Saturday, 27 August 2016

Win A £50 Gift Voucher For Gorgeous Jewellery From Lily Charmed Ends 26/09

Lily Charmed is one of those small British businesses that I like to champion. Family run, all their jewellery is made from Sterling Silver or gold plating on Sterling Silver, and the pretty designs are elegantly made and beautifully crafted in the UK.




Jewellery ranges include their ever popular charms, in a range of designs from birthstones, letters, flowers and hearts to name a few. Other ranges include stunning necklaces, bracelets and earrings, cufflinks and even a children's range.

Their messaging service allows customers to add a beautiful sentiment card for gifting, and some items can be engraved for that extra unique touch.

I reviewed a Lily Charmed bracelet in the past and was delighted with the cute design. The custard cream biscuit bracelet was so different and superbly made, the intricate detail on the custard cream was amazing, and at only £37 I think this silver bracelet was great value for money making a perfect gift.





Today on my blog I am giving you the chance to win a £50 gift voucher to spend on the Lily Charmed website. Entering is easy via the Gleam application below, and if you like the competition you have the option to enter daily by tweeting. I am looking forward to seeing what you would spend your voucher on if you won and don't forget to check out my other competitions too. Good Luck!

Win a £50 gift voucher with Lily Charmed


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Friday, 26 August 2016

Matching Your Paint To The Space In Your Home

I don’t know about you, but when It comes to decorating my home I often find it difficult selecting the right paint in the first place. The abundance of styles, names and brands on the market doesn’t make this an easy task. 

So what I thought I would do is research types of paint that are the right match to the four most used spaces in our homes. That way it should be easy to walk into a store with the right idea of which paint you are looking for, rather that feeling like a rabbit caught in the headlights as we enter the paint aisle.

Kitchen – Silk Emulsion


So our kitchens see all kinds of activity, from cooking and cleaning to baking and entertaining. Based on this paint with a high gloss finish is often seen as the best choice, and Dulux Decorator Centre (DDC) offer a Silk Emulsion paint that is perfect for this. It's durable, tough finish can resist scuffing and abrasion. It is also easy to clean and wipe which is essential with all the cooking splashes that build up over time. 

Lounge – Soft Sheen

The lounge or living area can see a high flow of traffic, as it is probably the most commonly used room in the house. The best paint for this space is a soft sheen that is washable, has great opacity but with a velvety finish for a stylish focal point to your home. DDC offer a soft sheen range that is top quality and has brilliant, all-round coverage, perfect for the job and space.

Dining room – Eggshell 

Dining rooms, as a rule, tend to see less use overall, but still a fair amount during meal times and special occasions. The walls in this room experience lower traffic, but still require a paint that is tough and durable, so you can get the most from your money. Eggshell paint is the perfect choice for smooth application and a clean and smooth looking finish.

Bedroom – Flat or matte finish



Similar to a dining room, bedroom walls don’t see as much traffic as the kitchen or lounge. Granted this is a room used every day but the nature of the use is completely different. In order to be a bit savvy with bedroom decorating, choosing a matt emulsion can last longer, meaning it’s much more cost effective. This paint has a high pigment wall coverage, is easy to apply, and covers like a dream, so is the perfect option for your bedroom decorating.

Selecting the right paint for the right space can save a lot of time and money in your pocket. Sifting through all the different brands and names can be a hard task, so hopefully this guide will at least give you an idea of which paints should be used in which rooms. 

Having to recoat or buy over and over until you finally get the right match can be avoided if you follow this simple guide. All the paints are available at Dulux Decorator Centre and are easily set out so you can go straight in and grab what you need. 

Happy painting!

* Guest post collaboration
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Thursday, 25 August 2016

Could You Benefit From Equity Release In Your Home?

There may be situations in your life as you come up to retirement where you need to access money. Maybe you need to find a way of funding your elderly relatives nursing care or your child's university fees, or that extension you have wanted for years. If you are a UK homeowner 55 plus you may be able to access the money in your home with the Saga Equity Release Advice Service.

So What Is Equity Release?





