Top Tips For Going On Your First Safari

We all need something to look forward to and although at the moment we can't travel, some normality will return in the future, so today I have a guest post on the subject of travel from the lovely Micaela. Micaela combines her love for all things digital and all things creative with a career in digital marketing alongside running her UK lifestyle blog Stylish London Living. Micaela has been blogging since 2012 and loves sharing new experiences, products and her passions with her readers.

Last year my sister and I took a holiday that we’d been meaning to take for a long time; a Safari. I love animals and the idea of seeing lions, hippos, zebra etc up close in the extraordinary African reserves was very exciting. 



In all the excitement, however, I didn’t really take the time to read up on what to expect from a Safari and I admit, wasn’t really prepared! Today I want to tell you a little about my experience and some top tips in order to make sure that when you go on Safari you will be more prepared than I was!

We booked ourselves onto the Cheetah Safari from Somak Holidays. We chose this itinerary based on the accommodation ratings, value for money and of course, the areas for the best wildlife spotting opportunities. The Cheetah Safari was made up of 7 nights exploring across Kenya, starting at Nairobi airport and travelling across the country exploring some world famous reserves. We stayed in several places:

We started with 1 night at the Aberdare Country Club, then moved onto 2 nights in the Ashnil Samburu Camp were we really felt as if we were among the wildlife at Ashnil Samburu with the monkeys running around the camp and elephants coming right up to the fence which was amazing. We loved being able to look out over the waterhole at the Serena Mountain Lodge during our 1 night stay before moving onto 1 night at the luxury accommodation at Lake Naivasha Sopa Lodge and finally 2 nights Ashnil Mara Camp in the Masai Mara which was the perfect last stop on the Safari – we saw lots of amazing animals here and loved the friendly and relaxing atmosphere which is just what you need after a long day of game driving.



When it comes to highlights from our trip, we had so many great experiences. Our main reason for going was of course to see the awe-inspiring wildlife and we were blown away, especially the elephants at Ashnil Samburu and seeing a Cheetah and her three cubs up close on the Masai Mara.

Another aspect that we hadn’t considered before going on our Safari was the rugged terrain of Kenya! Although some of the roads were relatively smoothe, a large number are nothing more than bumpy dirt tracks with ditches and potholes, or only half made so we frequently found ourselves thrown about in our seats, despite being in a large 4x4 Land Cruiser! We may have had the odd bump and bruise but the experience really wouldn’t have been the same without it!

Lastly, we loved the whole atmosphere of the trip, our driver and everyone at the Camps was so friendly and eager to make our stay comfortable – not forgetting our Safari companions, there were 6 of us in our car, who made the perfect Safari family.

Now, here are some top tips for preparing for your first Safari.


Our first mistake was to pack our usual sized suitcases - just because you are allowed 30 odd kg doesn’t mean you have to take that much with you. We quickly realised that having a big case was going to be a bit of a trial, especially because we had to fix 6 visitors and a driver’s worth of luggage into our cars along with us! Take a smaller case. Don’t overpack. The camps all offer laundry services and keep in mind most of your time will be spent in your car either in the reserves or travelling between them so you won’t need serious outdoor footwear which is heavy and space hungry.

As I mentioned, most of your time will be spent in your vehicle, especially when driving between reserves which can be 8 hours apart! I recommend packing some sort of entertainment to keep you from getting bored. I downloaded a few audiobooks which kept me going.

Accept the fact that you are going to be bitten by all manner of insects and come prepared – think repellents and bite creams, I suggest long pyjamas which you can tuck into bed socks to avoid getting bitten at night, a onesie might be the best option! Many of the camps are made up of glamping style tents so no matter what you do, bugs are probably going to get in. Don’t forget to organise anti-malaria pills and other vaccinations before travelling.

Seeing as I mentioned the tents, it’s worth considering who your Safari buddy is. Luckily, I went with my sister who I am pretty close to, so the limited privacy didn’t bother us too much. Take note - the shower and bathroom facilities are often just cubbies inside the tent with glass doors and no ceilings! 




Another thing you will have to accept is that you will probably have a funny tummy at some point on the trip – I am vegan and only drank bottled water but still had a dodgy tummy at the end of our trip. Stock up with anti-diarrhoea tablets and remember to keep yourself hydrated. Make your own rehydration drink with bottled water, a little salt and a little sugar.

On a Safari it’s all about the animals and shooting amazing photos to take home and make your friends jealous! Invest in a telephoto lens for your camera to avoid disappointing photographs. Although some animals do come really close to the vehicle some, such as leopards, you may only see from far away and up high in trees. I only bought my telephoto lens the day before we left for Safari and I am so glad I did. I got some fantastic photographs of the wildlife that I will treasure forever. Here are a couple of my favourites.






How To Get Your Travel Fix When You Can't Travel

With everything that is happening in the world at the moment, non-essential travel is impossible. This doesn't mean we can't think about travel or plan travel for the future. After all, it's the perfect way to have some much-needed escapism from the worries of the world.

So here are some ways you can get your travel fix when you can't travel. Enjoy!

Plan a fantasy trip




When we can't travel why not plan a fantasy trip? There are numerous online sites and offl
ine guide books to help you, such as Tripadvisor, Trivago, and Groupon for deals, and Lonely Planet and DK make some great guide books. Even if you don't want to travel abroad, planning a staycation is a great idea as we have so many beautiful and interesting places in the UK. Hopefully, your plans will become a reality. We are planning to do a couple of days trips in the future and perhaps combine more than one destination, and as there are trains going to Chichester via Brighton which means we can see both places on a South of England trip. Of course, as a blogger, I must say there are some great travel bloggers and vloggers out there too for travel inspiration.  Which brings me onto my next point...

