In case you’ve missed this and I know some of my International friends might have. Here is the Christmas Sherlock trailer….I don’t need presents this year. I have new Sherlock, Star Wars and then new X-Files. I can’t wait!
In case you’ve missed this and I know some of my International friends might have. Here is the Christmas Sherlock trailer….I don’t need presents this year. I have new Sherlock, Star Wars and then new X-Files. I can’t wait!
I love the look of mismatched chairs, I utterly blame Monica’s apartment in Friends. How cool was her kitchen?? I think I’ve been trying to emulate that look and feeling ever since. When we bought our dining room table, we didn’t buy a set of matching chairs to go with it. I had chairs why would I want matching ones? My poor husband despairs of me, he loves everything to match.
Our current set of dining room chairs are a couple of antique ladder back chairs which a kind lady I worked with gave me 20 years ago. And three Ikea chairs we bought about 5 years ago when we started hosting more family Sunday dinners. However as time’s gone by it’s not really enough now, we have friends and their now large children over for dinner on a regular basis. We really need about eight or nine chairs.
I therefore jumped at the chance to choose a couple of chairs from the new Habitat dining furniture range to review. They have a new season available and they have some lovely chairs. I went with two very traditional looks which go with the other chair shapes I have in the dining room.
However after having them in the house for about 5 minutes, I realised maybe one of my current chairs might look a smidge shoddy next to the new shiny totally on trend grey Habitat chairs! Look at how gorgeous they are next to my more s
habby than chic much loved chair!
So how to make the old ones look more up to date? I had a look on Pinterest and there are some great ways to display mismatched chairs, I’ve even created a handy Pinterest board so you can see all the different types of looks you can throw together. You can get ones that are all the same shape in different colours, or different shapes in the same colour range or just go for it and have them all in different colours and shapes and embrace the madness!
Initially I was going to paint all mine different shades of grey, but then long suffering husband objected! I didn’t realise he really liked the blue painted chair so I’ve had to reign in my idea. I’ve decided to paint just the super shabby white chair (last painted in 2008!) and to also re-cover the seat pad with grey velvet fabric.
I have broken out my trusty can of Annie Sloan Paris Grey and painted the frame. In hindsight if I was doing this again I think I’d just use a tester can of Farrow and Ball. For some reason the paint came out super thick this time and it’s needed two coats which is really unusual. It’s really odd I’ve not had Annie Sloan paint do that before, but maybe it’s the cold temperature of my house as the boiler has been broken for 2 weeks so it’s pretty cold in here! It could have thickened it up I guess?
And then I bought some wadding from the local craft store and ordered a small amount of pale grey velvet from eBay.
Then use a staple gun to secure it – mind your fingers! But it’s really simple to fold the fabric round and staple.
Saturday was the best day of the year in this house ‘Apple Fair Day!’.
Seriously L and I love it more than Christmas. There are tents with Medieval Storytellers.
Giant apples, seriously never seen such amazingly huge apples. I should have gotten some to make a pie but got distracted by Mulled Cider!
There are stalls selling apples, apple cakes, fudge, heavenly apple juices, ciders, crafts and most importantly for us a huge HogRoast washed down with hot apple juice.
BEST DAY EVER!
If you have a local Apple Fair in the next couple of weeks, pop along and support it.
British Apple Orchards are making a tentative comeback. Since the 1950s 60% of British Orchards and all the biodiversity that came with them, have been destroyed. But in the last 5 years new planting schemes are slowly bringing them back. If you have a spare patch of garden plant an apple tree, you won’t regret it!
I was thrilled to be offered the chance to make over a piece of furniture from Out There Interiors. They have some really beautiful pieces of furniture and home accessories which really tie in with my Country Style.
They let me choose a piece of furniture and the challenge was to adapt it to how I see country style. I LOVE this little bedside table, all curved legs and nice solid frame. I did feel a bit bad painting it to be honest, the wood was rather beautiful but it wouldn’t have fitted in. I went with a painted finish, Annie Sloan Paris Grey in case you were wondering.
