Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Adorable Fashion Tips For Children

With children becoming more fashion conscious than ever, it is important to know a little about kid’s clothing. I've written many posts on fashion for adults, so here are some great tips for things to consider when it comes to buying children’s fashion.

Let them have their own input


Younger children don't always know their own mind, but older children certainly do and will be able to tell you if they like or don’t like something. Letting them have an input on decisions regarding their clothing is key. Whilst they may choose something you’re not too fond of, they will be the ones wearing it and fashion is all about fun, remember.

Consider the quality

Children tend to have more sensitive skin than adults so what we may consider okay for our skin may not be okay for theirs. You want quality materials that won’t irritate your child’s skin such as cotton - and always wash clothes before first use.

Inject some colour


It can be incredibly easy to fall into the trap of buying neutral coloured items - the whites, the greys, the blacks - as they’re the most popular when it comes to certain items of children’s clothing, especially the basics, but colour is fun. No one is going to judge if you buy them that pair of electric blue leggings or rainbow coloured shirt. Children love colour!

You can always opt for some designer items

We like to treat ourselves to designer clothing occasionally so why wouldn’t you treat your children every now and again, if you have the funds to do so? Perhaps some clothing from Strawberry Children may be ideal - they stock a variety of designer brands and have a variety of sizes, from newborn babies to children aged up to 12 years.

Designer clothing is of the highest quality and built to last so maybe consider getting some investment pieces for your child’s wardrobe. Designers are paying much more attention to children’s fashion nowadays so you will find some gorgeous pieces that would be perfect for your child’s wardrobe.

Consider matching - but only if your children want to


Let’s face it, matching clothes in children is super cute but only if its something that the children themselves want to do (unless they are too young to understand). If your child doesn’t want to dress in the same sort of clothes as their sibling, then don’t force them - but if they do, embrace the match!

Ensure the fit is correct

Children do grow incredibly quickly so sometimes getting the right fit is a little tricky but it is important to get it correct as incorrectly fitting clothes or footwear can be very uncomfortable. If shopping in store, get them to try stuff on and if shopping online, you can always send them back if they don’t fit - or keep them for the future if they’re a little too big.

These are just a few tips on shopping for children’s clothing - I hope they have helped. Remember, it is important to let them have their say when it comes to the clothes that they will be wearing - even if you aren’t too sure. That being said, you may have to step in if the clothes they choose aren’t exactly weather appropriate. It is all about a little give and take.

Do you have any tips when it comes to shopping for children’s clothes?

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A Practical Guide On What To Do When Someone You Love Dies

It is a heartbreaking moment when someone you love dies, and through the sadness and often confusion, you have to deal with so many things. I have written this guide based on my previous experience of being a mental health nurse, from personal experience of death in my family and from my research into practical guides on what to do. Here is a practical guide on what to do when someone dies.

Get paperwork in order


Firstly the practicalities. You have to do three things in the immediate aftermath when someone dies, get a medical certificate from your GP or doctor, register the death within 5 days (8 days in Scotland) and arrange the funeral. If the death is not straightforward, it was not in the UK or it has been reported to the coroner you need to gain further advice on what to do when someone dies.

When you register the death you’ll get a 'certificate for a burial' to give to the funeral director or an application for cremation which you need to complete and give to the crematorium. You must do one of these before the funeral can take place. 


Organise the funeral

You need to think of their wishes and what they wanted for their funeral. Were they religious or not?
 Did they want to be cremated, did they want to be buried or did they want a humanist funeral? Certain religions have rituals that you have to follow.  Talk to your local funeral director about your loved one's wishes. A site like localfuneral.co.uk can help you find one and advise you on what you need to do.  

Think about who they would have wanted at their funeral, and who you feel you should invite.  Think about what type of service and what type of music they would they have wanted. 

Deal with the will and finances

You need to tell the Government if someone has died. The Tell Us Once service allows you to do that. You will need details like their National Insurance number, passport number,  date of birth and so on and they will then notify the relevant government services like the DVLA, the HMRC,  certain pension schemes, and the passport office.

If the person is a close family member or friend or you are the executor of the will you may have to deal with the will, money or property of the person who has died. You may have to apply for probate, the right to deal with their estate. For further information check out this page from the UK Government and this page by the Money Advice Service

Allow yourself to grieve



In the days and months following your loved one's death, you may be so busy organising everything you may not have allowed yourself to grieve, feeling that you need to 'keep strong'. You may even feel numb.  However, it is so important that you do allow yourself to grieve. 

It is important to talk about your loved one, to remember them and the things you did together to keep their memory alive and to help you cope. There are certain stages you may go through including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and eventually acceptance but people grieve in different ways and no two people go through the same process. Tears may come for many of us, whilst some people feel they cannot cry.  If someone you love has been in pain or suffering for a long time it may mean you feel relief that they have died. This does not mean you are a bad person.

