Stepping out can be a challenge at this time of year when it is cold and skies can be dark. You might even have rain and snow. However, as part of the Best Boot Forward initiative, Chloe from Indigo Wilderness is encouraging us to seize the day and get out there.

Stepping Out

She has set some questions to reflect on and here are my answers.

1. I am walking more. Now that I have a private road I could run on, I am trying to work up the motivation to do that with my new funky trainers. I keep talking myself out of it and that needs to change. How often we do this – when a label has not fit before, we assume it never can. Who says I can’t be a runner? Only me and negative self-talk. For this week, I celebrate walking regularly in the countryside and having the odd unexpected jog when the dogs escaped the garden.

2. On the physical health front, I have also jumped on my weighing scales and faced the truth about my weight. At the weekend, I will stock up on healthier food. I watched Lisa Riley talking about her amazing weight loss and she emphasized how not having the unhealthy stuff in the home helps so much. I also will start listening to my Slimpod again as that worked so well when I lost so much weight most of which I kept off.

3. My favourite place to spend outdoors at the moment is right on my doorstep. Chloe is so right when she says how getting outdoors is so very good for your mental and emotional wellbeing. I tend to wait until my husband or children can come out with me. Today, I just went out and just breathed in the joy of blue skies and nature. So very good for the soul. I have also resolved to start using nature lessons as part of our home education journey so watch this space!

Are you stepping out? That might be into the great outdoors or outside a self-imposed comfort zone. Join the Best Boot Forward revolution and access so much support from like-minded women changing their lives one baby step at a time. You do not have to be a blogger to take part in Best Boot Forward – you can find us on Facebook and Instagram too!

P.S. As I finished this post the telly started talking about a woman experiencing depression who says running saved her life. Now there is food for thought!

”Best

Saving the planet by blogging might sound like quite an ambitious aim but if everyone does their bit, blogging can change the world for the better in so many ways. Today, I interview Lauren from Inspire Create Educate about how she is helping ordinary folk to work out how they can contribute to a better world for us and for future generations.

Saving The Planet

I met Lauren initially about two weeks after the loss of my lovely Dad. She was so friendly and made me feel at ease at a very challenging time. Over the years I have realised how very intelligent she is and it does not surprise me that she is one of the bloggers who is changing the world for real one baby step at a time. I am better off for having Lauren in my life.

Why did you start to blog?

I started blogging out of a desire to encourage more people to think about our planet. I think sometimes the message could be put across better. People shut down if the message reads as preachy, so I thought I’d try and deliver something that was more realistic to us normal people.

How did you feel when you started blogging?

Quite nervous! I’d blogged before on and off but not for a few years. So much has changed since I closed my last blog in 2014.

How do you feel about blogging today?

I’m still pretty nervous! It’s more of an ongoing, nervous excitement. I feel I achieved a lot since I launched in May 2017 and this year I know I’m going to achieve a whole lot more.

What is your proudest achievement related to blogging?

Being asked to speak at a green festival in the summer, and being recommended by the then deputy leader of Wales Green Party.

What is the most exciting event you have attended as a blogger?

It has to be BritMums Live 2017. It took on a completely different format this year compared to the older ones I went to.

Do you monetize your blog and, if so, how?

I do! Mostly offering VA work and the occasional sponsored post. I also use affiliate marketing (not great income but I did earn a Halloween bonus from Etsy) and scout for relevant media opportunities.

What do you find most challenging about blogging?

Putting myself out there on social media consistently. Even though I have a weekly Facebook live show, I still struggle with fraud syndrome. I take a minute to bury it and get on with my day, but it’s still always there in the background.

What surprised you most about blogging?

How much has changed in a short space of time, and how little our work is valued by others. Not just people I know in real life (“You mean you actually get paid for writing? Anybody can write!”) but people who want space on our blogs without paying fairly for it. Graphic designers will get paid. The PRs themselves will get paid. Bloggers are often expected to work for free, or very little.

How do you balance blogging and family life?

