Dizzy Miss James - Travel / Food/ Lifestyle

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Bigger And Better - The Kitchen Extension Guide


They say it’s the heart of the home. Yet the kitchen can also be one of the smallest rooms in the house. Many people knock down interior walls to generate an open plan space. This gives the illusion of more space. Unfortunately, it rarely gives the kitchen that extra dimension to make it more practical and functional. One way to get the kitchen of your dreams is to extend it beyond your current walls.


Plan It
A kitchen extension takes a lot of planning, and it can take more than a year to complete. The first thing you need to do is step outside of your home, and see where you have the room to extend that part of your house. If you’re not sure what to look for, ask a builder to come and quote a few ideas for you. Services like gas pipes and drainage aren’t always easy to move. Your builder will factor these things in.




Access

Before you get excited enough to start planning the interior layout and design of your kitchen, there are several more checks to complete. The first is access. Your builder might have expressed some concerns here already. Heavy equipment for earthworks needs space to get into your garden and maneuver. You might need special permission from the council to allow access over pedestrian areas.




Checks

The second concern is the disturbance of wildlife. In the UK, starlings often nest in houses. During their nesting period, it is illegal to disturb them. This usually ends by early summer. However, bats in your property can roost in the house and outbuildings all year round. They are protected and must not be disturbed. It can be a good idea to ask a Chartered Surveyor to check for bats before works begin. You don’t want your project abandoned once it has begun!


Draw It

An architect can draw up the full plans for your new kitchen on your behalf. They often detail the natural light and ventilation available. An architect can also include the dimensions and position of your key appliances like the oven and sink. From there, you can start to build up the rest of your layout and consider the style of your interior. Time to go shopping!




Budget It

The extension itself might be quite expensive, and your budget for the kitchen itself might be quite small. There is still a lot you can do though. Select worktops and cupboard doors that fit your style choices. Gloss white is still really popular, and worktops come in a range of different materials. Granite is particularly attractive but tends to cost much more. Floor and wall tiles might be your priority right now.



How much can you do yourself? The painting can be done before or after the units are fitted, but be aware the finish might be scuffed by the installation team as they work. Fitted appliances may need to be installed by other tradespeople that you might need to hire independently. Don’t forget that power and water might be off for several hours each day. Living without a kitchen for a few weeks is tough, but the finished result will be worth it. Enjoy!



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Bring Your Love of the Outdoors Indoors


If you’re a lover of the outdoors, the thought of Autumn and Winter creeping up on us might make you sad. Adverse weather conditions may mean you won’t be able to get out as much as you’d like to and the darker mornings and evenings will mean you’ll have less opportunity to advantage of the outdoors. But, instead of feeling miserable about it, why not bring as much of the outdoors as you can indoors? There are many ways to include natural materials into your interior design. Take a look.

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Plants

Plants and fresh flowers are the perfect way of starting off your outdoors interior. They have a way of breathing new life into any room and there are plenty of varieties you can find that thrive in indoor conditions. Don’t be tempted to go for the ones that need a lot of sun and rain to survive, or you may end up with more dead plants than you count. Having life in your home will also mean you have a better chance of breathing in clean oxygen.

Use Natural Materials

When you’re thinking about replacing your home accessories, go for all-natural materials in your rooms. For example, wicker storage baskets or laundry baskets, rattan furniture in your conservatory or wool rugs and cushions. Look at different textures and patterns and keep the outdoors in mind.

Wood Everywhere

Until you think about bringing the outdoors inside, you don’t realise how useful and beautiful wood really is. Think about using real wood floors instead of laminate flooring. What about oak wood fireplace feature or wooden photo frames? The possibilities with wood are endless and if you find someone who can create bespoke wooden furniture, you can acquire pieces that are not only uniquely fashionable but also highly durable.

Outdoor Colours

When it comes to painting your walls, think about the colours you usually see in the outdoors. The blue of the sky, the greens of the trees and grass and the yellow and orange tones from the sun. Add bright whites, beiges and tans to these colours for a fresh and inviting look. Once you’ve chosen the colours for the walls in each room, you can start to match your accessories to them.

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Create Outdoor Accessories

There are times when you can literally bring the outdoors inside. For example, filling mason jars up with sand or seashells and putting them on display in your bathroom. Or collecting acorns and using them as centre display for your dining table. You could even try to create something out of straw, like a wreath. If you can’t get your hands on anything like this, why not hang up some artwork depicting these kinds of items.

Outdoor Smells

The final touch is to create the kinds of fresh scents you’d get in the outdoors. Look for woodsy incense or pick up a few floral scented candles. If you get the opportunity, pick some wild flowers and create some potpourri for every room.

You don’t have to leave the outdoors behind during the colder and darker months!



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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.



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


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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.

Handicrafts

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.

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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.


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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.



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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!


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