Cruse is a great organisation that can provide support through bereavement for those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, whilst the charity Marie Curie also lists organisation that can help you with support when suffering a bereavement

This is a simple practical guide on what to do when someone you love dies. For more in-depth advice, check out this article on what to do when someone dies from the Money Saving Expert website.

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Tuesday, 30 October 2018

5 Of The Most Famous Wartime Posters

Did you know that this year marks 100 years since the end of the First World War? Considered one of the bloodiest ever with 35 mission casualties, this conflict that involved most of Europe, Russia, the US and the Middle East.

In the UK everyone pulled together for the war effort. With women working in the munition factories to men fighting on the front line. During this time advertisements helped boost morale and let everyone know how they could help.

Together with foamex signs printing company, Where The Trade Buys, here is a look at some of the most iconic World War 1 posters, and examines if they did or didn't work.

Keep Calm And Carry On

Keep Calm and Carry On was part of a motivational campaign and is instantly recognised today. It featured the slogans 'Freedom is in peril, defend it with all your might’ and ‘Your courage, your cheerfulness, your resolution will bring us victory’. It was designed to calm everyone in the crisis that was the beginning of World War 2 and install a sense of Britishness and togetherness.

Why was it successful?


It actually wasn't that successful as people found the posters patronising, ambiguous and inappropriate. They were designed under the misconception that the nation would be hit by bombing after bombing with countless casualties immediately after the declaration of war. So, when the war was declared, and this didn’t happen, this didn't make much sense. Many also interpreted the ‘your courage will bring us victory’ as soldiers and the general public must make sacrifices on behalf of the upper classes and high-ranking army officials, which added to their lack of appeal.

Thankfully, one of the original copies of the poster was found in 2000, and this lead to the slogan being used on mugs, pens, t-shirts and more ever since.

The Women’s Land Army (WLA)


Some of the most memorable posters created were the recruitment posters for the Women’s Land Army. With over a million men recruited at the end of the first year of World War 1, there was a significant work shortage and the posters were devised to recruit women to take over jobs in agriculture.

Why was it successful?

It was successful because it showed how capable women manual labourers were. With the image of a woman dressed in loose dungarees working in a field, it appealed to women who wanted to have a different life to the domesticated lifestyle they were accustomed too. Just two years after its launch in 1915, there were over a quarter of a million women working on British farms, with approximately 23,000 in the Women’s Land Army.

Britons join your country’s army

This poster was designed by Alfred Leete in World War 1. It features the British Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, pointing at the reader. The slogan ‘wants you’ was aimed directly at men to enlist. At the time, Lord Kitchener was a well-known and very respected military leader and statesman to the public — an opinion not necessarily shared by all of his cabinet peers. The image used was successful as millions of men signed up after the poster's launch in September 1914.

Why was it successful?

It was successful due to the clever use of words and images to evoke an emotional response. The finger pointing seems directly at the viewer, whilst the words 'God save the king’ made people feel patriotic. The clear call to action was also attention-grabbing 'Join your country’s army!’

Dig for Victory


The saying ‘dig for victory’ is still recognised today as being associated with World War II. During this time, feeding those left at home became a great concern and something needed to be done as imported produce was hard to get.

Launched around a month before World War II broke out, The Ministry of Agriculture launched the poster to encourage the public to grow their own food to ease the pressure on rationing. This campaign was international, with ‘victory gardens’ proving just as popular in countries like Canada, Australia and the US.

Why was it successful?

The simplicity of the slogan, the image of someone digging and the eye-catching red of the poster appealed to a wide range of people, with its sense of taking action. With lots of urban areas transformed into makeshift allotments the number of allotments reached over 1.75 million.

Air raid shelter warnings 


With the risk of bombings throughout the first world war, it was essential that people became aware of air raid shelters - a new concept. Posters were, therefore, placed in or at entry points to make it clear where they were and what you could take in with you.

Why was it successful?

This air raid warning poster, which was placed outside of London’s tube stations, had a clear purpose and it worked. Using different-sized fonts, it separates each piece of information into the level of importance: first location, a place for shelter, second that any injury here is not the fault of anyone but the wounded person, and the last that certain creatures and objects are forbidden.

Figures show that around double the number of people used tube stations to shelter from bombings between May 1917 and May 1918 than during The Blitz attacks of 1940.

Have you heard of some of these campaigns?

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What Are The Most Popular Interior Design Trends In 2018

If you like interior design you probably keep an eye on the latest trends every season for what is cool and modern and update your home accordingly. I don't know about you but it's always nice to have some modern pieces to bring a freshness back into the decor.  So here are some of the most popular interior design trends in 2018.

Nature decor


It’s all about bringing the outdoors indoors when it comes to styling for 2018. Home stylists across the globe are going for the full-on nature look for their property. That means bringing wood pieces into your home for the seasons ahead. Whether that be a dark oak coffee table or light birch wooden stools, it’s bang-on-trend to think of nature as you are styling your home.

