Furnishing A New Home

One of the delights of raising a family is building or moving to a new house. And prior to occupying the house, one of the most exciting things to do is determining what homewares to purchase to furnish it. There are some things that need to be considered when deciding what pieces of furniture and fixture would be suitable for the place that they’d soon be calling home. All the members of the family, unless they are babies, have to be consulted as to what’s going to be brought and installed in the house. From the bedroom to the kitchen, all spaces of the house should have their share of furnishings.

If the family’s on a tight budget, not all areas would be instantly filled with all the necessities. They can begin with the most important areas of the house which are the bedroom, the kitchen and the toilet. These are the spaces that need to be furnished first as they are what the family would immediately use so their way of life can continue. Right on the very first day they move to the house, they have to sleep, eat and wash themselves up. The first batch of homewares that would be purchased then should be those that would be placed in those essential areas.

For the kitchen, the list should start with things needed for cooking and serving food like cookware, serving ware and utensils. The first few appliances to be bought are the range and refrigerator, which would complete the kitchen ‘work triangle’ along with the sink. Cooking food is definitely something that would be necessary the minute the family moves in. For the toilet, the initial fixtures to be installed are the water closet, lavatory and shower. It would really be hard to contemplate the initial days of the family in the new house with no equipment to use for cleaning themselves up.

Relocating to a new address can be very tiring so the family has to have a good rest at the end of that day. The most essential things to buy then would be sleeping provisions like beds including blankets, pillows and sheets. The consideration that takes major importance is the family’s comfort. All the other items can just follow once they have the budget for it.

Relocating to a different house, whether it’s old or new, can be very exciting for all the family members.Make sure that the necessary homewares are there before moving in to ensure everyone’s comfort and convenience in their new home.


Milan, Fashion Capital of Italy!

Milan is the business, fashion and design capital of Italy, with numerous fashion and trade fairs in the Rho` district of the city (formerly held in the Fiera district). It is also Italy's second largest and richest city. The city is split into 9 zones and full of beautiful architecture, lively nightlife and many museums and exhibitions. As Milan is based in the very north of Italy, Switzerland is only a short distance by train, so worth a day trip if visiting the city. The stunning scenery of Lake Como and Lake Lecco is also worth a day trip and again a very short journey by train.

Centro Storico (the historical center) is full of life, with many things to see and do. In this area you will find the huge Piazza Duomo and Duomo Cathedral, (see above photo) the castle Castello Sforzesco, the world renovated opera house La Scala, and stunning shopping gallery, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele (see below photo). Also, just a few minutes walk away from Piazza Duomo, are Via della Spiga, and Via Montenapoleone, two of the most famous influential fashion streets possibly in the whole world. These streets are richly concentrated with fashion designers, jewelers and furriers. Every designer imaginable has a shop or two in these streets: Armani, Iceberg, Luois Vitton, Dior, Bottega Veneta, to name just a small handful. When Milan holds fashion trade fairs at numerous times of the year, these streets can be seen full of people from the fashion industry (designers, manufacturers, buyers etc) both day and night, visiting the shops and shop windows observing what new fashions' are in ', getting new ideas and looking at the impressive window displays ..

Navigli is a lively and fashionable (canal) district (the Navigli Canal runs through Milan), where you will find many bars, cafés, live jazz concerts and antique shops. (photo below of Navigli district by night)

Brera, is a very fashionable district not far from the center, which used to be known as the 'artists' quarter', and very bohemian in it's day, owned and frequented by poets and artists. It remains a very 'in' area today, and is a very exclusive and fashionable district, with boutique shops, 'sophisticated bohemian' homeware shops, bookshops, restaurants, and bars. This area is also where you can find the famous Pinacoteca di Brera, one of milan's most fashionable art galleries, exhibiting works from many well known artists, including Rubens and Canaletto. This art gallery is housed in the 18th century palace Palazzo Brera. This area is also home to the very exclusive fashionable 10 Corso Como, which can be found along equally fashionable Corso Como (many bars and restaurants frequented by the rich and beautiful). 10 Corso Como is a shop, restaurant and bar housed in a beautiful courtyard lit up with candles and fairy lights at night, and certainly somewhere to go if you want to impress anyone, such as business clients for a meal, or maybe a romantic date … the shop sells and exhibits luxury high fashion designer wear, jewellry, shoes and other various items. It remains open most nights with the bar and restaurants, and you are offered complimentary glasses of champagne while you browse. Brera also houses some of Milan's famous nightclubs, frequented by models, footballers and the 'in' party crowd. Corso Como is an ideal place to go out at night time; you can start early with an aperitivo, move on to a restaurant, then nightclub. It is the perfect location to stay, although may be a little expensive!

St.Ambrogio is the city's patron saint, and the Basilica of St.Ambrogio in the heart of the city, is one of the oldest churches in Milan. Every year from the 7th to 9th December it's the patron saint's day, and there is a lot of celebrating and events to be found through the city. There are many different stalls, including food stalls, music etc in Piazza Sant'Ambrogio and the surrounding area. It is the city's most traditional festival, and a nice way to get you in the festivals spirit, at the start of the Christmas period!


Is a Celebrity Lurking in Your Kitchen?

The world's obsession with celebrity is as strong as ever. In fact it's growing with more and more celebrity endorsed products on the market. These include beauty products, homeware, designer diffusion clothing lines and now … kitchenware.

Ever since Fanny Craddock, the UK's first TV chef, appeared in the 1960s, dressed in a ballgown whipping up meringues, we have religiously followed celebrity chefs. She was followed by Jane Grigson, Elizabeth David and then the nation's most enduring kitchen darling, Delia Smith. Back in the 1960s, 70s and 80s we were restricted to buying celebrity cookbooks to enjoy a bit of their magic. But now things have moved on.

Celebrity chef status, in the UK at least, is up there with film and rock stars. And we all want a piece of their kitchen charisma. Well now you can improve your skills and the look of your kitchen with not only their recipe books but their cooking equipment as well.

