Category Archives: Interior Design & DIY

Our Fabulous New Decking Lights!

So, last week, Marky Mark booked for me to go away on a spa weekend with my girl-friends, Leila, Laura and Gina.

I thought it was weird that he was letting me out of his sight on the weekend, especially since his job at the chemical employment factory has started eating up his evenings, but he was insistent that I should go, and he’d take care of the kids and the doggerino while I was away having my back rubbed and spending time in the sauna.

“You deserve it,” he said, heavy bags under his eyes, looking super trim from all the weight he’s been losing lately at the Chemical Factory, “you’ve earned a rest.”

Well, who am I to argue with that? Maybe I have earned a rest.

So, Friday evening, I packed up my bags and headed out to meet the girlies at the station, and away we went!

Three days and three nights we were there, and while the girls were pretty tame with what they were after (massage, swimming, aromatherapy) I was ready to take this place for all they’d got, so I got stuck in!

On the first day, I made sure to have the handsome Turkish boy give me the full Turkish treatment, and had to really yell to make him go hard enough during my beating with palm leaves. Then, since I was all exfoliated, I booked another session with him so he could oil me.

I’m telling you – my skin felt fantastic. The redness only lasted for a few days, and after that, everyone was raving about how great I looked. In fairness though, that’s not all Mr. Palm-Slapper’s doing – I did spend almost 9 hours in the sauna the next day! Lucky I didn’t cook!

Then on day three, I made sure to get a traditional mud bath, get scraped all over, got all the mud out and went for a swim, before going for a final cling-film-constriction therapy and some light acupuncture. Then, feeling fabulous, I packed up and went home.

Little did I know that I’d been sent away as a distraction! My crafty hubbalubbadubdub had engineered the break with the girlies so he could sneakily carry out a home transformation like on “Home Transformations” on Channel 4 – that’s right, while I was away, he – get this – installed deck lighting!

Also, a deck.

The deck lights are LEDs, he said, and he got them since he knows how much I love LED lighting. They’re environmentally friendly, since they don’t waste much energy as heat, and as a result, they use way less power overall! It won’t spike our power bill to leave them on all the time, like I do when I’m trapping moths of a summer evening, or having friends around for a lovely late-night tipple and a giggle.

Since they put out less heat, they also won’t warp the wood of the deck, and they’re waterproof and as tough as all hell – no need to worry about these puppies breaking when a dog’s paw or the small stone-age-style axe of an inquisitive toddler hits them!

Honestly, I’m in love. Apparently, they last almost 40 TIMES as long as “normal” bulbs do, which for me, makes them more like SUPER bulbs! No more regular old fluorescents for this lady – no sirree – it’s all LED, all the time now. With this surprise, and all the back-up text Marky Mark prepared to bring me round to the idea, I’m finally sold – I’m doing what I should have done years ago – I’m going to let Mark replace every single bulb in this house with an LED.

And to think, the only thing he had to do to win me over was build an entire deck while I was away at an all expenses paid spa weekend!

Christmas decorations

Christmas Tree!

I have a personal rule for the house, that Christmas decorations – the tree especially – can’t go up before the 1st of December. It’s a pretty generous time window before Christmas I think, but my hubby just keeps sneaking little decorations up around the house and it drives me crazy! It seems like every day I come home to another innocuous little paper snowflake tucked up on the mantelpiece or at the bottom of my coffee jar, seriously!

The neighbours put their tree up almost a week ago too, and you know, that’s a fire hazard. Its like the baubles are judging all the non-Christmassy people who pass that window, and I’m glad it’s December now so I can put my tree up!

We took the tree down from the attic (it’s a foldable synthetic tree, you don’t want bugs!) and got all the decorations ready yesterday morning, so when Tilly came back from school we could get right down to work.

Then after the afternoon school run, the hubby put dinner on while we set the tree up. I let Tilly pick her favourite baubles out to put on the tree herself, and while Joe’s still a bit too young for it, he mostly just played with the bubble wrap they decorations were packed in and had a whale of a time!

I had to lift Tilly high to let her put the star on top (she is getting so BIG!) but the look on her face was priceless. It looks amazing in there all lit up and shiny, and Christmas is finally starting properly!

Merry Christmas guys and gals

J x

Squeaky Clean and Safe: Homemade Cleaning Products

I don’t know about you, but keeping a clean, germ-free home without the chemicals is something that is really important to me. All too often, we hear and read stories about the toxic substances that are being poured into our toiletries, cosmetics and household items, and while homemade-cleaning-productsthis may be something we can never fully escape from, I believe we can limit our exposure by choosing eco-friendly products where possible and (best of all) making our own cleaning products at home.

Making your own cleaning solutions is super simple and infinitely cheaper than buying even supermarket brands. It’s also a lot safer for both you and your family – little ones like to pick up all kinds from floors and surfaces, and dogs will never hesitate to lick up whatever they can!

If you’re looking to save a bit of cash on your weekly grocery shop or wish to make your home a little more eco-friendly, take a look at my tried-and-tested frugal cleaning solutions below.

1. Make a solution with white vinegar and water.

Fill a spray bottle with half and half water and white vinegar (also known as cider vinegar), and use a simple yet effective cleaning solution on nearly any surface. This handy little mixture will help to keep counter tops, tiles, sinks, draining boards and bathtubs spotless and gleaming.

lemonsYou can also use lemon juice for a similar effect, or save it for rubbing on those tough stains.

2. Cover shower heads overnight.

For the dreaded shower-head clean (a prime area for becoming clogged with scale and dirt), simply fill a ziploc or sandwich bag with cider vinegar and secure it around the shower head with an elastic band.

Leave it overnight and remove in the morning. You’ll find that the grime has become magically dissolved! Give it a quick wipe over to finish off.

3. Banish food stains with bicarbonate of soda.

Bicarbonate of soda (also known as baking soda) is a wonder ingredient at getting rid of spilled food on grills, ovens and hobs. When the spillage first occurs, cover with a sprinkle of the stuff as soon as you can. Leave for a few minutes, then dampen down with a bit of water and give it a rub.

The soda should act as a gentle abrasive and bring off the stain quite easily.

4. Avoid toilet scale build-up with diet cola.

If you live in an area with hard water quality, toilet scale build-up can be a hassle. To prevent it, find the cheapest diet cola you can and pour the entire bottle into the toilet before bedtime.

In the morning, simply flush the cola away.

5. Protect cupboard-tops with greaseproof paper.

By lining the tops of your upper cupboards with sheets of greaseproof paper (also known as baking paper or parchment), you can catch all the dust, grease and residue that is prone to collecting up there without any need for scrubbing.

Simply throw the sheets away every month and replace with new ones. This should be enough to keep your cupboard tops sparkling clean.

6. Steam your oven before cleaning.

When you’re ready to tackle the task that is cleaning your oven, leave a bowl of boiling water inside with the door closed for about 30 minutes. The steam from the water will loosen a lot of the grease and debris, making it much easier to clean off.

7. Try eCloths, for an easier, speedier clean.

I’ve been trying eCloths lately and they really work like a dream! Made from mircofibre, they are really effective at cleaning with just water, so you have less of a need for harsh chemicals or toxic solutions.

There are special ones available for glass and wood polishing; they last long, and they even help you to get the job done much faster. A great addition to anybody’s cleaning cupboard!