Deck The Halls: The Art Of Christmas Decorations*

Ok, it’s October and WAY too early for me to be thinking about decorations really, but for any earlybirds out there- or at least those who like to plan way in advance, this one is for you!

Christmas decorations are an essential part of getting in to the festive spirit. If you’re looking to decorate this year with a sense of style, here are a few tips and tricks that are sure to impress guests and bring a sense of magic to your home.

Don’t be afraid of artificial trees

Many people love to have a real tree, but they can be costly and messy. An artificial tree will get more use – you can pull it out year on year. You can also style it more easily to your home- for example, you don’t have to go green – there are white artificial trees that can be great for making brightly coloured tinsel and baubles really stand out and there aren’t any messy pine needles to clear up or stop the cat from eating!

Create festive focal points

Create Christmas zones that draw attention, the tree is an obvious focal point but why not try having other focal points in other rooms? The dining room table can be a great focal point and even coffee tables can be dressed up for the occasion as these tips on decorating your coffee table for Christmas show. Other focal points could be a specially designated Christmas shelf in which all items are swapped out for Christmas items or a decorated door.

Keep practical zones free of Christmas clutter

Don’t let your Christmas decorations serve as obstacles. For example, it’s best to keep Christmas decorations to a minimum in the kitchen- you don’t want to be finding bits of tinsel in your turkey!

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Make your own DIY decorations

A great trick for those on a budget is DIY decorations. Consider paper chains and origami snowflake cut-outs- building these can be a great activity to do with little folk in the run up to the big day! Look up guides online on how to make your own Christmas decorations – you’ll be surprised what you can build with materials you may already have.

Don’t just hang baubles on the tree

If you’ve got an excess of baubles don’t try and weigh down the tree with them. Consider hanging them on light fittings and in the corner of rooms as an extra embellishment around the home.

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Use greenery

There are lots of plants that are commonly associated with Christmas such as mistletoe, ivy and holly. These can help to bring a natural feel to your home that may offset the heavy use of plastic ornaments and baubles. The likes of ivy can be hung over picture frames and door frames just like tinsel. You could also have wreaths all around the home – they needn’t just be reserved for your front door.

Incorporate Christmas scents and tastes

Fill the home with Christmas scents such as cinnamon to help get you in the mood. Scented cinnamon candles can make a nice touch. You can also make use of edible decorations such as hanging chocolates or baskets of mince pies. Just make sure that these edibles don’t all get eaten straight away (you may even want to introduce an after-Christmas rule, if you dare!)

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Beauty: Slay the Eyeshadow and Eyeliner Game with These 4 Tips*

Making your eyes pop is probably one of the most challenging parts of putting on makeup. This step requires an eye for detail, a steady hand and mastery of different brushes and liners. Of course, slaying the eyeliner and eyeshadow game also entails a bit of research. Fortunately a lot of makeup enthusiasts and artists have made a plethora of information available through social media. But if you want to join the ranks of the pros you have to go beyond just watching. You will also need to put these 4 tips into practice:

(Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash)

1. Choose a Brand That Fits You
Although high-end makeup brands do claim to be the best in the industry you don’t always have to purchase expensive products to look good. Brands like ABBAMART offer a variety of long-lasting eyeshadow and eyeliner items that won’t put a dent in your budget. Don’t be afraid to explore eye makeup brands that are easy to apply and feel free to try out different types of eyeshadow and eyeliners to see which looks great on your skin type. Eyeliners for example come in different forms like pencil, pen, liquid, felt-tip and gel or cream. The application method for each kind of eyeliner slightly differs so choose one that feels comfortable in your hand and fits the manner of your strokes.

2. Remember the Do’s and Don’ts
Beauty gurus didn’t just arrive at their killer eyeshadow and eyeliner game; they honed it. In addition to interest and talent people get better at something because they experiment, set guidelines and find methods that work incredibly well for them. It takes tons of practice to apply eye makeup perfectly and that includes making a lot of mistakes too. If you’re new to the eye makeup scene here are some standard practices that work well for most people, followed by a list of practices that don’t:

The Do’s
Always apply primer first. Primer conceals the unevenness and blemishes of your eyelids. It also holds the makeup together, giving you a clean, flawless makeup job.

Adding a transition shade makes it easier to blend the colors. When using transition shades go from light to dark.
Be slow and gentle when blending the colors.

When connecting the shades to the crease bring it upwards to lift your eyes.

If you have monolids use gel or cream eyeliners and draw an arched line above your lash line. The line has to be thicker than you think so when you open your eyes you’ll get perfect-sized eyeliner.

Remember to smudge-proof your eyeliner to make it last the entire day.

The Don’ts
Don’t use dark shades for transition colors. They’re difficult to remove and blend.

Don’t use hard brushes as they don’t blend well.

Never bring the dark shade up to the space between your eye and your nose.

Don’t be heavy on the eyeliner, particularly at the bottom lid of your eyes. Putting too much eyeliner on that area can make your eyes look smaller.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Hacks
Surprisingly, makeup hacks are welcomed in the beauty world. Hacks are often used by beginner and expert makeup artists alike because they allow fast and easy makeup applications without the hassles of doing things the ‘traditional’ way. Some of these hacks include:

Using the edges and curves of a spoon and the edge of a business card to master the cat-eye flick

Using a pencil liner as a guide for tricky liquid eyeliner applications

Applying white eyeliner first to create a less pigmented eyeshadow

Freezing crumbling eyeliner for 10 minutes before applying it on your eyes

4. Practice, Practice, Practice
Finally, if you want to slay your eyeshadow and eyeliner game you have to keep practicing. Becoming a queen doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll probably spend several hours looking at yourself in the mirror with bad eye makeup on before you see signs of progress. With lots of practice and determination however you’ll earn your crown and start seeing your face as a canvas for works of art. Who knows? Maybe the next time you post your look on Snapchat or Instagram it’ll be your turn to serve as an inspiration and a guru to other makeup lovers.

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How to Achieve the Work-Life Balance Everyone’s Talking About*

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Work-life balance- it’s a term that’s often bandied about by everyone from politicians to busy mums but I’m willing to bet that there are very few of us who have actually obtained the holy grail of perfectly balancing our time at work with time spent at home relaxing, working on hobbies and spending time with our families.

If you’re content with seeing your office colleagues more than you see your partner/kids and working more than you do, well anything else, then that’s great. For the rest of you reading this, who would love to strike a better balance between your obligations and your desires, check out these tips to help you achieve the perfect work-life balance that everyone’s talking about:

Turn Off Work Notifications

To start with an easy way that you can get more of your personal life back and redress the balance between working and relaxing is by turning off your mobile phone once you leave work- or at the very least turning off work notifications. You might feel under pressure to check your emails every five minutes or check if your colleague has finished that report, but do you really need to do it now? Your free time should be just that and you shouldn’t be scared into giving it away by bosses and colleagues who can’t ever switch off themselves. In fact, you might want to point out that the more time spent working the less productive and more stressed out you’ll be, which is hardly going to do your work any favours!

Learn How to Say No

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Similar to the above, if you have a boss who’s very demanding and always wants more than it is reasonable for you to give do yourself a favour and learn how to say no. Just because you work for someone doesn’t give them the right to encroach into your private life and unless it’s written in your contract they have no right to ask you to stay behind to do an extra job, complete an extra project or answer emails at midnight. So, if you don’t want to do something say so. Be polite but be firm. The time spent with your family is more important than time spent trying to impress your boss, hands down. I mean, few people ever wished they had worked more on their death beds!

Say Goodbye to Perfection

If you’re a perfectionist you probably spend considerably longer on tasks than your peers who know that good enough really is good enough most of the time. Therefore if you can fight the urge to make everything you do absolutely perfect you can claw back some considerable free time to spend with family, friends, pets or even a good book.

Work from Home

More and more companies are allowing their staff to telecommute- working from their own homes. If you can swing this it’ll mean that you no longer have a daily commute to contend with and you’ll possibly be able to create your own schedule which in turn means more time spent doing the things you love.

Retrain or Start Your Own Business

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If none of the above help you to create a better work-life balance you could think about either retraining to go into a career than offers more flexibility, or even better starting your own business where you can call all the shots. Becoming a personal trainer with the help of Origym, setting up your own blog like I have and monetizing it or starting your own graphic design business are three very viable options for setting up on your own but there are literally thousands of ways you can change your career to give you more control over your time.

Work Smarter

Whether you’re working for an employee or running your own business it always makes sense to find ways that you can work smarter rather than harder. For example using software programs to automate your most monotonous tasks or creating new spreadsheets that can process data in a fraction of the usual time will mean that you can get things done much more quickly, giving you more free time to do what you truly love. Many employees don’t much care when you’re in the office as long as everything gets done so this is a really good option for any of you who don’t want to leave your jobs but do want to have more free time.

Do you have a great work –life balance? What steps have you taken to achieve a better life?