So what's available?

Celebrity cookware ranges are offered by any number of TV chefs. Nigella Lawson has teamed up with Sebastian Conran of the Conran design dynasty to produce the Nigella Lawson Living Kitchen range. It is practical, helpful and elegant and will certainly enhance the look of your kitchen. The range includes tableware such as cups, saucers and mugs but also really useful cooking aids – mixing bowls, measuring spoons, cookie cutters and a pestle and mortar, and storage – including a large bread bin and a salt pig.

At 33, Marco Pierre White was the youngest Briton to be awarded three Michelin stars. He even trained Gordon Ramsay. He has produced a range of cookware with Beka cookware, called White Heat. Unlike Nigella he offers the essential cooking basics – saucepans, frying pans, casseroles, grill pans and woks. His range is beautiful – some of it copper and other pieces anodised steel. This is certainly kitchenware to show off with.

And guess what? The UK's current culinary genius Gordon Ramsay has his own range of copper cookware – pots and pans, or alternatively a stainless steel range. He also has a range of ceramic oven to tableware – casseroles, pie dishes and roasting dishes. His cookware is produced by Royal Doulton. It is part of Ramsay's culinary empire, with countless Michelin stars to his name and, at the last count, eighteen restaurants in the UK and worldwide.

Ken Hom is the king of Chinese cooking. He began working in his uncle's restaurant at the age of eleven and has had an illustrious celebrity chef career. Not surprisingly his range focuses on woks and Chinese cooking accessories, such as cleavers, bamboo steamers, sizzling dishes and of course chopsticks.

Jamie Oliver's rise to fame has been dazzling. He now runs several restaurants, trains disadvantaged young people to work in catering and has even campaigned for better school food for our children, with reasonable success. His range is made by Tefal who has focused on his love of Italian cooking and also on his baking skills, producing a large range of silicone bakeware which does away with the need for baking parchment and greasing.

Jamie has also produced a range of tableware with Royal Worcester which is white, modern and practical. It can be transferred from microwave to table and can even be used in the freezer or oven, making it really versatile. He also has, at the last count, twenty two mugs which build on his "cheeky chappie" image with logos such as "Super Mum," "Top Tottie," "Big Fella" and "Boy Racer."

Celebrity endorsement is big business in consumer goods. And with kitchens being the hub of the home and people spending huge amounts on renovating them the finishing touches are increasingly important. The right pot or chopping board sets the tone and embellishes both the kitchen and your cooking. In kitchenware, as with many things, celebrity sells.


Bargain Decorating and Furniture Buying Tips


Stylish ways to shop smart during the credit crunch.

Check out your nearest HomeSense, the homeware sister to TKMaxx. Also investigate Trade Secrets and National Brands with lines from Laura Ashley, House of Fraser, John Lewis and M & S.

Annoyed but intrigued by all those 20% off offers that keep being forwarded to your inbox? Sign up to vouchercodes.co.uk, and access them all from one manageable website. Also try secretsales.com – an online sale club with discounts of up to 80% – moneysavingexpert.com, and moneysupermarket.com.

Price comparison sites sift through retail sites to find the cheapest – but use at least three – from kelkoo.co.uk, pricerunner.co.uk, pricegrabber.co.uk and shopping.com – as not all retailers have relationships with all of them. '

… but do not use it. Many lure you in with a massive discount on your first purchase, which is great if you are furnishing a home. Take out the card, use the discount, access the privilege club, then pay the bill and cut the card up.

Check out freecycle.org and pick up other people's unwanted items. Great if you want old furniture to customize.

Many sales personnel will go to great lengths to land a sale so do not be afraid to ask for a discount. Or offer to pay in cash, which saves them on credit card commission.

Some of our favorites include Arthur Price, the Fired Earth Outlet, Christopher Wray Lighting, OKA Discount Shop, Portmerion, Sanderson Clearance, Waterford Crystal, Wedgewood and Wesley Barrell. Go to their websites to join the mailing list of your favorites and you'll get prior notice about special sales and exclusive discounts.

With manufacturers increasingly producing merchandise specifically to sell through outlets, they no longer have that 'last-season's reject' vibe. One of the smartest is Bicester Village with the likes of Cath Kidston, the White Company, Bodum, Descamps, Molton Brown, Calvin Klein and Paul Smith at bargain prices. Also try York Designer Outlet, Cheshire Oaks, Ashford and Gunwharf Quays.

Savvy shoppers will already know to head to Habitat, who have enlisted the talent of top names such as Paola Navone, David Adjaye, Daisy de Villneuve, Christian Lacroix and Celia Birtwell to add to their already impressive collection. Graham & Brown have produced wallpaper ranges with Basso and Brooke, Barbara Hulaniki and Marcel Wanders, whilst Debenhams have long had collaborations with a Matthew Williamson, Julien Macdonald and John Rocha. House of Fraser stock both Jaeger and Ghost bed linen and Orla Kiely's new collection for Heals launched last autumn. Designer style at high street prices – what's not to like?

Visit our decorating archive for more modern decorating ideas.


British Gifts for Friends or Family Abroad

Do you have friends or family abroad who you'd like to send a wee Christmas treat to? These days, most of us have someone who's left the country for work or an adventure. Surprise them with a British gift to remind them of home. Who knows, that might entice them to come back for good!


Buy local by supporting up and coming young designers. Visit graduate shows and keep up to date with fashion blogs. In the run up to Christmas, there could also be gift fairs and markets going on around town where many of these rising stars are likely to exhibit their crafts.

Alternatively, opt for traditional British fashions in fabrics such as tweed, cashmere and tartan. Country clothing and wellies are also great as presents. The selection in the UK is larger than elsewhere as outdoor clothing is worn more regularly, as opposed to places like mainland Europe where, often, fashion wins over practicality.


Kitchen shops in the UK are among the best with their impressive selections of tools and gadgets to make cooking so much easier. See what's new in the world of kitchen aids and get an innovative device that might not have reached foreign markets yet.

