Thursday 25 May 2017

Handy Hacks For Lighting Up Your Dark, Dreary Kitchen

For anyone like me who loves to cook, the kitchen is the heart of the home; it’s the hub of the whole building. In a lot of family homes, the kitchen isn’t only the place used for cooking but also the space that everyone uses to congregate in. Being a space that gets a lot of use, naturally, you want your kitchen to be a space that you enjoy spending time in, right?
But what happens when it’s not, what happens when it’s somewhere that is dark and dreary? Whenever you move somewhere new, you have to compromise on certain things, perhaps in the home that you’re in now, your compromised and agreed to have a dark kitchen and now you’re regretting it? The good news is that you don’t have to move to love your kitchen. Instead, you can simply make a few changes to improve it.

I'm very lucky that I pretty much bought my house for its kitchen - it was vital to me to have a big, bright and airy kitchen, and I'm lucky enough to have a big dining room adjoining the kitchen, but I'm well aware some people aren't as lucky.

Mrs Bishop's Kitchen

Mrs Bishop's Kitchen
Mrs Bishop's Kitchen

If you'd like to know how you can make more of your dark, dreary kitchen then read on for some top tips and advice for making more of your cooking space.

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Use mirrors to reflect light
It might be one of the oldest tricks in the book but when it comes to ways that you can make any room lighter, using mirrors can work wonders. The idea is that if you hang a mirror on the opposite wall to one where natural light comes from, it will reflect that light back into the room. This can help to make the space look and feel lighter. For a kitchen, you could opt to have mirrored cabinets installed, instead of using an actual mirror, or a mirrored splashback perhaps? Find ways to creatively implement mirrors into the design of your kitchen, and you can easily add extra light to the space.
Repaint using a light tone
Could part of the problem be the paint that’s been used? If the room is decorated in paint that’s a little on the dark side, this could be making the room feel darker than it actually is. So why not repaint the space? Pick a nice light shade - ideally white or cream - and repaint the room. Once you’ve repainted, you are sure to see a difference in terms of how lovely and light the space looks and feels.

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Be smart about lighting
In rooms that are a little on the dark side, it pays to be smart about lighting. Instead of just having an overhead light in place, consider getting more creative. Perhaps you could use different kinds of lighting to help brighten up the space? How about using LED strip lighting to add extra light to the room? To find out more about this type of lighting, click here and have a browse - there are plenty of options, it’s just a case of finding the one that’s the best fit for your home and budget. Another option could be to swap to using spot lights, rather than normal lights as these tend to create a brighter light. There are various options to consider in terms of lighting; it just depends on your budget and personal preference.
Something else that you could consider doing in renovating the kitchen and having extra natural light sources installed. Whether that means having an extra window fitted or patio doors, it doesn’t matter, all that matters is that your kitchen becomes lighter. Obviously, renovating isn’t always an affordable option, but it’s one that’s worth considering.
There you have it, everything that you need to know about adding extra light sources to your dark and dreary kitchen.

 This is a sponsored post.

Wednesday 24 May 2017

An Anniversary To Remember

If you have a big anniversary coming up, you’ll want to make it special. This will definitely be one neither of you will forget! After so many years together your partnership has undoubtedly seen many changes. Your lives now may even be unrecognisable to the two young people that got together so long ago. Perhaps this is a great time to take a walk down memory lane? Going back over some of the highlights of your time together can be a lot of fun. But there are other, more important reasons for reviewing the past.
Why It’s Important To Thank Him
Some of the moments you remember best are the ones that defined you and your partnership. They may have been events that changed your lives forever, like the day your first child was born, or when you finally got the keys to your family home. As independent as you are, these things couldn’t have happened to you without him. He has supported you, nurtured you, and made sacrifices for you. Today is a great opportunity to thank him. Now all you need are some personalised thank you gifts to mark this special occasion.

Do you have lots of old photos spanning your entire relationship? Why not collate them in an album, or on a poster? You could put a short thank you message beneath each one detailing why that moment was so important to you. Of course, the whole project could be enjoyed together as a great way to reminisce about your years as a couple. Alternatively, why not let your children get involved? We all love to hear the stories about our parents when they were younger.
Planning Ahead, Booking Time Off

Of course, your big anniversary event needs to go much further than few photos and a present! You might choose to book a day off work to spend with your partner. You might even take the whole week and enjoy a couple’s holiday somewhere exotic! It will all depend on your budget. A big holiday can also be much trickier to plan as a surprise. You’ll need to notify your partner’s workplace, find childcare you can trust, and make sure all the passports are up to date.

