Housing Rabbits: A Hutch Is Not Enough

A while back now I mentioned that I would write more about the enclosure we have for our beautiful pair of bunny furbabies. They are a larger breed and we couldn’t find anything on the market that we felt offered them enough space, but equally we are not DIY minded enough to make anything secure enough ourselves. So we set about having an enclosure custom – made by a highly rated ebay seller, and gave our exact specifications. We found this to be a relatively cheap option, it arrived very easy to assemble and is great quality construction; just what we need! 

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We didn’t want anything to be able to dig in or out of their new home, so we laid down some wire mesh flooring, secured to the enclosure using cable ties, then covered it over with rolls of turf so the bunnies would be none the wiser! Then we added a shelter, plus some tunnels for them to play and hide in as well. They love their enclosure! 

Step By Step Guide

Measure the wire mesh to slightly larger than the enclosure area and cut it to size. Lay it down flat. Overlap any joins and cable tie them securely.

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Put the enclosure frame on top of the wire flooring, making sure there is an overlap around the edges.

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Secure the wire mesh to the bottom of the enclosure using cable ties. Make sure they are very tight so can’t be chewed and cut off the end being careful not to leave sharp edges.

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Lay rolls of turf over the floor to cover over the wire. Take care to ensure there are no exposed edges or sharp bits of wire anywhere. 

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Shelter and Accessories

We then added a dog kennel from Pets at Home and burrow pipes from runaround for shelter and protection too. We also left the extra roll of turf we had spare in the enclosure as a little hill/ mound as well. We will introduce new things over time for further enrichment of course. 

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The wire roof has a fold back panel opening. Once closed it is secured with padlocks and then partially covered over for extra protection. 

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Final Thoughts

Ideally this would be connected to a shed and/ or have extra adjoining sections. We hope that we can build them an extension soon! However, free range access to the garden under supervision for daily exercise is a good alternative too though. 

Do you have pet rabbits? What type of enclosure do they live in?

5 Ways Gardens Benefit Your Health 

Although most gardeners have long known it, the science confirms it – gardening is good for your health!

And so with scientific data on our side, the time has come to reveal what an hour or two, or a whole afternoon, does to your health; physical, mental and emotional.

rattan direct garden benefits

Gardening reduces stress and anxiety

It’s probably a combination of fresh air, enjoying the sun when it shines and also caring for tender plants and shrubs that make gardening such a great antidote to modern life. Stressful jobs, full social lives and everything we have to deal with can lead to blood pressure rising and a state of stress settling in.

Whilst a little stress may be a good thing, too much has a negative impact on the body; both our physical and mental health. Depression is also an ailment that society is no longer treating as taboo, and studies have also shown that gardening can be part of the solution to managing depression.

The solution is clear for all to see; spending a little time in the garden; either weeding, planting new plants or simply mowing the lawn, will help to lower stress and anxiety levels and benefit your mental health.

Decreases risk of diabetes and heart disease

Who’d have thought it?! Spending time in the garden being active is part of the solution to keeping heart attacks and diabetes at bay.

Of course, keen gardeners have known for some time that gardening can be heavy work. Just think of all the weight you sometimes shift about; the digging and forking over the allotment, the hoeing, the plants and the weeding. Even a brisk mow of the lawn can work up a sweat once a week. Keeping your cardiac system in great shape and your weight in check is done by a variety of means but the best exercise is one that leaves you slightly out of breath and raises your pulse rate a little – and heaving heavy sacks of compost, mowing the lawn, cutting the hedges and so on can all do that!

This point also ties in with the previous point of lowering stress and anxiety too, which is a common cause of heart attacks. Physical and mental health are linked so taking care of your overall wellbeing is essential.

It makes you happy!

There is increasing evidence that the amount spent outside directly correlates with several health and behavioural problems. This is why many specialist schools and educational settings that deal with emotional and behavioural difficulties in children are spending more time out of the classroom, and enjoying settings such as Forest Schools and the like. Of course, it is not the only answer to dealing with behavioural difficulties, depression and feeling fed up but it goes a long way to lift your mood and spirits.

This doesn’t mean you have to work when you are in the garden, either. Why not take half an hour to sit, listen to the sounds of nature around you, the birds sing, admire the flowers, the buzzing bees and other insects that you probably haven’t noticed until now? You could invest in rattan garden furniture, sit back and spend some time in your own green space, no matter how big or small it is, and disconnect from your busy life. Try it for half an hour and see what it feels like.

A tool to stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s?

