6 Simple Ways to Shop Smarter

What if you could not only save while shopping but make money? Keep reading to learn how I changed my shopping habits for good…

If you’re like me, you love to shop. What I didn’t love was the credit card bill that came weeks later reminding me how much above my means I had spent. I tried shopping less but when I saw something I had to have, I couldn’t resist. This cycle would continue to repeat itself and continue to leave me with buyer’s remorse.

Then, after making these easy changes (and sticking to them), I not only began saving money when shopping but actually started making money. My hope is that by sharing the process I follow, you too will shop smarter. Now, let’s go shopping…

Step 1: Calculate Cash Back from Spending

 When I first started to change my habits, I knew I needed to figure out exactly how much I was spending (as painful as it is). After looking through the bills I determined I was spending over $800 every month on stuff I wanted, not needed.

Most of that spending was online and when I started looking for ways to still shop but spend less, I came across Ebates. They’ve given their members over $325,000,000 in cash-back for shopping at the stores they already do. Now when I shop, they deposit my cash back directly into my account. It’s actually that easy.

Registering is completely free and they even give you a $10 Welcome Bonus. If you’re already going to buy from these stores anyways, you might as well get cash back for it on Ebates.

Step 2: Save Smarter, Not Harder

While Ebates gives me cash back for most of the stores I shop at, I didn’t find absolutely everything. Any by everything, I mean shoes. Yes, I too have a shoe addiction and I needed to find a smarter way to buy them and other stylish pieces.

Before, I was spending almost $50 for a new pair of shoes. Not only was it an expensive habit but I wasn’t even happy with the shoes I was buying. When I became a VIP Member with JustFab it was the best of both worlds. Not only did they completely customize my online shopping experience but I started spending 50% less on a pair of shoes.

It was so easy to get started, all I did was answer a few questions about the styles I like and instantly got access. Plus, they gave me a Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupon, free shipping & exchanges just for signing up.

Step 3: Spend Less Money on “Needs”, Get More For “Wants”

When I set out on this journey I was only interested in saving money on my “wants”, I didn’t even think about my “needs”. After some trial and error, I realized there were plenty of ways I could reduce spending on “needs” which gave me more for my “wants”!

At first, I tried my local dollar store. Some of the things I found were good but most of it was garbage and I ended up having to buy from the full-price places anyways. When I discovered Hollar.com is when the serious savings started. Not only do they offer Free Shipping but they have $1 stores for almost every category with name brand products that I actually use.

Needless to say if I don’t find it on Ebates or JustFab, Hollar.com is my next and final stop.

Step 4: Make Extra Cash for “Wants”

I realize that for some, in order to shop smarter you need the resources to do it. There have been plenty of times where I’ve been short on cash and shopping wasn’t even an option (or put me further into debt). As a college student, in between jobs and plenty of other times I had to be resourceful not only in saving money but making it too.

In the past, I would look for jobs around town but it was almost never worth the effort. One day while on my computer I found Swagbucks.com and signed up. I’ll be honest that at first I was very skeptical but after I started completing some actions on their site, I was receiving “Swagbucks” right away. In the first day I made 500 Swagbucks and received a $5 Amazon Gift Card! Now whenever I’m a little tight on cash and want to shop, I just spend some time on Swagbucks.

Step 5: Save Cash Where You Already Shop

If you’re anything like me, you have days when you go to Target for toothpaste, and walk out with a birthday card, a dress, a few groceries, throw pillows, a small area rug, a nightstand, and completely forget the toothpaste! One day the cashier pointed out how much I could be saving if I opened a Target REDCard. REDCard holders save 5% on all purchases – which would have equaled $13 that day (the day I decided a nightstand, rug, and all the other items in my cart were must-haves). Add that up over the years, the savings are immeasurable. I signed up instantly and my savings to date equal $228.63!

On top of the 5% savings every day, I now receive Free Shipping on all online purchases, as well as 30 extra days for returns. This really helps for my impulse buys when I just need to have that top!

Step 6: Buy Smart, Sell Smart

By now you know I love a good deal, and one of my favorite places to find one-of-a-kind, new and used products is eBay. Believe it or not, I was able to snag my new, still-in-the-box, KitchenAid Professional Mixer for $45 on eBay last summer. That’s over $175 off retail price!

