Friday, 29 July 2016

User Manual Storage

Hello Friends, I have another storage idea to share with you.

This time, I thought I'd share how I store all our user manuals. You know those manuals that we're meant to read, but only pick up when something goes wrong, or we need to figure out how to change the time, when the clocks go forward or back! .... Or is that just me lol.

So here you are.
It's an A-Z expanding file.  As you can see, mine has certainly seen better days.

I file manuals in a way that I'd easily be able to find them. In other words, I file them under the letter of what they are; So say the one for our Fridge, that is filed under F, and not W for Whirlpool; Dishwasher, is under D not B for Bosch and so on

I do have a clear out once a year or so, that way I don't keep it filled up with anything we've got rid off, like radios, phones etc.,

Again, this will only work if a certain person puts things back once he's used it.  So hunting down the Alarm manual when it goes off, works better if it's put back! ... Mind you, it does help if your friend, neighbour and fellow blogger has the same alarm lol.

There you have it, a quick and easy one for this Friday.  I hope you all have a lovely weekend.


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Home Management Binder

Something I thought I'd like to share with you, is my home management binder.  Sounds probably better than it actually is, but really its just somewhere to keep the day to day things that come in handy and normally get stuffed in a draw and lost.

So here it is;
The binder itself is a Martha Stewart one from Staples. I've had it a good few years, so I'm not 100% sure its still available

Inside I've put dividers and pocket pages, and I thought I might share these with you.  So, starting at the front.
I've put a sticky envelope where I keep our stamps. Saves hunting around for one, last minute when I've suddenly remembered a birthday card, I need to send. 
Next, I have a shopping list. Not one I tend to use a lot, but its almost as a memory jog of things I usually buy.  When I made it up, I did put a little area for menu planning, but I've since started bullet journalling, so this is no longer used.
As I say, I've divided them.
First are take-away menus
Next Recycling. We have textiles collected in our area, and if I put a bag out, I tend to stick a note saying that textiles are in it. So, I've several of these notes also stored in here. 
This section has council and local leaflets. We have an association that puts out a little booklet, I keep the latest ones in here. Along with any tradesmen type leaflets that might be of interest.
Health and Beauty is next. Details of our doctors, eye test details and and local beauty parlours 
The bears are next. I keep quick insurance details and their vet records here. 
Loyalty Cards and vouchers are next. 
Lastly, I keep tradesman's cards etc. here.  I used to keep monthly receipts too, but in my new decluttering bug, I've decided I need to keep less of them. Although any that I might need for returns or guarantee's, I keep under their month. 

I'd love to say it works perfectly ... but whenever Simon takes out a take-away menu, it never seems to find itself back where he found it, same with stamps really.  I think he thinks it comes with its own put back fairy too lol. 

Thanks for sticking with this photo heavy post, and I hope your week is going well.  I'll be back on Friday with another idea I have for storing those things we have hanging around our homes.  


Monday, 25 July 2016

For The Love of Coffee..... An Update!

Happy Monday Friends!!

Its the start of the summer holidays and I have just received my new coffee machine just in the nick of time ;D

I suspect your wondering which one I decided to go for............

Welcome to my Sage Barista Express!!

It does look rather gorgeous, don't you think?

I have even set up a little coffee station for it :D

Slowly practicing the art of the cappacinno making :D

I am over the moon with my new coffee machine. It is very easy to operate with clear instructions on how to set up and get the best from your machine. Above all, the coffee it produces is fantastic. Of course, using the freshest roasted beans makes all the difference. At the moment, I am trying Rave, as they literally roast them a day or two before they dispatch them to you! So my verdict on the Sage Barista Express is that you won't be disappointed and I would highly recommend it!!

Have a great week Friends!!

Maria xx

Friday, 22 July 2016

A long standing back & neck suffer - A pillow review

Happy Friday Friends!!

I am, unfortunately, one of those people who has suffered with long standing back pain since the tender age of 18. This was mainly due to my dancing years and rigorous training. I have swallowed a million pills and lain on the floor countless times until that is, I ended up having an implant put into my spine to hold it together, on the basis that I will need to have it fused at some stage.