Choose a colour palette that reflects nature such as greens, greys and browns. Grey has been a popular choice over the last couple of years and is now fully in its prime in the interior design world. While it’s easy to get furniture and accents in greys and browns, you might be thinking it will be a lot harder in green, but you can get beautiful chairs like these Sloane and Sons Tub Chairs that come in a luscious green.

You can also add plenty of plants as great design accessories in your living room and hallway. Choose patterned plants which will bring an earthly and calm feeling into your home. Wallpaper is also another great way to add that natural look. If you go for a forest scene it will look beautiful in your property. Even a feature wall in green can add all the difference.


Fringing

You might be surprised that another trend which is taking over the interior design world is fringing. A blast from the past, it can be tricky to get it right on trend without it looking old-fashioned and dull. Go for one statement piece as described in Hello Magazine, which will not be too excessive. Accents are a great way to get fringing into your property. For instance, a mirror or even a light shade with fringing is an easy way to incorporate it into your room, or you could even add some cushions which have fringing onto your sofa or into the bedroom. You can even get photo frames with fringe edging which is a fun way to add a pop of fringe to the room.

Statement ceilings

You will also be surprised to know that the statement ceiling is a trend which is taking the world by storm. Statement walls have been around for a while in the interior design scene. After all, they can look wonderful in the home, but now it’s ceilings which are getting a makeover. In fact, as Evening Standard explains in this article, searches for statement ceilings have rocked by 310% on Pinterest.

It’s a great way to give the ceiling a bit of life and a modern touch if you do not leave it plain. You could choose to wallpaper the ceiling in a fun design which will stand out and become a focal point, or you might want to just go for a block colour such as a blue or a red. Just be careful that the ceiling isn't too dark. if you don’t want to make major changes to the room, giving the ceiling a change-up will instantly make it feel brand-new.


Wall art



To add some much-needed character to a room, why not fill a wall full of art? Family photos can work just as well as paintings, or what about some photos from your travels, cool prints and even ornaments and clocks. It's certainly not a minimalist look but it will make your home look modern.

So here are some of the most popular design trends in 2018. Do you have a favourite?

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Monday, 29 October 2018

How To Host A Fabulous Autumn Garden Party

Autumn is a wonderful time of year, and although it's getting chilly outside it's not too cold for a garden party. So, whether you are organising one for Halloween, Bonfire Night or another occasion, here are some ideas and a guide to hosting a fabulous autumn garden party.

Set the scene



Make sure it's cosy and comfy outside. Adorn a bench or deck chairs with cushions, get some soft cosy throws and set up some heat lamps for that added warmth. A fire pit is a lovely addition to an outdoor area, can be surprisingly affordable and is worth the outlay if you are a person who loves their garden. Just be careful if you have kids around.  If you are putting on a big party consider a garden camping party tent to provide the shelter when the sun goes down.

It's all about the lighting


As it gets darker and dusk falls then the lighting is all important. Outdoor lighting can be a combination of spotlights, lanterns and fairy lights. Avoid real candles though if children are around, you can get lanterns and tea lights these days that are powered by batteries. If you have a fire pit it can also create a lovely ambience and soft lighting.

Theme accordingly 


Think about your decor and theme accordingly. Pinterest is a great place to get inspiration for an Autumn garden party.  For table decor for a party for adults, think table lanterns or candles, and decorate the garden with potted plants in yellow, orange, and russet colours. 

For a Halloween party, a carved pumpkin is more or less obligatory, as well as an orange and black decor. You can go all kitsch for the kids - decorate with the obvious Halloween items such as plastic spiders, pretend cobwebs, and witches cauldrons. Why not have a dressing up party, with a prize for the best outfit and smaller prizes for everyone so no one feels left out?

For a Bonfire party, if you have a large garden you could consider fireworks. Be sure to read up about the space you need before you buy them though and always read the instructions on the box. If you are going for fireworks, advise your neighbours about your party in advance. In fact, why not invite them as they would be less likely to moan!

What's for dinner?


If its a party for a group of grown-ups then you could have a full-blown dinner party but eating outdoors lends itself to easy al fresco dining. Instead, ask people to bring a side dish or dessert, and provide the salad, main course and wine. 

Traditionally a November the 5th party lends itself to getting the barbecue fired up and cooking sausages, burgers and baked potatoes in the embers and will appeal to kids and adults alike. For a sweet treat consider s'mores roasted on the barbecue or a scrumptious hot chocolate with marshmallows. For the adults, mulled wine can be an alternative delicious option.

It's fun to play games


On Halloween try the traditional game of apple bobbing, which appeals to both small kids and big kids alike. Get a big bowl, fill it with water and then throw in some apples. Then you need to hold your breath and duck for the apples, pulling them out with your teeth. The winner is the quickest to get all the apples out of the bowl.  

