Student Hacks – surviving uni life

Written by Emma. Posted in competitions, Uncategorized

The little brother cast his net a little wider in September and headed off to University, leaving behind the comforts of home he swapped his pampered life of home cooked meals and lifts from dad to student halls and riding his bike in the rain! A brilliant snap chat showed just how much he was loving the change!  I can’t share it as he swore and this is a family blog!


I have never lived with my little brother seeing as there is 20 years between our ages (that’s a whole other story of what my parents got up to when I left the comforts home to start university :) ) But we are close and I can say that there have been some great conversation since he started.  We have had the ‘ I bought a train ticket to go visit Simon which bit do I need the outbound or return bit’  we also have had ‘why are my white clothes not as white when I wash them’  This preceeded the I ran out of underwear so went and bought more boxers conversation.

Yes like I said he was previously very pampered!!! However we have actually spoken more in the past six weeks than normal thanks to Facetime and social media.

In addition to the little brother I am a former sixth form teacher and tutor and I saw my role as preparing them for adult life be it Uni or leaving home. This was just as important as the academic support to me and I enjoyed watching them develop their independance throughout sixth form.  I am already training Chloe, who is nearly 15, for the next steps in life and here are my three top student hacks to make life that bit easier:


1. Eggs.  Yes that is right, learn what you can do with an egg from poached, scrambled with prawns or perfect for omelettes where you can add everything that is left in your fridge.  Potatoes, ham, cheese, mushrooms, prawns etc can all be turned into a quick nutritious cheap meal.  Learning to cook up some quick, tasty food is so important as eating takeaways soon gets boring and you stop wanting brown food.  Vegetables galore that will keep you full and healthy will soon be craved.  Therefore I think it really helps students if you teach them how to cook in the years before they leave home.  Another staple is mince and I think everyone is capable of making a filling bolognaise  or lasagna.  I remember my now husband wowing me with a carbonara he whipped up when we were at Uni.  I never told him that he was supposed to fry and cook the onions before adding it to the home made sauce he served it with!  The thought was there and I went on to marry him so he did ok!!



2. Draw out cash each week.  Know what your weekly budget is and pay for everything is cash.  It is so easy to overspend or forget you have spent when paying on cards.  I learnt to budget as I carried cash and it meant that is what I had.  A visual reminder really helps stop spending without actually acknowledging that it is coming out of your bank. University is expensive and have fun but don’t add to your worries by getting more indebt than you actually  need to.


3. Finally get online with your Currys laptop and make some money reviewing or bag some freebies. It has never been easier to use today’s modern technology to save money, use voucher sites to get money off coupons when you are eating out.  There are often vouchers for favourite restaurants like Nando’s or Strada.  Voucher cloud is a great app and the vouchers can be redeemed via a smart phone.  Sign up for mystery shopping and you can have free meals out in exchange for your opinions which are collated by filling in on line questionnaires.  Enter competitions online which is a numbers game and if you enter loads you will win its a matter of when.  Join survey sites and sign up for market research with agencies like Podengo who are regularly looking for students.  For me the only way as a student to make easy money like this was signing up to be in police line ups!! However even that is digital now!




This is my entry into the New Student Hacks Competition if you blog you can enter until Monday so be quick!  You can survive Uni with these simple hacks.  Enjoy Uni for it passes so quickly and then life gets more serious!


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A modern printer for the modern family.

Written by Emma. Posted in Uncategorized

The first half term is coming to a close and as I wrote other day it has been a successful one for us although I am feeling the difference of having Chloe starting GCSE’s and Dylan entering year 6.  It is strange really as I look at Chloe and just see myself at that age.

I loved school and enjoyed my time there, I didn’t work nearly hard enough and do wish I had I had realised that sooner.  But the climate has definately changed I know that as both a former teacher and a parent.  There is such more of an expected partnership between the school and home and I welcome that.

I believe that is my role as a parent to continue to be a role model to Chloe and to support her in her studies.  I do check her work and help her with homework and revising for recap tests.  She has taken it seriously so far, she knows that she has to work to do well.  Like her dad and me we got to where we have through hard work and this is something I want the children to realise.

One thing that does help is the amount of technology we have at our finger tips.  I remember going to the library to research topics or even events in history to get work done whereas that’s a fundamental cultural shift now.  The technology is often in the home with iPads, smart phones and laptops it has certainly changed how our students study.

We have been reviewing the Canon Pixma MG7150 over the past few months and that too has made life easier.  I shared my first thoughts when I started working from home but recently I have seen the benefits from a homework angle.  Dylan has been able to print off his work with ease and Chloe likes the remote function as she can print via her smart phone.

