10 ideas for a fun girls night out


cardiff bloggers

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As you get older, peoples lives get busier, some get married or have kids (or both), then naturally girls' nights get less and less. It’s good to try and keep up with your friends, though, and if you’ve not seen them for a while, then perhaps it’s time to get something in the diary. If you want to get the ones who usually cancel actually to commit and turn up, though, then maybe it’s time to turn it up a notch on usual plans for a night out. Here are a few fun ideas that may help with that

1. Bowling

Not your usual night out but you can’t go wrong with this classic game as it’s always sure to be a good time, and there are loads of places now, which are a bit more grown-up than your average bowling alley and many have restaurants and bars on site.

ten pin bowling

2. See a Show

Depending on where you live, there are loads of different options for the type of show you could see. See what’s touring near you, and even if you’ve never heard of it or you don’t think it’s really your thing, still go. Perhaps a ballet, a musical or a play might be right up your street, you just didn’t know it. Check out what’s on at your local theatre, amateur productions can be pretty great, and you don’t have to spend a fortune either.

3. Escape Room

These are pretty popular team-building exercises now, but they are also great fun to have with your mates. There’s zombie escape rooms, time machine themes, space, and even chocolate escape rooms - who would want to escape that though?

4. Get Active & Try something new

I recently went on a girls-only paddleboarding session in Cardiff and loved it, a few of the girls had gone together and this type of thing is great for a group. Trying something new, fun and getting active is a winner in my books.

standup paddle boarding

5. Night at the museum

This might be something your kids would want to do, in fact my son and I stayed at the Natural History museum a few years back, but imagine how fun it would be with the girls? Many museums now offer an after-hours option with DJs, drinks, and open access to exhibits after hours, check it out, it’s definitely something different.

6. Go to Bingo

Bingo is such a good night out with the girls; if you’re not sure how to play, then you can learn before and even have a practice. Do a bit of research, so you know your two fat ladies from your two little ducks and practice dabbing as quick as possible. The great thing about this as a night out is that not only is it really fun but you could also win some money too.

7. Visit A Psychic

Grab some friends for emotional support and book reading to glimpse into your future self. Just make sure you go for a drink or some food afterwards to talk about everything you’ve been told.

8. Wine Tasting.

Always a winner and easy to organize, look into local wineries and shops that offer tastings. You’ll learn a lot and have so much fun while doing it. 

wine tasting

9. Karaoke

There’s nothing more therapeutic than belting out some tunes with your mates. Gone are the days when you had to stand up in front of a room full of people to enjoy a karaoke night, these days you can hire a booth, so it’s just you and your crew. There’s no embarrassment, just plenty of drinks, singing, and dancing.

10. Comedy Show

A comedy show is a fab idea for all the girls. Check out your local comedy club as even if there is no ‘big name’ act on, there will always be a gig on a Friday or Saturday night, and they usually offer packages with food and drink too. There’s likely to be more than one act on too, so if the first one is not to your taste, then hopefully the others will be, and if not, just drink your way through it and laugh at how terrible it is. You’re guaranteed a good time, whatever happens.

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How to move home with kids without stress



happy family

Moving house can be a little bit of a stressful situation, and that’s before you have children, it can be an exciting time, and it can be a time of change. My eldest has moved twice with us, first from the home we renovated, then we rented for a while before buying the house we currently live in. We are currently gearing up again for another move at some point in the new year and I thought since I've gone through it a few times I would share what I have learnt. I've also written before about what we are looking for in terms of our new home and how to rejuvenate your current home if you have no want to move anytime soon.

But once you have searched and found the house for rent or home to buy that suits you and your family, you will have to consider many different things to ensure that your move goes smoothly as possible. What we are looking for when we move house is as little problems as possible, we are always on the lookout for potential issues, and being prepared is going to be the best way for anybody to move home smoothly. It is up there with some of the most stressful times a person can encounter in life. But it really doesn’t always have to be that way. And if you have children planning for and ensuring that it isn’t a stressful time for them, it will reduce all of the problems significantly for you. So how can we keep the stress and strain of moving house to a minimum when we have children?

kids books

Involve them in the process

Children are curious, it’s a natural instinct because children learn by asking questions, and getting involved in everything that they can, children also learn through speaking to people and finding out what is going on, and of course making sure that they are feeling safe with what is happening. If you put the children to the side when you’re moving home, you may find that they exhibit stressful behaviours. What we really want is for children to feel involved, to help with decision-making processes where possible, and feel as though they have a certain amount of control in the whole thing. This has been proven to prevent children from feeling too upset by the entire process. It’s admirable for any parents to allow children to be involved at such a stressful time with so many things to be done. Showing patience when children want to pack their own boxes, and showing kindness when they aren’t doing things exactly how they should be done around this time, it’s going to be helpful for everyone. Once you know where you’re moving, and when, you can start involving the children in the process of packing up, planning the other side, and all of the loose ends that need tying up when you move house.


