Thursday, 24 May 2018

Achieving Good Feng Shui in Your Garden

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese system of laws that concern how items are arranged in a space that allows energy – chi – to flow unhindered. It is a system that is applied to the where a building is built, the direction it faces and how interior items of furniture are arranged.


To prevent blockages of chi in the home and garden, even when it is not possible to knock it down and start again, the principles of Feng Shui can still be applied in spaces and areas that exist. This is why many people and gardeners who understand the concept of Feng Shui and the power it has for balancing harmony in a space, use it to determine the final design of their outdoor space.

So, where is the best place for your stylish rattan garden furniture? Should you incorporate a waterfall? Are you mixing the wrong colours in the wrong places, blocking harmony and chi?

Simple ways to include Feng Shui principles

Many believe that by composing a garden that works in harmony with them and nature, it becomes a place that relaxes and revives the mind, body and soul in equal measure. And so, without knocking down walls or heavy lifting, how can you apply Feng Shui to your garden?

Are you paying enough attention to natural elements?
We assume that everything in the garden is ‘natural’ but in recent decades, our penchant for cheaper materials has meant this is not always the case. Rattan, for example, is a better alternative to plastic garden furniture, simply because it is a natural material and from a sustainable source too. But it is not just the materials we use. It can be the design of the garden and its contents. For example, leave a patch to become a wild garden, allowing wildflowers and native species to thrive, for insects to visit and not be harmed by chemicals and for birds to enjoy the space too. 

Trees are an important part of Feng Shui in the outdoors but pay close attention to them. They should not be overgrown or touch your property.

Is there water in your garden?


Flowing water is generally good within Feng Shui, promoting the flow of energy in a space and is also thought to increase income too. Water in the Feng Shui system includes natural bodies of water, such as lakes and ponds, as well as man-made ponds. Waterfalls and fountains are also good news when it comes to Feng Shui.

If you haven’t already, why not add running water or create a pond, both create for wildlife.

Do you understand Bagua?
Bagua is a principle of Feng Shui that concerns where things are placed according to eight trigrams. By having the right things in the right places, key aspects of your life are harmonised.

For example, it could be that if a relationship is under stress, there may be an aspect of the Feng Shui within your home or garden that is out of line. By moving it, harmony is restored.

What shape is your outdoor dining table?

The simplest of changes can have a huge impact on how people enjoy a space. The principles of Feng Shui suggest that a round dining table is more harmonising in a space, including the garden, perhaps people linger longer. There is no ‘header or footer’ at a round table, no one in charge, no one at the bottom of the pile – all equal and all harmonious.

Have you considered the five-elemental colour cycle?
The colours representing fire, earth, wood, metal and water need to be incorporated in your garden in a way that accents and harmonises, rather than hinders and damages. Not come across the concept before? The five-elemental colour cycle is easy to adapt to your garden.

Is your garden too still?


We associate calmness with stillness and whilst this may be true, no movement in the garden can cause your chi to stagnate. Windmills and bunting flags that gently flutter in the breeze could be the very pieces that allow the harmony and energy to flow through the space.

Feng Shui is not just about adapting the space for your own ends but for your family too. Better still, your summer BBQ guests or friends that pop by for afternoon tea will have no idea how the ancient art of Feng Shui is having a positive impact on them. But you will because you will all linger, for lingering and be more relaxed and revived…

Rattan Direct help customer achieve harmony and balance in their gardens with a range of garden furniture made from sustainable materials. 

*PR collaboration 
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Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Making The Most Of A Lapland Holiday In Ruka, Kuusamo

Today on my blog I have a guest post from my good friend Lucy, Lucy runs The Parent Game blog and recently had a fantastic opportunity to travel to Lapland. This is what she got up to on her trip. 

Travelling to Lapland is the culmination of a lifelong dream for many people. It is the kind of destination which can be a long time in the planning and the result of years of build-up and saving. So, how do you decide what to fit into your dream holiday? Which of the many trips and excursions are going to make your adventure extra-special? We've put together this guide on making the most of your Lapland holiday, using our own experiences from our base in the fabulous Ruka Ski Resort in Kuusamo, Finland. Whether you are travelling as a couple or a family, there is something for everyone in this stunning part of the world.



My son and I visited Ruka in March for five nights and it was a jam-packed trip. I've included all the activities we tried ourselves, so all of them are suitable for children, although this is not essential! All the activities we tried are available either at the resort, or a short drive away from Ruka and there is also a reliable bus service. All our activities were organised through Ruka Safaris, who offer friendly and helpful guides to make sure you get the most from your experience. Although it is sometimes possible to hire equipment and go it alone, I highly recommend making use of them, especially if you are short of time, as they know all the best places to go to get the most from every activity.

