Archives for July 2018

The Practical Extras That Transform A Family Kitchen

Lounging in front of the television together on the sofa is where and how many of us eat our family meals. Now that technology is inseparable from the younger generation, no doubt children will eat their meals while watching Netflix on a tablet or smartphone. The parents are a little more old school and they would prefer the family at the dining area.

No matter what kind of style your family eats by, the kitchen is where it all begins. This is where the meal preparation and cooking happens. Perhaps if more of the family pitched in to create a great meal, then they would want to sit together as a shared task needs a shared accomplishment or rather, a fitting ending. A dull and plain kitchen isn’t going to send the kids wild with excitement. And even for us adults, a gloomy kitchen is something that you want to get away from as soon as you cook a meal. If you have these feelings, chances are that you don’t see the heart of the home as your pride and joy.

Redecorating and remodelling the kitchen may solve the problem but that’s an expensive option. A few practical extras could uplift your kitchen to where the family wants to gather.


An island of lights

Most modern homes adopt an L-shape for the kitchen. You have the fittings all along the edges as well as the cupboards fitted to the walls. In the centre, just adjacent of that is the countertop or rather in interior decor terms, ‘the island’. If you have a faux stone finish, such as mimicking granite or slate, the island itself can be quite dark during the day and night. This is especially true if the countertop is drenched in a shadow such as from curtains or a wall. It’s very common to have two kinds of lights for a kitchen these days. The main light switch is for the dominant lighting of the kitchen and perhaps beyond if you have an open plan. The second light switch is for a dimmer light, mainly for night time so you don’t dazzle or hurt your eyes. Depending on the fixed location of this latter light, your countertop is only partially lit.

You have two options at your disposal that could rectify the problem of darkness on the island. The obvious one is to fit drop down lights to the ceiling and have them positioned directly over the top. The angle is such as you will need to decide very carefully over what kind of lights you want. If you’re going for the stylish approach of many lights, then you can afford to spread them around and cover all of the islands. If not then you need to pick lights that have a broad field of coverage.

The second and not so easy option but still practical is buying a countertop that has LED lights fitted inside it. Yes, it’s a real thing. There are lots of styles you can choose from but the most popular is the starry night type. You can have roundel lights fitted to each corner so even in the dark, you can see the outline of the island. Great for seeing your way through a midnight snack building and of course, you won’t hit your hip into the sharp corners anymore.

Don’t stick around

Part of why families dread going into the kitchen is because of the tasks that it inevitably throws up at them. But it’s life and no one should shy away from cleaning up after themselves. When you are preparing a meal you’re bound to make a mess. You can bet your last penny that breadcrumbs have been sitting in your kitchen for such a long time that they become crusty and hard. `No doubt that the sink itself is stained somewhere, and the walls are a little grimey-looking. That’s the issue with modern kitchens. Designers want to ‘wow’ you and get you to pay for a higher price because the materials look as if they’re practical.

A stainless steel sink may look shinier than most other materials, and even look less expensive on paper. But white ceramic sinks are designed to be non-stick. So when you’re cleaning dishes in the sink, pasta sauce and vegetables won’t stick to the sides. And even the grime or dirty water doesn’t get to stick around for long, as it does for stainless steel sinks. Ever notice the white stains that look like powder has dried onto your sink? That’s a mix of dirty water and washing up liquid. With a ceramic sink, you don’t get these stains as the surface is so slippery and smooth, they can’t stick. However, where there is an upside there is also a contrast. You have to make sure not to be rough with the sink such as allow cutlery to fall from height as you could chip it. Apart from this, ceramic is also a classic country house style and brings much-needed warmth to a kitchen surrounded by dark tones.

Balancing all light

Although they may have been a trend in the 80s and 90s, dimmer switches are still used throughout all kinds of homes. They’re easy to use because they have a rotational knob which is used to control the current going to the light bulb. They have great versatility for changing the mood in the home. One room can be fully lit, but where someone doesn’t quite want to go to bed but perhaps wants to lie back and catch up on emails on a laptop or tablet, the light can be dimmed to suit their need. They’re quite reasonably priced also and no longer a type of luxury fitting in the home. You can fit a dimmer switch yourself as they’re not much different from conventional switches.

