Monday, 16 January 2017

Degustabox Winter Box

New Year, new Degustabox for a winter's treat. Here is what we enjoyed: 

 winter Degustabox Nutri-Brek £3.79  These are a lovely breakfast biscuit made with coconut and crispy rice with a hint of cinnamon, they are gluten free and high in fibre. Delicious and made a nice change that I'd buy if I saw in the supermarket and on offer. Nutri-Brek with coconut Bite+ and Multi Grain Flakes, 2 x £1.69 I sadly wasn't too fussed on these as they were like savoury corn flakes and I couldn't get used to that. However, they are indeed a new concept of a multigrain cereal flake with savoury seasoning, ours were Sour Cream and Onion. Bite+ Multi Grain Flakes Newton's Appl Fizzics £1.29 I'm sure we have had these before but it was a pleasing drink, very sweet but ok. It's apple juice and sparkling water with 40% less sugar than pure apple juice. Great for me with it being non alcoholic as I don't really drink. Apple drink Gallo Italian Four Cheese Risotto £ 2.29 and Gallo Risotto Pot, I love risotto but sadly I'm a vegetarian and this didn't say it was suitable - I'm guessing because of the cheese variety so that was a shame. OH tried this out as a non risotto fan and was surprised that it tasted ok but probably something we would not buy. If it were vegetarian I would but nevermind....
Gallo Risotto
What a Melon drink £2.00, Gorgeous and refreshing watermelon, a drink that hydrates like coconut water. I did enjoy this but unlikely to purchase as it's above my budget for a drink but for the fitness conscious it's great as has extra anti-oxidants and muscle loving amino acid citrulline. watermelon water Maggi 3 Minute Noodles 2 x 75p, Another one for the resident carnivore to take to work for his lunch. Add water and ready in 3 minutes, a great snack available in chicken, beef and curry flavours.Maggi Noodles
Hoots Snacks 2 x 69p, I really enjoyed these and thank goodness they were vegetarian! A multigrain alternative to crisps at around 160 calories per pack. I especially enjoyed the Salt and Pepper ones as a late night snack :) Hoots Snacks Bahlsen Akora £1.99, German heart shaped lebkuchen which was perfect as we buy them at Christmastime and Little Bird adores them. A spicy jam filling in dark or milk chocolate. Devoured instantaneously! 

Eisberg non alcoholic wine £1.39 which was a novelty for me as I'm not a wine drinker so hmmm I'm not too sure as it still tasted very wine like. I'm really rubbish with wine as it all tastes so tart to me. Apparently this wine has the alcohol removed at the end of the process and is full of gooseberry flavours but I'm just so poor at tasting wine that I just couldn't tell. Eisber non alcoholic wine a2 Milk £1.39, we've tried this before and basically the A1 protein is removed as this is what can cause symptoms of lactose intolerance. A good idea for those that suffer with this.a2 Milk
Bristows Oh Fudge! Apple and Cinnamon, Lovely and sweet from Devon and squirrelled away by me to have all to myself!
apple and cinnamon fudge Overall a reasonable selection and some great products to try which is the good thing about Degustabox, it can make you try food and drink that you normally wouldn't think of buying. If you would like to try, the code 1GWLB will get you your first box for just £5.99. 

*I was sent a Degustabox for the purpose of the review, words are my own honest opinion.

Saturday, 7 January 2017


frosty morning frosty garden Memories of Jack Frost winter's mornings as a child with patterned window panes and crunchy grass under school shoes and breathing out a flurry of air like a little dragon. Examining frosty gems on leaf edges and being satisfied with a sparkling covering, second place to snow in its transformation of the daily landscape. Something new, a fresh angle, changing that which seemed insignificant into a glorious winter view of white rooftops, ice in buckets and tones of blue. I can stand for ages, absorbed in its beauty and admire the grasp of Old Man Winter. A ferocious grasp on any herbaceous plant that dared to have perky green shoots this far into winter, now slumped in defeat.....for now at least. A dazzle of silver as the low sun hits each crystal, ready to burn away into vapour like the circle of smoke from next door's chimney.frosty by the fence little cottage frosty sun

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

I don't really mind January

winter brew station
For most people January is the worst month and yes whilst it is cold and grey with a sprinkling of post Christmas debt and seasonal blues....actually it's not that bad. I like cold. I like grey. And I'll just spend little this month.