Skiing




Ruka is most famous for its fantastic skiing facilities. They have amazing ski slopes, ranging from beginner to expert and everywhere in between. The expert slopes are viewable from some of the many restaurants in the resort, and it's lovely to look out at the skiers and snowboarders flying down the mountain as you enjoy some local cuisine. If you have children or are more of a beginner, it's a short free bus ride to Ruka Snow Park, which has everything you need for beginner skiing. You can hire all your equipment, which is expertly fitted, and even book a ski lesson with one of the friendly instructors. Children are encouraged to take part and the instructors are lovely with little ones, there English is pretty good too, which really helps. As well as skiing, you can also hire toboggans for children to try on the slopes, or even have a go at snowboarding. There is also a restaurant where you can get a lovely cooked meal, we had Lasagne, or just enjoy a drink and snack while you rest from your activities in the warm.

Ice Fishing


Ice fishing is a brilliant activity, particularly if you want to really experience the Lappish culture. When you visit Lapland, you will notice a lot of large snow-covered areas, that look like fields. These are actually lakes and Finland is famous for having, not only a lot of lakes but also the cleanest water in the world. Ruka Safaris offer Ice Fishing expeditions where you will be taken to the perfect spot in the middle of a frozen lake. There, you will be shown how to drill through the ice and then provided with bait and equipment to try to catch a fish. It's beautiful and peaceful out on the lake and it's enjoyable just to be there, but nothing beats the feeling of excitement when you actually catch something!

Snow Mobiling





Ruka Safaris offer lots of options for snowmobiling. You can choose a long or short safari, to various destinations, you can even organise a safari from Kuusamo airport to your accommodation, as an extra-special start to your holiday! As we had children with us, we took part in a group safari around a lake, which wasn't too long and is perfect if you are a bit nervous of driving these pretty large machines, especially if you have your offspring on the back! For children to travel with you, they have to be able to reach the footrests, otherwise, they will need to travel in a trailer. It is best to check with the guide when you book.

Husky Rides




We visited Lammintupa to take part in a husky ride. Lammintupa is a short drive from Ruka Ski Resort and well worth the trip. There are lots of different activities to do there and they also have a cafe which makes the most delicious pancakes! The Husky ride was very exciting. You are given a big kick sled (where you stand on the skis at the back) which has a basket in the front for a passenger and is pulled by six really excited dogs. You have a brake and so have some control over how fast you go, which was great for me, because I was a bit scared and thought I was going to fall off! The huskies follow a set route and you are instructed to use the brake if you start to catch them up and use your feet to help them along if they start to struggle uphill. It takes a little getting used to but is worth it as it's a truly unique experience and really fun. While you are there, you can also spend time with the husky puppies, who are obviously adorable!

Sleigh Rides





Also available at Lammintupa is another favourite of a Lapland holiday, the sleigh ride. Before you enjoy a ride through the countryside, you are able to meet and feed the reindeer and find out a bit more about them. We did our sleigh ride straight after the huskies and it was lovely to be able to do something so relaxing after all the adrenalin and excitement. The best part of the sleigh ride, which also followed a set route through the forest, was that you had plenty of opportunities to take in the scenery. And, wow, what a scene! Miles of unspoilt, beautiful snowy forests, everything sparkling and white, a truly fantastic landscape that you will never forget. With the reindeer sleigh, both passengers get to sit down in the comfort of the sleigh and it's very easy to steer the reindeer around the route, so it's relaxing for everyone.

Northern Lights




If you are very lucky, like we were, you can sometimes catch sight of the iconic Northern Lights from your balcony. We stayed in RukaSuites Apartment Hotel and the balcony was a definite highlight, along with a very welcome sauna, which is an important Finnish tradition. For the best view of the lights, though, you need to get away from light pollution, then the lights are easy to see, take photos of, and you tend to get a better impression of the different colours. 




pin for later

Ruka Safaris offer guided tours either on foot, by snowmobile or on the bus. The Northern Lights are never guaranteed, they are fickle and prefer to please themselves when they show up, but the guided tours offer the best chance of seeing them because they have a lot of experience in when they are most likely to show up.

Lucy stayed at the Ruka ski resortWould you visit Lapland?

*Ice fishing photo & husky close up credit Harri Tarvainen

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Friday, 18 May 2018

Bistrot Pierre Cardiff - Spring Menu Review And Get A Free Drink

Ok, I'll confess, I am a bit of a fan of the French restaurant chain Bistrot Pierre.  I've eaten at a few of their branches and they are head and shoulders above the rest of their competitors for the quality of food and the prices. Last year I reviewed the Swansea Bistrot Pierre in Mumbles, so I was excited to be invited to try out the new Spring menu range in their Cardiff branch last week.  Read on to find out what I thought and to get a free drink with your meal!



The Cardiff branch is just off the Hayes, on Caroline Street (affectionately known as 'chip alley' to the locals). Don't let that put you off though as the addition of this restaurant adds a touch of class to the area.

The restaurant is understated and tastefully designed inside and service is pleasant, attentive but certainly not stuffy.



