Professional Assistance Or DIY? You Decide!

When someone decides to make improvements to their home or redecorate, they have to choose between employing the services of professionals or using the DIY method. Both approaches have their pros and cons, and so most of the important ones are mentioned within this post. Hopefully, the information will ensure homeowners don’t choose the wrong method this year.

Pros of using an expert

  • Professionals will come to the home and perform the job without the owners having to lift a finger.

  • Professionals always work to the highest of standards because they have reputations to uphold.

Cons of using an expert

  • Specialists will always charge a substantial rate for their services because that’s how they pay their bills.

  • Some specialists are better than others, and so there is a small chance the finished product won’t look as amazing as you’d hoped.

Pros of DIY

  • You will save a small fortune if you use the DIY method when it comes to home improvements.

  • There are lots of guidebooks and free video tutorials on YouTube that could help with every aspect of the work.

Cons of DIY

  • Some people might have to make a substantial investment in tools and equipment if they don’t have them already.

  • In most instances, those who take the DIY approach won’t get to see the finished product for much longer than those who employ a professional.

Consider all of those points before making any decisions about the best home improvement strategies this year. Also, if you want to make changes to the bathroom, be sure not to overlook the graphic at the bottom of this post. Good luck!

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This is a contributed post

Making Stress Work For You

There are many things in life that are deemed to be stressful activities, from marriage to childbirth, life has its moments of total and utter meltdown. Stress is a leading cause of anxiety, insomnia and for some people, weight gain. But is the cure for stress about outlook or is it about management? Could you actually change your perspective on life with a simple switch in your priorities and your viewpoint?

Stress affects different people in different ways and it’s how we handle our stress that defines us in a big way. Stressful situations can make some feel powerless, unhappy and in the extreme, sick. Sickness caused by stress is often in the mind and is difficult to process because it manifests as physical symptoms. You may react to stress by developing a cold or symptoms similar to a cold, because your immune system is run down and thus reacting to the extra difficulties on your mind. There are those, however, who are able to turn their stress into something positive, and that’s the part to focus on.

If you could turn a stressful period in your life to an advantage, would you ever be stressed out again? When it’s harnessed correctly, stress can have a positive effect on the mind and body and the reaction is empowerment and determination instead of worry and sickness. You could feel empowered and ready to take on the world when you learn to embrace your stressful situation and make it work for you. This is opposed to fighting the stresses and giving yourself something to worry about. When you’re going through a tough time at home, such as a separation and starting over after a long time together, your stress levels are likely to be through the roof. The fight or flight response within you will be fighting to the surface and instead of taking the route of flight, fighting by doing things like buying a house during a divorce or getting yourself out into the world and getting on with life can help you minimise the fear and make you feel in charge. Stress can sharpen your memory, as your body switches into protective mode to look after itself. Take advantage of that moment and roll with it.

You go through life experiencing and overcoming stressful moment after stressful moment, but changing your outlook can transform your life. Imagine that you could face something stressful, take a deep breath and push through it without it hurting you? Empowerment is so much more than coping with something stressful and there are so many ways you can empower yourself. Losing a relationship, a job, a friend; none of these things are easy. However, focusing on what you can gain from each experience instead of focusing on the loss can help you become a lot less reactive to the situation. Getting proactive is the key to transforming that stressful moment into one of quiet empowerment.
There are plenty of ways you can empower yourself to feel strong, confident and capable on a daily basis. You don’t have to take our word for that, when you can just check out the tips below:
Do nothing. Well, not literally, but think about how ‘on the go’ your life is and take pause. On a day off without rush hour, dealing with exes or children or needing to go anywhere, take a moment just for you and focus. Take a yoga class. Meditate in an open field. Sit quietly and listen to what you want instead of the needs and wants of other people around you. Take a moment to put aside the ‘busy’ from everyone else and feel peaceful.

Set a goal. For some, stress requires a reliever. This can be in the form of art, music, a sport or even a class to learn something new. Setting yourself a target can make you feel more than positive and excited, it can make you feel worth something. Relying upon yourself is the ultimate empowerment.

