Bringing Back The Dining Room

[AD] Dinner times in our house are only what can be described as chaotic, more like a chimps tea party at times and are more often than not a pretty stressful time of day.

Since moving through we have gained a dining room and I have been making it my mission to bring back dining as a family as often as we can and making it a place we all want to congregate, eat good food and enjoy each other’s company.

More often than not for ease I stick the little ones at the breakfast bar to eat, the older ones eat as and when they feel like and my husband on his lap when he gets in from work. For us the importance of eating together as a family has been completely lost.

Over the past few months though we have been really making a conservative effort to all get around the table, leave all our devices elsewhere and connect as a family. We allow no distractions and just enjoy each other’s company…well aside from one or two arguments of course!

I have compiled a little list of things I have done or plan to do to get the dining room just how I want it to make a place that is used as much as the other rooms in the house rather than just when people come round.

Benches – When we bought our new dining table we opted for benches feather than chairs for a more laid back feel. With a large family it also allows us to squeeze more people around the table as there is more often than not an extra one or two joining us!

Rugs – We have wooden flooring throughout the downstairs of the house and this can often look and feel cold so I am currently looking for something to go under the table that will add a splash of colour and a little warmth to the room.

Practicality – This is a big one for me as the room needs to work for us all so practical furniture and furnishings are must. As with the benches as I mentioned earlier furniture that can utilised in different ways is so helpful to make the area work on a daily basis.

Lighting – Good lighting always sets the mood and allows the space to be used for a range of different activities. The children can set up at the table during the day for play and getting homework done when the lighting needs to be bright and through the use of side lights you can create a relaxed a calm feel for an evening with friends.

Art – Filling the walls with beautiful, personal pieces of art and photos is probably one of the most important things for me. It’s great to be able to sit back and gaze at something beautiful.

Eight Innovative Ways To Update Your Home

[AD] Whether you’re preparing to sell your home or staying put and craving a refresh, you may be concerned about how renovations can impact your budget. If you’re willing to put in some time and get a little dirty, these DIY projects will help you update your home without taking out a second mortgage.

Update Your Bath

Your bath tends to be the one item in the house that gets mouldy and ruined first, although you might not always be aware of it. The grouting of the bath can rot away quickly due to the constant moisture, and over time it can start to look outdated.

Updating your bath is the most effective way to upgrade your bathroom without having a whole new re-fit. You can use it to completely change the way your bathroom looks, but by investing in just the one item. A smaller, corner on will open up your space, or a larger, deeper one can give you the sanctuary you always needed.

If you’re on a budget, a smaller bath is usually a better idea. You can browse a wide selection over at Bathdisc for some inspiration.

Repaint Your Front Door And Update Exterior Features

The exterior of your home is the first thing people notice and judge your house on. Look out for cracked paint, front walls which need building up, or front doors which look tired and dated.

Sometimes, it might be that your front door just needs a good old lick of paint. Choose a bold accent colour that works well with the rest of the exterior, but also stands out from it, to give the door a bit of a spotlight.

If it is your front wall that needs working on, try to knock down the part which is ruined, and re-build from this part up. It might be that you don’t need a brand new wall – the one you have just needs some TLC.

Apply Wallpaper As Feature Walls

Updating your walls can easily improve your space, and it doesn’t need to be a big job. Completely re-wallpapering your house can be a nightmare task, especially when time isn’t on your side. However, choosing a pretty wallpaper to paste onto a feature wall can make such a big difference.

You can even look at removable wallpaper, which is a stylish and affordable way to update your space with minimal investment. Moreover, it’s a really easy way to add colour or pattern to your space with little commitment.

Give Your Walls A Lick Of Paint

Some people prefer a painted surface over wallpaper, which is understandable as painted walls can appear more modern. Plus, you may be surprised by how easy it is to paint a room yourself.

Even just using a bright white or a soft cream emulsion paint all over your bedroom walls can completely transform the way the room looks. It gives a clean, bright and refreshed look. White or cream painted walls also provide a blank canvas for any new wall art you’d like to invest in.

Update Your Cabinets

Old fashioned cabinets – especially in the kitchen or bathroom – can make for a room look dreary and dull. Replacing them can be a big job, so rather than doing this, why not just paint them and switch out any old hardware for a dramatic update.

Another hack is to invest in new handles and hinges, which could either be in a modern, polished metal or a softwood for a cosier look.

Invest In New Wall Art

You can change the look and feel of a room by simply hanging artwork. This can be in the form of a statement print in the living room, or large wall mirrors, or the creative method of a gallery wall.

