Tag Archives: Home

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.

Getting Organised with Shelfstore

Working from home has many benefits and I know I’m very lucky. I’m generally disciplined enough to go to my home office every morning at 9am, and work virtually uninterrupted until the boys tumble in from school and work wanting their tea. One of the downsides of working from home is that my office is horribly cluttered. After getting sick of working from the sofa, a few months ago I set up a makeshift office space in the “man-room”. This has been great, but the room is still half filled with man stuff and my workspace is a chaotic mess.

I’ve been mulling over various solutions for a while now, but what was clear was that I needed more shelves which would accommodate books, files, boxes and various other bits. Motivating myself to put stuff in files and on the shelves would be a different matter entirely.

It was suggested I have a look at Shelfstore, they make made-to-measure shelving units for use around the home and in the office, so perfect for my home office then! The place I wanted to put the shelves was in an unusual spot, below a sloping ceiling, so I needed a shelving solution to fit my non-standard space. I also needed a few shelves I could access without having to bend.

shelftore

The online design wizard – surprisingly simple!

Once I’d measured up, I just put the measurements into the Shelfstore online design wizard, selected how many shelves I needed and what my requirements were, and a design was suggested. It looked like a simple and robust design, and seemed ideal for what I needed it for. Tempted by the thought of a tidy and organised office space, I put my order in. A few days later my flat-pack shelving units arrived and just needed assembling.

shelfstore

The shelves arrived in several well-packed boxes, yes they were heavy but you’d expect that from proper wooden shelving. On a rainy Sunday my husband took them upstairs and began to put them together. They were supplied with a set of simple instructions and seemed fairly self explanatory.  It didn’t take him that long to do, maybe 90 minutes for a pretty big shelving unit and there wasn’t that much swearing involved either!

When he’d finished he called me upstairs to show off his hard work. I have to say that I was really impressed. The shelves fit the space really well, they were the right height for my needs and seemed to be really strong (their website says each shelf can hold up to 100kg, which is just as well given how much clutter I have). I really like the pale pine colour of the shelves which brightens up the dark room too.

shelfstore

Made-to-measure shelves designed with the Shelfstore online design wizard, quick delivery, sturdy, attractive shelves built by a handsome man (not supplied). I’m a very happy bunny. Now I just need a PA to do my filing for me….

= In collaboration with Shelfstore =

Holiday Inspiration for the Home from Culture Vulture Direct

The thing about going on holiday is that when you return home you tend to look at your house with fresh eyes. Sometimes you look and think “I love my little house”, sometimes you just think it needs a bit of a spruce up. I often return home with a head filled with visions of shimmering blue oceans, hot sands and inspired by the culture I’ve spent the last few weeks visiting.

In my case, though you may not feel it exotic, we’ve just had a glorious fortnight in Cornwall. The sun shone and we spent our days pottering around fishing villages, relaxing on the beach and eating al fresco. When I got home I wanted to recreate a little bit of the coastal vibe in my suburban home and bring a bit of the seaside sunshine back with me.

On my return home I checked out Culture Vulture Direct, a lovely little online shop full to the brim of beautiful things for your home and garden, inspired by and sourced from all over the world, including New England, Scandinavia, India, Greece and Morocco, amongst many others.

Culture Vulture Direct

Having returned from Cornwall, I wanted to fill my house full of the beautiful blues of the sea, they don’t have a Cornish section, but they have the next best thing, Greece. I was immediately drawn to the beautiful hydra jug, a gorgeous chunky water jug, with an interesting and practical design, perfectly blue and only £24.99, it really jumped out at me. It’s now in regular use at mealtimes, it’s possibly my favourite thing on my dining table!

Culture Vulture Direct

The unofficial symbol of Cornwall these days seems to be the mackerel, it’s everywhere. We already have some fishy themed things in our kitchen to remind us of our Cornish adventures, so we decided to add to our existing collection. I chose a useful fish trivet (£14.99) which will be great for everyday use, as well as for when I need to plonk a hot casserole dish on the table, as well as a shoal of (fridge) magnets (£12.99). The magnets are hand carved and painted in shades of blue, they look lovely on our fridge and they really fit in with our fishy theme.

