Category Archives: Home

DIY: Painting tiles – How to freshen up your home

Christmas is fast approaching and it’s the time of the year when many people are looking at their homes and thinking about a quick fix to spruce it up ready for filling the house with friends and family over the festive period. 

THinking about painting tiles?

If you want to refresh your kitchen or bathroom, but re-tiling seems too expensive or time consuming, painting tiles can be an easy and cost effective solution. If done correctly, it can produce some impressively stylish transformations – here’s a guide guide to show you how.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT TILES

The majority of tiles can be painted, however there are some which cannot. For example, it’s not recommended to paint tiles which will be exposed to running water on a regular basis. The high levels of moisture in showers or directly above baths means these aren’t the best environments for repainted tiles. However, if you’re simply trying to refresh an old splash-back on your wall, then painting tiles is the perfect solution.

painting tiles

PREP your TILES

Before you put a paint brush anywhere near your tiles, they need to be squeaky clean. A bit of elbow grease may be required to deep clean and de-grout tiles, because paints adhere better to surfaces which are spotlessly clean. Slightly abraded surfaces are also ideal for painting, so go over the tiles lightly with sandpaper before you start.

CREATE A GOOD BASE

Using the right primer, such as Johnstone’s “Any Surface Primer”, is key when it comes to the success of your paintwork. It’s quick drying, it sticks to even the trickiest of surfaces to create a base for both gloss and satin finishes. 

ADD A POP OF COLOUR TO THE WALLS

Here’s the fun bit – painting tiles in the stylish colour of your choice. Johnstone’s kitchen and bathroom paint comes in a range of shades, from pastels to bolds, which will completely transform the space.  

Top tip: use masking tape to protect the surfaces next to your tiles – or the newly painted tiles themselves if you decide to re-grout.

Or if you’re looking to spruce everything up quickly with minimal fuss, you could look into getting a new acrylic splashback.

Have you ever painted tiles? How did it work out for you?

How we brightened up our home with a Litecraft Floor Lamp

It wasn’t until the clocks went back at the end of October that I really appreciated how dark my living room was, and that first night of early darkness was a bit of a shock to the system. Clearly we needed to make improvements to the lighting at home. Our old table lamp just wasn’t cutting it anymore, so we opted for a new floor lamp from Litecraft.

We wanted something stylish and contemporary without being too avant garde and challenging. I also wanted a light I could work under. Our old lamp had always been too dark to use to read by, or do any close work like sewing. I’ve known for a couple of years we needed something better, a light you can’t really see with isn’t really that helpful.

There were lots of different styles to choose from, but we thought this chrome tripod lamp with the mocha coloured shade would fit the bill. I think it strikes the right balance in my living room. It blends in well and looks at home, but it’s still an aesthetically pleasing lamp.

litecraft floor lamp

Ordering online was easy, the website was easy to search and navigate and my lamp arrived really well packed and wrapped in bubble-wrap. All we needed to do was screw the leg pieces together and put the lamp shade on. It took no more than a couple of minutes. 

The mocha shade really works well with the colours in my living room and importantly, you can see what you’re doing of an evening. The shade is well made, it’s not flimsy and it’s obviously made with good quality materials.

You switch the lamp on with a foot press switch, a chunky switch which lives on the floor. It is 151cm tall and the shade is 44cm in diameter. It’s a lovely, bright, clean and contemporary looking lamp and a fine addition to my home. I’m really pleased with it.

litecraft floor lamp

We’ve had the floor lamp in our living room for a little over a week now and the difference it’s made to us in the evenings is significant. We are no longer sat there with the “big light” on, the room feels much cosier, but it’s now much lighter, so much so I can now sit and read and sew if I want to. 

This beautiful floor lamp from Litecraft was £179, but I’ve noticed on the Litecraft website that it has been reduced to under £81 and delivery is free. I think £81 is a really good price for such a good quality light and lamp shade.

I’m as pleased as Punch and I know this will be a part of our living room for many years to come.

