Tag Archives: kitchen

Review: Spring Cleaning with Bar Keepers Friend

I dislike cleaning but I like living in a nice clean house. When I clean I like to use things which will be quick and effective, leaving my kitchen and bathroom gleaming with minimal effort. I was sent a selection of cleaning products from Bar Keepers Friend to try out, so this weekend we set about cleaning our kitchen and bathroom to see if Bar Keepers Friend would help our house to sparkle.

Bar Keepers Friend was first launched in 1882 in America, where the story goes that in 1882 a chemist from Indianapolis noticed how clean and shiny his tarnished pot was after cooking rhubarb. Using an active ingredient that’s found in the plant he made a talcum smooth cleaner and sold it to the city’s taverns. It worked so well that it was called ‘Bar Keepers Friend’. 

Bar Keepers Friend uses a blend of Oxalic Acid (found in rhubarb, parsley and chives) and a mineral base with surfactant to make one of the most popular cleaning brands in the UK.

bar keepers friend

We were sent the following products to try –

  • Bar Keepers Friend Stain Remover Powder: (250g, RRP: £2.99)
  • Bar Keepers Friend Power Cream – a superior cream formulation that “cleans where others fail”. For for cookware, kitchens and bathrooms (350ml, RRP: £2.99).
  • Bar Keepers Friend Power Spray – this easy-to-use format is for use in everyday cleaning situations, from kitchen and bathroom to stainless steel and glass (500ml RRP: £2.99).

Using the three products we tackled the kitchen and bathroom areas. We used the Bar Keepers Friend Power Spray in the kitchen, we cleaned the kitchen sink and hob with it and I was impressed with how shiny they were after use. 

bar keepers friend

We didn’t have to deploy too much elbow grease either. They power spray cut through the dirt and with a little (and I mean a little) amount of buffing and soon the sink and hob were shining.

Hubs used the Bar Keepers Friend Stain Remover Powder on the kitchen floor. There were a couple of stubborn marks from some crafting we’d been doing in the kitchen (don’t ask) and they needed a bit of focussed attention rather than a waft over with my damp mop. The stain remover is a powder you sprinkle onto a damp cloth. I have to say we were both very impressed at how quickly the stain lifted from the floor and the shine it left afterwards. I can tell why this is their “original and best” product.

Lastly we had a go at the bathroom with the Bar Keepers Friend Power Cream. This was a white cream which we used with a damp cloth, cleaning all the nooks and crannies in and around the taps and in the basin and bath. I was really impressed at how  bright and sparkly everything was afterwards. It’s so lovely I’m loathe to let the boys back into the bathroom again.

Bar Keepers Friend removes stubborn stains and cuts through mineral deposits, oil and grease, rust stains and everyday grime on stainless steel, tiles, ceramic, glass, plastic, chrome, brass, copper and other surfaces too.

I liked Bar Keepers Friend, I think it’s a fantastic range of products, especially for those times when your cleaning needs an extra boost and a bit of a stain lifting supercharge. I was genuinely surprised when those crafting marks came off the kitchen floor and both the kitchen sink and the bathroom were gleaming. I couldn’t fault it. I’ll be looking at rhubarb in an entirely different way from now on.

Bar Keepers Friend is available in Robert Dyas, B&Q, Lakeland, John Lewis, Waitrose, Ocado and a range of independent retailers. For more information visit the Bar Keepers Friend website.

 

Review: Spring Cleaning with Astonish

This weekend the sun streamed through the windows and I saw my house properly in the warm glow of daylight for the first time in months. I like many others felt the urge to give everywhere a good scrub. I suspect I was not alone, up and down my road husbands were cutting the grass whilst their wives were hanging out line after line of washing, taking rugs outside for a good shake and polishing windows. It’s that time of year where everyone feels the need to have a spring clean.

Years ago I was less cautious about the chemicals I used around the house, I didn’t really care as long as the house was clean, but these days I’m a little more careful, I have the small boy to worry about as well as an asthmatic husband, and I try not to use cleaning products which make me catch my breath.

Astonish has a full range of products, which are all Vegetarian Society Approved, to help you clean your home from top to bottom. Better still, many of the products in the range have an RRP of just £1, so you can clean your house and not break the bank too.

