The One With The Mutual Appreciation

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I think it’s fair to say that our best friends go drastically unappreciated the unfortunate majority of the time. Though we might shower them with gifts on birthdays and Christmases, there aren’t too many other times when we can sit back and truly appreciate how wonderful our friends really are. With International Day of Friendship just around the corner (30th July!) I’d like to dedicate this piece to the guys and gals that put up with us at our very worst, so we can strive to be our very best.

If any of you are like me, then you’ll understand that we probably compare our lives to that of our family and friends about a dozen times a day. From checking Instagram in the morning, to sharing your nieces first steps on Facebook in the evening – there are few moments throughout the day when we compare ourselves, not to our friends…but to who we were last month, or last year.

Self-reflection is painful. Maybe you didn’t send that email you were meant to, or you skipped dinner yesterday…or you bought a takeaway curry instead (guilty). Thinking back though, there’s been hundreds of occasions where I’ve been poorly behaved, or embarrassing, or relied heavily on my friends to bail me out.

So, in no particular order, thank you to:

The ones who feed the cats when you’re on holiday.

The ones that are there when you’ve had a little (lot) too much to drink.

The ones who bring back your DvD in the same condition you gave it to them in.

The ones that lend you their Netflix password.

The ones that comment on your Facebook pictures to get the ball rolling.

The ones you call when you’ve had a bad day

The ones that offer to drive you back from the bar.

The ones who tell you when you’re being an idiot.

The ones who know when that dress isn’t you.

The ones who let you down gently.

The ones who remind you who ‘thingy’ is on Game of Thrones…again.

We live our lives at breakneck speeds, without ever really taking the time to appreciate what we have or how we got where we are. I look now at my loving husband as he attempts to conjure together a risotto with a wry smile across as his face as he realises he’s forgotten the rice. It was my turn to cook dinner tonight, but he offered to so that I could work on my blog.

I spend hours of my week talking to family and friends on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, venting our woes back and forth (often with each other) without ever picking up my phone with the intention to say thank you to any of them.

I’m not trying to be soppy, but it’s not often I can actually sit back and reflect on how lucky I really am. With so much going on in the world, it really puts it into perpective that the biggest worry I currently have is when I’m going to find the time to get the car it’s MOT. How feeble is that?

But, in the past…when things haven’t been plain sailing; the car’s broken down, dads found himself in hospital again and things aren’t going well at Mike’s work – I’ve been able to lean on the people closest to me, so I don’t spend all of my time in a horribly teary mess.

We’re very lucky that life is comfortable at the moment, so I’m going to pay it forward and order some thank you gifts for my family and friends. You never know when you’re going to be out on your luck and I know what that’s like. My closest friends, who are far less communicative with their feelings could be going through some really tough times, thinking that they can’t share that load. This is me letting everyone know that it’s time for me to give something back.

If I only get one Facebook message about someone’s tough day, it will have meant that I’m finally starting to give something back. I hope this inspires some of you to do the same.

Gift Ideas for the Women Behind Your Wedding Day

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When the big day arrives, it is all about everything running to plan. And when things go awry, it is your family and friends who come to your rescue. Which is why it so important to show your loved ones how much you appreciated their time and help. This is not about giving wedding gifts to all of your guests, for these guys think about getting smaller wedding favours. These presents are specifically for your close wedding party as a gesture of gratitude for all their hard work making sure you both have the perfect celebration.

Here are a few suggestions of special and sentimental gifts you could give to those special behind the scenes women, who went the extra mile to ensure you had the best big day!

Mother of the Bride

What do you get the most important women in your life? What better way to show appreciation than gifting a sentimental, personalised present! A piece of jewellery is such a lovely, thoughtful gift that’s ageless, and engraved necklaces can be a beautiful addition to their jewellery collection. If your mum has enough jewellery as it is and has been working extra hard to ensure you have the perfect day, could a pamper day be the answer? Make her feel extra special with a relaxing session at a spa or DIY a spa gift set of all the favourite soaps and pampering products your mother likes to use to unwind.

Mother in Law

This could be a tricky one, depending on how good your relationship is with your other half’s mum. It’s one that sets the bar high and creates an impression, so for this, speak to your other half to find out exactly what she likes or enjoys doing. Like every mum, jewellery is always a safe bet. Take note of what she like wearing or seek information from your fiancé about her style. However, if he is anything like my husband – he won’t have a clue! In these cases, jewellery boxes are timeless, adaptable gifts that will help store and protect any delicate pieces she has in her home or on the move.

