With the amount of restaurants and bars opening up in Manchester, you do sometimes tend to forget about those little hidden gems tucked in far corners of popular areas. I love heading over to the Northern Quarter to grab a bite and a cocktail. It’s no bs attitude, laid back vibe and total lack of pretentiousness makes its an area that is welcoming and inviting whilst keeping its cool and trendy atmosphere. Pen & Pencil in the Northern Quarter has been nestled on the corner of Tariff Street for the past few years, and is open daily to serve a great selection of light bites and big plates, as well as some cleverly constructed cocktails. With almost a touch of New York speakeasy to it’s interior, the lively yet relaxed bar was ticking all my boxes.
The service was attentive with attention to detail given when going through the menu. My halloumi addiction is growing stronger and so naturally, I chose the halloumi burger with a side of sweet potato fries. Served on a brioche bun with spiced tomato chutney and rocket salad, I was pretty much in food heaven, The sweet potato fries were seasoned beautifully, with no need for a further salting and the serving was very generous. My friend tucked into the Philadelphia flat steak which was seasoned with a rich garlic and rosemary marinade, and came with a side of skin on fries and a pot of chimichurri salsa. The salsa was delicious with the strong flavours of garlic and parsley tantalising the tongue whilst the steak, medium cooked was tender and melted in the mouth. The home cooked, skin on fries were also well cooked and seasoned.
You can’t beat a cocktail after work, and Pen & Pencil have a really good cocktail menu. With cheeky names such as Happy Birthday, Mr President and Dead Man Walking, the cocktail menu had me stumped as to what to choose. I eventually settled on the Sometimes Sunny in Manchester cocktail which was made up of passion fruit liqueur, pisco, lemon and lime, and egg white to give a lovely foam top. Garnished with syrup and an edible flower, the cocktail had just the right amount of tartness combined with a sweet and soft aftertaste. Reminiscent of jelly sweets, it certainly was very moreish.
For my friend, a long cocktail to quench the thirst from this unusually warm late September evening, she chose the Grapefruit Spritz. Tanqueray gin, Fentimans rose lemonade, passion fruit liqueur and grapefruit, this tangy sweet blend is garnished with a concertina cuber and a slice of grapefruit. Refreshing, light and a wonderful palette cleanser.
I think I will definitely be heading towards Pen & Pencil more often. For a casual place to unwind with friends, with great music, food and drinks, it has a winning recipe for the place to be.
If you’re someone who’s a fan of the aesthetics of the past, this is the post for you! We’ve got you covered with plenty of tips on bringing that Victorian sense of styling back into being; breathe life into your surroundings by covering them in old timey wallpaper and getting an antique armchair set up in the corner of the room. Halloween’s coming along soon so this is the perfect time for you to get creative – you could throw a houseparty and pretend the seat is haunted – get some ghost props to prove it!
But on a more serious note, if you love the idea of decorating around a theme, and you’re just moving into your own place or you’ve got a spare room you’d love to whip into shape, why not dress it up like it would have looked a hundred years ago?
There’s something about old furniture that’s just a little more cosy, don’t you think? (Credit)
Use Appropriate Paints
And no, that doesn’t mean you need to cover your walls in lead, don’t panic. But if you want your dining room or your spare bedroom to look like it’s straight out of a Jane Austen novel, you’re going to need to stick to some bare and neutral colours. And more often than not, these are going to be darker tones you’d usually avoid when browsing the paint board in the DIY store.
But if you’ve got darker yellows, autumnal reds, light purples, and some baby blues on your hands, you’re in for a winner. These were all popular colours back in the day, and they’re still acceptable to a modern mindset as well – either that or get some wallpaper with a bit of skirting and faux padding in its design. It’s more era appropriate than actual wood.
Find Cheap Furniture that Fits the Part
You’re not going to be able to score an original King Louis XIV on your budget, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on furniture that looks like it came straight out of a Victorian design catalogue. Old furniture was built to last, and a lot of it has, you just need to know where to look!
Don’t worry, there’s plenty benefits of reproduction furniture, other than the price tag, and you’re never likely to regret fitting them inside your house. Be on the lookout for pieces with labels like ‘Queen Anne’, and be sure to nip down to every antique store within your local radius to pick up some good deals on items that might could very well be from the time of yesteryear. Find yourself a cameo to hang on the wall at least!
Decorating a house to make it look like a pocket of time gone by doesn’t have to be hard on you. Just be sure to find yourself some good deals, use the right colours, avoid taxidermied animals in the basement of your local curio shop, and then sit down and relax in your new Victorian parlour!
It’s been a ten year long relationship and we are at that point that we are very comfortable with each other. I know his favourite food. He knows to not touch the remote when I’m watching Netflix, and we live in complete harmony. Just me and my boy, Thomas. Now for new readers to my blog, you’re probably wondering who Thomas is. Let me introduce you to my main man. Thomas. My little boy who I’ve raised since he was 10 weeks old, and now, at a grand old age of 10, he’s my little mate and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. I never thought I would become one of those cat ladies, but I’m right there.
These days, we prefer to spend a Caturday night indoors. As the weather is changing and the nights are drawing in, it’s so much more enjoyable to spend the evening inside. The heating on, a good film or series on Netflix, a good bottle of wine and a homemade meal. It’s made even more enjoyable with my little furry black shadow by my side. Did you know that Thomas isn’t one of those cats who has a particularly loud purr but if I stroke him just under his chin, it gets louder. It’s too cute. He also gets his purr on when he sees me go into the cupboard where his Temptations are kept. He does love a treat or two. Just like me!