My son and I were welcomed by Erica our server and shown to our table. Bistrot Pierre like to focus on seasonal ingredients and great value French cooking and the menu reflected that. 

We ordered from the A La Carte Spring Menu see below and chose the Salade de canard and the Calamars. I ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and my son a coke. There was a selection of about 40 choices of wine, including champagne, almost all available by the glass as well as by the bottle. 


My Calamars (squid) was perfect. It wasn't overcooked and rubbery, instead, it was easy to cut into, coated in a mildly spiced batter and melted in the mouth. Served with garlic aioli I devoured it in no time. A very good dish.



My son really raved about the Vietnamese duck salad and said it was similar to Cantonese crispy duck but without the pancakes! Crunchy, crispy duck with yielding duck meat underneath, rested on a thin julienne of Asian vegetables.  A smattering of sesame seeds and hints of five spice, chilli and coriander made this a dish packed full of flavour.  A great start to our meal.




For our mains, my son ordered the 9 oz Entrecote or rib eye steak and I ordered the Poulet printanier, a chicken dish with a creamy tarragon and mushroom sauce. 


The steak wasn't as good as expected.  Unfortunately, It tasted as if it was not seasoned and was gristly. The herb butter didn't add anything to the dish and made it greasy. The fries, however, were crispy, light and very good. My son has had steak here before and has never complained about it previously, so I just think it was an off day for this dish. 



The latter dish, poulet printanier, was new on the Spring menu - pan-fried chicken breast sliced and served in a rich sauce of mushrooms, peas, asparagus and tarragon.  You could really taste the mushrooms in this dish and this was further enhanced with the addition of yummy truffle oil adding an earthy flavour. The tarragon really shone through as well. A good dish and one well worth ordering on the Spring menu.



In Bistrot Pierre, most mains come with roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables unless otherwise stated, and the vegetables were seasoned and drizzled with butter. The baby roast potatoes were incredibly tasty. I think they are cooked in olive oil, and you get a great flavour but they aren't crispy like traditional roasties, just a note if you are expecting them to be. 

At this point, we were both full, but I couldn't resist dessert!



We ordered the Mousse au chocolat and the Frangipane. 



The chocolate mousse very good indeed. Rich and smooth and made of the best Valrhona chocolate, it was topped with small crunchy balls of chocolate that added a nice texture to the dessert. It had a slight orange taste but the waitress asked the chef and it didn't contain any. Odd but delicious all the same.



I've had the frangipane before and just couldn't resist ordering again as I remembered how great it was. A light sponge flavoured with pear and almonds, with a secret thrilling raspberry layer. It comes covered in cream and decorated with almonds and pistachios, adding a nice crunch. This frangipane pudding really is a delight and totally moreish and is one of my favourite dishes on the menu. If you like puddings I urge you to order this - you won't be disappointed. 

At this point, we were full to bursting so declined the cheese course and any further drinks. 

We really enjoyed our meal at Bistrot Pierre Cardiff. It was very good indeed the only slight disappointment being the steak.  What I like about the menu is that there is always a decent selection for those that don't eat red meat, like my husband.  Chicken and fish is always featured on the menu, with a couple of vegetarian options, and usually a pork dish too. 

The Spring A La Carte menu has a wide range of dishes and they also do a Spring Prix-Fixe (fixed price) evening menu with any two courses for £14.95, which I feel for food of this quality is a bargain.  The lunch menu has two courses for £11.95 and three for £13.95 which is also a great deal.


The chain also has a groovy Bistrot Pierre app, that allows you to collect points towards a free drink, starter, main course or even two-course meal. I do have this on my phone and it's surprising how fast the points add up. At present they will give you 1000 points if you download the app (which is a free one-course lunch or breakfast), but do check out the website to see if this offer is still valid.  I was so pleased to be given a free carafe of wine on my birthday, just for having the app! 

For my readers today that visits any Bistrot Pierre, and there are 24 around the country, I am giving you something free too! When you order a main course you can claim a complimentary 175ml glass of house wine, a bottle of beer or soft drink. 
Print off code LBPBWCKJ and hand it to your server when you dine quoting 'blogger free drink voucher'. Check out the terms and conditions here, valid until 20th July 2018. 

Tell me, do you like French bistro food? Would you give Bistrot Pierre a try?

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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

6 Bedroom Storage Hacks

If your bedroom is a constant mess and you blame the fact that you don’t have enough space for everything, then perhaps you’re in need of some serious bedroom storage hacks, which is where this blog post comes in handy. 

I have teamed up with Happy Beds, the UK’s fastest growing online bed and mattress store, to create some handy tips on how to keep your mess completely organised. 



1. Invest in a storage bed
Storage beds are a great way to hide all of your mess, whilst still keeping it in one place. Rather than shoving everything under your bed and then spending ages taking everything out to find the one thing you’re looking for, ottoman beds help you stay organised and put everything into sections. Having one of these means you can lift up the top of the bed, making everything in the storage compartment easily accessible. 