It has been noted that Alzheimer’s and dementia are the two biggest health issues that will impact on our nation in the coming years. Slowly, the science and medical world are peeling back the layers of these people-robbing illnesses, extending our understanding of both issues. The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that various physical activities cut the risk of developing Alzheimer’s in half – and one of the activities that was recognised was gardening. For those suffering from dementia, it has been found that garden-centred therapy is one of the most powerful in reaching and connecting with people.

It helps you sleep better

Finally, maybe it is something to do with all the activity, the fresh air and the mental stimulation of being immersed in nature, plus the reduced stress and anxiety, but being proactive in your garden helps you sleep better. And of course good night sleep is essential for health and wellbeing too!

Gardening is not just about pretty flowers and tasty vegetables. It is an opportunity to enjoy being outdoors, switch off from modern life and enjoy everything that nature has to offer. Along with their customers, Rattan Direct have long known that the garden has magical powers to relax and de-stress the human mind, body and soul. And now the science concurs.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

How To Give Your Home A Summer Makeover #InteriorInspirations 

The weather may still be unpredictable but summer is officially here, so it is the perfect time to give your home a fresh new look! This summer, why not go for some of the following ideas:

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Bright and Bold Colours

Whether you opt for one or two select colours, or grab yourself a whole rainbow of items, choosing bold colours will really make the room pop and give you that summer feel. On my pinterest board below, you can see how this works particularly well on plain, neutral backgrounds. Contrasting colours also go beautifully together too if you are working with brightly coloured walls.

Flower Designs

Pretty flower patterns, give any room an outdoorsy summer vibe. From upholstered furniture to simply throwing a few cushions onto a sofa, and rugs to huge wall hangings, anything on this theme really creates that summer feel you are looking for.

Bring Nature Indoors

Moving on only very slightly from the flower theme, bringing nature into your home is another great way to get that summer look. I have written before about nature print wallpaper to bring the outdoors inside. This works well all year round and summer is certainly no exception. Real or artificial plants and flowers finish off the summer look perfectly in any part of your home. See my pinterest board below for some creative ways of doing this.

Strong Geometric Patterns

Duvet covers, throws, cushions and other home decor items in strong geometric patterns using bold colours on a light background are not only eye catching but undoubtedly summery too. This even works on an entire wall if you want to turn the striking meter up to the max!

Set the Scene

Another tip is to use world maps, beach or ocean prints that instantly draw your thoughts to travel and vacations; you’ll feel like you are on your summer holidays without even leaving your room!

Don’t Forget Your Other Senses!

Last but by no means least, remember it is not all about looks! Fragrance your room with a smell that reminds you distinctively of summer, play some relaxing ocean waves sounds and choose some cool summer textures to fully complete your makeover.

Chill insurance are encouraging people to share their summer interior tips using the hashtag #InteriorInspirations on social media. They have also produced a fabulous ebook too, full of great ideas! 

Do you have a favourite summery item of home decor? Or perhaps a top tip for keeping interiors cool in the summer? Get involved in the discussion on social media and/ or leave me a comment!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post. 

Needlite: Bringing Daylight Indoors 

Needlite are a small, Danish start-up who invented and designed a unique daylight desk lamp, which launched in the Nordic market just under two years ago. The idea is simple: provide the user with efficient work light and provide the much-needed daylight at the same time.

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Needlite, daylight lamp, health, mental health, wellbeing, indoor lighting, home decor

The Needlite has a simple, modern design. It is easy to use, either via the sensor or by downloading the iphone app. One simple touch allows you to turn it on/off, and change the brightness. There are various other functions too. I love how funky and modern it is!

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But there are more important benefits to the Needlite. Did you know that many people in western countries spend more than 23 hours indoors per day on average, all year round? That is not enough daylight! Yet humans need daylight for numerous health reasons; including energy, mood, digestion, sleep, recovery from illness etc… General indoor lighting is poor on quality and never contains daylight; the blue wavelength is not present in traditional lighting, which makes Needlite different to other indoor lighting.

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So whilst it might not seem very relevant to consider investing in a daylight lamp at this time of year, it is actually beneficial all year round. I am going to be trying it out further over the coming months and will share my thoughts with you in an update post later this autumn, but I can already see how it would be useful!

Needlite is sold in the UK through www.wellworking.co.uk at RRP £399 (although it is currently on sale at £359 at the time of posting). Check the Needlite website for stockists in other countries.

