Five Tips for Saving Money on Wedding Hairstyling

12 02 2013


This image from Flickr creative commons via Bellafaye

Every bride wants to look her absolute best on her wedding day – and of course so she should, because after all, she can rightly expect to be the centre of everyone’s attention.

Not only that, but the photographs taken on the day are likely to be long-lasting souvenirs which will be looked back through in years to come with a great deal of fondness. And there’s nothing more guaranteed to give a bride the shivers for years afterwards than a set of wedding pictures in which she feels she looks anything less than her absolute best.

But, as with every other aspect of a wedding, getting a bride and her party’s hair and make-up absolutely right on the day, without spending an absolute fortune, can be a tough proposition.

So in this article you’ll find five good ideas which could help you achieve the high-quality results you want, but at a reasonable price.

To begin with – as with many aspects of putting together a wedding – you should start your planning well ahead of the day. Draw up a budget and explain to the person you choose to do your hair what this is. They’ll be happy to try to help you stick to it. Alternatively, if you’ve known your stylist for some time, you could call on their goodwill, and ask them whether they would be prepared to do your hair, and possibly your make-up, as a wedding gift.

If you have little idea of how you’d like your wedding hair, it’s a good idea to try to keep it simple. Start by pulling it back and/or curling it. You can practice this yourself at home and you might even find a look yourself which you can create, and then simply ask a professional hair stylist to tweak and add a professional finish.

A simple comb or barrette can help you achieve and elegant look, and if you don’t have these accessories yourself, you could always ask a friend if they have one you could borrow for a day. By the same token, there’s no point in shelling out a fortune for a hair accessory that will only be worn the once, and if you ask your good friend nicely, the chances are they’ll loan you that piece of theirs that you’ve always admired.

No matter how well you know your stylist, it’s likely to work out cheaper for you to go to them, rather than have them come to your house, so make your appointment well in advance – even further in advance than usual, which for some women might be quite an achievement!

There’s no reason why you should also pay for your attendants to have their hair done by your stylist, unless you particularly want to. It could be that your chief bridesmaid and others will be travelling some distance to be there anyway, so will want to make their own arrangements at a salon they know and trust. However, every bride should be sure to make an appointment for their mother. Again, this could be with your regular stylist, or the one your mother usually goes to, but mum is sure to appreciate that she’s been allowed to be involved on the ‘inside’ of all the big preparations.

In essence, successful wedding hair is all about results, and if there are parts of the preparations which you’re happy to take on yourself, or entrust to a friend, and you know the results will be what you have in mind, then you should go for it!




Six Useful Tips for Getting Around in Snowy Weather

10 02 2013


Image from Flickr creative commons via DCSL

Snow is a weather condition which, above all others, tends to ensure that everyone, and everything, grinds to a halt. Here in the UK in particular, many of us become very frustrated by the way in which a few centimetres of snowfall seem to cause disproportionate disruption to transport and other services.

On the other hand, the sight of several centimetres of lying snow is very attractive to many people, and is irresistible for them, luring them outdoors to enjoy playing in it and to enjoy the changes to the landscape which it can help create.

Nevertheless, snow is always associated with a range of other winter conditions, and it is the many combinations of these which can really make it difficult to get around, and to find a place of safety.

Many people, though, still face the challenge of having to get around as normal when snow begins to fall, and do not have the option of being able to stay put and try to keep warm and sheltered once it hits.

For these people, the following tips can help them ensure that, as far as possible, their progress is not inhibited:

1. Keep your head covered – as this is the part of the body through which more body heat is lost than any other, it is a good idea to keep it covered. Wool is considered the best fabric for doing this, but seasoned outdoor venturers say that almost anything is better than no covering at all. Keeping your ears covered is also highly desirable, as they are highly susceptible to frostbite.

2. Dress yourself in layers of synthetic fabrics – wearing inner layers of synthetic material will help to effectively carry sweat away from your body. Failing this, wool is the best substance to use, as it helps retain the body’s heat inside your shell of clothing.

3. Keep your hands covered – Mittens are a better option than gloves, as they are better at retaining heat in your entire hand than gloves, which are not as good at preserving heat which can be lost through your fingers.

4. Cover your feet in the right material – cotton socks soak up moisture and wearing these chill the feet more rapidly than using main-made equivalents, such as polyester or polypropylene.

5. When walking in snow, always wear a good pair of sturdy shoes or, preferably snow boots, with a good grip. Ice grips, which simply slip on over your footwear to offer extra traction when walking on snow or ice are a very useful item.

Otherwise, tips for walking in snow include keeping your pace slow yet steady, and always watching where you are treading; always trying to plant your feet in fresh snow, or on snow which covers grass or a similar soft surface, as this will help absorb the impact should you slip and fall.

Finally, always try to keep your hands free when walking on snow, and avoid carrying items such as wallets or purses. In this way, you can use your hands to help brace yourself if you do fall, and absorb some of the impact, keeping it away from more exposed body areas such as your knees, hips, elbows, chin and head.

And of course, there is a wide range of protective wear on the market to help make you more confident when forced to negotiate thick snow. A good, warm pair of snow boots, for example, will help ensure that not only do you keep your footing when you cannot properly see the conditions underfoot, but that you can keep moving at a steady pace so that you can get to a warm place as quickly as possible.



Five Ways to Take Advantage of Duty Free

8 02 2013


Image from Flickr creative commons via nechbi

Taking a holiday and going abroad is all about relaxing, getting away from the daily grind, enjoying some sunshine, eating well and having fun. Of course, all holidays have to end, but by taking advantage of the available duty free offers at the airport, you can make sure you’ve got something to smile about when you arrive back home. Before you start filling up the trolley though, there are a few things to take into account:

Make sure the price is right

Buying duty free is all about finding cheap perfume and great deals on everything from spirits to chocolates, but it is vital to have an accurate idea of how much the products cost on the high street. The one thing you don’t want to do is walk away with a bag-full of products from an airport duty-free shop only to discover later that you could have saved money by buying the same items down at your local supermarket. Most airports offer WiFi access these days, so use a price comparison site to ensure you’re getting the best possible deal.

Go in with a plan!

Wandering aimlessly around a duty-free shop is one of the best ways of ending up with lots of products that you don’t actually want. When you’ve got limited time before a flight there’s a good chance you’ll feel a certain amount of pressure, but by having a list or at least a good idea of the items you’d like to buy, you won’t end up making impulse purchases that represent poor value for money.

Don’t get caught out by the legal limits

When you are travelling within the EU there is no longer a limit on the volume of goods you’re able to bring with you. However, items must be for personal consumption or have been bought as a gift, and if you try to walk through customs carrying 20,000 cigarettes then there is a good chance officials will ask you to prove that you’re not going to attempt to sell them on. Limits remain in place for goods purchased outside of the EU, so the message is simple – don’t get caught out.

Think about how you’ll get your items home

When there are great deals and fantastic value goods available left, right and centre it can be hard to say no. However, it is important to think about how you’ll carry them and whether they’ll fit into your carry-on or hold luggage. No one wants to turn up at the check-in desk only to discover that it will be necessary to pay an additional charge to take an extra bag on board. Without doubt it will wipe out any savings you’ve already made.

Think ahead!

Planning ahead and thinking a bit more long-term is always a good idea when you are shopping for duty free. Remember that you might not be going on holiday again for a while and so it could well pay to stock up on goods that will last you. For example, if you’re a fan of the latest Paul Smith fragrance and tend to go through a bottle fairly quickly then why not buy in bulk and take advantage of any special offers. Sure, it might take you a year or more to go through it all, but you are going to save cash in the long-run.

How to Soundproof a Room

6 02 2013


Image from Flickr creative commons via williac

Whether you’re a budding musician or you have a noisy teenager in your house and you don’t want to upset the neighbours, there are a number of reasons why you might want to soundproof a room. Soundproofing involves using certain building materials or techniques to ensure that sound doesn’t escape a particular room. It could be that you want to use the room as a practice space to play music, or maybe you just want somewhere where you can really indulge yourself without having to worry about irritating those around you. Soundproofing a room – whether it’s a loft conversion or your living room – isn’t actually as fiendishly difficult as you might think, and can be done relatively simply provided you know what you’re doing.

A helpful article from offers a number of tips for those considering soundproofing a room. It’s worth remembering that there a number of changes you may have to make to the room to ensure that it’s fully soundproof – you may have to make alterations to the walls, ceilings, doors, windows and any other cracks or openings there might be. You might also want to install carpet and carpet padding on the floors, as well as adding a double layer of sheetrock on the walls with some sort of sound-dampening compound – possibly silicone – between them. This might sound like a bit of an effort but it’s relatively simple for anyone who’s a bit of a dab hand at DIY.

