A Fresh Start with Farrow & Ball

A little while ago I was totally thrilled to be asked by Mumsnet and Farrow & Ball to makeover my home with Farrow & Ball’s gorgeously luxurious decorating products and paints. Now not only was I excited because my house looked a right state, ya know, tired and grubby (we shall not mention the bogies and peanut butter I had to clean from the walls prior to painting – cheers kiddo) but also, I’d never actually tried their products before, I didn’t feel worthy enough, as though my home was worthy enough for beautifully obscure paint names and eggshell – EGGSHELL! THIS IS POSH STUFF, RIGHT?

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Now, Mumsnet and F&B (it is cool that I call them that, right?) put on a lovely event in Chelsea at the end of October, to introduce themselves, discuss and demonstrate the paints and colours and techniques with us etc. However I couldn’t make it due to a virus, and didn’t manage to get any further than Fenchurch Street Station’s loos – soz about that. I was gutted and felt I’d ruined my chances of making my house vaguely nice ever again and creating a good impression with Farrow & Ball. Luckily they took pity on me and still allowed me to continue with the project (Thank you again, you lovely people). Obvs I missed the talks and advice so I sort of did my own thing when it came to deciding on colours.

Shall we get down to business and look at some before photos now? Yeah? Yeah.

before1

No, I’ve not put a filter over that to make it look vintage or anything. It really is that dark in my living room – AT MIDDAY. I have a south-facing garden, therefore the front of my house is always dark and gloomy, even though the whole of downstairs is open-plan.

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I wanted to keep things as simple and light as possible as I could with the walls and chose to paint all the walls with Dimpse (modern emulsion) – advertised as a cool grey on the F&B website. I also wanted to update my tired pine dining table and chairs so I decided on Blue Gray (in estate eggshell) – as the name suggests it’s a beautiful muted blue / grey. As it turned out, Dimpse is very similar to the original colour I had on the walls, only cooler and brighter. I don’t actually mind at all, as I don’t think the room could handle an overpowering / vibrant palette due to the lighting.

Once the paint and accessories arrived the high quality was unquestionable from just simply looking at them – no plastic paint pots or roller handles here, no ma’am.

On opening the tins I was a little nervous, having only ever used the paint with the famous Old English sheepdog on the adverts – the Farrow & Ball paints consistency was rich, runny and highly pigmented (no stirring – plus plus) as opposed to a big, thick mass of congealed paint that I was used to. Another thing is the scent – there is none. Not even with the eggshell paint or primer I used with the table and chairs. Yes, you can smell it ever so slightly while you’re using it but it’s virtually gone once the paint has dried (which is very quick btw) and leaves none of that “newly painted” smell that usually hangs around forever with other brands.

Ready for some afters? Yeah? Go on then.

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Farrow & Ball’s paint is an absolute dream to use, the thinner consistency glides on walls with total ease and if your walls are ever so slightly textured it clings in all the right places with little effort. I was stunned to find I didn’t need to use a second coat, and even more surprised to find I only used around 3 litres for my entire living room and dining room – a little goes a VERY long way and the finish is unlike any other paint I’ve used.

I honestly couldn’t be happier with the end result. This project has breathed new life into my home and my family, I’m constantly thinking of other things I can improve and fancy up now. I can feel my mood being lifted while sat in my living room, rather than feeling gloomy and oppressed as it used to, it’s fresh, bright and I can actually enjoy just being in here.

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after 4 after5

Would I recommend Farrow & Ball to friends and family? Yes. Absolutely yes. Initially I was put off by the price (2.5 litres of emulsion retails for around £42). HOWEVER – taking into consideration the ease of use, quality of the product, lack of chemical smells and just how far 2.5 litres stretches. It’s worth it, without question.

Disclaimer: Farrow & Ball very kindly provided me with all the paints and materials needed for this project for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are completely my own and 100% honest.

Please note: Absolutely no camera trickery or filters were used in any of the photos above to alter the result of before and after shots.

How Your Bedroom Can Help You Sleep

From having a warm bath to avoiding caffeine late at night, most of us have heard a few tips or tricks for getting a good night’s sleep. However, while many people are strict about refraining from certain foods or getting the right amount of exercise before bedtime, the impact that a person’s bedroom can have on the quantity and quality of their sleep is often overlooked. Perhaps surprisingly, creating the right environment is one the most effective ways of ensuring you get enough shut-eye on a nightly basis. If you’re having problems drifting off, here are some simple tips on making your bedroom more slumber-inducing:

The right bed and mattress

Far too often, poor quality beds and mattresses are the culprit of sleep deprivation. Having a well-made bed that doesn’t creak every time you move and a comfortable mattress that supports your preferred sleeping position can be the difference between a peaceful slumber and a restless night of tossing and turning. If your bed is in need of an upgrade, don’t be tempted to compromise on quality. To find out about the latest beds and mattresses on the market, it’s a good idea to visit the websites and showrooms of bedroom furniture providers. When making a big purchase, there’s no substitute for getting personalised advice from an expert. Specialists at companies like And So To Bed can make recommendations on what you should consider when choosing the right bed and mattress for you.