Whichever you choose, remember that before you place holes in the walls, measure your wall and mark out the same space on the floor. Lay out your artwork on the floor to get a realistic representation of how it will look.

Sometimes, it’s even just a case of updating all the old picture frames you might have around your home.

Update Old Floors

Worn out, old floors can set the tone for an entire room, but re-sanding and finishing your floors could be beyond your capabilities. Another way to update your old flooring is to spruce them up by using a couple of coats of durable floor paint, or peel-and-stick tiles from your local home store. These can have a real professional finish when chosen well.

Consider A Floor Runner

Here’s something we often forget: a good old stair runner. When quotes for a new carpet to be fitted on the stairs can cost hundreds, you can take the project into your own hands by investing in a stair runner strip which lies flat down the centre of your stairs.

Go for a plain style, with no print (unless you would like a stripe – but no florals or anything loud!). This ensures a modern look and one that will complement your existing carpet if you choose your colour wisely.

Fixing up your home doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult, just consider these suggestions for your next home improvement project.

An Uber Cool Christmas At Winterville

Last year we had our first visit to Winterville on Clapham Common. We didn’t really know what to expect and we were pleasantly surprised with its calm, cool, festive vibe.

When we were asked to visit again this year we jumped at the chance and as soon as we got there we knew it was going to be just as much fun. The neon sign shone out across the park and welcomed us in with its pretty christmas lights, catchy christmas tunes and the smell of wonderful food.

I would actually sat that if you are  bit of a foodie then Winterville will be right up your street.  There is so much on offer with the Truck Stop and Street Feast areas homing the majority of the stalls. From crispy chips to sticky ribs, Baileys hot chocolates and warm cookie dough puddings.

Of course its not just food and drink on offer at Winterville. There is a whole plethora of amazing activities to join in with and the kids didn’t know where to start first!

The gleaming lights of the fairground rides were calling us and while Izzy headed to the bigger rides I stayed with the boys and took a ride on the train, span around in the tea cups and watched them as they bounced as high as they could on the trampolines.

It was now a bit of time for Mum so I grabbed a mulled wine and took a look around the Solo Craft Fair that had some amazing gifts for some amazing independent business which makes a very welcome change to some Christmas markets that are full of  mass produced items you can get anywhere.

Crazy golf is always something my lot love and the the UV – powered Plonk Golf course at Winterville was great fun.

Anything that involves being on wheels or blades draws my children in but is my worst nightmare! Winerville have both a beautiful ice rink and a roller disco on offer and i managed to persuade the kids to only try out the ice skating as I don’t think my nerves could take both.

All of the children could take to the ice and there are penguins to help the round the rink. We all did really well until the very end where Oscar took a tumble just as he was putting his penguin back. We ended up with a split lip and a very sad little boy and I have to say that in this moment of need we were confrunted by a surly and very unhelpful member of staff which was a real shock after having such an amazing experience with everyone we had come across.

We literally scrapped the surface of everything on offer at Winterviile. There are live DJ sets, cocktail bars, wrestling, Backyard Cinema, Big Fish Little Fish family rave, family shows on a double decker bus and so much more.

So if your looking for somewhere to kick off that festive spirit then this is the place to be!

*we were given tickets to Winterville for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Bringing A Colour Splash To A Bare Wall With Desenio

A few of you will know that we have recently moved and I have been really excited to be able to start a fresh and put my own stamp on it. We are lucky enough to have really high ceilings which make for a wonderfully light and airy space but on the downside it has left us with huge expanses of bare walls to fill.

The lounge for us is the hub of the home and the place we spend the most time so it was important to get this room ready first. Our sofas are a neutral cream colour as are the walls so i needed to add some colour as neutral really isn’t me.

I have been lucky enough to work with Desenio who offer a huge range of posters and prints that offer something to incorporate all tastes.

The fact that they have thousands of pieces to offer was a little overwhelming to begin with, especially as I had no idea what I was really after. But with the help of their themed sections and amazing gallery wall that allows you to choose exactly how you would like to see the pieces on the wall it wasn’t long before I had made my selection.

I went for a few motivational quotes which I hope will encourage the children to think positively by seeing them everyday, a little bit of abstract art and of course a big splash of colour with a small palm print and one of my favourite ladies – Freida Kahlo.

The prints all arrived promptly and were beautifully packaged and took no time to put into the frame and get onto the wall. The fact that you can select the frames at the same time as the prints was a massive pull for me as it saves dragging from the shops trying to get frames to fit.

If you are looking to create a gallery wall of fill a small space with something beautiful then Desenio is the place to look.