It's a month off really, still able to hibernate and recuperate if you've overdone Christmas and New Year and stay home huddled in a blanket. I've got a couple of social events I need to go to this month but to be truthful I'd rather be at home. January to me is hopefully a chance to mentally catch up after the roller-coaster busyness I've been carried along with since October. Also if I look miserable, nobody is going to annoyingly tell me to cheer up, it's expected to look fed up in January so I can be at ease with my inner gloom. Hooray. I do enjoy a little bit of melancholy. Embracing my Eeyore tendencies I'll be quietly just being myself - cups of tea, reading, going for walks and gardening. No parties, no big social occasions, no fake cheer and all that festive glitz gone. Good.

However, secretly I'm happy, loving every minute of the dark days, howling winds and icy rain showers. Every time somebody moans about January being bleak I smugly smile like the Grinch. January I love you, you ground me for the rest of the year and connect me to those ancestral feelings of hardship, isolation and getting through the winter. Life is so easy in our warm houses that a fierce January gives that tiny remainder of previous life lived a little shake of making fires and battening down the hatches.

A whole month to plan, make lists and forget any rubbish from the previous year. A month off from too much pressure to be doing things, of not feeling guilty for not leaving the house all week and of trudging around the house in comfy clothes.

Here are my five things that occupy my time during the start of the year.

1. An abundance of food and drink. Getting rid of the Christmas left over treats and making wholesome veggie stews and soups. The slow cooker is out and I've got root veggies chopped up nearly every day for variations on winter casseroles - potatoes, swede, celeriac, carrots and turnips. For drinks I have syrups for my coffee - vanilla, hazelnut and gingerbread along with loads of different types of teas. 

sparkly blue jelly 2. I read lots of books and then some more. Yes, fire blazing, comfy spot in the corner of the sofa, a book on nature or history, aforementioned cup of tea. I'm just reading the Time Travellers Guide to Medieval England as well as my university course books. 
latest nature books 3. I pursue my hobbies which may involve books as above, getting out into the bitterly cold air on the odd occasion or watching a documentary about churches or religion. I go out a couple of evenings a week to bell ringing practice which stops me from being a total winter recluse.  
Henbury 4. January is a great time to study a new course. My new module will be starting next week for my post grad in Parish Church Studies and I can't wait. I have the reading list already so have made a start and I've also been revisiting last term's books too. There are loads of free short courses too such as with Future Learn and Coursera. I'm doing Magic in the Middle Ages which is a nice addition to furthering my understanding of the medieval era. There are so many courses I want to do, just wish there was more time. I wish there were more Januaries :) 

5. I make my plans for the garden and allotment in January. With a rough sketch of the plot and a list of those jobs to do, I will be popping over to my weed riddled patch of land this weekend to burn off a few calories and get clearing and digging. Back at home I'll take stock of what seeds I already have and make my list of seeds to buy - my favourite kind of shopping. seed packets
Happy New Year and I hope you love January too. 

Friday, 23 December 2016

Fresh start my home in 2017

The New Year is just around the corner, a fresh start for many things and a good time to make house plans. I've been thinking about what projects to start in 2017 to improve my home whether large or small. Some rooms just need decorating, a new paint scheme to freshen things up and other rooms have DIY tasks that require some help from a trades person and I have some renovations to think about too.

Front rooms and doors
The issue with the front room is that the front door opens straight into the house so with two dogs and a child, whenever somebody calls or a parcel is delivered I am trying to stop mainly my terrier from escaping between my legs. He's a real scamp and goes quite erratic when anybody comes to the front door and it's a busy road hence it's always a worry. Also the door can be drafty and although there is a door curtain, the cold still sneaks in and the money we spend heating the house is wasted in that room. What I'd like to do is have a vestibule built into the front room which would solve those issues and we will have a cosier and safer situation. I'll need a builder/joiner to do this so in the New Year will be trying to find somebody to do this. It would also be a place to put muddy boots and  the dog leads so a practical space too although small. 

The front door also needs an update. One to suit the Victorian style of the house that will give curb appeal and improve the exterior of the home. A new door will hopefully be better insulated than the current one and add to saving money on fuel bills. I would like door furniture that looks more vintage and give the front of the house a spruce up that will brighten and make the home more welcoming.
Image sources: clockwise Cotswood// Home Talk//Alyaa // Ideal Home
Loft Room
The room in our house that doubles both as a bedroom and as storage has to be really creative in terms of space and decoration. It needs to be bright and airy, have solutions for housing all the things like Christmas decorations and extra toys but be tidy and functioning as a tranquil space to sleep. Under this eaves would be ideal to have some cabinets built in so that the room would have a less cluttered feel and bags and boxes could be hidden away.

