GAMMA Jacket - The Ultimate Travel Jacket For Outdoor Life

As I get older I appreciate quality. Gone are the days where I buy the latest fast fashion. By buying quality clothes that last longer you are saving clothes from landfill and saving the environment. If you spend money on clothes that last a short time it's a false economy. Sometimes it's worth investing in a wardrobe staple that will last. This is where the GAMMA Jacket comes in.  This is an advertorial.

Gamma Jacket

The GAMMA jacket by Wear Graphene is the ultimate travel jacket. The sort of jacket that is amazingly multi-functional, lightweight and durable. The sort of jacket you know you can have in the back of the car on a road trip and that can deal with all weather conditions. The sort of jacket that is brilliant for walking the dog in the British weather. You won't be too warm when the sun comes out, but you will be cosy on a windy day and will be dry when the rain showers come. It's a waterproof jacket that is great for all weather conditions.

Why is the Gamma jacket the perfect jacket for outdoor life?


So the GAMMA jacket is amazing for a number of reasons. 

It is made of a technologically advanced material called Graphene. The discoverers of this material won the Noble Peace Prize in Physics in 2010 for 'groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene". In fact, Graphene has been called a wonder material and is being used in a variety of ways in manufacturing around the world.


Graphene is extremely thin, less than one atom thick, and is the thinnest material known to man, but is also strong, 200 times stronger than steel.  Graphene’s remarkable mechanical properties don't stop here. For instance, graphene is also elastic and lightweight and is an amazing insulator. This makes it perfect for an all-climate jacket.

heating element

Another important differential with the GAMMA jacket that elevates it to another level is that it has built-in carbon fibre heating elements. You can adjust the right amount of heat you want in your jacket. Just plug in your USB-A power bank and let it do the work. There are three heat levels to choose from.  Perfect for those cold winters and snowy days. What a nifty gadget built into the jacket and essential for those that feel the cold, and those outdoor explorers. Hey, it can even keep you cosy on the school run!

Here are the properties of the GAMMA jacket.

gamma jackets


  • It's made of Graphene which is super tough, stronger than diamond and is tear-proof, scratch proof, and puncture-proof.
  • It's waterproof. 
  • It's windproof. 
  • It's moisture-wicking and breathable, keeping sweat away from your skin and allowing it to evaporate 
  • It's antimicrobial, and odour proof. It kills mould, bacteria and viruses on contact.
  • It's UV proof, protecting you from the suns UV rays. 
  • It's cleverly designed with multi pockets for all your walking and hiking needs.
  • It's super light, around 500g and can easily go in a backpack without adding much to your backpack's weight.
  • It's machine washable so fits into a modern lifestyle. 

As you can see the GAMMA jacket is truly the ultimate outdoor jacket. A travel jacket for outdoor life. Wear it walking, hiking, running. It's a stylishly designed all-climate jacket that will last you for a long time, and dare I say it, possibly forever.  The sort of jacket you can wear with almost anything.  It's also unisex in styling so would make a great jacket for both men and women. 

Check out the GAMMA jacket online from weargraphene.com  and let me know what you think. Where would you wear a GAMMA jacket?

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How To Grab A Jewellery Bargain

If you are reading my blog and especially if you are into fashion then you probably like jewellery. Jewellery can really finish a look, and whether your style is classic gold, cool silver or high street fashion then there is a way to save on jewellery and grab yourself a bargain.

Check out independent jewellers


Independent jewellers can be great for a bargain. Many are family-owned and have great customer service. I used to own a jewellery shop myself so I know how amazing they can be. If you see that perfect item there why not ask if they can offer a discount. Often you will have more bargaining power if the item is of high value and you are paying in cash as debit or credit cards will charge the store a transaction fee.  Always make sure you have a receipt and buy from a store that is a member of an organisation such as the National Association of Goldsmiths that adhere to a quality and customer service code. Independent jewellers will often have a great second-hand jewellery section too, where you can buy pre owned jewellery at a bargain price. 

Buy online

Buying online can mean that you can shop around for a bargain. Take note of seasonal sales, for example, Black Friday, and New Year sales and you may get that piece of jewellery you have been looking at for ages at a knockdown price. 

Sites such as Latest Deals are also worth a look too for jewellery bargains. They will show you a range of jewellery bargains and direct you to the company's website at no cost to you. 

Also, check out sites for jewellery discount codes so you know you are getting the best deals.

Go to an auction house

An auction house where people put their items into an auction sale will often have a decent range of jewellery. Check out a site such as Biddle and Webb, based in Birmingham who have specialist jewellery and watch auctions every few months. If you can't make it in person to an auction house you can often bid online for that special item you want. Auction houses charge a commission if you are selling or buying from them so check out the charges beforehand, which can vary from 10 to 20 per cent.

Car boot sales

You can occasionally get a jewellery bargain at a car boot sale. Check out local magazines and newspapers for dates of the car boot sales in your area. They often run every weekend in the summer. Get there even as it opens to check out the bargains before the hoards ascend on the stalls. It's a great place to pick up some fashion jewellery, and if you are lucky, even silver and gold. If you are serious about a bargain, bring along a magnifying glass to check for jewellery hallmarks.