How to fill the Summer Holidays Week by Week

The summer holidays can feel extremely long when you’re struggling for content to fill it with, but too short when the new school term is only weeks away. Filling the summer holidays week by week is more than achievable, but it will take a careful effort in planning and scheduling. It’s also important to consider pacing. Much like a good movie, your summer break must have periods of excitement bound and tempered by periods of calm relaxation to recharge those involved.

I’ll be honest and say we like to just chill out mainly in the holidays if we can. The kids need it. School is tiring so just doing nothing is appealing. My children are quite well behaved though (touch wood!) and they are happy playing, watching tv or in the garden!

It’s nice to break up the summer holidays with an actual holiday but many people who double book holidays back to back can often feel burned out! Same if you do nothing but socialise the entire time.. you can feel absolutely exhausted by the end week, right when school is starting.

Thankfully, the six weeks (on average) of the school break isn’t an overly long amount of time to plan for, so you needn’t worry about having to plan this like a military operation. However, it can pay to know exactly when and why you might enjoy certain activities at a certain time, so consider the following rough guide for clues on how to do this. 

The First Week

The first week of your summer holidays is likely the time when your family will want to relax from work or school for a time. Jumping right into a holiday can be a little tiring, and quite overcrowded depending on when you travel. However, some families might feel energised by the effort of jumping abroad with haste, so it all depends on your tastes and family setup. Spending at least a day or two bonding in your new time off can help everyone once again settle down with spending a full week together. This could perhaps be crested with hosting a family barbecue for even extended members of the family. The first week is also a great time for you and your children to polish off any homework or summer projects they may have been assigned, so they needn’t worry about them anymore.

The Second Week

This can be the perfect time to head on holiday. The family has settled and the summer is in full swing. If you have older teenagers who’re fans of the social vibe, this can be the perfect ‘party time.’ It’s the period with the most energy, so be sure to make use of it.

The Third Week

This week may continue to be filled with your holiday abroad. If not, this can be a perfect time to visit family, to settle into home life fully, to begin repairs on your home or take care of many other summer organisational tasks that you may not have gotten around to yet.

The Fourth Week

The fourth week is important for many reasons. It can be a great time to socialise, to visit family that live a relative distance away, a time to enter into a new hobby, a time to perhaps even spend time committing to some incredibly late spring cleaning. The fourth week is also an excellent time to commit to home repairs, such as installing insulation preparing for the winter, as the height of summer and August is here, and now is the best time for those servicemen to complete their tasks.

The Fifth Week

The fifth week is often a great time for creative and relaxing enjoyment. There are many small events you may consider worthy of attending, some that can inspire and relax your family in equal measure. For example, booking tickets to see Aladdin, the popular show touring theatres could help you and your family to bond, and can serve as a wonderful surprise. These shows often tour over summer, and booking in advance for this week can secure you a seat.

The Sixth Week

The final week of the school holidays is a perfect time to unwind, but you might also consider making use of the lowered prices of heading abroad or to a local holiday destination, as many parents will not risk heading there during the final week. However, you might be the family that absolutely relaxes from activity such as this, so one final special break could be a wonderful time. If not, consider relaxing, eating good food, bonding together as a family in your four walls or simply reading in the garden. Now is the time to once again adapt to the flow of life, and in one week begin remembering one of the funnest summers of your life.

With these simple tips, filling the summer holidays week by week could be a practical reality, instead of a worrying duty.

 

*Collaborative Post

How to Create a Spacious Living Room

Whether you’re restricted with space or just seem to have given in to the clutter over the years, creating a spacious, inviting feel in your living room can seem like a mammoth task.

However, with some clever tips and tricks, you could be enjoying this airy, open space in no time at all. Here’s how:

1. Opt for Lightweight Furniture

It’s not just the size of your furniture that matters, it’s what weight it carries visually, too. For example, a piece of furniture that’s got legs or is light in colour will look far less intrusive than a piece of dark furniture that’s boxy in appearance.

