November 17, 2017

5 Tips For Buying a Gift for the Nature Lover In Your Life

If you’ve got someone in your life that loves going on adventures in the outdoors, then congratulations: people who are passionate about the outdoors are some of the easiest people on earth to buy for -- that is if you know what you’re looking for. Below, we take a look at a few tips that’ll ensure you’re able to get them a gift they’ll love this Christmas.


What Do They Like To Do?

People can generally like the outdoors, but they’re normally more passionate about one specific aspect of it, say hiking, biking, or bird-watching. Knowing that they like to do will be your starting point for choosing a gift. Once you’ve figured out the activities they’re doing in nature, you’ll be in a good position to figure out what type of gift will be useful/wanted by them.

Looking at what they Need

When it comes to the outdoors, there’s a fine line between needing and wanting an item. Most of the time, they can get away just fine without one particular product, but where’s the fun in that? One of the best things about the outdoors is the cellar full of supplies you get to play with when you’re there. If you don’t want to ask him or her directly what they want, you can always ask one of their friends, or read up on the latest gadgets in outdoor magazines. Be aware, though, that some people become irrationally attached to their favorite outdoor equipment. Just because you’re convinced they need new hiking boots, that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily think the same.  

Using in the Mountains and the City

People love being in the outdoors, but the truth is that people often don’t get as many opportunities as they’d like actually to do so. As such, an alternative to a specific item for outdoors would be to buy them something that is equally at home in the city as it is nature. The best tactical wallet, for instance, will be rugged enough for nature, but stylish enough for the city. There are also many fantastic watches that will give your loved one a cool, outdoorsy vibe even when they’re wandering through an urban landscape.

More Information

Nature lovers really can’t get enough. It’s not just about the time they spent there; it’s about knowing as much as they can. As such, one of the best gifts you can give them is access to more information, be it through movies, books, or talks. If you live near a city, there might be an outdoor film festival traveling through at some point: two tickets would be a perfect gift!

Recording the Moments

Finally, you can also use Christmas as a way to get your loved one into a new hobby that’s built around their love of the outdoors. Buy them a camera, notepad, or GoPro, and they’ll be able to use their passion to get creative.

Remember, if it’s cool and connected to the outdoors, they’ll love anything you buy them as a gift! 

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

Fun With Friends and Family For Any Occassion

Board games are making their grand comeback. Video games are still enjoying the limelight, but people are enjoying spending time with friends and family and enjoying a fun game at the same time. There are now board games for any age, any taste and any setting. You aren’t restricted to only playing Monopoly and Risk anymore - although they still exist in abundance. Here are some excellent examples.

Carcassonne is a game where players take turns laying tiles trying to make castles, roads and fill up a countryside. It is an excellent game that can be played between 2-5 people. The great thing about Carcassonne is that it is just as fun with two people as it is with five. This makes it a fun couples game in the evening after a long day or a great one to play with the whole family at Christmas. The rules are so simple and yet the game has so many expansions that you can modify it the way you want. There is also some brilliant smartphone and tablet adaptations so you can easily take this game with you anywhere.

Dobble is one of those games that is fun for the entire family. It’s one of those board games for 5 year olds or 50 year olds. It comes with a range of different game modes, but each card has a series of other pictures on them. One of the most popular games is a bit like snap where players must quickly put their own cards on top of the one in the middle naming what the picture match is. The player who runs out of cards the fastest is the winner. While the tin says 7 years and up, as longs as your child can name basic objects such as footballs, apples and cars, then they’ll be fine and will thoroughly love it. There are plenty of different ways to play, so it never gets old. The box is also really small, so it is easy to transport meaning it makes a great vacation game.

