Bissell SpotCleanerI am officially old, I can get excited about carpet cleaners, who knew?

Bissell contacted me over the summer holidays and asked me if I’d like to review their Bissell SpotCleaner. Ohh, I thought as I clocked up the stains on the various carpets around the house, there was the tea stain by my bed, the mud stain on the bottom step of the stairs, the juice stain on the rug in the girl’s room and I remembered the glass of red wine stain on the white carpet that happened one Christmas at mum’s. A SpotCleaner could come in really handy if it worked.

I agreed to give it a whirl and was sent through my portable carper cleaner.

Bissell SpotClean

Here is a short Vine of the portable carpet cleaner in action on the tea stain, it was really quick to remove. I was amazed and went on a stain hunt after that initial success.

My first thoughts were on the design as it is very compact and neat and tidy. It will be easy to store and it’s not too heavy to lug around the home whilst in action. Top marks for design.

My second thoughts went to the practical side, how easy would it be to use? Very easy, stupidly easy. There are two tanks, one for the clean water and products the other to suck up the dirty water from the carpet.

The clean water side is very handy as it has marked levels for the water, and the two products used to clean. It really couldn’t be easier and you fill it using hot water from the tap. There are two levels as well, one for small stains and one for large stains.

My first attack was on the tea stain by my bed. It happened one weekend when I was being lazy and brought two cups of tea up to enjoy under the covers with a book, we’ve all done it. I go to pass over husband’s cup to him and ‘Oops’ there went some tea on the clean carpet. Bum.

Muddy or dirty shoes in and out of the house are another easy stain to clock up especially with children around.

The dog has added his own paw marks and then there was the permanent black marker stain but I don’t think ANYTHING will get that one up.

I filled up my machine which was really quick and easy to do, plugged it in, turned it on and started to spray using the trigger on the nozzle at the same time scrubbing lightly with the brush provided. I watched the stain disappear in front of my eyes. Magic.

I moved around the house with ease on a stain hunt and thanks to the long lead was able to cover quite a distance.

The only stain it didn’t get up (which isn’t surprising) is the permanent black marker. Thanks girls for that one!


I am very impressed. The Bissell SpotCleaner comes in at £129.99 and includes cleaning product too. It has tackled the stains we had and I shall definitely be recommending it my family and friends.

Disclosure: I was sent a Bissell SpotCleaner for the purpose of this post, all opinions are my own.


IKEA office space

As the girls are growing up so their needs change with them; now we have computer laptops on which they access Mathletics and Bug Club, two websites offered by the school to help with their learning. That was year 2. Now we’re in year 3 and there’ll be weekly homework, spellings, maths, French and who knows what else will come our way?

I like helping them out, I like to make sure they are doing homework and not staring off into space or being distracted by toys in the bedroom so I wanted to change my workspace into an area where it would be comfortable for us all and above all practical.

Last year I worked with IKEA on storage solutions and we were sent this fabulous shoe cupboard which is a godsend for keeping shoes, flip flops, sandals and trainers in one easy to find place for the entire family. Now I needed to create a communal space for work study and play.

I sent through details of what I was looking for and asked whether they could help? They asked for precise measurements and they sent them all off to one of their expert designers, Marie Tenglund who drew up a plan.

I explained that the girls love craft, especially Hama beads and activities that take more than one go to complete. This created a problem as they were working on the dining table and come meal times their works of art would need to be moved out of the way. Any parent dealing with Hama beads will know that moving half finished works of art made of Hama beads is NEVER a good idea. The amount of times I have seen them disintegrate as I hover from table to my desk sending the tiniest beads bouncing all over the floor.

Expedit bookcase and desk - Ikea

My previous desk was too small for all three of us but to move it would mean losing the fabulous storage unit – also IKEA which was home to so many bits and pieces.

ikea desk

We now have a long desk, you see it tidy (ish) to put the design in it’s best light for the photo, it isn’t always like this. Normally there are colouring books and felt tips scattered over, pieces of cut paper and my mess at the other end by the window.