With Equity Release you can unlock the full value of the equity you have in your home or a proportion of the value. The sum is a tax-free lump and you don't have to move.

The Saga Equity Release Advice Service guides you through the process and helps you decide if it is right for you and your circumstances. For example, equity release may affect your state benefit entitlement, and will reduce the value of your estate. Saga is a transparent company and they explain everything clearly, the pros and cons of releasing the equity in your property. If equity release is not for you, they will also look at other options and there is no obligation.

There are two types of equity release scheme, - a lifetime mortgage and a home reversion plan. A lifetime mortgage is secured against your home, and a home reversion plan, involves selling part or all of your home. Either type could provide you with a tax-free cash lump sum, a regular income or both.

The service is not the perfect service for everyone but it can really help you out if you need access to the money invested in your property.


Saga customers stated use of equity release, some customers used it for multiple purposes July-Dec2015 

So I asked my followers on Twitter what they would use the money for if they applied for Equity Release in their home and here are the results.

As you can see, some answers were very similar, home improvements and a holiday being a clear favourite in both polls. Personally, I would use it for a new kitchen and replace the carpets in our home, expensive things to do that I don't have savings for.

You may want to cross off the things on your bucket list like visit the Great Wall Of China

Home improvements may mean that granny annexe for your elderly parents, a new kitchen or extension, and these may actually increase the value of your home. Alternatively, you may feel that it is the right time to do some of the things on your bucket list such as visit the awesome Great Wall Of China, go on an amazing African safari or drive that Route 66 road trip across America you've wanted to do forever. Other people may want to pay off their mortgage or loan debt or give a lump sum to their children for a deposit on their home or to help with wedding costs.

So if you are a homeowner 55 or over, it could be worth you checking out the Saga Equity Release Scheme. What would you use the money for?

*PR collaboration. This post is for information purposes only always seek an expert for financial advice.
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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Next Store Opening, Swansea

Being a life long lover of Next, the fashion and home brand, I was excited to hear recently that a new store has just opened in Swansea, at Morfa Retail Park.


The new spacious glass fronted store at Morfa Retail park, Swansea

I've been getting the Next catalogues for years, and love browsing the new collections but there is something far more satisfying in going to your local store and seeing the items, especially the fashion in person. Trying on the clothes, seeing how they fit, feeling the material and seeing the styles in person, cannot be beaten.

I am a fan of the brands Next sell as well, such as Yumi, Lipsy and Vila, as you can see from my favourite tunics from the new Autumn and Winter collection below.
One of my favorite tunics from the Next Autumn/Winter range

The new store which has just opened at Morfa Retail Park is huge with big glass windows making it look light and spacious.




The cool funky girl's section at Next. Photo courtesy of We Made This blog

The home department is arranged so you can look around without feeling too cramped and even test the beds. As well as a comprehensive ladies and men's fashion section, kids are well catered for too. Look at the cool funky designs of the girl's section above.

There is also a makeup section which was great as you so often don't see this in store. 

The store has plenty of space in the aisles, making it easy to get a wheelchair or double pushchair around, something that is vitally important and can be overlooked by smaller stores. Lifts make the accessibility brilliant too, and with a Costa coffee shop opened upstairs, you can really make a morning or afternoon out of a shopping trip.
A cute tunic from Vila from the Next Autumn/Winter range

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the store opening as I was on holiday but photos above are courtesy of the lovely Alina who blogs over at We Made This.

So if you live near Swansea or are visiting the lovely Mumbles area on holiday, pop in the car, and drive up to the lovely new Next store in Swansea. 

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Friday, 19 August 2016

Things To Consider On Your First African Safari

This is a guest post by Jo from Wander With Jo. Jo writes about her love of travel over on her blog.

There are a host of things to consider before you venture out on your first trip to explore the wildlife of the most exciting continent. A safari, anywhere in the world is expensive and time consuming. For most it is a once in a lifetime experience. To offset all the disadvantages, it is advisable to carefully plan your trip in advance. After consulting our people in the trade, we suggest how to make most of your valued trip and save time and money as well.

