Monthly Archives: March 2016

CUTE BABY ETSY PICKS

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1. Pineapple Print Organic Bloomers, Lola and Stella, Etsy , 2. Organic Baby Set with hat and swaddle blanket. Bear print, Lola and Stella, Etsy , 3. Paper Plane T-shirt, Earth Cadets, Etsy , 4. Bear Fabric Bag, Tell Kiddo, Etsy , 5. Leather Baby Shoes, Born Bespoke, Etsy , 6. Organic Cactus Print Baby Blanket, Lola and Stella, Etsy , 7.Fox Coat, Olive and Vince, Etsy , 8. Cloud Pajama Set, Shop Hello Sunday, Etsy , 9. Cotton Stripe Dress, Swallows Return, Etsy

I love Etsy for baby things, it’s all handmade, with a lot of organic and eco-friendly pieces. Also due to the vast majority of things on Etsy, more often than not, you will find unique pieces that other people might not have. I could spend a fortune on Arch, though he’s growing so fast, I’m happy with the hand-me-downs from his gorgeous cousin fin, and just buying the odd piece here and there. Though I’m in love with the cloud pj’s and the fox coat..maybe when he’s a little older and not growing out of a clothes size every few weeks.

 

Have a good weekend all and Happy Easter!

 



MAKING FINANCE AND MONEY MANAGMENT EASIER

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Managing money is rarely straightforward. After all, it might be coming from lots of different sources and then going back out to lots of different places. However, there are a number of ways to help you keep on top of your finances and manage your money effectively. Read on to find out what they are.  Hire A Financial Advisor

Financial advisors do exactly what you’d think- advise you on your finances! Some will even come over to your house and meet you there. Have all of your banking, investments and earning information to hand, as well as any related letters.

Have A Meeting With Your Bank

If you don’t want to pay to see a financial advisor, you can get free advice from your bank. A member of staff will sit down with you in a private room and go through any accounts you have with them. They will be able to give you advice and ask any questions you might have. Make the most of their knowledge and remember that they’re there to help!

Utilise Apps

Pretty much everyone has a smartphone these days. There are dozens and dozens of apps out there to help with money management. This list here will give you some good ideas.

Have mobile banking

Most of us now have online banking, but do you have mobile banking? Download your bank’s apps and you can access your account from your phone. You’ll be able to access it with a short pin, or even just your fingerprint in some cases. You can also transfer money. This means less chance of getting a fine if you go over your limit, as you can quickly remedy it.

Use Online Calculators

Once you reach 55, you become eligible for equity release on your home. This equity release calculator lets you find out how much you could release by comparing different UK-based providers. You can also order a free equity release guide.

Keep A Contingency Budget

Even if you’re great at budgeting, you should always have some contingency. Unexpected fees and costs can crop up along the way and take you by surprise. It might be a speeding or parking fine, or an emergency dental treatment. Whatever it is, make sure you can pay for it.

Have Treat Money

It’s all well and good taking care of your money, but you can’t take it with you when you’re gone! Have treat money too. It could just be for a weekly trip to your favourite coffee shop for a hot chocolate and slice of cake!

Check Comparison Website

Companies need to be competitive to gain and retain customers. If you’re not checking up on the better rates and offers every now and again, you’re missing a trick! Check whether you could be saving money on things like electricity, car insurance and your mobile phone, for instance.

Pay By Direct Debits

If you pay your bills yourself each month, you’re running the risk of forgetting one time and getting charged. Bills can also really start to stack up this way! Take some time to set up direct debits for all your bills. It’s far easier in the long run.  



HOW YOU CAN UPDATE YOUR HOME WITHOUT SPENDING A FORTUNE

I often find myself looking for new things that I can do to update my home. I love browsing through Pinterest and home magazines to get ideas. Sadly, most of us are limited by a certain budget as to what we can do with our homes. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being frugal, it’s a fun challenge trying to find the bargain, or make your dream decor. So don’t think that you can’t make a few changes to your home, just because you are on a budget. Here are a few ideas to update your home, that won’t break the bank.

Bargain Hunt

If you are on a budget, shopping in charity shops will be your new best friend. You can find some awesome things in them. Sometimes you need to find the potential in an item. Boring vases, but its a good shape? Spray paint it. So if you are looking to update your mantlepiece or some shelving with trinkets, a vase or jug, then head to the charity shops to have a look. Car boot sales and eBay are also good places to look for home bargains. Car boot sales and flea markets are great places to haggle too. I always try to get to a few flea markets abroad if I can and pick up little bits which will be completely different back home.

