ways to be luckier

3 ways to become a luckier person

There’s a scene in Titanic when Jack is having dinner with Rose and her family.

Colonel Gracie makes a comment that “All life is a game of luck”, and Cal replies that “a real man makes his own luck”.

Now, as much as I dislike Cal, you can’t argue with the point he’s making that luck is something we can all choose to create more of.

You might not think of yourself as a naturally lucky person, but that’s probably part of the problem.

Generally speaking, what we think about the world and ourselves becomes our reality.  So if you think you’re unlucky, then chances are that you won’t get many lucky breaks.

Don’t worry though, you can turn it all around!

Here are 3 different things you can do to become a luckier person.

 

1. Pay attention to the world around you

A lot of the time we’ll say that someone is lucky because they seem to always be finding amazing opportunities, or moments of serendipity.

All that’s really happening is that they’re paying attention to the world around them.  They’re always keeping an eye on the little things around them that other people might just walk right past.  So they spot the amazing job opportunity posted in a window.  They find a bargain designer jacket in the charity shop.  They get chatting to the person next to them in a queue who offers them a way into the industry they want to crack.

This idea of lucky people paying more attention to everything has been shown to be true in various studies.

The most famous was carried out by Professor Richard Wiseman in 2003.  He took a group of people who thought they were lucky and a group who thought they were unlucky and asked them all to count the number of photographs in a newspaper.

The unlucky people were so focused on the task of counting photos that they didn’t notice anything else that was printed in the paper.  The lucky people, on the other hand, noticed a sign in the paper telling them that they’d won $250, and another one towards the front of the paper saying they could stop counting photos.

So the lesson here is that while it’s good to focus on what we’re doing, if we want to invite more luck into our lives we have to be more open and observant of potentially great things going on around us.

 

2. Listen to your gut

If you get a gut feeling about something, do you tend to listen to it and trust it?

Well if you want to be luckier you should start trusting your gut more.

Professor Wiseman believes that our intuition is a result of our bodies and brains picking up on patterns that our conscious minds haven’t put together yet.  So that gut feeling is our subconscious telling us, “we’ve seen this before, it will most likely work out well/badly”.

People who think of themselves as unlucky are often quite anxious too.  And this anxiety leads them to question where that gut feeling has come from and ultimately ignore it when there seems to be no obvious, logical reason for it.

Lucky people, on the other hand, are more confident and trust their gut instincts.

 

3. Expect good luck

One of the reasons that lucky people trust their gut instincts is that it’s worked out well for them in the past, so they expect the same to happen each time.

The same goes with good luck.

If you expect good things to happen to you, then you’ll notice more potential opportunities and be more open to inviting good things into your life.

Studies have shown that lucky people are generally more optimistic and more persistent in their approach to life.  They expect things to go well, so they persevere more to get the outcome they’re after.

It might seem like they’ve just ‘got lucky’ but it’s more likely that they’ve just stuck at things long enough for them to work out in their favour.

 

I do think that there are some things in this life that do just come down to chance, but I love this idea that by changing our attitude and approach to life we can all become luckier.

So much of how we experience life comes down to our mindset, and we can all become lucky people if we make the shifts in our thoughts and outlook on life to invite more luck in.

Do you think of yourself as a lucky or an unlucky person?

If you feel that you’ve generally been unlucky up till now, try making these changes to how you see the world and see if things get luckier for you!

cleaning without the chemicals

Getting started with cleaning without the chemicals

We’ve just come back from a lovely, spur of the moment, week away.

With the trip being last minute, there wasn’t much time to get things in order at home before we left, which means we’ve come back from a perfectly-cleaned-by-housekeeping lodge to a cluttered, messy home with beds that need changing, floors that need vacuuming and surfaces that need a good clean.

So of course I’m sitting writing this instead of tackling it all!

When the house needs a good clean it can be really overwhelming.  I know I often don’t know where to start when everything needs doing.  This year though I really want to start getting on top of things at home, putting a bit of a routine in place to get the cleaning done.

