18 Aug 2017

What We Should Really Be Giving Our Best Friends For Their Birthday

Birthdays are always a demanding occasion (even when they’re yours), but when your best friend’s special day rolls around, it turns into something else entirely. A regular gift alone sometimes doesn’t feel like quite enough. So, here are a few ways to make the day truly special and make the most perfect expression of that most-valued friendship.

Something for just the two of you

For the gift, you should be one of the people who knows most of all what she likes. However, that doesn’t always make it easy to find something that’s going to have true emotional value. Forget the price tag, it’s the reaction you want to aim for. To that end, something that has special significance to the both of you, whether it’s a reference to a time spent together or an in-joke, can be just the thing to keep her spirits high. Personalised gifts are always a treat, too, taking the effort to get her something that’s uniquely to her, from you.
Your time

If she doesn’t have half-a-hundred other people vying for her time on her birthday, then taking the day out to spend pampering and treating her can be the perfect way to make her feel truly loved. A little quiet alone time can also make for a great contrast if someone else is taking the lead in organizing her birthday party. One that works a treat is having a special lunch for two with an afternoon tea. A day in a spa will leave both of you feeling refreshed and ready for a big night, too.
A night to remember

Of course, as her best friend it’s likely you’re going to have a hand in planning the party itself. If it’s a particularly special birthday, then consider making the night particularly special, too. Instead of just throwing a party at home or at your local, consider making your present to her a night amongst the high-rollers with club birthday packages for one of the most exclusive nightlife spots in the city. These packages involve more than just getting a private table that gives you some space to enjoy one another’s company. It also gives her (and the others attending) top-notch treatment and attention from the club’s staff, too.
Something super sappy

If you’re not the kind of friend who often verbally expresses just how much your pal means to you, then today is the day. You don’t have to make a speech of it, but rather it can feel a lot more genuine, considered and composed if you give her a letter thanking her for being a great friend. It’s definitely going to get some tears flowing, but that’s allowed on her birthday.

Your friend deserves to know how much she’s valued on her big day, and hopefully, the tips above give you a few ideas on how to do that. Whether it’s flat-out telling her, taking her out for a day trip or organising a night she’ll have fond memories of forever, it’s worth giving a little extra.


15 Aug 2017

Create a Rural Retreat (Even if You Live in the City)

Do you love country cottages They’re so cute and relaxed, not to mention that it’s hard not to admire them even if you’ll never own a country cottage of your own. But, do you just have to admire them? You might not have your own little place in the country, but you can create your own slice of country life right now in your own home.

Here are some country cottage interior ideas to transform your home into a rural retreat (even if it’s in the city):

Earthy Tones

Country cottages and rural retreats are known for their earthy tones and neutral colours, so if you want to transform your home, start by repainting those bright walls and getting rid of that patterned wallpaper. What you need is a more natural, blank canvas upon which to build your own rural idyll.

Traditional Furniture

There’s nothing wrong with modern furniture, in fact, it’s great,  but it won’t get you that laid-back country look you’re after. What you need are traditional pieces like duresta sofas and chairs, farmhouse painted tallboys and antique lamps. These will set the tone and give you the kind of no-fuss country ambience you’re looking for.


If you’ve ever been to a country cottage or rural retreat, you will probably have noticed that it was decorated with a lot of handmade quilts, samplers and cushions. These give the place a cosy natural feel that store bought items just don’t. If you aren’t any good at crafting, don’t worry because you can actually buy a lot of handmade homewares online. Just try to pick the most rustic pieces you can find.

Mix and Max

When it comes to fabrics, rural retreats are known for their mix and match approach. The curtains might be floral, but the bedding is striped, and there’s gingham on the cushions. You don’t have to have everything matching you know!

Wood and Stone

Natural materials are what rural retreats are all about, so avoid the plastics and go for oak, slate and even metals. If you can use reclaimed materials, which look even more rustic, then so much the better.

Traditional Carpets

If you don’t like carpet, then rustic wooden or tiled floors are perfect when you’re trying to create a country retreat, but if you’re cool with carpet, it’s even better. The kinds of carpets you should use are traditional patterned ones like those from Wilton. They have the right kind of charm that is typical of a little place in the country.