Watch your favourite channels

Spend a night watching your favourite TV travel shows and your favourite travel vloggers on YouTube. I know my life is better when I watch Jane Mcdonald's cruising, even if I've never been on a cruising holiday, or (don't judge) Michael Portillos Railway Journeys. Also, we love watching our favourite US vloggers for escapism too like Tim Tracker (Disney and Orlando), Here Be Barr ( New York), or Matt Bridger (Las Vegas). Of course, don't forget the channel my husband creates for our travels - Fly Drive Explore! We love documenting flight reviews and travel in the UK, Europe and the USA.

Learn a language



Learning a language is the perfect way to spend some time when you are not travelling. There are numerous companies that you can do this with, many online like Duolingo which is currently free to do and Babbel. In next to no time you will be ordering your meal in the local language and conversing with fluently when asking for directions.

Make a photo book

Many of us take a huge number of photos these days on our smartphone but often don't do anything with them. If you have a myriad of photos on your phone or camera, why not create a photo book online and get them printed out. I can recommend Photobook and also Artsy
Couture. 

Have a cocktail night



So you can't get to the perfect white sand beach bar in the Caribbean or that cool little spot in Italy overlooking the lake, so have a cocktail night instead and bring the holiday vibes to you. Mix up some white rum, pineapple juice and cream of coconut for a delicious pina colada or chill some prosecco and mix with orange juice for an authentic mimosa or Aperol, prosecco and a splash of soda water for an Italian inspired Aperol spritz. Check out some summer-inspired whiskey cocktails here.

Recreate a dish from your travels

Want to recreate the amazing gumbo you had in New Orleans or the Philly cheesesteak from your trip to Philadelphia, or what about the salmon teriyaki from Japan? Then recreate a dis
h from your travels to bring back that holiday feeling. Check out Pinterest for recipe inspiration or go old school and order a cookery book from your local book shop or Amazon. 

Create a bucket list



For the ultimate fantasy holiday list, create a bucket list and fill it with the ultimate places you would love to go before you die. I've been lucky and travelled to a number of places around the world but Japan is one of the places at the top of my bucket list that I have never been to.  I would also love to cruise on the Norweigan Fjords before I die. Here are some luxury bucket list ideas. 

So here is how to get your travel fix when you can't travel. Let me know, do you have any ideas? 

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3 Useful Tips for Saving Money at Home and Everyday

Many of us are all too comfortable with our routines, from day-to-day activities to the amount of money being taken from our bank accounts each month. We’ve all seen the adverts telling us that we can get the cheapest deals if we sign-up to a particular service, but many of us just bat these to the side for the sake of convenience. 

Companies are constantly changing their prices, rates, and offers to appear more competitive to new customers, but those with existing loyalties can capitalise on these shifts. Of course, the inconvenience of changing aspects such as bills and shopping is what puts most people off, but now, it’s easier than ever to make a small change which could save you a lot of money.

Here’re some top tips for how you can save money at home and every day through very simple little manoeuvres.

You’d be surprised how much power you have

The state of home phone and broadband has changed significantly, even just over the last couple of years. The rise of mobile phones, mobile internet, streaming platforms, and video gaming has significantly altered how suppliers approach the market. As you might assume, many landlines are becoming a thing of the past, with mobile phones being the main contributor to landline usage falling by 50 per cent between 2012 and 2017. As such, those who want to a new landline brought in or have an existing landline can haggle down the price with relative ease.

A lot of home phone deals are tied to broadband bills these days, to keep the phone offering relevant. Here, due to the great deal of competition in the sector and many services actively improving their offering, it’s possible to negotiate a better price. Simply by calling your supplier, you can ask for a better price on your plan or a plan that better suits your usage – both of which will save you money. Potentially, for more savings, you could just do away with your home phone altogether.

Cutting your biggest bill

Any homeowner’s most significant bills are bound to be their mortgage. Regardless of how well you initially negotiated the fees or the quality of the rate that you were offered, mortgages become more expensive at the end of their initial terms. This is why people are coming around to the idea of remortgaging periodically throughout the duration of their loan.

However, most people are put off by this prospect, with mortgages being hard and time-consuming to land in the first place, making remortgaging appear to be an arduous task. This used to be the case, but now that professional remortgage comparison brokers like Trussle have set-up shop online to help you compare mortgages, finding a more favourable deal when it’s time for you to remortgage to avoid hefty increases in payments is very easy.

Make the most of supermarkets wanting loyalty


While the location of your home is usually the factor which dictates the supermarket that you use for all of your grocery shopping, many of us have a choice between several stores. We all have our preferred shop, but by taking a look at loyalty programmes put in place, perhaps you’ll find that going elsewhere is better for you in the long run. All stores offer something a bit different, from the myWaitrose rewards to the Sainsbury’s Nectar card, so be sure to check them out to see if you can save money or reap more rewards by shopping in a different store.

Consider haggling with your service provider, getting a broker to conduct your remortgage, and seeing if any loyalty cards can bring your money-saving rewards down the line.


Diamond Alternatives That Won’t Break the Bank

Getting to own a diamond piece of jewellery is something special many women attain to, after all, they say diamonds are a girl's best friends. Diamonds have a rarity, beauty and brilliance that is almost unmatched in the gemstone world. 

However, diamonds can be expensive and out of the reach of many people. Did you know that there are inexpensive diamond alternatives available though? Check out sites such as the online jewellery store in Melbourne for stunning diamond jewellery and gemstone alternatives. This is an ad.

If you are looking for a pocket-friendly diamond alternative, here are fantastic colourless alternatives to diamonds worth considering.

