Devonshire Woman

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Christmas is Coming: Prepping Your Home For Festive Visitors

Christmas is now less than two months away, and that means we all need to start thinking about how we’ll be celebrating the festive season. If you’re one of the lucky ones who is going to another person’s house for the holidays, then lucky you: you don’t need to plan anything other than turning up! However, if you’re one of the people hosting everyone else, then it’s time to get your thinking cap on. Below, we run through five ways you can prepare your home for the invasion of guests.

Develop a Plan

First thing’s first, let’s gauge exactly how much work you need to do. How many people are coming, and for long? Are they bringing children with them? Are they going to be here on the day itself, or just before/after? Naturally, the more people and more extended length of time the trip involves, the more work you’ll need to do. It’s a good idea to start thinking about where everyone will stay when they’re with you. This might involve kicking your children out of their rooms for a little while, so be prepared to break the news to them!

Clear the Space

If you’ve got a bunch of extended family members coming to stay with you, then your home is going to be less a house, more a hotel. To avoid things getting too cramped, consider decluttering your home well in advance. This will allow for more space, and also make the next task (deep cleaning) all the more straightforward. Donate your bulky items if you no longer need them, or, if you plan on keeping them, put them in self storage until after the festive season is over. It’s always nicer when people have space to unwind when they’re in your home, and this will enable them to do so.

A Deep Clean

Your usual sweep and mop job won’t suffice when you have guests coming for a few days. It’ll require a much deeper clean, which you might have to organise in advance, especially if you need to hire professionals to do the job. Specifically, it’s a good idea to pay the experts to give your carpets a thorough clean, though be extra careful that people don’t spill gravy and their drinks on it when things begin to get merry during their stay.

The Added Touches

With still some weeks to go, now’s a good time to start picking up all the small, added details that can make guests feel more comfortable in your home. This can mean a new set of towels, candles, water glasses, and anything else that you think will be handy in your guest room. You should aim to let your guests have everything they’d find in a hotel!

Account for Mistakes

Though there’s a lot of things to take care of, it’s important that you stay calm and allow yourself to make some mistakes. You won’t get everything right, but if you start getting everything together now, it’ll all go well.

Top Ways to Stay Healthy While Working from Home

There are many benefits associated with working from home. It gives you freedom: the freedom to plan your day as it suits you, to wear whatever you want, and to have an office that is decorated in any manner you like. Unfortunately, it also gives you the freedom to open the fridge as many times as you want too! There is no denying that being healthy while working from home is difficult. It’s simply the nature of the beast. But these tips can make it a lot easier…

Get dressed every day – If you ask people to name one of the things they love about working from home, you can rest assured that a few of them will say the ability to work in their pyjamas. While this is great, it does not promote a healthy lifestyle, and so you are immediately putting yourself on the back foot. Instead, jump in the shower before you start working and get changed into something different so that you don’t slip into a lazy mindset. Wearing workout clothes is a good option!

Give your eyes a rest – It is not healthy for your eyes to be glued to a computer screen all day long. A lot of home workers can end up spending every waking minute looking at their PC or laptop, which can lead to Computer Vision Syndrome. It’s important to make sure you step away from your computer every hour – just for a few minutes. This will ensure you aren’t straining your eyes or causing any damage.

Prepare snacks beforehand – Make sure you have a good selection of healthy snacks prepared for each day. If you don’t, you will only end up grabbing the most convenient thing out of the fridge or cupboard, and the most convenient food item usually tends to be unhealthy. Instead, separate seeds and dried fruit into sandwich bags, or prepare vegetables for snacking and salads. You may want to consider going on a meal replacement diet plan. By doing this, you will know exactly what you are going to consume every day, and this structured approach will stop you from straying.

Address your working environment – It’s important to make sure that your home office promotes productivity and health. Choose a room that has a good deal of natural light if possible. If you are working in a box closet with a tiny window, you’re only going to wind up getting countless headaches because of a heavy reliance on artificial lighting. You should also make sure the thermostat is set to a comfortable temperature, and open your windows regularly to let some fresh air in to reinvigorate yourself. It is also important to make sure that your workspace is organised, so that your mind is free to work efficiently. Consider the colours you have used to decorate the room as well. Are they suitable for a productive environment? Blue is a good colour if you want to create a calm and considered space. If your work is creative, you may want to opt for yellow touches in the room. Stay away from too much red, as this is an angry colour, which can evoke too much emotion.