Antique and vintage stores



Antique and vintage stores are amazing places to find unusual and unique jewellery items.  Antique and vintage store owners can be pretty knowledgeable about what they sell so it's always a good idea to bring your smartphone and Google the makers mark to find out about an item of jewellery so you are better informed to see if you have a bargain or not. These stores are definitely a place to get that unique jewellery item very few people will have.

Charity shops

Charity shops are a place to find a jewellery bargain. They will often have a cabinet with jewellery near the counter. To find a real bargain you will have to hope that the staff don't know how valuable the items are! Again bring a magnifying glass (or a jeweller's loupe) to check for a jewellery hallmark. If you know your collectable jewellery brands such as Tiffany, then you will be better equipped to find that special piece. You can pick up some great new and vintage items at charity shops.

As you can see there are a number of places you can grab a jewellery bargain. So whether you are adding to your Thomas Sabo collection, grabbing the latest Pandora charm, or trying to find a Clogau Gold ring at a bargain price there are places you can look. Let me know, have you ever bought an item of jewellery as a knockdown price?


How To Have The Perfect New Year At Home On A Budget

Many people are staying at home this year rather than going out celebrating the New Year. There are many reasons for this, A combination of local restrictions due to the pandemic, with a depleted bank balance after Christmas, means it makes sense to stay home, stay safe and save money.  So, if you are looking for some New Year's party inspiration you have come to the right place. Let's have a look at how to have the perfect New Year at home on a budget.

Decide on a theme

playing cards and chips


Decide on a theme for your party and decorate accordingly. Here are some ideas below.

  • A roaring 20's Great Gatsby theme 
  • A masquerade party
  • A flashback to the 80's party 
  • A casino night 
  • A classic Disney movie night

You can pick up outfits from fancy dress shops but for a cheaper alternative upcycle what you already have and add accessories to the theme. A black dress with a boa is the perfect Great Gatsby outfit, a smart dress picked up for a charity shop with a homemade mask is perfect for a masquerade party. A bright neon top picked up from eBay is great for an 80's party and for a casino night, wear a figure-hugging dress you have already in your wardrobe and the men can wear smart jackets, with a bow tie from a charity shop. For a Disney night, come dressed as your favourite Disney character,  - a great idea for all the family.

For a casino night, you only need some playing cards and some chips, which can be bought cheaply. The rules for Blackjack and other casino games can be found online. Disney movies can be streamed or check out charity shops for second-hand bargains. 

These are just ideas that you can run with. Check out what you and your friends have in your wardrobe first before you all buy anything and get creative with the theme. Even if you are only inviting a handful of people due to restrictions then it can still be fun. If you want it to be even safer, politely asking them to do a lateral flow test before, can be a good idea. Although it is not full proof it can help ease anxieties. 

Dress to the nines


Great Gatsby theme

There are plenty of party dresses for women that are fairly priced. High fashion looks are great at this time of the year but if you go for a simple slip dress in black or a maxi dress in black you can wear it again and again. Women's clothing doesn't have to be expensive but buy classic designs to save landfills and accessorise to the max instead.  

Accessories can be bought cheaply on auction sites, in the sales, in charity shops or why not ask around family and friends. You will be surprised what they have. Your mum may still have a 'Relax' t-shirt from the '80s or a feather boa for a 20's party. Get the kids involved in making their own Mickey ears for a Disney night. You can rope them in to decorate the room as well, or maybe they can help make the invitations. 

Food, glorious food

canapes
Finger foods or canapes are great for a New Year' Eve party. If you have the time making food for your party from scratch will often be the cheapest idea. Check out Pinterest for some New Year's party food ideas. You can of course buy party food in any supermarket already made.  Also, don't forget people are there for you, so no one's going to judge if it's sausage rolls, cheese and pineapple on sticks and ham sandwiches. Or why not bring out the festive cheese board? It looks impressive, it's tasty and there is no cooking, so it's a big win!

Or do what the American's do and run a 'Pot Luck' party. This basically means asking everyone to bring a dish. This is a great way to save money and you can guarantee people will bring food they like too.

Don't forget the drinks

sparkling wine


When considering the drinks you need to know who is coming, how far, if they are getting a taxi home, staying the night or driving. You can then plan for those that drink alcohol and those that don't.

Don't forget the prosecco for a toast at midnight to save money on the champers. Add some orange juice for a bellini to make the prosecco go further. If you want an equally delicious alternatively suitable for those that don't want to drink, buy a sparkling elderflower drink instead. If kids are coming, why not add some juice to sparkling water and they will feel grown up too.

Music makes the party

guitar

If you have a music streaming service like Spotify then you can make a themed party list in advance. If you don't then source out music on Youtube for free. Of course, you can use your own CD's or music you have on Itunes. What about some classic Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin for a casino night or some 1920's music for a Great Gatsby party. Maybe you can have a 1920's dance off! 

An idea for a fun night would be to have a music quiz. Of course, this fits into the 80's party night perfectly or a Disney music quiz, but you can make a music quiz for any theme. Another idea would be to have someone you know that plays the guitar bring it along for some tunes. 

