• 3 ways to add design flair to your kitchen

    stylish modern kitchen
  • Review: Hair Straightening Brush HQT-906

    Hair Straightening Brush HQT-906
  • Review: Vivexotic Repti-View Maxi Vivarium

    Repti-View Maxi vivarium
  • Review: kikki.K Penpal Kit Cute #stationery

    Kikki K Pen Pal Kit Cute

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3 ways to add design flair to your kitchen

The kitchen has to be a practical room in the house, of course, you need somewhere to prepare meals and store ingredients and utensils. However, there is no reason why you can’t use some creativity and add some sparkle to the design to make the space fun as well as functional.

From fixtures and fittings to lighting and decor there are lots of ways to fit a feature in your kitchen. Check out these 5 ways to add design flair to your kitchen for some inspiration:

Add a feature splashback

A quick way to make an impact in the kitchen is to add some colour or texture in the form of a feature splashback. These hard, smooth surfaces usually made from glass or acrylic protect your walls from stains when cooking and are incredibly easy to keep clean – simply wipe clean.

Splashbacks almost make a great design statement! Most suppliers like Simply Plastics offer coloured acrylic splashbacks in a wide range of colours, materials and finishes so it is easy to find the right one to suit your kitchen units and colour scheme.

For a bold look choose a material in a bright colour or pattern which catches the eye or for a more subtle look try matching your splashback to the cabinets, worktops and other fixtures.

An eye-catching extractor hood

Gracefully enhance the kitchen and add a sense of style to your living space with a feature extractor hood. Originally designed to remove airborne grease, odours, and cooking fumes from your kitchen these practical appliances now come in a range of styles and be a real feature.

There are five types of cooker hoods to choose from; built-in, chimney, freestanding, integrated and island. If you’re looking for a sleek modern look try a chimney style hood; these hoods are shaped like a chimney and need to be fitted to a wall. They are usually made from a modern stainless steel and they can incorporate a stylish glass canopy to catch steam and a telescopic section to extend to the ceiling

Undercabinet lighting

Having good lighting is important in a room where you will be using knives and other potentially dangerous utensils. For something a bit different why not try undercabinet lighting which helps brighten a kitchen and provides crucial task lighting for meal prep and cleanup.

Under cabinet lighting allows more variations of light bulbs than the common ones. You can explore more and add variation based on your bulb choice. LEDs come out as the best option as they use around 10% of the energy of halogen bulbs, and about 40% of the energy typically consumed by a fluorescent light making them an efficient option.

Does your kitchen have a funky design feature?

stylish modern kitchen

Review: Hair Straightening Brush HQT-906

Having worked in digital marketing for more than eight years I hardly ever click on a Facebook Ad, especially the ones which look too good to be true but when I spotted the Ad for the Hair Straightening Brush HQT-906 for what must have been the tenth time I decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a try.

The Hair Straightening Brush HQT-906 Ad described it as a miracle product which makes straightening hair easy and quick rather than long-winded and laborious which, let’s face it, it can be. I had several hair straighteners before buying the Straightening Brush but have to admit to being too lazy to sort out my unruly hair with my GHDs unless for a special occasion.

Despite having major reservations about the quality of the product and expecting the product to be a hoax and a waste of money I was excited when it arrived to see how it would work. I will admit to being worried when I first plugged it in and turned it on, thinking that it might explode or overheat but all went well.

The Straightening Brush has adjustable temperature settings with 11 potential degrees of heat – simply use the buttons on the brush to alter the heat by 5℃ based on your hair type; thick hair 210-230℃, normal hair 190-210℃ and fine hair 170-200℃. It also has a built-in one-hour auto-off function for safety.

Using the Straightening Brush is easy, once it is up to temperature simply brush through your hair as you would when using a regular brush. I tend to part my hair into sections and work from the back of my head to the front as I would with my GHDs. The Straightening Brush works around any knots or tangles and glides easily through hair making straightening easy and quick.

So, how did I find the brush and was it worth the money? Overall my experience using the Straightening Brush has been positive. It is quick and easy to use and certainly helps sort out my unruly hair in the morning.

I have to admit I don’t think that it will be a long-lived product as it feels like it’s made of cheaper materials and I don’t see it lasting very long, however, they make a decent quick and easy alternative to getting out my more flash (presumably) higher quality GHDs which take more time.

I award the Hair Straightening Brush HQT-906 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend them to anyone wanting a quick and easy way to tame their hair, however, I would urge caution when using it in case of malfunction.

