Thursday, 26 May 2016

Women of the world


Powerful Women


Provided by Blue Vanilla

Monday, 23 May 2016

Tips For Being A Safer Driver On The Road

Tips For Being A Safer Driver On The Road

Every time you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, you take your life and those of your passengers into your hands. Sounds a bit melodramatic? Well, according to statistics, a driver will file an accident claim on average every 17.9 years, so in a 60-year driving career that's three accidents. Here are five tips to avoid these situations and be a safer driver on the road.

Be courteous
A little courtesy goes a long way when it comes to the daily drive. It sounds simple, but courtesy includes things like giving way, allowing other vehicles to merge, not following too closely and generally appreciating everyone would dearly love to get where they want to as quickly as possible, but you can't all do it by racing at once.

Be defensive
There's an old saying: "the most dangerous thing on the roadways is everyone else." It pays to drive defensively with the actions of other people in mind. The bulk of traffic accidents are caused by small mistakes that are magnified by a failure of others to anticipate them. So drive defensively, predicting and pre-empting danger.

Be prepared
Maintaining the safety of your vehicle and knowing what to do in an accident are part of your responsibilities as a driver. Your vehicle should be in perfect working order, with a regular maintenance schedule that checks brakes, steering and tyres.

It's also a good idea to have your insurance details on hand and the contact information for your lawyer. Companies such as The Personal Injury Lawyers offer a no win, no fee service, and if you've been in an accident that isn't your fault, they can assist you in seeking financial restitution for any injury.

Be diligent
Rushing to get to work or school increases your risk of an accident, so make an effort to leave on time or five minutes early. Not only does this make for a safer drive, but it also decreases your stress levels.

Be educated
Even the best drivers could use a refresher course every now and then, so stay up to date on the road rules, and there's no harm in taking a driver course to update your skills.

Safe driving is about being aware, being considerate and being proactive. With just a little effort, education and diligence, you can be the small statistic that's never had the misfortune to be involved an accident.


Friday, 20 May 2016

Fun Fitness Additions

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide

Fitness has been a big part of my life over the last 2 years, and I genuinely cannot believe that it has been that long (2 years in June) since I decided to turn my lifestyle on it's head and make some big changes, that have not only stuck, but become a way of life.

My love of fitness has opened up so many other passions to me, one of which happens to be my admiration for gym kit. I very recently changed some furniture in my bedroom, and this meant taking all of my gym wear out and transferring it into a new chest of draws. It was only in this moment that I realised I owned more leggings and sports bras than I did anything else. 

When it comes to my sports wear I like to add a bit of fun to my wardrobe, the reasoning behind this is because for so long, everything I owned was Black. I felt that Black slimmed me down, and didn't draw attention to the parts of my body that I was uncomfortable about. Now it's a completely different story. The brighter, the bolder, the more out there... The better.

When I am looking to purchase a new item for my bulging gym wardrobe I look at the following aspects:

- Is it bright?
- Does it have a quirky saying/slogan?
- Can I personalise it?

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide

For me I want something that is going to look good, and put a smile on my face each time I wear it. I especially love it if I can add a personal touch to it, like maybe throwing my name or Instagram name somewhere on the item. I recently got my hands on a new Tee from Spreadshirt, Spreadshirt have a variety of different T-Shirt designs from hen party's right through to training tee's!

Printing T-Shirts is the name of the game and they even have a online T-Shirt Designer so that you can design and personalise your very own creation by adding photo's and custom text. As I already had an idea of what I wanted I looked through the Women's Funny Gym collection and decided on a Black 'You Can't Squat With Us' tank top with Pink neon text. On the back I personalised it and picked a funky font that featured my name on the lower back.

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide

The order process was simple and the product arrived within a week, and the finished tank top looked brilliant. I was so pleased with the end product and have been incorporating it into my work out attire for the last few weeks now. It has washed really well and I love the loose fit it provides.

I have been really impressed with my experience with Spreadshirt and I will definitely be using them again, you can personalise so much more than just T-Shirts on the site, and they have a whole range of gifts that you can add your own mark to, such as sweatshirts, hoodies and mugs!

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide




Wednesday, 18 May 2016

7 Unusual Gift Ideas For Teens

Gift Ideas For Teens

If you have ever tried to buy a gift for a teenager then you will know how incredibly hard they are to buy for! But with birthdays, Christmas and other gift buying events coming round faster and faster, the stress of choosing the perfect present isn’t going away anytime soon.