Note: We were sent this lamp for review purposes, all images an opinions are our own.

Review: Voluspa Maison Candle

As autumn turns into winter I like to fill my house with festive smells. Cinnamon and spruce are my go to scents at this time of the year. I think scented candles, especially in the run up to Christmas are a simple way of creating a cosy and festive atmosphere in the home. We were sent the Voluspa Maison Candle scented with spruce cuttings to put to the test, but what did we think?

Voluspa Maison Candle

The two wick Voluspa Maison candle comes in a beautifully decorated tin, so you can take it wherever you go.  The “Spruce Cuttings” candle is made from royal Colorado blue spruce cuttings, so when you light this candle the room is filled with an authentic spruce fragrance. The tin is also useful for keeping your candle dust free. I always find you can never adequately dust your candles, so a candle with a lid or cover is always welcome.

All Voluspa scented candles are made with without phthalates, parabens and sulfates. This lovely two wick scented candle is made from 11oz of coconut wax and has a burn time of around 50 hours.

Voluspa Maison Candle

The “Spruce Cuttings” Voluspa Maison Candle would be a lovely candle to have in the same room as your Christmas tree, enhancing its natural tree fragrance. The candle has a good throw – meaning that it fills the room fairly quickly with fragrance. I’ve had it lit downstairs this morning and I can still smell it upstairs. A good throw is generally an indicator of a good quality candle.

Voluspa Maison Candle

The Voluspa Maison Candle costs £20 which compared to other high end candles of this quality is good value. It’s made with high quality ingredients and the tin looks lovely and is the kind of thing I’d keep and keep bits and bobs in afterwards.

The Maison “Holiday” range includes several different festive fragrances including Cinnamon Ceylon and Copal and Visions of Sugar Plum, as well as a selection of different candle types including gift sets.

Voluspa candles are available on their website and from a range of retailers including House of Fraser.

Review: Finding Dory Bedding from Character World

This summer, one of the big kids movie hits was Finding Dory. We’ve had a lot of chatter and excitement in our house about this forgetful fish since the film was released. Imagine his little face when I handed him some Finding Dory Bedding from Character World! 

Back when I was a child there was no such thing as character bedding. My bedding was plain and fairly unexciting. Now I really love character bedding and I really enjoying picking out new sets for my son. I always think that new bedding is a quick and fairly inexpensive way to give a bedroom a fresh look. 

This new Finding Dory Bedding really works well with my son’s bedroom. We painted it last year with a dark blue feature wall which we stuck glow in the dark stars on. The blue works with most things and this aquatic themed bedding is no exception.

Finding Dory Bedding

The Finding Dory Bedding is brightly coloured and good quality, the bedding feels soft, not stiff like some bedding can be when you first take it out of the packet and it is made from 100% polycotton. This bedding is also reversible so you are able to choose one of two designs to have as your bedding, which the small boy loves.

One side has got a picture of the Finding Dory characters and is mainly a blue colour. The other side of the cover is a white background with different coloured fish. I’d actually have the shoal of fish side as my bedding. It’s colourful and fun.

The pillowcase has “Making a Splash” written on it and it works with both sides of the bedding.

The boy couldn’t wait for us to make his bed up with the new bedding and got into bed as soon as he could so he could enjoy it. I was delighted with this accidental side-effect – an early night!

In addition to the Finding Dory Duvet Set, we were sent a Finding Dory Hooded Towel (which is perfect for round the swimming pool on holiday) and a lovely Finding Dory cushion to go on his bed with him.

Finding Dory Bedding

The Finding Dory bedding from Character World has been a big hit. I’ll be looking out for other character bedding from them, because the quality and colours are excellent and it washes really well. You can’t really go wrong.

 

Disclosure: We received the Finding Dory bedding for the purposes of writing this review, all opinions and images are our own. Contains Amazon affiliate links.