And then to accessorise….this took me forever to decide. I love so many country looks from Shabby Chic to Modern Country, it was so hard to decide. In the end I went with the vibe I’m into at the moment which is a modern French Country look. I added some my favourite ‘coffee table’ decorating books, white roses (always!) and my very favourite candle holder that I bought in North Norfolk this summer. I’m thrilled with the table, it looks fantastic and I’m looking forward to many years of using such a lovely item.
**full disclosure I received a bedside table for this challenge*
We finally went on holiday hurray!!! Paul has wanted to go to New York as long as I’ve known him, but he really didn’t want to take Miss L while she was little so we’ve waited until now. In hindsight, New York is a great city for kids so we could have done it earlier.
Here are my top tips for travelling to New York with kids…
We flew on Virgin from Heathrow, as a 12 year old L was treated as an adult so we couldn’t reclaim her air tax which you can sub-12 and from 12-15 next year! Seat Guru is THE most useful site, I discovered that the 747 Virgin planes have an economy section upstairs near Upper Class. There aren’t that many seats, but you get good service, it’s quiet, you get more space and you’re own loo! Amazing!! The best place to sit in economy by far, I had the misfortune of being downstairs on the way back as the plane was busier and it was horrendous. From now on, upstairs only!
There are more of these popping up in the wake of Air BnB and HouseTrip, we discovered that Best Western have a ‘Hospitality’ Hotel there. You basically get a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment with a kitchenette which is ideal if you have kids. It was way bigger than a hotel and great if you wanted to have a nap and the rest of the family want to watch TV.
The hotel also provided a breakfast room with an all you can eat breakfast and you could either eat it there or take it to your room. The other upside was you could get food delivered and eat it at your own dining table in the lounge, saved a fortune in restaurant costs.
It wasn’t the most amazing view out of the windows, but there was a cute restaurant garden to the side of us, which was a lovely little haven.
One word of warning if you stay in an old building in Manhattan in the summer it is HOT and I don’t mean a little bit. I mean full on Floridaesque tropical 95 degree heat. We had these ancient air conditioning units which my European Eco sensibility struggled with (the electricity consumption must be horrendous in Manhattan) but after an hour of having them off it was unbearable so we learnt to live with them. The city was so hot and obviously had been for weeks so the whole place had heated up. If you have any breathing issues I’d avoid it until cooler weather the pollution was horrendous with the heat. Our next trip might be planned for Spring as I think it’s cooler and therefore more enjoyable.
There are several different City Pass schemes in NYC. We went with this one as it covered pretty much all we wanted to in the time we were there.
For the three of us to do
RockerFella Centre, Empire State, 9/11 Museum, Landmark Cruise, museum of Natural History and the Met Museum of Art it would have been $450.50.
With the pre-booked tickets it was $377 so saved us a fair chunk. You don’t have the buy them here and most of the places above will sell them to you, we got ours at the Rockerfella Centre
I’d been to the Empire State building back in 2001, but I remembered it being very crowded and frankly a bit rubbish. I’d heard on various forums that Rockerfella Centre was much better, and less crowded so we decided to head there on our first day. We bought our city pass there and headed up.
OH MY WORD! The view when you get to the top is spectacular! There are three viewing decks which are wide and spacious and plenty of room to take lots of photos and just marvel at the city, especially Central Park. I’m so pleased we went there first. It was baking hot, but there were some air condition parts to hide in from the sun for a while and we spent ages up there. Probably my favourite place in the city.
Like most of you we are big fans of ‘Night at the Museum’, so Miss L especially wanted to go there. It’s next to Central Park, so we walked through had an amazing brunch at ‘Good Enough to Eat‘ which is a couple of blocks away (get the pancakes with strawberry butter. Seriously strawberry butter should be a thing everywhere!). It was on the City Pass (museums in NYC aren’t free like in London), and as we had that we got an extra free admission to one of the specialist exhibitions.
We were especially pleased to find Teddy Roosevelt sitting on a bench, so we had our picture snapped with him. Top tip get a map, it’s vast and there is lots there. Particularly good are the Dinosaurs, the Space section and the Hall of Human Origin. We really enjoyed them all.
I love Central Park and it’s such a feat of manmade engineering. If you want to geek out at how it was constructed have a read about it here. If it’s hot, take water with you, places to buy water are few and far between. We didn’t do the tourist thing of going in the horse and carts, the horses looked miserable and I did at once point see one of the drivers actually nodding off to sleep whilst driving the cart! Pretty much the horse was doing everything!