All has been good in recent years as I have undertaken pilates (as per my surgeons advice),  which has made life bearable and improved my spine pain no end. However, recently I have been troubled by neck pain, which has then triggered nerve ending problems from my spine and ribs.

So after upping my pilates classes, and having physiotherapy, it has improved. However, I have managed to pin point one of the reasons for my neck problems and that is my pillow. So after having spoken to my physiotherapist and researching on the web, I have taken the plunge to change my feathered pillow into a more Maria, neck friendly, pillow.

I was tempted to go for an orthopaedic pillow as there are several out that, but after taking advice from my physiotherapist, I have opted not to. The reason for this is that they work for some people, but not everyone and in fact I was told they could worsen the neck pain I already had, so definitely didn't want to go down that route of finding out.

Hollow fibre pillows were recommended, but then I came across this pillow that is especially made for people that sleep on their sides, which is me.

Its more boxy in shape 

And much deeper than a normal pillow to provide support for the neck when lying on your side or back.

I have been using this pillow for the past few weeks, although it did take a few days of getting used to.  This was mainly due to the depth and shape of the pillow and it was also somewhat firmer than my feathered pillow. Overall, I have seen a great improvement with my neck pain and I am not waking up with headaches at all now. Personally, I would highly recommend giving this a go if, like me, you are suffering with any type of neck or back pain. 

Thats all from me this week. Have a great weekend friends and see you next week!!

Maria xx

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Faux Flowers

Now, I'm not the flower expert, oh no, that's Maria for sure, but today I thought I'd share a little tip, which my Mother in Law gave me.

She has a beautiful home, and great style, and part of that is that she little flower posies everywhere in her home, most of the time they're just little flowers (even flowering weeds) which she's picked from her garden and they're so so pretty.  Although in the winter that's less easy, so she has fake flowers.  Now one day, she had the prettiest of flowers on her table, and I really thought they were real, and that's when she told me her little secret.

She tears off a leaf or a petal, and leaves it on the table, like its fallen off the flower, which happens to her real ones all the time. Goodness, such a little thing, really made a big difference.

It was a perfect tip for me, because at the little house, I'm not there full time and I have a lot of faux flowers around ... So, I'm adopting her method.

If like me, you love having flowers around all year, faux flowers are perfect.  I've been buying mine now from QVC, as they sell the Peony brand, which have been endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society.  You can buy them direct online and in shops too, I know John Lewis and Bentalls sell the brand.

I hope you're all enjoying our crazy summer.  One minute cold enough to light the fire, next we're all sweltering and rushing out to buy fans ... Got to love the British summer.  Happy Wednesday friends.

Sandra xxx

Monday, 18 July 2016

Seasalt, Cornwall

Happy Monday Friends!!

Summer has finally arrived here in the UK, well at least for the next few days according to the weather forecast! And just in time for the schools breaking up this week, which means one thing, our annual holiday to Cornwall.

For the past ten years, we have been holidaying at Cornwall's most southernly points. Cornwall is a beautiful, stunning place and we absolutely love it. Not only for the scenic views, hidden coves, the fresh sea air and gorgeous countryside and amazing fresh local sea food, the local Cornish people are friendly and welcoming too.

Todays post is about a Cornish clothing company called Seasalt, which I came across by chance in Fowey, Cornwall, last year and fell instantly in love with their clothes. We happened upon this shop when we got caught out in a heavy downpour (not untypical of our British summertime) and needed a rain jacket. I ended up with two dresses, a scarf, two bags and two rain coats, (one for myself and one for my daughter).  I have been smitten ever since.

My daughter loved her Seasalt Seafolly rain jacket so much she hardly took it off even when the sun did shine. I am wearing one of my Seasalt dresses in lovely Polperro, Cornwall.
Thank goodness for my Seasalt jacket, it helped keep me warm and dry on a rather blustery day at the Lizard, Cornwall

My Lottie dress from last year, which I absolutely love! Its easy to care for, wears beautifully.

Love the detail inside :D 

Their brand appears to have expanded and I have found that the likes of Next are now selling some of their range, but they do have a fabulous website here. At the moment, they have a 60% sale on which is making it all the harder to choose from!

I am a lover of their summer dresses, especially the vintage styled 50/60's dresses and I have my eye on these two......