Moissanite 



Here's one among of many alternatives you could consider having. It offers an exceptional crystal-clear brilliance that's a great alternative to a diamond. It is its own unique gemstone that reflects light very well.

With this diamond substitute, you get assured of never losing its optical features over time. It's durable and has a fire and brilliance that is unbeaten, however, it isn't as cheap as some alternatives.


Cubic Zirconia 

The cubic zirconia or CZ is another widespread diamond imitation on the market. It's a popular alternative as the gem portrays almost similar properties to mined diamonds.

The CZ is a laboratory-grown stone that depicts brilliance as well as a colourless attribute. However, you need to be aware of the cloud effect that may appear over a given period. Such a diamond alternative will offer you great value as it mimics the appearance of a natural diamond and you can a CZ piece extremely cheaply. It's a great alternative if you want a large diamond looking ring at pocket money prices.


Colourless zircon 



Here's a beautiful alternative to diamond that you can have that is affordable and has impressive features. The colourless zircon makes the perfect centre stone for any ring as it has high refraction, sparkling in the light and a well-cut zircon stone can rival a diamond in look


It also can have flashes of colour called fire which makes it a little different to other diamond alternatives. 

White topaz

White topaz is a colourless form of topaz, a silicate mineral and is a naturally occurring gemstone. It can often be mistaken for diamond due to his lack of colour and its lustre. Whilst topaz does come in a range of colours, but in it's the purest form it is actually colourless which makes it a great diamond alternative.

White topaz is durable and is a great option if you want a real naturally occurring gemstone substitute to diamond.

Opal



Opals are a unique natural substance. Defined as non-crystallised minerals made by silicon dioxide combined with water, the best thing about opals is their brilliance and range of colours. They can be white or translucent and this makes them a good alternative to a diamond.

Opals have a couple of drawbacks. They are porous substances so if you have an item of opal jewellery, do not use perfume or hairspray around them, as they will lose their lustre. They also aren't as hard as other diamond alternatives so are best used in earrings and necklaces, not in rings that are worn every day.

As you can see there are several diamond alternatives that won't break the bank. What do you think of my ideas?

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Moving House? Here Are 5 Things To Look Out For In Your New Home


If you’re thinking of moving house in the near future, it’s important to know what to look out for in the new property. Ensuring that you find the best home for you and your family, it’s worth creating a checklist that you tick off every time you go on a house viewing. This will prove to be very beneficial when it comes to the time when you have to compare and contrast different houses. This is an ad.

Of course, there are certain red flags that you must take note of from the start – such as a bad location or a drastic price drop, but when you get these in check, you can look for the following aspects within a property.


The floorplan

When looking at houses, pay attention to their size and the floor plan. You want the house to be as practical as possible for you and your family – so make sure that you know how many bedrooms you require, whether your furniture will fit in seamlessly and how the space will complement your lifestyle.

When looking at houses, you need to think long term. So even if it suits you now, you’ll need to think of ways that your life could change and how your new home will accommodate these adjustments – i.e. having a child/more children.


How close it is to amenities

This is a key factor which often shapes many buyers’ final decision. When on the hunt for a new home, take a look at the location that it’s in. Is it situated close to the shops? Or maybe it’s a short walk from a pub and restaurant?  If you don't have a car is it on a regular public transport route? How are the schools in the area? This last point is extremely important to parents or young couples planning a family.

Think about what you want to have nearby and focus your attention on finding a property near that. There’s nothing worse than settling for a house in a location that’s not convenient for you.

The curb appeal 

This might seem like an obvious one to include, but it’s still worth a mention. When looking at properties, pay attention to what the exterior is like. Your style and preferences will shape the type of house that you want.

For example, if you prefer new builds, you’ll look for a more contemporary home. Whereas if you love historic buildings, maybe a Tudor-style home will be more fitting. 

The kitchen

This is one of the first things that homebuyers look for – a good kitchen. It’s no secret that kitchens can be pricey to renovate and to have fitted. So by looking for a house with a new kitchen (or at least one that’s done to a good standard), you’ll save some money in the long term.

Of course, this isn’t always possible. So if you’ve found your dream house but it doesn’t have a kitchen that’s exactly in your style, then you could always have a new one added over time. There are plenty of kitchens to choose from, including stylish german kitchens online, vintage styles and sleek futuristic-looking kitchens.

The bathroom

Another key room that you should pay attention to is the bathroom. Another room that could cost you a lot to renovate, it’s a good idea to find a house with a bathroom that’s done to a high quality. When looking at the bathroom, see what condition the tiles (if there are any) are in, along with whether the room has any mould. A new bathroom could cost a lot to install so think about that when you are looking for a home.

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Best Dishwashers 2020 - Your Guide To The Latest Technology

Arguably the hardest working home appliance in your house, a dishwasher, is among the best investments a homeowner can make. Not only does it save you the stress and time of washing your dishes, but it can also help you conserve water and energy with eco-settings, possibly reducing your overall utility bill.



Currently, there are multiple options available. This is primarily since these appliances keep evolving, continually bringing new advanced functions and better quality each time. This flurry of options and modifications, however, makes it quite challenging for many buyers to sift through and land the ideal choice. So, how then do you choose the best dishwasher 2020 from an assortment of brands and models? This is a collaborative post.

While a lot of effort and research is necessary to find the perfect dishwasher, this guide has made it easier for you by carefully selecting the best dishwashers in 2020. So let's check out what this guide says.

1. Best Overall: Bosch 500 Dishwasher SHPM65Z55N

From the 44dB impeccably quiet level to its stainless steel tub, this Bosch appliance is designed to blend in your kitchen perfectly. The 500 series Bosch dishwasher features an Auto Air Dry door that opens ajar, allowing moisture out once the cycle is complete. What's more, fantastic features like FlexSpace tine and EasyGlide racks means you can well customize the appliance to your delight. And with three racks, it offers ample space.

