Sunday, 25 September 2016

Life Unexpected: Kitchen Essentials

Kitchen Essentials List

Kitchen Essentials

The kitchen is the very heart of any home, and for me it was the first room I got together in our new home. Even before we officially moved in, I knew I needed to have the facilities to be able to offer beverages and snacks to the friends and family who worked so hard to help me get in through the door.

For me the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the whole house, after all it is where you spend so much of your time. You’re in there preparing the food, washing the dishes and preparing for the busy day ahead. It is where I get little man his breakfast and sign his reading record, it’s the room that we as a family spend so much of our time.

Kitchen Essentials

As many readers know, Leo and I have spent the last 2 years back at my parents home, moving our entire lives back under their roof was no easy feat, and after living on our own prior to that meant that we had the entire contents of our old home to find homes to store it. When I first found out about the house move, I thought we would be pretty much set, and I didn’t think that we would really need to much in order to be ready to move, but of course that would have been too easy. Everything that had been in storage had not faired too well over the last few years in the garage, so I made a list that was soon as long as my arm, and knew that we had to make a start somewhere.

I wanted a vintage looking kitchen with a hint of modern shining through, so I opted for some fun typography that I actually designed and printed myself, purchased some inexpensive frames from B&M Bargains and set them on the kitchen wall. I purchased a cream bread bin, kitchen roll holder and washing up tub and paired the sink off with a chrome washing up rack.

Kitchen Essentials

I decided on a Black Beko Fridge Freezer, and a Stainless Steel Black Zanussi Cooker I liked the idea of the contrast between the pale walls and additional items I had selected. I think the Monochrome additions combined with the contrast of the Red feature canvas has really made a statement in this room. 

As the kitchen it’s self isn’t the largest in the world, I have tried to conserve space by slipping a White breakfast bar along the back wall with 2 bar stools. This has been a great addition for us as it has meant that I can keep the consumption of food within the confinement of the kitchen, and means I can keep the living room entirely for entertaining, relaxing and out a desk in the space that I have left over. It’s nice having the option to have space to sit down to eat without compromising on space and altering plans I had for other rooms.

Dorris & Co Old Friends Are Best Baker Oven Dish
Dorris & Co Old Friends Are Best Baker Oven Dish 
I love the simple colour ways because it means you can jazz a room up in other ways, and if you suddenly decide on a complete colour change, you can add as much or as little as you like. I look around the kitchen and suddenly feel like a real grown up. When I think back to the kitchen we had at the old house and our jazzed up union jack knife set, I feel like the style I have incorporated into our new kitchen has most definitely matured.

Kitchen Essentials

The modern touches I have added in fall mainly within the small appliances, we have a beautiful Toaster and Kettle set from the Hotpoint Ultimate Collection. They are both Stainless Steel and unlike any other set I have ever had in the kitchen before. The Kettle allows you to set the temperature to suit how you want your beverage to be enjoyed, this means that if you want to boil the water to a suitable temperature that can be enjoyed straight away, you can! It heats up quickly and really stands out on the side, everyone who has stepped for in the kitchen so far has been really ogling the kettle, so it’s definitely turning some heads for all of the right reasons.

Hotpoint Ultimate Collection TT 44E Toaster in Stainless Steel
Hotpoint Ultimate Collection TT 44E Toaster in Stainless Steel

Dorris & Co Old Friends Are Best Nipper Board
Dorris & Co Old Friends Are Best Nipper Board

Hotpoint Ultimate Collection WK 30E UP0 in Stainless Steel


The toaster is made with the same Stainless Steel and can hold 4 slices of bread at any one time, and even though it’s just Leo and I living here, you would be surprised how much toast we have been getting through (we are currently head over heels for Bacon Sandwiches!). The Hot Point Set is digital, so you can adjust them by just using the display buttons, and the toaster even tells you how many minutes until your toast is ready.

Hotpoint Ultimate Collection Kettle WK 30E UP0 in Stainless Steel
Hotpoint Ultimate Collection Kettle WK 30E UP0 in Stainless Steel
Hotpoint Ultimate Collection Kettle WK 30E UP0 in Stainless Steel

When it comes to getting everything that you need for your very first kitchen, I think it is important to make a list of everything that you will need to get started, and once you have that list have a think about the budget you can allocate in order to purchase everything that you need.