So here are some ideas on how to have a perfect New Year at home on a budget. Let me know if you are planning a New Year's Eve party.

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Sustainable Practices Becoming A Must In Clean Beauty

Modern customers are becoming more aware of global social and environmental issues. Every week, a news story about catastrophic carbon emissions or massive oil spill or plastic floating in the water emerges.

Some of the petrochemicals found in traditional cosmetics can be pollutants that harm both the environment and in extreme cases our bodies. This is especially the case in unregulated cosmetics. Consumers are demanding natural, non-polluting and non-toxic products as we all become more environmentally conscious. Sustainable ingredients and products have a lower environmental impact, which is one of their key advantages.

One of the socially and environmentally conscious skincare brands is Plant Mother. It is a woman-owned clean skincare brand that specialises in the production of 100% vegan organic products. The brand is dedicated to reducing its environmental impact - carbon footprint, water conservation, and waste reduction. Their products are put in reusable glass bottles with zero-waste packaging without any use of plastics. Plant Mother’s most sought products are Vegan Vitamin C Serum and Organic Plant Based Retinol Serum. You can learn more about the brand’s product sustainability and its clean, botanical ingredients on the company’s website.

A skincare consumer who opts for sustainable cosmetics avoids the stress and uncertainty that comes with synthetic ingredients and instead invests in their long-term health and beauty. Headaches, acne, hormonal imbalance, and even certain types of cancer have all been linked to years of using synthetic toxic cosmetics. Phthalates for example have been related to cancer and type 2 diabetes, among other things.

Small actions toward sustainability can considerably improve consumers health and increase sales, especially as the public's focus on business ethics grows. Here are some advantages of environmentally friendly skincare brands.

1. Product Quality Improvements

women

Natural cosmetics of high grade quality, produce beneficial health results while posing little risk to the consumer. 

Many chemical compounds, however, such as some mineral oils, are believed to have a low toxicity level for users but research is showing that they may not be as non-toxic as first thought. Such materials have been demonstrated to be allergens when aerosolised and inhaled, and some researchers suggest that they may cause cancer. This is of course worrying.

The toxicity of many natural ingredients is very low resulting in safer, higher-quality products.

2. Company Reputation and Trust Improvements

serum

Green products send a statement to customers that this company values quality, safety, and sustainability and is deserving of their trust.

Consumers are looking for companies that embrace transparency and honesty as more people become concerned about synthetic products. You demonstrate your global and societal awareness by going toward sustainable, green products. This encourages customer loyalty to a brand, rather than merely to specific products. People will start — and keep — buying a company's products if they believe in its objective and a greater good. Putting your customers' health before profits always pays off.

3. Corporate Social Responsibility

woman's face

Green cosmetics also give skincare companies a unique opportunity to focus on corporate social responsibility. Aside from the beneficial effects of green marketing on a company's image, going the extra mile with sustainable sourcing or packaging can create a big influence.

When a corporation ramps up its sustainability efforts, it assumes responsibility for its impact on world health and the economy. A business obtains authority and respect among consumers, suppliers, and other parts of the distribution chain by adopting corporate responsibility for its manufacturing.


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Solar Power System Requirements

The sun produces solar energy. As per the photovoltaic effect, solar energy is converted into electricity to run electric devices. Households and workplaces need solar power systems to benefit from solar energy.

What does a solar power system consist of?

solar panels


There are several main requirements for a solar system. These are as follows:

Photovoltaic cells (or solar panels) harness solar energy. Panels used in commerce or industry are typically larger than those that are installed for residential use. The larger panels generate more wattage, allowing one to access increased energy supply with fewer panels. Despite this, the larger panels are heavier and more cumbersome to use. Solar companies must dedicate a more significant time period within which to ensure appropriate installation. The best solar company will ensure this.

The next item required is an inverter, either a string or a micro-inverter. A string inverter is the same size as a satchel, and a micro-inverter has the same dimensions as a small workbook.


The leading solar companies in Los Angeles County offer racking, which is the base on which a system must be installed. There are many types of racking companies. Racking is made of fastened aluminium. A good racking company is adaptable in its design and will be willing to stand by the hardwearing nature of the product. 

Conserving the precious energy


To conserve energy generated by the system, you will need batteries and a charge controller. This is in case of limited access to power lines, so that you have the infrastructure to stand on your own, so to speak, should the need arise. If you are connected to power lines, the energy can be redirected into the grid and used at a later stage, or converted into credits, depending on who your service provider is and whether they offer this.

Batteries conserve the energy that the system produces, and a charge controller manages the frequency of charge generated from the panels. These elements also require cabling, fuses and disconnects. Additional equipment can be used to track systemic output, to facilitate and manage any faults in the system.

Solar does come with certain shortcomings


Solar is expensive to install, ranging from thousands to tens of thousands. Despite the longer-term pay-off, starting up is costly, and it is often not something to which everyone has easy access.

Solar relies entirely on the presence of the sun, and the geographical placement of your home will play a large role in the overall functioning of your system. If there is limited sun where you stay, the panels will not work as efficiently as they would have in a sunny area. Buying additional components to address this is costly as well.