In addition to answering questions, and involving the children in the process, there are many other ways in which you can communicate with the children what is happening. It all depends on the age of the children; from ages 0 to 3, it can be challenging to explain what is happening, and they generally don’t have a great attention span at this age. But it’s always good to keep communicating, keep talking and using positive language, and ensuring that the children don’t feel excluded. This can reduce any fear that may happen around this time. Children over the age of three up to teenagers generally have A decent grasp of communication, and can quite happily discuss the whole process with you and maybe even throw some ideas into the ring, that may reduce the stress levels. Many parents are surprised at the level of maturity that some children show when they are involved in moving home. Coming up with ideas, and looking at YouTube videos about the best way to pack your moving boxes, can be useful and give the children a sense of pride as well.

moving home

Allow emotion

As adults we feel emotional when moving home, it goes without saying that no matter how long you have lived in your current house it’s going to be an upheaval on an emotional level not only a physical level, so to expect children not to feel any emotion or exhibit any of this, is naive. So expect the odd tantrum, and some tears here and there, no matter what age your children are at. Allowing this and giving your children space to feel their emotions will help reduce the stress levels overall. We can’t worry too much about how everybody will react, because even the people we know best may act unpredictably when going through significant life changes. It really is entirely normal. So allow time and space and make sure that children feel safe to share their feelings with you at all times. This takes a lot of effort and can feel overwhelming, but it is doing a great thing for your children during this time.

Expect unusual behaviour

As well as feeling emotional, and being able to deal with the potential upset, some children may act unusually. When they don’t feel like they are in control, and possibly have a fear of the unknown, they may start to hide their belongings, so they don’t need to pack them for example, or change their attitude towards their parents, this is especially true for older children, who do you know how to articulate their feelings, but now I may not be entirely comfortable doing so. It’s always a good idea to prepare children for a move, and ensure that you are available to talk at all times. If the children are aware of everything that’s happening in advance, then you will find them much less likely to act out and be upset.

Make it fun

Moving house isn’t fun, there aren’t many people who actually enjoy moving house, so making it enjoyable for your children may seem like a task that could be a little impossible, however turning packing into a game, and keeping everything lighthearted, will ensure that the children don’t feel down about the process. Even writing lists of things that they need to do can also be fun for small children because it feels more have a grown-up job, many words can be made child-friendly with a little thought. Of course, they can’t start digging things out of the attic to pack, but there’s nothing wrong with allowing them to Sellotape up boxes as long as you have plenty of time.

So take a step back and think about how children may perceive moving home, especially if it’s the first time for them, and accommodate them as much as possible. Keeping everything lighthearted and positive is a big step in the right direction.

new home

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Breakfast at The Ivy, Cardiff


The Ivy brunch

*I was kindly invited to the Press night and breakfast at The Ivy in exchange for an honest review. 

Cardiff has really seen a boom in the recent years with regards to the foodie scene with a variety of independent eateries popping up as well as pop-up events, festivals and street-food markets. It's also attracted some high-end chains with the most recent being The Ivy.

I attended the press night which was packed to the rafters with guests being entertained with musicians, dancers and even fire performers - one way to make an entrance on the Cardiff scene that's for sure.  While I did get to try out some of their amazing cocktails & I know this will quickly become a popular jaunt for evening get-togethers but it didn't give much insight to what they plan to serve up and bring to the table as they say, so another visit was immediately on the cards.

Botanical prints

Excitedly I was invited to their blogger breakfast and the chance to experience more of what makes The Ivy group so special. Firstly the interior is nothing like anything I've seen in Cardiff. It's colourful and fresh with a mix of botanical prints and 1920's speakeasy-inspired prints and the floor to ceiling floral tree on the first floor as well as the Venetian style statue in the bathroom certainly make The Ivy Cardiff unique. 

The breakfast took place in the private dining room upstairs which is a beautiful space filled with natural light and fits 24 for a more intimate experience. The breakfast menu has a fantastic variety without being overwhelming and has also thought carefully about having enough choices for every dietary requirement including vegan and gluten-free.

The Ivy, Cardiff

The breakfast started off with a good health kick from their freshly made Green juice which consists of avocado, mint, spinach, apple and parsley and was right up my street as I am a big fan of natural fruit juices. During the breakfast, I had a chance to catch up with fellow blogger, Kacie from The Rare Welsh Bit blog, as well as peruse the menu.

After juice, we were served up some mini breakfast pastries along with a decaf cappuccino and I loved The Ivy chocolate dusting detail. This was quickly followed by the Oat and Almond granola with raspberries and coconut yoghurt and despite it being dairy free it was incredibly creamy and felt really indulgent with a tangy kick from the raspberries - one of the best granola bowls I've had in a long time.

The Ivy Cardiff

The Ivy Cardiff

 Now I'm a big fan of the classic poached eggs and avocado combo but for the main dish I decided to go with the classic brunch favourite that is Hot buttermilk pancakes with fresh berries, greek yoghurt and strawberry sauce. The pancakes were very light and fluffy and a real treat and I certainly didn't regret my choice, although everyone's poached eggs looked good too.