For a more adult party with grown-ups consider truth or dare, but be aware, the more alcohol that is involved the more embarrassment can be caused the next day! Trivia games or charades are fun for all age groups and are good if you want something family friendly. 

So here are some ideas on how to host a fabulous Autumn garden party. Let me know if you have any ideas.

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Sunday, 28 October 2018

Winter Wardrobe Essentials For Kids

Are you all sorted when it comes to your winter wardrobe? How about winter clothing for your children? If you aren’t quite prepared just yet, this handy guide will tell you exactly what you need for their winter wardrobe. Read on to find out more.

A warm coat


With so many fun activities taking place outside in the winter such as Bonfire Night and carol singing, a warm coat is of major importance. It will be an item of clothing worn day in, day out throughout the winter, to school and out of school, so you want to make sure that it is good quality and will last this winter and others as well.

Some cosy gloves

Whilst the weather has been a little bit strange recently, going from bitterly cold in the morning to blazing hot in the afternoon, it is always handy to make sure your child has a pair of cosy gloves should they need them. There is nothing worse than cold numb hands, is there?

Invest in cotton layers

Whilst you may be thinking all about the warm aspects of clothing, remember that layering clothing also brings warmth and layers are also an important part of anyone’s winter wardrobe. Some cotton layers, much like the ones available at GAP Kids, are perfect for the winter as they are good quality and soft on your child’s skin.

Pick up some waterproof boots

If anything is the most worn footwear in winter, it is boots - especially waterproof ones. These are perfect for all the different weathers winter has to throw at us, whether rain, sleet or snow; as they keep out the wetness but also have a fantastic grip to keep your kids upright in even the most precarious of weather conditions.

Hats and scarves are a must


Now your child probably won’t always keep their hats or scarves on - and that is fair enough, hats can become unbearably warm and scarves can often come down and get in the way - but it is better to have them than to not have them when you need them. Picking up a new hat and scarf for each of your kids is essential for their winter wardrobe.

Comfy sweaters for everyone

Nothing beats sitting on the sofa, chilling out under the blanket watching TV and snuggled up in your new favourite comfy sweater. Everyone has that one warm and cosy sweater that they tend to opt for during winter and your children will be the same. If they haven’t got one or are in need of a new one, make sure to buy them a new one in preparation for the upcoming season. A cosy sweater is a must!

Earmuffs

Finally, and perhaps the one that least people opt for, is earmuffs. Now I don’t know about you but my ears get really cold during the winter and sometimes hats, whilst keeping our head warm, don’t really get the job done when it comes to our ears. There are so many cute pairs of ear muffs out there nowadays - why not pick up some for your children just in case?


What is on your winter wardrobe essentials list when it comes to children? Have I missed anything?

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Friday, 26 October 2018

Christmas Decor Ideas

When it comes to decorating for Christmas, it can be hard to find inspiration sometimes. Just how should you decorate and what will people think? People’s styles can vary so dramatically and it is hard to find the right balance. Do you go the ‘whole hog’ and decorate every inch of your property or do you prefer to keep it simple and quick and easy to put up but also get down and put away? 

Here are some things to consider when you are getting your house ready for Christmas this festive season.

Consider the dinner table



One of the main places you will be at Christmas time is at the dinner table so it is important to make sure it is suitably festive. You can go all out or be simplistic in your decor - it is totally up to you. Add some greenery and/or some splashes of colour to make the decorations ‘pop’.

Choose some soft furnishings to complement your decor

You may be all sorted when it comes to the decorations around your home but have you considered your soft furnishings? Some festive themed soft furnishings such as Countryside Art printed cushions will surely add some cheer to your living room.

After the dinner table, the living room is somewhere you will be spending most of your time over the festive period so you want to be sure it is seasonally appropriate.

Find out what is on trend

You don’t need to follow a trend when it comes to Christmas decor but if you are that kind of person, then it is important to know what is fashionable. This rainbow trend seems to be ever so popular and experts think it will be big this year - is this something you’d consider doing?

Use presents as decor


If you are super organised, you will probably have some gifts already wrapped neatly, ready to go under the tree. Why not give them a double use and make them decor too? Perhaps at the edge of your entrance table or adorning both ends of a mantelpiece. They are sure to look great!

You don’t have to have a real tree

So many people feel they need to have a real tree but dread the mess that a real tree makes. This is a reminder - no one says that you absolutely must have a real tree - artificial ones are just as good. Yes, you won’t have the pine scent but you also won’t have all the mess you hate too!

Make a focal point

Whether it is your front door or porch with a wreath and some suitably festive decorations or an entrance table that everyone sees as they come into your house, you will want to make it suitably festive. Include some cute Christmas ornaments, perhaps some Christmas lights and maybe some of the prettiest Christmas cards you receive. It will look great.

