So, you spent a small fortune on your kitchen refurbishment and made sure it is the most functional, comfortable, and attractive space in your home. Now you need to add some gadgets to ensure you’re prepared for every eventuality, and you can always cater to the requirements of your guests. The last thing you want to do is tell one of your friends they will have to drink squash when you invite them around for a few hours. Likewise; you’ll want to make sure you cook the tastiest food possible in your kitchen, and so it’s worth making an extra investment to ensure you have the perfect finishing touches.

Kitchen Gadgets

Photographer

A Coffee Machine

Firstly, there is no getting away from the fact that your guests are going to suffer if you don’t purchase a high-end coffee machine for your new kitchen. Of course, you also need to make sure you buy the best coffee beans on the market because the cheap ones from your local supermarket are never going to impress anyone. When it comes to selecting the best coffee machine, it is wise to read as many owner reviews as possible online. The price is not always a quality indicator, and so you shouldn’t head out and spend a fortune without first reading what other people think about the product.

Fruit Blender

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A Fruit Blender

Everyone knows that consuming lots of fruit is one of the best ways to ensure optimum health. However, eating grapes from the back or tucking into an apple can become a little boring. If you want the best results, it makes sense to buy a blender for your kitchen so you can mix up lots of different fruits and create smoothies every morning. You can also offer them to friends who might visit. The best thing about that idea is that you can drink fruit that you otherwise wouldn’t have eaten. So, keep the fridge stocked!

Photographer

A Slow Cooker

When it comes to arranging garden or dinner parties and cooking succulent meat; nothing creates the same results as a slow cooker. Those devices are not going to break the bank, and you can usually purchase them for less than £50 if you search online. However, your guests are going to feel impressed by the quality of your meat if you leave it in that item for eight hours or more. You can get some excellent slow cooker recipes online that should help if you get stuck for ideas.

You should now have a reasonable idea about some of the gadgets you need to purchase for your kitchen as soon as possible. After spending so much cash on the renovation work; it doesn’t make sense to fall at the last hurdle. So, search online for these items, take a look at products available from various brands and then read as many owner reviews as possible. That should help to ensure you don’t make mistakes or waste your investment. If you’re yet to start renovating your kitchen, make sure you add these purchases to your budget.

Cuddle Fairy

Today’s interview is with inspirational woman Carly who was told she would not amount to much and proved them wrong with the help of the Prince’s Trust. So if you have any issues that result in people writing you off, please read and take hope from Carly’s story. No matter where you are in life right now, things can and do change for the better. Carly now runs her own business which you can find at https://anaphasestore.com/

Prince's Trust

Please tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years

I left school at 15 with some GCSEs but I was told I probably wouldn’t amount to much anyway so why bother? I got a job and I started college. I did hair and beauty for my first year and then art and design for two years. I continued working for a total of 6 years but started to lose interest so left to change my career. From that moment on I never really stuck to a job. I bounced around every 6 months to a new job. I eventually became a mobile carer for the elderly which I did kind of enjoy because I was always on the move and not stuck in one place.

Why did you struggle to stick to one thing job wise?

I get bored really easily. I love a challenge and being thrown out of my comfort zone.

When did you find out you had dyslexia?

I found out I was dyslexic in my second year of college. My mum had just got into university herself and they found out she had dyslexia. She recognised some signs in my brother and myself and asked college to test me. I was tested pretty quickly and was then offered the extra help I needed to pass my other years of college.

What did you really want to do career wise?

I wanted to become a fashion designer as that was my calling in life. My room was always piled high with art books and designs but I  never knew what to do with them. I wanted to live in London and create fashion. I was obsessed with it.

Tell us about the  impact of losing your Granddad

Losing my grandfather really hit me.  I was always close to my grandparents and I helped look after my granddad for the last year of his life so when he did die, I took it really badly. However, it did make me want to seek a new challenge in life. I talked with a new friend about my business ideas but did not know how to make them a reality. Then one day I woke up and just knew I wanted to go for it. I thought if I do not do it now I never will.

How did the Prince’s Trust help you?