As cuisines vary, some items may never be available to buy all over the world. For example, the very simple poached egg is only common in some parts of the world so egg poachers might not be available for purchase in countries where this is a less popular way of preparing an egg!


One of the easiest ways of ensuring a truly British gift is by sending food. You just have to remember that some countries have strict customs regulations so do not ignore these, otherwise you risk leaving your friends or family abroad gift-less this Christmas. These apply to countries outwith the European Union. Consult Post Office regulations for details.

A great place to stock up on local produce is your nearest farmers' market. Here you'll be able to purchase authentic British goods from farmers and local businesses, supporting your community. It's almost guaranteed that these items are not available to buy in foreign countries.

Traditional British goodies include shortbread, malt loaf, cheddar, pies, tea, chocolate oranges, boiled sweets, oatcakes, chutneys, salt and vinegar crisps, haggis and more.

Struggling for time to buy individual gifts? A quick and easy option is ordering hampers . These can be ordered online and delivered directly to the recipient. Hampers are often themed so could feature a specific type of product, such as sweets, products of Scottish origin, or family-friendly items.


Why Stocking Slate Products Is a Must For Retailers

If you're a retailer in the Homeware or related markets, there are good commercial reasons why stocking a range of Slate Products is a must for the coming season. In this article we take a look at what is out there and why you should stock Slate Products.

Slate goods are available in a wide range of styles, from the practical to the decorative and are suited to a wide range of retail outlets. Whether you are a homeware stockist, a gift shop or a food retailer there is something in the range of products that will enhance your customer offering and work well as an upsell to your clientele.

In addition, if you operate a restaurant or café and want something different for placemats, coasters, serving platters or plates, then slate is an ideal alternative to the more usual table settings.

Slate products are natural, hard wearing, food safe and provide the ideal backdrop for you to showcase your food and table layout.The tableware range includes as you would expect, placemats, coasters, serving platters, cheesboards, and cake stands. But in addition to this, you can also find candle holders, dip bowls, salt and pepper mills and table centers, all of which beautifully enhance the overall look of the table layout.

They can be found in a range of sizes and colors to suit a wide range of décor styles. Slate platters for the most part lend them to showcasing food that is traditionally displayed such as nouvelle cuisine or sushi and desserts look particularly attractive when set off by the dark background that slate provides.

If you operate a specialist food outlet whether it be a cheese shop, delicatessen, wine shop, farm shop or even a butchers, slate products make an ideal accompaniment to your range of produce. They can be used to showcase your foods or sold as an additional item to increase your profits.

Slate can also be personalized with the name of your restaurant, business or with any message that you wish to convey to your customers.

Slate items sell particularly well as gifts for both the home and outdoors. Here again the range is extensive, Memo Boards, plaques, photo frames, house signs, name plates and clocks are all available and can be customized to suit your customers individual tastes. Again they can be incorporated into your individual company theme as required.

Whilst some products are evergreen and will sell well at all times of the year, others will lend themselves to seasonal promotions. Items can be tailor to suit

Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Spring (garden accessories), Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Birthdays, Anniversaries etc, the list is quite extensive.

Whilst Slate Products have been around for years, sales have increased year on year in recent times, providing that interest in these products is very much in vogue at this time.


How To Make Your House a Home With Cast Iron Homeware

There are so many wonderful options that you can definitely find something that you'll love to add to your home. It does not matter whether you are decorating a bathroom, bedroom, living room, or hallway, you are sure to find some amazing solutions.

Do you love candles? If so, you can find some beautiful cast iron homeware that you're sure to enjoy. There are many beautiful tea light holders, table decorations with candles, and even some great large stand candles that will look amazing in any room. Even wall sconces are available that will compliment any wall in your home.

You'll also find that there are beautiful options for the bathroom. You'll find great iron homeware like toilet fixtures, toilet roll holders, and more. Pretty wall shelf can be used in your bathroom or you may want one of the love towel rails that add function and decor to your bathroom. A beautiful iron washbowl stand will be a whimsical addition to the bathroom, or make it easier to store items in the bathroom with a two basket tidy for the shower area or a nice six shelf rack where you can display pretty decorations or use it to store towels and other bathroom supplies.

Cast iron homeware offers lovely options for your entryway too. You'll find beautiful umbrella stands where you can store your umbrellas when you enter the home. They look beautiful as well. Iron coat racks are available, where you can stash your coat and other items. There are even key racks where you can hang up your keys when you enter the home so you do not lose them somewhere.

Many bookends are available as well. Choose your favorite animal, such as a horse, cockerel, or even a cute little Scottie dog. These book ends are perfect for your library or anywhere that you have books on display. Some people even use them as beautiful door stops.

These are just a few of the cast iron homeware options that you have available. Make sure that you consider your home decor styles before making your choice. This way you purchase items that you can fit in with your current decor. Remember that cast iron options are long lasting. While they may cost a bit more, these are homeware decorations that will last you a lifetime.


Simple Home Interior Design Tips For Everyone

The way our home looks says a lot about who we are and even more about our personalities, that’s why the way in which we arrange our home interiors are very important in how we live our lives. We live in a fast moving world where we are bombarded with what we should wear, eat and put in our homes but rarely do we have the time to give thought to the facts that maybe how we arrange our rooms just might have an effect on or moods, creativity, energy levels and who knows what else. Maybe it’s time to take a serious look at ourselves and our home interiors.

There are a few simple ways in which we can spruce up our home life and our home interior design by focusing on some points that are very important:

• Harmony – All the rooms in our home need to have a strong sense of harmony to them.

• Focus Points – Rooms that have a center focus point that draws your attention will flow better. Things like your art displays, an architectural wall piece or even figurines are good suggestions.

• Balance – This is successfully done by balancing the rooms’ visual weight and subtly spreading it out to the other parts of the room.

• Color – This should be an obvious one. Using positive colors can shift energies around and make the world of difference. A candle or two can be used to dramatic effect.