Hens and Girlfriends

Little keepsakes like keyrings, bracelet charms or a lovely set of earrings are thoughtful ways of showing appreciation to your girlfriends. Or add to their everyday handbag essentials with a compact handbag mirror engraved with their initials. Not only is this gift useful, but it will remind them of a special day every time they get it out. What is also popular at the moment is delicious smelling candles, which you can tailor with the initials of each of your girlfriends.

If you find yourself still super stuck, any edible gift is probably the most appreciated and yummiest of gifts you could give. After a long night of celebrating, what is better than a snack for the ride home or next morning! I recently came across marshmallows that you can print pictures on, I love the idea of plastering choice photos from your hen night on them. They would make a super fun reminder of happy times, and if they are a little risqué your best friends can always eat the evidence!

 

 

Three Ways To Reduce Stress When Selling Your House

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Whatever the reason for selling your home, there is no denying that it will be a stressful. Whether it’s troubles finding somewhere new, disputes over building control or sorting through your life contents – there will be lots of challenges to overcome! Although there’s no avoiding some stress, these three tips will help you avoid simple mistakes and make selling your property a little less tense.

Clean Thoroughly

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People like to think they have limitless imagination, yet when it comes to buying property we are all guilty of being a tad small minded. When a potential buyer walks into a home that is cluttered or worse dirty, they will be distracted from the permanent features that form the actual property. Your house should resemble a five-star hotel in cleanliness and neatness. Where necessary; bleach grout, change and make beds, clear away personal items and replace worn towels. An uncluttered house which looks and smells clean and fresh, will sell for more than the exact same house with less care.

Stage Beautifully

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As with cleaning, when it comes to furnishings relying on the ability of potential buyers to see past what is directly before them and visualise the possibilities, is a dangerous trap to fall into. Furniture that has seen better days or bare rooms with little to attract the eye cannot compare to a house that has been specifically dressed to sell. Using a home staging company, who can work with you to create a beautiful interior design package and then rent you the furniture, will do wonders when selling your home. It will be the difference between someone walking into the property and thinking maybe they could live there, to them feeling at instantly at home and longing to return.

Photograph Clearly

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In the age of the internet, selling a house just like any other product hinges greatly on beautiful imagery. The first impression most buyers are going to have of your property, is the images on your estate agent’s website.  If there are only thumbnail pictures with bad lighting, you will lose potential interest before anyone has even stepped through the door, no matter how beautiful your home. Instead, once your house is clean and staged, take steps to create high quality photography that showcases its best aspects. If you can afford a home photographer, they are certainly worth the investment. Otherwise follow this step-by-step guide to achieve near professional quality photos yourself.

Although selling a home will never be completely stress free, taking the time to photograph your house and make it beautiful and clean will allow visitors to envisage themselves living there. This imaginative jump is what will help potential buyers decide that your property is the one for them. What could reduce anxiety more when selling than a ton of offers and a quick sale?!

Five Emotions That Are Totally Normal When Moving

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I remember when we exchanged on what was soon going to be our new home, we were so excited! The house was (and still is) perfect with the right amount of space for the two of us. We could not wait to get into it! As the time came closer to moving in however, it started to feel like I was on a roller coaster. An emotional one. I experiencing so many different feelings – both good and bad. Mum did reassure me that it is natural to feel this way when jumping into the unknown, after all moving to a new house is a major event.

Excitement

Although, towards the end I was sad to be leaving – I was also excited that I was going to be taking on new adventures. I had new neighbours to get to know and new spaces to play with! My other half was definitely not impressed with my constant rambling about how I was going to design each room. It is like a fresh slate or a clean canvas – one you can decorate with whatever you want! Pinterest is a great place to find inspiration on storage solutions and DIY ideas! You will have ample opportunity to rip kitchens out and paint the walls to your heart’s desire.

Sadness

I remember handing our keys over to the Estate agents and being surprised by a wave of sadness that our old home officially no longer belonged to us anymore. Over time, it is a given that you will gain some sort of attachment, whether it be to the house, neighbours and even the smaller things like your garden! I know that we have some many great memories, from furniture shopping to our first dinner in our own space! Try not to think of the experience as moving on, think of it as moving forward to better things.

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Regret

Did we make the right decision? Have we moved to a better place? We did tons of research on our new local area, however I did keep questioning if this was the right thing to do. Moving is a lot of money and there are so many formalities to go through, you have to be completely sure when making a decision. Me and my other half fell in love straight away with our new home, the neighbourhood was lovely and it wasn’t all that far from central Brighton. We knew at the time it was right for us, and we still do! There will be strange feelings, but they will make you appreciate the experience more. All that you need to do is remember, you are going from somewhere you are comfortable to somewhere you don’t know anything about – it is normal to feel a little unsettled!