Schedule a workout into your day – Most people that work from home find that they end up missing their workout because they continue to sit at their desk instead. To stop this from happening, you should schedule your workout into your day. When you are splitting up your work activities, make sure you take one of the hour slots and fill it in with exercise. This will ensure that you do not have any excuse to avoid working out.

Get up and move – It is good to get up and move every so often, so you can stretch your body between periods of sitting. If you have a conference call, you should stand up and pace around a bit. If not, simply take a break and stroll around your home. You could also lift some light hand weights or do a few stretches. To make sure you don’t forget, set an alarm on your phone or a reminder on your computer.

Get a good chair – Finally, the importance of a good office chair for anyone that works from home cannot be overlooked. You do not want to have to strain your neck or back while you are hunched over your computer screen; good posture is of paramount importance. The key is to get the balance right. You need a chair that is comfortable but don’t go for anything that’s so comfortable you’ll fall asleep. Keep the recliners for your living room!

Improve Your Home Life With Some DIY

Picture Source

You see the state of your home and shrug your shoulders. It’d be too much effort to hire some contractor to refit the kitchen or makeover your entire house, right? Well, perhaps it would. But perhaps you’re overestimating the extent to which your home actually needs to be renovated. Minor details that are slightly off-balance with regards to your house’s interior design can make the problem seem major. However, in actuality, you might be more than capable of fixing your home’s problems (both aesthetic and maintenance-related) by yourself. All it requires is a DIY mindset. Here’s some advice on how to improve your home life by renovating your humble abode by yourself.

The plan.

Believe it or not, no renovator is enough of a DIY expert to plunge out without a thought-out plan. Those renovation TV shows might make it seem as though the project gets underway immediately but the unedited truth is quite different. You need to go through your house and make a list of the things you plan to fix in each room. Once you have a list of every single DIY task you have planned as part of your overall renovation project, you need to start costing the entire thing.

It’s important to ensure you have all the resources before you start so that you won’t run out of money halfway through the project and realise you didn’t even have everything you needed. If your budget is a little stretched then don’t shrug your shoulders and give up on the things you need; don’t be a cowboy builder by cutting corners. You could check out tool bags from Plasterers1StopShop so as to get a full DIY kit for most minor construction or maintenance jobs. There are always places to get everything you need for a renovation project but it’s so crucial that you think of all these things before starting the project. The only thing worse than a house in need of renovation is a house which has only been half-renovated.

Strive for minimalism.

Whilst you and your family likely have your own ideas as to how you’d like your home’s aesthetic to look (in line with your personal tastes), one goal for which you should strive is minimalism. Of course, you don’t need to go overboard with this concept and leave nothing but beanbags for furnishings. Still, you should be aiming to reduce clutter and create a more spacious and breathable home. You’d be amazed by the difference it could make to your house’s aesthetic to simply declutter (it’s also practical). Once you’ve thrown out all the old things you no longer want, you don’t have to stop there. Think about smarter ways to store the rest of the possessions in your home. Put up shelving units to increase storage space and give items tidier homes. You could buy new furnishings such as sofas and coffee tables (to replace any old ones you threw out) with hidden storage compartments. You need to start to think outside the box.

Make your garden inviting.

Don’t spend enough time in the garden? That’s probably because it’s a tip. Even if you’re not a gardener or lover of mother nature, you should put in some effort to maintain your garden. It’s part of your home, after all, and a little bit of outdoor DIY could make this space somewhere in which you actually want to relax. Tend to any weeds which sprout up during the colder months (don’t just do your maintenance work in summer). And make the patio cozy; some cushioned seating and a gazebo could create a nice little relaxation zone for you and your family.

Managing The Mess: Easy Ways To Declutter Your Family Home

Most couples love the idea of bringing children into the world and starting a family. The only issue is that many people don’t realise just how much that move is going to affect their lives. That is especially the case when it comes to the tidiness of their homes. Like it or not, within a couple of months of having a baby, you’re going to discover that children make a LOT of mess. Worst of all, the problem will only get worse as they begin to grow. For that reason, all mothers need to consider some of the tips below if they don’t want to lose their minds.

