Weekend Reads

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Fancy giving a standing desk a go? A great ikea hack

12 Flower Essences For The 12 Signs Of The Zodiac

Health Tips even the laziest of us will appreciate

Unrealistic beauty standards are making dogs fat (ha!)

Is work life balance a big waste of time?

Stop Food Cravings In 15 Minutes With This Easy Trick

40 maps that explain the internet

Gretchen Rubin interviews Dan Harris – a must listen

THIS bag. What a brilliant idea, especially for those who love travelling with carry on

 

And finally, if you’re all worked out for the week then watch this. The case for the 32 hour week.

5 SUPER QUICK TIPS FOR TAKING BETTER INSTAGRAM IMAGES

5 quicktips totake better instagram imag

I’ve been doing loads of research on instagram lately because it’s by far my favourite social network. And I want to make the most of it because I don’t know if you’ve noticed, it’s a network that keeps growing and growing. So whether you’re using instagram for business or pleasure, I’ve put together 5 quick tips that I’ve picked up to help you up your instagram game.

DITCH THE CAMERA ON YOUR PHONE. I know it goes against the spirit of Instagram but let’s face it, there’s only so much that the camera on your smartphone can do. Instead use a separate camera, from compact system cameras to DSLR’s these will take way better images. You also have the advantage of editing them before you post. To get them on to instagram either email them to yourself or use an app for your iMac such as UP!

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LIGHTING. First up, it’s pointless taking a shot in the evening or in a darkened room because it’s going to just look super grainy. Instead, try to use as much natural light as possible. If your image is still on the dark side, just up the brightness a bit by using an app such as AfterLight.

DON’T USE THE INSTAGRAM APP. If you ARE going to use your smartphone camera then don’t use the Instagram app to snap the pic. Use your regular camera app so that you can take advantage of many of the editing tools you’ve already got. If you’ve got an iPhone then there’s even the square setting so you know it’ll be instagram ready.

TAKE MORE THAN ONE SHOT. Very rarely will you snap the perfect shot in one go. So several shots at different angles because somewhere in there, you’ll find the right picture.

and finally…

TRY TO SHOOT WITHIN THE GOLDEN HOUR. You know that romantic, soft, yellow haze that you get just before the sun sets and rises? Well, that’s the golden hour. During these times the sun is sitting low in the sky and giving off a warm glow. By taking images during the golden hour you avoid annoying shadows and your smartphone will be able to handle the exposure with ease.

You can follow me on Instagram by going to http://instagram.com/rachaelphillips

What tips do you have for better instagram pics? Share below…

Want to sleep better? Stick your feet out of the covers

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I don’t know about you but I like to sleep with the window open under a big, thick duvet. I don’t mind my face being a little cooler and I like to have fresh air circulating but I absolutely HAVE to have my duvet covering me. Regardless of the weather, from heat wave to cold snap – the only way I get a good sleep is to have my trusty duvet – if I get a little too hot, my leg comes out from the duvet.

Now, generally I sleep really well but I’m always interested in ways to sleep better…

Which is why this article in New York Magazine caught my eye. They suggest that to help you fall asleep faster and have a better quality of sleep, all you need to do is keep one foot or both feet outside of the blanket.

This is exactly how I manage to sleep with a big heavy duvet – the one leg out method.

Sleep researchers know that right before you fall asleep, your body temperature starts to drop; in the deepest stages of sleep, your body is at its coolest, about one or two degrees below normal. Some scientists believe cooler temperatures cause sleepiness, and although the pre-slumber cooling process happens naturally, there are a few things you can do to help it along, like taking a warm bath right before bed, for example. When you leave the tub, your body temperature rapidly cools, triggering that sleepy feeling. A warm beverage works the same way.

So, why feet? Feet contain blood vessels called the arteriovenous anastomosis, which — coupled with the lack of hair on the bottoms of your feet — are perfectly designed to help dissipate body heat.

So there we have it. If you want to sleep better – you’ve got to poke your feet out of the bed.

Do you do this?

Can’t live without: MiPow Power Tube

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I thought I’d do a new series of those things that I just can’t live without (excluding the essentials such as oxygen, water etc).

And first up is the MiPow Power Tube. I cannot tell you how useful this little bit of kit is. If you have an iPhone then chances are you’ll know how frustrating it is when your battery dies – because let’s face it, iPhone batteries really are awful.

But the MiPow will solve all your battery woes. MiPow 3000 is the world’s first smart Power Tube with Smart App control. It is a compact and all-in-one portable charger with built-in original Lightning connector and male USB connector. Which is perfect if you’re a chronic forgetter of your charging cable.

I took mine for a test drive to New York. I was away for six days and needed to rely heavily on my iPhone to take photos,  give me directions and of course updating social media. All three things are notorious for draining your battery fast.  But this charger was the bees knees. It only needed recharging about 3 times in the six days I was in NYC and it charged my phone quickly and effortlessly.

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The MiPow is available online for £44.99

Weekend Reads

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Happy – The loneliest Elephant in the Bronx

Jamie Oliver is introducing a sugary drinks tax in his restaurants

The perfect way to be notified of a meeting 

AT LAST! Undo send on gmail is now a thing!

WOW. Man Buys 10.000 Undeveloped Negatives At a Local Auction And Discovers One of the Most Important Street Photographers of the Mid 20th Century.

George Takei – How to bend social media to your will.

BEST NEWS EVER. How watching cat videos will make you more productive.

How to eat vegetables like a Californian.

I’ve got to say. I love guacamole and I love peas. I’m kinda excited at them being put together. What do you think?

