Thursday, 19 November 2015

Planning Tips for Your Christmas Shopping | Lifestyle

Christmas is not all that far away now, and it’s getting closer. Here are some top planning tips to help you make sure you get everything right.

Know Who You’re Buying For
It often seems like the number of people you're obliged to buy gifts for every year grows and grows. And it can be easy to forget about someone important when you’re buying for so many different people. You don’t want to face that awkward moment on Christmas day when you haven’t got a gift to give to your cousin who’s come around for lunch. So, make sure you make a comprehensive list that covers every person that you need to buy a gift for before the big day arrives.

Plan a Budget
Christmas is an expensive time of the year, so it makes sense to plan a strict budget before you start buying gifts. If you don’t plan a budget, it can be very easy for your purchasing to spiral out of control, and then you will be in trouble. So, decide how you want to spend on each person you’re buying for. And try your best not to break your budget once it’s been set in stone. Christmas might be expensive, but there’s no need to spend even more than you have to, so keep an eye on your expenditure.

Search for Sales
As we enter the winter period, certain things will become available for lower prices. This is why it’s often not a great idea to do the Christmas shopping too early. You often miss out on some of these sales when you do that. Many retailers set up gift offers that allow you to buy three gifts for the prices of two. So, make sure you keep your eyes open for these kinds of deals because they could save you a lot of money on your Christmas shopping spree.

Hit the High Street Last
There are so many options for shoppers nowadays, so don’t limit yourself to the conventional high street shops. You should make sure you scout all the online retailers that can’t be found on the high street first of all. This is quite often where you’ll find the very best deals, not on the high street. There are places that cater specifically to people who are on a tight budget and can’t afford to spend a lot of money. You should head to if you have a small budget.

Don’t be Afraid to Buy Second-Hand
Buying used items as gifts might seem like a bad move, but it doesn’t have to be. There are lots of good items that work as second-hand gifts. You could buy vintage clothes of jewellery, for example. Second-hand items shouldn’t be ruled out when there are so many good vintage boutiques and second-hand stores. And then there’s Ebay. You can find anything on there, and it’s a great place to find unusual, unexpected gifts that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.


Saturday, 14 November 2015

Advice For Planning The Perfect Hen Night | Lifestyle

When your friend decides to get married, it’s usually a very exciting time. She might ask you to become the chief bridesmaid, and that comes with certain responsibilities. You will be in charge of planning and running the best hen night possible. Take some ideas and advice from this page to ensure your friend has the most exciting experience your money can afford. With a bit of luck, there should be some cash within the wedding budget to cover the costs involved. Just make sure you find out how much you have to play with before making arrangements.

  • Book luxurious transport

Whatever you decide to do, you’ll need to get from A to B in style. The manager of Limos North West says his company get a lot of work from people on hen nights. However, you don’t have to book a standard Limo if you fancy something different. Most firms that provide luxury car hire will also offer Hummers and other vehicles. Just take a look at the cars they currently provide and work out which is most suitable for your party. Also, try to strike a deal that ensures the driver is willing to stay out late.

  • Arrange a tasty meal

You’ll all want to fill your bellies before you start on the alcohol. Otherwise, certain members of your party might flake before the main event. Take a look at the best restaurants in towns and cities near to your home. Most will offer group discounts if you’re arriving with a lot of people. Make sure the restaurant knows you are part of a hen party at the time of booking. Some establishments are less than enthusiastic about providing food for large groups. That is especially the case when dealing with upmarket restaurants that attract posh people.

  • Consider your entertainment options

There is a good chance your group will want to hit the clubs after eating a decent meal. That means you need to select a location with lots of bars and entertainment. As is traditional for hen nights, you’ll probably need to book a stripper. Make sure you confirm it is okay with your chosen bar owner before handing over your money. Some people might not walk a half naked man strutting around on their busiest nights. Likewise, other establishments might love the idea and offer some cash towards the bill. At the end of the day, it’s not only the bride to be who can enjoy the show.

The only other things you need to think about relate to accessories and gifts. Be sure to ask every member of the party to bring something funny along for the night out. With a bit of luck, that should help to ensure everyone has a good laugh. Also, don’t forget to arrange for someone to bring a decent camera. You’ll want to put a lot of pictures on Facebook.

(Image source Garry Knight )

So, that’s about all from me. You should be in the perfect position to organise a hen night your friend will never forget. Feel free to add and remove ideas as you see fit. The suggestions on this page are just there to give you some inspiration. When all’s said and done, you know your friend better than me.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

How to Do Christmas Without the Stress | Lifestyle

I love Christmas and enjoy it every year, but that doesn't mean I don't get stressed out. There's a lot to do, from buying gifts to preparing food, and it's easy to get overwhelmed by everything. Not to mention that there can both other issues to deal with, from family to travel restrictions. By now, I have a few strategies for making sure everything doesn't get to be too much. I can make sure that Christmas is fun and not too much hard work by getting organised long before Christmas Day arrives. Here are some of the techniques I use to keep everything under control.

Do Your Christmas Shopping in Advance
Only the most disorganised people are foolish enough to buy presents at the last minute. There's no excuse for it when it's so easy to get everything done in advance. You don't even need to go to the shops. You can sit at home and do all your shopping online, even while you're busy doing something else at the same time. If you hate picking out gifts, tackle it all in one evening. There are lots of ideas out there to inspire you, from giving Scotch as a gift to toys, gadgets and home accessories. Once you've done it all, you don't have to worry about it anymore. For extra convenience, get them wrapped by a wrapping service.

Simplify the Menu
Do you always end up spending half of Christmas Day slaving away in the kitchen? I refuse to spend the whole day cooking when I should be with my family. The key to a successful but easy Christmas dinner is to keep it simple. Firstly, think of all the things that no one really eats and don't bother with them. Then consider anything you can do shop-bought instead of homemade. You might want to make turkey and roast potatoes yourself, but do you need to bake your own mince pies? Buying prepared things can help too, such as chopped carrots and other veggies.

(image credit John Stratford)

Cut Back on Decorations
Going all-out on decorations can be fun, but it can also add extra stress. The decorating part is often a fun-filled evening, but you don't have to go overboard. Too many decorations mean having always to check up on everything. You'll be re-pinning falling tinsel, switching lights on and off and lighting and extinguishing candles all the time. Plus, you'll have to spend time putting everything away once Christmas is over too. And while a real tree is beautiful, it means you'll be sweeping up pine needles all the time. Consider going for an artificial tree this year.

Don't Do It Alone
Remember that you're not on your own. You aren't the only person in your house, so make sure everyone else is pulling their weight. Get them to do their bit in the kitchen, help to wash the dishes or collect wrapping paper. You shouldn't have to organise Christmas single-handedly, so get everyone else to join in too.

Christmas doesn't have to be stressful. Follow my tips to make it a joyous occasion without the stress.

Monday, 2 November 2015

How To Give Amazing Gifts That Won't Cost A Fortune | Lifestyle

Buying gifts is not always easy. It’s even harder when you have to stick to a budget. You could find the perfect gift for that special someone, but it could be completely out of your price range. So how do can you give amazing gifts that won’t cost a fortune? Follow my simple guide to find out.

1.Use online discounts
Retailers love to tempt us with great offers and promotions. If you sign up for their newsletters, you are guaranteed to be sent complimentary discounts to use on their websites. It’s also become popular for retailers to have promotional codes. These will apply a discount to your order just by entering a short codeword. It's such a simple yet brilliant way of saving money when gift buying. You can usually find out what discounts retailers have on offer by following their social media pages. Do your research and compare offers to find the best deal. For example Littlewoods currently have a promotional code where you can get £30 off. Always remember to read the small print to avoid confusion.

2. Shop in the sales
The sales are a great way of bagging brilliant presents, at a fraction of the price. Black Friday sales have huge discounts on thousands of products, both online and instore. You just need to be quick. They only last a few days and the stock will run out quickly. The post-Christmas sales are another great way of buying bargain gifts, especially if you want presents for next Christmas. The high street will want to get rid of its Christmas stock as soon as possible. So this will be an ideal time to get some wonderful gifts and save yourself some money.


3. Make your gifts
Gifts you’ve taken the time to make will always go down well. They don’t have to be expensive either. Save money by buying your gift supplies in bulk and make multiple gifts with them. You can also use items from second-hand shops to make your gifts. Gifts such as teacup candles won’t cost as much if you buy the tea cups from charity shops. They can be priced for as little as 50p. You can also buy old jumpers from charity shops and reuse their wool to make new items, such as scarves and gloves. Pound stores are fabulous for inexpensive gifts and offer cheaper alternatives to the supermarkets. They have everything from books to DVDs to kitchen utensils.

