Great Gifts To Give When Going To A Dinner Party

If you’ve been invited to a dinner party, strike with someone personal for the occasion. One can only imagine the amount of stress the hostess is feeling. There are so many things she has to do, and if you put yourself in her shoes, you can come up with a list of things that she will be stressing over. The hostess, must first clean the home, make sure everything that’s on display is polished and looking spick and span. She’s got to make sure that there a brief form of entertainment right before her guests sit down for the dinner. Everyone is dressed from head to toe, their best and equally so is the hostess. And, while she’s got to look smart and classy, she’s also got to make sure the pork roast doesn’t spit juice on her dress when she pulls it out the over. As a guest, perhaps you could make her life easier, or at least brighten up her day with a personalised gift.

Source - Max Pixel

Relax, have a cuppa

Almost everyone loves tea, so the more tea in somebody’s life the better.. Whether you’re an American who drinks it cold, who you’re British who drinks it the right way, hot, you may find the gift of a bespoke tea bag collection a great gift. There are companies out in the world, which give customers the opportunity to mix their own flavours, of what they think themselves or somebody else would enjoy. It’s really an artform, as the unique blend of black, green, oolong or rooibos really takes a complex palate to figure out the right balance. You can mix in a whole range over flavour to infuse to the tea with, such as chestnuts, chocolate, cider, coconut, cranberry or even grapefruit, etc. The options are limitless, so get your creative juices flowing and give her a gift she can use and will thank you for posthumously.

Engraved stemware

Another thoughtful gift could be an engraved wine glass. You could engrave the hosts’ and your initials who symbol on the wine glass which will be filled in with wash proof paint. With an intricate design, it’s a very personalized gift that has a great practical use which can be enjoyed for decades. The engraving is elegant and sits on clear glass, which cannot be scratched off, so the longevity of this gift is another design benefit. This particular gift can be bought at, where there are other gifts in the same category like, beer glasses, snifters for whiskey, napkins which can also be engraved, such as things like ornaments and cutting board. The great thing about the engraved stemware is that it’s dishwasher safe, which is a sign of a high-quality product that can withstand heat and water pressure.

Credit - KjellTjetland

An assorted box

Yes, even in this day and age, chocolate is a woman’s best companion, and there’s absolutely no shame in admitting so. Quite the opposite, this should be celebrated with a box or luxury assorted chocolates for the hostess to enjoy while putting her feet up after the dinner party is over. You can buy her a gift that has almonds, caramel, coffee, lemon, nougat, praline, raspberry and truffles, all generously wrapped in soft hand-finished chocolate. Great to consume at tea time or with a desert, she won’t forget who got her these.

This is a collaborative post. For more details please view my disclosure policy.

How To Stay On Budget

coupons, budget, Everybody hates spending money. No matter what you purchase and how much you pay, it is always hard to open your wallet and give away your cash. So, after some time of struggling with this problem, I have started to change my philosophy a little bit, and began shopping for things which I need but along with a few life hacks that helped keep me in a budget. I would like to share some of it with you, so it might help you out a little bit as well.

Use Cash

It might sound weird, but shopping only with a specific amount of cash in your wallet and leaving your credit cards at home, can help stay on a budget and even save some money! Because you only have that specific amount of cash, and no ATM nearby, you will avoid purchasing items with are over your budget and also avoid purchasing some unplanned products as well. So, really – leave your credit or debit cards at home and only take that amount of cash you really want and can spend.

Keep Receipts

By keeping your receipts after shopping for groceries or for other everyday essentials, you can easily plan your future budget. Save all your receipts, and write down the places you spend money. This is how you will be able to compare the expenses in different stores, and choose the most suitable place to shop at. Also, because of that you'll be less likely to overspend if you realize how much money has actually gone through your hands.

Shop with a List

No matter if you are going to shop for small items or simple products, or even for some bigger ones, like furniture, always enter a store with a shopping list in your hands. It is another great way to keep yourself in a budget because, if you really keep yourself on a list, you won’t spend on a stuff you might purchase unplanned. It will also help you to be aware of an amount of money you spend every time and help you to avoid spending too much. Also, shopping list can help you prioritize your purchases so you can better manage your cash flow.

