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Your French Bistro: A Delightful Dining Room Transformation

modern french bistro look for your home

If you are dining chez nous and are one of the many people who love both the food and the atmosphere of a French bistro, then why not consider creating that special ambience in your own home?

The definition of a bistro is an unpretentious establishment that is a perfect place for friends to gather in order to enjoy good food and wine together with good conversation, in a very relaxed atmosphere.

Here is a look at how you can set about creating that informal atmosphere by transforming your dining room into a classic French bistro and enjoy some very relaxing evenings surrounded by good company and some of your favourite recipes and wines.

Creating the bistro feel

The secret to a success makeover like this is to find a way to not just create the look that you want but in doing so, also managing to generate that special bistro ambience and feel as well.

If your dining room is perhaps a little dull and uninviting at the moment then that is not exactly conducive to you wanting to spend time entertaining in there and will not exactly help to create an atmosphere of relaxed fun and enjoyment.

Try to envision a rustic bistro in your mind and then decide what you will need to actually create this setting in your dining room. The right furniture will obviously be a great help and you might want to consider a series of bistro tables around the room rather than one large dining table.

You can also help to create the right feel to the room by trying to source suitable brasserie chairs that look the part and are comfortable enough to encourage guests to stay a while and feel relaxed and ready for a great evening.

brasserie chairs at French bistro

Colour scheme

Your choice of colour scheme will be very important in helping to achieve the right look and feel for your bistro setting

Blue is actually considered to be the colour of excellence in French cuisine and is symbolised by the French culinary school known as Le Cordon Bleu. Yellow is a warm and energising colour that can contrast nicely with the blue when trying to replicate the bistro look, so consider painting the walls in a suitable blue up to about a third of the height and then using a moulding to create separation, paint the rest of the wall up to the ceiling in the yellow.

Saffron yellow and an intense blue would work well and do also remember that patterns and fabrics are often seen in French country house design, so you could work in a bit of extra warm and charm into your bistro environment by using some appropriate patterns and fabrics.

french bistro with country charm

Images of France

If you are trying to evoke memories of France to reinforce the bistro feeling, then look around for some paintings that depict scenes of French country life or maybe an example of a Paris street scene or perhaps you might like to use an impressionist painting as the focal point on the wall.

impressionist painting of french bistro scene

Work on transforming your dining room into a classic French bistro and your home will soon be filled with the sound of constant chatter and enjoyment as people instantly relax in such pleasant and informal surroundings.

Josh Burke has deep enthusiasm for practical and beautiful home spaces. After years of experience as an interior designer revitalizing kitchens, basements, and bedrooms, he greatly enjoys blogging about his inspirations and tips he’s learned for today’s homes.

Images via Jae Redlin (Pinterest), Mellifluous Moments (Tumblr), Chateau Chic (Pinterest) and Konstantin Razumov.

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Learning to drive – The way to your driving license

learning to drive and taking your driving test

Learning to drive is not easy these days. There’s more traffic on the road and it seems more impatient drivers too. But passing that driving test is something nearly everyone does at some point. Finding a good driving school is difficult.

Most people go with a recommended driving school or even start learning with their parents. Of course learning with your good old parents is not always a good idea as it normally ends in arguments but it can help gain experience on the road.

Then there’s the theory test to pass. You can, of course, buy the questions and answers book or even find a good website where you can do a practice theory test. There is also the hazard perception test which is a test of reactions and the ability to spot a hazard. This can normally be quite straight forward, especially if it’s an obvious clip with a pedestrian aimlessly walking into the road. But, don’t click too much for hazards or it will give you zero points as it will think that you’re cheating.

After passing the theory test it’s time for the good old driving test. 35-40 minutes to show off your skills on the road to an examiner who’s wearing a bright fluorescent vest. The driving examiner’s aren’t as scary as they used to be. They’re now fully trained in their customer service skills and ability to now smile.Nerves will still try and kick in but try not to let them get the better of you.