Review: Funky Polychrome Light from Paladone

Now that the nights are drawing in I’ve realised that I need better lighting in my office at home. So when Paladone offered to send me a Polychrome light to review, I knew it would be put to good use. 

The light is a stylish light bulb shape with different mood settings. The light is powered by micro USB, although you can put batteries in it too. The clever thing is, when you plug it in to the USB it overrides the batteries, so they last a bit longer. It also means that when you unplug the USB you’re not suddenly plunged into darkness.

Paladone

The light has different mood settings. Press the the light down once and the colour changing light begins to change through a sequence of colours. If you find a colour you’re particularly fond of, you can press it again and it will stay on that colour. Press the light again to turn it off. Simple.

This isn’t the kind of light you can use to read under, but it does create some lovely, calming ambient light. I have it on a side table next to my desk which my son can see from his bed at night, he’s told me that watching the light helps him to fall asleep. 

paladone

Although it’s not a light for working with, I do enjoy having it in my work room. It does cast some lovely shadows and it has helped to increase the light levels in my office to a level I can work with. Every little helps.

It’s a really innovative light, stylish and a real talking point. It would work just as well in a child’s room as a nightlight, as in a contemporary office space or a teenager’s bedroom for example.

 

A video posted by HodgePodgeDays (@hodgepodgedays) on

The Polychrome light costs £19.99 and is available directly from the Paladone website and from selected retailers. I have a discount code for the Paladone website which is valid until 31st October 2016. For 20% off enter SHOP20 at the checkout.

Note: I was sent this light for review purposes. All images and opinions are my own.

The day our fridge freezer died!

When we moved into our house 5 years ago our old fridge freezer moved with us. It had been clunking and clanking in an increasingly worrying way for a little while, but we figured it would limp along for a bit until we had some spare cash to replace it.

In the event it limped along for four more years. For most of those four years I was constantly chipping chunks of ice out of the bottom of the fridge, glancing at it worriedly as it whirred and clanked away to itself in the corner.

It had crossed my mind that I should start saving for a replacement, but cash was in very short supply. I had hoped that the fridge freezer fairy would look kindly upon me and just magic one into my kitchen. No such luck.

In the end I began asking family members for cash and vouchers for my birthday and Christmas so I could “save up” that way. I probably got about half way there before it clunked its last shortly after Christmas. We didn’t want or need anything flash, we just needed something that would keep things cool for us, with enough room to store food for the family each week. 

The fridge died at both the best and worst possible time. Straight after Christmas when there are no pennies in the piggy bank, but at least the sales were on. I sat down and did my research, found one that would be suitable but was more at the budget end of the spectrum. I counted the cash and vouchers I’d saved but still found I was £150 short. 

I quickly did some research on short term loans. We didn’t need to borrow much and I knew if we tightened our belts for a month or so we could pay off the loan quickly. Vivus offered us a pretty good deal, you can borrow £100-£300 from them on a short term basis, as long as you pay it back in time there’s no problem. It was enough to get us over the post-Christmas dead fridge freezer bump.

I’ve always tried to have some money put aside for a rainy day, but sometimes it’s not enough. Our new fridge freezer is doing a sterling job, it’s virtually silent compared to the last one and I hope we’ll have many happy years together. 

fridge freezer

= This is a collaborative post =

Back on my feet – the physio who changed my life

Three years ago I was having rehab with a remarkable physio. I’d spent 8 months flat on my back waiting for, having and recovering from two spinal surgeries and he was helping to teach me to live my new normal. Nothing would ever be the same again, but he gave me the confidence to be a better version of me, if not physically but at least mentally. He was one of the many stars of the NHS who helped me rebuild myself again.

