Did you watch Inside The Factory on BBC2 last night? I love programmes like this; finding out about the inner workings of factories that produce the products we use every day is fascinating to me. Last night’s episode was all about breakfast cereals and, as a serial cereal muncher, this was a total fangirl moment for me – who knew how many hours of processes go into making one cornflake? And the Coco Pops production line was almost too much excitement. I had to chill out with a bowl of Cheerios after the show.But the main reason that I’m writing this blog post today isn’t because I want to rave on about how much I love breakfast, it’s because the discussion on Vitamin D was so interesting. I’d never considered the effect of Vitamin D in the past, and didn’t realise how important it was to us. Hearing Cherry Healy discuss the fact that people with good levels of Vitamin D in their body were 50% less likely to catch a cold was eye-opening. That, coupled with the fact that Vitamin D is important in keeping bone and muscle problems at bay, got me thinking about just how little Vitamin D I must have in my own body. Vitamin D can be produced in the body just by getting enough sunlight. But, as an office worker (who lives by the light of her laptop for around 10 hours a day), I’m pretty sure that my Vitamin D reserves must be running low. And even when I’m not in my office, I’m trying to keep out of the sun at all costs. I’m a pale-skinned gal who burns easily so I stick to the shade whenever I’m outdoors, and cover up with plenty of clothes and SPF 50. So how can all the Vitamin D from the sun’s ray get through to my body? It’s unlikely, isn’t it? Continue reading “How breakfast cereal can improve your health” »
It’s that time of year again. Whether it’s the weather, having more time during longer days, or the summer break you’ve booked off work. Whatever the reason, July and August seem to be the months of the year that we spend the most amount of time in our gardens. So today I’m sharing a quick garden quiz to help you find out your own creative ‘garden style’, plus there’s a chance to enter a competition with Furniture Village to win a designer rattan garden chair worth £1395 so read on to find out more..!Even year-round allotment gardeners can be found putting even more effort into their veggie patch at this time of year – pruning, sowing, harvesting, fertilising and netting. And fair-weather gardeners like me finally find the time to step outside and do a little bit of weeding. The mowing needs to be done regularly – it seems like the grass grows at lightening speed during August, and returns to its original length only days after being cut. There’s so much maintenance that could be done in the garden but all we really want to do fire up the BBQ and lie back on a sunlounger with a Pimms. Or maybe that’s just me?? Continue reading “Urban or rustic – what’s your garden style?” »
Just wanted to share a quick blog post today with some of the photos I took at this year’s Latitude Festival. Some of my personal highlights included watching a breath-taking performance by festival novice Jane Horrocks in the Film & Music arena, and sitting in on the Standard Issue Magazine discussion in the Literature tent, where one of my favourite actresses Helen Monks was on the panel.
As you probably know, I only really go to Latitude festival for the comedy, art and theatre performances so it was great to watch some fantastic performers that I’ve never seen live before, including David O’Doherty (who had me screaming with laughter as soon as he started to play his tiny keyboard, and who I later bumped into and snapped a selfie!) and the MC for the comedy tent David Morgan. The Toy Story trilogy acted out by the Comedians Cinema Club was a surprisingly fun way to spend the afternoon.
Last year’s MC Nish Kumar performed again this year, and I chuckled my way through Mark Watson’s lunchtime set. We decided not to watch the standing-room-only performance by Bill Bailey and went to check out Jane Horrocks’ festival debut with the If You Kiss Me Kiss Me Band. Luckily we got there early and ended up with a front row spot as the tent quickly filled to bursting point. I’m certain that Jane’s performance will go down in Latitude history as one of the best festival music sets ever. What a legend. Food was great, the sun was out, I drank lots of milkshakes and brought home the traditional Latitude cup, so all in all it was a good year at the Suffolk-based festival.