My daughter, who is home educated, gets on with her work throughout the day while I get on with mine. We chat, and I help when needed. My sons are still in infants and I stop working in time to get them from school every day. I would say I carry on in the evening when they’re asleep, but to be honest I’m too knackered to do anything that requires much thought after 9pm! Sometimes I work a few hours over the weekend, while they’re on the games consoles, but that’s kept to a minimum. The children all know what I do and pretend to understand it! My fiance is supportive, and we usually keep our evenings for each other. When we do feel like working in the evenings, we work alongside each other. He’s self-employed too so there’s always admin for him to do.

I switch days and hours around to suit whatever we’ve got going on (school plays, dates, home ed events) and make up the hours elsewhere when I can. I also try to work ahead when I can in case of illness or other obstacles. I love what I do – blogging has given me the freedom to be there for my family and earn at the same time!

What would lead to you giving up blogging?

I don’t think anything would… even if the money stopped being there, I would still want to get my voice out there. Everything that’s on my blog is there to help people be happier, healthier and greener; and the need for that isn’t going to go away if I stop being paid. I would have to make changes to how the blog was run if I needed to get a job, but I would definitely still be doing it.

I genuinely can’t think of anything, other than the internet going down forever. I’ll always have something to say and will always want to help. If the ‘net goes down… I’ll print a magazine!

What is your top tip for a new or inexperienced blogger?

Learning from other people’s mistakes will give you a great start. There are loads of blogging courses out there run by real bloggers who have been there. However, there is a danger of procrastinating by learning. If you find you’re not putting any of the new information into practice, it’s time to stop learning and start doing!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I run a weekly mindfulness show on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/theincrediblog) and would love it if you tuned in. Every week we love the good moments, mind the bad and look forward to our future together; having an extra mindfulness task to bring you through the week. It’s called The Little Happy Journal Live, and it’s every Monday at 11am.

If you blog is involved in saving the planet or making the world a better place, I would love to hear your story and share it on my blog.

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Have you heard of broken-plan living?

A room that serves more than one purpose otherwise known as a multi-functional  or open-plan room has been popular for decades. It remains on the wish list of many people hoping to rent or buy a home.

Opening a room up can bring its own issues. For example, a busy mum might crave a room where she can get some quality alone time perhaps crafting, reading or planning a new business.

However, some  mums do like that idea of seeing all the family as they go about relaxing, cooking or dining. It can make the family unit feel closer and safer.

Together with Harvey Jones, fitters of bespoke fitted kitchens, we take a look at the new kitchen trend that allows open-plan living whilst tackling some of the issues outlined above.

Living in open-plan spaces

When leading a sociable lifestyle, entertaining guests can be difficult in a cramped space particularly at times like Christmas and birthdays when numbers are big. This is why open-plan spaces can seem like such a convenient solution. For multi-functional rooms that include a kitchen, the benefits are clear. It prevents the cook from feeling isolated for a start. No more retiring to the kitchen for half an hour or more on your own to prepare meals. A bespoke kitchen scheme that includes an island or peninsula that looks out onto the rest of the space means that cooking and preparing food need no longer be a solitary process. A busy mum can ask for help and memories are made together.

Often also given as a reason for going open plan is the need to keep an eye on children. From toddlers playing and falling over a lot to teens doing (or not doing!) their homework, for busy families a space that performs several functions allows the family to spend time together even when they’re performing many different tasks.   With so many worries about the things children can access online, an open-plan living space means you can keep an eye on things easily rather than worrying what they are accessing in their bedrooms.

House sizes are getting smaller year on year, and that’s why an open-plan kitchen/diner can seem like a good alternative to a separate dining room that may take up too much space. Formal dining is less common now anyway and too many dining rooms end up ignored or even becoming dumping grounds for clutter. However, a kitchen diner can be a good way of maximising space and design. However, you do have to be canny when planning a multi-functional room to ensure all zones work well together and recognize that this kind of layout will reduce privacy, particularly if you’re opening up the whole of your downstairs. Having nowhere quiet to play can become a problem and impact on your mental wellbeing. There are also the issues of noise from appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers. Housework always seems ever-present and never more so when you cannot file things in another room for a while. Fewer walls also mean less space to put furniture, which can lead to a room that’s crammed around the walls or jumbled in the centre.  I have to admit that I am not a fan of open-plan living even thought I look at property shows and it appeals to me. In reality, it does not suit our family dynamic.

How can design move on from open-plan living?