Hair Straightening Brush HQT-906

Hair Straightening Brush HQT-906

Hair Straightening Brush HQT-906

Review: Vivexotic Repti-View Maxi Vivarium

When I first considered getting an adult corn snake one of the first things I had to consider was where was he going to live. Snakes are usually kept in vivariums – tanks made of glass and wood often with built in vents for airflow and holes for cables leading to heat and light sources.

When I searched for a snake vivariums I first needed to choose what sort I wanted taking into consideration practical needs such as the amount of floor space needed by the snake (corn snakes are a terrestrial reptile) as well as how I wanted the vivarium to look.

I came across the Vivexotic Repti-View Maxi Vivarium and immediately knew it was the one that I wanted to have as it had appropriate dimensions and a mostly glass design which meant that I would be able to view my corn snake from all angles. The range includes a number of different sizes, this is the biggest at 25 x 115 x 45cm with an oak finish.

The Repti-View Maxi is made with toughened glass from timber sourced from recycled sources or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) sustainable forests. It has been designed with the best interests of owner and pet in mind, with glass panelled sides and lid, providing panoramic views of the inhabitant – exactly what attracted me!

The vivarium arrived flat-packed and came with instructions for putting it together. My mother and sister offered to help and it took us a good while to put it together as the instructions included were not very easy to follow. Despite that, we managed to put it together and I am very happy with the result.

My favourite features of this vivarium are the vent system which makes it easy to run cables through from the back of the enclosure and the super handy auto lock feature which means the lid locks as soon as it is closed so there is little chance of any escaping (corn snakes as known as the Houdini of the reptile world).

The vivarium also comes with a special glass heat mat enclosure incorporated into the base which means that heat can be conducted through the glass easily but stops the snake from direct contact with the mat and potentially burning himself. Simply slide the heat mat into the compartment and plug it in.

Of course as well as being a great feature the top-opening lid can cause a few issues when deciding where to put the vivarium. It needs to be at a decent height so you’re not always having to lean over it (and potentially hurt yourself) and of course, it needs to be accessible from the top so you can’t put it in the middle of a stack of vivariums! You can see it below on top of my other vivarium.

Overall I really like the Vivexotic Repti-View Maxi Vivarium. It has great practical features which make it easy to set up and it has a sleek, modern look with fantastic panoramic sides which make it perfect for watching my corn snake explore his surroundings. I award the vivarium 4 out of 5 stars.

Repti-View Maxi vivarium

Review: kikki.K Penpal Kit Cute #stationery

I have always had a love of stationery but since I started my bullet journal this has ramped up and I now call myself a stationery junkie. I have amassed an impressive array of writing implements, paper goods and decorations which I use in both my journal and for correspondence with my penpals.

I recently came across kikki.K, a stationery brand who combine sleek, minimal Swedish Designs with beautiful stationery and gifts and I am hooked! They hope to inspire and empower people the world over to dream, organise, create and live a beautiful life.

Having spent a short time in the kikki.K pop-up store in Bluewater I came out with a selection of exciting new pieces and today I am telling you about one of their penpal kits from their ‘cute’ range. kikki.K want everyone to embrace the art of letter writing and they have created lovely kits stocked with everything you need to get building friendships across the globe.

The penpal ‘cute’ kit contains 20 writing sheets, 10 envelopes, 5 postcards, 1 refillable ballpoint pen (like and 1 sticker sheet. As you can see from the photos below all of the items have the ‘cute’ theme using lovely pastel shades and adorable characters and illustrations. All of this comes in a lovely storage box (170mm W x 180mm H x 23mm) which is perfect for keeping everything safe and tidy.

I really like this kit; the stationery design oozes personality and is made of good quality materials. I think this would make a really lovely kit for anyone wanting to get into letter writing and it has certainly added a bit of cute to my collection! I award the kit 4 out of 5 stars and can’t wait to start sending letters from the kit out to my pen pals.

Kikki K Pen Pal Kit Cute

Kikki K Pen Pal Kit Cute

 

Review: Arcadia #Vaping #Ejuice from VIP Electronic Cigarette

As you are well aware by now my husband is an ex-smoker who is on the straight and narrow thanks to electronic cigarettes and the safer nicotine boost which comes from vaping.

Over the last year or so he has honed his vaping preferences and now knows what he likes when it comes to e-juices thanks to trying and testing all sorts of flavours and brands.

He was lucky enough to have been sent another selection of e-juices recently from the premium Arcadia range from VIP Electronic Cigarette  (VIP Cig) you can see his notes below.

