Achoo! Flu-Season Survival Kit

Of all the things Sunny could have brought back from his trip to London last week – flowers, a slice of Franco Manca pizza, a copy of the Evening Standard – a simmering, snotty head cold was not exactly what I was hoping for.  As soon as he stepped through the front door and mentioned he was feeling “rough” I knew we were doomed, and two days later there might as well have been a bright red cross painted on the front door.

I love Autumn, but I can definitely do without the occasional snot-swimming sesh (so can everyone around me; I’ve been told that I’m a pain in the ass when I’m sick).  So when it does happen, I always make sure my Flu-Season Survival Kit is ready to go.

Olbas Oil

I wear this stuff like Chanel No 5 during the winter; it’s one of my favourite smells even when I’m not sick (…and I’m well aware that that’s a bit weird).  I douse the collar of my fluffiest jumper with it, sprinkle it all over my pillow and bed sheets and breathe in.  Even better I found a bottle of Olbas Oil bubble bath a few weeks ago – it was almost worth catching a cold just to give it a go! 🙂

My Bed

Ahhhh.  I spent a whole week in bed last year when I caught the flu, and despite getting a bit fed up of not being able to get up and get on with my life I WAS SO COMFY.  It’s my favourite place in the whole world.

Hot Water Bottle

Sunny bought me this mini hot water bottle for my birthday a few years ago and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it.  The best thing is that it’s small enough to wear inside a jumper and snuggle with in bed.  My top tip is to only fill the bottle three quarters of the way full and then let out the excess air resting on top – that way it stays warmer for longer.  (Also… snuggling with a fluffy dog will also have the same effect 😉 )

Satsumas and OJ

Time to overdose on Vitamin C!  As soon as I get that fuzzy head feeling ahead of a cold, I pick up a couple of packs of satsumas and start scoffing.

Soft Tissues

There’s nothing worse than having a sore, red nose after a cold or the flu from using cheap tissues (…or loo roll…).  True, they’re a bit more expensive, but they definitely help.

Soup

It’s a cliche for a reason; chicken noodle soup is what I always reach for when I’m feeling a bit under the weather.  My brother and I LOVE the cheapo Knorr Chicken Noodle Soup sachets, which he claims are a miracle hangover cure.

Honey over Lozenges

I’m not a huge fan of throat sweets, especially the ones that numb everything.  Honey’s got anti-bacterial properties, so a spoonful – either in a mug of hot water or straight from the spoon – can help soothe a sore throat.

Caffeine-Free Medicine

It’s understandable why, but a lot of the cold and flu medication you can buy has added caffeine to keep you wired enough to power through a cold.  That’s great, but personally, I’d rather get some rest and sleep it off!  I’m always stocking up on tablets that don’t have caffeine that you can take right before going to bed.

“Stop milking it!  Get up!”

Entertainment

Box sets, books, magazines… I always make sure I’ve got enough to keep me entertained within arm’s reach, so I don’t have to keep getting up and can just focus on resting.  Back to back episodes of Friends always make me feel better.

Thankfully, I think my cold’s in retreat now, but I really hope I don’t get a follow-up round in a month!  What must-have items are in your Flu Season Survival Kit? 

How to keep cut Flowers looking fresh

I’ve said it plenty of times before, but fresh flowers are one of my favourite simple pleasures.  I love buying them, I love arranging them and there are a few spots in my house that just look really bare without a bright bunch of flowers sitting there (I know, first world problems, right?).  They’re just one of those things that never fail to put a smile on my face, especially during the dreary winter months… until they start wilting, that is!  😦

Since I buy a lot of flowers (Sunny’s always complaining that he never gets to buy me any because I’m always getting in there first), I’ve learned a few tips and tricks over the years on how to get them to last a little longer – most of which are dead easy!

Always remove all leaves below the water line

Make sure its only the stems that are submerged; you don’t want leaves slowly mulching in the bottom of the vase and making the water dirty (clean water = happy flowers!).  I always strip the stems completely and leave only a few leaves near the head.