From the very beginning, Thomas has only ever eaten Whiskas cat food, and he is very partial to a bowl of Whiskas Casserole. His favourite flavour is chicken and he wolfs it down. You’d think he had never been fed before when a plate of this is put in front of him. On our perfect date, whilst he is demolishing his casserole, I’m demolishing my casserole. Both made with fresh ingredients, rich gravy and succulent pieces of meat, it’s filling and satisfying and makes us both feel very content. A healthy and filling meal is very important in my house, for both myself and Thomas. There’s a definite need to make sure I’m getting all my veggies and nutrients, and I want the same for my cat. The Whiskas single serve pouches are ideal for a meal for Thomas, and I can always combine them with the Whiskas dry cat food to give him a diet that works for him and leaves him looking healthy, and with a shiny and glossy black coat.
After a hearty meal, even on date night, curling up on the couch is the best. In the season of fluffy socks and throws, we love our snuggle sessions. With Thomas, it’s like having my very own furry hot water bottle. I do love it when he snuggles right into me and cat snores away. It leaves me in peace to watch my boxsets, but I can guarantee that once I open the chocolate, he will be wide awake and making it his game to play with the wrapper.
We are definitely the perfect pair and a match made in heaven. We both like good food, long naps and cosy blankets and I don’t know what I would do without my little dude. Even now, as I write this blog post, he is trying to curl up as close as he can to me. It’s true love.
This post is in conjunction with Whiskas, but all my opinions are my own. And Thomas’s. He loves it.
Oh Manchester, you really are the gift that keeps on giving. Every week, there’s a new grand opening of a new bar and restaurant and I’m not complaining. Gone are the days when a new nightclub opening was the place to be and the distant memories of being stood in a never ending VIP line, shivering my wotsits off can stay in the past. I am so much more in my element by indulging in a good meal with a few glasses of vino and a cocktail or two. Thankfully, Manchester is the place to be and my bustling metropolis contains some real hidden gems.
With the rise of living crazy lifestyles as seen on Instagram and tailoring decor around your most lusted after pins on Pinterest, I think that Sunset Manchester have literally nailed it with their interior design. Blush pinks, copper and rose gold. Marble touches and white wooden seating with neon light fittings, it’s an actual dream. The attention to detail is superb and it’s a perfect place for afternoon drinks as the sun goes down over the Mancunian skyline.
Australasia, which is situated underneath Sunset, is the parent bar and restaurant and has been a firm fixture in Manchester for several years now. The bar and terrace which is now known as Sunset, has been subject to other names across the time it has been in Spinningfields, however I do feel that they have hit the nail on the head with this rebrand. Australasia are known for their pan-Asian cuisine which has been taken into Sunset with a focus on light bites and small platters, with the introduction of their Bento Box, which also comes as an afternoon tea with dessert.
I had the signature mixed bento box which comes with nine pieces and a bowl of Miso soup to start. Presentation, as expected was absolutely beautiful and again, the attention to detail made it feel very special. Freshly grated wasabi, dipping plates and soy sauce in copper decanters. Gold chopsticks, should you wish to use them, and an ice cold glass of Sauvingnon blanc to hand. The miso soup was perfect and surprisingly, although it contained mushrooms, I had no issue with them at all. Made with dashi, seaweed and greens, it was an ideal, lightweight and warming starter before digging into the bento box.
I do feel that whilst the bento box was spectacular to look at, a few of the dishes lacked taste and flavour and were in need of some seasoning. That being said there were some dishes that were delightful and that I would definitely have again. The sushi was fresh and tasty, and the pickled salad was a particular favourite. The broth served in the traditional style kettle was also a personal favourite of mine. Warming, comforting and tasty. I did find that the tofu dish wasn’t to my tasting and whilst I found a lot of the dishes needed seasoning, the deep fried rice cubes were overly salty. The noodle salad was quite bland but in comparison, the sesame topped chicken was a taste sensation on my tongue.
I would be very interested to go back and try the menu again, especially now that it has been open for some time. The service was impeccable, the setting was picture perfect but maybe there was a bit more style over substance on the occasion that I visited.
Do people describe you as quirky? Do friends say they love your personality? Is your dress sense utterly different to everyone else on the street? If you answer yes to these questions, then you’re an extrovert. Congratulations and welcome to the club! Okay, it isn’t a scientific test but there’s no doubt that extroverts are a little out there in everything they do.
So, your house shouldn’t be any different. Properties need to imbue the characteristics of their owners. Otherwise, they don’t have any personality. Someone like you would rather live on the streets than in a dead, cold, bare home. You’d probably make a better go off a cardboard box and some old newspapers!
However, the chances are you don’t want to go overboard and create a Willy Wonka-style colour scheme. Subtlety isn’t your strong point, but there are boundaries. To stay true to your extroverted ways, it’s essential to channel your inner qualities, the ones which are the most important to you as a person. Here are the ways to do it without going OTT.
Pick A Colour, Any Colour
The different shades and hues throughout the house will dominate the style. A scheme is vital for bringing different elements to life and making the interiors seem bubbly and vivid. Introverts do this by choosing neutral colours such as creams and whites and eggshell. They like to be delicate and restrained when they pick up a paintbrush. Extroverts are different.
The odds are high that your favourite colour isn’t black or white or anything neutral. Instead, it’s probably bright red or sky blue or sunshine yellow, something which is bright and shiny. So, use this to your advantage by decorating with your favourite hues. Look how the room underneath uses baby pink as a focal point. It also mixes a deep purple into the style perfectly, which adds an amazing contrast.
Remember that whatever the colour, you can fit it into a scheme. All you have to do is think about the matching shades and how best to make it stand out while being seamless.
The Material Palate
Homeowners fret about the colour palette because it seems as if it’s the most important thing. After all, it brings life to the room and turns a house into a home. As a result, the material scheme goes out of the window. In fact, most properties stick with leather sofas and armchairs for cleaning purposes. They might be a rug on the floor, but it’s an afterthought. Well, it isn’t for extroverts.
Materials are a powerful weapon as they add texture to space, and that makes it more dimensional. It’s as if you can feel the fabrics on your face as soon as you walk into the room, like an interactive video game. Plus, the contrast is excellent too. Therefore, don’t stick to one or two materials – include as many as possible. This is a fantastic tip because you’ll find that plenty of features are different. For example, you can’t have a leather floor so the furniture will mix with the flooring right off the bat. Talking of wood, exposed beams are an excellent way to make sure there is contrast. Just give them a once-over with a deep stain to make them cosy and homely.
Last but not least, don’t forget the tiles and granite. The room below mixes the warm woods and fabrics with the cold kitchen countertops to great effect.
Do you remember the kid’s TV show from the 90s and early 2000s? Well, all you Art Attack fans can dig out the pencils and paintbrushes and put them to good use. Nothing says extrovert better than personal drawings and paintings. Even if you can’t draw, there is nothing wrong with trying to create something from scratch. All you need to do is throw colour on top of colour and see what happens. At the least, it will fit into the scheme.
Anyone who doesn’t want to channel their inner Lowry can buy artwork. Naturally, your instincts will take you towards the quirky stuff and you should go with your gut. But, remember to keep the overall style in your head. Choosing things which don’t match ends up looking cluttered like you threw it together in hope rather than expectation.
Something which works very well is printing off pictures and sticking them on the wall. Not only is it arty but it’s the ultimate way to show off your personality. Nothing says you more than memories of the good times with your loved ones.
Shop Off The Beaten Path
It’s easy to point out the ways to channel your extroverted personality, but it’s not simple to execute the plan. The problem is the high street – it’s full of shops which are the same. Go into B&M or B&Q and you’ll find everything from similar kitchens to tins of paint. How can you show off your personality when there aren’t any shops which sell the right products?
The answer is by shopping off the beaten track. Go online and you’ll find loads of suppliers which tailor towards non-conventional styles. At Unique Vanities, there are bathroom fittings and fixtures you won’t find in general stores. Simply Bamboo has flooring options which are exotic and affordable at the same time.
As a well as online shops, head to the vintage boutiques. They’re a little more expensive, but they do have cool knick-knacks which scream “I’M AN EXTROVERT!”
It sounds ignorant, and it is to a degree, but extroverts shouldn’t get bogged down with conventional wisdom. It’s okay for generic personalities, but you’re anything but. All it does is to remind you of the reason why you’re an extrovert and how much you hate the establishment.
Use magazines and websites and YouTube videos by all means, but pick and choose your favourite aspects. Then, put them together in a smorgasbord of eccentricity. Go with your gut rather than the status quo.
Hasn’t your stomach done you proud in the past? So why question it now?
A lot of people out there are very fixated on the notion of making the world a better place, and at first glance, this seems like a positive and noble ambition. The problems when you consider that the world is very complicated, and that’s often impossible to know what would be “best” for a given individual, let alone nation, from an objective perspective.
On top of this, many of those who seek to make positive change in the world do so from a strictly political ideological angle, and are likely to start thinking in broad, universal slogans, rather than to address things in a more holistic and grass-roots way.
Making positive change in the world is possible, of course, but you’re generally much better off thinking of things in terms of the small and local, rather than the big and global.
Here are some grassroots ways that you can start making some positive changes in the world.
Take up a career that you can be proud of
If you’re anything like the ordinary person out there in society, you can expect to spend a significant chunk of your life at work. This means that if your job is something you hate, and that makes you feel bitter and ashamed rather than proud and satisfied, you’re not likely to easily offset that with positive actions elsewhere.
By taking up a career that you can be proud of — something that leaves you with a real feeling of accomplishment, and a sense that you’ve done something meaningful — you can rest assured that you’re making positive contributions to the world on a regular basis, even if they’re small ones.
Work on being the kind of person you would like and respect
People are affected most by the example you set, and not by the things you say, or even by the political actions you take. If you want to make some positive changes in the world, your first step should be to become the kind of person who you like and respect, so that others can follow your example.
If, on the other hand, you experience chronic self-loathing, you can reasonably expect that something about the way you’re living your life isn’t in alignment with your valued and with the kind of person you’d want to be.
“Liking” yourself more also isn’t just a matter of deciding that you’re perfect the way you are. It’s a commitment to growing into being a better person, and living a life more in line with your own values.
Focus on creating more and consuming less
There’s nothing wrong with “consuming”, whether that means food, entertainment, clothes, beauty products, or other consumer purchases.
There is a problem, however, with living a life which is solely dominated and determined by consumption. When you are just a consumer, you add little to the world. When you are a creator, on the other hand, you add lots.
Whether working on your blog, creating a new business, or volunteering your time, try to create a bit more and consume a bit less.
After a beautiful summer, with the onset of September, thoughts slowly begin to turn to the new season – shops are filling up with ankle boots and new coats, there’s a drop in the temperature and spiced lattes start making an appearance in the coffee bars. Autumn brings it’s own seasonal delights, and one of them is being able to cosy up in our bedrooms, take advantage of Autumn decor trends and enjoy a little comfort. Here’s how to get ready for the new season and create a warm, welcoming bedroom perfect for those nights that are drawing in…
Get Your Insulation Right
Before moving on to cushions and candles, make sure that your bedroom is cosy by checking that it’s well insulated. Check and drain and underperforming radiators, look into double glazed window repairs if needed, and kit out your room with well lined curtains or insulated blinds. You want to eliminate any draughts or condensation. You can also check the floorboards and use filler to get rid of any gaps where cold breezes can creep in.
Invite In Some Colour
Colour can have a significant psychological impact on our mood, so creating a cosy interior can be down to introducing some warm, rich colours to your room. Try red, deep yellows and oranges, or if that isn’t your vibe, millennial pink can also be surprisingly warm and restful. Combine these colours sparingly with neutrals for the chicest effect and add touches of copper or rose gold in your accessories.
Add In Some Texture
Adding warmth to your bedroom can be achieved by layering textures to cuddle up in. Use it as an excuse to hit the shops for some new homewares and accessories. Fluffy rugs are a great way to physically banish chills and they look snuggly too – lots of soft throw pillows, a knitted or faux fur throw and softly piled oversize curtains will also give a cocooning effect. Silk is also a rich texture to use, and playing with these varying fabrics in the same or tonal colours gives a really plush, expensive look to a room.
Cast A Glow
Lastly, go to town with beautiful scented candles – scent is also powerful to evoke a mood, and woody or spicy toned fragrances or creamy vanilla are ideal as the nights get shorter. Make sure that you choose soy candles or pure beeswax so that you aren’t releasing harmful chemicals into the room. You could also try an aromatherapy diffuser with LEDs. Consider introducing some beautiful lamps too – these cast a much cosier light than overhead fixtures, and give you a chance to introduce more colour and texture with the lampshade. You can further enhance the candlelit effect by adding in some beautiful mirrors, which will bounce back the light and create some gorgeous effects. Don’t be afraid to make the most of reflective surfaces such as mirrored glass trays as well, as these will also add interest.
With a few finishing touches in how you dress it, you really can alter the mood of your bedroom and give it a much more intimate and cosy feel for the coming colder weather.
The solo female travel market is booming and there are loads of products out there catering to women travelers. However, which ones are useful for a woman on the go? Fortunately, we have done the shopping for you. Whether buying for yourself to help you on your next adventure or looking for a gift for a travel-loving friend, check out this list of five super useful items that every woman needs in her suitcase. Best of all, they are all under £10! So treat yourself, a family member or a friend with one of these useful travel items.
Light and easy to use, this digital hand luggage scale will help prevent you from paying extra for overweight luggage that low-cost carriers charge you a fortune to travel with. No more stress weighing your suitcase when checking in for your flight. It’s easy to switch between pounds, kilograms, ounces or grams. A hook and strap holds your luggage securely while the weight is displayed clearly, even in a darkened room. We’ve been there too, trying to weigh ourselves and our luggage on the bathroom scale. Never have that problem again!
Europe, America and Australia, wherever your journey takes you, this travel adapter makes sure you can get power to your devices, curling iron, whatever you need. The different components fit neatly inside each other and weigh next to nothing, making it easy to pack and carry in the free travel case included. The simple design makes this universal adapter kit trouble free for years of use. Unlike adapters with moving parts, there is nothing to wear out, become damaged or broken.
Great for on the plane, train or in hotel rooms, this contoured sleep mask is a must-have for any girl on the go. This sleep masks completely blocks any unwanted light so you can sleep undisturbed. Because of the raised dome shape, your eye makeup won’t be disturbed while you catch some z’s and you can arrive at your destination looking fresh and rested. Soft, comfortable fabric and a strap that stretches easily for maximum comfort are two customer favorites about this domed sleep mask.
Use this kit of all natural supplements before, during or after travel, or all three. Avoid travel fatigue and fuel your body. Your skin will be hydrated, your blood sugar will be stable and your energy will be balanced so you can make the most of your trip. Conveniently packed individual sachets, Fly Me will be your go-to travel kit. Don’t worry, it’s suitable for vegans and is dairy, soya and gluten free. Even shipping is free within the UK and all products have a 30-day money back guarantee.
Make sure your devices are always charged by bringing this power bank, the handy charge device that works with any phone or tablet. This model allows you to charge multiple devices through mini USB and USB connections. Slim and easy to pack, the Tech Power 2200 Power Bank will keep your device charged and ready for use no matter where you are. Perfect for travelers who go to remote locations without a power source but still need their phone.Remember to be safe when you travel and do not share your details with anyone who does not need to know them. For help as a solo female traveler, check out Jozu for Women, a platform that helps make travel easier, safer and more fun than ever. Now go conquer the world, girl!
Starting your own blog is a great hobby to do in your spare time but if you put enough work in, it’s actually a great way to make money. You could use it to make a little extra on the side but if you’re successful enough, you can earn a good living from it and be your own boss. But making money out of a blog is easier said than done and even after months or years of hard work, you might find that you’re still not bringing in that much money. The good news is, there are a few common reasons why you’re not making money and you can usually solve the problem pretty easily. This is why your blog isn’t making any money and what you can do about it.
It Costs Too Much To Run
This is a big one. People often underestimate how much it’s going to cost to keep their site running and all of the money they make goes right back into website maintenance and upkeep. If you’re bringing money in but not making a profit, have another look at your website cost. It might be that your hosting fees are too high or you’re paying a website building service to carry out maintenance and they’re charging you over the odds. Shop around a bit and see if you can find any better deals for hosting. Another common reason is that you’ve got too much going on and so you need regular updates. If you simplify things a little, it will be a lot cheaper to run and you can start to keep some of that money you’re bringing in.
You Don’t Have Enough Traffic
There are 2 main ways that people make money from their blog; advertising and collaborations with companies. Usually, the advertising revenue you get is based on how many people are visiting the site or even how many people are clicking on the ads. If you don’t have that many visitors, you’re not going to make money. You also won’t be getting opportunities to do paid reviews of products if you’ve only got a small readership. There are some simple ways to make your blog grow by boosting your SEO strategy or advertising yourself better on social media. If you can start bringing in more traffic, you’ll soon start making more money.
You’re Not Focused On Your Audience
Blogging started as a way for people to share their lives with other people that might be interested. For a blog to be successful, it’s important that the writer has a distinct personality that comes out in the posts but you need to be careful. If you’re just doing it as a hobby, it’s fine to write about yourself all of the time but if you want to make money out of it, you need to think about your audience more. What do they want to read? If you aren’t publishing articles that your readership are interested in and you’re just writing about yourself all of the time, you aren’t going to keep those readers.
If you can avoid these 3 big mistakes, you should be able to start making some real money from your blog.
Girl boss is perhaps one of those things, like mompreneur. A word that really annoy some people but inspire others. However you feel about the words, the thing itself is fantastic. What could be better than a group of strong women going out there into the business world and starting something for themselves? Giving themselves the chance to earn their own money, grow their own business, work flexibly around their families and other commitments, have the perfect work-life balance and even employ other strong women. If you are interested in becoming a girl boss, here’s what you need to do.
You might already have an idea of what kind of business you want to start. Or, you might not have the slightest idea, just an urge to do something. Fortunately, you’ve got plenty of options. Think about whether you want to open a brick and mortar store or office or run your business online. Often online is easier as there are fewer startup costs, and remember, you can always add a store later if things go well.
Then, think about your passions. What are you good at? What do you love doing? And, perhaps most importantly, what do you enjoy, that others would pay for? You could offer real-life services like cleaning or hair and beauty. You could provide online services, like writing or web design. You could start a blog, or set up your own photography firm, or you could open an ecommerce or brick and mortar store, either selling your own products or those sourced from elsewhere. When it comes to starting a business, your options are endless.
Research the Market
Once you’ve got an idea, it’s essential that you do some research before you try to take it to the market. Is it something that could make money? Is there a lot of competition? Could you offer better prices or service? Think about ways to make your business different, and better. Spend some time researching the market and your target audience. Find out where they shop, what they want and who they are. Learn as much about them as you can, and you’ll be much better at selling to them.
Your audience and competition aren’t the only things that you need to learn about. You need to research accounting and finance for small business. You might want to take a masters of marketing so that you know how to promote your business effectively. You need to learn how to pitch to clients. You may also need to learn how to run a website and build social media followings. Learn as much about all areas of business as you can.
Write a Business Plan
Then, it’s time to write a business plan. Look at some business plan templates if you’ve never done this before and have a good think about where you want your business to go. Try to be realistic and include any factors that could inhibit your success.
Take a Risk
Then, you just need to go for it. Starting something for yourself is always a risk. But, eventually, you just need to stop putting it off and leap right in.
As I’ve posted quite a few home and interior inspired pieces lately, I thought I would continue on the home front and share my experiences about renting my own home. Back in 2008, I took the plunge and rented my own home all by myself. No flat share, no splitting the rent, just me and the terror of having to do this all on my own. Looking back, it was probably the best decision that I have ever made and even now, I am still in the same house, a decade later. Although I had previously been in a flat share, the house that I’m in now is my first rental home and I have filled it with furniture and love.
It’s really quite funny how the British are so adamant about buying their own home. In fact, within Europe it’s actually quite rare for people to own their home with many choosing to rent. Whilst some will say that renting is dead money, I don’t believe that in this day and age that I would be able to get back on the property ladder without making huge changes to my lifestyle and moving back in with my Mum whilst being rent free. At the moment, I have a secured tenancy with a very reasonable rate of rent and pretty much a free reign of what I can do within the house. I have zero plans to move at the moment and I’m really content with just me and my Thomas plodding along as we are.
The apprehension of moving into your own place is nothing compared to how happy I have been making these four walls my own. From the early days, before Thomas came along, I just remember how weird it was to be in a somewhat strange house where I didn’t know the creaks and groans that went on in the house. The noise of the pipes in the bathroom really used to make me jump, and I always used to overthink being in the house alone.
These days, being alone in my house is my sanctuary. I have my own routines and rituals and I am happy to spend my days relaxing my house, surrounded by my favourite things. I take joy in soft furnishings and I have loved spending time carefully curating each room to my style.
Moving out does not have to be scary and with my top tips, you can make light work of your first step to becoming independent in your own Home Let.
Save, save, save! Although I did the majority of my first rental by finding second hand bargains, I wish I had saved up some more money for homely items. You don’t realise how quickly costs mount up!
Check the Inventory. If you’re moving into a furnished house, make sure that you check off all the items in the house, and again before you leave. I had an issue in a previous flatsharewhere I had to fight to get my deposit back however as I had checked it all, I could prove that they were in the wrong.