If you have been as taken with Desenio then please feel free to use the code “THEJOYOFFIVE” at the checkout which gives you 25% off posters between 27th and 29th November. This excludes frames and handpicked/collaberation posters.

Paper Plate Peacock Fan: #BostikBloggers

The theme for this months Bostik Bloggers challenge was birds and flight and to be honest it left me a little stumped for a while and everything that came into my head involved hand painting and I wasn’t feeling up for the mess that this always creates!

I then thought I could revolve the craft around one on my favourite birds…the majestic peacock and here’s how we got on.

Paper Plate Peacock Fan

What you will need:

Small paper plate
Blue foam sheet
Green crepe paper
Blue tissue paper
Yellow foam sheet
Blue feather
Two googley eyes
Wooden stick
Glue
Scissors
Sellotape

Firstly take the green crepe paper and cut around 14 small circles to cover the edge of the plate. Then take the blue tissue paper and cut a large circle to create the body and finally the blue foam and cut a smaller circle to make the head.

Once the circles are complete then the the yellow foam and cut a small triangle to make the beak and cut the top of the feather to make it a little shorter to be a good fit.

Next take the paper plate and put it onto the table with the back facing upwards and attach the wooden stick with a couple of pieces of sellotape.

Next take the green circles and cover the outer edge of the plate to form the feathers.

Once all the feathers are in place put the tissue paper circle at the bottom of the plate to make the body and then the foam circle above to create the head.

Now that the main part is complete glue the beak into the centre of the head with the eyes just above this and the feather in the centre of the head.

The last thing to do now is to cut small sections of the blue tissue paper and scrunch into little balls and attach them to the centre of the feathers with a little glue.

And there you have it, your very own peacock fan!

Anthony Gormley, Sea Shells And Bus Painting

Art, the sea and delectable food are one of life’s perfect combinations and for me Margate is a home to all of these.

In August the imposing cast iron sculpture from Anthony Gormley was erected on the chalk in front of the Turner Contemporary and I have been desperate to see it for myself for months.

It is one of one hundred sculptures from his ANOTHER TIME series and was as breathtaking as I imagined.

‘I wish to celebrate the still and silent nature of sculpture, ANOTHER TIME is necessarily isolated, and is an attempt to bear witness to what it is like to be alive and alone in space and time’

As I looked out to sea I thought of the words that Anthony Gormley had used to describe land work whilst listening to Oscar’s opinion on the piece.

What really stood out to me was the compassion he was showing for the man being alone. He looked on asking why he was standing alone and as we left kept looking back and worrying that he was being left alone and lonely.

It really was a sight to behold and something I’m really pleased to have shared with Oscar.

Sadly the Tuner Contemporary didn’t have a lot work on display as they were preparing to showcase the world of Tracey Emin…I think I need a trip back to see this.

We still managed to make use of the gallery though by grabbing a late breakfast and taking in the view form the beautifully light and airy cafe, and have a through the beautiful neon installation to the side of the gallery.

For the middle of October we were lucky enough to have picked a very mild day to visit and spent a good while chasing the waves, jumping over rock pools and collecting shells.

The foodie inside me was out in force and on our last visit we had passed The Bus Cafe along the sea front and I was determined to see what they had to offer on this visit.

Oscar was thrilled to climb onboard and take to the top deck to find a table.

The converted bus is run by a super friendly couple that were extremely friendly and very welcoming of little ones which is always a huge bonus for us.

The menu comprised of a selection of wraps and salads that you can mix and match to your own taste.

Fillings were plentiful and jammed packed with flavour.

Not only did Oscar enjoy the novelty of eating his lunch on a bus, he was also handed a special pen so they he could create his own masterpiece on the side of it.

He was more than about this happy to say the least!

The months of having this little one to myself during the day are passing by way to quickly and I have plans for plenty more days like this before I have to let him move onto his school life journey.

He is way more ready for this than I am!

My Mini Pop Artists At Warhol Croydon

Research from the International Child Art Foundation has found that a child that is exposed to the arts acquires a special ability to think creatively, be original, discover, innovate, and create intellectual property – key attributes for individual success and social prosperity in the twentieth century.

This is why exposing my litttle ones to as much art and culture as possible is of great importance to us as a family.

By this I don’t mean sitting in front of text books flicking through endless pages of text, but actually getting out and exploring which for me is a far more interesting way of gaining knowledge.

This weekend we took a trip into Croydon to explore the Warhol Croydon exhibition that has been bought to the streets of Croydon by the award winning RISE Gallery.

The street exhibition has been inspired by the life and works of Andy Warhol who was a leading artist in the 1960’s pop art movement.