We were sent some Astonish cleaning products to try out, including the new All in 1 Dishwasher Tablets, Oven & Cookware Cleaner, Grease Off Spray & Wipe, Antibacterial Cleanser and Grout & Tile Cleaner.

Astonish

The antibacterial cleaner is brilliant, often these kind of cleaners have a strong smell so we don’t buy them again, but this had virtually no smell and cleaned the kitchen surfaces really well. I’d happily use this multipurpose product all over the house again.

The Grease Off Spray & Wipe was so good on the hob. I know I should wipe it down every day, but it probably gets a scrub once a week, sometimes I have to really give it some elbow grease, but this lifted the burnt on bits and left my hob clean and shiny with very little effort at all.

I loved the Grout & Tile Cleaner, my bathroom grout has started to get a bit grubby and difficult to clean. This is easy to use, just spray it on and leave for 10 minutes, then go back and give it a rub with a cloth and it comes up almost like new. More stubborn bits of grout might need a second application, but it couldn’t be easier to use. Although we didn’t review it, we’ve been using the Astonish Mould & Mildew Remover for years and it’s fantastic for sorting out mould on bathroom sealants and very grubby tiles.

Hubs who is in charge of the dishwasher tried out the new All in 1 Dishwasher Tablets, they are formulated to remove even the toughest dried on stains including tea, coffee, dried sauces and gravy. They have a built in salt and rinse aid and they don’t contain Phosphates, so the product is kinder to the environment. They are also really good value (I’ve found them online for £2.99 for 40 dishwasher tablets).

He’s tried a lot of different brands of dishwasher tablets and he was very happy with these, the glasses were sparkly and there were no dried on bits left on the cutlery or dishes. We would definitely buy these again. It’s nice to be using a brand name product for a budget price.

Astonish

I used to think cleaning products were all the same, but they’re not (years of cleaning have taught me something at least). These products from Astonish don’t smell so bad that you can taste them in the air, they’re pleasant to use and they do the job well. They’re not expensive, with an average RRP of £1, having a clean house won’t cost the earth. I’m glad I’ve got these Astonish products in my spring cleaning armoury, I’ll be looking out for them in the future.

You can find out more about Astonish on their website. Astonish cleaning products are available from a wide range of retailers.

 

The key kitchen trend predictions for 2016

Looking around my perfectly serviceable but depressingly drab kitchen makes me want to dip into Pinterest and make plans for a much needed refurb. My kitchen is fine and dandy, but I didn’t choose it and despite it having lots of windows and natural light, it always seems dingy. I’ve been looking at and researching some of the kitchen trend predictions for 2016 and wondering what might work in the busiest room in our house. I found this article particularly helpful.

This year open plan, family kitchens are still the order of the day, with high gloss finishes and striking colours being much sought after. Contemporary country styles are increasingly popular amongst people wanting a stylish kitchen with a more traditional style.

Colourful Kitchen Cupboards

My boring beech laminate cupboards have had their day, this year contrasting cabinets are in, with different colours and finishes helping to give the impression of your kitchen being an exciting and vibrant place.

Open shelving is also bang on trend this year, showing off your beautiful dishes and glassware, as well as cooking books and gadgets is all the rage. Open shelving can give you more kitchen storage options, increase the amount of light in the room and can give you a sense of space, which is perfect for smaller kitchens.

kitchen trend predictions for 2016

Colour, Colour, Colour!

Much like colourful kitchen cabinets, one of the key kitchen trend predictions for 2016 is colourful kitchen appliances. We’ve grown bored of white, black or silver coloured appliances, and this year we’ll be seeing brighter, bolder colours available. We’re all familiar with the funky and brightly coloured American-style retro fridges – now you can let your dishwasher join in the fun. 

Affordable Luxury

Granite and Quartz worktops have in recent years been a popular choice for the kitchen due to their durability and stylish look, and this year is no exception. Advances in production and cutting techniques now mean that granite and quartz worktops are more affordable than ever. Classic dark greys and black worktops are on trend right now, and are perfect for creating a luxurious look. The stunning granite and quartz worktops from Mayfair Granite are particularly lovely.

