Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Product Reviews

This month, I have a couple of products that I thought I'd review for you.

This shampoo was actually a tester sample that I received when I ordered my cleanse & polish from Liz Earle, and I can honestly say, I've never smelt anything so amazing.  I do like changing my shampoo and I've never found anything that smells this wonderful when putting it on.  Its got a great lather, and the citrus smell in the morning is just what you need to wake you up.  The downside is the price, (£10) but a little goes a long way and I must say I'm tempted to get the full size and conditioner, as it left my hair feeling so soft.  I've recently been struggling with my hair, as its been so dry and damaged, but this really helped.  Even for a test size, it lasted ages. 

Next a product I've fallen in love with.
So much so, I'm not going to be trying any other body lotion for a while.  I think I mentioned that I've been suffering from dry skin since the beginning of the year.  I've tried a few different eczema related products and then I remembered this one.  A few years ago, I got Chicken Pox and read up on products that might help with the healing process, and this came out near the top.  Well, I'm now on my 2nd tube and have already got a 3rd waiting for when this one runs out.  Its fabulous.  Non greasy and doesn't really have a strong scent, so won't clash with your perfume.  Its moisturising quality is second to none. I can't recommend it high enough.  I've not had dry patches on my hands either from using this and where I had dreadfully dry skin on my elbows, its all cleared up.  Its an easy to get hold off product too, as I normally pick it up with my food shopping in sainsburys, and its relatively cheap too, so all in all a great product.  Same as the shampoo, a little goes a long way. 

Ok, lastly 
I know, I know .... very naughty, but I'm obsessed.  I first found a bar in my local Budgens. Apparently they're from the US, and if you like dark chocolate, you'll love these.  I may very well have bought our Budgens out of these, but I've really struggled to find them again.  So ..... yes, Amazon have them.  I'm being good and cutting them in half and having half one day, and the other half the next.  They are expensive, especially for chocolate, but then again, I'm often surprised at how much chocolate is these days. 

There you have it, a few goodies I've loved this past month. Wishing you a fun day 

Monday, 27 June 2016

A Bedroom Redesign - An Update

Happy Monday Friends :D

I thought I'd update you on the bedroom redesign for my daughter. Its not quite finished as we are awaiting a few pieces of furniture and accessories.

Here is a sneak peek of what has been achieved so far......

The room has been painted and the electrician finally turned up after a few delays and we had a pendant light fitted where there wasn't one before.

Also, we changed the wall light fitments to a design classic, Anglepoise 1227. I absolutely love them as does my daughter.

The electrician had to move the position of one of the wall lights over so it was positioned over the bed, which in turn meant filling in and retouching up the freshly painted walls, but it was worth doing so it was in the right position.

Part of designing a space is learning to be flexible as there will inevitably be some changes made to the original design plan due to  some unseen circumstance or two. In the case of this bedroom redesign, we decided to keep the other wall light in place after discussions with the electrician. This in turn meant we have had to move the bookcase to where the easy reading chair was going to be. We could have kept to the original spatial layout, but that would have meant  a shorter bookcase would have to be ordered and in the end, storage to the room was essential so the larger bookcase was ordered as originally planned. The space still works well with the defined areas.

The carpet has been fitted and a venetian blind was ordered, delivered and fitted. The blind was the perfect choice for this contemporary styled bedroom, which allows for more flexible control over the amount of light entering this multi functional room. 

Lastly the majority of the furniture has arrived...

So the hubby has had the task of putting it all together. :D

Thats all on the bedroom redesign until the end of July when we will have the bed and chair delivered and I will be able to reveal to you the redesign in its entirety. 

Have a good week Friends :D

Maria xxx

Friday, 24 June 2016

I Love a Brocante

Happy Friday friends.  I thought today that I'd share with you some pictures of an event that I attended last weekend.

I adore, and I mean adore wandering around vintage fairs, flea markets or as some are called now Brocantes, and last weekend, was one of the biggest of the summers.  It was held at Cowdray House and is run by The Country Brocante 

Not only is it filled with gorgeous homewares from France, but also has some of the most talented people selling handmade products.