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Buy furniture that contains hidden storage

The first and most straightforward step you can take related to all future furniture purchases. While there are lots of methods you could use to create extra storage in your living space, this is the most natural strategies to follow. There are lots of furniture specialists on the market who sell items that contain hidden storage space. If you get some of those products for your home, you will manage to hide a lot of the clutter away from view. In most instances, you’ll find the following items that contain storage:

  • Beds
  • Sofas
  • Armchairs
  • Coffee tables

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Create a playroom for the little ones

Some parents decide that enough is enough after cleaning up after their children in the lounge a few hundred times. That is when the adults realise it makes sense to attempt to contain the mess in a single room. Of course, you won’t want to force your child to stay in their bedroom all day long. So, you might have to lose that guest room or home office if you wish to use this suggestion. Just create a playroom where your loved one can make as much mess as they like without causing you any headaches. Decorate the room using stencils of their favourite Disney characters or something similar.

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Pay for a cleaning professional

If all else fails, nothing is stopping you from hiring some professional help. That is especially useful if both parents have to hold down full-time jobs. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to clean and tidy your house after arriving home and cooking food for the family. Thankfully, that service is not going to break the bank, and you can usually find cleaners for around £10 or $12 per hour. Just make sure you hire someone with an excellent track record who works for an established brand. That way, you shouldn’t have to worry about the potential for theft or damage.

After reading that information, all parents should feel like they can breathe a sigh of relief. When all’s said and done, keeping on top of things at home when you work and have small children is not unlike rocket science. It’s difficult, time-consuming, and you’d rather spend your time doing something else. That is why the last tip is probably the most valuable one on that page. Whatever you decide, just set the wheels in motion as soon as possible!

Vegetarian Food in Bournemouth

This past weekend i went away for a girly weekend in Bournemouth. We had a great weekend which mainly consisted of eating and drinking of course.

I travelled to Bournemouth on a National Express coach as it was half the price of the train (which would have had 2 changes). It was such a comfortable journey and not only was there wifi onboard i also downloaded their entertainment app and watched ‘Bridesmaids’ each way! I had a few embarrassing laugh out loud moments onboard watching it.

We stayed in an air bnb about a 25 minute walk from the centre, it was a lovely walk along the seafront to the town, so of course we started the weekend in style, drinking wine out of a plastic cup on the seafront.

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Bournemouth Sea Front

 

Moving onto the food, this is the first weekend away since i went vegetarian. Although i would like to try a more plant based way of eating soon, i took the pressure off myself and went for vegetarian rather than making my omnivore family (who were actually more than happy to eat veggie too) look for vegan food (however the vegan options were on hand in so many places).

On the Friday, we all arrived at different times so decided we would get take out delivered. We opted for a pizza hut delivery so i shared a veggie supreme, which included fresh spinach, mixed peppers, red onions, sweetcorn and mushrooms. The pizza was delicious, loaded with veggies and not a lot of cheese – how i like it. Unfortunately i did not get a photo, by that point it was 9pm and we were starving so hoovered it up, but it looked just like this except we opted for thin base…

Pizza Hut Veggie Supreme

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On the saturday, we had a simple breakfast at the air bnb and then headed out. Our chosen activity for our girly weekend was to try out an escape room. It was good fun albeit a bit basic, we managed to complete it in 26 minutes!

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Cyantist Escape Room Bournemouth

 

 

Once we got out of the escape room, we went on the lookout for lunch. As we were going to be going out for a big meal on the evening, we only wanted something small (& cheap) for lunch. We found The Brasshouse. It had all your normal pub grub on the menu, however rather than the bog standard ‘bean burger’, they offered a Beetroot and Quinoa burger with hummus, such a nice change. I substituted my chips for a side salad. The burger was a vibrant purple and delicious!

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk The Brasshouse Bournemouth Beetroot and Quinoa Burger

After lunch we had a little walk around the gardens and met some really colourful birds.

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Bournemouth Gardens Avery

A girly weekend by the sea wouldn’t be complete without an ice cream on the beach!

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Bournemouth beach

We walked backed to the air bnb, there were some great views of the pier on the way back.

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Bournemouth Pier

We did over 20,000 steps on Saturday so i knew i had earned my evening meal and i wanted a vegetarian feast!

Before going out for dinner we went for a few cheeky cocktails, well we were on our holidays!

