Ginger Bisquite

Lifestyle, DIY, Family & Food

Remembering Christmas

December 4, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 11 Comments

homebase.christmas.tree (1 of 1)-8As the beginning of December descends upon us, I’m really enjoying getting into the festive spirit. It’s still early, I know, I hope I’m not peaking too soon.

Having returned to work a few months ago, I’ve been getting into the Christmas mindset earlier than usual, with the need to be planning and scheduling projects ahead of time.  (Very unusual behaviour for me!)

This year is also the first year that I’ve felt that Nye really is anticipating Christmas, aware and excited about the idea of presents, father christmas and of course chocolate!   I’m quite enjoying the simplicity of asking what Nye wants from Santa, and him asking for only a ‘chocolate bar’.  Of course, there’s very little he needs, but who can resist all those gorgeous books and heavenly wooden toys.  Having said that, if you’d seen him investigating the christmas tree branches for traces of chocolate this afternoon, you’d probably agree that he’s reached his Christmas quota.homebase.christmas.tree (1 of 1)homebase.christmas.tree (1 of 1)-2As the 1st of December arrived I sent Neil up to the loft to get down our Christmas boxes, boxes that we’ve had knocking around since we had our first Christmas together in 2009.  On our first Christmas we were both students, we made decorations together using salt dough and painted them with acrylic paint.  It doesn’t sound glamorous but it was a cheap and easy way of filling an entire christmas tree for about a pound.  Of course these days we’ve come full circle, with two children in tow, making their own salt dough decorations!

The perfect christmas has to start with a gorgeous real christmas tree.  I love the effect a real tree has on the senses, that fresh aroma, the feel of the branches in your hand and how organic the structure it.  I love how every tree is unique and the special feeling they give to a room.  Plus, it’s probably the only house plant I have managed not to kill!homebase.christmas.tree (1 of 1)-3 homebase.christmas.tree (1 of 1)-4 homebase.christmas.tree (1 of 1)-5 I then add the lights, ribbon, tinsel or beads and finish by adding our family decorations.  This year I first divided out the unbreakable decorations and gave Nye his own selection to add to the base of the tree.  He particularly loved the felt London decorations and set about eagerly hanging them all on one branch.

As you may be able to tell, I’m not too precious about our Christmas tree, I quite like it being a collection of our memories.  I like the idea of having a new theme every few years and choosing complimentary colours, but I just know that I couldn’t bear to get the boxes out and not put certain things on because they don’t go with this years colour palette.  I guess our tree’s going to always be a bit like the history of our family unfolded for everyone to see, but that’s exactly the way I like it, and  we only get to celebrate that once a year.

How do you decorate your tree?

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Disclosure: Post in collaboration with Homebase, all thoughts, words and opinions my own.

Now you are one

November 28, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 2 Comments

eag.birthday (1 of 1)-2 I truly cannot believe that a year ago today we had just brought you home from hospital to meet your brother for the very first time.  After going into hospital on the friday night, you made your appearance early on Saturday morning and we were all discharged later that day.

Your birth was quite different from my first birth experience, no medical intervention and only gas and air.  Different to what I was anticipating, but exactly what I had wished for after my previous induction.  When you were delivered you were not breathing right away, but thankfully after a bit of rubbing you let out your first yells.  I fed you straight away, I braced myself for a rocky period but it never came.  You lay sleepily in my arms, relaxed and happy from the moment you arrived, then cuddled with your daddy, who looked quite shell shocked after your swift arrival.  eag.birthday (1 of 1)-6eag.birthday (1 of 1)-5
My pregnancy with you was also so different, far less morning sickness, not a single baby hiccup and a toddler to run after and keep me distracted as the days passed.  It involved moving house not once, but twice, so maybe you are destined to have a love (or hatred) of travel!  We certainly don’t intend to move again for a long while!  You are blessed that your entire early childhood will have been in the countryside, surrounded by fields, clean air, playgrounds and farm animals.