Remember the bills! Gas, electric, water, council tax, internet, rent. There are so many bills to look after when you move out. It really helps to have a clear guideline of what is going out, and if you can, get them to go out on a direct debit for the same day. It makes the rest of the month so much easier to manage
Housemates. I loved living with my housemate but we also had tough times. Having breathing space and doing your fair share around the house makes for a comfortable living space. Wine in the fridge always helps!
Set a budget. It’s very easy to overspend and I have found that setting a budget for food helps a lot. This means cutting down on takeaways but I also spend lots of time making delicious, nutritious meals that I can batch cook and freeze for later.
Don’t feel under pressure. There’s so much pressure to have perfectly furnished homes worthy of Instagram. It has taken me a long time to put together each room, and still it’s no where near finished. I like my home projects.
The seasons roll around very quickly. Although when you are baking in the sun or freezing in the snow, it might seem tog on forever, none of them actually last for more than a few weeks. There are only 52 weeks in a year after all, and four seasons to get through. With summer coming towards its end, autumn is next, and if you are thinking of decorating some rooms in your home before the winter sets in, you might like to know what the latest trends for home décor are.
Before you buy anything though, you should check out your local stores, and websites like NetVoucherCodes.co.uk to see if they are offering any discount codes. These can reduce the costs of your new home décor. significantly.
Neutral And Simple
Because something is neutral in colour does not mean it has to look bland and uninteresting. You could have neutral coloured stripes on your window dressings, furniture that shows its wood grain and a rug made up of several coloured neutral squares to ensure that your home interior is impressive. Team these with soft furnishings that are gently patterned, and your room will be neutral and simple but can look amazing.
This is a trend that has come through from the spring and it is still very popular. We are not talking about walls, furniture or accessories, but carpets that are in a gold colour.
No one would suggest that you have black walls, furniture or floors unless you’re feeling bold and you want to go for it. The black is used in accessories such as cushions, and shelving units. It does not have to be blocks of black either. Cushions and curtains that have a pattern including it will do the trick, It tends to team up best with lighter shades, and of course, best of all with white.
Pinks have always been popular, but this autumn they are one of the favourite colours to use, Dusty and darker pinks are the ones to use as they add warmth to any room, They go particularly well with metallic finishes and darker greys.
Bold Shapes And Designs
These are being used for cushions, curtains, bed linen and all sorts of other materials, as you can see at https://www.checkfrank.co.uk/. Bold colours with different shapes and designs that make them stand out from the rest of the room. It is said there is only one rule to make this trend work, and that is that it has to have a modern look.
After pinks, navy blue is the big colour for autumn this year. It needs to be teamed with other colours because of the darkness of its shade but does go very well with greys, white and even with gold. This is one colour that even the wallpaper manufacturers have produced a lot of this year, so take a good look around the wallpaper shops before deciding on which one to buy.
It could be that none of these trends appeal to you or that you have fallen for one of the ideas. Whatever you decide to do with your décor this year, just make sure you have what you want, as it is you that has got to live in it.
It’s no secret that the shabby chic look is a popular home decor choice – but how exactly do you achieve this level of cuteness and charm in your own property? In this blog, we take a look at the three golden rules of creating the ultimate shabby chic haven.
Get your vibe right with vintage-looking furniture
Beautiful, intricately detailed furnishings are a must when it comes to nailing this decor theme. When you’re choosing pieces for your home, keep an eye out for the typical features, such as distressed finishes, rounded edges and carved detailing. If you’re not sure where to start in filling your home with vintage-looking furniture, why not tackle one room at a time?
For instance, you could start with your bedroom and pick out a classic style bed frame. An example is the Chateau Antique white painted carved bed from furniture experts Crown French Furniture. This model has a large, curved headboard and four individual legs, making it the perfect choice if you’re looking to turn your bedroom into a beautiful boudoir.
If you need inspiration on the type of furniture pieces you should be looking for, check out photo sharing platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram.
2. Stick to a soft colour palette
A soft, muted colour palette is essential if you’re keen to create a vintage vibe throughout your home. Ditch bold, bright hues in favour of fresh, neutral shades like creamy vanilla, rich ivory and pure white. Hues like this are ideal as a base, making it easy for you to add pops of colour into the mix if you want to. From duck egg blue, to mint green, to blush pink, there are an array of stunning, light-toned hues you could introduce to keep your shabby chic theme on point.
3. Pick out pretty patterns and prints
Shabby chic decor is all about embracing gorgeous patterns and prints. For example, dreamy, romantic florals are the perfect choice, helping you give your rooms an element of sophistication and charm. You could even go for petite polka dots or a sweet heart-shaped theme for a totally cute and kitsch vibe.
There are a number of ways you can incorporate these patterns throughout your home. For instance, you could go for printed soft furnishings, such as curtains, bedding or cushions adorned with your chosen design, or you could even go for patterned wallpaper. The choice is yours.
Achieving the shabby chic look in your home doesn’t have to be difficult. As long as your keep these three golden rules in mind, you should find that you’re able to create your very own vintage-esque haven.#
As one of my favourite hobbies is eating, I am really pleased that Manchester has so much to offer by way of restaurants. I could literally travel around the world to try every cuisine, all without leaving the M1 postcode. I’ve been really enjoying getting out and about recently, and I have been making so much more effort to socialise and catch up with friends. I always love the time that I get to spend with Keeley from Phat Cupcake. We have a great bond and some great conversations. We took our latest catch up to Cabana in the Corn Exchange in Manchester for Brasilian influenced dishes and of course, cocktails.
Cabana only opened in Manchester just three years ago and whilst I went along to the soft launch, I have never actually eaten in there. Having perused the menu whilst at work, I had made my mind up by the time I got there. Walking into Cabana is like walking into a rainbow of colours and eclectic designs. From the stools on the wall, the booths that are surrounded by fairy lights and the flower walls, Cabana certainly is reminiscent of Brazil. Spread across two floors, I can see Cabana being an extremely vibrant and fun place at a weekend.
The service from Mar was second to none, and from the minute that we walked in, she was attentive to our needs and made sure we had all we needed. Small touches like water on the table, an explanation of the menu and her recommendations from the menu made for a welcoming experience.
I’m still not over my halloumi addiction and for the second time that week, halloumi has featured in my diet. The chargrilled halloumi with guava dip is affectionately known as ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in Brazil. The dip, although it looks a lot like tomato ketchup was a fruity yet savoury sauce. It gave the halloumi a little kick and totally transformed the plain cheese. I do think that the halloumi was missing something. The chargrilled taste did add to the flavour, but I feel that it was too solid and missed the warm, slightly melted texture that I love. That being said, I ate each piece with a thick coating of guava jam. Keeley tried the chicken croquetas; little balls of shredded chicken and spices with an delicious Malagueta mayo. The mayo was absolutely delicious and for someone who really doesn’t like mayo at all…well, I am a convert.
Whilst catching up on the recent goings on, latest launches and who’s done what in our circle of friends, we started on the cocktails. As usual, Keeley opted for a Margarita. The frozen Margarita was served frozen, and the sugared rim was replaced with a rim full of multi coloured sprinkles. I chose the Watermelon Basil Smash; Russian standard vodka, watermelon juice, watermelon purée and basil. The taste of basil in a cocktail really does enhance the flavours and I do find that I opt for drinks that feature basil. The cocktail was so refreshing and didn’t taste overly alcoholic. I could have drank several as they were that tasty.
It’s not very often that I would choose a burger from the menu, but after reading the description for the Guava-cue Bacon Cheese burger, I was sold. British beef, tomato, lettuce, red onion, mozzarella, guava-cue bacon and mayo on a brioche bun with a side order of skinny fries and coleslaw. When you don’t have burgers very often, it really heightens just how good they are. A juicy beef burger, cooked to perfection topped with the warm melted cheesiness that I wished for in the halloumi. The bacon was marinated and grilled that gave a sweet, savoury and salty taste. I did pull the bacon from the burger as I couldn’t cut through it, however eating it alone gave me chance to experience the taste fully. Crispy salad, guava jam and the brioche bun certainly gave it the extra flavours and I wolfed it down. I also really enjoyed the fries, again which is unusual for me as I don’t usually have them. The fries were topped with Brasilian steak house seasoning and the coleslaw was perfectly crunchy. Whilst I was enjoying a traditional burger and chips, Keeley went for a more traditional Feijoada Hot Pot. A twist on the Brasilian classic, the slow cooked dish was flavourful and packed with slow cook pork, sausage, rib meat and beef, sat in a black bean stew. Served with a side of Biro-Biro rice, sour cream, toasted farofa, potato matchsticks and a slice of orange to round off the the meal.
No matter how full you are, there is always room for a dessert and a cocktail. Topping up my banned dairy intake for the day (thank god for lactose tablets), I went for the Peanut Butter and Jam sundae. It doesn’t look particularly great when served in all honestly but the peanut butter ice cream was pretty amazing. The guava jam featured once again within the dessert, and the sugary sweetness was brought out by the ice cream. The menu does state that the sundae does contain peanut brittle and peanut candy, however they were either not put in, or the amounts used were so little that it was difficult to distinguish these within the sundae glass.
Keeley chose the Banoffee cheesecake topped with roasted nuts which I didn’t try but it looked great. I think by this point we were quite full, and the desserts weren’t appreciated as much as they should have bee. Three courses is quite a lot of food to get through sometimes! We managed to get through our cocktails with ease, however. The Jungle Fever cocktail that Keeley decided on was made up of rum, mango purée, lime juice and vanilla with gummy worms. The gummy worms on top were such a great touch that I was slightly jealous until I saw my Island Life cocktail in the coconut cup. Russian Standard vodka, agave syrup, apple juice, grenadine and raspberry & passion fruit purées made this cocktail taste like a grown up Um Bongo. Again, not overly alcoholic tasting and a really good palette cleanser after all the food.
For my first full experience of Cabana, I was really quite pleased with what they have had to offer and I do think it’s a great place to call in for a mid day lunch whilst out shopping in town. I would also really like to experience upstairs when the cocktail bar is in full swing and the Island Life drinks are flowing on the 2 for £12 offer.
Thank you to Cabana for inviting me down to experience the Brasilian flavour. All opinions are my own, however my meal was provided free of charge.
Nothing beats that rare occasion where you open your eyes first thing in the morning and feel happy. Not tired or grumpy or annoyed that you aren’t still asleep or put off by the fact it reads “Monday” on your calendar or dreading that meeting you have in the afternoon, but happy right from the get-go, as you leap out of bed, skip down the stairs and slurp on a nice glass of OJ ready to kick the day’s butt.
The problem is: we all know this feeling is seldom. But what you might not realise is that it doesn’t have to be. That’s right. There are some scientifically proven ways you can be happier at dawn and, who knows, maybe even become a morning person over time.
So, without further ado, let’s get on with being happier people shall we:
A Boudoir Of Bouquets
Us girls love flowers, but there’s never a time we love them more than first thing in the morning. In fact, in a recent study, those girls that saw a gorgeous arrangement of fresh flowers when they first woke up showed signs of bursting happiness, reduced levels of anxiety, and were more energetic at work. We’re not saying you should swap your morning coffee for a bunch of tulips, but you might want to start sipping your coffee surrounded by them.
Sleeping On The Right Is Alright
We’ve all heard that a great mattress is important for a good night’s sleep. But there is something else you can do to enhance your happy feelings after you’ve been onto Mattress-Guides.net/dreamcloud-mattress-review-complaints and bought a top-notch mattress, and it’s called sleeping on your right side. The reason for this is two-fold. Sleeping on your left will put pressure on your organs while sleeping on your right will help you have more lucid and mellow dreams; the sort that dances around themes of love, joy and peace.
Fresh OJ To Start The Day
Nothing is more of a tonic for tired eyes than a glass of sunshine. Think about it. Chugging down a glass of OJ is like chugging down the bright rays of sunshine, which has got to be good for your mood. But that’s not all. It’s also high in vitamin B6 and folic acid, and that stuff is known to help with depression, so imagine what it could do to your mornings. And yet there is one more thing: just the smell of orange, whether fresh or in essential oil form, can help with anxiety too. It’s the gift that just keeps giving.
Go To Bed Early
There is nothing cryptic about this one. Going to be earlier, even if it’s just an hour or so, will mean you are better rested, more alert and more optimistic about what the day ahead has in store. But that’s not all because when you lose sleep you also lose your sense of humour, and that’s no joke. So, if you want to wake up happy, call it a night at 9.30pm from now on.
I have been through a lot with my bed over the years. It started when I started flying for a career and the need to have a better bed than the hotels that I stayed in was my priority. I’ve always been that person who has been able to sleep a lot and a fifteen hour sleep is not unusual for me. I have always been in the mindset that my bed had to be the ultimate in comfort, with beautiful bedding, plump pillows and stylish throws but most of all, the mattress had to be that support that I needed for my back and legs. Choosing a mattress is quite the decision and my last was a fancy deep pocket sprung affair with a memory foam top and came along with a hefty price tag. It did last, but only up until the 8 year mark which is the industry standard for mattresses. I was adamant that I wouldn’t be getting rid after 8 years but when I noticed that it was dipping in the middle and my bedding didn’t look smooth across the bed, it was starting to annoy me. When Leesa made contact with me to offer me a brand new mattress in exchange for a review, I practically bit their hand off. My new mattress has changed my life.
The last mattress I bought was a nightmare to get into my house. It was rigid and wrapped in its plastic outer and as a single person, I struggled to get it up to my room. When my Leesa mattress turned up in a box, I was so shocked to see just how small the box was to house a double mattress. I needed help to get it into my house as it is heavy but to remove the mattress from the box was relatively simple. When I lay the rolled up tube of mattress onto the bare slats of my bed, I honestly couldn’t believe that this would magically inflate into a double bed sized, deep mattress. I must admit that watching the mattress start to expand after removing the plastic was so fun and within minutes, I had a fully expanded mattress on my bed.
Made of three layers of foam; the dense core support layer for strength, durability and structure. The pressure relieving memory foam for body contouring and pressure relief and finally the cooling Avena foam that provides the airflow for a cooler nights sleep as well the bounce you need with a mattress. It has been unbelievably hot this past month that I have had my Leesa, and I have only slept under the duvet around five times. I cannot wait for it to get a little cooler so I can have some skin to Leesa contact without having a duvet in between!
After the hell I went through with my back, and the ongoing quest to make sure that I am supported, my new Leesa mattress has changed things for the better. I spend an awful lot of time in my bedroom as I still struggle with my couch due to how low it is. I find that sitting on my bed watching TV is a lot more comfortable and I can get off my bed so much easier. When it comes to sleeping on a foam mattress, I was a bit apprehensive at first. I didn’t know if it would be good for me or if I would be too supported when I sleep. What I have noticed is that where I used to flip myself around like a fish through the night to keep my back straight and supported has definitely lessened. I find that I’m held in position a lot more, and whilst I still have plenty of movement I have the added security of being moulded into place.
It did take me a few nights to get used to having a full foam mattress. As my old one was just topped with foam, it didn’t have the firmness like my Leesa. Just like sleeping in someone else’s bed, or in a hotel, you need to give your bed chance to be your bed again. Since then, I can hand on heart say that my Leesa mattress has been the best thing that has happened to me. I’m sleeping like a log, I’m falling asleep when my head hits the pillow and when I’m using my bed to sit on, I feel supported which in turn helps my spine and relieves the tension of my damaged nerves.
Buying a new mattress is a big decision and should you not like it, you’re stuck with a very expensive outlay. Leesa have a 100 night sleep guarantee and should you decide that you don’t like it, they will pick it up and refund it for you. This extra peace of mind makes a huge difference, however I really don’t think you will need to use it. I am so happy with my mattress and I would not recommend any product, especially at this price, if I didn’t believe in it. I believe that my Leesa mattress has changed the way I sleep.
As part of this collaboration, I can save you £100 if you use my code ANOUSHKALOVES. In 8 different mattress sizes from a standard single to a superking size, your best night sleep is not far away with Leesa.
This post was created in collaboration with Leesa, who provided a Leesa Mattress for review, but all views and opinions expressed are my own. Affiliate linking is used within this blog post