26 August 2016

Why You Need Better Organisation Solutions In Your Life

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Organisation might seem like the most mundane thing ever, but personally I love it! I'm obsessed with cute storage systems and finding practical, innovative ways to store my stuff. And I have to admit, having all of my crap neatly organised really does make me feel like I've got my life together. If you have areas in your home that are currently disorganised and chaotic here are some of the ways you can sort them out. Take my word for it, you'll feel loads better afterwards!

The kitchen is of course an essential room to keep tidy and organised. Not only is it unappetising to cook and eat in a messy kitchen, but it can pose serious health risks as well. In a messy kitchen, it's easy for the spread of bacteria and cross contamination. To avoid the bacteria from raw meat and fish potentially spreading elsewhere in the kitchen, you could use color coded chopping boards. Another reason good organisation is essential in the kitchen is because it can be stressful digging around for equipment and ingredients mid way through your recipes. Keep your cupboards and fridge clean and tidy, and assign specific shelves for particular produce. Remember that raw meat should always be on the bottom so that it can't drip onto other food. Regularly empty the fridge and cupboards and clean them with hot soapy water or a bacterial cleaner to ensure that they stay fresh and hygienic. A great way to store and organise ingredients is to create a pantry. You could transform an old cupboard or a corner of your kitchen, or put up rows of shelves for an 'open pantry' if you don't have any additional space. Using clear glass jars keeps everything fresh and means you can easily grab what you need at a glance.

Being organised in the bedroom is essential to getting a good night's sleep. You're not going to feel very calm and peaceful if you're surrounded by clutter!  Spend a few minutes each day putting things in the right place, don't let things accumulate on bedside tables or dressing tables. Put clothes away so you don't end up with piles of them everywhere. Good storage systems are essential so that everything has a place. Some people choose to invest in some sliding wardrobes. These can work well in small space as they don't open out into the room. They are also floor to ceiling, which means you maximise the space you have. Buying a bed with storage drawers, or a frame that you can slide baskets underneath will give you more all important storage space, this can be handy for things like out of season clothes. It means you're not having to dig around for them in your wardrobe and have space for the things you're using on a regular basis.

Do you use your bathroom as a place to keep all of your cosmetics? Not only can this lead to clutter and mess but it's unhygeinic too. Bathrooms tend to have good lighting for makeup but once you're done, be sure to put all of your products away afterwards. Essential bath products such as shampoos, conditioners and shower gels can be organised into baskets to keep everything neat and tidy. You could organise them by category, or assign a basket to each person. If the smallest room in your house, is very small, then storage solutions such as hanging tidies or shower caddies can be useful. This will keep the mess to a minimum and free up your surfaces to be neat and clean.

Living Room
Some living rooms look like shrines to TV and media. While this is convenient, it doesn't necessarily look that attractive. While the TV is an important part of family recreation, a cupboard to hide away things like dvds and games will make everything look much cleaner and tidier. Coffee tables can also be clutter traps, so either invest in some storage baskets for underneath, or make the time to clear things away each day. That way you're not coming home to a messy, chaotic room each day.

Do you have any home organisation tips?

25 August 2016

Five Reasons Why a Garden Room Should Be Your Next Renovation

If you love your home but find yourself wishing it was bigger, you can get extra space without major renovations. Your first thought might be a loft conversion or an extension, but there's another way that requires no planning permission and minimal groundwork. And that's by having a 'garden room' built. Oeco Garden Rooms offer a selection of amazing looking 'rooms' that you can have built in your back garden. Here are just five different uses, and the reasons why this should be your next home renovation!

A Home Office
If like me you're a freelancer or run a business from home, you'll know how important it is to have your own office space to work from. Before I moved into my current home I had to share an office with my boyfriend, and it used to drive me absolutely loopy. He would constantly be distracting me, being noisy or making me lose my train of thought while I was writing. We moved in the end which solved the issue, but that's not practical for everyone. And so if you love your home but wish you had more space then something like this solves the problem perfectly. When you work a job that requires a lot of concentration, you definitely do need your own quiet and peaceful space.

A Hobby Room
Even if you're not running a business, if you have a hobby that requires a lot of materials then an extra room like this can be so handy. Plenty of space to store your materials and keep everything organised, and again it gives you a quiet place where you can enjoy your hobby. If your hobby is a musical instrument you'll be happy to know that you can even get soundproofed garden rooms. You can practice to your heart's content and give the rest of your family a break from the loud music!