2. Build shelves
Shelves are a great way to fill up wall space – especially corner shelves. Not only does it mean that you can display your photos or ornaments, but you will be able to make use of the corner of your bedroom when nothing else will fit. 

3. Bed organisers
I get it. You want a bedside table for your phone, a photo frame of a loved one and maybe somewhere to put your TV remotes. However, is this really a necessary piece of furniture? Why not invest in bed organisers? These work by sitting half under the bed and then the rest hanging out with multiple compartments – it does the same job, yet it is a lot more cost-effective and a little less large.

4. Make use of the door
Doors can become pretty handy when you use them in an innovative way. You can buy multiple storage pieces for doors; vertical handbag hangers, jewellery hangers and even shoe racks for the back of the door. These are extremely convenient, especially when space is at a premium, in box bedrooms for example!

5. Fold down desks

For those of you that are studying, or work from home and have a limited space, having a fold-down desk is a great option. Rather than having a clunky bit of furniture in the back of your bedroom, a fold down desk means you can access a desk when you need it, the rest of the time it can be free floor space.

6. Make storage boxes your best friend

Storage boxes are extremely convenient to keep you organised. They can be stored on top of cupboards, underneath beds and furniture and in whatever small spaces you can find. Add labels to these boxes so that you can easily decide which box t
o access, rather than hunting through them all. 

Tell me do you use any storage hacks?

*In collaboration with Happy Beds
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Tuesday, 15 May 2018

So Cal So Good: What to See in Southern California

Southern California is a part of the world which is perhaps best-known for its year-round beautiful climate, stunning sandy beaches, and impossibly chilled-out atmosphere. However away from the ocean, you have a diversity that makes it a perfect vacation spot, with towering mountains, wine tasting areas, gourmet food and secluded towns that make a perfect vacation.  


Though you could conceivably spend your whole vacation time in each one of the different places below, you may need to be more selective if you don’t have days and nights on end. We drove from San Francisco to San Diego on a road trip and with so many things to do we had a fantastic experience, but you do need the time to explore properly. 


if you don't have the time, however, just find a base, pick some accommodation, (we fancy The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel on our next trip), book your flights, and arrange car hire, to get a taste of a laid-back lifestyle like no other. 

Venice Beach



The original vision for Venice Beach was conceived over 100 years ago when Abbot Kinney came up with the idea to turn Santa Monica into a version of the iconic Italian city. To this day, the canals remain one of the area’s top attractions, but most tourists head straight over to the boardwalk, where street performers, food stalls, and souvenir shops all compete for your attention. Other than this, people watch at the volleyball courts, while the centre of bodybuilding known as Muscle Beach is the place to go for all gym enthusiasts and where Arnold Schwarzenegger started out.

San Diego



One of the best-loved cities on our California road trip was San Diego. San Diego boasts miles and miles of sandy beaches, a beautiful harbour, an iconic zoo, the USS Midway, Belmont Park theme park,- and we have only just scratched the surface! Situated right on the Mexican border, San Diego is known as the 'Birthplace of California', and if you are interested in discovering more about the history of the state, you have certainly come to the right place. Head to the Gaslamp Quarter for some great live music and interesting eating and drinking spots.

Santa Barbara

Take a drive north of LA along the coast and you will arrive in the beautiful city of Santa Barbara. However, if you are coming directly from the City of Angels, one of the first things that you will notice is how different the place is. The palm trees and red-roofed houses stand out if you take in the view from above, while the many beaches are all pleasant places to go to while away your time. Santa Barbara is also known for wineries and vineyards, make a stop at the many locations where the black comedy about a wine tasting road trip, Sideways, was filmed.

Palm Springs


A former playground of iconic Hollywood stars like Frank Sinatra, Palm Springs has opened up significantly to the general public since those heady days of wild partying. If you want to get a glimpse of what life was like in those days, take a trip over to the Movie Colony District. Beyond the built-up centre, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding landscape. One of the best experiences is a trip on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which whisks you up nearly 3,000 metres to give you stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

As you can see, Southern California has more than its fair share of incredible attractions. Would you visit Southern California?
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Monday, 14 May 2018

The Power Of The Greatest Showman

There are some films that you may have watched in your life that I bet you go back to time and time again. They may not be a critics choice, but they make you laugh, make you cry and make you feel that the world is a good place.  

From classic romantic comedies like Bridget Jones Diary, Pretty Woman and anything by Richard Curtis to some of my personal favourites, Elf, Forest Gump and The Shawshank Redemption.  One such movie recently has been taken the world by storm although it has had a lukewarm reception by critics is The Greatest Showman. In fact, even some of the critics that didn't like it at first have been won around, in some part, by its message and appeal. 


The Greatest Showman is loosely based on the story of P.T. Barnum, the circus inventor that some would say 'created showbusiness'. I say loosely based as Barnum, played by the rather handsome Mr Hugh Jackman, champions those of us who are different in the movie, in reality, the slightly darker side of what really happened is glossed over, but this is pure Hollywood escapism, not a documentary or accurate description. So if you are happy to suspend your disbelief, and you like big colourful musicals, I think you will enjoy. 