Lottie Tea Dress  is Seasalts best selling tea dress. Again it is vintage inspired with its pretty piped trims, cap sleeves and softly pleated skirt. This year there are three different prints available, I'm in love with 'Jumbo Boats Pier'.

Beatrice Dress which is a retro fit and flare shirtdress in a soft chambray. I am loving its delicate anchor print. 

So if you are feeling the summer love and its sunny where you are, even if its for a day or two, why not check out this beautiful range of clothing from Seasalt. They have a great range of raincoats too, a necessity for the UK  ;) 

Have a great week Friends!!

Maria xx

Friday, 15 July 2016

Easy Make Flat Bread

On Tuesday I attended another Aga demo, and although it was meant to be a summertime menu, it actually turned out to be another Know Your Aga class.  It was still good and as always, you learn something new.

This time the demonstrator made quick and easy flat breads. Well I made them yesterday, and wanted to share the recipe with you.  So incredible easy and really tasty.

Made with equal quantities of yogurt (not the low fat version) and self raising flour, and just a pinch of salt.  All bought together into a dough, then just shaped and for me, cooked straight onto of the lightly oiled simmering plate, but it can easily be cooked in a frying pan or griddle plate.
I also melted some butter and crushed garlic and then drizzled over.  Truly tasty and so quick.

Have a lovely weekend friends

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Happiness is a new Throw

I do love a new throw, and more so if it on offer, and with Ocardo no less, so came with my food shopping.

Plus, back in April, I said I wanted to bring this years Pantone colours into our home more, you can find the post here. I hope you agree, that its starting to come together.

I still need to add a few more cushions, I think lol.  
Sandra xxx

Monday, 11 July 2016

A Surprise Furniture Find

Happy Monday Friends!!

Every now and again, you will come across a second hand furniture find when you least expect it and that is exactly what happened to me.

I have an area in my kitchen that I wanted a piece of multipurpose furniture for. I wanted storage as well as surface area for display, but because it was a small space, it was proving difficult to find what I was looking for so I had put of buying anything.

Then out of the blue, when I was driving past a local second hand furniture shop, I spotted this in the window! It was exactly what I had been looking for and the dimensions worked. Hooray!!! :D

At £35 this butchers trolly was a real bargain. Not only is it made from solid wood, it was also in excellent condition.

It just needed a quick sanding as it had lots of ring stains on the top which the hubby had great fun sanding out. I gave it a good wipe down, after which, I just wiped it over some wood oil to give its natural lustre back.

Its perfect for housing some of my favourite cookery books too :D

I am so pleased with it. Even more so because it was an unexpected find! You never know when or what you will find on your travels. All I know is that fate just happens to sometimes shine in your favour :D

Have a good week Friends!!

Maria xxx

Friday, 8 July 2016

An Ikea Chair Makeover

Happy Friday Friends :D

As you may know from previous posts on a "bedroom redesign", our eldest son left home and his bedroom was allocated to our daughter. She has now moved across to her new bedroom, or the "departure lounge" as my husband now likes to call it, much to my horror!! This in turn has meant we have moved our youngest son across into her bedroom and he has inherited her furniture, which is only 12 months old.

One of the pieces of furniture was an Ikea Lilhojden swivel chair. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it, except the colour. White is not exactly the choice colour for an 8 year old messy boy so a little makeover was in need.
LILLHĂ–JDEN Swivel chair, Blekinge white

This particular chair has removable covers so all I needed to do was remove them in preparation for their makeover.

I chose Dylon fabric dye as  I used this years ago when I was in my twenties. I had a pair of trousers that I lived and breathed in, they fitted so beautifully. The only problem was that the colour kept fading due to continuous wear. Dylon worked its magic and made them look like new every time :D

The product is the same as I remember it, although now it includes salt so no having to purchase this separately. They have an amazing array of colour choices available too.  I went with navy blue as any mucky fingers wouldn't be as noticeable as lighter colours.

And voila!!! The chair has been given a new lease of life and is perfect for our son and his messy fingers:D

I love that the white stitching has remained white due its synthetic qualities. It adds detail that stands out and makes it more unique.

The only thing, I have yet to do is remove/change the bow popper fastenings, but to be honest our son isn't that fussed about them. In fact he is over the moon with his new blue chair!

