26 February 2018

10 Things You Should Always Keep In Your Car In Winter

Sponsored Post

When I was in my late teens, I had a job that involved a daily commute of a two hour round trip.

I remember that my mum used to hate that I was driving so much during peak hours of travel and would worry about me getting to work everyday, especially when it was winter and the nights were dark.


There are of the basic things to keep on top of when you have a daily commute, like making sure that you have a spare tyre, jump leads and more than enough fuel for each journey as well as ensuring that your vehicle is regularly appraised by a mechanic for safety checks. See Cars.Com for more tips and details with regard to this.

As a woman travelling a distance alone, I was also conscious that I needed to not only make sure that my car was safe to drive, but also to make sure that I felt safe.  If your car breaks down on a dark road (which happens to me on a few occasions), you want to be able to feel as safe and secure as you can.

The first time that I broke down in my car and I was alone, I remember being unprepared, freezing and more than a little scared.  It was winter, 6.30pm at night and other than my mobile phone, I had nothing useful in my car at all.

After a two hour wait for roadside assistance in sub zero temperatures, I swore never again.  I created a kit of things that I would need if my car broke down to assist me.
  • A spare charger for my phone which could be plugged into my car for charging en route
  • A flashlight.
  • De-icer and an ice scraper
  • A warm jumper or coat, thick socks and a spare pair of boots.
  • Road map.
  • Loose change for payphone in case your phone does not work.
  • A couple of snack/nutrition bars.
  • The details of your insurance company details and a reliable garage on a piece of paper (don't rely solely on your mobile).
  • First aid kit.
  • An umbrella.
I used to keep a box of these things tucked away in the boot of my car, with the essentials kept in the glove box.

What do you keep in your car?

23 February 2018

How To Keep Your Costs Down


This year I am going on my first holiday abroad in eight years.  I am massively excited and have vowed to take enough money with me to be able to do everything I want without having to budget.  There is nothing worse when you are on holiday than having to turn down trips or outings because you can’t afford it.  By planning ahead and making sure I have more than enough to spend, I am hoping to have a fabulous time.


Saving for a holiday and lots of spending money takes time, effort and creativity.  I have been looking at ways that I can make extra savings in my everyday life and wanted to share what I have been doing.

Travel

I noticed one day on the bus after buying my daily return ticket that someone was using a pass.  After becoming friendly at the bus stop day by day (as you do), it turned out that she used a monthly pass, which it turns out has saved me a fortune every month!  The weekly passes also offer a great saving and I use them if I am having some time off work and would not need the full month pass.

Using a megarider ticket, you will be able to travel as much as you want and can tailor your own needs to the ticket type. Whether you’re in need of a weekly bus pass for your travels, or a monthly one — you will find yourself making a huge saving in comparison to buying a ticket every day.



In the alternative, if you’re a driver, did you know that the average motorist in the UK will spend an astonishing £168,880 over their lifetime? I made transition from car driver to bus traveller around eight years ago and I have saved so much money since that time, not to mention it being better for the environment.


Lifestyle

Coffee
According to research carried out by MyVoucherCode, people in the UK visit coffee shops at least three times per week.  I confess that I had an addition to a roasted hazelnut latte with extra espresso shot for a couple of years that was costing me £3.20 a time.  When you add that up, going usually 3 times a week for my indulgence, that is nearly £40.00 a month on just coffee!

Branded coffee company, Douwe Egberts, has said that a 250g pack of ground coffee can make up to 30 cups. When looking to see how much a 1kg pack would cost, Amazon has priced the coffee at around £15, meaning that each cup of coffee would cost close to 13p. These days I either take a flask of coffee to work or my cafetiere.

Lunch
Many of us find it easier to just buy lunch on the way to work — or popping out on our lunch breaks. But what if we told you that, on average, forking out for lunch every day could cost you £1,288 according to research carried out by VoucherCloud.

You can make a huge saving by preparing your lunch at home — whether it be a simple sandwich, a prepared salad that you make in the morning or some soup to heat up.