Always trim the stems at a 45°  angle

Never ever just dump your flowers into the water before trimming off the bottom inch of the stems!  After cutting, bacteria makes its way in through the bottom of the stem, so you’re going to want to get rid of it.  Not only that, but cutting at angle creates a larger surface area for water absorption, as well as allowing the stems to sort of tip toe on the bottom of the vase which means better access to water.  And always trim the stems with super sharp scissors (pruning shears are better) to avoid splitting the stem.

Sear the cut stems in warm water

If any of the flowers are looking a bit limp then drop the stems into boiling water for about 30 seconds (a nice trick to bring them back to life!).  It’s also a good idea to trim off your stems under warm running water to prevent air from travelling up the stem.

Always use flower food

Using flower food doesn’t only feed the flowers, but it keeps the water free of bacteria.  Most bouquets come with a little sachet filled with flower food these days – but you can also easily make your own!  A little bit of lemonade will do the trick, but you can also use vinegar, aspirin, lemon juice or even a small bit of bleach.  Or make them a special cocktail of a few drops of vodka and one teaspoon of sugar!

Use Hairspray!

A bit of hairspray’s not only good to keep your ‘do in place, but also helps keep your flowers looking their best.  Stand back and spray a little under the petals and leaves to protect your arrangement.

Keep your flowers away from heat sources (and fruit?)

It should be obvious, but don’t put your vase next to the TV, in direct sunlight or next to a radiator.  Heat will evaporate the water and make the flowers wilt.  Keep them cool, but not cold.  Also – and this is a weird one – don’t put them near your fruit bowl!  As fruit ripens, it releases a particular type of gas that can actually poison cut flowers.

Last but not least, change the water every 2 days

If the water goes cloudy, that means it’s full of bacteria which can clog the stems and decrease the amount of water the flowers can drink.  So, every two days make sure at the very least that you’re changing the water, and – even better – chopping another inch off the bottom of the stems to prevent them clogging.

Have you got any old tips and tricks for keeping flowers fresh?  Have a great week everyone!  🙂

September Favourites

DSC_0002 (3)

Happy October!  Hope you’ve had a great start to Autumn and you’re one of those people – like me! – who lives for the colder months of the year.  I’m already stomping around in boots and jumpers and loving life!  Autumn’s honestly my favourite time of the year, so I’m happier for the cooler weather, jumpers, scarves and rainy Sundays spent indoors.  Anyway, time for another monthly favourites roundup 🙂

Food

If you haven’t eaten your weight in apple and blackberry crumble yet, then what have you been doing all September?  It’s hot custard season, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  This month I made Bramble Bars with the blackberries I collected in the field near my house, and I also made this Apple Crumble Loaf Cake.


Fashion

I think I spend more on clothes during the onset of Autumn than I do during any other season.  There’s just something exciting about wintery clothes, and this year without that Indian Summer to keep us on our toes it’s been knits and boots ever since September came knocking.  I added this Joyeux T-Shirt to my already towering pile of slogan and band tees, and picked up a couple of new, cosy jumpers.

TV

There’s been so much to watch this September that I’m going to struggle to fit them all in.  First things first though; HAVE YOU BEEN WATCHING DOCTOR FOSTER?  I was completely obsessed with the first season, but had no idea there was going to be a follow up until I turned on the TV and there it was.  If you’ve never heard of it; during Season One, Doctor Gemma Foster finds out that her husband has been having an affair and that all her friends and neighbours knew about it.  And so she schemes to bring him down.  Season Two picks up two years later when her husband moves back to town and intends to get even.  On a similar thread is ITV’s Liar which has kind of served as a pick-me-up in between Doctor Foster episodes.  Other tele-visuals I have been enjoying this month are the second season of Victoria and obviously Great British Bake-Off (even if it’s not quite the same without Bezza).