General Comments

As expected, the selection from the premium Arcadia range of e-juices all came in smart packaging and have big flavours with all having a 70 VG/30 PG ratio and being available in 3, 6 and 12mg of nicotine. Vlad currently vapes 3mg.

Vlad usually prefers to sub-ohm vape and discovered that despite being 70/30 these juices can be a bit harsh on the throat so if you prefer smoother vapes do keep this in mind, although it did not stop Vlad from enjoying these particular flavours. All of this selection produced a good amount of vapour.

Sweet Fog

VIP Cig really hit the nail on the head with the recent selection which was sent to us which included Sweet Fog, an e-juice flavoured with sweet marshmallows, smooth peanut butter and caramel cream. Vlad loves ‘pudding’ flavours and this certainly fit the bill with an almost chewy marshmallow flavour complimented by the taste of peanut – a treat for Vlad as he can’t eat them!

Pie Assassin

Vlad is also unable to eat most baked goods so Pie Assassin’s hit of freshly baked apple pie is a welcome treat. This e-juice combines classic flavours of apple pie with gooey caramel and thick double cream, perfect for anyone who craves sumptuous sweet and sticky puddings, Pie Assassin is the perfect vape after a meal and was Vlad’s favourite from this selection.

The Heretic

If you are a cookie junkie then this is the e-juice for you! The Heretic blends the warming flavour of freshly baked cinnamon cookies with the creamy taste of bananas for a sweet and spicy vape which Vlad found comforting and satisfying.

Viceberg Blue

This e-juice was Vlad’s least favourite due to the simple fact that he is not a fan of menthol flavours. Viceberg Blue teams menthol with sweet summer berries and just a touch of sharp citrus to create a flavour combination which is cooling and fresh in the mouth. This would be the perfect vape for a summer’s evening out in the garden.

Divinity

Vlad’s second favourite from this selection was the berry inspired Divinity which teams blueberries with pomegranates, topped with cream. Although he couldn’t taste much of the pomegranate Vlad loved the sharp and sweetness from the blueberries perfect for cutting through the indulgent undertones of cream.

All in all, Vlad really enjoyed testing this selection from the premium Arcadia range from VIP Electronic Cigarette with their hits of spice, sugar and sharpness. He awards them 4 out of 5 stars. and would recommend them as a particularly good choice for anyone who loves ‘pudding’ flavours just like him.

VIP Electronic Cigarette EJuices

Infographic: The Truth About Nicotine

As the wife of an ex-smoker and current vaper, I like to think I know quite a bit about nicotine and its effects on the body. However, I was surprised at some of the facts in this infographic from VIP Electronic Cigarettes such as nicotine has been shown to slow down or halt the neuronal damage that stems from Parkinson’s disease and it has been shown to improve task performance on patients with Schizophrenia.

Tobacco is the biggest cause of preventable death in the UK, killing more than 100,000 people per year, so despite being addictive nicotine does not cause cancer and people trying to give up smoking have a great alternative in e-cigarettes which administer a dose of nicotine without the other harmful substances in normal cigarettes.

Learn more about the truth about nicotine in the graphic below:

The_Truth_About_Nicotine

5 Camping Essentials

I love camping. In fact, I have been camping almost every year since I was born! My family spent many fun holidays exploring the UK with our tent in tow and I have lots of great memories. We still go camping regularly and will be popping down to Folkestone this summer for a week next to the beach.

Your camping supplies can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make them. We usually take some modern comforts with us but there are still a few items that are a must-have. Check out my top camping essentials here:

Quality bedding

One of the worst things on a camping holiday is to wake up with a crick in your neck or pain in your back which slows you down during the day. It is important to invest in good camping bedding to keep you warm and cosy as well as comfortable whilst you rest from your day exploring.

The temperature rating is an important factor to consider when choosing a sleeping bag, so be sure to check the label to see which one is suitable for your trip. You will also need to put your sleeping bag on something like a roll mat, inflatable mattress or a camp bed. Choose one which best suits you and your tent – camp beds are great for adding extra space but if you move around a lot you might end up falling off!

Having tried and tested many sleeping options we have settled on a product called a Duvalay, a sleeping bag made up of a foam mattress attached to a duvet on one side creating a snug and comfortable pocket to sleep in. They are pricey but if you’re someone who treasures a good night’s sleep and camps regularly it’s worth considering!

A reliable knife

When you are camping you need to make sure you have the correct tools to ensure you have a safe trip. It’s good to have a multi-purpose knife to cut through thick bushes quickly or prepare your quarry for the feast if you’ve been hunting or fishing.