Panels require a large amount of surface area for installation. For a household, this could mean twenty to thirty panels.

Energy storage can cost a lot. The batteries cost the most. Using batteries will deplete resources to store power, which can detract from solar as an asset. Batteries must only be operated if needed or as a backup if the grid fails.

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European Travel Insurance: What Is It And Why Do I Need It?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a staggering 8.6 million Brits travelled abroad without taking out travel insurance. Overwhelmingly, the countries UK holidaymakers were least likely to take out insurance for were in Europe.

Any number of reasons for this trend can be suggested - the fact that Europe is closer to home and therefore somehow feels ‘safer’, the belief that being part of the European Union meant UK citizens didn’t have to take out travel insurance, simply not thinking it’s worthwhile because you’ve never had to make a claim before.

But a lot has changed in just a couple of years. The UK is no longer a part of the EU. The pandemic has cast a whole new light on the risks we take when we travel. After months of lockdown measures, travel restrictions and cancelled holidays, even a short-haul jolly to one of our close neighbours is not something we can take for granted anymore.

Any kind of holiday abroad feels like a blessing now. And whether it’s a short city break or a family summer vacation in the sun you have in mind, you’ll want to cover yourself for all eventualities. Treated like an unnecessary optional extra by so many British travellers just a couple of short years ago, European travel insurance is now a necessity.

Where does European Travel Insurance cover?

Rome

But hold on a minute - what’s all this ‘European’ business? Isn’t travel insurance just travel insurance? Do you need to buy cover for specific destinations?

To a certain extent, yes. Travel insurance providers group parts of the world into regions and sell policies for each one accordingly. Certainly, as far as single trip insurance goes (i.e. policies that cover you for the duration of one journey only), Europe is classified as a single region in its own right.

In other words, a European single trip travel policy will cover you for every country in Europe, plus a few more - near neighbours like Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco are often classed as part of the ‘European’ region for travel insurance purposes.

Things are slightly different with annual multi-trip insurance - policies that cover you for several trips over a 12-month period, even if they are to different destinations. Here, certain parts of southern Europe like Spain, Malta, Cyprus and Greece are often grouped in with the North African and the Middle Eastern region. This is important, as if you plan to take a holiday in any of these places as well as travel to the rest of Europe, you will need an annual policy that covers more than one region.

Do I need European Travel Insurance if I have a GHIC?

Barcelona


When the UK was part of the EU, British citizens could take advantage of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme. The EHIC entitles holders to state subsidised healthcare in member countries. For UK residents, the EHIC has now been replaced by the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which works on the same basis.

While having the GHIC can significantly reduce medical bills if you fall ill or have an accident while away in Europe, it doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay anything at all. Travel insurance pays out for whatever medical costs you might incur, and also covers you for things that the GHIC doesn’t, such as rearranged flights home.

Beyond medical expenses, travel insurance also covers you for things like cancellations and lost or stolen belongings, so it is well worth having on top of a GHIC card.

Will I get protection for COVID-19?

Tallinn

In short, as long as you choose the right policy, then yes, you will get cover for COVID-19. This is probably the number one thing travellers want from their travel insurance right now, wherever they are travelling.

COVID cover can be broken down into two broad categories. One is for if you fall ill with the virus and need medical attention, up to and including hospital admission. This is now included on the medical schedule of most European travel insurance policies, but be sure to check the wording.

The second type of COVID cover is for situations where your trip has to be cancelled, for example, because someone in your party tests positive for the virus. With most countries in Europe reintroducing compulsory PCR tests for all new arrivals, regardless of vaccination status, because of the Omicron variant, the risk of having your plans ruined by a positive test just before you travel remains significant.

A positive test before travelling is likely to come after the cancellation window offered by most airlines and travel firms close, meaning you’d have no recourse to a refund. Travel insurance with COVID cancellation cover is therefore the only way to get your money back.

Let me know, do you buy European travel insurance?

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Fascinating Art At The Prado Museum Madrid

If you are an art lover there are so many amazing art galleries to visit around the world. From the Lourve in Paris to the Art Institute of Chicago to the National Portrait Gallery in London, whether you are into traditional art or modern art there are some wonderful art museums. One of those museums that you should visit but you may not have heard so much about is the Prado Museum in Madrid. 

Prado Museum

It's full of wonderful and extensive collections of Spanish and European paintings. A really wonderful museum. If you haven't heard about it before, please read on to find out about the fascinating art at the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Where is it?

The Prado Museum is situated in the city of Madrid, the capital of Spain. Madrid is a rich cultural destination, known for its historical buildings, its food markets, its museums and its nightlife. Being a little over a two hour flight from the UK, it's the perfect weekend destination. 

The Prado Museum

The Triumph of Bacchus
The Triumph Of Bacchus by Diego Velázquez

The Museo del Prado or Prado Museum houses one of the world´s finest collections of European art and paintings, most notably its Spanish, Italian and Flemish schools, daring from the 12th century. It has an extensive collection of Francisco Goya's work and is also known for work by El Greco, Titian, Rubens and Diego Velazquez. 