I usually follow a clean eating diet, so my kitchen essentials had to include lots of different gadgets that you wouldn’t necessarily need when first starting out, but for my culinary style (which is often referred to as weird!) there were a number of things that were nothing short of essential:

OXO Good Grips Kitchen tools
  OXO Mango SplitterOXO 3-in-1 Avacado SlicerOXO Locking Can OpenerOXO Melon ballerOXO Swivel Peeler,  OXO Kitchen & Herb ScissorsOXO Box Grater OXO Hand Held Spiralizer

OXO 3-in-1 Avacado Slicer

OXO 3-in-1 Avacado Slicer

I prepare a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, and if you have ever tried to cut a Mango open you will know just how challenging it can be! I welcome tools that make my meal preperation that little bit easier, and the Oxo Spiralizer is an incredible kitchen addition because of it's compact size. I was using a full size Spiralizer up until this point and I always found it a nuisance to clean. The OXO Good Grips Hand Held Spiralizer takes up little to no draw space and is really easy to clean.

Prestige Stone Quartz 6" Chefs Knife
Prestige Stone Quartz 6" Chefs Knife
Tilt - Angled Non-Slip Chopping Board
Brabantia Mixing Bowl Set
Brabantia Mixing Bowl Set
Brabantia Mixing Bowl

When you cook as much as I do you want good quality cooking equipment, whether I am cooking up a big bowl of Pesto Pasta Bake or dreaming of a big stir fry full of colourful vegetables. I want to know I have a pan to suit every single culinary whim that enters my mind.

Prestige Stone Quartz 3 Piece Pan Set
Prestige Stone Quartz 3 Piece Pan Set

Prestige Stone Quartz 3 Piece Pan Set

Prestige Stone Quartz Baking Tray
Prestige Stone Quartz Baking Tray
School Of Wok - Carbon Steel Wok
School Of Wok - Carbon Steel Wok
One of the top essentials I need in the kitchen, is a blender. I enjoy a good smoothie, and as I eat a lot of fresh food, I like to have the power in hand to be able to prepare my own sauces and dips. I even make my own Pesto and raw snacks so I need a serious bit of kit that won't let me down. The Nutri Ninja Complete Kitchen System has ticked all of the boxes for me. It is everything I need in one complete package, so you get the food processor element, high speed blender and Nutrient Extractor. So now you don't need to run out and buy a food processor to do the things that the blender is quite simply not cut out to do, it's 3 appliances in one extremely handy appliance. Better yet it comes with 4 different jugs each with different capacities. You have the 2 smaller sizes which are the standard size with the original Ninja models, and then you have the 2 larger ones. I usually use the food processor capacity so I can put more ingredients inside.

Ninja Complete Kitchen System

Ninja Complete Kitchen System
There are some fantastic features on the Ninja, including a number of IQ programs that make the system so easy to use:

- Frozen Drinks Smoothies
- Food Puree
- Low/Dough
- Med
- High
- Pulse
- Blend
- Ultra Blend

Ninja Complete Kitchen System


It is by far the most powerful system I have used and the first of it's nature that has been able to handle everything I can throw at it. In the past I have managed to make a competitor model smoke, it was quite simply not able to handle the workload that I required from it.

The Nutri Ninja Complete Kitchen System looks great on the work top and doesn't take up too much space, which is exactly what I needed due to my work tops not being as big as I would like.

Vax Steam Fresh Power Plus Steam Cleaner

I'm a stickler for a clean kitchen, and because it is where the dog spends his nights it means I like to be completely on top of cleaning the kitchen floor. For this we have the Vax Steam Fresh Power Plus Steam Cleaner. It has been an absolute god send with a puppy roaming around, especially with the little accidents that are inevitable when house training. There has been mornings when I have entered the kitchen to find a sea of piddle, and I have instantly relaxed the moment I realised that it wasn't an issue, I could just pop the steam mop on and make sure it was all cleaned up properly.

So why is the Vax a touch above the rest?


Vax Steam Fresh Power Plus Steam Cleaner

Vax Steam Fresh Power Plus Steam Cleaner

I have to start with just how easy it is to maneuver because that is a massive factor for me (360⁰ connector & adapter), secondly all of the cleaning modes use a combination of steam and detergent to help break down grease and grime much more effectively. It even comes with 250ml of Detergent to start you off. Thirdly the steam head is so powerful, and this is only heightened with the inclusion of the steam boost function so you can really get those pesty stains that don't want to come away. 