The loft window needs some dressing as in the summer the bright mornings although lovely, wake you up far too early so I need some smart VELUX blinds to blackout the room and also insulate the room more on cold days. It's one of my favourite views out of this window, across the town towards the river so to have it less cluttered I could easily access the space more to have a relaxing look out the window every so often. 

When the room is not being used as a bedroom, I would really like the space to be somewhere to study too since I'm doing my post grad. A desk and a bookcase for my history books where I could study in peace, especially when an important paper is due in. Up in the loft is like hiding away a little so the rest of the house can be busy and I can have some thinking space. 
Loft space used as a study
Image source: Ideal Home

Kitchen Tiling
The kitchen firstly needs a coat of new paint and then I'd like some white metro tiles used part way up the walls. There used to be brown tiles to that same height and when they were removed it left an uneven finish that has been annoying me for over 12 months now. Shiny white tiles would really make the kitchen sparkle and be easier to clean from splashes of food from cooking and my son making a mess. The kitchen units need a paint touch up in places and then the room just needs blitzing to make more use of the cupboard space. I'm also still waiting for my new oven *sigh* which has been delayed due to a new plug socket being required - is it ever easy to get things sorted in the house? Hopefully 2017's home improvement plans will go better than 2016's has!

kitchen white tiles
Image source: Apartment Therapy
I think that there is quite enough planned in terms of decorating and renovating that other house improvements will be of the accessories sort - the quick wins that cheer you up. I need a new rug for the front room for cosy feet by the fireplace and a new throw for the sofa as my naughty terrier dog has put a hole in the current one. Everything else I will reuuse and fix in the spirit of make do and mend. I've lots of pictures and ornaments, if anything I'll be simplifying the scheme a bit in 2017. 

I love making plans for updates to the house, I do love my little home and spending time improving the way it looks makes me happy. Until then I'm going to spend Christmas relaxing with some house magazines and a cup of tea, dreaming of my future study room and front door. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

3 Bathroom Trends for 2017

As we come to the start of a new year, lots of people start making resolutions. We hear everything from losing weight to saving for a holiday but if your decor is looking a little tired, why not give the busiest room in the house a makeover - the bathroom. Whatever your style, there will be a trend that with suit you that will see you through until next time you decorate.
Exposed brick in the bathroom
Bethany Mitchell Homes
One of the biggest trends for 2017 will see us all getting back to nature. The organic feel will be making a big comeback throughout the home, and the bathroom is the perfect place for this look. Slate or stone tiles on the wall or floor are an easy way to get a natural feel in the bathroom and also add a bit of drama to the room. Even having a pebbled floor around the bath can take you back to the beach in the summer.

For a fresh take on the trend, you could go for some exposed brickwork on your walls. This will add some instant cool to the room and it goes with most styles of bathroom. If you don’t want to commit to redecorating the whole room, you could just add a marble bath or, for an even smaller nod to the trend, get some wooden accessories like toothbrush holders.

A trend that we see year in, year out will be sticking around for 2017 - Vintage. Unlike previous years where we have seen lots of furniture inspired by mid-century designs, this year we will be seeing more Victorian themes in our shops and homes. If you live in an older property, it's time to maximise those period features. Make the most of your high ceilings with a chandelier or by restoring old ceiling roses.

If you’re handy and have a lot of patience, you can opt for an original to restore back to its former glory. For those with a bigger budget, you can buy previously restored originals online. A stunning roll top bath with ornate feet will be a timeless style that will add a real talking point to your bathroom. If you haven’t got the time or money to splash out on an original, there are some fantastic modern replicas on the market.
floral wallpaper in a bathroom
Country Homes and Interiors
Bold extravagance
The final decor trend we will be looking at is a dramatic one! If you love bold decor then this is certainly one for you. This trend is all about making your bathroom look luxurious with some brave features.

Although your first thought for your bathroom walls is usually tile, you can go for something a bit different with a big patterned wallpaper. Dark florals or opulent Liberty type prints will give your bathroom a fresh new look. For a paper that will last, choose one that is specifically used in the bathroom, otherwise the moisture could cause peeling.

Another way to add some drama to your bathroom is with an illuminated mirror, like the ones from Pebble Grey. The glow of the bulbs are not only for adding a touch of glamour, but are also practical too.

Pebble Grey illuminated mirror

*collaborative post