The collection at the Prado Museum has approximately 8,200 drawings, 7,600 paintings, 4,800 prints, and 1,000 sculptures, in addition to many other works of art and historic documents. You could spend days here and still not see it all! If you are a real art lover then dedicate at least a couple of days to see the well-known art, and expect to come back every time you are in Madrid.

Some of the famous paintings at Prado include 

Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights.

Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights

  • The Truimph Of Bacchus by Diego Velázquez, The painting shows Bacchus surrounded by drunks.
  • Bosch’s Garden Of Earthly Delights. The painting represents the insatiable weakness of man for not resisting sinful physical temptation.
  • Goya's The Second Of May In Madrid. The painting depicts the dramatic riots in Madrid on May 2, 1808, after Napoleon's troops had invaded the country.
  • Peter Paul Rubens' Adoration of the Magi. The Magi present their gifts to Christ as a child. They are in the company of a large group of people. A young Jesus seems to be playing with the incense given to him.
The Prado Museum costs 15 Euros per person and concessions are 7. 50 Euros.

Other art museums

Madrid is a great place to visit for art lovers as there is an abundance of other art museums too. 

The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía or the Queen Sofía Museum is is Spain's national museum of 20th-century art. Whilst the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza or the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is a museum close to the Prado Museum that complements its art with art from the English, Dutch and German schools.

Where to stay

There are a number of hotels near the Prado museum. My favourite luxury hotels include the following.

Hotel Urban. A 5-star luxury boutique hotel with rooftop pool
Soho Boutique Congresso. A 4-star hotel in the centre of Madrid.
Axel Hotel Madrid. A 4-star hotel adults hotel in the Huertas district.

As you can see if you are an art lover, then it is well worth visiting the Prado Museum Madrid. Let me know if you have ever been or want to go. 

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How To Choose Bridesmaids Dresses For Your Big Day

Weddings can be stressful. I should know, I've been married twice! However there are some things you can do to make it a less stressful experience, and dare I say, enjoy it. The main thing is to research all your options so you are well prepared when you start to buy what you need, whether that is your dress, your flowers, your invitations or your bridesmaids' dresses.  

bridesmaids dresses
There are many articles on choosing your wedding dress but sometimes the bridesmaid's dresses get overlooked. So let's have a look at how to choose your bridesmaids' dresses for your big day.

Personal preference

Firstly there is a certain etiquette with weddings and ultimately the bride has the last say on the choice of the bridesmaids' dresses.  Of course, the personal preferences of the bridesmaids should always be taken into account on the style of the dresses. No one wants their guests to be unhappy on their wedding day although some bridezillas will have you believing otherwise.   

The bridesmaids' preferences could vary depending on their age, their taste and whether they are contributing to the dress at all.  

What's the theme?

If there is a theme then this needs to be taken into account. A laid back bohemian hippie theme will mean the bride and bridesmaids will be dressed differently from a country house hotel wedding. If you are getting married on a beach then your attire will be different to an art deco themed wedding in a hotel. So the theme needs to be taken into consideration when you are buying your bridesmaids dresses

Time of year and weather

The time of year needs to be taken into account. In the Winter in the UK and Europe we get cold weather so you need to think of keeping the bridesmaids warm, perhaps dresses with long sleeves would be appropriate and heavier materials like satin or velvet. In the summer in the UK and Europe, it's warmer so you may want to go for a lighter material like chiffon or silk and short or no sleeves. In the Spring and Autumn, the weather can change so you may even need umbrellas as well as coats on standby. In the colder months, a bolero or shawl may be a useful addition to the bridesmaids' outfits.

Getting married abroad

Many brides like to get married abroad, perhaps somewhere exotic, maybe a destination wedding on a beach in Goa, or somewhere like Las Vegas. If you are getting married abroad then ensure you are aware of the range of weather in that country at the time of year you are getting married, and dress your bridesmaids accordingly. In hot countries, a lightweight dress made in a material like a chiffon will be more appropriate than a heavier dress made in a material like satin. 

Colour

Sometimes it's a good idea to choose a colour that compliments the theme, the flowers and the brides' dress. Then go with that colour and shade and let the bridesmaids choose their own style. This is a good idea as body shapes are different and then the dresses will suit the bridesmaids, and they will be happy with the style. 

Ordering

Allow plenty of time to get your dresses. If you get them from a department store they may be on the shelf there and then but if you buy from a wedding store they may have a much longer lead time as they could be made to order. This could be 12 weeks or more.  It's best if you order all the dresses at the same time so that the colour will be the same especially if they are made to order.

As you can see there is a lot to take into consideration when choosing bridesmaid dresses for your big day.

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How To Give Your Home Some Love And Attention

It’s easy to let your home take second priority when you have other things to worry about – like kids, career, family and friends, but there’s much to be said about turning your home back into your haven by giving it some much-needed love and attention. Take a look at these simple steps that could make a big difference to your home.

Enhance its features

mural wallpaper

If there’s something in your home that you’ve always loved but is surrounded by clutter or hidden behind furniture, consider making changes and turning it into a main focal point in your room and let everything else revolve around it.

