3 Different Ways to Rock a Crop

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Let that midriff show! Gone are the days of playing it safe, it’s time to be daring and show some skin. A crop top is the perfect way to beat the heat and its versatility is unmatched. Dress it up, or play it down, it doesn’t matter! No matter how you wear it, the crop can be fit for any occasion. If you’re new to the crop style, here are some tips on how to break into the trend. Crops can come in varying lengths and styles depending on what you’re looking for. Check out the ones at Universal Store to stock up your closet with the best picks.

Pencil it in

The pencil skirt is timeless and can have as many uses as that old pair of thongs you can’t seem to get rid of. Pencil skirts can be a part of the corporate hustle, but pair it with a great crop, and you’ve got a chic look that is ready to grace the red-carpet, or be unveiled on date night! The pencil skirt and crop combo shows just that little bit of skin, leaving so much to be desired by the imagination. Play it up with mix-matching colours, or go down the Emma Watson road, by pairing the same colour together. Whatever way you wear it, the pencil skirt and crop combination is instantly sexy.

Choose comfort

Not in the mood for tight and sexy? Not a problem. Remember, your crop top doesn’t have to be tight and short. Find one that’s breezy and falls just over your belly button for ease and comfort. Bust out those comfy denim shorts you’ve had for forever, and break out the crop! A slouchy crop is perfect for weekend errands, a day trip to the beach, or fun outdoor activities that keeps you cool while you sweat! Planning on staying in this weekend? Not a problem, the slouchy crop is the ultimate couch surfing top of choice for movie marathons and popcorn for dinner.

Let it flow

Can’t decide between a more fitted look, and something a bit looser? A crop is perfect for a high-waisted maxi skirt with a little bit of flare. This combo screams good-girl with a little bit of an edge. It gives you a put-together look that also lets you remain comfortable. A crop paired with a maxi is the ultimate in boho chic. Wear it to a picnic, or a shopping trip out with your girlfriends. No matter what, you’ll look amazing while also staying comfy throughout the day!

When you pick a crop top, chances are you’ll be able to find something in your closest to wear with it. Word of advice: find a few crops in varying lengths and colours, then you’ll have every type of look sorted from here until forever! What it comes down to is that your closet needs at least one crop to be complete. What are your favorite crop top looks? What lengths do you find go best with everything?

A garden full of flowers

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Everyone loves a flower, no more so than actress Goldie Hawn who points to the Lotus Flower as her favourite. Whether you live in the town or city, our lives feel better with foliage in it.  No matter where your garden is there is something to suit.

 Here are some tips on creating a garden full of flowers and plants to inspire and add interest. Once you get started it’s alot simpler than you may think.

Creating colour

 Of all the senses, colour can play a big part  in our outdoor spaces. At this time of year, dahlias come into their own as well as the Michaelmas Daisies in white and purple. The larger daisies add a splash of colour as the other flowers fall away.

Leaves start to change colour and bear fruit. The rowan tree is renowned for its lovely bright orange berries. Pop a note in the diary to take care of your trees  during this time as a specialist arborist can help keep your trees looking good.

Creating interest

Group plants together and stagger their spacing as this is better than in rows which can look a little forced!  If you’re stuck for space plant mass plant bedding to create interest quickly. Good plants for this are lavenders mixed in with roses. A section of wild garden with grasses and meadow flowers can work well too, it attracts the bees and insects too.

Creating all year interest

Evergreen shrubs can form the structure of a garden, depending on garden size. Numerous choices of silver and variegated shrubs offer all round interest. If you’re starting out, try mixing up bulbs and bedding plants with a couple of evergreen shrubs such as “red robin”, privet or a holly bush. Another evergreen is the japonica with its white flowers and large leathery green leaves.

 Create a haven for your senses

 Colour, texture and sound all play their part in making for a great garden and perhaps the most important of all is the smell or perfume of a plant.

Jasmine – with its small white flowers, the perfume from this wondrous plant is beautiful, perfect for around a door frame. The vining varieties require a support structure as some can get 15 feet tall. All jasmine plants prefer sunny sites and a well drained soil.

Lilac, evocative and romantic, it’s a certain winner. Honeysuckle is another which is easy to grow, giving great value to any garden.

 

3 Markets that You Have to Visit during Weekends

Despite living in bustling capitals from around the UK, we sometimes need that downtime away from traffic and noise; to become a tourist for a day! Living in the same city for so long may have diminish the charms of London, and any other major city you reside in, but there are easy ways  to forget your responsibilities and burdens for a day and pretend that you are on holiday. A Staycation if you like! Re-explore areas you had forgotten and fall in love fall with the city again; it is bound to be an eye-opening experience!