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A Baby Shopping Gift Guide*

I’m at that stage in my life where people are getting married and having babies. I seem to have passed through the weddings phase for now, but pregnancies are being announced seemingly every few days and with that comes the desire to buy the perfect gift.
Having spent quite chunk of time over the last few months searching for the perfect gifts for expectant friends I’ve decided to pop together a little gift guides of items I’ve either bought for babies, or will be buying in the future in the hopes that other people also benefit from the dose of inspiration.

Cot Decoration: The White Company | Swaddle Blanket: Jo Jo Maman Bébé | Elephant Toy: Jo Jo Maman Bébé | Foot Muff: Babythingz | Bath Robe: The White Company | Nursing Pillow: Babythingz

The initial instinct I get when it comes to buying for a new arrival is to head to the nearest shop and stock up on all the cute and tiny clothes! It’s so easy to get carried away but these days I’m trying to show some restraint and leave the clothes shopping to the parents to be- after all, they know their taste best and also how much of each size they have and therefore need. Instead I’ve tried to think outside the box and opt for useful items- although making sure that they remain aesthetically pleasing.

Some of the things I’ve bought with success in the past are swaddle blankets- you can apparently never have too many of these! Nursing pillows, cute cot decorations and fluffy bath robes. Asking friends what they need other things have popped up too that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of such as cosytoes for the buggy or even the seemingly boring, but ever useful option; the humble gift card- perfect for picking up forgotten bits once baby has arrived.

Do let me know if this post has helped you out at all, or even what kind of gifts you’ve been buying for both parents to be and for the squishy little bundles of joy- it’d be great to build up a store of even more ideas, I get the feeling the baby boom in my life has only just started [great for an endless supply of cuddles whilst I still get to grips with being responsible for myself, let alone another human life!]

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Trends to look out for this autumn*

It might seem a little early to be discussing autumn when summer has barely arrived, but in the fashion world trends are forecast well in advance and the A/W show season has been and gone. As, we all know once the summer has passed and the weather takes a turn dressing can become that little bit more difficult- or at least less exciting.

I have teamed up with Trilogy Stores to provide you with the hottest trends that will help you prepare and transition in to the autumn months (depressing as that may seem). By following this guide you’ll be able to make the most of autumnal-chic and glide effortlessly into the winter months without any fashion faux pas.

The female suit
The power dressing look is forecast to be global by early September. The female suit is a look that keeps you warm when the colder months arrive, whilst oozing independence and power.
You can create an elegant look with a few little extras. Pressed double-breasted jackets are all the rage this autumn; together with statement shoulders and shoulder-width trousers the suit helps to create a masculine look for the female fashion-forward. Don’t panic though, this isn’t a return of the eighties; it’s power-dressing in 2017.
The new ‘it’ colour
When you say goodbye to summer weather you also say goodbye to your summer colour palette. However for autumn 2017 the trend for all things pink can simply be swapped with dusky modest blues. Labelled as the new ‘it’ colour the moody notes incorporated by dark blues within an outfit can really make an impact.
Keep it subtle with a pale blue shirt with slim-fitting trousers, or why not try a brighter coloured blue mac to create a contrast between your outfit and the autumnal environment around you? Anything to liven up the duller days!
Show off your waist
A belted coat is perfect for keeping you warm whilst expressing effortless sophistication. The belt adds an extra layer of depth to your coat and helps to define your waistline in a way that is super flattering.
There are several styles of coats to choose from when it comes to a belted waistline- whether you decide to wear a statement fur jacket or opt for a for a leather trench coat the belt is the key piece within this ensemble, wear it either knotted or fastened depending on the look you’re channeling.
In line with the belted coats, wide waisted belts in general are making a comeback as a statement fashion accessory. This autumn they are versatile – they can be worn over your coat or they can be added to an evening dress to help define your curves. Look for browns, blacks and reds to channel the natural colours of the season.
Nylon jackets
No matter what the occasion a nylon coat is a transitional and versatile piece of clothing. Without the risk of wrinkles, this type of coat is similar to a mac but can easily be stashed away for weekends away or days when the weather looks like it could turn in the blink of an eye.
Look no further than Jumper 1234 for a sure fire way to keep you warm with fashionable designs that encompass the colours of the season.
If you’re going for a casual look pair the jacket with ballet flats or cool sneakers. Alternatively opt for a pair of heels or boots if you are going out and want to dress it up a bit. Blacks, browns and greens are all going to be key colours next season so keep your eyes peeled for pieces various co-ordinating shades for an instantly updated look.
What autumn trends are you most looking forward to?

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