Simple ideas to update your living room

New Ideas To Update Your Living Room

The living room is one place where we all spend a lot of time. So, it’s hard to ignore when the space becomes dated. It can prevent you from being able to fully relax and unwind. You may not be ready to completely redecorate the room or buy a whole new set of furniture. But making a few updates or having a restyle can work just as well. If this sounds like a good solution to you, then here’s a few ideas to help get you motivated.

Remove dated features

If your living room or lounge is dominated by dated features such as woodchip wallpaper, old fashioned light fittings or an ugly gas fire, it can spoil the look of the room. These can be tricky to remove but will undoubtedly help transform it. Especially if they don’t fit in with the character of your house or the rest of your décor. If you’re removing a gas fire, you will need a certified gas engineer. And changing light fittings may require the help of an electrician. However, things like outdated wallpaper you can do yourself. It may just take a bit of time and elbow grease.

Move things around

Having a good old move around of the furniture can give an almost instant refresh to a living room. But you don’t need to stick to just the furniture. Why not restyle the shelves too? Some people like to reorganise their books by spine colour, others like to go for a more eclectic collection of knick-knacks. Do whatever you feel like! And don’t forget about the walls. Swap your artwork around. Whether it’s moving your existing pictures to a different wall or even switching your pictures between rooms.

Add a new colour

Introducing a new colour is another good way to refresh a room. You don’t need to go overboard or change your existing scheme. Simply add a few pops of one colour to brighten up the room. It could be a few cushions and candles, or a throw and a few picture frames. It won’t cost much to do either. You could go a little further if you wish and add a new accent colour by painting one wall, adding a new rug and tying it into the cushions, throws and ornaments. Just be careful to add a colour that complements the existing décor.

 

Meal plan – the Summer is on it’s way edition

So, if that was an Easter break, we’ve had it! I don’t know if it went by in a flash because I was only able to get a couple of days off or if in fact time did actually speed up a bit. Either way, the kids are both back at school and we are back into a (sort of) routine! Hurrah!

I am trying to avoid takeaways for the next few months and gravitate towards healthier options. It could go either way to be honest.. As well as eating slightly more healthily I am hoping it will help me save a bit of money.

Tesco have started doing their summer BBQ style food which I love. I bought a pack of jumbo sausages this week and I am hoping they haven’t changed the recipe from last year because they were pretty good and you get lots in a pack! I still have a fair bit in the freezer so you can fully expect a fair few odd looking meals over the next few weeks as I work through what we have!

This week in food

Monday – Sausages with dauphinoise potatoes and broccoli

Tuesday – Jerk chicken (it isn’t really, it is just chicken with a bit of Tesco seasoning on it) with fried plantain, a jacket potato, fresh tomato and coleslaw

Wednesday – Spaghetti and meatballs (made from the rest of the sausages)

Thursday –  Fish with roasted vegetables

Friday – Hoisin pork belly stir fried with peppers, onions and whatever else I find in the fridge served with egg noodles

Saturday – Lamb koftas with flatbread, homemade dip (natural yoghurt, a little bit of mint sauce and finely chopped cucumber) and a greek salad

Sunday – Pie and mash with veg

 

Ps. I usually link this meal plan up with Katy from katykicker.com but she is off bringing new life into the world this week!

5 Ways To Keep Your Ears Healthy

This is a collaborative post

Both MrG and I suffered with our ears as children. No surprise then that we are hyper aware when it comes to our own kids’ ear health. So far we have actually been pretty lucky. 

Unlike tummy upsets which we have encountered many times. We have only really had a couple of occasions to worry about our children’s ear health.

The time that stands out in my memory is when Bess used to love to swim. She got so many ear infections it was ridiculous. Luckily we had a walk in centre which we could access pretty easily when the GP was booked up (and aren’t they always?!) 

The worst bit

I do remember how uncomfortable the ear infections used to make her though and most of the time the only answer was a prescription of antibiotics and just a waiting game until the pain subsided. It did not make it any easier though when she would be up in the middle of the night crying her little heart out for some kind of relief. 

Ears are pretty low maintenance when you really think about it anyway. You don’t need to brush them and as long as you are aware of issues which might arise you are basically set. 

Do not insert things into your ear

I know that it can be difficult to restrain yourself when you can feel the wax and you have cotton buds in the cupboard but, really, don’t do it.

The ear drum is very very delicate and more often than not if you try to remove wax with a cotton bud you will just push it further down causing untold issues down the line. 

Luckily Auris Ear Care offer ear wax removal in North London alleviating the need for you to have a go yourself. Some thing’s are worth trying to DIY but some, like this, are most definitely not! 

Swimmers ear

This was the issue that Bess had and what brought on the ear infections she suffered with as a small child. It is so important to keep your ears dry.

Swimmers Ear is an infection in the ear canal. Bacteria thrive in warm, dark and damp conditions and that is exactly why you are prone to Swimmers Ear if you get water in your ears when bathing or swimming. 

It is useful to keep your ears dry but of course that is pretty difficult to do when you are in an actual swimming pool.. Another good idea would be to purchase a set of earplugs to wear when swimming. 