Get a map or an app to guide you around, it’s well worth it as it’s pretty easy to get lost in there, it’s vast. We did two days of wandering around in there overall, and we covered maybe less than half?
The new building is up and the memorial park is beautiful. We decided to take Miss L as a history lesson for her. She was born 2 years after the buildings came down and to her it’s history, an event she see’s on TV every September on the news. Now my daughter is the chattiest child on the planet, questions come out of her every three seconds or so. We walked in to the park, she saw the giant memorials with all the names on and she was silent for the next two hours, not one peep out of her. They are just so vast and shocking, I did feel that it was like walking in a graveyard, it’s that kind of feeling if you know what I mean?. She said later that it made her understand better what’s happening now in the world and how it started, which I thought was quite perceptive of her.
There is a really good app which we used called 9/11 memorial app and you can look at the memorial, see a name and click on it on the app to find out about that person and their life.
The museum is very tastefully done, and there are lots of huge parts of the original buildings, trashed firetrucks that were crushed, it gives you a very good idea of scale. There’s a room with a photo of everyone who died and I was fine, in there looking at the photos and then there are little cases with their personal possession and there were of course unbreakable Nokia phones, glasses etc. But then there is one little case on it’s own which has a teddy bear and some children’s headphones that belonged to two of the toddlers on the plane, and I utterly lost it and throughly embarrassed myself in a very un British way of sobbing very loudly. Basically take tissues with you, it’s very moving.
There are a few cruises you can take but obviously we had a City Pass so opted to do the Landmark Cruise. Didn’t know really what to expect, but it was fabulous! There was a tour guide talking and there were great views of the city, we got the see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island where some of my mine and Paul’s relatives passed though. Not to mention great view of the city. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable 2 hours.
All in all New York is actually a really great place to take older kids, there is plenty to do and see. It wasn’t the cocktail/spa day holiday I had in my mid twenties there, but you know it was maybe better. I got to show my family one of my favourite cities.
I really like BHS Home website, there are some quite wonderfully eclectic and cool things on there.
They asked me if I’d like to review one of their items. I didn’t have enough budget for one of the massive beautiful bed throws, and there was some gorgeous bedsheets, but super king size had run out!
I had a wander round the house, and had a good think about what I needed and then it came to me!
I bought an ‘on trend’ black and gold light shade for our bedroom and it just doesn’t go. Paul hates it with a passion and Miss L doesn’t like the light it throws out. But as I bought it 4 months ago I wasn’t just going to swap it out for a new one without feeling massively guilty. I checked the BHS lighting page and chose a beautiful duck egg, crystal lampshade which caught my eye. It was £50 so on budget too!
When it arrived it was possibly the best packaged thing I’ve ever received and it took ages to get out of the packaging. Just perfect!
It’s really lovely, and I’m thrilled with it. The ‘crystals’ are of course a resin but it’s still quite heavy to hang so be a bit careful if you have older cables. Lord knows how heavy actual chandeliers are!
I have to say it looks a lot better hanging in our shabby chic bedroom than the black and gold shade.
And now it’s up I’ve realised I forgot to paint round the ceiling rose, what a wally! And quite how dull the newly painted white wall behind our bed is…that might have to change again…he he!
**full disclosure I received a free light shade for this review and the old lampshade is packed up for the mythical ‘next house’ one day we’ll find one…**
I am a nightmare for loosing my keys, I’ve found them in the fridge and when I was pregnant even once in the oven!
Gigaset asked if I’d like to try their G-Tag fob which you can either attach to a set of keys, or chuck it in your car if you can never remember where you’ve parked (handy for Disney! I’ve lost so many cars there). If Miss L still had those ‘doll’ Clarks shoes I’d pop one in there, we can NEVER find her shoes in the mornings!
It works with the Bluetooth on your phone and it has an iOS and android app. You register with Gigaset pair your phone with the tag, and then off you go.
It tells you when it’s in range, and bleeps at you when you’re close (you can mute it if you don’t like noises, like me).
If you’re out of range it will bring up a map of where you last had it and handily your phone can be set to alert you, should you walk off and leave your keys or whatever you have tagged!
