IKEA shoe storage

When I received an email from IKEA asking me if I needed any help with storage solutions and could I send some photos? I nearly fell off my chair laughing, they wouldn’t know what’s hit them with my photos – could IKEA have a storage solution for my family’s mess?

cupboard under the stairs


They did have a couple of solutions and IKEA designer Marie Tenglund drew up plans to help me sort out the girl’s craft/homework/play area which will also be my office – post to follow on that one.

She also sent me a shoe cupboard to house the pile of shoes after seeing the state of my cupboard under the stairs. Please tell me mine isn’t the only cupboard that ends up looking like this needing a complete pull out and re-tidy on a regular basis.

The flat pack boxes arrived, 2 for this model and I set too one afternoon to assemble it and start making lifestyle changes to my messy cupboard.

It was really simple to make, I did it on my own with the use of my trusty electric screwdriver and before I knew it the problem had been solved.

flatpack DIY IKEA

Top drawer stores dad’s shoes, middle drawer for my stuff and bottom drawer for the the twins. Each shelf has two compartments so the twins have one each.

So now my porch is looking like this and is coping very well with the added storage solution for shoes and the cupboard under the stairs is a shoe free zone which makes for a lot more space. I can walk in now!

IKEA shoe storage

Disclosure: I must thank IKEA Lakeland for the shoe storage cabinet sent to me for the purpose of this post. A second post is to follow concentrating on a craft, homework area and office for me. It’s a bigger project which requires decorating too.

black and white bathroom

We watched the 100K house last night on BBC and admired the end results of the families who had pulled out all the stops to renovate their homes on the smallest possible budget. It was really inspiring and the tips that Piers Taylor gave were really clever and beautiful. As I sat their watching I was tempted to go online and sign up – I would LOVE Piers to come and tell me how to sort out my downstairs project.

I too want those ‘Bring your garden inside sliding glass doors’. I too want to add light to my downstairs, I want to create an open ‘heart of the home’ kitchen/living area and I am patiently waiting for the day we can start my dream project.

An initial quote for knocking down walls and moving the bathroom came in at around £10,000 but watching these shows tells me there is always the unknown and somehow quotes have a nasty tendency to rise, a lot. Add on new bathroom suite, new kitchen and other items to finish the room and it’s probably more in the region of £20,000 so I’m not holding my breath yet.

Alongside all of this renovation work our downstairs bathroom will get a much needed facelift too. I loved the bathroom I saw last night which was black and white and chrome. The lady had cleverly used the rectangle black tiles for the shower area in an otherwise white sparkling bathroom. The end result was very chic and one I’d like to base my future bathroom on.

There’s no  need for a bath in our downstairs bathroom but I would like a shower. I’ve been having a look at the shower enclosures from Mira too and there are some beautiful ideas. I like the rainforest head that hangs from the ceiling. After 20 years in Italy I am a converted shower person and it’s my morning start to the day taking me from bed person to day person, it’s important that I enjoy the experience and start my day well.

Large shower, glass doors and lots of light.

Black floor, white walls and black shower enclosure.

Chrome to finish for taps, and etceteras and I can add ‘pops’ of colour with towels and furnishings.

Only a few more years to go!

What dream project are you holding on to dearly?

Disclosure: This post is brought to you in collaboration with Mira

HP ENVY 5530

We are all set up for summer with a brand new HP ENVY 5530 printer and it is utterly amazing, let me tell you why.

I will admit to having the printer in its box for over a week before I actually set to and set it up. It was niggling me as I was imagining it would take forever and having been so super busy recently I thought I’d wait for a bit of calm before tackling the job.

Today I started the job and it was done in minutes, the easiest set up ever.

What’s more it’s connected to the WiFi and so there are no plugs and leads over taking the desk which makes for a nice neat look.

I went online to download the software and it was a simple pain-free process. My next step was to set my self up for HP Instant Ink.

HP printer set up

HP Instant Ink

One of the beauties of the HP ENVY 5530 printer is the new feature HP Instant Ink which makes sure you never run out of ink again delivering it to your door before you run out.

You can choose from three rates of monthly payments to set up, £1.99 is perfect if you print up to 50 pages a month. £3.49 for up to 100 pages a month and £7.99 for up to 300 pages a month.

HP Instant Ink price range

You connect your printer to your online account and it will detect when you’re running low. You can switch plans if you find you need to and should you have any unprinted usage they will roll it over to the following month.

They’ll also send through recycling envelopes for the empty cartridges too.

For busy parents this is a great feature as you can print till your heart’s content and never be without ink. Plus it’s such reasonable rates.


Another amazing feature that comes with the HP ENVY 5530 is the Printables. By logging in to your account and clicking on services you can access lots of different apps that provide printables.

For example Family Activities include Comics To Do, To Do Lists, Playmobil and Disney. A section on puzzles includes mazes, crosswords and Sudoku.