The right environment

Once you’ve got your bed sorted, you will need to think about the rest of your bedroom. Most people sleep best in darkness, so it’s a good idea to invest in thick curtains or blackout blinds to prevent any light from getting in. You should also try to make the room as quiet as possible. If you’re being kept awake by noisy neighbours, nearby traffic or barking dogs, consider using earplugs or blocking out the noise with relaxing music. Temperature also plays an important role in sleep quality, so make sure that your room is neither too hot or too cold and that it has enough ventilation.

Decor

The way you decorate your bedroom can also affect your ability to drift off at night. As a general rule of thumb, soothing decor and clutter-free rooms are conducive to sleep. It is also a good idea to avoid having too many electrical items with LED displays in the bedroom. To help you get into ‘sleep mode’, dim light switches or low-wattage lamps can help create a calming atmosphere.

Find what works for you

When it comes to creating a relaxing bedroom, it’s important to find what works best for you. This may involve experimenting with different lighting, colour schemes, or even rearranging the furniture. While this may be time-consuming, once you’ve got the perfect arrangement, you can look forward to plenty of peaceful nights.

 

Finding Time for the Things You Love

It’s not unusual after a long, tiring, frankly strange Saturday or Sunday wrangling my exhausting five year old that my other half will casually drop a bomb.

Him (sheepish): …erm, there might be some boxing / football / horse racing on tonight..? (Delete applicable)

Me (somewhat strained): Oh! Erm. OK!

(Silently: WHAT?! I WANT TO WATCH RANDOM SORT OF CELEBRITIES DANCING BADLY. That’s all that’s got me through today. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME.)

And no. I’m not THAT girlfriend. I’ll happily watch it. As long as I know who’s fighting. And where they’re from and who they last fought and which title they’re fighting for and… OK. Yeah. You probably wouldn’t want to watch boxing with me either. Fair point. I try, though. I do. They’re just not my thing, ya know? I end up with the same vague, slightly bewildered expression HE has when I’m watching tediously famous people trying to do an awkward foxtrot.

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It was a very pleasant surprise to receive a gorgeous parcel from Betfair as an antidote for all the sport that’s been foisted upon me during the festive season. So rather than waiting for him to inevitably and not-so-subtly tell me what will blaring from the television for the next few hours, I immersed myself in luxuriously lovely things and indulgent treats tucked inside my Pamper Parcel. I even ran myself a BATH. A BATH I tell you. With a bath bomb and posh smellies – no time for being the normally frugal, practical me and using up the last bit of whatever no one else wants to use. I never have time for a bath. This was BIG. As you can see from this post – I’m notoriously bad at taking care of myself.

After wallowing in the bath until my fingers and toes were thoroughly wrinkled, I returned to the sofa so blissfully relaxed I couldn’t even hear the ruckus ensuing on the TV and my other half shouting at the sporting drama. I curled up in fresh pyjamas with a bucket of tea, gloriously fancy biscuits and immersed myself completely in my book.

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In fact I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’d sat down, utterly relaxed in weeks after the chaos of Christmas. And what made it even better, was knowing not only was I perfectly content in my little blissed out bubble, but my other half was happy enjoying the things he loves too. We don’t need to drive each other round the proverbial while trying to tolerate one another’s hobbies and interests, it’s totally cool to do things alone too – so thank you Betfair for giving me the opportunity to relax!

Disclosure: Betfair very kindly sent me the beautiful Pamper Parcel to enjoy for the purpose of this post. However all editorial and opinion is my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 12 Things to See at Christmas

Ah yes. It’s Christmas. And while you may be thinking PLEASE DON’T GIVE ME ANYTHING ELSE TO DO, between the shopping, wrapping, obsessive cleaning, preparing and cooking and generally trying to stay sane while all manners of festivity pelt towards you at full throttle. But keeping the kids entertained unfortunately isn’t as simple as hoping the new, shiny presents they open on C Day will do the job for the new 2 weeks.

Mega-bus have put together a really handy map infographic of things to do and see near you to keep you all happy, with full details on locations and costs on the map. It’s a little extra cost and more to organise, but let’s face it, if we’re not at home, at least we’re not cooking, tidying or eating ourselves out of entire wardrobes, eh? OK, if you insist, just one more fancy chocolate from the selection box…

Personally I love the look of Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and I’m desperate for Bean to get into Harry Potter ASAP so we can visit the studios. All I’ve personally managed to do is take him to the local, somewhat overpriced Santa’s Grotto at the garden centre and even though he was beside himself with excitement, I felt that there was more out there. More magic, more twinkly lights and more enjoyment somewhere to be had.

Each listing is a fun family day out that is a must see this Christmas, Mega-bus travel to many of the destinations for mega low prices, and seats can be booked through the Mega-bus website.