Vax Steam Fresh Power Plus Steam Cleaner

Vax Steam Fresh Power Plus Steam Cleaner

It isn't just for floors though, you can literally clean from floor to ceiling. This means that it isn't just a steam cleaner for the kitchen, this opens up possibilities all over the house. You can get up into the corners of those hard to reach areas with ease (and without breaking a sweat which is what I am in it for!), you can ever use it on cooker hoods and bathroom tiles (It's perfect for bathroom tiles!), and all of this is what makes the Vax Steam Fresh Power Plus such a dynamic house hold addition.


What's in the box?


Vax Steam Fresh Power Plus Steam Cleaner

- 2x Microfibre pads
- 360⁰ connector & adapter
- Accessory bag
- Carpet glider
- Precision tool
- Soft scrub brush
- Wall mount

This concludes the Life Unexpected's Kitchen's Essentials, but over the coming weeks ahead I will be sharing a number of titles within this series. We are slowly getting there with the rest of the house, and I cannot wait to uncover each room and show you what we have been up to over here!

Disclaimer: I was provided the above products for the purpose of this feature. All views and opinions are completely honest and my own.

How to Get Your Eyebrows Looking Perfect at Home


perfect eyebrows
One area of beauty which is often overlooked is the eyebrows. With so much focus on hair and makeup, it can be easy to forget your brows. They should be given plenty of attention, however, as they play a huge part in shaping your face and they can also boost your entire appearance if cared for in the right way. Whether you have thick, thin or bushy eyebrows; there are always ways to care for them and get the perfect arch.

The Perfect Shape
The perfect eyebrow shape is generally accepted to be when the beginning is aligned with the centre of the nostril, and the arch falls over the back third of the eye. Additionally, the eyebrow should not extend to the temple area. However, different face shapes have slight variations and you can find guidance for this online.  This is true regardless of how thick or thin your eyebrows are, so it is important to keep this in mind when working on yours.

Tweezing Tips
To obtain the perfect shape, you will first need to tweeze rogue hairs. Be warned though, by plucking too many it can misshape your brows and take a while to grow back. A few tips include purchasing high-quality tweezers, using a mirror with at least 5x magnification and plucking just one hair at a time.

Many find it helpful to use an eyebrow pencil and draw different shapes to see what shape looks best. Once you are happy with the shape, you simply tweeze any hairs that fall outside of this line. Next, brush the eyebrows up and trim any that are too long or floppy with short scissors.

Filling In
Removing hairs is only half of the task, as you may also need to fill in areas to obtain the perfect arch. The best way is with brow powders or eye shadow that match the colour of your brow. Apply this with a soft wedge brush or thin liner brush and start in the centre and work outward, before finishing with the beginning of the brow. It is best to minimise the use of this if possible, and instead work with the hair that is there.

Products
In addition to meticulous and careful work, it is also important that you have products of the highest standard. Beauty specialists, like Capital Hair & Beauty, are the best places to shop and will carry all you need for eyebrow care and enhancement.


With a little work, your brows will look their best and have a huge impact on how you both look and feel.

Get into the Christmas Spirit with Festive Lighting

Christmas Lighting
With Christmas around the corner, now is the time to spring into action. The holidays can be stressful as there is so much that goes into an enjoyable festive period, but by starting early it can reduce this stress and ensure that everything goes well.

Get the Ball Rolling
One great way to get the ball rolling is to start with your Christmas decorations, as this will get you into the festive spirit and encourage you (and your family) to start other related tasks such as shopping and sending cards.

Decorating your home can also bring the family together and get everybody looking forward to the holidays. This is important, as the start of winter is typically not the happiest time of the year.

Finding the Right Lighting
In addition to your tree and various decorations around the home, you will also want special lighting for the holidays. In the evening, this can create a warm and magical atmosphere, as well as look fantastic from the outside too. There are many different options when it comes to lighting, allowing you to find the best type to your personal style and one which complements both your home and decorations.

Whilst fairy lights are always a popular choice, you could opt for something slightly more unique, such as icicle lighting or a light up snowball curtain (these look excellent in the window). Jewelled twig lighting, meanwhile, can bring some of the outdoors inside and this look brilliant draped around mirrors or on the mantelpiece.

Outdoor Lighting
In addition to the inside of your home, you could also decorate your garden and bring it to life with outdoor lighting. Dot string lights hung in the trees and/or light up reindeers can transform your backyard in the evening and are great to look at whilst in the warmth of your home.

