A Kitchen is What Makes a Home: New Kitchen Transformation

A Kitchen is the hub of the family. It is where we cook, eat, socialize and entertain. As a bust family of five we were looking to expand the old kitchen and replace it with something that fitted into our lifestyle, something that was more modern and sleek.

We had moved into our new home back in March 2017 and the Kitchen didn’t quite fit in with the decor of the rest of the house. Although it was a nice size, it was dated and there wasn’t enough cupboard space. We wanted to give the room a fresh new look, that no only was functional but also utilise the space that we had.

We found that the cupboards didn’t have much depth to them, so items took up lots of the shelf space. The Kitchen also had a peninsula that had an overhang, to be used as a breakfast bar, where the cupboard doors were-which didn’t make sense! So if you wanted to use the cupboards you had to get down low to see what was in them and also no-one could sit there if you wanted to use the cupboard.

We visited Kitchen showrooms and scoured the internet looking for ideas as to what particular style we wanted, the colour and how big we wanted the kitchen to be.

With something in mind the next thing we needed to do was book in with a kitchen designer to plan it all for us. The designer visited us at home, took measurements and advised us on where to place the units. He listened to our requirements. We had a lot in  ind but after listening to our ideas, the designer then helped us plan it so it would be more convenient to our use. Once the designer got a good idea of how we would use the new kitchen and what we required, the next was to consider the layout. We really wanted a kitchen with an island but it just wasn’t feasible, the room wasn’t big enough to fit it in. So we was advised to keep with the peninsula and just move it further into the dining area, which would then open up the working kitchen area.

The Old Kitchen

The Old kitchen was a U shaped kitchen with the sink on one wall, the oven on another and space for the fridge on the other. At the other side of the working kitchen was the peninsula, all by itself.

Before we had a design in mind we had chosen our cooker, I had wanted a range for a long time and as the eldest boy had an interest in cooking we wanted to buy a double oven. We found one that was sleek and big enough for our needs. It wasn’t a range but a similar design by Smeg. Once we had oven we then went on to order the fridge freezer, again we wanted a double one. The colour scheme seemed to be heading towards grey.

Once the designer had visited us at home we made an appointment to see them in the showroom where we would get to see the final design in 3D format.

To make the best use of the available space, we thought of the following:

  • How much storage do we need?
  • What exactly will we be using your kitchen space for?
  • How much time will we be spending in there?
  • What type of storage cupboards will we need?
  • What type of oven will we be using?

We wanted to accentuate the feeling of space in the kitchen so we chose a light-reflecting surface and colour that would give a fresh and airy feel. It would also give the kitchen an ultramodern look.

We chose the Sofia Range in Pewter. An iconic, minimalist design that offers supreme versatility and features the sleek lines of integrated handles in a high gloss, lacquered finish. As for the work surface we went for a dark oak as thought that it would emphasize the colour of the cupboards and walls. It also gives the kitchen a warm glow.

We wanted a peninsula that would double up as a breakfast bar, to achieve this the worktop would overhang the unit which would create a seating area. We decided to move the oven over to where the peninsula would be, so this would be the cooking zone, giving this area an L shape.

The colour scheme we settled on was Pewter cupboards, red wall tiles and dark oak worktop.

So, first thing we had to do was get the old kitchen ripped out and prepare the room ready for the new kitchen to be fitted. We had a date set for delivery of the new kitchen. It was to be delivered at the beginning of July, hoping it would be all built and installed ready for the summer holidays. There were lots of boxes, that we stored in our dining area ready for when we was ready to rip out the old kitchen

Once the boxes were being emptied we quickly realised that we had missing items: the larder panels were missing, the worktop was the wrong colour, the drawer unit was missing, the peninsula back board and worktop were missing too. Our hopes of having it fitted before our summer holiday was quickly fading. The company we ordered it from couldn’t deliver the missing items for another 2 weeks. This put out our builder and extended the length of the job. We had no kitchen to cook in, no oven and the place was a mess! In total we had waited 3 weeks for items that had been missed off of our original order with the showroom. If you are ever buying a kitchen, I would advice you to check all reference codes on the delivery note against what was ordered and what the boxes say.