Think about the garden



When people decorate their houses for Christmas, they often forget about their garden. Whether your garden is big or small, your style is all out or minimalistic, you will want to add a little sparkle and glamour to your garden. You may love to have Christmas lights out the front or perhaps you prefer some outside lights around the fencing. The choice is totally up to you but ensures your garden shows that you are fully immersed in the festive cheer.

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Thursday, 25 October 2018

How Can You Be Sure That Your Partner Is "The One"


A lot of people overthink things such as which ring to buy when going to a engagement rings UK store. What you really should be asking is whether you are ready to make a commitment. Before rushing to buy an engagement ring, you should weigh up every little detail about your relationship and be absolutely sure about your decision. Here’s how you can figure out whether your partner is marriage-worthy.

You Can Speak Your Mind

When you are with your partner, you should be able to say things without having to filter your words. Even if you are going to say something negative you need to be able to voice your darkest opinion to your partner. Of course, you will have disagreements but your partner should not react negatively to everything you have to say. You can learn open communication with your partner to make the relationship healthy.

Boundaries! What Boundaries? 

Comfort is very important for a lasting relationship. Your partner should make you feel accepted at your best and worst.  If your partner shames you for anything, then they are not the one for you.

They Bring Out The Best In You

Being in a relationship should be a positive experience. The world might make you feel that you are not good enough, but your partner should be able to pull you out of the rut and boost your confidence. Your partner should help you nurture and grow your personality instead of holding you back. A good relationship is one where you want to be a better person for your partner.

You Are Always In Touch

Everyone has a busy life in today’s world. However, this should never come in the way of your relationship. Your partner should be as willing as you to communicate with you through their day. Why not send them a quick text or phone call when you are on your lunch break to let them know what you are up to?

They Make The Mundane Fun


The daily grind of life can get very mundane. Meeting your partner should bring brightness to your life. It's important to have your own interests too but If you see that your partner is not interested in sharing activities with you, it might be a sign that they are not the one for you.

You Share The Same Interests

Opposites might attract, but it is essential to have shared interests as I said above.  If you both cannot enjoy doing the same things, then your relationship may not work out. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule but this is something to think about.

Fights Are Always Forgiven

All couples fight over various things. A fight should never leave a permanent scar on your relationship. Your partner should not hold a grudge against you after a fight. If your partner forgets and forgives conflicts then that is a great sign that they are a keeper. The saying 'never go to bed on an argument' is so true for a healthy relationship.

You Both Want The Same Destination for Your Relationship

You might have been with your partner for years, but your partner still may not be the one for you if you both want different things from your relationship. Your partner should have the same relationship vision as you. You can talk to your partner to see if you both are on the same page regarding the relationship.

Do not jump the gun to buy engagement rings UK jewellers sell. Take your time to judge whether your partner indeed is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with.

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How To Have A Spa Style Experience At Home

Everyone loves visiting the spa, right? But sometimes we just don’t have the available funds or the time to actually head there. What could be better as an alternative then but a spa-style experience at home with some champers and some chocolate truffles? Here are some tips on how you can achieve the perfect spa style experience in the comfort of your own.

Treat Yourself To Some Face Masks




Head to your local cosmetics store or pharmacy and pick up some face masks for your spa experience. There are plenty of different types to choose from so work out exactly what you want to achieve and choose the perfect mask for that. Whilst you may not be getting a facial, a face mask can leave your skin feeling plumped, rejuvenated and refreshed.

Pour Yourself Some Champagne

What would a spa day without some champagne - or at the very least, some prosecco or cava if you don’t want to stretch to a bottle of champers? Get the glasses ready, get relaxing and treat yourself to a glass of bubbly.

Indulge In Some Quality Chocolates


When it comes to a spa experience, you don’t want any old chocolate, you want something indulgent and decadent like chocolate truffles. Nothing beats popping that tasty little treat into your mouth whilst you are finally getting some time to relax.

Pop On Some Relaxing Music


Now you will know best what music makes you relax, so pop on those tunes for your spa-style experience. There has been a lot of research on the effect music has on you and soothing music can really relax you. Whale music is often played in spas due to the relaxing nature of it so you might want to consider giving that a try!

Don’t Forget All Parts Of Your Body


If you are giving yourself the ultimate spa experience at home, then you don’t want to forget about any aspect of your body. You may be choosing to use face masks and give yourself a manicure but don’t forget about your feet too. Treat yourself to a pedicure and you could even use a foot spa for the ultimate treat. We use our feet so much and they get put through so much on a daily basis that I’m sure you will truly appreciate being able to stop for a while and give them a rest and a treat.

Light some scented candles

Have you noticed how spas always smell incredible, especially the treatment rooms? You can recreate this yourself by lighting some scented candles. You know what you like so you can make the choice of which candles to light but to create the perfect spa ambience, opt for scents that you’d find there. Perfect scents for this include lavender, sandalwood and ylang ylang. Lavender in particular has been shown to aid relaxation.