Changing Your Habits

Want to hear it or not, but your bad habits like eating junk food, smoking or partying every single weekend, is not a good thing for your budget. You can save a lot of cash by just quitting smoking (try those portable vaping devices to start on the path of quitting smoking), or just by trying to stay at home for a while. It will save you a great deal of cash for sure, and moreover – you also will improve your health! You could even take advantage of special deals on websites such as Groupon if booking a hotel for a mini-break  - it's always a win-win situation then!

Use coupons

Another way to save money and keep yourself on a budget is one of the easiest. You can simply get all kinds of coupons from special coupon websites and shop at every single shop with various numbers of discounts. For instance, promo codes and coupons will reduce the price on every single item for sure. There are either printable or online coupons, so, just get the best ones and easily save money!

What are your hard or easy ways to save money and stay on a budget? Share it with me and other readers in the comments.

This post was written in collaboration with Groupon. For more information please see my disclosure policy

Soundtrack To My Life : Songs You Should Never Play On Hospital Radio

Soundtrack To My Life : Songs You Should Never Play On Hospital Radio
I get into the most random of conversations when it comes to music but a good friend of mine - Rowena, aka DJ Row - is going to be volunteering at our local hospital radio station in the very near future.  It's something I've thought about investigating after my time at Preston FM but fitting it into my already hectic schedule would be a bit of a nightmare!

So, for the sixth instalment of Soundtrack To My Life this year I thought it would be a great idea to help Rowena out and compile a list of songs that she should absolutely not play during her time as a DJ on hospital radio.


She should definitely not be piping You're So Vain into the cosmetic surgery clinic and I think Push It and Torn could be off the playlist on the maternity ward.

Maybe The First Cut Is The Deepest should be shunned for the operating theatre however post-op recovery ward residents may enjoy swaying to the dulcet tones of Everybody Hurts and Comfortably Numb depending on the level of their morphine intake.

I think the asthmatics might have something to say if they heard Take My Breath Away and to be avoided during chest clinic opening hours is It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing,

Out on the mental health unit we're trying to sidestep Suicide Is Painless (the theme to MASH) and Just Like A Pill plus we're giving Rehab a firm swerve. I think Bad Medicine might be out too...

The geriatrics ward have asked for Knocking On Heaven's Door to be left in the rack but we might just get away with playing Stayin' Alive if only for assisting the resuscitation team in their hour of need.

On the intensive care ward, it's probably best to avoid Girlfriend In A Coma even though this had been double-billed with Don't Fear The Reaper.

The workers in the morgue have advised that I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight and Another One Bites The Dust are best averted

One that she can absolutely play though is Man, I Feel Like A Woman on the gender reassignment ward.  I'd like to think that's often requested.

Here are all the songs, collated into a handy playlist on YouTube for you.  

Enjoy... unless you're in hospital, of course!!

Soundtrack To My Life : Songs You Should Never Play On Hospital Radio


Soundtrack To My Life : 30 Day Music Challenge
I'm really hoping that you, as my reader, are not offended by this light-hearted Soundtrack To My Life this month. It's just another way to bring music to you as part of the occasional series on this blog where I talk about songs that have influenced my life. Read/Listen to all the previous Soundtrack To My Life entries here or follow the dedicated Pinterest board.


Safety tips to avoid #DIYDisasters

Safety tips to avoid #DIYDisasters
If the temperatures outside are anything to go by, it’s safe to say that summer is here and what does that mean? Sure, lots of barbeques and trips to the beach are on the cards but it also means it’s the perfect chance to get handy around the house with those projects you’ve been meaning to get stuck into since last year. No more cuddling up by the roaring fire and using torrential rain as a means to dodge your to-do list, it’s time to DIY!