4. Quality Time
An incredibly thoughtful and inexpensive gift idea is that of quality time. Older family members who live alone will love this. You can plan simple activities to do together, such as watching a film or going on a hike. It’s important to spend time with your family and friends and this present will mean more than and thing you could buy.

With these four simple tips, you will both save money and give some incredible gifts no matter what the occasion. Always give yourself plenty of time to buy or make your gifts. Now go out there and get planning for all these celebrations.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Quirky Gift Ideas for Your Best Friend's Birthday | Lifestyle

Finding birthday gifts that nobody else would think of buying can often be pretty tricky. But here are some quirky gift ideas to give you some inspiration.

A Smartphone Projector
These are actually really cool pieces of equipment, and if you don’t know what they are, you should check them out. They basically allow anyone to slip their smartphone into a slot, and the projector will project the video that’s playing on the smartphone onto a wall or screen. We always hear about how young people watch movies on their phone nowadays. Well, now this solves the problem. We all know that those screens are too small to watch anything on, so this will allow your friend to watch videos on a huge screen!

A Huge Hammock
If you’re buying a gift for that lazy person in your life, why not buy them a huge hammock? These things are great for people who enjoy relaxing outdoors, and they’re especially great for the summer months. They’re pretty simple and quite cheap to buy too though, so you won’t have to break the bank. All they are is a big material layer with attachments on either side that can be used to secure it in place. It’s one of those quirky gifts that you can be sure no one else will be buying.

A Mini Fridge
Ever been in bed and wanted a can of Coke or a quick snap but you can’t be bothered to get out of bed and go downstairs? We’ve all been there, so you can bet that your friend has been there too. In situations like these, you often wish that you had a well-stocked mini fridge next to your bed that you could reach down and grab something from. So, you should buy one for your friend. They’ll be sure to appreciate it if they, like most of us, are a little lazy and love a shortcut in life!

A Vintage Wall Clock
If you want to buy something for your friend that will add to the design of their house or apartment, the best thing to opt for is a vintage wall clock. Of course, you’ll have to be careful to find something that will fit in with the broader design of their home. But, as long as you do that, this can be a great gift to buy. Buying decorative gifts can often be risky, but clocks are always useful, and they’ll be sure to find somewhere in the home where they can place it and put it to good use. You should visit to find some cool vintage clocks.

A Tiny Robot Servant
Robots in the home are starting to become a real thing. This is no longer a science fiction movie fantasy; it’s reality! Sure, they can’t speak to you, and you can’t give them detailed commands. But you can get them to carry items around the home and deliver small items to you! And it’s always cool to have a mini robot servant, even if the actual robot is pretty limited in what it can do.


Monday, 19 October 2015

Make your own beauty products at home, with #MiraMessMakers | Beauty & DIY

I'm quite a thrifty person and I've featured plenty of DIY and craft posts on Satchels & Pearls, some have included ideas on making your own beauty products too. You might remember that I went on a mini beauty product making course back at Easter, and I've been a fan of making my own natural products. You know what's going into them, know what each of the ingredients does, and can add your own personal touches to them too, such as colouring and fragrances.

So Mira Showers coupled with Midas Touch Crafts and the awesome hashtag #MiraMessMakers was born. Just by mixing a couple of household staples and water from the tap you can create some amazing, natural beauty products. Oh and we know there will be an event in a couple months, which pretty month is around the corner. Oh go on then (yes I'm going to say it!) it's Christmas soon, and wouldn't it be nice if you could create a couple of homemade beauty items as gifts for your loved ones? Here are a couple of recipes that are so simple and easy to create at home. All you need is a little imagination for the packaging, maybe pop a couple of products into a homemade hamper along with a few chocolates or a DVD for the perfect pamper night. 

