After a whole year and a half, I’ve finally contracted covid-19 with two weeks left until my birthday and just starting a new job, it makes perfect timing!
Luckily, I will be out of self-isolation by my birthday but I’m going to have to be extra cautious because I do NOT want to get a second bout of the stuff. Also, I’ve had to cancel all upcoming birthday events and work dates.
Everybody wishes they had more space at home at some time or other. Whether it’s during celebrations when you want more room for family, or just for everyday living when the kids are home, and everyone seems on top of each other.
Organising possessions, storage and even decor can change the mood and feeling of space in the home, so here are some tips to help you get the best from your personal space.
Keep Things Simple
Or to put it another way, minimise where possible. That doesn’t mean you need to go the whole route of minimal living. In this instance it’s more about clearing your surfaces, having designated spots for different items, and being fussy about which items you put on display, and where.
If you need to thin down possessions, tackle this first. If you have lots of cluttersome items, it’s less stressful to do a bit at a time rather than trying to blitz the whole house at once. You could go room by room, or work in categories.
If categories seem a bit confusing, an example might be books. Maybe they’re all over the house, in every room, but would make a better, more stylish display if they were all together. Go round and collect them all up. Stack them in a big pile in the middle of the room if necessary. Then decide which ones to keep for display and which to pack away for safe keeping.
Alternatively, maybe you have different categories of books, such as children’s literature or a collection of work-related textbooks. Create individual units or shelves to display just those categories.
You can apply a similar concept to all kinds of household possessions, from linens to DIY tools or even clothes and toys. When you find items you want to keep but not use or display, consider renting a self storage room. This gives the best of both worlds as you get to keep possessions you love, but also free up space at home.
Make Use of Storage Furnishings
All over the house, storage furnishings help cut down on surface clutter, keeping small items together and neat.
In living rooms, go for coffee tables with lifting tops, end tables with shelves or drawers, and decorative chests, trunks, or footstools with storage.
In bedrooms, consider swapping frame beds for divans or ottoman styles. The added storage under the mattress is handy for all kinds of things, from kids toys and sports gear to spare towels and bed linens.
When your closet is bursting at the seams, try installing a second hanging rail under the first. This is especially useful if most of your garments are short. If short items share space with longer clothes such as dresses or full-length coats, separate them into lengths so all the short things are together. Pop one of those cheap drawer towers underneath the smaller items and use it for shoes, folded items, or accessories. There are more closet organising ideas here.
Shelving can also be classified as storage furnishings and is useful all over the house. The vertical space is often overlooked, but there is lots of storage space on walls.
Some ideas include:
A shelf over a doorway. When there’s no wall space, popping a shelf over the door is unobtrusive but handy for displaying precious items. In the bathroom, use it to store beauty products in pretty baskets.
Attach a narrow shelf or two to the end of the kitchen cabinets. It’s a handy alternative for spice bottles and,if you fix a rail in front, it can also be used for recipe books.• Run a long shelf at picture rail height around the perimeter of a room. Great for books, lighting, or delicate items you want to keep out of pets’ or kids’ reach.
Storage Through the Seasons
Often, we end up with nowhere to put things because everywhere is filled with stuff not being used. This is true for cupboards and cabinets, but also for garden sheds and garages.
A solution that’s gained in popularity over recent years is to adopt a storage unit to store items on a rotational basis through the seasons.
You store everything you don’t use in winter during summer, and swap things out as the seasons change, putting away all the summer stuff you won’t use again for a few months. This system basically halves the possessions you have at home, creating a load of space for what’s left.
You can find things easier, keep tabs on belongings, prevent damage from overcrowding, and give the family plenty of breathing space to enjoy home life more.
Extend the concept to clothing, large DIY tools such as ladders, garden machinery or furniture and outdoor play items, as well as Christmas trees and decorations and you can imagine the extra space to be gained.
With self storage rooms you also have easy access to your things, so it’s no hassle to fetch something home if you need it.
