Friday, 29 September 2017

Lusting after windows: the hubby's "Manarium" project.

What is it about men and their man rooms?  They have various names for them; "man cave" "dad's den", actually, don't quote me on that one, I totally just made that up..  Well, my husband has one and he calls his "The Manarium".  It's better than man cave, I've got to be honest.  And, after a discussion with him, it appears that "you have the rest of the house,  I need some space of my own".  I've not retorted with "but don't you see that I have to share the entire house with everyone in the family?" as I couldn't be bothered at the time. Maybe I'd had a gin and just didn't care enough.. and, to be fair, I do generally have more say over the decor and I do fill the house up with more bits of tat than he does.

Men do seem to like their little (smelly) places to retreat into and quite frankly, if it means the rest of the house isn't covered with various gaming detritus and half working Amigas then it's a happy compromise.  My husband has his manarium in our loft.  He has a fair old bit of room up there, you can even stand up and, as he's just shy of 6 foot that is a good thing!  It's been an ongoing project ever since we moved in two years ago.  In fact, he had already earmarked the space when we originally looked around the house.  I think that's why he was so keen on it, that and the log burner.

At first, he just used it to store his crap important IT shizzle.  But this year, with us being a bit more settled in the house, he's been beavering away up there.  All his games have been sorted out, he's put shelving up, put an electrical socket up there, installed a projector, put down carpet, sorted out lighting, mounted a TV, got beanbags.  It's a wonder I ever see him actually.

There's just one thing he won't stop going on about.  It's dark up there.  In the summer, it's insufferably hot.  It's stuffy.  He doesn't like to stay up there too long because he craves some day light and fresh air.

He wants a window.

You wouldn't believe the amount of conversations we now have about windows.  Or, maybe you would.  Adult life seems to be just full to bursting with inane exchanges.  And even disgusting ones.  Conversations about your child's poo anyone?  He does harp on though.  We know it'll happen, it's just a case of saving up.  Putting a window in up there isn't priority No.1.  However, I know how happy it'll make him so it'd be nice to do sooner rather than later!

Manarium Man Room Loft Conversion velux window


Pete wants to have a velux window fitted.  He's spotted one he likes on the Roof Windows website:

Manarium Man Room Loft Conversion velux window


I think, once he's got the window fitted, he'll probably live up there, like some kind of loft mole.  He tells me I can visit though, to watch the odd movie.  Lucky me!  Beanbags on the floor and a movie.  It'll be like being 18 again!  I'm not sure I want to be 18 again.  Maybe child-free again... Ha.  I jest, I love them, I LOVE THEM!

Manarium Man Room Loft Conversion velux window
Getting manly!


Well, if he spends more time up there, I might get some more blogging done, hey?  Win win.... Anyone else worked on a project similar to this?  Got any tips or suggestions?  Do let me know below!

Boot lusting.. what my feet are craving this Autumn.

The weather is pretty grim out there as I sit at my desk tapping away.  The rain is coming down in sheets.  Despite that, Autumn is such a gorgeous time of year.  I love kicking through leaf piles as I stroll along.  There's something so fun and childlike about kicking crunchy leaves.  I love doing it with the boys too!

Autumn and winter is a time for boots.  OK, if I'm honest, about 10 months of the year in the UK is boot time.. but they are essential at this time of year.  For years and years I have been a calf to knee height boot devote.  However, over the last year I have definitely found love for ankle boots.  I'm not a total convert, I still love my knee highs.  I have a foot in both camps, as it were, just not at the same time, I don't think even I could get away with that as a "look".

Ankle boots are everywhere.  They vary from cheap as chips (£8 in Primarni - just how do they do that?  Not a good thought) to crazy money.  There's quite a few in the middle price range though. The "more than I'd normally pay but these will last me a few seasons and the quality is great" range.

As I'm sure you already know, I recently became a consultant with Me&i, the ethical Swedish clothing company.  When they announced a few weeks ago that they were bringing out an ankle boot, I'll admit I did a happy dance.  This isn't just any ankle boot.  It's a very on trend Chelsea wedge boot with a beautiful and Autumnal flash of cayenne elastic to make them easy to slip on and off (brilliant for the school run!).

Me&i favorite Chelsea boots


Well, today my friends, these boots are available for sale.  All sales consultants are eagerly anticipating orders.  And most of them want them ourselves.  I know I do.  I do need (hehe) a pair of comfy and easy to slip on boots for the cold and yucky school runs so I'm going to put some money by this month and buy myself a pair as soon as I can.  If, unlike me, you aren't strapped for cash just now and you are in the market for a new pair of boots, I'd recommend these!  They are made in Portugal (known as one of the best places in the world for quality leather).  The leather is vegetable tanned which means it's as close to organic as you can get and, as with everything Me&i, they are ethically produced in a factory paying proper wages.  You can only buy the boots via a consultant, so if you are interested, let me know, I'm your gal! You can check out my facebook page for more info!

Monday, 25 September 2017

How to Help a Design Concept Flow from Room to Room

When you first start to form a design concept for your home in your mind, it’s easy to get carried away and consider all kinds of fabulous ideas. Once you start to take the steps of making this design a reality, it will become very obvious, very quickly, that it’s important to make sure your concept flows naturally and smoothly from room to room. If the space is open concept, then the flow is even more important.

So, what can you do to help ensure that your carefully thought out design concept flows from room to room? Here are some design tips you can make use of.

Pick One Color Palette and Stick with It

While there is nothing wrong with picking a different color for each room in the house if that’s what you are into, chances are it’s going to end up feeling quite disjointed in the end. Each space will have a jarring transition as you move from color to color.

If you’re looking to create flow, then it’s important you pick one color palette and stick with it throughout. The one exception can be bedrooms where you can stray from the color palette if you choose. Picking a color palette means you can still use various shades and intensity in the spaces of your home, but they all will have the same undertone.

Use Art Work to Tie Colors and Themes Together

One way you can create a continuous flow through your space is to use artwork to tie the rooms together. It could be a color palette that you are repeating or even a theme. Paintings, posters, and pictures can all be used and you can even mix and match if you like. This artwork can be used in living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, and any other space in the home.

This is a subtle way to promote flow through your home, as it’s not so glaring as choosing one paint color throughout. If you’ve never purchased paintings before, take a look at this range of paintings from Fine Art America for inspiration, as they have some beautiful pieces by amazing artists.

Use Accent Pieces to Create a Cohesive Look

Another fun way to tie the various rooms together is through accent pieces. You can take the paint color from one room, and tie it into the next by using that color as an accent. For example, maybe your kitchen is a bright sunny yellow. You can then add pops of yellow in your family room through things such as artwork, throw pillows and blankets, a rug, etc.

Accent pieces, which are also called d├ęcor, are meant to be creative and fun, so go ahead and make bold choices.

A Space That Flows and Makes Sense

You don’t have to be a professional designer in order to create a space that flows and make sense as you move from room to room. Typically, it just takes a bit of pre-planning and a bit of trial and error. The goal isn’t to be overly-matchy, rather it is to keep some constants throughout the entire space.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Why Prescription Drugs Need to Be Cheaper

The world of pharmaceuticals is a complex one with a labyrinthine process of bringing new drugs from conception to reality. After a drug has been designed, a viable synthesis needs to be
formulated that will allow the drug to be produced in an economical way. The goal here is to identify the cheapest and quickest synthesis route which will allow the drug to be produced, and ultimately sold, for a reasonable price to consumers and healthcare institutions.

Once the drug has been produced it goes through several trial phases, starting with animal trials and gradually moving towards human trials. Every part of this process must adhere to vigorously designed protocols and be thoroughly documented and reported.

Consequently, the costs to the pharmaceutical company of bringing a drug to market are significant and it is only by recouping these costs, and then some, that pharmaceutical companies can continue to research and develop new drugs and new drug classes. However, these needs must be balanced against the needs of the general population to access affordable and effective healthcare. Below are just some of the reasons that cheaper prescription drugs benefit everyone.

More Accessible

The cheaper prescription drugs are, the more people will be able to afford them. When drugs are prohibitively expensive, it creates two tiers of patients; those that can afford them and those that can’t. Lowering the cost of prescription drugs greatly reduces, or even removes, this barrier and creates a more egalitarian healthcare landscape. In fact, the impact of having a significant portion of the population unable to afford the drugs they need has detrimental effects to wider society as well as individuals.

Preventable and treatable illnesses contribute significantly to the number of sick days employees take every year (something referred to as ‘economic downtime’), and consequently when workers of particular socio-economic classes are disproportionately affected by certain illnesses that they can’t afford to treat, the corresponding sector of the economy suffers an increase in downtime.

Better Quality of Life 

Ensuring that as many people as possible are able to access affordable drugs and other treatments means that quality of life will improve, not just for those individuals but society more broadly. It is easy to underestimate the impact that the presence of easily testable illnesses can have on society as a whole, but aside from the aforementioned economic impacts there are also more subtle effects.

Friends and family of those suffering from an illness that they can’t afford to treat may suffer psychologically. Similarly, many of those who cannot afford lifesaving treatment through the proper channels may turn to black market drugs of questionable origin and unknown quality. Even if a patient is able to secure an affordable source for legitimate drugs, many of these can be dangerous when administered without the supervision of a doctor.

The Future

So, what can be done to increase access to these drugs? There are no simple solutions, but there is widespread agreement that we need access to discount prescription drugs. There are now a number of lobbying groups campaigning for this and signing up or donating to these organisations can help them make a real difference.

Increasing access to cheaper prescription drugs will be a key part of the ongoing struggle to improve healthcare for all.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Baked By Lou - Colourful Cooked Jewellery and Accessories - A Feature


Instagram has been a source of inspiration and a place of discovery for me since 2012.  It's probably the place that I discover most new brands these days.  I especially love handmade independents and when I find one I really love I get excited.  Well, if I'm honest, a bit obsessed.  I'm like that, I'll hold my hands up to it.

We all know I love clothes.  You may not know just how much I love jewellery and accessories too.  I love bold.  I love bright.  I love different.  When I stumbled across Baked By Lou, created by Louisa Mallett, earlier this year it was instant love.  I started off with a purchase of some earrings and I now own 5 pairs of earrings, a bangle, two pin badges and have another pair of earrings on the way.  My next purchase really must be a necklace!  It really is an obsession.  Lou should be scared really, because she's only across the water from me in lovely Cardiff.  If this obsession gets much worse I'll be swimming across the muddy channel to stalk and hound her for more funky fimo!

Baked By Lou Ceramic Painted Vase Pot
Ceramic painted vase/pot £40.
Once you see what Lou creates, I won't need to convince you any further.  I'm sure you'll love her creations too, but, for the sake of appearing more professional and a bit less mad, I thought I'd ask Lou a few questions about her business.  So, at this point, I'll hand over to Lou and you can breath a sigh of relief!

Baked By Lou Statement Ring Polymer Clay Fimo Jewellery
Statement Ring £10
Me "Louisa, What lead you to making your baked creations?  And how long have you been doing so?"

Lou "I'm a real fledgling business at the moment! I set up Baked by Lou as a business in January but it was in the planning a few months before. Surrounded my amazing friends following their creative dreams, I've been very inspired. I finished by degree in Art Practice (A combination of Fine Art and Art History) many moons ago in 2009 and have always thought of myself as pretty creative, but only recently got the guts to put myself out there and sell my pieces! A refresher evening course in ceramics are what led me to making jewellery in clay and it was my super whiz hubby who came up with the pun name. No I don't make cakes!"

Baked By Lou Statement Necklace Polymer Clay Fimo Jewellery
Statement Necklace £19
Me "Seems crazy to me that Baked By Lou has only been "live" since January.. So, do you have a "day job" as well?"

Lou "I'm a trainer by day and I deliver workshops to higher level apprentices in Business and Customer Service. Honestly, I was too scared after uni to be a practicing artist...I don't really feel it prepared me enough for that which is a shame. I went down the path of teaching and never looked back. I think both passions are working well together and I use a lot of creativity in my day job! I always think that everything happens for a reason and this was the direction I was meant to go and only now the time has begun right for Baked by Lou."

Baked By Lou Ring Holder Ceramic Polymer Clay Fimo Jewellery
Ring Holder/Cone £11 
Me "I'm not surprised you felt like that after uni.  I know I didn't have the confidence to follow my creative side professionally when I was younger, even after studies.. But, now you've made that leap, what are your plans for Baked By Lou? Any exciting secrets you can hint at?"

Lou "​No super secrets in the pipe line, but I really would love to practice and play using some of the patterns I paint on my ceramics and jewellery and perhaps get them turned into fabric or prints. There's so many ideas in my head! Firstly though, I'd like to get as polished as I can be with my current materials, learn more about making my own glazes perhaps, as I love that the creative process is always one where you learn something new all the time. I'd also like to see my goodies in more shops so people can see them in real life!"

Baked By Lou Long Statement Dangle Earrings
Long Dangle Earrings 
Me "You're a sensible thing, aren't you! But cool too, anyone can see that by looking at your creations and style! Have you always been creative? Do you have any other big passions in your life?"

Lou "I'm crazy cat lady number one... We recently moved house which has made me very quickly realise I have a lot to learn about gardening too, so that's my newest passion! I love charity and car-boot sale shopping and finding vintage gems for my home. Between me and my hubby, our house is more of museum than anything"


Me "Crazy cat lady.. I know quite a few people who tell me they are crazy cat ladies! Well, I'd like to finish by asking again about the future for Baked By Lou.  Specifically, would you consider doing a collaboration?  And if so, one what kind of project? Clothing design? A collection of ceramics?"

Lou "I am always up for anything like this! I've done one with my good friend Jade Fisher where she designed a cool rock chick card and I created badges for the lapel which I sell at markets. My friend and I @fizzgoespop are always talking and making crafty things. I'm also up for print making or a big mural and would love to have someone by my side with that! I could deliver workshops too as this combines by day job and Baked by Lou."

