Thursday, 20 November 2014

Children's Bedding from The Little White Company

It's that time of the year when we start to think about sprucing the home up, especially if you're expecting visitors or overnight guests.

I've been perusing the new range of bedding at The Little White Company, and loving the inspiration for little rooms.  I got to test some of these out for quality recently when we were invited to a fabulous cinema screening of Frozen at the stunning Art Deco cinema The Electric Cinema.

Little beds were made up to showcase the new range, and it was a bit of a bun-fight to snuggle up in the super-soft nests with plump fluffy pillows and duvets.

Some of my favourites:

Circus




Hand-crafted design and fabulous use of colour, the beautiful new Circus uses special hand-placed printing and hand-embroidery techniques for a truly authentic and individual finish.  The duvet cover features a fabulous seal, big top tent, dog and flag motifs, while the pillowcase shows a lion and matching flags. Made from 200-thread-count cotton percale for a smooth and soft feel and brilliant washability.

Knights of the Round Table





A bold and cheerful design is just the thing for creating a fun and imaginative bedroom. Using a contemporary mix of hand-placed appliqué patches and machine-embroidery techniques, the duvet cover motifs include a castle, lion, sword and shield and knight on a horse with castle turret border detail, while the pillowcase shows a helmet, shield and matching turret border ? All in bold  primary colours. Made from 200-thread-count cotton percale for a smooth and soft feel and brilliant washability.

English Garden




Taking inspiration from beautiful English country gardens, this cute and classic bed linen adds a feminine touch with a pretty mix of flower, bird, bunny, and tree motifs. Using intricate hand-embroidery techniques for a truly individual and exquisite finish. Decorated with a girl and swing motifs on the pillowcase, a hidden hedgehog on the duvet cover,  pink French knots and running stitch detail on both. Made from 200-thread-count cotton percale for a smooth and soft feel and brilliant washability.

Prices start from £45 for a single duvet cover.

Thanks to The White Company for inviting us to the showcase.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Samsung Showcase RH57H90507F Fridge Freezer Review

It's fair to say our house has been in turmoil while our kitchen has been re-fitted, but the wait is finally over and I couldn't be more happy.  Before I show you the shiny new room, I have to introduce you further to the pièce de résistance - our new Samsung Showcase Fridge Freezer.  It really is the star of the show.

I introduced you briefly to him earlier, but now we've got to know each other a little better, I can tell you more about the fabulous features.


We are totally in love with the look of this appliance.  It's sleek finish, stylish lines and led lighting on the ice and water dispenser make it look really modern and very special.

The showcase door is a very clever feature of an inner and outer door, meaning we can have easy access to our most used items such as milk, butter and drinks without having to open up the rest of the fridge.  The full height shelving in the door gives so much space and it means I can organise things like jams, condiments, cooking sauces and purees separately and find them so much easier.


I'm sure the showcase feature is helping with energy consumption (and of course it's A+ energy rating), and the alarm which is activated if the doors are left open too long is a godsend to anyone with kids, and for frazzled cooks everywhere!  I can't tell you how often I used to accidentally leave the fridge door open with our old model, but there's no danger of returning to a defrosted soggy mess with this new one.

The top to bottom shelving is great as children can access their own items from the lower levels, and our daughter is loving the independence of getting her own drinks.  It's also great for getting the kids involved in meal preparation - they can easily reach items and help out in the kitchen.


The internal lighting is really bright meaning you can see everything so clearly.  The transparent fronts on all the compartments mean give you a clear visual of everything you have in, which helps enormously at shopping list time, and it's definitely reducing our food waste.  Nothing gets pushed to the back and forgotten about anymore.

There's lots of shelving and compartments making it simple to keep your cooked and your raw food separate. 


It's very easy to keep clean and the clever wheels mean it's simple to glide out of the space should you need to.  Ideally you should place this appliance with more clearing for the door opening - the guide suggests a minimum of 468 mm from the hinge, for clearance of the doors- but we have a galley style kitchen and our space is tight.  However, even in the location we've chosen, we're still able to open the doors absolutely fine and access all the contents.  The shelves can still be removed in this position too for cleaning etc.  This position close to the wall was definitely a problem with our previous model (a Gorenje - Smeg type) which had a different hinge system and much thicker door.

The space is very adaptable meaning you can make it work exactly how you want to for storage.  I love the slide and fold shelf (you can see a video of how it works here), it makes it so easy to adapt if you have taller items - no more clearing out and removing and reshuffling shelves just to make space for one tall item.