Give yourself a massage

Well, a full body massage will be out of the question but you could give yourself a foot or hand massage. Or why not rope in your partner to give you a back massage?  It might not be quite the same as laying down on a massage table with a trained masseuse doing it but it’s better than nothing, right?

Have you ever had a spa-style experience at your home? What did you do?


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Wednesday, 24 October 2018

How To Run A Successful Small Business In 5 Easy Steps

Running your own small business can be a stressful thing but can also be extremely rewarding. I've run my own shop in the past with an e-commerce website as well as running my own full-time freelance writing business. During the years I have learnt many things about running a business. Here are some guidelines and advice from someone that has run a successful small business. 




1. Finances

There is a lot of business advice out there so be sure to take it.  A business plan can help you see what you need to do and how you are going to do it.

A basic spreadsheet with outgoings and incomings can help you budget and see where your money is being spent, this can also be used to file your tax return.  Don't forget you have to do this. Check out the UK Government advice on how to start a small business for more advice. There are certain rules but generally. if you earn more than a £1000 in a tax year you need to register as self-employed, but always check with the Tax Office for the most up-to-date information. 

When you set up a business you will need initial capital investment and then a buffer zone of finances. Don't underestimate how much it can take to set up a business and build in contingency money of at least 20% extra.

On a day to day basis, it's also important to keep an eye on cash flow. When I had a shop we bought a lot of stock in November for the Christmas period, so we spent a lot that month and didn't reap the rewards until the middle of December. 

2. Legalities

You must ensure you operate legally at all times and you will need to register your business as a limited company, sole trader or partnership.

You may need a licence and permits to play music, sell food or to trade in the street. There are rules to follow if you sell goods online, buy or sell goods abroad, and store or use personal information for example.

If you have bricks and mortar shop or business as opposed to running it from your home then legally things will be different too. It's important to have the correct insurances such as liability insurance as well to protect you from claims made against you if a member of the public sues your business.

3. Employees



If you employ staff then there are certain rules, regulations and legalities you need to take. so it's important to be up-to-date on what you need to do. I recommend checking out this useful guide on employing staff for the first time

After you have employed the right staff, it's important to train them properly. Have a written guide to rules and regulations, health and safety and the general ethos of the company, then go through it with them. Encourage them to ask questions and work with you to see how the business operates before you let them work alone.

Motivating your staff is important too. Incentives and bonuses for good work or achievable targets can be useful and of course, praise is a powerful motivator. If your business expands and you have a team of employees it can be harder to make everyone get on task.   Check out this guide on how to motivate employees with Thirsty Horses for more information.

4. Marketing

When you have a small business you often have to do your own marketing and PR. See if you can get to grips some simple marketing yourself. Consider putting adverts in local or national magazines and newspapers especially around specific times of the year. Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Christmas were busy times when I had a shop so we planned our adverts for the month prior to these busy times.   

It's worth getting to grips with social media as well. Set up social media accounts for your business and offer incentives for loyal customers. Send out regular social media updates on the latest offers, new stock and competitions. A personal but professional touch works well for a small business on social media. 

5. Outsourcing 



Be self-aware and know your strengths and weaknesses. If there are certain areas of business that you are not good at you can always outsource these skills.  

Haven't got time to set up a Facebook page? Outsource it. Find tax complicated? Employ an accountant. A good accountant can actually save you money so it's worth considering. You don't have to do everything yourself, so be sure you know your limitations and budget for help in your business plan. Running a small business is hard work, so try to outsource what you can if you don't have the expertise - you will be so glad you did. 

So this is how to run a successful small business in 5 easy steps. Have you ever had your own business? Do you have any tips?

For more information and advice check out the National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses. 

*Collaborative post
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Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Last Minute Luxury Holiday Ideas

I love a last minute holiday, don’t you? Sometimes we just need to get away and recharge our batteries, and often we think last minute holidays can be expensive. When you just want to get away, you don’t want to be splashing the cash as you haven’t had a chance to save, however, last minute holidays can be surprisingly affordable.

Here are some last minute luxury holiday ideas that you might enjoy.

Go Cruising



You may not think that you can get a good deal on a cruise last minute - but you certainly can! If cruises are your thing, it is worth checking out Bolsover, the UK’s number one cruise club. They find the best deals for you on the best dates for you - which is great when you just want to chill out but also want to get out of the country and cruise around some amazing sights.

You can live in the lap of luxury, taking in the ocean view whilst knowing you haven’t paid through the nose for your trip. With excellent food on board, facilities such as spa treatments and plenty of entertainment you won’t even need to leave the ship if you don’t want to! How great is that?