You could also choose to add sound-reducing materials – such as mass-loaded vinyl, rockwool insulation, fibreglass or foam panels – to the interior of walls to help ensure that sound waves don’t pass through. Sound waves lose their potency as they pass through mass and substances of different densities, so the more layers you have, the more effective your attempts at soundproofing are likely to be. Thick, solid doors and vinyl-framed, double or triple-glazed windows can also help to reduce the passage of sound. You should remember, however, that sound can escape through the gaps surrounding doors and windows. Applying caulk or weatherstrips can be added to the gaps surrounding door frames can help to reduce this.

Wall treatments can also help to render rooms soundproof. To do this, you’ll need to add or hang some sort of heavy material which can block the passage of soundwaves. Cardboard egg crates are frequently used for just this purpose, although they may not always be the most effective choice of material. Carpeting, manufactured panels and blankets can also be used, but again, the general rule of thumb is that the thicker the material, the more effective it’s likely to be.

According to, it’s worth considering which room to soundproof before you make a start. A cellar could be best suited to the purpose, as its concrete foundation already serves something of a soundproofing purpose. It may also be a good idea to choose a room with as few windows and doors as possible, because this means you have fewer gaps to worry about. Windows are particularly tricky to soundproof, and as cellars tend to have few if any windows this should mean you have less work to do to get the best possible results.

How to Stop A Vehicle’s Windscreen Misting in Colder Weather

4 02 2013


Image from Flickr creative commons via Ctd 2005

It’s a pain of a problem, but one which crops up for at least a few months each year. Every time the mercury in the thermometer dips below the zero degrees centigrade mark, you will find that your car’s windscreen becomes frozen over. And if you happen to have left any of your windows open, even by the slightest amount, or you have a piece of bodywork which happens to be slightly loose, you will find that condensation will find its way into the vehicle’s interior quite easily, causing the inner surfaces of your windscreen and car windows to mist over and become covered with condensation which, if the temperature is low enough, will soon freeze.

Many people spend large sums on products such as car covers, which are designed to keep away the frost, but if you have the problem of moisture getting into your car, and causing misting on the inside of the screen, you will need a longer-lasting solution.

One quick way in which you will minimise the risk of condensation appearing inside your car in cold weather is to ensure that all your air conditioning and heating controls are switched off whenever you park your car for the night. Sadly, as so many of these systems now work so unobtrusively, it can be difficult to remember whether you have a heater of air conditioning unit actually working. And, of course, if you only drive your car for short distances each day, you might not even realise that your heating or air conditioning is switched on.

Lower winter temperatures mean that the glass on the inside of a windscreen heats up far more quickly when someone gets into a vehicle than the glass on the outside, and therefore that the effects of the condensation this creates are exacerbated.

One thing not to do, therefore, is to turn your car’s heater on full blast, as this will merely stabilise, or already increase, the temperature difference which has caused the condensation in the first place. At its most extreme, this could cause the glass to crack, and so necessitate a windscreen replacement.

Firstly, you should always keep a lint-free cloth inside your car to clear the screen of the excessive condensation which causes misting, but among the ‘trade secrets’ which will help clear a screen quickly are the following:

–          Use a proprietary anti-glass misting product. These cover the screen in a protective film designed to equalise the temperatures between both sides of the glass

–          A budget version of this is to smear a layer of shampoo or soap on the inside of your windscreen, which will provide that important layer of protection to insulate the inside your screen

–          Switch on your rear screen heater some time before you need to set out, as this will get to work quickly in clearing the condensation and frozen liquid which has accumulated on the outside

–          Make sure your air conditioning is kept in good working order, but also that you use it regularly, even in winter. This will help keep moisture from gathering inside your car.

Surprisingly, one which many motorists seem to swear by is to squeeze a small quantity of washing-up liquid onto a dry cloth, and then wipe this over the windscreen. A forum poster on the highly-respected Money Saving Expert website commented that this “works a treat, I promise”.

Finally, any misting or condensation can be exacerbated if a car’s glass is damaged. So getting a glass repair as quickly as possible will avoid storing up problems for the future.


How to stay accessible when away in the great outdoors

4 02 2013

If you like to make the most of the countryside and enjoy getting out and about in forests, mountains and wilderness, then remembering to stay safe has to be one of your top priorities. Taking precautions and making sure that you remain safe is a great idea and the only sensible option.