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting rather excited about my summer holiday starting soon. For many of us our summer break means some much-needed time off and a chance to recharge our batteries with a spot of sunshine. Today I’m sharing some of my top thrifty fashion picks for summer 2016, I’m showing you where to find an amazing voucher code that’ll get you £20 off your new holiday wardrobe AND I’m giving you the chance to win 1 of 3 spa experience vouchers to really kick-start your holiday in style! Read on to find out more and how to enter this fabulous giveaway…Whether you’re going to some luxurious far-flung destination or are enjoying a relaxing staycation here in the UK, it’s simply the chance to check-out and rest that makes summer holidays so appealing. And, of course, there’s no better time to treat yourself to a spot of holiday shopping too! Glancing through my wardrobe earlier this week I realised that, apart from a couple of floral t-shirts, I’m seriously lacking in any holiday attire. I have no flip flops, no beach cover-up and not one single pair of shorts. It was time to shop!
But, as you may have gathered, it’s rather unusual for me to go shopping for anything new. I’m a thrifty gal, and those money-saving habits die hard. I decided that shopping online for my holiday wardrobe was the way to go, as I could browse plenty of shops all at once and could do my favourite type of filtering: “order by lowest price”! I also knew that I wasn’t going to get sucked into paying all kinds of delivery costs, so my first stop (before I even began shopping for clothes!) was searching for money-saving vouchers and discount codes.
In the run up to the summer holidays is when I start to notice what needs doing around the house. I realise that spring has passed me by in a whirlwind of work, and with it the notion of ‘spring cleaning’ has wafted off into the distance. Those windows never did get cleaned and that grim grouting never did get replaced. I start thinking to myself since when did those skirting boards get so dusty?’ and I realise that a lifetime of work-sleep-and-play leads to not much success in the way of cleaning. I know life’s too short, but eventually it becomes time to clean. And today is the day. I sort of want to get the house in order before I take a break for summer. I don’t want to start my holiday with a long to-do list of cleaning task. In an ideal world, someone else would come in and blitz my house, so that I could begin my summer break in a holiday-cottage-style state of cleanliness. However, I’d probably be too embarrassed by the slightly mouldy fridge seal to let anyone else do the cleaning for me. So, onwards, with some spring/summer cleaning hacks.
As you may have spotted in my previous blog posts, I’m very keen to live a cruelty-free life. We’re not just talking animal-testing for make-up here, oh no. Cleaning products are under scrutiny here too, and I’ve found it super-easy to replace my old sprays and soaps with lovely new cruelty-free versions. And it hasn’t even been an expensive process. Thanks to budget brands such as Astonish, Morning Fresh and supermarkets like the Co-op and Waitrose, I’ve been able to find a CF replacement for pretty-much every cleaning product I use. But that’s not all…
I’ve also searched for some cleaning hacks to save me having to use products at all. What could be more animal-friendly than using lemon juice to clean your taps, eh? Unless a cat wanders across the sink at an inappropriate moment, it’s unlikely that my homemade lemon-and-salt cleaner will have been tested on an animal! You don’t need to waste lovely fresh lemons for the purpose of cleaning – stick them in your drink instead! For this hack, I simply used the cheapest bottle of lemon juice I could find in the supermarket and soaked my sponge.
A quick wipeover with a lemon-soaked sponge brings taps back to their sparkling best. If you have a crust of limescale on the taps, simply use an elastic band to attach the sponge to the tap and leave it for a few hours to gradually wear away the limescale. Any stubborn bits can be scrubbed with an old toothbrush soaked in more lemon juice. And speaking of toothbrushes…
You can easily clean grout by mixing baking soda with a splash of water to create a paste. Use an old toothbrush to scrub it into white grout to freshen it up. If there’s a stained patch on the grout, add lemon juice directly to it and allow it to sit for a while to ‘bleach’ it out. Of course, there’s an easier way to clean tiles and grout – with Astonish Grout and Tile Restorer. Don’t be alarmed when you use it for the first time – sometimes the grout turns bright pink when you spray it on! Again, an old toothbrush will sort this out and your tiles will come up sparkling.