Cardiff

Barker Tea House wins my September Cardiff Spot; it’s the perfect place to hole up with a hot a drink and a book when the weather is cold.  I can’t recommend the place enough, nor their hot chocolates – particularly the coconut one. 🙂

Online

Whatever your opinion about the Playboy Empire and Hugh Hefner’s values – I think everyone would agree that his death last week marked the end of an era.  I watched the Amazon Documentary all about Playboy not that long ago, which was really interesting – but more recently, I enjoyed reading this article by Stylist Magazine asking whether Hugh Hefner was the feminist icon he claimed to be.  In the BlogosphereJas wrote a couple of really of interesting blog posts about Instagram (everyone’s favourite love to hate app!); 5 Things you need to know about Instagram Stories for anyone who wants to pick up some tips and tricks, and another one about Hashtags with some really handy hashtag clouds.

How was your September?  What are you looking forward to this October? 🙂

What I did Last Weekend: The First Day of Autumn

Last Friday was the Autumn Equinox, officially the first day of Autumn – which is exactly what I told the bloke in the lift on the ride up from the car park in John Lewis when he mentioned how lovely the weather was (I totally looked like I knew my stuff, but the truth is I was as oblivious as he was until I saw people tweeting about it over breakfast).  It really was nice out – and having been stuck inside all week feeling a bit ill, I’d decided earlier that morning to get out, enjoy it and feel a bit more like myself again. 🙂

Every day (…and not just the lovely sunny days) starts off with a walk in the field with Bungle.   We’ve had some off-lead trust issues until recently, when he snapped his fifth lead in as many months.  He’s getting too strong for me to walk him!  What used to be a tug-of-war around the field every morning has become so much nicer now that I can trust him to come back!


I left Bungle snoozing in the kitchen and drove into Cardiff, which was looking stunning in the sunshine.  At the moment there are lots of big painted dogs – “Snow Dogs” – guarding various spots across the city.  Each one is different and you can download a trail map to find them all and raise money for  Tŷ Hafan in the process!  I found this very Autumny one outside the library on The Hayes.  It’s such a lovely idea and reminds me of something similar I saw in Berlin, but with bears instead.

(Look Missy, I found a Mustard jumper for £8.99!)

Popped into my fave, H&M, to visit the clothes.  I love Autumnal Fashion, and came away with a couple of jumpers to replace some shrunken, moth-eaten ones hanging around at the back of my cupboard.


Headed to Barker Tea House in the arcade for a pit stop.  I can’t rave about Barker enough, everything about it is cosy – from the candles, blankets and wing back chairs, to the food and drink.  I snuggled up with a book, a brownie and a coconut hot chocolate with cream, marshmallows and a flake (although the flake had drowned by the time I sat down…).


Sang along to Paramore’s new album all the way home to see this guy (…and the present he’d left for me on the kitchen floor…).


Had a lazy afternoon catching up with some housework (and Youtube…) until Sunny came home, then I cooked up a red pepper risotto for us for dinner.  It’s not Sunny’s favourite, it has to be said, but I love eating risotto this time of year – it’s warm and gloopy and satisfying.


What did you get up to last weekend?  ♡

What I Wore: Joyeux

I can list on one hand the things that make me happy.  Some of them are those small every day mood-improvers – the little things – and others are much, much bigger, can’t live without things and people.  1. Good (bad) food.  2. Fresh Flowers.  3. Writing.  4. Music.  And, 5. My Family.  Of course each of those things can be broken down even further (I mean, the subcategory of what kinds of food make me happy is absolutely fricking ENORMOUS), and obviously there are other things in life that make me happy, but the above are my five great loves in terms of my day to day happiness.

Here’s another thing that’s a little further down the list; T Shirts.  I don’t know why the hell I’ve gone and bought another one – I’ve got a whole heap of them – but every time I wear them they seem to bring a smile to my face so I’m rolling with it.  I picked up this new addition in H&M recently; I love the bold, bright text and of course the word itself; JOYEUX, which means Happy.  And sometimes that just means wearing jeans and t shirt and dancing around in your kitchen with your dog  🙂

Baklava.  Baklava (as I’ve recently found out) makes me very happy.

Look at that grin.  That grin makes me grin 🙂


Happy Monday!  What little things make you feel joyeux?  🙂