Kitchen Culture in the UK*

You should know by now that I love to bake, and more recently I’ve got back in to cooking. When I had my brief spell in my own flat the kitchen was by far the best equipped room in the house and whilst looking to move out again in the future it’s always the kitchen gadget section of any shop that draws me in first.

Today I’m bring you some interesting insights in to the UK’s kitchen culture thanks to five-star acrylic sheet supplier The Plastic People who create kitchen splashbacks to add a stylish touch to any cooking area.

From the most purchased kitchen items through to a look at the country’s cooking habits I thought this made for an interesting weekend read.

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According to research carried out by Mintel sales of small kitchen appliances have increased by 41% between the years 2011 to 2015 (from £635 million to £897 million for those who were wondering). Sales of food preparation gadgets increased by 145% in the same time frame and hot drinks appliances such as coffee machines increased by a not too shabby 89%.

The same piece of research has also revealed that in 2015 42% of Brits purchased a kettle (guilty), 30% bought a toaster (also guilty), 15% of Brits bought a sandwich maker or grilling machine, 13% of Brits bought a smoothie maker or juicer (yep), 13% also bought a coffee capsule or pod drinks maker and 11% bought a filter coffee machine- that’s a lot of gadgets!

When it comes to upgrading appliances the following is the frequency of upgraded appliance types in the kitchen from homeowners who either renovated their kitchen in the 12 months prior to the release of the 2017 Houzz Kitchen Trends Study — UK, are currently renovating their kitchen, or who are looking to do so over the three months after the release of the research:
Dishwasher(s) – 82 per cent.
Fridge/freezer – 78 per cent.
Extractor fan – 77 per cent.
Hob(s) – 75 per cent.
Wall oven(s) – 56 per cent.
Microwave – 53 per cent.

This same study also revealed that stainless steel was the most popular colour when upgrading appliances (47 per cent opted for this), followed by black (22 per cent) and then white (10 per cent).

The 2017 Houzz Kitchen Trends Study — UK delved into the following details about how and why Brits are going about upgrading their kitchens:
The frequency of increasing kitchen sizes sat at 63 per cent in the 12 months prior to the release of the research, for those currently renovating their kitchens and for those planning to renovate the space over the three months after the release of the research.
The most popular events that triggered Brits to update their kitchen were:

42% were recently purchased homes and owners wanted to make their kitchen their own.
32% had wanted to update their kitchen all along and finally had the means to do so.
30% could no longer stand their old kitchen.
26% acknowledged that their old kitchen had either deteriorated, broken down or became unsafe.
14% were adapting to family and lifestyle changes.

Again making use of the 2017 Houzz Kitchen Trends Study — UK the top kitchen storage solutions that homeowners opted for were:

77% added a cutlery organiser
61% updated their kitchen with deep drawer organisers.
51% added pull-out waste or recycling cabinets.
41% cent updated their kitchen with a corner carousel.
39% updated their kitchen with a pot and pan organiser.
36% included pull-out trays and/or shelves.

I’m a bit of a kitchen storage freak and love the kitchen at my parents’ house as it has so many nifty storage solutions! #KitchenGoals

According to the Houzz study the reasons why homeowners looked into new storage solutions for their kitchen are as follows:
79% were motivated as they wanted to make better use of the space.
57% wanted to reduce clutter.
55% wanted to make it easier to find items in their kitchens.
36% were motivated as they wanted to utilise awkward spaces
21% wanted to make it easier to cook and bake in their kitchens.

Again referring to the Houzz study we can see that modifications to the kitchen can have a significant impact on how people are utilising the room. Interestingly…
69% spend more family time in their kitchen.
56% now find themselves working and/or studying for longer in their kitchen.
51% are hosting more dinner parties/other forms of entertaining guest in their home.
49% are baking more
43% now cook or prepare more meals at home.
42% now have more sit-down meals.
36% of people reported that tehy now order less takeaways.
23% now eat more fruits and/or vegetables.

I hope you find this post as interesting as I did, as I’ve mentioned I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to kitchens and I cannot wait for the day where I own my own home (I can dream right?) and have free reign over the design of my kitchen. My parents had theirs done just over a year ago and the difference it has made is incredible- even my Mum is cooking more which kind of says a lot really!

