Devonshire Woman

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Step-by-Step Guide To The Ideal Home

Moving into a new home is an exciting and challenging process that demands a lot of preparation and organisation. Naturally, your work as a homeowner doesn’t stop there: In truth, your responsibility as a homeowner begins the day you sign the contract. Indeed, moving house doesn’t mean that you are ready to come into a fully prepared and spotless space where no renovation work will be needed – unless you have chosen to purchase a new build, in this case, there is no additional work needed! But the main worry for new homeowners is to juggle with the necessary renovation and improvement work projects at the right time and without disturbing the family life. Here’s how to do it best.

Essential Work To Do In Advance

If you can plan some time for improvement works before moving into your new house, then you should certainly look to postpone the move by a few weeks. These essential renovation projects are designed to make your arrival smoother and easier by addressing all the potential troubles that could develop into significant structural issues if they are not dealt with properly. This will begin by checking the roof quality, and planning work on the main roof as well as conservatory roof replacement projects if it is established that the structure has a leak or is over 20-year-old. Additionally, your plumbing and electric systems need to be checked thoroughly and updated if necessary before your move. This will guarantee rapid and effective works. It is important too to get a structural engineer to review the quality of your insulation. You will even find a range of grants to install an environment-friendly solution when it comes to updating your insulation or your boiler. Finally, do make sure to review the kitchen and bathroom fittings as these could be changed before your arrival, with new tiles and appliances for the comfort of all.

Check all your roofs

Work To Plan After The Move

Once you’ve moved in, you can look at small and manageable projects, such as planning custom-made furniture to fit small spaces in your house. Indeed, more and more homeowners turn toward artisans and furniture builders in an intention to save space. Chain furniture is not made to fit the bathroom in your country house, and this is exactly why you should have something made-to-measure! The second big improvement in your house after the mouse is to prepare the interior décor, starting with a fresh coat of paint or new wallpaper. Finally, if you have a garden, you need to give it all the necessary care before considering the addition of any plant or tree. It’s important to dig your garden to aerate the soil and to use organic soil improvements to nourish the area.

Fresh coat of paint

Work For Later

Finally, after a few months or years, it’s time to consider bigger improvement projects, such as the addition of a swimming pool if you are lucky enough to have sufficient room. Similarly, if your house doesn’t have a proper garage, or only a dated one, you can plan for the external build of a garage for your car, bike and DIY equipment. House extensions also come in consideration for most homeowners who are looking to extend their living surface with a conservatory, a veranda or even an indoor gym studio. However, do make sure to research the possibility of home extensions before your purchase the house.  

The perfect pool


A Mum’s Guide To Moving House, The Easy Way

It has almost been 1 year since we moved house. One of the hardest parts about moving was getting all done around a toddler and a pre-schooler!

For me, the true test of your parenting ability comes when you have to move house. The planning skills you must possess to get everything in order is immense. Which is why I decided to compose a short guide that will help all of your move house with as little stress as possible:

Always Declutter Before Doing Anything Else

Let’s face it, your house is going to be packed full of different items, and you face a tough task in deciding what you should and shouldn’t bring to your next house. Despite what your hoarder of a husband might say (let’s face it, most guys are hoarders and will keep even the most pointless of junk for years) you don’t need to bring everything. So, my advice is to declutter your house before you start packing. By doing this, you get rid of all the things that aren’t useful to you anymore. This should make life easier when you’re starting to pack everything as you’ve got rid of all the things that won’t be coming with you. As a bonus, you’ve given your house a nice clean too, leaving it in good condition for the new residents.

Book Your Removal Company In Advance

You never truly realise how much stuff you have until you have to start packing for a move. Needless to say, you’ll end up with boxes and boxes packed full of things that need to be moved to your new home. And, that’s after you’ve decluttered and got rid of all your junk too. Personally, I blame the kids. No matter what, your kids will be reluctant to get rid of anything and end up with the most moving boxes. Anyway, back to the main point which is that you’ll have endless boxes and it will be impossible to move them all by yourself. So, you need to search for the most reliable local removals company you can find to help you out. They’ll move all your boxes which mean you don’t have to worry about how many you have or how heavy they are. My top tip is to book your removal company in advance. This saves you the stress of being a day away from moving and frantically trying to book a company for your desired slot.

Try And Get Work Done Before You Move In

If you’re in a position where you don’t have a set date that you absolutely positively must move out of your old house, then take advantage of it. Stay in your old property for as long as possible and get any work done on your new house before you move in. This involves decorating the rooms and getting any repair work done, etc. Trust me, this makes things so much easier as you can move into a home that’s ready for you and your family. There are few things worse than moving into a new house and having to deal with weeks and weeks of repairs and people coming into your house to get stuff done.