One way we’re deciding to escape it all in our free time is heading to the many markets places dotted about. What could be better than a market with cheap and tasty street food, interesting items and vintage fashion? Depending on the category that most appeals, you’ll find a market perfectly catered for you. In this guide we will introduce some of the most fascinating markets specifically based in London; they are ideal if you want to spend a day wandering about, and hopefully to pick up a few bargains along the way too.

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Sunbury Antiques Market

Sunbury Antiques Market is the largest and longest running bi-monthly antiques market in the whole of UK. Held in Kempton Park near Twickenham,  I have always liked unique bits and pieces for my home and this is just the perfect place to pick find them – vases, furniture, accessories… anything! Being the biggest antique market in UK, it will never disappoint. As long as you are patient enough to search through the items you are guaranteed to dig out some hidden gems!

Camden Market

The Camden Market is actually consisted of a few different markets, each with a character of its’ own – namely Camden Lock, Buck Street Market, Camden Lock Village, Inverness Street Market as well as Stables Market. Just to name five! They can be easily accessed from anywhere (close to Camden Town or Chalk Farm Tube station) and very close to each other so don’t worry about getting lost! One of my personal favourites is Camden Lock which is home to more than 100 shops and stalls. Here you will find an extensive range of goodies from accessories to Gramophones and vinyl records, there are also designers’ workshops and magic store that performs amazing magic tricks.

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Borough Market

Borough Market is famed for its food. As you can imagine, the smells are to die for.  It’s always worth treating ourselves now and then. As well as well-known gourmet food names, there are local pop up style stalls, all and all consisting of up to 70 stalls and stands as well as other stores that specialise in producing imported food. Located in the Southwark area of London, the market itself claims to have existed since 1014, and surely has some traditional European taste to offer! Come and discover this gourmet’s paradise with a range of fresh produces and condiments, bakery treats and delicious street food which is great for lunch as well as grocery shopping. There is also a wide selection of specialist ingredients and indulgent treats – a mouth-watering experience indeed!

 

5 Summer Style Ideas for your Bathroom

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Freshening up your bathroom doesn’t need to take up loads of your time. These five simple fixes will help transform your bathroom, and more importantly, they can all be done with minimal effort, letting you make the most of the hot weather.

Declutter

Is your bathroom clogged up with beauty products? Does it feel overcrowded and just a bit drab? Take some time to declutter and open up that space; you’ll feel amazed at how different it feels.

Start by sorting through all the shampoos, conditioners, hair masks, body washes (and the rest). Get rid of any surplus products and invest in some crisp storage boxes.

Also take a look at your bathroom fittings. Replacing your cumbersome towel rack with a minimalistic design can make a big difference.

Install a Summery Shower Curtain

A seasonal shower curtain can keep a bathroom looking fresh the whole year round. Stick to simple designs in summery colours to create a bright and breezy statement.

With more than 3,500 shower curtains for sale Amazon is a great resource to get a good-value shower curtain for your bathroom.

Increase Mirror Space

Make the most of summer by trapping the sun in the bathroom and the rest of your home using mirrors. Mixing and matching mirrors helps to create a slightly ad-hoc, relaxed style.

John Louis Bathrooms stock a selection of free-standing and mounted mirrors that can be paired up to create a summery bathroom look.

Go Back to Nature

Find flowers and plants in colours that will complement your existing bathroom. Be careful to choose plants that like higher levels of humidity and steam. The last thing that says ‘summer style’ is browning and dying plant life.

Gardening Know How has a comprehensive list of plants that are well-equipped to life in the bathroom.

Invigorate the Senses

Harness the smells of summer throughout your bathroom. Even if you’re not planning on adding any plant life to your bathroom, intoxicating summer smells can be added to complete the seasonal feel.

Consider what smells remind you most of the idyllic summer afternoons of your childhood and source their root.

Nature’s Garden stocks a great selection of bathroom smellies, candles and fragrant oils.

 

The MUSTS of planning your honeymoon

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After the turbulent ride of planning your wedding comes the calm; your honeymoon. Often the trip of your lives, it embodies you as a couple and is the beginning of a whole new life together. But where are the key places to visit at the moment? And what are the musts of organising such an amazing holiday?