So between the dreaded family visits, 12 gallons of Irish cream, approximately a years worth of television crammed and squeezed into two weeks and more magical reindeer food than you shake a turkey drumstick at – which attraction do you think you’ll see this Christmas?

 

 

Household Chopping Boards Responsible for Foodborne Illnesses

According to research,around 40% of food poisoning cases are caused by poor hygiene in the home. [1]   The Global Hygiene Council found that almost half of frequently touched items in the UK, including chopping boards, arecontaminated with potentially harmful bacteria, such as E.coli. 2

Lisa Ackerley, Food Hygiene Expert and Global Hygiene Council representative, comments: “When chopping boards are left for hours without being hygienically cleaned, bacteria can build up and be hard to remove – especially from old chopping boards, which have developed deep cuts and scoring. Bacteria such as Campylobacter and Salmonella, found on raw meats and poultry, may contaminate ready-to-eat foods via chopping boards. Although ideally it is good practice to have separate boards for raw and ready-to-eat foods, in a busy household this may not be manageable. Therefore, make sure that any board used for raw meat, poultry, fish or vegetables is immediately cleaned and disinfected using the dishwasher or an anti-bacterial product such as Dettol Anti-bacterial Cleansing Surface Wipes.”

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Chopping board facts:

  • Chopping boards have been found to harbour around 200% more faecal bacteria than the average toilet seat. 1
  • 89% of kitchen cleaning cloths and towels, which come into contact with surfaces such as chopping boards, have been found to have unsatisfactory levels of contamination. 2
  • Since more than 50% of raw chicken has been found to be contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria, which is the most common cause of food poisoning in Britain (more than Salmonella), your chopping board could become contaminated. 1
  • E.coli, found on raw meats, poultry and unwashed salads and vegetables, can spread via chopping boards that have not been thoroughly disinfected. 2

Dettol Anti-bacterial Cleansing Surface Wipes  (RRP £2.00) kill 99.9% of bacteria and are safe to use on food preparation areas and chopping boards.

Common Relationship Problems & How to Overcome Them

After the initial honeymoon period of relationships when everything’s new and exciting, problems can quickly start to arise. There are certain pitfalls that most couples fall into, and it can be hard to get partnerships back on track. Here are a selection of typical relationship problems, and some simple tips to help you solve them.

Sexual issues 

One potential cause of difficulties in relationships is sex. Physical intimacy can make or break the bonds between partners and if you’re experiencing problems between the sheets, now’s the time to take action. For example, perhaps you or your partner is suffering from erectile dysfunction. This common issue affects most men at some stage and there are a whole range of erectile dysfunction causes.

The important thing is not to ignore the issue. If nothing is done about it, it can drive a wedge between you and your partner over time. Try to establish the trigger and then seek suitable treatment. This may involve taking medication, making changes to your lifestyle or seeking counselling.

Communication breakdowns

Lots of couples are guilty of communication breakdowns. After a hard day’s work or looking after the family, it can be tempting to just stick on the TV or browse the web without really talking to your other half. If you find that you and your partner rarely have meaningful conversations any more, try to set aside some quality time together to catch up.

Also, if you have disagreements with your partner, it’s important not to let them descend into slanging or shouting matches. To stop yourself falling into this trap, set up some rules. For example, try not to interrupt each other when you speak.

Money troubles

Money troubles might not technically fall under the umbrella of relationship woes, but they can have a massive impact on couples. To help ensure that money doesn’t come between you and your other half, try to be honest about your finances. Lying about money is a recipe for disaster.

It’s also important to establish ground rules when it comes to saving and spending that both of you consider to be fair. Resentment can quickly creep into relationships if one partner believes the other is taking advantage.

Keeping a relationship on the straight and narrow year after year is not easy, but by being aware of the possible problems and taking advice like this into account, you stand a better chance of keeping your partnership intact.

Giving Back with the National Lottery

I think at Christmas it’s easy to lose sight of what’s really important. We can get dragged down with the over the top consumerism, Black Friday scuffles for slightly reduced televisions and we can lose our grip on the magic of Christmas and the real spirit of giving.

The National Lottery recently celebrated its 20th birthday, and aside from creating thousands of millionaires in that time, they also pride themselves on giving back in a big way through their Good Causes fund. They’ve raised over £32 billion in funding for after school clubs, parks and recreational spaces and not one, not two, but five Oscar winning films.

As it’s that time of year, the World Lottery Club have created an infographic to say a huge “thank you” to the National Lottery for all the amazing work they do supporting local communities and bolstering up and coming talent in the British film industry while also saving local theatres from closure with much needed funding after government spending cuts.

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It certainly makes some inspiring reading, especially when it’s all too simple to look at the news and wonder what the world is coming to every single evening – even at this time of year.

So thank you National Lottery and keep up the outstandingly good work.

Were you aware that the National Lottery did so much to fund public sector projects? I certainly didn’t but reading through this infographic has inspired me to give a little more back to charity, especially this Christmas. How about you?

 

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