Over the years they’ve added bit’s to the driving test like the show me, tell me questions. Two questions will be asked at the start of the driving test, one show me how to do something question and one tell me how to do something. It’s about the maintenance of the car. Show me how to repair the engine is not one of them, but it’s more how to check the oil, tyre pressure etc. There’s only nineteen questions to revise. More to learn but it’s all things you need to know anyway for your lifetime of pleasurable driving.

The driving test will also include a manoeuvre which could include turning the car around, emergency stop, reversing around a corner, bay parking and everybody’s favourite parallel parking. A few hit kerbs later and you should be fine with these.

Independent driving now features on the driving test. This is where the driving examiner doesn’t give you any directions at all apart from asking you to follow signs or a diagram. But don’t worry, no satnav will be necessary, even if you go off route the examiner will then step in and tell you directions again and you won’t be penalised. Although you might expect a slight disapproving face from the examiner.

Then at the end of the test there will either be tears of happiness or sadness. If it does go wrong then there’s always next time. Good luck to anyone taking their test soon!

Image credit: lil’_wiz via Flickr.

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Cute autumn outfit for Amy

cute autumn outfit for girls

It is getting noticeably colder. Last night, I was even tempted to put the heating on, so when I discovered Mellow Mummy’s latest competition with Debenhams, #DebsDreamUniform, I knew that this would be the perfect time to start thinking about Amy’s autumn and winter wardrobe.

Amy won’t start school for another year, so we don’t have to worry about uniforms just yet, but we do like a little bit of window shopping, so this was the perfect challenge for us.

Our outfit is the perfect mix for our girly tom boy and super adorable – definitely something that Amy would wear on a day to day basis and to school, if there was no dress code in place.

We’ve chosen a dark blue denim shirt, which you can combine with leggings or tights in autumn and winter or wear on its own once the temperatures start climbing again. It’s durable, doesn’t stain easily and is always on trend, so it will definitely see you through the seasons.

My little adventurer loves jumping in muddy puddles, running and climbing, so girly shoes with frills and glitter aren’t something that we’d chose for Amy. The tan quilted leather boots seem a much better option – they’re sturdy enough for playground fun and will keep her little toes nice and warm.

To bring a bit of girlishness to her outfit, Amy picked the adorable cream owl print top pictured below. She’s obsessed with owls, saves her pennies in an owl money box and snuggles in owl bedding every evening. It’s a light shirt with long sleeves that is perfect, if you sit in a heated room all day and the colourful owl makes it a fun top that little ones will enjoy.

If you fancy a second layer, always better than putting the heating on, why not add a shirt like this lovely checked shirt in white, navy and pink? It ties in all colours of the outfit and makes it look a little smarter while still being casual. If it gets really nippy, throw on a blue denim jacket and you’re ready to go. Et voila, our back to school outfit. Nothing too fancy, but still pretty to look at, comfy and perfect for the colder season.

What do you think of our autumn outfit? Do we get a thumbs up or a thumbs up from the fashion police?

This is our entry for the Debenhams Back to School competition on www.mellowmummy.co.uk. Why don’t you enter yourself? You’ve got to be in it to win it.

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The world’s easiest washi tape craft – the picnic edition

spruce up your wooden cutlery with washi tape, washi tape crafts, washi tape ideas

We’re are planning a picnic with friends on Monday. Everything’s good, we’re thinking of things and picnic food to take and then Amy comes along and tells me that the picnic cutlery is boring. I guess she’s right. Pre-schoolers love bright colours, glitter and everything that causes sensory overkill, so when I presented her with the disposable wooden cutlery that came with our picnic hamper, she could only react in one way: underwhelmed!

Luckily, I had just cleared out one of my kitchen drawers in the morning and found some washi tape in rainbow colours and there it was – my solution: the world’s easiest washi tape craft or Amy’s rainbow picnic cutlery.

All you need is washi tape in a selection of colours (I think I picked the rainbow colours up for £4 for a pack of 10 on Ebay or Amazon), wooden disposable cutlery and maybe a pair of scissors.

