c August 2016 | Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

Creating a Nature Inspired Entrance Hall

Changing the flooring in my hall way has had an instant and dramatic effect when you walk through the front door. The terracotta ceramic floor tiles are a distant memory, and the new wood effect lino runs from the front door through the hall, to the utility room and kitchen dinner. The addition of a new stair carpet in a colour that compliments the lino has worked exceptional well.
Jute Rug Front Door Mat Buy
Entrance Hall Way - Jute Rug

Making such a dramatic change in any room can impact on the overall look and feel of the room. If you are unsure which colours work best together, or you are looking for inspiration before you plan your redecoration using a colour wheel can be a great help. George Home, have created a Wheel of Colour, they call the Wheel of George to guide you in your choice. For example the use of subtle hues can be matched with a shot of vibrant bright colour maybe in your choice of accessories. 
The change in flooring and carpet has had a big impact, resulting in a rethink of what items and ornaments still work in the space.  I decided I would create a theme, using nature as inspiration. 
Jute Rug Front Door Mat Runner Buy
Jute Rug Front Door Mat and Runner
Jute Rug Front Door Mat Buy
A welcome jute door mat

I started by removing some items eg. ornaments, picture frames allowing me to see gaps in my accessories. Two key items that were essential were a large rug for the front door and a runner for the hall way. Choosing a large natural jute rug and matching jute runner, gives my new floor protection from muddy shoes and keeps to my nature theme. 
Butteryfly fairy lights lighting home wares
Pretty butterfly fairy lights draped around the hall mirror, will add warmth at dusk and a whimsical feel. The addition of a candle and room diffuser scented with berries helps continues the nature theme, and add ambiance. Following my choice of butterflies I was also taken with a mirrored bee trinket box, the perfect spot for a spare key or emergency coins. 
Open Picture Frame buy home accessories
Finally an open style wooden picture frame, with twine and mini pegs to display your chosen photographs. I am actually not putting a second photo in the frame, but will hang a note in its place, where I can write important appointment reminders for the week. Of course adding a display of flowers from the garden really does bring nature into the entrance hall, I think these roses displayed in a recycled glass bottle adds the finishing touch.
Mirrored box bee home accessories
I love the Jute rug for the front door, it has received so many compliments from family and friends. My other favourite is the picture frame, I love it because its a little different and great value.

Details of the items mention in this article can be purchased online from Asda George. If you want to ask me more about any of the items, just leave me a comment below, or contact me via social media.

Bee trinket box £8, Butterfly fairy lights £10, Jute rug £21, Jute runner £19.60, Picture frame £7.00, Fig & Berry candle £7.00, Frosted berries room diffuser £7.00
Asda George Wheel of Colour
Asda George Wheel of Colour
Disclosure: Collaboration blog post with Asda George. 
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Rehome & Recycle a Greenhouse or Cold Frame

I love discovering ways of incorporating upcyling projects in the garden, and if you are on a budget it is a great way to create something useful with little expense. I am currently recycling an unused children's wooden bench seat, this will be upcycled into a veg planter. But you can think bigger when it comes to recycling projects for the garden. You can often find people offering their old greenhouse for sale or for free, Freegle, Freecycle or the classified adverts in your local paper are a great place to find and rehome an an unwanted and unloved greenhouse.
gardening recycle budget greenhouse cold frame greenhouse freecycle
Many times the owners will just be grateful that you can collect it and put it to good use. It may not be in the best condition, and will often having many broken panes of glass or none at all. If you worry about fitting glass into a greenhouse then polycarbonate panels are a safer and lighter alternative to greenhouse glass. Like glass each piece can be cut to your specific size, it still allows light and heat through.
recycle greenhouse cold frame greenhouse glass
Cold Frame

If you do not have room for a greenhouse or it is too much of a project, then how about creating a cold frame. These are great if you want to sow your seeds early or protect tender plants over winter, a cold frame can work just as well as an unheated greenhouse. Cold frames are much smaller and providing you have a hammer and saw it can be made using recycled pieces of wood. Check out YouTube for some great diy cold frame instructions.

Have you had any gardening upcycled successes?