These are some reasons why it has been so successful.

It has star appeal


Embed from Getty Images 


From Hugh Jackman, one of the most underrated actors of his generation to Zac Efron who put all his time and effort into supporting the film and getting it made, the stars are fantastic and feel passionate about the film and it really shows. The film was in development for seven years and the cast supported the director Michael Gracey until finally, it came to screen.  

It has a cracking soundtrack

When the soundtrack was written the two musical writers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul were relatively unknown.  Since then they have become famous for the Broadway hit Dear Evan Hansen where they picked up a Tony award and last years La La Land where they won best original musical score at the Oscars.

The songs illustrate the story perfectly. The most famous song, all about acceptance, This Is Me, champions the underdog, and accepting people for who they are.  The rest of the soundtrack is equally as catchy and memorable so much so that sing-along shows all around the country have been held in cinemas. 

Did you also know that it held the number 1 spot in the UK music charts for 11 weeks, equalling Adele's 21 album?  It dropped slightly one week and then was back up to number 1 spot with the release of the film on download. So it has been 12 weeks as the number 1 album in the UK which is virtually unheard of today.  

It celebrates diversity 

The film celebrates diversity, a powerful message and one so relevant to life today too. In reality Barnum was a businessman and probably not so nice in real life, however, we, the audience, know it's not an exact representation of his life and we are prepared to overlook it. 

It's pure escapism and uplifting

When there is so much sadness and political turmoil in the world, from the war in Syria to Donald Trump' presidency of the United States and the UK Brexit negotiations, the film is that does of escapism. It also incredibly uplifting and joyful, and who doesn't want some joy in their lives now and again?

It appeals to all ages

Stories of 6-year-olds seeing the film on numerous occasions, to groups of friends going to the sing-a-longs to extended families seeing it all together and with 80-year-old grandparents loving it too, the family-friendly film appeals to people of all ages and surprisingly not just women, men are enjoying it too. I must admit, even my grumpy husband, came out of the film with a smile on his face. 

It makes you feel a range of emotions

It's an emotional film and explores love, both enduring love and new love, friendship and loyalty. Barnum came from a poor background and struggled to make his way in the world. Being 'good enough' is one of the threads throughout the film and will resonate with a modern audience, some who live their lives through social media and have that unobtainable pressure to look and be 'perfect'.

It's visually stunning

Every scene, every frame is visually stunning. From the rooftop scene with Barnum, his daughters and his wife, to the circus scenes. It has this visual colourful cinematic look reminiscent of Baz Luhrmann's' Moulin Rouge.


It will make you want to watch it again

I have yet to find someone who has seen it that didn't like it. If you look at the reviews on Amazon or Itunes you will see a very high number of 5-star reviews, with many people being surprised at how much they enjoyed it. Even those that thought they would hate it. So I would say, if you are not sure, watch it. It's a great feel-good film, it's uplifting, it has great acting, it's moving and it is a feast for the eyes and ears! Highly recommended.

The Greatest Showman [DVD] [2017] is available on DVD from £9.99 on Amazon and £14.99 on Blu Ray. Whilst The Greatest Showman soundtrack is priced at £9.99.  
Have you seen this film, or would you see it? Let me know!

* contains affiliate links.

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Friday, 11 May 2018

12 Tricks To Make Your Small Home Feel Big

Are you tired of your home feeling so small? You don’t have to upsize or build an extension to make a difference – there could be ways of better using the space you already have to create the illusion that your home is bigger than it is. Here are just a few tricks to make your home feel less claustrophobic.


Knock down interior walls

Knocking down interior walls could help to make rooms flow into one another so that you’ve effectively got one giant room. An open plan layout could have other advantages such as allowing more light into central rooms and allowing people to communicate between the kitchen and living area.

Removing interior walls is no easy task – there could be wiring or piping within the wall that you need to consider. Load bearing walls may require a cut-out to be made rather than removing the entire wall. In most cases, it’s safer to hire a contractor to remove interior walls. Be wary that removing walls could mean less space for shelves or cupboards so weigh up whether you can lose this storage space.

Add extra windows

Rooms with little or no windows often feel smaller and more claustrophobic. This is because windows add depth to a room by connecting it to the outside world. The bigger the window, the more spacious you’ll make the room feel. You could even consider replacing a downstairs room wall with a glass door.

Like removing walls, installing extra windows is no easy task and is best carried out by a professional. A window that has been professionally fitted could damage the structural integrity of the wall and so could be dangerous.

Get rid of clutter




Too much clutter could also be making your home feel smaller by making it appear more crowded. Consider hiding items away in a storage unit or getting rid of them permanently. Put up shelves to tidy your household items. There may also be bulky items taking up space such as unused gym equipment or reminders of past hobbies such as old musical instruments – consider whether you really use the items or if you’re just clinging onto them for aesthetic value.