Super gorgeous Nikolett tells us how to make Ghee!

Want to build brand loyalty? Take a leaf out of RuPaul’s book.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend reads #16

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Tricky punctuation rules that could be killing your credibility by Creative Boom

20 of the world’s best photos taken with cell phones

Sheryl Sandberg helped women think about their careers. Now she may also help people manage their grief 

Here’s at the Vanity Fair offices earlier

The internet talks like a woman

Chrissy Teigen has stopped editing her Instagram photos

5 reasons why every you need to ditch the Standard American Diet

Tim Ferriss has shares his thoughts on suicide

TFI Friday is back on our screens tonight. Here are some of the best moments.

Are you eating the best part of the broccoli?

Why your walk maybe the least healthy thing about you

Have a fab weekend!

Polish Borscht – good for your body & soul

CLICK HERE to read about the Polish food, culture and society in the UK.

When it comes to my adventures in cooking, I have to say that I love to experiment. I’m a messy cook – as you can tell by my various foodie pics – I care less about presentation and more about nutrition and taste.

Which is why soup is perfect for me. Because once you whizz that bad boy up, it looks fabulous. However, since we’re coming in to the summer no one wants  a big, bowl or warm hearty soup for their dinner.

But Polish Borscht – that’s another story.

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Beetroot is one of the best foods you can eat this summer (well, all year around really but in summer they really come in to their own). Beetroot can lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, it is high in B and C vitamins, the magnesium and potassium content will also improve your muscles, nerves and immune system. I could go on but you get the picture – BEETROOT IS GOOD!

So, if you want a good summer soup try this Polish Borscht Recipe.

You will need:

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 4 medium sized beetroots
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon good quality honey
  • 1/2 cup of Natural Yogurt
  • Parsley to serve
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice

Method:

Chop your onion, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté them in coconut oil (or good quality olive oil if you prefer) until soft.

Clean your beetroot and chop off both ends, you don’t need to peel the beets.

Next add your beetroot to your onion, carrots, celery and garlic and also add in the 4 cups of water, bayleaf and honey.

Simmer for 45 minutes

After 45 minutes, remove the beetroot and peel  – also remove the bay leaf and discard

Then using a blender, puree the beetroot along with the vegetables and lemon

Top with yogurt and parsley and serve either hot or cold (top tip: it’s better cold).

Lebara have sponsored this post – please take a moment to visit their site and read about their work helping to connect migrants. Click here for more information. 

2 Amazing New York Inspired Summer Cocktails

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One of the things I love the most about New York City is the cocktails -my boyfriend would argue it’s actually all about the craft beer – but he’s wrong.

Luckily, on my recent trip to New York I managed to sample a few – all in the name of research obviously – and I’ll do a few New York guides (if you’d like?) on the best places to eat/drink/play. But for now, here are two new favourite cocktails that I wanted to share with you – hopefully, these will make a great addition to your summer BBQ’s and parties.

Lady Liberty Cosmo – The Heartland Brewery.

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1 ½ parts Grey Goose vodka
½ part Cointreau liqueur
1 parts cranberry juice
¼ part fresh lime juice
Cubed ice

Add all ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and double strain into large cocktail glass. Garnish with lime wheel.

Blue Hawaii – Flatiron Lounge

1 1/2 parts White rum
1 1/2 blue curaçao
1 tsp coconut cream
2 parts pineapple juice

Add all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake then strain into a glass. Serve over ice.

What cocktails will you be drinking this summer?

How to start a blog – tips for new bloggers

According to Google, How to start a blog is searched for around 90,500 times per month!

How to start a blog

Well…when it comes to starting a blog the best advice I can ever give you is just jump straight in. Don’t worry about whether your first post is absolutely perfect or if your logo needs adjusting. Just write that initial post and press publish. There you’re done, you’re a blogger. The rest can be dealt with later.

The truth is, if you let things like design, worry or perfectionism get in your way then you’ll never start. Even after 8 years I’m still tinkering about, changing things, experimenting with different styles. And that’s what’s so great about blogging, it’s an outlet that allows you to evolve and change whenever you want to.

So essentially, tip number one on how to start a blog is…just get on with it.

But when you’ve posted your first post – what next?

Here are some tips on how to start a blog

Write about what you love and what you know! It’s important to write about things you love and feel passionate about. After all, if you can’t convey your passion for it in your writing, why is your reader going to get excited about it? As a blogger no one is expecting you to have all the answers but showing you love a subject should be apparent.

Eventually, hone in on a niche. Not every blogger needs to write about one specific subject. For example, if you’re a lifestyle blogger then you’ve a wide scope that you can blog about. However, if you want to take your blog to the next level, eventually, you have to start focussing on one or two areas, this should be easy once you get to know your audience. But don’t rush to find your niche, as your blog evolves you’ll naturally find what you enjoy writing about the most (and what your readers enjoy too).

Don’t obsess over how your blog looks. I mentioned this earlier but I can’t tell you enough how much time you’ll waste obsessing over design. Your design will never be perfect – at least not to you – and there will always be something you want to change. Don’t let your obsession over how it looks take you away from what’s most important – content.

Take a course. Taking a course will help you hone your skills and introduce you to a new community of bloggers. My course Your Blog, Your Way is open NOW by the way 😉

Be consistent. There are times when your blog will have to go on the back burner. But generally try to stick to the same amount of posts each week and if you can stick to the same days too. That’ll help the audience know when you’ve updated your blog and they’ll start looking forward to your posts. [Read more…]