Allergies and the weather

One thing I have always been aware of is just how much my ears are affected in cold weather. As soon as there is a bit of a breeze and the temperature outside drops I can feel it in my ears. 

I guess when you think about it there isn’t much to protect them. Unlike the rest of my body which has a layer of insulation. Our ears have nothing really. So as soon as the cold wind blows then problems can arise. Best to cover those ears in the cooler months. 

MrG and I also get hayfever. Both of us suffer pretty badly and I can definitely feel a difference in my ears. 

As well as pollen. Household dust and pet dander can also be a trigger and those allergies can make you feel rotten. They can affect your ears as well as your eyes, nose and throat. Symptoms can range from itching, swelling, difficulty hearing and earaches. 

Try not to fly with a cold

I absolutely love flying but do you ever get a pain in your ears during or after a flight? Usually the pressure in your ear is equal to the pressure outside. However, when you are taking off and landing on a flight that pressure is unequal due to a blockage in the Eustachian tubes. It’s called Aeroplane Ear and it can be really painful! 

 If you experience this try to chew, swallow or yawn as it helps to equalise the pressure when landing. If you do have a cold then try to take an oral decongestant before you fly. 

Keep the volume down

Music and machinery can expose us to over the safe noise limit – 85 decibels (dB) for long periods. MP3 players in Europe have a default limit of 85 dB. As a general rule of thumb, if other people can hear your headphone music then it’s too loud! (Remember that the earbuds on MP3 players funnel the sound waves directly into the ear.) Long-term exposure to high volume levels can gradually wear out the tiny hair cells of the inner ear that convert sound into nerve signals that go to the brain.

Take breaks if you must listen to music through earbuds, and try out noise-reducing headphones. Don’t fall asleep with earbuds in and make sure your devices are set at 60 decibels or lower – the level of normal conversation.

ear plugs

 

 

AD Lunch ideas on a budget

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Jacks supermarket. All opinions are honest and my own 

I think I speak on behalf of all Mums and Dads when I say that our absolute favourite part of parenting is deciding what to feed everyone under our respective roof’s every day and for what feels like eternity. Honestly, it is so much fun. Especially if you have a family like mine who when faced with the question of what they want to eat, can only muster a disinterested “I don’t mind…”

Only, they absolutely do mind of course! I proved this by once giving them the same sandwich everyday for weeks to see when they would object. It didn’t end well.

Truth be told it was an absolute own goal on my part because now NOBODY is massively keen on sandwiches anymore which means coming up with something a bit more exciting. Add into that the past 12 months of utter monotony, tired kids and an impending Easter break from School (which, by the way they have surely only been back to for about 10 minutes?!) and you have a recipe for a headache!

The solution

You might remember the Halloween party food post from last year? Well, Jacks has swooped in to the rescue again! This time around I wanted to show you that you do not have to spend a lot to make some lunches that even the pickiest kids (hi, Moose, I’m looking at you..) will love!

Yes of course you can use these ideas for school lunches. However, I have devised a cunning idea for the school holidays too!

Instead of dealing with their continuous requests for food throughout the day I am going to pack them a home lunch. If it is in their lunch bag then they can have it – but if not then sorry kiddos!

It sounds a bit mean but as well as the concerns about their health if they keep chomping like Pac-Man we also have to think about how much we are spending!

Like a lot of families we have a fairly strict budget when it comes to the food shop and the school holidays really make a dent in this. That’s why supermarkets like Jack’s are awesome for us.

Not only are the prices on par with other budget supermarkets – with the added bonus of fruit and veg which seems to stay fresh for longer than those bought from competitors. Jacks is part of Tesco which means it stocks lots of familiar products too. They have a lovely fresh bakery area and a really cool app. The shop smart app means that you can scan your shopping using your smartphone to keep track of your spending and save time at the checkout as you have already done the legwork!

Fill em up ideas

Pesto pasta salad

This is one of those dishes I make once and pick at all week. If I am cooking pasta anyway I will chuck an extra few handfuls in so that I can prep a lovely pesto pasta salad for us to have for lunch during the week.

All you need is cooked pasta, chopped up tomatoes, some chicken if you have it and then your pesto sauce. Due to a weird lockdown glitch whereby I forgot I had already bought pesto we have it coming out of ears so I use a spoon of that and sprinkle over some pine nuts. If you don’t have a pesto habit like me that’s ok! You can knock up a pesto with what you have in the fridge or freezer.

You will need oil. Olive is good but whatever you have is fine. You will need cheese (preferably parmesan but that tub of Italian hard cheese you bung on spag bol will work just fine) and pine nuts if you have them. Garlic and lemon juice too (the bottle of lemon juice you bought for pancake day and a jar of lazy garlic are what I use)

To those ingredients you need to add either basil (which you are unlikely to have laying around) or you could add peas or even the bagged salad leaves you usually chuck out at the end of the week. Whizz it all up together adding salt and pepper to taste and stir through your cooked pasta.

Potato Salad

Store bought potato salad is (in my opinion) a bit rubbish. It always tastes bland to me and the texture is all wrong. I much prefer homemade. It is nice and easy on the wallet and tastes amazing! Yes you can put it with something else but Bess and I could happily munch our way through a bowl of this stuff on it’s own.

