Top Tips For Decorating Your Home For Christmas*

We are so far into December now that we can say that Christmas is just around the corner- and it’s actually true. In fact, Christmas is so close that I can practically smell the turkey. Because of this, if you haven’t got your decorations up yet you really should get a wiggle on. If you’re just procrastinating then there’s not much that I can do to help you, but if you are just stuck as to where to start then you’re in luck. Here are some great tips to help you with your Christmas decorating this year.

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1. Choose A Colour Scheme
It can be fun to mix and match with your decorations and have everything looking a little higgledy-piggledy, but if you want your home to have the wow factor then a colour scheme is a great idea. It doesn’t matter if your chosen colour scheme runs throughout the entire house or you have a colour scheme for each room, as long as you stick to your theme your home is going to have a big impact. Green and red are the colours traditionally associated with Christmas, but if you wanted to mix it up a bit then purple, blue, white, and silver are all popular colour combinations too.

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2. Be Sensible With Lights
When Christmas comes around it’s usually people’s mission to have their home lit up like, well, a Christmas tree. As great as this may look, you don’t need to waste so much energy to make a big impact. Instead of annoying your neighbours with ridiculous amounts of Christmas lights on the front of your house get some simple waterfall lights from therange.co.uk to add some sparkle, and skip the big glowing reindeer. Not only does this look just as good (if not better), but also requires much less effort when it comes to putting them up.

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3. Match The Dining Table
With any luck you will be spending a lot of time at the dining table this Christmas so it’s important for it to look absolutely perfect. Luckily, it’s pretty simple to do this. Once you’ve decided on a colour theme for your dining room buy napkins and crackers to match this theme. You could also buy a matching tablecloth or even just a table runner. Then all you’ve got to do is make sure the cutlery and crockery match.

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4. The Tree is The Key
Your Christmas tree is the most important decoration in your house so it requires the most attention. If you have a conservatory, like one of the ones from visualconservatories.co.uk then you might even have two, so you have to decide if you want them to match or have different colour schemes. Whatever you decide make sure you spread the decorations out evenly on the tree and don’t forget the start or angel on top.

Christmas is a magical time but it can also get pretty stressful. Hopefully these tips will make yours a little easier.

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Healthier Baking for Christmas*

December is notoriously a month of over-indulgence- all those parties, meals out, chocolates, tins of biscuits and homemade treats. Most people find that by the end of the month they’ve packed on a few pounds and feel decidedly sluggish, especially if like me they love to bake and can’t resist filling the house with the sweet and spicy aromas of festive bakes. With that in mind I thought I’d explore a few ideas for healthier baking, mostly simple ingredient swaps to serve as inspiration for myself and also to inspire my fellow baking addicts- and nab your ideas for healthier cakes and biscuits too!
One simple swap you can make is to reduce saturated fats by replacing butter with an ingredient like rapeseed oil. The added bonus of Rapeseed oil is that it has a pretty neutral taste so it won’t detract from your delicious treats.

Obviously baked goods are notoriously laden with sugar and it’s hard to avoid it completely- and at this time of year why would you want it? What you can do though is look for sweeteners that have more nutritional benefits than refined white sugar- honey, apple puree, banana or sugar alternatives such as the SugaVida I previously featured are all good substitutes.

You can improve the nutritional content of cakes and bakes by adding in ingredients such as flaxseeds (also a great alternative to egg in vegan baking) to boost fibre content as well as providing a good source of vitamins and minerals. You won’t necessarily taste the difference but the benefits will be there. Adding plenty of dried fruit and nuts to your recipes, and less chocolate (or dark chocolate) will also help- and with the right blend of spices are just perfect for this time of year.

Using alternatives to standard white flour will also boost the nutritional content of your bakes- buckwheat or spelt flours will increase fibre whilst almond flour will add a protein and vitamin E boost.

Finally when it comes to topping your bakes try switching regular cream or icing for greek or natural yoghurts- you could also use fruit, nuts and spices to decorate with in place of icing, and make open topped mince tarts in place of the all out pastry fest that are traditional mince pies.

I’d love to know what smart-swaps you make for healthier baked goods, both for the run up to Christmas and for the new year when everyone is trying to be good and watch their weight.

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The New Pinafore

Look back at my outfit post archive and you’ll probably notice that I have a bit of a thing for pinafore dresses- typically of the mini dress, dungaree style variety that is ten-a-penny these days.

On a recent shopping trip with Mum we were browsing in Monki (of course) and found the perfect new pinafore for my collection- a step away from tradition with it’s midi length and over-sized cut this seemed like the perfect way to update my wardrobe whilst sticking to what I know and love.

Dress: Monki (here) | Velvet Tee: New Look (here) | Boots: Daniel Footwear

I’m always happy to see Velvet appear in the shops at this time of year, it’s one of my favourite textures to wear and this teal tee from New Look is a bargainous (£12.99) update for both smart and casual. I’m not really sure where I’m at with my personal style at the moment, it seems to have taken a bit of a back seat as I’ve been coming to terms with being at a very new health, and therefore weight territory in this journey called recovery from anorexia and most recently I’ve taken to hiding away in anything that, well, hides me.