Chairs with legs help keep the floor space open, as do glass coffee tables with slim metal legs.

2. Choose Your Table Wisely

As well as glass coffee tables, you might also want to consider console tables that give you extra storage space but without detracting too much from your floor space. Set higher up than your average coffee table, they create a stylish sideboard but without being too chunky – and again, they don’t cover the floor which helps add to the spacious feel.

Choose a design that complements your overall space, whether that’s cool and contemporary or quirky and traditional. Cox & Cox, for example, have some uber-funky designs!

3. Go Neutral

A must-do for small spaces is to keep things light and airy with a neutral colour scheme. This helps push back your walls and doesn’t draw the eye to certain points, which helps expand the space further – particularly when you add mirrors to the walls too.

4. Use Light to Your Advantage

To enlarge your space, it’s important you use all of the light available. Your neutral colour palette will do this wonderfully, reflecting light and emulating a roomy feel. And you can further this by keeping window hangings simple, making sure you don’t block any of the light coming in through these with heavy fabric.

Equally, if you can find floor-length curtains that boast a light fabric and vertical design, these can really help draw your vision up and below eye level.

5. Be Creative with Your Seating

If you really are pushed for space and don’t want too many sofas or chairs taking up that much-needed room, get clever with how you can create additional seating when guests arrive. From a stylish ottoman (which also doubles up as a coffee table) to a window seat that has storage underneath it, there is plenty of cool ideas available.

Ultimately, it doesn’t have to be difficult to transform your living space from cluttered and claustrophobic to cool and spacious.

Making the Most From Your Soft Furnishings

When you decorate a room, soft furnishings act as the perfect finishing touches. They can tie a colour scheme together, and also act as an opportunity for you to experiment with different textures. You need to focus on the soft element of your furnishings – they should be cosy and inviting; pulling a room together and welcoming you, and your loved ones, into your home.

So how can you make the most from them?

Making the Most From Your Soft Furnishings

Cushions

Let’s start in the living room, which is the room most people will see. Cushions are a simple way to colour co-ordinate a room. Whatever paint palettes you’ve chosen for the room, you definitely don’t want everything to be the same colour., even if it’s your favourite, it will be far too much. There are plenty of colours and designs for you to explore. If you fancy a bold print, don’t be afraid to embrace that. This year has seen the rise of cosy and homely as opposed to minimalist. You could have a variety of soft textures, too, to make the living room look more inviting.

Blinds

Don’t let your blinds just serve as a practical purpose for blocking out the light from a room. By choosing a bold print or colour, they can act as a stylish feature and really tie a space together. Direct Blinds have a wide range of colours and styles for you to choose from, so you can find the fit that’s right for you and your design. 

Towels

Similar to the blinds, towels could be considered as just another practical element to a home and not much thought given to them. However they play an important role in bringing some colour to a bathroom. You could either match them in a different shade to the walls, or go for contrasting colours to give the bathroom a stylish edge.

Duvets

The duvet is easily one of the most eye-catching elements in the bedroom. It can bring a room together and emphasise the look you’re going for. For a child’s room, you can go for fun, block, colours or cartoon prints. For your own room, you want something that reflects your ideals. This is your private haven away from the world. If you want a calming neutral bedspread, go for that. If you want to have fun with colour and patterns, choose that option. You do whatever you want as your bedroom is just for you.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – Live

Last weekend we made a little trip to London to see We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – Live at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue.

We're going on a bear hunt live theatre london

Considering we are big theatre fans, we haven’t been for a while and I was missing it, so this was a welcome break in the theatre drought!

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is a childrens’ story book by Michael Rosen and is favourite of ours. Actually it’s probably in most young childrens’ bookcases all over the Country as it’s become a bit of a classic now!

I first came across it when a friend bought it for my first son when he was little. He’s now nineteen! It was also bought for my daughter in a different cardboard book format, with a little teddy bear included! In fact, we have a few copies in our collection now!