I may have come away with a bag or two of goodies, but then it would have been rude not too, don't you think.

If you get the chance, do pop along to one this summer, you won't be disappointed.

Enjoy your weekend friends, no Brocante for me this weekend, but hopefully if the weather is nice, we're hoping to get some work done on the garden.


Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Craft room plan

I love my craft room, its everything and more than I had hoped for, when I planned it out about 12 years ago, but sadly it's more often than not a dumping ground, for when I either return from a crop or are getting ready for one.  Those that know me well, will probably tell you, that I love the tidying up and organising more than the actual crafting, and I'l be honest, I do that way too much, but this time, I really need to get my act in in gear and get it organised.

This time though I need to plan it out first.  So I thought you might like to come along on my journey with me.
I'm not going to be doing any redecorating or making huge changes, nor am I going to be buying any fancy storage or pretty shelves ... I need to get it into a working state, as I have a head full of creative ideas.

I know I should empty and re-evaluate the room, but seriously, who has time for that? Plus, it would make me far too anxious and I'm impatient, so I'll be doing the room, bit by bit.  It isn't the best way, thats a fact, but needs must and I have way too much stuff. I also need to keep costs to a minimum, so I'll be repurposing items found around home or I'll look in charity shops or eBay.

First things first ... I need a plan ... so here's the list I wrote out.

  • What Do I create in here and what do I want to create
  • What's not working in my room at the moment
  • What is working
  • What do I want to store
  • What can I store elsewhere
  • Storage Needs 
All this also shows is I have too much stuff! 

So I've armed myself with another storage box and decided to clear my desk first. I can put it all in there, and then just start with a clear desk.  

This is my desk at present ... not the worst its been, but not the best either. I'm thinking I need a clear desk feel, which will give me the opportunity to actually get things out; either scrapping, quilting or dressmaking, work on them, and then put them away.  Well, that's the idea. 

There you have it ... my messy craft desk.  I'll be back with how I'm getting on, in future posts, I know this isn't going to be done in a day or two, but I determined not to drag it out either, like I say, I have a head full of creative ideas and I need to get on with them.
Sandra xx

Monday, 20 June 2016

Bees Wax for the Face

Happy Monday Friends :D

Throughout my adult life, I must confess that I've led pretty much a basic beauty care regime. I have never been one for lotions or potions. However, now I am truly in my middle youth years and the inevitable hormonal changes have started to happen, my skin is in desperate need of some TLC and I can't ignore it any longer. Well I could if I wanted to look like a dried up old grape ;)

Having changed to eating, cleaner, healthier foods, I am conscious that the products that I use externally should be free from any nasties too such as parabens, chemicals and importantly be cruelty-free, as these are absorbed into our bodies.

My skin, like a lot of my friends, is becoming drier and less firm so I searched the web (my favourite way of shopping) for a solution.

I came across Bees Wax cream and after researching beeswax found it has a number of skin benefits such as these:
  • Natural & Non-Toxic
  • Conditioning properties
  • Anti-inflammatory (can help calming and soothing irritated skin)
  • Forms a protective layer that locks in moisture and reduces dryness
  • Doesn't suffocate or block pores like other ingredients such as petroleum based creams
  • Antibacterial properties which stops bacteria growing 
  • Great for skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis at is anti-allergenic for those with sensitive skin.

Pleased with what I found, I decided to put this cream to the test.

I ordered my here at Amazon

And, I am pleased to say that after using this for a couple of months now, that I am over the moon with the results. I have found it to be non greasy, it absorbs really quickly and no more dry skin on my face. It doesn't cost a fortune either. So if your like me and are looking for 'natural' solution to your middle youth skin, and not into buying 101 lotions and potions, I would definitely give it ago.

Have a good week Friends and see you soon :D

Maria xxx

Friday, 17 June 2016

How To Meal Plan When You Have a 101 Cook Books

Happy Friday Friends :D

As you probably know by now, I love to cook, the result of which, is I have a rather large collection of cookery books and no I haven't counted them, but to all those Marie Kondo fans out there, 'Yes they do bring me Joy!!' :D

There is a downside when you have a growing collection and, no it isn't running out of space to house them, not yet any way ;) The problem is, I have found myself cooking mainly from my newly acquired book/s until I discover my next find/s. I am finding myself  with an amazing collection of cookery books, only to find that they get abandoned by the way side because of my latest acquisition and more importantly, the family are constantly be experimented on which doesn't always have a happy ending lol

Recently, I have come up with a plan and its been helping me mix up my cooking from books old and new.

It was really quite simple. I got myself a notebook. My choice was a Leuchtturm as I adore these for there quality, choice of colours and page types (I like the dotted type).

At the moment, I have split it into three sections just using some tabs.



And Vegetarian dishes (Not shown, as to be honest I haven't written that many ;)

I have made a note of the recipe, title of book and page number, it was as easy as that.

I am adding each recipe that I have tried and loved from cook books old and new whilst adding a section for recipes I would like to try. With these sections in place, I can now add recipes as and when I have cooked them and more importantly, the family have enjoyed eating.

Recipes To Try/New

This way when I am planning my meals for the week, I will browse through my recipe record and choose which ones I'll be cooking for any particular week.

I have found this method ensure meals are varied, easier to implement and my family aren't constantly being surprised at dinner time with a new recipe :D

You could take this further with lunches, puddings, breakfasts, but for us, the evening meal is the most important as its the time our family comes together each day.

The whole process of setting up my recipe record notebook has been a wonderful experience as I am rediscovering meals that we have enjoyed and loved from years ago. I will be continuing to add to it using my collection as well as adding from any new purchases.

I'd be interested to know if any of you have a method to ensure your cooking from old and new books.

Have a great weekend friends and see you next week.

Maria xxx

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Dresser Makeover

I've shared with you in previous posts, how I painted our kitchen ... what I haven't shown you, is the finished article.

So I thought I'd start with my absolutely favourite thing in the kitchen ... ok, second favourite thing. The Aga, has to be my number one ... but this is a close second.
I've always loved the country farmhouse look, and of course a dresser is a must, but I couldn't find one that was big enough, to fill the space that our old kitchen unit filled. 

So hubby decided that he could change the look of the original one and he sure did manage that. 

Here is a little show and tell of the process; 
All parts that could be removed for painting were, so that tongue and groove panelling could be added.

 Painting was easier like this
 A new worktop was fitted.
 And new shelves and handles
All that was left was to fill.  

I chose to paint it in a different colour to the rest of the kitchen, as I think its a stand alone piece. This is painted in Farrow & Ball, Skylight.  The worktop was from an online store called Worktop Express and the handles, again online, from a store called Handles4homes

I'm having endless fun rearranging the shelves, but isn't that half the joy. 

I hope the week is being kind to you, chat soon

Monday, 13 June 2016

Welcome to India...

Happy Monday Friends and I'd like to welcome you to India.....

Or I should say my new cook book that I picked up at the weekend :D

Not that I needed another book, I have more than I'd cared to admit, but being a foodie, I just couldn't resist!! You know how it is, you enter a bookshop and, without even thinking about it, you somehow end up in the cookery section. Fatal really as you then start to salivate over a new discovery.  I have found that I don't even have to enter a 'bookshop',  I seem to find temptation everywhere I go lol. I am convinced that I have built in tracker ;) 

This absolutely gorgeous book caught my eye, mainly because it was cleverly marketed (it was in a fab bag) and, yes we all succumb to packaging, colours and imagery at times whilst out shopping. Eye catching as it was, I did browse through the book before I decided to buy it. Essential really, if you are actually wanting to cook from it and not just using it for display ;)

Its a tome of a book at 815 pages and a 1000 recipes to boot. Its been written by Pushpesh Pant, a former professor in India, who has spent the past 20 years collecting authentic family recipes.