Hopefully, I have inspired you to give fabric dye a go, if you haven't already.  Maybe, you have a chair to revamp or a favourite pair of jeans or trousers that you want to give a new lease of life to.

Have a wonderful weekend friends and see you next week!

Maria xxx

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Spice Jars

I'm still on full decluttering and clearing mode, and recently I went through my spice draw and cleared it out. Actually, I didn't really have much of a choice, as the cupboard I was using is now where the flue runs through from the Aga, and its very very warm. Great for my china but not so good for food.

Anyway, I went through and got rid of all the out of date ones. Its shocking how many I had. Seriously, I would have sworn I only did this recently.
I set up searching for little jars that would look equally as good out of the cupboard and on show, as I'm still looking for the right spice storage.  These little Kilner jars came from Amazon, and I ordered too some chalk labels.

Here you are, heres my finished draw.
I do keep some spices in little baggies too, and those fresh herbs that I dry, get stored like that. Also, on a recent brocante shopping trip, I picked up these lovely little jars, and a few of these are filled. Again, with little baggies inside to keep them fresh.
I'm still a lover of fresh herbs as well, so often I have a little pot of something on my kitchen counter, and I'm thinking of either planting up a herb basket or a window box. I'll let you know how that gets on.


Monday, 4 July 2016

How to Create a Simple, Cheap but Gorgeous Flower Arrangement - Carnations

Happy Monday Friends!

I must admit, I am a bit of a flower snob, but then you can't blame me having spent a good many years living and breathing flowers. So like anyone, I have my favourites such as cymbidium orchids, Sarah Berndhart peonies, hyacinths, stocks,  lilies.... I could go on! There are so many varieties of flowers that standard flowers such chrysanthemums and carnations, tend to fall into the background. As a florist these standard flowers are used as filler flowers when creating a mixed bouquet and they are there as a backdrop to more choice flowers and rarely take centre stage.

It used to be that you could only buy basic flowers such as roses, chrysanthemums, carnations etc from supermarkets, but as the years have melted by, the big guys have stepped up and provided the public with a more diverse range of flowers that you could only once get from your local florist. The problem with this diversity is that you end up forgetting about those once common traditional flowers such as carnations.

Today I am going to show you that carnations can be the star of the show and that they should by no means be overlooked.

So without further ado, here is a little summary of how to create a beautiful hand tied arrangement with just carnations.

I managed to get two large bunches of these gorgeous dusky pink carnations for £6 from a local florist - a bargain!!

The first thing you need to do is strip any leaves that are going to fall below the waterline in your chosen container. This is essential for all flowers, as the leaves will cause and create bacteria and your flower life will be shortened. It also helps keep the water clearer so no slimy water!

Once you have stripped the leaves you can start from holding a central stem to work from.

Just add each carnation to start forming a dome. One flower should be added at a time by placing one in front of  and one behind the central flower and turning after repeating the process. If you do this correctly, the stems will start to form a spiral. I would have done a series of photos to show you this process, but unfortunately, I was completely on my own today and had to photograph everything one handed!!

As you can see the heads are roughly about the same level and the stems are not crossing each other but fall nicely downwards.

Keep going until you have formed a dome and you've used up all your flowers. 

The stems should spiral as you put one stem/flower in front and one behind and turn as you go. 

The next step is tie off the arrangement with some string. 

The easiest way to do this is to pull the string around several times to hold the stems in place and then lean it on a worktop edge whilst you tie it off. 

It should look something like this when tied. I have cut the stems ready to add to my container. 
A tip when cutting carnation stems is to cut above or below the nodules that find along the stems. By doing this the water will be able to flow up the stem to the flower head. If you cut on the node, you will find the carnation will struggle to take up water and will die.

Then all you need to do is place them in your desired vase. I have used an old coffee jar and just added a rustic raffia bow. (Ribbon would have been my second choice).

They will look even more gorgeous once the flowerheads have started to open out and the dome will be more fuller and frillier.
 So there you have it, a simple, long lasting handtied arrangement to enjoy.

What I love about using the humble carnation in this grouped style arrangement is that several flowers suddenly become one and create a unique frilly pretty domed flowerhead.

Have a good week friends!!

Maria xx