You spent the first 3 months of life in a sleepy haze, watching us all and taking everything in.  You were the baby everyone was amazed at, who never cried, only smiled and slept.  The children at pre school would marvel over you, and as you grew you began to move, quickly learning to crawl, then cruise and now, just a week before your birthday, you began to walk.eag.birthday (1 of 1)wreaths. (1 of 1) Having a daughter has been caused more parental anguish for me, worried for any opportunity that might not pass your way just because you are a girl.  I am determined to ensure that you are free to do whatever you wish, and hope that the world wont be quite so unequal when you are old enough to be aware of such things.  I wonder to myself what you will enjoy doing a year from now, will you still enjoy pushing cars and trucks around the floor, bopping along to music and enthusiastically clapping your hands as soon as we start to sing wind the bobbin up?

You started nursery when you were 10 months old and settled really well.  Returning to work has been  You are a big eater, some times polishing off two wheatabix for breakfast and then demanding more at nursery.  You are small and dainty but big on personality, sure to point at anything you want and screech until you get it.  You can already say Hiya and Daddy, drink confidently from a cup and wave when you hear anyone say goodbye.

eag.birthday (1 of 1)-3 eag.birthday (1 of 1)-4 What a year this year has been, so many changes for us all and yet you are always constant in your desire to crawl into the kitchen, splash in the dog bowl and drag out the contents of the cupboard.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY darling girl.  You are so special, enchanting, charming, funny and intelligent. Please don’t grow up too fast!

Living Room Storage Ideas

November 21, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 1 Comment

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We have finally bought some storage for our living room!   I have to share it with you because it’s a great alternative to a custom-made unit or a run of the mill ikea tv unit.  It took some proper ‘working from home’ to push us into it, but after a year of indecision we finally ordered some.  There was much googling, but somehow we stumbled across a fantastic customisable shelving system called Shelfstore which looked like the custom-built cabinets we wanted, but could be ordered right away, installed ourselves and came in at least half the cost.

So, the space where we previously had a falling apart coffee table and a billy bookcase. (I’m sure you don’t want or need to see a before photo, just picture a student pad, with more sticky toddler handprints.)

The main storage requirement for our shelving was books, so it needed to be sturdy and ideally adjustable. with space for the tv, DVD’s, files and toys as well.  Of course we want it to look good and not fall apart after a year.

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The system is really easy to put together.  You start by measuring and attaching the uprights to the wall and then add in the shelves where you want them.  The shelves slot in with metal bars that secure it each piece in place.  So it’s been simple to put together, but also easily adjustable as well as hidden from view to create a sleek look.  I’ve already moved some of the shelves around to make space for other things and it’s just a case of removing the shelf and then moving the metal bars.  More detailed pictures of the construction process below.

Autumn (1 of 1)-2untitled (1 of 1) untitled (1 of 1)-2The exciting bit is adding in all the shelves and finally clearing all the clutter once all the uprights are attached.  I should mention that there are loads of other options too, including having built-in sides and backs to the cupboard.  As ours was an alcove, we figured these wouldn’t be necessary.  You can also alter the width of the overall unit and add cupboard doors.  To order you make up a design using the easy design tool on the website and put it in your basket once you’re happy.
shelfstore.storage. (1 of 1)-4 shelfstore.storage. (1 of 1)-10shelfstore.storage. (1 of 1)-7 Our next area to take a look at has to be some storage cupboard we have on our landing which we could make much better use of.  Do you have any spaces in your home that you desperately need storage for?

Cleaning the house for Christmas

November 18, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 0 comments

cleaning the house for christmas

As we head towards December, it’s only natural that our thoughts turn to Christmas preparations.  Christmas is when we have the most visitors, when we want our home to look at its festive best, but probably when I have the least time to do anything! (That’s before I start writing the menu and buying and wrapping the presents!)

