A quick one

New year, new blog post. Yes, I am here, spurred by hate comments 💕 – but that’s ok, because one of my new year plans was to make blogging a priority for 2019. I have loads to write, just need to get into a routine of actually writing! So, a few bullet points just to get started, I suppose…

  • One year in Wales! It’s actually been 13 months now, but I really really need to write a post about it. Watch this space.
  • Not sure I like the new WordPress interface. Need to find out how to justify my posts, I get irrationally angry with other types of alignment.
  • Does one address hate comments? Well, more passive aggressive than hate, really, but I just wanted to say, in the name of honesty and blogging integrity that there has never been a sponsored post here. I wish there had! There are very occasional affiliate links, but apparently pointing it out at the bottom of the post (one line below that actual links) is dishonest. So I will start marking at the top, so people don’t waste their time reading reviews of products / services / trips that I paid for with my own money and had no input whatsoever – monetary or otherwise! – from the reviewed party 🙄 Also, can I just mention I made a grand total of £7 from this blog – thank you to everyone who bought meal boxes through my links, I love you!
  • I started learning Welsh on Duolingo. Wish me luck!
  • It’s job hunting season. Wish me double luck 🤣
  • I am missing my Christmas tree and all the lovely lights…

I could probably keep going but will not because no one reads long posts – or do they?

Hello Fresh and Gousto ~ an update

**THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED POST – BUT IT DOES CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS**

Hi everyone – I know it’s been a while so I am going to just skip the excuses and just go straight to point today 🤣 For the past few months, the most popular post has been the Hello Fresh vs Gousto (and I can see why!) so I thought, a few months down the line, I would give you an update on how I got on with the food boxes.

First, I have to confess I only had one more Hello Fresh box since then. We had a delivery shambles (not Hello Fresh’s fault) so I was a bit weary of trying them again. But it was half term and there was nothing on Gousto that took my fancy so I thought I would use the credit they gave me to make up for the delivery disaster. The good news is that they now do family boxes for 3 people 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 The bad news is that they send you most of the stuff for 4 people and you need to use 3/4. I am not sure I am happy with that.

I did use Gousto a lot more, and I am not sure I am happy that Hello Fresh has different, very small selection of recipes for the family boxes. I like that with Gousto you can just choose from the whole selection. We also did try the Gousto box for 2 people and it is just right for the 3 of us, sometimes with enough for husband’s lunch next day (I’m looking at you, shepherd’s pie!), but most often then not it wouldn’t. I would love for them to have a 3 people box but not if it means me having leftover stuff to be honest.

So, for now, we alternate between doing the food shop and the getting Gousto boxes – when I get bored of one I go back to the other. I might revisit Hello Fresh when I get bored of the other two, ha!

As per my other post, I have voucher codes to share: If you would like to give Gousto a try, click here. And if you’d like to try Hello Fresh, there’s a code for that too. You get £20 off your first box and I get a £20 credit.

(This post contains affiliate links. I get a small commission for every Gousto box that you buy through this blog.)

Five loves ~ August

*Slowly tiptoes into the room and hopes no one has noticed she was gone for so long*

Errr, hello 😀 There’s a long explanation as to why I wasn’t here for so long, but I will need a whole blog post for that, so for now I am just going to pretend I have been here all along and no noticed I was gone *realises no one noticed anyway because no one reads blog*.

August was a fabulous month. Ok, weather was crap and my car broke down (in the middle of the M4, thank you old bangers’ god!), but it was still wonderful: all about family and holidays and castles, lots of castles. Here are my five favourite things of last month:

1. Family!

Family is always number one in our house anyway, but my mum and sister spent almost the whole of August with us, making it extra special. Mind you, now they don’t believe there’s good weather in Wales and that we just think 18º and a ridiculous amount of wind is what we mean by “Summer”, but it was still wonderful and amazing and special.

2. Staycation

I am not sure I am fan of the term, but I can’t find a better way to describe the fact that we went nowhere but still had an amazing time. We went to Cardiff (a lot), Swansea and loads of castles – unfortunately not much beach weather. Expect loads of posts about the places we visited!

3. Plants, lots of plants

I have to say that I don’t if it’s the urge the fill the new house with colour or the fact that my professional instagram account is filled with people with lots of greenery in their house and I was subconsciously influenced, but the fact is that I can’t go out with coming back with plants. I spend the best part of August picking out plants at B&Q, Homebase, Lidl, Asda, even Tesco, which is a supermarket I don’t normally go to. My beautiful rose plant, whose flowers were savagely eaten by a herd of sheep earlier this summer, is in bloom again and looking beautiful. And I think I still need more. Send help.