The New Kitchen

We chose to tile the floor and as the rest of downstairs has wooden floor, I really wanted to carry on with the effect and found a tile that had a wood effect in grey. We also placed down some under floor heating (Hubby is an electrician, by trade, so he fitted it himself)

20170803_205213

And I wanted the grout to be the same on the wall as on the floor, so chose a dark grey. I think it worked well and really contrasted against the red tiles on the wall.

Once the floor was down and the cupboards were all in, all that was left to do was tile the wall. The previous kitchen had tiles from floor to ceiling but we decided against this and only tiled in between the top and bottom units and above the oven

20170916_181128

The New Kitchen

To finish off the look we added in some chrome USB plug sockets

20170917_173149

 We cut down our cost by doing the electric, the rewiring and plumbing by ourselves.
I am really happy with the finished look. I now have a Kitchen that suits the family, somewhere we can entertain and just spend time in.
My favourite part is the peninsula, as when I am cooking the boys sit at the other side and I can help them with their homework. It is now a room in the house that everyone enjoys. The youngest loves the under floor heating and lays on it in the morning to warm himself up.
I think that it all come together really well and love the colour combination of the red and grey, they are both classic and sophisticated.
What do you think?
Share

Hospital Waiting Room – Scanxiety

As I sit here in the waiting room

Memories come flooding back

Tears sting my eyes, as they fall onto my cheek bones

I spent too many hours here

Moments of dread

Fear

Not knowing

I’m waiting for my yearly scan

Since having the tumour removed last November I must have a CT scan once a year

The last one I had, I can not recollect

Back then there were so many days that seemed to run into one

I spent 7 weeks in hospital, being prodded and poked every day

Being wheeled, in my bed, downstairs into the radiology department and left in the corridor waiting for my name to be called

I remember being in so much pain, that with every movement of the trolley it ripped through me

I remember crying and praying that the scans would be clear

After having the tumour removed, I ran into complications and had to have a further operation

But still, weeks after that operation the doctors had no answers as to why I was still in pain and why the bowel was refusing to work

Scan after scan, but still no answer

Today, I sit here and the memories of my time there came flooding back

Feeling the fear again, trying to control my breathing

Telling myself that all will be well

That this time is different

Entering this hospital, takes me back to diagnosis time

The day a black cloud entered my world

Having scans is an anxious time, especially for cancer patients

It’s a time when you hold your breath, awaiting the news that you’re in the clear or that the tumour has shrunk or that you’re stable

After, sitting in the waiting room for an hour, I eventually get called in

With this scan I have to drink 4 glasses of water prior to the scan. Then a canula is put into a vein ready for the iodine to be flushed through my blood stream

This is a horrible experience, as the iodine runs through the system, I can feel my body heating up. I almost feel like I have wet myself

It always makes me feel very sick as I get that copper taste in my mouth

Within a few minutes it is all over

The experience maybe, But not the anxiety

Now I await the results

I now need to focus on positive things

I will not allow the anxiety to take over

I tell myself that all is in the past and I have a bright future

Share

Make Your Own Mouthy Trick Or Treat Bags for Halloween

Are you ready for Halloween? Whether you’re ready or not, I can bet that your children are already planning what they are going to wear and how they want the house decorated ready for the many trick or treaters that will be knocking on your door.

Help your children collect their goodies in these spooky trick or treat bags. Which are also ideal to give out to any spooky guests that may turn up at your door

20171016_171855

They are simple to make and a fun activity for the children to do over the half term

You will need:

20171015_112555

  • Paper bags
  • Acrylic paints or felt pens
  • Scissors
  • Black marker pen
  • Pencil

First cut away the handle from the top of the bag

20171015_112823

Then place your hand on top of the bag, in the middle with your fingertips touching the top and mark with a pencil either side of your fingers (little and pointing finger)20171015_113139

Now draw in your monsters mouth – this will be your new handle

Once your mouth in place you can then draw your monster. Be as spooky as you like

20171015_114236

Why not draw a zombie monster or a spider?

Choose the colour and paint your monster, think bright colours like; orange, purple, green and red.

20171016_171921

20171016_171947

You can design both sides with different characters or just do one side.

