1621 posts Posts by Jayne

How to Make Any Dress Work in Winter

I don’t know about you, but I hate the fact that when the weather changes, half of my wardrobe gets consigned to the archives. I’ve got items of clothing that I love and am super comfortable in, so I love to find ways to make them work all year round. I’ve recently been looking at the Esprit website, given the fact that my favourite maternity jeans of all time were made by the brand. I love the fact that the company makes clothes which aren’t seen everywhere, and are both comfortable and stylish.

Anyway, after spending time lusting after a whole bunch of stylish winter dresses from Esprit I thought I’d share with you some tips on how to style dresses so that they last all year.

Shirt Dress

Esprit makes some stunning shirt dresses which are perfect in the summer as they’re made from a lovely crepe material. However, if you want to make them a part of your all-season wardrobe, pairing them with thick tights (exrta points if you opt for bottle green or mustard, which are SO in style this winter!), leather ankles boots and a buttery-soft leather biker jacket will look amazing and keep you warm, too.

Maxi Dresses

Maxi dresses are actually perfect for wearing the the colder weather because you can hide a whole bunch of stuff underneath them! Wear over leggings and a long sleeved t-shirt and then top with a poncho and your boho-chic look goes from summer to winter solstice!

Sequin Dresses

I mean, come on, this one isn’t even difficult. Winter equals Christmas and what’s more festive than sequins?! Sequin dresses are perfect for Christmas parties, and all you need to do is wear flesh coloured tights and a gorgeous pair of platforms to keep your legs warm in the chilly air.

Bodycon

Not gonna lie, I’ve never worn a bodycon dress in my life. Plenty of plus sized women do, and ROCK THEM might I add, but I don’t have the body confidence to do it. I have, however, seen other women wearing bodycon dresses but wearing a different skirt over the top, utilising just the top part. Floaty, metallic pleated skirts are all the rage this season and would look fab over a bodycon dress, also helping to keep you a little warmer!

Evening Dresses

When it comes to formal evening wear, the best thing to do is to think about your layers. You’re not going to want to wear a thermal vest or long johns underneath a beautiful Esprit evening dress, but you can layer OVER one. Faux fur stoles, short jackets and wraps all add an air of luxury to any formal outfit and allow you to stay warm without sacrificing any element of your look.

Do you love wearing your items all year long? Have you got any great tips on making dresses last all year? Please leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

The Benefits of Co-Working

co-workingNow that both girls are at school, I’ve been thinking a lot about my working arrangements. I love being freelance because of the freedom and flexibility it gives me, but I do miss some of the elements of working in an office. I recently went to a Christmas party thrown by a friend I do some freelance work for and I remembered how much I used to love this time of year, when I worked. It sounds mad, but I always felt more festive when I worked with other people, so I’ve been thinking about looking into co-working spaces.

If you’re not aware, co-working is basically where you rent space in a flexible office where you get all the perks of working in a larger space (i.e. not one end of my living room couch…) without having to rent a whole building.

The benefits of co-working are innumerable – as well as having company during the day, with other professional, focused people, you also have networking opportunities around you, which I doubt you get at home. Many co-working spaces also have conference rooms which you’re allowed to use, making any business meetings you might want to take look SO much more professional.

Something that appeals to me is the fact that in a dedicated office space, I’d have far fewer distractions and would also be able to set proper office hours. If I turn up at nine and leave at five, like most normal working people, it would be a lot easier for me to focus during work hours and disconnect when it’s home time.

Many different co-working options exist, like in these offices to rent Liverpool – just a basic membership will offer free tea and coffee, cleaning, high speed internet, a postal service and the opportunity to use a prestigious business address, rather than your home address. I’ll be honest, the thought of high-speed internet access is enough to make it appeal to me!

I’ll be honest, as much as I like my own company and relish the opportunity to have me-time, I’m also a little bit prone to isolating myself and that’s not always a good thing. Sure, being able to come home after dropping the girls off and work in my slippers with Maureen the Pup next to me might sound great, but it makes it a lot harder to get into a professional mindset and isolation also isn’t great for me when I’m feeling down.

There are SO many benefits to co-working and it’s definitely something I’m going to look further into in the new year. Are you a co-working fan? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

5 Great Benefits of Skiing for Children

If you are undecided on whether taking your children skiing is a good idea, you may be pleasantly surprised by all the benefits it can have for them. The benefits for their physical and mental health are endless, not mention the amount of fun they’ll have. So, if you need an extra push to get you on the slopes, read on.