A Hangout For Teenagers
Which teenager wouldn't want to hang out in something like this with their friends? A perfect choice if your family have started to outgrow your home. If your teenager has the same small room they grew up in, you'll probably find it increasingly difficult for them to have friends over due to space. And again, the soundproofing option would be handy here! You could get some comfy sofas and beanbags, a tv and a games machine. 

Somewhere to Relax
Instead of being a hideout for your kids or teenagers, you could turn it into a little space for yourself! With the windows and doors open in the summer you get to enjoy the weather in the garden, and for the rest of the year you could turn it into a cosy little retreat. A great place to read a book with a coffee or a glass of wine, it could be an amazing little room that's just for you to enjoy. Superior insulation is used, meaning it's suitable for all year round so no chilly drafts.

A Guest Bedroom
If you love to entertain guests and wish you had an extra room for friends and family to stay over, why not go for something like this? It would make such a cool and unusual guest room. These garden rooms come fitted with an electrical package, but if you had a small ensuite plumbed in there too it would basically become it's own little self contained flat.

What do you think, would you have something like this fitted? What would you use yours for?

23 August 2016

The Ultimate Guide For First-Time Buyers

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When it comes to buying your first home, there are lots of things to consider. Do you buy a new build with all of its guarantees? Or, do you purchase a house that needs a bit of work but might save you some money? There are pros and cons for each, so here is a list of the top things to look out for when you’re buying your first home.

Are the fixtures and fittings included?
If you’re buying a house, you want to get as much included in the sale price as possible. The additional items can soon add up on top of the purchase price. Some sellers will do deals to include the carpets and light fittings, and some may even leave the cooker and fridge freezer behind for a set amount. The more you can get, the better. You can always replace them at a later date, but it’s useful to have when you first move in.

How easy is it to repair structural issues?
Obviously, if your survey of the house throws up any issues, you’ll want to consider if you are up to doing the work. If you enlist the help of a professional, you can get quotes on how much it will cost to fix and what building repairs need doing. You can always use that as a great bargaining tool when it comes to making an offer.

Can we add space to the house?
If it’s your first home, you might not consider how the house will grow with you. However, if you decide to extend your family, you might find the two-bed house that is big enough now starts to feel claustrophobic. You can always get an idea of how easy it is to extend by looking at other properties down the street. If they have loft extensions or big double storey ones, then chances are you’ll be able to do the same. 

Can you still get a deal with a new build?
Buying a new home probably leaves less room for deals, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be done. If you are choosing everything from the ground up, try and negotiate some better upgrades such as a luxury flooring or a higher quality kitchen worktop. These are things that save you DIY later on, and also mean you can start out with the house exactly as you want it.

Is it affordable?
If you find your dream house, you need to make sure you can afford it. There are plenty of mortgage calculators around that help you decide whether or not the repayments will be affordable for you. There is the government’s Help To Buy scheme which can help some first-time buyers with their deposit, so it’s always worth checking that out.

Remember the hidden costs
House buying isn’t just about sorting the mortgage and a new sofa. You’ll have to factor in stamp duty, legal fees and removal costs amongst others. Once you have a budget in place, you’ll feel more confident about covering all of the house buying costs.

18 August 2016

Thinking Of Selling Your Home? Get It In Tip Top Shape Before You Do

If you're looking to sell your home, then there will be certain things that you need to do with it. You'll want to get it in tip-top shape to get it looking it's best, in order to appeal to as many buyers and possible and receive the best offer that you can. So what can you do to get it in order prior to selling? Here are a few ideas to make sure that you get the best offers possible.

Neaten Up The Exterior
When someone sees your house for sale, the first thing that they'll see is the exterior.  Chipped paint, cracks and untidy gardens don't make a good impression and so will need to be dealt with. Simply giving the grass a cut, pulling out weeds and pressure washing your driveway can make everything look much tidier, you don't want potential buyers to be put off by thinking the house needs too much work. Your property could look perfect on the inside, but the exterior alone could put people off from making an offer.

Sort Out Problems Inside the Home
If there are things that need to be sorted and repaired in the home, make sure that these are done. It might be something small like repainting a wall or filling some holes. It might be something bigger like a conservatory roof replacement. Whatever it is, don't put it off and make sure that it's sorted before you put your home up for sale. If a home looks well cared for, it's likely to get higher offers than one that looks in disrepair.