I recently just starting making soup myself for a more healthy option.  I recently made a red pepper & celery soup which was delicious.  I managed to get 5 portions out of the soup which I worked out cost me 33 pence per portion.  Cheaper than a tin of soup and much healthier!

22 February 2018

Holiday Wrecker: 4 Things That Ruin A Perfectly Good Trip


Bags? Check. Boarding passes? Check. Passports? Check.

Everything is in order and you’re ready to jet off on a well-deserved break. Hopefully, it will be perfect and nothing will ruin the experience. Sadly, holidays don’t always go to plan as unforeseen circumstances get in the way. The term suggests they are difficult to spot ahead of time, but the truth is that most of us are the architects of our downfall. Yep, you will do the things that put your enjoyment in jeopardy.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but don’t sit around and mope. Instead, continue reading and see how you can avoid the holiday wreckers like the plague.

Over-Planning

Planning too many activities is a weird one to get right because you don’t want to miss out. FOMO is real and it can destroy a holiday just as easily as over-planning. Still, always remember that spontaneity is one of the cornerstones of an amazing trip. With that in mind, create a loose plan but don’t stick to it religiously. Rather, rank the day’s activities from top to bottom and try to tick as many off the list as possible. As a rule, make sure you see the sights which are the most important. After that, just the let the day guide you in the right direction.

Not Researching

Attempting not to over-plan isn’t an excuse to give up on research altogether. Everyone wants to see the sights and experience the culture, and online sleuthing is essential. Otherwise, you’ll never know what is on and you won’t experience a genuine night on the town or local meal. The trick is to use the Web is to figure out what is happening and how to get involved. Simply type the dates and location into a search engine of your choice and check out the famous events and hidden gems.

Online Dating

A bit of fun in the sun never hurt anyone. That is poetry at its finest! The thing is that Tindering on holiday can escalate out of control. One minute you’re swiping because you’re curious, and the next you’re knee deep in the smoking versus vaping picture argument. There’s nothing wrong with updating your profile to maximise matches, but don’t let Tinder and Bumble get in the way of having fun. Try and use the apps when you have free time. Or, go to a coffee shop or a bar to chat with someone the old-fashioned way.

Under Budgeting

Spending too much can impact your life back home, and that is crucial to remember. Still, a holiday is the time to relax and splurge because they don’t come around very often. Regarding your budget, take another look at the numbers and see what you can swing. Firstly, decide whether the original amount per day is plenty or too little. Then, think about how much extra you can spend without slipping into the red. Use a guidebook like the Lonely Planet if you are unsure of rates and costs.

Can you think of any more holiday wreckers that have ruined a trip in the past?

21 February 2018

Plus Size Workwear Wishlist

One thing that I love about working in an office is that I get to dress up.  Where I work it is not required that you wear a suit, as long as you look smart and put together.

I am definately one who is never knowingly under dressed and like to experiment with different styles and patterns whilst still looking professional at work.

Here are some of my current favourites on my wishlist.








1   Missguided Twist Dress £35.00

2   River Island dress £60.00

3   Very bodycon dress £19.80

4   BooHoo   Flare Sleeve Blazer £10.00

5   River Island Duster Coat £65.00

6   Dorothy Perkins Peplum Pencil Skirt £6.30

14 February 2018

Interesting Facts About The Olympics

Please note that this is not a sponsored post, I just found the content really interesting and relevant given the Winter Olympics

13 February 2018

My Dream House

As I have mentioned on this blog before, I am currently saving to buy my own house (slightly curtailed by the fact that I am going on two holidays this year!  Allowing myself however as I haven't had a holiday abroad in 8 years).

Although my saving had been slightly derailed, I have my plans in place including a lifetime savings ISA where the government gives you an additional 25% to whatever you have saved.  That's how you turn an £8000 deposit into £10000!

I want to make sure that I have enough money to do everything I want in the house.  I don't want to buy a house and then not do it up the way that I want.  While I am in a position to save and I am more than happy living with my mum (who is amazing!), it makes sense to save long enough to get everything I want.  


Ok, maybe not, but a girl can dream, right?

So what do I want in my new house?  Hardwood flooring is a must for me.  Easy to clean, classic looking.  I like clean lines, statement pieces and clever ideas to transport you to somewhere else.

I like white walls.  I am not afraid to admit it!  White is the perfect backdrop to create any look that you want.  A perfect look for the lounge which should be comfortable, uncluttered and not fussy with a statement piece such as a huge print on the wall rather than having a feature wall.  A comfortable settee and a large TV for watching all of those box sets is also a must.

I love something like this, although in my mind you need to have a bright colour in there somewhere.  Perhaps some colourful cushions on the settee to go with the modern style furnishings.


I love the idea of using wall murals such as I featured in my link to completely change a space.  Have a room with no window?  No problem.  Turn it into an office, paint the walls white and use a full wall mural to create a view of Paris.


The one place that I do want a sense of opulence and utra comfort and style is my bedroom.  I dream of a thick carpet, a big bed, furnishings with a nod to French boudoir style.  A dressing table (something I have never had!).  

Your bedroom should be calming, comfortable, an escape and more than anything, a place of retreat and escape.  My dream, although I will never get that with my first, or maybe even my second house, would be to have a little balcony leading off the bedroom where I could sit and have a coffee and look at the world.



So what do you think of my dream house?



All images from Pixabay with exception of mural photograph which is obtained from a previous blog post.

8 February 2018

Mixing Style And Security In Your Home: The Basics

What came first, style or substance?

Creating a balance between beauty and practicality is never easy. In many ways, the two are complete opposites and don’t mix. Of course, to have one without the other is foolish and boring. Safety is essential in the home, as is living in a comfy, cosy interior space. Thankfully, there is a variety of tips and tricks you can use to mix style and security without compromising either. From window designs to lighting, you shouldn’t be disappointed with the range. So, if you are looking for inspiration, you have come to the right place.


Trendy Barriers

Burglars are great at seeing an opportunity and grabbing it with both hands. Anything they can spot through the window is a potential gift for thieves. Simply moving it out of sight is a simple solution, yet it might not be on the table for lots of homeowners. If you are one of them, use accessories to create a barrier and prevent crooks from window shopping. Swapping blinds for ready made eyelet curtains is one helpful hint, as is hanging art and decorating with plants. All of these allow you to fill space while mixing colours and textures.

Lighting

Everyone knows about the impact of lighting from a security standpoint. All you have to do is illuminate the exterior and the interior and it forces thieves to take risks. And, they hate gambling because they can end up on the wrong side of a pair of handcuffs. But, lighting can be stylish and chic as well as bright and bold. On the outside, use lanterns or lamps to create a warm, deep glow that goes from the front door to the end of the drive. Inside, opt for automated spotlights. That way, you can control the lighting from anywhere in the world to throw burglars off the scent.


Entry Points

Hopefully, you by now that doors and windows are the property’s weak spots. If you don’t, keep up! Entry points give access to anyone who tries their luck, which is a scary thought. The good news is that you can strengthen the doors and windows by replacing them. How does this add to the style? In the process, you can opt for a new colour or style. Some people, for example, prefer hardwood over uPVC as it’s rigid and inflexible but dominating. Modern double glazing is also pretty and durable at the same time.

Wiring

Properties have alarm systems to stop unwanted criminals breaking and entering. The problem with an alarm is the loose wiring. Burglars are professionals and understand how to dismantle a security system in minutes. To prevent this from happening, the wires need hiding or boxing off. From a style point of view, this is an added bonus because the lack of clutter adds to the elegance of your home. People that box off wires can also mix textures to great effect.

Is your home stylish and secure? With these tips, there are no excuses to answer no.

*Collaborative post

7 February 2018

Love is in the Air

Considering that January seemed to take the age of man to get through, it comes as a surprise to me that suddenly we are approaching Valentine's Day.

Whilst Cupid has not struck his arrow for me, I confess that I do love to see happy couples on Valentines Day.  Love is everything and is best when you have a special someone to share it with.

What are your plans for Valentines with your partner?  For me, large costly gestures have never been required.  Buying flowers for example seems to quadruple in price which I think is insane.  

Love is shown in actions and the way that you feel.  I would prefer a lovely, thought about card than a throwaway (although expensive!) bunch of red roses.

Today +Simply Be are allowing me to host a competition to win this gorgeous lingerie set in time for Valentines Day.


The bra is available from a 36C through to a 48DD.  The midi briefs run from a 12 to a 26.

This competition opens at 12.00 tonight and will close at 12.01am on Monday 12th February 2018 so the winning entrant can receive their prize prior to Valentines Day.  UK only


a Rafflecopter giveaway

4 February 2018

A Guide To Dressing Plus-Size On Holiday


Many of us want to look as great as possible on holiday. At first glance, being a plus-size woman can seem limiting when it comes to choosing holiday clothing, but actually there’s a lot of clothing options out there whether you want to cover up or go full fashionista. Whether you want to go with form fitting or full and flowing, there are so many options available now. Here are just a few examples of what to pack to make an impact.   
Maxi dresses

Maxi dresses are perfect for a holiday in the sun. They come in all styles, colours, patterns and shapes. From dresses that you can team with sandals and go out for an afternoon excursion to the kind that you can style with heels for a evening out and a few local cocktails. Everything from your height to you shoulder width can affect how well a dress fits. I love to buy beautiful patterned dresses that are form fitted to the waist and then lovely flowing material. For a week's holiday I would normally take three that will work for a multitude of occasions.

Sundresses

Sundresses are another essential item. I tend to go with the cheap and cheerful kind when I just want to throw something over my swimsuit when the beach and fancy going for a walk. You can also get some lovely dresses that again, you can put over your swimsuit/bikini (when you have dried off of course!!) and take yourself out to lunch whilst still looking stylish with a fabulous pair of sandals.

Source

Wide leg trousers

For years I avoided wide leg trousers because I thought that they would not suit my plus size shape. Last year I decided to try a few options and absolutely loved them. My favourite way to wear them is with a high waist and complement them with a sleeveless top or blouse.

Playsuits

Whether you go for the shorter version or full length, playsuits are perfect for a holiday in the sun. Light, airy and if you buy intelligently; easy to take on and off. I recommend replacing buttons with a popper option. Much, much easier to deal with and less fiddly.

Swimwear


Swimwear is the most challenging item of clothing to pick out. A lot of it comes down to confidence – you’re always going to be a bit exposed when wearing a swimsuit. However, there are some tricks that can help.


Many plus size swimsuits use ruffling, shirring or special prints. These features can also be used to accentuate the parts of your body that you want to show off and also those parts that you want less emphasised. Colour overlaps can help those with a spoon shape, whilst drop skirt ruffles can help those with a pear shape. On top of swimsuits, there are also swimdresses and tankinis to consider which can help to look flattering on certain body shapes. You may even be willing to try a high waist bikini. Take your time to try different swimwear to find something you feel most happy in.



*Collaborative post

1 February 2018

Top 5 Tips For Planning a Long Haul Holiday

As I mentioned in my previous post, How To Do The Grand Prix In Style, next year I turn 40.  Although not particularly bothered about the number myself, I am bracing myself for the inevitable teasing and middle age jokes.

For me though, 40 is a number and is more an excuse to celebrate and do something really fun.  Especially as my best friend turns 40 in the same year so a holiday together is something we are really considering.

Me being me, I have been doing a lot of research.  Now whether you are planning vacation rentals in Los Cabos, an action packed holiday around Australia or a sight sighting tour in Japan, planning your long haul holiday pulls up a few more things to consider.

So here are my top 5 tips for planning a long haul holiday.


Where do you want to go?

If you are planning a long haul holiday, you are going to spending serious money which you need to ensure that you spend wisely.  What type of holiday are you looking for?  Do you want to lie on a beach in paradise?  See as many sights as you can and absorb the culture?  Do you want somewhere hot or cold? Do you want a holiday with a bit of everything?

The world is very large and there is the opportunity to get everything that you want.  You just need to decide what you are looking for and thereby, narrow your options down.  If you are going to be spending a lot of money it is so important that you choose the location that will be perfect for you, for the right price.

With that in mind...

Research, research and research again

So you have chosen your destination.  Now to choose what you are going to be doing when you get there.  Where you have chosen to go on a bespoke route or a package holiday, if you choose to arrange trips or places to go whilst already on holiday; the chances are that you are going to pay over the odds.

Even if you are just planning a beach holiday, which beaches are the best?  Where the best and most recommended bars and restaurants to go to?  What is the best way to get to that perfect beach that you found online but have no clue how to get to?

Perhaps you have booked the perfect place to stay but want to take day trips and investigate some of the culture and see the sights.  How do you get there?  What are the recommended things to do by people who have visited the country before?  What trip looks amazing, but would turn out to be a boat ride to hell or the most boring 8 hours you have ever wasted?

I think we all have fallen for a well promoted but ultimately terrible trip on holiday.  I still have nightmares about a 6 hour boat trip that promised dolphins and fine food but ultimately was terrible seas and even worse food.

Tripadvisor and travel blogs are your friends.


Respect the culture

Chances are that if you are planning a long haul holiday, you are going to be visiting a place that has a different culture to your own.  A simple gesture in a different culture can mean something totally different.

For example, in places like Japan South Korea, tipping is classed as an insult.  They take pride in the job that they do and do not want or need an incentive to do it well.  In Russia, the Middle East and Western Africa a thumbs up has the same meaning as giving someone "the finger" in the UK and the US.

Your timing also works differently depending on the country you visit.  In Germany, turning up late, as it is in most of Europe is considered rude; whilst in places like Latin America, turning up about an hour late is deemed the most appropriate time to attend an event.

So you have chosen your destination, planned what you are going to do; what else do you need to think about?

Plan for the plane journey


A long haul holiday means a long haul flight.  6, 8, 12 hours being on a plane.  The best tip I can give you is to invest in a travel pillow.  Sleep on a flight can be nay on impossible, but a travel pillow, practically one that wraps around your neck or enables you to rest your head to one side is a God send.

Don't over indulge on the bar.  Chances are with a long haul flight is that a few free alcohol drinks are going to be included.  There is nothing worse than having a few too many drinks, falling asleep and then waking with a hangover with a few more hours still left on the plane or worse; that you now have to navigate an unknown airport in a foreign country with your head pounding.

Remember, this is part of your holiday too!  So have a glass of wine to celebrate but entertain yourself as well.  Take advantage of the wifi and watch that TV series that you keep meaning to watch on Netflix.  Read that book you have been meaning to read for ages but haven't had the time.


Pack Intelligently

This applies to all holidays.   Do you really need those 14 dresses for a 10 day holiday?   Do you need that extra swimsuit that you love but feel uncomfortable in?  If you don't feel comfortable wearing it at home, you are not going to feel comfortable wearing it on holiday.

During the day you need minimal clothing.  A couple of swimsuits or bikinis, a fabulous pair of shorts or a skirt that you can team with different tops.  A comfortable pair of sandals for the day and a couple of heeled and non heeded options at night that you can wear with everything.

Remember, when it comes down to it, everything you need (apart from passport, tickets and money) can be purchased there.  Buy local shampoo and conditioner that you can leave in your room when you leave.  

Take mini products where you can and leave space in your suitcase for the flight home for those gifts and purchases that you bought to remind you of the trip.

What tips would you give for a long haul holiday?


*Post in collaboration with Luxury Retreats.  All images from Pixabay.