In the mean time I’m really enjoying outfits like this as a bridge between wanting to hide and still wanting to look semi like I’ve bothered. I’m looking forward to layering this dress with some chunky knits now the weather is turning much colder. And I’m looking forward to a fresh attitude to my body, to my health and to blogging in 2018. I plan to finish this year by coasting through, meeting the last few goals that need to be met- next year is all about actually living, building upon who I am and increasing my confidence and hopefully getting more inspired with blogging to bring about some fresh content, a new look and a new attitude.

Watch this space – a promise or a threat?

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The Rise of Being Connected 24/7*

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Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash

These days it feels pretty much like I’m never not connected to the internet. The only time in recent memory was during the week I spent in the North West Highlands where I had almost seven days entirely free from my laptop and constant influx of emails. This really got me thinking about how much I rely on the internet these days for just about everything- from doing my day job to working at home- and with thanks to internet providers like TalkTalk Business anyone who wants to be their own boss, can be.

During that week I was away it really hit home to me just how dependant I am on having a constant connection, 24/7. After the initial adjustment period I really started to enjoy having a break and being forced to focus on other things- books were read, board games were played and the times where I did manage to grab a spot of Wifi were spent generally being more productive than when I have constant access to the internet.

That being said, it was frustrating too. Being on holiday could have been the perfect opportunity to sit down and catch up on getting some blog content written, and being able to stream music or use Netflix would have been really handy, and I’ll admit, it came as a bit of a shock to actually stumble across an area of the country that hadn’t yet manage to conquer connectivity.

A break from the online world was on the whole a refreshing thing and I do feel like I had more of a relaxing time than had I been able to update social media, keep connected with friends and family or write blog posts. It did however make me eternally grateful for the advances in technology meaning that I can go away to different places and still be able to meet blogging deadlines, respond to urgent work emails and keep updated with friends and family.

In this day and age I feel this is a bit of a divisive subject, even within my own head. I don’t like that feeling of dependance on modern technology- it feels a bit defeatist and almost a bit…sad? But on the flip side, being out of contact with my nearest and dearest (no internet and no phone signal meant no texts to my family, no face time with the cat and no catching up on the latest happenings within my friendship group).

How do you feel about being constantly connected? Do you feel like the benefits outweigh the somewhat sad fact that these days you can access a whole world of information all of the time and do work wherever in the world you might be? As you’ve gathered, I’m torn. It’s so hard to switch off when you know you’re constantly online and you feel like you might be missing out- I’ll pick up a book then get distracted by yet another notification and not return to my page for hours, or even days.

My personal solution, I think, especially over the festive period where family time should take precedence is to try and have a day or two where I do switch off, flip off the WiFi, ignore my emails and crack out the board games.

I’d love to know where other people stand on this- I feel like it’s a more and more relevant topic and technology advances, and I might starting to show my age here, but I do kind of miss the good old days whilst appreciating what being constantly connected has helped me to achieve.

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Tiny Tricks To Turn Your Home Into A Vintage Palace*

Photo by Brianna Fairhurst on Unsplash

Vintage isn’t just something that consists of hip clothing- it’s a lifestyle, one that you can implement in to every aspect of your day to day living. This means that your home could benefit from being changed from a boring little apartment or rental property to a vintage palace. Lots of people rent their homes now, and so they feel that they can’t make major changes, but there are ways to turn your home into a vintage dream, it just takes a little creativity.

Maximize Wood Furnishings
To increase that vintage feel you should purchase plenty of wooden furniture. From sideboards, to bookcases- or anything else you can think of this doesn’t just help to create that nostalgic feel but it brings a lot of warmth and character to your home. And, regardless of the quality of wood whether it is single planks or board and battered any type of wood adds a very vintage appeal to any modern looking home especially with the addition of some Chalk Paint.

Go For Earthy Tones
It’s a great way to offer a timeless look in your home and by going for muted colors it helps everything to blend in rather than overshadow. It’s a very subtle process but you can even purchase accessories that although are essential to the home, still blend to that vintage style and feel. Something like a towel rail radiator you can purchase in vintage styles and is practical at the same time. The blending process is quite difficult, so, if you have guests over that don’t notice it don’t be concerned- it means that you’ve done your job well!

The Thrift Store Is Your Friend
When looking for ways to decorate a home in a vintage style accessories are going to be your saving grace. To spend an afternoon in every thrift store imaginable stocking up on quirky footstools, tea sets and tray tables, you will gradually begin to get a feel for what will benefit your home. And the great thing about thrift stores is that you are going to come back fully loaded with every item imaginable for a very cheap price! Lots of people underestimate a thrift store because the quality of items may not be at their best, but the great thing about making your home a bit more vintage is that an imperfect item can be an advantage in this case, adding to the vibes.

You Can’t Fight Architecture!
The big issue in trying to add a vintage layer to your home is that if you have a thoroughly modern apartment or house, the styles can tend to jar somewhat. Instead, don’t fight the natural architecture of your home look at how you can use this to your advantage. This means go in with a basic plan and it will benefit your home far more than if you decide to randomly swathe your home in a mishmash of styles.

Vintage is very popular right now, and the great thing about vintage styling does that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. If you are renting a property, or you are somewhere that you can struggle to put your stamp on, try a few of these, and see how it benefits your home.

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