Ditch doubt. Self-doubt is the biggest killer of happiness. Weight issues, relationship troubles and issues at work can make you feel unworthy of happiness. But you know what? You are. Those worries are just worries of today and tomorrow is something different. Stop doubting your ability to feel human and happy; you just have to allow yourself to do so.

Stress won’t have the same impact on everyone, but empowerment is for all. Taking a moment to let yourself be empowered can change your life. Make stress work for you.

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It's time to burn my sh*t list

I'll just come out with it, I have a sh*t list. Where, other than the internet, should you reveal the darkest, dankest most shameful aspects of yourself? For those (more evolved than me) who don't know about this concept, a sh*t list is a working record of people to whom you wish to cause harm. Before you google the number for Crimestoppers, you should know my preferred method of harm is pain inflicted through my own, completely unrelated to them, success. 

It's pretty easy to get on my list and nigh on impossible to get off; there's a whole subsection for ex bosses - the one who invited me for dinner at his house, over which he told me that 'meat made him horny'; the one who started my very first supervision with the words, 'We don't have to like each other'; the one who dismissed my idea for a new work initiative and then passed it off as his own (he's in block capitals). Friends don't get on there that often, I'm a bit softer on friends as they're usually not being paid. Occasionally one does and it's always pretty painful because it turns out that a friend who makes the sh*t list was usually not a friend at all. 

The list is not entirely based on my inner evil, I use it as a motivational tool. Sometimes it's hard to find the strength to keep going and the list has served to give me that little extra boost when it's needed. When I can't be bothered to take the steps to push my life in the direction I want it to go, I think of all the members of the list laughing at my failure. 

There was one ex friend who made the sh*t list for ignoring my plea for help. I don't like asking for help and will go out of my way to avoid it. When I first had my son I used to take the most ridiculous routes around London to avoid being the woman trapped at the bottom of a flight of stairs with a buggy; so reaching out to this friend was a big deal. She didn't say no, she didn't say sorry, she just left me struggling in an ocean, when as far as I was concerned she could've easily chucked me a rubber ring. So she took her place on the list and remained there gathering dust for several years. Then I got some really good news and she sent me a message of congratulations. It was very sincere and communicated no ill will and I realised that my progress was never going to cause her pain and more to the point I wasn't bothered if it did. The reward for success is success itself and my list was not propelling me forward, it was weighing me down. 

Happiness that is based on someone else's unhappiness is like living in a mansion on a rubbish tip, it might feel nice inside but open the curtains and you're faced with a stinking pile of  crap. So I think it's time to burn my sh*t list, wanna join me?

Use Your Experience As A Mum To Find Part Time Work

Many mums decide to take a long leave of absence from the working world after giving birth. Of course, we have maternity leave, but then some of us choose to stay at home for a few years. It’s an understandable choice, we want to be there to provide a proper maternal presence for our child during their early years.

But, there may come a time when you feel like going back to work or need to earn some extra money. If you’ve still got young children, it can be very hard to go back into full-time employment. Which is why a lot of mums look for part-time work instead. Now, if you’ve been out of work for a good few years, you may think you’re underqualified and don’t have enough recent experience to get any part-time work.

This is where you’re wrong. While you may not have recent work experience, you do have plenty of new experience in one of the toughest jobs around; being a mother. You can use your experience as a mum to find work and earn some extra money for your family. It’s all about figuring out the valuable skills you learnt as a mum and finding jobs that fit them. Here are just a few examples of great skills you develop, and how they can lead you to find work.

Caring Skills You may have been considered a caring person before motherhood, but having a child takes things to a new level. You truly develop the skills to look after and care for someone, putting them before yourself and doing all you can to keep them comfortable. These skills translate perfectly into things like care jobs where you look after elderly people or people with disabilities. You know what it’s like to look after someone that depends on you for assistance, and the care skills you developed will help out.

Teaching Skills Mums are amazing in that they take on so many different roles. As a parent, it’s your job to educate your children when they’re too young for school. As such, you develop the skills needed to teach young children. This could help pave the way for a part-time career in a nursery or playgroup, looking after toddlers and teaching them. You might need to pass a test to gain a simple qualification, but it won’t be hard. To make things even better, you could work in the same playgroup that your child attends.
Cooking Skills As a mum, you almost have to develop cooking skills to keep your children happy. Consequently, you could learn how to cook and bake amazing things. This opens the door to find work as a part-time chef/baker. You could sell birthday cakes or cookies to people, and make a decent bit of money on the side. The best thing is, you can work from home too.

Just because you’ve been out of work for a few years, it doesn’t mean your options are limited. Call upon your newfound experience as a mum to find work that suits your skills and pays the bills.

This is a contributed post

How to Make the 1st Birthday a Special One

How to Make the 1st Birthday a Special One When your child turns one it’s a big deal for you but let’s be honest, not so much for them.  It’s literally just another day for your little bundle of joy. Just because they don’t quite understand the idea of birthdays yet that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make a fuss.  After all, twelve months is a big accomplishment – both for baby and parents! It deserves celebrating. So here are some ideas how to make their 1st birthday a special one for them and for you.

Gifts Ideas There are two main lines of thought about presents for the first birthday – go for something that will be a keepsake or go for something they will enjoy right know.  Alternatively you can go for both.  Keepsake presents will often be given by other people such as personalised picture frames, keepsake boxes and moneyboxes so it might be worth waiting to see what comes from family and friends.  After all, baby isn’t going to know if their present is a day or two late.

The other approach is to go for something that they will enjoy playing with immediately.  Rocking horses or variety of other animals are a popular choice at the moment and these can last two or three years.  You will need to help them at first but as they get a little older, they will spend a lot of time rocking by themselves.
Toys that help them stand and walk are also a good first birthday present.  Everything from toy tractors, foot to floor cars to upright vacuum cleaners and other walker style toys make a great first birthday present and allow them to get a little independence as they get to their feet.

Celebrate Being A Parent The other thing to remember about the first birthday is that you should celebrate being a parent for a year, whether it is your first child or not.  Most parents will say that the first twelve months can be the biggest challenge and you should take some time to celebrate what you have achieved in that year.  Plus, who doesn’t love a good excuse for a party!

Lots of people now have a party for their kid’s first birthday and invite friends and kids of all ages.  Okay the birthday boy or girl won’t likely remember the event but you can take pictures and show them when they are older.  And it is a good excuse to get everyone together and to get your baby used to larger gatherings with lots of people around.

Don’t Stress About It One thing not to do for the first birthday is to stress about it.  As everyone says, you could give the baby a cardboard box as a present and they would love it.  So, set yourself a budget and a plan for what you want to do then just enjoy the event.  Make some memories that you can all look back on in years to come and use the day as an excuse to relax and take it easy, it is just the first of many birthdays after all.

This is a contributed post

4 ways to prevent your house being filled with kid junk

I like things and I like to see all my things, all the time. I love looking at chic, minimalist living spaces online but the idea of living in one leaves me cold. Seeing my stuff brings me joy, sorry Marie. I don't think my home looks bad, I'm not ready for an intervention or anything but it could be described as cluttered. That being said having a kid can take a home from cluttered to chaos and if you're sick of impaling yourself on stray Lego during your nocturnal loo run, here's some things you could try...

Borrow Toys can be for Christmas and not for life. Exchanging with friends or signing up to a local toy library is a great way to allow your little one to enjoy that must have plaything for the five minutes they'll be enamoured with it.

Buy cheap, buy twice When my son sees a charity shop he shouts, 'New toys!' You may see a three wheeled car but he sees brand new things to take home. Most of his favourite toys have come from local second hand shops and I always feel chuffed when he is running round the house with a fifty pence find. 

Ban adverts We always used to watch TV in the mornings, until one day Roscoe stood up and said, 'I want to play with it!' I followed his little finger to the screen where a happy, blonde child was delighting at a cartoon branded piece of plastic. From that point I thought, 'Oh, hell no!' We now watch DVDs or stream programmes and shopping trips remain pester free.

Hide it There's a cupboard in my kitchen filled with toys. It started with a little piano, it's plink, plink, plinking was haunting me in my dreams. I shoved it in the cupboard simply to protect my sanity and then I forgot about it. So did Roscoe. A few weeks later I was looking for some light bulbs and I found it, sad and alone. When I pulled it out it was like Christmas (without the hangover). Roscoe was so excited to see it again that he played with it for at least twenty four minutes. Now I regularly stow away things for a rainy day, just remember where you put them.

Rhyming with Wine

My Random Musings

Watching Your Weight: Obesity Related Health Issues To Avoid

We all know how carrying too much excess weight isn’t good for us, we’re constantly reminded by doctors and the media that we should shave off those excess pounds. But how much of an issue is being overweight and obese really? While most people will likely get away without developing health issues for a number of years, they’re likely to show up eventually and could be debilitating. Here are just a few of the reasons why you should aim to keep your weight within the normal range.

Type Two Diabetes One of the biggest dangers when you’re obese is insulin resistance- or type two diabetes. When you carry excess weight, there’s more pressure on the body to use insulin to control blood sugar. If you have a BMI over 22, you are eighty times more likely to develop type two diabetes which is shocking. You can help to treat type two diabetes by losing weight and cleaning up your diet, Natural remedies such as Synergy Extracts, terpenes in particular, have been shown to be useful in diabetics. Keeping your weight under control is the best way to prevent the illness.

Heart Issues Heart attacks and disease is the biggest killer in the western world. And that really is a shame since in most cases it can be prevented. Eating a healthy diet and exercising will keep your arteries free of plaque and keep your heart muscle strong and healthy. Focus on eating heart healthy foods, fruits and vegetables, high fiber foods and oily fish are all good choices. You will also want to work on reducing saturated fat in your diet and exercise at least three times a week.

Joints While as humans our joints are robust, they’re not invincible. Carrying too much weight puts pressure on hips and knees, and over time these can quite literally wear out, leaving them feeling extremely painful. Losing weight and also exercising to build up strength in the surrounding muscles and ligaments is extremely useful. Cycling is a good example, this is great for cardiovascular fitness but also strengthens the knees. And as it burns calories will help you lose weight too (along with a healthy diet)

Self Esteem Finally, as well as physical health issues, being overweight can also cause problems with mental health too. Unfortunately, we live in a world that’s biased towards slimmer individuals, flick through any beauty magazine, watch any movie or music video, and you will be bombarded with the ‘ideal’ kind of body. While it’s important to understand that often these ideals can be unrealistic, it’s hard enough even for those who are the correct weight at times. Being overweight or obese can be difficult in today’s judgemental world. Losing weight will not just benefit your health but your mental health too. You are likely to feel more confident in yourself and your body and wear the clothes that you want.

Are you on a weight loss journey, or have you overcome any health issues due to losing weight?

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The Costs of Parenting: What New Parents Should Know

If you and your partner are currently thinking about starting a family, there are probably many different things occupying your mind. However, don’t forget about those pesky financial matters. You need to know where the money is going to come from because parenting is not cheap. There are some things you should know before you go any further, and you can learn about them by reading on now.

You Might Have to Cover Costs You Managed to Avoid Before There are some things that every parent needs to be able to do. For example, you’re probably going to need to be able to drive if you want your job as a parent to be easier. That’s a big expense to cover if you’ve never been a driver in the past. There are things like cheap car insurance for first time drivers that you can take advantage of. But that’s just one example of the costs that will need to be covered.

Budgets Will be Essential You’re going to need to get into the habit of setting budgets for your household and your family spending. If you don’t set strict and realistic budgets, you will run into trouble sooner or later. That’s clearly not something you want to happen, so find out what a good budget looks like. It’s a habit that will serve you will over the years as you’re organising your family household and trying to stay financially secure.


Know What You’re Entitled To There are many social programs and benefits out there that you might be able to take advantage of as a new parent. These things can often help you to spend a little less money and ease that financial burden a little. That makes them more than worthwhile for someone like you. Don’t forget to explore all of these options in more detail and find out which of them you’re entitled to.

Balance Value with Durability When Starting to Buy Things for the Baby When you’re starting to buy things for the arrival of your baby, you might wonder whether you should go for budget items to keep costs down or spend more on durable items. It’s a balance that’s not always easy to get right. It’s something that you will have to decide for yourself. It’s often the case that you’ll end up spending more if you choose cheap products that can break easily.

The Pressure Doesn’t Lessen As They Get Older As your children get older, you might assume that the financial pressure lessens, but that’s not always the case. In fact, it’s never the case. There are always costs that need to be covered, and those costs can sometimes get bigger as your child grows. So, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you will be able to get away with spending less when your child reaches a certain age; it doesn’t work that way.

Being a parent has always been pretty expensive, and that’s not something that’s about to change anytime soon. Unfortunately, that’s something you’ll just have to deal with if you want to start a family.

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Want The Perfect Proposal? Then Get Involved!

When it comes to proposals, most of us have a pretty fixed idea of how they're supposed to go down. The man gets down on one knee, and the woman is utterly shocked by this amazingly romantic gesture. And yet, most of us also want our proposal to be completely perfect. This presents a bit of a problem. After all, how are you supposed to make sure that you get the absolute perfect proposal when you have no idea what's going to happen or even when it's coming. Sure, it would be nice to be able to rely on your partner to give you the proposal that you've always dreamed of, but the reality is that is you want it to go down perfectly, then there's one option: get directly involved with it!

Grayscale Photo of 2 Silver With Diamond Rings

Pick out your own ring Let's face it, aside from the fact that it means there will be wedding bells in the near future, the most important part of any proposal is the ring, which means that you really want to make sure that it's perfect. So why not pick it out with your partner? That way you can be sure that it's exactly what you want. If you're not sure what kind of ring is right for you, then check out these 77 Diamonds Celebrity Engagement Trends for a bit of inspiration. If you wanted to, you might even have a ring made especially for you so that you end up with something totally unique.

Set some ground rules The kind of proposal that you want is going to be incredibly personal to you and your partner. The last thing that you want is to end up getting the kind of proposal that might be perfect for someone else but is the worst thing imaginable for you. So why not talk to your partner about what kinds of things to avoid. If you're a private person, then you'll probably want to let them know that you don't want them to make a huge deal out of it with crowds and a lot of attention. Or perhaps that's exactly what you want! Either way, your partner isn't going to know unless you talk to them about it.

adult, blur, bouquet

Maybe even do it yourself! Of course, if you really wanted to mix things up, why not turn the tables and do the proposing yourself! After all, in the modern era, there's absolutely nothing wrong with a gender swapped proposal! That way you can give your partner the perfect proposal that they’ve always wanted instead!

Now there are a lot of people who will say that getting involved with your proposal will spoil some of the magic and surprise, but let's be honest, do you really want one of the most important decisions that you ever make to come as a surprise? Besides, even if you're aware of the fact that it's going to happen, that doesn't mean that you're always going to be exactly sure when and where!

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Learning to Love Again

Ever since they arrived, suddenly and painfully, I have loved my boobs. I know it's not very British to admit to liking something about yourself, particularly something about your body but since it was the only thing I admired about myself, I hope you'll give me a pass. 

I came of age in the 90's and boobs were in. Wonderbra was in it's heyday and no outfit was complete without an inch of cleavage. There wasn't a day that couldn't be saved without a a really good bra and did I love a bra. I had pink ones, red ones, polka dot ones, full cup ones, half cup ones, barely any cup but who cares it looks good ones. I remember my first bra fitting in the now defunct Alder's department store. I knew that I needed something more substantial than the crop tops that I had been sporting but my mouth fell open when the saleswoman told me I needed to wear a 32DD. Double D was the real deal, the kind of boobs sported by car models and aspiring actresses; I couldn't stop smiling. Even the saleswoman scolded me for looking a little too pleased with myself but I was like, whatever lady, I've got real boobs! 

Fast forward twenty years or so and I learnt that my breasts weren't just a cute accessory. I think it was about three in the morning when I was strapped into a hospital breast pump, willing myself to produce just a few millilitres of nourishment for my incubated baby that I realised, these are not mine anymore. I was lucky and my boobs came through for me. We both managed nearly a year of feeding my son. I can't say it was a particularly positive experience, it was just another administrative task in the job of motherhood. I was pretty much doing what I needed to do until the day I could have my boobs back. 

However, my breasts were not returned to me, someone elses were. The breasts returned to me were emptier, flatter, sadder. For six months I continued to wear maternity bras and went into mourning. The little tea dresses I had loved so much went into a vacuum sealed bag and the stacks of bras were discarded. And I probably would have continued in that way, were it not for a chambray shirt. 

I have wanted a chambray shirt for eons. It was one of those items that I would catch a woman wearing every few weeks and stick back at the top of my mental shopping list but for months it had eluded me. Then one lunchtime I was browsing through the sale rail at New Look when one jumped out at me. I grabbed it greedily and rushed to try it on. It fit perfectly, with the exception of looking a little bunchy around the chest. I thought, it would be perfect with an extra button open and no bra but I can't go without a bra. Then it occurred to me, she couldn't go without a bra, a girl with boobs that no longer existed, but this new reincarnation of me could. So I bought the shirt and I felt like the business in it. And I bought a bunch of other stuff that I wouldn't have considered before - lacy little bralets, strappy vests and tops with gaping backs, revealing my braless status to the world and it was fantastic. What has motherhood done to your body that you are yet to embrace? More junk in your trunk? A sillohette made for a corset? How far have you come in the journey of learning to love yourself again?

Simple Touches For The Perfect Modern Home

There are a lot of different interior design styles, and many people struggle to figure out which one is right for them. However, even if you do figure out which is the right style, it can often be just as difficult to figure out how to bring that style into your home in a natural way. One of the most popular styles these days is a very clean, sleek, modern style that emphasises clean lines and open spaces. There are a lot of things to recommend this style. For one thing, it's incredibly fashionable, and it allows you to really make the most of even the humblest space. In order to help you embrace this style, here are a few simple tips to help you create a thoroughly modern home.

Water flows from the tap to sink

Replace the essentials There are certain things that every home needs in order to function. From taps to toilets to kitchen counters, without these things, your life is going to be pretty difficult. However, just because these things are primarily functional doesn't mean that they can't impact the style of your home. Replacing these essentials with ones in a more modern style can make a big difference to the feel of your home. Check out Tap Warehouse for cheap toilets that fit perfectly within this style, as well as taps and sinks for both bathrooms and kitchens. Similarly, replacing old, dated kitchen counters with something a little bit more elegant can completely change the way that room feels.

Keep things simple Some styles work really well with a great deal of ostentatious design; modern style is not one of those. If you really want to make the most out of the style that you're trying to create, it's time to embrace a minimalist design aesthetic. You should clear out as much clutter as possible and make sure that things are as clean and simple as possible. Similarly, you don't want bold patterns all over the walls. Simple, subtle colours are the best way to really emphasise this new style.

architecture, building, business

Create space It can often seem very difficult to create space in your home, especially if you don't have that much room to begin with. However, there are plenty of things that you can do in order to both create space and create a sense of space. One of the best ways to do this is simply to bring more light into your home. Using pale colours on the walls is a great way to do this as well as making sure that nothing is preventing natural light from coming in through the windows. Similarly, you should try experimenting with the arrangement of the rooms in your home in order to find the best use of the space that you have.

Of course, not every home is going to be ideal for this kind of style. The important thing is to think about both the style of your property itself, and your personal style. A combination of those two things is often the very best way to create an interior style that you'll be happy with for years to come.

This is a contributed post