Tuesday, 31 March 2009

INSPIRATION - Margaret Howell's Paris Store

shop interior
Margaret Howell has just completed her first store in mainland Europe,’ Place de la Madeleine. I love the chic minimalism and open space of this interior. The wooden floor is also to die for. Now if only this was my walk in wardrobe, imagine all that space...

“For the past ten years I have worked with Will Russell on the design of our shop interiors,” says Howell. “Whilst incorporating my ideas, Will always adds something that just wouldn’t occur to me—a special spatial vision—resulting in a rewarding and successful working relationship.”

See more about this project here.

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Monday, 30 March 2009

DRINK - Quench your Thirst with Aquapax Water

drinking mineral water
Just Drinking Water have produced a new water product, Aquapax. This is a really pure mineral water but the difference is that this one is packaged inside a beautiful 500ml carton that's mostly made of wood, a natural and renewable resource.

Aquapax natural still mineral water has a near perfect pH balance, it is low in minerals (that's a good thing) and ultra low in nitrates, making it even suitable for infants. Aquapax is all about making a positive change to the way we consume portable water. A responsible package and a carbon balanced footprint makes ecological sense. You can also re-use and recycle your empty carton after you've finished drinking from it.

Fewer plastic bottles in the environment can only be a good thing. Visit the Aquapax website for more info.

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Sunday, 29 March 2009

DESIGN - Stunning Offices at ghd

stylish offices
When hair beauty brand, ghd decided to relocate their offices they opted for 16,000 sq ft within the iconic Leeds building, Bridgewater Place. Fox Lloyd Jones worked in conjunction with leading interiors architect, Carey Jones, and fit out specialist, Overbury, to ensure the two-storey space full reflected the ghd brand with sexy curves and stunning fabrics.

ghd have certainly got tongues wagging with Bridgewater Place currently cloaked in beautiful eye-catching brand imagery. Key elements include the creation of a striking reception area and multi-functional training academy, open plan offices, a high specification boardroom and funky break-out meeting areas. Not to mention the fact they have a catwalk running through the building. What could be cooler?

modern offices
modern officestylish office
So, anyone want to work for ghd now? With futuristic, sleek and comfortable offices like these I am sure there are people begging for a job there. Where do I sign?

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Wednesday, 25 March 2009

FOOD - Bake Like Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham: “I’m very good at Dora the Explorer Cupcakes too – out of a packet!”*

There are plenty of pressures on women to be domestic goddesses, but we could all do with some help sometimes. Green's has a delicious range of affordable cake mixes offering a whole afternoon of fun for less than £2.50. Whether its mouth-watering muffins or cute cupcakes, each cake mix is easy to make.

Perfect to keep the kids occupied over the Easter holidays, Green’s offers a little time out from the hectic hustle and bustle to enjoy some old fashioned family fun. The kid’s cake mixes are complete with activity sheets to entertain and collect, plus jam decorating tubes to add the icing on the cake.

If you visit www.greenscakes.co.uk you can sign up to Green’s cake club with up to date news and recipe suggestions not to mention a handy conversion tool and calendar.

(*New Magazine, 27 October 2008)

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Monday, 23 March 2009

KITCHEN - Le Creuset in Teal

I love the colour of this Le Creuset serveware. Teal is one of my favourite colours for clothing and interiors as it is modern and vibrant and goes with many other base colours. I don't know anyone with this colour cookware or dinnerware which makes it even more special. Dare to be different and impress your guests with this fab serveware from Le Creuset.

I used to work in a Cookshop as a teenager and these pots always seemed so expensive to me. Now I have a few more years in my favour I realise that people buy a brand like Le Creuset because it can last a lifetime. The stoneware is scratch and crack resistant and can be used with ovens, dishwasher and microwaves.

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Sunday, 22 March 2009

IDEA - Worktop Compost Bin

Having to traipse out to the garden every 5 minutes to the compost heap can be a pain, or worse still if you live in a flat and don't even have a garden.

This worktop compost bin is a great idea. It keeps all your waste out of the way, while keeping it close enough to hand to be convenient. You could keep it in your kitchen or conservatory, a garage or shed. Get yours now and get sorted for the summer.