• Proportion and Scale – Use only furniture and items that complement the total size of the room, not dwarf it or throw it out of proportion.

• Rhythm – Create the illusion of visual stimulation through movement by arranging your room in such a way that the viewer’s eye keeps moving around from point to point. This should not be confused with scattering things all around.

Home interior decor and design is often a highly sensitive subject as many people feel that they really know what they are doing but the result is quite the contrary. Items that you already own like candles and figurines can be easily re-arranged and placed on shelves and corners to create impressive dramatic effects and also improve lighting in areas that are often neglected due to obstructions or whichever.

The correct use of lighting in the home has the potential to literally transform any old lounge or study into a vibrant and stimulating room, just try it and see. Experimentation is the key and you won’t know if you don’t try.

If you want to try and mimic popular styles then consider looking at some alternative ideas for home interiors inspiration. Some of the most popular home interior designs would include; Asian, Arty interior, Gothic, Traditional, Mediterranean, Tropical and of course Modern interior designs.

A quick look into some of these styles mentioned will transform your home interiors and open up many doors of possibilities for re-inventing your home and injecting it with fresh life.


Modern Home Decor

Modern homes come with a variety of designs that can be modified according to the wish of the owners and indeed they are something that is in much demand. There are a lot of contemporary decor items that can be bought to furnish your house. Modern homes also can be built with the latest types of contemporary furnishing, which extenuates the look of the homes. Such houses come with some great choices of furnishing that you can make along with the fixtures that you can guy for decking up your home.

Most of such homes are made in accordance with older designs but architects today tend to experiment with the older styles and come up with new styles. Thereby such homes come to become more modern and this is something that is preferred by the people in the USA. Thereby leading to the fact that modern homes have some signature designs and one can actually chose from one of them when they are looking for homes for themselves. Modern homes therefore come in several types.

There are a large number of small houses that can conform to the latest trends in architecture and they come with great designs and locations. Some homes are locate slightly away from the city and are meant for the peace and comfort of the people who buy such homes. In USA there are special designed homes away from the main cities near the wilderness areas beside rivers. These homes are in vogue among the buyers. Such homes, which are designed according to modern techniques usually, are quite large and airy and come with floor to ceiling windows with either clear or tinted glass according to the choice of the homeowners. Modern homes come in various forms and design and are an expression of the builder or the homeowner’s signature.

One-storied houses are also equally well decked up usually in the latest styles of appliances in kitchens, the designs for which are usually made in the modular style. This means that kitchens come with the latest appliances and are designed to make things easier for the person who is using it. Mostly the homes are made without any kind of accordance to traditional styles and often include experimental designs that are tailor made for the people who own the home. Modern homes come with great back and front year spaces. Outdoor patios usually decked with great flowing curtains with chairs across the space. Such homes usually come with a hot tub in the front and you can also have a great large pool at the back. This gives the homeowners that extra perk when they live in such homes.

Depending on where your home is, you can also have some special plants in the front such that you can actually create a tropical look in the front when you are near the Jacuzzi or the hot tub. Modern homes are therefore a hub of luxury and you should get a home with such architecture if you want to live the high life.


Keeping the Color of Your Purple Flannel Sheets Vivid

Without a doubt, purple flannel sheets are quickly becoming the bedding of choice for fashion forward home decorators. Every shade of purple, from rich, royal purples to light, understated lavenders can be found in the collections of the leading homeware designers. Whether you opt for a solid style, or one in which the purple is incorporated into a pattern, keeping the color true even after multiple washings is important. There are a number of ways that anyone can keep their purple sheets looking great, even after many uses.

When washing your sheets, avoid using detergents or stain removers that include bleach in the list of ingredients. For most loads, there is no need to use a heavy duty, abrasive detergent in order to get your fabrics clean. Instead, opt for the mildest detergent that you can find. This should be more than adequate when removing any dirt that may have accumulated on your bed, and will reduce the amount of fading or pilling to which your sheets will be subjected. The same is true of stain removers. If something is poured onto the bed, deal with the stain quickly and avoid soaking it in a bleach solution, which may remove the color.

The sun can actually do a lot of damaged to dyed fabrics. While there is no need to completely shield your bedroom from the sun's rays, being careful of the amount of sunlight to which your purple flannel sheets are exposed can help to extend their life. If your bed is near an open window, make the bed each morning so that your bight sheets will be protected. Line drying your linens is a great idea, as it will keep the softer for longer and help the environment, but do not allow them to hang on the line any longer than necessary. Watch them somewhat closely and bring them in as soon as they have served completely.

Buying the right sheets can be the sureest way of getting sheets which colors will last. The best flannels are those that are made with colored thread, as opposed to those that are dyed after they have been sewn together. These sheets are generally a bit more expensive, but the fact that the dyes have been set in the factory makes them far more durable. If keeping the color like new is important to you, investing in these types of sheets may be worth it.

By taking good care of your purple flannel sheets, you can significantly extend their life span.


Outdoor Activities For Toddlers and Preschoolers

Toddlers & Preschoolers love spending time outdoors. What can you provide to keep them busy? You do not have to have a large garden to entertain your small children.

Some resources for your outdoor area can include, balls, bubble mix & bubble pipes, sturdy cars and trucks to push around, small ride on toys, block trolley or dolls buggy, this keeps them moving and active. Stepping stones made from cardboard shapes. Pavement chalk, good for drawing roads to ride that bike along.

Sand box – how many of you remember the fun of digging and building with sand. A sand box does not have to be a large architect designed structure. Most toy stores / chain stores sell lidded sand boxes.If your area is a small patio or balcony, or even if your want to keep the sand clean and confined. consider using a lidded plastic tub on wheels that can be found in chain stores and homeware stores. Provide utensils for digging, sifting, pouring and building. Buckets and spades, or raid the kitchen for plastic or wooden spoon, bowls, sailers, funnels, yoghurt cups, or whatever captures your imagination.