I was worried about the Bluetooth using up the battery on my phone but it seems ok so far, no worse than my car stereo. The battery in the fob lasts a year, I think it’s just a watch battery to replace.
They are £19.99 on Amazon and if you’re forgetful like me, dead handy!
**Full disclosure I received a G-Tag for free**
I needed to make some non alcoholic drinks for my BBQ. I had a quick look on Pinterest and found some lush looking recipes and went with Strawberry Lemonade.
I found this great recipe on an American Blog, but it was American products in American sizes and I never understand them!
So here’s my lazy British Version, this is enough for a large Kilner drinks dispenser, warning that’s a LOT of lemonade!. Take the amounts down for smaller containers.
You will need:
A large drinks dispenser or punch bowl
1 carton of Tropicana Lemon and Lime Juice
1/2 Carton of Innocent Strawberry and Banana smoothie
1/2 Carton of water – I reused the Tropicana carton
1 Large Bottle of Sprite
Cut up Lemons, strawberries and lots of Ice
Tip in the Tropicana
Refill the Tropicana carton half full with tap water, and tip that in.
Add half a carton Strawberry Smootie (you might want to strain this if you can, the drinks dispenser gets a big clogged up & you have to shake it. But if using a ladle for drinks don’t bother)
Tip in the Sprite and add fruits and ice.
Give it a good stir
Close the lid and you’re done.
We did have some problems getting it to come out. Would pour fine for a while and then clog, so we just gave it a good shake.
A more runny water like drink would work perfectly, so flavoured ‘Spa’ water or Pimms would be fine.
Looking forward to trying those next!
It’s not that I don’t like my friends, I do a lot. In truth my main reason for moving is to have a bigger house so we can host gatherings, BBQs, and have friends and family to stay. I would LOVE that.
However this past Saturday when my lovely husband, tipsily suggests that the 9 people there, come to our house for a BBQ on the 1st August…well frankly I could have strangled him. Our house is a bomb site, there is stuff which I was going to put into storage *everywhere*. You can’t get into the dining room, the office is now piled to about my height and more importantly for 9 people to come to a BBQ, you actually have to have some garden furniture! We have…a £5 leaf table I bought 20 year ago at a car boot, 2 chairs I got off a lady at work who’s mum died and couple of ancient Ikea fold down chairs. That is it!
The look of horror on my face must have been apparent as my friend’s lovely husband said ‘it doesn’t have to be fancy’…..ha ha…*SOB*…. how little he knows me! I grew up with my parents throwing the most fabulous parties and dinners for their friends and family. I’m not sure we’ve entertained for more than 5 people the whole time we’ve been married, we’ve never had the room. But we have a large garden so it’s time I put my big girl pants on and actually entertain some people!
I had bit of a panic on Instagram and some of them came up with great ideas. Hay bales and picnic blankets were some of my favourites and I think I’ll do that for the kids. But my dodgy back can’t deal with sitting on the ground for hours, so we have ordered a proper grown up table and chairs from Argos. Something we should have done years ago, which I’m very excited about.
Then by some miracle Homebase who’ve I’ve worked with many times, asked me if I’d like to choose some outdoor entertaining bits! What great timing!
So I chose this rather fab gazebo (£19.99) as it’s 2.7m x 2.7m it will either do for the kids to sit under, or if it rains for Paul to BBQ under.
Picture from Homebase as it’s not stopped raining since I bought it.
This brillant Kilner Drinks Dispenser (£24.99) it’s like those ones you see on Pinterest!! So excited to make some cocktails for it!
And as the evenings are getting darker a little earlier I picked up two of these solar light jars (£7ish) they aren’t on their website anymore but they might still be instore?. They are great and really bright, they look like fireflies.
I’ve created a board of BBQ ideas on Pinterest which have some great drinks ideas, recipes and decorations. Wish me luck!
**full disclosure Homebase gave me £60 to spend instore**
My Dad took some pictures of my parent’s garden this week and it’s absolutely glorious! So I thought I’d share them with you, in case they give you any planting inspiration for your own cottage gardens?
I spent about three months looking for a new lounge rug , and bought one about a month ago. Then I had an email from Carpetright asking me if I’d like to review their new range of rugs, I didn’t know they did rugs and it never occurred to me that they would!.