Reduce Clutter
Lots of trinkets and photographs on shelves and furniture might be how you want your home to look, but potential buyers are likely to see this as clutter. The best way to show off rooms is by having simple homely touches without it being cluttered or too personal. The people looking around will want to imagine themselves living there, and so having lots your own things on show can be distracting and off-putting. You could make a start on packing things like this away, it will save you time further down the line and make your home more attractive to buyers. Keep out a few key pieces for each room such as a piece of artwork, a clock and some plants. The rest can go away until you reach your new home. Keeping the place generally clean and tidy is a good idea too.
Keep Things Light
When someone looks around a home, they will be looking at a lot of different things. But one thing that most people will want is a home that's bright and airy with lots of natural light. So try to show this as much as possible. Avoid thick and heavy curtains, and always make sure the blinds are open during viewings. If you currently have dark colours on your walls, consider giving them a coat of paint with white or a light neutral colour. The space will look bigger and brighter, and will appeal to more buyers. 

17 August 2016

The Most Beautiful False Lashes In The World

Oh Esqido, you don't half know how to make a great pair of false eyelashes. Just look at them! Beautiful wipsy strands made from mink hair (all 100% cruelty free) in a range of different styles, and all packed up in the prettiest white and rose gold packaging. 

I've tried quite a few Esqido lashes over the last couple of years, and they completely impress me every time. The lightweight cotton band makes them really comfortable to wear, and because they're so well made you can actually re-use them up to twenty five times. I was really excited to see that new styles had been added to the site- with different thickness, lengths and patterns giving you great options for different occasions. Whether you want full on ultra glam for a night out, the perfect fluttery lash for a special event or even a subtle yet gorgeous look for the daytime there's something for you on here. My current favourites have to be 'Stephanie' which give you that bold, glam finish to your makeup for a night out but are still beautifully lightweight and fluttery so you don't look fake or overdone. Unforgettable are a great all rounder, I have a full review here and as I mentioned in that post these are lashes that I plan on wearing on my future wedding day. 

Along with the gorgeously crafted lashes, Esqido also sell an effective eyelash glue called 'Companion'. I've tried a lot of eyelash glues over the years and I can honestly say this is the best one. I've had products that have made my eyes water so badly I've had to remove my entire eye makeup and start again and others that were like superglue and pulled out clumps of lashes when I've come to remove it- not cool. In fact, up until I discovered this stuff I was using hair extension glue for my lashes just because I hadn't found anything else that worked! Companion is a strong, latex-free formula. The thin nib tip makes it easy to apply, and it doesn't sting your eyes. While it keeps your lashes in place all day, it's easy to remove with makeup remover when you do actually want to take it off. 

I couldn't be happier with my new Esquido lashes, if you've not tried them yet they come highly highly recommended by me! 

14 August 2016

Simple Hacks That Will Make Life as a Pet Owner Easier

Having a pet is a big commitment. Pets like cats and dogs have long life spans, so if you choose to adopt one then you have to be in it for the long haul. People can put off by the time commitment that's involved with owning a pet, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. There are plenty of hacks and shortcuts that can make your life a bit easier, save you time but still mean you have a happy and content pet.

When it comes to cat and dog food it's much cheaper and more convenient to buy in bulk. There's less chance of running out, and you don't have to keep dashing out to the shops to buy more. But big bags of food can lose their freshness over time, and so it's worthwhile buying a large plastic food container  from a pet shop to keep it sealed. I personally free feed my dogs which means leaving food down at all times, and simply refilling the bowl when it's empty. Having two dogs I find this way means there's no competition for food, since it's always available and is the method that works for us best. However if you have a dog or cat who will overeat given the chance (or have a breed that gains weight easily) you'll need to weigh and portion out their food. Doing this all in one go and separating it into plastic boxes will not only save you space but time too, as each day you can grab a box and pour it into their bowl with no messing about.

A healthy pet shouldn't have an odour, but older cats and dogs or those with health conditions can be prone to being smelly. If you have a pet like this, it's a good idea to encourage them to sleep in their own bed or on throws on the sofa that can easily be washed. That way you can put the throws in the washing machine, and save your carpets, sofas or rugs from getting smelly! It might take a while to get them into the habit (especially if they've always been allowed on the carpet and furniture), but encouraging them to move to a place where you have washable throws and covers down will mean you can keep where they've sat clean. Between washes you could spray their bed to keep it smelling fresh. Use an old cleaning spray bottle and fill it with some water, and a few tablespoons of baking powder. Mix it up and add a few drops of your favourite essential oil. It's a natural way to eliminate smells so you're not spraying chemicals all over your pet's stuff.

