What Are The Benefits Of Having A Good Set Of Blinds?

When you purchase something new for your home, you want to make sure that it provides value, not only in terms of its aesthetics but how it provides functional benefits to you, this is why we love beds with storage in them. So with that in mind, I recently spoke to the experts at DotcomBlinds.com to understand what the functional benefits of having top quality blinds are. This is an ad.

Blinds Can Cut Your Heating Bills



It’s a known fact that in the Winter, your heating bill skyrockets as you spend more money on keeping your home nice and toasty, but there are areas in your home that cause your house to lose some of the heat that’s been generated.  The biggest offender for this is windows, which can cause a lot of heat leakage.

To stop warm air being lost to windows in your home, insulating blinds trap all the warm air inside your room and trap the cold air outside from ever entering your room, this means that you don’t need your heating on as high or for as long in the winter to warm up a room, as less heat is leaking out.

Blackout Blinds Help You Sleep Better

Have you ever found it hard to get to sleep at night because your room is too bright from light leaking into your room through your window? It’s a pretty common issue we all deal with, light pollution makes it harder to get yourself to sleep and can also rouse you during the night causing you to wake up at weird times.

Luckily blackout blinds can stop light pollution making its way into your room, blackout blinds fully block out light from outside giving you a perfectly dark bedroom to sleep in. With a darker bedroom, you’ll find yourself getting to sleep quicker as well as not waking in the night by light from outside.

Stop Sun Glare Without Cutting Out Natural Light


We’ve all had the misfortune to have the sun beaming directly onto your TV screen on a nice day while you’re trying to binge watch something on Netflix, making it impossible to see what’s happening on the screen. If you have a set of curtains, you’d usually close them to remove the glare, but you end up plunging your room into darkness with no natural light.

This is where blinds come in handy, as a set of blinds can provide a nice middle ground as they’re more adjustable than curtains, you can partially draw your blinds or even adjust the angle of the slats, this allows you to keep natural sunlight coming into your room, without it disrupting your vision.

*Collaborative post

I’ve Been Working From Home And I’m Bored

If like many others since the beginning of the lockdown, you’ve started working from home, you may find the situation difficult. When your home also becomes our workplace, it can be tricky to establish a healthy balance. Besides, you can’t exactly keep work out of sight. As a result, many new home-based workers are finding it hard to tackle their new challenges. Your home, which is supposed to be the place where you can relax, also becomes the heart of your job. The borders are blurred out. Are you at work? Are you at home? You can’t tell anymore. And with every day that passes, the situation becomes more straining. How can you fight boredom and mental drain when your office is at home?



You don’t leave time for anything else

Contrary to common belief, people who work from home tend to work longer hours. Indeed, it’s hard to know when the day is over when you’ve got no commute to worry about. The 9 to 5 day rapidly turns into a 5 to 9 routine that takes over your life. In the long term, mental stress and exhaustion are going to affect both your performance and mental health. If you’re going to be productive in your home office, you need to establish a work routine that leaves room for your social life. Make sure to set a strict schedule at the desk. Plan breaks throughout the day, as you would in a typical office. Lunch break, coffee breaks, and catchup chat with your coworkers are some of the most popular ways to relax at the workplace. You should try to bring these into your home office too. Similarly, make a point of leaving the desk every day at the same time.

Your home decor lacks excitement

Your home office is a work in progress. A lot of professionals have been forced to improve during the lockdown. Some work from their kitchen table; others have turned the bedroom into an office. It doesn’t matter where you set your home office. You need to make it work and make it exciting enough to sustain your attention. If the view out to the garden is unappealing, you can buy grass seed in bulk to quickly fix the issue. Is the wall uninspiring? Nothing that a few frames or a quick coat of colour can’t fix.

You need a simple daily reward

It can be a good idea to introduce a reward into your daily routine as a way of marking the end of the workday. Something as simple as a fresh brew or a deliciously hand-whipped dalgona-inspired coffee can help to relax after work. If you’re not one for sweet drinks, how about subscribing to a snack service such as Graze? You can receive healthy and portion-sized snacks to give you the boost you need.

You’re lonely

Working from home may be safe, but it’s a solitary position. But nothing is stopping you from reaching out to your friends and coworkers outside of working hours. You can plan virtual quizzes or online escape games together. Being at home doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with friends.



Working from home is the safe answer to COVID-19. But as safe as it is, it also affects your mental health. Overworked professionals need to transform their home office routine to bridge the gap. Remember, you’re only as bored as you choose to be. You can turn the home office life into a happy place!

*Collaborative post

9 Ideas For Quarantine Gifts

Has there ever been a better time to be sending gifts? While the world is in chaos, some people have lost their jobs, everyone is stuck at home and not allowed to see any friends or family they don't live with. Some people are celebrating their birthdays alone; others are having to spend what would have been their wedding day sitting at home, women have to give birth without their partners present and then, of course, there are the people who are ill at home or in hospital suffering from Coronavirus and those who are grieving the loss of loved ones.