*Disclosure: I was sent the Needlite daylight lamp free for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 


What To Look For When Renting/ Top Tips For Landlords #RentalInsights

Recently homelet.co.uk carried out a survey and have found some interesting stats about tenants:

  • Overall 86% of people were either very happy, quite happy or somewhat happy with their landlord or letting agent
  • 75% of people surveyed claimed to be happy with the response to maintenance requests
  • 43.6% of tenancy agreements do not allow pets
  • 12.5% of people surveyed have had their deposit withheld with 39.1% of these down to cleaning and 19.3% down to re-decorating costs

We are long term renters but have also been landlords ourselves too, so we have seen it from both sides of the fence. We have had some poor experiences as tenants, but have also had some very positive ones as well. Over the years, we have rented privately and through letting agents, in house shares, as a couple, and as a family, and have had our homes managed by many different companies along the way. Therefore I am pleased to take part in HomeLet’s #RentalInsights campaign, to share our experiences and top tips!

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Renting as a family (especially with an SEND child) means that our experience, and our priorities, maybe different to other people in some regards. I know that before we started a family, we personally had a very different view on renting, whereas what we look for has shifted now that we are parents. For example, we used to move around every 6 months or so; a scenario we are most definitely very keen to avoid now! We both used to work full time so rarely gave any thought to how much notice we were given or how often access was ‘required’. Infact we were probably pretty quick to complain if things weren’t dealt with very promptly! These days, that is a disruption that we want kept to a minimum and we need flexibility with regards to timings, with as much notice as possible given too.

The top priorities we have when looking for a family rental home, aside from location and so on, are three fold:

Firstly, it must be a long term let. As a family, and especially with an SEND child, long term means years. Many agents consider 6 month contracts to be a long term let, so it is important to clarify what is meant by ‘long term’ for the particular property that you are considering. 

Secondly, we need somewhere that accepts pets. They are part of our family; rehoming them is absolutely not up for consideration. However, as the survey suggests, this reduces our options by roughly half before we can even begin to think about any of the other factors that we need to consider. Sometimes a personal letter to the landlord, an offer of a higher deposit and/ or clauses added to the agreement can help with finding a pet- friendly property.

Thirdly, we look for a suitable landlord/ letting agent. If initial conversations suggest that the attitude of the landlord, or approach to property management, is going to cause us stress and/ or prevent us from feeling like it is our home, we dismiss it. We also ensure that we are upfront about our own circumstances (home educating, SEND child etc…) so that we can find a good match for us. 

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We have had some totally appalling experiences along the way though, both as a couple and as a family. This includes landlords letting themselves in without warning, agents showing round viewings after we have said it is not a convenient time, drastic rent increases regularly, keeping deposit without justification (prior to the compulsory deposit schemes) and even being evicted in the midst of our child having a health crisis (through no fault of our own; it was simply because they decided to sell). It can quickly turn into a nightmare if you find yourself in a difficult situation, so I recommend both landlords and tenants are clued up on their legal rights and responsibilities at all times. 

The key points we would give to landlords/ agents is to build up enough of a working relationship with your tenants that you understand their personal priorities, and vice versa. Are they the type of tenant who will want every little detail dealt with immediately? Or do they need any essential work done around their schedule? Are they away alot anyway so people letting themselves in (with prior written notice of course!) is irrelevant to them, or are they a homebody who values their privacy and wants to be left alone as much as possible?

The absolute crucial thing to remember is, for the period that they live there, it is the tenant’s home. And most people want, and need, to feel at home. It can be stressful living in a property where you feel like you are just visiting, or are made to feel uncomfortable in any way, and that in turn can affect peoples’ health and wellbeing. So putting yourself in the shoes of your tenant is a must.

Understanding abit about the tenants and their situation, and knowing what matters most to them personally, helps everyone to have a more enjoyable, relaxed and positive experience. 

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post written as part of HomeLet #RentalInsights campaign. 

How Your Garden Transforms Through The Seasons 

The garden is meant to be enjoyed. With only a little attention here and there, your garden can flourish. Understanding the seasons, the challenges and the opportunities it brings to your garden is key to success throughout the gardening calendar.

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Darkness and Cold of Winter

Protect your garden and wildlife from the worse of the winter by ensuring vulnerable plants are protected and give wildlife ample opportunity to make their homes.

The Green of Spring

As the days begin to warm, plants and wildlife awaken from their winter slumber. Night time can still be cold, but with mulch and fertilisers, your garden has everything that it needs. 

The Golden Glow of Summer

Long days with soaring temperatures bring colour back to the garden. But take care of the soil and maintain its moisture levels for your plants to bloom, and your vegetable plot to produce an abundant harvest.

The Red Autumn

Just before trees shed their leaves, the golden yellow colours and deep, dark reds are a joy to behold – enjoy every minute of the autumn garden, helping it to remain strong and lush for as long as possible.