Planning 

Consult an expert who can steer you to the experience you are looking for. Just a Google search on its own would not be enough. 

Check the altitude of the locations you plan to visit. They may not suit certain individuals. 

Timing



This is a crucial factor on all safaris. For example, on a gorilla safari in Rwanda, avoid the months of April, May, and November as it tends to get very slippery. 

Disconnect with the world 

Put your phone and watch away and don't even think of WiFi. Immerse yourself in nature with your camera and take as many pictures as you can. These memories will last you a lifetime, while all others will be still around when you reach home.

Bring the right attitude 

People who take in whatever they can see, big or small, end up in having a more enjoyable safari.

Essentials 

Spare pair of glasses, an all purpose charger, a waterproof bag for your camera, pens, pencils and notebooks to jot down interesting things like names of places, birds, animals etc. 

Binoculars



Pack a pair before anything else. They will greatly enhance your game viewing experience. 

Accommodation 

Even if you are a first timer, stay at one place for at least three nights to absorb the real experience of the area. This will also cut the cost of transportation and reduce your overall budget. Choose a camp that offers communal dining. This will give you more intimate experiences. 

Special interests 




Tell the lodge in advance what your interests are, for example – game watching, birding, photography etc. This will help them to plan your arrival. 

Family

If you are travelling with young children, mix your jungle safaris with village visits, fishing etc as it will be difficult to keep them quiet on a vehicle for four hours, twice a day. 

Budget

One of the best way to get value for money, is to travel outside the high season. This will not only greatly reduce the cost but will enhance exclusivity and high quality guiding. A specialist tour operator can easily help you with this. Game viewing, anytime, is less predictable, hence you can technically enjoy a safari at the wrong time of the year. 

Time

This is the most important aspect of your safari. You will be spending the most memorable moments of your trip during your game drive. You might tend to sleep longer, when the early morning call comes, but remember it is in the bush where the magic is happening, and not in your bed. Save your sleep for the heat of the day, like the wild animals itself. 

Safari guide

He is the one who will make it all happen. Choose one carefully, through your operator, who will provide one for your specific needs.
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Thursday, 18 August 2016

Energy Saving Ideas For Your Home All Year Round

We all know energy companies make a fortune so here are some stylish ways to improve your insulation so the energy you use to heat your home isn't wasted. 



The use of blinds, rugs and curtains can all help you insulate your home this Winter

Draught Excluders

This traditional way of stopping heat lost through your doors is a simple but effective practice of using draught excluders. It is also one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to save energy. Stopping cold air in and warm air out of a room can save you up to £50 a year. Stores like Next, John Lewis and Not On The High Street have stylish draught excluders that look good as well as saving you money.



Draught Excluder from Dibor at Not On The High Street

Carpets or Rugs

Having a carpet or a rug in a room helps provide another layer of insulation, and traps the cold air from rising in the room. We have floorboards in our bedroom and recently we have bought a large rug. As well as a design statement I have noticed that the room is warmer and cosier and when I am downstairs the noise is less from the bedroom.



Wool and Cotton Kilim rug by Hunter Jones Vintage from Not On The High Street

Lined Curtains 

Thick heavy curtains with lining can really make a real difference to the warmth of a room. As my lounge is black and beige I love these velour curtains in Mink from Next. The soft velour material adds a touch of luxury to any room and the lining keeps light out when drawn as well as keeping heat in. 


Lined velour curtains in mink from Next

Energy Saving Blinds

Energy saving blinds such as blackout energy blinds and awning blinds from the company Velux can reduce heat intake by up to 90%. 

With blackout blinds, the blackout cloth has a honeycomb structure which can help keep your house cool in the summer and warm in winter. Whilst awning blinds stop the sun before it even hits your window pane which will reduce incoming heat


Blackout blinds can help make your home cool in summer and warm in winter

Radiator Shelves

A radiator shelf helps throw the heat forward into the room, and away from the wall, rather than it rise up to the ceiling. Many can be bought so they can clip onto a radiator for ease of use. 