Please use my advice if you’re getting ready to move home and want things to be as easy as possible. Now, you and your kids can get ready for a new adventure together in a brand new home.

Nutribuddy Weight Loss Kit – First Impressions

I would say i am quite a healthy eater, not a very good exerciser and could probably do with losing about half a stone to get to my happy weight. I am a strong believer that eating healthy and regularly exercising should be all you need to get the body you want, but as i am in a bit of a workout slump, i thought i would try something different.  Let me introduce you to Nutribuddy new 14 day weight loss kit.

In the kit you receive;

Whey Protein & Shaker Bottle

nutribuddy review

I like that when ordering the kit, there is the choice of either chocolate or vanilla sculpting whey and also whether the shaker bottle is red or black. I opted for vanilla flavour and the red bottle.

The sculpting whey is made from 100% natural ingredients and is suitable for vegetarians. I will give a more thorough review of the actual product when i finish it next week, but i can say at this point that the powder mixes really well and tastes wonderful mixed with soya/almond milk. This can be added to porridge, smoothies or can be used as a meal replacement during the 2 week trial.

Multivitamins and Hunger Fix Tablets

nutribuddy review

Again, all ingredients in the multivitamins and hunger fix tablets are 100% natural.

The multivitamins are to be taken daily and contain vitamin E, vitamin A, B vitamins, Zinc and Copper – all can help keep you healthy. Considering this is a 14 day weight loss kit, i only received 7 tablets and the instructions say to take one a day?? Therefore i do not have enough to last the program*.

The Hunger Fix tablets are for exactly that, they help you stop feeling hungry and help you feel fuller for longer. I am a bit skeptical about this as i believe that if you are hungry, you should eat! I guess if you really struggle with eating lots these are a great addition to the plan, they are 100% natural and contain an ingredient called glucomannan, this ingredient takes up space in your tummy to help you feel fuller for longer. The tablets need to be taken 15 minutes to an hour before eating and need to be taken with 2 glasses of water. The recommended dosage is 1-2 capsules before each meal. My kit came with 21 capsules which would only be enough for 1 capsule before each meal over 14 days so i am a little confused about this again??*

* I contacted the company for clarification on the doses and unfortunately i was only sent a 7 day supply of tablets by mistake. I decided to only take 1 hunger fix tablet before each meal and after 7 days took my normal multivitamin. This was unfortunate as i really wanted to follow the program accurately.

Little Book of Weight Loss & Recipe Book

nutribuddy review

The 2 books that come with the weight loss kit are a great addition. The Little Book of Weight Loss gives you everything you need to know about the products in the kit. What ingredients is in each and also the dosage. You also get a 5 day eating plan with simple recipes to follow and a frequently asked questions section at the back.

The recipe book comes full of lovely nutritional meal ideas for breakfast, smoothies, lunch and dinner. There is even a healthy treat recipe section, great for those like me with a sweet tooth.

I will report back soon with my results. I’m hoping that i will lose a few extra pounds with this program and by eating a nutritionally, healthy diet.

Come back soon for my results 🙂

12 Books in 12 Months

I am slightly addicted to charity shop book bargains and also book hand me downs. I have a book shelf full of wonderful books but there is one problem, i hardly ever read! I love reading, when i went travelling 10 years ago i read so many amazing books but now i am a busy full time mum, i just do not make it my priority.

Well 2017 is going to be different. I have made a pledge to myself to read one book a month. I will read one book of my very dusty shelf and then hand it to someone else or back to the charity shop. This will kill 2 birds with one stone, i will set reading as a priority and also i will clear some book clutter from my house! So i have picked 12 books that have been looking at me on my bookshelf and have allocated a month for each. Some of these books have been out years, so let me know if you have read any of them in the comments *but please no spoilers*

12 books in 12 months list:

January – I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh –

In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . .

February – Mum’s List – St John Greene

For Kate Greene, nothing was as important as the happiness and well-being of her two little boys, Reef and Finn, and her loving husband, Singe. Even when she fell very ill, they were her only concern. Over her last few days, Kate created Mum’s List. With Singe’s help, she wrote her thoughts and wishes down, trying to help the man she loved create the best life for their sons after she was gone. Mum’s List encapsulates Kate’s passionate nature, her free spirit and even her sense of humour. It became Singe’s rock, as he turned to it again and again for strength and inspiration. Slowly, gradually, Singe began to fulfil Kate’s requests.