Stress

Like I said before, you are jumping into the unknown! It is natural to feel a little anxious. Not only that, with conveyancing solicitors, estate agents and banks to deal with there will undoubtedly be tension. Not to mention when the removal guys don’t turn up on time (I speak from experience), this can contribute to feelings of agitation. From speaking to lots of different people, it is evident that moving is stressful, no matter how many precautions you take! Saying that, try and reduce your cortisol levels by just taking a moment to breath and realise the bigger picture – which is that you will soon have a new place to make your very own!

If you are moving and feeling this whirlwind of  emotions – be reassured that this is normal! I was once in the exact same place but as soon as I stepped inside our new house, I was once again, absolutely in love!

Essential Questions Before Booking Your Honeymoon

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So, you have planned the wedding of all weddings and the only thing left to do is organise the perfect escape to a romantic destination. The world is your oyster, so where will you be venturing to? Below are a few questions to ask yourself before booking your dream holiday – I know I did! Arranging a wedding can not only be expensive, but they can take precedence over everything – including the all-important honeymoon. Your special holiday can sometimes end up on the back burner, so getting this done first will help lower your stress levels and ensure an amazing trip. Ask yourself the questions below to start planning the ultimate honeymoon!

  1. What do you both like?

Are you both self-confessed adrenalin junkies or do you both prefer a more relaxing setting? It is important that you both are excited and have input. There are ways that you can come to a final decision, you could each write down a list and see if you have any common denominators or simply discuss your ideal getaway – you may be pleasantly surprised with ideas from your fiancé!

  1. What is your budget?

Yes, let’s talk money.  With the world at your feet, it’s time to get down to the logistics and start budgeting. What is realistic that also fits you and your fiancés honeymoon needs? If you have travelled to lots of places already, you may have built up some airmiles. If not, simply shopping around can help you find the best going rate for your holiday. If you decide where you want to go well in advance, booking it as soon as possible means that you could enjoy some super cheap deals.

  1. Is it a good time of year to go?

Many places during the Summer become super busy and if you are looking for a relaxing quiet holiday – you may be in for a shock.  Check out when your ideal destinations have their busiest times of the year, not just for tourists but students alike. Check popular teaching academies areas that are teaching TEFL courses or other educational courses as it could be hotels and tourists can be really packed at these times!

  1. Have you checked the reviews of your accommodation?

The last thing you want is to turn up to your accommodation, and it is not what it looked like in the pictures! This is where review sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor come in handy. You can see other people’s experiences to help you decide if this place if for you or if you need to be looking elsewhere. Review sites are not just for checking out what the place is really like, some reviews are handy in finding not so obvious but good places for you to explore!

  1. Have you planned your itinerary?

Are there any attractions or key places you want to visit? Are you wanting to go it alone or is the thought of hiring a tour guide more for you? Check out tourist sites for your destinations, as they will have information of places you can’t miss and ideas for accommodation. Travel blogs are also a great place to find out what you can do, for example, simply search ‘5 top things to do in Bali’ for some ideas!

Are you excited? Good! From my experience, nothing beats a relaxing break in a beautiful location after planning a wedding. Spending that all important time with your new husband or wife, is a great way to kick-start a marriage! And the last thing you want is any nasty surprises, so make sure you are happy honeymooners by getting everything planned and sorted in advance.

Is HR a Women’s Only Club? (Men in HR)

One of my oldest and dearest friend was recently let go from his job.  While it was an extremely stressful and frightening time for himself and his partner, it was also a blessing in disguise as he had wanted to try something new for a while.

What Next?

After spending a few weeks secretly enjoying his unemployment and carefree days, he began to explore the possibility of taking up teaching. A rewarding career with some awesome holidays….hello sun!  He even went as far as doing a short, part-time stint as a teaching assistant.  But maybe the less said about that experience the better.

The other avenue that he explored and has ultimately taken is human resource (HR), a career that I did not fully understand until we began to discuss it further. It has always seemed to be a sector dominated by women and I was curious as to why?

(Stereo)typical Men!

The perception that HR is a girls only club appears to be based on the stereotypes of the role and genders in general. Many people would be hard pressed to tell you what HR professionals do. When we think of HR, the conventional view is that of administration, recruitment and someone handing out tissues to upset employees.