But fear not, because here are seven unusual gift ideas that you might not have thought of, but that teenagers are guaranteed to love!

1. A Zookeeper Day
How about a day out at the zoo with a difference? Rather than just looking at the animals, they will be getting up close and personal with them as they experience what it is like to be a keeper for the day. This experience is available at several zoos across the country, but take a look at this one at ZSL London Zoo to give you an idea of what would be involved and prices.

2. A Magazine Subscription
What could be better for a teen than a gift that continues to arrive through the letterbox every week or month for a whole year! Most teens love to read a magazine and probably pick them up at the shops, so choose their favourite title and have it delivered to their doorstep instead. Click here for some inspiration!

3. Live Music Tickets
Whether your 13-year-old is Little Mix’s biggest fan or your 18-year-old is desperate to go to their first festival, this is definitely a gift they won’t be expecting. Either go with them and spend some quality time together doing something they love, or speak to their best friend's mum and plan to surprise the pair of them!

4. Scratch Off World Map
Your teen might not want to swap their favourite boyband/football team posters for an educational wall map – but this isn’t just any old map. This map is a great addition to any teen's wall as it enables them to scratch off all the countries they have been to. Then as they get slightly older and start to dream about travelling the world, they can use the map to plot their route.  

5. Afternoon Tea with a Twist
Have you found that, from the day your child became a teenager, you started to not only speak less, but spend less and less time together? Then this gift is the perfect opportunity to sit down and really catch-up – all over some mouth-wateringly delicious cakes, of course. What better afternoon tea for a teen than one that brings Willy Wonka’s treats to life, right in front of their eyes? The Chesterfield in Mayfair serves up cakes and pastries inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, alongside chocolate tea and finger sandwiches!

6. Personalised Diary 
Teens are pretty secretive and like to keep a lot to themselves. So why not get them a personalised diary or notebook, so they can write down all their private thoughts and feelings?


7. A Mug
A mug doesn’t sound like the most exciting present, does it? But, get them a funny, quirky or personalised one and they are bound to love it! How about one with photos of him/her and their friends or one that sums them up, such as ‘Never Known Without My Phone’?


All you need to do is think outside the box and buying for your teen won’t be quite as difficult as you first thought. 

Five additional moving costs you need to take into account when saving for a home


According to research by Post Office Money and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, the cost of buying a home has leapt by 59% in a decade. That is not just an increase in the costs of the buildings themselves, but a reflection of how moving costs themselves have increased.

The report, featured in The Telegraph, found that costs in 2004 came to £7,475 but had increased to £11,894 by 2014 – a leap of around double the 29.4% growth in living costs in the same period. So what exactly are the costs to watch out for? Here are five of the most common.

*Stamp duty
The stamp duty rules changed considerably after the 2014 Autumn statement. Before that a ‘slab structure’ was in place, with buyers paying a rate of the purchase price. Since then buyers pay a percentage of the price on any property costing more than £125,000, which will cut the value for many buyers (although not all). To find out exactly what you will pay use the MAS stamp duty tool, and remember that if you’re saving for a second home as an investment you’ll have to pay an extra 3% on top.

*Surveyors
An essential part of the process if the home you are buying is of a certain age. A basic condition report survey for a modern home may cost £150-300 but is essential for you and the mortgage lender. However, a homebuyers’ report which will highlight surface level problems such as necessary repairs and damp, will cost more (£350+). And a Building Survey, looking at advanced structural issues, might cost around £1,000, depending on the size of the building. However, it could save a lot of heartache if it identifies severe issues.

*Bank transfer fees
Local news sites regularly report on the ignorance of potential homeowners of the fees that are present when buying a home, and one of the most common areas of surprise is bank transfers. We assume that since we live in the technological age of 2016 the transfer of money really shouldn’t cost anything, and admittedly fees of £30+ (depending on the bank or building society used) are not huge – but they can soon add up.

*Conveyancing
You’ll need a solicitor or conveyancer to carry out the legal work when buying a home, and the fees can be pricey. Taking into account the local authority searches to ascertain who looks after local footpaths and relevant planning issues (£2-300), and setting up the actual mortgage itself, you could be looking at £1,500-2,000 in total.