As soon as I Googled “how to start a business” one of the first results that popped up was The Prince’s Trust. I called in and asked how they could help me. They welcomed me onto their Enterprise Course. Lots of the information was new to me and the depth of the course was fantastic. I worked with Gemma to do a business plan and get ready for the launch group which is a bit like Dragons’ Den. After that I had a mentor for 2 years and have networked and done more courses.

How do you help the Prince’s Trust?

I was a young ambassador for them attending events to give speeches on how the Trust has helped me. I am now a volunteer and mentor.

Tell us about your celebrity contacts

I met footballer Paul Mercer and asked him for his autograph. Kelly Hoppen loved my “Don’t touch my hair” T-shirts and posted on Instagram. Giovanna Fletcher posted oen of my candles on Instagram. I have met Prince Charles and was invited to his 70th birthday celebrations.

How have you used the media to promote what you do?

I have done radio interviews with BBC Radio Wales, Heat, Kiss, Kerrang, Planet Rock and Magic. I have had mentions in various newspapers and magazines.

What were the big challenges around setting up your own business?

I thought I would be a millionaire in my first month so when it was slow to take off, I got a little disheartened. I was not ready to give up so I got a job to help with business costs. I had not done enough initial research so was surprised when products did not sell.

Is your business going as well as you hoped

I am not a millionaire but I do make more profit every year.

What does your business offer?

We offer unique T-shirt designs, homeware, cosmetics, accessories, footwear, gymwear, art prints and holiday items.

What one tip would you give to a woman who wants to set up a business?

Don’t think about it too much because you will talk about yourself out of it. Take the leap and live your dream!

 

 

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

Twin Mummy and Daddy

It’s super stressful when you’re coming up to graduation. Juggling late nights at the library for revision, spending hours meeting that 10,000-word target for your dissertation, and trying to find a job to walk into after graduation can feel very overwhelming. It’s a competitive environment out there and it can seem daunting. Perhaps you also have a part-time job to help with student finance and there’s the social life to manage too. When you get invited to an interview, they are often with short notice leaving you with little time to decide what to wear! CT shirts, retailers of menswear and men’s dress shirts gives us some advice guaranteed to give you an air of confidence for your step into the working world.

Casual

Casual dress can be suitable when you’re interviewing for charity work or a casual unpaid internship. For these interviews, it is likely that they won’t expect you to be dressed very formally, and will be more concerned with your personality, including your punctuality. Of course, it’s always good to make a positive first impression, so still consider what you’re wearing and take a sneak peek if you can at what employees currently wear to work.

Women

For women, skirts and jeans are appropriate in a casual interview — wear what you feel comfortable in. To ensure you still look presentable, you should avoid mini-skirts with bare legs and ripped jeans. You could wear a smart dress with tights and a cardigan or a shirt-jumper combo with a smart pair of slacks or jeans.

Since it’s likely to be a relaxed vibe, you shouldn’t worry too much about footwear. Opt for a smart ankle boot or flat pump, and perhaps avoid trainers and high heels.

As a former charity worker, I would urge you to check out the type of attire people do wear as employees if you can. The charity world is diverse and it is possible casual won’t go down well with a particular charity.

Men

For men, it can be hard to dress casually without looking too underdressed. Jeans are definitely appropriate, but similar to our advice for women, steer clear of ripped jeans. You should avoid wearing joggers or tracksuit tops, as these may create a poor impression. A safer option would be a long-sleeved top, jeans, dress shoes such as Chelsea boots or brogues, and a smart jacket.

Business casual

Some interviews may specify business-casual attire on the invitation. This may be because they have this dress code in the office or it may be for an assessment day where you are expected to be there all day and recruiters want you to feel comfortable.

If you are unsure what to wear, formal tends to be the safer option.

Women

With a business-casual dress code, you have more freedom with what you wear than in a strictly professional interview. You could wear pinstripe or patterned dress slacks with a smart shirt tucked in.

Or, wear a smart shirt with a wide collar underneath a long-sleeved sweater. This look gives off a formal impression, whilst not as stuffy as a shirt and suit jacket.

Men

For men, to be appropriate for a business-casual dress code, you should wear a smart shirt. Why not invest in a non-iron shirt? It stays free of creases and there’s no need to rush around with the iron the morning before the interview! Remember it is not a woman’s job to iron your shirt!  Also, if you’re travelling by car or public transport to the interview, a normal shirt can become creased but this is avoided through the non-iron garment.

You should avoid a polo shirt, as this is too casual and still steer clear of wearing jeans unless you are absolutely 100 per cent sure that this is the dress code for the company you are visiting.

Professional

For formal interviews, you should adopt a professional look. These interviews could be in front of directors of the company for a graduate job or an internship. Even if there are less firm rules these days or in a particular company, dressing professionally demonstrates you have taken the time and effort to invest in your interview. That’s a really good sign you would invest in the job itself.

Women

In a professional situation, women should opt for a suit. When it comes to dressing the bottom half, go with what you feel comfortable in. If you decide to wear a skirt, wear one with a hemline just below the knee to avoid it rising and becoming too revealing. If you are like me, you will worry if you are flashing the flesh so try on and ask a trusted friend to see if the outfit works well. A suit doesn’t have to be boring — shop around and discover suits that are tailored in different ways — find one that suits your body shape.  There is so much advice online from stores and stylists these days for finding the perfect suit for your shape.When it comes to footwear, heels are acceptable but make sure you can walk with confidence in them. If you don’t feel happy wearing heels, opt for pumps or shoes with a smaller heel. Also consider your journey, if you have to walk for miles or are in a dangerous area, heels are not a great option.

Men

Men should consider wearing a suit when it comes to a formal interview, too. Wear dark socks to blend in with your outfit and bring a briefcase to look professional. Although colourful and cartoon socks may amuse you, unless you know the interviewer well, you are taking too much of a risk. The same goes for striking ties.  Brogues are a good choice of footwear — they are stylish and smart without being mundane. I have always loved the look of traditional shoes like brogues.  Choose a tailored suit that you feel represents your style and consider a waistcoat which always adds a certain something and can make you stand out a little.

What to avoid

As we can see, the main thing to do is to make sure you feel comfortable in your outfit — it will show in the interview! There is nothing worse than feeling that the outfit is not quite you or does not fit properly. I would also caution you to have good underwear so you really do have a firm foundation.  However, there are a few things that you should avoid:

  • Too much perfume or aftershave can be overpowering and unpleasant
  • Too much jewellery or makeup as jewellery can get in the way as you move and make-up can stop interviewer’s seeing the real you.

 

We don’t want to admit it, but the Winter months are looming! No matter how much we turn a blind eye to it, it’ll creep up on us eventually and we need to be prepared for what it brings. Being a UK resident means snow, ice, wind (you name it) will soon be upon us, and it’s essential that we prepare ourselves and our homes correctly to combat the effects.

Cold

You’re right; it’s still summer, so why on earth are we discussing the colder months?! The fact of the matter is that the more prepared you are, the more you will benefit later down the line. The changing weather will not only affect us, but it can cause damage and disruption to how we run our homes every day. With the right steps in place, we can help prevent this. It’s never too early to prepare!

Give your property a health check.

Your house is your pride and joy. You’ve spent time decorating it, keeping it under control, paying its bills and simply running it, so it’s very important that you look after it! There are many ways to keep on top of your property well before the cold weather sets in:

  • Damaged water pipes – if you notice any cracks in your walls, this will be bad news when winter rears its head! Seal any gaps to prevent the cold air reaching your pipes. If it does reach them, the water in your pipes could freeze and no one wants or needs burst pipes in the winter!
  • Clean your gutters – leaves and dirt can build up in your drains over the months causing unfriendly blockages. Having a good clean can prevent water getting clogged in your drains which could, eventually, make its way into your home.
  • Prevent damp – anything that can cause condensation such as drying clothes or steam from cooking can create damp. Drying clothes outside or cooking with a door closed can prevent this from entering colder rooms.

 Get your fuel prices nailed

Gas, electric, heating oil or wood burner? Either way, you need to choose the right option at the right time! Different fuel types can fit some homes better than others. There are benefits of using each type, so it’s worth researching to see what can save you the most money. For example, when choosing heating oil to heat your home, it can work out cheaper when purchasing in the summer months than winter. Getting a heating oil quote early will make sure you don’t get caught with high fees that you’ll be forced to pay. Don’t leave it too late!

Check for draughts

Draughts can be the worst thing in the world when winter comes around, so sealing cracks and winter-proofing windows is a good precautionary measure to take before it gets chilly. Weatherstripping the frames of windows and fixing any holes can keep your home warmer for longer, and keep that cold air at bay!

Insulate and protect!

Correctly insulating your home can make all the difference when it comes to keeping the heat in. We’re all aware that heat energy rises. It rises through ceilings in the home into out through the roof if you don’t have the right insulation. Help to keep your house warmer for longer by investing in good loft and wall insulation. As well as the main benefit of keeping your house warmer in winter and cooler in summer, insulation can help to reduce energy costs and increase your comfort all year round.

Stock up on winter essentials.

Making sure you’re well prepared with the essentials will save you worrying about it in a few months’ time. Think about the types of weather we could have, (and by being in the UK, it really could be anything). For snow and ice, make sure you’re stocked up on salt/grit and perhaps the odd snow shovel or two! Certain weathers could also prevent power cuts or disruptions, so stocking up on torches and matches will be beneficial.

Through keeping on top of these points, you’ll be prepared well in advance for whatever the winter months throw at us. And, before you know it, we’ll be back in the warmth!

 

The perfect wedding for me is one where the couple are genuinely celebrating their love for one another. If that is in place and all guests wish the couple well a wedding will be a lovely event. A mistake that I think is really common is for brides and grooms to forget their individual tastes in favour of whatever the latest wedding magazine or bridal blog has  to say. I find this quite sad as two people have fallen for the individual traits of their partner so it seems a shame that such individuality should be missing from the wedding details.

Perfect Wedding

Venue

There was a time when your choices were pretty  much restricted to a church or a registry office. Nowadays you can match your venue to your personal tastes from castles to football grounds. Think creatively when selecting a venue and make it a venue as well as a day to remember.

Theme

What makes you tick as individuals and as a couple. Is there something that unites you such as a strong love of the Fifties or a passion for motorcycles. Whatever it is, could you make that the theme of your wedding? Once you have a theme, I find the details of wedding accessories fall into place quite easily. The theme can be very in your face or just hinted at subtly perhaps in the invitations and the decorations at your wedding reception.

Guests

It worries me that too many wedding guests are people that the couple feel that they ought to have attending rather than people they actually want to be there. I think there is a real danger of trying to please family members and work colleagues in this regard. Unless both partners genuinely want people there, it can lead to a lot of stress both  during the run-up and on the day itself. Similar feelings surround the selection of key players such as pageboys, bridesmaids and best men. Do it your way and anyone who cannot live with that does not care enough about your happiness clearly.

Food and drink

I remember a period in my twenties where I was going to a lot of apparently perfect weddings. Without being offensive, it did seem there was an awful lot of chicken dinners going on. Don’t get me wrong! I like chicken but does it have to be the go-to choice of every bride and groom. One thing I did at my wedding was to have fun burgers for the children and teenagers attending. That worked really well and my grown-up menu consisted of favourites of mine and my mum’s.

Entertainment

You will recognise my wish for all couples is that they do their perfect wedding their way. I have always hated evening dos with discos. They seem less intimate that the ceremony and the reception. Worse, all too often they are a way of inviting people that you actively did not want at the earlier part of the day. I think weddings can actually go on way too long with the bride and groom not to mention the guests exhausted and fed up by midnight. You may love a disco but if you would prefer ballroom dancing or a movie night or whatever floats your boat, why not? I would also caution against doing whatever the latest social media trend is which will almost inevitably date quickly and may not be to your taste at all.

So dear couple in love, please treat the wedding as you did selecting your partner in the first place. Know what you like and insist on it. If it makes you happy, your family and friends should be delighted. I would use this advice for all aspects on the wedding from the flowers to the cake, from the transport to the honeymoon.

Do you really want to have someone else’s perfect wedding?

 

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