Your focal piece could be anything from your favourite piece of artwork, to statement lighting to a vintage fireplace or a wallpaper mural; the key is to find something that stands out. Use your focal point to start creating the story for the rest of the room and choose furniture, colours, and accessories that will complement it to create a coherent theme throughout. Check out this bedroom wallpaper to see what I mean. 

Rearrange

lounge

Making small changes such as rearranging the furniture layout can make all the difference – opening up a badly used space and creating a better flow throughout to make the most of the room.

Take a step back and consider the layout of your room and highlight what space you can make the most of. Start by placing the largest pieces of furniture first as this will help make the best use of the space and aim to fit smaller pieces and accessories around it.

Take this opportunity to get rid of any items you don’t need and that aren’t adding to the room visually. Give away old furniture to charity shops or sell it at a car boot sale and use the money to buy something more fitting for the room. You might even find that a particular item would be better suited for another room in your home.


Improve your kitchen

kitchen

Phil Spencer's top 20 ways of increasing the value of your home include concentrating on improving your kitchen to add an extra 4 % to your house value. Recently we have had a new kitchen and the way it is now arranged has given us extra space, with more cupboards and less clutter. We had the sink moved and used reliable plumbers and fitters to make the process smoother. 

Improving your kitchen can really add value to your home and make it a nice place to cook in.

Add value by adding space

conservatory

Lastly, add value by adding space. A dilemma faced by many homeowners is the fact that they may love the area they live in and love their home but maybe stuck for space. Instead of moving out why not think about adding more space?

There are many ways that you can add space to your home including loft and basement conversions, adding a conservatory or even building an extension. In the majority of cases too, if you create extra space you will potentially increase the overall value of your home.

So here are some ways to give your home some love and attention. By doing these things you can make your home much more livable again, whether you are here for a long time or looking to upgrade your home in the near future. 

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How To Prepare A Static Caravan for Winter

If you’ve got a static caravan in a holiday park, you probably don’t use it much, if at all, over winter. In fact, you may not even be able to use it even if you wanted to as most holiday parks close over winter for a number of weeks or months

If this is the case, you may be wondering how to prepare a static caravan for winter or even realise it's a good thing to prepare a static caravan for winter. But it is.

Either way, here’s how you can make sure your caravan survives the harsh winter months and doesn’t end up home to rats, mice or burst water pipes.

How to prepare a static caravan for winter

caravan

Drain down

Your holiday park might provide a drain down service but, if not, or you’d rather save the money and do it yourself, here’s how to drain down your static caravan for winter and prevent your caravan’s pipes from freezing and bursting.

  • Turn off the water supply
  • Open the drain down taps underneath your caravan
  • Turn on all the taps in your caravan until fully drained
  • Flush the toilet and make sure the cistern is empty
  • Pour non-toxic anti-freeze down the toilet and plug holes (find non-toxic anti-freeze suitable for caravans - this isn’t necessarily the same as car anti-freeze)

Move furniture and take home bedding and towels

caravan bedroom

Caravans can be prone to dampness in the winter, so move all the furniture to the middle of the room to let the air circulate freely around everything. It’ll also be a good idea to stand mattresses on their edge and pile up the sofa cushions in the middle of the room.

Rats, mice and other unwanted guests looking for a cosy home indoors will love your duvets, towels and blankets, so take all these home with you for the winter. Vacuum storage bags are your friend here.

Rats and mice will also try to come in looking for food, so remember to clear out the fridge, freezer and cupboards and take all your food home with you (or give to a food bank or homeless charity where possible).

When you’ve emptied your fridge, freezer and cupboards, give them a good clean and leave the doors open to prevent mould.

Another mould and damp prevention tip is to leave moisture traps or bowls of salt in every room.

Take your valuables home

caravan lounge

Just like empty houses, empty caravans are also tempting to thieves. So take all your valuables home including the TV, games console, DVD player and anything else a burglar might take a fancy to and then leave your curtains open to show there’s nothing inside worth nicking.

Also, take home or put into storage everything from outside that’s not firmly secured to the ground, e.g. furniture, BBQ equipment or gnomes. This will stop them from flying away in windy, stormy weather and possibly damaging your caravan or a neighbouring one.

If you follow the above advice, your static caravan will be perfectly happy throughout the winter and will be in good condition for your next visit in the spring or summer.

How Sleeping Positions Affect Your Health

Your body strives to rebuild and repair itself as you sleep. Depending on how well your sleep position maintains the natural curvature of your spine, it can either help or hinder this process. It's also normal for people to wake up in the morning with aches and pains, which can be caused by their sleeping posture.

We spend one-third of our lives sleeping or relaxing, therefore it's critical to select a sleeping posture that promotes physical recuperation. A good sleeping posture can reduce stress on your spine, but an unhealthy position can cause pain or stiffness in your back, arms, or shoulders, all while contributing to poor sleep quality.

You might be shocked to find that according to a study, the vast majority of individuals sleep on their sides (about 50 per cent) or backs (approximately 40 per cent), with a significantly smaller 10 per cent sleeping on their stomachs. But what effect does each sleeping position have on your body and general health?

