General, Home Improvement, Self-Care

7 Checks Every Gardener Should be Making to Prepare for Spring

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Over the winter time, our gardens become neglected because it’s simply too cold and wet to venture out and keep things at bay. If you’re not careful you could find yourself in a sticky mess when it comes to the springtime if you neglect everything in your garden.

(Related Post: Are you Prepared for Winter?)

While mowing the lawn isn’t a great idea, there are other things that you could be doing to make your life easier for when spring rolls around and we begin to plan our gardens for the enjoyment of summer time. Here are some garden checks you should be making ready for the spring.

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Tools

Now is as good a time as any to get you into your garden shed and check all your tools. While it might not have been that long since you’ve used some of them in your garden, it’s likely that you have some which haven’t been used since last spring. Things like your rake and trowel should be checked for any breakages or weakness, and if you’re able to fix any broken tools it might be an idea to do it now rather than later.

You might find that some of your tools are now rendered useless, and now is a great time to go and buy some because the winter is an off-peak season for gardeners; therefore they are likely to be cheaper in the shops than they would be during the summer months. If possible you should look into sharpening any blades for cutting hedges and grass so that your job will be as easy as possible when it comes to the first mowing of the spring.

You should also take the time to arrange your tools and have a clearout of any bits and bobs that have been sat in your shed for years with no purpose. Getting things neat and tidy will help you no end for when spring rolls around.

Pests

Pests are a problem all year round, and while it’s unlikely that in the colder weather you will encounter hornets or wasps, you’re very likely to encounter rats and mice looking for refuge somewhere warm and dry. Be sure to look out for any signs that you’ve got a pest around your garden. Signs will include:

Droppings that are too small to be from a cat.

Chewed bits of debris around your garden.

Holes in your shed.

Food being found in odd places around your garden.

The sounds of scurrying.

If you’re not sure if you’ve got a pest problem, or you’re not sure how to deal with it, then you should head to Natura pest control and speak with one of their qualified technicians. They will be able to come and assess the situation and remove any pests you have around your home and garden efficiently and effectively. Don’t attempt to get rid of rats or mice yourself as they are renowned for harboring diseases on their bodies, and could be harmful if contracted by humans.

Weeds

Weeds are a pain all year round, but during the winter they are still able to pop up out of nowhere and spoil the look of your garden. On a dry day, take the time to pick out all of the weeds in your garden and treat any concrete or stoned areas with weed killer to prevent them from making another appearance. Be sure to read the instructions on your brand of weed killer as they might kill shrubbery, grass, and even be harmful to pets in your garden.

Clear any debris

Over the autumn time and the beginning of winter, it’s unlikely that your garden won’t accrue some sort of debris. This is normally dust and soil that has been carried by the wind, and also leaves falling from the trees around and in your garden.

Take the time to rake in all of the debris and get rid of it so that when it comes to the springtime you’re not wasting too much valuable time clearing away debris. Plus, it will keep your garden looking as nice as possible during the winter months.

Prepare your soil

With the cold and wet weather, it’s likely that your soil isn’t in great condition and without some TLC it probably won’t be ready for the spring. Take your trowel and turn the soil as often as possible to give it a chance to dry out a little and not be as soggy as it would be without turning it. Soggy soil isn’t good for plants and will quickly kill them off, so be sure to spend some time every week or so turning the soil.

Prune your dead flowers and trees

If you’ve got flowers in your garden which should grow back in the springtime, now would be a fantastic time to prune them so that they can grow fresh shoots and flowers when the weather is more suitable. This is also a good idea for any trees that you have that aren’t evergreen. Any trees that grow fruit will thrive from a good prune and grow back the following season as healthy as ever!

Plan your garden

Take a look around your garden and plan out where you’re going to be planting your plants in the spring, and whether or not you’re going to try your hand at growing vegetables in your garden in the spring. Sectioning off these areas now will allow you to get straight to work when the time is right; meaning your garden will be looking fantastic in no time!

If you’re planning a big build in your garden like decking or a pool, now would be the time to section off the area that you want to change so that you know you don’t have to worry too much about the condition of the grass or plant beds.

Put these checks into play with your garden and you will see how much easier gardening will be once the spring is upon us.