Install a Fireplace

I know it isn’t always possible, but if you are able to, installing a fireplace or two will do more than almost anything else to give your home that cosy country feel to it. There’s something about the smell of burning wood and flickering flames that just transports you to another time and place where life was a whole lot simpler.

As you can see, creating a rural retreat wherever you are is fairly easy, but you mustn’t forget the most important ingredient - love. It might sound cheesy, but the key to truly getting that country cottage feel is love for your home and love for your family. It creates the perfect atmosphere that country homes are so known for.


12 Aug 2017

A Smooth Transition: How to Introduce Your Cat to Its New Home

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Image via: Pexels

You’re probably stressed out about moving house as well - but nobody dislikes it more than your cat. They get attached to the place they live in, even more so than us humans who lived perfectly fine with a nomadic lifestyle for ninety-nine percent of our history so far. Moving house should, after all, not be that traumatic for us. 

Focus on your cat this time and make sure the transition is as smooth as possible; it will lower her stress-levels as well as yours.

The trick is, when you manage to stay calm, it will affect your kitty in positively too. She picks up on your body language and will copy your tenseness before the big move; stay calm and she’ll be inclined to feel a bit more relaxed as well.

Focus On Familiarity

Cats have an amazing scent of smell, as we know, and attach a myriad of emotions and associations to whatever they smell. It’s the same with us humans, by the way, and even though our sense of smell is nowhere near that of your cat, it is actually the biggest trigger we have to emotions and memories.

Do your cat a favour and bring something with that she is fond of and has vivid memories of cuddling with at your past home, playing with, or dreaming sweet dreams in. Rather than leaving it in the truck of the home movers, make sure it’s with you in the car when you move. Cats are indeed place-sensitive, but when you’re leaving her place behind, she’ll find security and comfort in the scents of her favourite toy or blanket.

Do yourself a favour too and soak up some comforting scents before you leave. You may not need the soothing scent of your favourite toy to feel calm - but a scent of lavender or chamomile can help you with taking the edge off.

Introduce Her In Small Steps

When you arrive at your new home, it can easily be a bit overwhelming if the space is big. She’ll spend a lot of time on exploring in any way, and the best way to take some of stress off is to introduce her to the new home gradually. This is especially relevant if she has a history of feeling stressed in new situations or around new people; if your cat is a fearless explorer, it may be alright to let her discover everything right away.

You’ll read her signs easily by keeping an eye on her the first couple of hours - if you find her sitting underneath the furniture for the rest of the day, it’s likely that your cat is feeling slightly overwhelmed.

Don’t Introduce New hanges

If you arrive before the home mover truck gets there, you should keep your cat safe in her carrier until all the furniture has been moved inside. You could also let her be in the bedroom, for example, if the bed comes in first so that she’s able to stretch her legs without intrusive furniture being carried around her.

Your cat is already going through so many changes, and it’s thoughtful to remember that she won’t expect a lot of furniture to arrive and shake up her world again, all of the sudden. Keep things as steady and calm as possible, and your cat will respond to the situation with less stress.


8 Aug 2017

Can You Afford To Make More Home Improvements?

It feels like a home is a project that never ends. There are always improvements to make, and you’re constantly changing the style of rooms, etc. You may like the way you’ve designed your bathroom now, but in a year or two it might feel ugly, and you want to improve it again. Or, you could have more family on the way, which means you need to try and increase the space in your home.

Regardless, there’s always a reason to make home improvements, and there are always positives that come along with them. They improve the way your home looks, and they can also make it more practical too. One simple home improvement project can create more space in your home and make it more comfortable for you and your family. As such, everyone is always looking to improve their home!

The problem is, these improvements will cost money. More to the point, they can cost too much money! So, before making any improvements, you’re left asking yourself; can we afford this? To help you answer this question, here are a few things you might want to think about:

How Much Do The Improvements Cost?

Obviously, the first thing you need to think about is how much these improvements will cost. It goes without saying that different jobs cost a different amount. Not only that but if you get people in to do the work, they can charge different rates. What you need to do is figure out the full cost of the home improvements and then compare it to your finances. Think about your monthly budget, and how much money you have left over after essential expenses. Then, take into account any savings you have, make the calculations, and see if you have the money to cover everything and still be financially stable. If you don’t, then you might need to look for alternative ideas to afford your home improvements.