I then just wrapped different colours of washi tape around the cutlery and played around with different designs. Nothing special, nothing that asks for any craft skills and I really mean any – I bet even my cat could do this. Amy is over the moon with her new pretty cutlery and I enjoyed having a little play.

spruce up wooden cutlery with washi tape, washi tape ideas, washi tape crafts

What’s your favourite washi tape craft? If you have blogged about any, leave me a link below and I’ll pop over and have a look!

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10 tips on how to bag your dream job

10 ways to bag your dream job

You’ve searched job boards like City Calling, mingled on business networking sites and now you have finally found the perfect job, but how do you survive that dreaded first interview and bag your dream job? I have asked some of my favourite bloggers for their tips and here is what they advise:

At the interview, make sure you give the interviewer competency based answers. Read the job description and look for the competences they are recruiting against (things like strong communication skills, tenacity etc) and then talk to them about real examples of were you have used these skills and what the outcome has been. Skilled interviewers will be looking for you to demonstrate how you have tackled things in the past, as past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour. (Michelle from Mummy from the heart)

Rather than telling the interviewer everything that is great about you, read the job description and do a bit of research, so you can pick out the two or three things they are really looking for (skills or experience) and focus your application and interview answers around those things. (Cat from Cat’s Yellow Days)

Make your own record of achievement / portfolio and take it with you to show them – people can’t resist asking what you’ve brought for show and tell (Liz from Cambridge Mummy)

Be yourself. Don’t pretend to be something you aren’t in the hope it gets you the role. Believe in yourself! (Tanya from Mummy Barrow)

Update your online presence – and make sure it’s professional. A savvy employer these days will look for you online. Give your LinkedIn profile the once over. Make sure there’s no drunken photographs on Instagram, bitchy posts on Facebook or sweary rants on Twitter. Use privacy settings to stop public viewings, if you think there may be some embarrassing social media history that could backfire and ruin your chances. (Donna from Mummy Central)

10 ways to bag your dream job, how to prepare for a job interview

First impressions count. Dress to impress and show that you really want the job: Look your interviewer in the eye and greet them with a confident and firm handshake (Jenny from Mummy Mishaps)

Always do your research on the company and have some questions to ask them – interviewers usually ask, if there is anything you want to know at the end of the interview and awkward silences are never good! (Andrea from All You Need Is Love and Cake)

Request a tour of the place before interview, not only will this give you an insight into where you could possibly be working but they will a) remember you for already visiting and b) offer you the opportunity to ask questions about the working day/facilities available (Sarah from Boo, Roo and Tigger Too)

It’s not only about the words you speak, but also the message your body sends. Try to not fold your arms, look at the floor or lean back while speaking. Instead use your eyes to maintain contact with your interviewer and use your hands to make gestures when making a point or emphasising something.

Don’t get embarrassed discussing your salary. Know your worth, do your research and find out what people in comparable jobs earn and go in  a little higher than your desired salary.

This is a promotional post with images from Philip Dehm and World Relief Spokane via Flickr.

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Cooking tips for dummies

the best cooking tipsCooking is a hobby for many while it is a chore for others. It’s not rocket science though and you don’t have to be a five-star restaurant chef to rustle up a nice meal. All it needs is a little common sense and some patience. If you are new to cooking, then here are some basic cooking tips that will help you prepare simply unbeatable food.

Planning

Planning your menu and lining up the ingredients accordingly is the best and most systematic way to start cooking. Arrange all the ingredients including the measuring, chopping and mixing parts and keep them at an easy-to-reach distance. Don’t keep them too far away as it would mean longer time to take the particular ingredient- you may risk burning your preparation in the bargain.

Order

When you start cooking, start with the dish that requires the longest time to cook. The dish that gets prepared quickly must be prepared last. You can utilize the time between for preparing other items.

Boiling Tips

If you are boiling milk or custard, grease the inside of the pot lid with a small amount of oil. This would keep your milk from boiling over. In case of double boiling, you can place a few marbles at the bottom of the water pan. When the level of water gets low, the marbles rattle warning you to fill it with more water.

Food Handling Tips

Corn

In order to maintain the same level of taste, boil corn by directly putting it in water with no salt. This would retain the taste of corn.