Family, General, Self-Care

3 Simple Ways for Moms to Relax at Home

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

If you’re a mom, you may find that you have very little time available to kick back and relax. With the holidays fast approaching, now is a fantastic time to discover some new relaxation techniques and some simple ways you can find more time to chill out.

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Set aside a tranquil space

If you’re anything like most parents, your home has been taken over by toys. Children may only be small, but they have a lot of stuff, and it can spread far and wide in record time. If you struggle to find a quiet space to gather your thoughts and take a quick timeout, find a corner of your home and make it an adults-only space.

If you’ve got a box room, a spare room or a study you never use, or your living room is large enough to section off a small area, this will be perfect. De-clutter, use calming colors on the walls and create a relaxing ambiance using aromas and subtle lighting. You can get more info about oils and scents that are designed to make you feel calmer online.

Once you’ve got this space, you can retreat to it when the kids are napping, they’ve gone to bed, or you need 5 minutes in the middle of the day. Read, meditate or close your eyes and enjoy a minute’s peace.

Work out at home

Exercise may be the last thing on your mind when you’re tired or stressed, but working out is proven to lift your mood and help you tackle stress and anxiety. If you haven’t got time to go to the gym or you can’t leave the house because you’ve got young kids at home, home training sessions are ideal.

There are various options available, including buying gym equipment or following online or DVD workouts. You don’t have to spend a fortune on machines. You could look for secondhand bargains or buy cheap equipment such as a yoga mat and some light weights. When you’ve got 20 minutes spare, you can do a quick yoga session or a cardio workout, and you’ll feel much better afterward.

(Related post: 5 Ways to Make Time for Yourself)

Sort your sleeping environment

Many moms are tired because they don’t get enough sleep at night. There’s not much you can do about this if you’ve got a newborn or a teething tot, but often, moms don’t get enough rest even when their children sleep through the night. This can sometimes be due to their routines or their sleeping environment.

If your bedroom is cluttered, there’s light streaming through the curtains, and your bed is uncomfortable, you’re going to find it hard to drift off. Likewise, if you’re running around like a headless chicken before you go to bed, it’s going to be tough to switch off. Spend half an hour relaxing before you hit the hay. Run a bath, read a book or kick back with your favorite playlist.

Do you find it hard to relax? Do you often feel stressed or tired? It’s not always possible to get out of the house, so hopefully, these tips for relaxing at home will help you unwind and de-stress.

General, Self-Care

3 Ways Aging in the 21st Century is Better Than Ever

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

For most of us, the idea of aging is not a concept that we are particularly comfortable with.

In fact, the “fight” against aging is everywhere. The term “anti-aging” has come to encompass everything from the moisturizers we use to the clothes we like to wear. The overall message is constant: youth is good, and aging is bad.

It’s easy to see where some of this perception comes from. Most of us grew up with grandparents, some of whom will have had health issues that made aging seem rather scary to us. When we shy away from wrinkles and “old” hairstyles, it’s not really the wrinkles that are the problem– it’s the fact they are associated with advancing years. A huge number of people dread the idea of aging, and that’s a real shame for two reasons:

– Aging is inevitable. It’s actually fortunate to have the opportunity to grow old when you think about it. There’s nothing you can do to slow or stop the aging process so, ultimately, many of us go through life dreading something we cannot do anything about.

– We’re basing our fears about aging on outdated facts; the situations that our grandparents went through.

It’s the latter point that we’re going to focus on. Aging in the 21st century is nothing like aging even 20 years ago; times have changed, technology has advanced, and the golden years we experience have every chance of glittering with joy…

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Our Understanding Of Health Is Better Than Ever

Many illnesses and conditions used to be written off as “old age”; something that just happened, and few people spent time trying to fix. It was just accepted that when you reached a certain age, your body begins to deteriorate.

However, in the 21st century, medical science is investigating aging in a way it never has before. Dementia is no longer seen as an inevitability that should just be accepted; it’s seen as a condition that is worth researching, treating, and possibly even preventing. No longer are people required to just cope with poor mobility; operations and treatments are available that can give an incredible quality of life no matter what your age.

Finally, geriatricians specialize in those over the age of 70; aging now has an entire medical specialty dedicated to it. Research is ongoing and the developments that result will ensure a comfortable retirement for us all.

Technology Allows A Full Life For Longer

On the back of the advanced medical understanding comes technology; technology that has been designed to step into the breach when our bodies begin to show a little too much wear and tear.