For your wedding, there’s no doubt that you’ve made a To-Do List and it happens to be as long as your arm. With the worldwide web converting all our paper lists into electronic ones, have you got yourself a free wedding tool to do all the hard work for you? Often complete with wedding site directories, these include suppliers, seating plans and budget tracker so you can really keep a firm grip on your wedding but they can also really help your honeymoon too. The to-do list in particular can list everything you need to take. You can keep notes and head back to elaborate more when you have the time, and it’s all there – no-one is going to be throwing it away, that’s for sure! Especially with the hectic wedding schedule, when you have that odd moment to think about life after the big day, this To-Do list certainly is a nifty gadget…

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Here are a few things to start you off:

Passport – start off with the obvious.

Money – don’t forget to convert!

A good book – even if you’re planning an adventurous honeymoon, you’re going to need some time to relax.

Weather appropriate clothing – not everyone dreams of a hot honeymoon sunning in the Maldives. Considering a skiing trip? Do you have all the right gear?

And how about location? Here are the top holiday destinations around the world at the minute:

New Zealand – those of you that love the Lord of the Rings Trilogy will be familiar with New Zealand’s stunning countryside, and it happens to be an up-and-coming honeymoon destination too. Nature is definitely one of New Zealand’s main pulls, perfect for the active couple, but there are so many other adventures you can embark on. Whilst a day or two of hiking or climbing should be high on your list (those views will have you breathless), New Zealand is surrounded by glorious beaches and freshwater lakes teaming with life. Whether you want the adrenaline rush of the white water rapids or a calming afternoon catching your supper down by the river, this place is unspoilt paradise.

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Bali – if you’re after an interesting blend of spirituality and traditional life, Bali is the place to go. Whilst the majority of the country is Muslim, the freeness of the Hindu religion comes through. This is one relaxing environment indeed! Whilst it is close to all those selection of islands (Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia for example) that have become staple backpacking/travelling places for many Brits, Bali is somewhat untouched by the masses. Keeping its authenticity is so important to the country and its people, and you can embrace it on your honeymoon! It’s important to consider exactly when you wish to visit as you don’t want to hit monsoon season. May to September is considered their dry season and the perfect time to exploring the watery world too.

Croatia – An unlikely choice for the third and final honeymooning idea. Often overlooked in terms of Mediterranean locations for the typical Greece and Spain resorts, Croatia is really coming into its own. Whilst the beach towns can be difficult to decipher from one to the next, Croatia has that unusual mix of old vs new. The architecture is beautiful, giving that traditional old European vibe whilst the weather isn’t stifling meaning you can explore with ease. This is perfect for couples who still want the option of a delicious beach for a couple of days, but mainly want the adventure too.

 

Thomson’s new Sensatori Resort, Jamaica: a style maven’s haven

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With immaculate shores of pristine, white sand and the clear, blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, idyllic Jamaica sees temperatures reaching up to 80°F all year round.  Already boasting a seven mile stretch of coast, its beautiful town of Negril on the western coast now has another glorious feature, with Thomson’s highly-anticipated new 5-star Sensatori Resort.

No one needs convincing to visit Jamaica, but this contemporary resort with chic designer touches (more about that in a minute) is an alluring addition that can really turn holidaying into a luxurious experience. The resort performed an industry first, by projecting a video of model Nadja Giramata onto the waters of the Caribbean Sea, viewed from Negril beach. Innovative and stylish, the Sensatori has a lot of exciting things in store for guests.

A pool like no other

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 Every resort has a pool but a pool like this? Not a chance. Leading British fashion designer Jonathan Saunders took his first venture into interiors by designing and naming the exclusive Amber pool and beach area. Here you’ll find Saunder’s unique seal of approval on brightly colored cushions, patterned drapes and umbrellas. The vibrant turquoise, yellow and blue featured on the poolside’s Bali beds and loungers help create a relaxed, airy feel to this part of the resort. Think of it as your own aqua catwalk.

Designer beachwear

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 Negril’s famous beach calls for some seriously worthy beachwear, so it’s a good job that Saunders created a limited range for both men and women staying at the hotel. Throw on one of his unique pieces and you’ll feel on top of the world. Amongst the bold collection is a glamorous sarong, available in four striking color palettes. The perfect feel good factor for any holiday, pick your favourite (a hard task!) and get ready to show off it on the beach.

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 Rooms: take your pick

Fancy casually swimming up to your room after a quick dip? Swim-up rooms are just one of the many deluxe options that the resort has to suit all visitors, including families, couples and even honeymooners. Ranging from 2-bedroom apartments (that sleep up to 6!) to the beach front honeymoon suite, rooms come equipped with luxuries including a rainfall shower, iPod docking station and plasma TV. Fitted with the same panache as the rest of the resort, everywhere has a high-end feel.