If you ever find you can’t get anything done because of all the stuff surrounding you, it’s time for a rethink and re-organise. It takes a bit of effort, but it’s well worth the trouble for the sense of freedom and well-being you get just from creating more space at home.
*Ad/sponsored post by Big Yellow Self Storage company. Photos used in this post have been credited respectively.
As the UK is on the roadmap out of lockdown, rule of six regulations are reintroduced and the sun is starting to shine. As we take advantage of finally being able to see friends and family outdoors again, it is important we choose the right spot to help maintain social distancing guidelines.
With 3,000 of London’s parks to choose from, researchers at Essential Living can tell you which of London’s parks are ideal for a summer picnic. Taking the Ordnance Survey list of biggest parks, the team have extracted the six largest within Greater London to reveal where you can relax and enjoy your long overdue catch up with the comfort of large space.
Here are London’s 6 largest parks:
Richmond Park, Greater London – 9.53km²
Richmond Park, situated in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, is the largest of London’s Royal Parks with an impressive size of 9.53km², meaning it may be the best place to go for social distancing.
Essential Living has calculated that it could fit a whopping 684,788 visitors with everyone maintaining two metres between each other.
Along with its wide open spaces, grasslands and deer herds, there is the Pen Ponds Cafe, located near Broomfield Hill. Serving a wide range of hot and cold snacks and beverages, you are spoilt for choice with bacon rolls and freshly brewed coffee followed by ice cream and biscotti.
Hainault Forest Country Park – 3.62km²
Hainault Forest Country Park is a Country Park located in Greater London. With 3.62km² of space this park is perfect for keeping your distance from others, whilst still enjoying its open space parklands, numerous public footpaths, Hainault Forest Golf Club and Fox Burrow Farm.
If you run out of snacks or refreshments, you can nip to Le Bistro Loco for some freshly ground coffee, locally baked patisseries and hot paninis and sandwiches, which you can enjoy in the spacious outdoor seating area.
Bushy Park, Greater London – 3.45km²
Linked to Hampton Court Palace by the Longford River, Bushy Park is famed for its mix of waterways, gardens and grassland, and roaming herds of red and fallow deer. With 3.45km² of open space, maintaining social distancing isn’t an issue.
The Pheasantry Cafe refreshment point is located at the Diana Car Park, open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm in the winter. You can tuck into their traditional bacon rolls or a variety of sandwiches and hot dogs, whilst washing it down with a freshly brewed continental coffee or a nice refreshing fruit smoothie.
Hampstead Heath –3.16km²
Hampstead Heath is one of London’s most popular open spaces with beautiful countryside, located just four miles from Trafalgar Square, the heath has some of the best views and highest points in London for everyone to enjoy.
Open from 9 am until dusk, the Golders Hill Park Refreshment House is ideal for a quick healthy lunch bite to eat, offering takeout soups, pasta pots and salads. Customers have also mentioned their great cappuccinos and comfortingly hot cups of tea for the perfect winter warmer.
Wimbledon Common – 2.90km²
Wimbledon and Putney Commons are countryside escapes amidst the urban surroundings of Wimbledon, Putney and Kingston-upon-Thames. The Commons offers 1,140 acres of calm and tranquillity amid the urban surroundings of Wimbledon, providing an important home for wildlife and a place for visitors to relax and unwind.
Next to the famous Windmill Museum, the Windmill Tearooms is the perfect pit-stop for a refreshing bite if you are on a relaxing summer stroll. They continued to provide for walkers despite lockdown, offering a choice of hot and cold drinks as well as their selection of homemade cakes, tray bakes and famous bread pudding.
Hampton Court Park – 2.59km²
Hampton Court Park is a walled royal park managed by the Historic Royal Palaces, lies between the gardens of Hampton Court Palace and Kingston upon Thames and Surbiton in south west London. Its beautiful open space is perfect for those socially distanced gatherings (up to 6 people only though, remember).
