Wednesday, 27 February 2019

HOME | WHAT TO THINK ABOUT WHEN RENOVATING YOUR BATHROOM

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On Instagram, I've made no secret of the fact that my most hated room in the house is my bathroom; it just feels so drab and boring firstly because I picked totally the wrong colour of tiles; I went for a cream colour because I figured it was neutral and easy to work with but it's just made it so lifeless. Also, Persimmon weren't kind enough to tile all the way around the bath despite the fact that the main bathroom in Morden houses comes with a shower over the bath so clearly you'd need the whole wall protecting, not just some of it.

Anyway, I digress. In terms of renovation, as much as you shouldn't have to do that in a new house, the bathroom is definitely something I would love to inject some life into and here's what I've been considering when planning what I might want to do. When it comes to the value of your home, your bathroom plays a huge role. Bathrooms are no longer used simply to meet practical needs; they’re now a place for relaxing and pampering. After all, who doesn’t love a bit of “me time” and a long soak in the bath?

bathroom-renovation


My Requirements
Before starting any big home renovation task, it’s worth thinking about what you hope to achieve so that you can understand your basic requirements and the space you've got to work with. Obviously my bathroom isn't very big with my house only being two bedroomed so the basics such as the bath, toilet and sink would have to stay in the same places really but I need to take advantage of every bit of space I have for storage. The tiles would be an obvious change I'd make to transform the colour scheme; I'm thinking grey but I also wonder whether that trend is fading. Some patterned tiles might be nice because I've seen some amazing ones in other people's bathrooms.

Cost
Cost is a huge element for me and I simply don't have the money to be throwing around on unnecessary things so actually what my renovation would focus on would be making improvements to the existing fixtures. So instead of changing the full bath suite I'd look at a new bath side panel - I've seen some really lovely different shapes and finishes in places like B&Q - they even do ones with built in storage which would be amazing. Also, I've looked at painting the tiles as opposed to replacing them completely because I think pulling them off will be a bigger job than anticipated because I think the wall would have to be re-plastered but I do definitely need the rest of round the bath finishing off so it's swings and roundabouts really with that one!

Ventilation
In rooms where there is lots of moisture in the air, such as bathrooms and kitchens, appropriate ventilation is very important. If you don’t think about bathroom ventilation before you start your project, you’re sure to regret it later on because you’ll start to notice damp and mould growth. I have got a window in mine but I know not everyone has that luxury, especially in terraced houses. All you need is a domestic ventilation fan to help keep the newly renovated room fresh and airy. There are plenty of silent fans on the market so as not to disturb your relaxation time.

bathroom-lighting

Lighting

To be fair, I'm really pleased with the light I bought from B&M the other week; it was only £12.99 and it's so effective; I feel like it's really brightened up the room. Ideally I'd love a dimmable light in the bathroom just so I could turn the lights down when I was having a bath but to be honest it's absolutely fine just turning the light off and lighting a candle instead when I want to have a super-relaxing soak!

Do you have any quick fixes for bathroom renovations?

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Thursday, 21 February 2019

LIFESTYLE | THE BEST FRUIT TEAS

Talking about tea has to be one of the most stereotypically British blog posts ever but I'm actually not going to talk about your traditional 'English Breakfast Tea', I wanted to talk about the best of fruit and other alternative teas out there that I've tried so far. I know sometimes, for whatever reason, you don't fancy a cup of 'normal' tea (and I daresay some people don't actually like it!!) so it's nice to know what's out there for you, should you fancy a hot drink. Some fruit/alternative teas are known for being either tasteless or just plain horrible but after testing a fair few I've come up with my favourites:



This goes a lovely shade of purply-blue when you add hot water and the taste of blueberry really comes through. I've found that one of the tricks to most fruit teas is to make sure you do leave them to stew for around 3 minutes to get the most out of the teabag. 


This one smells absolutely amazing as it's steeping; and tastes just as good. I find this one is a really refreshing tea good for a morning cuppa if you're not feeling coffee or breakfast tea.


I don't think it would be a tea post without including good old Twinings would it? They do hold a Royal Warrant so it's not surprising that this is my go-to peppermint tea of choice. I usually drink peppermint either after a big meal or before bed because I find that it settles my stomach and it's just a nice caffeine-free relaxing kind of tea. 

M&S British Mint and Strawberry Infusion (approx £3.00, available in store)

A recent discovery of mine, these tea bags are what I would refer to as 'posh' ones becuase they're made of really thin meshy material which just makes them a cut above the rest. Obviously you do pay a premium for these types of tea but I really enjoy this one as it's the perfect hybrid between mint and fruit. 

Next on my list for my little collection of teas is to try some loose leaf tea and invest in one of those cute little stump teapots that have a built-in filter.

What are your favourite teas? 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2019

BRUNCH AT FEAST, BAWTRY REVIEW

It's not often I venture out for breakfast/brunch but when my step-sister introduced me to the little gem that is 'Feast' in Bawtry I had to share it because I'm really keen that small businesses get the recognition they deserve when they do something well.

Feast is a family friendly destination cafe in Bawtry near Doncaster serving fresh, home made food daily either to be eaten in or taken away. The contemporary decor, coupled with the warm welcome from the staff dressed in their signature 'Feast' orange t-shirts, clearly appeals to people of all ages because while I've been in there there have been a steady stream of customers from families and couples to workmen and local office workers on their dinner hour. They also welcome dogs which has meant that I've seen the cutest little baby sausage dog and a gorgeously curly Cava-poo (forget cat cafes, give me a dog cafe any day of the week!)





It is a really inviting little cafe and you're always greeted with a smile from the lady who I assume is the owner. Their all-day brunch menu is where I've ordered each time I've visited but they also do a selection of sandwiches, toasties and hot specials for lunch. The prices are reasonable, especially as you'd be forgiven for assuming it'd be expensive given that it's in Bawtry; from £5.95 for a toastie to around £9.45 for a full English breakfast.



The choice of drinks is huge, as you can see from the menu above but I went for a simple English breakfast tea for two (I went with my dad) which came in this huge modern teapot accompanied by a cute little milk bottle. You also get a tiny little biscuit with your tea (which was long gone by the time of this photo!) which is just a little taste of their homemade goods.


I have been to Feast twice so I'm going to show what I ordered on both occasions; all choices are from the all-day brunch menu.

Mini Feast Breakfast, £6.45 (butcher sausage, back bacon, half a sauteed tomato fried egg and toast)

This was Kev's choice the first time we visited and he commented on how much he loved the toast which looked like it was the most amazing thick cut bread with plenty of butter. This is a lovely little option if you don't want a heavy breakfast but you still love the idea of a full English. 

 Smoked Salmon and Scrambled eggs, £7.95 (smoked salmon, creme fraiche scrambled eggs with dill on a toasted bagel)

This was my first choice and actually wasn't what I expected; I expected the scrambled eggs to be separate from the salmon but this actually worked really well; there was plenty of scrambled egg and I really enjoyed it.

 Avocado and Eggs, £8.95 (crushed avocado, poached egg, portobello mushroom, griddled tomato on sourdough toast)

I actually got this after seeing my step-sister have it on our first visit. She actually had hers minus the tomato and mushroom so if you do have any specific requests make sure you let them know and they'll happily accommodate if they can. I was a bit hesitant about the sourdough toast but again, it really works because it's not too stodgy with the avocado. The poached eggs were cooked to perfection with an amazingly orange runny yolk. 

Chorizo Hash, £7.25 (fried chorizo with poatoes, sauteed onions on sourdough toast, topped with fried eggs)

I thought this was quite unusual to see on a menu in England and it reminded me of 'Hash House a go-go' in America. This was my dad's choice and he said he really enjoyed it; there was plenty of chorizo and it definitely looks like something to have if you're wanting something a bit different to the usual cafe options. 

I can say with 100% certainty that it won't be the last time I visit Feast and I highly recommend that you try it if you live in the Doncaster area. I also noticed on my last visit that they do 'cronuts', is a hybrid of a donut and a croissant, which I fully intend to try if they have some next time I'm there!

You can find out more info about them on their Facebook page, no need to book, just turn up and hope there's a table available!

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Thursday, 14 February 2019

HOW TO GET YOUR GARDEN SUMMER-READY

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The weather might not be too inspiring right now, but it won’t be too long before the sweet scents of spring are back, and we all begin looking forward to summer. Remember summer? It’s the time of afternoons with friends, conversations, and all-around enjoying life. Now, I'm not saying you can’t enjoy summer without a garden to relax in, because you most definitely can, but everything’s easier when you have your own space to unwind in. I know my garden isn't perfect at all so I really need to practice what I'm preaching in this case because my back yard does need some TLC before the summer!

Clear the Space

Most people’s gardens aren’t actually in bad shape -- it’s just that you can end up accumulating things you don't need or things that should be tucked away in a shed or storage locker. You only need some grass to enjoy your garden, but if you’ve left your garden untouched for too long, then even that might be asking too much. Begin by getting into the garden and clearing away anything that doesn’t need to be there. If nothing else, you’ll have a good idea of what’s involved to bring your yard up to scratch. I really need to invest in a shed to be able to clear my space but if you can't quite fit one in or they're out of your price range at the moment you could always try one of those lockable storage boxes.

Work with the Experts

You can get your garden into tip-top condition on your own, but if you’re inexperienced, it’ll be an uphill battle. And if you’re working full-time, you’ll likely find that you’d rather spend your free time doing other things. If this is the case, then take a look at working with a company that offers grounds maintenance. They’ll be able to get your garden looking healthier and more beautiful than ever, and can also offer tips on how you can maintain the health of the garden into the future. By the time summer comes, you could have an enviable outdoor space!

Invest in some basics

A healthy lawn and flowers will be a good start, but to enjoy summer to the max, you’re going to need a little more. Buy a variety of outdoor furnishings for your garden -- that includes a table for eating, chairs, and reclining seats for when you want to sit back and soak up the sun. And don’t forget that tried and tested summer favourite: the BBQ. With that in your garden, you’ll be able to enjoy your tea in the sunshine every night if you really wanted to.

Decoration

It’s also a good idea to add some decorations to your newly transformed garden. Little touches here and there can make a big difference to the character of your outdoor space. When you’re on your travels, keep an eye on anything that would look good -- and pay particular attention to items that seem to effortlessly blend in with the natural feel of the garden. (Places like The Range and Home Bargains often have some fab stuff in as you will have seen from my Instagram



Make it Private

Finally, make sure it’s private, and not a public garden. You won’t be able to enjoy your space as much if you’re forever feeling like you’re on display! Adding a fence, canopy, and positioning your furniture in an area that’s not easily overlooked by prying neighbours should do the trick. I invested in a 6ft fence last year and it does make relaxing in the garden much more enjoyable - not that I think my neighbours are particularly interested in what I'm doing but it just makes it feel more comfortable I think. 

Do you have any other tips for getting your garden summer ready?

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Saturday, 9 February 2019

LIFESTYLE | LUSH VALENTINE'S BATH BOMBS

To be fair, Lush often get it exactly right when it comes to seasonal offerings but I couldn't not mention their Valentine's bath bomb selection because I do think they've surpassed all expectations with the stuff they've come up with. To be honest you'd have to have been living under a rock (or totally not excited by bath bombs) to not know about their Valentine's products but I'm going to tell you them anyway because there might just be someone out there stuck for a Valentine's gift idea...