Like a lot of people I also want to be more mindful of the products I’m using and trying to be more eco-friendly when it comes to cleaning.

 

Here are some great tips I’ve picked up recently for ways to keeping on top of things at home without relying on too many chemicals.

 

Let the fresh air in

I really love it when the house smells nice when you walk through the front door, but I don’t really want to be spraying air freshener around too often.

So I try to fling the windows open for a bit each day to let fresh air circulate around the house.

To really then make the house smell nice you can do things like putting out vases of fresh flowers, making a natural air freshener with water, baking soda and essential oils or making a simmer pot to pop on the hob for a bit to fill the house with gorgeous scents.

 

Look out for eco-friendly products

More and more companies now are producing eco-friendly cleaning products that don’t contain nasty chemicals but are still really easy to pick up with your weekly shop.

If you look around most supermarkets you can find everything from natural washing powders, to floor cleaners and furniture polish.

What’s really great these days is that these kind of products aren’t limited to what we use at home. Business supplier Jangro has a great range of products in their Jangro enviro range so that companies can clean on a larger scale and be happy knowing they’re using more natural products.

 

Make your own cleaning products

If you want to go one step further, and possibly save money along the way, then you can buy some reusable containers like spray bottles and make your own natural cleaning products.

Vinegar is great mixed with water to clean windows and mirrors.  You can use scrunched up newspaper or a microfiber cloth to get a brilliant streak-free finish.

You can also add some essential oils like lavender or lemon to a vinegar and water mix to use as an all-purpose cleaner around the house.

There are recipes for all sorts of homemade cleaning products online, but I love the look of these from clean mama.

 

Are you trying to use less chemicals when you clean at home?  Do you have any other top tips for being more eco-friendly when it comes to keeping your house clean?

 

DIsclosure: this is a collaborative post

Jooki music player review

Jooki smart player – Review

Disclosure: we were sent a Jooki for the purpose of this review, but all thoughts, words and opinions are my own

 

When I think back to my childhood and my teenage years, a lot of the memories are built around music.

I remember lying in bed falling asleep to the sound of my dad’s Bob Dylan records playing in the lounge.  I remember long car journeys to the south of France listening to John Denver on my walkman.  I remember recording songs from the top 40 on my stereo, waiting for the songs I wanted and hoping the dj woudn’t ruin them by talking over them.

So it makes me really happy that my children love listening to music too.  I hope there are already some songs that will bring back memories for them when they’re older.

The thing is, we don’t actually have a stereo in our house, we don’t even have a simple radio.  We play music in the car and they listen to the songs the love via YouTube when we’re at home.

So we were all really excited when we were sent a Jooki smart player to try out.

 

The Jooki is a screen-free smart player that lets the children play the music they love, without needing any help from us.  It’s a really simple but clever device that we have already fallen in love with.

When the Jooki arrived I was immediately impressed by the quality of the packaging.  I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but everything from the feel of the box to the images and fonts that they used gave me the impression that this would be a great quality piece of kit.

 

Inside the box you get:

  • The Jooki smart player
  • 5 character figurines that you load with playlists
  • A USB charger cable
  • A quick start up guide

The pieces are all really nice and secure in the box, but there aren’t any annoying cable ties or anything to undo to get everything out, which is great when you have excited children around who just want to get the Jooki out and start playing music on it!

 

The Jooki itself is basically a speaker with simple controls and a chunky rubber handle that is perfect for little hands to grab hold of.

It’s designed for children aged 3 and over, so it’s good and solid, and also splashproof which is good to know if you want to use it at bathtime or in the kitchen.

The blue and orange colour scheme is bright and fun, without being too childish, and would look good in a child’s bedroom and not completely out of place in the lounge.

 

The controls on the Jooki are really simple.  There’s the power button, left and right skip track buttons and a volume control button.

So, how does it actually work?

