• Five things to consider when buying a property

  • The Word On Autumn Dresses

  • Everything You Need To Host a Movie Night!

  • Betty Crocker #cake Giveaway



Five things to consider when buying a property

A house is the biggest and the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make, so it is vital to plan carefully before you buy. According to luxury West End estate agents Leo Newman, these are the top five things to consider when buying a property.


  1. Have a long term plan

Relatively few experts forecast the end of the previous house boom in 2007, and no one can safely predict the future of house prices in the coming years either. Rushing into buying just because the market is in experiencing an upturn is a mistake, instead consider your long term objectives and why you want to own a property. Consider buying a property where you can add value so if the market moves against the price you paid you, have potential to make it back.

  1. Add up all the costs

Buying a property can have a lot of hidden fees that you may not be aware of if you’re a first time buyer. On top of the price of buying the house you can typically factor in costs such as mortgage arrangement fees, which can cost around £1,000, and a valuation fee which is charged by your mortgage lender to carry out checks on the property. Other charges include legal fees, stamp duty and surveys. Don’t forget to save some money for furniture or decorating your new home. For a few ideas on interior design take a look at our blog on the Habitat A/W 2015 collection.

  1. Don’t borrow up to your maximum limit

Before you start searching for a house it’s important to have a chat with a mortgage advisor and find out how much you can borrow. Remember that just because a lender says you can borrow a certain amount it doesn’t mean it is wise to set you budget at the maximum amount.


Use online tools such as a the this one, or a budget planner to work out your repayments and figure out what would happen if mortgage rates increased in the future.

  1. Use the Internet

The internet is a good place to research and hunt for new homes, the best mortgage deals, find out the previous property prices of your potential new home or the neighbouring ones, and check out your credit score. Online property portals are a great tool to use during your search, but don’t rely solely on them – visit a few estate agents too. Not every property that comes onto the market is listed on the property portals and you may hear about new properties first if you’re in touch with an agent. A good estate agent will also be able to understand you needs and may be able to suggest the right areas or come up with ideas that you hadn’t considered during your search.

  1. Check out the area in person

If you’re not local to the area ensure you spend plenty of time checking it out before putting in an offer on a property. Talk to the neighbours, visit the local shops and pubs, go back and visit the property and the area at different times of the day to get a better feel for what it is like. If you have children visit the local schools and parks or other community facilities to ensure they are what you are looking for. For more advice on schools in your area use the government’s school performance tables to get a better idea.

**In collaboration with Leo Newman

The Word On Autumn Dresses

When confronting autumn fashions each year, there are so many categories to consider that it’s difficult to keep track of all the different styles. While spring and summer trends can only cover so much ground—dresses, shirts, skirts, swimwear, and jewellery, for instance—the autumn and winter stretch brings in outerwear, hats, scarves, boots, and a range of other considerations. Frankly, it can all be quite overwhelming!

So rather than writing up yet another post attempting to piece together the top trends, or all the noteworthy styles appearing in catalogues and online, I wanted to narrow the focus of this piece to a particular item all women will want to know about: dresses. So here’s the early word on dresses for the cool weather seasons.

Floaty Dresses & Waistcoats

One of the main concerns that women have when picking out dresses for autumn and winter is warmth. Simply put, pants, jeans, and warm boots can all be more insulating and comfortable once it gets cold out. But this is also why it’s always interesting to see dress styles that specifically address warmth, and Metro did just that in a look ahead at key trends for late-2015. Specifically, the article pointed out the prominence of boho floaty dresses on the runway: light and relatively open by nature, but often accompanied for the autumn by waistcoats up top. Outerwear with a dress can be an iffy prospect at times, so it’s nice to see this look in style.

SequinDress_1Sequin Maxi Dresses

As both a general trend and another way to address the issue of staying warm, this style is standing out. Lyst’s collection of dresses for autumn is a helpful place to look for a full display of the season’s dress trends, given that it pulls in examples from designers all across the industry. Within that collection, it’s easy to see notice the presence of shimmering sequin options. The interesting thing is, sequin embellishments tend to make fabrics feel heavier (thus providing a little more insulation), despite the fact that they look light and delicate. Now, this isn’t to suggest a sequin dress can function like a winter coat, but it’s an interesting way to add a little heft without visibly bulking up.


Shades Of Red

Marie Claire’s own rundown of AW15 fashion trends touched on a number of popular ideas—in fact, it contained yet another nod to floaty boho styles. One that makes a particularly strong impression is the presence of red on runways. Red is actually fairly typical this time of year as a brighter alternative to dimmer tones, but rarely has it been so thoroughly represented as now. From maroon and burgundy to crimson, and even some colours straying toward pink, shades of red are a lot of ladies’ go-to colour for autumn dresses.