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read this story to my children. My eight year old twins still like to listen to it at bedtime occasionally so I’m still going strong with it! It’s one they will pick up and read themselves too.

We read it time and time again and it never tires… it’s one of those books that really captures the imagination.

The text has an almost lyrical feel as the Dad in the story and his young children go off on a little, fun adventure across the countryside, through all kinds of weather and terrains, looking for a bear! So children like to join in with the story as the words are repetitive, shouting out their favourite parts with you as you read along!

When I asked my children if I should get tickets for We’re Going on Bear Hunt they literally bit my head off! “Yes” they said without any hesitation at all… even my daughter who has just turned 13! Such is the special relationship with this story.

We were all very excited arriving at the theatre and couldn’t wait for the show to start!

We're going on a bear hunt live theatre

I had a feeling that it would be adults playing the parts of the children, as we’ve seen numerous books brought to life this way and it honestly works really well.

There were only four actors in the production… the Dad, played by Thos Wainwright, his two children played by Joey Hickman and Rebecca Newman, a puppet baby and the family dog, played by Benjamin Hills!

we're going on a bear hunt live theatre

Straight from the off, we were drawn in by the characters we love and know so well. The lights in the auditorium were still on as the show began…. which took us by surprise. We hadn’t realised it had started for a couple of seconds! I thought this was very clever as the audience is made up of some very young children and this gentle introduction without the need for everyone to be quiet first was genius!

The actors came to the stage through the audience too which immediately connected us to them. The ‘Dog’ was  comical.. he was interacting with some of the kids, playing up to his doggy character! He also doubles up as a musician for the show!

The story was brought to life with fun songs and music.. really capturing those repetitive rhythms of the text in the book so perfectly. The places the family walk through in the story were each given their own special song and production!

There was the swishy swashy grass which was accompanied by the Lazy Nice Day song… loved this! The children in the audience were invited to make butterflies with their hands.

We're going on a bear hunt live

The splish splashing through the river came next… a groovy sounding song brought that to life… as did buckets of real water which the actors splashed in! This scene also saw them pulling out huge water pistols! I’ll let you imagine what happens there……

To create the mud scene they had paper and easels on the stage with paint used for the mud! This was very funny as they all got super messy… my children laughed their heads off at this part!

We're going on a bear hunt live

The forest scene was very funny too according to my children…. because this contained the word Poo! My twin boys’ favourite word! Some one stood in it and Dog rolled in it!

The snowstorm was quite mesmerising with the lights down and the simple but effective stage props. There was even some fake snow that fell into the audience from up high which was quite magical.

We're going on a bear hunt live

Anticipation and excitement rose as the journey took the family to the ‘dark, gloomy cave’! We wondered what the bear would look like once he came out! This was the only part where I wondered if children might be a little scared, but it was done perfectly. The bear, I’m happy to report, was more cute than scary!

we're going on a gear hunt live

The last part of the show whipped us up into a frenzy as the bear chases them back through all the scenes and heads back to their house! The main song ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ was sung and we, the audience were encouraged to join in and singalong!

We can absolutely, without hesitation, say we loved this show! My children didn’t want it to be over. For very young children it was the perfect length in terms of running time and left everyone wanting more!

Like the much loved Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenburys picture book, the show managed to capture the imagination and propel audiences into the world of this fun-filled adventure, making it the ideal theatrical experience for first time theatregoers.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is showing now at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue until the beginning of September, you can book online with tickets starting at £15.00.

Dreaming of the Perfect Engagement Ring

Many young girls dream about getting married one day, especially when they see the oh so romantic fairy tale style weddings that are portrayed in their favourite Disney films!

Getting married is something girls like to discuss on a regular basis… and it’s not even a husband they’re interested in half the time… it’s just having the wedding day!

wedding engagement

Yes, that’s right! We love nothing more than to discuss the whole shebang as there’s literally so much to fantasise about…. where we would like it to take place… will it be abroad somewhere hot and idyllic on a stunning beach, or will it be more traditional in a church? Will it be a Summer or Winter wedding? What would be the colour scheme? Who would we invite? And most importantly…. what kind of dress would we wear?