Still, a romantic getaway can be a nice thing to do but if your budget doesn’t allow for travel, don’t panic! You can still take a day and spend it at home. A romantic day and night while the kids are at school or staying with grandparents can often be an ideal way to celebrate a big anniversary.
Breakfast Time

Start with breakfast. As soon as your partner wakes up, it’s time to start celebrating! You might prepare a wonderful breakfast in bed. Of course, older children might be keen to offer a little help here as part of their gift to you both for your anniversary. A good quality tray and few extra cloths to mop up spills are all you need to enjoy breakfast served in bed.
Something special like scrambled eggs with salmon can be a lovely surprise for your big day. Freshly squeezed orange juice served in champagne flutes might make for an elegant touch. Time to dust off the expensive coffee machine and enjoy a home brew with a slice of marmalade toast. Yummy.
Gifts And Cards

Breakfast time is also the best time to hand over gifts and cards. You may have received quite a few in the post, especially if lots of people were invited to your wedding all those years ago. Children love to make cards. They may be quite excited to present their one to you first. Giant cards are lots of fun to tackle too.

Gifts for each other may be quite small if you’re planning a big event like a party of romantic evening out. You might both offer each other small token gifts right now, but each have something big and grand up your sleeve to present later on. You might choose something you can customise or personalise to mark the occasion.
Slow Start

The rest of the morning might be a slow burner, especially if you’ve managed to get the day off work. That doesn’t mean it’s time wasted. You might both head out for a romantic walk in the park, hand in hand. Maybe you’ll even enjoy a shower or bath together! There’s no rush because your anniversary will last all day. Take your time, and enjoy a slower pace together this morning.

By lunchtime, you might be ravenous for something sweet and yummy. If you’re staying home, why not prepare some delicious pastries, muffins, or cakes as part of an afternoon tea style lunch? It will look amazing on a tiered display plate. Buy some special sandwich fillers to mark your big occasion, and treat yourself to those little luxuries you don’t have everyday.
Afternoon Activities

The afternoon is all yours if the kids are with a minder or at school. Now’s the time to ramp things up a bit. Today is the perfect day to try something you’ve never done before. What did you both fancy doing when you were a young couple, but you’ve never got around to? That is the very activity you should be doing today!

It might be a huge experience type of activity, or it might be something simple like skimming pebbles on an old pond. It doesn’t matter, so long as you’re doing it together. Fly a plane, have a cookery lesson, or simply swim in the lake. Make it as adventurous as you dare. It should be fun and freeing, and hark back to a simpler time when you were both younger.
What about the skate park? Got an old bike, a pair of roller blades, or a scooter? Having fun can sometimes be a bit silly (in a good way) too. This is your anniversary. What kind of things did you used to do when you first met? Maybe you liked dancing, or making music? Take yourselves back to the beginning and relive those first few dates.

If you’re in the mood for a little privacy, why not prepare a romantic dinner for two at home? You’ll need plenty of candles and some beautifully scented red roses to set the scene. Pull out your very best dinner ware, crystal glasses, and the recipe book that’s too good for Wednesdays. Got the list of ingredients? It’s time to go shopping.

To get the very best and very freshest ingredients, you might consider heading to the farmer’s market. Fresh foods taste much better and will bring out the best of any recipe. If you’re after fish, head to the fish monger. Some supermarkets specialise in fresh produce. If you have a good one near you, this could be a convenient alternative. Always buy your herbs fresh too.
You don’t have to do all the work. Cooking together can be incredibly romantic, and a wonderful way to share the chores. And no, you don’t have to clean it all up tonight. Perhaps the kids will offer to do it! (Ha!) If not, tackle it in the morning, and make this evening about romance and fun. Pour a glass of your favourite drink, and relax into a delicious and indulgent meal.
If you are going out tonight, order a taxi each way so you can both enjoy the very best that the restaurant has to offer. And yes, definitely order dessert! Make the most of having everything done for you. Enjoy the ambiance, and make the most of an evening for just the two of you.
Romantic Evening Choices

Once dinner is over, you don’t have to rush anywhere. Of course, the evening will still be young (assuming you have nothing to get up for in the morning.) Head to the theatre and catch a show. What about the comedy club? Maybe you have tickets for a big movie premier or a gig of your choosing? Whatever it is, choose something you’ll both love equally. No need for special favours when this evening is about both of you together.