Practical, Beautiful Lighting

If there’s one thing every kitchen needs it’s good lighting. Cooking and preparation requires good light. We have dreadful and fairly useless spotlights in our kitchen, they cast unhelpful shadows and they really annoy me. Good lighting is key to creating the right ambience in the kitchen too. 2016 will see the emergence of pendant lighting and under cabinet lighting will gain popularity once more.

Pedant lights can create a more relaxing and informal environment in the kitchen, while under cabinet lighting gives better light for tasks such as food preparation and chopping. Longer lasting LED lights are also gaining popularity due to their durability and brightness.

kitchen trend predictions for 2016

As you can see, the kitchen trend predictions for 2016 are colourful, sleek, stylish and practical. Your kitchen is the heart of your home and it should reflect you and your style, so don’t feel constrained by tradition or formality, express yourself. What kitchen trends will you be embracing this year?

= This is a collaborative post =

Review: TioTina Oven Gloves

I am a keen cook, and like most keen cooks I have the scars to prove it. My usual method for removing hot stuff from the oven and grill is a bunched up tea towel, which is fine until you burn yourself, which I manage to do at least once a week. I was given the chance to try out some TioTina oven gloves to see for myself how effective they are.

TioTina oven gloves, or rather gauntlets are heat resistant to 350 degrees C 662 Fahrenheit with Aramid/Paramid. Bullet proof vests and racing driver fire protection suits are made from similar material, so they’re pretty tough. They’re super-thick and have long cuffs which help protect your arms, which for me is great because my arms and wrists are the bits of me most often burnt.

TioTina Oven Gloves

The gloves have silicone on the palm and fingers which stops hot trays and pans from slipping out of your grip. The gloves are flexible, so if you need to fiddle about with something hot, you can easily do that.

TioTina Oven Gloves

You get two gloves and each glove can go on either hand. I tend to casually whip things out of the oven with one hand, so for me a pair of these TioTina oven gloves will probably last me forever (I’m a bit more cautious with roasting tins full of hot fat though).

We put the TioTina oven gloves to the test. Although we were sent a large pair of gloves and I have the dainty hands of an elegant lady, they still fit me loosely, but I felt confident using them thanks to the silicone grips. Hubs who has hands like shovels tried them out too, and the gloves fit him perfectly . Because I have a cruel streak I made him hold a blisteringly hot oven tray for a good five minutes and he was fine. The gloves passed the test!

TioTina oven gloves

I think it’s important to use proper oven gloves when you’re taking things out of the oven. I’ve lost count of the burns I’ve had over the years and I don’t think it sets a very good example to my son to be so laissez faire about this aspect of kitchen safety, especially when I can’t give him his lunch without issuing at least three warnings about blowing on hot food etc.

The TioTina Oven gloves are robust and make getting things out of the oven very safe. They work fantastically well and will be a key part of my kitchen for some time to come.

To find out more about these fantastic gloves, visit their website or read the reviews or buy on Amazon.

Kitchens of the future – dystopian nightmare or dream come true?

I try not to think too much about the future, sometimes futural things frighten me, I suspect it’s because I spend too much time watching dystopian films and imagining the worst. Partly it’s a fear of change and partly it’s because I don’t think me and hoverboards will get on so well.

This week I read an article about kitchens of the future and whilst I was secretly excited about the idea of a robot chef, I have watched some of the current series of Humans and wouldn’t want it making eyes at my husband. That’s a real concern, he is a good looking lad after all.

kitchens of the future

Don’t get me wrong, some of the things in the article sound pretty useful; such as general improvements in water and energy consumption. The kitchen is one of the most power hungry rooms in the house. I know our dishwasher and washing machine are on at least once a day, no matter how energy efficient our current models are, they are an expensive luxury.

What do I really need? The thing I hate most is tidying up, so I’d like a giant robot arm to come and put away everything I’ve got out and used while I was cooking and then give the work surfaces a good scrub so they’re clean for next time, maybe load and unload the dishwasher for me too.

One thing I’m terrible at is sorting the fridge out, so I occasionally happen upon something lurking at the back which is older, much older than it ought to be and then I have to bin it without getting any of it’s ‘juice of decomposition’ on the floor. Yes. Ick. A device to deal with that would be pretty good. Something to sort the fridge before Environmental Health get involved.