Machi Koro
If you have that Monopoly itch, then consider trying Machi Koro. It has all the trappings of Monopoly such as buying property and gathering money but will play in a fraction of the time and is a lot more fun. Each turn you are going to roll some dice and match the number with the cards in front of you. If you rolled a 3 for example, then you are going to get a coin from your bakery. You can then use this money to buy more property and winner is the player who can build a set number of special buildings first. Each card's color does a different thing, too. Blue means whenever anyone rolls that number you get money, red means if somebody else rolls that number they have to give you money and green means if you roll the number then you get money. The game is great, and there is a lot of fun to be had rolling dice and hoping to win big.

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

November 15, 2017

Christmas Gift Inspiration: What To Get The Music Lover in Your Life

With the holidays only a matter of weeks away, it is time to start thinking about what you might be choosing to buy for other people this festive season. Giving gifts can be overwhelming; having to budget and decide who gets what can take time and effort...which is where this post comes in. A few ideas to help you on the way is always a good idea, and this post has a few ideas on what to get for the musician or music lovers in your life.

Personalized Print
They say that it is the thought that counts with a gift. When something has been made personal to the recipient, they will know that you have been thinking of them when you got the gift. There are many options out there for you, but a sound wave print to one of their favorite songs could be a good idea, as well as framed sheet music for a piece that means a lot to them. It could even be something they have written if they are a bit of a songwriter, to make it extra special.

Vinyl Records
All true music lovers know that anything sounds better when it is played from a vinyl record. So many artists nowadays are releasing vinyl copies of their music too. But if there is some music from their favorite artist or band that they don’t have on vinyl, then you could look somewhere like Nationwide Disc to get them a copy of it. Then they can enjoy the retro vibe of playing their favorite music on vinyl. If they don’t have a record player, then that could easily make another gift option for them too.

Gig Tickets
All music lovers love to go and see live music, right? So tickets to see a band, orchestra, or solo artist could be just the thing that they would love for a gift. Gigs and concerts are happening all of the time. So you’re bound to find something that they would enjoy. Even better is if you get two tickets and get to go with them!

Speakers or Headphones
If you have a friend or family member that is a big music buff, then they're probably listening to music a lot, whether at home or out and about, which is where a new pair of speakers could come in as a great gift idea. They could be wireless ones to help them listen at home, or even some new headphones. Over the head earphones are pretty trendy right now so could work well. But if you are really wanting to splash out, then the new Apple wireless headphones could be the ones for you.

Hopefully, this has given you a little bit of inspiration of what to give when it comes to the music lovers or the musicians that you have in your life. What gifts are you looking forward to giving this holiday season?

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

November 14, 2017

Get Peace Of Mind In 5 Simple Steps


Did you know that anxiety is on the rise? It’s true; there are many cases of anxiety diagnosed each year, and this is becoming an increasing problem with young women.

Worried that you are getting a bit too anxious and stressed right now? Try these steps to find peace of mind before you book an appointment with your doctor.

Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
One reason some people get so anxious is that they continually compare their life to the lives of others. By doing this, it’s easy to get into the mindset that others are doing a lot better than you in life. For instance, you might worry that you haven’t progressed as far in your career as some of your peers. Another common worry is not having reached certain life milestones in time. For example, seeing people get married can be quite worrying for people who are still single. So, stop comparing yourself to others, and you can start to relax more about life!

Practice Mindfulness
Give your mind a break and start to practice mindfulness! This is a form of meditation that helps you practice your thought technique. After a month or so of practicing mindfulness techniques, you will find that you can deal with stressful and worrying thoughts a lot better than before. To start your mindfulness practice, it’s useful to download an app, such as Headspace.

Get In Touch With Your Spiritual Side
A few people find that getting in touch with their spiritual side really helps them discover true peace of mind. There are numerous ways you can do this. You might like to find out more about the nearest order of nuns in your local area. Most of these lead prayer services with the local community. It might also be a nice idea to start going to your nearest church on a regular basis.

Cut Out Sugar
Did you know that your diet has a big impact on your mental health? It’s true! And one of the worst things you can eat is sugar. Eating high amounts of sugar regularly can stress you out and reduce your body’s protection against mental health issues. So, if you are currently eating a diet that is very high in sugar, it’s a good idea to make some changes as soon as possible.

