children to develop within the areas they adore.

The Reggio Emilia Approach seems focused on younger children, but I have no reason to see why it cannot work long term. Is it a version of unschooling? I'm just not sure, perhaps, who knows... Does it suit us? Yes, it does. It's fun, enjoyable, the knowledge sticks and most importantly, we are a team.  

I think we will be doing a bit more in the way of focused learning in terms of literacy, art, skills and other subjects, but we'll work them out together, as a team. 

What do you think of this style of learning? What would your approach to home education be?



Review: Little Cook Box.

Picture of several food boxes.
*Thank you to Little Cook Box for these kits for review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

We love cooking in our house, so we were really excited to try out Little Cook Book's delivery service. They offer a selection of kid sized meals to cook at home and it's all delivered straight to your door, full of fresh produce without the fear of waste.

As a nation we waste so much food, so Little Cook Book's aim is to reduce this waste as well as encourage children into the kitchen more often. I love cooking and baking with George and Molly, it certainly gets messy (but I'm a messy cook!) but it's so much fun!


How Can Looking After Yourself Make You a Better Parent?

*This is a collaborative post.
When you have a child, your life is no longer just about you. You’re entire existence revolves around them- keeping them happy, healthy and setting them up to be productive members of society is your goal as a parent. However, it really is important to still look after yourself too. As the saying goes, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup.’ If you’re happy, healthy and fulfilled yourself, chances are you’ll be able to be the very best parent you can possibly be. But how can you go about this?


5 Ways to Create Light & Beauty If You Rent Your Home.

*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

I love dreaming about my dream home, all the different ways it would look, from textiles to colour, I have so many ideas! I have Pinteret boards for this kind of indulgence, but I thought it would be nice to share some of my ideas with you, just in case you want to dream along with me...

I love light and space within a home, but I also love art and beautiful trinkets too. I love quirky, handmade designs, paintings, pictures and more, and I really love it when a house looks like a home. We currently live in a small-ish 3 bed terraced house close to Cardiff city centre, and although we try our best to make it 'our own', when you rent you can't change too many things without prior consent from your landlord. So, if you want a paint walls or change structural areas of the house, you're probably not going to be able to, but that doesn't mean you can't do other (inventive) things to revitialise your home and make it the beautiful space you always dreamed of.

5 Ways to Create Light & Beauty If You Rent Your Home. 

1. Textiles

You don't need permission to buy gorgeous rugs, throws and cushions. You can colour scheme your house (even if the walls are marigold- bleugh!) and bring textiles to the forefront of the room, banishing the drab walls to the back of your mind. I am completely in love with my bedroom design, with the majority of colour coming from flashes of mustard on a background of black and white.

2. Lighting

Lampshades and lighting design are a crucial part of any home, especially if there's not much in the way of natural light. You can do this no matter your budget, I've often found lampshades at carboots and I've just taken the time to decorate them for our home. If you have a decent budget then you can invest in work from designers such as Studio Arntzen, who provide bespoke lighting for a variety of concepts and people, from indivduals to businesses and beyond. This kind of design light shop will tailor the work to your taste, needs and space; perfect for opening up your home to light created by art. 

Photo credit: Studio Arntzen.

3. Pictures

Most landlords/letting agents are fine with hanging a certain amount of photos/paintings, and they can give your house a real sense of home. I love having pictures, quotes or Warren and the children's paintings all around the house; it brings me a huge amount of joy! BRinging this personal touch into your home will certainly create a beautfiul and inspiring atmosphere you'll love to live in!

4. Colour

Pops of colour and themed rooms are my favourite kind of thing! I love the 'green' room, the 'red' room and the 'multi-coloured' kids room! We've slacked with this over the years, because it's hard to achieve with limited space, but if you get it right it can look amazing! 

5. Bold Patterns 

I love it when I walk into a home and I see bright, bold patterns. This cannot always be achieved in rental situations, but you can use large boards covered in paper or material to achieve a partially patterned wall, for example. I have one with bright blue and pink patterns across it, and it achieves an amazing result when hung on any wall!

I hope you've enjoyed my tips for creating light and beauty whilst living in a rental property. I know it can somestimes seem difficult, or a bit of a chore, but taking on some basic principles can really make a rental proerty feel like home. 

What are your top tips for creating a beautiful rental home?

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