The Different Types of Sleeping Positions

sleeping

Sleeping on your back


Despite the perception that your sleeping posture is more psychological than physical, your sleeping position is very significant to your overall health. One of the most popular sleep positions is on your back. It enables your mattress's ergonomics and curves to perform at their best, especially those with elements that help or maintain excellent posture. Sleeping on your back may be beneficial if you have acid reflux, but it may aggravate your snoring or sleep apnea if you have either of these conditions.

Sleeping on your stomach

According to several sleep research articles, sleeping on your stomach may be the least recommended sleeping posture of all. It may reduce snoring slightly, but it will cause your head to be lifted on your pillow, which means your spine will not rest in a neutral position. It may also indicate that there is additional strain exerted on your back and neck as a result of this overhanging of the spine.

Because of the restricted blood flow associated with sleeping on your stomach, you may wake up with numb extremities. If you wake up with numbness or pins and needles in your extremities, you may be exposing your body to nerve disorders that can be aggravated. If you wake up with numbness or pins and needles in your extremities, you may be exposing your body to nerve difficulties that may worsen if you continue to sleep on your stomach.

Sleeping on your side

Yes, there is an optimum sleeping posture, and it is sleeping on your side. Many academics and clinicians believe that sleeping on your side is the best sleeping posture for the majority of us. Because you're in a lateral position, you're keeping your spine in a neutral posture, which will help prevent or lessen any neck, back, or shoulder pain you may experience or wake up with. It can also aid with snoring and minimize the consequences of sleep apnea to some extent. Sleeping on your side is normally suggested for most individuals.

Sleeping in the fetal position

Surprisingly, women are twice as likely as men to sleep in the fetal position. However, it is typically recommended that we avoid this position because it can generate a severe bend in the spine and result in an uncomfortable or strained back. It can also hinder diaphragm movement, resulting in breathing difficulties.

As you can see, giving your sleeping position some thought and tailoring it to your body type or sleeping issues will frequently result in a better night's sleep. You should ensure you have the proper pillow and mattress for your sleeping position, and you should always aim to make your bedroom as favourable to healthy sleep as possible.

How sleep positions impact health

What’s The Best Sleeping Position For Blood Circulation In Your Body?

The ideal sleeping posture for blood circulation is determined by more than just how your legs are positioned. You can boost your circulation by changing other parts of your body, just as elevating them can help your blood flow. Sleeping with or without a pillow, for example, might have an impact on how your spine is oriented.

Here are a couple pointers that can help you get the best circulation possible based on your sleeping posture:

  • Sleep on your left instead of your right side
  • Elevate your knees; keep your arms at your sides rather than behind or beneath your head
  • Select a pillow that cradles your neck while keeping your spine neutrally oriented

By doing these things, you can help your body get into a position that doesn't compress your lungs or organs and interfere with blood flow. Once again, gravity can be used to your advantage to enhance blood flow.

What is the best sleeping position for spine health?

sleeping on back

Have you ever had a night where you just can't get comfy and wake up feeling like you've been run over by a truck? It turns out that getting too little sleep is hazardous for your overall health as well as your spine. Furthermore, your sleeping position may be increasing or possibly causing your back pain.

When it comes to spine health, sleeping flat on your back is by far the greatest option. This position keeps your head, neck, and spine upright while also distributing your weight equally across your body. This can benefit those suffering from chronic diseases by relieving pressure and compression.

For some people, sleeping on their back is a difficult position. The second best sleeping posture for spine health is lying on your side. To keep a neutral spine while sleeping in this posture, stretch your legs. While the potential side effects of this position include a sore neck, you can lessen your risk of neck pain by selecting the correct cushion to support your neck.

What Sleeping Position is Best for Pain Relief or Muscle Relaxation?

Sleep may have an important role in the treatment of muscle, joint, and bone pain. If you're having difficulty setting your body's pain score, you might want to consider a few pain-free sleeping positions. As previously stated, resting on your back has numerous advantages. For one, it is easier to keep your spine aligned. Furthermore, a supine position might relieve strain on the shoulder or jaw, resulting in tension headaches.

Sleeping on your back may help alleviate discomfort by reducing compression and pain caused by past injuries or other chronic problems. Finding a comfortable position when suffering from chronic pain can be difficult. However, starting on your back with trial-and-error pillow support may be beneficial.

The lateral posture is also recommended for persons suffering from arthritis, acid reflux, neck and back pain, and other conditions.

If you snore loudly or have sleep apnea, side sleeping is the best option. However, if you like sleeping on your back, an elevating approach may be beneficial.

Side sleeping is most comfortable when the chest and legs are kept reasonably straight and the spine is in an extended, yet natural position. To support the head and neck, try a cooling mattress for side sleepers for comfort and pressure relief on the lower back.

Enjoy the benefits of better sleep

Getting a good night's sleep is critical to one's health and well-being, but it is all too often disregarded. Sleeping can be considerably more difficult if you have joint discomfort, breathing difficulties, or other issues. Trying a new sleeping position may be beneficial.