Cheese

If you plan to grate cheese, then freeze it for half an hour to make grating easier.

Eggs

While boiling eggs, add a pinch of salt or pour a drop of vinegar. This will keep the egg in the shell even if it cracks.

Wilted Vegetables

Wilted vegetables are not always spoilt. They sometimes wilt due to extreme temperature differences. Soaking them in water with a drop of vinegar in it would help the vegetables bounce back to life.

The above cooking tips minimize the work load on you especially the clean-up process after cooking gets easier with these. Find out more about cooking tips online. There are plenty of tips that will help you reduce your stress and enjoy the whole process.

What’s your best cooking tip?

This is a promotional post with images from Nicole Abalde.

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Coping Strategies for Women with Urinary Stress Incontinence

how to cope with usi urinary stress incontinenceA relatively common ailment to afflict mothers shortly after giving birth is urinary stress incontinence (USI). The rigours of pregnancy and childbirth can negatively impact on pelvic floor muscles, which sometimes leads to incontinence. In many cases, something as innocuous as a cough or sneeze can lead to accidents, and such a condition as the potential to cause serious embarrassment.

The good news is that this is usually a treatable condition. Most mothers will be able to overcome the problem with the help of physiotherapy and a series of pelvic exercises. However, in some rare cases surgery may be required in order to permanently address the issue – but only after all other avenues have been exhausted.

If you are currently experiencing urinary stress incontinence, there are several options available to you:

1. Seek help from a physio

If your symptoms are mild, a physio might suggest that you do Kegel exercises on a daily basis. They involve the clenching and unclenching of your pelvic floor muscles in order to strengthen them after giving birth. These are the muscles you will use to control the flow of your urine when the sensation arises. The great thing about these exercises is that they can be done almost anywhere, including sitting at your desk at work.

2. Take your time in the toilet

It’s important not to rush things in the toilet; you need to give yourself time to fully empty your bladder. Once you have urinated, wait 30 seconds or so and try again. This process will ensure you aren’t caught short again in just a few minutes.

3. Limit your caffeine intake

Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it will make you need the loo more often if you’re constantly consuming soft drinks, tea or coffee. Try switching to decaffeinated products, or simply stick to sipping water.

4. Utilise one of the many incontinence products on the market

Despite your best efforts, you may still experience the odd accident as your body readjusts after giving birth. Wearing an absorbent pad will help to limit the impact of incontinence – especially if you’re determined to continue living an active lifestyle.

5. Change your lifestyle

Some cases of urinary stress incontinence are exacerbated by lifestyle, so you may benefit from making a few changes here and there. Manage your intake of alcohol, and try to eat a well balanced diet. There is limited evidence to suggest that a healthy lifestyle can lessen the effects of incontinence.

Unfortunately, some cases of incontinence are just too severe to respond to everyday changes to your lifestyle, and surgery may be the only option available. Vaginal tape can be used to strengthen the muscle walls – allowing for more control over the entire pelvic area.

According to a leading Women’s Health Hospital, the use of tension free vaginal tape for the treatment of urinary stress incontinence is successful between 70 percent and 95 percent of the time. However, not all incontinence is related to pelvic floor muscles. Indeed, the same problems can be caused by bladder-related issues, as well as a range of other ailments. This means seeking the attention of a medical professional if your symptoms persist for more than a few days is of paramount importance

This is a promotional post with an image from Michelle Sobina via Flickr.

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Get US beauty brands straight to your home

beauty vloggers youtube

I’ve talked about it on the blog before, but if I have a couple of spare minutes, I love watching beauty videos on YouTube. I find it so relaxing to watch someone else do their make-up and talk about the products they like, that it’s one of my favourite things to snuggle up on the sofa with a hot drink and watch Essie Button, Miss Glamorazzi & Co do their thing.

