Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Quick & Perfectly Chilled Drinks

A common issue I have is forgetting to put the white wine, beer or other drink that should be chilled in the fridge with plenty of time for it to be the perfect drinking temperature. So I was most pleased to discover that there's a quick and easy way to do this and all it involves is the drink, a paper towel and the freezer.

Wet the paper towel - damp not saturated, wrap it round the bottle, place it in the freezer for 10 - 30 minutes (depending on how big the bottle is and how cool you want it to be) and there you have it!  Simple, quick and tasty!

Perfect for a sunny summer's day in the garden. Lush!

Monday, 7 July 2014

A Cool Seatbelt

Now that summer is truly upon us, it's time to complain about the annoying hot things that may interfere with our enjoyment of the sunshine! One thing I've found is that, when I return to the car, the metal clasp on my seatbelt is boiling! The way to avoid this is simple - buckle it back into its clip when you leave the car, keep it in the shade and...

...hey presto! Cool seatbelt.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Avoiding Sweat Marks

This is such a weird one, but it works to prevent those unseemly sweat marks on blouses and shirts - just place thin pantyliners along the underarm seam inside the blouse! The other bonus is that it will protect the shirt's material so the sweat marks don't stain it permanently and you'll get more wear from it.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Children's Garden Shade Ideas

As an adult, it's very easy and oh so relaxing to rest at the garden table with a glass of something, a book and, if shade is needed, a parasol. However, a child is less likely to want to rest at the boring table when a break is needed, so I've looked up a few cool ideas for kids to do so in the shade outside!

Hula Hoop Hideout

Firstly, there's this Hula-Hoop Hideout (courtesy of Alanna George's the Craft Nest). It's so simple!  All you need is a hula hoop (you can pick them up on Ebay for a decent price if you don't already have some), some sheets and some other craft basics.

Pin the sheet to the hula hoop using safety pins and then use some rope or twine to create a hanger to tie the hoop to a tree or similar. You can decorate the sheet as you like - ribbons, buttons, other material etc - ot leave it as it is. Then just tie it all to the tree, place cushions and blankets underneath and voila! A gorgeous shaded hideout in which the kids can rest. For the full instructions from the site, click here.

This could also work indoors once made, as a lovely bedroom den.  It's also transportable, if needs be, so could be taken to a picnic or similar!

Sunflower House

Another idea, but one that takes planning and time, as well as space, is to plant a sunflower house. Firstly, prepare the area by digging whatever shape you wish your house to be, planting the sunflower cuttings or seeds, and then, just wait!

You can keep it simple, just use the flowers and their supports as the walls and ceiling and add a few chairs, a table, etc - or you can go all out and create something amazing and magical! This person has added a white picket fence, gate and a letterbox!

Runner Bean Teepee

You can do something similar with runner beans too by creating a teepee.  Prepare the soil and arrange the bamboo canes/wicker sticks in a wigwam fashion, then just plant the seeds and wait.

Obviously, with these latter two, you'll have to keep an eye on them as they grow and ensure everything is where it should be - for example, leaving space for the door!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Cleaning the Shower

A great tip for keeping the shower clean from lime and grime is to keep a fill and clean scourer (like the Dishmatic one, pictured) in the area, half filled with white vinegar and half with washing-up liquid.  Just wipe the walls and door of the shower when you're done and rinse!  Saves on buying those fancy - and expensive - cleaners which may or may not work...

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Cashback Smartphone Apps

Yesterday, I posted a top tip about using cashback sites whilst shopping online. A fairly new development along these lines, offered by cashback sites, is a 'snap and save' method of earning cashback when you are out and about.

All you need to do is download an app on to your smartphone which will enable you to take a photo of the relevant receipt. This should be free!

A good one running at the moment (until 25th May) for new members who sign up is through Top Cashback called ‘Fill the tank, save your bank!' You can get £2 cashback for fuel purchases of £10 or above from major fuel stations via their Snap & Save app. Fill up with £10 or more of fuel, take a photo of your receipt using Snap & Save and then you should receive cashback within 14 days.

In addition, I've noticed with some of these apps, you can get cashback for just visiting a store if you check in, so it is definitely worth investigating them!
I love Quidco

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The Perfect Picnic

Hopefully summer is well on its way and one of my favourite things to do when the weather is nice is to take a picnic to the park, countryside or beach. So I thought I would do a top tips checklist of the things to think about when planning for a picnic, so one can enjoy the occasion with ease and style! I find that John Lewis has a great selection of items at great prices, so I have chosen some lovely products from them to give an idea of the best!

First, make sure you have the right bag or bags for all of your items. I like to have a cooler bag to keep everything fresh and chilled and a backpack is the easiest and most convenient to carry.  This Joules picnic backpack is perfect for four people, with plastic and metal cutlery and glasses, a bottle cooler and even a copping board and wine opener! There is loads of space in the second compartment for food. Another top tip is to freeze bottled water, place in the bottle cooler section and this will help keep the food chilled and save on space.  Otherwise, try to find slimline ice packs.

Next, make sure you pack the right food! Keep it simple; anything too fiddly gets a little annoying and difficult to eat (especially if it's a little windy).  I find that finger food works best - sandwiches cut into quarters are always good, but there's sausage rolls, scotch eggs, cold chicken legs - all sorts of goodies that can be just taken out of the packaging and eaten. However, I always pack a few homemade salads, quiches or tarts and fruit and vegetable crudities and transport them in tupperware.  Pudding-wise, I tend to avoid anything chocolate based due to melting, but biscuits and cake always go down a treat!

Returning to packaging, it's definitely worth investing in some good tubs to transport homemade food.  I would be tempted to go the whole mile and get this fabulous tiffin box, which looks stunning, is sturdy and will hold all sorts.

However, for something smaller that will fit in the bag, these Sistema Klip It containers are great. They come in all sizes and colours, clip shut securely and are designed to fit together for space saving perfection.

Next, what to sit on? A great picnic blanket is certainly needed and I love this checked fleece rug. It's soft wool on one side and waterproof on the other and rolls up securely and small for comfort and practicality.

However, blankets aren't for everyone so I also tend to bring some foldable chairs.  This 'House by John Lewis' beach chair is great as it folds up and is lightweight, so can be easily transported.  It's also great value for money at just £15.

Other things to remember are napkins and/or paper towels which keep everyone and everything clean and tidy and also help if there are any spills. I also ensure I have several plastic carrier bags to put all the rubbish in at the end. There's nothing worse than leaving a place in a mess following a picnic. Final top tip, if there is nowhere to place the rubbish, take it home!