Dreaming about that fairy tale wedding dress is just heavenly….. being a princess for the day!

We love it!

As we get older though, our attention turns to maybe the more materialistic object of our desires…. the engagement ring!

As soon as we have our first serious boyfriend, this is definitely on our minds! We look in shop windows, even with our boyfriends, and point out rings we like the look of! This is childish behaviour obviously because we’ll probably have broken up the following week and also, things look a lot different when we’re older! We would be expecting our future husband to know exactly what kind of ring to buy us. And to produce this perfect piece in a proposal to end all proposals!

But this is unrealistic and actually, I think most women now would prefer to choose their own. For the man to propose initially, then they could go off and choose the ring together…. with the choice ultimately being all hers. That way there can be no awkward thoughts like ‘Oh I don’t like it!’ or ‘Oh no it doesn’t fit properly!’

Imagining the most beautiful, exquisite diamond engagement ring is another fantasy us girls have on a regular basis, and this just gets more intense as a relationships develops! Every girl has a different idea of what her perfect ring would look like so unless you’ve done the window shopping together already…. it’s probably best to go and pick your own I think!

For me, I love a diamond solitaire.

engagement ring

There’s just something special and romantic about a single diamond. The bigger, the better obviously!

I have to admit. I chose my own engagement ring and it’s similar to the one in the photo. Mine is platinum but white gold is a very popular choice too and comes in cheaper…. which means saving on the precious metal could add you more diamond, right ladies?!

Gold is coming back in fashion too. Rose gold is very popular in other jewellery choices but not it seems, as an engagement ring. White gold and platinum still reign supreme!

What’s most important though is you have to love the ring completely. After all, you’ll be wearing it for a very long time, hopefully forever more!

Family Friendly Spots for your London To-Do List

If you’re heading to the Big Smoke, a.k.a. our wonderful capital city London, with the kids, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options for things to do there!

From a day sampling ice creams and meeting penguins, to an evening at the theatre, I’ve rounded up some of favourite family-friendly activities to add to your to-do list.

theatre days out trips london discount tickets

Enjoy a Night at the Theatre

Going to the theatre is definitely one of our favourite London things to do. It’s full of great theatres so you’re spoilt for choice for fun shows that your kids will remember for years to come. With shows like Matilda, School of Rock and The Lion King getting rave reviews from audiences of all ages. Plus, you can find some great theatre ticket deals if you book in advance!

Rub Shoulders with Celebs at Madame Tussauds

Get your camera phones ready for a day out with the Queen, One Direction and the Beckhams at Madame Tussauds. It might not be the real thing, but you’ll have amazing photos that you’ll cherish forever! They have loads of interactive zones, like their new Star Wars Legends experience’ so kids of all ages will find a celeb to be starstruck by!

Relax in Granary Square

This public spot always has plenty going on, whatever time of the year you visit. In the summer you can take a picnic and let the kids dash through the gorgeous fountains. They even have a Granary Squirt app that lets you control the jets!

By the canal, there’s always something fun going on. In the late summer there’s a floating cinema, at Halloween it was filled with thousands of carved pumpkins and it was draped in gorgeous blooms during the Chelsea Flower Show.

theatre days out trips london discount tickets

Get Close to Nature at London Zoo

Get up close and personal with over 750 species of animals at London Zoo, including lions, monkeys, gorillas and penguins. If you or your kids are nature-lovers, this spot needs to be added to your London bucket list! They even have after hours events and keeper for a day experiences that kids are sure to adore.

Mix Your Desserts with Science at Chin Chin Labs

For a truly unique treat, head to Chin Chin Labs and feast on delicious ice creams frozen with liquid nitrogen. The menu changes weekly so you never know what exciting concoction you’ll get next. With incredible flavours like burnt butter caramel, pandan and purple violet, you’ll be just as happy as your kids in this joyous and fun-filled lab!

Make planning for the family trip to London a breeze by taking your kids to any or all of these five favourite spots in the city to make lasting memories. Let’s face it, they’re not just for the kids – the adults are sure to have a whale of a time too!

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