Building your own dream home

Whether you are trying to get onto the property ladder for the first time, or are looking to move to a bigger home as your family expands, or even thinking of downsizing as the children grow up and move out, we all have a dream house in our heads. The difference is that, these days, many people make their dream home a reality. This can be in building a home from scratch, or renovating a property, often one that was not always a habitable dwelling.

There are things to consider if you go down the creating or renovating route. You need to find that perfect plot or building, you need to make sure you have a budget that is both manageable and will be enough – you will need to have contingency plans too. You will also need strong construction and building insurance that can also deal with things like structural defects, a company like CRL can address these sorts of needs and also other issues that might arise. You may also need to address issues related to listed buildings. If you take on a building with some sort of heritage preservation order there will be additional costs, rules and building regulations to follow.

Site Management is also a consideration. Your new home will potentially become a building site for a long period of time, so you need to make sure you have a site manager with an NVQ: Level 6 – Diploma In Construction Site Management. This will ensure that your manager has the necessary skills, knowledge and competence at nationally recognised standards to work in construction site management. This will also cover any Health and safety concerns you have. A site manager who has completed NVQ Level 6 should have the Black CSCS Manager Card. This is a big job, so you need to ensure the person leading your team is the best possible choice.

Renovating or building your dream home is a massive undertaking, but it is so worth the effort. Programmes like ‘Grand Designs’ and ‘The Restoration Man’ show just how incredible a renovation can be, a real dream home that can be unique, beautiful and majestic.

Here are a few dream homes that I have fell in love with.

Martello Tower

Martello Towers were created as lookout points during the Napoleonic Wars and are now highly sort after properties that are ripe for renovation. They look huge and imposing, but are often based close to the coast, and make the most unusual home.

A lighthouse

Decommisioned lighthouses are becoming another much sought after property when it comes to renovations. Again the proximity to the coast, plus the design that is already iconic, make lighthouses an interesting take on a family home. Done well, and the renovation can produce a home that is a glorious space, like the one shown below.

Art Deco House Design

My personal favourite design of house is the iconic, distinctive Art Deco designs. These are often white, with curved walls and a flat roof. The roof can often be a problem, many are prone to leaks due to the inadequate drainage, but if you can invest time and a little money in restoring the period features, you can create an incredible space.

Jewellery Ideas for Valentine’s Day: Stackable Rings, Watches And Designer Treasure

With Valentine’s day just a week away, I am today having a look at gifts that would work  well for both men and women, that is, the gift of jewellery. Jewellery is very much a gift that appeals to varied tastes, and whether you opt for beautiful costume pieces, or the real deal, you can be sure that the effort that has gone into choosing a piece of jewellery would be very much appreciated.

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Here I have put together a few jewellery gift ideas that I think should cover all bases and tastes.

Stackable Rings

A great gift idea, and also a really stylish and fashionable item, are stackable rings. You can pick these up quite cheaply in metal from places like Accessorize, but for really making a statement you should go for gold and gemstone options. Stackable rings can range from simple bands, to signet rings and wishbone styles and work in gold and silver. I love these as a gift idea, they work well for those who love the bohemian look, and can be something you can add to on different occasions like birthdays and Christmas to create a really unique, beautiful look.

A Watch

Giving a gift of time works well for both men and women. Brands like Rolex, Breitling and Cartier would be enough to put a smile on any face, but, of course, these do come with a high price tag. However, you could opt for a second hand design at a much more affordable price. Pre-Owned watches are now available with a guarantee of authenticity from companies like Xupes. Xupes also deal in pre-owned designer handbags which could be another gift idea, one which would definitely work for me.

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Costume Jewellery from Butler and Wilson

When it comes to costume jewellery, Butler and Wilson is my destination of choice. I’ve always loved the beautiful store on South Molton Street, which is how I imagine the jeweled cave from Aladdin would look, just so sparkling and pretty. If you can’t get to the London store, you can find Butler and Wilson pieces at super affordable prices at QVC.

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A designer piece

Buying a designer piece of jewellery can often be cheaper than opting for the designer bag or shoes. Selfridges always have great pieces by Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen and some of these come in at less than £150. These gifts come beautifully boxed and would be sure to be opened with appreciative gasps on February 14th.