It's safe to say that there's someone in your life who could probably do with a bit of cheering up, and while you can't go round and give them a hug, then sending them a gift is the best way to let them know that you're thinking of them. So, what are the best quarantine gifts to send during the COVID 19 pandemic? This is a collaborative post.

Photo Canvas prints

Going through your photos will not only give you something to do and keep you busy, but it will also make you happy and bring back some lovely memories. Then once you have picked out some good snaps, you can immortalize your best photos with a photo canvas print and send it to that special friend or family member who needs a bit of cheering up. It could be photos of you two together, or you could go through their Facebook photos and pick ones you think they would like on a canvas print.

Flowers

You can't go wrong with a bunch of flowers, they always make people smile, and not only that, but there are flowers for every occasion and every budget. You can easily order a bunch of flowers online to be delivered to your friend and send a card with a nice message on it too.

Hamper of snacks

Most people are getting through isolation by doing a lot of snacking - and why not? There's not much else to do. You could either buy a ready-made hamper of snacks online or alternatively order your friend an online shop of their favorites and get it delivered to their door.

A streaming service

Another thing that is getting people through this time is the TV. Why not treat your friend to something like Disney+, a few Disney classics are bound to make them feel better as well as give them something to do.

Big jigsaw

You can buy a 1000 piece jigsaw online and give your friend a challenge. What's great about jigsaws too is that you can get some beautiful pictures, and once your friend has completed it, you could get them some jigsaw glue so that they can keep it together and frame it.

Colouring book

Adult coloring books are becoming increasingly popular, and COVID-19 will no doubt have contributed to this. It's a lovely gift to send someone and isn't very expensive. Colouring in can really help with mindfulness and relaxing, so if you know someone who could do with something to help them take their mind off things, then a coloring book could be just the gift.

Loungewear

There is some great stuff on sale at the moment related to the pandemic, whether it's rainbows for the NHS, a sweatshirt saying 'What day is it?' or '#Stayhome' a gift like this will not only put a smile on someone's face, but it will be a great keepsake to remind them of this time in history. In fact, a COVID-19 piece of clothing might even be worth something someday if you don't fancy that though, a nice pair of pajamas or a comfy tracksuit will no doubt be appreciated.

Facebook Portal

The adverts are everywhere, but the Facebook Portal is becoming increasingly appealing during the COVID pandemic. But what is so great about this device that makes it any better than using your phone or laptop for Zoom or FaceTime? The Portal's Smart Camera automatically adjusts to wherever you are - so it's just perfect for grandparents to follow their grandkids around the room.

A Shakti Mat

A Shakti Acupressure Mat is a daily self-care tool based on the Indian bed of nails. These mats are really affordable and can help you to relax your mind and body in just 20 minutes. If you know someone who could do with a bit of extra help relaxing, then give this a go.

All of these gifts don't require you to touch them; you can simply order them online and get them delivered either digitally or straight to your friend's door, making them perfect for staying safe and socially distancing.

*Collaborative post

Asbestos Testing Kits - Do I Need One?

It is no secret about the potential danger that could be lurking in your home. Asbestos is, luckily, no longer used in construction. However, many people wrongly assume that when those regulations changed, they no longer had to worry about asbestos. 

Unfortunately, there are many homes that still have asbestos. Knowing the dangers of asbestos, often leads to the question - do I need an asbestos testing kit? It might seem like an unnecessary item. But if your home was built more than 10 years ago, you might consider it a requirement. 

What Is Asbestos?



Asbestos is actually a blanket term that covers 6 different substances that are naturally occurring. They are resistant to electricity and fire. Which is why it was so popular for such a long time. Asbestos was ideal where fire retardation was essential. As asbestos is a naturally occurring fibre, they are plentiful which was ideal for the construction trade.

Not only that, but they could be moulded and woven into a range of different items and materials. It is estimated that asbestos has been used for somewhere in the region of 4,500 years, and it wasn’t until 1960 and beyond the links between asbestos and a range of diseases and illnesses were accepted. 

Why is Asbestos Dangerous?

Mesothelioma. Asbestos causes a rare and deadly cancer that develops in the mesothelium. The mesothelium is what protects your internal organs.

When breathing in the small airborne particles of asbestos, it will almost always result in cancer, and it is almost always deadly.

Asbestos has also been linked to a lung cancer disorder called asbestosis. This rare disorder attacks the respiratory system by forming scar tissue on the lungs and the surface of the lung’s lining, making it difficult to breathe. This may or may not be a precursor to mesothelioma. This is why an asbestos testing kit is essential for any home that isn’t a new build, that was erected in the last 15-20 years. 

When You Need An Asbestos Testing Kit


Asbestos was used in many building materials for a long time. It was included in textures for ceilings and walls, and in insulation. When the regulations about asbestos being used in the building industry came into force, it was no longer used for new homes. However, that means there are thousands of homes that will have asbestos. In general, it will remain dormant until it is disturbed, but as soon as home renovations start taking place, exposure happens. Tiny airborne particles are released and can lead to a range of health issues. These include respiratory disorders and lung cancer.

So if your home is a certain age, then it is best for you to make sure you have an asbestos testing kit available. This will mean you can have the safest possible environment to complete your home renovations.
Where Can I Find Asbestos?