I also like the fact the ice bucket is removable, and in the winter for example when you might not want ice, you can change it for another storage compartment.

The chilled, filtered water is getting a lot of use, as is the crushed ice.  The touch screen controls are clear and simple to use.



The lighting in the freezer section is really bright too (I don't think I've ever had a light in a freezer before) but it makes it really easy to see what's in store, and again, will definitely help reduce wastage.  There's more shelving than baskets in the freezer, so you can see your products easier and keep a check on what you need to buy, but even the slide out drawer baskets are clear fronted meaning you can see what's inside easier.



There is so much room, you can easily fit a family weekly food shop in this fridge freezer, and again, the space allows you to sort your food into categories making housekeeping so much simpler.


I've had no problems at all with the freezer frosting up and it's been in use for over a month now.

My only small niggle would be that it does show finger marks, but they do clean off easily and I accept that you'd get this on any appliance with this type of finish.


Overall I'd thoroughly recommend the Samsung Showcase Fridge Freezer, and if you have the space and are in the market for a new fridge freezer, you should definitely take a look at this model.


Disclosure: We were provided with the appliance for the purposes of this review however all opinions are my own and are unbiased.

Monday, 17 November 2014

The Stick Man Live Theatre Show Review

The live show of Stick Man is created by the renowned Scamp Theatre who were founded in 2003 by award-winning producers Jennifer Sutherland and Louise Callow, and they bring a range of theatrical live performance to audiences of all ages, with an increased focus on adaptation, particularly in children’s literature.

We are big fans of The Stick Man story by Julia Donaldson, so we were curious to see how it would be adapted for stage.  My daughter's also now 6 1/2 and possibly a little old for the storybook, so I was keen to know if it would still appeal.

I needn't have worried.  We were captivated from the very start and the belly laughs and guffaws were testament to how much she enjoyed it.

You can catch The Stick Man at both the Leicester Square Theatre in London and the St Andrew Square Theatre in Edinburgh from now until 4th January, and it makes the perfect Christmas treat -either as respite from the Christmas shopping, or a great family day out in the school holidays.

             


A three person show, it's fast paced and energetic.  Full of fabulous songs and music performed on stage with an enormous range of percussion instruments.  The tale of The Stick Man and his Stick Lady Love is brought to life with ingenious use of props - many of which, if you look carefully are everyday items and things you'd find around the house.

It's a really clever performance and for us the star of the show was Nancy Trotter Landry who plays the Stick Lady (as well as a host of other roles).  She has possibly the widest repertoire of facial expressions I've ever seen, which really help younger members of the audience follow the plot.

There's a good balance of audience participation, making it fun for those watching, without being overly 'pantomime'.  It was a joy to look round and see everyone's faces lit up, and totally enthralled in Stick Man's adventure, hoping he'd make it back to the Family Tree.

                            


The show lasts for around an hour and will enthral audiences over a wide age range - including the adults!  Although booster seats were on offer for the children, my one criticism of the Leicester Square theatre would be that it didn't have tiered seating.  If you were unfortunate enough to be sat behind a large man with a large head, you'd have to crane your neck somewhat to see!

Check with the theatre, they're also offering a relaxed performance showing suitable for those that may benefit from a less formal environment, such as families with children with autism, sensory disorders or learning disabilities.

Overall, I'd thoroughly recommend it as a fun-filled family show.

You can read another blogger review here from HPMCQ.

Booking details:


Leicester Square Tickets: £12 - £19.50 (Family tickets £50 - £60)
Box Office: 08448 733433 | www.leicestersquaretheatre.com


Edinburgh Tickets: £13-18.50 (Family tickets £56)
Box Office: 0844 545 8252 | www.edinburghchristmas.com


Disclosure: We were invited to a press performance for the purposes of this review.

Friday, 14 November 2014

The Great British Switch - Can you help an elderly relative or neighbour?



1 in 5 (20%) elderly don’t heat their homes even when cold due to anxiety over escalating bills
Over a third (34%) of the nation aged 65 and over admit to rationing their heating
4% have had to sacrifice their normal eating habits to afford heating  



Despite very real worries about energy prices, a report commissioned by Comparethemarket.com shows that many of our elderly parents, grandparents, friends and neighbours conceal their fears and suffer in silence.   1 in 4 over 65s keep their energy bill worries from friends and families.