HP Printables

There are recipes, Travel notes, news, forums, education and so much more. What’s more you can set that they print off automatically too so you find them beautifully printed waiting when the new pages come out.

We’ve tried Hellokids.com and Kids Activities to start with and will add more as we go along.

HP printable settings

Photo printing

This is an exciting one and I’m so pleased to find there is a SD card slot too so you can pop in your card and print away on HP Advanced Photo Paper.

HP touch screen


Already used this as had to sign and return a contract, works perfectly and sends it direct to the computer making emails dead easy.

Quick forms

Another great feature is Quick Forms including weekly or monthly calendars to print off, lists with one or two columns, there are games to print including a maze (easy, medium or difficult) Sudoku and note paper with large lines (ideal for 6 year olds to practise their writing) or smaller lines

Hp sheets to print off


Disclosure: I was sent an HP ENVY 5530, ink and photo paper for the purpose of this review

After last year’s Tesco Christmas in July which had all those amazing houses made out of biscuits as decorations throughout the rooms where the products were displayed I was excited to see what they’d come up with this year.

I walked into the room and once again Christmas was all around me. I discovered a huge black and gold theme which is very opulent and matched nicely with the Game of Thrones that everyone is talking about, I’m sure there is more than one fan who’d appreciate the blow up gold crown.

Tesco black and gold christmas

Tesco have left the Nordic theme firmly at 2013’s door and this year have a rustic feel with woodland animals and a bit of a ski/ice-skating feel. There was also plenty of delicious buffet food ready to order.

tesco christmas buffet

Another table idea that caught my eye was the white and glitter which I think my twins, heavily influenced by Frozen this year, will adore. The pink Bambi bauble on the tree caught my eye as did the gorgeous grey china.

Tesco white theme

Talking of Frozen, I was very happy to see that Tesco will be supporting a huge range of Disney Frozen products including scooters and rollerblades too.

frozen merchandise Tesco

Tesco had a large area dedicated to Dobbies the Garden Centre people and there was an infinity of gorgeous products all very reasonable priced from the LED trees, to the reindeer to the Bucks Fizz marmalade – I love that idea to start my seasonal festivities.tesco dobbies christmas range

Dobbies also have a really cute toy range that is colourful and full of fun

Dobbies tesco Christmas

You’ve all heard about the Wierdoughs well there will be more around this winter but also a selection of Tesco Finest crisps taking on traditional flavours

tesco finest christams crisps


Lastly, you’ll be hearing a lot about the Top Toys for Christmas 2014 in the coming months, the dog robot Zoomer caught my eye as he walked around the room and interacted with us. Lego will feature massively, the V Tech cameras which I’m very tempted to get for the twins and Frozen goods too. I’m not sure about you but I’m not so keen on that peculiar animal with snot dripping out of it’s nose, the fact I’m turning my nose up will most likely mean the kids will love it.

tesco toys

BMW i3

On the 16th June, I was handed the keys to a brand new BMW i3 and asked to drive around it in for 6 weeks and report back on my findings. I had applied to be a part of the #GoUltraLow campaign as husband and I have spoken about hybrids before but never got any further plus, I am constantly hearing such negative comments in relation to electric cars. If we were ever to invest in one I’d want to be pretty sure that we can do all the things we can do today in our diesel fuelled car.

What is an ULEV?

An ULEV (ultra low emission vehicle) is a motor vehicle that emits extremely low levels of emissions, it produces 75g or less of CO2 per kilometre from the tailpipe. They fall into three categories; Electric, Hybrid and Range Extender. Our BMW i3 is a Range Extender.

You can find out lots more on the Go Ultra Low website


These are zero emission, 100 per cent electric vehicles, they have a very quiet operation that drives the wheels via an electric motor that uses a single gear.

It is recharged via charging points or by plugging into your home supply – usually via an outside power point. When using the brakes, some of the energy is recaptured and the battery can recharge itself whilst on the move.


Plug-in hybrids supplement an electric motor with a conventional petrol or diesel engine, either system can drive the wheels.

The battery can power the car for 10 – 20 miles – more than enough for your average journey on British roads. After this, the petrol or diesel engine kicks in giving CO2 emissions of 40 – 50 g/km. Conventional hybrids do not need plugging in, but the new types use electricity to extend their zero-emission range significantly.

Range Extender

E-Rev stands for Extended-Range Electric Vehicle – our BMW i3 is one of these – where the electric motor always drives the wheels using a conventional engine as a generator to recharge the battery.

They provide 20 – 30g/km CO2 emissions making them the most eco-friendly compromise.

BMW i3 interior seats

First impressions of the BMW i3

There is no denying that the BMW i3 is a gorgeous car, a lot of care and attention has gone into the design making this an object of beauty. From the excellent use of space, the choice of interior furnishings and the exterior colours available, BMW have not held back and sitting in this car is a very comfortable experience.