Within the construction industry, you will find asbestos-containing material in some of the following areas:

  • Insulation
  • Popcorn ceilings
  • Pipe insulation
  • Vinyl tiles
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Asbestos tiles
  • Some plastics

Many homeowners aren’t aware of the number of products in their homes that could potentially have some level of asbestos. Which is any asbestos testing kits are essential for most homeowners. Unfortunately, it isn’t until a homeowner decides to undertake some renovations when the asbestos is found. 

What Happens In An Asbestos Test?

An asbestos kit only has one use. To detect any level of asbestos within your home. Typically a kit will include a sample bag for each type of material that you would like tested. After you have carefully collected all of the materials and paid a fee, all of the materials will be tested within a lab.

Once you receive the results of your asbestos testing kit, if positive for asbestos, you will need to hire a company specializing in removing asbestos. They will be able to come and clear your home of all traces of asbestos. The cost associated with an asbestos testing kit is minuscule compared to the potential medical bills and deadly impact of leaving your home unchecked. There are occasions where a test might come back as inconclusive, and in this case, it is prudent to continue as if it was positive and use a professional service to take care of it.

A key thing to remember is that a professional company will ensure that your home is totally safe and use a filter to clean the air. You mustn’t attempt to remove any asbestos yourself when you get the results. In summary, if you have a house that is over 15-20 years old, it is wise to invest in an asbestos testing kit.

*Collaborative post

Tips For A Better Work From Home Experience

Working from home is convenient, and many working parents, carers and those with disabilities find it to be easy to fit around family life. At the moment many more of us are working from home than normal and you will find that you have to adjust to this new experience. You may find the environment distracting, you may find it difficult to get into a routine and you may even work more than normal. So it's good to have some best practices in place.



Similar to working in an office environment, it’s all about balance and not spreading yourself too thin. It will help if you’re self-disciplined and committed to staying focused during your working hours. Apply these tips so you can have a more successful time working from home and not succumb to falling off track.

Have A Dedicated Office or Workspace

You must have a dedicated office or workspace if you want to have a better work from home experience. It can be useful to have a home office with a door you can close to shut out any noise and windows that draw in natural light. You might also want to consider putting in a garden office in your backyard so you can get out of your home when you choose. If you’re interested, this page has more information so you can see examples and find out more about the installation process.

Take Regular Breaks


Another way to ensure you have a better work from home experience is to take regular breaks. It’ll help you to clear your mind and be more productive throughout the day. Use these breaks to fill your water, stretch your legs, and give your eyes a rest from looking at the computer screen. It may be best to set an alarm and schedule breaks, so you don’t put them off or forget to remove yourself from your work and practise self-care. Why not build-in a walk into your lunch break to get some fresh air and exercise? This can help you become more productive. 

Use Technology To Stay Connected

It’s easy to self-isolate and be anti-social when you work from home. However, it’s still important to maintain connections and relationships even though you’re not in an office environment. Use technology to your advantage and to stay connected to your boss and coworkers. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, send an email, or use a videoconference platform when you have questions or need guidance. You may even want to go out for lunch or visit the office in person once in a while to help you stay connected.

Get Into A Routine


It’s easy to do as you please and get distracted when you work from home. Therefore, you can have a better experience when you get into a routine. For example, wake up early and take a shower and get dressed, break for lunch, and have a time you end and shut down your computer each day. A routine can help you structure your day so that you’re productive and don’t overwork yourself.

Conclusion

These are a few tips that will help you have a better work from home experience and not regret your decision to choose this lifestyle. Give them a try and see what a difference they make for you. Take your situation seriously and set yourself up for success so you can make working from home a reality in your career.

*Collaborative post

Should I Get Surgery? 10 Alternatives to Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery, otherwise known as plastic surgery, has become more and more popular these days, but is it all that? Discover some alternatives, here. This is an ad.

Today’s youth are faced with a myriad of obstacles as they grow up. Not least are they inundated with social media posts promoting skinny teas and pills, but cyber-bullying has become a growing problem over the past decade.

Meanwhile, our older generation are also targeted. The media’s dislike of ageing is sometimes too difficult to bear, and with Hollywood celebrities remaining seemingly young forever, it’s a minefield. So, it’s absolutely no wonder that cosmetic surgery rates in the UK aren’t slowing anytime soon.

Of course, some plastic surgery springs from cases of medical negligence or through medical necessity. That said, in most cases, it’s all down to peoples’ insecurities surrounding their bodies. Considering the dangers cosmetic surgery poses, the cost, and the permanence of it all, we’ll be discussing some alternatives, right here.


What is Cosmetic Surgery?


Cosmetic surgery is the act of changing one’s body or face for exterior purposes. Usually, this will be done as a way to change how you look so you can feel more confident in the way you appear to others. For example, someone might wish to look more like a certain celebrity, and they will finance cosmetic surgery for it.

In some cases, though, cosmetic surgery will be used to alter a person’s appearance after suffering from a traumatic injury. Where plastic surgery is used to fix the body for medical reasons, cosmetic surgery is skin-deep. So, for someone who may have suffered from burns or scarring to their face, permanent surgery could make them feel more confident.