Step Back From Your Busy Life
Are you super busy right now? Constantly thinking how you can grow and develop yourself? These are great things to work on, but if working towards your goals starts to stress you out, it might be time to take a break. Step away from your busy life and take some well-earned time to chill out. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to get some peace of mind this way!

Getting peace of mind isn’t completely impossible - as you can see, the above five steps will help you on the journey to a stress-free life!

Do you have any other useful tips? Let me know; I’m excited to hear them!

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

November 13, 2017

11 Things You Can Do For A More Exciting Lifestyle

If there’s one thing you’ll notice as you get older, it’s that life gets less and less exciting --- that is, if we let it. When we’re young, we rarely think about what’s happening the next day, and live in the moment. We don’t worry about the past or the future, or get bogged down with things we should do. We just enjoy ourselves. It’s about time we all started bringing these principles into our daily lives!

If you want to have a more exciting lifestyle, forget your monotonous existence and have more adventures, here are 11 things you can do:

1. Get Rid Of The Meaningless Tasks To Make Room For More Excitement
Take a long, hard look at your life and figure out which tasks you can get rid of to make more room for excitement. Do you find yourself scrolling social media sites pointlessly? Figure out what you can get rid of so you can bring more excitement into your life. You should use your time wisely. Scrolling isn’t a distraction from life, it is life.

2. Shake Up Your Boring Morning Routine
If you have the same morning routine, try changing it up so you have a routine that actually energizes you and makes you want to tackle the day. Could you start the day by reading a chapter of a book you love? Could you go for a quick run to get those endorphins pumping? Don’t get out of bed every morning and rush around to leave for work. Leave plenty of time for yourself to get things done and enjoy the morning. It’ll set a better tone for the rest of your day.


3. Rearrange Your Home
Maybe your home life could be made a little more exciting with a rearrangement of furniture? Simply changing a few things around could give your home a brand new look, make it more practical, and keep things fresh. There are apps and things you can use online to help you figure out the most practical arrangement for your home.

4. Find Fun Things To Include In Your Home
There are so many fun things you could include in your home, depending on who you live with and how you enjoy using your home most. For example, if you love singing in the shower, looking for the best shower speakers could be a great addition. If you and your family love your movie nights, then a big high quality TV could be great. You don’t always have to include expensive things - a big beanbag, or even a hammock chair could make your home more fun to spend more time in.

5. Have A Makeover
Maybe you could make your life more exciting by having a makeover. When was the last time you changed your hair color? You could even do something far less committal and change your makeup. Try a new lipstick shade. Just do something fun and don’t think about it too much!

6. Set Out To Learn Something New
If we’re not working on bettering ourselves, then what’s the point in life at all? Just because you don’t plan on becoming a professional seamstress, for example, doesn’t mean you can’t take a class to learn how to do it. You’ll meet new people, improve your skills and confidence, and who knows where else it could lead you? Think of something you’ve always wanted to do, from learning an instrument to learning a new language. Don't think too much about it and just see how things go. You only live once!

7. Plan An Exciting Trip
Plan an exciting trip, or better yet multiple exciting trips that you can take either alone or with friends. Bear in mind that traveling alone and traveling with friends can be two completely different experiences. When traveling alone, you can learn so much about yourself. You also have an itinerary that’s all your own, as you’re the boss! Traveling alone should be embraced, rather than frowned upon. However, you should still travel with friends if you can - after all, after a certain point, when there are families and houses to take care of, they won’t necessarily want to travel anymore. Plan as many trips as you can - travel is one of the only things you can spend money on that can actually make you richer! 


8. Spend More Time With People Who Make You Feel Alive
If you have people in your life who make you feel alive, make sure you spend more time with them. There will of course, be some people who you wished you could get away from, but make sure you make the most of those who you feel bring out the best in you. Socialize more, even if you can only arrange a quick coffee catch up.