There is a huge range of knives specially designed for those of us who enjoy being outside including bushcraft knives, bowie knives, hunting knives, camping knives, hatchets, axes and choppers. It’s worth thinking about what the knife will be used for and choosing one designed for the purpose.

The general rule when choosing a knife for camping is: it must have a non-slip handle, it must be sharp and it must be easy to sharpen when you’re ‘in the field’. If you’re on the look out for survival knives uk check out Perkin Knives who have a great range of hunting knives available.

Lighting

There’s a rule of thumb when you’re camping that you live by the light; getting up at dawn and going to bed at dusk because let’s face it, it’s hard to do anything without light to see by. Late evenings sat around the table and midnight trips to the toilet mean lanterns and torches will be in your camping supplies.

When it comes to choosing a lantern think where you will want to put it – most come with a handle so you can hang it up to light a larger area or simply set it down on a table allowing a 360 degree light display, allowing many people to use the same source of light.

A lantern is only as good as the light it projects so choose one with 100 lumens for small groups and higher lumens for larger. Consider the power source for your lighting – batteries? re-chargeable? Recently we have frequented camping sites with electricity hook-ups so we are able to simply plug in a lamp when required.

Entertainment

When you’re not busy exploring your surroundings you will need something to do in your tent which will keep boredom at bay. As we usually have electricity when we camp I tend to bring my favourite electronics including my Kindle for reading books and watching downloaded videos and a Nintendo or similar gaming device.

In the past when we did not have the electricity available the family would gather together in the evenings to play cards or board games (Monopoly being a favourite), so it’s worthwhile considering putting together an electricity-free entertainment pack for such times.

First Aid Kit

While you hopefully won’t have to use it, packing a first-aid kit is an important part of your camping preparations. Burns, scratches, cuts or bumps—are bound to happen on an active camping trip so having some basic medical staples at hand would be a good idea.

Include essential items such as blister pads (you’ll definitely need these if you’re going to do a lot of walking), plasters, sterile gauze, bandages, wound dressing, anti-bacterial cream and pain-relievers. It’s also a good idea to keep some anti-itch creams handy in case you get insect bites. There are lots of kits suitable to take with you available from retailers like Boots, so have a browse and choose one best suited to the activities you’re planning on your trip.

around a camp fire

5 Easy Home Décor Ideas that Will Bring You Luck

A lucky charm can give you the incentive to achieve your wildest dreams. It’s surprising how small things can make all the difference for your general mood, and we believe that the more positive things surrounding you, the more strength you will have to take the world by force. In this article, we will tell about 5 easy to make home décor ideas that could be the lucky charms you’ve always needed.

1. A Bonsai Corner

There is far more than meets the eye when it comes to bonsai trees. These tiny miracle trees can provide you with an experience that is far more complex that you may think. Taking care of a bonsai tree entails daily care and investing a bit of your time in its development. In return, you will get to partake in its prosperity and you will gain a very special type of relaxation routine. Your bonsai tree will be your lucky charm because every time you will see it, you will remember that your actions do have fabulous consequences. Bear in mind that along with your bonsai tree, you will have to get a small gardening kit that you will use to trim it and water it regularly. Place your tree next to a window so that it can have the right exposure to sunlight. You will be surprised how much this tiny tree will end up meaning to you.

2. Lottery Ticket Art

Lottery tickets are an excellent symbol of hope. They represent a chance for an instant fortune and a lifetime of wellbeing, which is why they are the ideal material for your arts and crafts. If you have old lottery tickets or scratch-offs, why not use them for a lucky charm project? As you can see in the picture below, lottery tickets can be used to make some impressive origami projects. And the best thing about this type of origami art is that you can expand them as you collect more lottery tickets.  They are excellent for decorating your home and they will provide you with a fabulous sense of structure.

3. A Dream Board

A dream board can be a wonderful reminder of your short and long-term goals. Having a visual representation of these goals will actually inspire you to find the best possible way to achieve them. A polystyrene board is ideal because it requires a minimal investment and it makes it easy for you to pin brand new items as often as you like. Put up pictures of that dress you plan to buy, that dream spot you found for your next vacation, or even the house you’ve always wanted to have. Then look at them every day and add any extra ideas you might get. Your board will help you make your dreams come true in no time.

4. A Lucky Corner

We all have personal lucky charms that remind of those times when everything finally falls into place and we get the opportunity to thrive. Instead of having them scattered all over your home, why not gather them into a good luck powerhouse? Your lucky corner can be the place where you gather all those small things that remind you of a better day. Moreover, putting them together in one place will remind you that most of the time, it’s the small things that make a difference. Your corner can be a table, a shelf, or any other place that inspires you. The most important part is that you put your lucky charms in one place to create a permanent source of positivity that will empower you to thrive.

