Warm Winter Recipe Ideas

Now the festive period is upon us, but the winter is most likely still going to be testing us well into the New Year. Sometimes on a cold and miserable day the only thing that gets us through is thinking about a great meal we have planned out for later on. A tasty home-cooked meal is the ultimate way to reward yourself and keep your family happy during the cold winter months.

That’s why it’s the perfect time to be thinking about some warming winter recipes right now, so you can start getting some practice in and develop your skills. If you perfect a few of these comforting dishes you might notice you’re suddenly gaining popularity and have people turning up on your doorstep for dinner!

1) Classic chicken pie

You can’t go wrong with this traditional classic. A chicken pie can be stretched out further by packing it full of seasonal vegetables, or you could even replace the meat entirely for a vegetarian version just as easily. You don’t even need to make your own pastry so this tasty, family-sized dish can be made in almost no time. Experiment with your gravy and seasoning to make your pie unique.Continue Reading

Celebrate Bonfire Night Safely

November is approaching, and traditionally we like to kick off the month with Bonfire Night celebrations! It’s a popular way to add a bit of warmth to the early winter, although safety shouldn’t be forgotten in the process. It’s easy to get distracted by the fun of a fireworks display or a bonfire, but there are some general safety tips you have to keep in mind, especially when there are children around.

Firstly, when it comes to actual fireworks, these items are not toys! They are subject to certain laws in the UK, so make sure for a start you only buy legally safe ones and don’t try to customise them in any way. Nominate someone to be responsible for fireworks and their safety if you are hosting your own display. They should have a dedicated area and the correct equipment for launching them, with a bucket of water and first aid kit on hand, plus all the correct wearable safety gear.

Sparklers are another common feature of bonfire night celebrations, and they’re especially popular with kids, although remember they’re far from harmless! In fact, while it may be close to freezing outside, the tip of a sparkler can easily reach 2,000°C which makes it more than capable of giving you a nasty burn. Again you’ll need a bucket of water nearby to put them out if necessary. It’s essential to always wear gloves when handling sparklers, and never to do so in a crowded area.Continue Reading

Halloween Party Theme Ideas

Hosting a Halloween party this year, or maybe just thinking about it? Maybe you’ve been trying to come up with an unusual theme that’s appropriate for your guests’ age group – it can be just as tricky to find something fun and original that’s suitable for adults as it is for kids! Here are a few ideas that you might not have tried yet…

1) Ghostbusters

After the massive reboot movie that launched worldwide in July, Ghostbusters is cool all over again and this Halloween is the perfect time to take advantage of that. You can turn your house into the iconic team HQ and the guests can be your invading ghosts and monsters! This works especially well with kids if the adults take on the role of the Ghostbusters to keep them under control.

2) Comic Book Heroes/Villains

Always a great costume theme for grown-ups and kids alike because of the vast number of choices out there! You may opt for an exclusive villains theme this year if your friends are fans of Suicide Squad and other movies in the same vein. Harley Quinn and the Joker are favourites to appear at a few parties this October.Continue Reading

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Rescue and Transform Old Furniture

How do you normally start when you’re thinking about redesigning and redecorating your home? If the first thing you do is pick up a brochure or head online to start picking out your new furniture and buying pieces, we might suggest you’re going about the process completely backwards. Sorry!

We would recommend a slightly different approach, focusing more on what you already have. You can achieve some incredible results by refreshing old furniture and giving old pieces a brand new lease of life. This can in turn inject some much needed freshness into your rooms! Here are a few tips for saving old furnishings from the scrap heap and turning them into something you’ll love to feature prominently in your home.

Firstly, don’t worry about making it perfect. The finish on your old piece of furniture may be a lot less pristine that it was originally, but that’s certainly nothing bad. If you don’t want to put it through a proper restoration process, you can just enjoy a shabby chic finish on your piece instead. You might even distress it intentionally for a real rustic feel. This is the perfect way to disguise imperfections and make them into a feature.

Paint is going to be one of your primary weapons on this mission. Tackling an ugly old piece and trying to turn it into something attractive may not be easy, but with a fresh coat of brightly coloured paint you’d be shocked at what a difference you can make. Spray paint can be particularly effective in unusual colours, and again you don’t have to focus on getting a perfect finish. Try taking a tired-looking vintage piece and colouring it so it takes on a completely polar opposite identity.

If you’re feeling confident you might want to look at customising your furniture too, in the process of salvaging old and damaged pieces especially. Sometimes you may inherit a desk without all of its drawers, a chair with a missing leg, or perhaps something with a lot of potential that’s being ruined by just one particularly ugly element. Don’t be afraid to amputate old-fashioned or unnecessary parts from your furniture if it helps you style it the way you want to. For example, taking a vintage desk top and replacing its thick legs with much thinner, more sophisticated ones and then painting it a vivid colour could be the perfect way to revamp it.

Introducing Shabby Chic Into Your Home

Shabby chic is a timeless and flexible style which makes it just as popular now as it ever has been, if not more so. Even if you’ve previously gone for a stricter style or something more sleek and modern, it’s not difficult (or expensive) to incorporate some variety of shabby style into your existing rooms, or transform them altogether.

You can opt for designer shabby chic furniture if you want to spend your budget on high quality pieces, or to inject a little creative style without breaking the bank you may choose to find some bargain pieces and customise them, or track down vintage treasures to restore cheaply. Whichever you choose, here are some simple tips for adding a touch of shabby chic décor to any room, on any budget.

Worn-and-torn wood –

Whether it’s tables, chairs, bookcases or even outdoor furniture, the classic distressed wood look never goes out of fashion and can really add character to new or old furnishings. If you can’t find a genuine vintage piece that suits you, just get to work on painting and sanding some basic wooden furniture and give it your own shabby chic touch.

Wall hangings –

Real antique picture frames are excellent for bringing some class and personality to a plan wall, especially alongside your other distressed décor. You don’t even have to hang pictures in the frames, you might choose to simply hang them empty.Continue Reading