 MARC JACOBS Enamel disc hinged bracelet £50.00 Click to visit Selfridges


MARC JACOBS Enamel disc hinged bracelet

 ALEXANDER MCQUEEN Skull double wrap leather bracelet £135.00 Click to visit Selfrdiges


ALEXANDER MCQUEEN Skull double wrap leather bracelet

 VIVIENNE WESTWOOD JEWELLERY Kika stud earrings £95.00 Click to visit Selfridges


VIVIENNE WESTWOOD JEWELLERY
Kika stud earrings

How To Get Back Into Shape After Birth

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During pregnancy, you can crave all kinds of foods, sometimes in odd combinations. There are other changes too, all because of a significant surge in hormones.

Women can feel pressured to snap back into shape as soon after birth as possible. We see pictures of post-partum celebrities who within days of giving birth seem to have lost every ounce of ‘baby weight’ they gained.

Articles on celebrity diets and tips on post-pregnancy weight loss litter the pages of women’s magazines.

Start when you are pregnant

It is perfectly natural to gain weight during pregnancy. And we all do it differently. Some women seem to blossom and balloon, whilst other pregnant ladies maintain their lithe shape and enjoy a pert bump.

Some of us gain weight right at the start, others gain it in the final trimester… we could go on but the point is this, just as you probably wouldn’t eat a family sized chocolate cake for breakfast when you are not pregnant, throwing caution to the wind and eating what you want when pregnant is not a wise choice.

Maintain the healthy lifestyle you followed pre-pregnancy but enjoy the odd treat or two.

A helping hand from nature

Once the baby is born, you can drop between 11 and 13lbs of weight instantly. Breastfeeding also helps with the calorie control as feeding your baby uses up over 800 calories a day.

Rest and recuperation is essential but once you have the all clear from the midwife, get back to walking or your gym routine, or whatever exercise you did pre-pregnancy – and start gently.

Rest and sleep

Babies don’t have a set sleep pattern, although others may boast that their little one is sleeping through the night. The point is, their sleep cycle changes and as mum, when baby sleeps, you need to be resting or sleeping too.

Odd sleep patterns cause chaos with the metabolism, making shifting baby weight a little tough. Rest and sleep when you can.

Look at Exercise – enlist a personal trainer

A personal trainer used to be the confines of the rich, but these days most gyms allow you to work one to one with a trainer in order to establish an exercise plan that is perfect for you and your body needs. A personal exercise plan can work within your limitations, can address your personal needs, and can help you to lose weight and get in shape in your own time.

Make sure your personal trainer has the best personal trainer certification that will ensure you are getting the correct, safe advice when it comes to exercise plans – you do not want to be putting your body into any harm as you are getting fit and active again.

Nature’s weight loss remedies

Nature, as you would expect, has many helping hands when it comes to helping your body recuperate post-birth. Many of these remedies, however, are not suitable during pregnancy but once baby is here, why not try;

  • A dash of lime or lemon juice in water, sweetened with honey a couple of times a day can help to lose weight, especially if you have water retention
  • Green tea has excellent weight loss properties
  • Munch of negative calorie snacks such as celery, tomatoes and cucumbers

If you are breastfeeding, remember what you eat passes on to baby so don’t go overboard otherwise you will be battling colic!

Join other mums

Having a baby is an exciting, thrilling time but when reality sets in, you need the support and encouragement, as well as company of other mums. Getting out and about, being part of a group is excellent for focusing on other things other than your weight.

Calorie counting is the answer

You can sup as much green tea as you like but, if your calorie intake is way ahead of your calorie expenditure, shifting the extra lbs you have gained is not going to happen.

Calorie counting is boring, no doubt about it but, with all kinds of calorie counting and fitness apps available, it can be slightly more fun and easier to manage.

Changing attitude to food

You’ve enjoyed pregnancy and your little bundle of joy is here – and you need to get back into a healthy eating routine – and this not only means the food and drink you consume, but when you consume it.

During pregnancy, attitude to food does change. In late pregnancy, portion sizes would have been smaller because you felt ‘full’ and cumbersome with a full-term baby. Now that you can eat normally again, portion sizes increase. It is amazing how many not-so-good habits stay with us.

Eat well at breakfast, get back to eating fish three times a week and opt for lean cuts of meat again. Space your meals over the day so that your calorie intake is evenly spread.

In summary

Your post-pregnancy body can feel very different, certainly for the first few weeks or even months after giving birth. You need to give it chance to heal but you also need to be mindful of making changes that will help you get back into shape both physically and mentally so that you can look forward to the challenges of parenthood.