9. Take A Big Leap Of Faith
Is there something that’s been on your mind for a while, but you’d need to take a big leap of faith to do it? For example, moving to a new city, signing up to an expensive course, or doing something else that makes you a little scared? It’s good to do things that scare you. If something scares you and excites you at the same time, then it’s probably worth doing.

10. Say Yes More Often
If you find yourself saying no to things constantly, try saying yes more often. Say yes to that after work drink. Go on that date, even if you don’t think it’ll go anywhere. Just start being a yes person, instead of a no person. Say yes to life and you’ll be surprised at where it could take you.

11. Wear Something Bolder Than Usual
Why not wear something a little bolder than usual? The things we wear can have a huge impact on our confidence. You might find that you feel unstoppable when you wear something bright and bold. You could even start small, by incorporating bright shoes, for example.

Which of these 11 things will you try for a more exciting lifestyle?

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

November 10, 2017

Are You Still Connected Offline?

There has been lots of speculation lately about people in their late teens and early twenties struggling to retain real world friendships. It’s easier at school and college because you’re always around other students. That means there is a whole pool of people with the same interests and at that same point in life with you all day. But as soon as you walk out the gates for the last time, life changes. Are you still connected?

Lots of young people are taking gig jobs meaning they don’t work in an office with colleagues. Instead, they are alone, usually at home, completing work through unsociable hours. Most of us connect with friends and family online. But in reality, we’re merely reading their posts, and those are just a few words long highlighting the best bits of an event. They’re not really a live, two-way conversation that offers an ear to both sides. A bit of that connection is inevitably lost.

So how can you stay connected in the real world? And do you really want to?
Losing a friend used to be heartbreaking. You would have to say goodbye, give them a hug, and watch them drive away for the last time. On social media, you won’t even notice you’ve lost a friend. And if the numbers do seem a little lower, chances are you never the knew the friend you’re not missing!

A lack of real friends might mean a lack of counsel, though. Who do you turn to when you’re facing a dilemma? Who is giving you advice? Chances are you’re asking a forum of strangers online at a specialist website. Or you might be reading your way through this 16 Best Self Help Books To Read [2017 Experts Pick] list. We all tend to look for the answers online or in books these days. Search engine results will steer us toward the most read pages that match the term we entered. Perhaps a real-world answer is simply not detailed or informed enough?

What is your preferred method of contacting real friends? Is it a text message or email? Maybe it’s a nudge from an app? Few of us make phone calls or knock on their front door as the first point of contact. Does this hinder the relationship?

If you want to reconnect with friends and family, you might have to disconnect for a while. Many of us spend many hours looking at the screen of a phone or tablet. Real world connections require eye contact and verbal communication! So put down the device and engage. You wouldn’t experience traveling by just staring at Pinterest posts.

It’s not always easy. After all, you need to keep an eye on your messages, your updates, and the latest chatter on social media trending topics. But if you commit to a twenty-minute coffee and a chat, then switch it all off for that time.

We’re all pretty used to using the internet to solve problems, and self-help books to give us guidance and motivation in life. This might mean that some people struggle to actually talk about their problems with someone who is in the room and listening. Not all of us are comfortable talking about personal issues. Would you be willing to open up, or does the anonymity of a handle online help loosen your tongue more?

Why Get Those Real Life Relationship Skills Back?
It’s important not to find yourself isolated by a life lived online. Real-world relationships are essential in all parts of our lives. You might have a job or a business where you need to sell in person. Perhaps you need to refine those people skills or presentation skills to earn money now? How are you tackling this? YouTube videos only show you how others do it. You need to practice this yourself!

If you’re hoping for a long-term relationship with someone one day, you also need to get in the habit of spending long periods of time with another person. It might start with small talk, but you need to get used to feeling connected to people in the real world to stand a chance of bonding. That feeling of isolation can soon make you feel uncomfortable. It can lead to shyness and feeling disconnected from the social graces that build real-world relationships.