There are lots of ways of disposing of your clutter. You could simply hire a skip and throw away items or you could sell you clutter on second-hand sites such as gumtree.com. There may even be places to recycle old and broken items for cash. You can also donate items such as books and clothes to charity shops if you’re feeling generous.
Buy multi-purpose furniture


Some furniture has dual purposes, which can free up space in your home by not having to need as many appliances. This could include buying a washer-dryer instead of having an individual washing machine and tumble dryer.

Furniture that doubles up as storage can be particularly effective. An ottoman footstall or sofa with in-built storage could prevent you needing a separate storage unit in your living room, making your home appear less cluttered and more spacious.

Buy collapsible furniture


There are also collapsible furniture options to consider. You may be able to buy a dining set that folds away like an ironing board – this could be stored away in a cupboard when you don’t need it freeing up floor space. There are even collapsible beds on the market that could be ideal for freeing up space in a bedsit.

Use more vertical space, less floor space

The amount of floor space in a room can have a big impact on how big it feels. Limited floor space can make people feel as if they have no room to walk around. One way of maximising floor space is to use more vertical space instead. Rather than opting for a sideboard or a chest of drawers in a living area, try instead opting for shelving on the walls – this will give you the storage space you need, whilst freeing up floor space. Rather than placing a TV on a TV stand, consider similarly hanging this on the wall with a hanging shelving unit below for storing your TV box/DVD player/games console.

You can also hang cabinets up on the walls in various rooms. A wall cabinet above a bathroom sink instead of a cabinet below can be great for maximising floor space in this room.

In a kitchen meanwhile, hanging up items to free up countertop space can have a similar effect to freeing up floor space. Instead of using a knife block or a jar for storing utensils, consider a magnetic strip or a rack on the wall. Hooks and pegboards can also come in handy for hanging up items.

Pull furniture out from the wall

Sometimes pulling furniture such as sofas and storage units slightly out from the wall can create the illusion that a room is more spacious that it is. This is because it gives the impression that the room has space left to expand. That said, don’t pull out furniture too far – this can make it look awkward and make a room feel messy and cluttered. An inch or two is all you need.



Buy furniture with legs

Furniture with legs can also create the illusion of more space by creating more visible floor space. This can be a great trick in a cramped bedroom – beds, wardrobes and chests of drawers take up huge amounts of floor space and by raising them onto legs, you’ll immediately make the room feel more spacious. Almost everything can be placed on legs from sofas to freestanding bath tubs.

Putting furniture on legs can also have other advantages such as making cleaning easier. You can even put furniture on wheels to make it easier to rearrange, but be wary of adding too many wheeled items of furniture as you could risk your home feeling like a hospital ward.

Choose an oversized rug

When it comes to rugs, bigger is often better when trying to make a room feel more spacious. A tiny rug in the centre of a small room can highlight the fact that it’s confined (it can also run the risk of looking like a bathmat). Consider a large rug that takes up most of the room and let furniture overlap it. By showing that the room is big enough to contain such a large rug, it can make the room feel strangely bigger. Large rugs are more expensive and they may need to be delivered, which can put a lot of homeowners off, however, the added impression on the room is worth the commitment.

Use bright colours

Rooms that use bright colours are more likely to feel airy and spacious. When trying to make a room bigger, ensure that the walls are a lighter colour such as white, cream or light blue. You can also choose a bright carpet or a light wooden floor. Bright colours will also help to reflect sunlight on a bright day. This could help to make a room with a small widow feel less like a cell by maximising the natural light coming in.



Embrace the magic of mirrors

Mirrors have long been used as a way of making confined spaces seem bigger. The larger the mirror the better the impact – an entire mirrored wall in a bathroom could make the room feel double the size, whilst a mirrored wardrobe can be a great way of expanding a bedroom outwards.

Sites like drench.co.uk have a great selection of frameless bathroom mirrors. Frames make it more obvious that it’s a mirror, whilst no frame can help to create more of an illusion that it is, in fact, another space in the room.

Mirrors can also be placed opposite windows to give the effect that there are two windows in the room. Not only can this make a room feel less claustrophobic, it can help to bring more natural light into the room.

Create depth with landscape art

Artwork containing scenes of landscapes can create the same impact as a window by creating an extra sense of depth. This can be particularly effective with large paintings.

You could even consider an entire wall mural. Sites like mural24.co.uk can create custom murals of whatever scene you like whether it’s an urban cityscape or a sunset over the sea. This could be great for bringing a poky apartment living room alive.

