How To Have A Green, Affordable Wedding - The Definitive Guide


A grand, no-expenses-spared, fairy-tale wedding is every couple’s dream. For those who’re well-off, this is a superb way of celebrating your love.
However, as we all know, a costly wedding is not a vital or even necessary ingredient for a perfect marriage - the two have nothing whatsoever to do with each other.

Nowadays, with weddings becoming more and more expensive, couples who just simply want to put a seal on their love together are looking for more affordable, greener ways to get hitched.

There is a brilliant way to give friends and relatives a good time, have a classy, memorable, fairy-tale wedding, put aside enough to get on the property ladder, and save the planet while you’re at it!

Your family and friends

I’ve chosen to discuss this first because in order to have an affordable, green wedding, it is vital that you first inform your family and friends about this decision and rope in all the assistance you can get. Letting them know from the start that you will need their help and involvement (work promises) at every step to make sure that everything runs smoothly, is a crucial way of preparing for the first day of your life as husband and wife.  In order to take some of the stress off the wedding, it makes absolute sense to put different people in charge of various aspects of the event, which I will explain as I go along.

The rest of this article has now been posted on Royal Wedding here: Your Best, Green, Affordable Wedding. Please follow the link and read it there. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.


Affordable, Home-Made Remedies For Beautiful Skin

In these difficult financial times, the last consideration on our shopping lists are luxury items like beauty products. Unlike some people in the celebrity world, we’re not inclined to go overboard when it comes to taking care of our skin. However, we do want to hold onto young, healthy-looking skin for as long as we possibly can. 


Some simple, affordable ways you can hang onto young skin. 

Your Lips


I've started with the lips because although this is problematic area for most women, we don’t give this part of our bodies much consideration especially in the colder, dryer months.  Being a photographic model, I am only too aware of how important soft, smooth lips are to the overall appearance of a healthy, youthful face. 
Expensive lip balms leave me with chapped lips, a condition which sometimes extends to the soft skin around my mouth, causing it to go red and blistered.  An effective, affordable way to take care of the health of your lips is to keep a jar of Vaseline on your bed-stand and rub a light layer of it on your lips, last thing before going to sleep. Give your lips a light brush with your toothbrush when cleaning your teeth every morning, and again at night.  You’ll maintain perfectly smooth lips with no drying out whatsoever, eliminating the need for expensive lip balms. Use your normal lipstick in the day time and you shouldn’t have a problem with flaky lips.


Your face


As everyone’s skin requires different treatment, it’s important to choose a moisturizer that caters specifically for your needs, and always keep in mind that an expensive cream is not necessarily a good one.  Pay attention to the delicate skin around your eyes and pat eye creams in rather than rub in. 


In the cooler months, it’s important to give your skin room to breathe.  Try to apply less foundation in dry weather, and always remove whatever you’ve put on, to give your skin a rest.  Don’t forget that it’s possible to introduce bacteria into your skin through the constant use of old make-up brushes and applicators.  Now is a good time to change these, and your pillow cases. Make sure you do so regularly.  Pillow cases don’t cost anything (assuming you’re using the ones you already have) and make-up brushes are sold in discount shops for literally next to nothing.
Exfoliation is great, but you need not buy expensive exfoliating creams that may or may not suit your skin type. The most affordable and safest self-exfoliating routine is to use a soft facecloth or flannel. Wet it with some warm water and use a gentle scrubbing motion to remove the dead layer of skin without harming your face. These gentle motions will stimulate your skin cells in the most natural, least abrasive way possible. Wash your facecloth in your normal washing (or hand wash it in warm water if you have sensitive skin). This should take care of any lingering bacteria on it. If you have two or three of these, they should last you for a very long time. Moisturise as usual.
Tip: use the white of an egg to make a nourishing face mask. Rub over the entire face (apart from your eye area) and leave until completely dry. Be aware that while the egg is drying, your face will feel slightly stiff. This is normal. It's just the egg drying off and doesn't impact negatively on your skin at all. Wash off when finished. Enjoy the glow and softness for weeks.

Your hands


If you worry about the way in which your hands are aging and drying out in cool or dry months, it’s time to stop and take a good look as to why this is so.  Are they coming into contact with chemicals you use in your home, extremely hot water, or exposure to the elements?  

Cut down on the amount of chemicals you use to clean your home. I’ve found that a mixture of biological washing powder and soda crystals will work just as well as harsh cleaning chemicals – even in the bathroom. They’re cheap and safe, suitable for use on most surfaces, and I can vouch for their effectiveness.  If you must immerse your hands in hot water, try using rubber gloves.  Keep a bottle of hand cream (water based) near to the kitchen sink to remind you to use it on your hands after you take them out of hot water. Also, remember to wear gloves when it’s cold outside.

Your body

Because our extremities and body trunks tend to have fewer oil glands than our faces, dry skin tends to be more prevalent in these areas. It is also difficult for the top layer of skin in these parts to retain moisture in cooler weather.
What can we do to avoid this situation in our own bodies? After a shower or bath, pat your skin dry and rub in some good water-based moisturizer while it’s still damp.  Remember that exfoliation on the body is equally important as that of the face, as it assists in the removal of dead skin cells.
With the dead cells gone, the skin is free to absorb more moisture. This plays an important role in keeping itchiness away. Pay keen attention to thick-skinned areas like your elbows and knees.  Sometimes it’s these areas that can give away your age, even if you have an otherwise young-looking body.  
In the colder weather, the elbows and knees need extra exfoliation.  I would suggest using a loofah (no amount of expensive creams work as well) for these areas.  This can be done about twice a week.  After exfoliating, an extra top-up of cream, or a layer of Vaseline is the perfect way to keep them soft and moisturized.  It may be a good idea to keep a special pair of pajamas to wear when you’re doing this to avoid getting Vaseline on your bed sheets.