Jaga Beech Effect shelf from B & Q

As you can see there are lots of easy ways to save money on your energy bills whilst adding some style to your home. Which do you use?
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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Garnier Ambre Solaire Easy Peasy Sun Cream For Kids Review

Children's skin is oh so precious, and when you are enjoying a day in the sun you need a suncream you can rely on. Garnier, the trusted skincare brand have just brought out a range of sun cream specially formulated for kids.


The Garnier Ambre Solaire Easy Peasy Kids range does 'what it says on the tin', or on the bottle, I should say! It's an easy peasy way to ensure your children stay protected with the least amount of fuss possible, which is exactly what you want and need when they just want to dive in the pool or run to the sea. 


Beautiful St Paul's Bay, in Lindos Greece

The Easy Peasy Anti-Sand Spray

What's so special about the Easy Peasy Anti-Sand Spray is the clever sand resistance. Once applied with a light mist it absorbs incredibly quickly, quicker than the ice creams you bought are gobbled down. Then as they play the scratchy sand is just wiped off without sticking. Fuss free UVA and UVB protection applied in an instant with an SPF of 50.

The Easy Peasy Wet Skin Lotion

The Easy Peasy Wet Skin Lotion with an SPF of 50, is perfect for direct application to wet skin, so no need to dry off before applying - I mean how cool is that!? It's absorbed instantly and goes on both wet and dry providing water-resistant coverage. 

Using quality sun protection means you can enjoy the sand, the sea and the sun without having to worry about burning

With Garnier sun protection too, you know their young skin is protected from the sun with high-quality anti-UVA protection, which helps to protect against long-term skin damage and premature skin ageing effects and anti-UVB protection, which helps to protect against sun-induced skin damage.

On application, the Easy Peasy Wet Skin Lotion has a slight sheen until it is absorbed into the skin

As with all sun cream, it is important to apply regularly, and I always like to apply more than I think as you can never be too safe. 
Skin care experts also advise wearing a hat and covering up in sunny weather, especially avoiding the hot midday sun wherever possible.

Even though these products are for kids, I found them great on my skin too, easy peasy and fuss free is definitely the way to go. The light floral fragrance is refreshing as well.

With over 7 people dying in the UK every day from skin cancer and with over 86% of malignant melanomas preventable then it's never too early to protect precious skin (Source Cancer Research UK). 




Both of these products are available from all major retailers nationwide including Boots and www.boots.com price at £7.50 each, a bargain for this level of easy sun protection and peace of mind of mums and dads everywhere.

* In collaboration with Garnier

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Monday, 15 August 2016

Adapting The Home For Those With Mobility Problems

If you are looking after someone with mobility problems, whether this is due to age or disability, or you have mobility problems yourself, there are a number of things you can do to make life easier. Some are simple to do and easy to get hold of, whilst other things will be more expensive but can make a big difference to the quality of life of you or the person you are looking after.

Home Access

It's important to be able to access your home easily. If you are wheelchair bound a ramp can really help if there is a high step. A handrail can also be useful too especially if you are a little unstable on your feet. If eyesight is poor, good quality bright lighting can help illuminate the way.

If you are wheelchair bound you may have to widen the doorways to ensure easy access to your home. You should be able to get help with this, if you contact your GP they will be able to arrange a mobility assessment and put you in touch with agencies that can offer help and advice.

Stairs

If you have difficulty in managing stairs, and cannot afford to move to a bungalow a stair lift can really help.  Even though these can be expensive, they can be invaluable to manoeuvre the stairs. 

If a stairlift is too expensive you may need to look at home your home is organised. A downstairs bedroom can be made with little cost, a downstairs and easy access bathroom is more expensive but can make a huge difference to those with mobility problems.

Bathroom



In the bathroom, a walk in shower that has low-level access can be extremely useful, alternatively, a walk in bath like this one from Premier Bathrooms with an easy access door ensures you don't have to climb in and is also an excellent idea. 

With heated water, a thermostatically controlled 'cool touch' device can help ensure safety.