Do you know how to work with the seasons in your garden?

*Disclosure: This post has been written in collaboration with Rattan Direct.

The Secret is in the Soil: The Importance Of Healthy Soil

We don’t give much thought to the soil under our feet but without it, we wouldn’t have food on our plates. It takes a lifetime to create the ideal soil conditions for plants and crops to grow, but no time at all to destroy it. For every plant to thrive, it needs nutrients. And these are found in the soil. With the right nutrients in perfect balance, a plant or tree thrives.

Healthy Soil = Healthy Planet

So how is Soil Made? And why do we need to keep adding organic matter and other nutrients to get the best from it? Does it mystify you as to why soil in one part of the garden is fine and dust-like but in another part, heavy and dense?

The soil is made from the earth’s crusts and its deposits being ground to a finer powder over thousands of years. The type of soil created, depends on the deposits that created it. The quality of soil also depends on how much life is in the soil. Worms, for example, are essential to mixing the soil as well as aerating it. Other soil-borne life forms are important too. Soil needs plenty of nutrients and water to offer the best growing medium, an increasing problem in a world with an increasing number of mouths to feed.

Do you know how to look after soil?

From adding organic matter to understanding the type of soil and what will grow best, this infographic has it all. Find out more and truly understand the ground beneath your feet. 

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*Disclosure: This post has been written in collaboration with Rattan Direct. 

Is Your Garden Dog Friendly?

As you all know, we love being outdoors, including spending lots of time in our garden. We enjoy growing a good selection of plants, flowers and food each year. However, we also have various pets so need to be aware of what we are growing that they might try to eat! 

If you are a dog owner you might find this infographic by Rattan Direct useful. There were a few that I wasn’t aware of to be honest. It particularly caught my attention that daisies, which are of course such a common garden flower, can cause diarrhoea and vomiting. Hopefully most dog owners are already very aware of these poisonous plants, especially the deadly ones, but it is handy to have a visual reminder and this information could certainly be very helpful to new owners.

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www.rattandirect.co.uk

Both my brother and my dad have pet dogs, and we had a beautiful King Charles Spaniel called Cindy when I was growing up. I remember she would eat absolutely anything she could get her paws on! I think my dad’s dogs that he has now are pretty well trained in comparison, although they do seem to enjoy picking up the odd bit of litter off the street, and they chase all the leaves blowing around in autumn! But as far as I know, hopefully, they aren’t partial to munching on plants and flowers – especially not any on this list!

As I have mentioned in previous posts, Squiggle is a big fan of dogs, so she loves spending time with them. She did actually ask again recently if we could own a dog, more specifically a Dalmation. I honestly would love to, but unfortunately a dog is not an option for us at the moment. One day maybe though!

Anyway, I’ll leave you with these adorable photos of Squiggle with our family’s furbabies…

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What pets do you have? Tell me in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Rattan Direct.


Personalise Your Walls With Colour Graphics (£150 Custom Wallpaper Printing Giveaway)

Are you looking to brighten up your home? As I have written about before, I do love unique interior designs and I think that photo wallpaper can be so eye- catching! A well chosen design can really create the atmosphere that you are looking for in a room; whether that be a nice chilled out vibe, a fun place to play, or even to provide some extra visual stimulation to a sensory room. Whatever your aim, customised wallpaper can help you to create the look you want to achieve. 

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Credit: Colour Graphics

This custom wallpaper by Colour Graphics looks brilliant and would undoubtedly transform your walls and brighten up your room. It comes in traditional wallpaper, which requires standard wallpaper paste, or a handy self-adhesive version that doesn’t require anything else; it is almost like putting up a giant sticker! The design can be printed in whatever size you need too.

One lucky reader can win up to £150 custom wallpaper printing from Colour Graphics; to be in with a chance of winning this fabulous prize, simply enter via rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Competition closes on 5th April 2017. Entrants must be over 18. UK residents only. One winner will be chosen at random via rafflecopter. Other T&Cs apply. 

Appealing To The Buyer’s Senses: Sell Your Home Fast This Spring

Spring is the most popular season for selling a home which makes sense as all the flowers start blooming, people want to be moved into their new home before winter, they have just got over the stress of Christmas and there’s a little time to go before summer holidays. It certainly makes sense to put your home up for sale this season and figures from the Office Of National Statistics shows a 0.3% rise in the amount of property transactions made at the same time last year, and we’re only just in March!

