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The perfect Christmas tree

I don’t believe there is a right way to decorate your tree, it is all down to personal choice and having fun together as a family, but I have put together a few very simple tips for you.

Measure

Measure the area you have chosen for your tree so you know it will fit perfectly. Ensure there are plug sockets for the lights before hand too.

Location

choose the right location. Your tree does not have to be in the lounge, so put it where it best compliments your home. If you have small children or pets, male sure-it is in a safe area too. If you are worried about it falling it over you could also have a real tree outside that you see from the inside and decorate with lights and baubles.

Fluff up

Once the base is up, make sure your fluff out all the branches so the tree looks nice and even, if you have a fake tree they can be scratchy on your wrists and lower arm so pop on a pair of rubber gloves.

Lights first

Put up the lights before the decorations, but make sure they all work first. Hang them horizontally and if you haven’t got many don’t worry about lightening the back as you can’t see that part anyway. Bonus is they are a whole lot easier to take them down once Christmas is over!

Lights on

Keep the lights on whilst decorating, this will save you from hiding any and keep your tree at its brightest.

Colour scheme

Choose a colour scheme wisely to compliment your tree, go for rich reds, glamorous gold or sparkling silver

Fill in the gaps

When popping on your baubles and decorations fill in any gaps you spot and try to be consistent in your choice of colours. Avoid hanging the same colours next to each other unless you are-using one shade.

Tree Skirt

Add in a treat skirt as they really do create a beautiful effect and can hide away the wires for your lights.

Special task

Get the younger family members to add on the Christmas star or angel.

Stand back

Stand back and admire your masterpiece and fill in any gaps.

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Christmas hacks

Amazing hacks to help your Christmas run smoothly

Ironing board hack

Set up your ironing board so it is the right height for you to be comfortable then no stretching or back ache, grab your presents and wrap away.

Putting up a fake tree

Pop on a pair of rubber gloves when fluffing up your fake Christmas tree to save all the scratches on your arms.

Christmas Lights Hacks

If like most of us your Christmas lights come out all tangled and the elves get blamed for the mess, then you need this hack!

Grab yourself a coat hanger and simply hook one end of the lights to the hook on the hanger and wrap around or use the tube from your wrapping paper and wrap around. The following Christmas your lights will be tangle free.

Wrapping storage bag

If you hate your wrapping paper being everywhere and never being able to find your scissors then you need to get yourself a wrapping storage bag.

Put all the wrapping paper tubes inside along with the tags, ribbon, bows etc and you will have everything to hand.

Toilet paper tube

Keep of hold of your toilet paper tubes, cut along and then use this to keep your roll of wrapping paper in tack.

Sharpen your scissors

Kitchen foil will never sharpen your scissors, but it can certainly improve their performance, because the foil will clean the blades and remove little burs from the cutting edge. So grab a piece of foil and get them scissors performing better.

Smells like Christmas

Imagine giving your Christmas cards then scent of Christmas.

Pop your cards in an airtight container or sealed bag and add in a few cotton balls with your festive smelling essential oils such as evergreen or peppermint. Leave over night and then your cards will smell like Christmas.

Send off and the card will hang onto the smell for 2 weeks.

Wrap wine bottles with socks

Grab a pair of festive fluffy socks, pop the bottle of wine into one of the socks, fold the other other and tie around the neck to look like a scarf, this makes a great pressie and they get two lovely presents in one.

Watch my demo here

Label gifts with family photos

Use family photos instead of gifts tags, adds a nice little touch plus when you are out and about delivering makes it easy to recognise whose is who.

Christmas day box

Keep your essentials handy for Christmas day, add in batteries, screw driver, bin bags and anything else you may need to access quickly to keep the kids happy when opening the presents.

Dinner table

Collect wine corks to use as place settings. Simply slit along the long side of the cork and slide in a name card for a quick and easy place setting.

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Places people forget to clean

Here is a list of all the places that you should be cleaning but may be missing in your home. These are not everyday cleaning tasks but the ones to add into your monthly cleaning calendar

Lounge

The living room is the place where we relax, unwind, watch television, and snack which can lead to crumbs getting between the cushions and under furniture. Here are some places you may be missing in the living room.

TV Remote Controls– the best way to clean these is to dip a microfibre cloth in rubbing alcohol and wipe over the entire remote. You can also grab a toothpick to get into any small crevices.

Behind and under furniture- My pink cordless vacuum cleaner is so easy to manoeuvre around my furniture because it’s so lightweight and has such great suction and lays flat to get right under my sofas.

Cushion covers – Try and pop these in the wash at least once a month

Lampshades – use a lint roller to remove any dust and dust the light bulb using a recycled make up/paint brush.

Throws – Over the winter months when you are getting cosy watching TV try and pop these in the wash every other week.

Kitchen

The kitchen is the hub of the home. It’s where we seem to spend the most time in, gathering, talking, and eating. It is also a huge clutter zone.

Kitchen utensil drawers

Splash back

Inside cupboards

Under cupboards – you will be surprised at how sticky these can get

Oven racks – you can leave these to soak in warm soapy water with a splash of white vinegar over night

Extractor fan covers

Extractor fan hoods – if stainless steel after cleaning buff up with a tiny drop of baby oil

Around and under the fridge – use this amazing flat headed duster

Fridge shelves – most can be removed so just soak in warm soapy water.

Kitchen table and chair legs – We often do the tops but how often do we turn over our chairs and do the legs and the same for the table legs.

