13 December 2017

5 Bathroom Fix Ups On A Budget

Updating and Remodelling your bathroom is an exciting project, but one that is often neglected in home makeovers and is usually the last room in the house to get some attention. Not only will it make going for a bath or shower a lot more pleasant, it will also potentially add value to your home and impress your guests!
There are some jobs that you can do yourself. The size of your bathroom does not have to be a limiting factor because there are plenty of ways in which you can give the illusion of space and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get great results.

Mix up cheap items with a few expensive elements
You don't always have to splash the cash on everything in order to create a high end look. Spend wisely. Shop around for tiles and flooring. If you fall in love with some expensive tiles you do not have to deny yourself. Try using cheaper tiles and then using a more expensive version for a reoccurring feature. When it comes to floor tiles, use a neutral colour than doesn't cost the earth and then invest in a quality bathroom rug.


Don't economize on paint
Paint is an area which is worth investing in a good quality product. Buying low cost paint is false economy in the long run because it gets moldy and you will have to paint all over again which costs even more money. You can cut down on condensation and mold by ensuring that the bathroom is adequately ventilated. It is better to fit a mechanical extraction van that removes moist air from the room or you can get fans with humidity sensors that atomically turn on when the humidity reaches a certain level.
Get a good plumber
Although you might think that you can save some money doing the plumbing work yourself, this is a high-risk strategy. Investing in professional plumbing services ensures that your safety and the structure of the house is not put at risk. Fitting showers, baths and toilets is complicated and should be carried out by someone who knows what they are doing. A plumber is a great information so pick their brains whilst they are doing the job for you! They can advise you which fittings would work best in the space that you have available.

Don’t forget the small things
Changing up some of the smaller elements in your bathroom can make a world of difference. Updating simple things like light fixtures, drawer pulls and towel racks can complete the whole look. These elements may seem minor, but add them together and you can achieve a perfect look. You also don’t have to buy these fixtures as new. Hunt around second-hand stores for period items that would fit your look.


Put up a new mirror
It is of course essential to have a mirror and where mirrors are concerned, the bigger and more stylish the better as they can become a real feature and talking point. They also can create the illusion of space, making a small bathroom look a lot bigger than it actually is.




*Collaborative Post

12 December 2017

What To Buy The Boyfriend At Christmas

Men always say that buying for a woman at Christmas time is impossible, but what about what to buy for our partners?  Socks seems to be the stock answer but we want to be a bit more imaginative with our loved ones don't we?

I have put together some items that you could consider buying your boyfriend/partner/husband at Christmas with a range of idea and prices.  I have based my choices on the tastes of previous boyfriends, let me know if I have hit the mark for yours!

 While men tell us that they don't care about clothes, many of the men I have dated have had a near obsession with their footwear.  What about these skate shoes from SkateHut for £94.95?



For the guy that loves speed, you can't go wrong with a supercar experience with a professional instructor.  Priced at £79.00 


Skincare is for girls they tell us! Until you wonder why your favourite moisturiser is getting low very quickly and then spy your boyfriend using it.   How about getting his own grooming kit from Clinique for £30.00.



For more of a stocking filler but something that he will love (if he has an obsession with the Discovery Channel like my last boyfriend!); how about some Discovery Channel VR Glasses?  A bargain at £13.99.


Finally, and something to be honest that I would utterly love as well, for the Doctor Who lover, how about a Sonic Screwdriver remote control?  Priced at £54.99.

Hope these have given you some inspiration!!

How To Have A Child Friendly Road Trip

When I think about road trips, I always look back to when I was a little girl.  

My mum, my dad and I used to travel down by car every year to Argeles in France.  I think we went for around four years and there were always meticulous plans in place to ensure a smooth trip and that I didn't get too bored and say "Are we there yet?" every five minutes.  

First of all, before making the around 17+ hour trip to Argeles, my dad would take the car to www.kwik-fit.com to get a full service done.  There is nothing worse than breaking down when you are travelling a long way to a foreign country.  Especially when you have a young child on board, in this case, me!


My mum used to stock the car with snacks and games that I could play in the back seat.   The trip was always broken down into segments so that it was easier for me and there was always something to look forward to or a destination to get to instead of driving for ten hours straight with a tired and grumpy five year old.

We used to set out early in the morning, around 5am with me sleeping in the back seat for the first few hours and then we would stop for breakfast.  The trip to Dover was around 5 hours so stopping mid point at a service station for some food and a quick look at the shops worked really well and I was energised and excited after breakfast to get to the ferry.

Apart from one year my mum tells me when I fell asleep just before we got to Dover and I slept through the ferry journey, only waking an hour after we docked and asking "When we are we getting to the boat?"

For the France part of our journey the games and snacks came out.  After around five hours, my limit of tolerance apparently, we used to break our journey for the night, always stopping at the same hotel.  I remember being obsessed with the little mushrooms on the hors d'oeuvres trolley and my mum tells me while writing this that I refused to eat anything else!

The beautiful Argeles
After another early start with me once again asleep in the back seat, the 5-6 hour trip down to Argeles didn't seem so bad with the excitement of getting to our destination closer and closer.  

We used to stay in a large static caravan on a local site near to the beach.  I still remember the beautiful beach and the hot sand, running towards the sea to cool off.  I even met a French girl one year who was staying in the caravan next to us.  We became penpals and were friends for many years, even staying at their home one year for a weekend.

Road trips with a young child don't have to be a nightmare.  It is all about planning ahead as much as you possibly can, making it fun and taking advantage of early starts where some of the hours can disappear in sleep. 

I wouldn't change those memories for the world.



*Collaborative post #carsafetychecklist 




11 December 2017

Wishing On A Star

Call me sentimental, but one thing that I have always wanted to do is name a star.  It is the kind of thing that you do not generally buy for yourself but is a perfect present for a loved one.  It may be the romantic in me, but if someone I loved did this for me, like a boyfriend on Valentines Day or a gift at Christmas; I would be thrilled.

So I was delighted when Star Name Registry gave me the opportunity to name a star for myself.  I was given the Extra Bright Star package which lets you name a star (obviously!!), let you choose a constellation and provides you with an A4 Star Name Deed in a photo frame, a Sky Atlas Star Map and an explanation as to what bright stars and binary stars are.



When trying to think of a name for the star, there was one person I had in mind that I wanted to give this gift to and that was my mum.  When I was a little girl (and still when I want something haha) I always used to call her Kinsey.  So now, there is a Star of Kinsey!

I gave the Star Name Deed to her tonight and she was thrilled.  

When you receive your Deed, you are given a reference number which you can enter into the Star Register site to see what your star looks like.  Here is Kinsey!
  

Star Name Registry are allowing me to run a competition where you can win the opportunity to name a standard star for yourself, or a loved one.

What will you name your star?


10 December 2017

Owning Your Body Image

Body image.  The way that we see ourselves is ruled by both the distorted vision of what we think we look like in our head and also by what society has told us that we should look like.  


Ask any woman what she likes about her face or body and I guarantee that in the majority, you will be waiting longer for an answer than if you had asked what she disliked.   The thing is though; your imperfections and the differences between your face and body to the people around you are what make you special.  It just takes a long time to figure that out and some of us never do.


I have always struggled with the way I look.  I could give you a catalogue of things that I don’t like about myself: wonky eyebrows, too fat; waist too short; breasts too big etc etc.  I always presumed that because of these things that I was automatically unattractive to the opposite sex and have worked on that presumption for as long as I can remember.

Every person on the planet looks different to the rest which is a good thing and is something to be celebrated.  Each of us has our own distinctive look, just as each of us have our own personal preference for what we find attractive in others.


The underlying truth of it all is that confidence is the most attractive thing you can have.  Whether you are tall, short, fat, thin, blonde or brunette; if you have confidence, you are already there.


One thing that I have been thinking about recently though are the judgements that we place on people who have confidence, but want to change or tweak certain things. Somehow, if you say that you own the way that you look, you are beholden (by some) to maintain that and never change. But isn't that still pandering to the majority and not being true to yourself?

For example, I like my eyebrows as they are when filled in a little, but I have also been thinking about microblading. I mentioned this to someone and I received a ten minute lecture about how people who say that they are confident in themselves but then undergo a procedure are frauds. They are my eyebrows dude, chill.

Say you knew someone who had really bad acne, could you really judge them for considering laser acne scar treatments? I know someone who suffers really badly from acne scarring. She is beautiful, inside and out. She is confident and outgoing, but is also thinking of having laser treatment as she hates wearing a lot of foundation every day. She tells me it would add to her confidence. Does this change the way that I think about her? Of course not.

Confidence is an attitude. A state of mind. Something that you can work towards and choose. You are in charge of your body, your confidence and your self worth. I own the way that I look, whether I choose to tweak it, change it or stay exactly the same.

If you let others dictate when you are allowed to feel confident, you are not quite there yet. But you will be.





*Collaborative post

6 December 2017

Managing Your Finances at Christmas

One of the things that used to be an issue for me was sticking my head in the sand when it came to finances.  Particularly at Christmas.  I used to be in debt but at Christmas, at time where I love to splurge on my loved ones, that debt went to the back of my head and I spent what I wanted..

I know that this is something that many of us do, especially in the holiday season.  When January rolls round, our head comes out of the sand and we realise yet again that we have overspent and gotten further into debt.

This happened to me.  It happens to many people.  It took me seven years to sort out my finance problems and along the way I have learned many lessons, a couple of which I will share with you.

Please note that I am not a financial expert, nor am I qualified to give financial advice.  I am writing this blog today because people do not talk about being in debt.  We gloss over the subject, we hide the problems in shame.  I was that person. In debt more than I could handle, through my own fault.

The first tip.  Do not panic.

When I (finally) took my head out of the sand I had no clue what to do, and went for the first option available which is hindsight, was the wrong thing to do. I panicked and ended up paying out far more as a result.


Once you have realised the extent of your money problems, you need to look at the different options available to you in order to resolve them.  

One of the most stupid things I did over one Christmas period was to hit the payday loans.  What I didn't think about was the huge interest rates involved and how far it can escalate.  If you get into this kind of mess what you can do is look at a payday loan consolidation company.  They look at your budget, sort out with you what you can afford and deal directly with your creditors.  Sometimes, as I found, it can all be too much so someone dealing directly with your creditors can be a huge weight off your shoulders.

Another option is a debt management plan.  

My error was that I did not research debt management plan providers and just went with the first one I found.  This ended up costing me over two thousand pounds by the end in admin charges.  

What I know now is that there are free debt management plan provides which do exactly the same job.  They work out what you can afford, negotiate with your creditors and work out a plan for you to pay off your debts, often with the interest frozen.

I would suggest contacting the Citizen's Advice Bureau who have loads of advice on the subject and the link I have put in goes directly to the free providers of debt management plans. 

If you owe more than ten thousand pounds, you could go into an IVA (Individual Voluntary Agreement).  You can get free advice on this from the Money Advice Service.  This enables you to get around 70-80% of your debts written off, and the remainder is handled by an insolvency practitioner (you will pay for this service).

I hope this helps a little for anyone reading through who has only just pulled their head out of the sand and is, as I was seven years ago, in a blind panic.  Don't panic.  Research.  Make use of the free resources available.  

You will get through this.  I did and so can you.


*Collaborative Piece

5 December 2017

3 Things To Do Online To Relax

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am quite driven when online.  I like to kept abreast of the news, what is going on with social media; catching up with friends; writing blog posts; reading opinion pieces from writers I enjoy.

The thing is with all of that is that too much of it can mash up your head and fill it with too much information at once.  

It is important, especially for me, to remember that there are normal, fun things on the internet and relaxing things to do that have nothing to do with reading all the latest news bulletins and wanting to bang your head against a wall.

Here are the things I do online to have fun and relax:

YouTube Videos

I confess.  I am a bit of an addict to online makeup tutorials.  I don't put much of them into practice to be honest as I do not have the skills or all the fancy brushes and brands to recreate the looks; but I love watching the videos.

Also, funny animal videos.  You have to love them and find me one person who does not relax when watching a cute dog doing something funny in a video.


Listening to Music

While I am a complete 90s dance woman, when I want to relax, my go to music is piano based classical music; preferably from new artists that I have not heard before.  They can take my mood from stressed and overcome, to a mood of absolute calm and tranquility.

I highly recommend checking out Soundcloud for finding new artists.  For a personal recommendation, I particularly love IIya Beshevli who is a 23 year old pianist and composer from Siberia.  His piece Fairytale Castle is just magical.  



Games

I cannot play games on my phone.  After getting to a great level on Candy Crush and subsequently going back to level one again when I changed my phone, I am done with the game.  Done.  It literally crushed me.  I also don't understand the thrill of finding mythical creatures when I walking to various destinations.  I want to reach my destination, not be surrounded by Pidgeys and Ratatas.

For me, I love retro games and low level betting on formula one races and the outcomes of various events like the US presidential election.  I enjoy sites like Boomtown for online gaming and old classic games like Crypt Raider.

It may also help that a lot of those kind of games also have cheat sites which tell you what to do if you get really stuck.  I am looking for relaxation after all!  Shush!  Don't tell anybody!

What are your online relaxation go tos?


*Collaborative piece

4 December 2017

5 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Energy Bill This Winter

We're approaching the end of the year at break-neck speed, and that means many different things to different people. For some, the winter months mean festive cheer and fun family celebrations with the people you love most. For others, while those happy thoughts are in the pipeline, there's a more pressing concern to worry about in the form of impending winter energy bills.

During the colder months of the year, we find ourselves consistently struggling with bigger, more worrying expenses. As the weather gets colder, thermostats are cranked all the way up, and we spend a lot more time indoors, watching television, using electricity, and avoiding the outdoors.

The good news is that if you're dreading a painful energy bill in the New Year, there are things you can do to begin cutting down costs. Here are some simple and effective ways to bring your energy expenses down to a minimum.


1.       Switch Energy Providers

Changing energy providers can seem like an unnecessary waste of time and effort. Most of us would rather avoid the complexity involved with calling up our supplier and explaining why we no longer want to use them for our electricity or gas. On top of that, you also need to spend extra time looking for an option that's cheaper and more effective.

Though switching can seem like a pain in the neck, the truth is that changing to a more effective provider for your needs could save you hundreds every year. All you need to do is get online and check out a few energy comparison websites. It's that simple.

2.      Pay Bills by Direct Debit

Rather than waiting for your energy bills to come to you in the post, and then trying to find the money to pay for them in a mad rush, you could always set up an account to pay a certain amount each month. This is often a much cheaper way of doing things. With a monthly direct debit, your supplier should be able to estimate yearly usage and spread your bill over 12 months too.

You'll probably overpay a little during the summer months when the weather's good, but this also means that you should be able to store up extra credit for the winter. Just remember to call up now and again and give your supplier an accurate meter reading.

3.      Stop Leaving Things on Standby

How often do you go out to pick up your shopping, or work at your 9-to-5 job, while leaving various electronics on standby around your home? You might leave your television playing to itself, or even a few light switches turned on around the home.

While this might not seem like much of a problem, leaving your devices on standby does drain your cash quicker than you might expect. Most households waste around £30 a year leaving their devices on standby when they're not being used. While this doesn't sound like much in the grand scheme of things, it's enough to make you think twice about turning things off when you leave home.

4.      Turn the Heating Down

The concept of turning the thermostat down a notch or two when you can see the frost building outside might seem like madness, but the truth is that it could do wonders for your energy bills. 

Ultimately, you should never put yourself in a position where you're freezing, or risk illness, but if you can simply reduce your thermostat slightly and throw on a jumper instead, then you could save a lot of money.

Try wrapping yourself up in a nice warm blanket the next time you're feeling chilly, instead of cranking up the radiators and taking your layers off.

5.      Change to a Smarter Thermostat

Finally, if you've got a little cash for an initial investment, or you can afford to take out a personal loan, then it might be a good idea to switch to a smarter heating system in your home that allows you to place your radiators on a timer. This way, you can make sure that you're only heating your property when you're going to benefit from the extra warmth.

Timers on your thermostat can ensure that you don't need to leave your heating running all day when you're out at work just, so you can come home to a warm flat or house. Your thermostat will naturally turn itself up at a certain time each day so that your home welcomes you back with just the right amount of heat.


*Collaborative post

1 December 2017

What to do when your Christmas gifts arrive damaged

The moment you've been waiting for weeks for finally arrives; your Christmas presents are here and much to your dismay, some of them are broken!

Unfortunately, these things happen, so it’s important not to get too caught up in the disappointment. Instead, act quickly and get the problem resolved well before Christmas Day arrives.

Even Santa himself isn’t immune from damaging his precious cargo! The different weather conditions and environments can take it’s toll on his sleigh, preventing him getting from A to B with all the presents intact.








Fortunately, the protective case experts over at The Case Farm are offering their top tips to help you solve the problem of damaged goods. Read on to discover how to ensure you get your gifts refunded and replaced before Christmas!

Know your rights

As a consumer, you’re entitled to certain rights under the Sale of Goods act 1979 that protect you when purchasing goods.

The Sale of Goods act states that you have legal rights if the item you bought is either:

  • Broken or damaged in some way
  • Unusable
  • Not as advertised i.e. it isn’t as the seller described

It’s a good idea to be aware of these rights if you’ve received damaged goods, as they can help you get the compensation you deserve!

Find your proof of purchase

When buying items online or in-store, it’s crucial to keep hold of your proof of purchase just in case situations like this arise. This is usually a receipt, but it’s best to check the retailer’s returns to see what counts as ‘proof’ of purchase.

Many retailers require that you must have proof of purchase if you wish to return an item or get a refund, so it’s a good idea to keep hold of your receipts as a precaution.

Contact the retailer

If the shop or online retailer you bought your presents from have good customer service, then this process should be simple and straightforward.

The retailer may ask for purchase details or whether the goods are damaged or faulty. You will then be entitled to a refund, repair or replacement.

You can claim a full refund for a faulty product within 30 days of purchase. So if you’re tight for time, this might be the best option for you to get your money back in time for Christmas.

Get a helping hand

If the shop you bought your gifts from refuses to refund, replace or repair your damaged goods, you may need a bit of extra help to get your money back.

For big purchases such as second-hand cars, you can enlist the help of a consumer ombudsman. This is a free, independent service that helps you deal with your dispute and hopefully get it resolved!


*Collaborative post