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!  🙂

6 Home Interiors Hacks

I can’t believe we’ve been in our house for a year and a half!  Mostly because there are still a couple of boxes gathering dust in the spare room… oops.  And we’re still making changes; last month we tiled the kitchen and painted one of the lounge walls, just the other day we put a picture up on the landing and this weekend we’re popping to Homebase to check out some wallpaper for the bedroom.  If there’s anything I’ve learned about decorating houses (house… singular, this is our first!) it’s that it takes time.  And that’s not necessarily a bad thing – I mean, sometimes it can take a while to decide how you really want things to look.

We’ve made some mistakes, but we’ve learned a hell of a lot along the way – including some handy tips, tricks and hacks that we’ll take along with us next time we move (…which hopefully won’t be any time too soon!)  🙂

1. Consider buying your flooring online rather than in a package from a retailer.

One of the first nasty shocks we had when we looked at getting carpets and hard flooring done was how crazy expensive it can be!  We’d never had to buy our own flooring before and so we did what most people do; we went to carpet retailers and those big name department stores that’ll offer the whole package (measuring, ordering, fitting), because we didn’t think there was an alternative.  The quotes we were getting for carpets upstairs and luxury laminate downstairs were IN-SANE, and the truth is (which my parents recently found out), the service and finish aren’t always the best you’re going to get.  Sometimes it’s better to break up that expensive package and arrange things for yourself.

Because we’d had that big retailer (let’s just call him Jonathan Lewison *wink*) come out and measure up to give us their crazy quote, we’d come away with the exact measurements of each room and the quantities of flooring we were going to need.  With that info, we tracked down the carpet and the laminate we’d been eyeing up online for a much, much cheaper price, bought it, and arranged for it to be delivered to the house (luckily we had a garage where we could store the enormous rolls!). We shopped around locally for a professional fitter who could lay the flooring for us, and he did a much better job than Jonathan Lewison’s busy contractors.  Honestly, it was amazing how much we saved, just by ordering things ourselves online – and it wasn’t even that difficult to arrange.  It pays to think outside the box sometimes!

2. Take your time

I can’t say this enough.  No matter how many Pinterest boards you’ve got stocked full of interiors inspo, and no matter how many ideas and plans you’ve got buzzing around in your head, it’s worth actually living in a room for a while before you whip the paintbrushes out or even start filling it with furniture.  Seriously.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to wait a while before you decorate or buy pictures because what looks good in your head might not work in real life, or what you want to change now might be something you regret in a couple of months.  You might realise you need a very specific piece of furniture (We need storage there instead of a chair, we need a silver lamp instead of a gold one…).  It took us about nine months to put a single picture up, purely because we didn’t really know what we wanted and where to put it.  And after living in our kitchen for a year and suffering terrible oil splashes on the walls around the hob, we realised that tiles were needed and started to shop around.  🙂

It also pays to think and plan ahead.  I was downright stubborn about the fact that I wanted hard floor everywhere downstairs because I knew it was going to be a bugger to constantly keep carpet clean in the most heavily trodden areas of our new home, but also because we had plans to get a dog.  Oh how right I was!  I honestly can’t imagine how we would have coped cleaning up after Bungle if I’d given in and gotten carpets instead.  Phew!

3. Command Strips are Stud Walling Saviours

If you’ve lived in a house with stud walling then you’ll know that putting pictures up with rawl plugs can be a risky business (in our London flat we left behind walls that were pock-marked with hanging disasters…!).  But now there are amazing things called command strips.  They’re basically just little strips with a sort of heavy-duty velcro on one side, and glue – that enables you to hang things on the wall without hammers, plugs and screws – on the other.  When you change your mind and want to remove them you just peel them off and they don’t leave residue or marks.  They.  Are.  AMAZING.  We pretty much created our lounge gallery wall using only command strips, and so far nothing has dropped down on our heads – so that’s a thumbs up!  🙂

4. Pick and choose when to DIY-it and when to get help – and when to save and when to spend.

We’ve all had DIY disasters and know our limits when it comes to decorating jobs around the house – so it’s important I think to know when to cut corners and when get help.  My Dad is a perfectionist when it comes to painting, is handy with a drill and has suffered enough minor shocks over the years to know what not to do when it comes to electrics.  Plumbing, however, is something he won’t touch.  It’s always helpful to get a few recommendations from friends and family of handymen and tradesmen you can rely on when you reach your DIY limit (we’ve been really lucky, and have met some people we’ll be keeping in the address book for a long time!).  Sometimes it’s worth spending a little extra to dodge a disaster!

Similarly, know when to spend and when to save.  Curtains – for example – can cost an absolute fortune.  We had our lounge ones made to measure (because we wanted thick, floor to ceiling ones), but saved money by fitting them ourselves and buying cheaper eyelet ones for the windows upstairs.  Lighting is something that can also be expensive – especially if you go for light fittings.  We saved money by shopping around for fancy lampshades instead.

Call this an addendum to point two, but it really does pay to take your time and shop around for the perfect piece, rather than throw money away on something that “will do for now”.

5. Homesense and TK Maxx for Candles, Cushions, Rugs and Pictures

I snort at anyone who spends over six quid on a candle.  Honestly?  Just go to Homesense – they’ve got a tonne of them for a fraction of the price.  Along with TK Maxx (they’re the same thing really) it’s quite possibly my favourite shop on the planet when it comes to quirky, unique pieces for the home.  Some of my favourite pictures came from there (the Pineapple and the Elephant in our gallery wall), as well as some of my favourite ornaments and candles.