Velvet Materials

This is another trend mentioned in Marie Claire’s exhibition, and it also gets back to the idea of staying warm in your cool weather dresses. Velvet makes for a fun fabric for autumn dresses in that it’s often warmer, it holds its shape nicely, and it tends to look best in darker, cooler colours like those we so often see this time of year.

Those are only a few examples, but it’s plenty to work with. More than coats, pants, boots, etc., dresses can be tricky to shop for in the autumn and winter, but these ideas can get you off to a good start.

**In collaboration with Lyst

Everything You Need To Host a Movie Night!

I love a good movie night. I don’t always get the chance to go to the cinema so the idea of having a relaxing night in with friends and family to enjoy a great movie is really appealing.

Now, there are movie nights and there are movie nights! If you really want to kick back and enjoy the experience these are my top tips:

  • Consider where you will be sitting – a chair? a sofa? Do you need some cushions or a blanket?


  • Book out some time specifically for your movie. Don’t let it be a last minute idea. Plan ahead and make sure you have everything prepared for the best night!
  • Prepare your room. Turn down the lights, shut the curtains, create some atmosphere! Don’t let patches of stray light on your screen ruin the picture.
  • Speaking of picture, make sure you have the right A/V set up for your movie. 4K TVs are all the rage at the moment for excellent picture quality, so if you’re a real movie buff consider updating your tech.
  • Invite the best company. That might be your partner, your sibling(s), friends or the cat. Whoever it is that will appreciate the movie most, bring them along because having them there will make the chemistry in the room even better.
  • Choose the right movie. I have often found myself not enjoying a good movie because I am just not in the right mood. Make sure that you get the best out of your night by picking something that matches how you are feeling, or perhaps the season (who doesn’t love a good Christmas movie in winter?) For inspiration I usually turn to Amazon Instant Video who offer a range of options to match any mood.


  • Turn off all mobile phones – yes, just like when you are at the cinema a buzz or beep can destroy the magic of a movie, so switch off!
  • Snacks. Yes this is important. Whether you are a traditional popcorn lover or fancy something more diverse make sure your snacks are fully prepared to go. Pour out anything that comes in rustly packages into bowls to make sure there’s no noise to interrupt the experience.
  • Drinks. Again, prepare your drinks ahead of time; put them in the fridge, make your cocktails, choose your glasses! Nothing is worse than having to stop the movie to get up and grab a drink from another room so make sure you have everything on hand. I personally love a refreshing fruity cider such as Rekorderlig for movie time.

I hope these top tips have gone a away to helping you hold the perfect movie night experience. Now sit back, relax, grab your snacks and drink and enjoy the show!

**In collaboration with Share It Quick


Betty Crocker #cake Giveaway

Who doesn’t love cake? I love baking and when Betty Crocker got in touch to see if I’d like to giveaway some of their yummy cake mixes and decoration products I jumped at the chance.

Launched in the 1920s Betty Crocker was created to give a personal response to an overwhelming number of letters from women requesting cooking advice.  Since then the brand has expanded hugely and offers a large and diverse range of baking goodies with over 90 years of experience going into every item.

I love their easy to make cookies which are chewy and delicious!

I am giving away a selection of 6 Betty Crocker goodies including cake mixes and icing – the perfect treat! Please enter via the rafflecopter below – please note entrants must be from the UK – Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In the Kitchen: Benefits of a Combination Microwave

If you haven’t invested in a combination microwave, you could be missing out. This compact appliance provides a huge range of benefits, and you can find them for reasonable prices at retailers like Tesco. These are a real asset to your home, since not only will you be able to heat food, you’ll now be able to roast and grill with no hassle.

How does it work?

This great piece of tech combines microwave energy with a convection heating system to bring you the best of both worlds. Microwaves provide that quick interior heat whilst a fan circulates hot air to brown your food. It provides very similar results to the traditional kitchen oven and offers a whole host of additional benefits.


This versatile appliance is much faster at cooking food than an oven without sacrificing the level of quality. This isn’t the only advantage though, with its compact size, it can be a great choice for those with limited space. It also requires less maintenance and can be cleaned in no time.

You’re likely to save money with a combination microwave as they use less electricity than a convection oven. Finally, you can get more creative in the kitchen. There’s plenty of functions and preset programs, taking away all the stress of cooking. You can even use a grill feature to make crispy fish, chicken or pizza.


Certain models can be noisy, especially compared to the regular microwave. However, with advances in technology there is now many appliances with impressive design features. Be sure to request a product demonstration at your nearest electronics shop before making a decision.