Finding the right lighting for Christmas can be challenging, but with so many options it should allow you to find something that will bring the festive spirit to your home.  Typically, strings of twinkling light and lighting shaped into Christmas imagery will enhance your decorations and create a magical and welcoming atmosphere to your home. Places like Cox & Cox are great places to shop for festive lighting and other pieces for decorating.

Getting into the Festive Spirit

Decorating your home is a great way to start your Christmas preparations and it will encourage you to get your shopping and other tasks completed quickly. It can also be great fun and a brilliant way to bring your family closer together as you approach the holiday season.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

How to Pick out the Perfect Watch

How to Pick out the Perfect Watch
Everybody should own a high-quality, stylish and practical watch. Not only does this give you a faster and classier way to check the time than checking your phone, but it can also transform your appearance and reflect your personality; this can boost your confidence and self-esteem.

Despite the clear benefits of wearing a watch every day, many people do not own one. One of the reasons for this is that people do not know how to go about finding the right watch for them, as it can be daunting with so much variation. These tips (appropriate for men and women) will help anybody to pick out the perfect watch for them to wear every single day.

Identify a Budget
The first step is identifying how much money you would like to spend. With so much variation, this will help to narrow down your results and ensure that you do not overspend. Whilst you may be tempted to spend less, it is important to remember that quality will last and also look sharper.

Analogue or Digital
Next, you will need to decide between analogue (classic style with hour and minute hands and numbers/roman numerals/marks depicting hours) and digital (numerical form on an LCD or LED face). You can also get analogue/digital watches which combine the two forms. Analogue is considered the more formal and stylish, whilst digital is more casual. Deciding this will depend on personal preference and your day to day life.

Material
Selecting the material will be the next stage for filtering results. There are two factors to consider here; the wristband and the casing. The band can come in a huge range of materials, including various metals, leather, fake leather, rubber, plastic and exotic skins. The case (which holds the face) usually come in precious metals, other metals, plastic or resin. This will have a significant impact on the price, so you will have to consider your budget.

Style and Features
Finally, you can decide on the style and features. The main options are sports watches, dress watches and casual watches. Typically, dress or casual watches are best for day to day life and wearing at work. There are numerous features with many modern watches, so you may want to consider some of these. A few examples include calculators, calendars, email programs and even cameras.

Finding the Right Watch
Now that you have narrowed your results, you will want to find the watch. Jewellers, like F.Hinds, are typically the best places for dress or casual watches.


With these steps, you should be able to find the perfect watch for everyday wear that is suited to your taste and within your budget.

A Top Tip for Freeing Up Space in your Home

Freeing Up Space in your Home
If your home is cramped and there is little room to move around, it can be incredibly frustrating and stressful. This can make it difficult to relax and also challenging when you have people over. When you have a family, any spare space seems to immediately get taken up by clutter and this only contributes to your stress. This is why it is important to look for ways to maximise your space and create a cleaner and tidier looking home.

A Smart Switch
One top tip is to replace your traditional doors with sliding doors. These doors slide in on themselves instead of outwards, consequently freeing up a huge amount of space. The doors are an often overlooked part of a room, but their arc takes up a large area when opening/shutting and this contributes to the cramped feeling.

The Benefits
When you have sliding doors throughout the home, it can look fantastic and create an open plan and minimalistic feeling. Not just this, but this also allows for easy access as they can be gently pushed open. Using them to access the garden can bring the outdoors in and create a flow between indoor and outdoor spaces. If you use glass sliding doors, this will also allow plenty of natural light to cascade through.

In addition this, these doors can also be efficient insulators when fitted with composite gaskets. When they also have aluminium seals and fixed leaves, they can also offer great security when used as a door between your garden and home.

Primarily, it is the space saving that makes these doors worthwhile and particularly if you have limited space or a large family. You could use the extra space for storage or for a piece of furniture, but it is also worthwhile leaving it empty as this will really have a positive impact on how the room and entire home looks and feels.

Elsewhere in the Home
In addition to internal sliding doors and glass sliding doors to your garden, you could also consider sliding cupboards and wardrobes; these are a great way to free up space in the bedroom. To find the widest range of sliding doors, as well as all the accessories and hardware you need, you will need to visit hardware stores like Barrier Components.


If you have limited space in the home and find that it makes it difficult to relax, switching to sliding doors could have an enormous impact on both your mood and property.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Hello Autumn

Autumn 2016

Well that's another Summer vanishing into the horizon, and in it's place are crisp Autumn leaves and subtle hints that colder weather is on it's way. I have to admit that as much as I love the Summer months, I also adore this time of year. There is something magical about the way the leaves change colour, the way the nights draw in invite you to cuddle down under a fluffy throw on the sofa with a hot chocolate to warm you from the inside out. 