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Lost Paradise Bournemouth Cocktails

We booked a table at The Real Greek and we were not disappointed. Firstly the staff were lovely and very helpful in helping us select what to try. I shared the Peloponnese platter with 2 of my cousins and added a couple of mezes to bulk it out. This restaurant is a vegetarian (& vegan) paradise, so many options to choose from. In our platter we had…

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk The Real Greek Bournemouth

  • FLATBREAD (vegan)
  • DOLMADES (Vine leaves stuffed with rice, tomato and
    fresh herbs. Served warm) (vegan)
  • CHICKPEAS (REVITHIA) (Chickpeas with handfuls of herbs, olive oil
    and lemon) (vegan)
  • HOUMOUS (Our daily home blend of chickpeas, rich
    in tahini and delicately spiced with cumin
    and fresh chilli) (vegan)

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk The Real Greek Bournemouth

  • TIROPITAKIA (filo pastry parcels with creamy
    leek, spinach and feta filling, handmade
    daily) (vegetarian)
  • NEW POTATOES (Delicate, nutty and tossed in olive
    oil and lemon juice) (vegan)
  • GRILLED HALLOUMI (Succulent grilled, squeaky cheese!) (vegetarian)
  • GREEK SALAD (Classic, hearty and rustic, with tomatoes,
    cucumber, peppers, Greek olives,
    red onion, feta and olive oil, finished
    with Greek oregano from Mavrouda,
    Thessalonik) (vegetarian)
  • FALAFEL (Our signature recipe falafel, served with
    a spicy yoghurt and tahini dip, pickled
    cabbage, tomato & onion salsa and
    sprinkled with sweet paprika) (vegetarian)

I love having tastes of lots of foods rather than one big dish, so i was in food heaven. Although it probably doesn’t look a lot, it really was and i was totally stuffed. In fact we all were that we opted to go back to the air bnb, get in our pj’s and play games rather than go out boogie-ing, when did we get so old?

On Sunday, we all had to pack up as our weekend was over already. Rather than have breakfast we opted for a brunch so headed back to a cafe we had seen the previous day that was offering a very nice sounding veggie breakfast. The place was called Blue Hill Cafe and i opted for the Veggie Breakfast, there was a choice between 2 vegetarian sausages or halloumi, which i opted for, scrambled egg, baked beans, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and toast, i also added spinach to mine.

www.devonshirewoman.co.uk Blue Hill Cafe Bournemouth

It was nice to have a healthier veggie breakfast, it was very filling and not greasy. I will be recreating this breakfast at home very soon!

So as you can see, i had a lovely weekend of eating and drinking. The thing i have noticed about being vegetarian is how tasty and satisfying food is. I do not get half the bloating issues that i used to get and i feel so much healthier and lighter, even when eating out like i did most of the weekend. I think the vegan options really opened my eyes into how much easier it can be to try to be plant-based. Even the cafe where we had brunch offered a vegan brunch which i think is fabulous.

I am going to continue being vegetarian as i feel so good on it, in January i am going to do Veganuary and in the meantime, keep trying more and more plant-based meals as i feel so good eating this way.

I hope you enjoyed seeing what i ate in Bournemouth, let me know if you like these kinds of posts, i love food and sharing what i find.

Creating a Home Office That Will Promote Productivity

If you are one of the few lucky people fortunate enough to, either partly or fully, work from home then you may have noticed that it’s easy to get distracted when attempting to work. Your everyday surroundings carry a mental weight to them which you then associate with other activities which you suddenly find the need to do. These might be either productive activities like cleaning or sorting out your taxes but usually, it’s just making tea for the 6th time within the hour.

Without a proper change in your environment it’s often hard to get in a concentrated working mindset unless you are very strong-willed or have incredible self-control then chances are you’re going to need some sort of help in maintaining your work ethic.Setting up a home office or at least a proper workspace of sorts works wonders in this case. It helps mentally separate time for work and time for everyday activities.

Source: Pexels


The Right Desk

Ideally, you would want your home office or workspace to be in a separate room altogether from your everyday living space, if that is out of the question then dedicating a chunk of a room will also do the trick. In order to properly plan out how space will be used it’s good to start with the right desk, considering the age we live in chances are it will most probably be a computer desk. If you are not familiar with computer desks then you may want to look at tips for choosing the right computer desk. Picking the right computer desk can be crucial for optimal working conditions as well as looking out for your health. The right desk height combined with the right chair is essential to maintaining the correct posture while sitting down in front of the computer for hours on end.