4. Marks and Spencer

This should probably be a topic for ‘Things I miss from Berkshire’, but we used to have a M&S food hall only shop very very near to our old old house. So we had loads of pizza, dine in for £10 (looks like it’s £12 now!), cookies and other delicious food from there. But now the closest is in Talbot Green 😭 and I have very little desire to drive 17 miles for ready meals. However, we spent so much time in Cardiff this August – not to mention service stations! – that we had our fix of biscuits and expensive – but delicious – treats.

5. Museums

Again, another topic that will probably need to be explored over several posts, but because of the weather we ended up in several museums and we loved it! The little monster loved the National Museum in Cardiff so much, she wanted to go back the next day.

Now mum and sister have gone home and the school year has started, I can tuck into work and see if I can get this business thing off the ground! Wish me luck 🙂

My favourite things from Ikea

So, I have already failed my self imposed 30 day blogging challenge. I have no excuse, other than this whole house buying thing is exhausting. I am stressed out because of what happened last time, because we are meant to exchange on Friday but the mortgage survey only happened today (!!!), because we only have enough furniture to furnish half the house.

To solve that predicament, Saturday we engaged in the very adult entertainment that is a trip to Ikea. I truly love Ikea but my previous trips had been tainted by the hideousness of the journey to Wembley – the North Circular always seem to dreadful on a Saturday (or is it everyday?) – and then, when they opened the Reading shop we were getting rid of stuff rather than acquiring it, so we never paid a visit.

On arrival, we were really surprised at how quiet it was for a Saturday afternoon. On departure, we were shattered and remembered why we don’t visit very often. And this was just a trip to look at stuff, I dread to think what it’s going to be like when we actually make the trip to buy things. I think I will suggest husband takes a day off work on a day L has an after school club so we can spend the whole day taking things from the shelves.

So while I was there, I thought I would share five of my favourite things that I have seen on Saturday. In no particular order:

Stuva/Fritids loft bed: the Stuva loft beds seem to be quite popular – in fact, they are sold out all over the country and because of supply issues it shouldn’t be back in stock until late June. But Lily loves them and so do I. She has been going on about having a bed with a secret hideout for ages and this bed is going to make it come true – come back in July to see the end result! They have several options for doors and drawers but this is Lily’s favourite.

Pax wardrobes: probably the next best thing after fitted wardrobes. We really really wanted fitted wardrobes, but having just bought a house at the very top of our budget means we don’t have that much spare cash, so the Pax wardrobes were the reason we visited Ikea, to be honest. We wanted to see if they lived up to the fame and I have to say I was impressed. The customisation options were amazing and I love all the little organisation tools that they have. I have designed several options on their online tool (the most awful flash thing that keeps crashing but eventually worked) and we are almost certain we are getting two of those. Does anyone have one and care to share their experience?

Finnvard/Linnmon Desk: husband and I will be sharing a study, and I have always wanted to have a drawing board – because I do draw by hand fairly often. So this is amazing: a massive desk that will fit all of husband’s screens and that I can tilt to use as a drawing table (don’t worry about his screens, we are getting one each!). We just haven’t decided if we are getting this one, with the white top, or the wood one (which is 5 cm bigger).

Ribba frames: great looking frames, at lovely prices in a great range of sizes. Nothing more, nothing less. They come in black, white and wood effect but all my other frames are white, so the new ones are white too – they look great in coloured walls.

Voxnan shower shelf: this was probably the best thing I didn’t know I wanted from Ikea, a little shelf that attaches to the shower pole. Genius. I knew I wanted some sort of wire shelving for the showers, and husband thinks suckers wouldn’t work because of the tile texture, so I was somewhat dreading the prospect of drilling into tiles and cracking them. And then we found these, which is brilliant for two reasons: reducing the amount of clutter and no drilling. I hope it’s as good as it seems.

I have to say it was hard to pick five and I could have gone on and on, but now I will ask the world (or my 3 readers!): what are your Ikea favourites? Anything I overlooked?

Images: Ikea UK 

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Hello Fresh vs Gousto vs Waitrose Cook Well

**THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED POST, IT DOES HOWEVER CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS**

Dinner boxes seem to be getting really popular in the last few years and after many months of getting Hello Fresh discount codes, I finally caved in. Evenings here can be chaotic – I suspect it’s probably the same in all households with children, with all the after school activities. And even though I only have one child, I have my own Girlguiding evenings which now are not the same as Lily’s, as I volunteer in a different pack from hers, so I thought I could give Hello Fresh a try and see how it went. Then, I thought it would be nice to get a Gousto box or two and compare. And then, I got a reward on my John Lewis app saying I had 50% off a Waitrose Cook Well box – which I didn’t even know existed until then, so I thought I might add that to the mix as well.

First of all, I would like to make it clear that I wasn’t sent any free boxes for the purposes of these review. I bought them all with discount codes I had, so none of them were full price either. Second, I am sure it’s not an original post to write, there must be millions of reviews and comparisons out there, but I thought it would be nice to remind myself in the future in case I am tempted to get them again. I will be giving no scores, just say what liked or not about certain aspects of the boxes.