Whether it’s hoisting yourself up a ladder to repair some pipes damaged in the winter winds, or simply setting up camp in the garden with the little ones for an afternoon of crafts, safety is paramount. Many people prefer to tackle DIY jobs themselves to avoid paying out for expensive professionals or sitting on a long waiting listing but if you are going to do this, there are some precautions you need to consider.

So here is some educated advice from me to you to help avoid those #DIYDisasters. Thankfully, there are people like Slater and Gordon injury compensation solicitors on hand if things do go wrong but accidents are always best avoided.

Make sure you read the manual

If you’re guilty of tossing the handbook to one side like a kid with a new toy at Christmas when you get your tools out, you could be putting yourself in a lot of danger. Manuals are there for a reason so it’s time to put the kettle on and get stuck in because you could be saving yourself a lot of hassle in the long run. Instructions are there for a reason so use them!

Don’t forget your safety accessories

Once you’ve read your manuals and clued yourself up on best practice with power tools, it’s time to make sure you’re dressed for the part. Make safety goggles and protective gloves a staple in your toolbox to keep important body parts safe and intact.

Know your ladder logistics

Ladders are one of the most simple and effective inventions to date but they’re also one of the most dangerous when not used correctly. A-frame ladders are the safest type but always make sure you place them on a secure, level surface with the frame locked into position. If you are going for the traditional type, never step on the top two rungs and never lean it against a door that is likely to swing out and send you toppling.

Leave the right things to the professionals

While DIY can be plenty of fun and super satisfying when you can step back and marvel at your very own masterpiece, there are some things that are best left to the experts. There are plenty of people on hand who have been specially trained in areas such as gas, electric and plumbing so more often than not, it’s worth investing in their expertise to keep yourself and your home in safe hands.

Oh and always keep out of reach of children but that one does without saying, right?

16th June 1990

16th June 1990 : After the fair

I was 18 years old and sat on a wall outside my friends house. It was Club Day and we had just walked back from the field in the village after a wander round the fairground, watching the kids races and cheering friends on in the greasy pole pillow fights. My friend went into the house to make two coffees before a stroll back to watch the adult sports - a bit of a laugh and lots of community spirit, plus I was due to run in the Ladies 100 meters at 6.15pm which wasn't community spirited at all - it was so that I could beat my old school PE teacher who also lived in the village.

My friend brought the coffees out into the garden and spied a group of lads walking up the road towards the fair. She nudged me and whispered, "That's the bloke from the pub last night," meaning an out-of-towner that had tried to chat me up whilst I was working my shift at one of the village watering holes. I'd explained to him that I was working for most of the weekend but he was welcome to come to a party on the Saturday night if he was free. We had arranged to meet up at the pub during my evening shift and move on down to the party afterwards.

I looked at the group walking towards us and was a little unsure if it was the same person. It turned out it was (I should have put my contact lenses in!). He moved towards me, asked if it was still OK to meet up later and we arranged a proper time. I managed to reaffirm his name too...

* * *

16th June 1990 : To the fair

The group of lads were walking from the pub down to the fairground. There was talk of a beer tent, fairground rides, daft games and a chance to waste some time before the pub and party later that evening. In the distance, two girls were sat on a garden wall, sipping coffee, laughing and chatting. One of the lads nudged the other and declared, "That's the girl from the pub last night!" There was some discussion about how it couldn't be as she had said she would be busy all day and working at night and that is why they had arranged to meet during her shift at the pub.

As the group got closer to the two girls, it became obvious that it was the same girl so they sat on the wall and had a chat about meeting up later, whether any bottles needed to be bought for the party and the lads went on their way.

* * *

16th June 1990 : Later that evening

He turned up
She was working
They went to the party
You can have a guess at what happened next...

* * *

16th June 2017 : What happened next 

I originally posted this on 16th June 2010 under the title "S/He".  It was refreshed and republished on the 25th anniversary of this auspicious "date" and again today We are married (you can read more about the wedding if you want to) and will be celebrating our Silver Wedding Anniversary in just over three weeks. We have three children and three grandchildren. 

We have lived a less-than-conventional life and I believe we have crammed more into these twenty-seven years than was necessary. The journey has not been planned and we have taken many wrong turnings.  I am convinced that it has made us who and what we are today as a couple and a family. 