Retro-Sideboard-Table-MakeoverHeart Handmade UK

DIY or upcycle some of the essentials in your home. Paint that bookcase, create a new piece of artwork or dye those curtains. Little things like this can make a big difference.

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Outdoors

Grab some seeds and go to town on your front or back garden. Flowers make everyone happy.A lot of people have sheds or outhouses in the garden. If they were built around the 1950s, they might need to be checked by asbestos surveyors. It was common back then, and if there is some, perhaps in the roofing, then it will need to be removed safely, once all that is done why not paint your shed a bright colour?

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Lighting

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I think lighting is the perfect way to update any room. Whether that is just getting some brighter LED bulbs, or getting a new light fitting. A chandelier style fixture can look so stunning, but there are a lot of affordable options out there. Floor lamps or a dimmer switch are great options for mood lighting. Being able to adjust the brightness in a room is a great way to update the room.

 

 



HOW TO MAKE YOUR PARTY GO WITH A BANG

Once you’ve got all the main aspects of your party in place, such as the venue and food, it’s time to organize the finer details. It’s these small details that will ensure your party stands out from any others and will be certainly memorable for all the guests. As the saying goes, ‘the devil is in the details’. Want to know which small things will make your party awesome? Here’s how to make your party go with a bang.

Outstanding Outfits

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 One way to make a party truly memorable is to set a theme. You can then ask guests to come in fancy dress, and it will give you the chance to decorate your venue in a totally unique way. Even if you are planning on going to a few bars after the party, fancy dress is still a great option. Especially if you are planning a hen party! Many hens choose to jazz up their outfits with hen party accessories.

 

Evening Entertainment

How will you entertain your guests? Whatever you choose could make or break your party. If you are hiring a venue, you could see about booking a band or singer to play through the evening. Another popular option is karaoke. You can either book a professional karaoke company to come and compere the night, or you can simply bring a portable karaoke machine along. Everyone will love getting up and showing off their singing skills; karaoke can really bring heaps of laughs to your party!

 

The Perfect Host

 

As the host of the party, it is your job to make sure everyone has a great time. Be sure to mingle with your guests throughout the evening. Offer everyone drinks and invite them to help themselves to any food that is available. While you are planning the event, make sure everything that is to be there on the night will turn up on time. If you have arranged any decorations or outfit pieces to arrive by post, try and get them delivered the day before the party. This will prevent anything from arriving late! If you have booked a band for entertainment, make sure they know exactly where and when you want them. As you’re the host, all this responsibility is on you!

 

Fantastic Food

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gatsby_birthday_party_tableI heart to party

An awesome party can be let down by rubbish food. Make sure you don’t slip up by serving just a basic buffet! Buffets are, of course, perfect party food. If you serve one, you want to focus on quality over quantity. Think about offering exciting dishes from foreign cuisines that hardly anyone will have heard of. It will certainly make a change from the usual sandwiches and sausage rolls! If you don’t have time to prepare any food yourself, think about hiring a catering company. They can help take all the stress out of cooking and baking. What’s more, they’ll do all the cleaning up afterward!

 



A MUCH NEEDED DAY OF RELAXATION

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So on Tuesday, I went to the spa with my lovely sisters-in-law Tasha and Mel, and left my little baby boy with his daddy for the first time, for a whole day. It’s safe to say I missed him a lot, but I had a much-needed break. It occurred to me that I havent really had a break from Arch which hasn’t seen me using the time to either work or catch up on chores. Richard took Arch out the day before mother’s day to give me a break, and I cleaned and blogged..So it was nice to have a day to myself, and pretty much just not do anything.

So we got to use the spa facilities, so we chilled in the pool and the sauna, and then we went up to the relaxation room. Where we chilled in what I can only describe to be a giant dog bed….I had the best nap of my life…

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You can just see me in the corner..there were blankets, dimmed lights, you can even pull a curtain for privacy. I had a beautiful 30 minute nap, before being awoken to be told my treatment was ready.