5. A Lucky Goodie Jar

Sugar is a natural source of energy and an excellent brain booster. As long as you have it in the right amount, sugar can do wonders for you. This is precisely why a lucky goodie jar can be an excellent lucky charm. Fill it with colourful marshmallows and macarons, delicious jellies, crumbly chocolate chip cookies, or any other mouth-watering treats you love. Remember to supply it regularly to keep it colourful and enticing. Then, every time you need a pick-me-up or when you want to make a sweet moment all that much sweeter, you will have a go-to place to turn to. We recommend you use a transparent jar so that you can see the goodies in all of their glory and remember to make a label for it that you can decorate to perfection.

These lucky charms will power you up for almost anything that life throws your way. The more of them you have in your home, the better because we all need all the luck we can get. These five home décor ideas can make a true difference in your daily routine because they will serve as a constant reminder that the right attitude can make life feel outstanding.

dream board

To tip or not to tip, that is the question

Whenever I go out to eat at a restaurant I am always happy to leave a tip for good service and when I feel I have had excellent service I will always be more generous. I very rarely refuse to leave a tip, although my husband has sometimes requested it be removed from our bill when on the rare occasion we’ve had a bad experience.

We Brits seem to be comfortable with tipping for good service at a restaurant, with Voucherbox’s recent research saying 20% of us will leave a bigger tip if the waiter or waitress is attractive. However, we rarely tip barmen or the lady at the launderettes and when it comes to tipping for services such as takeaway delivery drivers, only a 20% of us tip our every time and I have to admit that I usually don’t, but should I?

Yes, you should tip your takeaway driver

Tipping is a pretty standard practice in the food industry and what is the difference between a waiter bringing food from the kitchen over to your table and a delivery person dropping off your meal at your door?

When you think about it is something of a luxury to have food brought to you and if you always order from the same takeaway it’s worth building a positive relationship with them, especially if your house can be tricky to find (like ours!)

There are benefits to tipping for good service, it ultimately encourages more good service! If you tip your delivery person then they will do their best to make sure they get their tips with fast, fuss free delivery of your meals.

No, you shouldn’t tip your takeaway driver

If you order from the same restaurants regularly and always receive excellent service then it might be an easy decision to tip your driver, however, if you are ordering from a new restaurant it might be tricky to judge as you will need to eat your meal to decide how good it is.

In America, delivery drivers are paid below minimum wage and have to be supplemented by the promise of tips. Here, with our minimum wage, there’s no need to feel like you have to make up for someone’s wages. Tipping the driver may actually be somewhat unfair as it’s not that likely your tip will be shared with the people who actually cooked your dinner!

Whereas tipping may encourage good service, it’s worth considering that if you tip for every meal, every time then eventually your delivery driver may realise that there is no need to work hard because you tip them anyway!

Do you tip?

Pizza delivery tipping ettquette

Review: The Body Shop Drops Of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask

I recently discovered the new Drops of Youth range from one of my favourite brands, The Body Shop. The range claims to reduce the signs of ageing including reducing fine lines and leaving skin looking smoother, fresher and healthier.

I picked up two items from the range, the Liquid Peel (review here) and the Bouncy Sleeping Mask, which is described as a refreshing overnight facemask designed to fight the first signs of ageing, leaving the skin feeling softer and smoother in the morning.

The product has an odd texture, it’s a thick gel like liquid which has an odd bouncy feel to it. Although it is certainly a bit strange, I actually quite like it! It reminds me of aqueous cream, which makes sense, as both products act like an emollient with hydrating effects.

The Bouncy Sleeping Mask has been designed to be used by people of all skin types, to smooth and refresh skin as an overnight face mask. Simply apply to cleansed skin every night, gently massage into the skin and leave the product to absorb.

So, how have I found it? I really like the Bouncy Sleeping Mask, it has a really hydrating, cooling effect when first applied and doesn’t leave my face feeling greasy in the morning. You don’t need to use too much, about a pea-sized amount of the gel is enough for my whole face, which means it will last a long time.

I do find that my skin feels better hydrated and nourished after applying the mask, although my face still feels thirsty in the morning, it does feel plumper and softer. I did find that using too much of the mask did leave a bit of a sticky residue, so it’s important that you only use a small amount.

Overall, I have enjoyed using the mask as an addition to my beauty regime and it helps my skin feel enriched and soft. I award the Body Shop drops of youth bouncy sleeping mask 5 out of 5 stars.

The Body Shop Drops Of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask