How to make your door as energy efficient as possible.

Friday, 22 December 2017

As part of the latest government efforts to promote green living, all new builds need to have external doors that are compliant with the latest energy efficient regulation. This relates to something called a U-value which measures how effective a material is as an insulator. Anything with a bad U-value will enable heat to escape easily, leaving an expensive, cold home which is not very eco-friendly at all. Confusingly the U-value itself translates as the lower the better. This is why some companies opt for A+ and below as a ratings scale which makes things a lot easier to understand.
You might not believe upgrading a door will make much of a difference to a home's energy efficiency, but a lot of heat can be lost between the home and the door, particularly with older single pane doors. There are lots of doors in any one home and all provide different privacy, accessibility and visibility options. It is important to ensure that those doors are as energy efficient as possible to the benefit of your home value, heating bills, home comfort and the environment.
Here are the best ways to ensure the doors in your home are as energy efficient as possible: 

Replace Older Doors

If you purchased an old home it is likely it still has the original exterior doors. They are unlikely to have been replaced, and so they won't be as efficient as newer types. Newer doors are designed to fit better and so are more insulating. Choosing something with a good U-value will ensure your door is as efficient as possible. Certain companies use a green certified label to promote their most energy efficient doors. 

Ensure Interior Doors Fit Well

Interior doors help to trap the heat into one single space which is really useful if you choose to just heat one room. Make sure your interior doors fit well and consider installing additional glass doors or bifold doors into your home for extra privacy and heat retention. 

Keep On Top of Bad Habits

Keeping on top of bad habits in the home will help your doors be as energy efficient as possible. For example: with any glass doors letting sunlight in you should open the curtains in the day so that the light can get in during winter, and in summer keep the curtains closed during the hottest parts of the day to keep the home cool. Keep curtains shut at night to protect against window draughts. 

Add Draft-proofing

Draught-proofing around your doors can help to stop air leaking out. Your draught-proofing needs to be extremely durable with doors that are used a lot and a tension seal will help with durability. You can find tips on draught-proofing your doors and other parts of your home in this handy Energy Savings Trust video

Buy A Truly Eco-Friendly Door

Even though some doors are labelled as green or eco-friendly, this isn't always the case. In lots of marketing, green labelling is used and yet the door actually contains lead or CFC's. A truly green door will be free of CFC and will be made with various eco-friendly compounds including ingredients like calcium and zinc which have a lighter carbon-footprint. These materials are just as durable as non eco-friendly materials. You should also try to buy from a manufacturer local to you where the door is made and sold in the same location. 

Bifold Doors

Bifold doors are a great way to increase the light and warmth in your home and despite concerns or ill-founded worries about their energy efficiency, they can be just as energy efficient as a standard exterior door. Bifold doors can keep your home safe and secure all whilst adding to the aesthetics of your home and the accessibility of your outdoors space. There are some ways to ensure the doors you do buy are as eco-friendly as possible:-

Weatherproofing

By its nature, glass is not exactly as weather-proof as building materials like brick or concrete. That's not to say it can't withstand harsh weather as well as your standard exterior door though. Usually bifold doors are installed with a low threshold to ensure the weather has the least possible chance of finding its way inside. The seal between the floor and the threshold is also likely to be much more secure if it is made from rubber. This helps keep the cold and rain out and the heat in. 

Frame Materials

The material the door is made from is important. UPVC frames aren't always the best 
choice. Wooden frames tend to be more high maintenance and aluminium can cost more. In most cases you will pay more for an eco-friendly and higher quality door but you'll get a return with its efficiency and the fact it will last you a long time. 

Glass

You will want to look for low-e glass on your bifold door. Low-e means low emissivity and is a coating that reflects heat. With a good u-value door the glass is likely to be low-e, but it is worth checking. Read this handy Energy Savings Trust article about eco-friendly glass and what to look out for. 
There are many different contributory factors that have to be addressed in order to make a home as energy efficient as possible. The time and effort is well worth it in exchange for a home that is eco-friendly, efficient and comfortable to live in.