Tell me about your kitchens…

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Lee Stafford Academy Hair Straighteners review and giveaway

I’m still very much a novice when it comes to hair, really it’s only since I had it cut and coloured in October that I’ve managed to get any kind of grip in styling it myself and my once neglected hair straighteners became one of my most used items. I’d had them for a few years already by this point and over the last few weeks I’d noticed they were failing to heat properly and were losing their ability to you know, actually straighten my hair. So when an opportunity came up to review the Lee Stafford Academy Hair Straighteners* the timing could not have been more perfect.
I’m not hugely au-fait with many hair styling brands but Lee Stafford is one I know well [by which I mean I already own one of his hair dryers]. My previous straightener was by Corioliss and I have never owned a pair of GHDs. Because of this I also roped by Mum in on this review and we both tried out the product- she is the queen of hair straightening so if something impresses her then it’s definitely a good ‘un.
I know looks aren’t everything but these are some sleek looking straighteners which gave a good first impression. I was a little worried about the size of the plates as my hair is very thick and there is a LOT of it and I was concerned that it would prove too much for this tool to cope with. I needn’t have worried.

Thanks to the adjustable heating settings [up to 230 degrees] and handy quick start guide I quickly established the optimum temperature for my hair, waited a mere matter of seconds for the straightener to heat up and got going. This straightener made short work of getting my hair smooth and sleek which in itself is no mean feat. More impressive was that after sleeping on it my hair was still straight the next day- with my old straightener I found that I needed to re-do it the next day as my natural waves had fought back.
Mum thought the same, she was impressed with how easily this straightened her naturally curly hair [please note I have never actually seen it curly] and how sleek a finish it left.

Because I tend to straighten my hair and then curl or wave the top layers with a curling wand I decided to have a go at creating curls with this as well. I probably should have taken a picture but being me I didn’t think of it at the time but this straightener also creates smooth and shiny waves quickly and easily without looking like they had obviously been done with a straightener if you know what I mean?

I 100% would recommend this straightener for anyone who’s on the lookout for a new one, with an RRP of £79.99 it’s on the more affordable scale of things and at the time of writing it’s currently on sale on Amazon for £49.95.

I also happen to have one of these straighteners to give away to one lucky reader- see the widget below for how to enter and the T&C [and good luck!]

Win Lee Stafford Academy Hair Straighteners #1

The giveaway will run until 29th March and the winner will be contacted directly by Review Directory.

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Product sent to me for purpose of review. Opinions and shiny sleek hair are entirely my own.

Compact System Camera Wish List (and advice wanted!)*

With a big birthday approaching I’ve been given the task of coming up with what I would like as my “big” gift. I suppose it’s more traditional to ask for a keepsake gift such as a piece of jewellery or designer accessory but I’m not in need of either of these things, nor is there anything realistic that I have my eye on. So I’ve gone down the practical route and I’m putting serious consideration in to asking for a Compact System Camera as an upgrade and accompaniment to my current Canon DSLR- and this, dear readers is where you come in. I don’t have a particularly extensive camera knowledge so I’ve drawn up a short list and I’m hoping that from this I can get some advice on which one to pick…

(all images from John Lewis)

I’ve done a bit of reading around but to some extent the information goes over my head. What I really need is to know what cameras you guys are loving! Based on a bit of blog and social media stalking I know that the Olympus PEN is popular (and it certainly looks the prettiest) but am I better off sticking to Canon which is a brand I know and get on with? Or branch out in to new territory completely and try a brand I’ve never had a camera from such as the Lumix DMC-GX80 Best Compact Camera Panasonic? I’ve also thrown models from Fujifilm and Sony in to the mix which are both brands I have little experience with…I’m not especially loyal to any one brand (unless Apple bought out compact system cameras in which case I might be) but price is a consideration although if one of the pricier models gets the best votes I would be more than happy to add some of my own savings towards it.

Essentially this post is a plea for help! You have until April to help me make up my mind- and I will of course report back on the end result!

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My (latest) vaping experience with e-cigarette direct & giveaway

I always feel like this kind of blog post is a bit taboo- you don’t see smoking, or vaping mentioned all that much within the blogging community but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only smoker out there, or the only person seeking an alternative.

I’ve been a smoker since I was 17, that’s almost 13 years now and to be honest I haven’t enjoyed it for probably the last 5 years. Add to that the ever-rising cost of cigarettes, the fact I’m not getting any younger and of course all of the health dangers that come with smoking I’ve been mulling over the idea of quitting for a while now.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m not quite ready for cold turkey. Smoking has always been related to my mental health and a coping mechanism when anxiety gets too much. I’ve tried patches and gums in the past but it’s the hand to mouth action that I missed and the inhalation so vaping has always held some kind of appeal. I’ve given it a go once or twice in the past but didn’t get much from it if I’m honest- however with the idea of stopping the cigarettes firmer in my mind than ever it was timely when e-cigarette direct offered to set me up with the kit so I could try again.