Water play – for those warm spring and summer days; A plastic paddling pool, A plastic tub, or that outgrown baby bath (always supervise water pla y) Use your sandpit utensils and add some plastic bottles for pouring. a drop or two of blue or green food coloring gives the water some interest especially when they lift their hands in and out. Drop some ice cubes in or hot days and let them watch them melt. Of course nothing can beat running in and out of a hose / sprinkler ( water restrictions permitting )

Discover your neighborhood – Go for a walk along your street, look at the houses, trees, plants and talk about them. Collect leaves & twigs for collage. Visit the park, use the equipment in the play area. Take a picnic snack or lunch. Visit your local shops, look in the windows at what is happening, buy some fruit, cheese and bread for a picnic. Go to your local library and choose some books. If the weather is cold, rug up warmly and go for a run around your yard, go for a walk around the vicinity & collect some leaves for a craft activity on your return. If you live in a very cold climate build a snowman, throw snowballs. Living in the southern hemisphere it's hard for me to imagine those very cold days when you cant 'get out. Our children do not have many days where they have to be inside.

Take the indoors out – Bring some of those indoor activities outdoors, A rug, some cushions and a basket of books under a shady tree or on a porch or balcony can be very relaxing for mum and toddler (if he falls asleep you might get to read your book / magazine) Set up a pretending tea party with the doll's tea set and some water in the teapot and jug and maybe some tiny cookies. Take a snack outside and join your toddler in a real tea party.

Craft Activities – The outdoors is the best place for messy crafts as it is easy to clean up. Put some large sheets of paper up on the wall or fence and let them paint with non toxic paints & sturdy paintbrushes. Collect some large boxes and let them paint them. If you or a friend has had a large appliance delivered keep the box. Let your children paint it when it's dry cut out a door and windows and you have an instant cubby house, alternatively put a large blanket or sheet over your outdoor table, an instant playhouse. Make up some playdough and use cookie cutters, small rolling pins, Plastic cooking utensils and they will be busy for ages. Provide buckets of water and paint brushes and let them paint the house or fence. This is particularly effective when it is hot as the water dries very quickly.

Music and Movement – take a portable CD player outside and play some children's songs or your favorite rock or rap tunes. Provide scarves to wave as you dance to the music. If you have two or three children try a conga line around the yard. Pretend to be ballerina's dancing to the music (swan lake or the nutcracker is good for this) Children love all types of music when I was involved in a regular playgroup a few years ago we declared a no kids music day and played show tunes, 60's 70's rock, and many other styles, the old rock tunes were a big favorite.


BHS Job Vacancies

The very first BHS opened in Brixton in 1928 more or less as a carbon copy of the (then) successful Woolworth’s model, with a maximum price of 1 shilling (5 pence) for all its goods. One year later, in 1929, this ceiling price was raised to 1 Crown (25 pence) which boosted the range of products that BHS could retail. Since those early days, the clothing and homeware chain has gone on to now have a workforce of about 14,000 people worldwide.

But modern times are not easy for retailers. In 2009, the company’s accounts showed an actual loss of £56m on a gross turnover of £1,100m which amounted to about 5%. This contrasted with 2008’s small profit of £15m.

Following the drawing back of the Iron Curtain, in 1995 BHS acquired the distinction of being the first retail store to open a branch in Moscow. Since then it has opened more stores in St Petersburg and Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, although its main overseas interest is the lucrative Middle East market.

BHS has been a franchise for just over 15 years and there are now stores around the world which operate in BHS’ name and sell its products. There are also separate ‘Tammy’ and ‘BHS Kids’ franchises, the latter carrying BHS’ most popular children’s lines.

The head office of BHS is located at Marylebone in London and its distribution centre is at Atherstone in Warwickshire – a service run by an organisation called Spectrum which is part of the Arcadia Group of companies. Despite its growth, British Home Stores remains a privately-owned company.

BHS (UK) is divided into 9 geographical regions with each being headed by a Regional Manager. All stores consist of Store Managers, Commercial Managers, Operational Managers, Lead Associates and Sales Associates. The most successful stores also have a General Manager.

Employees looking to work for BHS can expect the following bonuses and benefits:-

Financial – There is an individual annual discretionary bonus based upon the outcome of a performance review – something which also dictates the worker’s level of pay for the forthcoming year.

Health – Private health insurance, optical and dental insurance packages are provided to managers.

Investment – A standard stakeholder pension operates for all employees.

Holidays – Amounts vary according to position and seniority however non-management jobs attract 22 days+ and managerial jobs, 25+.

Perks – A company car and additional holiday may also be offered to managers. All staff may obtain discounts in-store and also at selected hotels etc.

Something unusual about BHS in comparison to other retail stores is that it expects individuals to negotiate and justify their own salary package. Accordingly, since future benefits are generally calculated as an increase on the employee’s ‘current’ benefits, it is prudent (for more reasons than one) to negotiate the best deal possible at the time of recruitment.


How to Get a Classy Shabby Chic Feel to Your Home

In recent years we have seen a huge increase in the popularity of vintage style interiors and more and more people are now using ‘shabby chic’ in every day terms when talking about interior design and decoration.

So where did this term ‘shabby chic’ come from. The style developed from the old English Country house style and the older French look and has now developed into its own unique style of themed decor.

The two key words here are of course ‘shabby’ and ‘chic’ words that have distinctive meaning. Shabby meaning worn out, frayed or threadbare and ‘chic’ meaning stylish, elegant and fashionable.

So how do we achieve that ‘antique style’ look without our homes looking worn and uncared for?

Furniture is a good place to start with lots of options. Many retailers now sell lovely distressed looking furniture such as coffee tables or side tables made from wood and painted normally in white or pastel colours, sometimes plain and sometimes with a design embellished into the wood.

Then there is the home accessories that are available and many of our favourite decor items such as photo frames, hanging decorations and clocks all come in varying vintage style designs and at differing prices.