If I could have anything at all it would be a new fridge freezer. I know that’s nothing radical, but ours has been dying a slow death for a while now. It’s starting to become a bit of a health and safety issue, it’s my birthday soon so I’ll be asking for vouchers or money from relatives so I can replace it before it finally turns nasty and kills one of us!

In collaboration with Legal & General

Review: Aquaint Sanitising Water

As a parent blogger I sometimes get to try out products for review. I usually really like the products I’ve been sent, but occasionally I get one where a loud voice in my head shouts “where were you when I had a newborn?”. This week I was sent one such product, Aquaint sanitising water.

When I became a Mum, I was incredibly torn between wanting to sterilise every single thing my precious baby would ever come into contact with, and wondering whether the frankly industrial smell of the products used to make things 100% germ free might be harmful in itself. And then there’s always the argument that a little bit of dirt does no one any harm (thanks Gran).

When I opened the box and had a good look at the bottles, I was surprised to read that the sanitising water can kill 99.9% of bacteria in seconds, but it’s safe enough to spray into your mouth and has passed official UK drinking water tests. It has no smell and it tastes only of water and it’s ideal for sensitive skins and people with allergies, perfect for me then, I’m as sensitive as they come.

Aquaint

You can use the Aquaint sanitising water on hard and soft surfaces including cutlery, tables, toilet seats, toys etc. as well as surfaces that come into contact with the mouth such as toothbrushes, dummies, feeding bottles and even food (e.g. fruit, meat, fish etc.).

We tried it out in the kitchen, cleaning up after we’d eaten a meal at the dining table. It doesn’t remove dirt, a damp cloth and elbow grease do that, but a spray with Aquaint and a quick rub with a clean damp cloth and everything is sanitary and germ free. Hubs even tested the claim that it was okay to spray in your mouth, he didn’t die and he said it just tasted like water.

I’m ex-NHS and in the course of my career (and also as a parent), I have tried every anti-bacterial gel on the market. I have sensitive skin so it was a necessary evil at work and I’d often be left with cracked and sore hands due to the gel we had to use. I can hand on heart say that this is the gentlest anti-bacterial product I’ve used on my hands ever. It doesn’t contain any alcohol, fragrances, preservatives or harmful chemicals and it comes in a handy little bottle which you can easily slip in a handbag or changing bag.

I am genuinely sad I didn’t know about this product earlier. We’ve gone through gallons of anti-bacterial products over the last four years and all of them have cracked my skin or made me feel sick if I’ve accidentally licked a finger afterwards. I’m putting a small bottle of Aquaint in my bag and it’s staying there until the boy has gone to university.

Aquaint Sanitising Water is available from a range of shops including Boots and Amazon for £4.99 for 500mls and £2.49 for a small 50ml bottle.

Note: I was sent some Aquaint sanitising water to try out for review purposes. All images and opinions are my own.

Time for a kitchen upgrade

During our half term holiday I managed to pin my Mister down and have a proper talk about the house. We’ve lived here for nearly four years and there are two rooms which remain untouched and I cannot stand them. One of these rooms is our kitchen diner. In our old house the kitchen was the size of a cupboard, so when I clapped eyes on our current kitchen it was love at first sight. It’s big and light and airy.

The problem is whoever decorated this big, light, airy space decided to tile the floor with black slate tiles and the walls in a selection of dark, dingy coloured tiles. It’s never been what I would choose, but I can live with it, it’s not terrible, it’s just not making the best of what’s there. New kitchens are not cheap.

Kitchen

I long for a bright white kitchen with tiling which makes the most of the light available. I want a lovely chunky light wooden worktop, white walls and splash backs which bounce the light around and are easy to clean. I’m not sure about what to do about the floor tiles though, the black does suck up all the light, but it is really practical and hides a multitude of muddy boot prints and dirty dog paws (we do clean it regularly, fear not).

So decision made, whilst we can’t afford to do anything massively drastic with the tiles or the actual cupboards, we can it least paint the walls a bright white colour and get a new fridge to replace the one which moved with us in 2011 and is currently in its death throes.

I’ve long had my eye on an American style fridge freezer, something we do have the space for and with two hungry boys to feed, a bigger fridge is what I need. Plus I’ve always fancied having one of those integrated cool water dispensers. Sad I know, but it’s the little things.

I’m hoping the Mister will remember his holiday promises to me and that by Easter I’ll have a kitchen I’m much happier with.

Sponsored

Tackling limescale with Durgol Universal

Coming from Manchester we are used to delicious and soft water flowing from our taps, we don’t really suffer from limescale build up at our home in the glorious north, but here in our uncle’s holiday cottage in Devon I’ve never known anything like it. The kettle is furry, the taps have crusty white deposits on them and the shower head is the worst. We’ve been coming here for years and each year we try to clean the shower head of its limescale build up. Over the years we’ve tried vinegar and a range of descaling products, all with mixed amounts of success.

I was sent a bottle of Durgol Universal to try out. Durgol is a liquid decalcifier from Switzerland, which is designed to remove limescale from kettles, coffee machines etc as well as household items such as shower heads.

Costing £9.99 for a 500ml bottle I was expecting really good things from it. The instructions suggested a ten minute immersion in undiluted Durgol for our shower head. Knowing just how bad it would be I gave it 15 minutes and then rinsed the shower head throughly in cold water. We tried the shower out the next day, it was vastly improved, but as I still had the bowl of Durgol I decided to give it another soak, so I popped it back in the undiluted Durgol and left it for another half an hour. I then tested it again and it was almost like new.

Having previously tried a number of other products of this ilk, I was impressed with the Durgol. Sure it took a bit longer than the instructions suggested, but the limescale was thick and years old. The bonus was that we were still left with the bowl of Durgol, so waste not, want not, we cleaned the sink and taps with it, which left them very clean and limescale free, a little in this instance, does go a long way.

For such a powerful liquid you expect it to smell quite potent, it didn’t, it had a neutral smell, not chemically or bleachy at all. I think Durgol Universal is a really useful kitchen maintenance product, we re-used the solution once we’d soaked the shower head, so we made it go further and therefore we thought it was good value for money.

I think if you live in an area prone to limescale build up, then maintaining your appliances is essential and can keep them in good working order for longer. It’s a case of spending a little to save money in the long run.

You can find out more about Durgol Universal and other Durgol limescale products on their website.

Durgol

Note: We were sent a bottle of Durgol Universal free of charge for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Save With Jamie

This week saw the launch of Jamie Oliver’s new series Save with Jamie. It received a mixed reception but we #BlogGirls were inspired to share a few of our tips for thrifty kitchen habits. Here are a few of mine:

Batch cook and freeze
Simple really. If I’m making a pasta sauce for example I often double up and freeze some for a lazy day. This is also really useful if you find bargains and don’t fancy eating them straight away.

Pad out meals
Having a toddler in the house who does love his veg we tend not to worry too much about sneaking extra goodness in him, but if I’m making a spaghetti bolognaise or other mince based dish I often finely grate a couple of carrots into the mince as it’s cooking. This bulks it out a little bit and adds extra goodness. For the same reason I often add some lentils into dishes, the red lentils dissolve into nothing if cooked for long enough but add that extra bit of protein and stretch a budget bag of mince a little bit further.

Whoopsies!
I’m a sucker for the whoopsie shelf in the supermarket. I always have a rummage and often find brilliant bargains which we either eat now or sling in the freezer for another day. I once found a decent sized beef brisket in Co-op for £1.75 which I turned into a delicious pot roast which fed six. I’ve found sea bass fillets for pence too. It’s well worth a rummage and can spark the beginnings of some interesting and unusual meals.

Grow your own
I know not everyone has either the space or green fingers to do this. We do try and grow some veg every year with varying success, the weather has been against us recently. However if you can I really recommend having some hardy herbs. We have a rosemary and a bay tree in a pot by the back door and thyme and chives in the garden. They all require zero maintenance apart from slinging a bit of water over them if they’re dry. We picked up ours incredibly cheaply and we’ve had a few years of free flavourings from them.

Forage
You don’t have to be Bear Grylls to have a forage. At this time of year the hedgerows, lanes and patches of scrubland are heaving with brambles covered in fat juicy blackberries. It’s a great thing to do with kids and you can stock up your freezer with berry-loveliness for the long winter months ahead. Likewise lots of parks and woodlands have some fruit trees which you can sneak a few fruits from. Just always be sure of what you’re picking and don’t strip the trees or bushes, leave some for others and for the birds.

So that’s how we keep kitchen costs down. I’d love to read your tips so do link up with us!