National Wallpaper Week with Graham & Brown – a Nostalgic Bedroom Makeover

You may have seen that this year I’ve been all about the home improvements. I finally had enough of looking at the sticky, grubby child muck on the walls and doing not much more than giving them an idle scrub with a baby wipe. And while I’ve tackled the majority of the house now, after hours and hours of painting and blisters and aching muscles, one room remained…

Our bedroom. Functional, yes. But pretty? Comfortable? Something to be a little proud of? Not really. It was always at the bottom of the priority list as ya know, we only sleep in there, right? How much difference will it make if it looks nice? (A lot apparently, but I’ll get back to that).

I needed help.

The decorating guardian angels Graham & Brown came to my rescue with National Wallpaper Week ( which is the 5th to 11th of October don’tcha know (yes, it’s a thing) and the opportunity to makeover a room with some of their fancy wallpapers.

Shall we have a little “before” action?

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Even my unicorn collection couldn’t brighten it up.

Enough is enough I proclaimed to the sad walls, brandishing my brush of wallpaper paste menacingly in the air.

Part of this challenge was that Graham & Brown wanted to prove that there was a wallpaper for everyone, and that different styles can evoke different emotions and moods. I went with nostalgia – I wanted the room to be timeless, effortless and full of memories and all the different styles I love – an old faithful that I could rely on to make me feel relaxed and content. I don’t like interiors to match too much or look too uniformed, I prefer the quirky feel where different colours and patterns just sort of work together in harmony. Nostalgia to me means kitsch, junk shop chic, slightly silly and bright.

So I set out to find a bold, graphic print and fell in love with Kensington Charteuse – a Victorian style, hand-drawn print with a modern edge and striking colour-way – the perfect focal point for my mix and match style.


Kensington Charteuse Wallpaper £15 per roll, Moscow matte emulsion 2.5 litres £27, Lit Arrow £60 – all from Graham & Brown

To compliment the gorgeous wallpaper I wanted a paint that made the paper the main star, but was still a gorgeous shade in it’s own right. I opted for Moscow by Graham & Brown – a beautiful, muted putty grey.

Within a day I’d managed to paint the room which only needed two coats to cover the somewhat dubious pink it was previously (I know, I don’t know what I was thinking either). Even without putting the wallpaper up, the room began to feel different and had an air of stylish grown up about it.

The next stage was the paper itself. I’ve never put up wallpaper before so knew this could go very, very badly… But even as a complete novice, I can say with some confidence that it was actually pretty easy without any help. The Superfresco Easy paper is designed so that you put the wallpaper paste directly onto the wall, which saved a lot of faffing around as I didn’t need a pasting table and I didn’t damage any paper with my clumsy disposition. Start to finish it took me around 3 hours and we’re so delighted with the end result.





And side by side…

before and after

I never saw myself as a wallpaper type person before this challenge. I always felt they made rooms feel too much, too done but I’ve now realised that there truly is a wallpaper to suit any home, any style and indeed any person.

I can’t wait to spend many an evening curled up in my new room with a good book and as many crocheted granny blankets as I can stand!

To find your own perfect (wallpaper) match and events and ways to join in near you, be sure to check

Disclaimer: All decorating items and products mentioned were very kindly sent to me by Graham & Brown for the purpose of this challenge and post. However all words and opinions are entirely my own.

Study Tips: High-Stakes Testing Edition

Tests with high stakes are stressful for students and parents alike. The rewards for success can be as life changing as an ivy league college or a driver’s licence. Many students crack under the pressure and don’t score as well as they should. Taking standardised tests is a learned skill. Help your son or daughter master standardised tests with these study tools and tips.

Practice Tests

Practice tests prepare students for the kind of questions they will be asked, but also the language used in those questions. A good practice test teaches students to read directions carefully and look for essential keywords. These tests also promote the scan technique, a strategy where students scan the test to answer easy questions first. Whatever test your son or daughter needs to prepare for, there are online sites, like Top Tests and 4Tests, that provide practice exams, many of which are free.

Teach Relaxation

All the studying in the world won’t help your daughter if she freezes with stress once the test is in front of her. Take stress out of high-stakes testing with the 1+3+10 system developed by educational psychologist, Dr. Michele Borba. First, remain calm. Take 3 deep breaths and count to 10 (in your head).

Teach a visualization technique so your son can detach his emotions from the stressful situation of the test. Have your son close his eyes and imagine something that is far removed from the test. With this technique, if he becomes stressed directly before the test, he can calm himself with this technique.

Let your child voice concerns. Have him keep a journal of how she feels about the situation as she prepares for these important tests. It can sometimes add stress when a student holds everything inside. Let her express how she feels and address her concerns appropriately.

Seek Outside Help

Teachers will help. They’re full of advice and want success for their students. Many teachers have resources, study guides and perhaps practice tests of their own. If your son has a certain area of study he is struggling with, have him seek after-school help from the appropriate teacher. Teachers often have after-class office hours, and are likely to make time to help motivated kids. For a more personalised and one-on-one study session, consider a private tutor.