So why is this style so popular? Well there is always something friendly and comforting about a home that is decorated in this style with a real vintage feel and the theme can be adopted for most rooms in the home including the kitchen, bedroom, conservatory and of course the lounge or living rooms.

The focus of many homes is the living room and hall where we often find numerous shabby chic items like coffee tables, photo frames and wall decorations all offering a pale painted finish which has been lightly distressed.

So where else is popular for these vintage style items. Many homes will have shabby chic furniture or decor items in their conservatory and one of the favourites is the shabby chic garden bench with some pretty shabby chic photo frames or candlesticks to carry the distressed theme throughout.

There are lots of vintage style home accessories that endorse this distressed look and you don’t have to spend huge amounts of money to obtain a gorgeous authentic vintage style look around your home. Many online stores sell beautiful shabby chic home accessories and you should shop around as online shops or retailers can offer substantial savings when comparing to high street retailers.

So, consider vintage home style furniture, decor and home accessories and watch your own home turn into a classy vintage style elegant and chic yet warm and loving place to live with soft furnishings, light coloured fabrics, distressed style furniture and some unique accessories to obtain that ever popular shabby chic style effect.


Fair Trade – An Outline

How do you feel about the Fair Trade movement?

The present economic crisis has clearly illustrated how, in these days of the world economy, there is an economic interdependence between all people, all over the globe. Furthermore, the international issues raised by global warming illustrate a similar trans-global interdependence in safeguarding the long term well-being of people.

There seems no doubt that the buying choices that we make in our local shops can have a very real impact on the livelihoods and living conditions of people in places that are many thousands of miles away, and it is this interdependence that has led to the fair trade movement.

Basically, fair trade is all about creating an equitable international trade system. UK businesses that trade on a fair trade basis enter into partnership with their overseas suppliers, who in turn employ equitable methods in their dealings with their employees. This approach facilitates issues such as the level of wages, working conditions and the preservation of local and traditional skills such as embroidery, knitting, weaving and silversmithing. Production of fair trade goods also includes the use of sound methods of production which aim to minimize environmental impact.

Typically, fair traders in the UK may belong to organizations that campaign for improvements in the rules under which international trade is carried out, to provide fairness for producers and their employees, and make exploitation in these relationships a thing of the past. Thus, a shop selling fair trade goods in your high street will be paying a price to their suppliers that reflects accurately the costs of production, and which allows the suppliers to amply reward their workers, thereby raising the living standards of ordinary people in developing nations .

By now you may be thinking that buying goods in a fair trade shop is purely an act of charity on your part. Not so.

Take a look at the range of goods in a fair trade shop selling goods such as homeware and fashion accessories, and you will see attractive products made in distinctive designs, utilizing high quality raw materials. The partnership with producers that fair trade businesses enjoy enables them to work closely with craftsmen and suppliers to produce a fantastic range of exclusively styled products at reasonable prices. The goods available range from jewelry to soft furnishings and clothes. What's more, some companies make these goods available to buy from a fair trade online shop, so that you can avail yourself of a great range of reasonably priced fair trade products without leaving your room!

What could be better?


The Cashmere Throw – Keep It or Gift It?

A cashmere throw is an excellent homeware accessory to accompany the long cold winter days and nights. Due to the warmth and softness of the fabric, a throw made from cashmere is without doubt the king of throws and it is a fantastic item to give as a gift to your loved ones. However, giving away a throw of this quality is never easy but it is often done which is why you should always ask yourself the question: shall I keep it or shall I gift it?

What makes a cashmere throw such a soup after accessory is the feeling of complete comfort and luxury every time the lucky owner wraps it round themselves. Although it is not typically used as an outer clothing garment, few people will disagree that it is its most pleasurable use. Traditionally, throws are used to decorate the home either draped over a sofa or a chair or used as an extra bed spread in the colder months. It is probably this versatility that makes the cashmere throw such a fantastic gift to give to a loved one.

If someone who believes in the maximum that it is better to give than receive then you will no doubt the see benefits of giving some cashmere throw as a gift. Not only will the lucky recipient of the throw be blown away by your big-hearted gesture but due to the lasting quality of cashmere, they will have the throw for as long as they live.

However, if you are someone who prefers to receive rather than give, then doubt you could bear give a cashmere throw away as a gift after buying it. And in truth, I do not blame you as I am one of you!

So if you are a keeper or giver, there are plenty of places you can begin your search for a cashmere throw right right away!


Interview Tips – Case Study

I Thought I would take some time to write an example of how I would do things if I was looking for a job and being put forward for an interview with one of the major high street retailers in the UK. I’m not saying this is the must have definitive guide of how to do it. It’s just a pointer.

OK my recruitment consultant has called me and asked if I would be interested in working for Next. Next is a major retailer and as I’m already aware of the company and what they do I agreed I would like to go for an interview.

While this is being arrange a job spec, map and a few details about who I will be meeting with are emailed to me.

The first thing I would do is read through the official job spec. I’m looking to work in the finance department so I make sure the job spec is as described by the recruitment agent on the phone then log onto the Next website.

Most companies these days have a website of some description. A company like Next will have a great site with lots of information about the company. This is the sort of info I’m looking for.

Generally right at the bottom of the site will be some small links. There your find the privacy policy, terms & conditions and ABOUT US. This is what I would look at first. On the Next website its actually a link called THE COMPANY.

Straight away I can see that Next also does homeware. Interesting point and that’s just what I’M looking for. Interesting points that I can use to my advantage. You could be asked

Next: where do you see yourself in five years time?

Simply say something like,

Candidate: I can see Next has expanded into homeware. As the company grows and develops I would like to grow and develop with the company. Next is a major UK retailer growing all the time and I would like to be part of that.

There is also company news and financial results. Both very important in terms of information to take to the interview.

Under the news section I have found that –

Simon Wolfson is the Chief Executive

David Keens is the Group Finance Director.

That’s an important one. I’m going for a job interview in finance. Its not unreasonable for the employer to ask if I know who the Group Finance Director is. At least armed with this name I can reply.