A List of Cosmetic Surgery Types

With the technology we have these days, plastic surgery procedures have become pretty wild. Now, you can have pretty much any area of your body altered, to fit societal standards. Just a few procedures can be found in this exhaustive list:

Breast augmentation, either increasing or reducing the size;
Buttock implants, to increase its size;
Rhinoplasty, or nose job;
Hair transplant, where the person has real hair follicles put in place;
Tummy tucks;
Facelifts;
Burn repairing;
Liposuction;
And a blepharoplasty, which is surgery to the eyelids.

10 Alternatives to Cosmetic Surgery



So, you want to change your appearance, but think cosmetic surgery might be too invasive and dangerous. Or, perhaps you need persuading that cosmetic surgery isn’t for you? Well, some pretty good alternatives could include…

Strategic Makeup Application

Okay, so you want to alter something on your face because you’re not entirely happy with it? We’ve all been there, but cosmetic surgery isn’t always the answer. In fact, makeup could be the easiest fix there is!

With makeup becoming a real trend, makeup artists and enthusiasts across the globe are posting videos online of their transformations. Not only do people alter their looks to fit societal expectations, some even do it for entertainment!

We’ve seen Captain Jack Sparrow lookalikes, and Disney Princesses too, amongst others. Some great ways you can use makeup to alter your features include:

Using a cat-eye eyeliner, or dark eyeshadow, to change the appearance of your eyes.
Using foundation and concealer to cover acne, scars, or pigmentation.
Creating shapely eyebrows through eyebrow pencils and pomades;
Using sculpting and contour techniques to change the appearance of your nose and jawline.

Even people who are burn victims, and have skin marks and scars, can completely transform through the use of makeup. So, if you’re feeling a little insecure about yourself, perhaps a dash of this stuff could do the trick.

Fillers

Fillers have become a really popular choice for anyone wishing to change up their face a little. Through injecting hyaluronic acid into the required area, the shape can be altered. These aren’t permanent and require top-ups every so often, but it’s crazy how they can completely alter your face!

Just an injection here or there, be it on your lips, forehead, cheeks, or the like, could transform you. Although there is some danger behind it, as the acid can sometimes make its way into the bloodstream, there aren’t many other things that could go wrong. Just find someone that knows what they’re doing, and has good reviews, and you’ll be sorted.

Botox



Botox, or Botulinum Toxin, is injected into peoples’ face, with the aim to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. It works is by temporarily blocking signals from your nerves to your muscles. This means that they can no longer contract, so your wrinkles become more relaxed.

Usually, people will use it to soften the lines on their face, including their forehead and eye lines. That said, Botox can have serious repercussions on your overall health. After treatment, it’s quite possible to experience pain, trouble swallowing, puffy features, muscle weakness and much more.

Over time, this can then seriously affect your health and looks. With too much use, your skin can become thinner, your muscles may weaken, and it may become much more difficult to continue using it.

Cool Sculpting

Cool Sculpting is gradually becoming a much more popular method of removing excess fat from the body. The idea is that you head to a clinic to have your body fat frozen, and it is then vigorously massaged away. This is usually used on stubborn fatty tissues under the chin, and along the abdomen.

Many people are sceptical about whether this even works or not. However, some studies do show that, with persistence, this could actually work wonders. It’s also a pretty safe bet; although it will likely hurt, it’s much safer than some other treatments out there.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are often used if a person has acne scarring from years back, which affect their confidence and makeup application. Others may use it to brighten and smooth your complexion, shaving years off of their appearance… quite literally!

The idea is that an acidic solution is applied to your skin, to cause it to peel off, essentially. Sounds pretty scary, right? Well, it’s not as bad as it may sound.

This provides a deep exfoliation, where the first layer of your skin will gradually peel off over the next few days. With prolonged use, you may notice a real alteration in your overall skin quality.

Microdermabrasion


Microdermabrasion is a painless and non-invasive procedure, which aims to improve your complexion. Through using vacuum suction and fine abrasive crystals, the skin is exfoliated lightly.

In a similar way to a chemical peel, this removes the dead skin and cleans up your face along the way. In doing so, spots and blackheads are likely to diminish, and your skin will appear smoother and more refined. This way, you should look a lot more rejuvenated and glowing.

Laser Treatment

Laser treatment is a little more painful than some other treatments but can work wonders after a couple of rounds. The idea is that a laser cuts or vaporises the tissue, changing its general makeup.

It can be used on a number of body parts, for changing wrinkles, scars, pigmentation, or hair placement. For example, some people might get laser treatment on their legs to completely remove hair growth, after a few procedures. So, for generally smoother skin, in all aspects, this is a pretty good choice.

Clothing Enhancements

Although this may sound simple, have you thought about wearing certain clothing to enhance your features? It’s amazing what dressing for your body shape can do for you.

What’s more, if you’re really looking to enhance your features, there are certain items which can do this. Most commonly used are padded bras to make your chest appear larger, or to implement a cleavage. Or, if you’d like to show off a larger buttock area, padded pants can be sourced online.