Can You Borrow Money?

If you’ve done the calculations and figured out that you can’t pay the full price for your home improvements, don’t worry just yet. Instead, figure out if you can borrow money online with a personal loan or via any other form of credit. This will help give you the funds you need to pay for your improvements, and you can pay the loan back over the course of a few months. Of course, it all depends on your credit score and loan application - some people may find they get denied, which means they can’t afford their home improvements. In which case, see if you can borrow money from your family instead. Again, different people will have different success rates here.

Do You Have To Pay The Full Price Immediately?

Finally, you should consider if you have to pay the full price for the home improvements right away. If you hire a company to do the work, they might ask for monthly installments instead of an outright payment. In which case, go back to the first point, run the numbers, and see if you can make these payments while still being financially stable. Generally speaking, more people can afford to make home improvements when the cost is split up.

Consider all three of these questions if you want to figure out if you can afford to make home improvements!


Pet Proofing Your Home In 3 Easy Steps

Puppies and kittens are so very cute, but welcoming them into your home without taking necessary precautions is a recipe for disaster. Take a moment to consider the ethics of bringing animals into our homes as pets. Sure, we can give them love, support, security and sustenance that they wouldn’t be able to get in the wild, but in our enthusiasm we can often forget that a domesticated animal is still an animal that will think and behave with an animal’s instincts. This includes a need to hunt, forage, climb, explore and (despite the smelly consequences) mark their territory.

Most animals aren’t really capable of inflicting a great deal of damage in an isolated incident but over time it can really add up and the consequences to you could be expensive. Getting your home pet ready rarely means making expensive changes. After all, a secured loan for home improvement should be reserved for when we want to add value to our home, not when we want to take preventative steps or repair damages. By taking a few simple precautions you can avoid unpleasant expenses and save your home improvement fund for the fun stuff!

Start from the ground up

We spend so much time walking around our home, we don’t pay all that much attention to the floor. Small animals, especially puppies, are less than discriminate about what they’ll try to gobble up off the floor. This may include batteries, earrings, paperclips, screws and all manner of potentially harmful things. 

You should also prevent your new pet from being able to claw, chew or empty their bladder onto anything of monetary or sentimental value. This means that expensive shoes go in the locker and expensive gadgets (and their temptingly chewy wires )  get covered up. Skirting boards or other areas of the home that you’d like to remain un-chewed can be treated with a repellent spray.

Think toddler

If you’ve had children then you’ll know how explorative they can be when they begin toddling around on two feet. A puppy or a kitten is about as curious as a toddler and they can access most of the same things. This means you should cover power outlets, cover those delicious wires cables, and replace your bin with something pedal operated. You don’t want to wake up to the leftovers from last night’s dinner strewn all over your kitchen floor. 

Magnetic locks are useful to prevent pets from accessing drawers and cupboards and needless to say, medications should be kept in a high, secure place well out of the reach of curious paws.

Houseplants are a beautiful way to  spruce up the home but some may be toxic to pets so either replace them or ensure they're well out of reach.

Don’t forget the garden

Gardens are not without their own hazards. If your decking is made from pressure treated wood, it may contain chemicals that are toxic to your pet and will need to be resealed. The chemicals can also leak into the soil below the decking so make sure that this is covered up and inaccessible to prying paws and mouths. Ensure that toxic plant fertilisers, weed killers and pesticides are placed in a sealed container, well out of your furry friend’s reach.

By taking these 3 easy steps you can ensure a pet friendly home in which your new friend can grow and be happy without you needing to worry about their safety or expensive repairs.


From Drab To Fab: Sprucing Up Your Home

We’ve all got at least one room in our homes that we don’t particularly like spending any time in because it’s drab and dreary. It’s normally a small room with whitewashed walls and not much sunlight. Here are some fantastic ways of sprucing up a room without taking up much space.