Under the latest financial results its worth noting the companies performance during the current downturn and how they are planning to deal with this.

One of the questions your surely going to be asked at the first interview is, why do you as a person want to work for Next?

Before your even asked this question its easy to prepare the answer. Your preparation at this stage will really make the difference between you getting the job and not getting it.

The link CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY, has a whole host of information to help you to answer the question above.

Let me show you.

Next : so why do you want to work for Next?

Candidate: While reading through you financial information on the Next website I found the section on Corporate Responsibility. I think its important for a company that I work for to have a commitment to ethical trading, community and the environment. Next ticks all these boxes for me.

Don’t just look at the companies website the night before the interview. In most cases there is a gap of at least a day before the interview is arranged. Use this time wisely. Write up some notes on some credit card sized pieces of card. Memorise the notes on them, important company names, recent news stories of interest, what the company does and what its products are.

Good luck


Wholesale Candles For Less

Purchasing wholesale candles in bulk is a great way to kick-start your business. There are a number of different businesses that sell candles – particularly homeware stores and department stores. Buying candles wholesale means you can purchase a wide variety of candle shapes, colors and fragrances without spending your entire budget.

A candle is a light source that consists of an internal wick rises through the center of a column of solid fuel. Before the mid 19th century, the majority of candles were tallow, but these days, paraffin wax has become quite common. You would be amazed to see the extensive variety of candles available in the market place for the consumers. From soy and vegetable-based candles to fragrance and wax floating candles, there are candles to suit your customers every need.

The history of the candle dates back to 3000BC. From this period and right up to the middle ages and the early modern period, candles were made from various types of natural fat, tallow and wax. Before electricity, candles were the only means of creating a portable light. These days however, candles are used for a wide range of purposes from decoration on birthday cakes, church ceremonies, as soft lighting in a room, for fragrance and many other occasions.

In the past 20 years, entrepreneurs have started selling wax candles, floating candles, fragrance candles and lots of other types of candles in varied shapes. There are several shops that offer large quantities of supplies to both professional candle makers and to consumers who make candles for fun.

Whether you want to purchase candles for your personal your business purpose, a wholesale candle would be the best option for you. There are several wholesale candle websites that offer information on candle, and even sell you these candles at wholesale rates. Try visiting one of these websites and purchase wholesale candles for your retail candle business.

There are several advantages to purchasing wholesale candle for your retail candle business:

* Affordable: Purchasing wholesale candle for your business means you can get best quality products at affordable prices

* Quantity assurance: Most wholesale candle suppliers offer quality assurance and a guarantee on the products they sell to their clients

* Bulk purchasing: You can easily bulk purchase for your business and get even better discounts

* Increase clientele by offering competitive prices: Once you purchase wholesale candles at discounted prices you can offer these goods at great prices to your clients. This encourages your clients visit you again and again each time they wish to purchase a candle for themselves

Try purchasing these wholesale candles from online wholesale candle stores. The Internet is the fastest and easiest way to locate wholesale suppliers with great ranges of candles on offer.


Design Tips to Update Your Home

Home decorating isn’t as hard as you’d think – all it takes it some research and a good eye for style. If you think your house could do with a makeover, here are a few hints on how to make the process run more smoothly.

The best way to tackle the project is to break it down into manageable pieces. If the whole house needs a makeover, choose a general theme and then tackle it room by room. The theme should fit the style of house you have. If it is a city apartment, a modern designer theme could be ideal. If it is a beach cottage, a nautical theme may be more appropriate. Once you’ve chosen the theme, choose one room to start on. If you try to tackle the whole project at once, not only will you spend a lot of money, you may find that you run out of steam and don’t complete the makeover as a result.

After that, it is time to do some research. Go online and look at examples of the theme you’ve chosen. Browsing through homeware shops will also help to give you ideas.

Starting by choosing the colours for the walls and floors is the most failsafe option. If you choose light colours, such as cream or white, it will be easy to put your theme into action. Also, as styles change and you seek to update the look, it will be easier to work with a blank canvas. A feature wall is where one wall is painted a different, often bolder, colour than the rest of the room. It can be very striking and help centre on the focus of the room. For example, if you have a fireplace in your lounge, you could paint the wall that the fireplace resides a deeper, contrasting colour. This will bring the eye to the fireplace and add some flair to the room as well.

The next step is to choose the furniture and accessories. This should only be done after you’ve settled on your wall and floor colours, and preferably after the room has been painted. You can save money by incorporating existing furniture, such as couches and side tables, into the new design. If you love your couch, but the colour doesn’t quite fit your new style, why not have your couch re-upholstered? It will add new life to the couch, be the exact colour you want for your theme and look like new for half the price.

Accessories are also very important in any design. Throw pillows, rugs, candles, decorative bowls and lamp shades come in a myriad of design possibilities to fit almost any theme. New style chic, modern designer, nautical and even contemporary tribal homeware can be easily found in most homeware stores. Accessories add a final touch to your new theme and will help to add a lot of flair to the room.


Four Sources of Inspiration for Your Interior Design Project

If you are at a loss with where to start with your interior design project, a little research can work wonders. If the interior magazines and homeware catalogs are not getting you anywhere, leave the house and start looking elsewhere.

1. Nature

The great outdoors is a clear source of inspiration for many product designers. The swirl of a shell, the leaves of a plant, the aerodynamics of a bird, all contribute to our technology and our design landscape. When perfection is at your disposal why not learn from it? The essence of beauty comes from our appreciation of nature so why not use it as a starting point for our ideas? Take a camera with you and get some pictures of the different textures you come across, the types of wood you like and the color palettes which naturally work so well together.

2. Museums

Visiting museums is an excellent source of inspiration that will not only delight and entertain us but also broaden our minds. If someone has gone to the huge effort of creating something magnificent and worthy of a place on our museum floors then surely it could have been the spark of an idea for your home. Take the kids and visit the Wallace Collection and the V & A, they'll love it once they're there! Remember to buy some postcards or take a brochure home with you so that you can begin stock piling the beautiful things that inspire you.