Don’t worry if the budget isn’t there for big tickets to events. You can still have plenty of fun together without a big price tag. A romantic walk along the river path, or even sitting to watch the sun set with a hot cup of cocoa can be a sweet thing to do together. If you’re having a big party with all your friends and family to celebrate the day, why not propose a toast to each other? You could even recreate your First Dance from the wedding!

Anniversaries don’t have to be big, grand and expensive events, but they should be super romantic! You can be romantic without a lot of cost, so don’t waste your money needlessly. Instead, consider all the little things that have made the big differences in your life. Thank your partner, renew your vows and share the memories that form the highlights of your relationship so far.

Are you celebrating an anniversary soon?

Mrs B


This is a sponsored post.

Anxiety - Keeping My Children Safe...


Today, I just need to sit and write - I need to get these thoughts out of my head and reach out to other parents to hopefully find some solace, some support...I'm wondering if what I'm experiencing is "normal", if anyone else can sympathise or has any techniques or advice for trying to get this under control. 

I want to talk about anxiety. I have suffered with bouts of quite severe anxiety all throughout my life - most of the time I'm working hard to keep things controlled and not let it take over too much head space, but other times it gets beyond that and I need some extra help and support. In the past medications have set off my anxiety, as well as stress, sad/challenging experiences and times of grief - they all tend to be major trigger points for me, and I've come to better understand ways to avoid these, or to accept my anxiety as a reaction to these harder phases of life. 

Since losing our first baby five years ago to early miscarriage on our honeymoon, and then becoming a parent for the first time almost four years ago, my anxiety has changed - instead of a general feeling of dread washing over me, racing thoughts and a worry that something catastrophic is about to happen - my anxiety is now completely linked to the children - a constant worry that something awful will happen to them, or to me and they'll be left without their Mum. 

My rational brain totally understands that the likelihood of that happening is small - but the irrational side of me just will not listen. 

Sadly, experience and circumstances have worked really hard to prove that my anxieties are justified and especially recently I'm really struggling with it. 

When Bert was 1.5 back in February 2015, he contracted a streptococcus pneumoniae infection in his blood - diagnosed originally as an ear infection, and treated with the wrong antibiotics for a week, he got so bad we took him to A&E where he was immediately admitted and then diagnosed. He was given IV antibiotics for 10 days, and was a very poorly boy. As you can imagine my anxiety while he was in hospital was through the roof, I understood that this was the infection that caused meningitis, and if we'd left him any longer the infection would have spread from his blood to his brain, and god only knows what might have happened! I stayed by his cot-side the whole time and I've never ever felt relief quite like the day we were released from hospital. I thank my lucky stars every single day that we followed our strong instincts that the GP wasn't right, and in doing so saved his life. 

Since then, my worry that something will hurt my beautiful boy has been awfully overwhelming. These feeling of insecurity and worry doubled once Connie came along, as now I have two precious babies to worry about!

Every cough, every sickness bug, every rash I think the worst! Every time Connie tries to walk I envisage her falling and banging her head on something. Every time she eats I worry about choking, and I feel as if I spend my whole existence in a constant state of alert - being their safety blanket, keeping them away from danger. My mind constantly rockets off ahead of me and I see the potential for injury, the potential for contracting germs everywhere. 

Just over a month ago my beautiful 18 year old cousin Billy had a dreadful crash in his racing car (he's an F4 driver) and he almost lost his life, thankfully, the medical team saved his life, but unfortunately he suffered life changing injuries and had to have both of his legs amputated. I am heart broken for him, and for my wonderful family - we are all in shock. He is coping in the most amazing way and every day we are amazed by his incredible bravery - he is an inspiration - facing his injuries head on and not dwelling - I am in awe of him. Trying to explain what happened to Billy to Bert has been really hard, he adores Billster, his racing car driving cousin (can you imagine?) and we've tried to tackle the subject slowly and in as kind a way as possible so that he doesn't get too upset, scared or overwhelmed by the scale of Billy's injuries. We haven't taken Bert to visit Billy yet, as we want to give him time for it to sink in and process in his brain.