The combination microwave is also more expensive than its basic counterpart. For many, this is worth the additional outlay for the improvement to their food and savings to the electricity bills. People can also be discouraged by large selection of programs and added features. Don’t let this put you off. They’re very easy to use and if there’s now plenty of online tutorials, so you can cook up a storm.

What can I cook?

If you have a busy lifestyle and work full time like me, you can still enjoy a varied a delicious meal with the help of a combination microwave. From soup to risotto and gooey chocolate fudge cake, the options are endless. You can also make a roast dinner without spending hours in the kitchen. A preset program will cook chicken that is juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Roast potatoes can also be cooked to perfection, taking only 20 minutes. Be sure to add olive oil and herbs for extra flavoring.

Paying a little extra for your next microwave is something you won’t regret. You can cook some impressive dishes without breaking a sweat.

**In collaboration with Tesco


source: 247homerescue

Review: Godiva Sablés Biscuits

Nothing is more British than enjoying a good cup of tea and a biscuit, so I was happy when Godiva got in touch letting me know about the new collection of biscuits they have launched the Sablés! I was lucky to have been sent a pack* to try.

The Sablés (also known as a French butter cookie or Breton Biscuit) come in four different flavours with ingredients sourced from all around the globe. The biscuits I was sent were the ‘Almond Speculoos‘ which have a fantastic cinnamon flavour and half been half dipped in delicious chocolate.

The Sablés come in adorable boxes which have beautiful vintage decorations on them. I really love the hot air balloon design which sneaks of heritage and good gold British fun!

The biscuits themselves have a pleasant crumbly texture, almost like a shortbread, but with the added boost of the cinnamon making this a real treat. They really remind me of winter and Christmas, which is my favourite time of the year! The chocolate is quite dark (I usually prefer milk or white), but the bitterness is well balanced by the sweet biscuit.

Overall I think The Godiva Sablés would make a lovely addition to any afternoon tea with friends or an indulgent treat for your tea break. The flavours are great and I love the sense of heritage. I award them 4 out of 5 stars.






Review: Gillette Venus Snap Portable Razor

Nothing is more troublesome than having to pack a razor for a holiday. Do you buy some fancy container? Do you fashion something out of cardboard? Or pop it in with your shower products and hope you don’t slice up your hand?

Having been on the receiving end of a few razor-packing related injuries I was very happy to discover that Gillette have been thinking about the problem too, so I went out and bought myself a Gillette Venus Snap Razor with Embrace.

The Snap Razor is the first ever portable razor from Gillette, the so-called world’s best selling female razor brand. It is designed for on-the-go grooming and is perfect for popping into your luggage of gym bag.

The Gillette Venus Snap Razor includes Venus’ most advanced 1 5-blade surrounded by a protective ribbon of moisture for smoothness without soreness and comes attached to an adorable mini handle (with a good grip), and fits into a very useful (and safe) little pod which snaps shut. making it super convenient.

The snap razor proved very useful on my recent camping trip where space is at a premium! Despite the small handle it’s easy to use and simple to pack away – so much easier than struggling with a full sized blade.

I award the Gillette Venus Snap Razor 4 out of 5 stars and look forward to stress free razor packing in the future!




Review: Little Ondine Nail Varnish

I have to admit that my nails are generally neglected. I keep them pretty short as to not get caught or break painfully and this usually means I leave them without decoration. However, I recently attended an event where I met the team from Little Ondine and learned about their new range of natural, easy-to-remove nail varnish and was kindly given a varnish* to try.

Little Ondine has a great range of brilliant nail colours developed to be quick drying, easy to peel off and made of natural ingredients. Amazingly, due to the natural ingredients, the nail varnishes do not have that strong chemical smell which you can detect from across a room which make them much more pleasant to apply. Because they are water-based they are much faster to try than conventional colours which make it great if you’re in a rush.

The varnishes are made of natural resin, organic colourants and water. The main feature of the varnishes is their peel-off quality which allows you to remove the nail colour in one go without any hassle or chemical removers which I have found to dry and even damage my nails in the past. Changing nail colour is quick and easy!

The range of colours is great and growing all the time. You can grab a full sized varnish (like the one in my photos), or get a set of ‘twins’ – 2 colours of your choosing in adorable mini-bottles which are held together at the top. Pair your favourite shades, or even grab some fabulous sparkles to create a unique look. Using two colours together can create endless looks for your nails, shimmery, two-toned, tipped, dotted etc

So, how did I find using the varnish? It applies very easily and is slightly more runny than average varnish. I found the black surprisingly loaded with pigment and could have worn it with only one coat if I had wanted to. The look I achieved is great, with a shiny finish and high pigment. I really appreciated the lack of chemical smell!