*Removals

Removal costs depend on a large number of factors, including the distance to be travelled and the volume of items to be moved. Other points that could alter the price include moving during peak times (summer holidays, weekends etc) and movement of any precious items. You can save some costs by moving some objects yourself in the car, but items such as sofas and white goods are unlikely to fit in small cars. For a three-bedroom home, expect to pay a minimum of £400-500.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Off the beaten track of Thailand

Off the beaten track of Thailand

Thailand is a wonderful location to explore either on your own, with your partner or can even be considered as a destination for holidays for kids. But instead of visiting the same tired old tourist spots, where the crowds and prices can get overwhelming, head to these locations off the beaten track and experience a whole new side to Thailand:

Chiang Mai
Usually visited by intrepid explorers looking to investigate the breathtaking temples or partake in a little zip lining, Chiang Mai isn’t necessarily off the beaten track but is a location less frequented by families.

For those with kids though, the location is worth a visit and The Elephant Nature Park is a top destination. As a family you can volunteer to assist with the everyday care of the resident rescue elephants or stay overnight and experience these incredible creatures in the flesh for two days.

If you have older kids the late night walking market could be a good destination, it’s perfect for those who are adventurous when it comes to food as the stalls lining the street offer traditional thai dishes and snacks to sample and enjoy. It does get busy, so if you have young children it might not be the best choice but it’s definitely worth a visit to soak up the atmosphere.

Koh Lanta
For those families who really want to get away from it all, Koh Lanta is an ideal destination. Other travelers describe it as ‘Phuket and Koh Samui 20 years ago’ as it remains wholly unspoiled and without the troves of tourists on its white sand beaches. Perfect for families who love to explore there are snorkeling and diving trips to sign up for, mangrove forests as well as caves and waterfalls.

It’s a great location for beaches, with Koh Rok Island, Long Beach and Lanta Klong Beach coming up top on Trip Advisor. Kantiang Bay is also worth a visit, rarely overridden with people, it offers everything you could desire when it comes to a beach in Thailand with stunning surrounding landscapes, white sand and clear blue waters.

Try a homestay
More and more people, wishing to enjoy an authentic experience in the country, are signing up for homestays which involve sleeping and living alongside a Thai family in a beautiful location. You will assist them in their day to day tasks as well as eat at their table and experience true Thai cooking. You will also be shown around the local area.

It’s an accommodation option many families don’t necessarily go for but if you’re looking to show your kids another way of life – and perhaps a humbler one than they experience at home with their iPads and TV – it’s the perfect choice.


When it comes to destinations off the beaten the track, Thailand is quickly being taken over by the tourist scene so you may have to look a little harder for locations that aren’t inundated with tourist elements. 

Monday, 16 May 2016

6 of the UK’s favourite TV dads

Who are our favourite dads on television? It’s a question that’s likely to inspire debate among TV aficionados, especially as Father’s Day approaches (click here if you’re struggling to find a present). Here are six suggestions for perfect papas that have lit up our small screen. 

Zak Dingle

Zak Dingle
Zachariah Bartholomew 'Zak' Dingle has now been on our screens for almost 22 years as a caring and loveable father figure who is not above throwing out the odd threat or fist here and there. Played by Steve Halliwell, Zak has let himself down in recent months by leaving partner Lisa, and who can forget some of his other storylines such as losing one son (Butch) and beating up another (Cain), while suffering a mental breakdown and trying to control his rebellious daughter Belle? Still, the Patriarch of the Dingles is still one of the soap’s more popular characters.  

Ben Harper
Robert Lindsay’s beleaguered father-of-three doesn’t have an easy life as the father of geeky Michael, boy-mad Janey and drifting but kindly Nick. However, he made it to series 11 of the long-running BBC series with wife Susan (Zoe Wanamaker) despite the numerous issues of pregnancy, funding through university, and bizarre incidents such as squatters and rich businessmen interrupting their lives and the joining of secret cults. Wanamaker claimed that the series was axed because it was ‘too middle class’, but maybe it was also because scriptwriters thought Ben was just too tired out by his crazy life.

Jim Royle
As the Guardian noted, it’s amazing just how much mileage the writers squeezed out of a character who seemed to engage in, “nothing much: just Jim (Ricky Tomlinson), king of his castle, remote control of state in hand; a portrait of a family at peace, sated and insulated from the post-anything-goes world by booze, tea, biscuits, fags and mass entertainment TV. And yet it says just everything.”