Lastly I bought these beautiful shantou bowls (£22.99) from China, they come in sets of five and have been hand painted. I loved them on sight. We eat a lot of Thai and Chinese food so these will be used for our takeaway and fakeaway nights.

Culture Vulture Direct

Wherever you’ve been on your travels, or if you’ve been inspired elsewhere, then Culture Vulture Direct is a lovely, easy to use website with reasonably priced products for your home and garden. They also sell clothes, jewellery and accessories. I enjoyed shopping with them and I’ll be dipping in and out throughout the year, buying treats for me and presents for others.

Written in collaboration with Culture Vulture Direct.

Why I bottle fed my baby and have no regrets

When I was pregnant I’d always planned to breastfeed. I’d bought myself creams and pads and did all the boob massages beforehand to encourage milk flow and all that kind of thing. Being a realist and did buy a cheap set of bottles, a steamer and 48 hours worth of formula milk just in case. I thought they wouldn’t go to waste if I could express some milk. I knew my baby could be bottle fed breast milk by his Dad.

As it happened my boy was born early in traumatic style and I had a condition which made breastfeeding incredibly difficult. Together we spent a week in hospital. During those long, hard days every midwife for miles around tried to milk me, to no avail. Not a drop could be found. We collectively gave up and resigned ourselves to having a bottle fed baby.

Why I bottle fed my baby and have no regrets

I really don’t give a tuppenny cuss if parents choose to feed their baby by breast or bottle. It’s really no ones business but your own. As a parent you’ve got to go with what works best for you and your family. If you can’t breastfeed, even with experts on hand to help you, then there is no point at all beating yourself up about it. Parenting throws enough guilt and anxiety your way and it’s not worth getting het up over.

Yes, I totally get the breast is best argument. But I look at my nephew and my son who are only 6 months apart in age. My nephew was breastfed and my boy bottle fed and there is no difference. They are both lively, happy, engaging, intelligent boys. Both healthy, cheeky and thriving.

Breastfeeding is an emotive subject. Something which everyone has an opinion on and one which is a real parenting hot potato. For me as with most things, my attitude is do whatever you want, but don’t pour scorn on those who do things differently. That’s just good manners and respect.

How did you choose to feed your baby – breast or bottle fed and would you change anything?

Spaghetti with Yellow Courgette Sauce

This is an old family favourite and perfect for batch making and freezing when you’ve grown a glut of courgettes (of any colour) or they are extra cheap in the shops. We grow our own so this is a summer staple for us and a cheeky way of getting veg into a toddler without him realising.

I admit it’s not pretty but it tastes delicious and you can make is as healthy or naughty as you want.

Here’s what I do…

Grate (in the food processor, life’s too short) 2-3 courgettes per person and then ping in the microwave or just cook on the hob until soft. Season generously with salt, pepper and dried chilli flakes then whizz up in the blender until smooth.

Return to the hob and reheat. Stick some spaghetti on to cook and grate some cheese (this is the healthy/naughty part) and add it to the sauce, stir until melted through. Use your judgement and taste as you go, you can always add more, but I added a dollop of soft cheese with garlic and herbs, cheddar and Parmesan. Melt through and taste for seasoning and cheesiness. Once the spaghetti is cooked drain and stir the sauce through and serve.

image

Yes it really is as easy as that. When dealing with a glut we freeze before we add the cheese as it seems to freeze better. It really is delicious, though admittedly it’s slightly prettier with green courgettes.

If you try it let me know what you think.

Knock-Out Gnocchi

photo (5)I’m at times a lazy cook but I draw the line at stabbing at the plastic film of a ready meal. After a busy day, my boys just want a decent meal in their belly and I want to cook it quick so I can open the wine.

So tonight I cooked a very adaptable, use what’s hanging around in the fridge, gnocchi dish. I urge you to try it as it’s simple, satisfying and delicious but don’t feel tied to the ingredients, mix it up and feel free to stick whatever you fancy in.