For the device itself I picked out the Halo Tank Kit* based on the reviews (and the aesthetic I’ll admit). The kit itself represents excellent value, currently on offer at £17.59 but only £21.99 full price. That’s just one week’s worth of cigarettes for me so already you can see the money saving potential as this will last a heck of a lot longer!

I went a bit crazy ordering all kinds of flavoured liquids, again from the Halo Brand*. At £3.99 the liquids are cheaper than a ten pack of cigarettes and again last an awful lot longer- I’m two weeks in and still on my first bottle. I like the fact you can pick from a whole range of flavours, the novelty appeals to me but even the regular tobacco flavoured ones are a lot more palatable than an actual cigarette.

It has been a slow process but this is the longest I have stuck with vaping and whilst I’m not completely off of cigarettes yet I am getting there. This would be a good time to add that I AM NOT ADVOCATING VAPING AS HEALTHY, or indeed any better for you than smoking as I know there is still a lot of research in to the effects going on. From a financial point of view it has already had clear benefits and I’ve found that I’m actually reaching for both cigarettes and the vape kit less and less which is hopefully a sign that I am heading in the right direction to stopping full stop.

Until I’m ready to stop completely though I will be giving my custom to e-cigarette direct. The speed of service was the most notable part of the experience- I placed my order on the Wednesday and had it with me on the Thursday!

For anyone else thinking about giving vaping a go I always have a giveaway running to win yourself £100 worth of kit! Just follow the simple instructions below! Giveaway runs from 26/1/17 until 17/2/17, UK only.

Win an e-cigarette kit worth £100 #17

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All products were sent to me by the brand for blog consideration but I was under no obligation to post.

Gift Inspiration: Girly Tech from Mobile Fun

I’ve got quite in to my gadgets lately. A re-kindled love of music has been the main driving force in this, plus a pretty surgical attachment to my iPhone to keep myself in the loop and amused whilst on the go. Mobile Fun recently contacted me about picking some tech products to review* and upon receiving my selection I was impressed enough to turn my review in to a gift guide for any one else who loves their gadgets or is struggling for gift ideas.
The first product I tried out was this gorgeous glittery gold phone case* by Prodigee. I’ve mentioned before I have a bit of a thing for phone cases and most of mine are cheap and cheerful eBay finds which serve a purpose but can be somewhat flimsy. This case is unique in that it comes in two parts and slides on. I’ll be 100% honest and say I’m not sure what this has to do with anything but it was easy to put on to my phone and is also really easy to remove as you don’t have to fight with trying to prise it off corner by corner. It’s definitely the sturdiest case I have owned and makes me feel like my phone is much more protected than usual against my clumsy ways. I love how girly the glitter makes it despite being a fairly simple case (for me) it’s anything but boring- perfect for any stylish friend.
As I mentioned in my introduction to this post that I’m really loving music right now and I’ve got in to the habit of taking my phone with me when I go to shower so I can sing along (badly) as I get ready for the day. The risks to me doing this are obvious so I was really excited to receive a bluetooth shower speaker that means I can leave my phone safely in another room but not have to shower or bath in silence. This claims to be water resistant and having already dropped it in to a full bath (have I mentioned how clumsy I am?) I can confirm that this is indeed true. The sound quality is pretty good, even after being submerged and the button controls mean you can skip tracks, pause, adjust the volume and even take calls as you clean up. The suction design is great and this speaker would also be perfect for use in the kitchen or even at your desk for taking calls hand free as well as having a little dance session to your favourite tracks.
I don’t drive to often rely on my legs to get me to where I need to be. I find walking on my own pretty boring if I’m honest and often relieve the tedium by listening to music. Headphones drive me mad though, I have to say. Trying to find a pocket that’s close enough accommodate the cables- not to mention trailing cables in general really frustrates me so when I got the chance to test out these Zagg wireless earphones* I was really excited. These are designed with females in mind- from everything to the gorgeous rose gold colour way to the lightweight and comfortable fit. The sound quality on these is fantastic, among the best I’ve found in any earphone and I loved being able to keep my phone in my bag whilst clipping the headphones simply to my collar and having full control over track selection, volume and the ability to control calls as well. I feel like these have solved my earphone woes in one fell swoop and the white and rose gold design matches my phone and my style to perfection. Another must have for the fashion and music loving ladies in the world.
What are you must have tech gadgets?

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