There is just something satisfying about getting to wear wooly clothing and slip on your knee high boots for the season, and I think that is one of the aspects I love most about waving farewell to the sunshine for another year, it's the wardrobe possibilities.

My typical September wardrobe would usually consist of a pair of boots, dark denim jeans and a nice thick jumper with the potential for a thick woolly wrap around for that additional layer to keep the chill off my body. I feel the cold all the time, I am one of those people who would be sat in a room full of people with my coat on while everyone else is wondering what is wrong we me as they are all feeling the heat!


The last few months have literally been all about getting everything ready for the house move, so every spare penny that I have had, has been ploughed into everything that we need for the move, and of course furnishing the house to put our own personal touch on the place. Now we are in and the majority of the essentials list has been ticked off, I am looking forward to being able to update my wardrobe for the colder months ahead. Sometimes we take treating ourselves forgranted, and it's not until your in a position to not buy these things that you realise what a luxury it really is.
Esprit Autumn Collection
I absolutely love the Esprit clothes and in the time frame that I haven't been able to spend any money, I have been putting together a new outfit consisting of :

- Navy Ultra Stretchy Cotton Jeans - £45.00
- BouclĂ© Coat with Large Collar - £99.00
- Stripey Long Sleeve Top - £15.00
- Black Ankle Boots: £69.00

I cannot remember the last time I went on a shopping trip and allowed myself to splurge, all I seem to have done recently is count pennies to make sure that Leo and I have everything that we need. What we have wanted has had to be brushed under the carpet until we were in a position where there was some expandable income at the end of the long list of bills.

That makes this upcoming shopping trip an extra special one, because it follows a particularly hard year (there might be a post on this at some point, but the jury is still out), that has ultimately seen me stand on my own two feet and get Leo and I into our very own space, just the two of us. 

I have to say that I am feeling pretty proud of myself right now, I look around the house and although there is still so much to do, I can actually see it taking shape, It's already feeling like home to both Leo and I, which just makes the late nights and hard work to get here, absolutely worth it, and now I can get back to a normality that allows me to make a few purchases every now and then, because we all have to treat ourselves occasionally...Right!?

All Access Family Day's Out #TravelForAll


We have always been an active family, and I believe that is because I come from an active family. As a child I have fond memories of getting out the big attraction book that my parents used to have, and we would travel all over the UK most weekends just to see and do something new. I don't re-call all of the names of places we used to go, but I have some magical memories of the Petrifying Well at Mother Shipton that we once visited. 

The Petrifying Well is an ancient well that was formally known as the Dropping Well, and the well is famous because it can turn Teddy Bears to stone, the process takes between 3-5 months to petrify a teddy bear. I think this is exactly why this place has stayed so vividly in my mind even after all of these years, because it was such a magical place to me as a young girl. As the entire family has aged since this visit took place, we have to take a lot more into consideration before we suddenly hit the road for a random adventure, especially since my Mother now suffers with Rheumatoid Arthritis, which of course marks some destinations as off limits to us.

We still head off on some exciting adventures as a family, but we do a lot more research than we used to. Although my Mum is not wheelchair bound, if am attraction has a lot of steps, no lifts, or is limited on disables access, we know that my Mum will struggle, so really what we do these days is take a look at the website well in advance so we can make a list of appropriate places. What we like to know ahead of time is whether it is suitable for my Mum, because we need ample places for her to take a break and rest her legs, ideally a lift is what we would like so that she doesn't need to worry about the stairs but if that's not available, at least we can take that into consideration before arrive.

We love to visit Cadbury World with the extended family because we find that there is something for everyone to do, and they are incredibly helpful if you contact them ahead of your visit, they can then help you get something in place ready for your day out. This has been invaluable to us as a family over the years, and that it why it is still a top contender when we think about a family trip out together. For us Cadbury Land ticks every box, and it was even super when we had Leo in a puschair all those years ago, and traveling with Leo now we still need to take his little legs into consideration and we usually tie Leo's needs in with Granny's, as they are pretty similar in that respect.

Mobility Nationwide have put together this great infographic detailing the top all access destinations up and down the UK, so if you are planning a family day out anytime soon this could be really handy for you if you need to take access into consideration.