From start to finish the service was professional with a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere. The Ivy is the type of place you don't want to rush but instead slow down for a second and enjoy the present, which is something we often don't do in this modern world. Will I be back, yes!

Floral tree

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How to make moving house less stressful

moving house

Moving house can be an incredibly stressful experience for all involved. From choosing the perfect place, to selling your existing home, to dealing with the practicalities, it can take it out of us. Yet it is something that most of us need to do at some point in our lives, so we wanted to share a few tips with you today on how to make moving house less stressful as there are ways to make this one an enjoyable experience rather than a nightmare! 

Don’t listen to too many people

Whilst it can sometimes be good to gather a few opinions, this is one of those times when it might just confuse you further. Buying a house is a big deal and choosing the right one for you and your family is an important decision. It is also a very personal decision, which is why it is one worth making with just your partner.

If you try to please everyone and take everyone’s opinion into account you could end up not making a decision at all. Everybody will have their own agenda and their own perspective, but it is going to be your home, your neighbourhood and your life so trust in your own instincts on this one.
packing up

Use the professionals

As with many things in life, it can be a lot less stressful to delegate some of the work involved in moving home to someone else. This means that your time is freed up for other tasks and you know that experts will have everything in hand for you.

You might choose to sell your home yourself to save some money, but do be prepared for the fact that this can often be a tougher route to go down and everything falls on to you. It can be much easier to use a real estate agent to do this for you, and they can be invaluable in the advice and guidance that they provide throughout the whole process.

It is then worth hiring professional movers, such as MyBekins, as they will make the whole experience run far more smoothly in the few days prior to your move and on the big day itself.

Set yourself realistic expectations

How many times do we manage to make a situation more stressful than it needs to be by setting our own unrealistic expectations? You need to accept that a few things might go wrong along the way, things might take longer than you want them to, and there might well be work to do to both your existing home and then your new abode.

You might need to make some home renovations, so ensure that you make a schedule for this and set yourself a budget. These might need to be carried out immediately or they might be projects for further down the line. Be honest with yourself about the amount of money and time you have and think about how manageable the work can be to take on all in one go.

new home

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Why You Don't Need To Be The Perfect Mum



Associated Post 

It can often feel like we are not as organised or together as other parents,  especially if we go off others social media, the ones who appear to have it all going for them, doing everything right, the ones with the perfect cupcakes for bake sales, always on time for school run, well-behaved immaculately dressed children, have a spotless home and while there is nothing wrong with any of this I'm just none of those things and that's okay. When first had my kids I felt so pressured to be perfect that I quickly burnt out and often life is never what it seems so I thought I would share why it's important to not feel you have to be the perfect parent.

#1: There is no such thing as perfect

Oh sure, those other parents might appear perfect, but do you really know what goes on in their family lives? This is why social media often needs to be taken with a pinch of salt as we tend to post our best versions of ourselves. They might have just as many problems as you do when trying to get their children dressed in the morning or when trying to deal with their children's challenging behaviour. Some people are just better at putting on a front, when in fact, they are probably as tired and as stressed as you sometimes are which is why it's often good to talk and get to know someone before rushing to a conclusion about them. Also building up a good support network can be really useful.

#2. You can only live your life

On a daily basis, we are sold the "perfect ideal" of family life, through TV ads, social media and even product packing often show happy families running through flower fields without a car in the world. In reality, we don't all live that kind of life, while I do get outdoors every moment I can with my kids, my home is often a mess and I'm often running late or in a rush simply down to not being able to multiple myself and be on the ball as much as others (although I do really try). The thing is one size does not fit all when it comes to parenting and being the perfect parent to your kids and not what society expects is all you need to do, no matter how that looks.

travel family

#3: You will lose sight of your other relationships

In an effort to be the perfect parent, you might miss out on time with your family or friends. Instead, you might spend much of your time taking your kids to and from every activity they show an interest in. You might spend all of your time trying to entertain them when they're at home. Your free time might be taken up with PTA meetings and other school-related activities. And as a consequence, you might lose sight of the relationships you have with the other people in your life.

So, no matter how much you love your children, remember the other people who love you. Don't run the risk of your marriage growing cold by neglecting time with your partner. Spend quality time with him and reignite the flames of romance, as the last thing you want to happen is to grow distant and call on the aid of family law solicitors. And don't forget your friends, as you will grow apart if you don't spend time with them. Your children won't resent you if you're not always at their beck and call, so call in the childminder occasionally to give yourself time with others.

#4: You will burn yourself out

The constant strive to be the perfect mum is only going to cause you stress and anxiety. It might even lead to exhaustion and burn out. So, if you are relating to this, perhaps it's time to take some perspective. It's important for you to realise that you will make mistakes. You will say and do things you sometimes regret. You will face difficult situations with your children. And they might never be the perfect angels you want them to be either.