I follow ‘beauty gurus’ (that’s what fan girls half my age call them) from all over the world, which means that I often fall in love with beauty products that aren’t available in the UK. Don’t worry there, there are still ways to get your hands on them. You can, of course, ask friends or family to pick up a product or two for you when they visit the USA, but let’s be honest? People don’t usually travel more than once or twice a year and once a woman has set their eye on something, they want it now and not in 7 months when the next family trip to Disney World is on the maps.

beauty products from over the pond

Online beauty websites such as Beauty Encounter are a great alternative because you can shop for your favourite products from the comfort of your home and buy everything your heart desires from low to high end beauty make-up, skin care and perfumes to accessories, hair care and gifts. I’ve only recently discovered the website, but I have absolutely fallen in love with it – not only because its huge range of brands and products, but also because you get amazing deals. Americans do love a bargain and on top of the perfume sale and the amazing offers in the beauty section you can also add coupons to your shopping basket, which makes this website a true goldmine for any make-up lover.

Are you looking at YouTube for beauty inspiration and what are your favourite beauty products? Let me know in the comments below…

This is a promotional post with images from Miss Glamorazzi, Essie Button and Michelle Phan.

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How to avoid catching a cold

how to get rid of nasty bugs and fight a coldIt’s every busy parent’s worst nightmare; your child comes home from school, sniffling and coughing, suffering from a fever, and you have to spend the next couple of days at home taking care of them until the illness finally leaves. It’s a common occurrence, but can really throw a spanner in the works when it comes to all those jobs and responsibilities we have to take care of during the week. How, then, can you ensure your kids aren’t struck down by illness and infection?

First off, if you’re in the midst of cold and flu season, washing hands is an absolute must- do! Of course, that’s more easily said than done, especially if one has younger children, so demonstration is the key unless you want to be stood watching over your kids whenever it comes to any mealtime or trip to the bathroom. Make sure your children know to wash, with warm water and soap, for 20 seconds, and equally ensure that they know not to put their hands near their faces after they may have touched something germ-ridden in the Spring and Summer months, and to completely avoid touching their faces in Autumn and Winter.

wash-your-hands-and-keep-up-a-good-hygiene-to-fight-bugs-and-avoid-catching-a-cold-or-the-flu

It’s nice to think of our bedrooms as sanctuaries away from the contagions endemic in the outside world, but unclean bedclothes, pillows and mattresses can be a hub for all sorts of nasties. Ensure all sheets are cleaned once a week, especially during cold and flu season or if a member of the family is ill; flip over mattresses every couple of months and replace every ten years or so; and wash and vacuum pillows every few months. After your beds are clean, make sure to use them; sleep deprivation severely restricts the body’s ability to fight off illness. Follow these tips and you and your family will be fresh and healthy!

Being outside in the cold weather having an effect on one’s chances of catching a cold is a totally incorrect old wives tale that persists to this day! The fact is, however, that we should be getting more exercise outdoors during the fluey winter months; regular, moderate exercise can reduce one’s chances of catching a bug annually by up to 50%, thanks to exercise’s ability to boost the activity of cells that make up the immune system. Eating lots of foods rich in vitamins C and D can also boost the immune system, as can eating probiotic yoghurts!

What are your tips to fight flu and colds?

This is a promotional post with images from William Brawley and Arlington Countyvia Flickr.

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Win a Sewlomax baby towel set

sewlomax baby towel

Today, I’d love to introduce you to a range of new baby products by a relatively new brand on the nursery and baby market – Sewlomax.

Emma Lomax, the woman behind the company, has been taking the fashion and beauty world by storm for the last two years with her ethically produced collection of stylish wash bags & accessories, now she has brought out her highly anticipated baby range!

Her debut collection of must-have essentials consists of beautifully designed and ethically produced muslins, dribble bibs and baby bath time towel and flannel sets, all of them available online. Here a little sneak peak for you:sewlomax muslin cloths

sewlomax dribble bibs

sewlomax towels

To celebrate their launch, we have teamed up with Sewlomax and are giving one lucky reader the chance to win one of the adorable towel and flannel sets in the colour of your choice (blue, green or pink).

All you have to do is fill in the Rafflecopter form below following the instructions provided. Please, ensure to follow the mandatory steps first before moving on to earn extra points. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway