For years, the people of Britain have been known for the fact that most of them choose to own houses and not rent them. However, the recent soaring prices of buying houses, over the past two decades has influenced this factor causing more people to turn to renting. However, this is not the only factor contributing to the rising number of renters in the country. Other factors include the financial crash that happened in the year 2008 and the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
Like in any other part of the world, the British housing market is extremely unpredictable. Despite the uncertainty, citizens looking to purchase houses tend to try and anticipate the market conditions beforehand. Something that can be said about these predictions is that no one is ever sure whether or not they are accurate. The reason why this is so is that it is hard to predict causal factors like financial crash and even health crises like the Corona Virus outbreak. All these factors could either negatively or positively affect the market.
The British Housing Market in 2020
A lot can be predicted about the foreseen future of the real estate market. Below are some factors to consider when predicting the state of the market:
1. The Current State of the Market
This is a very important factor to consider when trying to predict the future state of the market. In a recent statement about the housing market in the UK, the Nationwide Building Society, a mortgage firm, suggested that there had been a fallback in its growth. The report showed that the cost of purchasing a house in the UK has increased by a tenth in January 2020. This growth comes after the zero-growth period in December 2019. The report goes further to say that the growth of the housing market has been low for the past six years. The state of the market in January alone is enough to help you predict what the market holds in the months to come.
2. Opinions from the Experts
Despite the low state of the United Kingdom housing industry at the beginning of 2020, experts in the sector are very hopeful about the months to come. According to Richard Donne, an analyst of the property sector, the market is likely going to experience a 3 per cent rise by the end of the year. Capital Economist’s Chief Property Economist also predicts a slight growth in the market by the end of the year. Other professionals in the market like Russel Galley of Halifax Bank and Lloyds Banking Group and Andrew Montlake of Coreco seem to have the same opinions as the first two. On average, the analysts seem to agree that the industry is set to experience a growth of at least 2 per cent.
However, some analysts in the industry still maintain pessimistic expectations from the real estate sector. According to Miles Ship-side house valuation online remarks, the political state of the country and the ongoing negotiations with the European Union are set to derail the growth of the market. This means that there probably won’t be any change in the state of the market this year. A few other analysts echo these sentiments, others citing a research done by Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. The study indicated that the market is set to remain at its current state or experience a negative growth.
3. The country’s political and financial state
It has been determined from experience that an increase or decrease in the financial state of the country significantly affects several sectors, including the real estate market. The political state, like the relationship with the European Union, affects the sector as well. This is because it affects the financial state of the nation.
House Valuation Online
Online house valuation sites help participants in the real estate sector determine the cost of their property before selling or buying. These sites use algorithms that factor in the state of the market when determining the cost. The sites are also important when it comes to predicting the future and state of the market since they use data from various sources.
There isn’t really a way to determine who is right about what the future holds for the market because there is no way to correctly predict what the future hold. This means that only time will tell what happens in the industry.
Why bother planting a garden or paying to have a landscape company install a beautiful landscape around your property if you can’t enjoy it? A garden or landscaped lot should be a place for relaxing and contemplation. It must include healthy trees and plants, visual beauty, and comfortable seating options. A successful landscape and garden must be properly maintained to ensure the health and longevity of the plantings and to remain an attractive place to spend time. Some people love puttering in the garden, but others don’t have the time or inclination to care for their landscape themselves and hire competent landscape companies to do the job.
Building a Contemplative, Relaxing Garden
Those who would like a nice place to relax and unwind outside can choose a place in the back yard to develop or improve. If the budget allows, hire a local landscaper to evaluate the area and give you a plan for the perfect garden to install and enjoy. Give this expert a budget and a list of favorite trees and flowers to use. Also, give him or her a list of plants and trees you do not like.
If there are already trees or shrubs in the back yard, hire a Tree and Shrub Pruning service to get them in shape. They can be the anchor for the new garden. A good landscape company can test the soil and upgrade it to accommodate the new plantings so they can thrive. Paths can be constructed to allow easy access to different areas, water features can be installed, comfortable seating can be incorporated. Then the plantings can be installed to add color and interest to the garden.
Do You Want a Wild-Life Friendly Garden?
Decide if the garden is going to be just for people or if at least part of the garden can be wildlife-friendly. Some people like to watch animals feeding and hear the birds singing. Five steps to accomplish an animal-friendly area include: setting up a feeding station, providing water, making the area accessible to animals, leaving a corner untouched and wild, and cooperating with willing neighbors to link gardens for a larger animal area. If areas are separated by a fence, a small opening could be cut in the bottom to allow small animals to enter.
A Quiet, Contemplative Garden Spot
Choose the spot to install your relaxing, private garden spot and concentrate your efforts and budget there. On your own or with a landscaper’s help, divide the space into grass areas and flowerbeds with paths between and a seating area with a full view. Choose easy-care perennials for the long-run and some splashy annuals to change every year as your whim dictates. This way the garden will always have attractive plants, yet will change each year to remain interesting.
Work with existing trees to save a little money but add some new flowering varieties that do well in your area. Fruit trees provide beauty and some healthy fruit every summer. Consider having some seating and a small table in the garden for summer lunches or tea. Then add some interesting lighting so the space is usable for longer times during summer and fall months.
A well-balanced garden can be enjoyed by the whole family. It should be a great place to read a favorite book, have a cup of tea or coffee, or work on a portable hobby. This type of garden is well worth money and effort.
Are you tired of banging your head against the glass ceiling? Of waiting for your employer to send a few more crumbs from the corporate table your way, or at the very least acknowledge all the hard work, effort and endeavour that you bring to the table every day? It can be extremely frustrating for professionals when the recognition they receive at work (and the pay they take home every month) are disproportionate to their efforts in the workplace. Especially in this era of wage repression where the cost of living keeps on rising but our wages never rise to meet it. For parents, this is especially worrying. Everything from the cost of food to the price of school uniforms seems to rise every year and not only do you struggle to meet the costs of being a parent in 2020, you also find it harder and harder to make the time for your little ones.
For ambitious but frustrated parents, it’s easy to see how starting your own business can be the perfect antidote to all the inequities of the workplace. It allows you to make more money and create new opportunities on your own terms, using the skills you’ve spent your career developing to do something you love and enjoying better flexibility and work / life balance. And in the digital age, there are more opportunities to go into business for yourself than ever. You can even start your business up as a side hustle which you work on in your free time to reduce your financial risk. Still, if going into business for yourself were easy, everyone would be doing it. Running your own business can lead to great success. But to be successful you need a strong brand behind you.
What is your brand?
Most of us are pretty brand savvy. After all, we’ve had brands trying to market to us since we learned to walk and talk. We understand the shorthand of marketing and all the psychological triggers that brands use to get us to trust and believe in them. However, while some nascent business owners assume they’re “doing” branding by commissioning a graphic designer to make a fancy logo, designing a fancy website and establishing a presence on every social platform under the sun, branding is actually much more nuanced than that. Love him or hate him, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has a great definition of branding.
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”.
Let’s take a look at some of the less-explored factors that influence your branding which you’ll need to master to achieve success with your small business…
Your brand is the materials you use to make your products
Of course your brand is your product. But if you make your own, whether you’re building houses or baking brownies, your products are only ever as good as the raw materials, components or ingredients from which they’re made. This means taking the time to find the best suppliers and maintaining good relationships with vendors so that you can maintain the same consistency of product.
If you start out looking for vendors solely on the basis of cost, you could wind up starting your business on the back foot. Many new business owners think that the best way to stand out from the competition is to be the cheapest game in town and undercut their competitors on price. But this low cost, low margin model only works if you’re trading in high volumes. Which, as a new and unproven business, you probably won’t be. Invest in suppliers who are as passionate about quality as you are.
At the same time, don’t assume that you have to pay over the odds for quality. Small construction firms and independent contractors, for instance, use Complete Construction Products because they’re able to offer both quality and affordability, with discounts on bulk purchases. This is important in construction because it’s an inherently low-margin industry, but one in which reputation is everything.
Simply put, you can’t build a compelling brand on inferior products, and you can’t build great products with inferior materials.
Your brand is how you respond when people are upset with you online
Most of today’s entrepreneurs are highly digitally savvy and understand the importance of a robust online presence. You’ll see them on social media shouting from the rooftops every time they get a great review or when someone has something positive to day about them on social media. What’s significantly more telling, however, is how they react when people complain about them online.
As such, it’s vital to know how to respond to complaints on social media. While nobody likes dealing with negativity, especially when their working days are already busy and stressful, there’s nothing you can do that’s more destructive to your brand than bury your head in the sand. The longer you leave online complaints unattended, the more damage they can do to your brand and your reputation.
Here’s how you deal with online complaints;
Respond in a timely fashion
Apologise and empathise
Don’t try to argue or justify yourself
Invite the customer to contact you privately to achieve a resolution
Maintain a positive and optimistic tone. Show the world that you’re here to help
Believe it or not, online complaints are a gift to your brand and your business. They give you an opportunity to show legions of prospective customers out there how well you look after your customers, even if they’re less than thrilled with you. And that counts for a lot!
Your brand is how you treat your employees
Your employees are the ambassadors of your brand. It’s their everyday interactions with your customers that will define your brand and the expectations that new and repeat customers have of you. And if your employees are exhausted, stressed, visibly annoyed or overworked this is likely to reflect poorly on your brand.
Of course you need to be able to trust in your employees’ professionalism and work ethic, which is why the recruitment process is so important. However, it’s also up to you to ensure that you have an employee onboarding and training program that helps you to get the best out of your employees. Not only should you give them all the training, knowledge and tools that they need to do their job well, you should also make sure that they know what’s expected of them to create and perpetuate the kind of workplace culture you want for your business. And don’t make the mistake of assuming that training stops when your employees start working.
Training should be something that’s ongoing and tailored to your employees’ career goals. Empowered employees whose employers invest in them are happier, more productive and more likely to embody the kind of brand you want to build.
Look after your employees and building a strong brand becomes much easier.
If you’re a solopreneur (a business with just one member of staff-you), this still goes for you too. Make sure you’re looking after yourself, eating healthily, staying hydrated, exercising, making time for your family, loved ones and friends, and getting plenty of sleep (easier said than done- I know). Looking after yourself in mind and body will help you to remain calm in a crisis, prevent stress from getting the better of you and help you to avoid the very real threat of burnout.
Your brand is your relationship with your customers
As you’re probably already aware, it costs around 5 times more to acquire a new customer than it costs to retain someone who’s already made a leap of faith in your business. And how well you maintain that relationship with your customers says a great deal about your brand. Every time you’re too busy to call them back, every time you make them repeat themselves to numerous members of staff and every time you forget what “the usual” is, you erode their faith in your business.
Even if your business is very small, it’s a good idea to invest in a Customer Relationship Management platform (CRM) to track your relationship with prospects as they move through your sales pipeline. You can also get access to pertinent customer data in just a few clicks. So your customers can enjoy the same standard of service from you even if the member of your team whom they usually deal with is on holiday or off sick.
Your brand is the trust you earn
Finally, trust is a more important aspect of branding than your logo, your slogan or the colour scheme in your web design. People don’t flock to McDonalds because they sell the best burgers. It’s because they know exactly what to expect and trust that they’ll get the same experience every time they walk through the door.
Your customers should be able to trust you to deliver the same quality consistently. Invest in the infrastructure to provide it and you’ll retain your existing customers while also attracting new ones and charting a path for sustainable growth.
That means a successful business and more opportunities to take control of your life!
With mounting student loan debt and limited part time job availability, many college students and recent college graduates are finding it difficult to get a leg up in the financial world without having established credit. Without credit, college students can find it incredibly difficult to perform basic tasks such as renting an apartment and buying a car. The best way to avoid these scenarios is to establish your credit as early as possible. Consider the following important tips to gain established credit while in college, so you can avoid complications in the future.
1. Become an Authorized User of a Parent’s Credit Card Account
To establish your credit before you qualify for your own credit card, look into becoming an authorized user of one of your parent’s credit card accounts to build your credit while having your spending monitored. If your parent has good credit, this usually helps to boost your credit score as well.
2. Get Your Own Credit Card
Once you have established your credit by becoming an authorized user on your parent’s account, you can usually upgrade to your own independent credit card. You will have to meet the specific requirements of the credit card company, which will include providing proof of income. In recent years, credit card companies tend to be stricter about offering credit cards to college students, so having the experience and established credit through your parent’s credit card will certainly put you at an advantage.
3. No Two Credit Cards Are Alike
If you have already decided that you are ready for your own credit card, you will want to make sure to research and compare all of the credit card companies available to choose which is the best plan for you. Consider factors such as interest rates, annual fees, credit limits, and billing policies to determine which company offers the best deal.
4. Prepare with Retail Cards
If you feel like you aren’t quite ready for a credit card yet, a good alternative to build up your credit and prepare for monthly bills, interest rates, and other aspects of owning a credit card is to take advantage of retail cards. Many retail stores today offer retail credit cards to shoppers to bring convenience to their shopping experience. The qualifications for these cards are typically more lenient than those for bank credit cards, so using these cards before applying for a credit card is a good way to prepare yourself while simultaneously building up your credit.
5. Only Use Your Credit Card For Small Expenses
Although you may be on a budget, you can’t expect to build up your credit without actually using your card. Once you have your credit card, don’t get carried away with big expenses on clothes, electronics and restaurant bills. Instead, use it occasionally for small expenses, such as grocery store trips and small household bills that you know you will be able to afford at the end of the month.
6. Pay Off the Entire Balance Each Month
Whether it’s your retail cards or your own personal credit card, it is crucial that you pay off the entire balance each month to avoid paying extra interest and to ensure a good credit score. If you are unable to pay off the balance by the end of the month, you are living beyond your means and should make immediate adjustments to your lifestyle.
7. Pay Off All Additional Bills On Time
Timely payments are another crucial element of establishing good credit. Whether it’s a hospital bill, student loan bill, taxes, or even a small library fee, make sure to pay off all of your debts on time to avoid any late fees, interest hikes and negative effects on your credit.
8. Only Use Student Loans For Educational Purposes
Some college students think it’s okay to take out a little extra on their loans to pay for expenses from entertainment to special items for themselves. Although this may certainly be a tempting prospect for a struggling college student, it is not a financially reasonable decision considering the fact that you will be paying the interest back on these purchases.
9. Never Co-Sign
In general, a co-signer is only required to be at least 21 years of age and have a slightly above average credit score. If you have been following the previous tips, there’s a good chance that you may qualify as a co-signer and your friends and family members may want to take advantage of this. Although you may want to help out your friends, you simply can’t afford to ruin your credit from their mistakes.
10. Try to Limit Yourself to One Credit Card
Although having multiple credit cards may seem like a good way to quickly build up your credit, the reality is that applying for several credit cards reflects negatively on your credit. Not only does it effect your credit negatively, but having multiple credit cards increases the temptation and risk of overspending. Reasonably, a college student should not need more than one credit card.
Dream catchers nowadays come in many different shapes and sizes, and are becoming an incredibly popular decor choice. In Native American culture, dream catchers were believed to catch and trap bad dreams, whilst allowing good dreams to pass through its spiders web design, and drift into the heads of those sleeping!
I have always LOVED dream catchers. I don’t know if it’s the feathers, spiderweb design or the belief that they really do catch bad dreams – whatever the reason is, I really do love them.
They are great hung in the bedroom, but also look just as great hung anywhere within your home, office or even in your garden. They are even beautiful enough to make a perfect gift for family or friends.
Seeing as I am currently creating the perfect office/craft room space for myself I decided to make one to hang in the window.
How to make a dream catcher:
Get an embroidery hoop: I started off by getting a 10″ embroidery hoop and choosing which yarn I would like to use.
Choose some yarn: I chose a yarn I purchased from Dunelm.
Starting anywhere on the hoop I tied a knot using the yarn.
Wrap the yarn: I then began to wrap my yarn around the hoop. Using small amounts of glue, and also clips to help hold the yarn in place. I continued all the way around until the whole of the hoop was covered in yarn, i.e. back to the starting point.
Once the hoop was covered in the yarn, I then tied a knot to finish. I trimmed off the unwanted yarn and applied glue to hold in place.
Leave to dry: The hoop was then left for 15 minutes for the glue to dry.
Begin to weave: Some yarn was then tied in a double knot to the yarn on the hoop, with glue and a clip to help hold in position. I then began to weave some yarn to form a pattern. This was done by looping the yarn around the hoop and then back over itself. I made sure That the yarn was pulled tight to secure its position before moving on each time.
This was continued until I was back at the starting point. I tied a knot to secure the position to finish this row.
Continue to weave: The 2nd row was then weaved using a different colour yarn. The rows were continued in different colours, keeping the yarn pulled tight at all times to help keep the positioning secure. The middle then became too small to continue. I tied a double knot at the end to secure its position. I cut away the unwanted yarn.
The Sun Catches The Dream Catcher Nicely In Its Position!
I Then Began To Decorate The Dream Catcher
Adding ribbon: I cut some ribbon to my chosen length needed. This was then glued in position at the bottom of the dream catcher. I used two different coloured ribbons.
Drying time: Time was given for the glue on the ribbons to dry. I used clips to help secure in place whilst the glue dried.
Cut the ribbon: When the glue had dried, I then cut each ribbon in to three. Feathers were then added via a knot in the ribbon.
Decorate: To the hoop area I added coloured gems using glue. I also added glittered feathers attached with yarn. To the web area I added Rhinestone daisy flowers using glue.
Making the hanging hoop: I cut some yarn long enough to make a hanging hoop. This was attached by each end of the yarn being tied in a triple knot to the hoop, leaving enough yarn to then hang and hold the dream catcher.
Complete: Once all glue was dried, I then removed all of the clips. It was then ready to hang in position in the window area of my office/craft room.
I am still in the process of adding to my office/craft room slowly. I recently made a pom pom cushion which adds a lovely splash of colour to my space. I also upcycled an old photo frame which is now in use in my office/craft room. This is a room in our house that is currently a work in progress and I am very much enjoying turning into my very own space.
Seeing as I spend most of each day in this room, I want to make it as comfortable and cheerful as possible.
I can now daydream away all I want….and just hope all my dreams come true!
Do you love pom poms? I absolutely love them. I have recently been hand making and adding colourful items to my craft room. This is a room that I spend a lot of my time in, so I want it as colourful and cheerful as possible. I would like my room to have as many handmade items in it as possible.