My physio encouraged me to not think about what I couldn’t do anymore, but how I could do things differently. He appealed to my problem solving, determined side and he really believed in me. Over a period of weeks he had me doing normal things most people take for granted. Hanging the washing out, loading the dishwasher, pushing my small son to the end of my road and back in his pram and sitting for incrementally longer periods. It was all exhausting, but the few months I spent under his care cemented the foundations for how I now live my life.

physio

Although I don’t allow my disability to define me, every physical move I make is carefully calculated and internally risk assessed. The numbness in my feet and legs means I have to focus extra hard when walking down the stairs, I can’t really lift anything heavier than a couple of tins of beans and taking a bath or a shower means lots of health and safety checklists have to be scrolled through in my brain before I get the shower gel out.

Currently my bathroom doesn’t have any adaptations, but I know that at the very least it could do with a couple of sturdy grab handles. Not being able to feel the soles of my feet (everything feels like I’m stood on a sponge) means that baths and showers pose a slippery threat I won’t be aware of until it’s too late.

I know that when the time comes for us to upgrade our bathroom that a walk in shower with a seat would be very useful. There are lots of companies such as Premier Bathrooms who offer stylish bath suites and walk-in showers these days which I’ll be checking out when the time comes.

There’s nothing I can do to get the feeling back in my feet and legs. I know that rest helps if it suddenly gets worse, but how I am right now is the best I’m going to get. I’m pleased that my fantastic physio worked hard with me and pushed me to the point that if you didn’t know my medical history, you would probably think I was completely fine. And I am completely fine with that. 

= This is a collaborative post =

Taking Gas Safety seriously: protect your family

When I was pregnant with the small boy, I like most expectant mothers started nesting. It wasn’t enough for me to decorate the nursery, we had everything painted. The bathroom ripped out and replaced and a new boiler fitted. We hadn’t planned to have a new boiler, it’s just that on our annual gas safety inspection the Gas Safe Engineer condemned both it and the gas fire. Oh dear.

Since then I’ve been especially on the ball when it comes to booking our annual gas safety check. Every summer we get our boiler and central heating system checked over and serviced. Summer may seem an odd time to get it done, but I’d rather ensure that everything is safe and sound while we’re not really needing central heating, than wait until winter kicks in before finding that our boiler is kaput. 

It’s not just your boiler which needs an annual check and service, but all gas appliances in your home, such as gas fires, ovens and hobs and anything else you may have in the house. Although you may not store your gas BBQ or any camping gas in your home, and they are unlikely to fall within the remit of your annual gas safety check, you should take care to ensure they are stored safely and that they are regularly checked over for damage or wear and tear. 

Horrifying stories about carbon monoxide poisoning appear too regularly on the news for my liking. I often think how vulnerable we were when I was pregnant and the boiler was spewing out harmful gases we couldn’t smell, and may never have known about until it was too late.

to ensure the gas safety of your home you should –

  1. Get your boiler and gas appliances checked annually.
  2. Ensure they are checked by a qualified Gas Safe Engineer.
  3. Get a Carbon Monoxide Alarm and fit it, it could save your life.
  4. If the alarm sounds, turn off your gas supply and seek professional advice.
  5. If there is a problem call the Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 111 999

Having your boiler and gas appliances checked annually by a qualified gas safety engineer is a simple thing you can do to ensure the safety of your family in the place they should feel the safest – your home.

gas safety

= In collaboration with Flogas =

Think before you flush – Make the #3PPromise

When raw sewage lifted a manhole cover in my Dad’s garden and human waste bubbled out and ran down his path, he guessed there was a major blockage somewhere. He got on the phone to United Utilities and they sent a team down to deal with it.

After some serious and rather disgusting delving, they discovered that one of the pipes was blocked with a nappy on of his neighbours flushed down the toilet (how this is possible I do not know). They also found about six months worth of baby wipes another neighbour had used each night to take her make up off, which she then flushed away.

I’ve always been careful about what we flush down the loo. The usual stuff is ok, but anything like nappies, wipes and sanitary products are always wrapped up and binned – the lesser of two environmental evils. If my home was a hospital those kinds of things would be labelled “biohazard” and sent for incineration, but these days my local council favours landfill.