What I like about this particular book is that the recipes are clearly laid out with pages grouped in colours for particular foods.  What is even better is the tremendous selection of recipes to choose from. For example, there are several fish curry's each from a different region, with the ingredients varying for each one. Some do have ingredients that I haven't heard of before, so for now, until I find a good supplier, I'll be sticking with the ones I have and know.

For those of you that need a photograph with every recipe, you will be disappointed. However, there are enough of them scattered throughout the book to get an idea of what something should look like. The instructions to each recipe are well written so I don't mind there not being an accompanying photograph. Sometimes, common sense prevails ;)

Todays bookshelves are heaving with the latest celebrity or well known chef's latest contribution to add to our cooking, but I do think its important to be inspired by less known cooks out there. In this case, Pushpesh Pant has produced a wonderful collection of authentic indian family recipes that I am sure I will have hours of fun cooking, tasting and providing my family and friends with some wonderful meals from. 

So my message to you is don't be put off trying a cookbook because its not by some well known celebrity or chef.  It will give your cooking repertoire an edge that isn't just about the latest food craze!!

Have a good week Friends :D

Maria xxx

Friday, 10 June 2016

Decluttering .... A boot full

So following on from Wednesdays post, I wanted to share with you this image

Yup, that's right ... 2 storage boxes and 4 bags all to take to the charity shop! .... I did say I was on a mission lol. 

I did think about eBay or doing a boot fair, but if I'm honest, the longer these hang around, the more likely I am to change my mind about things.  This way, I feel like I'm helping out charity shops too, as well as helping me get the lifestyle I want. 

Have a great weekend friends
Sandra xx

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Decluttering .... My Plan for the year

I apologies, if you're reading this post for a second time, or its showing up in your reader again. For some strange reason, blogger, decided to revert it to draft, once I'd published it, and even after friends had commented.  Not sure what's happening. 

I wanted to share with you just how I'm doing with my decluttering, and I'm happy to say, I'm a woman on a mission.

You may remember in a previous post (here) I said that I hadn't finished reading the Marie Kondo book, well I have now, and I'm pleased to say its given me the push I needed. Now I'm not keeping 100% to her method, but I'm prepared to give some of her ideas a go. I actually started decluttering last year then got waylaid half way through, so I'm back in the zone, so to speak. I'm also giving myself to the end of the year to get myself decluttered.  I have a dream, that by then I'll be able to open a cupboard or draw and not have everything fall out, and be able to find what I'm looking for instantly. Well, I did say it was a dream.

Something I won't be doing is piling everything up in the centre of the room, or on a table.  I tried it, but the anxiety that it gave me, wasn't worth it. It just looked a mess, and I couldn't really decide if anything gave me joy or not.  I just wanted it cleared and put away, certainly no joy in a mess.

I really needed to make some serious decisions as to did I really need things, or was I just keeping for keeping sake. I'm sure like many of us, we were bought up hearing the words,"You never know, when it will come in handy"

So, I started with our kitchen/family room.  It made sense to me to start here, not only is it the most difficult and cluttered room in our home, but as the kitchen is undergoing a makeover, I thought a clean slate would be the best way forward. First, I cleared my selection of mugs, baking sheets and kitchen utensils. Seriously, why am I always drawn to buying pretty mugs, and how many cheese graters, do you really need!

I also emptied these draws on my dresser, again, this was done while I was painting it, so rather than put everything back, now was the time to clear it.  Again, I found things I'd kept for no reason other than I thought I shouldn't throw them out.  One of these was a letter, that the Dogs Trust sent to me, thanking me for the donation from my fathers funeral.  Simon rightly reminded me that I'd never want to look at this letter again, it was a time of great sadness for me. So it was time to let it go.  I'm happy to say, I did and I don't regret it.

Ok, are you ready. Look at the state of these draws before! Shocking,

But now, I love opening them, and just staring at the emptiness.

I hope you're enjoying this journey with me, I'm loving it.  I have a plan to do a walk through blog post at the end of the year, to show you how I've done. Well, that's the plan anyway.

Monday, 6 June 2016

For The Love of Coffee

Happy Monday Friends :D I hope you've had a good weekend.

The kids are back to school and college this week, which can only mean one thing, more coffee to cope with the early starts.  I am a huge coffee fan. Well actually that is putting it politely......  I am a coffee addict ;) So much so, I am somewhat embarrassed when I get asked how many cups of coffee I consume daily. To be honest, I don't count as I don't want to know (you can tell a coffee addict when they are in complete denial over quantities consumed lol).

So as you'd expect, I have a coffee machine and currently own a Nespresso pod machine.  I have had it for quite a few years, but it is on its way out and sadly the milk frother/warmer no longer works :(

At the beginning owning a Nespresso machine was great and, the fact that you have to order the pods direct from Nespresso, kind of makes you feel like you are in the same special coffee club with George Clooney!

However, that feeling can quickly disperse when you discover that your nearly out of pods even though you only ordered 250 of them a few weeks ago, and then end up having a major panic attack. To then have to pay the extra delivery charge just so you can make sure your next fix of coffee arrives the next day lol.

So I am now on the hunt for a new machine and, initially I was going to replace it with another Nespresso machine. However, I came across bean to cup machines and have been ever so slightly smitten with their look and after reading hundreds of reviews, their ability to produce great coffee, which is sooooo important :D

The search has begun and, for all those coffee lovers out there, I thought you'd be interested in a few that I have come across that offer the essential daily elixir that keeps me from turning into a complete crazy woman.

First up is this beautiful Sage, Barista Express bean to cup machine, which has a temperature control milk jug. Cost wise, John Lewis have it for sale at £549.95, which to be honest is the maximum we were looking at to pay.
Sage by Heston Blumenthal Barista Express Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine with Temperature Control Milk Jug

What I like about it.....
  • Beans are ground directly into the filter when you need them so no degradation or quality of coffee.
  • It takes less than a minute to produce said coffee (Timing is essential! especially when I'm am running late for the school run ;)
  • Temperature controlled frothing jug for milk between 55-75 degrees. As I don't live in Italy and the weather is pretty much grey for most of the time, I like my coffee hot!
  • It has a mighty 2 litre water tank - A large water tank equals lots more coffee without having to faff around and refill. 
  • It has a 15 bar pressure -This is all important when buying bean to cup and 15 appears to be the magic number for the perfect cuppa :D 
  • A cup warming tray - again hot cups, equal hot coffee, equals a happy me... yay!!

De'Longhi ESAM3000.B Magnifica Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine, Black
This particular De'Longhi model is a cheaper, but popular bean to cup machine. John Lewis has it on sale at £329.95, which is about what we would pay for a replacement Nespresso machine.

Heres what I like about it.....
  • Rather than a real barista process, it is a 'touch of a button' action to produce the perfect coffee. 
  • It has an adjustable milk frothing arm, (although it is not steel and I have read that steel wands are the best). 
  • It has a 1.8 litre tank so not as large as the Sage, but still ample water supply for endless coffees during the day.
  • One or two cup flexibility (if I feel like sharing my coffee experience lol)
  • Has built in rinse and decalcification auto programmes to ensure the machine stays running smoothly - important for us living in a hard water area.
  • Integrated cup warmer - hot coffee a must ;)

The above two machines are great, but then I discovered 'The Oracle'. (Loving its name),  which is a combination of the Sage Barista and the Delonghi as it is automatic and has some great features. However, the price is considerably more at £1,440 to £1,599.95 and it may be some time before I can win the hubby around to this machine, but a woman can dream can't she ;) 

Sage By Heston Blumenthal The Oracle™ Espresso Coffee Machine, Silver

The highlights of this machine are.....
  • Automatic grinding, dosing, tamping and milk texturing taking the guess work out of producing the perfect espresso.
  • Instant and continuos steam on demand which is independent so you can have your espresso and milk ready to go at the same time. 
  • An over pressure valve which prevents bitter flavours to the espresso as its automatic.

Look out on our Instagram account for the outcome of my coffee bean to cup machine hunt.

Have a good week Friends, I am off to savour another cup of coffee or two ;)

Maria xxx