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