The problem is, selling it isn’t guaranteed. Even with the best estate agent, right price and sale timed exactly right; there could be around 160,000 other homes for sale or more at this time of year to compete against. Therefore you really need to have your house presented in its best possible light, and then some. One of the easiest ways to approach getting your home ready for sale is by ensuring you are appealing to all the different senses of the homebuyer, including that extra sixth sense too! So here are some tips to help get that sale…

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Sight
The visuals are always the first thing anybody thinks about when they prepare their home for resale, and quite right to, because the majority of buyers will look online at homes before booking any viewings, so what they see of your home in those few photos counts for a lot. So really, before you get into any depth with your home aesthetics, you must make sure your sale photos are as good as they can be. Don’t be afraid to ask your estate agent to retake them.

The second visual a buyer will see is when they see the outside of your home either when driving by, or when they come for a viewing. Curb appeal does still exist and it really does matter, so invest in a lick of paint, clean those windows, get any clutter removed, and trim that garden up – buyers are very quick to make judgements.

Other key changes to make relating to sight are:

● Light, Light, Light – get as much natural light in your home as is possible as nobody likes a dark home. Clean those windows, get those pot plants off windowsills, open the curtains and invest in ambient lighting for the evening as one downlight is not flattering to any space. If you have lots of block doors between rooms, consider switching them for an internal bifold door with glass in, which keeps the rooms separate, but still lets in lots of beautiful light.

● Clutter – you have to depersonalise and declutter your home so that potential buyers can see themselves living there. They will struggle to imagine their own chapter starting in your home if your story is splashed all over the walls and mantelpieces.

● Details – Little details like a dirty tea towel or a grubby kitchen corner will catch a buyer’s eye. Try and have someone come over to point out all the potential visual issues you might have stopped noticing, so you can adjust accordingly.

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Taste
Clearly, food and drink has nothing to do with selling your home, so we’re going to instead talk about personal taste in decor, which does have a lot to do with selling your home. Your taste may well appeal to a lot of buyers if it is fairly neutral and modern. If your taste is quite strong and you have say, leopard print bedding, 80’s pattern wallpaper, a large collection of gnomes in the garden, or a Barbie pink bathroom, then you need to do a bit ofredecorating before you put your house up for sale. You will absolutely be surprised at what a lick of paint can do for one room. You might love your statement wallpaper, or treasured Victorian wall tiles, but somebody else may be completely put off by them and struggle to see past them. For a more saleable home, you have to neutralise your taste in interior design.

Sound

If you play music when a buyer comes round, they will think that you are trying to cover something up, like a noisy neighbour or road sounds. Instead, try to avoid noises that may disturb the feeling of tranquility, like the sound of a washing machine, or perhaps your barking dog. Where possible, have animals and children with someone you trust during viewings, and keep noisy appliances off.

Smell

Any smells that are too strong will again, just like with sound, seem like you are trying to cover up the smell of damp or rot. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim for a fresh, clean smell, or have a natural smell running through the house. Avoid heavily bleaching when you clean, or using chemical air fresheners and instead use standard cleaning products, have fresh scented flowers about the house, and if you do bake regularly, it will do no harm having the smell of freshly baked bread or brownies running through the house as somebody comes over.

Touch

Even though a surface can look clean, it might not be clean, so try and make sure all surfaces have at least been wiped down. A buyer might run their hand along a surface only to find it is sticky, which will then make them wonder about other things that aren’t as they seem. You might also want to add ‘touchable textures’ to the home, like faux fur throws, thick knit poufs, silky curtains or fluffy towels, which will provide a subconscious air of luxury, which is sure to impress buyers.

The Sixth Sense

When you sell your home, it is important that you try your best to work with the sixth sense of the buyer. The sixth sense is; ‘gut feeling’, the ‘funny feeling’ the ‘it just felt right’ sense. Although you cannot control the feeling a person gets for a home, you can control the feeling a person gets for you and the way you present your home. Nobody is entirely honest when selling a home, as in they don’t point out the flaws. However, there is a line between covering up issues, and simply making the house look its best and focusing on its highlights. A truthful, but positive representation of your home will appeal to a buyer. There’s this underlying fear of being ripped off when buying a home because estate agents don’t have the best reputation for telling the truth, and there is a lot of money involved. Buyers will always be seeking the truth and the practicalities of a home, and they will also be open to possibilities and suggestions. Be truthful, and talk about all the parts of your house that you love, or the different ways you have used different spaces. If you aren’t running viewings yourself, pick an estate agent with personality, who will ask the buyer questions about themselves and make suggestions. If you can appeal to their sixth sense, you’re already a long way towards getting an offer.

Happy selling! 

Do you have any top selling tips? I would love to hear them – share in comments! 


*This is a sponsored post