This image via Flickr creative commons from bobcat123

Even if you are planning to enjoy a day out in the British great outdoors as opposed to the Blue Ridge Mountains then it still pays to make sure there is someone who knows where you are going. It is important to always check the weather before venturing out, but also remember that the weather in the UK can change very quickly and what at one moment is a bright sunny day can turn into a cold, misty and dangerous environment in a matter of moments. If something does go wrong then you are always going to be in a much better position if someone knows where you have gone. Staying in contact, staying accessible, is always worth remembering.

Many of us have come to rely on mobile phones these days and are used to having access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While this is great when you’re in a city or some other urban environment, it is easy to forget that mobile reception is not consistent across the UK and so it pays to think about the other ways that you can stay in touch. Getting to the top of a mountain and discovering that the valleys on either side are blocking the signal from antennas is not great when you have no other way of communicating with the outside world.

One option to consider is investing in a set of walkie talkies that will allow you to remain in contact with a base or, alternatively, with other walkers within your group who are out at the same time. Long-range walkie talkies or personal mobile radios allow people to communicate across an area of several kilometres and can provide a means of communication in inhospitable terrain that traditional mobile phones are not able to cope with. Also remember that dedicated outdoor radios are always going to be tougher and more durable than your average smartphone and, even if they do become damaged, are likely to cost far less to replace.

Another important thing to remember is the European international emergency number – 112. Regardless of what country you are in across Europe you will be able to call this number free of charge from any landline or mobile phone. What’s more, 112 is recognised in other countries around the world, including north America where it redirects to 911 and Australia where it redirects to 000.

Even if you are unable to take a communications device with you, it always pays to let someone else know where you are going. That might be a member of your family, but it could just as easily be the person who runs the accommodation where you’re staying on holiday. If you’ve booked accommodation through a vacation rentals firm then perhaps consider visiting a nearby pub where staff will be able to raise the alarm should you fail to return after a certain period of time. It might seem like you’re being over cautious but safety should always come first.

How to Marinate Foods for Extra Flavour?

2 02 2013


Image from Flickr creative commons via Dplanet:

Chicken, steak, shrimps, peppers and aubergine – just some of the foods that are delicious on their own, and fantastic when marinated. So what is marinating? Essentially it is the act of soaking food in a liquid during the cooking process to help infuse it with various flavours and colour that would otherwise have been absent. Put simply, a marinade can help to turn it from a standard dish into a taste sensation and can ensure that people are talking about your incredible prawns or amazing steak a long time after the meal has finished.

Think about a boneless, skinless chicken breast. On its own it’s a perfectly good meal that can be cooked in a number of ways and added to anything from pasta to a salad. However, with a bit of preparation you can quickly and simply turn a chicken breast into a juicy and mouth-watering dish that is perfect for barbeques or preparing inside on range cookers. What’s more, the taste will ensure that marinating becomes your new favourite hobby in the kitchen! Balsamic vinegar, thyme, oregano, rosemary, onion powder and mustard can be combined to make a great little marinade for instance. Something a little more adventurous such as an orange, ginger and sesame marinade can produce a fantastic dish too.

Oil tends to be used as the basis for marinades and there are plenty to choose from. Think about olive or sesame, peanut or perhaps walnut oil. Alternatively you could use a dairy product such as milk, yogurt or perhaps even coconut milk. If you are concerned about using too much oil because of health reasons then substituting it for something like coconut milk is a great idea.

Keeping an eye on the clock is important when you are marinating as you do not want the process to spoil the food or affect its flavour in anything but a completely fabulous way! While something like beef is fine to marinate for 24 hours, you only really want to be bathing something like seafood for less than an hour. Any more than that and you risk the chance of it becoming mushy as a result of the acid in the marinade.

Safety is important when you are marinating food too. Always marinate in the fridge as doing so at room temperature with raw meat can allow bacteria to multiply quickly. And remember to use a container made from glass or food-safe plastic as metal dishes can react with the food.

Reusing marinade is not recommended, although it is possible to take a marinade that has been in contact with raw meat and then boil it for a few minutes to destroy harmful bacteria. If you plan to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the finished dish then either make an extra portion, or separate out some of the marinade before adding raw meat.

The only limitation when it comes to creating marinades is your imagination. Trying new flavour combinations is all part of the fun and while you might end up with an absolute stinker of a concoction, with a bit of practice you might come up with a recipe that will end up getting passed down through the generations!