This is the heart-warming memoir of how Kate’s list has helped Singe and his brave little boys move on and build a new life for themselves, while always keeping her in their hearts.

March – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night – Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger’s Syndrome. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour’s dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down.

April – The Woman Who Upped and Left – Fiona Gibson

Forget about having it all. Sometimes you just want to leave it all behind.

Audrey is often seized by the urge to walk out of her house without looking back – but she can’t possibly do that. She is a single parent. She is needed. She has a job, a home, responsibilities…and a slothful teenage son’s pants to pick up. But no one likes being taken for granted – Audrey least of all – so the time has come for drastic action. And no one’s going to stand in her way…

May – Are We Nearly There Yet? – Ben Hatch

If you think writing a guidebook is easy, think again…

They were bored, broke, burned out and turning 40, so when Ben and Dinah saw the advert looking for a husband and wife team with young kids to write a guidebook about family travel around Britain, they jumped at the chance. With naïve visions of staring moodily across Coniston Water and savouring Cornish pasties, they embark on a mad-cap five-month trip with daughter Phoebe, four, and son Charlie, two, embracing the freedom of the open road with a spirit of discovery and an industrial supply of baby wipes.

June – Tigers In Red Weather – Liza Klaussman

The epitome of East Coast glamour, Tiger House is where the beautiful and the damned have always come to play in summer, scene of martinis and moonlit conspiracies, and newly inherited by the sleek, beguiling Nick.

The Second World War is just ending, her cousin Helena has left in search of married bliss in Hollywood, and Nick’s husband is coming home. Everything is about to change.

Their children will surprise them. One summer, on the cusp of adolescence, Nick’s daughter and Helena’s son make a sinister discovery that plunges the island’s bright heat into private shadow.

July – No Time For Goodbye – Linwood Barclay

On the morning she will never forget, suburban teenager Cynthia Archer awakes with a nasty hangover and a feeling she is going to have an even nastier confrontation with her mom and dad. But when she leaves her bedroom, she discovers the house is empty, with no sign of her parents or younger brother Todd. In the blink of an eye, without any explanation, her family has simply disappeared.

Twenty-five years later Cynthia is still haunted by unanswered questions. Were her family murdered? If so, why was she spared? And if they’re alive, why did they abandon her in such a cruel way? Now married with a daughter of her own, Cynthia fears that her new family will be taken from her just as her first one was. And so she agrees to take part in a TV documentary revisiting the case, in the hope that somebody somewhere will remember something – or even that her father, mother or brother might finally reach out to her . . .

Then a letter arrives which makes no sense and yet chills Cynthia to the core. And soon she begins to realise that stirring up the past could be the worst mistake she has ever made . . .

August – The Teashop on the Corner – Milly Johnson

Life is full of second chances…if only you keep your heart open for them.

Spring Hill Square is a pretty sanctuary away from the bustle of everyday life. And at its centre is Leni Merryman’s Teashop on the Corner, specialising in cake, bookish stationery and compassion. And for three people, all in need of a little TLC, it is somewhere to find a friend to lean on.
Carla Pride has just discovered that her late husband Martin was not who she thought he was. And now she must learn to put her marriage behind her and move forward.
Molly Jones’s ex-husband Harvey has reappeared in her life after many years, wanting to put right the wrongs of the past before it is too late.
And Will Linton’s business has gone bust and his wife has left him to pick up the pieces. Now he needs to gather the strength to start again.
Can all three find the comfort they are looking for in The Teashop on the Corner? And as their hearts are slowly mended by Leni, can they return the favour when she needs it most…?

September – The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me – Lucy Robinson

Sally is an incredible singer but she sings only in her wardrobe where nobody can hear her. She’d rather join a nudist colony than sing in public. That is until she ventures to New York where a wild and heady summer of love and loss changes her forever. No longer able to hide in the shadows, Sally must return home to London to fulfill a promise she cannot break – to share her voice. But just as she’s about to embark on her new life, a beautiful man turns up on Sally’s doorstep bearing a sheepish smile and a mysterious hand-written message. How did he find her? Why is he here? Does he hold the truth to what happened back in New York? And, with him back on the scene, will she still have the courage to step into the spotlight?

October – A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian – Marina Lewycka

‘Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukrainian divorcée. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.’

Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must aside a lifetime of feuding to save their émigré engineer father from voluptuous gold-digger Valentina. With her proclivity for green satin underwear and boil-in-the-bag cuisine, she will stop at nothing in her pursuit of Western wealth. But the sisters’ campaign to oust Valentina unearths family secrets, uncovers fifty years of Europe’s darkest history and sends them back to roots they’d much rather forget . . .