Disclosure: This is a collaborated post.
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Rainbow Tie Dye Cake Recipe

It's birthday cake time again. This year my niece's cake of choice, is a Rainbow Birthday Cake, with a few modifications. My Rainbow Cake recipe does not have 7 layers of cake, but does have all the colour. I decided to use lots of bright colours into a 3 layer cake, to create a Tie Dye Rainbow Cake, and here is the recipe.
3 Layer Rainbow Cake Tye Tie Dye
It is not a difficult cake to make, the baking part is very easy, if you can bake a sponge you can bake this cake. A novice baker may find the butter cream covering a little tricky.

I bought the funky pink cake board for just £2 from Hobbycraft, this is where I also got my cake colours from £10 for a set of 8

3 Layer Rainbow Cake Tye Tie Dye uk

Ingredients for Rainbow Tie Dye Cake

9oz butter
9oz caster sugar
4 eggs
9oz self raising flour
tablespoon of milk if required
6 bright cake colours 
cake board 

Traditional Butter cream ingredients

9oz softened butter
18oz (500g) icing sugar
strawberry flavouring (optional)

Equipment needed
Mixing bowl
Electric hand whisk
3 cake tins (or use one twice once one sponge has baked)
6 small bowls
6 spoons
6 piping bags
large serrated knife
palette knife
Greaseproof paper

Butter and line 3 cake tins with the greaseproof paper
Oven temp 180 degrees 

  • Using a hand whisk
  • Cream together the sugar and butter
  • beat in 1 egg
  • add a large spoon of flour, repeat this until all the eggs and flour are combined.
  • Split the mixture evenly into 6 bowls
  • Add your chosen food colouring to each bowl, (I used the end of a spoon to dip into the pot of each colour) mix in. Remember you can always add more colour.
  • Use separate spoons so as not to accidentally mix colours.
  • Carefully spoon each coloured cake mix into a piping bag (you do not need a nozzle).
  • Snip the end off of each nozzle and pipe in a circle your choice of colour. Swapping colours at each circle. If you have any let over mixture I added it into the tin in large splodge of mixture to create a colour patch. Just make sure you have equal amount of cake mix in each tin.
You do need to think about how you will stack your cake and where the colours will be, ideally you do not want for example 2 section of blue in the same place when they are stacked.
How to make a tye dye raindow cake

Place into the oven for 25-30 minutes.  Check it is cooked by pushing a skewer or knitting needle into the sponge, it should come out clean.

Leave the cake to cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
How to make a rainbow tie tye dye cake uk

Making the Butter cream
Using a hand whisk (this will give you a whiter looking butter cream) whisk together butter and icing sugar, add any flavouring should you wish. If your mixture is too thick add a drop of milk. It is far better to have too much butter cream than to run out part way through decorating a cake. 

Once the sponge has cooled, you will need to carefully trim with a sharp knife the outside edge and top of each sponge to remove the outer baked area. Removing the greaseproof paper at the bottom of each cake will reveal the vibrant colours of the sponge.

I secured the bottom layer of my cake to a cake board with a blob of butter cream. Then spread a generous amount of butter cream to sandwich your 3 sponges together.

How to make a rainbow tie tye dye cake

Once assembled make sure your cake is level and even around the edges. Add a generous amount of butter cream to the top of the cake, and gently ease this around to the edges.  Using a palette knife will makes this easier, you should also have a mug of hot water and some kitchen roll. You will find it easier if you wipe the palette knife clean and dipping it in the hot water as you work.

I found filling a piping bag with butter cream and then applying this to the sides of the cakes easier to cover. Then using the palette knife against the side of the cake, whilst turning the plate gave an even covering.

If at anytime you find you are getting in a mess with the butter cream and it picking up the crumb of the cake, put the cake in the fridge for an hour have a cup of tea and then come back and continue.

I decorated the top of my cake using Choco Writers (see my Halloween chocolate designs for how easy this is to do or the 60th birthday cake), you can pipe easily with liquid chocolate onto baking paper. Once you have perfected your design and it has set it is easy to transfer onto your cake. 