The Molesey Lock cafe situated by Hampton Court Bridge has a wonderful garden oasis, perfect for enjoying their freshly made sandwiches and wonderful pots of tea. Perfect for fulfilling the needs of passers-by on their long journey.
Press release originally published by Essential Living
Note: Methodology and Data Sources Using the Ordnance Survey’s list of 100 biggest parks, we extracted the six largest parks within Greater London and calculated how many people could visit the park based on its size and also keeping two metres away from each other. This was calculated by multiplying the number of people that can fit in a 1km2 area whilst keeping 2 metres distance between them (71,856) by the area of each park.
Mountain Warehouse launches their new organic cotton collection!
2021 has not dampened our enthusiasm for more family adventures, travels and days out.
Okay, we’re a little restricted with the travel part for now but you can bet we’ll still be out and about exploring real soon. We’ve been enjoying the outdoors safely in small trips. This is because I’m not great with cold weather but I still love the outdoors haha!
We’ve been visiting our local parks and animal farms. Unfortunately the almost-freezing weather meant that we didn’t get to see as many animals as we’d liked to. Last Sunday we were blessed with warm, sunny weather so we decided to visit the woods.
I was SO excited when we were asked to become family ambassadors for the new organic cotton collection and to review some of their lovely items.
Mountain Warehouse are a well-known British brand supplying high-quality clothing, outdoor equipment and accessories worldwide since 1997.
We visited the park and woodlands of Shewsbury Park in Plumstead Common and decided it was a good time to test out our new gear. If you love the quiet outdoors, this place is definitely worth a visit. It’s serene and calm, a totally different vibe from the busy-ness of Greenwich Park. The woods feel like a safe haven. There’s only ever a few dog walkers and families walking by. It was perfect!
These two had a field day climbing around on the massive trees and logs, swinging around on the tree swings and exploring nature. Because the woods were pretty much empty, I didn’t have to worry about getting in anyone’s way or having to tell the kids to keep it quiet. They could just really enjoy the outdoors without restrictions.
Little Man felt comfy all day in his tshirt and I’m sure the organic cotton helped him keep warm. Little Miss had no problems getting around with hee dress. The cut and length are just right allowing her to climb freely without ever rising too short. It did go up a little too much on the tree swing but that’s because the swing has a rope that she has to sit around. Easiest way to solve that problem is to make your your little ones have tights, shorts or leggings on underneath the dress to avoid unwanted pant-flashing.
Prices are RRP and correct at time of publishing which may be subject to change at the brand’s discretion.
We’ve not gotten round to test-driving the lovely, summery Penelope dress outdoors just yet as it’s not been warm enough but we’ve had fun doing photoshoots with the dress. Little Miss really loves wearing this dress around the house. She says it feels nice and soft on her skin. 🙂
Shrewsbury park is pretty big so it’s really ideal for mini explorers. The woods make a great place to play hide and seek. The grassy hills are fab for rolling down. The massive tree swings dotted about the park are super fun and perfect for the mini thrill-seekers. Even I had a cheeky go on the tree swing. 🙂
Little Miss has sensitive skin that’s eczema-prone so I try my best to buy her clothes that are soft on her skin. I can definitely vouch for the softness of her stripy tunic dress. In fact, all the clothes we received are soft and comfy to wear. So comfy that I’d be willing to swap my loungewear for it which really says something. Little Man also hasn’t taken off his shark t-shite since!
I love my Lily Dress so much, it’s comfortable enough to wear all day long. The front pockets on the Lily dress are really handy too and big enough to fit my iPhone 7+ in it. Both of the girls’ dresses above have pockets making it great for little ones who like carrying things around with them. Mine always loves bringing home a “souvenir” from the park. The clothes are cut in a regular fit which gave us room to move around freely. I’m only 5ft 1″ and the length of the Lily Dress is just below the knees which is perfect for me. I’m no longer a fan of short dresses!