Computer-Aided Cosmetology Instrument (CACI)

Similar to Botox, this a relatively new form of non-surgical augmentation which changes the appearance of the skin. Through the use of electric waves, the muscles in the skin are toned and tightened. This way, wrinkles appear less pronounced, and you look younger and softer.

Moisturising


Finally, and something which shouldn’t be laughed at is moisturising. Having a good skin routine is something that can completely alter your life. If you have spots or dry skin, or just want to add some bounce to your cheeks, changing up your morning or night-time could be just the ticket. Also, don't forget to use a good suncream with a high SPF to help avoid wrinkles and sun damage.

Some good ingredients choices for these grievances could include vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerine, proteins, and mineral oil. Do your research, and choose something which will work for you, and you never know what may happen!

Think You’ll Ditch Getting Cosmetic Surgery Now?

If you’re feeling as though some cosmetic treatment may make you feel more confident in yourself, then perhaps our alternatives could be the answer? Cosmetic surgery is, a lot of the time, a permanent and life-changing procedure. Take your time to think about it, and perhaps see if any of these alternatives work in the process.

Have you tried out any of these cosmetic surgery alternatives? Leave your comments down below, and let us know if they worked for you! This post does not offer medical advice always consult a trained practitioner. 

*Collaborative post

How To Store Jewelry In A Wood Jewelry Box – Solid Wood Boxes

Jewellery is precious and can be very expensive so it's important to take care of your jewellery so that it doesn't become damaged.  Instead of tossing everything to your wood jewelry box, sort through and arrange your jewellery. If you want to know more about how to organise your precious jewellery, then read on.

Sort through your gold and silver





The first thing that you need is to empty the jewellery box. Place a clean cloth down so your table won't get scratched and then empty the box.

Start by untangling bracelets, long earrings, and necklaces. Separate them carefully. If you are having trouble untangling the knots, a small amount of baby oil can help. Sliding needles or safety pins can also help at the centre of the knots, especially if you have thinner chains.


Before you store your silver jewellery, be sure to wipe it to remove perspiration.  Silver jewellery can tarnish so it is best to store it in either an airtight container or in a tarnish-proof cloth away from the air. Pop in a small sachet of silica gel which absorbs moisture. All this can help stop silver jewellery from turning black.

Put jewellery in their groups. You can store the items together as a set or in groups of gemstones or in groups of necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets.

S
eparate them into compartments



If you are using a solid wooden box, you can separate them by adding wood in between. Some organisers are already built-in and have different sizes of compartments, slots, and drawers.

If you are into arts and crafts, you can make your organiser yourself but you can purchase ones that already have the compartments that you need.

It's sensible to sort out your jewellery once a month. This way, you can see if something is missing or broken and keeps everything tidy. You may have a pair of earrings at the back of the box you have forgotten about, checking your jewellery box every month will help you rotate your items. Read more about jewellery storage here.

Why Storage Is Important 





Learning where and how to store your silver, gold, diamonds and other gemstones is essential. Many gemstones are fragile, and they should be protected. When you store them neatly, you also make it easier to remember where you can find them. Here are some points on how to organise your jewellery. 


  • Other stones can scratch some precious gems if you don’t keep them apart.
  • You can wrap them in fabric, especially if you have a small wooden box as storage. Note that diamonds are extremely hard so can scratch different stones, and pearls can be easily damaged.
  • If you want to pair your pearl earrings together, you can attach them to ribbons. This way, you can still find the tiniest pearls easily, and they won’t go to the bottom of the box.
  • If you have lots of necklaces, you can wrap them individually in a piece of tissue. Some bracelets and thin gold chains will tangle into knots if you don’t separate them.
  • If you prefer wearing specific pieces of jewellery every day, you should separate them from the ones that you occasionally use.
  • Be careful with prolonged exposure to sunlight. Agate, topaz, amethysts and other gemstones should be stored in a cool, dry place. Amethysts are one of my favourite gemstones, find out more about the beauty of amethysts when you click here.
  • You can ask a jeweller for specific storage advice so that your gems lustre will last. Never use hairspray or body lotions near jewellery. Use these items before you put your jewellery on.
  • Anything valuable should be stored in a secure jewel box. Make sure that you are the only one who knows where the key is located. Keep your very high-value items in a safe.
*Collaborative post


What Should You Think About When Choosing A Pair Of Shoes

Finding the right pair of shoes can be difficult. Many people walk into a department store and pick out a pair of shoes that are eyecatching that matches nicely with something they already own but are they the best shoes for the job? Have they taken into account the quality of the shoe itself, such as the materials that were used in its fabrication, or for what purpose the shoe was originally designed? Have they given a second thought as to whether a new pair of shoes will be up to the wear and tear they may have in store for them? Sure, there's a shoe for every event but it can be a minefield researching what shoes to buy for your special occasion. Let's have a look at what you should think about when choosing a pair of shoes. This is an ad.

What's the primary function?