Homer Simpson

Homer Simpson
Ok, he’s not a British dad, but since the first Simpsons episode to be broadcast in the UK was as far back as 1990 on Sky One we are probably just as fond of him as our cousins across the pond. Few dads can be as flawed and perfect in one package as Homer, whose quotes such as “You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is never try”, and “Movies are the only escape from the drudgery of work and family … No offense” have inspired a generation.

Ken Barlow
William Roache was there from the start in playing Ken Barlow in Coronation Street, from the first episode on December 9, 1960. Father to the predator that is Tracy, the studious and kind-hearted Barlow has let his perfect mask slip on several occasions, to the chagrin of his beloved late wife Deirdre. Numerous flings with characters, including Rita and Alma, don’t disguise the fact that he’s always been there for his belligerent daughter.

Mick Carter


Mick Carter

The newest character on this list of legends comes from Walford. Mick Carter, played by cockney treacle Danny Dyer, arrived on our screens on Christmas Day in 2013. His present to the Eastenders viewing public has been storylines such as overcoming his fear of water, the discovery that Shirley is not his sister but actually his mother, and coping with Linda's rape by his brother Dean – all while still remaining a decent bloke. Indeed, Dyer has admitted that the role virtually saved his career after a prolonged period of struggling to find work. 

Friday, 13 May 2016

6 Ways to Keep Costs Down When Saving for a New Home

Saving for a New Home

Buying a new home is expensive. If you’re trying to save money for a deposit, are hoping to raise a mortgage or are planning to furnish your new interior, you might be looking for some great tips and tricks to keep your current costs down. If so, here are six great suggestions!

1. Keep a tight food budget
Our weekly food bill is an area where many of us overspend… especially if we go shopping on an empty stomach! To help you keep costs down, make a list and stick to it. This means doing a bit of upfront planning, deciding what you’re going to cook for the week ahead, as well as allowing yourself the odd treat too. Opt for own brand and basic ranges, don’t buy pre-packaged or prepared meals (you pay extra for the convenience), and try to take a packed lunch to work rather than shelling out for a Meal Deal every day.


2. Use comparison sites when making purchases
If you’re planning on buying something, check out the deals using a comparison site in advance. Big purchases such as furniture, mobile phone deals and insurance rates can be compared side by side for the best deal, and savvy shoppers will even check out the best rates on their favourite groceries too.

3. Decide whether you really need those subscriptions
Take a look at your bank statement and see if you can spot any regular outgoings… gym membership? Magazine subscription? Netflix? It’s well worth getting a clear picture of what you’re spending your money on so that you can decide whether it’s worth continuing to pay for. If not, save yourself some cash and cancel it!

4. Use discount websites for days out
It’s unrealistic (and boring!) to expect you’re going to stay indoors between now and finally buying a house… you might save money, but you won’t be enjoying yourself and will only come to resent your situation! So, head out on adventures but do so mindfully: camp or opt for a B&B rather than staying in hotels, and sign up to sites like Groupon and Wowcher to see if you can secure a discount on something you fancy doing.


5. Buy second hand and look for freebies!
Whether you’re buying anything from clothing to cutlery, shoes to sofas, or worktops to washing machines, brand new isn’t necessarily the best way to go. You can save money by scouring second hand sites such as eBay and Gumtree for great deals – in fact, some people will give away expensive items for free! You could also sell some of your possessions if you want to raise some extra cash for minimal effort.

6. Consider raising money against something you already own
Don’t forget, as well as saving money you can also get some extra cash if you need it. Banks and building societies offer loans, but if you don’t want to ask them or are worried about your credit rating, you could use a service like carcashpoint.co.uk if you’re comfortable with the terms and conditions.


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Birthday Planning for a 5 Year Old

5th Birthday party

I have been so behind in getting everything I want to say about Leo over these last few months, and this is something that I will be changing. We have so much going on right now, and it is all definitely something that I want and will document, but that will have to wait for another post. For now though I want to focus on an exciting event that is taking place next month, Leo turns FIVE! 

Yes FIVE!

It's been Five years of firsts for both Leo and I, we have had some incredible moments, and we have had some equally trying moments, but when I look back at everything we have done, everything that we have achieved and everything that is yet to come, I feel an intense sense of pride. Leo has over come so many hurdles that have been lay in the path before him, and even when he has stumbled, he has always, always got back up on his feet again.

5th Birthday party

With Leo turning Five, I really want to give him an incredibly special day this year. This will be the first time I have ever thrown him a party, but with it being his first year of school and the first year he has really actually asked for a Birthday Party, I am determined to give that to him.

This year Leo's Birthday falls on a Monday, which means he will be at school. It will be hard not having him with me on that day, but what I plan on doing is organizing his party for Sunday the 26th June so that we get to celebrate as close to his actual big day as we can. In fact the more I think about it, the more I think that we will just celebrate his birthday a day earlier this year. There will be friends, yummy food and all of his friends. I will have all of his gifts ready for him to open and enjoy too. This way it means he gets to enjoy everything without having to wait until he get's home from school on the Monday. 

I am looking to book the local leisure centre's soft play area and get all of Leo's friends to come along for an afternoon of fun. I have never entertained so many children before, so this is going to be an occasion that really puts me to the test! Think party games and ample disposable supplies so that I can literally bag everything up and bin it at the end of the party! You see there was a method to not having the party at home!

Leo has set his heart on a Bowser Castle Cake, and as I look at the Pinterest inspiration I have been busy pinning, I can already envision myself having a melt down over the icing. That being said though, last year when Leo asked for a Mario Kart 8 cake, I spent hours the day before getting it all together for him, and when he laid eyes on it the next day, his reaction melted away all of the frustration I had in making it. In fact hearing the excitement flicker across his face and light up those sparkly eyes of his, I could have cried with pride. He was so pleased with that cake, that he didn't even care about presents. He thought the cake was his gift! 

Mario Kart Cake

All he has asked for this year is his party and his Bowser Castle Cake, so I will be pulling out all of the stops to make this all happen for him, and I will have to get creative in what I get for his main present this year, as he genuinely has not asked for anything.

I just want to give Leo a special day, a day that celebrates him. A day where there's no school, stress or anything like that. Just a day of smiles, laughter and love that celebrates Leo turning 5 years old.

5th Birthday Party









10 Things You Need to Remember When Choosing Your References

Job Interview

At some point in your career, you’re going to apply for a new job. In fact, you’re probably going to do it many times, which means you need to be really good at choosing references in case they scupper your application! Here are ten things to remember when choosing your references…

1. Choose a referee who likes you
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But the simple fact is that you’re more likely to get a glowing reference from someone you have a good rapport with.

2. Select a variety of referees
Have at least two or three references for every job you apply for, but make sure each brings something different to the table. One could be great for highlighting your accomplishments and key skills, another for your personality, and a final reference for describing your demeanour and professional manner.


3. Ask their permission first
Ask your chosen few if they’re happy to provide you with a reference, and only forward them as a referee if they give you the go-ahead.


4. Select referees who are likely to provide helpful examples
If you had the initiative to source extra material for your role, such as teaching resources, select a referee who will mention it when they’re talking about you. Examples like this back up the assertions they’re making and counts for a lot.  

5. Decide whether you’ll detail your referees contact information

It’s fine to give the names of your referees and their job positions, but not everyone likes their contact telephone number and email address being included. This is personal information, and is only the kind of thing you should disclose if you have permission first.

6. Keep it professional

It’s not unusual to work with a family member or spouse, but even if your mum is your boss, pick someone else. Your referees should be unrelated to you in order to make their testimonial credible and trustworthy in the eyes of a prospective employer.

7. Select a referee whose work is relevant to your application

If possible, use referees who hold a similar position to the one you’re applying for. This signals to your potential employer that their reference carries weight because they’re familiar with the specifics of your performance, capability and potential.

8. Decide where to include your references in an application
Some advisors recommend including your references at the foot of your CV, while others suggest sending it in a separate document altogether. Check the application instructions for the job you’re applying for, and if it’s not mentioned, use your best judgement.

9. Your references might need refreshing

While you shouldn’t coach your referees, reminding them of your key skills, best accomplishments and involvement in important projects is a good idea. This way, they’ll be well prepared and able to give relevant information to an interested employer.

10. Keep your references informed

If you’re applying for a job (or a series of jobs), it’s good manners to keep your references in the loop. Give them some warning that they might be contacted, and thank them for their willingness to help you – regardless of whether you get the job or not! 

Monday, 9 May 2016

5 Most Reliable Family Cars for a Long Holiday Road Trip

Family Road Trip

When planning a vacation whether at home or abroad, it is always essential to choose the best car model to suit the needs of both yourself and your family. And whoever the designated driver may be, typical factors such as a comfortable seat, accessories, safety, mileage and speed power are some of the primary considerations. Others of course include an efficient A/R system to ward off the heat of summer days when driving in the Mediterranean regions like Sicily or Central Italy (Rome especially), and plenty of room for your kids in the backseat. Safety measures are of course top on the list, and child safety must always the principal concern for any family. Thankfully there are several car models that fit all these specifications and can carry you through tiring- although exciting- drives across country and that provide you with additional luxuries. 

A Honda CR-V is perfect for children because not only is it sturdy but virtually unbreakable in the interior design. Furthermore, it can be equipped with entertainment screens to keep your kids engaged playing video games or watching movies and cartoons. It may not be the fastest car in the market, but that is also the reason why it is a lot safer than other cars with high capacity engines- and it is a given that you do not want to drive fast when you are traveling with your family.
       
Or if you are traveling on a budget, choose the Hyundai Elantra Touring: its recent $1800 price-drop is a guarantee that you will save money which you can spend on other luxuries during your holiday (maybe a better motel or hotel even). Its manual transmission option is another plus for drivers who prefer stick-shift to automatic. This car is also economical fuel-wise, and has plenty of space so you really won’t find anything better on the market for the price and specifications. 

Or hire a Grand Voyager that you can find online through this website - one of the top rated platforms for finding the perfect family car and with a vast selection that also includes Ferraris, Porsches and Spiders for a more luxurious vacation trip. The Chrysler Grand Voyager is a luxury 4-wheeler that is large enough to accommodate 7 people, equipped with automatic transmission, GPS system, 75 Lt tank capacity, 185 Km max speed. Its large windows provide an excellent opportunity to admire the scenery as you drive through the best natural or city spots.

The Volkswagen GTI 4-door also comes highly recommended. Its large trunk size makes it perfect for a long family trip that requires lots of luggage, bottled water and bring-along picnic lunches and treats for the kids. It has a spacious interior that you can even sleep in if you want because it is a true haven of comfort and harmony. Its Tartan fabric replaces the outmoded leather interiors and gives it that special classy style.


The Subaro Forester is another excellent choice. Tall windows to enjoy the scenery, 7 comfy seats, large trunk size for everyone, standard back-up camera, the best fuel economy for a SUV that will leave you with enough money to spend so you can enjoy your holiday lavishly and to the fullest, and one of the best safety systems in the world- Eyesight, which applies the brakes automatically when in close proximity to another vehicle-  are the basic components that make this car a comfortable and especially safe choice for a family road trip. Additional buy-ons include heated leather seats, giant sunroof, and automatic climate control.

Friday, 6 May 2016

How to Upcycle Garden Furniture

Upcycle Garden Furniture

If you’re a hands-on kind of person, you’ve probably been putting your craft skills to good use in your home. But what about in your garden? Rather than spending a fortune at IKEA or Homebase, you could just just upcycle your garden furniture...

Give your existing furniture a lick of paint
Ease into the idea of ‘upcycling’ (that is, using materials in such a way as to create a product of higher quality than the original) by simply giving what you own a re-fresh. Your existing garden table, chairs, sheds and fencing can all have life breathed back into them by sanding them back and priming for a generous coat in any colour.

If you live in a coastal cottage, why not opt for a nautical theme by painting your fences a rich navy blue hue? You could also source a genuine life ring to hang from the garden shed for added effect! Or, if a classic cottage garden is more your kind of thing, paint your woodwork white and sand it back to give it an artfully distressed look.

Make your own outdoor sofa
Once you’ve mastered simple upcycling like sanding and painting, get to grips with power tools. If you or a neighbour have a bath tub cluttering up the garage (or have managed to get your hands on one via Gumtree or eBay) you can transform it into an outdoor sofa
Start by cutting it half and smoothing down the edges with a grinder. Once you’ve primed it, sealed it and removed the drain, paint it in a beautiful colour and finish it with an eye-catching seat cushion. Gardens are the one place you can afford to get away with vibrant, clashing prints, so go all out with geometric, floral and tribal patterns in various tones to add cheer to your yard!


Make a pallet bench
If you prefer something more rustic and masculine, why not make yourself a pallet sofa? The beauty of a custom-build like this is that you can design it to suit your back, leg and height measurements, and you’ll feel a great sense of satisfaction when it’s complete! 
All you need is plenty of wood, lots of screws and a good eye for measuring. To finish it off, get your hands on some thick foam or padding to form your seat cushion, and a length of fabric to cover it. Once complete, place your version of this upcycling project on a covered patio or decking area and get the neighbours round for a barbeque!