As we’ve only worn our clothes a couple of times since getting them I can’t fully quote on the durability just yet but I can bet that these clothes will stand the test of time and provide us with many more wears. The organic cotton is amazing, it’s thick but in a premium, hard-wearing way. Nothing like I’ve worn before. I’ll update later on the quality as soon as they’ve had their first few washes.
The last year has taught me that I need to be more conscious with my buying – I’m trying to make more of an effort to purchase clothes that are sustainably made or made from reusable or recyclable materials. This is why I love H&M’s conscious range and now I can add Mountain Warehouse to that list. This is something I guarantee you’ll see more fashion brands adopting – slowly but surely. In a world where we over-consume, it only makes sense to start living and consuming responsibly and to reuse, reduce, recycle whenever possible.
Why choose organic cotton?
To call clothing ‘organic’ a company must meet strict international fabric standards. Brands like Mountain Warehouse pledge to become more environmentally friendly by sourcing their materials in a responsible and sustainable way.
According to Mountain Warehouse, organic cotton helps to protect the wildlife as farmers eliminate the use of pesticides on their cotton crops. This results in a softer, more durable material that not only feels good on the skin but is kinder too.
Mountain Warehouse currently have an online sale across their organic cotton range for women, men and kids.
NB. We were kindly sent samples of Mountain Warehouse’s new organic cotton collection to review for the purpose of this unbiased blog post. All words, content and photos are my own and should not be used without consent.
If you’re not sure which S word I’m on about, it’s SEX. I wasn’t keen on using it in the title because my boy can read fluently now and I’m not ready to start the whole birds and the bees convo with him just yet. He’s already been asking where babies come from and how they’re made and I’ve just about managed to dodge it for now. He’s 7 by the way.
Let’s talk about S E X
Let’s talk about it. For me, it still feels a little taboo even though we’re online and I’m just writing all of this. I was brought up by very strict Asian parents so any talk that’s even remotely associated with sex and the sorts was banned. Luckily for them I wasn’t too much of a curious soul.
Sex since Lockdown 1.0 has not really been that different for us. We’d usually do it in the wee hours of the morning or at night when the kids are in deep sleep. However, there have been moments when we struggled with getting it on.
Your contraception can be a (libido) killer
Our sex life is pretty okay. We’re active and perhaps a little more now than in previous years. That may sound strange but I think it’s because I came off the injection (female hormonal contraception).
I loved being on the injection and used it for many years and between my pregnancies. I’m quite fertile and it just worked really well. I only needed one jab every three months which made it all convenient. I tried the implant and it left me with adult acne and the patch was great but it ended up irritating my skin. I tried the pill once when I was younger but could never remember to take it on time.
Apparently a common side effect for using the injection is loss of libido. I literally had no sex drive. I hated being touched. I was grouchy all the time. And down there was as dry as the Sahara desert no matter how much he tried to get me going. It wasn’t working.
That lockdown loving…
Naturally, I blamed it on stress. But when Lockdown 1.0 hit and I was unable to get an appointment my body started to ease up as it reverted back to its pre-contraceptive state. Being off any kind of contraception brought my libido back. I loved it. I finally felt like a human being again. That’s when I knew it had to be the contraception.
So now I’ve decided to give the hormonal pill a go again and it seems to be going well. My sex drive is pretty much back to normal and we’re getting it on a few times a month which works out to roughly once a week. We’re too tired and lazy to even attempt to do it anymore than that. Sex is tiring, you know!!
The stresses of lockdown, isolation, working from home, parenting can all get too much. As a result your sex life can suffer from it. So if you and your partner aren’t getting it on as much anymore, try to think why that might be. Have a talk about it as you might find that your reasons are not the same. If there’s one thing I learnt about our relationship (we’ve been together for 14 years) is that communication really is key. We talk a lot more about things we never did before. And being comfortable talking to each other about sex is one of them.
What if the sex is boring?