For romantic couples all over the world, the Amalfi coast has always been a favourite destination; not only because this region attracts the crème-de-la-creme of high society and offers a glamorous opportunity to mingle with the rich and famous (experience a chic and luxurious holiday even if you are on a budget!) but also due to its breathtaking natural scenery and cultural heritage. Today I’m pleased to bring you a fabulous guest post all about touring the Amalfi coast, and I hope it’ll inspire you to make some plans this summer, just like it has inspired me too!Designated by UNESCO as “an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape, with exceptional cultural and scenic values,” it was added to the list of protected world heritage sites in 1997. The coast has had the privilege of being home to many famous artists, painters and writers over the centuries who found it to be a perfect place for inspiration during their travels. These include the likes of the 14th Century writer Giovanni Boccaccio, the famous 19th Century composer Richard Wagner, the 20th Century playwright Tennessee Williams and many movie celebrities.
The school half term holidays are over and we’re finally entering the last term of the year. That means only one thing; the countdown to the summer holidays has begun! The last week has been rather grey and drizzly here but, as if by magic, today the sun is shining and it’s the warmest weather we’ve seen in weeks. It’s as if the world knows that summer is on its way and is making us all look forward to our impending holidays.I’m really looking forward to the summer this year. I’m hoping for lazy walks along the coast, delicious fresh lunches and lots of excuses to wear floral dresses and pretty pumps! In fact, the new season has inspired my blog post today because I’ve been searching for the ideal summer shoes. I want just one pair that will go with everything. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable with that request – I simply want a pair of shoes that I can slip on every day and don’t have to think about what to wear so I can spend more time outdoors enjoying my summer. But is it possible? Let’s find out…So the shoes need to be 1) comfortable 2) low cost and 3) on trend. They also need to look great with dresses on sunny days and look equally as good with a pair of jeans when the sun goes behind the clouds. The trouble with the Great British Summer is that I can’t guarantee that we’ll have any good days of weather, and it would be just typical if the time I’m taking off work would be one of those grey weeks! Having recently chatted with my friend about her sun-drenched honeymoon (and becoming more and more envious as I heard where she’d been and what she’d been up to!) Continue reading “Tuesday Shoesday – Sun, sea & shoes” »
Can you guess what we’ve been up to recently from the title of this blog post? Last weekend my husband and I set off on a lovely weekend walk in the countryside, planning to find a bluebell wood which (having googled it) we knew was nearby. After a long period of cold wintry weather in April, the sun was finally out so we wanted to make the most of this lovely spring weekend and get outside. We pulled on our boots, packed up our gloves (just in case the wind picked up) and even took a snack with us to nibble on at lunchtime. We were ready to head out into the great outdoors, to breathe in the fresh air, get a bit of exercise after a week cooped up in the office, and drink in the glorious views. Little did we know that all – and I mean ALL – the spring flowers had finally come into bloom. Our amble through the countryside had quickly turned into a botany trip. Spotting different flowers as we strolled along the footpath became a competition between us, almost like ticking off the flowers in an ‘Eye Spy’ wildflower book. Luckily, we’d brought the camera with us in anticipation of getting some pretty shots in the bluebell woods, so we began taking photos of all the flowers we saw on the route. We had soon photographed more varieties of flower, blossom and ‘weed’ than we could count, and that was before we’d even found our way into the wood. When we arrived at Reydon Wood the route had been marked out by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust as a dedicated ‘bluebell walk’ so we strolled through the first part of the wood, still gathering photos of other varieties of flower, and hoping to round a corner and see a swathe of bluebells. You won’t believe it, but as we wandered along the path, the clouds burst open and it started to hail! Luckily, the canopy of the woodland protected us from being pelted with hailstones but we could see it coming down against the sunny backdrop of fields. Could a hail storm produce a rainbow, we wondered? Would it be solid? Thankfully, it was just a quick shower of hail and soon the blue skies were filled with fluffy clouds and sunshine again.
If you’re like me, anything and everything that has to do with decoration is fascinating regardless of the price (a girl can dream, right?). As you might have read by now, I’ve recently moved into a new home which is always the chance to start off fresh and combine existing furniture with some new stylish eye-catching pieces. Regardless of whether or not moving house is on the horizon for you, it’s nice to add some changes to your home to give your interior an extra sparkle. After all, we spend a good chunk of each day in our living nests so it’s only logical to create an atmosphere that you’re excited to come home to.
When people think of redecorating, they often think of it as a complete makeover process, where overspending is the key that guarantees the best outcome. Being a fan of simple yet creative solutions, let me tell you there are ways to make it work without over splurging and draining your bank account. Just pick a few unique furniture items and watch it all fall into place. A good place to start is with side tables.
Predominantly, living rooms lend themselves to the “gather around the coffee table” set-up, making the coffee table the focal point of the room. If however minimalism resonates with you, you’ll already know that less is more. Consider removing your coffee table and replacing it with a side table. Or maybe two? If you just need somewhere to put down your cuppa, a side table will do the job and you can always pull it into the centre of the room to use as a coffee table when you have guests visiting. Not only will you amp up the room’s stylishness with some minimal pieces, but you’ll also gain some more space in the room. As side tables come in all kinds of shapes and sizes – from tall and sculptural to low and wide – these pieces of furniture can do wonders for your décor and give your interior a drastic change. You can experiment with materials too when you’re investing in such a small piece of furniture so imagine a style and go for it!
The material that a side table is made of is more important than meets the eye. More traditional households might match well with an elegantly crafted small wooden table. My suggestion would be black pine as it gives off a sense of elegance. Wooden designs are a way better option than glass if you have kids, especially toddlers – safety first! Some of my favourite sophisticated home-styles express their individuality with a blend of materials, such as wood with stone or brightly painted metal and glass combinations. An oak and marble duo is both sturdy and sleek and works well with any print – think mixing it up with a nice set of patterned curtains and a rug.
Just look at that blue sky out there today. Easter definitely brought a new optimism for the coming seasons with it this year. What started off as a rather dull bank holiday weekend soon turned into a run of bright and sunny days. Okay, the rather windy storm ‘Katie’ brought down some trees in the village but even so I still needed to wear sunglasses as I drove past the debris earlier this week! Either way, this time of year always sparks a decorating project or two (yes, I WAS in B&Q with all the crowds of DIYers last week!) and now that Easter has passed, it’s definitely time to do that Spring clean too.So, I want to know – what does your ideal Spring home look like? Do you add lighter soft furnishings to your living room or do you bring fresh flowers into the home? As a child I remember helping mum to change the dark velvet ‘Winter curtains’ over for the pale green cotton ‘Summer curtains’ at this time of year and, as an adult, I too tend to make a few springtime changes to my décor in March. I have a couple of rather autumnal cushions (that I made from RSPB placemats – here’s my DIY cushion project) that I get out every October and put away again every April. I could probably live with them all year round, but I kind of like the ritual of a change-over. Plus, it’s nice to spruce up your décor without having to spend out on new products!Even though I’m hoping to keep spending to a minimum this year, I’ve been looking around for Spring interiors inspiration (on Pinterest, where else?) with the aim of DIYing a few ideas for my own home. Browsing photos of sunny interiors gives me plenty of ideas for injecting a bit of Spring magic into my home. My first plan is to bring some flowers into my home, but these don’t have to be cut flowers. These can add up to quite an expense, especially if you want to have flowers in your house every week. So how about potting up some buds and bringing them indoors to brighten up the kitchen or living room? Just remember to keep them watered and they’ll last you for months! Continue reading “Spring home inspiration” »