Thursday, 22 December 2016

Gardening Tip to Make Your Neighbours Look Over the Fence (And Be Green with Envy!)

Gardening Tips

Maintaining your garden to a high standard so that it gathers admiring glances from all quarters is high on the list of serious gardeners. Take a look at these gardening hacks from Rattan Direct and make your neighbours green with envy at your gardening prowess.

#1 Know your garden, the soil and the climate

Cacti survive in arid desserts for a reason, which is why having them in a garden in a wet and windy corner of the UK will not see cacti thrive.
Knowing your patch of soil, whether it is acidic or alkaline and how you can change this, as well as making the most of the climate will help in deciding the best plants to buy and plant, as well as the best spaces in your garden for these plants to flourish.
Camellias, for example, prefer a north-facing wall in a court yard and an acid soil, so there is no point planting them in water-logged, alkaline soil with continuous cold draughts irritating their tender stems.

#2 Water

Water is not a sustainable resource - cue downpours that last says, with flooding and horror stories, and yet we are told there is not enough of the wet stuff.
But, one of the key elements that turns drooping pansies into a flowery mass of colour is water. Whilst your neighbour’s lawn and borders become ever more parched during a drought, you can carry on watering your luscious blooms because you have water butts catching rain from all your down pipes.

#3 Remove pesky weeds as soon as they dare pop their heads above the soil

They are a nuisance. They are everywhere. One minute, they are a tiny head, just popping above the soil surface and the next, it is running rampant across flower beds, anywhere where they can get enough of a foothold with their shallow roots. Weeds are not a gardener’s friend.
But this is the good news: it takes only a few minutes to whip these pesky weeds out of your soil before they get chance to not only become established, but turn to seed and spread them across your entire garden.

#4 Complimentary accessories

We are used to thinking of our gardens as place to be admired – from the house. We look out, admire the dancing blooms in the summer breeze and yet, we spend little time actually enjoying the fruits of your gardening labours.
This is because we don’t make it comfortable for us to enjoy. And when we do, we move back into the house as soon as daylight fades and the temperature drops.
Make your neighbours green with envy with not only beautiful plants, but fantastic accessories;
·         Garden seating – from a practical garden bench to functional outside sofas, there are all kinds of options when it comes to garden furniture that suit all tastes and budgets.
·         Rugs, throws and cushions – ramp up the style and add splashes of fantastic colour with rugs, throws and cushions made from special material for the outdoors that don’t fade, shrink or spoil in the occasional rain shower or bright, bleaching sunshine.
·         Lighting – solar lighting has come on leaps and bounds since the first dim, last-no-more-than-30-minutes solar powered fairy lights from decades ago. There are all kinds of solar lights that make for a bright, romantic garden when the sun drops.
·         Fire pit – want to enjoy the night time garden with its scents and rustling wildlife but don’t like the cold? The fire pit is the perfect addition. Watch the flames dance and out of the corner of your eye, note the admiration in the eyes of your neighbours…
·         Water – gentle running water caresses the soul. After a busy day at the office, talk a walk in the garden and sit by your water feature, enjoying its soothing tones. Build a full-scale pond and welcome a whole new raft of wildlife in your garden or have a water feature, with water trickling down playing its soul-soothing tune.

#5 Plant in pots

Planting in pots is the perfect way to add colour, form and texture to a garden, softening corners and adding interest.
Keep garden pots of similar colours and shades to get a coherent colour palette running through the garden. Take time to consider the plants you will use in these pots too. Potted plants will need a little more attention, including a daily water – twice daily if the summer is hot – and bedding plants should be regularly dead headed to keep them putting their energy into flowering and not making seeds.

Rattan Direct have a range of garden accessories and furniture, perfect for dressing your garden and accentuating its glorious plants and design.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Brits should get scores in shape now to avoid Christmas credit hangover

One in five (21%) British households are already worrying about festive expenses and nearly a quarter (24%) say they will take out a new financial product – such as a credit card – to help manage the cost of Christmas. 

But while 70% will visit a price comparison site before applying for a new card, and over one quarter (27%) turn to trusted news articles to find the best deals on the market, only one in five (23%) will check their credit score. In fact, less than half (45%) of card-carrying Brits have checked their score in the last year and 30% have never checked their score.

Brits should be taking simple steps to boost their credit score now if they want to reduce the cost of Christmas borrowing. Yet 42% of people don't know their credit score can affect how much credit card interest they pay, according to new research from ClearScore1.

A person’s credit score is one of the most important numbers you have. A poor score can affect someone’s ability to access the best financial products. For example, the difference between a ‘low’ and ‘excellent’ score could mean £20,000 in extra interest repayments across a lifetime – nearly the equivalent of a year’s annual take-home salary.2

Despite this, 44% don’t realise their credit score affects their chances of being accepted for a credit card and less than half (42%) know the interest rate they're offered is also impacted by their financial history. Brits don’t check their credit report because they don’t want to pay to access their data – 34% cited this as the main reason.

Justin Basini, CEO of free credit checking service ClearScore, said: “For many people, Christmas inevitably involves some level of short term borrowing as a way to spread the costs, often using a credit card. The important thing is to keep that borrowing under control and pay as little in interest as possible. Lenders reserve the lowest rates for those with better credit scores, so it pays to start improving yours now."

An analysis of the credit history of ClearScore’s 2.6 million users since 2012 shows that January is consistently the most popular month for credit card applications, meaning there is plenty of time to boost your credit score.

To help people track and improve their credit score over time, ClearScore has built the free Timeline tool, available at, which allows people to track their debt levels and credit score.

How to improve your credit score:

By actively managing your credit score, you will ensure that you get access to the best products on the market – here are Justin’s top tips for improving your score and saving yourself a tidy fortune:

  1. Sign up to see your credit score – you can get can your free score and report at ClearScore and track your progress using our handy Timeline. 
  2. Check your report thoroughly, regularly and always before applying for credit – report and correct any mistakes you see as this could be damaging your score.
  3. Make sure that your bank and any credit providers have your correct address.
  4. Ensure you’re registered on the electoral roll – this is a very simple way of boosting your score.
  5. Make sure that your name is on some utility accounts – the greater the evidence that you borrow and repay your credit regularly, the better your credit score will be.
  6. Your score will increase if you use a smaller percentage of your available credit limit.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Preparing for Christmas

Christmas Dalmatian

Christmas is fastly approaching and I am still at a loss to where the Summer went? It was only August 5 minutes ago and now all of a sudden it's December and the big day is looming. Did I fall asleep for 4 months and miss the weeks falling away? 

Don't get me wrong, I do love Christmas but it's always such an expensive month. I tell myself that I will plan ahead each and every year, but every year I never feel prepared much before Christmas Eve. I do start shopping around September time each year, just so I can spread the cost, but never the less I am still shopping well into December. 

I am actually really looking forward to Christmas this year, Leo is at the best age. He's 5 now and he is completely caught up in the magic of everything, and I guess I am just appreciating it all the more this year because I have realised that Christmas's like these really are numbered. He is coming home every day and telling me something that his school friends have told him, the latest being that Jack Frost isn't real... and I can tell you now that if anyone starts trying to ruin the magic of Christmas, I will not be held accountable for my actions.

We have family that live out in the states and every year since Leo was small, they have arranged for a special letter from Santa to arrive all the way from Arizona. I remember the first year it happend (Leo was only 5 months old) and they denied all knowledge, I was left completely baffled as to where it had originated from. It's been a lovely tradition that has only grown with excitement as Leo has grown up, and it's something that we always look forward to.

As Christmas is such a busy time we don't always get to see everyone that we would hope to, so this usually means that we have to courrier Christmas Presents by TNT to make sure that they make it there on time. That is something that we have been looking at this week, I like to make sure that we get everything sent out so that it arrives in plenty of time before Christmas.

Christmas Tree

I really am excited about getting all of the logistics sorted so I can begin focusing on just enjoying this time of year. There is always so much work that goes into Christmas, and once the hard graft is behind us, everything is sorted and all of the gifts have been delivered or arrived at their assigned destinations, it's nice to pour a large glass of mulled wine and await the Christmas Day feast.

This year is my first Christmas in my new home, and I have to admit that before we put the tree up at the start of December, I wasn't really feeling it. I thought that I would be beyond excited at getting everything in order this year, but when the time came I didn't know if I could even be bothered enough to put the tree up. When the time came though my Christmas spirit kicked in, and now I hate to think of the house without all of the glitter and lights.

You will see me in January fighting to keep it up all year round!

Now... there is an idea!

Friday, 9 December 2016

How To Sell Your Used Family Car

If you’re getting ready to sell your used family car, the entire process can seem a little scary. It involves things like cleaning the car, marketing it, and, of course, discussing money. But, a little time and effort to get the car right will ensure you get the most profit for it. Here’s how to make sure you get the most money for your used family car.

Get the Car Looking Great

People prefer clean cars. Crumbs, dirt, and stains are just going to make your car look cheap and give the impression that you haven’t looked after it. And that’s the most important thing: you want to convince buyers that your car has been looked after. If your family car is old, there are a few things you can do to make it more attractive:

·         Get it detailed
·         Replace old floor mats
·         Reconsider modifications you may have done a while ago
·         Get it serviced
·         Have obvious flaws repaired

You might be asking yourself: What’s my car worth? Contact Sell My Car to find out today. Sell My Car is one of the vehicle buying services that offer free car valuation. Contact them for more details.

Want to Make a Profit? Have Your Records In Order

If you are able to show potential buyers that all your service and maintenance records are in order, it gives them huge peace of mind. If you don’t actually have all the records, try to write them down to prove your car has never been involved in an accident.

Set a Realistic Price

You need to be realistic about your asking price. Dealers will give you an honest assessment of your vehicle’s condition and give you an accurate asking price. Take a look online at similar cars and use them as a comparison. You may want to add a couple of hundred dollars extra just to give yourself a little bargaining room.

Get a Car Buying Service to Sell Your Car

Trading your used family car in at a dealership doesn’t always give you a great profit. While it is certainly easier and less daunting than trying to sell the car on your own, a car buying service is a great way to go to get the most money for your car.

Be Wary of Potential Buyers

Finally, if you are insistent on handling the car showing and final transactions yourself, always make sure you stay safe. Insist on meeting buyers in public places and don’t allow them to test drive the car on their own. Also, ensure that you accept a money order, cash or a certified check for payment before you go ahead and transfer ownership. You may want to complete the transaction at the bank first in order to verify payment.

While it probably sounds like quite a bit of work, selling your used family car, just like buying one, is a huge financial transaction and it pays to be prepared so that you can make the best possible profit.

Ditch doing it all yourself and deal with a car buying service who will give you the best possible price!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Holiday Thoughts

Family Travel

People are always asking me whether Leo is going to be an only child, and to be honest I don't really know the answer to that question as this moment in time. Maybe? Maybe not? It really could go one of two ways, but there are a lot of positive points in my eyes to Leo being an only child at this moment in time and one of the points that jumps off at the page at me is travelling.

Leo is at an incredible age, he is 5 years old and it means that we can run off and do all sorts as a family of 3, we can go and enjoy the rollercoasters at a theme park or do something that would be more tricky if not impossible if we had a baby in tow. It was just the other year that we took Leo off road quad biking while we were on holiday in Tunisia!

We may be on the cusp of Christmas, but we can't help thinking about our next family adventure. I flew off to New York month with the girls, and as soon as I was back we were discussing what we were going to do next just the 3 of us, and as the discussions go on, we keep coming back to the same point... We are loving the idea of a Disney Cruise!

A Disney Cruise has to be the ultimate family fun adventure, and if we are going to do something like this, it needs to be now... Leo is not just growing up physically, his tastes are growing up. He has had me boxing up old toys that he now deems are for babies, so I want to make sure we give him this magical experience before he is too old. 

We have been having a look at Iglu Cruise who are the UK's largest independent cruise agents with great deals to over 3,000 ports in 30 destinations. There are 4 Disney Cruise ships:

- Disney Dream - Largest in the fleet and carries over 4,000 passengers, which is about 40% larger than the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder.
- Disney Fantasy - It joined the fleet in 2012. The sister ship of the Disney Dream, the Disney Fantasy is a 128,000 tonne cruise liner carrying around 4,000 guest per cruise with 1,250 staterooms.
- Disney Magic - Combines a sleek exterior which echoes back to the golden age of cruising, with a modern twist of innovative facilities and the enchanting wonder of Disney.
- Disney Wonder - The sister ship of Disney Magic is 83,000-tonnes across ten passenger decks and will comfortably take 2,400 passengers. 

The Disney Cruises go from all over depending on the ship and package that you choose. You can board at Dover, or travel by plane and board in warmer climates. 

The more I think about it, the more I want to just get my credit card and book it right up, we are still discussing the finer details but it looks to be a popular idea between myself and the better half. Even Luke is partial to some Disney magic whether he will admit it or not, and I have a great photo of him somewhere with a pair of Mickey Mouse ears upon a trip to Disneyland Paris back in 2009.

So maybe Leo will stay an only child, maybe he won't, but I will never take for granted the amazing trips and holidays we can plan by being a family of 3. 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Holiday Cards

Family Photoshoot

December has arrived, and I have to admit that I have left it pretty late thinking about this years Christmas cards. We like to do something a little different and personal for friends and family, because anyone can send a Christmas Card and I think it is important to make an effort with what we send out. When I spoke to family members it became apparent that they would much rather receive a photograph of the whole family, so I decided that it would be nice to make our very own holiday cards. 

There are two options when it comes to getting the photos done, we can use pre-existing images that we have taken throughout the year, or we can hire a photographer to take charge of a shoot. I love getting family photographs taken, and it's nice to have the opportunity to be in the photos with someone else behind the lens (I rely on my camera timer far too much!). 

Of course it can be tricky at times to find the right person for the job, so when I heard about Bidvine recently I was really excited to give it a go. Bidvine puts you in contact with professionals in your local area who can help you with your personal projects, such as getting photos taken for a holiday card, or even find a cleaner for your home. You simply select your service and start receiving quotes for that specific project. 

I connected my Facebook account which meant I didn't have to fill out a form to sign up, and I started the process to start receiving quotes for my Christmas project. I wanted the photographer to come to the house, I set the budget I had in mind and even how I wanted the finished photographs made available to me.

You can decide how you wish to be contacted and have the quotes presented to you, whether you would prefer to have the quotes phoned through to you or text. I opted for text as I like to have them in one place so that I can refer back to them if I need to. By having the quotes sent via text, it meant that all I needed to do was log in to my account and open them up at my leisure. 

I put a top budget in at £300.00 and asked that I be able to have the images on a CD or USB so that I can use them for my Christmas Card project. The best quote I had back came in under budget at £250 - This included the photographer travelling to my home, taking the photos, editing the photos and finally receiving the photos in the form of digital download from the photographers website.

I had a number of photographers contact me which was brilliant, it meant that I only needed to put my requirements down once and then all I had to do was pick the person who I felt was best for the job. I liked that it introduced me to photographers and businesses that I wouldn't have known to consider if I was putting in the leg work myself. 

I will definitely be using the Bidvine service again.

5 easy ways to teach kids to save water

It’s easier to learn good habits when you’re young, and one really good habit to get into is saving water. In the UK, especially in winter, it’s easy to think that there’s too much water around anyway, but the fact is that globally we do use too much water. Learning how to save water in our everyday lives will help us, and our children, to conserve one of Earth’s most valuable natural resources.

Here are five simple ways that you and your children can save water every day.

1. Turn Off the Taps
Whether you’re washing your hands or brushing your teeth, don’t just let the water carry on running down the drain. If you turn the tap off while you’re not actually rinsing your hands or your toothbrush, you can save most of the water you would otherwise use.

2. Turn Off the Taps Tightly
Make sure that when you do turn the tap off, it’s off! Leaking and dripping taps can waste large amounts of water over time, especially if you don’t notice them at first. Get into the habit of checking the taps are tightly off before you leave the bathroom, and teach your children to do so too.

3. Bath Time for Babies
When it’s time to give your baby a bath, use only an inch or two of water. For safety reasons, you shouldn’t be giving your babies a deep bath anyway, so this is a great way to save water and to be really safe. As your children get older, encourage them to have quick showers, not baths - filling up a bathtub takes a lot of water. Set a good example by having showers yourself. Children will follow their parents’ example in all sorts of ways.

4. Save “Old Water”
Encourage your children to collect water from almost finished bottles, half-finished drinks or from boiling eggs - once it’s cooled down, of course. You can use this saved water to water your grass and your garden instead of using your sprinkler or your hosepipe. There’s a reason we have hosepipe bans in hot dry summers - they use a lot of water! If you save up your old drinks and cooking water, you will soon be keeping your garden green without breaking any bans. Also, using old water in a watering can is much more efficient than using a hosepipe.

Install a water butt under your drainpipe. You can’t drink the water (although the animals will), but you can use it to wash your car, water the plants and even wash your windows. Dirty water pumps can get water out of ponds, ditches and rain barrels to be used efficiently on your garden.

5. Don’t Flush
Sometimes you have to flush! But modern toilets are fitted with two sizes of flush to begin with. So train your children to use the lighter flush if they’ve only had a wee. If you have small children who use the toilet frequently, they don’t have to flush every time. Flushing your toilet uses up to five gallons of water every time, so frequent flushing can use up a lot of water, especially if you have a young family. You can also get a “cistern displacement unit” to fit in your cistern to reduce the amount of water used each flush. These are available from your water provider.

Using less water is energy-efficient. It takes a lot of energy to clean wastewater, or “greywater” as it is known, once it’s in the sewage system. It takes a lot of energy to heat water, so it makes sense to be frugal with your hot tap. If you’re on a water meter, then these five simple tips can save you a surprising amount of money.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Special Jewels

I have adored Opals since I first discovered them back in 2007, an old boyfriends Mother had the most beautiful collection and I remember admiring it on many occasions, and not long after seeing them all for the first time I decided that one day I would own my own.

I have had a few smaller one's over the years, but nothing in the league of her beautiful Opals. It truly is amazing how all of the different colours and effects present themselves within the stone, there are all the blue colouring's that you can imagine, dark right through to baby, reds, greens and orange. The Opal is such a unique stone, and that is what makes them so special to me. No two are ever the same.

I love to have a look at the different collections that you can find online, just to catch sight of what you can find in this big wide world of ours. I love vintage jewellery especially when it combines my all time favourite stone. 

I have been in the process of organising my jewellery box. I am quite sentimental and hold on to every item that has ever been gifted to me, or even little treats I have allowed myself to purchase over the years. I don't have masses of jewels unfortunately, but what I do have is very special to me, whether it was from a significant other at a precise moment in time, or if it is something that has been handed down to me, they all hold a special place in my heart for one reason or another.

I have always been minimalist, I can't pull off huge earrings or have anything that really gets in your face, firstly it's not my personal style and secondly I prefer to opt for simple, beautiful designs. Of course that's not to say that I am opposed to bling, I just have my own way of displaying it.

Having a nice collection of jewellery that actually means something to you is so much more important than having lots of pretty things that don't have a story that relates to you or someone around you in some way. I have a beautiful necklace pendant that is made out of silver clay, in the clay is a finger print of Leo that dates back to when he was a baby, a mere 8 months old. It is as though it has been frozen in time, and although his fingers have grown along with the rest of him, I still have that one dainty reminder that he was once that small.

It may be the most special item that I own, and it is the most worn item out of everything else in that box.

Do you have an item in your personal jewellery collection that really speaks to you?

Locked Out

log fire

A few years ago I was living in a home with my other half and of course Leo, it was an older house and I loved coming home and watching Luke lighting the log fire. Especially at this time of year when it was so cold outside and Christmas was coming, it warmed the entire living area and made the perfect back drop to a cosy night in.

I remember finishing work one cold winter's day and getting to my car where a frost had already started to take hold. My thoughts instantly raced to the log fire and my plan for the evening was set, I would get home, get ready for bed and relax in the glow of the fire. Of course the best laid plans leave margin for error and on this occasion it was the fault of the estate agent we were renting the house from. They take it upon themselves to come and do a 6 monthly check, and unfortunately for me they had an issue with our door and managed to get their copy of the key stuck. Which of course meant that my evening of relaxing and not doing a fat lot in the comfort of my own home was cancelled until further notice. 

I got a call from them while I was just starting to get everything into my car, they were really apologetic and told me that they had already called to get a replacement lock sorted for us, and they would be on there way within the hour. The team were really helpful and they soon had us back inside in the warm.

Of course because it was the estate agency's fault, they footed the bill. I was amazed at how much it actually cost to get an emergency locksmith out to help, and I know that if the ball had been in my field I would have shopped around and found a way to secure the home for less.

I was just thankful to be able to get back inside, after a long day at work and then having to wait around in the cold for over an hour, it was nice to just get back inside and resume normality. 

We haven't lived there for a good few years now, but I still miss that log burner. Our new home doesn't even have a fire place let alone a log burner, so I don't even get to bask in the glow of the flickering flames these days.

Instead it's a case of turning the heating up on high and inviting the dog to sit on my lap (He's like a hot water bottle and very cuddly!) 

Puppy Proof

Dalmatian Puppy

As many of you know, back in August I fell in love with a little (at the time) Dalmatian Puppy! He was 8 weeks old when we first brought him home, but fast forward 3 months he has tripled in size. That little Dalmatian definitely did a lot of growing very, very quickly, and as he grew so did his reach and knack for getting into mischief.

Lux sleeps in the kitchen, it's his little space where all of his things are kept. The flooring is vinyl so it is easy to keep on top of in terms of if there are any accidents, and for the most part I don't need to worry about anything getting damaged. Well that was true until Lux took a liking to the walls, and when I say a liking, I mean he took to eating them, or should I say grinding specific areas with his teeth.

Lux started off by eating the wall under the breakfast bar where his bed used to be, I managed to stop that by moving the bin in front of that section of wall, and moving his bed from that corner of the room. Then Lux started jumping up a little bit further along the wall, just above the kitchen radiator. he did this when he wasn't getting his own way, say for instance I am working in the lounge and he want's some attention... That is when he would start jumping/scratching/nibbling this section of the wall, because he knew that it would draw my attention away from what I am doing and placing it firmly on him. Unfortunately it is not something I can ignore, the noise drives me to distraction and I instantly know what he is doing and have to intervene. For the moment I have placed a canvas print on the radiator just to hide it from his sight, and for the moment it looks as though he has forgotten about it.

Puppy eating walls

Finally the latest section of wall is right by the kitchen door, another place he likes to inflict himself if he is feeling exceptionally petulant. In fact this is now the most damage he has managed to achieve so far. There is no real way for me to remove this one from his sight, which means that whenever he gets the opportunity, he returns to this spot and creates further carnage. The only way I have managed to actually stop this from happening, is by moving one of the breakfast bar stools to sit in front of it. It's far from ideal, but it is serving it's purpose.

I have been thinking long and hard about a long term solution for these areas of the kitchen, because we can't go on like we are with these walls. I was thinking that perhaps I could get my hands on a Clear Perspex Sheet for each of the offending areas, just so that if he continues it will be the plastic that takes the brunt of it, and I can finally get Luke to fill in the offending holes in my lovely new walls.

It wouldn't be hard to cut the plastic to fit the walls and I know that I would certainly rest a lot easier knowing that my beautiful, but mischievous puppy of mine was not taking large pieces of my wall out while I am busy working in the other room. 

Dalmatian Puppy

I know that in the long term it is something that he is going to grow out of, and the fact of the matter is it's just the one room that is taking the brunt of his puppy days, but at the end of the day, I am house proud and like things looking a certain way. 

Time to stop this cheeky pup eating my kitchen!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Online training and flexible jobs for mums: how to become a digital mom

In the market today it is becoming less common for mothers to have children and then become stay at home moms. Many women are returning to their careers or even beginning new ones to help support their families and follow their own dreams. It does not matter if you have been out of the work force for one year or ten years, you can get great job offers and become successful in a profession once again. Becoming a digital mum can help you get back to work and have a family life at the same time.

Thanks to job offer sites like  one can find many flexible professions available in the digital sector like for example working as a content strategist or as a marketing copywriter.. Learn how to master these online job boards and even how to network online, and you will find it much easier to find a new career path.

Freelance writing is a very flexible career that will work with your schedule. If you have good writing and research skills, you can produce web content, travel guides, and articles all from the comfort of your own home. It allows you to choose your own schedule and be able to take care of your children at the same time. There are numerous content writing websites all around the world who will pay you well to write.

Becoming a social media guru or digital marketing consultant is another job you can freelance or do remotely. Learning digital media skills will help you land flexible work and will make you very marketable to employers. If you can build websites and run social media profiles for businesses to generate SEO content; you are a golden goose!
If you were formerly an assistant or secretary now you can become a virtual assistant. Many companies outsource their jobs to be done online. You will be scheduling meetings, travel plans, answering phone calls, and writing emails all remotely. You can do this from home and get great office experience to add to your CV.

If design is your passion and you enjoy decorating your own home, give interior design a try. Training is preferred but not necessary and the schedule is very flexible. You can build a client base right from home and begin designing homes or offices. You will want to build your own website, market your skills and find new work. The best part about this is that it can be done right from your computer. Anyone with the right tools can start an interior design business remotely and make a very successful career out of it!

Monday, 17 October 2016

A Big Boy's Room

moving house

As most of you know, Leo and I moved house a few months ago. It's still a work in progress but every week means I am getting another objective ticked off my never ending to-do list. Over the weekend I managed to tick off another one of those jobs, and it has meant that I can now cast my attention on Leo's bedroom.

Leo's bedroom is one of the rooms I have been aching to complete, it seems we have been waiting on certain pieces of furniture to arrive so that I can really get it to be the functional room I have dreamed that it will be. With the arrival of Leo's bed, it has meant that we can really get stuck into it and start to put that personal mark on it for my little man.

I wanted the room to be a smart but simple design, Leo is growing up and he is swapping and changing his mind about characters and all sorts (As children do of course), so it has just made me that more determined to provide him with a room that can grow with him. I want to decorate it once and then know that he is sorted and happy for at least a couple of years!

Leo had a few requests but the rest he has been more than happy to let me pitch to him, and for the most part he hasn't objected (which has to be a good sign right!?) so here are Leo's demands (demands that must be met):

- The room must have a high rise ladder bed (Tick)
- The room must have room for all of his toys (Tick)
- The room cannot have any of Leo's old soft toys, apparently they are for babies (Tick)
- The room has to have a lava lamp (Tick)
- The room has to be cool

So I had a number of objections that I have to fill, but it still leaves a lot of scope to play around with. I have been having a look at the Esprit Kids Bedroom's and have fallen in love with a number of items that I would just love to install in Leo's room.

Now I don't want to make Leo's room boring, I just wanted to take a step back and give him a room that didn't look as childish as the rooms and designs we have opted for in the past. I can only see this as a positive, especially when he is coming home on a daily basis and telling me that he no longer likes this, and he no longer likes that. So we opted for a space theme and these are some of the additions that I am hoping to entwine.
Esprit Children's room
In the photo we have the Boys Dream Stripe Wallpaper - £ 15.95 - , the Gold Star Cushion Cover - £ 19.00 - and my favourite the Starlet cashmink reversible blanket - £ 75.00 - .

Staying simple doesn't have to be boring, and these items really show what you can achieve. I love all of the different colours and textures that are shown here. There is nothing that pin points a specific age, so it means it can be enjoyed for so much longer. 

I intend to get really stuck into Leo's bedroom this week, and hopefully it will start to take shape pretty quickly. I for one will be over the moon when I can finally just sit back and enjoy it all.

National Home Security Month - October 2016

National Home Security Month

I think we can all agree on one thing, the world that we live in is an unpredictable and crazy place at times, we never really know what's going to happen, and all we really want in life is to provide our families with a safe place to live. National Home Security Month (NHSM) is back this October (Starting from the 3rd) to provide us all with even more top tips for keeping our families, homes and possessions safe.

This movement, sponsored by the security specalist Yale, provides us all with food for thought and encourages us all to consider how safe are home is, and how we protect our own personal bubble. It is such an important factor to highlight, since we moved into our new home I have been meaning to purchase a padlock for the back gate and the shed, but it is still something that I am yet to do, when the reality is, it should have been a priority.

The initiative is to highlight and raise awareness to the likes of you and I, about the importance of home security. It is estimated that a burglary happens every 40 seconds in the UK* with thefts surging by 38% following the clocks going back and the evenings becoming darker. 

National Home Security Month

A few years ago we had our garage broken into at my parents home, and although they only took a few bikes, it still shocked us and made us address the security of the garage. This was actually in the height of Summer at some point during the night. It's a horrible feeling knowing that someone else has been on your property, and definitely takes away the feeling of safety that one would ordinary associate with home.

The campaign highlights a different element of home security each week. The first week focused on providing simple tips and advice on how to protect your home and belongings over the winter period.  

The Second week went into the overall home security and explored traditional security methods that protect the entry points to your home and of course the valuables that we all have within those brick walls. 

The Third week looks at the advancing technology of the smart security industry, it provides an insight to us all about how we can connect these devices with our homes and keep it secure at the touch of a button. I have to admit that it is rather incredible to see just how clever these devices have become over the years.