3. Restaurants and hotels

Go to restaurants and stay in hotels that have been decorated in ways that might appeal to you (it's all in the name of research you must tell your husband!). Enjoy tea at the Ritz or in the Glaswegian tearooms that Mackintosh designed. Remember to take photos not just of your food but of your beautiful surroundings, and ask the proprietor where they got their furniture and where the inspiration for their interiors came from.

4. Period properties

If the past intrigues you and you want to understand how interior styles have changed across the years, visit some of the country's many fantastic historical houses. Or go one larger and visit the Palace of Versailles for a peek into the world of Louis XIV and experience the famous room of mirrors. Go to St. Louis Paul's cathedral for an understanding of the 'Restoration period'. See the Royal Crescent in Bath and admire the Georgian style of architecture. Pop to Paris for a saucy weekend and check out the Arc de Triomphe with its Empire style. Have a weekend by the sea in Brighton and enjoy the Royal Pavilion for its unique spin on Chinoiserie. And celebrate the Arts & Crafts period at the Red House in Kent.

All these sources have so much to teach you. Some you will admire, some you will not, but this is the essence of working out what your authentic style is – working out what you like. Sometimes I find just understanding it, appreciating it in its own context, making it more appealing. So maybe you'll learn to love things you have not previously even noticed.


Top 10 Selling Items in Arts and Crafts Shows

Arts and Crafts shows are great venues to showcase your creativity and make money at the same time. There is a wide array of products which can be showcased. Listed below are the 10 types of items which are very popular and generally sell very fast in an art and craft show.

1. For the Kids

Kids are priority always and parents are happy to buy things for them. It is good to encourage your kid’s creative talent and taking them to various art and craft shows is good way of boosting their talent. You can find many items for children aged 0 to 12 in crafts shows to catch their attention. Items like painting tools, paper crafts which the children can do by themselves, or which children and their parents can do together.

2. Limited Edition Crafts

Giving a timeline for an item is also eye-catching. When you make an announcement or put a tag on your item that it will only be available, for example, on that day because of limited stocks perhaps, then people tend to give attention and take advantage of its availability, like art collectible dolls, cards, homeware items etc.

3. Crafts with themes

Crafts items with theme also catch interests. For example, you may sell items for pets such as dog collars, leashes and pet clothes like dresses and sweaters.

4. Unique Items

Products that cannot be seen and bought easily in public places like malls or even online, gain attention too. Browse ebay.com or etsy.com for unique crafts items and you will find a new shape candle or design, or embellishments, which can also be customized.

5. Environment friendly

Recycled products made from organic materials are also a hit. This is because there are a lot of people now concerned about the environment. Examples are home displays made from used papers, sculptures from broken glass or paintings from coffee beans.

6. Jewelry

This may be a regular product in arts and crafts shows but it has never lost its touch. You may blend uniqueness in style so that each item would look like it’s personally crafted for the buyer. This difference will give the items an edge from the others selling jewelries too.

7. Glass products

Making glass items like vases, or mirrors with beautiful frames is not a common skill. Showing these types of items in arts and crafts shows also showcase the superior talent of the makers because this skill is really difficult. People who appreciate this kind of talent will show their appreciation by buying the glass items.

8. Items for women

Women make up a great proportion of any country’s population. Most consumers are the homemakers too. You can get their interest with items such as bags, knitted or crocheted tops, cross stitch items or homemade perfumes and scented candles.

9. Products for laptops and the like

Laptops, mobile phones and other products which help people communicate are used by all these days. Feature items like laptop bags and covers and mobile phone holders or cases are also great selling craft items these days.

10. High Quality items

Quality is always essential for any product. Making sure your item may it be big or small has top quality will also ensure your buyers will buy and even comeback or refer you to other buyers even if the product is just a regular one.

Creative talent is always great to have. You can either pursue it as a hobby or can also make living out of it if you are really good at it. Take the time to research which items will sell in arts and crafts shows so that you can earn maximum profit out of your creation.


Hand-Made and Hand-Painted Ceramics and Pottery From France!

Discover beautiful hand-made and hand-painted ceramics and pottery from France!

Are you feeling stuck for fresh decorating ideas? Go Provencal with stunning hand painted French pottery and ceramics! You too can make your everyday world that little bit brighter and more exciting with the vivid colors and designs that have been painted onto these vibrant home accessories.

Each piece has been skilfully hand made and hand painted with the utmost care and attention. Your morning coffee will taste all that more refreshing when drunk from a beautiful hand-painted coffee cup and even a simple salad can be jazzed up when served in an eye-catching salad bowl.

Although the designs are similar no two pieces are exactly alike and you will feel as though your homeware has been designed with only you in mind. That 'French feel' can be achieved through the home and garden with these striking accessories and Mediterranean style garden pots and planters.

Whether you are looking for unusual gifts for friends or simply on the hunt for new kitchen accessories or homeware these original and unique pieces can be the cornerstone for any new redecorating plans that you have in mind. The intricacy and charm of the designs on the ceramics make them the perfect gifts for women.

There is also need to trudge around the shops since because these gorgeous pieces are readily available online and can be shipped all over the world. You can browse through hundreds of attractive items from the comfort of your own home and even completely redesign your home with just a few basic, yet interesting pieces, such as ceramic oil bottles.

Rediscover your joie de vivre and live every day like you are in the South of France.

A Brief History of French Pottery: The French have been expert pottery makers for many centuries. In Saintes, on the river Charente ornamented pottery has been discovered which dates as early as 1511. Up until this period in time the pottery had mainly been emblazoned with coats of arms and fleur-de-lise but around the early 1500's other forms of decoration began to be applied, such as flowers, leaves, branches and fruits, and these classic designs became the prototype for the beautiful patterns we are today accustomed to seeing on French ceramics and pottery today. The French have been designing these unique pieces for many generations and their expertise is reflected in the fine pieces that are available to us all.


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