As for washing power, it features 5 wash cycles and exclusive options for optimal flexibility. Also, it includes Speed60 cycles and Sensor Wash, in addition to the popular pocket handle which will ideally complement your kitchen appeal.

Finally, it is available in multiple body styles and colour options.

2. Best Budget Dishwasher: Whirlpool WDT710PAHZ

This is by far the best budget dishwasher in 2020 according to this guide. Besides the slick, posh look courtesy of its hidden controls, Whirlpool is quite a popular pick across the market. This is primarily since it offers multiple great features at an affordable price tag set at slightly below £400.

What's more, it includes five options to suit all types of soiling and five wash cycles, together with 1-hour and sensor wash features to give you your desired wash type.

Whirlpool also includes a height-adjustable (upper) rack for enhanced flexibility plus a combined dry system for optimal drying.

Finally, although it is not ultra-quiet, its distinct 51 dB noise level is, however, acceptable in most houses.

3. Best Value: Bosch 300 Dishwasher SHEM63W55N

Finally, the Bosch 300 dishwasher, in their opinion is the best value dishwasher of 2020. Besides boasting incredibly low 44 dB noise levels, it is further complemented by a full stainless steel and five wash cycles.

This dishwasher machine features a stainless steel - tub to boost soundproofing and ensure effective drying, as well as a relatively high durability rating. With the five wash cycles feature and four options, it is powerful enough to handle all soiling types.

Bosch 300 Series boasts a unique feature called an 'Auto Wash' that offers the Speed60 One-Hour wash cycle and a soil sensor to ensure you the desired result in a short period. Moreover, it has a 3rd rack that affords you optimal flexibility in space allocation and loading, not to mention a distinct RackMatic feature to enable you to well adjust the middle rack’s height.

Final Verdict

Dishwashers are personal appliances, hence the need to choose the one that suits all your individual needs. With these three top dishwashers, you can enjoy an exclusive blend of modern design and quality purposed to ideally appeal to your unique and varied set of personal preferences.

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Worried About Home Schooling? Check Out These Ideas And Resources

In this current climate, we have seen so many changes. From being encouraged to socially distance or self isolate depending on your situation to eateries closing and schools being pretty much closed except for key workers children. It is safe to say things have changed dramatically in just a few days. Homeschooling is one of these things. This is an ad.

Schools in the UK closed their doors on Friday to the majority of their students and we find ourselves stuck in a situation that we never saw coming - parents having to homeschool their children. With this happening, I wanted to share with you some great resources for homeschooling as we all try to find our feet. The Government also have a really helpful guide to educating your child at home.

Set up a space for learning


If you don't normally homeschool your children and have been forced to, due to what's happening in the world, then you will have to adapt to these changes. One of the first things you can do is set up a space for learning. It can be tempting to let your child do their work on the sofa or in their bedroom but a specific learning space is definitely the way to go - a desk or a dining table would probably be the best option. Ensure they have everything they need for their work and no distractions in clear sight.

Create a schedule

If your child would normally be in school, the child's school should offer you guidance. I have seen so many people who say they are going to stick rigidly to the schedules given to them by the school whereas others say they are going to play it by ear. I would suggest creating a schedule where education is a priority but also plan in break times. Children need a clear structure and this will help you as a parent too.


Online sites are your friend

There are many online sites to help your child with their studies such as BBC Bitesize which links into the National Curriculum and BBC Teach which has free video resources, whilst Duolingo offers free language lessons for kids. If you have younger kids the Artful Parent has loads of creative projects, while the National Literacy Trust has great resources for kids, teachers and parents. Many museums have online virtual tours too, so you can check out the wonderful artefacts from the British Museum and Musée d’Orsay, Paris and others, from the comfort of your home.

Utilise Facebook groups




There were already plenty of Facebook groups dedicated to home education but many more have been created in the past few days by people in the same boat. These are packed full of ideas for creative things to do and how we can encourage learning from home without making it boring. We have to remember that this is just as strange for our children, if not more so, and we need to help them as much as we can. These groups can offer great support to parents too.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

We have all been thrown in the deep end with this so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are a little overwhelmed. Private tutors are a godsend if there is a particular topic you are struggling with and the best thing is they can teach face to face or online. In the current situation we are in, being able to access a tutor online is very helpful indeed. Tutor House has a number of experienced and passionate tutors who are willing to help your child and the company only accepts the top 20% of applicants for jobs so you really know the tutor you have is up to the job.

Be creative

Yes...the children will have to do their Maths, English and other topics from home, but why not consider being a little creative? We can’t really get out and about at the moment but why not explore your garden and teach them more about insects? Why not work on their arts and crafts skills by getting them to paint a particular picture? Sometimes being creative is exactly what your child needs to light that spark to get learning again.

Are you having to educate your child at home at the moment? Do you have any top tips?


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Ways To Make And Save Money At Home

It is said that, especially in the current climate, plenty of people are looking for ways to both save money in the house and to make money from home. People are worried about their income and their savings and are wanting to know what they can do to ease that pressure. This is an advertorial.

I wanted to share with you today my top tips for saving money and making money at home. Do you have any tips you’d like to share?

Save Money: Meal Plan



Planning your meals will save you plenty of money in the long run. If you know exactly what meals you will be making, you only need to buy the ingredients for those meals. Shop online rather than in store if you can to avoid temptation and stick to the meal plan to keep your food budget down.

Make Money: Utilise Your Skills

Do you have a particular skill you could put to good use? If so, why not utilise it to make you some money? I have friends who love crafting - they could easily sell their creations. I’ve got friends who are qualified teachers - they could easily set up a tutoring business. If you do have a skill that you can monetise, why wouldn’t you?

