brabantia bin

If there is one item I have coveted since focusing on Kitchen style and interiors, it’s the Brabantia waste bin.

I saw my first beautiful Brabantia when I was living in Italy. It was a style statement and I instantly fell in love, as have any other discerning kitchen owners the whole world over.

The first thing to catch my eye was the simple but eclectic style; it is minimalism to a T. It is so beautifully designed that I am sure Brabantia haven’t had to make any enormous changes to its looks since it was invented.

The Dutch company, founded back in 1919, has been focusing on houseware products for waste storage, food storage, food preparation, laundry care and hardware that includes post boxes and bathroom accessories. They total over 500 products today including the Brabantia waste bin and I am certain they have the perfect bin for you.

Another Brabantia design idea that struck a chord with me was the ingenious touch opening lid. It was the first time I’d come across such a lid and, as I always have my hands full when I go to the bin, this clever way of opening the lid immediately hit my jackpot. (They also have a traditional pedal bin if that works better for you).

There is a straight-back bin which means it can fit snugly against a wall and as the colours to choose from are fabulous, you can even make a style statement at the same time as being practical.

In fact, it is a bin worth showing off as everyone who sees it will be enamoured. Due to the clever opening, the bin is transformed into a healthy and safe refuse collector which is easy to use and can be recycled too. Because the Brabantia brains not only have invented a cool bin for you to display in your kitchen but have also looked into the day it will need to be replaced and have made it is eco-friendly as possible.

Mind you, I wouldn’t worry about having to throw it away just yet as it comes with a 10-year guarantee!

One last word – don’t be tempted to go with a copy version – it is quite simply not the same.

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Who’d have ever said I’d be here talking about washers and taps that drip?

The thing is, our shower has been dripping for a while now – longer than I care to accept and any comments made to my husband are falling on deaf ears.

I’m not very good with dripping taps; the noise gets on my nerves, the waste of water makes me frown and my OCD starts to get massively bothered by the whole situation. The result is – I need to get the tap fixed.

Now, my husband is a wonderful man but he’s hopeless at DIY and odd jobs around the house. There is also the fact that I have no idea how to change a washer but I really feel like I need to embrace myself for the challenge, channel my inner plumber and sort the leaking tap out once for all.

Where does one start with such a mission? Internet of course!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where an entire new world opens up to me, a world of mixer taps, washers and even grundfos pumps from Pump Sales Direct! Say what? 
It becomes immediately clear that I’m going to have to take my time and tread very carefully here if I am to purchase the correct item! Fortunately, we have YouTube with a host of videos with very clear instructions on how to go about changing the washer or even entire tap should you prefer.

So armed with my handyman knowledge of the ins and outs of pipe fitting, I head off to the local hardware shop where I am faced with rows and rows of washers. Who knew there were so many? Is this how a plumber would feel if we sent him to the haberdashery to buy a zip?

I wonder if my request for a washer for my dripping shower tap might be a bit vague considering the vast array to choose from? Is this why husband has been avoiding the job? Is he on to something that I have yet to encounter?

I decide to plough on with my mission regardless, and with a determination my weaker self is screaming at to stop and walk away, I head towards the first assistant I can find.

“I wonder if you can help me…”

Luckily, we’ve had our external pipes updated recently and the water pressure is now spot on so, no need to look any further into the grundfos pumps! The assistant walks me to the correct area, explains what I should be looking out for and I thank her very much for her help before she leaves me.

Clueless, I decide to return another time.

Maybe, I tell myself, it might be worth turning the water off, undoing the tap and taking a look inside to see what size washer I might be after?

Do you have any tips for a clueless plumber who needs to change a washer?

renovating your home
Renovating your home and buying a holiday home are both wishes are mine that I’d like to make come true.

We moved into our home just before the twin’s second birthday and when we viewed the house for the first time, I already had a plan to renovate it and make it ours. My plan is to knock through a wall, opening up the lounge right through to the back garden, bifold doors on to the garden and a lovely homely open space for us to live in. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? However, when we did have the available cash ready, we decided to spend it on our wedding and what a great decision that was! A wonderful day with our family and friends but it meant the renovation dream was put on the backburner for another few years.

The second time we had the cash available we decided to spend it on a caravan and a car. It was a fabulous time in our life, we went to Devon, Cornwall, West Bay in Dorset and lots of occasions closer to home; Rye and Thanet to mention a couple.

Then a couple of years ago, we swapped the caravan for a static in Birchington Vale. A decision we have thoroughly enjoyed and still do but of course, the renovation dream gets put back further and further.

There are other ways to raise the money to consider like releasing equity for example and I guess, depending on where you are in your life it could be a very valid option. Many people have taken advantage of this scheme and have made their dreams come true.

Buying a holiday home

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Paul and I both have the dream to move to a sunnier clime in our old age, once the girls are settled in jobs and are living stable lives. Somewhere not too far away, so the twins can come and join us regularly. We like the idea of Spain as Paul has family there and it’s a quick easy flight away. We’ve also decided to keep a small place to live back here in the UK should we ever be able to make this dream come true. It would make visiting so much easier and I really don’t want to lose contact with the girls.

Paul spends lots of his spare time watching A Place in the Sun and other property programmes where people are viewing abroad and he has bookmarked sites on our browser. This is one wish I can wait for but definitely would like to make come true. I think we’d probably sell our family home and divide the money between two properties, one in the UK and the other in Spain. This dream has still a long way to go before being realised so in the meantime I’m focusing on the house renovation and of course, once that’s done our home will be worth even more! Maybe we’ll get a swimming pool too.

make the most of freezer

I love my freezer, it is always stuffed with goodies and the only time I have ever let it run to empty was the time I needed to defrost it and clean it.