His crash, affected me deeply, as it did all of his friends and family. The accident set my anxiety into motion again - all I kept thinking about was my lovely Auntie and Uncle - how they must have felt knowing how ill he was, and how out of their control the outcome was. It made me realise how life is short and we cannot control what happens to those we love, bad things happen to wonderful people, for no reason what so ever. We can spend 18 years protecting our children, and still something dreadful can happen... the realisation that I will spend every day of the rest of life carrying this weight, this intense need to protect my babies, to keep them safe is both scary and so overwhelming. 

Circumstances haven't been kind over the years - from Bert's infection to Billy's accident, to knowing a friend who had childhood cancer, other friends with children who've been diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes, who have lost children to pregnancy related complications and prematurity, to knowing two wonderful and beautifully special people who were mindlessly murdered during my teens and then early twenties...I have been subject to constant brutal reminders of what awful things can and do happen. 

Then I watch the news and all my fears are realised in incidents such as the poor young girl drowning on a water ride on a school trip to a theme park a few weeks ago, and the absolutely horrendous suicide bomber killing all of those innocent children and parents at the Manchester Arena bombing on Monday night...I saw the incident unfolding on Twitter as I got into bed on Monday night, and I couldn't sleep for following what was happening, waiting for updates and more information, I felt sick to my stomach with every article I read, every picture I saw. We live in a sick, cruel world, where innocent children can't even enjoy a music concert without the fear of utter devastation being imminent. There's the disappearance of Madeline McCann...and all of the other dreadful news stories we are faced with on what seems like a daily basis. 

There are smaller incidents too - my friends son was bouncing on a bouncy castle on his birthday and fell at a dodgy angle, fracturing his elbow and is now in a cast - we were at the party, and Bert was bouncing on the very same bouncy castle, and with each bounce (even before the accident happened) I was willing Bert to be okay, not to fall, hoping the other kids wouldn't fall on him or jump on him...

We took the kids to Bert's school for the May Festival at the weekend, and although we had an amazing time, I spent the whole time in a heightened state of anxiety - will he let go of my hand and get lost in the crowd? Will he fall off the pony ride and hurt himself, will he fall funny on the inflatable slide? Will we all get food poisoning from the BBQ if we eat a burger? It is RIDICULOUS to live like this. Every time Bert quickens his pace to a run, I'm willing him not to fall over. 

I try hard to act reasonably cautious in front of Bert and try not to let my over-reactions spill out of me verbally. I don't want to frighten him. I really don't want to make him an anxious child, I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but I do want him to be sensible, to understand risk and to not put himself in dangerous situations. The line is so blurry - I want my children to have fun, play in playgrounds and at parties, climb trees, paddle at the seaside, swim in the swimming pool and do all the things that children should do...but I want to keep them safe at the same time too. Bert is a sensitive and cautious child in nature, he's been like that from day one and Connie so far has been totally different - a daredevil, much less cautious and much more inquisitive than Bert ever was at her age. So I'm not sure whether my anxiety has affected him or not...or whether it is just in his nature to be careful...I'm lucky that Liam is an amazing support and is much less anxious when it comes to the kids - making him the perfect playmate at the park, swimming partner in the pool, the best parent for rough and tumble...hopefully he's the ying to my yang and we even each other out. 

Georgia O'Keeffe Quote - Motivation

Today I'm wondering if I just need to accept that I will live with the constant warning voice in my mind for the rest of my life? Will it get any easier? Have I just been unlucky in terms of experience?

Am I justified in worrying myself senseless - even spending brain power worrying about potential school trips in the future after what happened on the water ride at the theme park the other week ?

A few years ago I stepped away from the news media in all senses in a bid to stop feeding my anxiety...I stopped watching the news on TV, reading newspapers and news websites as it was just exacerbating my anxieties - I decided to bury my head in the sand and pretend the world was a nicer place than it is. It helped ease my anxiety but it made me ill-informed, I became out of touch with the world, with current affairs - and with the dawn of my freelance social media career I can no longer shy away from seeing this news on social media channels anyway. The resistance is futile. 