Vaseline also works perfectly for softening the hard skin on your heels. Soak your feet, either on their own or while you’re having a warm bath.  Use a heel scrubber to take off the dry, excess skin, then slap on (you’ve guessed it) Vaseline on your heels.  For your bed sheets’ sake you’ll want to keep a few pairs of bed-socks especially for this purpose.  Make sure that you’re not wearing ordinary socks to bed, as these can sometimes be too tight and can affect blood flow to your feet when your body is perfectly still in bed.  If this is done once every week, your heels should stay baby-soft all through the year, as long as you don’t forget to apply skin cream on them while you do the other parts of your body.

For a more in-depth tutorial see, Home-Made Remedy For Dry Heels

Enjoyable Things To Do For Your Sister


Here's an article I wrote some time ago, which suggests ways we can encourage and build up our sisters. I wanted to revive it for Women's Day this year. So, whether she's your parents' daughter or a friend you've adopted as your sister, here are some ways to cheer her up.




Sometimes growing up with siblings can be difficult, especially if our personalities seem to be the total opposite of each other’s.  In most cases we grow out of these disagreements, and as adults become best of friends. After all, this is only natural, as we’ll know our siblings for longer than we will know anyone else in our entire lives.
I wanted to write this article about sisters, because we generally allow ourselves to grow apart after we move away from home.  The strains that life puts on us, the responsibilities or career, marriage and kids, soon add up to conspire against us when it comes to spending time with our sisters.
How can we change this never-ending circle and let our sisters know that she still means the world to us? Here are some fabulous (inexpensive and expensive) ways to show her you still care, and that the years that have gone by have only made your love for her stronger.


Help strengthen your relationship with your sister

Get her to finally start something she’s been threatening to do for a long time

If it’s losing weight, help her by doing it with her, or by booking her into a weight-loss group. If she’s always been thinking of joining a gym but so far hasn’t gotten around to it, pay for her first two or three sessions.  If going running is what she intends to do, get her on her feet by buying her some great running shoes, or maybe even by starting to run yourself.  You could pick her up if you don’t live too far away. This will surely give her the kick start she’s wanted for so long.

Give her a most original and special gift

It could be something worn or used by someone famous whom she admires.  Or take an old picture of her and her favourite grandmother (or of a place she once visited and longs to see again). Have it enlarged and professionally framed. You could also send away for a token of a place she dreams of visiting as a way to keep her dream alive. Getting concert tickets for her to see her favourite artiste is also something she would never forget.

Kidnap her and take her to her most favourite spot

Plan also to have a picnic ready with some of her favourite music (check that you have enough batteries in the CD player/MP3 before you leave home).You could take a day off work and maybe convince her to do the same for this event.  A bit of mischief  wouldn’t do too much harm. In fact, it could play a role in reminiscence of the naughtiness you got up to together when you were children.  This can only be a good thing to fuse your relationship closer together.

Take each other’s kids for a week-end and do something memorable with them

For older kids (with your sister’s express permission of course) you could have their ears pierced, go to a big game, or set up a family album on-line.  For younger kids going to a show or a theme park is something they would think of with pleasure for years to come. If you can’t do this, making a rug together, or learning to cook a simple meal is great fun and a confidence booster.

Go for a luxurious meal

Along with little gossip time together (over dessert) with your sister away from everyone else.

Surprise meeting

If she’s been talking about someone in her past who you know she hopes she’ll see again, arrange a surprise meeting with him/her.  This is a tricky one though, you’d have to make sure (I’m certain that you’re able to ask sneaky questions without her guessing) that she actually does want to see this individual in person again.  You’ll also have to let the person know in advance that this is your idea as a surprise to her, so that they would know exactly what the situation is before they agree to the meeting.

Open up a profile page on Facebook together

Adding pictures of your childhood and teenage years to your profile would be a fun thing to do together, especially if you live far away from each other.

Restoration

Restore something that your sister gave you a long time ago, something she would’ve forgotten about, but that you had kept and cherished.  Return it to her with a small present and a personal message.  This will show her how much she means, and have always meant to you. You could also use this item as your avatar on your social networking site. This would always put a smile on your sister’s face whenever she clicks on your page.

Start a book club together

Undertake to teach her child something important 

Maybe help them to set up a bank account and give them a little money to start it. Show them how to save a little of their pocket money each week/month and explain why it’s important to do so.  You would’ve taught your sister’s child something with lifelong benefits, something she’d appreciate. You could also help an older child to write up his/her CV or be a study partner (these days, you don’t necessarily have to live nearby to do any of these things). For younger children, offer to help with times tables, riding a bike, or becoming an internet ‘friend’ and communicating regularly.

Active involvement

If you live nearby, and your kids are older, you could offer to take your sister’s younger child to their games’ practise once or twice a month so she could have a break.  Or maybe even go to a game or two.
Sisters have the most fun as siblings, but many times we tend to grow apart as we get older.  Sometimes it’s just the pressures of life that cause this, or maybe the fact that we tend to live so far away from each other.  If we allow the relationship with our sisters to fizzle out, we would’ve given up the longest relationship that we’ve had on earth.  Our parents or spouses cannot know us for as long as our sisters do!  Fight to keep the relationship alive and we would’ve preserved some of our beautiful childhood memories together with the person with whom we share the most in the whole world!
Happy Women's Day. You can see more relationship with family and friends articles at the link. 
Anne Lyken-Garner is a published author, editor and freelance writer. Her specialities include relationships and confidence building. You can find her inspirational memoir here.
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