21 June 2018

Junior Styles

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the maternal type.  I do not coo over babies,  I do not yearn for a mini me (god help us all) or a child that I can teach the ways of the world and hopefully, make it a better place.

I do confess though, I am a little obsessed when it comes to children's clothing.  I long for the day when my best friend has a child so that I can buy them all the amazing clothing.  There are so many funky, interesting and fun pieces available for children now and I do have a hankering to buy some of them, I'm just waiting for a friend to have one!

I was having a look at the OD's Designer Clothing website the other day and found myself, once again, checking out what options are out their for children, in particular girls.  I tell you, when my friend does have a child, they are going to be the best dressed child, ever.

Hear are some of my favourites:

There are so many styles available now and many, I confess, I would wear myself!   That gingham playsuit is simply adorable and can we talk about how utterly cool the Moschino playsuit is?   I think that I may need to create a "Best Friend's Baby" shopping list!

All of the above pieces are available on the OD's Designer Clothing website under Junior Clothing

Now can someone please make me that duck print dress in my size?

17 June 2018

Guest Post: Top 3 Menstrual Cups To Consider

One of my major life regrets is not discovering menstrual cups until my early 30's. Now that I know how amazing they are, I can't believe that I wasted so much money, exposed myself to more toxic chemicals than necessary, and threw so much trash into the landfill.

I'll give a brief introduction to the main benefits of menstrual cups, and then get into the details of my top three choices to consider.

Menstrual Cup Benefits

There are plenty of reasons why you might want to make the switch from disposable pads and tampons to a menstrual cup. The three biggest ones are health reasons, environmental benefits, as well as saving some cold, hard cash!

Health Reasons

Here’s something that scares me a lot…

Disposable pads and tampons sometimes contain pesticides and other toxic chemicals in them. Even though there are only trace amounts, it’s thought that repeated exposure to this stuff can cause some pretty serious side effects.

Top-quality menstrual cups are made from medical grade silicone. Be sure to get a cup from a reputable company (keep reading for our recommendations) and wash it well before use to ensure yourself a chemical free period experience.

There’s more! To date, there has been one case of Toxic Shock Syndrome associated with menstrual cup use; there are thousands of cases each year from tampons.

Environmental Considerations

Disposable pads and tampons create a lot of waste that goes straight into the landfill. Considering that the average person menstruates for 40 years, this really adds up. A portion of this waste is non-biodegradable plastic, which will still be here thousands of years from now. Due to the nature of these products, they cannot easily be recycled.

Compare this to menstrual cups—the average one can last for five years, and sometimes up to 10 with proper care and cleaning. They can often be recycled, depending on where you live. 4-8 menstrual cups over the course of a lifetime is certainly better than thousands of pads and tampons.It really does make a huge difference! Imagine if every single menstruating person in the world switched from disposables to reusables?

Save Money
I’m sure you know this already, but pads and tampons are expensive. This is especially true if you have a heavy and/or long flow. According to the Huffington Post, the average person in the UK spends 13 GBP on period products each month.

A menstrual cup costs about double that, which means that you'll recoup your costs very quickly. A bit more up-front, but savings for years down the road? It's a price I'm willing to pay!Let's get into the Top 3 Menstrual Cups that you might want to consider.

#1: The Diva Cup
The Diva Cup is the most popular menstrual cup in the world. The name is often used interchangeably with "menstrual cup" for this very reason.

The Diva Cup is made in Canada, and has a reputation as a top-quality cup. It's often the one that people try first, and end up sticking with for the rest of their lives. It really is that good!

The Diva Cup has a nice firmness to it, which beginners usually appreciate. The advantage to this is that it should just "pop" into place once you insert it in your vaginal canal. It will then seal to your walls, and not leak.

Check out the Diva Cup website for additional information.

#2: The Lena Cup
Although the Lena Cup is a bit of a newcomer to the menstrual cup scene, it's becoming increasingly popular. The company's mission is to provide an affordable, high-quality menstrual cup and they have certainly done that; it's often a little bit cheaper than something like the Diva Cup.

The Lena Cup is made in the USA from top-quality, medical-grade silicone and it has some of the highest user ratings on Amazon. It's easy to insert, and remove and most people find that it doesn't leak.

The regular Lena Cup has a medium level stiffness, which means that it's easy enough to insert, but not so stiff that it's uncomfortable. There is also the Lena Sensitive if you’re looking for a bit softer of a menstrual cup.

Find out more details at the Lena Cup website.

#3: The Ruby Cup
Taking the last spot on our list of the best menstrual cups is Ruby Cup. Although it's one of the most expensive cups, it has a place on our list because of their buy one, donate one program. For every cup that they sell, they give one to a person in need. To date, they've donated thousands of cups to underprivileged people around the world.

As far as the Ruby Cup goes, I love that the small size is actually small, and the large size is actually large. This is unlike many menstrual cup companies who put out two cups, where one is slightly above, and one slightly below average.

Although the Ruby Cup is made in China, they do have strict manufacturing standards and quality checks in place.

More details at the Ruby Cup Website.

How to Choose Which Menstrual Cup is Right for Me?
If you take a look over on Amazon, you’ll notice that there are 100+ menstrual cups. It can be a bit overwhelming to choose one.

A good place to start is out list here: the Diva Cup, Lena Cup, and Ruby Cup all make an excellent choice for your first menstrual cup.

Of, you could also consider this menstrual cup quiz. There are five simple questions that will only take a minute of your time. At the end, you’ll get a recommendation for the best menstrual cup for your body type.

What do you Think?
Leave a comment below and tell us your pick for the top menstrual cup.
 Author Bio: Jackie Bolen is a tree-hugging, friend of the Earth who can usually be found paddling the rivers, on top of a mountain, or drinking organic coffee around Vancouver Canada. Her hope is that reusable feminine hygiene products will be found in the hands of every single menstruating person in the world.

You can find her at Reusable Menstrual Cups (https://reusablemenstrualcup.com/) or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/menstrualcups1234/).

14 June 2018

Navigating a Dating Life

If you have read this blog before, you may have come cross a post that I wrote in June last year about how I was done with online dating.

It was an experience that I did not forget or stop thinking about in a good while, but eventually I decided that I did not want to be single for the rest of my life so something had to change.  I decided to try a new platform.  This time, Tinder.

To be honest apart my past experiences with online dating made me more than a little dubious but I was as honest as I could be about myself and the images I shared in my profile and decided, what the heck, give it a whirl.

I started talking to someone, I will call him "A" (yes, that is all you are getting) a couple of months ago and we have been dating since then.  So far, no psychotic tendencies I am happy to note!

The thing about dating is that I have not done it in so long that I have forgotten what you are supposed to do.  How to act.  Where to go.  When the other person is similarly out of dating practice too, you are both going blindly ahead.

If you are not used to a dating life for example, you don't know where the dating staple of nice restaurants are in your area, how to navigate to them and figure out between you who is driving, where you are meeting, are you meeting half way?  So many questions.  One of the first things that I did in order to find my way around was to buy a sat nav

Seriously though, how did people function without them?

Naturally I tend to wear my heart on a plate and give it away before I should.  This time, I am being cautious.  I have had my heart broken and have let it be broken before so this time, it is nice just to date, have fun and enjoy ourselves.  Eventually of course something more serious would be nice, but for now, whether it lasts or whether it fizzles out, I am having fun.

I will be talking about dating as a plus size woman in a later post.

I am generally learning the ins and outs of dating but the thing that I am taking from it so far is be honest, be open, don't have preconceptions and go with what you both want and forget what the supposed rules are.  Make your own!  That is what I intend to do from now on.

How about you?

7 June 2018

Tips on Buying a New Build

So, you have decided that the time has come to move home? Perhaps you are in the process of looking for your first house? No matter what applies, it goes without saying that purchasing a property is something that requires a lot of consideration. There are so many different options to choose from, and you have everything from your budget to the location to take into account. One factor you need to consider is whether or not you are going to buy a new build. If you feel like this is the best route for you, which many do because they are able to take advantage of a low deposit by opting for a new build, read on to discover some useful tips to keep in mind.
Be prepared for delays – Let’s get the bad news out of the way – delays are fairly common with new builds. It is not uncommon for a new launch to run behind because of delays during the building phase. These delays can be a caused because of the weather, an issue with supplies, and so on! Therefore, it is important to keep this in mind, although buying any sort of house (new build or not), can encounter delays. It is a good idea to agree on a ‘long stop’ completion date with the builder, though. This means that the building firm will be liable to pay you compensation if the work is not completed by the date you have both agreed on. This can give you peace of mind while also ensuring any rental costs are covered if the worst does happen.
The financial side of things – There is no denying that one of the main reasons why new builds make so much appeal is because you can find yourself eligible for lower deposits and government help-to-buy schemes, which is ideal for those looking to get their foot on the property ladder. However, there are a few things you do need to be mindful about on the monetary side of things. For example, if you need to sell your property quickly after you have purchased it – say within a year or two – you may struggle to get back the money you have spent on it. This is because new houses depreciate in value in the short-term once you have put your key through the door. Nevertheless, it is not all doom and gloom because there are a number of different ways that you can tackle this. For example, you may want to think about enhancing the value of the property you have purchased. There are many different ways you can do this, from loft conversions and landscaped gardens, to adding a conservatory on the back of your house. Of course, planning to stay put for a few years is the best option. When you buy a new build, make sure it not only satisfies your needs now, but in the future too. You will also want to shop around for good deals and do not be afraid to negotiate with developers. You may not be able to get the price down, but you may get a few extras thrown in, for example, they may offer to pay for your legal fees or you may get some free furnishings. Finally, it is also important to compare your new build with older properties that are the same in terms of space and value. This will help you to understand the resale market should you need to sell.
Stay away from dodgy developers – The last thing you want is for your house to be built by a dodgy developer, which is why you need to carry out due diligence during the early research phases. There are a number of different ways you can narrow down your search and carry out the essential research that is required. Of course, the Internet is always a good place to start. You can begin on the developer’s website, but you should never merely rely on their promotional material. You need to read reviews that have been left by previous customers and make sure these have been left on independent review platforms so you can be certain of their authenticity. Not only this, but you should take a look at some of the houses they have built so far. There is only so much you can learn from photographs, so if you can visit any of the properties, great news! You should also get to know the developers. Once you speak to them, you should get an instant feel as to whether this is the sort of company you want to work with or not.
Get an independent inspection – Last but not least, make sure you get an independent inspection so you can make sure there are no issues before you move in. A lot of people skip the property survey when they buy a new house because they assume a new house is not going to have any problems! Well, you should be surprised! An independent inspection now can save you a lot of money and hassle down the line.

As you can see, there are many different factors that need to be taken into consideration when buying a new build property. If you follow the advice that has been presented above, you can increase your chances of finding the perfect new build for you while ensuring that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

4 June 2018

Can Working From Home, Work For You?

Being an office worker myself, the idea of working from home has always intrigued me and caused to wonder whether it is something that I may wish to incorporate into my working life.

Accordingly to research carried out by Seareach with 2000 office workers, only 21% are allowed to work from home, with  a further 16% with some restrictions in place.  

Security is obviously a big concern and many employers have cited fairness and productivity as potential reasons why they may not like the idea of staff working outside of the office environment.

Staff jealously of other co-workers having flexible hours and working from home days can also be a factor.  People do tend to wonder whether in fact any work is actually being done or whether their co-worker is just in fact sitting in front of the television, channel hopping with their feet up.

From my point of view, working from home can be greatly benefit and something that I do from time to time when I have projects on the go that require concentration and little distraction.  Other staff members calling into your office, the telephone ringing and other smaller projects being brought in for your attention can all cause a huge intrusion and cause you extra time.

Whenever I have a project that will involve pages and pages of notes or statement preparing, working from home is perfect for me.  I am able to organise what I need to do and do my work in a quiet, calm environment where I know that I will not get disturbed and as a result, the work gets done faster.

The mental stress that comes with working in an office too is often negated when you know that you have the flexibility in your job to take your own work and work on it there.  

As long as the work is done and in a timely fashion, in the days of Skype, email and the internet, do we really need to go into the office every day any more?

All images from Pixabay.  Collaborative piece.

31 May 2018

My Dream Writing Space

Last month I talked about my tips for blogging on the go when you have a busy lifestyle and want to fit your blog into your life without feeling like you are losing all of your free time.

Today I wanted to talk about my dream writing space.  The one that I would create at home for days off, those weekends, those times when you get the urge (and the time) to write all day and want a comfortable area to do so.

First and foremost, what I want is comfort.  The perfect writing day for me does not necessarily start with getting up, getting dressed and sitting down to my laptop.  It can also, and preferably, start with a large cup of coffee in bed, my notebook and a pencil (no pens in bed thank you) and my thoughts as they start to collect.

I carry a notebook around with me most days and like to jot down any ideas for blog posts or writing pieces that come to mind, whether it be for this blog or other spaces.  I note the main idea at the top of a page and then during the week, fill in any additional comments to by way of bullet points.  These short notes are what start my day in bed with my coffee.

When it comes to getting more serious about my day, I move on to my laptop and my tablet.  At the moment I work from our dining room table which is not particularly convenient for me.  I recently came across a gorgeous desk from Lionshome which would fit the bill perfectly and would work with my current decor.

I don't like too much clutter on my work space when I am blogging.  Just my notebook with my ideas in, my tablet for research and of course my laptop.  I don't like to have too many windows open on my laptop as I find it too distracting so that is why I also have my tablet for researching points.  Ah, the 21st century world eh?

Other things on my checklist for the perfect blogging space include lots of natural light and fresh air from an open window and some sort of music on low, either on the other side of the room or the room next door.  Background noise is important but nothing too loud, like heavy metal or drum and bass!

The beauty of running a blog is that most of your tools and equipment can be packed away at the end of the day or at a moment's notice if needed.  Your laptop and tablet etc can be put away in a drawer and your desk space or table space utilized for other purposes.  

I think one of the most important things about your home is that it should work for you, on multiple levels.  This is particularly important if you have a family and have a jam packed filed life but is equally salient if you have a small home and need to use rooms for a variety of purposes.

What is your dream blogging space?

*Post in collaboration with Lionshome

29 May 2018

Tax Freedom Day

Did you know that today is Tax Freedom Day?

Tax Freedom Day was a term originally coined in 1948 in the US as being the number of days the average worker would have to work to pay off his/her taxes.  This year, calculated by the Adam Smith Institute in the UK; that day is today, three days later than last year.

HM Revenue & Customs are due to collect £724.9 billion this year which is roughly 34.3% of the national income.  The burden of tax on families in the UK is now the highest in over 20 years.  The last time the tax burden was higher as a proportion of the GDP was when Harold Wilson was in power to give you some perspective (1969/70).

All the public services that we have such as the NHS, welfare and education have to be paid for of course, either by way of taxation, or by borrowing; which in turn imposes further taxing on the next generations.  But is the way we current tax people a fair system?  Are the poor suffering whilst the rich remain unaffected?

As a single, solvent woman with little debt and no children, the taxation system does not affect me adversely.  Indeed, the raise in the tax threshold each year actually benefits me.   I am not rich, I am not poor, but the system benefits me in a similar way that it does not adversely affect the rich.

So why do I care?  Because it is precisely because the changes in tax, tax reforms and cuts in benefits do not affect me that I should.  The Government does not listen to the poor.  If the people who are not affected do not speak up, who will?  Not the rich.  They in large do not care.

Disabled people are committing suicide and dying under the current level of cuts.  The two child limit on benefits is set to push another 250,000 children into poverty by 2020.  The number of people visiting food banks has risen to an all time record with over 1.3 million people receiving emergency food supplies.

Talk Tax is a great service which also provides those hard to reach HMRC contact numbers to get the information that you need, help required and just as importantly, where to raise any issues that you may have.

There are resources, charities and sites set up precisely for the reason of helping people under the current tax and benefit reforms.  It is just a shame that in this day and age, as one of the richest countries in the world, that we need them in the first place.

23 May 2018

Goa - Not Just A Beach Holiday

I don't know quite why, but whenever I think of my perfect beach destination, somewhere perfect with pink sunsets and unspoiled beaches, my thoughts always turn to Goa; despite never having (yet) visited.  

After doing extensive research for my Summer holiday, one of the destinations I looked at was Goa and it turns out, Goa has so much more to offer as a destination than just perfect beaches.  Whether you want a lazy beach holiday, something action packed with sports, a party time or want to check out the culture, there is something for everyone.

If you are looking to get a great tan and have a relaxing time, check out the beautiful beaches, particularly Mandrem, Baga and Cavelossem.

For something more action packed, why not check out the Devil's Canyon or Goan Caves?  You could also check out the spice plantation and say hello to the elephants or perhaps visit the butterfly conservatory in Ponda.

If you are looking to see some wildlife as well as checking out the beautiful scenery of Goa, why not go to Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary or the Mollem National Park which are home to sloths, panthers, fairy bluebirds, barking deer and many other species.

If you are looking for some fun times, the nightlife in Goa is amazing.  Check out Tito's Road in Baga Beach for big name DJs and commercial style music or perhaps Anjuna Beach if you are looking for partying right on the beach and the Psy Trance experience.  Don't forget about the not to be missed Arpora which has the infamous nightclub in the sky.

There is so much more to Goa than meets the eye.  

Holiday Gems is a brilliant budget holiday website that offers fantastic deals, whatever time of year.  The best time to visit Goa is between November to March so have a look on the site for a great deal and get booking!

This post is in collaboration with Holiday Gems.

8 May 2018

The Problem With High Street Fashion

Does high fashion have a plus size problem?

These days, the facts and figures that surround the plus size market are commonplace but to get our point across we’ll hit you with some anyway.

In 2016, the plus size fashion industry was worth around $21.4 billion – this represented a growth of around 6% in the number of women above a size 14. Despite this, 37% of plus size women continue to wear men’s clothing to workout, and a staggering 65% agree that their size is still ignored by the fashion industry.

Inclusivity doesn’t necessarily mean equality

It’s no secret that more and more brands are adding to their collections with plus size clothing but this type of inclusivity doesn’t necessarilymean that there’s total equality quite just yet.

Plus size models such as Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence may be spending more time in the public spotlight, but major fashion houses are still failing to diversify the models that they put down the runway. For years, designers have been criticised for their promotion of ‘unattainable figures’. At first, it was models so thin that they cast light on eating disorders, and then young, pubescent teens.

Luxury brands are the trendsetters so if industry change is on the horizon, even the world’s biggest designers will need to be on board. As soon as fashion houses start to introduce plus sizes into their ranges, there’s no doubt that it will begin to trickle down into the mass market.

Of course, there are some luxury brands that cater to plus sizes - Prabal Gurung and Christian Siriano have both proven to be pioneers. However, a lot of retailers either fail to stock extended sizes or fail to promote their plus sizes enough. 

Certain issues still need to be discussed

Plus size women may be moving ever closer toward complete social acceptance, but there continues to be a number of issues surrounding the industry that need to be addressed. Take the idea of swimsuits, for example. A quick Google search of ‘plus size swimwear’ may bring up plenty of retro high-waisted two pieces but how many low-rise bikinis are on offer?

It’s often a rarity of options for plus size ladies who are taller or shorter than the average. Heading to the ‘curve’ section of a brand will often mean you need to improvise when it comes to your height. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that fashion schools fail to teach budding designers how to cut and drape for any model that’s any bigger than the typical 4-6. 

Another issue is that high-street retailers that do stock plus size clothing will slip up on their visual merchandising, choosing to almost banish their extended sizes to a corner of the store away from their ‘regular’ range. When you arrive there, you’ll probably see no more than a few rails with a basic assortment of trends leaving you feeling left out and deflated. The same goes for shopping online, although sites such as Ashleigh Plus Size make it easier for the curvier ladies out there to find outfits that aren’t only the right size, but right on trend.

*Collaborative piece

Giving Your Bathroom A Spa Feel

Life is lived at such a fast pace today. When you get home from work, it is important to be able to relax and unwind. If we could afford it, we would treat ourselves to endless spa trips. But there is no need to do this. Instead, why not make your bathroom your own personal home spa? By creating a luxurious and relaxing bathroom space, you have the perfect place to unwind when you get home from a difficult and stressful day at work. It does not have to cost a lot of money to do this either. Read on to discover some of the best suggestions for turning your bathroom into the perfect spa.


There is only one place to begin when it comes to your bathroom, and this is with your shower or bath. You need a shower that is spacious and comes with a massage shower head so that you can have ultimate relaxation. You can find a good selection of luxury showers at affordable prices by visiting Drench. Of course, taking a bath is way more luxurious than having a shower. If you can afford to have a new tub installed in your home, you should look for something that is deep so that you can soak after a hard day in the office. However, if you cannot afford a new bath, this does not mean that you cannot benefit from luxury. There are many ways to add small luxurious touches to your bathroom that will give you that desired spa feel and offer utter relaxation. A good example of this is by investing in a bathtub tray. This will only set you back a couple of pounds, yet it can completely transform your bath experience. You will have the perfect place for your book and perhaps a glass of wine. This means that you can relax in the bath for hours after a stressful day, ensuring you only need to come out when you are fully stress-free.

Another essential step when creating a spa-like bathroom is to get rid of all of the clutter. If you were to walk into a spa today, you would not see any clutter. This is because clutter makes it difficult to relax. Instead, it actually causes frustration and irritation. This is the last thing you want when you are trying to create a serene environment. Therefore, get rid of all of your bottles and any other products that are lying about. Make sure they are neatly put away in the cupboard. If you have any items that do not have a place, then you should get rid of them. Magazines and shampoo bottles thrown on the bathroom floor is never a good look.

When you visit a spa, it is all about engaging all of the senses. It is not only about how you feel, but it is about what you can smell and the sounds that you can hear. You can take inspiration from this within your own bathroom. Let's begin with scent. You can add relaxing smells to your bathroom, including the likes of vanilla, Mandarin, lavender, or anything else that appeals to you. This will help you to unwind, as the scent will have a relaxing and therapeutic effect on you. The same can be said for music. You can play relaxing sounds, such as sounds of the ocean, to give your bathroom a real spa feel.

Finally, when it comes to creating a luxurious environment in any room it is all about the little finishing touches. For your bathroom, there are lots of little finishing touches that you can add in order to create a more relaxing vibe and give you that added sense of luxury you are looking for. For example, you can invest in a heated towel rail so that you have lovely warm towels whenever you get out of the bath or the shower. Aside from this, you should ensure that you have a fluffy and luxurious rope hanging on the bathroom door as well as a pair of comfortable slippers so that you can wrap up warm whenever you get out of the shower. Other added touches include the likes of a good selection of magazines as well as some high-quality pampering products.

So there you have it; the ultimate guide to creating a spa feel in your bathroom! Follow the tips above and bring relaxation to your home.

Give Someone The Gift Of A Good Time

There is no denying that buying gifts can be difficult. With every year that passes by, birthdays and Christmases become more challenging. However, rather than simply buying people materialistic things, why not purchase them and experience gift instead? There are many reasons why experiences make better gifts, as you will discover in further detail below.

One of the main reasons why you should choose to buy someone an experience rather than a gift is because experiences last a lifetime. A material object may provide delight for a week or two, but an experience offers memories that will be cherished forever. You can give someone something that they can look back at and smile about forever. Not only this, but the excitement that is created in the run-up to the experience is also priceless.

There are also so many amazing experience gifts that you can choose from. If your friend or family member is a sports fan, you could book tickets for them to see their favourite sports teams. A lot of sporting athletes today also host events whereby guests can ask them questions and get to know them, which is another suggestion. For music fans, a concert is an obvious choice. You can also book tickets to festivals, as well as tickets to other attractions throughout the country, including theme parks and such like. This merely scratches the surface. One of the most spectacular gifts you can give someone is a helicopter ride. Pennine Helicopters gives you further information on the different options that are available, and you may be surprised to learn that they are not as expensive as you would think. Other options include paragliding, scuba diving and other adrenaline based activities. Or, why not give someone the opportunity to drive around in a luxury sports car for an hour or two? As you can see, the options are endless, and so you will never run out of ideas.

Not only this, but an experience is something that you can enjoy with the person in question. This will give you more of a social connection. And, of course, you will get to benefit from the money you have spent as well. Moreover, there is no denying that there is greater value derived from experiences as a whole. We all get tired of gifts but we value memories. Items may come in and out of fashion, but the thrill and happiness you get from an experience is something that will never fade.

As you can see, there was nothing better than giving someone the gift of a good time. If one of your friends or family members has a birthday coming up soon and you are trying to figure out what to give to them, make sure you consider an experience gift. This is bound to impress and it is the sort of gift that will not invite any competition because no one else will have thought to do something similar.