When you come to terms with these things, you might chill out more. You will feel less guilty about the times you screw up, and you will care less about the attitudes of those apparently perfect mums at the school gates. Perfection is a myth, so don't strive for it. Be the best that you can be, and both you and your children will benefit as a result!

parenting life

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7 Things to NEVER Do at a Job Interview


Job Interview

Before becoming full-time freelancer I had a variety of jobs including working as a photographer assistant, in hotels, bars, offices and even a hospital as a case note filer. I have experienced a variety of interview situations and thought I would share a few tips to help you snag that job.

If you want the job, you need to make a good first impression during the job interview. You may have a good idea about some of the things you want to do. But, do you know what you should never do? Make sure to avoid these pitfalls or else the interview may blow up in your face. Interviewers will get annoyed if you do this.

1. Ask About Money Right Away

There may be some times during the interview where it’s appropriate to talk about money, especially if they end up asking you what your salary requirements are. But never start off the interview by asking, “How much will I get paid?”. If you make the impression that you only care about the money, your recruiters will be turned off.

2. Forget Your CV

Your interviewer will let you know if they’ve printed a copy of your resume so you don’t have to bring one. But never assume this is the case. Always have copies of your resume at the ready for quick reference.

3. Know Nothing About the Company

Whatever you do, do not be clueless about the organization you’re about to interview with. As an applicant, you will be asked if you’ve looked up the company and what you know. You will likely also be asked why you want to work for that company in particular. Answering with “I don’t know” is like an automatic out.

5. Arrive Late

One sure-fire way to annoy your interviewer is to arrive late or cancel last-minute. Give them the common courtesy of arriving early, or on time. If you must cancel, try to give them as much notice as possible - and you better have a logical reason why you can’t attend the interview at the scheduled time. Check out wallstreet mastermind blog for more info on what not to do during a job interview.


6. Talk Badly About A Previous Job

Want to talk yourself right out of a job? Start trash-talking your previous jobs. Your employer might ask why you left your previous place of employment, but that doesn’t give you permission to start speaking negatively about them. Even if you left your prior job on bad terms, don’t let the recruiter know that. State that you are looking for new opportunities or they had to let you go because they closed your job position.

7. Ask No Questions

At the end of your interview, the employer will ask, “Do you have any questions for us?” This is your chance to really show enthusiasm and interest in the job. Responding with “I have no questions” or “Nothing I can think of” will result in your employer getting annoyed. It shows you have a lack of intellectual curiosity.

8. Answer Your Ringing Phone

Your cell phone shouldn’t even be present during an interview. If it is, it needs to be off or silent. When your screen lights up or beeps, definitely don’t answer it. Nothing is more unprofessional than interrupting a scheduled meeting to answer your phone or respond to a text.

When it comes to an interview, know the company, dress appropriately, always be polite and speak clearly and go in with a positive mindset - those are my greatest tips. If you are however thinking of working from home then here are a few tips I wrote a while back. 


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How To Decorate Your Home So It Stands Out


interior design

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All of us who live in a home, apartment, flat, whatever it may be, want to come home to a space that is as warm and comfortable as it is beautiful. We want a home that looks like it could be featured on the front page of a magazine, a home that stands out from any other home that we have ever seen. 

This is a great goal, but it can be overwhelming trying to decide where to start or how to get your home exactly how you like it. All in all, it can be a little tricky. There are so many things to choose from, like what type of floor you want throughout your home, your doors, door handles, and sliding barn door hardware.

So how does one create this type of look that is trendy and functional, but accommodating? It can be a challenge to make your house distinct from other houses that you have seen, but the look can actually happen easier than you think. Below are a few on-trend styling secrets to make your house 
look more flawless than ever.

feature colour

1. The use of colour

There is a style known as colour blocking that is currently all the rage in home design trends. This concept happens when you create an entire room using only one colour. It can be a difficult trend to get a grasp on, but it is made easier if you pick out a favourite piece of furniture in the space and match the paint colour on your walls to it. The key to making this trend work is to find a place to put in different patterns and complementary colours that bring out your primary colour and make it look magnificent.

2. Use fresh flowers when you can

Fake flowers and greenery are great to use in that they will last for years and years to come. However, they are nothing compared to a cute vase filled with fresh flowers displayed in such a way as to make a room look elegant and really tie it all together. Flowers not only ad in a nice touch of fresh air to your space, but they also add a natural element and a pop of colour that really brightens and freshens up a room to pull it all together.


3. Paint the trim on your doors

One brand new trend that is really coming out in high home decor fashion is painting the trim on the doors throughout your house. This gives your home a look that is artsy yet sophisticated and it takes people by surprise when they see a pop of colour in unexpected places throughout the house. Painting the door trims will help break up the room and make it more dynamic while also bringing in more colour to your home.

4. Hang your drapes from the very top of your wall

Traditionally, people would get new curtains and hang them from the top of the window down to the wall. However, if you go a step further and hang your drapes from the very top of the wall, you will draw attention to this area and make it look higher. It adds instant drama to the space. It will help make your windows look larger, thereby making the entire room look larger and catching the eye of everyone who walks by.

5. Don't be afraid to play with mixing colours

Primary colours are very important to have in any space as it brightens up the room and makes it look more dynamic and open at the same time. It is okay to get creative with primary colours and combine them to make it your own. Try fun interesting colours together to add a bright infusion of colour in any given room throughout your home that won't be seen in many other houses. The more you play with colours the more your house is going to stand out among the rest.

When it comes to decorating your home this year and finding ways to make it really stand out among other houses, don't shy away from being bold and taking chances with your decor options. The more colour, the bigger the statement!

white walls

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7 Reasons your Car will fail MOT



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I'll admit that I've had my fair share of failed MOT's in the past, to be fair I did drive an Austin Mini from 1972 for years so it was very old. Every year when the time of MOT approaches, we all secretly wish we could just hit the skip button and let it be. But in order to being able to carry on driving, stay safe and not have to pay a huge fine – you just cannot ignore MOT testing. What’s interesting is, the fact that even a tiny bit of negligence can hinder your vehicle from passing the exam. It could be something as trivial as empty washing fluid bottles in the car.

When you are in a local town like I am in South Wales or a place like Stirling or any part of Scotland (I actually lived in Scotland for 2yrs) you have to get your MOT done on time – otherwise you will panic every time you are on the road thinking you will be caught and subject to a legal penalty. In order to prevent this, I have prepared a list of 5 sure shot reasons that will come in the way if you don’t correct them. These top reasons are pulled out after a lot of research from hundreds of vehicles that actually failed their MOT. You can also visit the Government website on advice on how to get your vehicle an MOT

Vintage car
Me and my Austin Mini

Did you clean up your number plate?

This may seem like something small but you need to make sure your number plate clean and doesn't have dust or mud on it? The font on the plate has to meet the legal requirements and must be readable, otherwise, this can be a problem at the time of testing.

Are the seats movable?

Car seats have to be able to move backward and forward properly. There should not be any deviation from this. You can perform this check on all seats where you can apply pressure to see if seats will move in case you suddenly apply brakes.

Wrong selection of MOT centre

The expertise level of your MOT centre really counts as the testers really have to be certified in order to give you a valid certification. All UK areas have qualified MOT centres but you have to find the one closer to your area and with proper experience. If we talk about Stirling, there is a centre on almost every corner but if you want authentic MOT in Stirling, the place to go is Fife Autocentre

Windscreen wipers

Wiper blades have to function properly – if there are any holes in the wiper rubber or it doesn't clean your windows properly then your car will fail MOT. If you are looking for new wipers you can check here.

Check horn

The horn has to work properly and you can check this by going full blast with it so it doesn’t cause an issue later.

Check your brake lights, headlights and indicators

All three of these things need to be working without issues especially the brake lights which are a crucial safety feature to warn vehicles behind you when you stop. You also want to check your front and rear indicator lights and if one isn't working it's usually down to a blub that needs to be replaced and is actually something you can do yourself, saving you a little bit of money. 

Tyre Tread

Your tyres are so important when it comes to road safety and even though it can be pricey to replace (I recently had to replace 3) it's very important and if the tread doesn't fall within the legal limit it will be an immediate failure. I've written a post about how to keep your tyres in tip top shape

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The thoughtful gift guide



*I'm not being paid to include any of these products. I have been sent some samples, although not all & this is my own gift guide of suggestions for Christmas

As we move into an age of less is more and are slowly reducing how much plastic we bring into the house, or if we are that it's recyclable as well as looking to gifts that serve a purpose or give back in some way, the way we shop is surely changing.

While Christmas is about fun, festivities and family and I do believe that a little bit of indulgence is never a bad thing and not to get too caught up with how ethical something is as I feel many of us are starting to feel the weight of guilt, I wanted to put together a small gift guide of easily accessible gifts that offer something back, are meaningful and thoughtful gifts and hopefully you will find it of some use. 

These make for the perfect stocking filler and not only are these shampoo bars good for the planet as they come in plastic-free packaging, are cruelty-free and last 4 times longer than liquid shampoo, they are also fantastic to use. I have used a few different kinds of shampoo bars over the last year and this is one of my favourites. 

Another fantastic stocking filler are the I Can Cards, started by Amy Holland, a mum of two living in Cardiff who was looking for realistic daily positive affirmations. I have met Amy, who also runs Warrior Women Events in Cardiff and I know she has put her heart and soul into these packs which focus on meaningful subjects such as anxiety, self-love and body positivity. 

3. Reusaboo Reusable Cups

Despite owning more than a handful of reusable cups I know there are family members of mine who have yet to convert to the "carry your own coffee cup" ethos and these beautifully designed Reusaboo Cups are perfect. Made from Bamboo these cups are eco-friendly, watertight, heat resistant and food safe, plus they are pretty stylish too. 

4. Nomad: Designing a Home for Escape and Adventure

This has got to be one of my favourite coffee table books and is perfect for anyone who is interested or inspired by the idea of living off-grid, on the road or in a tiny home - this book has it all and so much more. With over 400 stunning photographs of 26 unconventional homes and the people who live in there, I find myself often paging through this. Great for the traveller or wanderlust at heart. 

5. Hand-Poured Candles from Maykher that give back

Maykher are an Ethically made and Sustainability focused independent company based in Cardiff which has grown from strength to strength in the past few years and best of all is they donate 10% of their end of year profits into the education of young girls and women in areas of the world they need it most. Fames for their classic Beanies and scarfs, their product range has expanded and they have just started doing hand-poured soy-wax candles made in the UK. They come in three gorgeous scents and are perfect for any home. 

6. Beautiful prints from The Underdog Print Shop

This online print shop really does offer some unique prints you won't find anywhere else and is a platform for up and coming artists to share and sell their work which means you can find that perfect piece of wall art while supporting small independent artists, win-win all round I say. Printed on high-quality giclee presses and supreme archival papers and I can vouch for this myself having ordered a few prints and being very impressed with the quality, these prints are ready to hang and are very long-lasting and make perfect presents for all ages from bringing more colour into kids bedrooms, brightening up your own hallway or as a gift to friends who are decorating their home, prints are a lovely way to give a unique and thoughtful gift. You can also get 15% off your order using the code LAURASIDESTREET to save you a little bit more while supporting upcoming artists.

The Wizards Magic Chocolate is fairly new to the market but is already creating a bit of a storm as it's vegan-friendly, high in fibre, gluten-free and has only 1% sugar, plus it comes in completely recyclable packaging which very few chocolates do. I can vouch for how nice these taste, especially the orange chocolate and mint chocolate bars.

8. Liberté, Egalité, Sororité T-Shirt from Black and Beech

These are on my wish list for Christmas as I love this feminist-inspired t-shirt based on the French Motto of Liberty, Equality and Sisterhood. Black and Beech t-shirts are ethically produced using 100% organic cotton and screen printed using water-based inks right here in the UK.  Black and Beech also support and donate to a variety of women's charities. 

The Positive Wellbeing Zine is perfect for all mums from expecting/new mums to those dealing with crazy toddlers and is packed with practical advice, ways to look after yourself and supportive hints and tips on how to get through parenting in a positive way. What I love about the Zine is it's not trying to be perfect for promote an unrealistic why of parenting but instead offers a supportive and realistic platform and has some great articles in it. Isabella and Us, the designer behind the Zine also creates some beautiful pin badges and cards.

10. Holly Golightly Bath Bomb from Lush

Well, Lush has some amazing Christmas products in-store and their ethics are pretty good too with all their products being cruelty-free, hand made and naked packaging (free from plastic). I particularly love this bath bomb as for one it smells divine with scenes of orange and cinnamon and it has sprinkles inside the bath bomb for an extra touch while turning the water into shimmery winter-green.

11. Bedding

I am all about presents being really useful because that way they serve a purpose and things like bedding for close family members is a great gift idea - we all love relaxing in bed yet I know personally splashing out for bedding comes lower on my list when I have two kids to look after. You can get bedding for all kinds of tastes, I love bold arty prints but I know my mother would prefer something more in keeping with her Victorian home, such as a Grey Suede Divan Bed set, either way, there is something for everyone these days and plenty in organic cotton as well.

Divan bed set

This is just a small list of ideas but I think there is something for everyone and they are all budget-friendly as well with nothing being over extravagant in price. 
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Ways To Self-Heal Without Putting Your Health At Risk



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Health is our most precious asset and also one of our most elusive. Looking after our health requires time, and time, as it happens, is often lacking in these modern times. That’s why most people look for time-saving strategies to manage their health. Ultimately, when you work long hours throughout the week, it’s unlikely that your health problems land on top of your to-do list. Not that people don’t want to take care of themselves, but more often than not, our health is taken for granted until it becomes an issue and we really start to feel that burn out.

Often when we do start to struggle with unpleasant symptoms, many are more likely to consider a self-healing approach before seeing a professional, as long as it's fairly minor such as exhaustion, feeling run down, low immunity etc this approach can save you time and money. I believe in the power of self-care and a natural approach but of course if you are concerned about anything seek the advice of a professional always. 

You’d be surprised to know how many people share the self-managing perspective when it comes to their health. Many Britons are turning to alternatives in a first attempt to address their issues, a lot has to do with the long waiting lists to see GP, my mother recently made an appointment and she has to wait over 5 weeks to be seen, a lot of this is due to how much strain the NHS is under. 

When it comes to self-care sometimes it can be as simple as making some lifestyle changes but you need to understand not only the risk of self-healing practices but also the best way to make it a positive and healthy habit in your lifestyle. Here are some of the most helpful ways of using health-awareness approaches to look after yourself. 

picking apples

Fill your day with healthy foods

When the weather is cold and grey, as it is currently, the best thing you want is comfort food to keep you warm and satisfied. Comfort food is more than a little pot of joy that warms you from within. Home-cooked meals are rich in vitamins. Think of your favourite winter stew or soup, for instance. It filled with yummy vegetables, which give your meal all its flavours, and, more importantly, all its goodness. Ultimately, your body needs plenty of vitamins and minerals to function. While you can’t always keep the seasonal cold at bay, you can certainly ensure that your meals have everything to fuel your health. Besides, any day of the week, the homemade soup will always beat processed food. 

Value your sleep

While coffee can help you to make up for short night sleep, it doesn’t replace the benefits you get from rest. You need to sleep to maintain your health. Indeed, lack of sleep reduces your defence against infection and inflammation, putting your immune system at risk. Additionally, sleep also helps to target heart disease, diabetes and obesity, as it ensures your body can function to the fullest. To put it simply, sleep deprivation makes you sick. Make sure to get your 7 to 8 hours a night if you want to go through the flu season without problems! 

Staying active is good for you

Our sedentary lifestyle is a threat to our health. Indeed, did you know that exercise is necessary to support your main bodily functions? You don’t need to sign up for the next bootcamp workout, but maintaining regular levels of activity can significantly reduce your risk of chronic disease. Something as simple as walking more or registering to your local gym for a quick spin after work can do wonders to your health. Regular exercise reduces the risk of cancer, diabetes, and dementia, keeping both your immune system and your brain fit. More importantly, working out is the best thing you can do for your mental health. Think of it as a preventive approach to health management. 

Women hiking

Ask a professional

You might not have time to book an appointment with your GP, but if you’re familiar with your condition, you can consider a doctor consultation online instead. Indeed, you can order the medication you need, assuming you fill an online questionnaire, which will be assessed by professionals from the medical body. As a result, someone who, for instance, struggle with a recurring but manageable condition could easily order their trusted brand online. Ideally, a professional can help to understand your symptoms and authorise the medication dispatch. More importantly, an online doctor acts as a safety mechanism which ensures you don’t take risks with your health. You can also pop to your local pharmacy and ask for the best off-the-counter treatment for mild symptoms, such as the flu, for example. Most people tend to forget that pharmacists are trained to help them with health complaints too.

Allow yourself to rest and recover

You need to rest. Nobody can give 100% all the time. Whether you’re working on an urgent project at work or you’re feeling under the weather, you need to allow yourself the right to recover, both mentally and physically. Relaxing is an art that too many of us have forgotten. Taking a couple of minutes to walk away from your desk and recentre your thoughts can help your brain to feel refreshed and lower your stress levels. Similarly, spending a day under the duvet when you’ve got a cold also allows your body to feel refreshed focus on healing. Whether physically or mentally, pushing through with a break serves no productive purpose. Learn to take the time to recover.

Know when to see a doctor

As independent as you want to be, you can’t manage your health alone. When off-the-counter medications don’t help, and your healthy routine fails to support your recovery, you have to make an appointment with a doctor. As precious as your time is, you can’t afford to neglect your health.

Developing your health awareness can help you to devise self-care strategies that can save you a lot of time. It’s fair to say that most people wait before seeing their GP. Learning to look after yourself by giving your body all the care and attention it needs can be a game-changer. But remember that when everything fails, your GP is the safest option.

Self heal

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How To Have A More Ethical Christmas This Year



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Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but sadly it is also one of the most wasteful. If you want to make a positive change and try to reduce your impact here are a few things you can try.

Less is More

I feel we all need to switch our thinking and move away from quantity to quality. I've always lived by the motto that less is more and one well thought out, meaningful gift is far better than lots of smaller throwaway gifts. So when it comes to buying for friends and family do take note of what they actually want or need in their life - presents can also be practical so getting someone of real use to someone is also key.

Buy secondhand  

The festive season is often the best time to shop in charity shops are more people than ever are declutter and making way for their new Christmas presents and drop off some amazing things in charity and thrift stores. It's a great way to reuse something as well as keep your costs down. I have done this a lot with my own children and family. 

Mulled wine

Reduce Food waste and Purchase less food

With the all the clever marketing, the big family dinners, those special holiday foods that we don’t eat all year round and that feeling of Christmas luxury it’s all too easy to overbuy and overspend on the food we need for Christmas. During the month of December alone, UK residents will throw the equivalent of 54 million plates of food into the bin. That’s 54 million plates of unnecessary waste, and the main reason that this food ends up in landfill is that it wasn’t needed in the first place. If you know that you overbuy and overspend on food during the festive period, here are some tips that may help you:

Write a list

Supermarkets are designed to entice you into buying things that you don’t actually need. To help you stick to the essentials and not be swayed by the offers, write yourself a list and make it a game to try and stick to it. Not only will this keep you focused but it can also speed up your shopping trip too, why not get your kids involved to make things even quicker.

Work out the portions you need

Most of us aren’t very used to catering on a large scale which means we tend to massively over-prepare the food we need. Work out exactly who you have coming to your Christmas dinner and have a think about how much they will typically eat and then take the time to work out some portion sizes. For example, each adult may eat 4 roast potatoes, and if a potato is cut into 4 then you need 1 potato per person. Some people will eat more and others may eat less but this will help stop you from mindlessly peeling a whole bag of potatoes when you really only needed half.