Live In Lodge Luxury



Lodges seem to the epitome of luxury, with all the space, and the comforts of home, as well as luxury touches such as hot tubs, you know you can relax in style. Most holiday parks now have their own section with lodges and there are various other independent companies who offer lodges for last minute stays so if you’re a homebody but still want a luxe experience, perhaps this is the option for you. If you look for a lodge in low season you can pick up some real bargains. We've stayed at Bluestone Wales in a lodge and in January it's super affordable.

Go Glamping



Perhaps your kids want to go camping last minute this weekend but you aren’t down for that idea? Why not compromise? Have a little bit of luxury and go glamping instead - your kids will be happy as they will still essentially get the camping experience and you don’t have to slum it in an overcrowded tent, unable to sleep. A search for "glamping last minute" on google will bring up a range of possibilities.

Pick A Flight



Not everyone will be up for this but if you are looking to get away and know your budget, why not head online and check out the flights going out of your local airport in the next few days.

If you don’t mind too much where you go, this can be a super fun experience. Pick a destination in the next few days which has seats available and check accommodation in that location. Some of the big airlines will allow you to put a package together on their site with a discount if you book accommodation and flights together. If you find some suitable luxe accommodation in that location, then why not book it all? This is great if you know you want to head on holiday but don’t exactly know where you want to go. You may actually get a great price on business class flights last minute, so if this is your dream that why not price up a luxury flight.

I love travelling but you already know that. Nothing beats a last minute trip away though because that trip is usually needed the most. Sometimes we just need a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

What are your favourite tips when it comes to last minute holidays? Have you ever done any of the above?

*Collaborative post
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Monday, 22 October 2018

Top Attractions In Dutchess County New York State

Dutchess County is an area of upstate New York State, known for its countryside, farm areas, parks, nature and outdoor sports but there is more to Dutchess County than just that. Recently we visited as part of a press trip with Dutchess County Tourism and were impressed with the natural beauty of the area and attractions. Here is my post on top attractions in Dutchess County, New York State. I hope you enjoy!

Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

For your aviation geeks, a trip to Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome is highly recommended. This non-profit organisation has a living history museum where you can see vintage aeroplanes from the Pioneer, Golden Age and WWI eras of aviation. 

We were lucky to visit on the weekend when they had a great airshow. Firstly there was a model aeroplane show then we were treated to displays by historic aeroplanes such as the 1909 Bleriot, the oldest flying plane in America.  If you want to go up in a Biplane you can do that too, but booking in advance is highly recommended.

Address: 9 Norton Rd, Red Hook, NY 12571
https://oldrhinebeck.org/ 


Taconic Distillery

Taconic Distillery is known for their award-winning handcrafted bourbon and rye whiskies made in small batches using grains grown in New York and natural spring water from their farm. Sold in 12 states and with awards such as Best Bourbon in 2014 by MAXIM magazine you know you are in for a real treat when you taste it.

We indulged in a tasting of their class act bourbons. A tasting costs 15 dollars and included a 115 proof bourbon. Wow is all I have to say, that stuff was strong but flavourful too! A stop off for those that love their hard liquor, as they say in the US. It was very relaxing, sitting in a rocking chair looking out over the countryside and sipping bourbon.

Address: 179 Bowen Rd, Stanfordville, NY 12581
https://www.taconicdistillery.com/ 


Staatsburgh State Historic Home



Staatsburg State Historic Home was the elegant country home of Ogden Mills and his wife Ruth Livingston Mills.  This mansion was built during the Gilded Age, an era of the transformation in the economy, technology, government, and social customs of America.


Our tour by Maria Reynolds the curator was incredibly interesting. This was one of 5 houses of the Mills family, their Autumn home, which they visited in the fall every year.  With 75 rooms all lavishly decorated in the French style, the beauty and decor were intricately detailed with no expense spared.  

To a UK visitor, this historic home is perhaps not widely known but I highly recommend a visit. To see and hear about the life 'below stairs' of the maids and butlers too was fascinating.  They even do special Downton Abbey themed tours.

Address: 75 Mills Mansion 1 Rd, Staatsburg, NY 12580
https://parks.ny.gov/historic-sites/25/details.aspx 

Millbrook Vineyards and Winery 


Millbrook Winery has been voted “Best Winery” in the Hudson Valley for the last 20 consecutive years, so you know you are getting a great experience when you visit. The winery bottles over 188,000 bottles a year and is over 36 acres in size with beautiful vineyards all around.


We enjoyed a tasting of some of their award-winning wines including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Tocai Friulano and Riesling, followed by a tour of the vineyard and winery by Jake our tour guide and wine expert. 

The tasting and tour cost only 15 dollars which we felt was good value for money and lets you try some lovely wines too. Jake was very informative and spoke about the details of how the grapes are grown, the trellis system for the vines and more.