If you have trouble finding a comfortable sleeping position at night, consider an adjustable mattress that lifts your lower limbs, which will place you in a natural position to sleep on your side. If you have a regular mattress, make sure it is firm enough to support your lower back, or invest in a mattress that supports the natural curvature of your spine while also being comfortable.

*Collaborative post

What To Buy The Woman Who Has Everything?

We all know that one person – or perhaps we are that one person – who is hard to buy for. They don’t need anything, they don’t want anything, and yet we really do wish to give them something special as a gift; giving is all part of the fun, after all, especially at this time of year. Here are a few ideas for gifts for the woman who has everything which is sure to put a smile on her – and your – face.

Magazine Subscription

magazines

Having a magazine full of information about something they are interested in, coming through the door once a month is a treat. Who wouldn’t like that? Who wouldn’t love to sit for a while with their favourite read and a cup of hot coffee and take a bit of time for themselves? No one. This is why a magazine subscription is an excellent idea for those hard to buy for people in your life. There are magazines on any and every subject, so no matter what your loved one is into, you’ll be able to find a publication that will suit them perfectly. Plus, this is the kind of gift you can get every birthday or Christmas, and it will always be appreciated.

Monthly Box of Treats

You can get a subscription to lots of different things these days, not just magazines. You can sign up for a monthly delivery or sweet treats like cookies or cakes, or perhaps wine or beer would hit the spot. Maybe monthly deliveries of makeup, a book, or even ingredients to cook a wonderful meal. Find the right thing, and your gift will keep on giving for a whole year.

Good Coffee

coffee

If your loved one is a coffee connoisseur, then usual stuff from the supermarket just isn’t going to cut it. This is why buying some really good coffee, and perhaps a special coffee maker to go with it, will be an ideal gift. Make sure you do your research to ensure you’ve made the right choice; reading a guide to the Lavazza coffee range is a great place to start.

Jewellery

You can never have enough jewellery, so buying a gorgeous piece from a renowned store with a famous name is a great gift. Take the time to notice the kind of jewellery that she wears already – which metal she favours, whether there are gems in it, whether she likes rings or necklaces, or bracelets – and look for something that matches her preferences. It’s perfect.

The Family Tree 

It’s possible to buy a family tree gift set that will mean the woman who is otherwise impossible to buy for can have a truly unique gift, just for her. The kit gives you all the details on how to search for your ancestors, and you can even get a DNA testing kit to go with it that gives you information on where that family came from originally.

Scratch Off World Map
map

This massive map of the world will look great on any wall, but the bonus of this is that you can scratch off the areas you have already visited, showing off a vibrant colour underneath. Your loved one can reminisce over places he or she’s been and plan their next holiday to somewhere they haven't.


*Collaborative post

Budget Bedroom Ideas For A Kid's Bedroom

If you are looking to decorate your kids' room it can be a costly process, however, it doesn't have to be. It can absolutely be done on a budget if you know how to. I have searched the internet and have combined that with my knowledge of decorating and of being a parent, to come up with some budget bedroom ideas on how to decorate your child's room on a budget. 

Wall stickers can transform a room

girls bedroom

Using wall stickers to decorate is a great way to totally transform a room on a budget. Wall stickers are generally well priced, can create an impact and are easy to remove if you get tired of the look. This last point is particularly relevant if you are in rented accommodation and you can't make any permanent changes. There are tonnes of cute wall stickers for kids so you have lots of choices too.

A lick of paint can do wonders

Kids bedrooms can get grubby, however, some simple white paint can make it fresh looking again and won't break the bank. For a pound or two more, get paint that has an eggshell or satin finish as it's hard-wearing and easy to clean - just in case your little ones happen to scribble on the walls! 

Framed artwork made by them 

kid painting

For a genius idea that will cost next to nothing, why not frame their artwork? You probably have a lot of their work in a bag somewhere so why not pick the best of it, create a border with some card and buy a frame to hang it on the wall. Pop the work in the frame add the border and then fix it to the wall with a picture hanging kit, Your kid will be delighted, you will be the best mum or dad in the world and you have something that looks great on the wall. 

Upcycle old furniture

If you have some old furniture that is past its prime then why not upcycle it? Chairs can be made comfy and stylish by reupholstering the seat and back, You could also make some nice cushions for their current sofa or chair to give it a fun look. If they have a chest of drawers, wardrobe or table that is getting shabby, think about stripping it of paint, priming it and then staining or painting it.  If you are a good artist or know someone who is, you could even stencil on or paint with a freehand their favourite cartoon characters. 

Multifunctional furniture

kids bedroom

Multifunctional furniture is a great buy for a kids bedroom especially if you are on a budget, or are short of space. A sofa bed can be ideal for a seating area and a bed for when their friends come over, whilst a bunk bed with a desk underneath is useful for when your child has to do their school work. Check out second-hand sites for a real bargain like Facebook Marketplace, or eBay, and local thrift shops that sell furniture to save some serious money.

So here are some budget bedroom ideas for a kid's bedroom. Have you decorated your child's bedroom? Do you have any budget ideas?

*Collaborative post