My Knock-Out Gnocchi…

Slice a large onion, red or white your choice and gently sizzle in a drizzle of olive oil. Chop a large red pepper, add to the onions and gently fry until they’re both soft but not coloured. Crush a clove of garlic and add to the pan with some salt and pepper. Throw in a handful of halved cherry tomatoes and some fresh thyme. I added some dried oregano too (because I love it, but add whatever herbs you want, dried or fresh, whatever you like). Cook with the lid on until the tomatoes have relaxed then remove from the pan and set aside.

Fling a very generous glug of olive oil into the pan, get the oil hot and throw in a bag of fresh gnocchi (if you’re using the off the shelf stuff rather than from the fridge section, then I’d give that a quick boil in some water). The aim is to get the gnocchi to develop a bit of a roast potato style crust so keep the pan hot, hot, hot and stir often. Season with salt and pepper and be patient, it will take a little while (but not forever I promise, remember I’m lazy and greedy).

Once your gnocchi has developed a sexy crust, tip your onion and pepper mix back into the pan and mix together. Add about half a jar of pesto and stir. Warm everything through for a minute and plate up. Serve with crusty bread and some salad. A large glass of red wouldn’t go amiss either.

This time I cooked it we had some leftover peas in the fridge, so they went in and we had some rocket growing it’s socks off in the garden, so some of that was stirred through until wilted with a few leftover leaves popped on top for garnish. Don’t be afraid to freestyle with this recipe. It’s very forgiving but the crusty gnocchi are a must!

Clean plates all round and compliments to the chef. Aces.

Vegetarian Recipe: Skinny Homity Pie

I had a falling out with my kitchen around Christmas time. The turkey gave me the evil eye, the sprouts turned on me and quite frankly the stuffing can get stuffed. So ever since then my usual culinary enthusiasm has been somewhat lacking. Perhaps it was the change of season or the pile of leftover new potatoes glaring at me from the fridge, but inspiration struck and I decided to do my take on the Cranks classic – Homity Pie.

Skinny Homity Pie

I’m not a massive fan of thick pastry, unless it’s covered in jam and cream with a big cherry on the top. So for a while I’d been musing about a homity pie made with filo. So I looked up the Cranks recipe, carefully read it, closed the book and put it back on the shelf. I was going to experiment and see if I could make it a bit healthier but just as tasty.

Skinny Homity Pie

Ingredients:
1 onion, finely diced
Olive oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme (or dried if you don’t have fresh)
Enough sliced cooked potatoes to half fill your pie dish
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of mustard
3 or 4 pieces of shop bought filo pastry
50g grated Cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper

Method:

Sweat one onion in a dab of olive oil, when soft add a crushed clove of garlic and as much fresh thyme as you fancy (I used a lot, thyme and onions are the best of friends and I have a huge thyme plant in the garden).

Slice up a pile of cooked potatoes; I used new potatoes because that’s what I had.

Whisk up 2 eggs, some salt and pepper and a goodly dollop of your favourite mustard.

Grab your favourite quiche or pie dish, give it a light coating of oil, lay a piece of filo in the dish, oil that piece of filo and artfully drape another on top, repeat the process until you’ve got 3 or 4 pieces of filo piled up, greased and ready to go.

Mix your sliced spuds and the unctuous onion mix together, spread a layer in the bottom of your dish, sprinkle a handful of cheese over and drizzle your mustardy egg over, layer the remaining spuds, pour over your leftover egg and top with another handful of grated cheese.

I baked it in the oven for 25 minutes at 220 degrees or until it looks golden and gorgeous.

I served it with a huge green salad and some oven roasted tomatoes. It was a huge hit with the boys, impressive as the toddler is (oh joy) going though a picky phase. This Homity Pie is monumentally easy to do, half quiche, half homity pie and it’s a real family favourite!

For more simple and tasty family recipes, click here.Vegetarian Recipe: Skinny Homity Pie