They say that the polish should last for about a week depending on application ( have dry, clean nails and avoid water for at least an hour). The first time I applied I didn’t use a base or top coat, and the varnish did last a few days before starting to come off around the edges. The next time I used a base and top coat and it happily lasted longer. Peeling off the varnish felt very satisfying and although there were a few little bits left on the nail, it was much faster and easier than getting out the remover.

I really love this product for many reasons, most important to me is the use of natural ingredients and the amazing peel-off quality. It has certainly made me re-think my neglected nails and I really hope I get to try out some more of their colours soon. I award Little Ondine 4 out of 5 stars.




Review: Sundried Sunglasses

I am not really sure what happened to the British summer this year. I keep hearing the phrase ‘Indian Summer’, but who knows what is happening! One summer essential which is always in my handbag is a pair of sunglasses so I can protect my eyes from the sun when needs be. So when Sundried got in touch asking me to review some of their sunglasses* I was happy to give them a go.

Sundried is a premium apparel brand officially launching in 2016 creating products pushing their outdoor way of life way of life through their ranges including organic t-shirts, hoodies and sunglasses. The people behind the brand are athletes ranging from surfers through to triathletes wanting to help everyone discover their goals.

Described as a lifestyle choice for inquiring minds never satisfied with the ordinary, Sundried proudly produces unique pieces for outdoor use for men and women to take the wearer from office to studio to mountain.

Sundried is a responsible brand organically grown by people who care.  An attractive quality is Sundried’s view on protecting the environment and a passion for good causes and community. They use organic and eco inks on their garments and package with a minimal footprint, taking care to only work in regions where organic cotton is planted and harvested by hand without chemical fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides.

I was sent 2 pairs of sunnies to review in Lima Blue and Lima Black. Both of these pairs of sunglasses have a great retro shape and I particularly love the bright and bold blue. The frames are made from a chunky plastic which feel sturdy (designed for outdoor adventures!) and hinges feel of good, solid quality. The fit nicely and feel secure, a benefit to anyone hiking or cycling!

I am happy to award the Lima sunglasses from Sundried 4 out of 5.




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Review: Dinner at gourmet sandwich shop Cafe Mish

The sandwich is the city workers lunch of choice. Usually a pretty basic combination of bread and fillings which might not be the most inspirational dish. So when I was invited to try out a range of products* on offer at a new gourmet sandwich shop in Shepherds Market, Mayfair, I decided to see how they could make something so regular into something spectacular.

Cafe Mish specialises in local, seasonal produce for their selection of gourmet sandwiches which are made on artisan bread with a range of tasty fillings including their best seller: salt beef, alongside lamb, pastrami and chicken. Vegetarian options include a burrata sandwich and the wild mushroom Gruyere croque monsieur. Hot, cold and alcoholic drinks are available.

I visited Cafe Mish with my sister. She ordered the salt beef sandwich – slow braised salted beef, sweet pickle gherkins, dijonnaise on a caraway bloomer. Of course I went with a veggie option, the wild mushroom Gruyere croque monsieur on toasted ciabatta. Each sandwich comes with a little pot of fries and on top we chose some crisps and decided to try the house special mish chips – sweet potato and connoisseurs hand cut chips with spiced Halen Mon salt.

My sister thoroughly enjoyed her salt beef sandwich. Despite not being a bit pickle fan she found the combination to  be pleasing and the portion size to be very generous. The beef itself was moist and juicy and complimented by the dijon mayonnaise whilst the bread was thick and hearty. The only negative aspect was that it was a bit of a messy dish, and my sister found herself in want of a wet wipe!

My croque monsieur had equally impressive portions and was a revelation of flavour with the wild mushrooms and melted cheese making a classic and fabulous combination with the chewy but soft ciabatta bread being the perfect carrier. I particularly enjoyed the strong garlic flavour, which is a particular favourite of mine, but I do feel that some might find it overpowering.

We loved the dainty little pot portion of fries which came with our sandwiches as well as the mish chips, despite not being perhaps a crispy as we would have liked them, it was great to have a combination of sweet and regular potatoes with a flavoured salt giving them a bit of a kick.

All in all we certainly have been converted to gourmet sandwiches. The flavours and ingredients were top notch and the service was friendly and helpful. Although I am not sure I could justify the expense everyday myself, I can definitely see myself popping in for a treat now and again.

The only two points we’d like to see addresses were the squeaky stools and the lack of wet wipes, but we’re willing to get over this due to the quality. We award Mish Cafe 5 out of 5 stars and very much recommend a visit.