While the role is by its very nature about managing people, requiring many soft skills such as communication, what I have learned is that HR professionals require real knowledge of business practice and policy. This allows them to understand their business objectives better and in turn to identify and nurture existing employees in their roles.

It was interesting to hear that when my friend did his CIPD level 3 to better his skills in HR, that there were several ex-armed forces on the course with him. Which makes sense when you consider that they probably have a great idea about how to build a team or two!

All Talk

You may be thinking, but women are better at soft skills, they listen better, they can read between the lines, they are more caring.  Or maybe men wouldn’t believe they possess nor would they necessarily want to develop these skills.

Really? As if a man could not do the same?  This perception has allowed the industry to be dominated by women over the last couple of decades, while it appears men have focused their attention on other industries.

This the 21st century and we are constantly annoyed by the notion that women are not as good as our male counterparts in many other industries.  Men are more than capable of possessing or developing these skills in HR and the sooner more do, the better.

Does It Matter?

I personally think that businesses should worry less about which gender an employee is and start employing people based on their personality and life experience.  After all, as my friend will show, this is all that really matters.

Perfect Staycation Locations UK

The sun is shining and the UK cannot get enough of it! The time for holidaying is upon us and I am super excited to take some time out from working life and really relax. Oh, and spend some time with my other half – of course! We are currently having debating whether to go abroad or not. Mike is wanting to escape to the sun however, why run to the sun when you have it right here? There seems to be so much negativity in the news now with regards to travelling and strength of the pound, that I have been searching a little closer to home for the perfect staycation. But first, I need to work on my persuasiveness, so here is a quick summary of staycations are better than vacations!

  • Smaller travel costs – No catching planes or taxis to hotels when we can simply drive there!
  • Easy planning – We know the language and currency
  • Inexpensive – We can easily find the best deals and take things like food from home

Beach Break: Cornwall

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It seems to be that in Cornwall, everything is in walking distance! Falmouth is a tourist hotspot, with cute cafes, pubs and independent shops. I also found that you can catch a boat from Falmouth to St.Mawes, where you can visit St Mawes Castle and take part in water sports if you fancy it. They have lovely sandy beaches, which there is a lack of here in Brighton, and lots of caves to explore!

City Break: London

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Brighton to London isn’t very far, the only thing we have to worry about here is if there is a strike on. London has tons of attractions, from visiting the queen in Buckingham palace to visiting Harry Styles at Madame Tussauds! There are so many places to stay however, with it being the capital and everything – prices will vary. To solve this, you could stay slightly out of London to cut costs, then travel into the city easily with the tube. However, if you are looking for a relaxing holiday, it may not be ideal, as during the summer there are lots of tourists making it busy and crowded.

Relaxing Break: Cotswolds

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No not the shop, but the 800 square mile area of rolling hills which has loads of lively market towns and historic landmarks buried within them! I can picture a long day of exploring, then retreating to one of the traditional Cotswolds cottages in one of the historic villages! It is such a good excuse to get my bike out the shed as this place has so many walking and cycling routes that I would love to explore with my other half.

Active Break: Lake District

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Did you know there are six National Nature Reserves in these 885 miles of land? What I love about this place, is that there are so many types of accommodation, from glamping to hotels! As with the Cotswolds, there are loads of walking routes for all levels. I especially like the look of Helvellyn, a mountain famous for its twin ridges. However, it seems a little steep but I bet it will be worth it for views! For a more organized adventure activity, you partake in a treetop trek and tree top nets – imagine flying and climbing through the trees. You would have to have some guts to do that!

Spa Break: Snowdonia

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I know what you’re thinking – that there are spas closer to home. However, when you go on holiday you want to feel like you’re away! Snowdonia has a range of spa hotels and with breathtaking views – it definitely makes for a romantic holiday for two. The area is also home to a multitude of heritage sites and outdoor activities – bit of a contrast between the two, but I can see how there would be something for everyone. This one could be on the cards depending on how adventurous we are feeling!

All of these locations look incredible and I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that some of them are in the UK. Armed with this comprehensive list and my persuasive skills – I’m pretty sure I have the upper hand in deciding where we will be going this year!

Five Perfect Tips to Help You Achieve Your Goals

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Sticking to goals can be incredibly troublesome, especially when there are constant distractions in the form of food, friends and alcohol. However, deciding on goals can really help us understand what it is we want to achieve. After a couple of weeks of glorious indulgence, you may find you hit your limit and feel ready to make those vital changes to help reach your goals. There’s no better time than when you get that feeling of change to get stuck into hitting your targets. Here are my tips on how to set manageable goals so you can hit the ground running and be a success!