There are countless examples of tech that can help older people live wonderful, fulfilling lives. Deafness was viewed as just something that happened as you got older, even treated as a punchline by sitcoms. Now, the matter is handled very differently; if you ever experience diminished hearing capacity, then you’ll be referred for testing and hearing aid fitting, which will result in a return of normal hearing function. It’s not just your ears, either; if your eyesight begins to fade, then laser eye surgery can give you 20:20 vision once more, all thanks to advances in technology.

Japan – who have a rapidly aging population – are pioneering the research into aging technology, and are producing some stunning results. Take, for example, this bed that converts into a wheelchair to promote mobility in later life. Technology, it seems, will be able to set us free from so many of the age-related limitations our grandparents experienced.

The Internet Allows For Social Connections

One of the biggest risks in old age is social isolation, but this is a problem that the internet is helping to eradicate. When you reach an age where socializing is difficult in person, you will still be able to communicate with friends and family thanks to Skype and social media, ensuring that you will be able to enjoy those valuable connections in the later years of life.

In Conclusion

Aging is not quite what it used to be. If you have a fear of aging or try to ignore the issue altogether, then hopefully the above will have helped to calm some of your nerves. The inevitability of aging is something we all have to deal with, but at least it looks like life for older people in the 21st century is going to have plenty to enjoy– so there’s no need to fear what the future may hold for you.

(Related post: Aging: Health Tips For A Great Life)

General

4 Guaranteed Ways to Help Your Kids Sleep on Christmas Eve

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

We all know that Christmas can be a super exciting time for all kids. Unfortunately, though, all that excitement can often bubble over and send them a bit wild. Once they get too excited, there is no chance that they will get to sleep at a reasonable time on Christmas Eve. For many parents, Christmas Eve can become a big battle between them and their kids. The children will want to stay up and try and spot Father Christmas, after all!

Want to make things easier for everyone this Christmas Eve? Here are some great tips that can help them get to sleep quicker despite all the excitement.

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Wear Them Out

If you don’t have anything planned during the day on Christmas Eve, you should spend the day doing something that will wear the kids out. For instance, you might want to go sledding if there is plenty of snow. If not, you could always spend a couple of hours at your local ice rink.

For those in warmer climates, a day at the park or full of a local town’s Christmas activities should do the trick! Look ahead on Facebook Events to see what’s going on in your area!

(Related post: Hello December!)

By the time your kids get home, they will be tired and ready for bed. Hopefully, they will fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow!

Stick To The Routine

Every child benefits from a daily routine, and a bedtime routine is especially important. A set routine before bed at any time of the year can help kids get into a good habit, and it also helps them know what to expect in the evenings.

It’s important that you try and stick to this routine as much as possible, even if it is the Christmas holidays. You might find that it is hard to get back into the usual swing of things if you do break it for a few days.

(Related post: Tips for Boosting Your Child’s Intelligence)

Help Them Relax

It’s also worth taking a couple of hours out before bed so that your kids have the chance to relax and unwind. Giving them a bath is a great idea as this will relax both the body and mind. A lot of moms suggest lavender oils and bubble baths for a bedtime bath to help calm the kids. You will also find that a bedtime story can be particularly soothing for young children as well. Why not read them a Christmas story? Here are 10 great Christmas stories to choose from!

It could also be useful to learn more about scent machines. These can release relaxing fragrances, like lavender, into your children’s bedrooms, helping them relax and drift off as quickly as possible.

Tell Them Santa Won’t Come

If you find that all of the above tips aren’t enough to combat your children’s excitement, there is something else that you can do. Thought a little mean, as a last resort it may do the job. You just need to tell them that Santa won’t come until they are fast asleep.

This should at least get them into bed. They might still take a while to finally drop off, but as long as they know that Santa won’t come with their presents, at least they might pretend to be asleep until they do actually fall asleep. So that will give you a bit of peace and quiet!

And then you just have their over excitement on Christmas Day to deal with!

Cleaning

How to Organize Your Fridge

It’s so easy for our refrigerators to get messy! I’m pretty sure at some point, we stop paying attention. Until one day, we open it.. and get that dreaded smell that can only be described as ‘rot’.

It’s the leftovers! From.. a Tuesday many, many moons ago. Better throw them out. How does this keep happening??