Even something as simple as landscape themed wallpaper can make an impact. Bright nature or city themed wallpaper is great for a narrow hallway, helping this space to feel bigger.
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Thursday, 10 May 2018

A New Summer Wardrobe

Finally, it seems as though we’re going to have a half-decent summer. Usually, at this time of year, we have to contend with heavy downpours of rain and even the odd flurry of snow is not unheard of, and mutterings of 'awful weather isn't it?' is heard up and down the country. This year has thrown many of us though as much earlier on we’re having to dig out our summer clothes and slap on some sunscreen. But when digging out the summer clothes, you might find that some things are outdated and don’t fit. A nightmare for us girls. So, what does that mean? It means it’s time for a new summer wardrobe, and we know the perfect additions for you. Have a read on to find out more.

Summery Colours



The first thing that you need to embrace is some summer colours. If you’re someone who is always wearing black and grey, then this weather should bring out a different side in you. By summer colours, we’re talking your sunflower, lime, reds, blues, and just anything bright really! As long as you’re keeping it bright and interesting, with maybe the odd floral pattern thrown in there too, you’re going to nail the summer look. Just make sure you’re colour coordinating well. Generally, if you wear a neutral bottom, such as denim, black, or white, most of the other colours will go with it. But, when the weather is like this, try and a dress or a skirt to get some sun on your bones. We’ve been denied this weather for too long, it’s time to enjoy it whilst you actually can!

What’s Underneath


Everyone always focuses on what’s on top when thinking of a summer wardrobe, but what’s underneath can make you feel just as good about yourself. We’re talking about lingerie and bikinis. Us girls can go a hell of a long time without updating our lingerie collection, but when we do we just feel so good about ourselves. Try something new, and switch it up from styles you would usually go for. Pick out something that is going to give you so much confidence! Then you need to think about bikinis since we’re having such lovely weather! Mesh white top bikinis are looking really lovely at the minute, but it will leave you a bad tan line. Something that is all the craze at the minute is swimming costumes, so all you need to do is pick out a style that you like. I like the retro bikini style that is flattering and covers your bum!

Summer Styles



Summer styles don’t seem to vary too much, and when the weather has been as hot as it has, it’s up to you with what makes you comfortable. A maxi dress will always be a summer style that is going to stick. They look so beautiful and can either be worn as a day outfit or night. A perfect style for a garden party, a day at the races, wedding or graduation.

So, get out there and enjoy the sun whilst you can, but most of all give yourself a new summer wardrobe!


Are you planning a new summer wardrobe?

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Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Upgrading Your Home For Summer


Now that the days are getting longer and the nights are warmer, you may start thinking about jobs you can do around the house. The summer is the ideal time to have fun with decorating your space, and you can make things more personal to fit your design tastes. Here are just a few of the things you can do this month to prepare your home for the summer and give it some much-needed TLC.

Windows And Doors


Our windows and doors seem to be a part of the home which we take for granted and forget about very often. However, the act of changing your doors and windows to something new will have a big impact on the home. If you buy brand new doors and bigger windows for the home you will make the space feel fresh, bright and brand new in no time.

Update Your Kitchen

If you want to make a big impact on your entire home, the kitchen is the ideal place to come. Your kitchen is a huge part of the home and is the place where you spend a lot of your time. You can upgrade the space by adding a herb garden to the wall, buying some new taps from Tap Warehouse, and painting the walls a fun and bright colour. You don’t need to rip everything out and start again to make a positive impact on the space.

Extend

If you have the money to do a bigger project, you can always create an extension in your home and make the space feel brand new. Build out into the garden and add large French windows to make your space feel bright and full of life. It will provide the perfect place to sit with your family during the summer.

Jet Wash The Drive


One of the things which can make your outdoor space look scruffy is having a dirty driveway or a dirty patio in the back. To rectify this problem, you can take a pressure washer and blast the space to reveal the stone underneath. This is an immensely satisfying job to do and the drive will look so much better afterwards.

Fence Panels

Our fences are another one of those things we don’t often consider replacing, but when you think about the security of your home and garden, it is a vital thing to do. You can install new fence panels and why not ask your neighbour to go halves. If you want to make the space feel bright and fresh on a budget, why not paint the fence panels a pastel colour or white for maximum effect.

Replace Your Roof


Whilst we are on the subject of security in the home you may want to think about redoing the roof to make sure it is solid and attractive to look at. If you have a dark loft space which you use regularly, you can even take this opportunity to add a skylight into the roof for light and style. This will then give you the potential in future to renovate your loft and make it into a bedroom.

Revamp The Garden




Summer is the perfect time to be outside and spend time with your family and friends, and one of the best ways to do that is to revamp your garden space and create a perfect seating area for everyone. Utilise your patio better by putting out a table and chairs, and even a sun lounger if you have the space. You could also consider laying decking on the floor and have a bright colour stained onto it for effect. Make sure you have a space for your barbecue and add lots of colour to the garden with big shrubs and cute bedding plants.

Make it green

Summer and Spring are both seasons colourful seasons and this is the perfect time for you to add some colour and life to your home. You could bring a large peace lily into your home for some colour and texture, stick to small cacti if you aren’t green fingered, and even simply place a vase or two of flowers around your home. Plants are synonymous with summer, so use them to your advantage!