The cupboards hide a multitude of sins too. Art materials, books, paperwork, charging leads, all sorts goes in there.

Then there is the shelving unit on the opposite wall. They are three separate units that stand together and are incredibly spacious. The boxes hold a whole range of odds and ends!

To top off the look, my new computer which after years of an 11″ screen laptop is the Best Thing Ever.

ikea desk computer

Easy to assemble

There was a lot to put together and it involved moving other furniture around so the assembly took place over two weekends. The first was the shelving unit and the desk and the second weekend the cupboards and the bar holding all our pens and small bits.

Easy to care for

Literally wipe clean. I have had a few felt pens that have marked the surface but nothing a magical eraser can’t handle.

Disclosure: IKEA sent me the furniture pieces you see in these photos for the purpose of this post. All words, images and opinions are my own.

IKEA work space


With the girls going up to junior school this September, over the summer I have been renovating their room from the nursery look we’ve had since we moved in five years ago. I wanted a room that would reflect this passage from infant to junior but still allow them the freedom to play with dolls, teddies and their beloved LEGO sets. I don’t want them growing up too quickly as I know this moment passes in a flash and I’ll be dealing with hormonal tweens before I know it.

The room is long and narrow with a window at one end, it is surprisingly dark during the day but come bedtime it is the brightest room in the house as the sun travels down the window pane to bed. Curtains weren’t doing the job, not even lined ones. I tried a venetian blind and the company sent me through a different one to the one I has chosen but it was made to measure and given in exchange for a blog post so I kept it and didn’t complain.

However I needed a solution, the girls weren’t able to sleep and I could hear them messing around upstairs for ages past their bedtime.

I then bumped into The Shutter Store online. My mum has shutters in her house and they work. Every time we sleep there, the girls are out in minutes in a lovely dark room AND they’re not awake at the crack of dawn either. I got in touch and mentioned my problem and look …

shutters for bedrooms

Aren’t they perfect? We fitted them at the end of August and they make such a difference. It’s not complete darkness but enough, it’s perfect.

It was a very easy process too, I had to measure the inside of the window, depth and width, top and bottom to make sure there weren’t any differences, I had to decide on the width of the slat and I chose the largest, my thinking was less slats, less light right? I chose for two blinds to open concertina style to the right and one blind to open to the left, and they both swing right back against the wall if necessary. I chose the frame around the edge and then had to sit back and wait for them to be made to measure. I was quoted 8 – 10 weeks which is worth taking into consideration if you want them in time for the summer.

Verdict: I am over the moon with them. They look beautiful and are easy to clean, they are easy to manoeuvre although I tend only to tilt the slats most of the time. They do the job I wanted perfectly and I am very tempted to get more down in the other rooms. The cost is calculated on the site and you have to fit them yourself, (or ask your next door neighbour as we did). Our shutters came to £314.50 and there is a delivery charge on top of £15. You can choose for an express delivery which brings down the order-delivery time to 3-4 weeks for an additional 40% of the total cost of the shutters on top. All calculations are made via the website.

girls bedroom decor

Girls bedroom ideas

I painted all the walls white to try and compensate for the dark gloom that this room tends to hold, I painted the wardrobes and woodwork and found some adorable door knobs in M&S for £3.50 each. I think they give a fabulous princess touch. (see picture below)

cube wall shelves

The shelves I found in Homebase online. I was looking for cubes that I could hang above their beds to hold books and light knick knacks that they tend to put all over the room, money boxes and Little Ponies. They cost £17.99 for the three (see Duraline Triple Cube)

bedside tables and doorknobs

The bedside drawers I also found in Homebase called Scandinavia 3 Drawer Bedside Chest for £39.99. They were self assembly and very easy to put together, the drawers are small but perfect for holding books, dolls, jewellery and seaside treasures.

wall stickers for children

My final surprise was the wall stickers from Tiny Me who I’ve spoken about in the past. They are an Australian company and make the most fantastic stickers and accessories for children. I fell in love with this Tree of Life and can honestly say it was really easy to put up. The beauty of these stickers is they can be peeled off the wall without losing their stick and reapplied elsewhere, I did change a few birds and flowers a couple of times until I got it as I wanted it.

girls bedroom decor

I added some fun Colourful Twinkle Stars that glow in the dark, they have become an evening ritual now, we turn all the lights on whilst they get into bed and we have a cuddle and then after about ten minutes we turn all the lights out and watch the stars glow in the dark. £5 from the Science Museum shop, I used two packets but Dad wants me to get another couple and cover the entire ceiling, men eh!