I have bit of a soft spot for Carpetright, all the carpets from our first two houses came from them and they are cheap and hard wearing. So I was quite interested to see what they had one offer as finding a nice stylish rugs is much harder than you’d think, especially having wasted hours looking for one! I was sent a pretty decent selection to choose from and I went with the charcoal patterned rug.
Yes I know this pattern is everywhere in the American blogs, but it’s next to impossible to get it here and I’d loved it for ages.
The rug looks nice in my lounge, but is a smidge too small. I’m just making over the office and I’ll think it’ll look good in there, it’s lovely and thick so should be good to keep the room warm in the colder months. But I’m super pleased with it, I look forward to seeing what other rugs will be on offer in the coming months.
I have now been to see 10-15 houses in the last 6 months and I’ve still not found one we want to buy. House buying/selling is incredibly expensive now, so as a buyer I’m thinking twice but third and forth times too! I’m not saying a house has to be perfect, that would be dull but there are certain things that trigger warnings in my head.
So here’s what I’ve learnt in my 6 months of house hunting….
1. Let the estate agents show it, don’t do it yourself.
A) you’re paying them a LOT of money, make them do some work.
B) It’s beyond awkward walking around a house with the owner trying to be enthusiastic about anything you can see. And then trying to think of an appropriate goodbye, when you know you are never, ever setting foot in that house again. Maybe this is an #Englishproblem?
2. Clean your house, and then clean it again.
Then call round your most picky friend or relative to pass muster. Having a dog I know I could be ‘nose blind’ to smells, so having someone to check my house doesn’t smell of wet dog is essential. And I know it’s not easy to keep it clean (especially living with kids and animals) but do a deep clean to start with and then clean as appropriate going forwards.
Today I went to visit what looked on paper like a lovely house. Was confronted with three bathrooms FULL of black mould and loos that hadn’t been cleaned in the last…2 years? Delightful! The estate agent suggested I could always replace the bathrooms (they were THAT BAD!) not for the price they were asking!
3. De-clutter…but not too much.
I quite like family pictures around the house, books and of course children have toys in their rooms. It’s normal and makes me like your house, also I get to see how you use/need storage. Houses without ‘stuff’ are cold and clinical and frankly a bit weird. I can think of three houses, that have put me off as there were only beds in the bedrooms, what’s up with that?
4. Insane Colours
Now I know not everyone’s taste is the same and hopefully most people can look past a room layout or room colour, but there are a lot of people who really, really can’t. So tone down super bright colours and if in doubt white paint will make any room look better. Dull but sellable!
5. Finish up DIY jobs.
I found a house that I LOVED, double fronted Victorian, right sized garden, it even had a back porch but…so so so many DIY jobs that needed doing. Peeling paint in bathrooms – ‘why?’ of course sprang to mind – looked up and all the vents were blocked, easy in a normal house to sort but not one with 17ft ceilings and a shower underneath! Wouldn’t have even noticed them if they’d been clear. Plug sockets were off, ceiling roses missing/bare wires, all the garage windows smashed. Lots of little jobs which became quite hefty, once you started adding them up.
6. Get certification
The Victorian House of dreams had a pretty big nightmare lurking. Had a chat with the owner, a builder and he had done a beautiful jobs installing reclaimed fireplaces and floorboards etc. Now as you know from my electrical nightmares with this house, I am maybe a little paranoid when it comes to electrics now. So I asked who’d done the work on the electrical re-furbish of the Victorian House and I got this answer ‘Well I did them all, I’ve got no certification but I know what I’m doing’. WTH??
That was a MASSIVE red flag and that’s that house was out of the running. I know how much it cost to just re-do the lighting circuit of this house and the Victorian House was three times the size, so re-doing all of it would be about 10k. If he’d said, ‘I did it but I’ve had it certified and it’s safe, here’s the paperwork’. I might have been slightly more accepting.
7. Stuff you can’t change and does affect the price of your house whether you like it or not.
We went to see a 10 year old estate house. It was super clean and tidy, perfect amount of bedrooms and downstairs was a good size. The nice lady owner showed us round and then we went into the garden…oh my word…. the road noise was awful. I hadn’t appreciated from the map that the road which was a fair distance away was so loud. This is a super busy 24/7 road, living with it would be horrendous. We aren’t even that picky we live on a main road now, but not being able to hear anything in the garden other than traffic is not good. I think the road must be higher than the garden or something?
However she wanted the same price as other houses on the same estate, which were much much further away from the road and quieter. Just nuts!. Funnily enough I’ve just seen it re-list this week with a new estate agents, so I don’t think maybe anyone is being honest with her or she’s just desperate to hit that amount?
It’s like having mains gas (not as common as you’d think in the country) or electricity it should be on house details what your average speed is. If you have a good speed show it off!! Here’s a good little site to test your speed. Tell your estate agent and make a massive deal of it if it’s good and be upfront if it’s a bit rubbish.
If people work from home on the internet and you have a good speed then that is a massive selling point. My parents get 1.2mbps on a good day if the wind is blowing in the right direction. That practically means no Neflix, video chat, uploading files or photos to the internet and surfing is pretty painful. So working from home would be next to impossible…or living in the 21st Century, to be honest! Which is fine AS LONG AS YOU KNOW! If we lived there we’d be stuffed.
9. Big up your local facilities
We’re about to get a new school behind us and a cinema down the hill, the estate agent will be making a lot of this when we go to sell. Look around in your local neighbourhood and see what could attract people.
What’s your best selling tip?? I’m off to look at Rightmove again, wish me luck!
As most of you know hay fever is the bane of my life, every April to September without fail my life becomes a snotty, eye itching misery. It came to a head three years ago where bog standard hay fever started to morph into food allergies, hives and seasonal asthma – fun times!.
I made some radical changes to my garden, I can’t get rid of all the grass and trees but I could alter what I planted close to the house.
Then last winter I was flicking through my phone and I came across a picture of my patch testing and I remembered that apparently I’m as allergic to milk as I am to trees, shrubs and weeds….but I’ve never had a reaction to milk, ever! Whereas all the others I most certainly have!
Then I was reading about the new treatments for peanut allergy which involve being exposed to tiny amounts of peanut. I’ve never stopped drinking milk or eating dairy and I wondered if that’s why I’ve never had a reaction to milk? The very first summer I had hayfever I was 17 and it was also the first summer I didn’t spend every single moment outside, because I was a too cool teen. So could that be it?
Obviously this is very very not scientific and is me guessing, but I thought why not try something with pollen? So all the flowers that had been banned from the house, I brought back in to the lounge and all the living areas, house plants were brought back too. And then I’ve attempted to spend at least an hour outside in the garden every day since December mostly in 20 minute chunks with the dog and a little teaspoon of local honey. And you know what….this last weekend beginning of JUNE is the first time I’ve needed either eye drops or an antihistamine! And I’ve only needed one tablet so far which is a miracle because normally I’m on every antihistamine drug there is by now!
I don’t think it’s cured by any means, but it’s a lot better and I’ve had two less months of misery, which has been worth all the times I’ve stood in the cold in the garden all winter and spring!
But in the meantime if you are miserable and sneezing here are some top tips from Boots:
Angela Chalmers, Boots UK Pharmacist explains: “Many people with hay fever wait until their symptoms strike before they take action, but the earlier you prepare, the better. Here are some things you can do ahead of time:
1) Speak to your pharmacist now so they can determine the right treatment for your personal symptoms so you can put an effective routine in place before the pollen count rises
2) Nasal sprays should be used throughout the season for them to work effectively, not just when your nose starts twitching!
3) Some eye drops can be used ahead of time to help reduce symptoms, so it is never too early to start a protection routine
4) Remember that your sunglasses can help too so include them in your prevention plans – they act as physical guard against pollen exposure around the sensitive eye area and are an easy way to stay protected on the school run or commute
And here are my top tips
1. I’d also add don’t hang your washing out on the line collecting pollen, for you to then wear or lie in more pollen inside.
2. Wash your hair/have a shower as soon as you come in from outside on high pollen days, it really helps
3. Nice cold flannel over your itchy eyes does help a lot.
4. Get a sensitive eye cream to put around the skin on your eyes at night, helps them not be so red and sore.
Have a good non itchy Summer!