Here are a few tips on organization to help make sure your food rotates when it’s supposed to!

The most important part of fridge storage is making sure your raw meat and eggs are as low as you can get them. This helps to avoid cross-contamination when one of those packages inevitably gets torn or leaks. Or an egg cracks and the yolk goes EVERYWHERE. (Is dried yolk not the hardest thing to get off of glass shelves??)

There is some leeway for that if your crisper drawers are underneath the lowest shelf. In this case, that bottom shelf should have a raised lip around the edges to protect spills.

I try to put as many of my drinks and condiments in the door shelves as possible. This keeps me from constantly knocking over bottles when reaching for things.

My middle shelf normally holds the milk and other gallon-sized drinks, and then to the left I have my dairy products (cheese, butters, creams, etc).

And finally, the top shelf. THIS is where those leftovers go! Keep them in sight, right at the front. You’ll see them when browsing for something to eat. Bonus points if you invest in clear Tupperware so that you actually remember what’s in them

The freezer isn’t as important. I store my frozen meats by animal and put most premade foods in the door.

What’s your number one fridge organization tip?

How to Organize Your Fridge - The Southern Smiths: A sanitary way of organizing the food in your fridge. No more rotten leftovers!
General, Self-Care

3 Ways you can do More to Make Your Family Happy

It’s impossible to play happy families on a 24/7 basis. Kids are bound to fight and their parents are bound to lose patience after a long and tiring day. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a happy family as a whole. Sometimes, parents have to compromise to make their little ones happier, but there’s still room for the grown-ups to have a little personal happiness too. That means you’re just as much a part of your family as your children and you should be aiming to make sure every member of the family is happy. Here’s how to do more to ensure that becomes a reality.

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Take time off.

First of all, you need to remember to take time off. That doesn’t mean you should ditch work or school, but you should use the weekends, evenings, school breaks, and vacation days to do the things you love with your family. Take a trip with the family at the weekend. You could go camping or even head to the museum if you want a free outing. Taking a vacation or a “mini-break” doesn’t have to be costly but you’ll receive as much as you put in.

In fact, taking time off is something you should do on your own too. You don’t want to drive each other crazy in your household by spending all your time together. Taking time off stretches to having a long soak in the bath after a stressful day. You need to practice self-care to safeguard your mental health. Remember to unplug from time to time; don’t look at your phone screen before bed.

(Related Post: What does self-care look like for you?)

Improve your home life.

A happy home leads to a happy family. You should aim to make your home as cozy and welcoming as possible. Let everyone have a say in the theme of their room, make the backyard something worth playing in! My favorite thing ever, was when we lived in Dallas and had a hammock in our backyard! We were lucky enough to have two trees perfectly spaced to cinch the hammock straps. I honestly miss those tress SO much.

Of course, there’s every chance that the problems with your family’s home life are deeply rooted. Perhaps you’re tripping over each other because you’ve outgrown the house (as is natural when kids seem to double in size with every passing year).

You might want to consider that it’s time to move to a bigger house that’d be better suited to your family’s needs. It’s important that you and the family feel comfortable in your home. Whilst making such a big change might seem scary, it doesn’t have to be a stressful overhaul. You could look into a professional moving and storage company to help you relocate. Make sure you plan every step of your house-move so as to get the help you need and take all the stress out of the event.

Communicate with one another.

Most importantly, a happy family is one that communicates well with one another. Make sure you swap stories about your day. Ask the kids what they’ve been up to and tell them about your day too (but don’t bore them with details about work). You should let your children and partner know that they can talk to you about anything, good or bad. Open communication is everything.

Christmas, General, Self-Care

6 Easy Ways to Lose Holiday Pounds

The holidays aren’t even here yet, and many of us have already started to pile on the holiday lbs. Shops start selling Christmas treats earlier every year, and we want to fit in as many as possible to make the most of them before they leave the shelves in the new year, so we start buying them as soon as we can. Then, there’s the fact that most of us no longer pound the streets for hours searching for the perfect Christmas gifts, burning off hundreds of calories in the process. Instead the only activity our Christmas shopping brings us is the clicking of a button. So, we’re eating more, working out less and have already gained some holiday weight when we enter December. At this point, many of us give up. We’ve gained weight already; we want to be able to enjoy the holidays without worrying, so instead let’s take a look at ways to lose the Christmas lbs when it’s all over.