A group of extremely talented artists have come together to create twelve instillations taken from the inspiration of his work and placed across the whole town centre.

There are plenty of free guided walks that you can book online to take part in or go it alone like we did.

The tour took us from the bustling high street full of shoppers to super quiet derelict buildings, from high rise offices to beautiful gardens and the quirky streets of Surrey Street Market.

We stopped and took time to take in each piece and the children really loved telling me their thoughts…some not so complementary and some hilarious.

It’s wonderful to see what others see when looking at the same piece of art and there is nothing thing better than seeing things through a child’s eyes.

The tour took us some time as I didn’t follow the route as marked out which from experience I would suggest doing.

With the tour complete we headed off to the Whitgift and Centrale Shopping Centre to take part in the Andy Warhol themed session that allowed Oscar and Frankie to become Mini pop artists for the afternoon.

We are familiar with Whitgift Weeenies Kids Club sessions that are put on throughout the year and are completely free to take part in.

The sessions can be anything from animal handling to art sessions and are suitable for children aged 3-10.

This session saw the children trying their hand at printing by carving out a picture into a foam board, covering it  with as much and as many different colours as they like and then creating their own Pop Art style masterpiece.

The friendly staff were at hand to help out where needed yet allowing the children free reign to really bring out their creative side.
Cleaned up and art in hand we finished off our jam packed day at RISEgallery they at the moment is homing some pieces of original artwork by Andy Warhol himself.

It certainly wasn’t a stuffy gallery that didn’t want enquisitive children around, we were infact all warmly welcomed, shown around the gallery and even had a chat about the art work that the boys had created.

The exhibition is on until the end of the month and there is still time to book in for this Sunday’s Wennies Kids Club session, so get yourself booked in as it’s something not to be missed!
*collaborated post

Design A Purfume Bottle Competition With Whitgift And Centrale Shopping Centre

I am ashamed to say that I haven’t yet had the chance to get myself into Croydon to see all the fabulous events they are going on this month to celebrate the works of the great Andy Warhol with Warhol Croydon 2017.

From guided walks to kids crafting sessions there is so much to see and do it certainly has to be on my list this week.

Croydon biggest shopping centre couldn’t miss out on all the fun and as they are currently housing a huge canvas of the iconic Andy Warhol inspired Chanel purfume bottle they have come up with a great competition to run in conjunction with this.

You have until the 21st September to get creative and come up with your own, original idea of a design for a Chanel purfume bottle.

This is open to any age and simply needs to be assessed into the comments section of their Facebook page ‘HERE’ for your chance to be a winner.

The winner will then be announced on Facebook  on the 22nd September.

Good luck and I look forward to checking out all your designs!

Chocolate Playdough Sweets For Valentine’s Day 

I am literally going stir crazy this weekend staying in with the children due to number five’s chicken pox!

The only thing for it was get crafting and with Valentine’s Day just round the corner I thought I would try something that would allow the kids to get involved in the celebrations too.

Mine always love playdough so I made an allergy friendly chocolate playdough that they could create chocolates from and wrap up to use in role play.

I used the same recipe that I use for my lavender playdough and just substituted the lavender for cocco powder.

It literally smelt good enough to eat and I had to stop the boys several times from doing so!


They had great fun rolling the balls to form the chocolates but had more fun creating poo!


When the balls were ready I popped them into the freezer for a while to harder up and then wrapped up in a square of cellophane and finished off with a piece of ribbon tied into a bow.


If this looks like something you fancy trying out yourself then take a look at this really simple recipe:

Chocolate Playdough

  • 150g gluten free plain flour
  • 50g salt
  • 2tbsps oil
  • 150g water
  • 4tbsps cocco powder
  1. Place all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the oil and then slowly add the water until the playdough forms a ball.

Making Conker Snails

Currently I have conkers in pots, conkers in pockets in fact I have conkers anywhere imaginable!

I get as excited as the kids when I spot the first lot hitting the ground and we gather them up by the bucket load.

Unfortunately playing conkers at school has been banned for many years now and I just get stuck with he little beauties gathering dust.

Last year we did some autumnal painting with them which was great fun but I wanted to try something a little different this year.

We’ve have put wiggley eyes on them to create little people which was fun, but my favourite has been these conker snails. 


All I did was to get the kids to take small amounts of plasticine and roll into a long sausage shape, place the conker near to the end of the sausage leaving a little for the tail(not sure that is the correct term). Then finally create the tentacles by splitting and moulding into shape at the top.


The children had great fun rolling out the plasticine and just needed a little help with the tentacles.


I still have hundreds left so really need some more ideas if anyone has any!