Put less on the plate

Rather than piling everyone’s plates high, serve them up smaller portions or let people serve themselves in a buffet style. Food that’s left in the serving dishes can be easily packaged up as leftovers whereas waste food on people’s plates automatically goes in the bin. Remind people that they can always have seconds and make clean plates the aim of the game.

Stock up on storage

Even with the best portion control in the world, you’re likely going to have some leftovers. To keep them fresh for longer invest in some new food storage devices and pop them straight in the fridge.

Buy packaging-free where you can

Over 125,000 tonnes of plastic food wrappers will be thrown in the bin over Christmas with 3,000 tonnes of this coming from the Christmas turkeys that are consumed. The amount of plastic packaging used to wrap up our food is disgraceful, but if you shop savvy then you can cut down on it by buying your produce loose rather than in packs, or by selecting your meat from the butchers where you can either wrap it in brown paper or place it in a reusable plastic pot. To group vegetables together and avoid the plastic supermarket bags, purchase a set of cotton produce bags.

Recycle as much of your food and drink packaging as possible

Sadly, it’s virtually impossible to cut down on packaging altogether over the Christmas period but you can limit the damage by ensuring that you recycle as much as possible. Remember to wash out your food packaging to reduce the chance of it being rejected by the recycling firm and separate different types of materials where necessary. One easy area of recycling in which people can make a big difference is with their drinks cans. 500 million drinks cans are sold each Christmas and with each can you recycle you can save enough energy to run a set of Christmas lights for two hours! Also, remember to recycle your gift packaging and old batteries too.

Make your own Christmas crackers

Christmas crackers contain millions of pieces of single-use plastic which more often than not end up straight in the bin after the Christmas meal. Rather than spending lots of money on crackers which contain gifts that nobody wants, instead make your own. You can buy cracker kits online which include the paper, the cracker, the hat and the job, then you just need to fill them with whatever you like, such as homemade chocolates or little miniature bottles of booze. Making your own crackers is a great way to cut down on this single-use plastic and it’s also a really fun activity to do as a family in the run-up to Christmas. 


Buy fewer presents

£42 million of unwanted Christmas presents are thrown away each year, ending up in a landfill. The concept of stocking fillers may be cute but these gifts are often cheap and quickly end up cast aside. Instead, try to buy fewer presents and make them the things the person really wants. If this makes it a little expensive then make the gift a combined present from more than one member of the family. Another great way to reduce gift waste at Christmas is to buy the person an experience rather than a physical gift such as a cookery class, a helix piercing, or a day at a race track. Experience days make perfect presents for all the family giving them the gift of lasting memories for life.

Choose eco wrapping options

The average household will use 4 rolls of wrapping paper this Christmas with the UK as a whole wrapping their way through 40 million rolls, the equivalent of 83km2 of paper, the majority of which ends up in our rubbish bins. Wrapping is, of course, an important part of Christmas but there are a few small changes you can make to help reduce your environmental impact such as:

Using re-usable materials

Instead of using conventional paper to wrap your gifts try other materials such as cloth which can easily be folded and reused next year.

Recycling your used wrapping paper

Check to see if your wrapping paper can be recycled by doing a simple scrunch test. If you scrunch it and it stays scrunched then pop it in the recycling bin. If you scrunch it and it bounces back then it may be plasticised and can’t be recycled. You also cannot recycle glittered wrapping paper.

Re-using gift bags the following year

Many gift bags, boxes and pieces of gift wrap can be stored and used again next year, saving you money and stopping them from going to waste.

Send electronic Christmas cards

More than 1 billion Christmas Cards end up in our bins after Christmas, which is the equivalent of 33 million trees! If you want to send a season greeting to your friends or loved ones this Christmas then either use cards which are made from recycled materials to reduce the impact or opt for an electronic version which doesn’t use any trees at all! 

Buy a living tree

8 million Christmas trees are purchased in December specifically for Christmas and once the season is over they often end up discarded and rotting in landfill sites. If you like to have a real tree in your house at Christmas then why not buy a live potted one which will last you more than one season? It can be kept in its pot for several years and then when it’s too big or outgrown its home you can simply plant it out in the garden to continue its life. Living trees are great for a number of reasons, they’re carbon-neutral, they don’t drop their needles everywhere, they smell amazing and they can continue to help clean the air for years to come. If a living tree isn’t an option for your family but you still want to use a real cut one then try to dispose of it more carefully by having it recycled into chippings so that it can be composted down.

Of course, the alternative to a living or real Christmas tree is a fake one. Fake trees are often made out of plastic, however, if you purchase a good quality one it can last you many seasons which can end up more environmentally friendly than using cut trees each year. 

Think about what you wear

People want to look their best over the festive period which often means going out to the shops to buy a new outfit for the big day. Instead of opting for fast, unsustainable fashion options shop ethically instead and purchase something that you can wear long after the big day ends. The same applies for fashionable gifts, instead of buying lots of cheap clothing options such as pyjamas or socks for loved ones buy them one better quality piece that will last them instead. 

ethical Christmas

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