Test Strategies

Educated Answer: Almost all standardised tests are multiple choice, though some also have a written portion. In multiple choice sections of a test, a test taker should reason out what the answer to a question is, then read the answers. If any match his reasoning or work, then he’s likely got the correct answer.

Smart Guessing: When a student doesn’t know the correct answer, though does know which answers are definitely wrong, he can use process of elimination. Eliminate the incorrect answers. If he can rule out two of four choices, he has a 50 per cent chance at a right answer, one he’d otherwise leave blank.

Stick with It: A student’s first answer is typically the right one. When a student second guesses himself and doesn’t stick with his instinct, it shows lack of confidence in his own abilities. If he’s prepared, the first answer he chooses has better odds of being correct than if he changes his answer.

Bingo Makes a Mommy Happy!

Life being a mother of a newborn is never easy! Taking care of a baby is simple yet it is one of the most difficult phases you have probably gone through in your life. I personally faced this situation with my newborn daughter who is 26 days old now. This little bundle of joy communicates either through crying or letting off her million dollar smile. The sense of responsibility of life is at its peak when you become parents.

Your Baby hardly sleeps at a stretch and needs to eat quite often at regular intervals. Their tiny tummies need nutritional food at every intervals for a proper nourishment. So, it is not unusual to spend most of the hours feeding the baby at appropriate gaps of time.

Usually, the most common reason behind a baby’s cry is hunger. If not hungry, then surely check the diaper. If even that is not the problem, try swaddling her in a warm blanket. Newborns are used to the tight confinement of the womb. Being out in the world takes time for them to get adjusted to the environment and the overall setting.

Life is like a roller coaster ride when you are a new mommy! It is then when you feel  the saying ‘a mother hardly sleeps’. You rarely get time to look after yourself when your little one is on the top of your priority list! But yes, to keep yourself healthy and happy you have to manage and take some time out for yourself even in your busy schedule. Especially when the baby is taking a nap or sleeping early during nights, you should relax yourself with some of your favourite recreational activities to keep things refreshed and ticking.

In my case, my all time favourite leisure activity is to play ‘Bingo’. All I do is to login to my favourite bingo site New Look Bingo and enjoy the refreshing game of bingo for an hour or two. The best part is that I don’t need to be confined to my laptop or desktop to access the games, as I can access everything through my mobile and that too with the exact same experience.

Apart from the flexibility of platform the site provides a £5 no deposit bonus as soon as you register on the site. With this FREE bonus you can play free bingo games and have a first hand experience of the site and its games. So, to avail more bingo promotions join and be a part of New Look Bingo today.

Decorating Tips for Rental Properties

The private rental sector in the UK is booming at the moment and now is a great time to invest in property. Demand for rental homes is incredibly high. Most young people can’t afford the deposit required to get on the property ladder, so renting is their only affordable option. But what you need to remember when buying a rental property is that it will need decorating more often than your own home.

The thing to remember with rental properties is that tenants rarely look after them in the same way you would. Therefore decoration needs to be robust and capable of withstanding a lot of wear and tear. If you can take this idea on board, you will be less disappointed when your lovingly decorating house ends up in a terrible state after a year.

Try and focus on making your buy to let property durable and practical. As long as you spend your budget wisely you should get away with some minor maintenance between tenancies rather than having to give the place a major overhaul. So if you have recently invested in a rental property, here are some useful decorating tips.

Keep it Neutral

Don’t get too carried away with decorating a rental property. Whilst it needs to look attractive enough to appeal to tenants, you should try and avoid putting too much of a personal stamp on the décor. Just because you like bold, bright colours, it doesn’t mean tenants will. It is much better to stick to neutral shades of cream and beige as these are easier to match to generic furniture.

Buy Good Quality Fixtures and Fittings

Cheap fixtures and fittings might be great from a financial perspective, but you will end up having to replace them every five minutes, so it won’t be much of a bargain in the long run. This is especially true in high traffic areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. Cheap taps and budget kitchen units tend to fall apart with a lot of use. By contrast, good, solid units and taps should provide many years’ service.

Quality Flooring

Budget carpets look great for the first few days, but this happy state of affairs doesn’t last long. Laminate flooring can work well in living rooms because it is easy to keep clean and withstands foot traffic well. Ceramic tiles are great for kitchens and bathrooms for the same reason. In areas where carpet is a must, look at a decent quality product in a light brown shade, as this will fit in with most decorative schemes.

Beware Mould

Mould is a serious problem and should be prevented at all costs. Always use anti-mould paint in areas of high humidity such as bathrooms and kitchens and opt for premium brands over budget ones.

When buying paint, tiles, carpet and other decorative materials, buy in bulk because a) it’s cheaper and b) you can repair any worn areas without having to colour match. Once you have finished decorating your property, be sure to pay for a property inventory from to prevent deposit disputes at a later date.

Money Saving Tips – Reclaiming Expenses

At difficult times like these when everyone is keen to save where ever possible and to look after the pennies as best we can – it comes to a point where we begin searching for new and hidden ways of saving some cash.