Nothing fancy here. Potatoes (small ones are best) chopped and boiled with salt and pepper, mayo and chopped onion.

Cream Cheese Bagels

My children seem to have a strongly held belief that if it is on my plate then food must be delicious. They are, of course, absolutely correct but it still kinda sucks when I lose half my lunch to them.

Cream cheese bagels are simple and very satisfying. You can top them with anything you like of course but my favourite is cucumber – and sometimes smoked salmon. I chop the cucumber up to make the bagel easier to bite into without losing any of it.

Quesadillas

Just lately I have loved a tortilla wrap as an alternative to sandwiches and quesadillas are a fun way to eat them. Better than wraps because they can be packed flat. You can use any filling you like.

My favourite is chicken and sweetcorn and cheese with BBQ sauce. Tasty hot or cold and the kids love them too!

Banana sushi

One of my moments of genius was born – as so many are – out of necessity. We ran out of bread and the kids needed feeding. So, I spread a wrap with lotus biscoff spread, peeled a banana and rolled it up! I sliced it into sections and presented it to my children as banana sushi. You know something’s a hit when the teenager shares a photo of it with her friends..

Easy pitta and dip

Another easy lunch is crudité and dip. Now, my 6 year old will not entertain the idea of eating raw veg so I had to settle for pitta. You might be able to make yours healthier by using carrot sticks instead!

The dip is just yoghurt, cucumber and half a tsp of mint sauce. Really easy, healthy and cheap!

Grab it and go lunch

Not gonna lie, some days we either wake up late or for whatever reason do not have the time or inclination to do any more than just grab and go!

Luckily Jacks bakery have these amazing cheese and tomato pinwheels and cheese twists for just 60p each which are ideal!

Shapely Sandwiches – Waste free edition!

Sandwiches do still make an appearance in our house. One of the ways I liven them up a bit is by using cookie cutters to cut them into shapes. Now, I had seen this done by other, more creative Mums in the past and always thought that the amount of waste it must create was a shame – and it put me off doing it myself.

So, the way I do those fancy shapes is to leave it assembled and just press the cutter into it. That way Moose still gets the exciting shape but doesn’t a)have a very small sarnie or b)get to skip his crusts. Sorry kiddo!

Easy ‘if it’s’ pasta salad

We are big fans of pasta and I usually have leftover cooked pasta in a tub in the fridge. For a really quick and easy lunch we just chop up whatever salad veg and cooked meat we have laying around in the fridge along with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or some mayo and seasonings. It’s called “if it’s” pasta because if it’s in the fridge, we have it!

A grazing lunch

A massive trend at the moment is a grazing box. Now, they look tasty but have you seen the prices?! It’s not hard to throw one together and if you use a tray like the cheapo plastic one I have (nice one, Ikea) you can save on the washing up too!

I saw an interesting programme with Hugh Fearnley Whatshisname on the Beeb a while ago and they were talking about picky eaters. Not the 32 yr olds who live on cheese quavers and ketchup. The child kind. They were saying that a really good way to introduce new foods without making it a stressful chore is to mix them in with things the child likes and let them help themselves. Sure, they may not touch it the first few times but eventually stats show that they do get braver! Worth a try!

Anyway. No explanation needed here. Add an assortment of lunch type grub to a tray. Chop it a bit so it’s a bit easier for little hands if you are that way inclined and then just let them have at it!

My lot were SO excited and Moose did indeed try celery. I mean, he hated it obviously but at least he tried. The whole lot was wolfed down anyway so someone ate it..

Enjoying time at home – yes still!

Now that schools have opened again fully I am back to having at least some time by myself. It is absolute bliss!

I mean, sure, I am working for most of it. But even to be able to do that without the constant snack requests or questions or having to wade in to break up the latest argument.. well, it is something I am very much enjoying!

It has also meant that when I have a day off on the weekend I can once again look forward to it. Nothing is open round here as yet but it almost feels like we can spy the finish line now so it is not too bad.

We are still loving a bit of baking and have perfected our cookie game now.

I had my vaccination this week so that has probably boosted my mood too. Just the knowledge that I will be even a little bit protected feels very good. I also feel lucky that my parents and my sisters have all been invited for theirs too. It is all just a bit more of a weight off.

There is a small little voice in the back of my mind which is niggling me. I wasn’t brilliant at social interaction before all of this and now that I am out of practise I’m not sure how it will feel to be back and mixing with the general population.

A massive positive though that I keep reminding myself is that everyone is just as out of practise at this as I am. We are pretty much all starting on an even footing really.

I expect there will be lots of awkward conversations and plenty of those little both-dodge-the-same-way street interactions. Probably plenty of family members putting their foot in their mouth over sensitive subjects and lots of Mums sidling up to each other to feel that connection with someone with whom we share common ground in the form of mud covered gremlins hurling themselves down the slide like they forgot how much fun a play park can be.

Despite being slightly anxious about all of this. I am also rather looking forward to it. I just have to work on my masks-on eyebrow wiggle greeting I think.