Lemon & Honey Facemask 
Lemon, oats, honey and cinnamon (optional).
So it's pretty easy to make, there are no rules as to how much of an ingredient you need because it's completely judged by eye. You know the thickness of a facemask so go by that.
All you need to do is add honey to your oats and mix in, pour in lemon juice to reach the right consistency, and pop a pinch of cinnamon in but this last part is optional. I just love the smell! Pour into a container and keep in your fridge, it's best to use fresh but will last a couple of days in the fridge.
Brown Sugar Lip & Body Scrub
Coconut oil, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and fudge essence not essential but always adds to the flavour!
This is yet again a really simply DIY body scrub that you can make from plenty of products in your house, or that you can pick up at a supermarket. 
Pour sugar into a bowl, and add the honey. Melt a small amount of the coconut oil in the microwave (and make sure you watch to ensure it doesn't burn!), add the coconut oil to the sugar and mix to the consistency of a body scrub. You can add more sugar if you feel it's too gooey, or vice versa if it's too dry. The cinnamon and vanilla and fudge essence are optional, but I love the scent of both so for me are gorgeous as extras. You could always add peppermint flavour. Pour into a container and keep in your fridge, it's best to use fresh but will last a couple of days in the fridge.
This can be used as both a lip and body scrub. 
Chocolate Lip Balm
Coconut oil, soya wax flakes, vitamin E capsule, and cocoa powder is optional for flavour. If you fancied other flavours, peppermint, orange and other oils are really easy to get hold of. If you wanted to add colour as a balm you can add a dot of food colouring for a slight tint.
Melt and even amount of the coconut oil and soya wax flakes in the microwave (make sure you keep an eye on it just in case it burns!). Pop open the vitamin E tablet and add to the mix, this makes your lips super moisturised and in good condition. Add the cocoa powder and give it a good stir. Pour the mixture into your little pot and leave in a cold place to set, ideally the fridge or a window.
And there you have it! A couple of household ingredients act as staples in most beauty products. You can also keep a bag of soya wax flakes handy just in case you fancy making a couple of your own teacup candles too. 

I hope you've enjoyed this little post with a couple of DIY recipes that you can work at at home. Please have a look at my DIY and craft posts for more ideas on Christmas presents and other gifts. 

Michelle x

Friday, 16 October 2015

Is Getting Work Done On Your Teeth A Good Idea? | Beauty

If, like me, you are really into beauty, you are most probably conscious of how important your appearance can be. When we meet someone new, the first thing that they notice is our smile. That’s why, if you want to make a good first impression, you need to have a beautiful smile.

Whether your teeth are slightly wonky or stained from all those delicious lattes, you might be considering having work done on them. Whatever it is that you don’t like about your smile, there are lots of ways that you can change this. However, before you go ahead and consider getting work done, you need to ensure that you think things through.

teeth 0.jpg

To help you do that, I have put together a guide that should help you decide whether to go ahead and get dental work done:

Crooked teeth
If your teeth are a little wonky, this could affect the look of your smile. If your teeth are crooked, you may be thinking about having them straightened to improve your smile. However, before you do, make sure to think it through.

Getting your teeth straightened will mean that they look better. However, it’s important to realize that it’s a long process. There are two options for straightening crooked teeth - braces and mouth guards. While the results of both are great, it can take up to two years for your teeth to be fixed.

Chipped teeth
Over time, our teeth can become chipped and cracked. Not only can this lead to cavities, but it can also result in a smile that doesn’t look perfect. When one of your teeth doesn’t look as good as the rest, it can have a big impact on your smile.

While it’s up to you whether you want to undergo treatment, if you want a beautiful smile, it’s a good idea. One of the best ways to have a chipped tooth fixed is with a crown - these cover up the problem incredibly well. If you want to get your tooth treated quickly, there are plenty of dentists that offer same day crowns. These are ideal if you want to get your tooth fixed quickly.

Stained teeth
You know that pumpkin latte that you love? Well, it’s causing your teeth to become discolored and stained. If you have noticed that your pearly whites aren’t as white as they used to be, it might be worth thinking about getting them whitened.

While whitening is a pain-free treatment that has fantastic results, it is only semi-permanent. To keep your teeth looking nice and sparkly, you would need to have whitening treatments at least twice a year.

Having discolored teeth whitened is a good idea, as, over time, the stains will build up and become worse. However, you should be aware that to keep your teeth looking white, you will need to have repeat treatments.

When it comes to perfecting your smile, sometimes it can be hard to know whether to get work done on your teeth. However, if the problem is affecting your smile, it’s always a good idea to have it fixed.