Kitchen 

In the kitchen, lowering the work surfaces can be a big adaptation that will make your life easier.

Smaller adaptations like easy to use can openers, kettle tippers and adapted cutlery are cheap to buy and make a big difference too.

There is help out there if you need it. If you contact your GP they can arrange an occupational therapy assessment to see what items are needed. The Disabled Facilities Grant is also available in the UK to help with adaptations to your home although this is means tested.

With many of these adaptations, the elderly, infirm or those with mobility problems can stay at home without the need to go into sheltered housing or a nursing home, and that can only be good for mental well-being and quality of life.

*PR collaboration
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Sunday, 14 August 2016

Win A Personalised Jewellery Box And Compact Mirror Ends 04/09

Personalise.co.uk is an online gift store with a large range of lovely personalised gifts.  

Gifts for him range from engraved hip flasks, personalised mugs, and custom chopping boards to engraved pint glasses, personalised leather wallets and sterling silver engraved cufflinks.

Gifts for her range from personalised wine glasses, engraved compact mirrors and personalised candles to engraved bangles, personalised necklaces and customised diaries.

Today on my blog I am giving one lucky person the chance to win a gorgeous jewellery box and pretty compact mirror with your own personalised message on it.


Mirrored personalised jewellery box £29.99

This beautiful personalised jewellery box features your own individual message on the front panel on a stunning mirrored design. Perfect to wish happy birthday, or to say how much you love her. Inside it is lined with a black fabric and has three compartments to keep your jewellery in.



Engraved silver effect mirror compact £16

This lovely silver effect compact mirror is useful to fit in your handbag and take with you on your travels. Personalised with a message of your choice this compact makes a unique and special gift for someone you care about. 


They are an excellent place for Christmas gifts too, check out the personalised baubles and other such goodies.
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Friday, 12 August 2016

My Designer Wish list

My wardrobe is mainly high street clothes and accessories although I do love a bit of luxury including designer bags and stunning precious gold and platinum jewellery.

If I had the money I admit I would be a real label junkie. As I said I love luxury but I don't like to waste my hard earned cash so I am a smart buyer. I look for online auction site bargains, and I always check out the charity shops if I am in an affluent area, as you never know what exciting bargains you will find.

There are also companies online that sell pre-owned and second-hand highly desirable items with finance options available so you can spread the cost. One such company is Xupes. Xupes sell a range of luxury goods from beautiful fine art and rare antiques, precious diamond jewellery and vintage watches to designer branded bags from the likes of Chanel, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton. 


I'm afraid my husband has designer tastes too. In fact, he has no problems spending his money on quality, luxurious well-made items that he wants. Of course we don't have a bottomless pit of money, I wish we did, and he always lives in hope of winning the lottery, so until then here is my designer wish list from Xupes. 




Firstly, I'd pick this gorgeous ceramic IWC watch for the husband. This 'Top Gun' pilot watch would be a perfect gift for my him as he is learning to fly. This pre-owned watch in excellent condition is priced at £9795, a big saving on the RRP of £13,900.






I love the vibrant blue of this Louis Vuitton Speedy 25 pre-owned luxury bag. Made from blue leather with a gold-coloured zip, this bag is priced at £599. A snip at the price and perfect on the arm of any self-respecting fashionista. 


This Cartier Tank Francaise watch in 18ct white gold is in excellent condition, complete with box. Very pretty this gorgeous watch is set with small diamonds and is priced at £13,995. I would love to put this on my Christmas list!


This beautiful classic tennis bracelet has 58 round brilliant cut diamonds mounted in pure rare platinum. A classic design and an investment. Priced at £6995 this 7.54ct bracelet is a real bargain. 


This final piece really is the most exquisite piece of jewellery. A Cartier pear shaped diamond ring of 3.77cts, with a colour grade of D and a quality that is internally flawless. Complete with a GIA certificate, you rarely see a diamond of this quality in your lifetime, and from a designer brand too. Oh, and the price? £425,000.

So this is my designer wish list. What would you put on your wish list if money was no object?
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