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Monday, 20 October 2014

Autumn Leaf Bunting

Now I have an area of the house that really feels like home, I have become so. so house-proud. I'm doing all the things I've always wanted to - displaying knick-knacks, plants and flowers dotted about, relaxing and just smiling at my surroundings - and it's lovely.

And for some reason, it's even better at this time of year. Autumn and Winter are for snuggling up together, and warming up after getting some of that crisp, fresh air. 

On Saturday, it was a Mama and Bill Day as Mark was watching the match in Preston. I wanted to do something fun with him, and for some reason, a glittery string of leaves seemed like a good idea.

First we went on a leaf hunt, after a shop to get some essential supplies at this time of year - pumpkins, munchkins, chocolate and maybe some gin for Mama as it was Saturday and she deserved a treat. 

Picking leaves was just so much fun for this little guy. He loved coming to me and telling me the shapes and the colours. And was so excited when he found one that we could add to our plastic bag-full.

Back at home, after making sure the leaves were dry and we had our aprons on, we got to work.

All we needed was:

  • Leaves
  • Gold and silver glitter
  • Glue
  • Needle and thread

It was as simple as taking a leaf, splodging it with glue, and then pouring glitter over the top. The nicest thing was that it didn't need to be perfect or between the lines. It was perfect because we did it together, and glitter looks pretty however you choose to display it.

We left them to dry for a little while, while William watched Curious George, and then I set to work threading them on to some very fine white thread with a needle.

I chose to thread the leaves upside down, with the stem at the top, but you can thread them however you like. Just make sure you have a fine thread, a) because it doesn't show as much so the leaves look as though they are floating, and b) it's much more easy to thread without breaking your glittery leaves.

We hung ours over our fireplace, adding to our Autumnal theme. William was so proud of them and I absolutely loved watching the sunlight catch them on Sunday morning as I sipped my coffee.

Friday, 17 October 2014

What I Bought

I love shopping.

And despite not having all of the pennies in the world, I really enjoy working hard and being able to treat myself now and again when I have some spare puds (I blame Mark for the introduction of this word to my vocabulary) leftover.

But I'm more of an online shopper, than a high-street shopper.

The beauty of buying online, for me, is that I can do it, at home, at any time of day, and I can do it drinking a glass of wine, in my pyjamas.

I also like that I can bargain hunt. You can't do that on the high street, unless you are child-free and you have the steely look in your eye that only comes from a woman on the hunt for a bargain. Unfortunately, I'd rather sit in a café and chat to my chums. So online it is.

I have a huge soft-spot for eBay, and I love finding things as a result of blogs and reviews, because I know that what I'm buying is worth it. I like knowing where people found the latest deals and what they choose to spend their money on, because it's a brilliant source of inspiration.

And thankfully, buying online is a lot easier and safer these days, thanks to payment gateways like PayPal and security checks to make sure your debit or credit card details aren't stolen.

So here are a few bits that I've bought over the last few months, for the house and for me...

Faux Fur Collar / Tan Chelsea Boots / Jumper Dress / Rimmel Saturn / MAC Velvet Teddy 

I am so happy to be able to dress for Autumn again. I have come to think I'm a very fickle human, but the excuse of a new clothing season really excites me. And I'm quite happy to leave the crop tops and maxi skirts for next summer and wear snuggly knits and boots. Some of these I've had for a little while but I'm desperate for the faux fur collar to arrive - it takes a while as it comes from abroad. But it was cheap and worth the wait! Aside from these, I'm on a hunt for a wine-coloured jumper and a bowler hat. I'm wondering if Primark may be the best bet - but maybe next pay day! 

Noel Sign / Baby It's Cold Outside / Stag Sign / Stag Door Mat

As for the house, I am absolutely relishing having a nice living room now, especially now our sofa is being delivered on Monday (finally). And being able to get out things from storage and display them nicely is so comforting to me. I don't think I'm overly frivolous - a lot of my bits and pieces come from charity shops or eBay - and they mean a lot to me. 

I've always had this dream, since I moved to this house, and it was to have a nice Christmassy lounge, with a corner sofa and a chalkboard fireplace. I'd put up my Christmas tree with my family and we'd do Elf on the Shelf, and I'd stock William's advent calendar with special treats and, to be honest, I wanted it to look like something out of a catalogue. And you know me - I don't lead a catalogue life, but sometimes it's just nice to get things looking perfect and step back and make a memory. 

A while back, this seemed like a pipe dream. But it's October, and it's going to happen. And the very idea makes me so happy. 

One thing I've learnt though - I've got a bit of a stag obsession haven't I?

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Thursday, 16 October 2014

Big Energy Saving Week 2014

I'm big on energy-saving. In my past job, I used to edit several business magazines and I learnt a lot about what impact we have on our environment and how, actually, energy-saving is pretty much a clever idea for the world, and for your bank account.

The Big Energy Saving Week is taking place from the 20-24th October 2014. During this time both the energysavingtrust.co.uk and Citizens Advice Bureau will be encouraging people to reduce their carbon footprint and hold onto their hard earned cash, so if you want to get a head start, why not pledge to:

Turn down your heating

Believe it or not, turning your thermostat down by just one degree could save you around £75 and 310kg carbon dioxide a year. That’s a significant amount of money considering the number of families that are struggling to pay their bills, so it’s well worth being conservative with energy.

Have your boiler serviced

If your boiler’s old or inefficient it could be wasting energy. With this in mind it’s important to contact a Gas Safe engineer at least once a year and to have all components of your central heating system checked over thoroughly. An expert will also ensure your boiler isn’t leaking carbon monoxide helping to keep your whole family safe.

One of the first tasks for next year is to try and save up and replace my boiler. It's not cheap, but it's a pretty important piece of equipment, especially when you have littles. Mine isn't on its last-legs - you should have seen the one in my old house before it was replaced - but I know it won't be long until it is.

Time your showers

It takes a lot of energy to heat the water in your home. That’s why it’s wise to take shallow baths when possible and to time your showers using one of the suction cap egg timer devices that attach to your bathroom wall. Around five minutes is enough to keep yourself clean without wasting water, so be economical and do your bit for the environment too.

Insulate your hot water cylinder

Insulating your hot water cylinder is an easy way to save money as it stops all the warmth from escaping through cold pipework. Fitting a British Standard jacket around your cylinder will cut heat loss by 75 per cent and could save you between £20 and £35 a year. It should be at least 75mm thick, however, so if yours looks a bit worse for wear it could be time to treat your cylinder to a new winter coat.

Say goodbye to standby 

Did you know that you could save between £40 and £80 a year just by turning your electrical devices off standby? Many households waste energy by failing to turn off or unplug their TVs, DVDs, games consoles, laptops, mobile phones and other products so always make sure all plugs are off at the wall or removed from their sockets.

Turn lights off when you’re not there

Energy bills tend to increase in Winter as we need more lights to illuminate our homes. While sitting in the dark isn’t really an option, always use appropriate lighting and turn lamps and other switches off when you’re not in the room. As LEDs are more energy-efficient than more traditional halogen bulbs, you might also want to consider updating your light fittings in a bid to save cash.

Saving energy is easier than you might think. A few changes can make a big difference and with the cost of living on the rise anything you can do to improve your bank balance is sure to be worthwhile.

*PR Collaboration.
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