Any left over butter cream can be kept in the freezer until the next time you bake, or sandwich some biscuits together for a quick treat. 
How to make a tie tye dye cake

rainbow cake recipe tutorial tie dye cake how to

Love this recipe? You may also like my Loom Bands Birthday Cake.  
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Tips on Keeping Your Home Cool During Summer

We all want to keep cool during Summer, if it is hot outside then it can be equally as warm inside our homes. I have put together some of my top tips to help you keep your home cool during the heat of Summer.
Tips on keeping your home cool during summer
Removing Heat
If you are cooking in the kitchen be sure to turn on your extractor fan, this will help remove the hot air from the kitchen. Likewise you can remove the steam and heat from a shower room by ensuring your bathroom extractor fan is also on. Particularly if you shower in the evening as you want the upstairs of the home as cool as possible for a comfortable night's sleep.
Keep the Blinds Closed
Simple things like closing the blinds or curtains in the day can help prevent your home feeling like a greenhouse. Luxaflex have designed blinds to keep your home cool, the clever design of the Duette® shade keeps warm air trapped inside it, helping to keep the heat from your home. Keeping the blinds down can really help prevent heat from turning your home into a greenhouse.
Heat efficient Duette® design blind from Luxaflex
Ensuring your blinds are in the right place at the right time is also key to keeping your home cool during the summer. Do not worry if you have gone to work, only then to realise you have left your blinds open and it is a scorching hot day. With new technology(Powerview Motorisation) Luxaflex has created a new system - these blinds can be programmed and controlled not only by remote control pebble whilst you are at home but also via an app on your mobile phone or tablet. So you might be busy at work or out shopping yet you can still operate your blinds to keep your home cool. This is also a great security feature, should you find yourself not returning home until late or you are away on your holidays, open and close your blinds as if you are still at home.

PowerView™ motorised blind
Adjust your blinds with the PowerView™ motorised control pebble with out getting up
Time Changer
If you normal heat your hot water in the evening, change the timer to heat it in the morning. This way you are not adding heat to the home during the night when you are trying to sleep.

Creating a breeze 
If you are at home you can open your window, opening several windows in different areas of your home can help create a breeze. Do bear in mind the security of your home, do not leave your front ground floor windows open if you are out or in your back garden.
Image Credit
 Dyson UK
Dyson Air Coolers can be found in homes and hospitals around the country. Significantly quieter than conventional rotary blade fans, these fans offer a stylish design and efficiently provide cool air. Easy to keep clean. Dyson fans are also quieter for night time use, and much safer than the conventional spinning blade fans. The latest fans also come with a built in air purifier.

Keep the heat down in the kitchen by using the microwave to cook with instead of the oven, or better still enjoy a healthy salad alfresco style.

Be sure you are using Energy Saving Light bulbs they emit 90% less heat than conventional light bulbs.  

Do you have any tips to share on how you keep your home cool?

Disclosure: This is a collaborated post with Luxaflex blinds. 
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Be Brave Choose Patterned Wallpaper

I know several friends who are redecorating at the moment, I have even found myself distracted by the many beautiful wallpaper designs when recently browsing through some home style magazines.  
Interiors patterned wallpaper inspiration design
This had me thinking, sometimes it is hard to take the plunge and choose a bold or statement design wallpaper. It is easy to choose the safe option. An impressive wallpaper design is there to make an impact, but you do not want to feel as though the room is overwhelmed by your choice of wallpaper. You want it to enhance, create an ambiance to your room, a statement wallpaper design on just one wall can do that. Less really is more, giving you the perfect 'Feature Wall'At times it can also be a mistake to have it pasted on every wall of a room.

Create yourself a 'Feature Wall' - choosing the right design for you. 

  • Redecorating and restyling the whole room, this gives you a blank canvas you can choose to make your wallpaper the star of the show. Use it to influence the soft furnishing, furniture and overall colour palette. 
  • Maybe you just want to refresh a room, fed up with four magnolia walls. Creating a feature wall is affordable, by just wallpapering one wall you can help keep costs down. Or if you have fallen in love with a beautiful design that is a little more expensive per roll, at least you are only have to budget to wallpaper one wall! Choose a colour or pattern that will work with your existing furniture.

1.  Grey Chinese Blossom Tree Wallpaper  £10 per roll  2.  Blue Vintage Floral Frames Wallpaper £10 per roll  3. Teal Verdant Wallpaper  £15 per roll.  4. Black & White Eccentric Wallpaper £20 per roll.   All wallpapers by Graham & Brown

I find boutique hotels, or restaurant a great place to inspire, the hotel I stayed in last year on the Isles of Scilly had some wonderful wallpaper, which was used to great effect. Some times it takes a conscious effort to take a step out of your comfort zone, other times you are naturally drawn to a pattern or colour. 
5. Grey Trinket Box Patterned Wallpaper £10 per roll.  6. White Gold Polka Dot Wallpaper £15 a roll. 7. Blue Chinese Blossom Tree Print Wallpaper £10 per roll   8. Black / White On The Menu Wallpaper £15 per roll.   All wallpapers by Graham & Brown

I told you earlier I had been distracted by wallpaper browsing, and I am sharing some of my favourite wallpaper designs currently available online at House of Fraser.  I love the blue vintage floral frames wallpaper which I could see in my craft room, a bright but calming feel to it. 

Children's room are perfect for feature wall, choose a themed design maybe space or sea creatures, or just a beautiful selection of shapes and colours, such as the pastel harlequin shapes in photo 9. 

The White and Gold Polka Dot wallpaper (number 6) is great choice for a teenage girl or twenty something, a chic funky look, what a perfect background for a vlogger!

9.  Pastel Coloured Harlequin Diamond Wallpaper £15 a roll.   Pastel Candy Striped Wallpaper £15 per roll.  Blue & White Super Star Wallpaper £15 per roll. All wallpapers by Graham & Brown 

Do you have a feature wall? Or are you drawn to any of the patterns in this article. 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for House of Fraser.
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The Life Changing Magic of Tidying - Reading Challenge Update #3

It looks like my latest read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo, may be a book that will indeed change my life this year.
organise home tips konmari life changing magic tidy

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo
I feel I maybe the last person to the party when it comes to reading this bookfor the last year it has been popping up on my social media feeds. 
Having returned from holiday I received notification from my library that my book was ready for collection. I had forgotten all about The Life Changing Magic of Tidying book as I have been on the waiting list for 6 months. 
So the reading commenced... 

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?
Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you'll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo's clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).
With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house "spark joy" (and which don't), this international best seller featuring Tokyo's newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home - and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

My review
I thought Marie's style of writing a little repetitive at the beginning of the book. But in fact I think it is a way of preparing your mind to embrace letting go of items you may have kept for years. 

Within days I found myself looking at items around the house with a new attitude, yes they were what I wanted/needed during a certain point in my life and appreciate them for that but I do not need them now. They served a purpose and for that I am grateful, but they can now go. I realise that some items for example an ornament purely because I thought I would feel guilty for letting them go, that I had to keep them. But Marie Kondo has changed that approach, asking the simple question does it spark joy really did work.   

Everything has it's place..
Marie recommends a certain order to decluttering your items, starting with cloths and finally those items with the most sentimental meaning to them photographs. Once decluttered you have less items to store and tidy away. She believes that everything you have should have a dedicated location, so you never again have to think about where to put everything, you also know immediately where it is and where it belongs. 

I have also changed how I store items, particularly clothes. Once you have read the book you will understand and totally appreciate why items should be placed so they are not stacked. Marie even describes a specific way items should be folded, do not worry if you can not follow it a quick Youtube search will find lots of demonstrations. My sock drawer if I do say so myself is a thing of organised beauty.  

I had early in the year decluttered my clothes, but having read this book I went back and I sent more clothes to the charity shop. I am 12 handbags lighter, and have them tidied  now so I now know what I have. I still have so much more tidying to do, books are next. 

At this point in my life I am open to change, so I welcomed suggests on how to lead a life with less clutter and more simplistic approach to life. I think for this reason I really embraced this book and the Konmari method. I have been singing the praises of how this has changed me, and now even my sister has been tidying and folding. 

Yes there are certain times in the book when I did not connect with the passion Marie clearly feels about tidying, but there again tidying is her life. I now appreciate the items I have far more, but I won't be talking to my handbag or shoes any time soon.   

There is just one down side having read the book, I have been focused on decluttering I am 2 books behind on my reading challenge!

I am off to open and gaze upon my beautifully folded cloths, I am not exaggerating. Honestly, I open a drawer and it brings a smile to my face. 

I scored this book 5/5 on Goodreads.

Order the book now from Amazon and start a new clutter free life.

You can keep up to date with my past and present reads by visiting my Goodreads page, see the link in the sidebar on the right hand side of your screen. 

organise home tips konmari life changing magic tidy

Have you read any books that have had an impact on how you live?

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