I chose to make a cushion for my craft room as I suffer with a bad back, and I thought the support of a cushion when spending hours on end sat crafting away would be a huge help. I then chose to add pom poms to add an extra splash of colour and cheer to my room.
A trip to the craft store was needed
I used a mixture of wool and yarn. Most being from The Women’s Institute collection, who have a colourful high-quality range. They also had an offer on of 3 for 2 at my time of purchase. I purchased mine in Hobbycraft and a donation from my purchase was stated on the packaging to be given to the National Federation of Women’s Institutes.
One purchase that was a huge time saver, this was a pom pom maker. This nifty little gadget made pom pom making so much easier.
The making of my pom poms:
I started off buy working out what size cushion I plan on making.
Then roughly worked out how many pom poms I think I would need. This was done buy cutting out a template with paper, making a pom pom to size and then working out the measurements from there.
It was worked out that I would need roughly 140 pom poms for my 24″ square cushion.
From there I got busy making pom poms, using my pom pom maker.
I did not make the pom poms all at once. I made them over a good few day’s using a variety of lovely colours.
How to use the pom pom maker:
The making of the cushion:
Once the pom poms were all made I then made my cushion using Calico fabric, which I cut two 26″ squares out of.
The two squares were then ironed and then pinned together down three of the four sides.
The three sides were then sewn together, leaving an opening end.
A zip was then sewn onto the opening end.
Attaching the pom poms to my handmade cushion:
When it came to attaching the pom poms I was going to sew them on until I realised how many I had made. So I opted to gluing them in position instead!
Using a good fabric glue I began to glue the pom poms into position. Using a piece of cardboard I inserted it inside the cushion cover to prevent the cushion fabric from sticking together during the process.
Once the pom poms were in position I allowed time for the glue to set and the pom poms to take hold in position.
I then inserted the cushion insert inside the cushion cover.
I ruffled my pom poms a little to fluff them back up as some of them went flat during the gluing process. I then I cut of any straggly bits and removed any loose bits
Once complete, my cushion was proudly put in place in my office/craft room.
As if there weren’t enough costs that came with buying a vehicle, another one people often forget to include is paying for vehicle tax.
Car tax is compulsory for any vehicle on the road in the UK, and if your vehicle isn’t on the road then you will need to ensure you have declared it SORN (Statuary Off Road Notification) instead. Without valid tax on your vehicle you could face a fine of up to £1000. But there are several things you need to be aware of when it comes to purchasing tax to make sure you aren’t left with the nasty shock of a large payment. You can view a comprehensive guide by visiting this link.
What is VED?
Another name for car tax is Vehicle Exercise Duty, and this is the tax that most vehicles on the roads in the UK must pay. The money spent by drivers on tax is usually put towards government development of roads and transport across the country.
There are several different factors that affect the amount you pay on vehicle tax, with the most important being how environmentally friendly your car is. Any vehicle that has been registered after 2001 pays tax based on its CO2 emissions, which means that diesel drivers often have a hefty sum to pay.
On the other hand, drivers using a fully electric vehicle will not have to pay tax as they create zero emissions. Additionally, vehicles more than 40 years old also do not have to pay car tax, regardless of the negative impact they may have on the environment.
Buying a vehicle after 1 st April 2017
In recent years, there have been changes to the system. If you buy a vehicle that has been registered after the 1 st of April 2017 then the first year you will pay car tax based on the vehicle’s CO2 emission. From then on, you will be paying a flat rate of £145 if you have a petrol or diesel vehicle, and £135 if you drive a hybrid vehicle.
It is also important to note that if you purchase a vehicle that has a value over £40,000 then the flat rate after the first year rises to £320 and continues at this rate for 5 years. Be cautious, as even if you are given a discount at the dealership and the price of the vehicle drops below £40,000, you will still have to pay the higher sum on the car tax.
Vehicles registered before 1 st March 2001
Additionally, there are also differences in payment if your vehicle was registered before the 1 st of March 2001. Any vehicle manufactured before this date has a much easier taxation system and cost is measured on the size of the engine. For example, if your engine size is below 1549cc then you pay £155 a year, anything above then you are charged £255.
Buying and selling a vehicle
When buying or selling a car, the tax cannot be transferred over, it’s as simple as that. One things that often proves difficult is buying a vehicle, as you are unable to drive until you have taxed it. This means you’ll have to tax it yourself before driving off.
When it comes to selling a vehicle, you will need to notify the DVLA and send them the relevant part of your V5C (logbook) or you could face a fine of up to £1000. When this process has been completed, any outstanding money that has been paid on the tax will be refunded, or if you pay by direct debit, the payments will be stopped.
Recently we were having a good sort out at home as we were
due to have the decorators come in whilst we were away on holiday. It was surprising
the amount of clutter zones we had!
We had boxes to hand in at the local charity shop, a few items were passed on to other family members, and I lost count on the number of trips to the local tip. But some items were too good to just chuck away. We had some lovely photo frames that we have had for many years now and it would be sad to just dispose of them. The thinking cap went on!
The rescue began for the frame
There are so many ways in which you can upcycle photo frames. Seeing as I am in the process of creating my own space in the office and craft room, I thought I would make use of it in this room. I am often found in this room for hours on end. It is a room I want to make bright and cheerful…..my own little space!
Amongst the pile of items found there was also an old wooden cork notice board that we had purchased a while back and hadn’t gotten around to using as yet. This is an item that would be very useful in my office and craft room but I thought it could do with a little brightening up.
An idea was then thought of for the frame
An idea then came to me. how about using the frame to upcycle it and make a pin board?
I measured my frame and then the cork board – the cork board needed 10cms cutting off the width which wasn’t a problem.
How I made my pin board using my old photo frame:
I started by cutting off the 10cms from the cork board. Once done, I double checked it fitted inside the frame.
The frame had the glass removed and was then sanded lightly. I wanted to keep the gold on the inside edge.
Paint colours were then chosen, along with fabric (fat quarters).
The frame was then prepped with masking tape to help save the gold on the inside edge. And to also separate each section I wish to paint.
Two paint colours were chosen. I wanted the middle section a different colour to the inside and outside edge. The first colour was then painted on to the inside edge. These were done in pink.
Because we were going over a dark colour we needed 3 to 4 coats of paint. Allowing each coat of paint time to dry before doing the next.
Once the first section was done we then moved on to the middle section. This was painted in a dark lilac colour. Once again we needed 3 to 4 coats of paint. Allowing each coat of paint time to dry before doing the next.
We then moved on to the final section which was to be the same as the first. Painted in pink, with 3 to 4 coats of paint.
Prep work was then done with the fabric
With it going into my craft room, I thought I would add some fabric. What better way to do this than add some fat quarters?
How I added my fat quarters:
I chose to add two different colours. One pack was a purple variety, the other was a raspberry variety. I thought the colours would blend in well with the colours on the frame.
The first thing I needed to do was cut the fat quarters down in size.
Once cut to size I then ironed them.
They was then positioned in place.
Once I was happy with the positioning I then pinned them together.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year. It is a time for us all to enjoy spending quality time with friends and family whilst enjoying some much-needed downtime.
Do you have pets? If so, do you spoil your pets at Christmas?
We have two dogs, Coco our two-year-old Siberian Husky. We also have Hunter, our 1.5-year-old German Shepherd. Both dogs get spoilt every birthday and every Christmas…. also, in-between if I am honest!
I have had a few comments saying I am bonkers, but why shouldn’t they be spoilt too? After all they are part of our family. If you are a pet owner or have owned a pet in the past, I am sure you will understand the bond you get with your pet. It is a strong bond that is also special. So why not show our pets just how much we love them too.
Last year I attended a sewing machine class with my Mother-In-Law. At this day class we were both shown the basics of how to use a sewing machine, something I had been wanting to learn for years. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and have been putting my new found skills into practice ever since.
Of course, Coco and Hunter were both made something on my very own sewing machine. I made them both a stocking each. Do you hang a stocking up for your pets? It is only fair that our fur-babies have their very own stocking.
Hunter loved having his very own stocking, he would go and check it every now and then.
Coco’s stocking was a different shape to hunters.
I thought I would do Coco’s stocking a little different to Hunters. I found Coco’s stocking much easier to make than Hunters.
An old snow drape which I cut to size to create the snow effect.
Printed photo of Hunter.
Hollow fibre stuffing.
How I made the stockings: the same instructions are for both stockings
I started off by drawing myself a template to work with for both stockings.
This was then used to have two pieces of Calico cotton fabric cut to roughly the same size.
The template was then pinned onto the Calico fabric and then the Calico was then cut to size and shape.
One piece of Fusible wadding was then cut to size. Which was just a little smaller than the Calico.
The three was then layered and ready for sewing together (Fusible wadding in the middle).
Once layered the fabrics were then pinned together, to help hold the shape needed and make life much easier when sewing.
When I had finished sewing the three fabrics together I then stuffed the paw sections with Hollow fibre stuffing. I then run a stitch across the top to help keep the stuffing in position.
For the bone label on Coco’s stocking I cut a template out and used it to cut a fat quarter to shape. I cut two bone shapes out of a fat quarter and cut one piece of Fusible wadding. I then layered them with the Fusible wadding in the middle, pinned and sewed them together.
I then started to decorate the stockings as per photos below. Using fat quarters, pom poms, Hunters photo, buttons and glitter stars.
In order to hang the stockings I cut some ribbon to size and sewed it in position.
They were both hung nicely in place at Christmas waiting for Santa Paws.
Our dogs are, and always will be apart of our family. NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS!
Are you or someone you know planning a 2020 wedding? As with most things in life, a new cycle of trends is about to befall the wedding industry. However, it’s important to know what kinds of trends have been popular in previous years in order to make clear distinctions for the next. In recent years, things like flower walls have been extremely popular. These create great backgrounds for the newly married couple, for moments such as taking their first photograph together, their first meal or for their ceremony.
Pastel colors in flowers, table covers, ornaments and more, have been overdone these past few years. It’s high time that other more vibrant and boisterous colors were injected back into the mould. The most vivid trend will be having more environmentally conscious weddings. If there’s something you can have, made from recycled materials then you should go for it. Here’s what to consider in more detail.
No more family-style dining
For multiple years, the family-style dinner service has been in the top 3 for wedding dining design. For those not in the know, it’s basically as it sounds. Picture your Sunday dinner but in a much larger and fancier fashion. This is rapidly going out of style because it’s a little chaotic. We put up with it for so many years because it was homely, wholesome, cost-effective and stress-free. But guests shouldn’t have to keep reaching over, passing each other plates and dishes of food to get what they want to eat. It can lead to disastrous consequences too, such as spilling champagne or wine onto a dress or perhaps knocking over a candle into the centerpiece.
You’ve most likely seen this family-style dining at farm weddings and wedding parties held in barns. It’s also quite popular for beach and field wedding parties. Although rustic and humble, in 2020, guests would prefer a formal dinner service. Rather than a ‘get up and serve yourself’ kind of approach, this year seems to be turning back to the old-fashioned catering service. Fine dining is planning on making a huge comeback in the wedding industry.
Away with pastels
It’s not just in homes where you see pastel shades, but at weddings too. Pastel shades are light, delicate and yet dull. They have been quite the theme for weddings over the years. However, it now seems that more definition and bold colors are coming back to the fore. Pastels are mainly used in flowers but this then often leads to matching table covers and furniture. Thus, you have a whole trend that started out of the humble flower arrangement. This is no more. In 2020, you’ll begin to see an expansion of the color palette with an increase in dashing colors. Picture hot blood red roses, bright pink tulips and gorgeous crocus flowers all around your venue hall.
A little less homemade
If you’re a lover of DIY weddings, you might be hurt by this next one. Wedding invitations have gone through a notable transformation during the past decade. From basic, bold and formal, to quirky, personal and homemade. For many people, giving out an invitation that’s been made by themselves is a big moment in their lives. However, at the start of this year, we’re already seeing opulence making a comeback.
With luxury wedding invites from Pure Invitation, you can see why. These formal ornate invitations are setting the trend due to their low-cost high-quality designs. If you’re having a
The sustainable approach
Even before the first week of January is over, the hottest topic in culture is the environment. During the last year of the previous decade, the world has seen an uptick in green planet protests. Everything from food waste, carbon emissions from diesel automobiles, to government policy and infrastructure design was debated. Now this environmentally-conscious movement is making its presence known in the wedding industry.
To tackle climate change, everyone has to do a little bit. Thus, weddings that are plastic-free are going to the head of the class. Weddings that are sustainable will sharply rise in popularity for financial reasons too. Synthetic flower arrangements made from recycled material is far cheaper than using real flowers. For dinner, only using organic produce in the food is a big must-have. Not only will the food taste better but you and your guests will be helping to cease chemical from being sprayed onto the countryside. The bride must use ethical sources for her wedding dress. Don’t buy from a company known to be using child labor.
Are fireworks necessary?
For some cultures it’s a tradition, for some people it’s the perfect way to end the special day. But are fireworks necessary? It’s becoming less and less popular to finish the day off with a stream of fireworks, for a number of reasons. Firstly, they’re not environmentally friendly. They can also shock and scare wildlife. They’re short-lived displays but quite expensive for weddings, so alternative ways of ending the night are encouraged.
Rather than a firework display, you may want to try lighting hundreds of candles instead. Lighting up a garden with many flames can be just as if not more romantic than standing underneath a loud firework display. If you’re having a wedding in a remote location, your added bonus is the fact that you could be under a fully-lit starry night which is more beautiful than anything man-made anyway. There are lots of alternatives to fireworks which you should explore this year.
In 2020, the wedding industry is going to go through some much-needed changes. Pastels are out and vibrant bold colors are back in. Take a look at your invitation options as well as being more fancy and formal is trumping homemade humble DIY.
Are you or anyone you know set to say “I DO” this year?
Just because us adults are now grown up, why should we miss out on all the fun? Us adults enjoy the count down to the big day too. And age is just a number, right? I am sure I am not alone in saying we are all big kid’s at heart.
Making the countdown fun and personal…
Christmas can be expensive enough so why not help keep the cost down where we can. Advent calendars are a brilliant way to help us count down to the big day, and the lead up to the big day is half the fun right? there is no reason we can’t go and purchase another advent calendar from the shops, but this year I thought why have the same store-bought ones each year?
This year I got my craft on…
This year I have decided to make us a family advent calendar and make it personal to my family. A calendar we can re-use for many years to come. One that will help us make the Christmas season even more special. Advent calendars are becoming even more themed like, with so many choices ranging from, alcohol, beauty, toys, chocolate and so on. Another reason to make a family one, why be stuck with just the one theme?
Adding a little fun into the advent calendar…
The advent calendar I have made will involve us all as a family taking part, by adding a little thought and love into it. You can buy a pre-made empty advent calendar in a choice of many different designs for those not feeling very creative, but I thought I would have a go at making my own. So here goes……
Secret Santa advent…
There are six of us living in our house, our advent calendar will have 25 pockets to it. 24 pockets shared between the 6 of us will mean we will all get 4 pockets each. Pocket 25 will be shared between all of us. In pocket 25 we will all add a family game or something we could all do together over the festive period, so the fun lives on beyond the big countdown. We will all write down that activity on paper and add it to pocket 25.
The aim of the calendar…
We all wrote our own names and one of our chosen advent numbers/pockets on a piece of paper four times (one for each of our pockets) and put our four pieces of paper into a dish. We then all took four different pieces of paper containing a persons name and number/pocket which we wasn’t allowed to inform others of who we had. If we pulled our own name out we had to put it back to change it for someone else’s name. We then had until the end of November to purchase an advent gift for that persons number/pocket on the advent calendar. As we work our way through December we can all excitedly see what our secret Santa has placed in our advent pockets on those days. I thought this would be a much more fun way to enjoy the big countdown to the big day.
What I used:
A mixture of different Christmas fabric. To use for the pockets and bunting.
Calico cotton fabric to use as the backing.
Fusible Iron On Interfacing fabric. To use in the middle.
Light Hessian fabric. To use as the front.
Mixture of Christmas themed ribbons. For decoration and the bunting.
Mixture of mixed designs 3D flat back Cabochons. For decoration.
Self adhesive felt. Used for the numbers.
Lace fabric. To use for decoration.
Flower head pins. Used to support the fabric when cutting and sewing.
Glitter stars for decoration.
How I made the advent calendar:
The first thing I did was decide on the location I would like to hang the calendar.
I then went on to measure the space I had and then worked out my measurements.
Pockets were then made in a mixture of sizes. I done this by using a variety of different Christmas fabrics. Cutting them all to a variety of different sizes, making sure not to make them to big and to stay within my measurements. The pockets were then pinned and sewn. Leaving the top section open, giving us somewhere to place our advent gifts.
The 25 pockets were then decorated, using ribbon, lace, cabochons and off cuts of fabrics. All being glued with the fabric glue.
All 3 of the calendar fabrics were then measured and marked for cutting. The front piece of fabric will be 1″ bigger than the middle piece of fabric. The middle piece of fabric will then be 1″ to what is going to be the backing fabric. This then allows for the edging fold/overlapping.
Then came the nerve wracking bit…It was then time to cut the fabrics to size. This part always makes me nervous.
The fabrics were then ironed.
The fabrics were folded by laying what is to be the front fabric down first, then what is the middle piece on top of the front piece. The fabric that will be the back was then laid on top.
All 3 fabrics were then pinned and sewn together.
The calendar was then decorated with lace, the pockets and ribbon.
Bunting to finish…
The bunting was then made and added to the calendar. I made this by re-measuring the width of the calendar and then cutting some fabric to size and the triangle shape I wanted. I then cut some ribbon to size, allowing extra to tuck round the back to finish. I used fabric glue to glue it all in place. Glitter stars were then added with glue to the calendar to finish. Followed by the pockets being filled with secret Santa gifts. We were then ready for the countdown to begin!
This was my first ever handmade project of this size. I have always wanted to make things myself but have never really had the time to do so. Now I am no longer working due to ill health I am now able to put the time and effort into different projects. Since finishing this advent calendar I have made both of our dogs a Christmas stocking each and I am currently working on an interior project with Ian. All of which I will be sharing with you later this week.
Are you doing anything different this year for Christmas?
Wow December already, where has this year gone. Are you someone who is organised, or are you someone who will be shopping last minute? I am normally one for being really organised and prepared for Christmas, but this year I seem to be really behind and struggling at what to get for people.
For the first time ever, our boys don’t know what they want for Christmas. They were asked last week what they would like for Christmas? And they gave the dreaded “I don’t know answer” – I could scream when given this answer, because if they don’t know how are we meant to?
One thing that is a must in our house and is most definitely agreed on and that is all the festive treats. From the very tasty festive coffees, to all the festive goodies that make an appearance within the stores. We might not have our gift list ready yet but our shopping delivery is booked. Here are a few items that will be being added to our trolley.
First up that is a must and that is Ferrero Rochers. OK I may eat these all year round but these are my must have chocolate when snuggled up watching a Christmas movie. There is just something about the wafer that is covered in chocolate and then pieces of hazelnut. The best part is when you bite into the middle where you have a hazelnut flavoured creamy filling covering a whole hazelnut at the very center. Yummy!
Just like Ferrero Rochers these are also available all year round but seem to be a go-to chocolate too and very popular at Christmas. Toblerones are triangular shaped Swiss chocolate with honey and almond nougat. They can be found in a variety of different flavours such as, white chocolate, regular milk chocolate, fruit and nut, also not forgetting it also comes in dark chocolate too. They make a perfect gift as you can also have them personalised.
Chocolate liqueur treats are a perfect treat to share at a dinner party or simply enjoying a lovely evening with friends or family. One chocolate liqueur we are looking forward to this year is Baileys chocolate twists. They are light and crispy wafers filled with a Baileys Original Irish Cream Liqueur Ganache, wrapped in delicious smooth chocolate. Chocolate Liqueurs also make the perfect Christmas gift for any liqueur lover. If you still have the odd gift to get and they are a chocolate liqueur fan then Wow Free Stuff are currently hosting a giveaway where you have the chance to win a box of chocolates. Be quick with entering as you only have until: 21st December 2019. Click >>>Here<<< find out how to be entered into the competition.
Let’s talk gingerbread. We enjoy all things gingerbread at Christmas in our house, and let’s face it, we all enjoy making a gingerbread house at Christmas don’t we. What better way to spend a family night in on a cold evening. A perfect way to keep warm when out doing the Christmas shopping is enjoy a nice yummy gingerbread latte. Christmas in a cup!
Stollen loaf is one Christmas treat I really look forward to. It is packed full of soft and juicy sultanas and raisins. It has a soft centre of rich marzipan which offers a lovely almond flavour to the rum syrup and butter-soaked loaf. Perfect accompanied with a festive drink of choice.
They are our top Christmas must-have favourite treats. Christmas wouldn’t be the same without having candy canes, mince pies and a tin of roses in our trolley to of course!
You may or may not have noticed that our blog has been rather quite lately, well since spring if I’m honest. If you hadn’t noticed then it isn’t a problem of course, but I will explain the reason as to why our blog has been quiet.
Back in spring…
Our blog has been quiet since spring because this was the time I think I began to realise that I could no longer carry on pretending and had to stop with the constant worrying about what tomorrow would bring and just concentrate on the now. I am a known worrier – I just can’t help it and it bugs the hell out of Ian. I am always worrying about other people and hardly ever stop to think about myself. Do you find yourself doing the same?
On one of my lowest days back in spring Ian came home from work on his lunch break (he never does this) he came home to check on me and to see if I was OK. Upon his arrival home, no I wasn’t OK and he had walked-in to myself being in floods of tears and in a right state. I just felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders and I just couldn’t carry on anymore. On this day I had just had enough!
Things became more apparent…
I think on this day it became more apparent that I was having a breakdown. Back then I think my health problems played a massive part as it felt like they were winning, I was having to live day-by-day, not knowing how I was going to feel when I woke up which then had a knock-on affect to my job and I just felt like I was letting everyone down all the time. It just got to the point where painting a smile on my face and carrying on wasn’t working anymore. I did not feel in control anymore.
Back then I was working part-time as a carer support worker. My employer was fantastic and totally understanding but this didn’t stop me from feeling bad and like I was letting everyone down. I found that I was spending more time off sick than I was at work.
Things had to change…
It absolutely broke my heart and it was extremely hard to do but I resigned from my position as a carer/support worker. After a long chat with Ian he helped me realise that I just couldn’t carry on the way I was. Time out was desperately needed to help my health.
So, in the past 7 months I have been taking things day-by-day. I am now on medication to help with my depression. I do still have anxiety attacks but they are now few and far between, this has to be a good sign right?. I still have trouble sleeping but I am looking into ways to help with this. I now have things in place around the home to help make day-to-day life a little easier. I will be writing a post on things that I found and help me cope and carry on. Things which are still in place today.
Slowly gaining control…
My health conditions will always be there and I have now gotten use to that. I don’t like it but I have found my own way of accepting it. I am no longer going to dwell on what I can’t do because I am going to be to busy enjoying what I can do. I am not one for sitting around doing nothing so I am going to enjoy getting back to blogging again.
Ian and the boy’s have been my rock over the past few months. I really can’t thank them enough for helping me through. There is so much to share with you all but all that can be done in future posts.
Taking time out really has helped. There really is support out there for everyone. No one should have to suffer alone. Here is a link to >>> Mind <<< for anyone looking to seek help or support.
Spring is finally here! the clocks have now gone forward an hour and the nights are staying lighter for longer. Are you ready to start packing away your winter blankets and start getting ready for the lovely much-needed warmer sunny day’s? we most certainly are!
I hate the winter months, the day’s are long, cold, dark and miserable. There is nothing worse than waking up and it still being dark out, cold, frosty and very uninviting. They are certainly months we definately don’t mind waving a goodbye to.
Are you ready for the warmer sunny day’s? we most certainly can’t wait. No more winter wear cluttering up the hall. No more winter blankets or hot water bottles for added warmth. But hello sunshine, picnic blankets and outdoor fun!
Refreshing Our Home For Spring
We are going to be busy over the next few weeks welcoming in spring by getting our home into warmer-weather shape by have a seasonal spring refresh. We will be doing this by de-cluttering common areas, tidying cupboards, packing away winter and welcoming spring.
Spring Cleaning Ideas
I guess it’s not called “spring cleaning” for nothing. Now is a great time to have a good sort out at home and prepare yourselves for the summer months. Are you spring ready?
Washing blankets, big heavy quilts, winter jumpers and winter coats. Getting them all washed dried and put away until next winter and swapping them for lighter spring wear.
Having a wardrobe tidy/sort out. We all end up adding to our winter wear over the cold months don’t we? our weight has even changed since last summer. Now would be a good time to have a good sort out of our wardrobe to see what fits and doesn’t. Perhaps bag up a few items to donate to a charity. Not forgetting that shoe pile as they easily mount up too!
Tidy cupboards. Is your home like ours and has what we call a “clutter cupboard”? – OMG this cupboard drives me crazy. It is a cupboard where we store all our cleaning products, such as our hoover, steam cleaner etc. It is always a mess as everything just gets chucked in it. This is a cupboard in desperate need of tidying and re-organising.
Clutter zones. Another massive hate of mine are clutter zones. I think every house has them, whether it be a shelving unit, sofa or table. We have two areas in our house that tends to get cluttered and is currently in desperate need of sorting.
Kitchen cupboards. Need I say anymore? where do all the lids to food storage containers disapear to? please don’t say it is just our cupboards that end up with odd lids and food storage containers that are no longer of any use? time to match lids to containers or dispose. As for the food cupboard it is time to check the date on food lables as things tend to get pushed back and before we know it food ends up out of date before we have used them.
Surfaces. Time to clear all surfaces, remove any clutter that has accumulated over the winter months. This is when I enjoy to have a little change around. Add in splashes of colour to brighten our home up a little.
Bathroom/Toilet. Time to dig out that steam cleaner I think and hope all the attatchments are there. A job I hate but it is deep clean time for the bathroom.
Adding splashes of colour
Once everywhere is all nice and clean, also winter and clutter free it is nice to start brightening up our home by making it more bright, cheerful and welcoming. This can be done in many way’s. Here are a few ideas to help brighten up your home.
Cushion covers – A simple quick change in style or colour of cushion covers can make all the difference to a room. It helps instantly to give a room the look you are working to acheieve.
Plants – A perfect way to brighten shelves, corners and tables. They instantly add colour to rooms and plain, boring dark corners.
Rugs – An instant way to add a splash of colour to tired looking flooring. Not only add colour but you could also add a pattern too if you wish. A rug can brighten up and transform any room instantly.
Bedding – Fancy freshening up your bedroom and giving it a little makeover? Had the same coloured bedding for a while now? how about a change? add a splash of colour to your bedding it will help brighten up your bedroom.
Pictures – Having a change about with photo’s displayed or artwork can help change a feel to a room. A little re-position or update can make all the difference.
Table cloths – A nice new table cloth and a new centrepiece can help add a nice feel to a room. A table in a room can be a main focus point and looks lovely when nicely displayed.
Mirror – Mirrors can be a perfect way to help brighten up dark shelves and walls. They are a perfect way to make small rooms feel bigger, and also a perfect way to add light to dark rooms.
Ornaments – Had the same ornaments out on display for a while? fancy a change around. Changing a few odd items that are on display can make all the difference to a room. Either a little re-position or change completley depends on the look you are hoping to acheieve.
Curtains – Do they go with the look/colour scheme you are hoping to achieve? if they do then a quick freshen up is all they will probably need. Or you could add a different look by changing the tie-backs and/or the curtain pole. If they don’t fit with your new room update then shop around for a new set of curtains completely. It will help to instanlty give your room a new look.
Lamps – I do love lamps in rooms, they make perfect mood lighting. They can also help to set a style in a room too. There are so many different lamps to chose from and they can help fill a gap on a table, shelf or even a corner in a room.
Upcycle – Have a tired looking piece of furniture that is too good to dispose of? then don’t – upcycle it! there are so many brilliant ideas you can find online these day’s, why dispose of good furniture when you don’t have to.
A few small changes to your home can make all the difference. It doesn’t have to prove too costly either!
With spring finally here our winter blankets and hot water bottles can soon start to be packed away. The sun is now starting to make a very welcomed appearance and we can now start enjoying the spring air and lovely sunshine.
With the sun shining brightly and all the winter warmers being packed away, we are now wanting to add colour, not only in the garden but indoors too. We are wanting to brighten up our spring and add sparkles of colour to our home to make it nice, bright and welcoming.
We are currently in discussion about our interior design at the moment as we are making plans to have a wall removed downstairs. This would help to add light to our living room as well as give us more kitchen space. Our kitchen at the moment hardly has any space and sadly isn’t designed to it’s full potential. We feel we could make much better use of the space to make it a much more useable kitchen. We do have our own design in mind and it is on our to-do list but other home projects have to take priority.
In the meantime we are adding splashes of colour in other ways to our home, by changing pictures that are hung on our walls to more brighter ones, adding bright spring flowers to a vase, changing our cushion covers and having a change around with items on display.
Splashes Of Colour This Spring
There are many other ways you can brighten your home and add splashes of colour to make it more cheerful looking and inviting. Adding a rug or two is another way. We recently added a beautiful grey rug to our living room from Land Of Rugs. The rug is called Whisper Tungsten and is a stunning colour.
The Tungsten rug has helped to add a splash of beautful colour to our floor. Helping our flooring look more refreshed. The rug has a superfine silky pile that gives off bright and deeper silver grey hues when ruffled or viewed from different angles. We have placed the rug in front of our fire place where the rug will get plenty of natural light so we will get maximum effect.
With the lights on low or with the light effect from our electric fire it adds a real luxury feel on the rug and to the room. The rug has 100% polyester wispy feathery pile, that also has a glossy finish to it. The rug is hand tufed and has a beautiful 40mm silky pile to it.
Land Of Rugs offer a wide range of rugs to suit colours, styles and budgets. Rugs to suit modern and triaditional tastes.
The Whisper Tugsten comes in a choice of six different sizes with prices starting from £39. We do have a 10% discount code to share with you. If you enter B2DISCOUNT with any order you may wish to make, Land Of Rugs will kindly reduce your order by 10% and you could also add an instant transformation to your home too, just like the Whisper Tugsten done to our home.
Disclaimer: We were sent a Whisper Tugsten Rug for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
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Anita & Ian
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