Today, I dropped Bert of at school and he had his first major wobble - despite having been going happily for almost 9 months, he burst into tears today and didn't want me to leave him. While he was crying there was a loud bang in his pre-school and we all jumped out of our skins - a shelf had fallen from the wall in the school's toilets - throwing hand soap, blue rolls, aprons and nappies to the floor - the crash was loud and thankfully no children were using the toilets at the time - the shelf had clearly been laden with too much weight and had buckled under the pressure. What if a child, my child, had been using the toilet at the time? They could have very seriously hurt themselves - and so my mind begins to race. And then I'm back to the reality of dealing with my crying son who doesn't want to stay at school today. He doesn't want to leave his Mummy. It was so hard to walk out seeing him so distressed, and I stood outside his school in tears afterwards, feeling like a useless mother and worrying myself silly about him. 

I called the school half an hour later and they reassured me that he was fine after five minutes and was now happily playing...but now I'm feeling fragile and overwhelmed. 

What if's are the bane of my life... 

Mrs B xxx

Mrs Bishop and her babies

Monday 22 May 2017

How To Make Your Home Your Own

You can’t choose the space you’re given once you’ve bought a house, but you can choose what you put inside it. Our homes are a badge of our personality, a space that allows us to really show the world who we are and what we value. Many people, however, don’t take the opportunity they have to make their space their own, instead opting to play it safe and follow the crowd. Think of your home as a blank canvas: it’s time to start painting!

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Paint Your Furniture

Sometimes, it can make the most financial or style sense to buy a piece of furniture that has been mass produced. Still, that doesn’t mean it has to stay in its original condition. Instead, you can get the paintbrush out and add your own style to the furniture. You can walk into a million homes that have more or less the same cupboards and wardrobes; by making a subtle change to your furniture, you’ll be making it stand out from the crowd and be putting your own spin on what was a regular piece. I'm a big fan of Annie Sloane's chalk paint or the beautiful colours from Farrow & Ball.

One of a Kind

You can’t always adjust every piece of furniture to make it perfect for your home. Sometimes, for your home to be your own, you’ll need to buy a custom piece that is tailored just to the needs of your house. You can have many things custom made, from Montgomery made to measure curtains to wall fixtures, from tables to works of art. Getting custom pieces allows you put your own stamp on the essentials of your home, and also lets you pick the right piece that is right for the size, shape, and colour tones of your rooms.

Learn a Few Hacks

If you’re handy with a few tools (or want to learn), then take a look at a few DIY hacks. (YouTube is brilliant for this!) If you’re creative, you’ll be able to repurpose just about any old piece of furniture into something that you put to real use. You can do things like turn an old bed frame into a coat rack, or take an old door and turn into an epic picture board for your hallway. There’s a million and one things you can do, so grab your tools and get to work. My husband Liam turned old wooden wine crates he bought cheaply off eBay into a brilliant shabby chic storage for all my crafty bits and pieces.


What are your Passions?

You have passions, so why not incorporate them into your home? Whatever they are, there’ll certainly be a way to include them. For example, if you’re a literature fiend, then creating a cozy reading nook where you can dive into the heavyweights of literature for hours on end will be perfect. You could add a framed Spineless Classic poster of your favourite novel to make it extra quirky! If you’re a music lover, then turn a spare room into a listening center that’s kitted out with records, sound systems, and music posters. Even things you do outside of the home, such as skiing and other sports, can be added to your home by adding some subtly themed features around the house.

Gallery Walls

It’s the really personal items that’ll make your home unequivocally your own. Take a walk around your house: do you have many pictures and mementos that remind you of your friends and family? Create a gallery wall, and you’ll be able to create a space in your home that allows you to have everything that’s close to you right up on the wall. There is an art to getting this right, so take a read of the best practices before you get the project underway. Check out my post all about the gallery wall I recently created in my home.

Rare Finds

Some things won’t be so obviously all about you. Things like antiques and so forth will only reveal their inner connection to you when someone asks about them. If you’re going traveling, make sure you take something home to use in your home. If you do this every time, after a few years you’ll find that the things you use in your home all have a story, a connection to another time of your life. You can easily buy whatever you want from the big home stores; it’s much better to have a real emotional attachment and story to the objects in your home instead.

Get Creative

Ultimately, to make a home that mirrors your personality, you need to get creative and really think about each aspect of your home. Don’t be bogged down by what other people are doing: think instead of how you want your home to look, and go with that. After all, you’re the one who lives there, so why would you design it with anyone but yourself and your family in mind? Think outside the box, and you’ll have a house you’ll be proud to call home.

This is a sponsored post.