Very fine dining

 Food is always a major draw when taking a holiday and the fine dining at Sensatori Resort Jamaica is impressive to say the least. Book the Gourmet All Inclusive package and you’ll be treated to breakfast, lunch and dinner in any of the four restaurants in the resort, not to mention a complimentary minibar in your own room. Want a taste of the local cuisine? Head to the Ackee Caribbean restaurant for locally inspired dishes or the Garfield International Beach House for seaside dining.

Cool, accommodating and a new way of experiencing Jamaica, the Sensatori Resort is a designer dream.

 

Electronic cigarettes – Can they really help you quit smoking?

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So you’ve probably noticed the huge increase of e-cig users around or otherwise commonly known as vapers – if you haven’t you must have been living under a rock for the past year! With many people claiming that they‘re significantly more effective in helping conventional tobacco smokers quit as opposed to alternative methods that have been around for many years and marketed by the NHS such as nicotine patches and nicotine inhalers.

With celebrity endorsements and massive exponential growth over the last few years, electronic cigarettes look like they’re here to stay – that’s only if the EU doesn’t slap a bunch of regulations and restrictions on their use, essentially limiting the number of products on the market today including when and where they can be used. You can read more about regulations and the fight to save vaping at EFVI.eu (The European Free Vaping Initiative)

After speaking with a number of ex smokers – who’ve now taken up vaping it’s clear that they do have some obvious health benefits over smoking, where 99% of the harmful chemicals associated with tar are no longer an issue. Of course nicotine is still addictive and anyone who realistically wants to quit needs to consider that vaping is still another mechanism to get a nicotine hit albeit much safer.

With some heavy adverting, a number of big players in the industry are emerging and seems as though the big tobacco firms are jumping on the ecig industry with full force. Personally I’m not a huge fan of the cigalike versions of ecigs as they seem to be promoting the use of smoking and to me the imitation of smoking seems a bit contradictory if we’re to look at electronic cigarettes as a solution which aids in giving up.

There are a number of rechargeable electronic cigarettes which are reusable with all parts being rebuildable and therefore much easier to maintain and more cost effective than regular disposables, which you can get from most convenience stores and supermarkets, primarily consisting of your blu cigs, e-lites, vapourlites etc.

For anyone who’s really looking to give up smoking – the first step is the most important and often going with quality retailers means that you’re most likely enjoy the experience and be much more likely to follow through and stick with it. We’ve partnered up with an online retailer of electronic cigarettes http://www.e-cigstore.co.uk who have a wide range of great quality electronic cigarette starter kits along with a wide range of e-liquid flavours to choose from. After speaking with them it’s evident that they’re extremely passionate about this industry and have a wealth of knowledge to help beginner users get started who often feel bewildered by the amount of choice on the market. They’ve even given our readers a unique 15% discount off any item in store with no minimum order! Just use MEGANSEMMELMAN15 at checkout.

 

 

Choosing the perfect dance class

Beginning a routine workout regime can be extremely difficult. People are often unmotivated by the thought of running or using complicated workout machines. These forms of exercise can be slow and boring, a bad combination for motivating the unmotivated.

Luckily there are other forms of exercise that can be fun and exciting! One routine that I have picked up on is participating in dance classes. Dance is a great way to get your body up and moving! Attending a class as little as two times a week can help you burn fat, speed up metabolism, and perhaps most importantly, teach you some killer dance moves.

So you want to begin taking a dance class, great! Now what? There is a long list of different styles of dances to choose from. Classes vary depending on skill and fitness level. Here are a few examples of some popular dance classes you might fancy…

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Ballet

Ballet dancers are acknowledged for having an awesome physique, mainly due to the strenuous movements and flexibility it takes to complete certain routines. But don’t let this intimidate you! Many gyms and studios offer beginner classes that can teach you the basics, while still helping you achieve those exercise goals. These classes are done either barefoot or with ballet shoes. A great selection of styles can be found at www.movedancewear.com.

80’s Aerobics

This class is a little less popular than most and may be hard to find at your local gymor studio; however, it is a favourite of mine! Aerobics is less about having perfect technique and more about having as much fun as possible. For some this may offer a flashback to the younger days, grooving to the sounds of Madonna and Michael Jackson! This is a perfect class to attend with a group of friends! Dust off the leotards and leg warmers and give it a shot!

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Hip-Hop

Hip-hop is a modern form of dance involving the rhythm of a hip-hop music beat. This is a very popular form of dance for the younger generations but it could be perfect for any age group. The moves in hip-hop can be challenging and in some cases frustrating but when you get them, the most rewarding too. The constant movement gives a great full body workout and is sure to give you the exercise you are looking for. Hip-hop dance is fast-paced, fun, and never dull!

Zumba

Zumba classes have become extremely popular with dance and exercise enthusiasts all over! It comes from a Latin style of dance and is an excellent cardiovascular workout. Zumba has become widely known for being the best dance exercise for weight loss. This is due to the non-stop, energetic theme of the class.

After considering the choices you have for dance classes, the next step is to try them out! Most gyms and studios will offer free trial classes so you can see if it is right for you. Remember to have fun with your dance class regardless of your skill level. Dance like no one is watching!

 

Colourful Bedroom Ideas

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Your bedroom should be a sanctuary where you can relax and unwind after a long day. It should promote restful sleep and be a place where you can allow your personal tastes to really shine through. When you move into a new property, the bedroom is the first place that should be decorated and furnished, as it’s important to have a comfortable base to return to when you’re in the middle of a house-wide redecorating project.

Moody Bohemian

For those looking for an exotic, bohemian feel, don’t hesitate to combine a number of distressed, reclaimed and antique pieces of furniture. A vintage wooden shelving unit or a couple of distressed wooden crates, marked with oversized letters or numbers, will give you affordable storage options. The bedroom will immediately gain that ‘shabby chic’ appearance, particularly if you combine eclectic furniture choices with colourful, ethnic bed linen. It’s important to keep surfaces clear and organised so that this kind of room still feels coherent and calming. As long as you have sufficient storage space, you can afford to choose a darker, moodier tone for your paint or wallpaper.

Country Living

If you’re interested in a more rustic look for your bedroom, it’s important to keep the walls and floor pale and neutral. Floral bed sheets in soft pastels work really well and you can add a pop of colour with a bedside table painted in a bright pink or magenta. Add freshly cut flowers, shells or pebbles as ornamental touches. Stripped down floorboards will also give the room that country cottage appearance.

It’s definitely worth splashing out on your bed and mattress, as this will have a big effect on your quality of sleep. There are plenty of luxurious and elegant bedframe options from retailers such as The French Bedroom Company. So even if you choose to decorate the rest of the room cheaply, you’ll be guaranteed a good night’s sleep. The bed is also the focal point of the bedroom, so spending a little extra on this feature will boost the room’s appearance.

Minimal Décor

Wood panels can add much-needed texture to a more minimal bedroom, without disrupting the uncluttered aesthetic. They are also easy to adapt and can be painted dark grey or slate to give a rustic space a more contemporary feel. Try fixing a shelf above the bed. It’s an easy weekend DIY project and can be done by a complete beginner. You’ll find that it’s the perfect place to store books and ornaments without cutting into your free space. Fill the bed with cosy cushions and throws, and you’ve got an ideal reading spot.

 

Stylish Dining Room Ideas

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If you have a dining room, think about whether you’re currently underutilising the space. Many people only use their dining rooms for special occasions or large family gatherings, and for the majority of the time it becomes a place where dust collects. Whether you’re interested in making your dining room a multipurpose space or simply keeping it for times when you’re entertaining, there are plenty of ways to spruce up your dining room and keep it looking fresh and stylish.

Get the Rustic Look

If you’re interested in achieving that ‘country living’ look in your dining room, why not introduce a signature piece of reclaimed furniture? Rustic style is all about incorporating natural tones and textures into your home, and a recycled or repurposed item of furniture is a great way to do this. You can buy reclaimed, eco-friendly pieces from a variety of retailers including Trade Furniture. Compliment them with natural shades of paint, wallpaper and upholstery. You can also bring some of the natural world inside, with bowls of shells or pebbles, pieces of driftwood and freshly cut flowers.

Highlight Artwork

Every room should have a focal point that draws the viewer’s eye on entry. In the dining room, this can be a particularly special piece of artwork. Highlight a painting or tapestry by downplaying all the other colours around it. Muted, neutral tones will invoke a gallery-like feel to the room and allow a brightly coloured artwork to take centre stage.

Mix and Match

Don’t hesitate to mix and match textures, styles and patterns in your dining room. Rooms that remind the viewer of a furniture showroom are often lacking in personality and can seem very clinical. A combination of antique furniture and newer pieces can look very effective, and your personal taste will have a chance to shine through. A mixture of different upholstery fabrics and textures in chairs, sofas and curtains can really add a sense of depth to the room, particularly if a variety of patterns and block colours are used.

Make the Space Multi-task

As long as you have a variety of smart storage options, your dining room can have several different uses. Those with young children can transform it into a playroom during the day, and pack toys and games away into boxes when the evening comes. If you take work home with you, the dining room can also double as a home office. There are plenty of attractive alternatives to filing cabinets that you can use for books and papers and still have the room as a space for eating and entertaining.