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Saturday, 21 March 2009

TIPS - Being a Family Fashionista

sale shoppingPhoto Credit: xrrr's photostream on Flickr.com

Shopping for clothes for your family may be the first thing you scratch off your list of priorities when you suddenly find yourself with less disposable income. Despite this, what you wear can have a profound affect on how you feel about yourself and how potential employers view you. Not to mention how important staying stylish may be to your budding fashionista offspring. Following these five tips can help to minimize the impact a reduced budget can have on you and your family.

1. Shop more! Shopping more doesn't mean buying more. It means practicing self control until you find a great deal. If you are used to shopping at upscale department stores, and are now finding them a bit outside of your budget, keeping one eye on the sales could mean affording some of the same items by waiting a little longer to buy them.

2. Buy bigger sizes. Remember the days when mum bought you a size bigger shoes so you could wear them longer? For the little ones this is a must. Particularly with clothing, if you buy slightly larger sizes, they'll last longer on a growing child.

3. Don't sweat the small stuff. Give up your daily coffee, cigarettes, dessert after dinner, or any other not-so-healthy habit to put a little extra money aside for a treat for your family or yourself now and then. Just because your watching what's coming out of your wallet doesn't mean your rating on the fashion chart has to take an ungodly plummet.

4. Don't be afraid to shop at discount stores. Update your current duds with stylish pieces from discount, vintage and used clothing stores. If you shop often enough, you can find some great pieces at lower price points.

5. Read your fashion magazines! You may not be able to afford what you see in the pages of Elle (www.Elle.com) right now, but it will help you to stay on top of the latest trends. With a little creativity, you can usually pull pieces from your current wardrobe or find similar looks at discount stores. For the latest in children's fashion check out Acara Mia Magazine (www.acaramiamagazine.com).

If you follow these helpful tips, you'll be sure to keep your family and yourself looking good without breaking the bank.

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Wednesday, 18 March 2009

VIDEO - The Convertible House

Imagine having a house where the roof could just be removed whenever you like, or to take advantage of sunny weather. Well one such home exists, as can be seen in the video above. It is a good idea, but surely it would take a while to heat the house back up after the whole thing has been exposed to the elements for a while; I personally get cold really easily. Also, what do you do about bird poo or sudden downpours?

It is a bit of a gimmick, but if it suits your lifestyle then this house really would be a dream home.

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Tuesday, 17 March 2009

FOOD - Free Range Chicken Stock Cubes

Here’s some great news for home cooks to get clucky about! Celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson is launching his new Organic Free Range Chicken Stock Cubes and Organic Free Range Chicken & Vegetable Stock Cubes.

Both flavours contain a blend of organically grown herbs and spices. The free range chicken stock is very simply seasoned and flavoured with mild spices and parsley, whilst in the free range chicken and vegetable stock you will detect a delicate eastern inspired infusion of coriander, turmeric and ginger. These new stocks are easy to use; just dissolve one stock cube in 500mls of boiling water and stir well until it has dissolved completely.

Antony says: “If you don’t want to make your own stocks, a good quality stock cube is the store cupboard essential you should never be without. They form the basis of many seasonal dishes; from chilled summer Gazpacho or Vichyssoise, light risottos, to savoury gravies and sauces and hearty winter warming soups and casseroles.”

Antony Worrall Thompson’s Free Range Chicken Stock Cubes, and Free Range Chicken & Vegetable Stock Cubes are priced £1.09 for 6 cubes from Waitrose.

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Wednesday, 11 March 2009

CHARITY - Win a Red Nose T Shirt

charity red nose day
If you hadn't yet noticed, this Friday is Red Nose Day, and if you haven't done your bit yet, then here is one way to get involved.

Buy your charity T shirt, as modelled by numerous stylish celebs such as Natalie Imbruglia, Keira Knightley and Josh Hartnett. The T shirts are available in several designs at TK Maxx and were created by Stella McCartney who says 'It’s a real honour to be involved in such a tremendous cause and be a part of the Red Nose Day campaign 2009. The designs of the T shirts were inspired by iconic images of iconic people”.

You can also see a video of Keira modelling hers below.

  • I have one of the Morecambe and Wise T-shirts to give away.