Cleaning up after your pet is an unfortunate yet unavoidable part of the job. But there are things you can do to make your life easier. Cleaning up after your dog in the garden for example is much easier with a scoop than a thin glove or bag! It's also worth having a hose installed in your back garden too to wash down where they've been each day. Jeyes Fluid is a great disinfectant that's recommended for cleaning dog urine, which you can dilute with water and use outside. Just make sure the area is completely dry before letting your dogs back in the garden. Similarly for cats you could get something like a robot litter box. It's able to clean itself and control smells and waste, so it saves you a horrible job and makes your life much easier.

Caring for your pet involves giving it plenty of attention, and dogs especially are needy and enjoy nothing more than spending time with their humans. Investing in some decent toys will give you hours of fun together, and help them to use up some energy- a tired dog is a happy dog! For bigger breeds or those that love to chew up their toys, go for pieces made with solid rubber. They'll last for ages, and while they cost a bit more money up front will save you in the long run where they don't have to keep being replaced.

Have you got any hacks that have made your life with a pet a little easier?

11 August 2016

Simple Tricks to Save Big Cash on Your Utility Bills

Household bills are expensive, and along with your rent or mortgage chances are most of your wages are taken up by them each month. And while bills are an inevitable fact of life, it doesn’t mean to say you have to pay well over the odds. There are plenty of things you can do to reduce your bills, and free up cash for the things you’d rather be spending it on. 

Save on Your Gas Bill
Getting your windows double glazed and having wall and loft cavity insulation is a great start to saving money on your gas bill. But there are things you can do that don’t involve getting builders in- if like me you’re renting you can’t exactly start changing things like this and so have to work with what you have. So to save money on your gas bill, turning off radiators in unused rooms is a good idea (as well as keeping the doors shut to those rooms!) You could also have your heating on a timer so it’s not being left on all day, and get plenty of cosy throws for your sofa to cuddle up with in the evenings. That way you’re not having to put the heating up so high all night too. 

Save on Your Electricity Bill
So much electricity is wasted every day just from leaving products on standby. The Energy Savings Trust claims that up to £80 a year is wasted in most homes due to appliances left like this. It’s not difficult to switch something off properly when you use it, so try and get into the habit as much as possible.

Save on Your Water Bill
In the UK the prices for your water bills are set, and there’s nothing you can do to haggle a lower price or ask them to reduce it. Between 1973 and 1990, the Valuation Office of the Inland Revenue put a valuation on all homes, and it’s based on these valuations that the water companies work out your bill. Of course this is crazy, the value of a property can change drastically in that time (for better or for worse). The Valuation Office no longer changes these rates either, and so you’re stuck with the water bills you’re given. However there are a couple of ways around this. The first one is to have a water meter installed, this means that you only pay for the amount of water you use instead of a set bill. However this does mean that your bill could end up being higher if you use a lot of water, and is only really worth doing if you’re a single person living in a property (or are a particularly thrifty household when it comes to water). The second way is to get your own private water supply. This can be achieved with borhole drilling, it saves you money and also means you’re not at the mercy of the water companies for things like hosepipe bans. Boreholes can be done even in small gardens, and gives you access your own clean private water source. 

Save on Your Shopping Bill
One of the key ways to save money on food shopping is preparation. Draw up a weekly meal plan, and then write a list based on exactly what you need. Then follow the list religiously, if you’re easily suckered into deals and things you don’t need at the supermarket then consider doing your shopping online. When you know what you’re eating for the next few days you can be prepared, you’re never caught short wondering what to make and won’t end up resorting to expensive and unhealthy takeaways. If you’re strapped for time during the week, batch cooking at the weekend can be helpful. Make a big meal and portion it into freezer bags or tupperware boxes ready to grab and reheat when it’s late and you’re tired. Another great way to reduce waste and make your money go further is to add some store cupboard recipes to your weekly rotation. The kinds of meals that can be made cheaply using the dried and frozen food you already have on hand- no need to run out to the shops to buy more fresh ingredients. Think things like chicken pasta using dried wholemeal pasta, frozen chicken breasts and homemade tomato sauce using tinned tomatoes and herbs from the storecupboard.