We all know the obvious things, switching utility companies, taking your own lunch to work, meal planning and the dozens of other little tweaks we make to our every day lives to look after our pennies but what if we need more than that? What else is there we can do?

One thing I’ve noticed time and again recently on money saving forums is tax rebates – if you are required to wear a uniform to work, then you can claim back thousands on the washing and upkeep of said uniform – also mileage and expenses can be claimed for. You can see if you’re entitled to these by making a simple, five minute claim on Tax Returned is where to start. These claims can also be back dated so can really add up.

It’s little life hacks like these that may cause a few moments of headache and stress – can make us feel more in control and able to face these uncertain and difficult financial times. Where we do everything from buying from budget ranges and cheaper supermarkets to selling treasured possessions and giving up expensive habits – all so we can keep our heads above water and ensure the basics can be paid for.

Don’t forget, a quick look on money saving forums can give you hundreds if not thousands of frugal-living and penny pinching ideas (from the sublime to the somewhat ridiculous) to help you save a little – or a lot.

What are your best kept money-saving secrets? Have you ever claimed money back on your work uniforms? I’d love to know!


Save Money When Having a Shopping Day Out

There are many ways you can save money when having a shopping day out. Depending on what you want to buy, doing some planning beforehand can save you a great deal of money. Being money savvy will allow you to save money on a great variety of items and services, including clothing, food and entertainment.

Save money on your clothes shopping

If you want to buy new clothes for yourself and your family, the best time to do so would be during the sales. Nowadays there are regular sales, in stores and online. Thinking ahead to next year’s summer holiday, why not buy your summer clothing items during the sales leading into autumn? During this time, clothes stores want to get rid of their summer lines in order to make room for their autumn or winter products. This is a great time to get summer clothing at a great discount. It is also worth looking at clothes stores online as they often do different discounts than in store and you can end up saving even more money.

Buying second-hand entertainment products

If you are looking to buy entertainment items such as DVDs, games consoles and CDs, the best way of saving money on such items is to purchase them second-hand. If they are in good condition, it will make no difference to your entertainment pleasure and you can purchase them for a fraction of the full RRP. There are many websites and stores that sell second-hand entertainment goods in great condition at bargain prices.

Save money when food shopping

When it comes to food shopping, there is a variety of ways you can knock some money off your receipt. To save money, you can look at products that are on offer, rather than your usual brand, or use the supermarket’s own branded products. You can also save any coupons you have and use them against the cost of your food shop. Some supermarkets offer better online deals, so perhaps think about ordering your food online, rather than in store. An added benefit is that they save your shopping list, so that you don’t have to keep entering the same items every week.

Planning meals before you start your food shopping will help prevent you adding extra items you don’t really need, while using a basket instead of a trolley can also stop you from adding more products to your shopping list.

Other money saving methods

Many supermarkets offer loyalty cards and vouchers offering you money off certain brands you regularly buy. This helps to retain their customers, as you will want to return to that store to get money off your food shopping. Reward schemes such as Grouptrader offer customers the opportunity to get deals, discounts and rewards that you can spend almost anywhere. It can save you a great deal of money and you can find our much more about their rewards system if you connect to Grouptrader online.

There are some easy and simple methods of saving money when you shop, meaning you may never have to pay the full price for anything, ever again. Shop smart and shop savvy and do some research and preparation beforehand to get the best money saving deals possible.

Choosing the Right Home for Your Family

If you are looking for a new home for your family, there are some things you can do to ensure that you choose the right home. There are many things to take into consideration when buying a new home and it can often feel overwhelming. Take time to sit down with your family so that you can discuss the essentials that will make everyone happy in their new home. You need to look at what you want from inside the home, as well as location and the local community facilities such as shops, schools and transport access.

What kinds of things are important for your family?

When you are looking for a new home for the family, you need to make sure that you are all catered for in terms of bedroom space and bathrooms. If you have a large family, it may be important to you that you have more than one bathroom. While you may have young children who can share a bedroom for now, if you want a family home you can live in for a long time, it is important to consider that as they get older they will want their own privacy and space. Are there extra bedrooms and if not, would you have room to create extra space by extending the property in the future? Is there enough outside space? Is it well maintained?

Look at the local area and community

The location of the property is as important as what is inside it. If you find a home that you think is suitable and affordable for your budget, look at the area your property is in. Are there suitable schools nearby? If so, are they good schools? Is the community  pleasant, with things to do for all the family? Are there shops nearby and is the house in a good location for you to get to work each day? Are there parking facilities at the house? Look at transportation links, new developments and restaurants and bars in the area, as this can give you a good indication of the area and its future.

A new home for a new family

As a new family, you may consider renting or buying a new property for your family. As your family expands, you quickly learn that added space is valuable, as is a good location. You may rent initially before deciding to settle down and buy a property for your family. Property management firms such as Hamilton King look after homes by maintaining areas around properties, making sure they are well maintained, which is important for any family home. Well-maintained property can add value to the area and make playing outdoors safer and more enjoyable for your children.

When trying to find a new home for you and your family there is a lot to consider, but when you do find the right property, you can relax and settle into your new home knowing all of your family is catered for, now and in the future.

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