With this in mind I’ve been on the hunt for an easy and quick way to get on top of the cleaning, from the kitchen to the bathroom and any odd jobs in between.   So, when I got the chance to give the Vax Steam Fresh Combi a whirl I was happy to obligue, as on paper a steam cleaner looks like the answer to all my ‘cleaning the house for christmas’ prayers.

Of course we all have the moutain of tools required to clean the house; the dusters, cleaning fluids, mop buckets, etc but there is just so much stuff, and it takes so long to find it, use it and tidy it away.  There has to be an easier way.  The steam mop has to be a multitasker, tackling the general day to day cleaning requiremnts of a family four, as well as the ability to make light work of a well used kitchen and bathroom.

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IS IT EASY TO SET UP?
To get going, you need to fill up the water, detergent and decide what head you will need. Next, you press a simple on off switch and wait for the green light to appear.  Amazingly it takes just a few minutes to heat up, then you simple press the button and you’re off. There is also a really clever storage for the wire which mean it’s not left hanging around.

WHAT CAN I USE IT FOR?
The Vax Steam Fresh Combi, which can be used as a stand alone floor mop, or as a handheld steam cleaner. Being able to use this in two ways means that as well as cleaning the floors, this has the added bonus that you can use it to clean the oven, windows, mirrors, upholstry, grout and basically any hard to reach areas, with just the click of a button.

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MAKE LIGHT WORK OF CLEANING FLOORS
We have hard flooring throught the downstairs of the house and one of the main jobs I always want to do, but never seem to get round to, is mopping the floors. It takes a few boils of the kettle to get enough water for the mop bucket, and once I’v wringed out the mop the floors are dangerously wet and slippy. (Yet another reason not to bother!)  But with muddy shoes and dirty poorprints there comes a time where it’s inevitable that the mop will need to be out.  I’m pleased to say for cleaning floors the steam mop works wonders, quick and easy and with far less elbow grease than a traditional mop.  I’ve used it on tiles and laminate and it brings both up sparkling clean with minimal elbow grease.  The traingular head gets right into the corners, and the cleaning pad easily wipes up any dirt, leaving the floor slightly damp before quickly drying off.  Ovverall I would say it takes just a few minutes to clean the floor of each room.

DEEP CLEAN THE BATHROOM
I dared not take any before photos but I hope you can see below, that using the steam mop to clean the bathroom has left everything glistening with no smears.  For a deep clean it took me around 30minutes to get a perfect result.  I cleaned out all the limescale from around the taps, cleaned the floor grout, all the wall tiles, cleaned the mirror and freshened up the toilet bowl.  All without getting my hands dirty.  If done regularly, a good once over in the bathroom would take you no more than 10 minutes.

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BLITZING THE KITCHEN & OVEN
Cleaning the oven is a vital job for this time of year, the smell of burnt on food, doesnt really add to the Christmas aroma.  The steam mop allows you to clean off splashes and staines inside the oven, without any toxic fumes.  Cleaning the oven is never going to be a really quick job, but the steam mop does a good job at scraping away stuck on stains and is perfect for cleaning the glass on the door too.  The steam is also perfect for cleaning away those tiny crumbs caught between the worktop and the oven, a job I’ve been trying to do for the last year.

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For lots of other cleaning the house for christmas ideas, you can see my top tips on my popular Super Scrimper Pinterest board.

Follow Ginger Bisquite’s board super scrimpers tips on Pinterest.

Disclosure:  This feature is in collaboration with Vax, all thoughts words and opinions my own.

November 9, 2014
by Jenni Clutten
0 comments

Autumn Styling – Stylish Sunday

Evening, I’m back with some of my favourite Autumn attire.  I don’t know about you but I’m really starting to feel the cold now.  As we slip further into November, it’s only going to continue, as the leaves float down off the trees surrounding our feet.

I love when the we can get cosy indoors, despite the early evening darkness and the bite in the air.  I relish the chance to unfold the thick jumpers that have been tucked away, patiently waiting for the warm weather to pass.