We have each other. We are one. 

16th June 1990, S/He, The HitMan And Her,


Father's Day Gift Guide 2017 - 5 Last Minute Ideas

Last year's "Last Minute Father's Day Gift Guide" was so popular that I felt compelled to write another simply because I've struggled for years to find the perfect gift for my own dad, my father-in-law and my husband.  Here are some quick ideas that you can get delivered this week to save you any last minute panicking! 

Father's Day Gift Guide 2017 - 5 Last Minute Ideas -

5 last minute Fathers's Day gift ideas [click to tweet]

For the DIY addict... 

Father's Day Gift Guide 2017 - 5 Last Minute Ideas - Sugru Rebel Tech Kit
I discovered Sugru about a year ago and we always have a couple packets in the house now. Simply explained, it's mouldable glue that hardens into flexible rubber within 24 hours and can be used to fix and repair almost anything (I even mended our dishwasher cutlery tray with it).  The guys at Sugru have now launched their Rebel Tech Kit for just £10 and this includes 14 project ideas to get you going.

For the music fan... 

Father's Day Gift Guide 2017 - 5 Last Minute Ideas - EC Technology Bluetooth Speaker
We are huge fans of EC Technology products in this house as their tech gear is always (a) useful and (b) portable. This rechargable bluetooth speaker with enhanced bass (currently £14.99) lets you listen to music anywhere but also looks pretty stylish too.

For the stationery buff...

Father's Day Gift Guide 2017 - 5 Last Minute Ideas - Say Nice Things Stationery FlipFlop pocket notebooks
Notebooks will never, EVER not be useful but Say Nice Things Stationery have gone one step further with their latest product.  The FlipFlop pocket notebook has a unique reversible design and comes with lined and grid page layout - just simply flip the book to switch between the two.  They come in a set of three for £6.99 or as a single in three different colours for £2.99 each. 

For the fashion conscious...

Father's Day Gift Guide 2017 - 5 Last Minute Ideas - Hotter Shoes - Energise Shoes
I'm a huge fan of Hotter Shoes and own about eight pairs, all in different styles and colours. They are sooooo comfy - it honestly feels like you are wearing slippers.  Recently their men's range has had some great additions and I can recommend Energise Shoes range for that mid-point between formal shoes and trainers. They retail at £75 which is a fabulous price for leather and comfort combined. 

(as an aside : did you see the "Holiday Packing Tips" article I wrote for Hotter Shoes recently?)

For the fitness freak...

Father's Day Gift Guide 2017 - 5 Last Minute Ideas - massage roller, resultsport
All fitness fanatics have the occasional niggle and a massage never goes amiss.  You can always purchase a couple of sessions from a local sports masseuse or cheaper option would be an athletic massage or foam roller. I used a small one from ResultSport on Amazon that cost just £6.95 but there are lots of different sizes to choose from.

5 last minute Fathers's Day gift ideas [click to tweet]

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments or let me know if you spot and great last minute ideas too! If you need further inspiration you can read last year's Father's Day Gift Ideas post too.


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The Beacon Resources Screening Process

At Beacon Resources, one of the primary goals is to cultivate a working network of companies and highly-skilled candidates. Recruiters use information from and about companies to identify crucial needs and company culture. With this information, these finance recruiters in Los Angeles are ready to screen candidates. If you’re hoping to work with Beacon Resources, you’ll want to become familiar with Beacon’s screening of candidates.

The Screening Process

The first thing to understand is that every candidate working with Beacon Resources will be thoroughly vetted. These finance recruiters in Los Angeles take the time to carefully match clients and candidates. This involves getting to know each party thoroughly.

Submit Your Resume

When you’ve submitted an online resume, your information is sent directly to the recruiter who specializes in your industry, area and opportunities. Your information is then reviewed and potential matches will be generated. At this point, an in-person interview may be scheduled. In some cases, if matches aren’t immediately available, your information may be held for future opportunities.

Participate in an Interview

During the interview process, Beacon resources finance recruiters will look for industry-specific skills and assess your business acumen. Be prepared to share information about your talents, career goals, and soft skills.

Background Checks

If you meet the rigorous criteria established by Beacon Resources, recruiters will speak with your references and conduct a background check. When this has been completed, your information will be entered into the agency database. From there recruiters will be able to consider you for job opportunities.

Ongoing Support

After you’ve successfully worked through the Beacon Resources screening process, you can expect ongoing support through interim and permanent placement processes. From time to time, you might receive suggestions about improving your resume, tips for better interviews and assistance with overall career advice.

Long-Term Relationships

As Beacon Resources recruiters work to create a working network, they will seek to be a long-term partner and source of help. The screening process ensures that a cooperative relationship can be established between recruiter, client and you, the candidate.


I Watched 'Sliding Doors' For The First Time - 19 Years After Everyone Else

Sliding Doors - picture credit : Wikipedia
I was in the car on the way home from work on Thursday night and I heard a mention of the film Sliding Doors. It's one of those films that I keep meaning to watch but have just never got round to... for 19 years, apparently. So I made a note in my head to download it this weekend and watch it.  Fast forward to Friday night, (by which time I had totally forgotten about my mini-plan - well, I'd slept since then), a bit of channel hopping after the Britain's Got Talent semi-final results show and - LO AND BEHOLD - guess what was on BBC 1 just after 11pm?  Yep, you've guessed it! 

I'm naturally an oversharer (what blogger isn't?) so I announced my plan to watch to my Facebook possé, most of whom were a bit taken aback by the fact that I've never seen it. The general premise was that it was a fantastic film, "despite Paltrow".  So here are six of my musings after watching Sliding Doors.

1.  What the fuck is that accent that Paltrow is using?

If a British accent is key to the role then use a British actress. I don't remember Gwynnie being the golden girl of the 90s so why couldn't another, similarly talented, actress have been employed? I notice that John Hannah and John Lynch used their own accents (Scottish and Irish, respectively) and we had no problem in understand them, at all! For what it's worth, I have the same issue with Renée Zellweger being used as Bridget Jones. 

2.  For the love of God, find an acting style and stick to it!

Paltrow's style of acting in this felt like a mixture of Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral and Meg Ryan during her Sleepless in Seattle/You've Got Mail era; ditzy and bumbling in places.  I'm not sure it fully suited the persona that was being portrayed - and it was only in places, not consistent. 

3.  There should have been more 'sliding door' opportunities

Yes, I'm aware that the film needs to be succinct however there were so many more opportunities to see other outcomes from other fated events.  If it hasn't been done already, someone needs to write this book with a theme of Choose Your Own Adventure : "What would you do? Turn to page x for scenario 1 and page y for scenario 2". 

4.  I am now yearning for more 90s films that have an actual beginning, a middle and an end.

I'm a sucker for a good RomCom and there were plenty of great ones produced back in the 1990s. It's probably because they are from an era when I had less time to concentrate (tired baby brain) on in-depth storylines or when I was a young romantic myself.

5. Maybe your life is mapped out for you and you just don't know it yet.

I read that after making this film John Hannah decided not to run for trains any more simply because if he was meant to get that train then it would have happened; if he didn't, then another one would be along soon. I'm not big on 'fate' or 'karma' but I do like to question our life path and what puts us on the journey we are taking. Do you have to take one big risk, make a big (monetary?) investment or have one life-changing moment to alter that path?

6.  The hairstyle I want is soooooo 90s. But IDGAF! 

Sliding Doors - Gwyneth Paltrow's short hairThere is a specific hairstyle that I yearn for and I've never got it quite right. Now that I've seen this film, I realise that it's Paltrow's "new you" hair style that I want/need - or at least it's a starting point. 

Conclusion : I think I'm going to have to invest some more time in watching films I never got round to watching 20-ish years ago especially if the official soundtrack is as brilliant as the one used for this film (I found it on Spotify so you don't have to - you're welcome). Stay tuned for next Friday's installment! 


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