November – The Winter Children – Lulu Taylor

Olivia and Dan Felbeck are blissfully happy when their longed-for twins arrive after years of IVF. At the same time, they make the move to Renniston Hall, a huge, Elizabethan house that belongs to absent friends. Living rent-free in a small part of the unmodernised house, once a boarding school, they can begin to enjoy the family life they’ve always wanted. But there is a secret at the heart of their family, one that Olivia does not yet know. And the house, too, holds its darkness deep within it . . .

December – Christmas on Primrose Hill – Karen Swan

On Primrose Hill . . .

Twinkling lights brighten London’s Primrose Hill as Christmas nears – but for Nettie Watson, it’s not parties and presents that she wants.

Promises are made

For Nettie, Christmas only serves as a stark reminder of the life she used to have . . . One day she made a promise to never leave home, and so far she’s stayed true to her word.

Promises are broken

Under the glaring spotlight of the world’s media, Nettie is unexpectedly caught up in a 21st century storm . . . Her exploits have made her a global name and attracted the attention of one of the world’s most eligible men – famous front man, Jamie Westlake. But now she has his attention, does she want to keep it?


So if you fancy clearing your dusty bookshelf too, why don’t you join me and read one book a week and then pass it on or hand it back to a charity shop? Right, i have to go, i have a book to read!


This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a few pennies 🙂

Inspired Colouring Christmas | Adult Colouring Book

The madness of Christmas is well and truly over. With all the preparations, places to go and people to see, it can be quite an overwhelming time of year. So when i received this parcel from Parragon’s Blind Date With a Book, it was just the relaxation excuse i needed.


I have recently gotten into adult colouring books, so when i received this lovely Inspired Colouring Christmas i felt like Xmas had come early.


Each page provided lovely patterns and pictures on good quality, white paper. I had a major dilemma of which page to start colouring in first.

I use Marco Raffine pencils when colouring in, they blended lovely on the paper. Sometimes blending can be difficult on lesser quality paper. The first page i coloured was this cute bauble design, I’m not the best at colouring in, but the whole point for me is just getting lost in the picture, relaxing and not thinking about the to do lists i had to do.


I totally get the hype over adult colouring books, there is nothing better than a cosy night in, a cup of tea, a fresh colouring page and a case full of rainbow pencils! I go to bed feeling more relaxed and wonder why i ever stopped being creative when i grew up?


I moved onto this adorable wreath design, there was so much detail and plenty of room to use as many colours as i could.


With over 128 pages and 100 different designs, this book will be an ongoing project for me over the years. I have packed it away with all the Christmas decorations and look forward to colouring more designs next year. I dated the designs that i have already coloured with the year, it will be nice to see how my colouring improves (hopefully) over the years. This is an ideal early Christmas present for any colouring fan needing relaxation on the run up to Christmas, it will last them literally years!

Parragon books sell a variety of adult colouring in books, i like the look of the Inspired Colouring Tattoos next i think.

Disclaimer; i was sent a copy of this adult colouring book for the purpose of this review. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Stigu Planner 2016 Review

I love this time of year, it’s magical as Christmas approaches but it’s also when i start to think about my goals for the new year. I love to plan (it doesn’t necessarily mean i am organised), i just love trying to put everything in order so my life runs as smoothly as it can. Last year i was fortunate enough to review the 1st edition of the Stick to Stigu Planner. it was slightly different to a normal generic diary, it had that x factor that i needed in my life.


So when i was asked if i would like to try the new edition of the Stigu Planner for 2016, there was no hesitation, especially now they have several designs of the planner. I opted for the faux leather hardback planner, it looks high quality and is compact enough to fit in my hand bag.

I like that there is a goals page at the start of the planner (split into 3 sections Mind, Body & Soul) – the planner focuses on balance, in the crazy world we all live in, the planner gets you to practice techniques to enable you to get more rest and zest from simply creating a good plan.


You never get bored of using the Stigu planner as each month introduces a new theme and every week the planner offers tips and inspiration to make your life just that little more easier.

Personally, here are some of the things that i love about the planner;

  • each day has 5 sections – this helps me to focus on 5 things only, rather than writing a huge to do list and feeling like i haven’t accomplished much – we can all get 5 things ticked off our to do lists a day can’t we?

  • I like the inspirational quotes and sayings throughout the diary, i am a quote lover so they are greatly received.
  • Sometimes it is the little things isn’t it? and i just love the tear off corner, which i happily tear off once another week is over. Makes it so much easier to find where you are, allowing you to use the bookmark ribbon wherever you choose.