 

autumn essentials

Yet there’s always room for a few more items, especially a beautiful new coat that is practical and stylish.  Perfect for weekends at home with the family, taking muddy walks, holding little hands as well as staying super smart for work.

 Don’t forget to layer it up with gorgeous chunky knits, thick socks and tights and keep those toes toasty with a warm pair of boots.

How are you staying warm this Autumn?  Found anything good?

 

Are you an #earthdefender ?

November 7, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 0 comments

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I like to think of myself as someone who is interested in the world, interested in the mechanics of how and why things are made.  It’s easy to forget that there is a long and complex journey behind most of the products we consume and there are stories that we do not know or truly understand.  Should we care about food sustainability?  I  think we should.

There are so many ethical issues, bound up in our everyday world.  That’s why I thought this #earthdefenders campaign from Lavazza and Slow Food  was interesting.  It is an idea based on the simple philosophy of looking at the people behind the products and the inspiring work they do.  There is an art to what they do and I love how the #earthdefenders message shares that, so eloquently and so beautifully through the imagery of Steve McCurry.  The Earth Defenders are immortalised in 12 photographs, documenting his journey through the African continent to discover stories of ordinary heroism, which add poetry and emotion to the representation of reality.

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Here’s a little more about the calender, and why the images of the people featured in it are so arresting.

From Nadia, the proud argan oil paladine in Morocco, to John, the guardian of Lare pumpkins in Kenya.  Anna, who fights for the quality of salted millet couscous on Fadiouth Island in Senegal, to Asnakech, who stands guard over coffee estates in Ethiopia. The 2015 Lavazza Calendar – produced with Slow Food and featuring photographs by Steve McCurry and creative direction by Armando Testa - is a photographic journey through the stories of everyday heroism of the Earth Defenders: women and men who every day defend their land and their projects in Africa with courage and devotion. In this way Lavazza and Slow Food take a stand beside all the Earth Defenders and food traditions: they are symbols of hope for local communities and spokespeople of the potential for development and a better future.

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So we the Earth Defenders want to appeal to everyone who shares the principles and values of food sustainability promoted by Lavazza and Slow Food. In fact, starting today, the Calendar2015.lavazza.com website raises a call-to-action to become Earth Defenders by making a donation to African food gardens or becoming a spokesperson for the project on social channels with the hashtag #earthdefenders.

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I am an #Earthdefender, are you?

Disclosure:
I was sent a lavAzza #earthdefenders kit for the purpose of this campaign, but all thoughts words and opinions are my own.

October 31, 2014
by Jenni Clutten
0 comments

Top 5 cloakroom basins

Is your cloakroom in need of a new look?
Here are my 5 favourite options for creating a fresh new bathroom:

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top 5 cloakroom basin Sources

Try a counter top basin
For a luxury look, having a counter top basin really does give that sense of spa style.  It’s easy to imagine these will take up a large space, but not all counter top basins have to take over the bathroom.  Using one on top of a cupboard can provide additional storage space, especially if you build the taps into the wall.  I especially like these wall mounted taps  that will really save on space.

Create more space
Stand alone, wall mounted  sink units are a good compact choice.  These space saving, neat looking cloakroom basisns give you enough space to wash your hands and have a quick check in the mirror.  I like to think of them as functional and minamalist.  With the right taps these will give the perfect practical solution.

Make a feature of it
The final basin is the Surface Mounted Rectangular Washbasin.  I’ve selected it as it is the best of both worlds, with a surface mounted basin that sits half on the counter.  This provides you with the luxury surface look but also gives the more practical elements of a basin that comes out from the unit making it more accessible.  Why should something be purely functional?  There’s a lot to be said for having something thats useful and beautiful.DeathtoStock_Simplify1

Disclosure: Post written in collaboration with Clickbasin, all thoughts, words and opinions my own.

