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!

Cashback Sites

One of my ultimate top tips is, when you are shopping online, always investigate whether it is worth your while going through a cashback site. Basically, all you do is register with one of these sites, find the page of merchant you wish to shop at and use that page to click through. If you order anything, the sale 'tracks' and you will get a percentage of cashback - how much will depend on the sites and how much you spend.  My favourite sites are Top Cashback and Quidco but others are available.

For more detailed information, please visit my Savvy Chic, Canny Style website where I have researched how it all works, which sites are my favourite and things to look out for to ensure you're getting the best value for money.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Keep Flies at Bay

As the weather gets nicer, we're wanting to sit in the garden more often but those pesky flies just won't stay away! A great tip is, half an hour before you wish to sit out, chop a lemon in half, stick some cloves in it and place on a plate or in a small bowl.

Apparently, they don't like the smell so will stay away!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Storing and Preserving Onions

Well, last week I blogged about storing fruit and vegetables in general but how about storing just the simple onion? The message last week was to keep them in the fridge, but this seems to be a way to preserve them for even longer.

Apparently, if you store onions in tights (or pantyhose for our American cousins), they will keep for months - I heard up to eight! Just place the onions in the tights and tie a knot in between each one, and hang in a larder or similar dry, darkish place. And weird wall art or what?

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Organising your Fridge

There are so many clever people on the web who've designed fantastic, handy graphics to say how to store and organise all sorts of things. I have always been a bit confused about how best to organise and store food in the fridge, especially to ensure everything is hygienic but also so nothing gets lost and goes to waste. I know raw meat is supposed to go at the bottom, but that's about it really. That's why I was pleased to find this graphic from Squawkfox that sets it all out, simply and clearly. It's a total cut out and keep on the fridge graphic - brilliant!

I thought you should store milk in the side door, but I guess this isn't right! The things you learn...

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Storing Fruit and Vegetables

I've found a handy graphic from the V Spot that tells me where is best to store fruit and vegetables, so here it is! It's interesting, as we always have apples, grapes and cherries (etc) out for the kids to snack on, but I guess this isn't the best way to preserve them. I suppose it depends on how fast everything gets eaten too.

Another top tip is to keep onions and potatoes apart, as they will spoil if stored together. And on the flip side, storing potatoes with apples will help to stop sprouting.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Folding a Fitted Sheet

Fitted sheets are nigh on impossible to fold - or are they? Have a look at this clever lady from and you will know how to do it with a little practice. It will save time, space and look ever so neat and tidy in your cupboard, especially if you are using my top tip to store matching sheet sets!

Additionally, if you can master this technique, I imagine it will save massive amounts of frustration time...!

Friday, 2 May 2014

Jewellery Organiser

I've done a post about organising, storing and displaying earrings, but what about the rest of one's jewellery? A great idea is to find some old cutlery trays and paint them; I think wooden would be best but you could try it with a plastic one too. Then stand it on one end and fix hooks to the end of the inside of each compartment.* Then fix the tray wherever you would like it - inside a cupboard door, on a wall for display, on a shelf etc.

* Thinking about it, it doesn't have to be just at the end - you could have several hooks in a compartment for eg. dangly earrings.


Thursday, 1 May 2014

Recycling Cereal Boxes to organise your Leaflets

Take away menus, appointment letters, school notes, business flyers, vouchers - they're a pain but so often, we need to keep them. Mine go on the fridge and stress the magnets I own to the max. In fact, I invested in some super strong ones as the paperwork has increased so much!

However, a much better trick to use is to recycle those cereal boxes once again - who'd have thought they could be so useful? Drawer organisers, box files - and now they could be used for paperwork storage!  Simply cut the cereal box (make sure it's the right size you need) so that the back is higher than the front and cover with scrapbook paper or other pretty paper of your choice.

Just inside each corner on the back, attach something nice that will compliment the paper and style you're after. These could be ribbons, bulldog clips, clothes pegs, string etc - and then stick magnets to these. Or you can get magnetic bulldog clips. Or you could just stick magnets to the back of each corner of the cereal box and not worry about extra embellishments! Your way is the right way. And there you go, a gorgeous way of organising that paperwork without the risk of it all falling down each time you open the fridge, all in one place and designed exactly to your taste. Simple!

If you want to take it even further organisation-wise, you could design and make file dividers for the inside of the box.

Hobby Warehouse

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Fix that Trampoline!

Our trampoline has seen better days. The safety netting tore and the padding fell apart. All that remains is the trampoline itself which is, in fact, in good condition. However, to get new netting and padding is going to cost a fortune and I am not sure how much we actually need it now that our children are a little older.

So I was pleased to spot this top tip from the USA. Purchase a load of pool noodles and cut them to the size of the springs holding the bouncy bit of the trampoline to the metal frame. And there you have it - a bit of extra safety for peace of mind without spending a fortune on bespoke trampoline accessories!

Of course, this is no substitute for not watching your kids properly when playing!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Cleaning Make Up Brushes

I've covered make up expiry dates, as well as DIY make up pads but I haven't given a tip on how to easily keep make up brushes clean. Obviously, you can just wash them in a little soap and water but I've found a great combination of products to use to remove make up much more easily and quickly is 1/2 portion of olive oil and 1/2 portion of washing up liquid. Just mix it together, swivel the brushes in the solution, rinse and there you go!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Homemade Fruit Vodka

Do you have a surplus of vodka? No? Or do you instead have a surplus of fruit maybe, from a tree in the garden? Or you've bought too much on special offer and it's likely to be binned? That's more likely, I would imagine. One way of preserving fruit and preventing it going to waste is to make fruit flavoured vodka.

Firstly, choose your vodka. The internet recommends a middle of the road one - avoid cheap chemical tasting ones but equally, don't waste money on the high-end ones.

Then choose your fruit. Strawberries, apples, blueberries, watermelon, lemon - whatever you fancy and love! Wash the fruit and remove seeds, pips and stems. For citrus fruits, get rid of the white pith.

Slice the fruit into chunks and place in an airtight jar or bottle and then cover with the vodka. The proportions seem to be a matter of personal preference, so it may be a matter of experimenting until you get the blend that suits you, but a little research seems to point to about half and half, or maybe 2:3 fruit to vodka - the more fruit you use, the stronger the flavour.

And then just wait for about two to five days! If you do want to speed it up, give the jar a little shake each day. And sample after a couple of days, until it tastes how you want.

Once it's ready, strain the mixture into a new bottle for a fabulous fruity drink or a mixer that can be used as the basis for a unique, tasty cocktail - use a coffee filter or some muslin fabric or similar. Another idea is to pour it into nice bottles with pretty labels, and they can be given as gifts. Store out of direct sunlight and it will keep indefinitely.

As an added bonus, the fruit will make the base of a lovely alcoholic fruit salad, so even that is being used again. (Note that this fruit will be laced with vodka - it's not suitable for children and could still make you tipsy so be safe.)

You can also use herbs and spices such as chillis or basil - it doesn't have to be just fruit. You can also combine ingredients; I heard that strawberry and basil is a great combo. I even read that someone has made bacon flavoured vodka with the fat! Basically, experiment with the tastes and flavours you love best and don't let that fruit (or vodka) go to waste.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Funny Top Tip!

Having trouble waking your baby when you need a rest?  Why not take advantage of this handy hint?

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Homemade Dried Chilli Flakes

I love having a selection of fresh herbs and other edible plants in my kitchen and garden and, in the main, most of them get used. If they don't, I use one of my two methods for preserving them - found here and here. However, there always seems to be the humble chilli plant that I may use one or two chillis from and then the plant gets ignored and fades away. The following year, I buy another - they are so pretty and I am convinced that this time, I will use it more often!

So how can I get my money's worth and make sure that the poor plant isn't going to waste? I can dry the chillis! First of all, chop them in half. For extra spice, keep the seeds or remove them if you want less. Place on an ungreased baking tray and pop in the oven at the 'warm' setting (80° C - 100°C) or several hours, until they are completely dried out or dehydrated. This will be a number of hours - 5 or 6 at a shot - and to be extra crispy, I would turn off the oven and leave them overnight.

Pop the lot into a plastic bag and crumble (or if you're lazy so inclined, a food processor is good). But make sure you don't get any in your eyes! Place the lot in a jar or pot and there you have it, homemade dried chilli flakes and a plant that hasn't gone to waste. And wash your hands really, really well when you're done.

Bonus top tip - plastic gloves are always good when working with chillis!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Funny Top Tip!

I'm a little clumsy myself and I think this is a good excuse for being so!

Monday, 14 April 2014

DIY Milk Bottle Watering Can

Rather than waste money buying watering cans, why not use an old plastic milk carton to water plants? Just rinse it out, poke holes in the lid and voilá! A watering can for both indoor or even outdoor use. The beauty pf this is that you can have any size you want (depending on milk bottle size, of course) and if it is cluttering your space, you can just recycle it and start again when you next need one.

Another bonus for me is that I always lose the spray spout bit of the watering can, so this is a much more cost-effective way of replacing it!