Add sparkle in with some glitter, paint it with glow in the dark paint or even some googly eyes

Now you’re ready to fill the bags with goodies

20171016_172323

Have a spooktacular Halloween 🙂

 

Share

Bungee Jump Experience – The Ultimate Rush for a Teenager

Bungee Jump – The ultimate energy rush, the perfect gift for any daredevil and thrill seeker.

My eldest son is 15 and buying gifts for him is becoming harder every year, although he is very easily pleased and doesn’t really ask for much. I wouldn’t say that he is a daredevil but he certainly likes to experience the wild side.

Leaping 160 ft from a crane, watching the ground rush towards you at a speed of 60mph, attached to nothing but a bungee cord, isn’t really something that I would fancy doing but for a young teenager it’s certainly a very attractive activity. There are no special skills needed, just courage.

I booked him onto a 160ft jump from a crane that is set up near to the 02, London. This isn’t far for us to travel to and is an ideal spot for some lunch after or just a stroll along the River Thames.

We arrived in good time for him to be fully briefed by one of the experienced instructors, before being kitted up and securely fastened into the bungee cord.

He sat in line and watched the previous jumpers leap to the floor. Getting more nervous as he moved along the chairs, getting closer to his turn.

It was a lovely day, the sun was shining and it was a clear blue sky, perfect for us to watch and for him to jump in.

It wasn’t long and it was his turn.

IMG_6486

He was taken up to the top of the crane in cage and once at the top it was seconds before the cage door opened and out he fell, plummeting to the ground only to bounce back up again, dangling by his feet. I half expected to hear him scream, but he was very reserved and held it all back, Or maybe the force of the air in his mouth stopped him from making a sound.

Once he was lowered to the ground he was taken by the shoulders and guided to a mat on the floor where he was taken out of his cord by two instructors.

 

Jak says: “I was pretty nervous, even though I knew that nothing could happen to me I was still anxious about the experience and what to expect. The view from the cage at the top of the crane was amazing, but I didn’t get to look at it for long as I was soon guided over to the edge. I was told to stand still and put my arms directly out in front of me at 90 degree angle. They counted down from 3 and gently pushed me from the edge. I was told not grab anything as I fell from the edge of the cage. As I fell to the floor, it felt like  I was staying still and the ground was moving up towards me, however the feeling of falling was still there. I think the best part of the jump was seeing the 02 upside down. I almost felt like my heart had stopped until the moment I was pulled back up by the cord. It was an experience not to forget. I had a blast and almost wished that it had lasted longer.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was the perfect gift for him and I was so proud that he approached the experience with such maturity and gallant.

Jak gives the day a big thumbs up

I booked the bungee jump through Buyagift costing £59, the minimum age of the jumper is 14.

Photos courtesy of Bungee UK

Share

5 ways to get your children drinking more water

Keeping children hydrated is important as they are less heat tolerant and are more likely to feel dehydrated, especially when they are doing physical activities and hot days. Children, especially younger ones need to be encouraged to have a drink as they are more likely to go through the whole day and forget to have one.

When my children were babies I always encouraged them to drink water in between milk times and I carried on that as they grew older. My children are very active, so I always like to have water readily available for them to drink to keep them healthy and energised.

Did you know that the amount of fluid a child needs to drink depends on many factors including their age and gender, the weather and how active they are? Children aged 5-11 should be consuming about 6-8 glasses of water a day.

A recommended daily amount of fruit and vegetable juice should be limited at one small glass (150ml) and they should really only be drunk at mealtimes. The best choice of drink to keep hydrated throughout the day is water – this doesn’t provide extra energy or risks them harming their teeth

My 5 top tips on getting your children to drink more water:

  1. Make sure water is readily available-When we are out and about I like to fill up a sports bottle with water and take it with us. I always carry one with me, so the children get a drink all the time, it also ideal to fill up from a water station when empty. Buy a water dispenser for the home. We have one in our kitchen, placed near to the edge of the work top. The children help themselves to water when ever they feel thirsty. We bought a Kilner one from Dunelm Mill, but they are available from lots of shops
  2. Be persistent. Keep offering them water, especially during and after being active. The more you offer it throughout the day they will eventually become accustomed to drinking it and get into the habit of remembering themselves
  3. Add in some flavour with fresh fruit and vegetables. We like lemon and lime but you can add in strawberries, melon, pineapple, mint, cucumber and berries. You can even freeze the fruit in slices and add them into the water to cool down as well as giving flavour
  4. Offer food that has a high content of water. Fruits, vegetables, smoothies, soups and even pasta and rice absorb water as they cook. Homemade ice lollies and ice cream are a great way of introducing more water to a child
  5. Remove temptation. Stop buying juices and fizzy drinks (or hide them away from the children) they will soon start drinking water if there is nothing else to drink. We still have juice but they are no added sugar types and are at the back of the cupboard away from there little hands.