In addition to working hard they have also been playing hard this term.  Both Chloe and Dyl have been doing all their sports and socialising with friends in their spare time.  It is all about balance for us.  They know that if school work is done then they get their downtime. Chloe then found another use for the printer!  She has been looking at how she can make her friends birthday / Christmas presents creatively and cheaply as teens don’t have unlimited funds.  She has discovered that she can print off some of her favourite pictures that she has taken with her smart phone and uploaded to Facebook.  She then buys a nice photo frame and personalises it.

We took inspiration from her and recently printed out this selfie that Chloe took of the five of us.

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My final opinion of the Canon Pixma is that it is great!  It has made life that little bit easier for all of us and we have found so many uses for it.  I like how responsive it is and that it works with my phone.  I love how it is used in the practical traditional sense, but it can also provide entertainment and activities for Erin and how the teen uses it socially with the power of social media.


Disclosure:  We were gifted the printer for review.

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Autumn Picnics.

Written by Emma. Posted in Uncategorized

The weather seems to have turned but Erin’s memory of summer hasn’t abated just yet. She recalls with delight the fun we had this summer and the many family outings we squeezed into our days. However it is the changing of the season and I am finding that the winter clothes are appearing I love the richness of Autumn colours and have really enjoyed our walks home from school.  The walk is a short walk but takes Erin quite some time but I really believe it is good to get some fresh air and helps her relax and process the day on the way home.  I have always found that walk home to be the time when you get the most out of what the children have been doing at school that day.

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Autumn is also the time to make the most of those last few picnics and recently we were lucky enough to be sent some goodies from Brioche to enjoy.  My children love brioche and it is a staple in our home.  When the weather is not on our side and it is wet Erin still likes to have what she calls a picnic tea.  This basically means a packed lunch on a plate in the lounge!  She will often host tea parties with her teddy and this is why we decided on a Alice in Wonderland tea party for her birthday next month.

photo 1 (12)

Her favourite tea party items would include Brioche, babybel, grapes and ham.  Thankfully Erin is a fuss free eater and will happily try most things.

photo 2 (12)


With half term coming up we are hoping to fit in a few more outside picnics before the dark nights draw in and it is dark by 4.30.  what are your plans for half term?


Disclosure:  This post is in association with Tots100 and Brioche Pasquier.

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What makes a family home? Here’s what to look for:

Written by Emma. Posted in Uncategorized

When it comes to buying a house for starting a family you’ll quickly find that not every house was created equal. Some homes are designed specifically for families, while others are not entirely suitable for children, but how can you tell the two apart?

There are many things that you should look for when considering a family home, a few of these include:

Room to Grow

Children may start off small but give them a couple of years and they’ll double then triple in size. This means that they start taking up much more room in the house. They are going to go from a crib, to a cot, to a single bed and then to double bed, therefore you need to have large enough bedrooms to allow this transition.

A Spare Room

Unless you’re completely set on having a certain amount of children, having a spare room is always handy just in case you have a ‘special surprise’. Additionally, an extra room is amazingly handy for the overflow of toys and odds and ends that come hand-in-hand with children. Another sneakier perk of having a free room is that you can have your parents around to look after the kids – now that’s forward thinking!

Location is…

Everything. When they say this they really aren’t joking. Where you buy a house can and will affect where your kids go to school or play sports. If you roughly know the area you want to live then you should check out the local schools and their catchment areas to help narrow the search down.



Ensuring that there are good transport links, shops, restaurants and parks nearby will also have a great impact on your family home. Having everything you need on your doorstep can make family life much easier, especially as your children get older. Knowing the area is absolutely vital if you are looking for a property to live in long-term.

A Garden

Having a garden can be extremely beneficial when it comes to encouraging your children to play outside, however this can be a tricky and expensive feature in large cities. If you can afford a house with a garden then this will be a fantastic feature of the house that can grow with the children, giving a space to play in as a child to a nice area to hang out in during their teens.

The Kitchen

 The kitchen will naturally act as the centrepiece of a family home, especially when you have young children. Having an area that is large enough to hold the whole family will create a lovely cosy atmosphere where you can chat and cook together. The quality of the kitchen isn’t as important as the size and layout, as the units can be easily changed but the layout cannot – carefully consider this before making any decisions.

A Bathtub  


A family home is just not complete without a bathtub. This makes the task of cleaning your kids much, much easier and should be considered essential until they are old enough to bathe themselves. Even if you may not enjoy soaking yourself in the bath, if you’re planning on having children then it really is a must. If there isn’t one in the home already then it is worth figuring out whether you can fit one in.


About the Author – Hugh Grover is an Islington Estate Agents with over 20 years of experience working in the area. When it comes to knowing the area, Hugh Grover can tell you everything you need to know and more – from the best schools to the finest dining. If you’re looking for a family home in Islington then get in touch today.


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