*UK residents only.
T shirt will be size medium.

Good Luck!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

TIPS - Get the Best From Your Builder

builders tea breakPhoto Credit: Adrian Stewart (Chortler) on Flickr.com

Why do builders get a bad name? The truth is that for every bad story you hear there are hundreds of happy customers. So how do you get the best out of your builder? Improving your home doesn't have to result in contractor chaos says the Federation of Master Builders, the UK’s largest building trade organisation. If you are about to start a major home improvement project, following a few simple guidelines to ensure that you get the best from your builder.

Check them out
Do your research. A building firm could be in your home for several weeks, so it is important that you trust them. Get references, which a good professional will be happy to provide, and check them out. If the builder claims to be a member of a trade association such as the FMB, check what that membership means and find out if they really are members. Scrutinise their credentials before going ahead. Don’t just rely on Yellow Pages, search for a vetted local builder at the FMB’s website, www.findabuilder.co.uk.

Get a quote
You need several detailed written quotes and not just "It'll cost around £10,000". A good builder would prefer this anyway; it gives them time to really think about the job and what it will entail.

Eager legals
Be aware of the legal requirements you must fulfill when having major improvements done. This is not up to the builder, unless you specifically ask him to do it. The work may require Building Regulations approval as well as planning permission, which can be a lengthy and complicated process – your local council will advise you.

Draw up a contract
As 'project manager' you need to ensure that you know what you want and how you are going to get there. For example, what type of shower or boiler do you want? The cost of the product and installation may vary a great deal depending on the system chosen. A contract is a 100% necessity on every job to prevent misunderstandings, Draw up a written contract, with an agreed timetable that both you and the builder are happy with. The FMB has standard contracts for use by anyone using its recommended builders in “Crystal Mark approved” plain English.

Think about insurance
Extending your home may cost tens of thousands of pounds, so it’s worth protecting your investment. The MasterBond warranty provides cover against faulty workmanship or materials for up to two years and against structural defects for 10 years. Should you move during that time, the insurance stays with the property and is passed on to the new owners.

Keep talking
Help your builder to understand the look you are going for by showing them magazine pictures of similar projects. Make sure you fully understand every step of the building process and don’t let jargon put you off. A professional builder should explain things clearly to ensure that there are no nasty surprises! If you’re unhappy about the work, talk to your builder immediately. Most things can be amended before they are finished.

Monitoring the job
Keep tabs on how the job is going; if it's complicated arrange a regular half-hour with your builder on agreed days. If you have personal requirements, such as no radios or smoking, or you’d rather not share your toilet or kitchen facilities, make sure that these are known before the job begins, but bear in mind that having happy workers may help achieve a successful outcome, so try to compromise.

Always discuss how the builder's rubble will be disposed of, and when.

Finally, you don't necessarily want to be walking to and from the kettle all day. One solution is to set up a small area near the worksite with tea and coffee-making facilities that builders can use without going into your kitchen.

Dealing with problems
If you do encounter difficulties mid-build:
  • Be realistic - Builders aren’t mind readers, so if your project is not going to plan you must spell it out and explain what you do want.
  • Talk to the ‘main person’ - Telling sub-contractors to change things mid-construction will not only cause problems within the team but also confuse everyone as to what it is you really want.
  • Contact the FMB - If you still can’t resolve matters with your builder and they are an FMB member, the FMB service includes advising customers and working with both parties to reach a solution.
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Friday, 6 March 2009

IDEA - Sleeping by the Pool?

Ever wanted a swimming pool? What about a bedroom in a swimming pool. There is some debate over whether this room does exist or is just a bit of fun, but it does give you ideas right? If money were no object...

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Sunday, 1 March 2009

FOOD - Chocolate Pizza Time

How fabulous are these scrummy chocolate pizzas! I think they are perfect as a birthday treat, or even if you are planning a party as they would be sure to impress your guests. Choose from a variety of fab toppings including marshmallows, jelly beans, honeycomb and grated white chocolate.

The pizzas have a shelf life of between 1 and 6 months depending on the type you choose, meaning that you won't be forced to eat them straight away - although it would be hard not to consume it pretty quickly. They are even delivered in a pizza box. I am feeling a craving coming on...

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