Remember children will do as their adults do. So, if you drink water then they will too!

How do you encourage your children to drink more water? Please leave a comment below 🙂

Share

Luxury Chocolate Workshop with Red Letter Days – Review

*****Warning – this post contains the word ‘chocolate’*****

20170919_204834 (1)

A couple of weeks ago I was invited along to a chocolate making and tasting workshop by Red Letter Days at My Chocolate. The event was being held at My Chocolate Shoreditch, London. Although, they do have other venues available in London, Brighton and Manchester.

The workshop was ran by two chocolate connoisseurs, one who did all of the demonstrating and one who was preparing the chocolate and utensils for us chocoholics to use on our chocolate making.

I arrived fashionably late due to travel problems, so when by the time I had arrived they were already 20 minutes into the first part of the evening, which was preparing your very own indulgent chocolate martini. I was greeted at the door and was directed to the sink where I washed my hands first and then shown to a table where a few of the other attendees had already began creating the martinis. I believe that were shown a technique called ‘wagging the tail’ where they used a spoon to drizzle melted chocolate over the martini glass to decorate it before mixing up the chocolate vodka in a shaker.

20170919_185421

20170919_185421

It tastes as nice as it looked. Very much like Irish Cream. They were creamy, rich and one could definitely drink one after another. What a treat! Very much-needed after the train journey I had just encountered. The smell of indulgent chocolate wafted around the room

20170919_185815

Whilst we gulped sipped at our chocolate cocktails, we all stood around the demonstration desk and watched how to make our very own oil infused large chocolate button.

20170919_190307

We was guided on how to place the chocolate onto the paper and how to infuse it with flavoured oil.  The chocolatiers made a huge milk chocolate heart decorated with dark chocolate, using the ‘wagging the tail’ technique again and then using the other end of the spoon to create a marble effect. The expert made it look so easy!

20170919_190533

Back to the tables we went, ready to create our own masterpiece. I chose to make a four-leaf clover and infused it with lemongrass oil. The oil is very strong and only a couple of drops is needed to add the taste to the chocolate. It was very hard, but I resisted, not to lick the spoon, as we was going to be using them again to do the marbling

20170919_191045

I chose dark chocolate, as that is my favourite – the darker the better! The marbling wasn’t as easy as it looked. I think my finished button looked a bit like a toddlers drawing rather than an exquisite chocolate, it was definitely authentic and handmade.

20170919_191628

By now, the only evidence of our chocolate vodkas was the empty glasses on the table. They were soon replaced with a glass of prosecco.

Once we had made our chocolate slab, we was ready to move on to the next part of the workshop, Truffle making. Now I have attempted to make truffles at home before as presents for the children’s teachers and they were a nightmare to make, I had cocoa all over me. So, I was looking forward to this part of the workshop to find out where I went wrong.

We was shown how to make them first by the expert chocolatiers and a helper from the other attendees and then we was sent back to our tables. For this part of the workshop we had to get into pairs.

Firstly you mix the chocolate with double cream, stirring it quite rigorously until it starts to set and become thicker – this is your Ganache. Then you place it into a piping bag ready to pipe out little chocolate slugs or wizard hats on the parchment paper. Once all of the ganache has finished, you wait for them harden.

This part of the workshop brought lots of giggles to the table as we quickly became aware that out little chocolate ganache slugs looked more like little emoji poops. Although, It didn’t matter what they looked like at this point as they were soon to be moulded into truffles.

Once we got the hang of how to hold and pipe the bag, it was quite easy.

And once they were all done, our glasses got topped up by the very nice lady at My Chocolate with Yet more prosecco

20170919_193857

The evening was definitely activating our tastes buds – chocolate and booze!