Sadly (for me), I only have three shelves at the bottom of my fridge freezer so I have to be diligent in what I store to make sure I make the most of the space. Thanks to my three shelf limit I have become quite the expert at packing my food in. Some may call it OCD but I place my food in certain areas so I know I can go in and quickly nab what I need. The smaller bottom tray is reserved for ice cream, frozen vegetables and pastry blocks. The middle drawer is used for loaves of bread, chips, wedges and fish fingers, chicken nuggets and the top tray is for my meat, fish and ice cubes resting on top of the week’s meals ready for the weekend gin and tonic.

I make it a habit that when I shop I buy up the special offers purposely to put in the freezer to use at a later date. I have bought a whole salmon on Christmas Eve for £5 before, a bargain I am particularly proud of.

I also like to double up on recipes when I am using my slow cooker or the pressure cooker, for example, I make a huge casserole and freeze half of it for another meal in the future.

I have got into the habit of deciding what we are going to eat the night before and if it is something in the freezer, I take it out to defrost overnight so I can place it in the fridge in the morning. This is working really well and it also helps with my shopping list when it’s time to place my weekly order.

Often my thoughts turn to the day we will knock down walls and purchase a new kitchen. I have plans that I can’t wait to put into place and one of them is a utility room. In my future utility room, there will be a sink and the dishwasher. I will home the washing machine and the tumble dryer and on top of that, I will make room for an upright commercial freezer.

This would give me a total of 7 shelves to use, can you imagine my excitement of organising the chilly shelves?

It would be marvellous for freezing fresh fruit in the summer to use throughout the winter. I could have an infinite source of burgers and bangers for my barbecue-loving husband and I could hold multi tubs of ice cream for the kids to choose from as opposed to the one or two I can squeeze in now. I could even stock up on commercial ice creams and all manner of treats for us to enjoy.

I could even reserve a shelf for my Limoncello from Sorrento, to serve chilled after a meal.

What product will I always find in your freezer?

Disclosure: A collaborative post.

money cashA budget is an incredibly useful financial tool. In basic terms, it’s a plan that provides an in-depth overview of your spending habits and earnings, so that you can establish a good idea of where your money is going. Provided you stick to the plan you make, you should find that your budget helps you to stay on top of your spending, and avoid using more money than you earn.

The problem with a lot of modern budgets is that they aren’t designed to work. While many people look at their typical monthly spending, they forget about extra expenses like your weekly coffee, or the newspaper you pick up on the way to work. With that in mind, it’s worth starting 2018 with a closer look at your budget, so you can make sure it’s as accurate as possible.

Organise Your Information and Take Your Time

The first thing you need to do when you’re getting an in-depth look at your budget is set aside at least an hour where you can examine the information you have carefully. Rushing your way through the experience makes it more likely that you’ll make mistakes. It’s a good idea to gather all the paperwork you’re going to need before you get started, so make sure you get hold of a few months of bank statements, along with copies of household bills, credit card bills, and savings.

Some people also find it helpful to look at their pension contributions and regular savings accounts too, as this gives a more complete overview of your financial situation.

Evaluate your Income

Once you’ve got all the information you need handy for creating a budget, make a note of your typical earnings from your employment. You should take off any of the money you don’t get to see, such as the amounts used for tax, student loans, pension contributions, and so on. Then add your additional sources of income from investments, savings, self-employment or anything else.

Give yourself an average of what you’ve earned over the last three months, and use that to give yourself a rough idea of what you can expect to earn in the coming months.

Track Your Essential Spending

Now it’s time to start thinking about how much money you spend in a critical way. Categorise your payments so you have an idea of where your cash is going. For instance, you might have categories that include your mortgage payments, childcare, groceries, utility bills, and travel. Then gather your bank statements, credit card bills, and household bills to check you’ve got all the numbers right.

As you did with your income, calculate the total amount spent on essentials over the last three months, then subtract that from your monthly earnings. This will help you to see what your “disposable” income should look like.

It might also be worthwhile to consolidate some of your essential spending into one lower, affordable payment. Particularly if you have a lot of priority debt payments. Sites like Readies.co.uk can advise you on this and help you make an educated and informed decision.

Review Your Disposable Spending

An accurate insight into how you’ve spent your disposable income up until now will help to prevent you from over, or under-budgeting in certain places. Keep track of how much you’ve spent of your disposable income over the last three months so that you can calculate an average. If you put money into savings or an emergency fund, you should keep a note of that too.

This is the point where you might start to discover that you’re spending more than you earn. If this is the case, you need to start re-thinking the way you use your disposable income.

Choose a Budget You Can Stick to

Now that you have an accurate picture of your spending habits, you should be able to draw up a budget that feels more realistic for you to stick to. Use your spending figures for the last three months, and you could even calculate how much money you could potentially save if you can cut down on unnecessary spending.

Just remember that life is an ever-changing thing, and once you’ve drawn up your budget, you’ll need to keep an eye on how faithfully you’re sticking to it and adjust your expectations accordingly. Most experts recommend revisiting your budget every month, as this way, if you’re constantly overspending, you’ll be able to readjust your strategy before it has too much of an impact on your financial goals.

If you have trouble keeping track, you could always try downloading a budgeting application onto your phone or computer that will help you to assess your finances each month.