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Friday, August 11, 2017

Lifestyle | Gardeners Tips for Growing in Your Greenhouse


I am not particularly green fingered, I'm not great at looking after plants. Never ask me to look after your Orchids while you're on holiday - I am like death row for plants. However, I am not bad at vegetable patches and when I was younger I used to love helping my nan and her garden with her greenhouse. One of which was completely taken over by a fig tree!

The moment you get a greenhouse you are opening your garden up to so many amazing opportunities. With the ability to grow your own fresh produce and carry out some challenging projects all year round, you can really put your gardening skills to the test and improve your growing knowledge. To ensure your greenhouse is set up and prepared properly to give you the very best results, there are a few things to consider before you start, so here are some tips from nanny!

The Right Style 

Buying your greenhouse is a big step, you need to take your garden into consideration. There are a few things you need to check before going ahead and making the purchase. It's important to do your research so that you invest in the right style of greenhouse for your needs. There are so many different greenhouse designs that come in different shapes and sizes, so you need to think about the garden space you have available. It’s also worth having a good look at a selection of different greenhouses, to ensure you’re getting the best value for money.

Greenhouse Practicality 

It’s important to consider the practical elements when it comes to choosing your greenhouse, this will ensure you can use it properly and the way you want too. Greenhouses are available in different styles such as a walk-in, lean-to and smaller styles that are more like a small box design than a house. Figure out which one would work best for you.

Walk-in greenhouses are ideal for those intending to carry out numerous projects that require a lot of space and oxygen, whereas a lean-to greenhouse is better for those wanting to undertake smaller projects that can be stored in a smaller space.

Similarly, lean-to greenhouses are best suited to smaller gardens, as they can be positioned neatly against a wall and kept to the outskirts of the garden, whereas a walk-in greenhouse requires a considerable amount of lawn space, along with essential sunlight exposure.

Let it Shine 

Sunshine is an absolute must for any greenhouse, as a generous supply of sun is required for growing. Before you begin your projects, you need to choose the best location in your garden that receives the most amount of light throughout the day and position your greenhouse there. This will help your plants to grow to their full potential.

Plenty of Storage 

Inside your greenhouse, you will have everything from the plants themselves to your gardening tools, bags of soil and a combination of essential items for cultivating various plants. Having an organised greenhouse may be difficult, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have space to keep things in some kind of order.

Greenhouse storage is a must, as it provides you with space to keep things neat and easy to find. Having things stored away will also free up plenty of space, and make the greenhouse area much safer.

Introduce some storage draws, greenhouse shelving and under bench boxes to free up some much-needed growing space for your projects. It will make your life much easier and your gardening tasks will seem much easier to handle.

At the moment my garden isn't big enough to have a greenhouse, I think I'm going to have to make do with window boxes! But one day I would love to have a greenhouse like my nan, filled with figs and other fruit trees. And if anyone has any idiot proof tips for keeping orchids, I would love to hear them!

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lifestyle | Getting serious about saving as I start a new chapter


I’ve never been great with money. It literally burns a hole in my pocket and I compulsively spend it on nothing. I’m too impulsive to be an effective saver and hate the thought of restricting myself in any way. I have no discipline. At all.

But things are having to change. I’ve had a job since I was 15 years old, I’ve always been employed, even working full time at Uni. I can’t honestly say I know what I did with all the money I’ve earnt in that time, I don’t have much to show for it, but I’ve always had the security of a regular pay check. That’s about to change.

After working for various Digital Marketing agencies, I finally realised that working in an agency is not for me. In fact, working in a company no longer feels like a good fit. I am tired of the inflexibility that comes with a 9 to 5, trying to book appointments around work or sitting in an overly air-conditioned office while the sun is shining brightly. I’m tired of not being able to choose which clients I want to work with and having meetings about having meetings. So, at the end of this week, one day before my 32nd birthday, I’ll leave the agency world and go freelance.

The opportunities are endless, I’ll be able to go to the gym in the mornings, work as a freelance Social Media Consultant and dedicate more time to the blog, something I am truly passionate about despite having neglected it a bit for the last year or so. I’m even thinking about signing Bruno up to a pet modeling agency to make some extra money. I’m feeling positive and really motivated for the first time in ages and as if I have exhaled a breath I didn’t know I was holding.

But with the freedom I gain from working for myself, I lose that of having a guaranteed income. I understand the nature of freelance, some months I’ll no doubt make less than I am now and others more. I lose the security of real sick pay; additional maternity leave and paid holiday.
The reality of all of this means that now, more than ever I must take control of my finances. I need to save money to have back up for slow months, allowances for holidays and security for when Joe and I start our family. Then as if by pure serendipity Plusnet mobile offered to give me a helping hand and provided me with a few things to help.

Plan to prepare or prepare to fail

One of my biggest pleasures is food, working in the center of Brighton I was surrounded by way too much temptation. I was lazy and rarely made packed lunches, or would buy the food but forget to take it. As I’ll be working from home, that will no longer be an issue, I can reduce spend on food and get back to healthy eating. The easiest way to do this is to plan your meals, making this magnetic planner so useful as I can just pop it in the fridge.

Find the best value for money on your food. I can get 5kg of chicken breast for £20, freeze them all up and use them up throughout the month if I use it effectively. Chicken is versatile, I can grill it with vegetables for kebabs, use it in a salad or throw it in a curry and freeze it for a backup meal later in the month.