You might think this goes without saying, but first, you have to consider the purpose of buying a pair of shoes. You may want to wear them to a certain event, but to get your money's worth you should also think about other scenarios for wearing the shoes. Spending a small fortune on a pair of shoes that are in a unique colour, or to be worn for a single day isn't often a wise choice, in fact, you may even want to look into renting shoes for that occasion.  Think about the type of environment you are likely to wear shoes in. Think long-term about the use you would actually get out the shoes you are contemplating buying.

Same goes for if you have a specific event. Will you be standing all day, walking, running or hiking? Is it a formal event or special occasion that will require a smart pair of court shoes? Each of these categories will require a different make of shoe, boot or trainer. You need to balance up style versus comfort. Think about the brand and its rep
utation.

Nike shoes, for example, are a well-known brand that are great for leisurewear and have a reputation for being long-lasting, high tech and in fashion. 


Durability




After establishing your primary use for the shoes, the next step would be to test the durability. Depending on your need, you may want a thin or thick sole, with support of your arches. If you are unable to wear them for any length of time before buying use your hands and eyes. Manoeuvre the shoes in such a way that offers a clue about their toughness. Are they durable enough and waterproof enough to weather the harsh elements of an uphill hike? Are they light and supportive enough to get you through a run? It's always worth trying a pair of shoes on in-store or at home for comfort and fit before you commit to buying as everybody's feet are different.

Materials



Leather is a popular choice of material for a great pair of long-lasting shoes as they are easy to clean and are naturally waterproof. A leather pair of court shoes should last you for a long time and are great for a smart occasion. An equally durable option is a suede material, which is more casual and requires a bit more maintenance in upkeep. Tip: use a suede brush o clean suede, and spray Scotch-guard to protect them. 


Most hiking boots are made of tough materials and are very likely to outlast any other shoe in your closet. One of the newest materials is mesh which is light, easy to clean and perfect for running and exercise. Most of all they are inexpensive and unique looking but often not as durable as other materials.

Insoles

When selecting shoes, the insoles are important although removable insoles are often preferable so you can customise the fit to you. This way, you can replace them with Dr Scholl's insoles, memory foam or something orthopaedic to give the shoes that support you need. Just be certain that your shoes allow for the added space your replacement insoles may take up.

So remember, spending money on shoes can be simple if you know what you are shopping for. Often time being specific in your search not only saves time, but it can also save you money because you're not bombarded with images of shoes you don't need; preventing those pesky, last-minute impulse buys. When shoe-shopping, know that the key is to stay the course, taking it one step, at a time. Happy shopping!


*Collaborative post

How To Make Birthdays During Lockdown Special

The world is in a strange place at the moment and many people are in 'lockdown', with movements being restricted and some self-isolating. So if you are having a birthday and want to celebrate it can be a bit of a challenge. 



However, you can have a good time and it is possible to make birthdays during lockdown special and fun. So sit down, bake a cake, get the balloons in and let's party! Let's have a look at how exactly we can make birthdays special during the lockdown. 

Have a virtual celebration

Arrange with your friends to have a virtual party on Skype or Zoom, party hat optional. You can set up video conferencing so you can see other people altogether on one screen. On the basic plan on Zoom, you have 40 minutes free or you can upgrade for longer. For added fun make it a fancy dress party, after all, what kid (or adult) can resist dressing up?

Celebrate with a garden party



It may only be your household but a garden party can still be a fun way of celebrating a birthday. Set up a table with birthday food, create a Spotify playlist and get a birthday cake delivered or bake one. If your kids are young then why not let them get the tents out and have an overnight sleep out. 

Visit an attraction online

There are many museums, zoos and theme parks allowing you to visit online and whilst it's not the same as visiting the British Museum to see the mummy exhibition or Walt Disney World Florida and walking up to Cinderella's castle then it's the next best thing. So why not make a picnic for lunch and take it with you as you travel the virtual world to visit an attraction online?

Rent a movie and popcorn 




While nice as it is, there is nothing overly special about renting a movie but did you know Netflix now has a Chrome extension which allows you to watch movies and TV shows with friends and family online? It is capable of synchronising video playback, so if the group needs a quick break to grab more popcorn, everyone’s screen will pause and resume at the same time.

Order an afternoon tea or a takeaway

One of the best ways to support local businesses is to order some special food for your birthday meal. What about an afternoon tea or a special Thai meal? Many companies are trying to stay afloat and delivery services are offering contact-free delivery. If you don't want to pay cash some have online ordering and payment systems or use a site like Deliveroo and Just Eat to keep your credit card details safe.

Karaoke singalong 



If you love singing, Lucky Voice karaoke has a 14-day trial available, just sing into your phone or a microphone if you have one and pick from thousands of songs including Let it Go, Bohemian Rapsody and Dancing Queen. Suitable for young and old having a karaoke singalong on your birthday is bound to be fun.

So here are some ways to make birthday fun during the lockdown. Do you have any ideas?

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The Pros And Cons Of An Emerald Engagement Ring

When we think of engagement rings we often jump straight to the diamond ring, specifically the diamond solitaire. This type of ring is of course, a stunning choice for an engagement ring. However, for some, it is not always the best option. Many people prefer something more unique these days, a bit more colourful; a ring that is a statement. Enter the emerald engagement ring. This is an AD.