Plants are a fantastic way of brightening up any room in the house, especially plain rooms. They add a splash of color, relieve stress, and also have many other benefits that you can read about here. Plants are often inexpensive too, just head down to your local garden store and look for indoor plants. Another option is to grow your own.


Another great way of bringing character to a room is through artwork. It doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive; you could even make it yourself if you’re feeling crafty. All you will need is a canvas, some brightly colored paint, and some imagination. Pinterest is a great way of inspiring yourself. If you’re not really the do-it-yourself type when it comes to artwork, most homeware stores stock pictures and other things that you could display on your walls.

Adding color to at least one of the walls will completely change how the room feels. If it’s a small room, try and go for a brighter color as this will open up the room and make it feel bigger than it is. You could choose your favorite color, although, you may want to check with any other decision making people in your household if they’re happy with that.

Upcycling furniture to give them extra uses is also a fabulous way of saving space and giving the room an interesting feature. Try turning an ottoman into a seating area, or a chest of drawers into a mini home bar. There are so many things that you could do, so get creative!

We all know lighting creates ambiance, but having a lamp in a small room won’t do it any favors. To really open up a room, why not try led panels? They distribute light evenly and are also great for saving you money on your electric bill. They are perfect for rooms that don’t have much if any, natural sunlight.


Think about the space that is in that room. Could you turn that room into another high functioning room in your home? It’s super easy to turn rooms into a relaxing area, or an office. You might not work from home, but having a dedicated space for you to use your computer, or keep all of your important files and bills will become useful in the long run. If you’re a gaming fanatic, you could turn the room into a gaming room. Whether it’s on your pc, gaming consoles or board games, having a ‘den’ to take yourself away to is brilliant.

Whatever you decide to do with your room, make it your own style.


1 Aug 2017

One in a Million: Creatively Expressing Your Individual Personality

In a world where everyone else seems to be trying their hardest to fit in, be different! It’s time to embrace what is unique about you and to show it off to the world. Expressing your individuality is important for personal growth. So, how can you go about creatively expressing your personality, interests signature style to the world around you? Read on to find out!


Your Clothing

One of the most popular vehicles of self-expression is clothing. Think about it. A lot of the time you can gauge someone’s interests and tastes simply by looking at them. There are so many subcultures out there that people can subscribe to. Hipsters, goths, punks, mods. The list goes on and on. But you can also express yourself without having to follow the lines of a distinct subculture. You can wear band shirts to express your music taste. You can wear minimalistic, chic capris with a plain, white unbuttoned shirt to ooze class and sophistication. You could wear bright colors to indicate a bold personality. The possibilities are endless.


Your Vehicle

The type of vehicle you choose to drive can speak volumes about your character. A motorbike shows bravery and suggests that its owner likes to live a little on the wild side. A camper van has connotations of adventure. When it comes to cars, certain models are popular among different demographics, with some cars most often driven by young women (Fiat 500s, Volkswagon Beetles, and Minis), while others tend to be favored by older men. Vintage vehicles can be used as statement pieces. A vintage mini can express an interest in the sixties, for example. Once you’ve settled on a vehicle that caters to your aesthetic as well as your practical needs, you can also personalize it too! Personalisations can include recolouring with full body spray paint to make your set of wheels a more distinctive or unique color. Perhaps you like to be surrounded by an air of mystery and are considering investing in tinted windows. You can also use car tapes to mount a permanent badge on your vehicle or apply decals. If you fancy a more simple, but effective form of customization, you can always opt for subtle bumper stickers.


Your Interior Design

Home is where the heart is and your living space should reflect this. If you are relaxed and carefree, opt for minimal design for rooms that you can breathe and kick back in. Follow a neutral color palette. If you are bold, loud and extroverted, opt for brighter walls or accessories with quirky patterns and contrasting textures. Your home should also be filled with things that you love. Allow your favorite books to rest on your bedside table, your favorite paintings to adorn the walls and your favorite LPs to fill your well-displayed record collection. Ensure that when anyone walks through the door, they get a taste of what you’re about.

Remember, these are just a few ways to express your personality to the world around you. Take the time to ensure that everything around you reflects something about you: a certain interest or a character trait. People will be able to read you like a book and you’ll attract the attention of like-minded individuals.

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