The chocolatiers tutor was what really made the experience enjoyable, she was fun, humorous, interactive and full of chocolate knowledge.

Whilst we waited for the Ganache to set we was treated to a talk about the history of chocolate and how it is made. We also got to taste 90% chocolate. We was tested on our taste bud knowledge of recognising dark or milk chocolate and taught on how to feel and smell the quality of a chocolate. High quality chocolate should smell strongly of chocolate and the texture should not be gritty or waxy.

The sound that your chocolate makes when snapped is a good indication of the quality of it. Good chocolate has a clean, crisp, sharp snap when broken and milk chocolate tends to bend, because it contains more sugar and milk

After our little fun lesson in chocolate it was time to get dirty with the truffle making. On the tables was a selection of topping to decorate our truffles with; honeycomb, cocoa powder, coconut, salt, raspberry swirls, white chocolate swirls and berry dust.

20170919_203454

This was definitely the time to get creative, release the chocolate demon in you and dig in. First we rolled our ganache into a ball, then coated them in some cacao powder and then dipped them into more chocolate. Before they set I added some of the toppings. Some of our ganaches were a little on the small side so I added two together and at the same time pressed in some raspberry dust and salt into the middle as a surprise when bitten into.

We made quite a mess of our table

20170919_203503

But it was most definitely a sign of a good time. I really enjoyed the whole evening. We got to wrap up our chocolate creations in some cellophane and ribbon to take home. My chocolate goodies didn’t last long once I arrived home as they were eaten by all in the house. the chocolates were mouth-watering and tastes as good as they smelled

The whole experience lasts for about 2 1/2 hours . It’s a great gift for someone who loves chocolate or even as a hen party. I may add that we did not prepare the chocolate- temper it, as that process takes a while. We did the decorating and producing of the truffles, buttons and martini.

Currently priced at £98 for two people on Red Letter Days Website

I was invited along for the purpose of this post, no payment has been received

 

 

Share

Raw nutty (Snicker) Bars Recipe

A raw food diet is about eating mostly or all unprocessed and uncooked foods so you get all the nutrients without the dangerous additives. It’s a great way to cleanse the body, your skin becomes a lot clearer, you will have a lot more energy and it improves your digestion. It means cutting out refined sugar and only eating food that is raw or heated up in a dehydrator that is below 110 Fahrenheit.

I took the steps to removing refined sugar from my diet over a year ago. I did miss the sugar taste at first but after a while my taste buds changed – for the better.

Raw food doesn’t have to be all fruit and veg, you can still enjoy deserts and treats.

Making raw snacks are easy to do and have a fulfilling taste. Take a look at our raw date bars here

These little bars of goodness are so delicious full of nutty flavours with a rich deep, dark chocolate

20171001_205302

Ingredients:

Base
125g ground rolled oats or oat flour
125g ground cashew nuts
60ml maple syrup/rice syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Peanut Caramel
350g dates – medjool
95g merdian smooth peanut butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
40g peanuts-raw
20ml water (if needed)

Raw Chocolate topping
100g coconut oil
60g cacao powder
4 tbsp maple syrup (50ml)

Method:

  1. Make the base. Grind up the oats if you do not have oat flour in a blender. Add in the cashew nuts with the coconut oil and syrup – if like me, your blender is too small then grind the oats and cashew nuts separately and then combine a bowl with the coconut oil and syrup. It should be the consistency of dough, but not too wet. Press the base mixture into a square or silicone tin. Place into the freezer to set.
  2. Make the caramel. Blend the dates, peanut butter and coconut oil together – I blended the dates first and then mixed in the peanut butter and oil. Chop the peanuts into pieces and add them into the mixture (you could keep them whole if you prefer) Add on to the top of the base and place back in the freezer.
  3. Make the chocolate. Melt some coconut oil and in the cacao powder and maple syrup. Mix together. Pour on to the caramel and place it back into the freezer to finish setting. Leave for a few hours or overnight. Cut into chunks.

Raw snickers need to be stored in the fridge or freezer as the chocolate melts.

These little snicker bars are so tasty and very Moorish. You get the creamy texture from the base and caramel, the sour bitter taste from the chocolate and sweetness from the dates and syrup.

20171002_181132

Share