Prioritise the functionality of the desk rather than the aesthetic because in the end, you are trying to create a workspace rather than a showroom. Space for a keyboard can either be essential or near useless depending on if you’re planning on using a desktop PC or a laptop. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t completely rule out a keyboard tray even if you are going to be using a laptop as your primary PC. Many people use a wireless or USB keyboard with their laptop because of wanting to preserve the laptop keyboard for a long as possible or just due to preference for different key switches which are available on mechanical keyboards. The option of having a full keyboard rather than a laptop keyboard which usually has no numpad amongst other things is also quite appealing to someone who is used to a full-board setup for a keyboard.

The Right Chair

People have different ways of resting their arms or and hands while typing. From keeping your arms completely midair and typing from the air, to having their elbows resting on armrests and wrists planted and everything in between. When considering what kind of chair you want for your home office, you need to consider several factors which include whether it has wheels like a typical office/computer chair? Does it have armrests and if so if they are adjustable? While a lot of these factors are pure preference, some are objective positives, being able to tilt back your chair can prove to be very comfortable at times as well as beneficial for your back and having armrests which can be adjusted to your liking will be very much appreciated by your arms after a long time at the desk.


In the end, having some sort of preference initially will help you pick the perfect workspace for you, don’t be afraid of going and trying out existing setups in furniture shops because you’re going to be spending a considerable amount of time in front of your new workspace.

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Pie

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that since April this year I went vegetarian. I will write another post about that soon and my reasons why. So since then, i have been getting more and more creative with our dinners and I have to say, my boys are loving their food and thriving.

I first tried going vegetarian about 9 years ago, but I remember returning to meat as the vegetarian food available and also the recipes that I had to hand were so bland and there wasn’t much variety. Fortunately now, being vegetarian/vegan has never been easier. I actually never planned to go vegetarian this year but the food is just too good not to eat, I would even say that I actually eat more vegan than vegetarian.

Last week, the weather started to get colder and I fancied some warming, comfort food. So let me introduce to the sweet potato and chickpea pie that I made. (I apologise now for the standard of photos, I am not a food photographer!)

The pie was quick and easy to make and was well received by all the family (not a crumb was left on our plates).

I sauteed one red onion, 1/3 orange pepper and 1/3 yellow pepper in a frying pan with a little rapeseed oil.

Sauteed vegetables to go into the pie

I then made a Morrocan spice mix using whatever I had in my spice rack. This is what I put in the mix:

Morrocan Spice Mix
  • smoked paprika
  • turmeric
  • cumin
  • cinnamon
  • ground ginger
  • all spice
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • ground chilli (small amount)

Once I was happy with the mixture of spices, I added this to the sauteed vegetables and let it cook for 1-2 minutes more.

The thing I am finding with vegetarian/vegan cooking is you need to get creative and add lots of different flavours. Recently I visited Lidl and picked up some of these jarred roasted peppers and sun dried tomatoes. I rinse them, chop them up and add them to whatever I am cooking for another level of flavour.

roasted red peppers to go in the pie

This is the easy part, in a large saucepan add 1 tin of chickpeas, 1 container of passata, the sauteed, spiced vegetable mix, the roasted peppers/sun-dried tomatoes and finally add 2 medium (or 1 large) sweet potato.

filing for the sweet potato and chickpea pie

I gave it a good stir and covered. I cooked the pie filling on low until the sweet potato was almost cooked (about 20 minutes).

ingredients cooking on stove for sweet potato and chickpea pie

Once the mixture was cooked through, I transferred the mixture to an ovenproof dish and added some premade shortcrust pastry. This was baked on 180 for about 30-35 minutes.

baked sweet potato and chickpea pie

I wasn’t following a recipe and hadn’t made this before so I was a bit nervous about how this would turn out. Fortunately, it was really tasty and we all enjoyed it. As it was a healthier pie as far as pies go, we served the pie with chips and peas.

served up sweet potato and chickpea pie

The best thing about cooking healthy meals from scratch is watching your children savour every bit of them. It makes all the time spent in the kitchen worthwhile.

This sweet potato and chickpea pie will definitely be going in our family recipe notebook as a keeper.