As you can see, you can create your perfect garden by giving your furniture a new lease of life, or by assembling odds and ends to make brand new creations! Make sure your masterpieces are in the spotlight by trimming back the trees and framing them with lush hedges from Ashridge Nurseries. Finally, sit back and enjoy the fact that updating your garden didn’t cost you fortune, and meant you were able to inject tons of personality into your space!

How to keep your summer glow

Summer Glow

With summer just around the corner, you may have started to think about that all important tan. Whether you’re going abroad to catch some rays or you plan on making the most of the warmer weather at home, it’s likely you’re going to want to hang onto your colour for as long as possible. If you want to know how to keep your glow, keep reading.

Use tanning products

Whether you’re trying to preserve your tan from a recent holiday or you’re simply looking to give yourself a little extra colour in time for summer, using tanning products is a great way to keep your glow. Self-tanning products can prolong your natural tan and take you from pale to bronzed more easily than you might think. From instant mousses to gradual tanning lotions, there are various products available. Visiting your local high street beauty shop or an online retailer like Lloyds Pharmacy will give you a good idea of what’s on offer.

Exfoliate and moisturise your skin

Regardless of whether your tan's natural or out of a bottle, it’s important to make sure your skin is prepped and primed at all times. Exfoliating your skin is essential if you want to keep it hydrated and invigorated. This will also get rid of any dead skin cells and prevent peeling. Using a gritty exfoliator is a must if you’re a fan of fake tan as it will even out your skin and make applying the product easier, as well as reduce your chances of developing a streaky and unattractive colour. To stay smooth, you should aim to exfoliate at least once a week.

Applying moisturiser is also crucial if you want to retain your glow. Whether you choose to slather yourself in a hydrating lotion or a smoothing body butter, keeping your skin nourished is the key to a healthy, long-lasting tan.

Drink lots of water

If you intend to bask in the sun’s glorious rays, you should make sure you drink lots of water. Keeping on top of your water intake will make your skin appear smooth, plump and healthy looking, so aim to drink at least six to eight glasses a day. Upping your water intake will also make you feel refreshed, alert and ready to face the day ahead.

By following this handy guide, you should be able to remain looking sunkissed and bronzed even when summer has been and gone.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

6 statement shoes for summer


Summer is on its way – we promise! – and with it the possibility of being able to wear shoes that show off your pedicure, if you’re into that sort of thing. But the fashion world is being very giving when it comes to statement shoes, with tried and tested styles and some new and exciting ones to add to your wardrobe this year.

1. The Ghillie (caged) sandal
Caged sandals look amazing and are going to be big news this summer - but bear in mind they aren’t great when it comes to tan lines. Opt for heeled styles for the evening while flats should be comfy enough to wear all day.

2. The Gladiator sandal
These bad boys have been around for a while now and they aren’t going anywhere now that summer’s nearly here. Opt for a pair that go over the knee for a strong look with small shorts or a mini skirt on warmer days.

3. The Espadrille
What many would consider a beach shoe, a canvas espadrille should be a summer go-to from now and forever. Available in a variety of colours and prints, you could pick up a shoe for every outfit in your wardrobe. Espadrilles are available in flat and heeled styles, but we think flats are the best option for everyday wear – Elle has put together a guide on the ones you need for 2016.

4. The Tassled Heel
Trying to impress that good looking waiter on your Spanish holiday? Then a pair of brightly coloured, tassled heels should catch his attention. Best worn with a little black dress to show off that tan, they’re great for instantly dressing up any outfit and are going to be a popular summer party shoe this year.

5. The Birkenstock
Bear with us, because while most people recoil in horror from the Birkenstock, they’re actually super comfy and all the stylish squads are wearing them – it’s safe to say if Alexa Chung is wearing it, it’s fashionable. Plus, they go with pretty much anything, from that maxi dress you want to wear at the weekend to your skinny jeans and these Superdry leather jackets.

6. The pointed flat
Pointed shoes add a certain elegance and authority to any outfit and are great for summer in flat form, for days in the office in a midi skirt or in the evening while wearing your favourite straight legged trousers. We love the flats with ankle straps available on the high street - mint green or glitter designs are great for the evening and if you want to add a little something to your look.