Have a Cut Off

Most of us buy way too much Christmas food. Then receive even more as gifts. Try to stick to a limit, and give yourself a cut off date. Allow yourself to indulge until the 2nd of January, then have a clear out. Any treats left in the house, give away or put in the bin if it’s past its best. Then, start eating these healthy weekday dinners that you can make in the crockpot.

Calorie Count

To lose weight, you need to burn off more calories than you consume. 1lb is around 3500 calories, so you need to eat 500 calories less every day to lose 1lb in a week. The best way to ensure you do this is by calorie counting. If you struggle, use an app to help you track your consumption and buy an activity tracker to measure what you are burning off.

Drink Less Alcohol

Alcohol can actually affect your weight over Christmas more than food, and won’t even fill you up. On average a 175ml glass of wine has around 160 calories, that’s about the same as half a burger or 15 minutes running at high intensity. To lose weight in January, try to have an alcohol-free month.

Get Help

Calorie counting, dieting, and exercising can be confusing. Especially if you are busy and tend to eat quickly and on the go. Get help from isolatorfitness.com, and you won’t have to worry about working everything out and regulating yourself.

Enjoy the sales

A full day of sales shopping could burn off 1500 calories. So instead of shopping online, brave the cold and get out there into the January sales.

Make Healthy Leftovers

It’s not just the snacks and treats that can last long after Christmas. You might find yourself tucking into the leftover turkey for weeks too. Try some healthy recipes like soups, salads or a healthy low-fat curry.

The most important thing is not to carry on eating at the same holiday pace well into January. Let yourself fully enjoy the festivities. Then, stop. Even returning to your normal diet and increasing your activity levels slightly should help, any extra is a bonus which will help you to lose your holiday weight faster.

Family, General

6 Things Every Kid Should Do Before They Grow Up

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Sadly Peter Pan was nothing but a story. The idea of being forever youthful sounds idyllic at first glance with your days spent playing with your pals, building forts and baking cakes, but take a deeper look and you have the teenage angst, peer pressure and school work to contend with.

As a responsible parent, you want to ensure that your little darlings have the most enjoyable childhood that they possibly can. You want to fill their days with joy, create happy memories and prevent them from spending every waking moment in front of a video game or on social media. While your kids still have no wish to head onto Facebook and would prefer to be outside frolicking in a field rather than indoors in front of the tv, it’s up to you to harness this innocent enthusiasm.

However odd it may sound, children of a certain age love spending time with their parents. Before they hit their teenage years, kids enjoy being with their family, relish going off on adventures with their mum, dad and siblings and love sharing new experiences. Take a look at the ultimate bucket list for kids and see how many things you can do with your children before they start to grow up.

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Head To A Beach

Every adult has memories of childhood summers spent on the beach with their families. It’s up to you to make these memories simply idyllic. You want your child to reminisce about skipping stones across the sea, collecting seashells and rock pooling. Encourage them to head out into the shallowest waters, hunting for crabs and shrimp. See if your little cherubs can build sandcastles, dig a moat and bury either you or your husband up to your neck in wet sand. On hot, balmy days when on vacation, there can be nothing better than whiling away the hours on the beach as a family with an ice cream or two. Sand in between your toes never sounded so good.

Visit An Aquarium

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to book a day out scuba diving and head down into the deep of the oceans for a family day out to swim with the sharks, the stingrays and the legions of tropical fish. What you can do is venture to a SeaQuest Aquarium to take in the majestic beauty of the seas, without strapping on a wet-suit. Every good aquarium has thousands of species of aquatic creatures to marvel at. Your kids might witness feeding time for the penguins, observe leather-back turtles somersaulting through the water and see jellyfish lighting up the darkest depths. You never know, you may even discover the whereabouts of Nemo and Dory. A visit to an aquarium is awe-inspiring and educational and warrants a place on the ultimate bucket list.

Ride A Bike

Although this may seem the simplest of objectives to put on the bucket list, it’s a vital one. Learning to ride a bike can be the easiest of tasks for some children, but for others, it can seem like a mammoth undertaking. The joy of removing the stabilizers from your offspring’s bike is a momentous moment for both you and your child. The sense of freedom they feel when launching themselves off on two wheels for the first time is huge. They no longer need the support of an adult and can transport themselves to the park, the shops or to a friend’s house. This first taste of freedom is only the start of your child maturing and growing up.