Save Money: Set A Budget


A budget is essential if you want to save money. By setting a budget, you can work out what your essential and non-essential spending is. If you cut out the non-essential spending, then you’ll hopefully have some money that you can put away in savings instead. You just need to sit down and work out what spending is essential to you and which is non-essential. Unfortunately at the moment, most of us will be cutting back on eating out so why not utilise that money elsewhere.

Make Money: Try A Work From Home Job

It may seem like these are few and far between but there are actually plenty of jobs that you can do from home. Some people I know are virtual assistants, others work for insurance companies as call agents in their own dedicated home office, I have even worked online tutoring myself.  If you don’t want to leave the home, why wouldn’t you see if there was a work from home job that would work for you?

Save Money: Try Sign Up Offers


Have you ever considered a site like sign up offers? These can easily be completed from home. Get amazing discounts or bonuses from certain websites - especially handy when you need to get something from that particular website. You can find massive discounts or products and even some free stuff too! Definitely worth checking it out if you are going to be spending on those websites anyway.

Make Money: Do Online Surveys

Truth be told, these aren’t going to get you the big bucks but if you are happy with a few quid extra in your bank account or pocket each month and you have some time to kill, online surveys might just be the thing for you. Some of them can be very interesting and every now and again you might get the chance to test some products for the survey companies as well. Some of the most well known are Swagbucks and Pinecone Research.

Save Money: Switch Things Off


If you aren’t using certain items around the home, switch them off. Turn off the switches and take the plugs out of any electrical items that aren’t currently in use, switch the heating off and take it off a timer, only putting it on when you absolutely need to. Put on a jumper if you are that cold! It will save you mere pennies to begin with but those pennies soon begin to build up into pounds.

Make Money: Download Some Apps

There are thousands upon thousands of apps out there but did you know there are ones you can make money from? As well as plenty of online survey sites having their own apps, there are also plenty of companies who will actually pay you for installing their apps and actually continue to pay you for the time you have their app installed on your phone. Many of these track certain data and use it to build an understanding of what people do online or buy online. It isn’t for everyone but can definitely add a few pounds into your savings each month.

Save Money: Get Meters Installed


Every house will soon have a smart meter and this has been quite helpful in showing those who already have one exactly how much energy they are using. You might also consider getting a water meter too, thus paying for the amount of water you use rather than an estimated amount. My mum has recently had a water meter installed and she is paying half of what she used to, so if you are on your own it's definitely worth enquiring. It will also encourage you to turn off those dripping taps.

Make Money: Affiliate Marketing

This isn’t for everyone but many people who do it find it very lucrative. Do you have a website or a social media channel with a decent and engaged audience? Then affiliate marketing may just work for you. Promote and advertise them on your channel and earn! Some affiliate channels are pay per view so you get paid every time someone even sees the ad, others are pay per click where you only get paid if they actually click on it. It is worth knowing the difference.  Awin is one such example of an affiliate company I have used.

Save Money: Buy Own Brand Food Items


I know we all have our favourite brands but if you aren’t fussed about brand names, why not buy the cheaper own-brand food items from the supermarket rather than the big names for more money? 
They usually taste just as good but cost a lot less.  There is even branded fruit and veg - guess what, you don't need it! In fact, why not support your local grocers or market and buy your food there as it can be surprisingly cheap.

Make Money: Sell Your Old Stuff

It is an oldie but a goodie - and one people often forget about, surprisingly. Sell your old stuff - there is no point having stuff you don’t want cluttering up the place so why not earn money from it? Pop it on eBay or Facebook selling groups and hopefully watch your bank balance grow.

These are my top tips for saving money in the home and making money from home if you are stuck there due to childcare or another situation. Have you ever given any of these a go before? What worked for you and what didn’t?

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10 Easy Small Business Ideas For Mums

Looking for some small business ideas? Then you’ve come to the right place. As mums, we often want to get back into the workplace but find it difficult due to the cost of childcare. With these small business ideas, hopefully, you’ll find something that suits you such as buying wholesale kids clothing and reselling it. This is an advertorial.

W
hich small business ideas sounds best for you?

Mobile hair and/or beauty


Are you qualified in hairdressing or beauty procedures but haven’t worked in a salon for a while? Why not consider doing it from home or in clients homes as a mobile hairdresser or beauty therapist? This way you can work around your other commitments while still having the opportunity to earn money.

Gardener

Granted this isn’t always an all year round job due to the weather but a gardener can set their own hours and be very flexible. It can help you to get outside and feel good about yourself too! It's the perfect job to do part-time around the kids.

Selling Kids Clothing

You can buy wholesale or you can dropship but selling kids clothing will always be a good business idea as people love buying their children's clothes from small businesses. The opportunity to have something a little more unique than the mass-produced shop stuff will always be popular with buyers.

Tutor

Are you well versed in a particular subject? Why not use that to your advantage and tutor those who are struggling in that subject? Sometimes all a person needs is a little support and a tutor is a perfect person for this. You can even teach online in the comfort of your own home, all you need is a headset and a laptop.

Pet sitter or walker


Something that is great if you love animals is a pet sitting or pet walking job. People who work long hours may need you to walk their dog when they can’t and those who have pets but need to travel may require someone to come in and check on their pets.  You can be very flexible with this business which is perfect for many people. You can even travel the world and have complimentary accommodation house sitting as well as pet sitting.

Freelance writer

This is one I personally do and it can be very lucrative if you get the right clients. If you have a solid grasp of the written word then you may want to consider giving this a go. Qualifications aren't essential either, just the ability to write accurately. You can even use online spelling and grammar software to help you such as Grammarly.

Cleaner

Another great job for setting your own hours is cleaning - you can easily build up a solid client base, especially if you live in a small village where you can have a monopoly on clients. It may not be the best job for you if you don’t like cleaning but if you adore it, why not make some money from it?

Event planner


Are you someone who loves to plan birthday parties and celebrations? Why not utilise your skills and turn it into a career? Start small by planning events for friends and families then get the word out there and expand your business. Good organisation skills are essential, and most mums have that!

Virtual assistant

I have dabbled in this work myself in the past and have hired my own. There is such a market for virtual assistance out there - you don’t even have to leave your home. Virtual assistants may do a variety of tasks such as social media scheduling, image creating and editing, content promotion and much more. If you feel that you have the skills for this, why not give it a go?

Rent out your property

Something you could consider is renting out your property whether that is letting people use your driveway, letting someone rent a room from you or letting people use your home as an Airbnb when you are going away. It may not be the greatest income but it will definitely boost your bank account.

Do you run a small business? What do you do?

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The Benefits Of Solid Wood Flooring

If you are looking to replace the flooring in your home, then you may be unsure of all the options available, as there are many to choose from. I suggest that one type of flooring you should consider would be solid wood flooring as it has many benefits. Let's have a look at the benefits of solid wood flooring. This is an Ad.

The Benefits of Solid Wood Flooring


Durability

Solid wood flooring is durable and long-lasting. Carpet can fade and get threadbare, vinyl can warp and cannot be repaired. Sold wood flooring lasts for a long time and any natural marks add to the natural lustre of the wood. Any heavy damage then it can be repaired with sanding or can be refinished anyway. So it's a good choice for a long-lasting finish. 

Appearance

Solid wood flooring has a timeless appeal. Being made of natural wood it's available in all the colours of this natural product, from oak, beech, walnut and more. The natural colour means each solid wood floor is unique and this makes it extra special with no one having the same flooring as you. Solid wood flooring also does not go out of fashion, making it perfect for any decor.

Easy to keep clean

It may surprise you but solid wood flooring is easy to keep clean and because of this it is good for those with allergies as it doesn't trap dust or pet hair like a carpet does. They are stain-resistant and easy to keep clean, any spills are easy to wipe up. Perfect if you have a dog or a baby crawling around. Sweep it on a daily basis to remove any dust, and mop it with a nearly dry mop. Check out how to clean any type of hardwood flooring here.

Added Value



Because of its beauty and its durability, solid wood flooring can add value to your home and make it become more desirable. Buyers do not have to think about replacing the carpet. This, in turn, can make it easier to sell. So if you are thinking of doing home improvements, it's worth considering adding solid hardwood flooring to your home for the look but also the added value.

Cost-effective in the long run

Although initially, solid wood flooring can be more expensive than vinyl and carpet, because of its durability it lasts longer. This means that it is cost-effective in the long run. Carpet can fade, vinyl can get damaged, but solid wood flooring almost gets better with age, taking on a unique finish.

Acoustics

Solid wood flooring has great acoustics, which is perfect for rooms where you play music. If installed properly they are not noisy rooms, but if concerned just install on ground floors.

As you can see there are many benefits of solid wood flooring for your home.  The timeless appeal, chic look and durability make solid wood flooring a sound investment. Let me know, do you have solid wood flooring? Would you consider having it installed?

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3 Reasons Why You Should Insure Your Jewellery


Some items in our life absolutely require insurance, such as your car or your home, while other belongings can be insured but we don’t always think about going through the process of acquiring insurance for these items. Anything that you own of value can be insured and will protect you against theft or sometimes even potential damage.  This is an ad.

Many people amass a collection of high-quality jewellery over time, such as diamond rings, expensive gold chains, or pricey watches. Although it may never happen, burglary is a real potential threat, and your most valuable belongings can be at risk. If you own a lot of expensive jewellery, learn more about to get it insured and determine if this is the right idea for you.

Protect against theft 



One of the greatest motivators behind insuring your jewellery is the potential of theft. Cash, jewellery, and expensive electronics are typically the most common items that are stolen during home burglaries, which means your jewellery is always a target. Of course, we hope that our homes are never burglarised, but these things can happen unexpectedly and it’s better to be protected.

If you rent your home and you have renter’s insurance, your belongings are often covered, but only up to a certain amount—meaning that you might not receive money back for your jewellery should it be stolen.

Maintain jewellery to be passed down

If you own very expensive items like men’s gold chains or women’s diamond rings, you often hope to pass these items down to your children or grandchildren as special mementoes. Having jewellery insurance can help guarantee that your kin will inherit these items and keep them in the family for years to come.

Cover potential damage

Not all jewellery insurance policies will cover damage, but you can look into policies that have this feature. It will likely add to your insurance cost, but it can be worth it in the long run. Review the stipulations on the types of damage that are covered by your policy and determine whether or not you think you need this extra protection. It can help keep your jewellery in top shape and maintain its value.

What You Need to Insure Your Jewelry

Official appraisal


Before you can acquire jewellery insurance, you’ll need to visit a professional jewellery appraiser to get an accurate estimate of your jewellery’s monetary worth. When looking for an appraiser, check your local jewellery store or, better yet, look at organisations online such as the International Society of Appraisers or the National Association of Jewellery Appraisers to ensure that you’re going to a reputable source with the proper certification.

When you have your jewellery appraised, you’ll receive an official document that verifies the worth and the quality of your jewellery. This certificate must be presented to the insurance company, along with other documentation to insure your pieces.

Original receipt

Many insurance companies will want to see your original receipt for the jewellery to ensure that you are the one who purchased the jewellery. Though insurance companies will sometimes request this document, the company understands that many people want to insure a family heirloom, for which the receipt was likely lost years ago. As long as you get the item appraised by a certified professional, you should be just fine.

Certificates

Depending on the type of jewellery you’re trying to get insured, your insurance company may require some additional certifications. Aside from your appraisal, which examines the overall value of the piece, you may also need to have your jewellery examined by either the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or the AGS (American Gem Society) in the US or the National Association of Goldsmiths in the UK, to verify that your gemstone is real and determine its exact weight and value.

Photographs of jewellery

Along with your official documents, insurance companies may ask for photographs of the jewellery to verify its current condition. You should also keep a copy of these photographs for your own records to help you identify any damage that may occur over the years.

Questions to ask your insurance


Before you decide on your jewellery insurance policy, there are some important questions to consider to make sure that you are completely covered in any scenario you may be worried about, from theft to damage. Here are the three most important questions to ask your insurance company prior to buying a policy:

What exactly is covered?

Much like car insurance, jewellery insurance has different levels of coverage, from comprehensive to more basic packages. Before you sign a policy, ask your insurer to be very clear about what is covered and ask for these details in writing. Sometimes you may get a verbal promise from an insurance company, but, if it is not specifically written down in your policy, they can revoke their verbal statement and claim that it is not a part of your original policy.

Comprehensive jewellery insurance is the best way to go if you want to be covered in almost any scenario, including theft, loss, or even accidental damage. Some insurance policies will even have something called “mysterious loss” coverage, which applies to any jewellery that may go missing without explanation. In the case of damage or loss, your insurance company should provide funds to replace your item.

How will you be Ccompensated?

Compensation is another very important part of your jewellery insurance policy because you want to guarantee that your money will be returned in full in case something should happen to it. Ask your insurance company how you will receive the money and verify that you will receive the full, original appraisal amount. Typically, you will also receive the sales tax that was paid on the item if you were able to show a receipt and prove this amount.

How do you make a claim?

Understanding how to make a claim will make the process much easier in the event that something happens to your jewellery. Most companies will require you to call them first and explain the situation. Then, you will be notified when your claim has been processed and you can visit your jeweller to discuss replacing or fixing the item. Once the item is fixed, you need to pay your deductible, and the remaining balance will be sent to the insurance company for coverage.

Be cautious and get your jewellery insured

Although we always hope that nothing will happen to our most treasured possessions, you never know what the future may hold. If you have a piece of jewellery that is sentimental, like your grandmother’s ring or a very valuable item like a Rolex watch for men, you definitely want to consider investing in jewellery insurance. This exact level of protection can help you to feel safe and know that, should something happen to your jewellery, you will be covered. 


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Picking Yourself Up When Your Mood Is Low

Low mood is very, very common. It’s something that we all suffer from time to time. Even those of us who would think of ourselves as sunny and cheerful, sometimes feel down. Sometimes, there’s a clear reason for our low mood, perhaps an argument with a friend or partner, a stressful situation, ill health, or a bad week at work. Sometimes, it’s a combination of things, and sometimes, there’s nothing wrong, no clear reason for our bad mood, we just feel a little blue. Whatever the reason, it’s normal and usually nothing to worry about.  This is an ad.

Moods fluctuate, and unless it becomes a frequent occurrence or it starts to ruin your enjoyment of life, there’s usually no reason to be concerned. That doesn’t mean that it’s fun. Or that you want to wallow in your bad mood. Fortunately, you don’t have to. There are a few things that you can do to pick yourself up.


Get a Clean Break

Most of the time, just a few small changes can improve your mood considerably. But, not always. You might need a clean break divorce, a move to a new area, or a change of career. If there’s a root cause to your mood, and it isn’t short term, consider a clean break or a fresh start.

Spend Time with Friends

Spending time with people that we love, people that make us smile, and people that boost our confidence is always a good idea. Even if you don’t want to talk about your worries or concerns, just being around people that make you feel better can help.

How often have you hated the idea of going out when you have been feeling low, only to find that you’ve had a good time if you’ve pushed yourself to go? Make some plans with friends, even if it’s just to watch some TV together or get a coffee. 
I know that I have a particular friend that always makes me laugh, so going to lunch with her always improves my mood.

Treat Yourself

Treating yourself is a powerful thing. It’s you taking ownership of your mood and wellbeing. Treating yourself means that you are putting yourself first for a change, even if it’s just spending an hour in the bath with a book and a glass of wine.

Get Some Exercise

Exercise can be a powerful mood boost. When you exercise, you get a rush of adrenaline and endorphins. These help to boost your mood and confidence. Go for a run or to the gym if you can, but even a short walk in the fresh air could be a big help. Walking in nature has been shown to improve feelings of well-being.

Make Some Changes to Your Lifestyle

Take a good look at your lifestyle. Could any changes help to improve your mood? Could you make small changes to your diet? Try to get more exercise? Go to bed earlier? The benefits of a good night's sleep are well documented. Often, tiny changes are more sustainable and so more effective.

Make a List

Lists can be a great way to pick yourself up. Writing to-do lists can help you to get through the day when times are hard. Having a list of things that you’ve got to look forward to can give you a lift, and lists of things that you love about yourself, are great when you need a quick pick me up.

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TEMPUR® Comfort Pillow Review And The Benefits Of A Good Night's Sleep

This is an AD for TEMPUR® 

We all know how much we feel refreshed after a good night's sleep. The kids (and the husband!) seem much more manageable, and we can cope better with the ups and downs of daily life. There is so much documented evidence of the health benefits of sleep that it's one of most people's goals - to get a good night's sleep.

Of course, that isn't always possible. It can be hard to fall off to sleep, you need the right environment to sleep comfortably and then if you wake up, sometimes your thoughts can keep you awake. Everything seems just that little more worrying at 3am. I know that since I have become older, I seem to wake up in the night and my thoughts start racing and I find it hard to get back to sleep.

The benefits of a good night's sleep

The benefits of a good night's sleep are well documented and the NHS website links lack of sleep over the long term to poor concentration and low mood and also more serious health conditions like obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Sleep and memory survey

One thing I didn't realise about the lack of sleep you can get, is the link between this and poor memory. Recently TEMPUR® decided to look into this further and conducted a sleep and memory survey in the UK.

TEMPUR® are a brand with an important scientific background. TEMPUR® was first created by NASA in the 1970s to cushion astronauts during lift-off as they journeyed into space. Over the past four decades, they have spent time and money into research and now produce mattresses, pillows, beds and accessories that evenly distributes weight and pressure as you sleep.

The aim of the survey conducted by TEMPUR® was to explore the link between the effects of a poor night's sleep on memory. For the survey, 5000
 respondents aged over 18 were questioned. These are some of the results.


  • Over half of those surveyed believe that the lack of/poor sleep makes their memory worse.
  • Women are most likely to be affected by poor memory after a poor night’s sleep (59%).
  • Those who rated their sleep as excellent or good reported an average of 7 hours of sleep per night.
  • Those who rated their sleep quality as poor reported an average of 5 and a half hour's sleep per night – this group were more likely to rate their memory as below average.
They also looked at mattresses and the effect on sleep, with 4 out of 5 people surveyed believed the right mattress is essential for a good night's sleep. The most well-known mattress in the survey was TEMPUR® with 80% of people saying that they had heard of the brand. As you can see anecdotally people do feel a lack of sleep affects their memory. 

TEMPUR® Comfort Cloud Pillow Review

To help me get a good night's sleep TEMPUR®
 recently sent me the TEMPUR® Comfort Pillow Cloud - a pillow made of thousands of micro cushions. 


The pillow is slightly different on both sides and feels soft to the touch and yet it is also very firm.





I was interested to see how it would support me when sleeping. 

When I tried the pillow out that night, I found it a little heavier than expected however not unduly so, but that also meant it stayed in place throughout the night. It seems to mould to your head as you lie on it, with the unique memory foam, and was incredibly supportive. You seem to sink into the pillow which I really liked, providing great support.


The pillow has a soft cushioning on both sides, and both sides are slightly different - it's up to you which side you sleep on. The cover is removable, washable and breathable too. 

Of course, there are other things that can affect your sleep like taking regular exercise to make you tired, staying away from technology and the blue light it emits that increases alertness an hour before you sleep and avoiding caffeine. However, having a comfortable sleep position and the feeling of being supported in your bed can all help sleep so I can see this TEMPUR® Comfort Cloud Pillow being beneficial to many. It really appeared to support my head and neck.




TEMPUR® are so confident you will like the TEMPUR® Comfort Cloud Pillow that they will let you try one for 30 days in your home. If you don't think the pillow gives you the head and neck support you need then you can have your money back. That's confidence for you! So you don't have anything to lose.

What other things can I do?

As well as using a supportive mattress and pillows there are other things you can do to get a good night's sleep. Turn off the phone and laptop at least an hour before you go to bed, take a relaxing warm bath, have a milky drink or chamomile tea and try and wind down.  I find listening to relaxing music and natural audio sounds like waves gently crashing or pattering rain helps me go to sleep. Check out relaxing music and nature sounds like this on YouTube, iTunes or Spotify.

Let me know, have you tried a TEMPUR® mattress or pillow? How does a lack of sleep affect you? Do you have any tricks to get a good night sleep?

* AD This post is in conjunction with TEMPUR®, but all thoughts are my own

Can You Bring Some Life Into Your Home?

There's no doubt that our homes are pretty important to the vast majority of people on the planet. It's your castle, the place where you can feel safe from the stresses of the world, the place you can make memories with your family, and the place you go when you want to relax.  This is an ad.


The issue for a lot of us is that, over time, it can kind of feel like some of the life has drained out of our homes. Well, that's not the way it has to be. With that in mind, here are just a few things you can do to bring some new life into your home.

Brighten the place up

If you want to bring life into your home in an instant then there's one word that you have to keep in mind: light. Light is perhaps the most powerful interior design tool in your arsenal. Bringing natural light into a room can make it feel larger, cleaner, and a whole lot more full of life. At the same time, being able to adjust the light levels, you can help take a room from being full of energy to something a little more subdued and relaxing when you're ready to settle in for the night.

Keep it tidy

Tidying and cleaning are those things that very few of us actually like and end up having to force ourselves to do in between other tasks. However, putting off tidying not only makes your home a less pleasant place to be but the longer you put off a job, the bigger it becomes. Tidying your home regularly makes it a whole lot faster and easier which means that you get to spend a whole lot more time actually enjoying your home.

Make it fun

How much time do you actually spend actively enjoying yourself when you're at home? This can often be a tricky thing for a lot of people, especially those with families to take care of. Sometimes the best way to bring life into your home is to do it yourself! Turn on the digital radio and turn your home into one big dance party! Little things like this really can make a huge difference. They give you and your family a chance to shake off all the stress of work, school and everything else you have to worry about, and lets you just enjoy spending time together.

A common mistake that a lot of people make when their home starts to feel kind of dull and lifeless is to decide that it's time to pack up and move on. Sure, this can be an option but there's no doubt that it's one of the most stressful, not to mention expensive options available to you. Even then, you can guarantee you're not just going to end up in the same place in a new place a few years down the line. It's often far better to make the most of your home as it is that it is to move somewhere new.

*Collaborative post