Pixabay

Boosts Positivity

If you’re currently dealing with a stroppy teen, a trip to a ski resort could be just what you all need for a bit of sanity. Sports like skiing and snowboarding have been proven to improve your mood and increase positivity. The bottom line is – children who are active are generally happier. So, if you’re looking for a family holiday where everyone will leave happy, skiing is a great choice.

Overall Health

When you go on a skiing holiday, you’re not only spending a lot of time in the great outdoors but you’re also exercising your body fairly rigorously. Your children will benefit from the fresh air, vitamin D and skiing is ideal for keeping the heart and lungs healthy. The great thing about this for kids is that they won’t even notice how well they’re looking after their bodies because they’ll be having too much fun.

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Balance

Taking part in skiing requires a lot of balance. It’s very physically demanding to keep your balance on skis for hours on end but it does the body good. Similarly, it isn’t just adults that need to unwind and relax at this time of year. Kids need a break too and spending time in a place like Chalet Iona can help to destress their minds and bodies. There’s nothing quite as easy as a relaxed child.

Get Back to Nature

Children spend more time than ever indoors thanks to technology. So, if you have a gaming enthusiastic or a child who likes to spend a lot of time on their phones or tablets, going on a skiing break could open their eyes. The breath-taking views, snowy mountains and beaming sunshine are just some of the perks to being on the slopes. You may even bump into some wildlife while you’re there.

Pixabay

Confidence

Every child needs a confidence boost every now and again. Whether it’s because of a failed test, a friendship gone wrong or a broken heart, it’s always nice to be reminded of your worth. Skiing is a great way to boost self-esteem and confidence. It can instill a sense of achievement when you master something new and children will develop a new found pride in themselves. When a child gets a confidence boost it can change their whole perspective on life, and parents may just get a well-deserved break.

There are so many benefits to skiing, including everyone getting a good night’s sleep and muscle toning for the whole family. But the main reason to go skiing is the pure enjoyment each and every family member will get from it.

4 Ways to Look After Yourself This Winter

winter self-careWith winter comes late, but beautiful sunrises and glorious sunsets, not forgetting gorgeous walks through the frozen countryside and the twinkling lights of the festive season. But when you’re a parent, winter also means snotty noses, chapped lips, coughs, colds, the flu and of course, those dreaded sickness bugs that spread like wildfire.

Getting sick of the winter season is often inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take steps to look after yourself, even if you are a busy parent. So, don’t just battle through it – here are some help tips and advice you can take to help you look after yourself this winter.

Looking good makes you feel good

Yep. When it comes to winter, with harsh winds, driving rain and bitter snow, many of us don’t bother with makeup or even moisturiser. But if you don’t take the time to look after yourself, then you’re going to run yourself down and be more susceptible to illness. So, take the time to moisturise your skin, and don’t cancel that microblading appointment – what is microblading, you ask? Click the link to find out more – make sure you take those extra vitamins and put your feet up once in a while. Your body and mind will thank you.

Kill the germs at the source

If you’re really worried about flu and sickness bugs this winter then it’s important to try and kill them off at the source, and that means regular handwashing. Make sure everyone in the house is following a strict handwashing routine, which means washing after the using the bathroom and before eating, and especially if they sneeze or use a tissue. It’s also a good idea to get the kids to wash their hands when they come home from school. Remember to regularly wipe down door handles, light switches and even the TV remote to keep the germs at bay!

Go outside

It might seem like you’re exposing yourself to more germs but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Getting outside will certainly give your immune system a boost and it’s certainly better than sitting inside the stuffy house. Even if you just bundle up for a short walk around the block, your vitamin D levels will certainly enjoy a boost from the sunlight and your mood will certainly rise. Giving your mental health a much needed boost too.

Keep hydrated

We tend to drink more in the summer time because, quite simply – we’re thirstier! In the cold weather, a cold glass of water might not have the same appeal as it does on a scorching day but staying hydrated will certainly keep those nasties at bay. If you don’t fancy water then try some simple fruit juice or fruit infused water. Treat yourself to a new water bottle so you’re reminded to drink the recommended amount of water per day. Drinking plenty will keep UTI’s at bay, as well as helping your joints to stay flexible and supple – it helps with brain function too!