6. Choosing substance doesn’t necessarily mean compromising on style.

Sometimes it’s worth waiting a while for the right piece of furniture that not only looks good, but suits its purpose well.  There are so many bits of furniture that we waited to buy because we had very specific criteria that it needed to meet.  Like our kitchen table; we knew exactly what we wanted it to look like, but it had to extend to seat 8, that was a deal breaker.  We knew we wanted a coffee table in the lounge, but it had to have a glass top and a wooden frame that matched the legs for our sofa (we had to wait a year to find that and pounced on it when we did track it down!).  We needed a TV table, but it had to have tonnes of storage (….remember the age of the DVD?  We’ve got about a hundred…), and I was absolutely adamant that our bed had to be a nice soft grey colour, and be an Ottoman so we could store stuff underneath (I drove Sunny mad trying to track that one down…!).

What are your favourite home interiors hacks?  🙂

*Through the Keyhole: The Panache

Who else loves snooping around show homes?  When I was a kid my parents used to drag me and my brother around Cardiff on a Saturday to sniff out new developments.  At the time I didn’t get it; I spent most of my childhood convinced that we were about to up sticks and move at any second.  Now, I get it though.  In those days before Pinterest came along, that was how you got a little “home inspo”.  Well… that and the many, many back editions of House Beautiful stacked under the coffee table (Mum, you need to recognise that you have a problem…).

Anyway, these days I LOVE snooping around show homes, and whaddya know?  A couple of years ago Sunny and I actually ended up buying a new build ourselves when we moved back to Wales.  It’s funny because we’d always ruled them out as being bland and boxy, but there are some out there that break the mould and punch above the rest with something a little special.

Last week I was invited along to have a look at The Panache, Crest Nicholson’s newest addition to their colourful and quirky Penarth Heights development.  I’ve been watching the development grow ever since they knocked down the old Billybanks (a ramshackle, concrete council estate that boasted the best views in Wales), so I was excited to go along and have a good old snoop. 🙂


Built over three floors – from the garden, garage, open plan kitchen, lounge and dining room on the ground floor, to the huge roof terrace at the very top – The Panache has a kind of art deco feel to it, with its white, curved walls, metallics and picture windows that all look out onto Cardiff and the Bay.  A very different look and feel to other new builds.  With the views and the decor, it reminded me a little bit of Tracey Island (although, I don’t think Thunderbird 2 would fit on the driveway!).


The Master Suite on the first floor had all his and hers fittings, including a dressing area with a wardrobe each (happy couples all have separate things – I’d love to have a separate sink and wardrobe to Sunny).  Also, this cute little glasses rest – which I’m definitely going to have to track down for myself since I’m always forgetting where I put mine! 🙂



The best part though was the view, which really is the best in Cardiff.  From the roof terrace you can see the whole city, the Bay, and the Bristol Channel. And on a very clear day you can usually give Castle Coch a little wave and see up to Valleys beyond it.  Thankfully, last Thursday summer decided to put in a rare appearance so we could really enjoy the roof terrace, the views and the drinks – which had all been created with The Panache and its views in mind.



It’s definitely worth popping over to Penarth Heights for a look – especially if you’re into interiors or thinking about moving.  Couple it in with a walk over the barrage to Cardiff Bay if you’re feeling fit! 😉

Have a great week everyone!

Our Gallery Wall

Recently I wrote about the boring bare wall above my sofa and how Sunny and I were arguing over what to do with it.  I had pretty much given up on the whole gallery wall idea that I’d had my heart set on; Sunny likes right angles, straight lines, matching frames and neat corners, so I’d pretty much resigned myself to the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen… or so I thought.  Then out of nowhere he started looking at them on Pinterest and bada-bing bada-boom. Somehow, I’d managed to twist his arm (which is a pretty difficult thing to do) and convince him it was a good idea, and after an Etsy binge, a couple of trips to Homesense and IKEA and then a late night spent command stripping (…not as filthy as it sounds…), tada!  We have a gallery wall!


We’ve got a mix of pictures, photographs and a canvas, along with a mask my brother brought us back from his trip to South Africa, as well as a mix of frames.  And we only used three screws.  Back in our London flat we ruined a couple of walls trying to hang things up on plasterboard, but back then we didn’t have a little something-something called Command Strips, which are a bloody beautiful invention. 🙂

Always photobombing with that face.  *eyeroll*

Some of my favourite prints of colourful street scenes (like this one of London) came from allthewaystosay over on Etsy. Love it!

What d’you think of it? It’s weird walking into the lounge and not seeing a bare wall anymore!

A Year back in Wales

Alright, it’s been a little bit more than a year since that frosty November morning that Sunny and I boxed up the car and drove away from London, but it’s been almost year since we moved into our house (those first couple of months crashing in my Mum and Dad’s dining room seem so far away!).  It’s been a year of DIY and decorating and settling, but we’re finally starting to feel at home.  I’m being a bit cheeky and only showing snaps of the “finished” bits.  The truth us, we’ve still got boxes in the spare room that I’ve been putting off tackling for months (ugh!), and we’re still looking for pictures for the walls, but right now it’s as close to finished as it gets and I love it!

As for Wales, what can I say?  Cardiff is such a different city to the one I left six years ago, it’s small but has a huge personality.  You can’t sniff at living somewhere that’s wedged perfectly between the sea and the mountains.

My spot! 🙂






We bought this wolf print from Illustrate at Cardiff’s Outdoor Market at Christmastime and fell so in love with it that we bought four more – a monkey, elephant, bear and stag – that are all in the same geometric style.  They’ve recently opened up a shop in Morgan Arcade in Cardiff so if you’re in that part of town, check them out 🙂


I love our bed so, so much!  We got it from the Tempur Outlet store in Bridgend and it’s like a massive marshmallow.  Hands down the comfiest bed I’ve ever slept in.  Honestly, it was almost worth catching the flu back in November just so I could spend a full week cosied up in it without anyone raising their eyebrows 😉