  • There is plenty of space throughout the planner to jot/doodle/scribble etc, each week you get almost a full page to do whatever you choose and the opposite page you have a structured week view. I have often used the plain page to jot down shopping lists/meal plans, leaving my week view for errands, appointments and blog planning.

  • There is a mass of empty pages at the back to use as you please, i add important dates and addresses in the back. I have also created the odd doodle on more creative days.
  • Each weeks theme is a different colour and shape for the 5 sections, it has so much more variety than a standard diary.
  • If you follow and practice the little ideas offered each week, you will have a lovely zenful new year!

Also on offer from Stigu are 2 spiral bound planners with appealing designs, notebooks, to do lists and stickers… this is all very exciting for a stationary addict like myself.

My Stigu Planner helps me greatly with blog planning, appointments and now our biggest, little human is now at school, i add all his important school events/dates too.

The Stigu planner is suitable for everybody – there is both structure and flexibility, it’s definitely a win win planner and i am glad to have it in my life for another year.

I was sent a Stigu Planner to review in exchange for my honest opinion. All comments and photos are my own.


River Cottage Christmas Feast

Two weeks ago, i was fortunate enough to have been invited to a Christmas Feast at River Cottage HQ in Axminster. I was beyond excited as i knew exactly what to expect, as i attended an event with Foodies100 last year at River Cottage and still think about the food… oh the glorious food!

I traveled to River Cottage HQ with some lovely Devon bloggers, Pippa (Slimming Foodie) – thank you for driving! and the equally lovely Hayley (Sparkles & Stretchmarks).

This time it was an evening event but it started the same way, with a meet up in the car park and a fun, bumpy tractor ride down to River Cottage. This gave me chance to have a little catch up with the lovely Ali (Mum In A Nutshell).

River Cottage

We were greeted with hot drinks and canapes, whilst waiting for all the others to arrive on the next tractor run, we were free to explore River Cottage, the yurt and the gardens.

River Cottage gardens

Once everyone had arrived, senior chef Andy gave us a demonstration on how to brine meat. I found this so interesting and also so easy to do. Dare i say i am on the look out for the perfect sized non-reactive container to brine this years Christmas turkey! Andy taught us the basic principles of brining, it’s the perfect way to preserve meat (also fish, vegetables and even cheese) like they used to in the good ol’ days before fridge/freezers existed without the need for chemicals. When he informed us that supermarket hams are injected with brine plus other chemicals, it left a bad taste in my mouth. We had a quick taster session of brined chicken (the turkeys are not quite ready) and also beef bresaola – wow, amazing flavours and texture of both meats.

Following the demonstration, we headed to the yurt for a fun game of ‘guess the food items in the box’, i gave it my best shot and somehow won!

River Cottage Yurt

My prize was £25 to spend in the River Cottage shop so i went for the Everyday Veg book to accompany the Everyday book i already own and love.

We also had a second session sat by the wood burner inside River Cottage, we discussed how bloggers could collaborate and work together – there were some great tips shared which left me feeling uber motivated and inspired.

Blogger networking at River Cottage

Then, the part we had all been waiting for… the food! The Christmas feast was not very festive at all, that’s because at River Cottage the chefs turn up in the morning, see what meat/fish produce is available and create the menu around that. This means all food is fresh and seasonal, i certainly wasn’t complaining (but did hide my snowman jumper under my scarf!)

On the menu we had:

To warm us up on a cold November evening, we had a drop of Kingston Black apple brandy aperitiff – 18% proof!


  • Exmouth muscles mixed with red onion, apple and vinegar
  • Whipped goats cheese, beetroot & fennel (i forgot to photo this one as was a bit shocked to hear that i had won the yurt game at this point!)
  • Pork croquettes with chutney
  • Crispy rabbit with romanesco puree & capers


Celeriac ravioli with wild mushrooms & leaves

River Cottage Starter


Cider brined ham, carrot puree, fried savoy cabbage & braised beans.


Honeycomb creme brulee with apple puree, apple crisps & crumble

Coffee and petit fours

Like last year there was seating plan, so i had the pleasure of sitting with a great bunch, we had a good chuckle. Afra (Mad Mum of 7) told me some fruitful revelations from her Worcester days!!

Thank you to Foodies100 and River Cottage for another fabulous experience… same again next year?

I took so many photos at River Cottage that i put this short video together to share the experience with you all… enjoy!

I was invited to attend River Cottage HQ to give my honest opinion of the experience. You can probably tell that i loved it! All opinions and photos are my own.

Pin for later:

River Cottage Christmas Feast