How to Make Your Christmas Cards and Envelopes Extra Special

Christmas cards and envelopesI don’t know about you, but the one part of Christmas that I find a little bit of a boring chore is sending out Christmas cards. It’s not that I don’t want to send messages of good tidings to our nearest and dearest each year – it’s more to do with how boring the cards are. Every year, it’s a conveyor belt of cards with “Dear XXX, From XXX” written inside, shoved into boring envelopes and the whole thing feels like a damp squib. I’ve decided this year that I’m going to make our cards a lot more interesting, and I’m sharing some of the ways with you today:

Ditch the Boring Envelopes

Plain white envelopes might be functional, but they’re hardly inspiring, and blend in with the daily post and bills coming through your door. We’ll be switching things up this year by using gold envelopes from Bestbuyenvelopes  for our cards so that each one looks like a little bit of magic, sitting on the doormat. They’ll definitely stand out from the other boring post!

Use Rubber Stamps

Another thing we like to do is use a rubber stamp and ink pad to put a lovely festive image on the outside of the envelopes. It makes it look so lovely and takes only the tiniest bit of effort. In fact, I highly recommend you get the kids involved with this bit because mine love doing all my stamping for me (disclaimer: I won’t be held responsible if you kids end up bickering over who gets to use the stamp!)

Include a Drawing

Speaking of the kids, one thing that Sausage and BB love to do is draw pictures. They spend a LOT of their free time with a pen or pencil in their hands and love nothing more than creating something for someone they love. Give the kids a pile of paper and ask them to do a Christmas doodle to put in each card. It’ll make a sweet keepsake that people can look back on when the kids are all grown up.

Make More of Your Message

I know it will take a lot longer, but making your message a bit more personal can really improve your cards. Include a joke you think the person will like, or even joy down a happy or funny memory you share so that they’ll have a smile on their face when they read their card. Just a tiny bit of effort can really spread joy at this time of year.

What do you do to make your Christmas cards special? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Why Nitrile Gloves are a Home Essential #GloveIsAllYouNeed

Nitrile GlovesAs you’ll know if you read my blog on the regular, I’m far from a domestic goddess. Housework is not massively high on my list of priorities, however we do like to maintain a good standard of cleanliness even if tidiness isn’t our forte! One thing that I do like to keep a stash of at home to help me with my domestic duties is disposable nitrile gloves – they’re something that I find absolutely essential for so many things, so I thought I’d share a few uses for them with you here:

Oven Cleaning

This is one that I learned the hard way – oven cleaner is VERY caustic and if it gets on your skin can cause blistering and irritation. I once got oven cleaner on my hands and my skin was in a bad way for days afterwards, so now I make a point of never even going near oven cleaner without wearing a good pair of thick nitrile gloves.

Cleaning Up After Pets

Even though we have a long poop-scooper, I always wear a pair of gloves when I’m cleaning up after Maureen, just for an added layer of protection. Animal droppings can cause myriad health problems and ensuring there’s no bacteria transfer is really important. We have also now added two budgies to the family, so gloves are worn when cleaning out their cage.

First Aid

This one, thankfully, is a much ‘fewer and farther between’ use for gloves, but nitrile gloves are so important when doing first aid. As well as ensuring that my hands are sterile when dealing with cuts and scrapes, it gives me an added layer of protection too, as I’m a bit rubbish with blood!

Car Maintenance

Another thing I’ve blogged about in the past is that I try to do as much car maintenance myself as I can. This means that changing batteries and bulbs, filling up oil and water and even changing wheels and spark plugs are all within my remit, and it it MESSY work! I discovered, after too many times of ending up with ground-in grease on my hands, wearing nitrile gloves while doing car stuff protects me from dirt and grease.

Hair Dying

Although I don’t tend to dye my own hair anymore (TOO risky!), Sausage has had pink, blue and purple dip-dyes for the last three years running, and gloves are absolutely essential for this. The ones that come in the box dyes are worse than useless, so I always end up raiding my own stash of gloves instead, so that I don’t end up with multi-coloured hands.

Plumbing Emergencies and Tips on How to Deal with Them

Plumbing problems are uncommon, especially when you live in an old house. While a good plumbing system can run with minimum maintenance, there are still many things that could go wrong. In a worst-case scenario, you may have to deal with a plumbing emergency in the middle of the night.

Knowing how to deal with the most common plumbing emergencies is something that everyone needs to know. Taking the right first steps helps to prevent those emergencies from becoming bigger problems that aren’t always so easy to deal with. To help you prepare for the next plumbing emergency, here are some of the things you need to know.

The Right Tools for the Job

Before you are forced to deal with plumbing-related issues, you want to make sure that the right tools are available in the house. Simple things such as a forced cup and plunger can be very handy; not having them, on the other hand, can make dealing with plumbing emergencies difficult.

You also want to have a big enough bucket and leak-sealing tapes. These let you deal with leaks before you can contact the best plumbers available for the job. At the very least, you can prevent water from spreading before the emergency plumber arrives.