Probably their most talked about products are the Aubergine (£3.95) and Peachy (£3.95) bath bombs which are cleverly modelled on the emoji symbols we tend to use for certain parts of our anatomy. How totally genius was that idea?! A massive pat on the back to their product development/marketing team for that because I was so impressed with it! So far I've tried the aubergine and it didn't disappoint - it was the most perfect sparkly purple bath you've ever seen even if it did slightly resemble a glittery turd as it was fizzing away (haha!).

I've only just managed to get hold of the Peachy one today because it's been sold out (testament to its popularity!) but I've heard it's another amazing creation.


The Goddess is one I also grabbed because the store assistant told me it was the most glittery bath bomb they've ever done which has me sold, straight away. This one is a little more pricey at £5.95 and it does pain me to use that in one bath but we all deserve a treat sometimes, right?! Although it is part of the Valentine's collection, this one isn't a limited edition so if this is something that tickles your fancy you could treat yourself a little later on. I decided to save this until actual Valentine's so I haven't tried it yet but I will definitely be showing it on my Instagram (@girl_upnorth) if you fancy following me on there to see that. 


The Love Boat (£4.50) is the last of their Valentine's bath bomb collection and I saw this in action when the sales assistant offered to show us. This is what I would call a 'slow burner'. Obviously because it has to stay afloat and look like a boat it does fizz quite slowly but the sweet citrus smell is absolutely unreal and it turns the water a gorgeous pinky purple colour and it'd still be fizzing away long after you got into the bath. 

There are other product types in the Valentine's collection but I thought I'd focus on bath bombs because they're what I know most about; if massage bars, soaps and bubble bars are your thing then they also have some limited edition products that are worth having a look at!

What do you think to the Lush Valentine's collection?

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Friday, 8 February 2019

DOES BENENOX WORK?

Disclosure: This bottle of Benenox was sent to me free of charge - a review was not required in return but I wanted to let you know my thoughts

I think at some point we all struggle with sleep; whether it's getting to sleep, staying asleep or just getting good quality rest in general. I've found that, naturally, the more stressful my job has got, the less sleep I seem to get and that's even at weekends. I found myself waking up at 5/6am regardless of what time I'd gone to sleep on a night and I'd often really struggle to drift back off which would leave me feeling like I'd not slept at all.

I personally try and stay away from sleep aids; the only sleep aid I use is on a return to UK long-haul flight just to basically knock me out but even a short term solution I'd be worried about beginning to rely on them. 


When I saw Benenox advertised on Instagram I realised that although it promises 'good quality sleep' it's not actually a sleep aid in the traditional sense in that it doesn't send you off to sleep. What Benenox actually is, is a food supplement taken just before bed that helps to 'supplement your body's stored energy levels to support good quality sleep' so basically it should help you to stay asleep once you've nodded off and help you to wake up feeling refreshed and recharged. 

Benenox contains Vitamin B6, honey and Sustamine which have been shown to help reduce tiredness and fatigue, support normal psychological function and help energy production. It was this 'Sustamine' ingredient that intrigued me most; after a bit of research I found that it was used a lot by athletes and assists with rehydration and sustain energy levels. This blend of ingredients in Benenox helps to replenish the glycogen used by your body overnight for essential repairs that happen when you're sleeping which should help to make you feel refreshed when you wake up rather than groggy. 

So do I think Benenox really works?

I took Benenox over a period of 9 days and I have mixed feelings about it really. I do think that I felt more refreshed and ready for the day on the majority of days when I woke up and I do feel as if I had more energy on the days when I took it. However, out of the 9 days there was only one day when I didn't wake up at all during the night. 

So in essence, Benenox delivered on the 'feeling recharged' part of their promise but it didn't help with my disrupted sleep but to be honest I don't think a lot would unless I a) reduced the stress in my daily life or b) took actual sleeping tablets. But do I think it made enough of a difference to my life to buy another bottle? No I don't, and I personally think it's expensive at £9.99 per bottle given that you do only get 9 days worth. 

If you do want to try Benenox for yourself it is available from Boots or you can find out more information about it on the Benenox website.

Is it something you think could work for you?

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