The hard part is done by the grown ups, and actually isn’t all that hard.  The quick startup guide that comes with the Jooki walks you through connecting your device to your home wifi and then you can use spotify or deezer to create playlists.

You then assign each playlist to a different character.

The recommendation seems to be that you use a premium/paid for subscription from Spotify or Deezer but you can actually use it just fine with a free account.

We have a free account with Spotify and have had no problems using that with our Jooki.  You are just a bit more limited in the songs you have access to and the fact that Spotify will play them on the ‘shuffle’ setting rather than you getting to pick the order that they play in.

What’s great is that there are clear instructions for all of these set up questions on the Jooki website.  The FAQ page gives concise answers to most of the questions you might have about using the Jooki.

 

There are 5 different characters that come with the Jooki which is great for saving arguments if you have more than one child.

You could assign them a character each and set up a playlist for each one.  Or you could use one character for an upbeat, morning playlist, another for a more calming, evening playlist and so on.

 

Once the playlists are set up and assigned to characters then you can let your children take over.

All they have to do to listen to their music is turn the Jooki on, pick a character and pop it on the circle on the top of the Jooki.

The songs will then start to play straight away.

 

The one limitation with the Jooki using Spotify and Deezer is that you need to be connected to your home wifi to be able to stream your music.  To get around this you can add your songs to a micro SD card and pop that in the back of the Jooki, then you can take it out and about with you.

And if you want some peace and quiet from your children’s music you can also plug headphones into it which also makes it great for car journeys.

 

The Jooki isn’t just for music either, it’s also a great way for children to listen to audiobooks.

We bought Rhys an mp3 player a while ago so he could listen to music at bedtime to help him relax, and my husband had the brilliant idea of downloading some audiobooks for him to listen to as he lay in bed.  He has been really loving them, and Nerys would love to be able to listen too.

So the next job for me is to get a few books like ‘the owl who was afraid of the dark’ added to the Jooki so that both the children can listen to it after having a story with me or Steve at bedtime.

 

We’ve been using our Jooki for about a month now and we all absolutely love it.

It looks great, and feels nice and robust too.  The character figurines are really cute and a fun way for the children to pick out what music they want to listen to.  I’m also really impressed with the sound quality and love the fact that it can be used normally as a speaker but you can also plug headphones in if not everyone in the house wants to listen to it.

If you’re looking for a fun, screen-free way for your children to enjoy music and audiobooks then the Jooki is a great option.  I can see it being something that we get a lot of use out of for years to come.

Fit your photography kit into the family home

Fitting your photography kit into the family home

Any hobby can slowly take over the family home, but photography is particularly invasive because so much of the equipment is large – and expensive! It might start out as a single camera with a kit lens, but before you know it you’ve got a collection of glass worth several thousand, and enough lights to illuminate a film set.

If you feel as though you’re fighting a losing battle to keep your gear organised and safe, a few of these ideas might help.

 

Dedicated spaces

A special area to keep photography gear is very helpful.

It doesn’t have to be huge, just somewhere large enough for your needs. This is something only you can determine, but it obviously depends on the type of kit you’re storing.

  • Commandeer a cupboard and dedicate it to some aspect of photography. Lenses, speed lights, cables, chargers, batteries, adaptors… whatever you need to keep safe and organised.
  • If you’re lucky enough to have a spare room you can turn it into a home studio that would automatically provide all the storage space you need, including space for light stands, soft boxes or umbrellas and backdrops.
  • If you don’t have a whole room but need that much space for photography gear storage, consider self storage rooms. Alternatively, self storage lockers offer smaller spaces which can be handy for folding backdrops, reflectors, or umbrellas that you need to keep in good condition.
  • Larger rooms at home could be divided, with sections cordoned off where you can stow photography kit. Ornate or decorative room dividers are also useful as studio props for portraiture, so they can have a double purpose.
  • Utilise the nooks and crannies that are often overlooked. The little void under the stairs can hold loads if you fit a few shelves, or the space beneath kitchen cabinets is useful for folded stands or furled umbrellas as long as it’s clean and dry under there. A bit of DIY knowledge is all you need to remove the existing fitted boards and replace them with sliding or hinged doors.
  • Shelving – you can never have too many shelves and so much vertical space gets ignored that there’s nearly always room for a couple more, for example over doors. Arrange lenses, cameras, speed lights, even camera bags to keep them out of the way.