Week Four will focus on raising the awareness surrounding the darker nights, it will force us all to think about whether our homes, garages and sheds are secure and protected against the unexpected. It will all wrap up in week Five and provide us all with seasonal advice on how to protect our homes against the increase in thefts and damage around Halloween and Bonfire Night.

I think that this year everyone is going to be that little more vigilant thanks to the prankster clowns that have been reported all over the news recently. 

You can check in with NHSM every day on Facebook and Twitter to get security tips, all you need to do is search for 'Home Security Month' in the search bar. 

To celebrate the launch of NHSM, Yale are offering homeowners the chance to win a Yale two camera Smart CCTV kit and a Home View camera to make sure you’re property is secure this winter – not to mention £100 worth of  Love2Shop vouchers! Click here to enter.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Be Fierce, Be Brave: Autumn Style

Kayla Itsines Transformation
Since I have lost the weight and made a conscious effort to tone up my wobbly bits, I have really come out of my shell in terms of fashion and what I am comfortable in wearing. For years I watched girls dressing in clothes that I admired from a far, the green eyed monster taking a hold and rattling my very being. I watched them walk past confidently in clothes I longed to be able to wear for myself, the way I wished I could look and feel if I too wore those clothes. I knew that at that point in my life where I was anything but comfortable with my weight and build, that I needed to love myself first before I addressed anything else.

2 years ago I found myself on a journey of self discovery, weight loss and acceptance. It all seems like such a long time ago now, but those tentative baby steps paved the way to the leaps and bounds that proceeded those little movements in the right direction. 

With an entirely new frame of mind at the helm I started to step outside my comfort zone. I welcomed crop tops and daring dresses into my wardrobe. I absolutely lived for Summer and the feeling of being able to stretch my legs out in my favourite pair of hot pants felt like all of my Christmas's coming at once. Of course Summer cannot last forever, and I have to admit that I do have a soft spot for the cooler months that are coming our way at this very moment, it's hard not to get excited about choosing new outfits for the festive season, and if you have a look at the Lyst A Star Is Born selection you will no doubt fall head over heels for the stunning collection!

Autumn means that we can dress warmer and try different styles, and in honour of fall arriving to the UK I have put together my favourite daring outfit to celebrate those first golden leaves falling to the ground. It's an outfit that I absolutely adore, and one that 2 years ago, I would have admired with love hearts at the very fore front of my eyes, and wished I had the confidence to wear (Now I just wish I had the bank balance to purchase it!).

Leather Trousers

First up we have the RTA Prince Skinny Leather Trousers, I absolutely love the look and would do 1000 Burpees in order to have them hanging in my wardrobe. There is something incredibly sexy about a pair of leather trousers and if I had the privilege to actually own these, I would hands down wish Winter would last forever and wear them each and everyday for the rest of my life. 

A pair of leather trousers this beautiful needs the ultimate crop top to really set the outfit on fire. Being black you really do have the power to pull out all of the colour stops, but sometimes less is more, and that is exactly why I have opted for the Rosewater Lace Up Cunningham Top by Rachel Pally. It's classic and daring all at the same time, and I adore the lace up front, having a small chest means I can get away with tops like these as I can easily go bra-less without having any major wardrobe malfunctions! 

Leather Trousers

Finally I would complete this outfit with a pair of beautiful beige shoes to compliment the top and break up the black (Of course Black would equally go, but I think Beige is the new Black!). I happened to come across the perfect pair of Christian Louboutin Fifi Patent Heels, complete with the trademark Red Sole, and having eyed up the Louboutin collection for well over a decade... I couldn't resit adding them into this wish list.

I do the majority of my clothes shopping online as I always find that the selection is that much bolder and the sky really is the limit. Before I buy anything though I always check sites such as revouchers to see if there are any voucher codes available. 

This outfit would look incredible dressed up or down, and I simply love the way the leather hugs all of the right places. 

This outfit right here is one of the many reasons I decided to make the changes that I made.When I cast my mind back to how I used to feel, it feels like those thoughts and feelings must have belonged to someone else. The girl that stands before you today has worked as hard on the inside as she has on the outside, and I am now mentally and physically confident in myself. I hold my head high and strive to help other people who may feel the same as I did back then, today. Nothing is ever set in stone, if you want to make a change, you can absolutely make that change. Nothing is ever, ever out of your reach, not if you really set your mind to it.

When I look at old photos of me, I find it hard to recognize the shy person who stares back out at me, because 2 years has changed me as a person entirely. I became the person I longed to be. Oh how I wished to be the outspoken confident girl I watched walk past me in the street in her crop top and skinny jeans. How I longed to be able to stand my ground and say what I really meant without turning a bright shade of Beetroot. Oh how I wished that I could feel happy at the prospect of slipping into my bikini by the poolside and feel beautiful, how I wished I could feel sleek and slender in a pair of leather trousers.

Fashion Shoot

Over time I did become that person. I found a strength within me that spurred me on through the challenges and forks in the road that presented themselves to me. I found solutions, I rose to the occasion, and it was those very bumps in the road that made me fight ever harder to make the changes I wanted to see in myself. It was a simple fitness mission that went on to change my very being, and today I can't help but smile and tell you how much I love being me.

I don't mean that to sound conceited because it really is anything but. This is me telling you that I found a way to be happy in the very skin I am in. Through taking the time to work on myself, I found a way to love and appreciate myself in a way that I never knew that I could. 

I can't say when that happened, but I can tell you it was a gradual process. As the stones were taken off my shoulder one by one, I started to revamp my style. I let my wildest ideas run wild, and I developed an entirely new style for myself, One that was once completely outside my comfort zone, and one that has definetly raised a few eyebrows, and dare I say it? Turned a few heads. 

How to save money when hiring a tradesmen

Hiring a tradesman? Need handy work done around the home? 

 If so, you will find that many of these specialists are going to over charge you for services. But, there are ways to hire the best, hire true specialists, and not pay too much for the work they are going to do around the home. From fixing broken wiring, rewiring a home, doing general labour, or other services, there are many ways you can go about finding the best, hiring the best, while avoiding the excessively high price tags some tradesmen tend to charge. 

 Shop and compare - Yes, just like shopping for insurance, a new car, gaming system, or other products you want to buy, when you compare services of local tradesmen you will also save. Not only will you compare cost of labour, services, parts, repairs, or other services offered, you can also find those which will guarantee all work they do around the home. So, you are not only going to pay less and find affordable help, you are also sure to be pleased with the quality of the services which they perform for you as well. 

 Compare their services - If you need a small appliance repaired, you can generally hire a general tradesman. If on the other hand, it is a complex job, high precision service, or something more precise in nature, it may require a specialist. When choosing who to hire, consider general tradesmen. Not only will you find their rates to be a bit cheaper, in most instances, they can perform a variety of the services you need done around the home. And, they are skilled in several trades, so you can hire the same person for a variety of service needs. If you are looking for a ball park figure on how much it would cost to do general household repairs check out

Look for licensing - Crafts and tradesmen who are licensed and certified, typically offer a range of services in their field. And, due to the competition, you can typically find different specialists who offer reduced rates for labour, to ensure they are hired for a job. In choosing a tradesman, look for those who are specialists, will guarantee work, and are fully licensed for the type of task you need completed around the home as well. 

 Service listings - If you need several tasks performed which require the services of a specialist, look for tradesmen doing package or bundle deals. If you need new lighting installed, work done on the heater, installation, and a few other tasks performed, if you hire one person to do all these jobs, rather than one tradesman for each job, they typically offer bundled or reduced package pricing. Not only do they work quickly and meticulously, they typically offer discounted pricing, and offer high quality services. 

 When hiring a specialist, you are generally going to pay a bit more for the work they are going to do around the home. But, when choosing a tradesman, you can find reduced or lower pricing when you know where to look. Before you choose who to hire for a particular job or trade, consider some of these ways in which you can keep the cost of labour down.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

How women can balance work and family

work and family balance

Today's workforce comprises of more women than ever before, making up more than half according to About 4 in every 10 homes have a mom who is also a working mother. 

Balancing work and life can be heard, especially for a mom, but according to surveys, more than 65 percent of women say that their jobs rarely or never interfere with their personal lives and that they have found the perfect way to balance work and life. One of the factors causing this amazing trend is that some companies are changing their policies so that there is more emphasis on what work is done rather than where it is done, with the installation of technologies like remote server access and video conferencing, allowing more people - and women- to work from home. But whether your employer gives you this much assistance or not, there are several ways for any woman, both whether you have just gotten job offers or already with a job, to find the work/life balance.

For women who are willing to start working but haven't found the right job yet, a part time job could be the right option to start with. Many job offers can be found on job sites like where you can personalise your search and results and find more flexible jobs that will allow you to find the right balance between work and family.
 Stop feeling guilty:

 In your quest to balance life and work, there will be choices and compromises, and instead of dwelling on how or why you are not with your child, focus on your role in the company and how it is benefiting the family. It can help if you discuss with your partner or group in case of guilt.
 Build a team at work:

 Investing time in others and delegating can go a long way in lightening your workload especially if you occupy a senior position in your workplace. Give other people the opportunity to succeed, so it doesn't seem they are sharing or doing your responsibilities.

  Find quality childcare:

 Seek advice from friends and families on some of the best nannies, daycare centers or babysitters available. Take tours to the daycares or interview the candidates. The best nannies are the ones who have a previous history of long-term stays with families they were hired in. You can also schedule paid playdates with the candidates to observe how they interact with the children in less formal settings.

  Create connections whenever you get the chance

 You can pack the kids lunch and lay their clothes in the morning before they go to school. Create a schedule on which parent get to prepare the kids and who gets the groceries. Take 15 minutes before bedtime to talk to the kids or tell them a story. You can also take your child to an errand as a way of connecting with them.
 Create a family calendar.

 Include all the important dates and events in the calendar. They could include birthdays, school events and dates when bills are due or when any other activity is supposed to be accomplished. Google Calendar is a good option as it can be shared and synced on your smartphone, and you can also set reminders.