As a new trend for 2018, broken-plan living can set the new precedent in interior design trends, replacing open plan in the future. The idea is to retain all the things you love about open-plan – particularly the light and openness – while at the same time zoning the space to allow for more privacy should you need it. Rather than doing this with colours and textures as you would in a true open-plan arrangements, broken-plan employs structural elements such as half-walls, dividing shelves, changing levels, walls of glass and even mezzanines to delineate and formalise areas for different uses. As someone who does not like open plan but does want to keep an eye on my children, broken plan could be my perfect solution. I could definitely fancy a mezzanine!

How does this trend look?

By cordoning off certain areas to create new spaces, ‘walls’ can be created by using boxed shelving and other furniture to define spaces that weren’t previously there in the room. I have done this with screens in the past. Of course, you don’t want to regress back to small and dark rooms, so don’t cram the shelves full of books – instead, artfully arrange a few favourite pieces to signal the change between one room and another and leave some of the shelves open to allow light to freely cascade from one zone to another. If you’re just starting your project, consider just knocking down half a wall and leaving the top open, allowing sight-lines through but at the same time giving you more wall space to play with. Wall space also allows the addition of works of art to reflect your personality. While hatches perhaps should remain a distinctly 70s invention although I quite like them, a larger aperture in the wall between a kitchen and sitting room, for example, is a workable and modern substitute. I like how broken plan can mean more light as that is such an asset in a home and makes me feel better instantly,

Although you can use furniture to cordon off various parts of the room, this should be done sparingly and subtly. It can look really clumsy and obvious. Also, consider building in pocket doors that will slide out of sight into the walls when you want to join two rooms but can be closed quickly to create separation when needed. This is preferable to those clunky sliding doors of yesteryear.

As well as this trend, Crittall-style windows have also become a popular interior design trend. Metal framed windows and sometimes doors traditionally used in industrial spaces or as exterior walls onto gardens have celebrity fans such as TV presenter and architect George Clarke, who celebrates their ability to cleverly divide an internal space without shutting off one room totally from another.

Broken-plan spaces can accommodate changing floor and ceiling heights – helping to bring spaces together that usually wouldn’t work as an open plan space. With broken-plan living, the options are unlimited when it comes to your interior design space.

So are you a fan of clearly separated rooms, open-plan or might you give broken-plan a whirl?

 

January can bring with it some negativity; from the buzz and excitement that came from Christmas and it’s build up, to then having to sit down, get back to work, and look at the mess that your finances are in. Not to mention that you may have felt like you’ve overindulged over the festivities, and are left feeling bloated and skint. Luckily, there are things that we can do about both of them, so that you can start the next few weeks of the new year off with a bang.

But if you have decided that this year is the year that you get your finances in order, possibly change jobs, or look for another way to boost your income, then this post is for you. You’re not alone in wanting to make some more money, and not alone in wanting to sort your finances. So here are some pretty epic but simple ways that you can make an extra income this year, that don’t require you to work all hours under the sun. Have you thought about any of them before?

Finances

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Talk To Your Boss

If you are employed by someone else, rather than being self-employed, then it can take one conversation to give your income a boost. The conversation in question? All about getting a pay rise. When was the last time that you had one? It could be a little bit of an awkward conversation, but finding out how you can get one and what you need to do, can give your income a boost. If you work full-time, every £1 that is raised can mean an extra £2,000 over a year. So having the conversation can be really worth it.

Property Investment

If you have a home that you could use as collateral, then it could be worth looking into investing in property. Choosing some luxury apartments in the right part of the country can mean a steady stream of income if you choose to rent them out. If renters can pay the mortgage off for you, and perhaps leave you with a little extra each month, then you are going to boost your income in a big way. Not to mention that you will have property in your name that you can do as you please with. You could also look to buy, do a property up, and then sell it on, if you’re looking for faster cash. There are more risks with this, though, so work out all the maths before taking the leap.

Rent a Room

Along similar lines, and without needing to have cash upfront to invest in, you could rent out a spare room in your home if you are a homeowner. With sites like Airbnb on the rise, more and more people are taking advantage of this opportunity to generate an extra income. Plus, if you were going on holiday yourself, you could rent the whole home temporarily, rather than just one room. There’s some admin to do to get set up, but from there, you can just list it as often you want a lodger to be there.

Shop and Sell

If you’ve been watching ‘Girl Boss’ on Netflix, you’ll know that it is the true story behind the vintage clothing line ‘Nasty Gal’. Where basically, she found vintage items of clothing in stores or in house sales, cleaned them up and repaired them if needed, and then sold them on. This kind of hobby can be as big or small as you need it to be. So if you’ve got an eye for a bargain, and enjoy this kind of thing, buying and then selling on could be a fun way to make some money.

Finances

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Sign Up To Freelancer Sites

With sites like PeopleperHour and Fiverr on the rise, people pitch for what they want and then you can apply to do it for them, or with Fiverr, do something else in return. If you have a keen interest in web design or graphic design, for example, people will post on those sites that you’re looking for someone to design a website that you could apply to do. The same goes for social media marketing or copywriting. So with a skill and some extra time, you can generate an extra income for sure.

Consider Network Marketing

There is a bit of negativity around network marketing. It can feel a little cringe-worthy to say the least, when you get a DM through your Instagram about trying out some wraps. But the best way to make money with network marketing, is by signing up to one that really interest you. If you love makeup, then a makeup one would work well, as it would be something that you naturally talk about. If you love health and fitness, then something like Beachbody would work as again, it could come naturally to you to talk about it. So if there is one that takes your interest, then it could be worth looking into to have as a bit of a side hustle.

Get a Better Bank Account

Loyalty gets you nowhere when it comes to your bank account. So if you have had the same one for a long time, then why don’t you switch? First of all, a lot of banks offer a switching bonus of cash into your account. They are nearly always over £100, which is just free money. Secondly, having a better account for your money does pay in other ways. If the bank account offers a higher rate of interest, then you will be getting more than before, just having your money sitting there. So a simple way to boost your finances is to look at where they are being held. It can be a quick change as they’ll do it all for you, but can make a difference to your money over the year.

Have you set yourself any goals for the year that you want to achieve? Are any of them related to your finances? It would be great to hear what you think.

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Travelling is for everyone. There are so many different options out there, so many different, unique places to visit, that no matter what type of traveler you are you will find something to suit you.

Traveller

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People often associate travel with the free spirit, untied to the responsibilities of the real world, but that is so far from the truth it can’t even see the truth. Whether you prefer the adrenaline junkie highs of adventure, the wonder of different cultures, or just want to relax on some quiet white-sand beach, check out these options for you.

Traveller

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GOING ON AN ADVENTURE

Those who enjoy getting the blood pumping and scaling mountainsides, or tackling the mighty rivers in your raft love the idea of adventure. It gives you the opportunity to see the world from a whole different perspective, high above sea level, looking out over vast expanses of land.

Looking into your next adventure, then you can find a plethora of options; from Argentina tours to conquering famous mountain ranges or hurtling down some of the most glorious snow-covered ski runs the world has to offer. While adventure may cost, you can’t put a price on feeling one with nature as you battle the elements and make the world your own.

Traveller

 

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CULTURE VULTURE

Witnessing and experiencing other cultures is something that many people want to do but don’t have the time. Luckily, every country and civilisation on the planet has its unique culture for you to explore. This can be anything from sampling the artistry of European nations to dining on unfamiliar cuisine on the far side of the planet.

Chasing culture, whether it be at home or away, allows you to discover hidden gems of wisdom from history, as well as bear witness to some of the more unique practices of places you may never have known about. Immersing yourself in other cultures also gives you the chance to broaden the mind and open your world to ideas you would never have considered had you stayed home.

Traveller

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JUST NEED TO RELAX

But for all of the potential of culture and adventure, sometimes you just want to relax, and that is fine. Those who work and work and work look forward to and anticipate the day where they can just forget about the stresses of the modern world and instead just laze the day away on a beach where no one knows your name.

You can find pristine beaches anywhere on earth, so much so that you are almost spoiled for choice. Taking in the fresh ocean air, being pampered with massages and foot scrubs and manicures will make you never want to leave. These relaxation excursions are perfect for you to recharge your batteries and return to the real world with the vigour and energy to tide you over till your next escape.

WHAT NEXT?

Whatever type of traveller you are, knowing your options for what to do next is something that will let you look forward to the future. There truly is something for everyone nowadays, so start planning now, and your chance to get away will roll around quicker than you might expect.

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