So I went for a blissful back scalp and facial ritual. Starting off being exfoliated which was washed away with warm towels followed by a back massage. The massage was intense, but all I can say is that my back hasn’t felt this good since before I was pregnant. So I would recommend any mum to go get a back massage. What followed was a facial where I think I had about 6 different products put on my face, I swear my skin is just as smooth as Archers now! while my face mask was on my shoulders and neck were massaged. My treatment lasted an hour and a half and it was just pure bliss.

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I think every mum new and experienced need to chill sometimes. I don’t think I realised how much I needed it until the masseuse had her elbows digging in my back saying that I had a ton of knots. I’m a little sore still, but I know it was all for the good, because my back just feels so much more relaxed.  I think I forget that Arch is only 7 moths old, and the trauma our bodies go through to grow the baby  and then giving birth, it’s no wonder they say it can take a year til you start to feel complete and normal again.

And finally let’s not forget food…we relaxed, we chilled and we ate a lot! Brisket sliders, onion rings, cheesy chips…it was all sooooooo good.

spa day relaxation foodie

All finished off with us going home, having a cuddle with our babies, and a chilled evening with a cocktail. I’d love to try to do a spa day a couple of times a year, because I think it’s a great way to relax, being away from your home and family, where you can truly switch off, if only for a few hours. It’s important, everyone needs to be able to chill, and switch off even new parents.

 

 

 

 



GIFTS FOR THE NATURE LOVER

So it’s coming to that time of year for us where we have friends or family birthday’s nearly every week for the next few months. I love trying to find the perfect gift, though with Arch being my shopping partner, it’s a little more difficult. Thank god for online shopping! It was my dads birthday a couple of days ago, and I find him really hard to buy for. Typically I found the perfect gift after I had already got him something. Isn’t that always the way? Anyway he loves nature. walking, camping, birds…you name it..so I thought I’d share some gift ideas for you that have nature lovers to buy for!

Nature is an incredible thing which most of us take for granted. But some of us are obsessed with it and try to spend as much time getting as close to it as we possibly can. There are plenty of eco-friendly gifts out there that can boost their love for Mother Nature even further. Here are just a few fantastic idea you should consider, which may even turn you into a nature lover too.

Buy them a bee house

original_the-birds-and-the-beesBee or bird houses from Not On The Highstreet.

Bees are an essential part of nature but in some countries, they are becoming highly endangered. Wildlife experts have stated that the human race would suffer greatly without them. So why not buy the nature lover in your life a bee house. This will provide a shelter for pollinating bees and encourage them to thrive and increase their numbers. Plus the bees will help to make their garden more lush and green. It will make an attractive feature in their garden while working towards improving an environmental cause. This gift will make them feel like they are making a difference and will encourage them to spend even more time outside.

original_personalised-seaside-house-bird-boxI love the bird boxes, they are so super cute and different to the typical shape. This is from Not On The Highstreet.

Buy them a bird box camera

If your friend or family member loves nothing more than watching the birds in their garden, why not help them get an even closer view. Bird box cameras were once only used by wildlife experts but have become far more affordable in recent years. They can give the recipient a fly on the wall perspective inside the nest of a bird box in their garden. The picture can even be streamed to their TV or phone meaning they can check up on their feathered friends as and when they like. They will be able to see them nesting, caring for their chicks and see their antics with the click of a button. This gift will give them a perspective unlike any other and bring them closer to the local wildlife.

Buy them a cactus plant

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPair it with a cute pot like this one from Not On The Highstreet.

While a beautiful bouquet of flowers is a brilliant gift for a nature lover, why not try something different. Cactus make great plants for beginners who are just starting to become more green fingered and eco-friendly. They don’t need a lot of care and attention, and they bring a unique and unusual quality to a room. Plus there are thousands of different types and they will thrive for a lot longer than the flowers in a bouquet. Choose a suitable size and display in a glass terrarium, teacup or an attractive pot the recipient of this gift would like in their home. Tie a bow or tag around the pot and you’re done. It’s a simple but effective gift that will become their favourite plant in no time, and they may even start their own collection.

original_personalised-nature-trail-in-a-bagThere are great gifts for your little ones that are into nature too. Like these cute little trail sets from Not On The Highstreet.

So whether it’s for Christmas, an anniversary or a birthday, these gifts are bound to make an impact. They can help wildlife thrive, make the recipient more green fingered and spread their love for nature even more.



HOW TO SAVE MONEY AND BE MORE ECO-FRIENDLY AROUND YOUR HOME

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Handy Little Me

We can all look to save a bit of money here and there and do our part for the planet too. There are quite a few ways that we can save money around the house. Sometimes they can seem like really complex things, and it puts us of changing them. They are all simple changes, though, and they can save you quite a bit each year. Here are some things that you could try.

If you switch your light bulbs from regular ones to LED light bulbs, you could save yourself over £100 each year. They use a lot less energy than their counterparts. The key thing is that you don’t miss out on brightness, as with other energy-saving lights. So when you flick the switch, they are instantly bright. Think about getting LED light bulbs from somewhere like iLighting. They last for a long time and are much more energy-efficient. LED lights also last for a whole lot longer than normal bulbs. Also simply turning off your lights when you’re not in the room can saves you money, and helps the planet too.

We all need to wash our clothes. With a child, it can feel that all I am ever doing is laundry! Washing machines use some of the most energy in our homes. A lot of the energy used for the washing machine is used to for heating the water. So the more hot washes you do, the more energy you use. The more energy you use, the more money you waste. A lot of detergents are suitable for use in cold washes, so it is a good idea to wash at a lower temperature. Making sure that you do full loads is a good idea too. Don’t just do lots of small washes but a few larger loads. I have found that because the temperature of the wash is lower, you can mix up your lights and darks as it is harder for the colours to run on a cold wash. I wash most of our clothes at 30, unless Arch has had a few accidents. Then I tend to wash them at 60. During the summer use a washing line, hanging dry is much better for your pocket and the environment then using a tumble dryer. If you don’t have to use a tumble dryer or heat from radiators, then you aren’t using an unnecessary energy. This won’t waste any money. So when you can, use a washing line or a drying rack for your clothes.

Being loyal to an energy provider doesn’t get you anywhere. It is a good idea to shop around and switch your energy supplier. There are so many options like dual fuel tariff that has a fixed price for a number of years, we give our reading each month, to get a rough idea of how much we are using. But we pay a set price a month, and more often than not we get a payout at the end of the year.

Obviously we all want to be paying less for our bills around our house, but it’s important to think about how what we do everyday effects the environment too. Switching off plugs, doing colder washes, and putting an extra jumper on instead of blasting the heating straight away, may not seem much but I like to think I’m doing my part.



MOTHER OF THE BRIDE STYLE IDEAS

Finding my own wedding outfit is a lot of fun, but I enjoy looking at options for other people’s outfits too. Even though I don’t have control over what anyone who isn’t in the wedding party wears, it’s still fun to look at other wedding outfits. 

It’s going to be a long, long time (hopefully!) before I’m the mother of the bride or groom getting married. But if that day comes in the distant future, I like to think I’m going to look pretty stylish. Although, who knows what’s going to be in fashion in twenty years or more! 

Today’s outfits for more mature ladies are already fashionable, so I’m sure I’m going to look great.Neither of us would dare tell our mothers what to wear, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to look at some ideas. If you’re not sure what to wear to your son or daughter’s wedding, here’s my advice.

 

Mum bride 

Big hats have become rather popular for weddings and if you ever need some inspiration look no further then the races at Ascot.

  
The knot

When you’re trying to choose an outfit, people often talk about picking something that flatters you. Of course, you might want to look good and highlight your best features. But feeling comfortable is important too. If a tight and frilly dress doesn’t feel like you, try and find something that’s more your style. Look at somewhere like Frox of Falkirk if you need to find plus sized outfits. They have timeless and sophisticated styles for women of all ages.

Check the Dress Code

  
The knot

Before you choose your outfit, make sure you understand the “feel” of the wedding. Sometimes it’s super formal and sometimes it’s a much more relaxed affair. You might be expecting to get very dressed up. But perhaps your son or daughter is imagining something much more laidback, where people might dress at about the level of going out for dinner. Maybe they’re even picturing a sandals on the beach kind of deal (although maybe not in the UK).

Consult with Others

  
The knot

You don’t need anyone else’s permission or approval, but sometimes it’s good to have reassurance. If you need some help choosing your outfit, ask someone you trust. That might be your daughter or even your son. Or it could be your partner, friend or sister.

Your child’s wedding is a special day for you too. Take the opportunity to treat yourself and get something new.



LAST MINUTE PARTY? 

I think we are all guilty of leaving things last-minute, or sometimes plans get made which only give you a couple of days to organise a spectacular event…believe me I have been in this situation so many times. Last minute guests, me putting organisation off… so many times. Well here are my tips to make your last-minute party amazing.

I’m assuming you have roughly a day to prepare. However, if you’re really up against it read this 30-minute guide. Buy the food and drink first.. Make a list of all the items you’ll need. Stick to pre-prepared party food and hors d’oeuvre, so that guests can help themselves. Bread and cheese work well. Buy a few different types of bread and cut it into rough pieces. Serve with a variety of cheeses, salamis, fruit and olives. You can always make even the simplest things look fancy. Chips in a shot glass? Or buy lots of little bits and do a big Italian Spread like this one..

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This is where fancy paper plates and cups can really come in handy, go to your local supermarket or if you have time order some. It will make the clear up so much easier!

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These are Bri Emery’s, from Design Love Fest’s new range for Target…these look super fun! If only they had a target in the UK!

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 Refrigerate the drinks when you arrive home. Or better still, place them in a Single Zone wine cooler. This will ensure they are beautifully chilled for when your guests arrive. Check out this post by A Beautiful Mess for what to keep stocked for quick parties.

Next up is the house. You don’t have time for a full makeover, but you want everywhere to look beautiful. Tidy first. Clear away any clutter, old magazines and anything breakable. Wash any dishes and put them away. You’re now ready to clean. Focus on all the rooms guests are likely to enter. This may include a bedroom if you’re using it for coat storage. Open all the windows to air the house and dust around quickly. Then vacuum. Make sure you vacuum upholstery if needed.

Clean the kitchen and bathroom carefully and put out guest soap and clean towels. Walk around each room and make sure it’s all presentable. This stress-free cleaning article provides more tips.

Decorations

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DIY-Gilded-Donkey-PinataStudio DIY

This is the fun part. You can do a lot with balloons and string lights. Pick up some coloured card to cut out shapes, grab a pinata…because who doesn’t love sweets…Think outside of the box. You will be surprised how much you can do with a few things and a little tape.

A couple of hours before the guests are due to arrive take out plates, glasses and napkins. Uncover food and transfer to dishes. Ensure you have enough forks and spoons.

Give the house one last check and make any final adjustments. And there you have it, party preparations in record time. Put on some music, sit back and wait for your guests to arrive.

And there you have it! Your done….now that wasn’t so hard was it..



RENTERS TIPS: WASHI TAPE IDEAS

So you have just picked up your keys to your new home to be, It’s one of the best rental apartments you’ve come across. But it still has that ‘just rented’ feel. The only problem is that most landlords have restrictions on how much you can alter. Redecorating is out of the question, and if you mark the walls, you may lose your deposit. So how do you decorate a rented apartment?

You can’t paint, and so you need to be creative. In place of wallpaper and paint think about wrapping paper and fabric. Decorative wrapping paper can be applied to small wall areas or in between shelves. The small sheets will add a little colour without being overpowering. If you’re afraid of marking the walls, then use something like Command Strips. They won’t leave a mark and are easy to remove. Fabric can be used in a similar way. Or do a dramatic feature wall using a tapestry, or even washi tape. Which doesn’t mark walls, but always do a tester first…just incase.

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If your walls are painted with no raised patterns, then think about applying wall stickers. These vinyl wall decorations will adhere to your wall without glues or pastes. You can rub them on and then remove them when you’re ready to leave. You can buy similar stickers for kitchen and bathroom tiles.

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We used these removal dots for Archer’s nursery and command strips to hang his gallery wall! This allowed us to make his room a little special without loosing our deposit!

Now to washi tape. It’s a renters best friend! The colour and patterns are endless, and I haven’t had any problems so far removing it. You can use it to spruce up your kitchen..

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You could re-create this style kitchen using washi tape on the cupboards! Look at all the colour!

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Or use it to create stripes in the bathroom??

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Use it in your bedroom, or anywhere in your house really to frame pictures for your walls..

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Or just spruce up boring doors in your home!

I love washi tape and the possibilities are endless, you can even use it to spruce up old furniture or make some art on a canvas…this is an essential item for your tool box!

For further design inspiration read this article and this one.