Each year we're faced with shocking mortality figures of elderly people who've fallen prey to the cold.  With the health dangers that cold weather conditions can cause some of the most vulnerable members of our society, it's time to address it.  

The study found that the elderly’s energy woes are being concealed from their nearest and dearest despite 12% admitting that they worry about getting ill this winter as a result of not using heating when cold.  Over 1 in 4 (25%) hide their conservative use of energy from family members, while distressingly 8% also admitted that they tend to only heat their homes when expecting guests. 

Many are taking to wearing coats indoors, wearing extra clothes at night and trying all sorts of methods to keep their homes warm.

Talking to my own family, some of the tricks they've admitted to using to try and keep their heating bills down are:

Using hot water bottles at night
Using draft excluders
Wearing extra jumpers
Putting the light on the fire, without switching the heating on to create an 'impression' of warmth
Turning radiators off in rooms they don't use

However, despite their worries, many elderly people haven't or don't know how to switch energy suppliers and shop around for the cheapest deal.  Either they are not internet savvy, or they worry about the process of switching and 22% of the elderly report they have never changed energy providers. Many fear that by switching they may lose their heating altogether.

This weekend comparethemarket.com is encouraging the nation to get involved in the Great British Switch.  Can you spare half an hour to pop round to a neighbour or relative and show them how it's done?  It's a really simple process, we've changed suppliers lots of times, the last time saving £70 per quarter.  Other than passing on your meter readings, pretty much everything is done for you and it was a smooth, painless transition.  Sometimes people just need some reassurance and a helping hand to make the switch.

Doesn't it seem criminal that older people are going cold and hungry, when they could be saving hundred of pounds with a cheaper supplier?

For every switch through our energy price comparison service this weekend, comparethemarket.com will also donate £5 to Friends of the Elderly to help keep those most vulnerable warm this winter.

Steve Allen, Chief Executive of Friends of the Elderly said: “Many older people have difficulty staying warm and well in the winter. As well as struggling to cope with escalating heating and fuel allowance costs, an alarming number also have no one to talk to about their concerns about staying well at this time of year. We hope the Great British Switch will not only help people save money and stay warm, but also encourage people to look out for older neighbours, friends and relatives over the winter period and all year round.”

People can take part in the Great British Switch this weekend on 14-16 November to see if they can save money on their energy, and for every switch this weekend, comparethemarket.com will donate £5 to Friends of the Elderly to help keep those most vulnerable warm this winter. Every penny of this donation will go towards providing grants for older people living in poverty, to help them insulate their homes, afford their bills and, keep those most vulnerable warm this winter. 

Further reading:

Mummy Barrow helps her granny switch suppliers 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Foodies Festival Christmas - Ticket Giveaway



How does a day mooching around a delectable food festival, inhaling the festive aromas of  mince pies, mulled wine and roast chestnuts, as well as sampling all manner of seasonal fayre sound?

The Foodies Festival Christmas extravaganza will be at the Truman Brewery, East London 28th, 29th and 30th November and readers have a chance to win a pair of tickets to attend on the day of their choice - children up to 12 years old attend free with an accompanying adult.



For the kids, there's plenty of activities to get into the Christmas spirit. The Elf Cookery School invites children to bake snowballs and decorate gingerbread men, cookies and cupcakes to leave out for Santa.



For the grown ups, visit the Whiskey Arena, or discover a Craft Beer Market and Pop-Up Breweries highlighting London’s top craft brewers. 



There's a life-size gingerbread house where they'll be serving ginger beer and roasted ginger marshmallows. The Christmas Feasting Table takes centre stage at the festival, where you can sit at communal banqueting tables under twinkling fairy lights and festive decorations with friends and family and tuck into foods served from the surrounding Street Food AvenuePop-Up Restaurants,Coffee Corner and Cheese Village with cheesemakers from the UK, France and Italy.



Enjoy a hot toddy while browsing local artisan produce or have gifts wrapped to take home. Pudding Hall is a haven of sweet treats with pâtissiers and chocolatiers selling eggnog tarts, marzipan bonbons and macaron. There are also hands-on masterclasses in cake decorating, where you can personalise edible treats to hang on the Christmas tree at home.



With live music, dancing, quizzes and photo booth fun, there's sure to be something for everyone, and I can't think of a better way to get into the Christmas spirit.