Delivery: My Hello Fresh and Cook Well were delivered by DPD and Gousto by Yodel. When we lived in Berkshire, DPD were great and Yodel was a bit less so. Now here in South Wales, I feel it’s the opposite. DPD treated the boxes dreadfully. Tins dented, little plastic pots of seasoning smashed, broken pasta, and on my very first box, a box of meatballs seemed to have exploded and there were meatballs everywhere. Hello Fresh were great and refunded a lot more than the cost of a box of meatballs. The one good thing about DPD is that they will give a time for delivery and I have found them generally reliable to stick to it, but I am a bit wary of using them for anything delicate now. (I would just like to point out that it’s not just the food boxes that were mistreated. My first ever delivery to this house was a couple of bags of cat litter and one of them was ripped. I thought it was unlucky as I had never had a damaged one before, but after I got my food boxes I am not so sure.)

Packaging: All boxes were well packed (though obviously not enough to prevent DPD damage), with a cool bag and cool packs that were still frozen when they arrived, so they definitely work. Hello Fresh was my favourite out of the box, as it is all very organised: the fridge stuff comes in the cool bag, and all recipes are bagged individually, with colour coded stickers so you know which recipe is which. All very efficient. Waitrose was similar. I was, however, a bit miffed by the amount of packaging for the individual ingredients. Loads of little packets and pots and plastic bags. My non-recycling bin was quite a bit fuller than normal – I blame the spices and seasonings. Waitrose was a bit better, with some ingredients portioned into paper bags or reusable little pots.

Flavour: Ok, I know this isn’t necessarily an objective assessment as everyone has a different taste, but we would discuss as a family after dinner what we thought of the recipes and we seem to agree, so I thought I would share our thoughts. The main reason I decided to sign up for these boxes, apart from the time saving, was because I was tired of my own cooking – same recipes, same spices and herbs, I wanted to try something new. Hello Fresh and Gousto have definitely delivered on this front: everything was very very tasty, and I have since reproduced some recipes from the recipe cards I got with the boxes. Waitrose, however, was a massive disappointment. Everything was very bland and I finished every single meal thinking I could have done it better my own way.

Time saving properties: This might be controversial but I think it saves very little time. Ok, it did give me recipes I wouldn’t have though of, helped me not have to think “what am I cooking tonight?” and saved me the supermarket run – which I normally do online anyway – but in prep time, although having it all separated by recipe helps, there’s still an awful lot of chopping, dicing and slicing, and most recipes still take a fairly long time to cook. Obviously it would help anyone who is getting them because they have trouble meal planning, or because food shopping is a chore, but to me, it wouldn’t be a deciding factor in getting them again in the future.

Portion sizes: All the boxes I bought were 4 portions, because there’s 3 of us and I normally make an extra portion for husband to take to work the next day, but in all of the boxes the portions are huge. One of the Waitrose recipes filled 4 takeaway boxes (!!!) after we had dinner. The ideal size for us, I think, would be 3 portions, but Hello Fresh doesn’t do the family recipes in 3 portions, and Gousto and Waitrose only do 2 or 4 portions. Looks like families of 3 are odd no pun intended!.

Value for money: I got the Hello Fresh family box with 4 meals, which costs £63.99, the Gousto family box with 4 meals, which is £47.75 and the Waitrose Cook Well 3 meal box for 4 people, which sells for £66. I had £20 discount on my Hello Fresh order and 50% off both Gousto and Waitrose. Considering my normal weekly shop, I think the Gousto box is excellent value for money, even at full price and Hello Fresh is ok, though I would struggle to justify paying full price for it. Now the Waitrose one is ludicrous. I could eat out 3 times a week and spend that much, and not have the washing up to do after it. It was just about ok at 50%, because the food wasn’t that tasty.

Now, if you’ve made it this far, you’re my hero! 😀 After all the testing, the conclusion I have come to is that I would (and will!) definitely purchase from Hello Fresh and Gousto again, though I am not sure I would do it on a regular basis – I still need to find out if the Gousto 2 portions box is enough for us, and if the Hello Fresh classic menu would be ok for my fussy child, but they exceeded my expectations. And I was extremely disappointed with Waitrose, even though I though it was expensive from the start, I could have given it another try if they food were decent – and it was not.

And now, for some discounts! If you would like to give Gousto a try, click here. And if you’d like to try Hello Fresh, there’s a code for that too. You get £20 off your first box and I get a £20 credit. If anyone tries them out, let me know what you think!

(I am not sure whether or not I have a Cook Well discount code but I don’t recommend them anyway – if anyone wants one, let me know and I will try to find out.)

PS: Because of the popularity of this post, I have written an update if you’d like to read.

(This post contains affiliate links. I get a small commission for every Gousto box that you buy through this website.)