Before the eBay app, I would find myself setting reminders when auctions were coming to a close so I could make sure I was at a computer and the last one to place a bid. No longer are those days. I get notifications every time I am outbid and when an auction closes so I can stay up to date, whenever, and wherever I go.

My favorite feature of the eBay app is how easy and fast it is to sell your own items. With a quick glance around, I found a few things that I didn’t use anymore that could use a new home. I was able to set these up and get the auctions live in a matter of 15 minutes. When the auctions ended in three days I had made a little over $120! I simply had to pack up the items and ship them to the winners and voila! Extra cash in my pocket just like that. I try to make a habit of doing this every month to clean out the clutter.

Whether you’re looking for a deal on a particular item or you simply want to make a quick buck, the eBay app can help!

One final note before I get going: The one mistake I made through this all was never really getting started. I dabbled into a few of these options but never fully embraced it. Don’t let that happen to you, get started right now, no excuses!



Digital Detox – How To Handle the “Black Out”

Screens are all around. We can’t seem to escape them in this day and age. Laptops, phones, iPads, tablets, game systems, televisions, etc. We have become accustomed to connecting with others everywhere around the world through a million different ways ‘screens’ allow, and all whether we actually want to or not. The great majority of us have become so attached to our screens that they have literally began to take priority in our lives. The backlash is the digital devices are drawing our attention away from everything else we should be focusing on in our lives. No matter how much technology helps to improve our work and lives, long term, frequent use can have traumatic effect on our personal stress levels. If the phone or device is on, so is your brain.

Turn off the phone to let the brain switch off. If you discover you are getting anxious with every buzz or ring of your phone or you are always thinking about work, then it may be time for a Digital Detox. This is also called a self-inflicted Black Out. During this time, all digital devices and digital activities are banned to help the person get away from the online world to enjoy people in the real world and truly relax. Without the distraction of technology, you can live in the present and appreciate the small moments of time where you find yourself enjoying life and the people in it. If you relate and are tired of the endless beeps coming from your phone, it may be time to say no more. It may be time to turn it off, put it away out of sight, and spend time focusing on yourself and your family. You may be remarkably surprised at how refreshing it feels to be free from the digital chains of control.

Go Slow

If you are going into an anxiety or panic attack at the thought of turning off your phone to black out, then consider a few baby steps. Start out your first digital detox by turning it off 3 hours earlier in the evenings. Work on breaking the habit of constantly checking social media sites and emails. This will help you ‘detach’ from your phone. The nigh-time blackout translates into fall asleep easier, getting a better night’s sleep, improving stress levels and increasing your mental well-being.

Learn How To Be Bored

In the 21st century, it’s hard to know what to do with our time when we don’t have some sort of screen to connect with the world on during our free time outside of work and on the weekends. Have you considered a new hobby or activity that doesn’t have anything to do with digital technology? Such as art classes, sports, or reading a real paper made book? Do you know how to be bored? Let creativity set in! Start a project around your home to make a statement. All these things will really make living through a digital detox for longer periods of time a lot easier because you are already into the habit of shifting your focus in life to other activities. Growing your list of things you have to complete without technology will greatly decrease your need to constantly check it.

Trade Social Media Platforms For Real Socializing

While social media platforms are fantastic ways to catch up on news, great content, and far away friends and family, we are also tricked into thinking we are much more social in life than we really may be. Learn to only ‘socialize’ on your favorite platforms like Twitter and Facebook once in the mornings and once in the evenings. This will encourage you to spend more time with real friends and family in your life and reconnect with the reality of the real world.

Paper – Doing It the ‘Old-Fashioned’ Way

When the alerts from your organizational apps and the beeps from your calendar start to get the better of you, it may be time to turn in the digital planner for good old fashioned traditional calendaring. Paper calendars and planners will help you stay organized in your life, stay on top of things with just a glance, and all without the constant reminders and need to interact with each ‘task’ or ‘event.’ Be sure to place your planner or calendar in a spot you see all the time, so you don’t miss any important dates or appointments.