The best celebrity style interiors.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Are you looking for that picture perfect celebrity style home? Do you come across the big double page spreads on the beautiful interior of the Beckham’s home and think about what it would be like to be able to have their incredible eye for design - or their very expensive interior designer!

 

Turns out you don’t need to have a famous designer to be your fairy godmother because we have found the best of the best designs for you to transform your home into the fairy castle you desire. Sophistication? Class? Tropical? Edgy? We have found the most popular celeb styles for you to choose from!

 


 

Shabby chic 

 

The shabby chic look tends to be furnishings which display their age, the scratched paint look often tends to be a popular choice. Shabby Chic is more of an elegant, dainty style which celebrities such as Taylor swift, Reese Witherspoon and Jessica Simpson love! Jessica Simpson especially, loves to decorate her home with light colours, glistening chandeliers and rustic side tables to really create a calming, relaxed retreat. To tie the room together, add some made to measure curtains from family run companies like Plumbs

 

 

Vintage farmhouse

 

The vintage farmhouse style has become increasingly popular in recent years, the grand entrances, tall ceilings and large fireplaces achieve a cosy and homely living space with plenty of room for friends and family gatherings - perfect for christmas! World famous stars such as Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and Whoopi Goldberg love their farmhouse homes. I’m sure Anne Hathaway didn’t have any second thoughts on spending millions on her farmhouse home in Connecticut which houses a stone fireplace, peaked ceilings and a large, wooden dining table to seat all her guests!

 

Parisian Style 

 

If anyone does design right, it’s the Parisian’s, whether it’s fashion or interior design - they know what they’re doing. The parisian style interior is a timeless classic, the floor length drapes, the array of beautiful antiques and the tiny details of gold, whether it rims a photo frame or mirror etc. A simple bunch of flowers is a popular finishing touch which ties the room together. Celebrities such as Mark Wahlberg and Ellen Degeneres are huge fans of this styled interior, for example, Mark Wahlberg introduces gold into details within the ceiling and around the mirror and fireplace.

 

 

Retro

 

For more of a fun, lively feel, a retro interior could be for you. With bold bright colours such as reds, yellows, blues etc. Matched with a range of patterns and textures such as shaggy rugs and a pattern wall, you are sure to have that ‘funky’ look down to a tee. From checked tiled flooring to pop art on the walls, this style really is wacky and wonderful. This style is very popular with Pharrell Williams whose home is full of bright, uplifting furniture and lighting. He has large images of cartoon characters hanging on the walls and bold coloured chairs which stand out in the room.

 

Have you got a favourite style for you home?

Weight loss help with The Independent Pharmacy.

Friday, 15 December 2017

So I have a little personal update for you. A week ago today I finally bit the bullett and started what I hope will be my success story with the #SlimFastChallenge

Having been to classes and followed plans before, I have to say it's so nice not to have food on my mind constantly - with most diets it's planning, cooking, weighing all the time. 

On this SlimFast 3-2-1 plan  it really couldn't be any easier!

This is how it works:

3 - snacks - slimfast have a huge range of snacks for under 100 calories but it is also recommended to eat a piece of fruit. I have been having two pieces of fruit and either a delicious Slim-Fast snack or a Babybel.

Today I had some SlimFast BBQ flavour Tortillas, a Slim-Fast  Chocolate Nutty Nougat bar and a pear.


2 - shakes - either a ready made one or two scoops of powder with 200ml of skimmed milk blitzed up in the smoothly maker with ice - yum! There is also the option of a meal replacement bar if you are out and about. These are between 210 and 230 calories.

1 - healthy 600 calorie meal.

It is also advised you drink 2 Litres of water a day which I have to admit has been the biggest struggle. I am terrible for forgetting to drink, I pester Liv all day long to drink as she is the same, but forget to do the same myself.

The taste test!
I was quite surprised how creamy and filling the shakes actually are, they are quite sweet for my taste but I have got used to them now.



All of the savoury snacks and chocolate bars I have tried are genuinely delicious and aren't like "diet" food at all. They taste just like any other little treat you would have. They are all under 100 calories so you know you can have a treat without blowing your daily intake.

The meal replacement bars were quite a shock for me as they are so filling! The chocolate peanut one is my favourite with a cheeky cup of coffee.



As for my main meals, I usually eat healthily anyway so have been sticking to meat/fish and veg, salad or a jacket potato. I can honestly say I have not felt hungry or lacking energy even once which has really surprised me!

I have been recommended to try some pharmacy prescribed weight loss tablets too, which help by reducing fat absorption. They can help you lose an extra 1 pound to every 3! 

I will update you all in the new year, Merry Christmas!



Are you as superstitious as me?

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

One of the major things that changes when you become a parent is not being able to go out socialising as frequently as you once did (also without a pushchair and a suitcase full of essentials for the little one!)

To avoid becoming complete hermits, my Husband and I try to go around to our Brother & Sister in Laws - who also have Children - and sometimes as a treat when Livs gone to bed and I'm feeling lucky, I break out the laptop for a couple of games of online Bingo



It has saved me from some truly brain numbing evenings during football season *yawn* and even though I seem to have more bad luck than good (I must have smashed a mirror or two at some point!) it's still great fun to play and chat.

I haven't had chance to play since we visited the Donkey Sanctuary last month where we bought a lucky donkey shoe - here's hoping it does what it says!

Personally I am more than a little superstitious, my Husband thinks it is hilarious when I panic as he approaches the dining table with new shoes in his hand, yell at him in the street to avoid walking over 3 grids or stop yo salute a single magpie, although I think my Nana must have made up the new shoes one though because no one I know has ever heard of it!

My Nana was one of those hardcore Bingo Ladies who got cross if people were talking or heaven forbid - laughing! How times have changed - thankfully! No need to worry about that in the comfort of your own home!

Do you have any superstitions to avoid bad luck or anything you do/carry for good luck? 

Leave a comment and share I'd love to know!

How to make the most of London this autumn/winter.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

With the winter on its way, the chances are that you’re spending your evenings snuggled on the sofa with a hot cocoa and a blanket - but there’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. 

One of the very best cities to check out during the Christmas season is London – so below, we’ve rounded up ways to make the most out of a trip to our capital city.


Book accommodation in advance

There’s no denying that accommodation in London can be expensive – if you want to stay in The Lanesborough’s luxurious suite, for example, you’ll need to cough up £26,000 a nightTo get the best deal on your visit, you should make sure you book your hotel in advance. 

You can do so by checking out the bed and breakfast London section of the Toprooms website. There, you’ll find quality bed and breakfast rooms that don’t cost the earth and allow you to explore the sights and sounds of London on a budget.

Explore the Christmas markets

If you want to get into the festive spirit, then consider the Winter Wonderland, which is one of London’s biggest Christmas markets. With an open-air ice rink, more than 200 wooden cabins offering gifts and food and the Giant Observation Wheel, which rivals the London Eye, there's something for the whole family to do. 

Taking place throughout November and December, this free-entry market is a must-do on your next visit to the capital. Elsewhere in London, you'll find markets in Leicester Square, Southbank Centre and Clapham Common.


Take in a musical

It doesn’t make sense to visit London without taking in a musical, and with November and December being particularly busy times of the year for the West End, you should consider buying your theatre tickets now to avoid disappointment. 

The good news is that there is a whole host of musicals to consider, whether it's The Lion King, Aladdin, Les Misérables, Thriller or Matilda. Musicals are fun for the whole family and can be a great afternoon out.

Go shopping

Markets are great for finding trinkets and gifts for friends and family, but if you want to get prepared for Christmas, then London is the place to be. Not only can you find a whole host of stores on the capital's famous Oxford Street, but you'll find unique shops, such as Alice Through the Looking Glass at Charing Cross station, which offers Alice in Wonderland-inspired items. 

On Baker Street, you’ll find The Beatles Store which, you guessed it, stocks t-shirts and 1960s memorabilia, while Cyberdog on Camden’s Stables Market stocks fluorescent and futuristic clothes and accessories to get you ready for a night of raving.

There you have it – some of the best ways to make the most out of your next visit to London. 

There’s so much we didn’t mention, like creating a map of your activities and booking bus and tube fares in advance, so the best thing to do is explore the city on your own terms. 

Whether it’s your first time or you’re a veteran, have fun!

Talking favourite holidays and keeping in touch with those at home!

Friday, 10 November 2017

After a lot of Friends deciding to go abroad for Christmas this year, my Husband and I have found ourselves reminiscing on past holidays.

Our first together was back in 2005 when we had only been a couple for 6 months. We went on a bargain holiday to Bulgaria where it rained for 6 of our 7 days there, all our excersions were cancelled and we only got had enough sunshine for an hour in the outdoor pool the whole week!

However we loved it. We had a great time together, talked got hours, ate/drank too much and still look back on it very fondley. Fast forward ten years and I'm not sure how fun it would be with an almost 3 year old to amuse! Times were very different then though and revolved around bars and resteraunts not soft play areas and My Little Pony!

As a couple we have been to a few different places and would sometimes go on a few long weekend breaks instead of an actual holiday.

Once Liv was born we went to Haven in Lincolnshire for her first holiday, along with my Parents. We have been to the Dominican Republic with Family got my 30th Birthday, to Haven with 10 Family members and even to Florida for 3 weeks when Liv was almost 2 - Talk Talk Business kept us in the good books allowing us to Facetime the Grandparents on the go - they were not happy we had taken little away for 3 whole weeks I can tell you!


My Husbands favourite holiday with his family was Disneyland Paris. My Mother in Law spent many hours entering competitions back then and was very lucky to win a Family holiday!

The holiday that stands out most for me was Zakynthos in Greece way back in 2002 with my Parents and Brother. It was our only family holiday abroad having always holidayed in Devon and Cornwall as a child.

I remember the weather being amazing and the people being ever so friendly. Some of the views were spectacular. My favourite excersion was out to the Navagio (shipwreck) beach in Anafotiria Village. It is the most beautiful sight. It's an exposed cove which holds the wreckage of the Ship Panagiotis which was wrecked on the beach while allegedly smuggling cigarettes in 1983, giving it it's nickname "Smugglers Cove".



Isn't it beautiful? The limestone cliffs and sparkling, clear blue waters surrounding the shipwreck make for a must see if you are in the area. It really fascinated me. I would definitely take my little Family back. It would be interesting to see how it has held up over the last 12 years or so.

Where was your favourite holiday?


We had a great time in Florida - despite a minor car accident!



Back in 2013, we were incredibly lucky to spend 3 weeks in Orlando Florida and had an absolutely amazing time.

We visited some fantastic places like Disney's Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and Aquatica. We swam with Stingrays, scuba dived and swam with Dolphins at Discovery Cove, visited a fantastic beach and made lots of amazing memories.


My top tips are: before heading off on holiday, always make sure you have plenty of snacks and things to keep the Children entertained, make sure your tyres are correct for the climate you will be driving in. Use a trusted company like www.tyreplus.co.uk, and always make sure you are fully ensured or take out full insurance on hire vehicles. You will understand why as you read on!

As well as Liv and her Daddy we also went with my Aunty and Uncle and their Son and Daughter, a true Family holiday.