Me "Thank you so much Lou.  Personally, I can't wait to see what you come up with in the future.  I'm already obsessed with your work and building up a nice collection of jewelry BAKED BY LOU!! Ha."

I can't recommend checking out Louisa's brilliant store enough.  You can buy online via Etsy, follow on Instagram and if you live in the Cardiff area, she often does fairs and the like.  Do give her a follow.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Me&i - Ethical Scandi clothing for women and kids!

Hello everyone! Are you there? It's been a very long time.  To be honest, I thought I'd given up blogging, but a couple of weeks ago I was chatting with Amber who writes over at Meet The Wildes and, after showering me with compliments (still getting my head around that!) she begged me, and I do mean begged me, to start blogging again.  I admitted that I had been thinking about it because I do actually have something I'd like to share on this platform once again and so I agreed I would.  So.  Here we are.   Amber, this is for you!

In just a few short days, my youngest little man heads off to school.  Yikes! This means that I have time to work now.  Proper time.  This time a year ago I tried looking for work but finding something I want to do (yes, I'm lucky enough to be able to wait for something I want to do rather than have to do anything) that fitted around preschool and school hours was nigh on impossible.  I started freelance writing, I started doing a lot of creative writing.  I volunteered in a charity shop.  But I didn't feel like blogging.  However, back in July I decided that I wanted to take the plunge and become a consultant for me&i.   Me&i are a Swedish ethical clothing company who make wonderful (as you'd expect from a Scandi brand) bright and bold clothes for women and kids.  My love affair with Scandi style started over 8 years ago now, when I was pregnant with Ethan.  That's pretty much how this blog came about too.  I loved Scandi clothes, which were hard to get hold of and very unusual where I live 8 years ago so I decided to record our outfits and write about them here.  When I heard about me&i they seemed like a perfect fit for me.  I thought, why not?  No one else is working for me&i in my town.  People like my style and my boys style.  They are always stopping me to inquire about our clothes.  Why not?

Me&i release two collections a year, Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter.  They don't create a vast range, they concentrate on quality over quantity.  Their focus is on quality materials and fair pay for workers.  They use Oeko-Tex material and factories in Turkey and Portugal.  They visit the factories they use and stipulate that the employees must be able to live on the wages they make.  As a result, you can't expect Primark prices from me&i.  But I think more and more of us are getting switched on to the idea that you get what you pay for.  We'd all rather a fairer world for all.  Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with a bit of a bargain but I do like to shop as consciously as I can afford and I know I'm not alone in that.  I like to buy a few more expensive purchases each season and pepper them with my charity and eBay bargains!

Me&i Scandi Ethical Clothing AW17


As well as their ethical credentials, the clothes are comfy, soft and practical without forgoing style.  Pockets in dresses.  Cuffs on sleeves that fold up or down to allow longer wear.  Seamless socks.  The kids clothes go up to age 14 so many women find they can fit themselves into the kids collection too!

Me&i Scandi Ethical Clothing AW17

Me&i Scandi Ethical Clothing AW17


You're probably wondering how it works?  Well, you can buy online via their website, but it's much more exciting if you get in touch with a local consultant and they bring their collection to you.  Even more fun if you get friends to come over too, then it's like going shopping with friends, no kids in tow!  You know, like when you were 13 in those communal changing rooms in Miss Selfridge.  Except without the overpowering smell of Impulse and the risk of slipping over on an abandoned copy of Sugar or Just17.  Plus.  Have it on a evening and add in wine.  Sweeeet! Can you tell I'm excited?  Well, I am one of those consultants now.  I have the entire collection in my home and anyone who wants to can buy via me!  Even you! Yes, YOU, right there, on your phone.  If you're nearby (North Somerset/Bristol) I can cart my collection over for your perusal!

Me&i Scandi Ethical Clothing AW17


If you aren't nearby but you still love the clothes, I can still be your consultant, I can place an order for you.  Or you can order via the website and select me (Alexandra Bridger) as your consultant at checkout.  It's that easy! If you still want your own party, I can put you in touch with your nearest consultant too.

Me&i Scandi Ethical Clothing AW17

Me&i Scandi Ethical Clothing AW17


Personally, I feel the clothes speak for themselves.  They look lovely on hangers, they look even better on a person!  They pop in photos but once you see them in the flesh, you really get it.  Just feeling how soft they are, how they have so much give in them.  Seeing how they fit on a real body.  They really are exceptional!

Well. There we have it, my first blog post in an age.  It's good to be back.  Now I'll have to spruce up the blog, maybe even move over to Wordpress at last!  I hope people will read again, I have missed many aspects of my blog, especially my fellow bloggers and readers! Thank you, anyone who is still there!

Linking up with Hannah at Make, Do & Push. 


All clothes featured in this post are from me&i.  This is NOT a sponsored post.