Other tools are more common; you probably have them around the house already. Some Allen keys, wrenches, a set of screwdrivers, and a tool caddy for keeping them organised are all useful tools to own. Complete the set by adding blind caps and towels or rags.

Know Your System

Next, you want to equip yourself with some basic knowledge on how the plumbing system is set up. At the very least, you need to know where the main water shut-off valve is located. When there is a sudden leak, you can shut off the water immediately and prevent further damage.

A good plumbing system also has a number of isolation valves. Their main purpose is so you can shut off the flow of water to certain areas around the house, making dealing with specific issues easier. For example, there is usually a shut-off valve below a sink, so you can isolate the taps without turning off the main’s water supply.

When working with the plumbers, it is also a good idea to have professionals inspect the system thoroughly.

Who to Contact

24/7 services are handy because the best service providers can be contacted at any time. That said, you want to find the best plumbers to contact so you don’t have to go through the hassle of searching for one when you have an emergency to deal with.

Asking the plumbers to inspect the system prior to dealing with an actual emergency is a good idea for this very reason. If you’re looking for a recommendation, you can start by contacting the Bristol plumbers at Plumbing Care Services. You can get a fast quote by filling in the contact form on their website or simply give them a call if you have an emergency. They strive for a 60 minute response time so are a good option to consider if you’re in an emergency.

Having the number of a reputable plumber to hand prior to an actual emergency also allows you to compare quotes and estimates better. By the time you need their services, you already have their day rate and know how much the job is likely to cost.

The Right First Steps

Shutting off the main valve or the isolation valve to a specific area is always a good first step to take when you have a plumbing emergency to deal with. However, it is far from a permanent fix. In fact, leaving the master valve closed for too long is inconvenient.

Remember that you have more tools to use, which means you can deal with many emergencies yourself. In the event of a leak, for instance, you can use Teflon tape to seal the leak temporarily. You can also use blind caps as a quick-fix for broken fixtures.

Wrenches are handy for when you have loose pipes, or when you need to replace some fixtures yourself. You can use a plunger to fix a clogged drain or toilet. Use a cup plunger for smaller drains, or a forced cup plunger for sinks and toilets.

Keep a bucket handy, especially when you need to open fixtures or drains. Even when there is no water visible from the top, the system may still have water inside. Opening pipes and drains could mean letting a lot of water out of the system, something you want to do with buckets and rags handy.

Here’s another reason why knowing who to call is a must: you can ask for first-aid advice over the phone. If you are not sure about what to do in the emergency, contact your local plumber and ask for a step-by-step direction.

With the main issue solved – even when it is only temporarily fixed – you don’t have to worry about the plumbing emergency turning into a bigger problem or damaging other parts of the house. You can then sit back and wait for the plumber of your choice to come and deal with the bigger repair.

Christmas Traditions Worth Sticking To

I’ve written in the past about how I feel overwhelmed by certain elements of Christmas. Being a mum in the age of social media means that as soon as Halloween is over, I’m bombarded by images of huge piles of presents, questions on groups about where people are going to see Santa and what people are loading their kids’ Christmas Eve boxes with. Each to their own, and all that, but I do find it all a bit excessive at times. When I was a kid, Christmas was a little more minimal but just as enjoyable.

We do, however, have a few Christmas traditions that we stick to and I thought I’d share a few of them with you.

Christmas Dresses from David Grant

New Dresses

The girls and I always get a new dress to wear on Christmas day. The key features are that it must be pretty, it must be festive and it must be comfortable! This year, I wanted something special for the girls so I’ve been looking at special occasion dresses for children from David Charles. The designs are stunning and I think Burrito Baby would look so cute in them!

Decorating the Tree

This is something that the girls and I do together every year. We set aside the first Saturday or Sunday of December and get the tree and decorations up. We drink hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows, we put a Christmas music channel on the TV and we get properly in the festive spirit while we adorn the house. It’s one of my favourite parts of the Christmas season.

Films

There are certain films that we watch as a family every year – Elf, Home Alone, Gremlins and The Polar Express, to name but a few. Then, on Christmas Eve, Husband and I watch It’s a Wonderful Life once the kids are asleep and share a few hours of peace before bed.

Wrapping

Speaking of wrapping, ours has become a bit of a regular event. I’m a bit of a control freak and love doing all the wrapping myself, so we usually compromise by enjoying a mulled wine while I’m doing it, with Husband delivering me festive treats like stollen and mince pies while I work. It may sound silly, but it’s something I really look forward to.

Boxing Day

Christmas Eve and Day are usually the time we spend with family, but Boxing Day is spent at home, eating junk (we usually buy party food from Waitrose to pick at throughout the day), watching movies and letting the kids play with their toys. Its great to have some downtime after two busy days and I think it’s something we definitely need, as a family.

Get The House In Order Before Christmas

Get The House In Order Before ChristmasIt’s that time of year when our thoughts are filled with festive plans; where we’re going for Christmas dinner, what’s happening on Boxing Day, who will we see the New Year in with? If you’re someone who likes to host, you may also be thinking about getting your house into shape before the masses descend upon you for eating, drinking and general merriment. But what can you do to spruce the place up without spending a fortune? Here are some ideas:

Flooring

It doesn’t matter how perfect your paintwork is, if your flooring is worn or dated it can ruin the whole look of a house. One of the most economical and hardwearing ways to improve things is by putting down some laminate flooring. It won’t cost a fortune, it will last for decades and you won’t have to worry about someone spilling a glass of Christmas mulled wine on it (which you KNOW will happen if you put a new carpet down instead!)

De-Cluttering

Another thing which can massively improve the look of a house is de-cluttering. If you get rid of stuff you don’t want and keep surfaces as clear as possible, it can even make your rooms look bigger and improve your health because of the reduction in collected dust. If you sell anything of value, you could even make yourself a few quid in the process!

Woodwork

Sprucing up things like skirting boards and dado rails can give the room a much fresher look, and sometimes they simply need a wipe down with a wet cloth or Magic Sponge to get them looking nice again. Look at the bottoms of doors and the areas around handles which can often get grubby over time, especially if you’ve got kids or pets.

Sofas and Cushions

If your sofa cushion covers and throw cushion covers are washable, taking time to stick them through a wash cycle will have two positive benefits – as well as looking cleaner, they’ll smell nice too, which can make your whole living room smell nicer. If they’re compatible with fabric softener, opt for one of the strong smelling concentrated ones for maximum effect.

Carpet Cleaning

If you don’t have the option of ripping up your carpets and laying laminate (if you live in a rented property, for instance), hiring a carpet cleaner is a good alternative. It won’t cost much and will revive the carpets, leaving them looking cleaner and smelling much fresher. You can get spot stain removers and even anti-pet smell solutions which can get your carpet looking and smelling as good as new.

Unlocking Netflix Content From Across the Globe

Unlocking Netflix with a VPNPhoto by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Despite the fact that we have a Sky box, I would guess that at least 75% of what gets watched in our house is through on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. The kids love being able to watch what they want, when they want (although that’s usually a strict rotation of Full House, Sam and Cat and Victorious!) and Husband and I get really tired of the usual ‘flicking through Sky before announcing there’s nothing on’ routine that we get sucked into almost every evening.

However, despite the fact that Netflix adds a lot of new content all the time, we’re starting to get to a point where we feel like we’re exhausting all of the films and shows that are available to us. There’s no doubt that Netflix still offers great value for money – as of 2016, statistics showed that the average user pays around $0.20 per hour of viewing and managed to avoid a massive 160 hours of adverts per year by watching on-demand. But, hey, we’re greedy and want more from the service!

We recently discovered that if you watch Netflix through a VPN, you can access WAAAY more content – if you don’t know what a VPN is, it’s an app that you can utilise on your phone, computer or pretty much anything that connects to the internet to secure your internet connection through another server.

When you connect to a server, you can connect to most places in the world (depending on the VPN provider) so your IP Address will appear as if you are in that location. What’s great about this is that in doing this you can access content from that country – so say you’re based in the UK, you can access US Netflix – which has almost double the content the UK Netflix has!

The best part is, a VPN doesn’t have to be pricey, with some just costing a couple of dollars per month, which means that you’ll still be paying very little for absolutely loads more content than you’d usually be able to access.

With estimates that Netflix will spend a mind-boggling $13 BILLION on content this year alone, it’s well worth using a VPN to allow yourself to get access to as much of this content as possible, especially if foreign film and TV is your thing! Husband and I are big fans of Scandinavian crime dramas, of which there seems to be very few on UK Netflix, but unlocking our subscription with a VPN would allow us to enjoy more of what we like.

According to The Motley Fool “The results speak for themselves. Netflix added over 26 million subscribers in the trailing 12 months ending in March, nearly 6 million of those in the “saturated” U.S. market. As long as Netflix continues to add subscribers at that kind of pace, the content spending is working. At some point, the company will hit an equilibrium where increased spending doesn’t result in a meaningful increase in subscribers, but that day still seems far away.”