Things didn't start too well though when, after a 9 hour flight we got through the airport and arrived in the car hire area and were presented with a very small, 7 seat 4 by 4. Trying to stay positive in the sweltering heat, we went ahead and tried to squeeze everyone in along with a car seat for Liv, 7 suitcases, 7 lots of hand luggage and a stroller. Twenty minutes later we had to face facts, it was not going to happen in a million years!


So after a chat with a representative of the car firm, we were given another set of keys and sent off down the forecourt to our only other option, a 14 seat bus. Yep an actual BUS. My poor Uncles jaw hit the floor wondering if he would be able to not only drive on the opposite side of the road but also manoeuvre this beast around safely. It was on that thought that he disappeared back to reception and quickly upped the insurance to fully inclusive (for about £6 extra!) better to be safe than sorry.


We really had no option but to take the bus (literally) so the boys started to load the immense amount of luggage through the back doors while I was tasked with installing Livs car seat.


That is when we hit upon a little problem - to get in you had to be a gymnast as the floor of the bus was about 3 feet above the ground, I am hardly short at 5ft 10 inches but only just managed and only one of our group was taller than me. While everyone fell about laughing at my attempts to get in I was convinced there would be some steps inside once I managed to get in, surely . . . . . .


Yes, you guessed it NO steps. So after a lot of laughing and heaving and hoeing we managed to get all of the shorties in and we were all ready to begin our Orlando adventures. 



First stop - Walmart for some steps! We left these in the bus when we returned it but I expect they were removed, I wouldn't be surprised if they have a stock room at the back filled with unwanted used steps.


We quickly got used to the bus and it actually ended up being a godsend having all the spare seats to spread out on when the heat started to get to us. Liv had her travel DVD player strapped to the headrest of the seat info t without it bothering anyone. We kept a box of toys and books on a spare seat to help keep her entertained on particularly long trips.

It was also very easy to pack everything we needed in when travelling for an hour or so each way to a park or beach, especially with a young toddler in tow.



As it turned out, the insurance was also a Godsend as reversing the opposite way off the Villa's drive for the first time just three nights before we left, my Uncle misjudged the distance between the bus and the mail box across the road . . . . . .


All of our jaws dropped as we heard a loud bang/smash/scrape of metal. As it turned out he had only smashed the rear light, the bulb was still working and the mail box hadn't budged so we cleared up the mess and carried on our holiday wondering how much we would be charged when we returned the bus.


Three days later the lovely Gentleman that signed it off didn't even look at the damage before declaring "Sir with your insurance coverage you could have driven it off a cliff and we wouldn't have charged you!" It gave us all quite a giggle!

The latest list of home improvements.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Last year we did a lot of redecorating and home improvements last year, including insulating the loft and turning a walk in wardrobe into more of an extension of our bedroom. It was really hard work and led to a lot of decorating but it was definitely worth it.

We are now working our way through the never ending list of jobs, upgrades or improvements we have left. This is the plan for the rest of the year.

1) Paint the kitchen.

Our current paint has cracked on the walls so we are planing on using this Pollyfiller SmoothOver before re-painting, it sounds very easy to use and should prevent us the cost of having to get a plasterer out. Our kitchen is very small so one tub should be enough to complete this job, although how efficient we will be is another matter!


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2) Finish the loft.

We insulated the loft last year which meant moving it's entire contents to one of my Mother in Laws spare bedrooms.

We now need to buy some more stilts to lay the boards on, shelving units for storage and eventually installing double sided ceiling insulation to help keep us warm in Winter and cool in Summer. 

Work up there stopped for several months as my Husband injured his back and shoulder, unfortunately for him that gave me plenty of time to look at some beautiful roof Windows and even found an article about how to choose the right blinds for them on the roof window store's website. This would give a beautiful finishing touch to the previously unused space, I may even venture up there too!

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3) Upgrade the living room TV.