Day tickets are £18 for Friday, or £20 for Saturday/Sunday, but I have a special earlybird reader offer - just use the code below.





For your chance to win a pair of day tickets - valid for any of the 3 days - simply complete the rafflecopter below.  Closing date is midnight on 12th Novemeber 2014.  One winner will be chosen at random to win a pair of tickets.  Travel, accommodation and spending money are not included.  If the winner fails to respond within 5 days, I reserve the right to draw another winner.





a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Sewing Sanctuary Shed

Love Chic Living has teamed up with Tiger Sheds for a wonderful design challenge, and it's got me all fired up to create my perfect haven at the bottom of the garden.

At the moment, I have the smallest bedroom in the house as my office/workspace/craft room/sewing room, and to be honest, the space isn't working well for any of those functions.  It's just too small, and has become a bit of a dumping ground if I'm honest.  It certainly doesn't inspire creativity.

We've been talking for a while about having a garden office and some of the cabins on offer at Tiger Sheds would be just perfect.  But given that I often work late into the evening, I'd rather keep my upstairs office and give the new outdoor space entirely over to my other passion of making and up cycling.

I love vintage pieces, but I'm not a slave to any particular era, I'll happily mix Victorian with Art Deco, shabby chic with urban style.

I guess this vibe is vintage industrial, which fits well - given that I'd want to be industrious in the space!  I'd need a huge table, much bigger than my current desk, to work on.  To hold my sewing machine but still give me space to cut out fabric and pin patterns an up-cycled work station like the one below utilising old sewing machine table legs would be just perfect.



I'd team the table with a comfy vintage swivel chair, with a pop of bright colour to inspire my makes.

A vintage utility trolley would be stuffed with plump feather cushion pads salvaged from boot sales, ready for a new lease of life with covers made from my stash of fabrics.

Clever storage for all my salvaged fabrics and cotton spools would be key, again repurposing industrial looking items.

A steel filing cabinet would host fabric 'filed' over suspension files, meaning I could always find the piece I was looking for.

Image: http://sewmanyways.blogspot.co.uk
My vintage wooden cotton reels would be displayed practically on an old printers tray mounted on the wall. Spools of ribbon, stored on rails so they're easily accessible.

Image: http://curlypops.blogspot.co.uk
Image http://craftstorageideas.com

To warm the space, I'd add a cosy rug like the Teraki wool rug from Made.com but the pride and joy would be the incredible and beautiful vintage French Godin wood burning stove.  I've often marvelled at these beauties on trips to France and visits to antique stores and actually you can purchase them quite reasonably.  Having seen wood burners installed in summer houses, I know it can be done providing you have a fireproof backing and hearth, and just the thought of cosying up on a winter's day, mug of tea in hand, stove burning and freedom to create.

Just the sound of the birds in the garden, the whir of the sewing machine and the crackle of the fire - perfect!

For more details on the products and credits, please see my Pinterest board.


Follow Liz Burton's board Sewing Sanctuary Shed on Pinterest.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Canter down to Aldi for some great prices on equestrian clothing

Time was, that you had to be super-rich to afford horse-riding for your little darlings - room for a pony anyone?

But the fact is, you don't need your own stables and acres of land, in fact you don't even need to own a horse.  With riding lessons under £20 per week, it's becoming more affordable and Aldi are doing their bit to make it more accessible still.

Ladies Training Jacket - £19.99 and Winter Jodhpurs £12.99

From 26th October, they'll have their equestrian clothing range in store offering great kit and accessories from only £2.49.

And lets face it, even if you aren't 'horsey' these are great pieces of clothing for any outdoor activity - even if it's just walking the dog!

Ladies Multi-purpose boots, available in black or brown - £12.99

Ladies Funnel Neck Top - £12.99

The high-vis clothing is not only great for visibility when you're riding, but now the clocks will be changing, perfect for staying safe when out and about generally - the kid's reversible high-vis gillet would be great for cycling or even on the walk home from school.

Children's Hi-Vis Reversible Gillet - £14.99
Children's Riding Fleece - £6.99


We've been sent some of the fleece tops and Ruby loves the 'kangaroo pockets' in hers.  I'm looking forward to trying out my bamboo base layer leggings under my waterproofs when we head off to wet and windy Wales next week.

With the range including boots; socks; gloves; jackets;  boots;  jodhpurs;  base layers; ear warmers and snoods it's worth checking out - horse rider or not!