Outside lights

For a magical feel in your garden, there is nothing better than solar powered lights. Whether you decide to use a string of fairy lights to line your pergola or some lamps in the ground, lighting can make for a magical summer evening for all the family.


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Extending Your Car's Life For Spring Travelling

If you have any trips planned for the Spring, you will want to make sure that your car is completely ready for your journey and isn’t going to break down on you. So many of us delay getting our cars a regular checkup and this isn’t a risk that we should be taking. All it needs is a few minutes to check your car over and make any updates required to ensure you are travelling as safely as you can.



Car maintenance isn’t difficult - it is pretty easy if you know what to do.

Have you got the right tyre pressure?

Make sure your tyres have the right pressure. You don’t want to get in trouble for underinflated tyres. Not inflating them properly can lead to a poor performance from your car and an increased risk to your safety, affecting the vehicle’s braking ability and increasing fuel consumption. You can always check the right tyre pressure in your car's handbook. Did you know that if you have a heavy load (and this could include luggage and a full car) then the tyre pressures should be different? M
ost petrol stations will have an air machine and for 50 pence you can check the tyre pressure and inflate the tyres to the correct pressure.

New tyres?

Check if you require new tyres. Look out for damage and any wear and look at the tread. As every driver should know, the law requires tyres to have a minimum tread depth of at least 1.6mm. Don’t have this? You’re putting yourself and other road users at risk and are risking some points on your licence. Is it worth it?

If you need new tyres, make sure to get a good brand at an affordable price. Get tyres for all makes & models from Jet Wheel Tyre website at cheap rates.

Check your lights

Make sure you are checking these on a regular basis. You don’t want to start on a long trip and find that the bulbs are blown or that there is a minor crack. Finding these discrepancies before you set off saves a lot of time - and money - in the long run. Did you know you could also get penalty points and a fine if your brake lights aren't working?

When did you last check your oil?

This should be done on a regular basis too - if your car is older, you can measure the oil with a dipstick check and if newer, there should be an electronic measure. This is one of the easiest things to sort out yourself when it comes to car maintenance so there really is no excuse not to check regularly.

Don't forget a service and MOT

Don’t forget the dates of your service and MOT. Make sure you are taking your car to be serviced regularly, especially the things that you find difficult to do yourself. An MOT is a legal requirement for a car that is more than three years old so there is no excuse to forget - put it down your diary and get it checked out, just to be sure you are as safe as you can possibly be. Some garages even contact you when your MOT is due so there is no excuse.

If you want to travel this spring, especially on long journeys, then you need to make sure you are taking every precaution to have a roadworthy and safe car. There are no excuses when it comes to ensuring that you are safe travelling in your car. Both you, your passengers and other road users shouldn’t have to worry about any risks because of some checks that you haven’t done.


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Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Everyday Luxuries Everyone Can Afford

People often think that they can't afford the luxuries of life but often it's the little things that really make life luxurious. Taking time out and having these little affordable luxuries can really add to your perceivable quality of life.

Let’s take a look at what these affordable luxuries might be so that you can be sure of including them in your life from now on. As long as you manage to fill your days with these kinds of things, it can really have a way of making your life a little bit more special.

Good Coffee



You can get real enjoyment in taking a break with a good cup of coffee, but how often do you actually manage to get hold of one? The truth is that so many coffee outlets on the high street don’t really offer much in the way of good quality coffee, and it is often a case of trying to go out of your way to find the good stuff. Fortunately, if you shop around you can actually get hold of some coffee beans that will enable you to make decent cups at home. Freshly roasted coffee beans from Spiller and Tait could be the way to go, especially if you hand grind them yourself at home to get the freshness. Using a cafetiere will also be sure to give you better results, so bear that in mind too. All in all, great coffee can be had at home more easily than you might have thought.

Homemade Bread



If you have never made your own bread before, you have no idea what you are missing out on. The truth is that making your own bread is easier than you might think, and also tends to produce delicious bread, the kind that makes you salivate when it comes out of the oven. There is nothing like the smell of fresh bread is there? If you want to get started with making your own bread, it’s easy enough - just get hold of some good quality strong white bread flour, some instant dried yeast, and you're away. Add these to water and salt for a basic loaf, or shake it up and get creative in whatever way you want if you want to. Once you start making your own bread, you will never look back.

Walking In Nature



Some of the greatest luxuries in life are completely free of charge - such as walking through the woods or out along the beach. Walking in nature has a way of relaxing you and is the kind of luxury that makes life worth living. If you can find a way to make it a part of your everyday routine, then you will find that it really does help you to enjoy life all the more.

Spending time with family and friends


Spending time with family and friends can make a real difference in your life, so make that time in your schedule to do so. It's important here though to spend time with family and friends that make you laugh, value your company and make you feel good to be around. No one wants toxic friends (and family) in their lives. 

Let me know what everyday luxuries may your life worth living?

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