It may seem difficult at first to truly take the time away from technology you need to do. If you are aiming for a full Black Out, then integrate these steps in your life to help prepare you for the digital detox. But then again, once you turn off the phone and put it away, you may be surprised at how easy a tech-free life can be!

Stuck In A Rut? Here’s How To Dig Yourself Out

Fed up of the whole “new year, new you” mantra? You’re probably not alone. While the turning of a new year is packaged as the perfect time in which to start anew, you might not always have the means to reinvent yourself each January, emotionally or otherwise. Getting stuck in a rut is a more common side effect of modern life than you might have realized and despite the fact that the media is telling us that now is the time in which to start afresh, many of us might simply not feel up to it. When the pressure to change gets too much, the natural response is to run and hide.

It’s all a matter of perspective. Feeling forced into changing your lifestyle can lead you to make any number of bad decisions and along the way, you can end up feeling a whole lot more lost. The trick is not to panic. If you slowly pinpoint areas in your life that could do with an overhaul, you’re more likely to make the kinds of changes that are really going to alter your life for the better. These everyday tweaks can help you to get back on track, making it easier for you to carve out the kind of life that you really envisioned for yourself.

Get Honest With Yourself

Making changes just for the sake of it is only going to end in disappointment. To get to where you really want to be in your life, you’re going to have to have a serious conversation with yourself to get to the root of the problem. While you might feel tempted to alter certain parts of your lifestyle, is doing so really going to make you feel better? Try and get to the heart of the problem and really listen to what’s driving you. Doing so will change your life for the better in more ways than one.

Give Up Your Complaining

Ruts are not forever and viewing them as so is only going to make the situation feel all the worse for you. Complaining about the fact that your life is at a stand still is going to slow down any progression you could be making, stopping you from taking a positive step forwards. Rather than dwelling on your complaints, try taking all of that negative energy and seeing how you might change it into something productive. Changing your perspective can give you a whole new understanding of your surroundings, making it easier for you to know what you need to do to get going once more.

Take Back Your Power

Feeling like the world is using you as its punching bag is never a good thing. When your life fails to move forwards in the ways that you had envisioned, you can feel incredibly powerless, unable to take a step towards finding a positive solution. While you might feel like you’re a passive piece of the puzzle, the power to change your life is entirely in your hands. Instead of trying to tackle everything you want to change at once, try focusing on one element of your life and seeing how you might tweak it for the better. Taking baby steps towards a goal will give you the confidence to take back control once and for all.

Look Forwards

When it comes to getting yourself out of a rut, the key is in the future. Focusing too much either on the present or on the recent past will only leave you feeling powerless and unmotivated to make any real changes. If you want to really stop focusing on past mistakes, you need to keep your eye on the future. Instead of looking what might have gone wrong before, opt to search for solutions to your current situation. The future is something upon which you can really have a positive effect, so make sure you seize it by both hands.

Stop Looking Over Your Shoulder

Try as we might, we can often find it impossible to stop comparing ourselves with those around us. Looking at the progress that other people make can stop your motivation in its tracks, leaving you feeling seriously down in the dumps. People will only show you a fraction of their lives and behind the scenes, you have no idea what their day to day existence could be like. As much as you can, cut your focus on other people and keep your attention fixed on your here and now. Getting out of your rut starts with you alone.

The Successful Way To Take On Your Mondays

Just like clockwork, with the passing of time, Monday morning comes around once a week, no matter how much you might will it away. Signalling the end of the weekend and the start of yet another working week, Monday has gained something of a bad reputation over the years and now, it is almost universally disliked. You might begrudgingly accept the fact that Monday will always be that way, bringing you back into reality like a cold slap around the face. What, though, if you could turn around the day altogether? Mondays are the chance for a fresh start on the week, giving you a regular chance to begin over again, to take another shot. It’s all a question of perspective.

Tackling your Monday with poise, style and grace need not be as hard as you had thought. Exasperation and exhaustion might run high at the start of the week but by tweaking a few things as you go, you can make a whole lot more out of your day. Thought that things could only get better from the start of the week? It turns out, they might already be pretty perfect.

Get Ahead Of Time

It’s all in the small details. If you think that things are magically going to fall into place on your Monday morning, you might have a huge surprise waiting for you in the wings. Small details can accumulate over the course of the weekend and unless you get yourself into gear, and fast, you might start to feel overwhelmed with it all come the morning. It’s all about giving yourself the time to adjust. If you can, getting prepared on Sunday evening can help you out a huge amount, giving you the time and space to ease into the working week. Doing things like laying out your clothes, preparing your lunch and arranging your suitcase can make all the difference, having you out the door in no time at all. Your week will start off that bit less hectically and you will have the mindspace to get to work.

Switch Your Frame of Mind

Mondays can be downright painful. After a long weekend of relaxing, sleeping in and doing whatever you please, the start of the week can come down on you like a ton of bricks, crippling any sense of motivation you might have mustered up. Mondays and Sundays are a whole world apart and in order to give yourself the best chance of getting going, it pays to switch your mindset. Instead of thinking about Monday as the end of your free time, why not rather think of it as a blank space, or an opportunity to start something afresh? Mondays shouldn’t signify the end of something that you really love and by altering your negative perspective, you can make all the difference.

Keep It Offline

Sleepily reaching for your phone as you’re lying in bed might be something of a morning habit of yours, but it’s probably not doing you any sort of good. Looking at your phone first thing in the morning is a sure fire way to ramp up your stress levels before you’ve even set foot into the office. On a Monday morning, out of any time at all, give yourself a flying chance and keep your headspace firmly offline. Resisting the urge to check your office emails before you begin working might be a very real struggle, but it will have you feeling a whole lot calmer. You don’t need to be in the know, all of the time.

Up Your Nutrition Intake

Prefer to sleep in late rather than getting yourself a good breakfast? You could be making things a great deal harder for yourself down the line. The importance of eating something nutritious and balanced in the morning is evident enough but on a Monday morning, it can make even more of a difference to how you feel. Try looking to protein-rich eggs, porridge or a healthy green smoothie. Your hunger pangs will be kept under wraps and you’ll have the energy to concentrate on your working day. It’s win-win!

Take It Back A Notch

Ever balked at those people who claim to prefer the mornings over any other part of the day? They might not be as bizarre as you had thought. Giving yourself the time and space in which to get going with your day can make the earliest stretches a huge amount more enjoyable and enriching. Getting up earlier to enjoy a healthy breakfast, do a little yoga or even meditate in your room can give you just the headspace you need to adjust to your working pace on a Monday morning. It might take you a little time to get going once more but once you get into the swing of things, there will be no stopping you.

Battling the Winter Blues? Let These Homely Hobbies Help

With all the of the festivities well and truly wrapped up for another year, you might be feeling the after effects of the season. There’s a reason why winter is the cruellest time of year and if you’re looking at the next few cold months with a lump in your throat, you might not be alone. What, though, if there were another way to approach the winter season? While winter might cut you off from the outdoors, there are plenty of ways that you can make the most of the next few months by changing up your schedule somewhat. These indoor hobbies can easily replace your summertime activity, allowing you to make the most of your free time without venturing too far out into the cold.

Cook Up A Storm

Want to improve your cooking skills? There has never been a better time than now in which to commit yourself to the project. Turning up the heat might be all but impossible during the summer months so now that things have well and truly cooled down, why not try experimenting with that recipe book that you had on hold? Even if you’re not adept in the kitchen, you can dedicate the coming days and weeks to perfecting your cooking style, experimenting with all kinds of dishes and flavors. Invest in a really good cookbook before you go and get started with the most classic of dishes out there.

Balance It All Out

Saying that you’re going to do something is a whole lot different to actually going through with it. While getting into yoga might have been high up on your to-do list for some time now, you might have been putting it off and putting it off, leaving the activity on the back burner. Now is the time in which to take action. Yoga is an incredible way to get in tune with your body and improve your strength and flexibility. Even if you already work out, you could be overlooking essential areas of your fitness in your exercise plan. Yoga will help you to destress, focus on specific muscle groups and tone yourself up. Better yet, the activity can be performed in the comfort of your own home, meaning that you don’t even have to go anywhere!

Brush Up Your Languages

Speaking a foreign language is something that so many of us want to do and yet, we seem to fail to find the time in which to actually go ahead with. The long winter evenings are yours for the taking. If travel is going to be a part of your year ahead, getting ahead of the curve and focusing on your language of choice can be a really great path to take. You can try attending evening classes, watching Youtube videos or downloading a language app on your phone. Just an hour or so every evening can make all the difference to your skills, giving you the foundation you need in order to go further.

Get Writing

Having a creative way in which to express yourself can work wonders for your wellbeing. If you’re interested in the world of writing, now might be the perfect time in which to put pen to paper – so to speak – and draft yourself up a blog. Your writing doesn’t have to reach a lot of people; it’s all about expanding your own creativity and trying something new. If you’re looking to get into creative writing and feel that you would like to pick up a skill of two, you can try looking into courses such as Skillshare in order to get going. Writing a little bit each day can help a great amount, giving you the foundation that you need in order to go further with your hobby.

Perfect Your Penmanship

Over the last couple of years, the popularity of calligraphy has really peaked. What was once an antiquated way of adding a little flourish to a piece of writing has now become something altogether different, giving you the chance to express yourself in any way that you should so please. Modern calligraphy can help you to make your own cards, table places or wall prints, expanding your creative possibilities a huge amount. If you’re not sure where to start, you can try searching for online classes or teaching yourself with a good old fashioned book and pen. Interactive apps also make it even easier than ever to express yourself, helping you to perfect your art either digitally or on paper.

Deck the Halls: 5 Simple Ways To Kit Out Your Home This Holiday

The holiday season is well and truly upon us and with it comes a whole load of ways in which to dress up your home. The only trouble is, kitting out your apartment space is at a minimum can be a great deal more difficult than you had envisaged. After wrestling with a Christmas tree, knotting your twinkly lights and getting yourself entwined in tinsel, you might be all but ready to throw in the towel. It might simply be time to change things up a little. Approaching this year’s decorations with an innovative eye can help you out enormously, making it even simpler to give your home a festive touch.

Festive Textiles

It’s not just about the Christmas tree when it comes to kitting out your home. Bringing in the right kinds of colors and tones can make all the difference to the space, grounding the area in a festive glow. Swapping in your regular accessories for a few Christmas themed items might seem like a cheesy way in which to get in the spirit but done right, the flourishing can seriously pay off. Adding a few festive textiles to your furnishing collection can make it easier for you to decorate your home in the coming years, giving you a ready made arsenal to dip into. Don’t feel like you have to go overboard to make it count; a festive cushion and a few cozy throws can be all that it takes to prepare for the holiday without going overboard.

Hanging Stockings

Don’t have a fireplace? It doesn’t matter! Practically any surface can be used in order to suspend a festive stocking or two, bringing a touch of the season to any room in the house. If you’re not sure how to suspend yours without making a permanent change to the hardware, try investing in a pair of festive ornaments. The items can work to keep your stockings in place while giving the room an extra festive kick. In terms of stockings, the sky really is the limit. Going for a coolor tone to match your living space can bring a more minimalist tone to the space while opting for a classic choice can make things feel all the more festive. Hang your stocking for the world to see and let the rest works its magic.

Greenery and Lights

Even if you’re not opting for a tree this year, there are a number of ways that you can add a festive feel into your home and use the traditional color tones. Turning to greenery and lights can be a great way of cheating your Christmas design, bringing in the design of a festive tree without actually having to go out and get one. If you’re short on space, arranging a vase of greens and red berries can warm up the color tone of the space and create a festive corner in the room. Adding lights to frames and furnishings will add in an extra glow, giving you the illumination of a Christmas tree while saving space.

Christmas Crockery

If the holiday is more of a subtle affair in your household, you can let your existing furnishings do all of the talking for you. Swapping in your normal plates, mugs and cutlery for seasonally themed alternatives will help to base your home in the holidays without going overboard on the design. Using the mugs and plates for a few weeks during the year will make them feel a whole lot more special, bringing in a sense of excitement before the season has come to a head. Don’t be afraid to arrange your plates and mugs for the world to see; you want to show off your design!

Seasonal Treats

A sure fire way to get your guests into the festive spirit? Leave out a few snacks and treats in festive bowls! There’s something undeniably cozy about surrounding yourself with a few seasonal treats and by leaving them out for your guests, you can create an air of comfort into your home. If you whip up your own, it’s all the better; you can design the look of each snack and present it for all of your visitors to enjoy:

Take Care: 6 Phrases You Need To Stop Saying To Yourself

The way that you take care of yourself can have a huge effect on how you feel everyday. While you might have the best support system, the most successful of careers and the happiest of relationships, it can mean very little if you’re not treating yourself in the right way. When it comes to feeling good in and of yourself, it’s all a question of perspective. While change is not going to come about overnight, you can slowly start to implement alternatives in the way that you think about yourself. Consciously changing your thought patterns can take some work but after a little time and a touch of patience, you can be well on your way to becoming a healthier, happier you.

I’ll Be Happy When

Having something to look forward in life can be a great way of setting yourself goals, motivating yourself for the future and keeping a positive mindset. When you’re so focused on achieving a goal that you forget to appreciate everything else around you, however, things can start to become messy. There are some things that can make it easier to keep on going but if you base your happiness around one single thing, you’re unlikely to be content in what it is you’re doing. You’re never going to get everything you want out of life, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be just as sweet.

Things Could Be Worse

Coming from any sort of privilege is a blessing. You should be thankful for your upbringing and think about how it has enabled you to get where you are today. When things are not going right in your life, however, it can be easy to let this privilege turn into guilt. Telling yourself things could be worse, while technically true, will only serve to invalidate your feelings and make you feel even worse about the whole thing. Don’t take away from your own emotions and your own situation. Have a little perspective, yes, but give yourself the time and care you need in order to mend.

I’m Boring

We’ve all had moments in our life when we feel a whole lot less than sparkling. Feeling dull and uninspiring is something that happens to most people but focusing too much on how you feel about yourself will only serve to worsen the situation. As long as you’re happy with your hobbies and your interests, that’s all that matters. Try as hard as you might, you simply cannot please everyone. Being happy in your own skin will see you through and make it easier to make others who appreciate you for exactly who you are.

I’m Not Doing Well Enough

Personal pressure is a very funny thing. Have too little of it and you can lose your way entirely. Have too much of it and you can feel crippled in your tracks. The trick is to find the magic number, and put just enough on yourself in order to keep yourself motivated. Being proud of how well you’re doing is nothing to be ashamed of and in fact, it can help to nurture a psychology that is a whole lot better rounded. You can sing your achievements without coming off as arrogant, so don’t feel like you can’t be happy with your situation.

Everything Happens For A Reason

Sometimes, things happen that you don’t understand and only months later, you come to realize how you’re in a much better position. Other times, however, things happen and turn your world upside down, leaving little significance in their wake. Both good and bad comes out of change but no situation changes because that’s how it was supposed to be. As hard as it might be, telling yourself that things happen randomly will give you the freedom to let go and stop trying to understand tragedy. Bad things are far too commonplace, no matter how good of a person you are.

I Don’t Have The Time

When things start to pile up on your social and working calendars, it can be easy to step out of your responsibilities for lack of enough time. While it can be harder to say yes to things on a regular basis, you can soon find yourself in a spiral of saying no, using your schedule as an excuse. If you’re living without children and have few other responsibilities, you might have the most amount of time you ever will do. Don’t overload your plate, but try saying yes to things once in awhile; you don’t know how good it might feel.

Post Summer Picnic: All The Essentials For An End Of Season Gathering

Summer might be drawing to a close but there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the last few rays of sunshine. Holding a seasonal picnic is a great way to make the most of the late summer warmth and celebrate a season well spent. If you’re hosting a picnic, you need to arm yourself with all of the essentials and by considering these things above all else, you’re guaranteed an event that will go off with a bang. Here’s to the summer!

Location

First things first, you need to think about the kind of place that would be suitable for your picnic. WIth fall on the cards, you might want to consider a space that has both indoor and outdoor options just in case a sudden downpour heads your way. If prime picnic real estate isn’t in your local area, there’s no reason why you can’t host your own gathering. If you have a garden, consider setting up your own space for your friends and family, bringing the park life to your home. If green spaces aren’t abundant, you can even bring the party indoors. Just set down a few rugs, get out your picnic basket and let the rest work its magic!

Picnic Basket

If you really want to do a picnic the right way, you need to think about the kind of basket you have to hand. Serving up the right kind of snacks and treats requires a good sized basket, one that is big enough to take home leftovers should you have them. While you can go out and buy your own picnic basket, you can also try adapting what you already have in order to meet your needs. An insulated freezer bag or heavy duty tote bag can do just as good a job as a wicker basket, provided you line it with a little absorbent material. You can even take along your backpack to make things a little easier on your back!

Picnic Blanket

No matter where you’re having your picnic, you’re going to need to bring along a picnic blanket. A ubiquitous picnic tool, the blanket is essential for any type of location, even if it’s a warm day. When it comes to adaptability, Turkish towels are some of the best. Lightweight and easily transported, they can be folded away and and used again with practically zero forethought. You might even want to use the material to protect any cutlery or plates you’re taking with you, ensuring they don’t get damaged along the way!

Snacking Spread

Picnic accessories dealt with, it’s time to take a closer look at what really matters. If you’re hosting a picnic, you might want to ask everyone to take along a small dish of their own to ensure you have enough food. When you’re preparing your dish, you can try turning to a shareable spread in order to appease all of your guests. Bringing food like cheeses, olives, crackers and chutneys can be a really great idea, making it easier for you and your guests to mix and match your menus. You don’t have to get a lot; a few different items can be all it takes to make your picnic a success!

Shatterproof Glasses

While you might have the perfect set of mason jars you want to bring along for your picnic, there’s good reason to leave the good stuff at home. Taking place in the great outdoors, picnics often bring with them a little rough and tumble that can lead to breakages. In order to avoid any disappointment, try picking up a few shatterproof glasses and sets of plastic cutlery before you go. That way, you can easily clean up and avoid any accidents.

Games and Music

What is a picnic without entertainment? While devising a whole new set of games can give your picnic an individual twist, you can still have a great deal of fun with a bunch of old classics. Lawn games, cards and checkers always go down well, and are usually known by everyone. Want something to set off your picnic? Try taking along a set of speakers and making your favorite summer playlist; you’re guaranteed a good time!

Celebrating The Sun: 5 Ways To Pull Off A Summer Gathering

Summer is finally here and with it comes yet another excuse to throw a party. Celebrating the sun is part and parcel of a really successful summer season and when it comes to pulling off your own gathering, it pays to put in the legwork. Having a few friends over for a few light bites is a great way of kicking back, coming together and unwinding in the late afternoon sun and if you ramp up your routine just a little bit, you can have a party to remember. The simplicity of a summer gathering requires just enough planning and forethought, with a little spontaneity thrown in for good measure. Want to make the most out of your next soirée? It’s time to take things down a notch.

Sharing Is Caring

If you want to make the most out of your party and enjoy it just as much as your guests, it’s a great idea to get everyone to muck in together. Asking your friends to take along either one dish or a few drinks can help to spread the load and arm you with a whole lot of variety. To keep things as simple as possible, it’s worth looking to dishes like salads, cold soups and dips; think cool, transportable and easily shareable. When it comes to cutlery and plates, opting for paper or wooden varieties can help to cut down on the mess and ensure that there are no awkward breakages along the way. The trick is to go for a “thrown together” vibe; that way, you can get going with the party even sooner than you had thought!

Take The Inside, Out

Looking on Pinterest is a great way of getting inspiration for your next summer party but if you want more of a laid back, relaxed atmosphere, don’t be afraid to make use of what you already have. Investing in a new set of outdoor chairs to match your theme might seem like a good idea but if you’re only going to use the set once, it can be a waste of time and money. When seating your guests, don’t be afraid to take existing furniture outside and making use of things like quilts, stools and cushions. You want people to be comfortable but ultimately, your party should be easy for you to put together.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Want to be the effortlessly relaxed host? It’s all about getting things ready before your guests arrive. Choosing options that can either be prepared and stored beforehand or need time in which to marinate can help to give you a leg up so that when your guests do arrive, all you need to do is take the food out and throw it on the barbecue. Choosing marinated meats and vegetables is also a great way of getting even more flavor out of your dishes and whipping up a culinary storm. By the time your guests arrive, everything will have already been prepared!