The emerald colour has been a soothing influence for many, many years. It is said that the colour can help you relax, which is perfect for busy and often stressful contemporary living. Not only does the emerald help with stress, it is also simply a thing of beauty. The hue of green that you get in an emerald is stunning. In fact, it was Pliny the Elder, the Roman author, that once described the emerald as “nothing greens greener”, and I couldn’t agree with him more.

If you are debating an emerald ring for your engagement ring choice, let's look at the pros and cons of buying an emerald engagement ring.

Pros Of An Emerald Engagement Ring




Emeralds are very versatile, thus pair well with a different variety of setting styles. This allows for many different options for non-traditional engagement rings.

Emeralds are usually less expensive than diamonds, thus making them a more affordable choice.

An emerald engagement ring is a less common choice for an engagement ring. Therefore, choosing an emerald engagement ring makes your ring more unique than a more traditional diamond engagement ring. Every bride wants something unique, don't they?

Emeralds are valuable gemstones that typically hold their value through the years, making it a good investment piece to potentially pass on to future generations. You may also get more value if you look for an antique emerald ring as you often get a lot more carats for your cash with antique stones.

Cons Of An Emerald Engagement Ring



Perhaps the main ‘issue’ with an emerald is its durability. They are less strong than other stones such as sapphire, rubies, or diamonds, with a typical Moh’s rating of 7.5 to 8. Emeralds are thus more brittle and do fracture. An engagement ring is usually worn every day, so should be able to withstand some daily wear and tear, therefore an emerald engagement ring with a protective setting is a must!

Emerald can be quite heavily included. Inclusions are technically a fault in the stone. This is either an aesthetic that you find appealing, or not, and must be something you consider before buying an emerald engagement ring. 

Due to its strength, an emerald engagement ring needs to be cleaned by hand, rather than being put into an ultrasonic machine.

So there we have some positives, and potential negatives surrounding emerald engagement rings. It is safe to say that despite its cons, the emerald engagement ring is still a very good option, and shouldn’t be easily dismissed. I hope today, I’ve helped you explore the reasons to buy an emerald engagement ring.


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The Best Ways To Make Your Home More Liveable

If you didn’t know if your home was a liveable space before the lockdown hit you surely know now. Never before have we had to spend so much time in our properties, and many of us have received something of a rude awakening. While it’s pretty easy to overlook the downsides of our homes when we’re living our normal lives, the coronavirus pandemic has forced us to look at our homes in a new light. And in some cases, it’ll be a less than pleasant view. Fortunately, there are always ways to make our properties more liveable. Let's take a look at some of the best and most straightforward ways to do this.   



Furniture Layout

The layout of our furniture has a bigger impact on our living spaces than we might think, and here’s the thing: we so very rarely change things around. Once the furniture has been put into position, we usually try to live around the positioning until, well, forever. However, if it’s not positioned correctly, then there’ll always be something wrong with the room. So take a look at the positioning of your furniture, especially in your living room and bedrooms. Is it working for you as well as it could? Are you making the best use of the space? If not, then read up on some useful tips to make the most of your furniture and make the necessary changes.

Proper Storage

If you’ve been living in your home for some time, then you’ll likely have a problem that you may not even be aware of: you’re surrounded by too much stuff. We’re all prone to accumulating goods, and clutter can negatively impact our lives. As such, it’s important to look at sufficient storage solutions for our items. This may involve adding additional storage to our homes or making the most of self storage units. You’ll find that you enjoy your home much more once you’ve cleared the space.

Touches of Comfort




It’s worthwhile looking at how you can add comfort to your home, too. Upping the comfort levels is one of the best ways to make your home more liveable! You’ll be less frustrated about having to spend time indoors if you’re as comfortable as can be. There are various ways to do this, but sometimes the simplest methods are the best. For instance, by adding soft throws, comfortable pillows, tactile bedding, and so on to your home.

In The Garden

Finally, don’t forget the garden! This is sometimes an overlooked part of the home but it's a precious space at all times and especially in this lockdown. While we may not always have the best weather in the UK, when the sun is shining, it’s so nice to spend time in the garden. Getting it into shape couldn’t be easier, either. You just have to get some plants in the ground, add some high-quality garden furniture, and you’ll all set to go -- especially if you have a BBQ too.


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One Class Live Online Streaming Help For Education

With schools closed across the world, many students are worried about their education. Whether you are in school, college or university you could probably do with some help. This is where a site like One Class can help. This is an ad.


One Class is a site which allows you to access study materials and homework help. Study materials are from UK, USA and Canadian students mainly and they have recently launched a free live online streaming program too.

How does online streaming work?

The online streaming tutors teach live for high school, college and university 7 days a week. With the emphasis on maths and sciences, and SAT prep, these lessons are online and live right in your living room every day of the week. 



You can see the notes of the tutor and the graphs or drawings they make, so it's a very imaginative way to learn. Great for those that have a visual learning style. 

The live stream is interactive and reactive - you can ask questions as you go along and the tutors will respond. Great for the auditory learner. 

You know sometimes you just get stuck on a question or a solution? Well, you can also book a one to one consultation with a tutor to get clarification too. So important when your essay or coursework has to be in. 

As you can see the live sessions can be really useful and at present they are free. You can read about the tutor's qualifications and experience too in their bio, so you can check that they are suitably experienced. The live tutors I saw appeared very knowledgable and personable. 

What subjects do they cover?

The nine main subjects that they focus on are Math, Chemistry, Physics, Economics, Accounting, Electrical Engineering, Biology, Statistics, and Mechanical Engineering however other subjects are covered too. When looking for information, for example, I found women and gender study notes, so it's always worth a search of their online tool.  Of course, study notes are a subjective response to classwork but work submitted is quality checked for reassurance. 



How much does it cost?

At the moment the live streaming is free, so that's a great service. 

To access homework help, the cost is from $2 a month paid yearly. To get premium access to all notes and all stay guides it's $9.98 a month paid yearly or $39.99 paid monthly, obviously more expensive but useful when you need help but don't want to be locked into a yearly plan.

You can also apply to be a note-taker or a study specialist guide and feel good providing help. You get credits when you upload your notes and these turn into rewards including cash payments.  This can help if you need some extra cash when working your way through university. 


As you can see One Class provides a very useful service. They say they have helped over 2.2 million+ students spanning across 1.3 million different courses. Let me know, would you use the online streaming lessons? Would you use a site like One Class to help with your study needs?

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Crispy Lemon Cake

Sometimes you just feel like baking a cake!

Here is my recipe for Crispy Lemon Cake

Ingredients
4oz (100gms) soft margarine ( I use Flora buttery)
6oz (150 gms) caster sugar
2 medium eggs lighten beaten
6oz (150 gms) self-raising flour
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1 level tsp of baking powder (but you can leave this out)
2 tablespoons of milk

Topping
4 oz of granulated or caster sugar
Juice from 1 lemon

A loaf tin -  lined with buttered greaseproof paper 

Method
1) Put the oven on at 180 degrees C.

2) Beat the butter and sugar together until soft. 

3) Add the lightly beaten egg a little at a time. If the mixture starts to curdle add a little of the flour. 

4) Once all the egg is mixed in, fold the self-raising flour, lemon zest and baking powder into the mixture. 

5) If the mixture looks a little stiff add 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk until it is a soft dropping consistency.

6) Spoon the mixture into a loaf tin and level out. 

7) Bake for 40 minutes until the cake looks golden and it springs back when touched lightly in the middle.

8) While it is cooling, juice the lemon and mix with the 4oz of sugar. If you prefer a crunchier texture use granulated sugar. 

9) If you have a skewer prick the top of the cake a few times (this is optional but will help the sugar mixture penetrate the cake) Pour the sugar mixture over the cake and leave until cold.  


Eat and enjoy!

Why You Should Use Influencers To Market Your Brand

Influencer marketing is a form of marketing that has exploded over the last few years.  With the advent of blogging and vlogging and social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and TikTok then an influencer can really change the buying and thinking habits of people that follow them.

Let's look more closely at why you should use influencers to market your brand. This is an ad.

They create great content 



Influencers create great content and that content can be about your brand. If you pick the best influencers suitable for your company content can be well-written and informative. Often content is topical and on-trend too. 

They speak to an audience 

Influencers speak to their audience. They spend time and effort building up this audience and their audience follows them as they like what they say and identify with them. Whether they are jewellery influencers, fashion influencers, beauty, travel or anything else they will have an audience unique to them. 

They allow you to access their audience 



Following on from the last comment, they can allow your brand to access their audience. With niche audiences from a few hundred dedicated followers to medium audiences of tens of thousands and large audiences of a few hundred thousand or more then you can see that if they recommend your product then you are also accessing their audience.

They raise awareness of brands

A well-matched influencer who aligns with your brand can really raise awareness. It's important that they are chosen well so they have genuine enthusiasm and passion for the product, and then you have the perfect influencer relationship. 

They can drive sales


Influencers can drive sales.  If you read a great article about a holiday destination from a travel or lifestyle influencer, see your favourite fashion influencer wearing a pretty dress or a food influencer baking a mouthwatering cake then your next step may be to research the destination for your next trip, find out where the dress is from or get the ingredients to make the cake. It's as simple as that.

They are trusted



Influencer marketing is like no other form of marketing in that people trust influencers. Yes, we are not all perfect but the trust is there and many pride themselves on the clear ethical marking of brand collaborations and adverts. The majority of influencers will only work with brands they trust and respect. 

They distribute information

Influencers are great at distributing up-to-date information and showcasing new products to the market. They can help get an item or news story trending and from that, they can help your company raise their social media profile. By retweeting and sharing your post, they can get some real traction on the information you distribute.

They are cost-effective



Finally using influencers is cost-effective. If you think of how much a small advert in a local magazine or newspaper costs compared to the amount it costs to use a micro-influencer to promote your brand, producing blog content, social media content and even video, then you can see you can get real value for money. Some influencers will work for products too although professional influencers will be expecting payment. 

So here is my round-up of why you should use influencers to market your brand. There are a myriad of reasons as you can see and smart brands use smart influencers. 

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