 

Photography phases

Unless your photography focuses solely on one genre, it’s likely you’ll go through phases of different interests. It might be landscape photography for a few months, then shift completely to macro work or to studio portraits. Each genre includes a few bits of specialist gear to get the best results, and these specialised items can clutter up limited space at home.

When you notice a shift in your photography interests, consider placing the equipment you’re not currently using into storage. When items not in use are kept at home gathering dust, there’s a temptation to sell them, especially if other family members don’t share your passion and wonder why you need so much stuff you never use.

Chances are, you’ll want that equipment again pretty soon and it’s nice to have it there waiting for you. Renting a small self storage locker or room will be a more economical option than repurchasing previously owned equipment. 

 

Printing and archiving images

Your portfolio is one of your most important photography collections. Most photographers have thousands of images, and while they may not always be award-winning quality, they’re all precious as part of your photography journey.

While most of us keep digital copies, there’s a growing movement towards printed works, especially in fine art photography. This can create its own storage challenge.

Make a display area by your home printer if you like to proof photos before getting them professionally printed. A corkboard or peg board provides somewhere to hang a temporary gallery, and if you can place it in a prominent position at home, so much the better. Living with an image in a small printed version for a while makes it easier to narrow down your final choice for professional printing.

When you take an image down off the wall (to make room for a new one) pack it away carefully. Images printed on paper store well in artist’s folders or archival quality card folders or boxes. Wrap up images printed on canvas or paper prints that are staying in frames. You can use bubble wrap or sturdy wrapping paper to cushion them from knocks and protect them from dust. Put them in self storage for long term protection, where they won’t be disturbed or damaged.

At the same time, make backups of digital files on flash drives or external hard drives, and put these into secure storage along with printed portfolios.

When you add up all the equipment photographers collect, it’s no wonder it can easily take over the family home. Factoring in the financial investment, it’s definitely cost effective to figure out ways to store things safely and keep those precious possessions in mint condition.

 

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post

Rules to remember for a happier life

3 things to remember for a happier, easier life

If you’re anything like me, then chances are you make things harder than they need to be at times.  Generally thanks to overthinking and worrying about things that turn out to be absolutely fine.

I’m better than I used to be, and am working on letting things go and trusting my instincts more and taking action rather than staying still and thinking things over too much.

There are 3 things in particular that I’ve come to realise, and am working on remembering, that can really help make things in life easier and help us feel happier.

 

1. You can’t control everything, but you can control how you react to everything

I think this is a lesson that we all take a long time to learn and even longer to consistently put into practice.

There are loads of things in life that will happen that we have no control over.

It might be big things like redundancies at work or health issues.  Or it might be small annoyances like hitting every single red light on the way to school or finding that the supermarket doesn’t have the one thing you really needed in stock.

We can’t control any of these things, but what we can control is how we react to them.

Our initial reaction is often a reflex response of anger, frustration or sadness, and that’s completely fine.  It’s what comes after that immediate response that matters.

We can choose to stay with those negative emotions about the situation or we can take a breath and choose another way.  We can choose to see the situation from a place of growth, of love, of learning, of acceptance, or even amusement.

Life becomes much easier and happier if we choose the second option.

 

2. Don’t compare yourself to other people

This is so, so hard, especially in this time of social media when we’re constantly exposed to other people’s highlight reels.

It’s all too easy to look at the apparently perfect, polished lives of other people and feel that we’re failing somehow in comparison.  The thing we all need to remember is that these images we’re seeing aren’t real.  They’re not a true reflection of people’s lives.  No one has a life that is as perfect as it looks on social media.

The same goes for feeling like other people are further along on their journey than you, or that they have it all together in a way that you don’t.

Remember that we have no idea what’s going on behind closed doors, how hard people have worked, how many hours they’ve put in and how much help they’re getting from other people.  And chances are that mum on the school run who looks calm and polished feels just as chaotic as the rest of us, she’s just better at hiding it in public.

If you want to feel happier then stop comparing yourself to other people.

Focus on your own journey, work on improving what you want to improve for you and stop worrying about where other people are in comparison.

 

3. Don’t worry so much about what other people think about you

Honestly, they don’t think about you half as much as you think they do.

There’s a theory in psychology called the spotlight effect, which basically states that we all have a tendency to believe that people notice us way more than they actually do.  We feel as if a spotlight is on us all the time, when really other people are so caught up in their own lives and issues that they often don’t see the things we’re worrying about.

It’s an absolute waste of time and energy to worry too much about what other people think of you.

Wear the clothes you want to wear, follow your passions, have a second piece of cake with your coffee when you catch up with friends.  As long as you’re not hurting anyone, do the things you want to do, the things that make you happy.  Don’t let fear of what other people might think or say about it stop you from going for what you want.

Because chances are they won’t give it anywhere near the amount of thought you think they will.

 

In case those three things aren’t enough, here’s one more bonus thought to remember:

Let the little things go

If something is making you angry, or upset, ask yourself that classic question, will this still matter to me in a year’s time?

I’ll bet that the majority of the time the answer will be no.

In which case, just let it go.

Don’t dwell on those little things that just don’t matter.  Don’t let small upsets and frustrations ruin your whole day, or week.

Have a rant or a cry if you need to, then let it go and move on.

You’ll feel so much happier for it.

 

Boxclever family weekly planner review

Get organised with a Boxclever Press family calendar – Review

I was chatting with a friend in the school playground yesterday about how much there is to keep track of and remember when it comes to family life.

There are always letters to read and forms to sign from school.  You need to keep on top of what clubs are on what days and who needs what for which club.  Not to mention homework, swimming kit, PE kit, pound coins for charity, and various fancy dress/dress down days.

And all of this is just the children.  Once you start thinking about all the meetings, events, deadlines and so on that you have to remember for yourself it can all get way too much.

There is something really simple but so effective that can help though.  I’ve been using the family weekly planner from Boxclever Press for a few weeks now after I was sent one to review and it is so helpful for keeping on top of everything.

 

The first thing I noticed when my calendar arrived in the post was how substantial it is.

The 2020 Family Weekly Planner Calendar is a weekly planner rather than a typical monthly wall calendar so it, obviously, has a lot more pages and is heavier than the normal calendars I’m used to.  Despite that, it doesn’t feel overly bulky and sits really nicely when it’s hanging up on the wall.

I really love how sturdy the metal binding and hanging loop are too.  I get the feeling that this calendar will last the year nicely without showing much wear and tear.

 

One thing I really love about this calendar is that it’s a 16-month version, so you can get a head start on things by starting to use it at the end of the ‘old’ year instead of waiting to get organised in the new year.

Each page shows a week, with the dates clearly marked, and 6 columns for different members of the family.

I think it’s great that there are 6 columns available.  It makes this planner great for bigger families and also means people like me with smaller families have extra columns available for things like birthdays or even weekly meal plans.

Each weekly page also has a tear off to-do list and shopping list so you can easily keep on top of the things you need to get sorted and pick up at the shops.

 

I really love these little tear-off lists and think they make a great addition to the planner.

I’m always jotting down reminders to myself on random bits of paper, so I love that I can put them all on the planner now and then just tear them off when I need to.  No more searching my desk when I need to find out what it was I needed to remind myself about!

 

The Boxclever press weekly planner has a few other well thought out features that I really like.

There’s a page at the back for writing down phone numbers that you might need to keep handy, as well as a pocket for stashing important bits of paperwork.