The French Bedroom Company

October 30, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 0 comments

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As Christmas draws ever nearer I’m on the hunt for items to dress up the home, as well as working out where to source thoughtful gifts for friends and family.  As luck would have it, I recently got a wonderful collection of candles and candlesticks from The French Bedroom Company.

The French bedroom company offer a fantastic range of products suitable for the home, fantastic furniture as well as thoughtful accessories that provide the finish touches to your overall look.

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These deer candlesticks are wonderfully intricate and chic, cast in a lovely white shade.  I think these would look perfect for a dinner party, really creating drama and adding height to wow guests.

The wonderful golden glow you can see in these photos, has been cast by the three wick tuberous candle which casts a warm inviting glow and aroma across the room within a few minutes of being lit.

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Here are my top interior picks from this week, perfect for getting your home sorted for guests before Christmas arrives!

My top picks from the french bedroom company
All items, are beautifully packaged and hand checked to ensure that the quality of each product is exactly as you would ecpect.  Do have a look if you’re after something a little extra special.Disclosure: Post in collaboration with The French Bedroom Company, all thoughts, words and opinions are my ownn.

Reminiscing on family

October 28, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 0 comments

2013-05-06 16.16.39This time of year has really got me reminiscing, lingering on memories of the last few years.  An email landed in my inbox, and it immediately brought to my ind, this time last year where I was awaiting Evie’s arrival.

I remember the cold mornings so vividly, the bright hues of the fallen autumn leaves as Nye and I wasted time at the park, kicking leaves and collecting them to bring home to create garlands. How odd it is to even think of having only one child.  It’s so easy to forget all that time where it was just the two of us.  And I look back, astounded at how easy I had it.  Except of course, it never felt like that!

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It has been quite wonderfully remembering those October moments, moving into our home, making it our own, nesting, unpacking and getting to grip with the garden.  I have images of Nye in his snow suit, digging against the backdrop of the dark sky. Remembering him tripping over in a pile of mud and of us shuffling inside, sniffles and all, huddling around the coffee machine as we froth milk for hot chocolate.

I just can’t imagine there being no Evie.  I think back in wonder to that time where she was so close to arriving and I was just waiting, waiting to see when she would make her way into this world.  What she would look like, sound like and be like.  Now she is here and she is proving to be the most wonderfully clever creature. On the verge of walking, on the verge of sleeping through the night. but totally and utterly charming.

park (1 of 1)-2 park (1 of 1)-3This year we’ve made new autumn memories, out feeding the ducks (and other assorted birds!) at the park.  The light is just amazing at the end of the day.  Even though the nights are drawing in, when the sun is setting it is simply beautiful.  I’ll always remember ducking under the branches of the trees to avoid the rain drops for a little longer, crumbling up bread ready for the birds and seeing your face light up when you saw the ducks dipping their heads into the water waggling their bums in the air.park (1 of 1)-5park (1 of 1)-6

Versatile Style

October 24, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 0 comments

I was so taken by this black and white dress that I knew immediately that it would be great for dressing up or down, for a really versatile style. I love how it is muted shades but can be paired with bold bright colours to really bring it to life.

The dress is actually part of the George Graduate Fashion Week collection and was inspired by the Disney villains.  I can totally see this as part of Cruella de Vil’s wardrobe, but for a modern non fur market.

Dress it up

I’ve put this look together with a gorgeous pair of heels that make the dress immediately perfect for a date night, with the belt on the dress giving a lovely defined waist.  Finished off with some striking jewelled earrings and gemstone necklace, then throw on a pop of colour as you run out the door.

Dress it down

 

This has to be my ideal autumn outfit, take one iconic dress and pair it with a cosy cardigan and stylish boots.  I do love a snuggly pair of socks at this time of year too, (although it’s practically a miracle to find any matching ones in this house.) What more reason do I need to choose a pair that work perfectly with this dress.  Add a little extra sparkle with some stylish studs and bead knot necklace.  I call this ready to shop, or ready to work. on comfort and style.

Disclosure:  post in collaboration with George, all thoughts, words and opinions are my own.