BMW i3

The two child seats were easily fixed to the ISO bars in the back seat and there is no worry of children opening the back doors as they can only be opened once the front doors are open. The children also have two containers in the middle of their seats to hold water bottles.

The car is an automatic drive which is easy to get used to; you have four options, P- Park, D – Drive, R – Reverse and N – Neutral.

It has automatic lights and windscreen washers which come on as and when needed.

The onboard computer is a novelty to us and we LOVE it. A big screen with lots of options to put in at the start of your journey.

There is a ‘joy’ stick on the centre piece between the front seats which accesses the menu and after a quick look around I think you could quite easily set up office in your BMW i3. There is also a USB to connect your iPod, Phone or Touch directly to the onboard computer.

BMW i3 interior design

Cruise control was something that husband was very impressed with and used on our trip to the beach last weekend, a 55-mile journey (more about that later).

Our first impressions were extremely favourable and it’s been amusing watching local petrol heads slow down in their cars to get a better look or even walk up to the house and chat to my next door neighbour whilst he’s gardening out the front asking for more information.

Performance of the BMW i3

One very exciting discovery for me has been the performance of this car. For some reason, I had assumed that electric cars wouldn’t have a lot of power in them and boy was I wrong. As I headed down the slip road onto the A2 to try the car out on a motorway for the first time, I was amazed at the power I had under my foot and quickly had to take my foot off the accelerator to avoid speeding – like in seconds!

My second amazing discovery is there is no engine noise! The car runs silently which at the beginning is confusing after years of listening to the engine. However, on our first long trip to the coast, we were able to detect the fuel engine kicking in (seamlessly I must add) and could hear the hum as we drove along.

BMW i3 beach run

As you are driving along you have a second screen placed directly behind the steering wheel where you can check how much charge your battery has, how much fuel you have in the tank and the computer keeps tabs on how many miles you can drive on each individually AND offers an overall total too. It also shows exactly which fuel you are consuming at any one moment.

On coming to a stop, I have learnt to coast the car – (take my foot off the accelerator and let the car come to a natural stop). This also recharges the battery as does applying the breaks. You can actively watch this as you drive along on the screen; when the car is recharging itself a white line is displayed between the two fuel gauges.

First impressions: After two weeks of driving the BMW i3 I can honestly say it is amazing to drive.

BMW i3 inside

Re-charging and re-fuelling

The car comes with two cables both kept in the boot of the car. One is to connect the car and charge from any household plug and the other is to use at a service station (which we have yet to trial).

As part of this trial, we have been fitted with an external charge point. It took the best part of a day to fit and has its own trip box connected to our home electric fuse box. This is to avoid affecting the entire house should the charger trip at any moment.

BMW i3 wall charger

Each company have their own charger and from what I understand at this early stage there are two different kinds of plugs. The engineer who came to fit ours said the companies were already looking at agreeing to one communal plug to ease future buyers.

The external charging box will become a permanent feature to your home so choose wisely where it will be placed. Had I known how big the BMW one was I would have chosen a different spot to the side of the house in all honesty as it’s a big unit on the front of the house.

I was disappointed to see that on this huge unit there are no other plug points available for outside use. A household plug point would have been handy for vacuuming the car and maybe a point to attach a caravan or at least the option to do so in the future would have been very handy indeed.

The charging box is a better charge, it is quicker and a full charge can be gained in 4 hours or less whereas attaching the car to the household mains never manages a complete charge and takes 8 hours or more.


I have found this perfect for everyday use, jump in and off I go – school runs, after school activities, shopping at the supermarket, trips to Bluewater and meeting friends too. I rarely use the entire battery for all of my weekly normal activities so I have only recharged twice so far. Whereas a tank of fuel on our family car costs around £60 and will last 3/4 weeks with our normal activities, I have yet to work out what a full charge has cost us but it lasts about a week. Costs of running the BMW i3 will follow in my second post.

BMW i3 shopping

Husband was initially very negative when he heard we had been selected for this campaign and this made it all the more interesting for me. He is now reformed in his ideas, he agrees the car is beautiful, that it runs exceedingly well, it is easy to charge and a dream to drive. My next hurdle with him will be the recharging on longer journeys as it will mean allowing half an hour for the charge to complete and adding this time into our journey.

App for BMW

For all BMW drivers there is a handy app to download

Cost: Currently the BMW i3 costs between £25,680 or £28,820 and the government are offering a £5000 electric vehicle grant

More reading for the BMW i3

What Car?

The Daily Telegraph

Disclosure: We have the BMW i3 on loan for 6 weeks for the purpose of this review and we will be reporting back to you regularly with our opinions and how we find, as a family, the BMW i3 Range Extender fits into our lives. To follow will be posts on longer journeys, planning a journey and recharging via the Rapid chargers at supermarkets and service stations.