It even comes with a set of brightly coloured, fun stickers that you can use to mark different occasions on the planner.  There are stickers for all sorts of things from days/nights out and birthdays to vet, dentist and optician appointments.

 

Possibly the most useful feature of the planner though is a simple sheet of plastic.

There is a clear sheet of plastic that fits onto the planner and acts as an overlay to put over the current week.  You use the pen that comes attached to the bottom of the planner to write in any recurring events, things like weekly swimming lessons and school clubs.  Then each week, when you change the calendar over, you move the overlay too so that the regular events are sitting in the right spot on the right day.

So simple, so clever, so useful to save writing the same things every single week.

 

We’ve been using our family weekly planner for a few weeks now and I absolutely love it.

It hangs really nicely on the wall, the pages are lovely and smooth to write on and the little extra features like the tear-off lists and reusable overlay are so handy.  I’m not saying this is the magic pill that will take away all the stress of juggling family life, but it is a huge helping hand to get me feeling more organised and on-top of things!

 

You can get this family weekly planner from the Boxclever Press website, as well as a selection of other calendars, diaries and organisers.

 

Disclosure: I was sent the family weekly planner for the purpose of this review but all words, thought and opinions are my own.

How to make a rented house feel like home (1)

5 ways to make a rented house feel like home

When you live in a rented house or flat it can be really hard at times to make it feel like home.

You’re often limited in what you can do in terms of painting the walls and even putting in hooks to hang pictures.  It makes sense really, that the landlord will want to keep the house as quite a blank slate so it’s easy for them to rent to someone else when you move out.  They have a lot to deal with between keeping on top of repairs for you, making sure they have landlord insurance in case anything goes wrong, and making sure you’re happy in their property.  So you can understand why they don’t want you making big, dramatic changes to the house.

There are still quite a few things you can do though to put your stamp on your house and start to really make it feel like a family home.

 

1. Bring in colour with soft furnishings

It’s always worth asking your landlord if you can repaint the walls to create the colour scheme  you want, but most of the time they’ll want you to keep it plain and neutral.  So bring colour into your rented home with soft furnishings.

Think about getting a big area rug to cover the plain carpet in the lounge, and smaller, cosy rugs for the bedrooms.

Then you can tie things together with throws, blankets and cushions on the sofas, chairs and beds.

You can use the same approach in your bathroom too.

Pick out bath mats in a colour that suits the tiles and then find a new shower curtain and bathroom accessories to match and bring the room together.

 

2. Add some character to children’s bedrooms

You can make a child’s bedroom feel like their own by picking out bedding and accessories in a particular theme, colour scheme or featuring their favourite characters.  And then you can take it a step further by putting removable stickers up on the walls.

There are so many options available and you can get really creative with them, safe in the knowledge that you can simply peel them off again when you move out, or as your child gets older and their tastes change.

 

3. Put yourself on display

One of the best ways to make a house feel like a home is to display loads of family photos.

You can ask your landlord if you can put some hooks up to hang framed photos, or you can use command strips so you can carefully remove them when you move.

There are all sorts of other ways you can display your photos at home.

You can cover your fridge with them, frame them and place them on bookshelves, side tables and any other available surface, or you can clip them to a string of fairy lights and hang them across the wall.

4. Change up the lighting

Chances are that your rented house will just have one main light in each room.

So make it feel more like a cosy family home by adding in floor lamps, table lamps and candles.  When you’re cwtched up at home in the evenings the softer light  you get from these sources will feel so much more homely than one big, bright light in the middle of the room.

You can also play around with fairy lights in the bedrooms, they can look great wrapped around head boards and mirrors.

 

5. Bring the outdoors in with houseplants

Add even more of your personality to your home with some plants.

You can dot potted plants all around your home, on window sills, random shelves or even placed on top of stools.  If you’re not convinced on how green-fingered you are then you could get some fake plants, or just make a point of buying a fresh bunch of flowers every week to pop on your kitchen table.

 

Do you live in a rented house or flat?

What are your top tips to make it feel like a family home?

 

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post