United Utilities have recently launched a campaign to think before you flush. It’s a campaign I fully support, having surveyed the aftermath of the “poopocalypse” in my Dad’s garden I am keen to do everything I can to stop that happening here. I’ve also walked on far too many beaches which have been strewn with things people have just flushed and forgotten, and no one wants to take a child to a beach covered in used condoms and tampons.

think before you flush

In the UK we spend over £500 million per year on wipes for all sorts of purposes, from cleaning our sinks to caring for children. Wipes are so handy around the home, I think I’ve got at least 5 different kinds of wipes in my house for all different purposes. The problem is they don’t biodegrade and break down like toilet paper would, even if they say they’re biodegradable on the packet they can still clog up the sewers around your home for months or even years whilst they rot down.

Each year United Utilities deals with around 25,000 blockages, a significant number of which are caused by unflushables being flushed! If you take a moment to wrap any unmentionables (I use cheap nappy bags at about 20p for 250) and bin them you can do your bit to help prevent blockages not just on your property, but down your street and beyond. It also means the next time you go for a walk on the beach you might not be reunited with something you flushed and forgot. 

The only thing you should flush down your toilet are the three Ps – pee, poo and toilet paper! Think before you flush!

For a whole heap of useful resources including videos, pictures and reports as well as a family friendly downloadable information pack created especially for parents which includes fun activities and posters, visit the United Utilities Website.

think before you flush

= In collaboration with United Utilities =

Review: The Snug Anti Allergy Duvet from Sleepy People

In the UK Allergy Awareness Week 2016 is on the 25th April – 1st May. It seems a fitting time of the year to focus on allergies, as the hay fever season has begun and is making life a misery for thousands of sufferers. Although I thankfully don’t suffer with hay fever, I do have a few allergies which I need to be careful of, including a dust allergy which can make me especially miserable. Because I’ve extra cautious about dust, I was looking forward to trying out my Snug Cotton Anti Allergy Duvet from Sleepy People and seeing how I got on with it.

Sleepy People are an online bedding retailer based in the UK. They offer a range of products including anti-allergy items. The duvet I chose, the Anti Allergy Duvet from Snug has an anti allergy treatment which is designed to protect you against dust mites, odour causing bacteria & mould residue.

Anti Allergy Duvet

The duvet comes packaged in a thin fabric bag which I guess you could use to pack it away if you were swapping duvets mid year for a warmer or colder tog.

The Snug Anti Allergy Duvet has a 100% pure cotton cover and is filled with anti allergy polyester hollowfibre. It has a tog of 10.5 which is kind of mid range, neither too warm, or too light and ideal for me all year round I suspect. In the summer I tend to sleep on top of the covers anyway and I don’t like to be too warm, even in winter.

Anti Allergy Duvet

The small boy helped me make the bed. He loved how soft it was and said that it felt like a cloud. My old duvet was about 5 years old and had lost its pillowiness so I take his point. Once we’d made my bed up I loved how it looked, my old skinny duvet now looked mean in comparison, now my bed looked like a comfy hotel bed.Anti Allergy Duvet

That night I got into bed and snuggled down, I do believe there are few joys in life greater than clean, fresh bedding. Add a brand new duvet or pillow to that and you’re in the best bed in the world.

I’ve used my new Anti Allergy Duvet for a little under a week. I can’t hand on heart swear that it’s made a difference, but previously I was waking up every morning with a bunged up nose and a sore throat, but so far I’ve woken up feeling fine every morning. I’d not considered that I might be waking up feeling awful because of my dust allergy. Plus it’s super-comfy!

The Snug Anti Allergy Duvet from Sleepy People is currently priced at £29.99 and whilst you can pick up a cheap duvet for around half that, I think that given my dust allergy situation and the fact that I’m waking up feeling normal each morning makes that a good investment. Given the amount of time each year I spend hugging my duvet and snuggling under it, it’s probably worth investing in something a little nicer, like this one.

Note: I was sent the Snug Anti Allergy Duvet from Sleepy People for review purposes. All images and opinions are my own.