Sex doesn’t have to be a chore. Especially if you’ve been with your partner for a long time, having sex with each other can get boring. It happens! But there’s things you can do to help each other bring it back. Just remember to keep it down – I’m sure the kids and the neighbours don’t want to hear what’s going on after hours…
What if your partner’s not up for it?
This is a tricky one because it involves understanding how your partner is feeling and what their reasons are for not having sex with you. It could just be stress. It could be something more. YOU HAVE TO TALK TO EACH OTHER. It’s really the only way unless you’re psychic and don’t have to ask. I highly doubt that otherwise you wouldn’t be lacking in sex.
Even when we THINK we know what our partners are feeling, we don’t actually know so it’s crucial to talk to each other. If they’re not one to easily open up, find a way to be able to get through to them. If it still doesn’t work, perhaps speaking to a counsellor or therapist could help you both out.
PS. Don’t forget, it’s Valentine’s Day on February 14th – make an effort as we’re not able to go anywhere, you might as well make the most of it in the bedroom!
Your mini-guide to lockdown loving:
TALK IT OUT. The simplest of them all. Let each other know that the flame is burning out. That way, you’re both acknowledging that there’s something missing. Sometimes when we get too caught up in our own things, we assume our partner knows there’s something lacking but in actual fact, they don’t know sh*t all. So talk it out. Figure out what’s missing.
TRY SOMETHING NEW. This can be anything from buying sexy lingerie to introducing something new into the bedroom ie. a sex toy, oral sex, anal sex whatever you both fancy. It could even just be trying out a new lube for the first time! Whatever it is, find something that make you both feel good doing it. Being a selfish lover is never any good so make sure that you are both being pleasured – it doesn’t have to be simultaneously but it shouldn’t be one-sided.
PICK A NEW ROOM. Never tried it in the kitchen? Or always thought about it in the bathroom? How about outdoors? Be careful with that last one because, you know, lockdown and all but if you have a private garden or balcony it could be possible. The thrill of doing it in a new location can be quite exciting and is sure to be fun as long as you’re both up to it. Just be considerate of your neighbours or who’s around if you’re planning on venturing out.
RECONSIDER YOUR CONTRACEPTION. If you’ve lost your libido like I did, ask yourself if it could be your contraception. If so, would you be able to consider another method. You have to find a method that works for you so I wouldn’t promote any form of contraception over the other. You know your body best so if you’re unsure of what you can switch to, ask your GP or a sexual health advisor.
STRESS LESS. Most likely, if you’re not getting enough sex it’s because you’re stressed, or tired, or both. Exhaustion and irritation can be manifestations of stress which increases your cortisol levels. This will leave you feeling fatigue and you could experience a loss of libido because of it. Stress is also not good for the body, in fact it’s actually really taxing on your body as it puts it in a constant state of ‘fight-or-flight’.
So chill out. Give yourself some time. Have a hot bath soak. Listen to some music. Read a book. Do some yoga. Get some downtime in to really calm your mind and body.
KNOW YOUR BODY. Sounds pretty simple. You see your body every day, you know what it looks like therefore you know your body right? But do you know how it feels like? Self-love is not just about loving yourself from the outside in. It’s also about loving what your amazing body can do, how it can feel… and sometimes we have to discover that intimacy with ourselves first.
If you’ve never tried exploring yourself before and you want to, you to give it a go. I know not everyone approves of this so it’s up to you but if you want to, try it. Some women are unable to orgasm with a partner but when they’re touching themselves, they’re able to orgasm multiple times. And if you know your body well and know how to make it feel that way, you can help your partner figure it out too.
WATCH PORN. I wasn’t sure if I should list this one or if it falls under the ‘try something new’ heading but sometimes a good porn can get you both going. Or at least the one of you who’s watching. Watching porn together is something I don’t do – I still find that weird and it’s something we like doing separately, in our own time. It is easier to get aroused after watching porn so it could be an easy place to start, and it’s mostly free nowadays too. Woop woop!