Build A Treehouse

You don’t have to be a child to enjoy building dens and fortresses of any kind. However, when you’re not quite a teenager yet you’re old enough to venture off into the woods or forest on your own with pals, creating your own haven for you and your pals is life-affirming. Encourage your child to hot foot it into the forest and build their very own treehouse. They may be in their final year or two of role-playing games and could create a castle fit for a king, a dwelling fit for a dragon keeper or a secret lair fit for a troll destroyer. Whatever the motive is behind the build, the treehouse will be a cherished memory for your child forever.

Enjoy The Snow

Snow is still a rare occurrence in many parts of the world. The excitement of seeing the white flakes falling from the snow-laden sky lingers into adulthood. When in the throes of youth, snow is the ultimate pull factor to get you outdoors. Your little darlings can spend their time making snow angels, building snowmen and having the ubiquitous snowball fights. No childhood is truly complete without rolling the perfect snowball and planting one square on the back of a rival. Wrapping up warm with a hat, scarf, gloves and a coat before venturing outside to experience the joy of the icy cold climate and feeling your fingers almost succumbing to what feels like frostbite is what childhood memories are made of.

Fly A Kite

It doesn’t matter whether your child makes the kite or whether you purchase the finest stunt kite on the market for them, the act of flying something and being in control is often a new experience for a child. Untangling the strings, keeping hold of the grips and seeing mum or dad launching the kite high up into the air as your child pulls the strings down sharply trying to catch that all-important gust will be one of the most striking memories for anybody. Flying a kite a la Mary Poppins allows the family bond to grow stronger as you all seek the common goal of seeing your kite soaring high up in the sky.

Being a kid nowadays can be tough. The lure of Facebook, technology, and video games can be too much. However, if you make it your mission to fill your child’s time with life-affirming and enjoyable activities, you’ll be making lifelong memories for the entire family.

General, Home Improvement

7 Little Things That Make a Home Even Homier

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Do you ever walk into your home and get that nagging feeling that, despite the fact you’ve lived there for three and a half years, it still doesn’t feel like you have completely moved into your home? There are still some things missing but you cannot quite put your finger on what.

It must be tiny because, well, you get that warm and fuzzy feeling in your belly when you walk through your front door, you feel comfy and cozy and everything else, but there is a teeny tiny bit of wiggle room to make things that little bit homier, that little bit more perfect.

Don’t worry. You are not alone. We all experience these moments. Actually, we all experience them more than we may care to admit, but that’s because our home’s are works in progress. They are things that we perfect over time. A space that adapts to who we are. Space’s that we learn how to dress and fill and make flawless.

With that in mind, we have pulled together a list of incredible bits and pieces that will transform your home into something so much better.

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1. Coordinating Dinnerware Set

This is one of those things that warm your heart from the moment you open the cupboard to the minute you clear the dining table. There is something so wonderful and quaint and charming and cute about having a dinnerware set that matches. Plates, bowls, side dishes, cups and saucers, gravy jug and everything else that you could possibly imagine. Yes, it is a super grown-up thing to do, but that doesn’t mean your choice needs to be boring. You need to pick a set that pleases you and, who knows, maybe even celebrates your personality a little bit. Make sure you invest in a sixteen-piece set minimum. As an absolute minimum. Of course, the more the merrier. That’s how the saying goes, right?

2. Make Your Cookware Match

We all love cooking. It’s that chance to create something special for the family, for guests, for yourself, for whoever. But it can feel like a bit of a chore, which is why you need to battle back against this feeling. That could mean plugging into a cooking playlist on Spotify. (I’ve actually got a Spotify playlist on now!)

(Related post: Teaching Kids To Make Healthy Food Choices)

A simple investment in a matching cookware set will please your more than you could ever realize. You can imagine it now. You walk into your kitchen and the first thing you see is a full set of copper saucepans, with glass lids that actually fit, and a stockpot, and a couple of frying pans, as well as all the utensils you could ever need, from masher to ladle. You don’t need to go down the copper route, though. Any full set of matching cookware will give you this absurd happiness and help you make your home feel even more like a home.

3. You Need More Rugs

Rugs aren’t a new thing. They have been kicking about since well before Spinning Jenny’s were ever invented. At first, it was about keeping the warmth in, and now they are used to make home’s that little bit warmer and comfy and cozy. You may not have realized it until right now, but it could be the one thing your living spaces are missing – luxurious, thick, shag-pile rugs. Don’t leave it at though because there are plenty of ways you can use rugs to really rev up the cozy levels, starting with layering. Yup, putting rugs on top of rugs. It may sound insane at first listen, but it works wonders, especially if you lay a natural and neutral hand-woven rug down beside your bed and then drop a sheepskin one on top. You get an extra layer of coziness and fantastic look. The other thing you can do is break convention and put down rugs where you never thought to, like using a Persian rug in your bathroom. Not only will this add a little bit of something to an otherwise bare space, it will also mean you don’t wince every time you wake up to go to the bathroom and skip across the freezing-cold tiles.

4. Creative Seating Options

Yeah, sure, we all love curling up on the sofa, pulling the blanket up and under our chin, and watching whatever we haven’t yet seen on Netflix. However, your home will get that little bit of wow if you add some alternative seating options around the place. It could be something as simple as throwing an oversized bean bag with a microsuede cover into a corner of your kitchen or buying some velvet accent chairs to go around your dining room table. However, it could be that you get a little more hands-on and build a window seat to fit into your bay window, or a little reading nook under the stairs, or secure a hanging chair to the ceiling in your bedroom. Watching television is something we all do from time to time, but that’s because we want to get comfy. Change this up a bit and you’ll find yourself curling up with a book and a glass of red in no time and, let’s be honest, what could be more cliched and cozy than that?

5. Add A Few Antiques

Modern living is great. The open plan living spaces, the big insulated windows that let in natural light, contemporary furnishings, and sparkly appliances. It is all amazing. But it can also feel quite sterile and neat and tidy and not that homely. Not always, but sometimes. The best way to rectify this is to add some antiques (even if they are fakes). It will give your home that warm glow of yesteryear. It could be a brass standing floor light, those copper pots and pans we spoke of above, a chesterfield-style sofa, those old Hollywood-inspired tripod-spotlight-things or a well-worn kitchen table that celebrates the chipped paint look we love to call “country chic”. You’ll be gobsmacked at how amazing this can work in your favor, bringing a new layer of warmth to your home without eating into the modern-living you wanted to enjoy.

6. Hang Some Artwork

This is one of those investments that should never be overlooked. But not just the artwork itself, the way you present and hang it too. What we mean is, yes, gorgeous art from some super-talented artist will make a splash amongst your decor, but so will thick wooden frames. It could be that simple. It could be as simple as you taking a walk, snapping a few pictures on your iPhone, editing them to black and white, getting them printed and hanging them in mounted frames, especially if you create a gallery out of different sizes. It is one of the most simple yet effective ways to make a home feel that much homier.

Of course, you don’t have to go down the framed artwork route. You could get those wall decal stickers that seemed to be all the rage (like that gorgeous tree decal in the stairway of the Brown’s home in Paddington), or you could buy some wallpaper that depicts a beautiful image, like rays of sun bursting through the trees of a forest. It is simple and yet so incredibly wow. Yeah, that’s the only way to describe it, wow.

7. Upgrade Your Bed

Your bed is where you spend a third of your day, and so it kind of falls within the bell curve of “super important”. It is the thing you wake up in every morning and crash out on at the end of every day, so if it is a creaky old thing with springs poking out all over the shop then it is hardly going to make your home feel perfect.

That is why you need to upgrade your mattress. If you want to go the full hog and upgrade your bed, then do so, but the mattress is the important part. So, first things first, do your research and find out what matters in a mattress. Everyone has different preferences, but we can’t recommend a memory foam mattress enough. The support, the comfort, the being able to roll over without disturbing your bed-partner, oh the beauty. So, yeah, get yourself – or your kids if they are complaining – a new mattress (from a well-known seller) and enjoy the little things, like a great night’s sleep.

There are two sayings that everyone tends to nod their heads along to when spoken: There is no place like home and it’s the little things in life that make the biggest difference. That is why you need to combine the two and take your home into a whole new realm of homeliness. You won’t regret it, your kids will love it and your guests will start asking you what the secret is, which are these teeny-tiny little tips, of course. Nothing strenuous, just the little things.