  1. Do It Early

A lot of people only set their goals at that start of the year and see the new year as a perfect excuse, I know from experience that attempting your resolutions on New Year’s Day is a non-starter. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be tired and/or hungover. In this state, you can only think as far ahead as bacon, so reaching important goals will feel impossible.

Know that it’s okay to not feel ready until the spring months, I personally start to feel the need for change as the weather starts to turn and Spring begins to spring. This leaves ample time to mull over what’s important to you and what you can do without, if you’re giving something up.

  1. Do the Things You Love

Achieving goals is much easier if you enjoy the activity that gets you there. For example, if you want to get fit and you love dancing, then Zumba may be worth trying. The same goes for any task; if you want to be more crafty but don’t like knitting, try your hand at collaging or marbling. Equally, if you do attempt something and aren’t keen on it, stop and find something you do like. It may mean a bit of trial-and-error but you can achieve miracles when you find your happy place.

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If you can find someone to commit to a goal with you, you are significantly more likely to achieve it. At the beginning of last year my husband and I invested in carbon fibre road bikes. We made a pact that if we got them we would cycle at least once a week, whatever the weather. I’ve always loved cycling but my husband is a little more resistant. Despite this, we managed to keep to our promise (except for holidays), and I believe this is because we were both dedicated.

  1. Set a few Achievable Goals

It doesn’t matter how early you plan, how much you love the process, or who’s in it with you, because if you set a goal that’s too time-consuming, you’re more unlikely to accomplish it. Instead of attempting to gain a six-pack by May, try setting a goal of simply feeling more body confident. I read a fascinating study which showed that people felt better after just 20 minutes of exercise. So that’s all it takes! On a similar note, setting too many goals can be just as daunting as having a mammoth one.

  1. Write Them All Down

Once you’ve come up with your manageable and realistic goals, write them down and pin them somewhere you will see daily. This now gives you time to think of fun ways to realise your goals and find someone to do them with.

So, if you’re having an off day and all you want to do is eat a bacon sandwich and drink lots of delicious soft drinks, you can do so, safe in the knowledge that you have a plan and partner to start achieving your goals when you are ready and in your own precious time.

Interior Design For Children’s Bedrooms

My sister and I both love interior design, but when it came to decorating my niece and nephew’s room this week, we were just going to take the generic route. As we were planning, we got to thinking; kids spend so much time in their rooms, shouldn’t their spaces get the same consideration as the rest of the house? Feeling a little sheepish we decided to approach their rooms like we would our own and focused on the following aspects:

Collecting meaningful pieces

It can be tempting to fully furnish a kid’s room all in one go, just to get it finished. We resisted this urge and started out sparse rather than cramming it full with complete sets of furniture. As with any other space, it’s worth waiting and buying high quality and beautiful pieces. These will be more meaningful and add character to a child’s environment. Although it will take a little more time, you will end up with a collection of items that will stand the test of time, as well as looking fabulous.

Maximise storage

There is a physical law that wherever children live, clutter will build up like there’s no tomorrow. The irresistible joy on their faces when they receive birthday and Christmas presents will mean an ever-growing toy collection. Not to mention them growing out of clothes and interests within months! When planning our scheme, we made sure to include lots and lots of storage solutions. Consider the following for inspiration:

  • Keep under-bed storage organised with pull-out drawers or boxes
  • Create a play-table from an old coffee table and add drawers for small toys
  • Attach crates to the walls for storage and keep them cute by wallpapering or painting the back ground
  • Make reading books a feature by placing them in open-front shelves and colour coordinating
  • Finally, Bunk beds for kids are a great way of saving space

Go neutral

If you imagine a generic child’s room it will most probably be bright with shades of pink, blue or yellow. The problem with these colour schemes, is that they are outgrown incredibly quickly. Additionally, lots of colours and patterns make a room feel smaller and more cluttered – not very relaxing. Choosing a neutral pallet will create a calm environment that feels spacious. We decided on mixing a colour palette of earthy greys teamed beautifully with and mood boosting warm yellow.

Children spend so much time playing, relaxing and sleeping in their rooms that it is so worth taking the time to plan their décor. Choosing meaningful pieces, picking a neutral palette and maximising storage will give your little one a relaxing and spacious environment with character for them to relax and be themselves in.

Do you have any tips about interior design for kids? If so, please leave a comment I’d love to hear them!