Address: 26 Wing Rd, Millbrook, NY 12545
http://www.millbrookwine.com/ 

Clinton Vineyards 

Clinton Vineyards is a small boutique winery inspired by the beautiful wineries and vineyards in France. Over the last four decades, they have created a line of Estate-Bottled wines that have earned awards Internationally. 


We met the owner of the vineyard Phyllis Rich Feder, a large than life character with a real passion for her wines. The tasting, in a historic 19th-century Dutch barn, allowed us to try a range of their wines including an amazing sparking Jubilee Champenoise, a not too dry wine in the Champagne style, a medium Seyval Blanc with pear and floral notes and a delicious Cassis blackcurrant wine, perfect for making Kir Royal. 

Tastings start at 12 dollars which is a bargain for what you can try. 

Address: 450 Schultzville Rd, Clinton Corners, NY 12514
https://clintonvineyards.com/ 

Sprout Creek Farm 


Sprout Creek Farm is a 200-acre working farm that has an education at its heart. This working farm is home to cows, goats, chicken, pigs and more all roaming free. From the farm, they use the milk produced by the cows and goats to make cheese which they sell in their farm shop.


We were shown around by Katie who works with school children, educating them about farming and agriculture.  This educational centre offers day, weekend, and summer programs that help connect young people to the land, the seasons, and the plants and animals. We tried some of the cheese, from goats cheese to soft brie-style cheese to hard cheese and thought everything was delicious. 

Address: 34 Lauer Rd, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
https://sproutcreekfarm.org/ 

How to get there

Dutchess County is approximately 2 hours from New York City by car.




If you are driving from New York allow 2-3 hours to get to your first stop, depending on your location in New York City and the traffic. Hiring a car is the easiest way to tour the area as the area is rural and public transport is limited.

Where to stay

The Red Hook Inn



The Red Hook Country Inn is run by Pat and her Egyptian husband and chef Nabil. It is a Bed and Breakfast full of character and personality. 



Our room decorated in an English country style with floral furnishings had an ensuite bathroom with bath and shower, complimentary toiletries, hairdryer and everything else as expected, however, the shining star was a bed big enough and comfortable enough for the best night sleep ever. It reminded me of the song "Grandma's Feather Bed". 

Nabil's likes to make a speciality every day for breakfast and we were treated to an Egyptian dish of baked eggs with vegetables called Shakshuka which was excellent. Situated in the pretty little town of Red Hook, its a great base for a stay exploring the area. 

The Olde Rhinebeck Inn




The Olde Rhinebeck Inn is a historic American farmhouse with the emphasis on quality and luxury. Cindy and Jonna that run the farmhouse couldn't have been more welcoming. The decor was beautiful, with antiques and high-quality furnishings and the photos really don't do the inn any justice. It has an ambiance that oozes class and old-world charm.


Welcoming touches such as homemade biscuits, a fridge full of soft drinks, fresh milk for tea and coffee at any time and a gourmet breakfast of avocado toast, salmon frittata, and the best Bircher muesli ever, meant that our stay was a real treat.  Situated just outside Rhinebeck in a rural location, this beautiful historic inn is an exceptional place to stay when exploring the area. I just wanted to stay longer!

Where to eat

Flatiron, Red Hook


We ate at Flatiron in Red Hook. This steakhouse was buzzing with atmosphere and I had a tremendously tender steak. Serving American bistro fare and supporting local farms they have a full-service bar too. A great place especially if you are big meat eaters although we saw a couple of vegetarian options as well as seafood and fish on the menu. 



Mr W had the ragu and the shaved brussel sprout salad which I tried and which we both thought was fantastic.

Hyde Park Brewing Company



The Hyde Park Brewing Company is a brewpub serving handcrafted beer since 1996. With a menu featuring all natural antibiotic and hormone free beef and pork from local farms, we really enjoyed our meal here. Mr W had the spinach and arugula salad which was huge and satisfying. Sweetness was added with the cranberries and crunch with the walnuts, to make it a healthy but filling meal.



I had the seared tuna which was excellent - a big portion of fresh tuna served with fragrant rice and asparagus. Mr W didn't try the beer as he was driving but it's definitely the place to go to try all the craft beers and lagers in the area.

So this is my guide to the top attractions in Dutchess County New York State. In three days we really couldn't do this area any justice so I would recommend taking your time and slowly savouring the delights of this area of New York State.

Check out this video my husband and I made for our Fly Drive Explore YouTube channel. 

 

To find out more about the attractions, places to stay and eating and drinking establishments in the area check out the Dutchess Tourism website. They have ideas for what to do for a 5 day, 3 day or 1-day itinerary and you can even build your own guide.  Before we went I didn't know much about the area, but now I am so glad I visited. If you are visiting New York, why not take a trip and discover what Dutchess County has to offer. You won't be disappointed. 

I hope you enjoyed my post, what attractions appeal to you?

*We were guests of Dutchess Tourism
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