Another favourite of mine is the letters above the shutters BFF, I found them in a motorway cafe on the way to Dorset this summer and they were about £4.95 each.

Last remaining job to complete is to paint the shelves white and to tidy them up. There’s always something isn’t there? Oh and change the beds, I can’t believe with all the duvet covers I have in the cupboard I’ve taken these photos with the same covers I took five years ago! See top link to venetian blind ;)

Disclosure: The Shutter Store kindly sent us the above mentioned shutters in return for a review, all opinions are my own. Excellent service all the way through and the blinds are perfect. Tiny Me sent me the gorgeous wall stickers for girls bedroom you see above and not only I am happy with it but the girls were over the moon when they saw it. The Science Museum shop gave us the Colourful Twinkle Stars on a visit to their Bluewater store last Christmas

Nearly had you didn’t I? You thought I was going to go on about Christmas again but I am not. I am here to talk to you about kitchens and my long awaited dream of an open plan kitchen.

We moved into this house in 2011 June and my one and only stipulation with the husband was I would be allowed to change the kitchen around as I wasn’t happy with the current set out. He agreed and we moved in.

When we had the cash ready I was faced with a decision – wedding or new kitchen? I went for the wedding and we had a beautiful day I shall treasure for the rest of my life, however the kitchen was once again on the back burner.

The next time we had some cash available husband said it was his turn to pick and he chose a new caravan and a change of car. I was happy to go along with it as we love the time spent in our caravan and it’s so much nicer than our first one. I’ve just realised I have yet to blog about our new one!

I have been very clear that the next investment our family makes will be my dream kitchen, the one I have longed for since moving in.

I have been collecting ideas on and off on my Pinterest board

Follow Marianne’s board Kitchen love on Pinterest.

and as you can see the theme is white, bright and airy with a hint of pale blue and maybe just a touch of red or pink.

Here’s how I visualise my dream white kitchen

Colour scheme

White cupboards, tiled walls and work surfaces. Our house is quite a dark house and once the days shorten the light in here is really quite shady. White is great at bouncing the light around a room and also it works with anything.

For the tiled splashback running along the work surfaces, I love the oblong white tiles like those that can be found in old tube stations. I also love exposed brick but don’t think my bricks will be pretty enough to expose.

Currently I have a dark work surface and it’s rubbish for taking food photography photos, it’s really apparent that a lot of my decisions are coming from the problems I face when trying to take good photos for my blog.

The fun bit comes with injecting colour into the place and I want to go for lots of bright and beautiful colours. I love yellows and oranges, pinks and pale blues. I will see what I fancy once I am at that point and have a lot of fun.


Wood, aluminium, and ceramic tiles. I think a kitchen is a hive of activity and needs to be easy to clean above anything else, then beautiful to look at and then next up is practical. A white matt cupboard door will be fine for me rather than the gloss option we currently have. I’d like to break up the monotony with aluminium and light coloured wood.


Easy to clean is my number one factor when looking at floors and because of that tiles are the safest choice. I like the idea of a black floor but as it will run into the adjoining living room and off into the dining room I feel that might be too dark. I’m going to hold my tongue on this one until I’ve had time to research properly however I did see floors made out of pennies on Pinterest! Not that I’ll be doing that, can you imagine the time it would take?


The whole idea of moving the kitchen from its current position is because I’d like sliding patio doors out into the garden. the other window along the worktop I want to dress with a blind and I’d love to find one with chickens on or a fun talking point that also adds colour.


Massively important to me as I have a habit of collecting kitchen ‘stuff’. I have four types of plates now, serving dishes and plates, jugs, teapots and all manner of kitchen ‘stuff’ So i will be looking in to storing it all away nicely. I also want to make a utility section, maybe separated by a wall where the dishwasher and washing machine can be homed along with other cleaning equipment.


Having ordered an oven a while back to fit the space left by the previous owners I now know I don’t want one that big any longer. It’s a menace to clean and uses too much electricity. I’d like to order a unit that fits into a cupboard, high up at waist level for easy use. I’ll definitely be fitting my Panasonic Combination Oven in which is a favourite.

I’d love a huge American style fridge and a much bigger freezer.

Dishwasher, washing machine and I would love a tumble dryer if there was space for it.

My Panasonic breadmaker, and my SAGE slowcooker, a Kenwood mixer, a SAGE ice cream maker. My Cuisinart food processor and a SAGE Boss would all be on my wishlist.

Sigh, so that is my dream kitchen folks, maybe another three years and it’ll be mine in the meantime I keep on dreaming and checking out the TSB loan calculator to see if I can hurry things along a bit.

Disclosure: This post is in collaboration  with TSB

Hive kit

It’s been a couple of weeks now that we have had our Hive Active Heating System set installed and we like it. It has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for us. Like turning the heating on without moving from the sofa.

We can decide what time our heating comes on and goes off and what time our hot water comes on and off. We can run both separately. This means I don’t have to heat up an entire tank of water just because I have the heating on.


It was so simple to organise, a couple of emails, I chose a date, mentioned I had the school run so the engineer would be aware I was momentarily out at certain times and then received an email confirming day and time.

There was no mess at all and I was able to carry on all my normal housekeeping activities, like washing machines, dishwashers and so on whilst the British Gas engineer installed our Hive.

He removed the old clock in the airing cupboard which had the tiny teeth which you clicked in and out to show what time you wanted the heating and hot water to come on. He replaced it with the Hive Receiver, he did lots of tests with a laptop and I made him a nice cup of tea.

He left me with a Thermostat Kit, currently sitting on the mantelpiece waiting for a fixed position, and a hub attached to the router. His job was done in less than an hour and he left having explained very thoroughly what to do, which was simple to understand and didn’t take long at all.


I had to login to Hive and create my account and then go into My Account where I could slide markers to show what time I wanted the heating to come on. I could alter the temperature that I wanted the room to be and I could see clearly what temperature my home was indicating at that moment.

Hive heating schedule

There are two sections, first for the heating and secondly for the hot water, both can be controlled separately. This is great as I am no longer heating up a huge tank of water just because the heating has come on.

Hive hot water schedule

You can also find your temperature history which is really interesting for an overall idea of how you are heating your home and indicates where you may be able to cut back a bit and therefore save money.

All the pros

Hive info

Firstly to have Hive installed I did not need to change my supplier which is a headache in itself. There were also no extra or hidden costs for me as I am not a British Gas customer.

I read on the website that I can save up to £150 a year and we are hoping to achieve this by being more selective with our usage.

Control your heating from your mobile

Possibly the most exciting innovation that is part of Hive is an app which downloaded onto your phone (iPhone or android) allows you to control your heating wherever you may be via your router. Amazing!

The app offers exactly the same controls of deciding the temperature, times and periods for both your hot water and your heating. This will come in very handy on our return from holidays or weekends away when we want to warm the house up or maybe we’ve forgotten to turn off the heating and can do so whilst on our journey.

It also allows me to turn the heating on a bit if I am feeling chilly of an evening without arguing with the husband, actually he doesn’t even realise I have done it.

Hive temperature history


One last thing to mention is if the house does get cold there is a control called Frost Protection set at 5C. If your home goes below that temperature the heating will come on to prevent any iced pipes.


We love it, it’s been very simple to use; on cold days I have changed times on my laptop to raise the temperature in my home on a recent warm day I have delayed the heating coming on. Come the Spring this will be very useful indeed as the weather is all over the place.

Disclosure: Legal & General provided me with a complimentary installation of the Hive system for the purpose of this post. If you are interested it costs £199 including the installation, please find more details on Hive website