Okay so we know this isn't essential but we have been meaning to do it for a while now. We have looked at so many different kinds and have finally decided on getting something from the rather fabulous Panasonic 4K TV range. We very rarely go out to the cinema or for a meal anymore so a bigger, better TV would get a lot of use and we deserve a treat! 
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4) Make our yard more Child friendly.

Sadly, our only outside space is a tiny little cemented yard at the back of our house. 

We are hoping to lay some artificial grass to make it a safer space for Liv while still allowing us to access the manhole.






Since we sadly lost our beloved King Charles last year, Liv now has the yard to herself with her own little trampoline, sandpit and outdoor toys, it's just the rough cement flooring that is an issue now.

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5) Replace all of the light switches and sockets.

We currently have white plastic ones at the moment but would love to upgrade them to some lovely matt silver ones, I believe the finishing touches really do make all the difference, don't you think?



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6) Update the living room wallpaper.

I still love the teal colour scheme we have but after looking at the same dated flowers for the last 6 years I think it's time for a change.


So that's our most recent list. What jobs are you planning on doing next?

Our dream Winter home - going away for Christmas?

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

After a sudden spurt of Family and Friends announcing they are going on holiday to warmer climates this Christmas, my Husband and I found ourselves musing over the idea too.

It turns out that we both agree - we hate the idea - thankfully!

Now don't get me wrong, we love a good holiday soaking up the sun we never seem to see here in sunny Wales, however Christmas to use screams wrapping up warm in your new knitwear while getting a red nose and cheeks from playing in the snow.

After a long chat involving a glass of wine or two, we have decided that the absolute perfect Winter home for us would be in Alaska.

Picture Christmas day like the Wham video for Last Christmas, opening presents from under the beautifully decorated real Christmas tree, next to a roaring log fire. Followed by making snowmen and snow angels in the crisp white snow, hot chocolate in front of the fire to defrost, while the Children excitedly play with their new toys and you all sing along to Christmas songs in the background.

Next up a home made turkey dinner around a huge dining table, lovingly made in the spacious kitchen with an Aga of course! A traditional nap in front of the Queens speech with the Quality Street to follow.

Then after an exhausting day full of eating, drinking and generally being merry, curling up into beautifully luxurious bedding from Julian Charles to watch the Northern lights above as you drift off to sleep - absolute perfection!


How beautiful is this?
Copyright Julian Charles


I genuinely cant even imagine how Christmas day would work in a country where it is boiling hot! Imagine being covered in sun cream on the beach on Christmas Day, eating a salad for lunch! Now after Christmas would be a whole other story!

Have you ever thought about going abroad for Christmas? What would your dream be?

Brought to you in collaboration with Julian Charles.

The best car for new drivers.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Now I am starting to learn to drive - at the ripe old age of 31 - I have been getting a lot of advice on the best first family car to buy.

This is all very welcome as I don't mind admitting that I am absolutely clueless about anything and everything relating to cars.

You see my Husband doesn't drive either so I have no experience at all of what size or type would suit us, which brands are most reliable, the difference between petrol and diesel and don't even get me started on how I wish I had paid much more attention to my Dad (who is a mechanic) when I was growing up, but  I'm afraid I was a stereotypical Girl who far preferred applying make up and buying new clothes to helping him mend the cars!

Anyway, I digress. For the last few weeks I have been doing some research based on the advice I have been receiving from Family and Friends and I have found that Skoda's are very highly recommended for new drivers.

A Friend of mine from Scotland has been helping me search and found an excellent local Skoda dealership selling both new and used cars in Scotland so I think it may be time for a visit! 

This is our favourite so far, a quality second hand Skoda Citigo which costs less than £45 a month (PCP)



We have decided we would definitely like 5 doors as it makes things far easier when getting Liv in and out of her car seat.

It is also important that whatever we buy is isofix compatible so that we can easily and quickly install Livs seat and also my Neices when she comes to stay, saving a lot of fiddling around and stress too!

If anyone has any more advice I would love to hear from you!