Food planning goes hand in hand with batch cooking. Save money and eat healthy by snooping out reduced vegetables or meat at your supermarket, and then use them to feel your freezer with food. Veggies are often cheaper than meat so use them to bulk out your dish. Buy Quorn or mince to make chili, lasagne or cottage pie, adding plenty of vegetables to make the meal go further and keep the calories down. Then put it into foil trays or freezer bags and freeze the extra portions for later.

We must consult our means rather than our wishes

Budgeting. The word almost leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but this is going to have to change. Currently, I allow myself to be blissfully unaware of my bank balance, so dangerous. Writing a budget in my book and sticking to it is essential. I guess that to me budget means boring. The idea of not going out for drinks or a meal here and there will make me miserable. As the saying goes (and the title of the handy book Plusnet sent me), The best things in life are free, so it’s time for me to discover them.
I love visiting museums and looking at architecture. When I was younger, Hove museum was on my walk home, which I often visited, spending ages there taking in the history of Brighton. So here is my chance to discover all the stories and art I can in Brighton and Hove’s plethora of museums and galleries.
I can also become more active, taking long walks with Bruno along the seafront, or going on hikes across the downs and taking a picnic along. As a treat, I can swap our Natwest cash back for Cineworld tickets as it’s better value for money, and eat out sticking to a spending limit.

Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves

It’s crazy how quickly loose change transforms into a pleasant chunk of cash. I’d like to think that I could stick to something like the 365-day 1p saving challenge, but I know my limits. The idea is that you fill your piggybank up in line with the day of the year it is. So, on day one you put away a penny, day two, 2 pence, and so forth. The early days are easy, towards the end of the year it’s £3+ a day. However, it soon becomes £667.95.

A more realistic way of saving pennies for a rainy day is to empty your pocket change into your jar every day. Or I could use an app like Moneybox which lets you set a weekly saving target and automatically rounds up every purchase on your card to a pound and transfer the change to a savings account.


Never let your loyalty make you a fool

One thing that I do quite regularly is shop around for my regular services. I am always on top of when it's time to switch my utility bills and shop around to get the best offer. But it's also worth thinking about what other things you pay regularly that you could shop around for. Could you have a better current account? Just because you've been with the same bank since you were 10, doesn't mean you have to be loyal, they don't reward loyalty. The same logic applies to my phone contract since I am going Sim only with Plusnet, paying less than half of what I was paying with O2 and increasing my data from 1GB a month to 3GB.

A river cuts through a rock not because of its power but its persistence

I need to stay motivated to safe, diet and pursuit my freelance career. I can’t get distracted by Netflix, or procrastinate. I need to be focused and driven, things that I feel I have lost in recent years. It’s important to have a PMA (positive mental attitude) going into this new chapter of my life and I’m sure I will use this light box to fill my home office with inspirational quotes.

Any tips for saving, or helping me stay on track would be really appreciated. Please comment below.


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Monday, August 07, 2017

Lifestyle | 5 Ways to Revive Your Tired Kitchen

Credit: Houzz
Since moving into the flat I’ve noticed our kitchen looks tired and dull. The time has come to give it a little update and revive it back to its bright, welcoming state and get rid of the lime green colour scheme that the previous owners went for. As we plan to rearrange the rooms in our flat, and eventually turn the kitchen into a bedroom, there is no point in heavily re-decorating or getting a new kitchen. So here are some great tips on how to refresh your kitchen on a budget.

Introduce Fresh Lighting 

The lighting in the kitchen is really important, as you often find that kitchens are designed to be bright and fresh making the room feel clean and open. Lighting has an amazing way of making a room feel a certain way, and by replacing old bulbs or lighting fixtures with brand new, bright features, you’ll instantly notice a change in the feel of the room. You could even look at introducing some softer lighting in the form of a lamp or sidelight, or add battery powered lights under the cabinets for softer lighting in the evening.

Update appliances 

Trading in tired looking kettles and toasters to update the style of your kitchen is a quick way to refresh the whole area, giving it a brand-new look. Kitchen trends change regularly so simply switching from a steel finish to a copper can transform a kitchen from has-been to be-seen.

Replace the Units 

Sometimes smaller changes aren’t quite good enough for giving your kitchen the updated look you’re going for, and it may be time to bite the bullet and replace the main body of your kitchen altogether. This doesn’t always have to be expensive, there are plenty of cheap fitted kitchens available on the market that enable you to choose the right style for your home. The great thing about this option is that you can always opt to paint your cabinets yourself, which in turn will enable you to save even more.

Create a Dining Space 

Kitchens are becoming much more of a social area within the house, with many people now using them for dining and relaxing, rather than just the traditional cooking. By introducing a dining space to your kitchen, you are able to lift the atmosphere and create an area that can be used for much more than it originally was. This new area will lift the atmosphere really nicely.

Add a lick of paint

Over time the colour of a room can begin to lose its appeal. It doesn’t matter what colour you choose, you’ll almost always find that you become bored of the colour and feel like you need something new. It’s amazing just how much the changing of a colour can transform a room, especially within the kitchen and it’s always a really beneficial step to take.

Can you think of another way to freshen up my new kitchen? All ideas are really appreciated.

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