It’s so easy to discover that most of your relationships are maintained digitally rather than in person in the real world. It doesn’t spell disaster though. After all, our lives are moving online in every way. Of course, you can look for advice on blogs and in self-help books. What do you do to stay connected with your real-world relationships?

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

How To Host A French Themed Dinner Party

A dinner party is the ultimate sophisticated way to entertain friends. You’ve got a whole world of cuisines to choose from but if there’s one country that’s more famous for its food than any other, it’s France. They have a long, rich culinary history that’s produced some of the classiest and most delicious food in the world. They’re also well renowned for hosting incredible events. If you want to recreate the magic of the French dinner party, follow these simple steps.

french restaurant.jpg

Ask somebody where you get the best wine, and they’ll say France. It’s one of the things that it’s best known for and no French dinner party would be complete without a good wine selection. That doesn’t mean you can head to the local supermarket and pick up a couple of cheap bottles and be done with it. If you’re serious about recreating a true French experience, you’ll need to find a proper wine store and get something more authentic. It’s worth spending a bit more money on it, otherwise, you’ll just end up getting bad quality wines. A nice Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir should suit everybody’s taste, make sure you get a few bottles so you don’t run out.

If you’re going to host a French themed dinner party, the food is obviously going to be a central part of it. There are so many iconic dishes that have come out of France so you’ve got a huge amount to choose from. It’s best to go for one of the classics that you can be sure that everybody will love.

Soupe à l'oignon, or onion soup, is a great choice for the starter. People are often put off this dish because they don’t believe that the simple ingredients can create such an elegant taste. The secret is in the caramelization of the onions, but the croutons and the melted cheese on top don’t do it any harm. It’s a very inoffensive flavor that most people can get on board with.

Coq au vin, or chicken in wine, is another staple of French cooking that’s sure to impress your guests. The chicken, slow cooked in red wine, melts in the mouth. Most of the time it’s cooked using a burgundy, don’t waste the expensive wines that you bought for drinking when you’re cooking. Some simple dauphinoise potatoes make a great accompaniment to coq au vin.

If you fancy something a little more hearty that’s perfect for a dinner party during the winter months, beef bourguignon is the way to go. Its essentially a beef stew made with red wine, but it’s French, so they manage to make it so much better somehow. You want to cook it low and slow until the meat falls apart easily.

For dessert, if you’re brave enough, you could try a chocolate souffle. It’s one of the most popular French desserts but it’s notoriously difficult to make. It’s very easy to get a sunken souffle if you don’t get it right so I’d recommend doing a few practice runs before you invite guests over to try it.
Tarte Tatin is a slightly easier choice for people that aren’t quite as confident in the kitchen. This amazing apple tart relies on a few simple ingredients, apples, sugar and cinnamon, to create an elegant dessert that your guests are sure to love.

No sophisticated French dinner party would be complete without the right decoration. The natural look is a brilliant way to recreate the atmosphere of a quaint little cafe in Paris. Combining some natural features with an elegant tea set style table setting is the perfect way to capture that look. It’s all about the little details so cut some fresh flowers and make table decorations from them. During the summer, you should definitely consider hosting it outside. Nothing captures the relaxed French atmosphere better than a summers evening.

Don’t Rush
In Europe, people often don’t sit down to have their evening meal until ten or eleven at night during the summer. They’ll sit out in the early hours of the morning, slowly snacking on food and wine. Followed by a cheese board and some coffees. It’s a very relaxed affair and the entire evening is built around the meal. When you’re planning your dinner party, you shouldn’t think of it as just eating a meal, don’t rush your guests and prepare for a meal that lasts long into the night. That way you can emulate this laid back bohemian mentality that you find in France.

A French themed dinner party is the perfect way to wow your guests, and now you know the secret to getting it right. 

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.