Family, General, Self-Care

7 Ways to Add Comfort to Your Home This Christmas

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Christmas is a time of love and positivity. It’s a time to enjoy your family and your friends. It is a time that is often filled with many get-togethers. This is why it is important to make sure that your home is as comfortable as possible. After all, you want everyone to feel at ease when they come around to visit.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some top suggestions to help you out.

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Put up your Christmas decorations

If you have not put up your

Christmas decorations

yet, then there is only one place to begin. Your house is not going to feel very festive if you don’t have any Christmas decorations up, is it? If your decorations are a bit old and dated, or they don’t match together very well, consider buying some new ones. Or, you could even have some fun making your own!

Make sure your home smells amazing

 

If you are going to make your home comfortable, you need to ensure it is comfortable for all the scenes. Ensuring your home smells nice is an important part of this. You will have, no doubt, noticed that there are many Christmas scents on the market today. Cinnamon is a popular choice at this time of year. However, cinnamon can be a rather strong smell and it does not appeal to everyone.

If you are one of these people, there are plenty of other relaxing scents you can add to your home. Good examples include bergamot, vanilla, mandarin, lavender, and chamomile. My personal favorite is cranberry!

Needless to say, there are numerous ways to add these scents to your house. Burning essential oils in a diffuser is a good option to consider because it will have an aromatherapy effect as well. Of course, you could also opt for a scented spray or candles.

Focus on textures

Layers and a mix of textures are pivotal if you are trying to create a comfortable ambiance. Think about ways to add more textures to various rooms in your home. This shouldn’t be too difficult. You can invest in some new throws and cushions, or what about a plush and fluffy rug for your living room? Little touches like this can make a massive difference.

Get the temperature right

The chances are that you are going to be relying on your central heating a lot throughout the Christmas period. After all, it is cold during this time of year! It is important to make sure your home is a comfortable temperature if you are going to be having a lot of guests.

(Related post: My December Goals and November Update)

A lot of people don’t like too much artificial heat, so to speak, as it can make a property feel stuffy and some people also get sore throats when the central heating has been blasting all day. So, it is important to keep this in mind – what you find comfortable may not be comfortable for everyone else. If you do have a fireplace in your living room, now is definitely the time to make use of it. This will add warmth and comfort to your living area, which is exactly what you want when you are entertaining family and friends.

Light your house well

A lot of people don’t realize it, but lighting is actually one of the most important aspects when it comes to creating the right ambiance in a home. If your property suffers from a lack of natural daylight, you need to figure out different ways to maximise this. Of course, the most obvious solution would be to get new windows installed or skylights. Not everyone has the time or money for this, though.

Adding reflective pieces to your décor can work wonders. Mirrors and metallic surfaces will ensure the daylight bounces back into the room, which can make a massive difference. It is also important to consider the artificial lighting you have in each room as well. Ensure there are numerous lighting options – relying on a harsh overhead is not ideal. It can give you a headache! Instead, use a mixture of overhead lighting, lamps, and spotlights to create the perfect ambiance.

Add some plants around the house

Another way to make the house more comfortable and boost the atmosphere is to add some plants. My favorite for this season would be adding a pine wreath over the fireplace, and some potted poinsettas around. Of course, plants look stunning, but there are many other reasons to consider adding them to your home. Indoor plants will also boost the mood, and they will improve the airflow in the room in question too, which works to make the environment a much more comfortable one. Who knew plants could be so useful?

Make sure there are comfortable seating options for everyone

There is nothing more awkward than inviting people to your house but not having enough room for everyone to sit down. This is why you need to consider your seating options in advance and make sure you have plenty of backup solutions for when you do have visitors.

This does not mean that you should simply wheel in the office chair and take some dining chairs from the kitchen. After all, your guests aren’t going to be very comfortable sitting on these, are they? There are plenty of comfortable and affordable seating options that you should consider. A good example of this is a beanbag. Nowadays, you can get beanbags in all sizes, meaning they can accommodate more than one person. The Comfy Sack products are great examples of this. This is a great way to add some more seating solutions without losing the comfort you have achieved by following the other points that have been mentioned in this post.

You now have plenty of different ideas on how to add some more comfort to your home throughout Christmas! Use the suggestions above and you are guaranteed to have a welcoming, cozy and warm house. The only trouble is that your guests won’t want to leave.