Gift Guides: Christmas at Home of Juniper

Like it or not we’re creeping ever closer to the festive season- two weeks today and it’ll officially be December, and try as I might I can’t help but feel a little bit excited about Christmas this year.

For my next gift guide instalment I’m returning to a brand I featured earlier in the year, Home of Juniper have some of the loveliest Christmas decorations and gift ideas I’ve seen and I can’t wait to share them with you.

grow your own christmas tree | solar chalet light | jewellery | mini christmas soap | peppermint and chocolate marshmallows | penguin decoration

I think the solar powered chalet light is my favourite item on the entire website right now- at £25.00 it’s an adorable AND affordable way to bring some festive cheer in to your home without being too obvious and is something I’d bring out year on year.
Other particular favourites are the little penguin decoration (penguin obsessive here) and the rather delicious sounding peppermint and chocolate marshmallows which I reckon would be absolutely divine popped in to a massive mug of hot chocolate.

Have any of these pieces caught your eye? Let me know in the comments if you’ve spotted anything you love from Home of Juniper.

end

4 Incredible Places That Should Be On Your Travel Bucket List*

Nearly everyone has a bucket list- that one list of things that they would like to do or achieve before they die. For some, the bucket list is something they would like to complete before a certain age whilst for others as long as they tick off most of the boxes before they die they are happy! One of the most popular options for a bucket list (aside from finding love and buying a house) – is travel.

It’s very rare to find someone that doesn’t get a touch of wanderlust at some point in their lives. The world is a big place and the idea that you could get from birth to death without getting that itch to explore is something that isn’t conceivable for most. Travelling is about so much more than hopping across continents on trains or planes. It’s about self-discovery. It’s about tasting new cultures and absorbing new experiences. It’s about drinking in the world and seeing people in a totally different way, accepting differences and adapting opinions based on those differences. Of course you do get those who believe travelling is about checking out the differences in the sand on the beach, but that’s beside the point.

(image)

When you write your travel bucket list you need to really think carefully about the places you want to visit. Are you out to soak up new experiences in the world? Or are you aiming to buy a luxury new condo abroad therefore fitting in your travel plans with an investment? Are you hoping to escape the commute for mountain tops? Or are you hoping to get to the depths of different oceans and be up close with the fish? Whichever way you want to manage your bucket list of travel destinations we’ve got four fantastic places that should be on yours. Don’t forget, a bucket list is a plan and budget goes right out of the window when it comes to dreaming!

(image)

Australia
I haven’t specified a state, city or a town here because Australia is huge and there are so many places that the only suggestion I can make is to road trip! Australia is travel heaven – how could it not be with its unique wildlife, beaches of white sugar and varied landscapes? The beaches you find along the legendary Great Ocean Road vary so widely that it isn’t possible to miss out on spectacular sights. There are beaches with hidden coves and water that sparkles like diamonds. There are beaches in the cities for people to relax beside during a sunny day, and let’s face it, there’s plenty of those!
There is an island of kangaroos to explore just off the South Adelaide coast. Alongside the cities are deserts in the form of the Outback. The scenery and landscape are so vast that it is physically impossible to miss out on something that suits you. You can ski in Mt Buller, swim in the oceans off of Byron Bay and meet indigenous people of varying cultures. Australia is somewhere that should be on your wanderlust list, and if it isn’t it’s time to write it down.

(image)

Paris
It may be a short hop over the English Channel but Paris with its beauty and history feels so far away from the day to day drudgery we all deal with. It’s not just a case of wanting to visit Disneyland- although that is something that should be on the bucket list of everyone in the world. However, gracing the Louvre with your presence, seeing the real pieces of art that have been lauded as masterpieces for centuries and soaking in the culture is a must. Visit the many galleries and museums that have been built for purpose and we now enjoy as monuments of history. Explore Parisian culture- enjoy pastries and chocolat chaud in the cafes that line the beautiful River Seine. Explore the French neighbourhoods from the top of the Eiffel Tower and hunt for Qasimodo at Notre Dame Cathedral. It’s just got to be done!

(image)

China
One of the world’s oldest civilizations, China has a history vaster than you could ever imagine. The culture, the food and the people are a world away from what you may be used to, but it’s a place that should be on your cultural radar to experience. It’s one of the biggest countries in the world, meaning that the landscapes that you would experience are bound to be breath-takingly beautiful. The frozen Harbin to the tropical warmth of Xishuangbanna should be life goals for all. You may be wary of street food, but unless you take a stroll through the many markets and breathe in the scents of spices and seafoods you’ll never know what it is to taste authentically Chinese food for cents!

(image)

Fiji
This one is a little out there for a bucket list entry but there are so many reasons why Fiji should feature for you. The beaches are the main act of Fiji, with coconut trees and sunshine a step away from wherever you stay. The people that grace the island are friendly and will welcome you wherever you go and while you hop from one of the islands to the next, there is always someone to greet you and say hello. Experience the jungle treks in Nadi and discover hidden waterfalls and man-made canoes. Fiji has its own history, with the Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple, which is the largest Hindu temple in the southern hemisphere. Take part in extreme snorkelling, which is as good as diving down to the deep of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s somewhere that most people don’t think about, but it should be!

Your bucket list of places should always include somewhere you feel you could gain a cultural experience from. It should also include beautiful scenery to make memories from, and visiting the most cultural places around the world is how to get those memories. There is always something to visit and see, so don’t be left behind in life – go and see it all!

end

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!

(image)

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.

(image)

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!)

end

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.

end

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

(image)

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

(image)

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

(image)

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?

end