Create The Perfect Mood

Keeping things going when the sun goes down is one of the trickiest hurdles you can deal with, particularly if the activities are all based in the garden. To keep your guests from the dark, try filling your garden with a few tea lights, strings of bulbs and tree lanterns. The low lighting can be just the thing to create the right kind of atmosphere and will throw out enough illumination to help your guests see what they’re doing.

Keep The Mood Light

Having friends over can be enough fun in and of itself but sometimes, you might want to provide a little extra something to keep people in the party spirit. Providing entertainment of some sort, be it music or an outside game, is a great way of enhancing your party and bringing people together. Keeping the music going throughout the gathering can help to keep things feeling relaxed and using your outdoor space to get people involved in a quick game will keep things feeling light. When it comes to picking a game, simple is always best. Choosing something that takes hours to explain will just leave people feeling bored and frustrated; the key is to have fun whatever you’re doing.

Burn Out: How To Bounce Back After An All Nighter

There comes a time in which we’re all hit by a sudden deadline or a last minute project that absolutely needs to be finished and we do the unthinkable: We stay up all night. Pulling an all nighter is part and parcel of adult life and while those moments might be few and far between, they can have significant consequences on our health. Catching up on lost sleep is actually a very hard thing to do and after a few lost hours, we can end up feeling groggy, burned out and generally under the weather.

If your all nighter is absolutely unavoidable, there are a number of simple methods you can use in order to right any wrongs and get back on track. The day after you don’t sleep might be the most difficult but over time, you can begin to feel remarkably more healthy. Are you ready to feel brighter and better? It’s time to learn how to bounce back.

Take A Nap

It might seem like the most obvious way to recover from an all nighter but regular napping can actually be more helpful than you might have initially thought. Short bursts of sleep can help your body to recover from sleep deprivation, enabling it to perform essential recovery processes while you momentarily switch off. Sleeping for too long can have the adverse effect and leave you feeling all the more groggy, so make sure you don’t sleep for any longer than 45 minutes at a time. Over the following days, try to fit in a little extra sleep when you can to help your body to recover. You might be back on track before you know it!

Drink Extra Water

Hydrating yourself is one of the best ways to wake up both your body and your mind and when you’re feeling extra tired, getting sufficient water can help dramatically. Mild dehydration can have a detrimental effect on your brain’s ability to focus and concentrate and when you miss out on sleep, it is essential that you help your body’s processes to function normally. Water might not give you the same feeling as a shot of caffeine but over time, it will have a much more beneficial effect on your body and mind.

Rest Your Body

Although you might not always want to, taking time off from your workout schedule can only help your body to recover from a lack of sleep. Despite the fact that exercise might help you to feel more energized in normal situations, when you’re dealing with a lack of sleep, it can only exacerbate the situation. Your performance level might be significantly reduced and you might even lack normal coordination after pulling an all nighter. Take a day or two off from the gym; your body is not going to change during that time.

Stretch Your Muscles

If you do want to feel more energized and awake, stretching out your limbs is a great idea and can work as a temporary alternative to spending time at the gym. If you want to feel a little better about yourself, a quick yoga session can work wonders. As you stretch your muscles, you effectively help to remove toxins from internal organs by applying pressure to them. Better yet, yoga’s deep breathing exercises can help you to recover even more quickly, increasing the flow of oxygenated blood around your body. A quick stretching session can leave you feeling instantly revitalized and all the more fresh.

Fuel Your Body

The more tired that we feel, the less likely we are to make healthy eating choices but after pulling an all nighter, how we fuel our body is more important than ever. While sugary snacks can give you a quick burst of energy, they will essentially leave you feeling worse than before you ate them, causing your blood sugar level to come crashing down. Eating slow release whole foods is the best way that you can help your body to recover and bounce back from a lack of sleep. Complex carbohydrates like brown rice and quinoa can give you the lasting energy you deserve. Combining them with lean proteins like fish and and chicken will only boost your awakeness, helping your body to get back on track.