Kitchen Chairs – If fabric use the Dr Beckmann upholstery cleaner if leather use the Astonish leather cleaner

Microwave – to clean the inside off the microwave, fill a bowl with a ½ cup of vinegar and a ½ cup of water and place it into the microwave on high for 5 minutes you can also use an angry mama. Then just wipes away the loosened grease and grim.

Bedrooms

The bedroom is often just used for sleeping and dressing so shouldn’t get too dirty but can get very cluttered. Take a minute to look in your wardrobes, go through your clothes and take out what you are no longer wearing. Check under the bed and add these tasks to your cleaning calendar.

Mattress – Often over looked but ensure you use a thick good quality mattress protector and check out my tips on mattress cleaning.

Pillows– Again ensure you are using good quality pillow protectors and to refresh them either pop in the tumble dryer for 10 mins on a high heat to kill germs and refresh, spot clean using hydogren perxiode or steam clean them, some can be cleaned in the washing machine but follow my guide.

Under the bed – Pull out if you can as dust really does build up under the bed, if it is too heavy use my cordless vacuum as it goes nice and flat.

Bedroom Drawers – Empty and clean out.

Bathrooms

Bathrooms

So, you are probably cleaning all the obvious spots in the bathroom such as the sinks, mirrors, toilet, and bath and shower. But, there may be some spots that you have completely forgotten about. The worst places in your bathroom are the flush button and light switch/cord.

Light pull cord – Can often be discoloured where hands touch you can brighten this up using white toothpaste.

Shower Curtains – Must of these can be washed in the washing machine, if they have any mould patches treat with white vinegar

Shower Door – If built up with soap scum and limescale treat using my magic shower spray. or half a lemon dipped in bicarbonate of soda.

Shower Drain – Treat weekly by simply adding down a big scoop of bicarb, if blocked use a drain weasel

Shower head– if you have build-up on your shower head the best way to clean it is to fill a plastic bag with white vinegar and place it over the shower head. Make sure the shower head is immersed and secure with a rubber band and let it soak for a few hours or overnight if it’s really bad. If a bag won’t fix use a tea towel drenched in white vinegar.

Bathroom bin

Under and around the Sink base

Behind the toilet – dust can really build up here and it is hard to reach so blast with a steamer.

Toilet brush – Remember that silicone ones are the most hygienic.

Medicine cabinet– the medicine cabinet can not only get cluttered with stuff but it can get really dusty and dirty. The best thing to do is to pull everything out and declutter. Throw out anything out that has expired and then wipe out the inside before replacing the items.

White Modern Simple Christmas Virtual Invitation

Tips to simplify Christmas day

Things you can do to simplify Christmas and take the pressure off.

Start with a plan, find yourself 15 minutes and write down everything that needs doing and everything you are going to need. Do this ahead of time so you are organised, use your phone to set reminder alarms and don’t forget to delegate tasks to other family members.

Your plan my look something like this?

  • Meal plan
  • Food shop
  • Make up dishes and deserts that can be frozen ahead of time
  • Stock check table decorations and refresh table cloth and napkins
  • Deep clean the house
  • Set up guest rooms, ensure any guests staying over are comfortable.
  • Create space, move furniture if needed to create space at the table
  • Remove any valuables that could get broken

Follow my 7 day Christmas clean up

Simplify everything. 

 Once you have got the lists onto paper, distribute them to other household members.

If cleaning your house is on the schedule, spread it out so you’re not trying to clean the house and roast a turkey at the same time. Doing cleaning tasks little and often always really helps my book The 15 Minute Clean will really help you get into the habit of little and often

This makes hosting and opening your home so much easier because you are being proactive with your cleaning all the time instead of reactive.

The Menu, the decorations, the plan for the day. It’s okay to keep things as simple as possible. If you’re having guests, delegate specific items for them to bring – drinks, dinner specific sides, desserts etc.

Set yourself up for success. 

There are a handful of things you can do in advance that make hosting Christmas a little easier and the run smoothly.

My suggestions are:

  • Start with an empty dishwasher or sink. The empty dishwasher will keep the dishes of the worktops then you can load as you go.
  • Turn the thermostat down 2-3 degrees before anyone arrives. This will keep your home at a nice temperature when the house heats up from the oven and extra people.
  • Dim the lights, turn on lamps – make it cozy!
  • Light some festive candles.
  • Have a stain remover product and some cloths to hand in case of any spillages
  • Keep a large tub by the door for shoes, this way they aren’t loose.
  • Make room for people coats.
  • Ensure hand soap in the cloakroom, a clean hand towel and plenty of toilet roll
  • Close of rooms so people know not to go in them.
  • Write the WIFI code where people can see it.

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DIY Room Diffusers

Diffusers are a fabulous way to enhance your mood, freshen the air and invigorate your senses. They are so easy to make at home yourself, DIY diffusers will save you money and make a great little gift for friends and family. 

Essential oils provide a boost to the limbic system to enhance relaxation and anti-anxiety benefits, along with respiratory, disinfection, clearing toxins in the air and more. 

I love exploring essential oil blends.

I have popped some of my favourite blends below. 

To Make

Recycle your old diffuser jars and remove any stickers using the heat from your hair dryer. Gently heat and then the sticker will easily lift off. 

3/4 of the way fill with sweet almond oil, the reason I choose this carrier is because it is a light oil that easily soaks into the reeds.

If you have a nut allergy use safflower 

Add in 30 drops in total of your favourite essential oil blends

Give it a stir and pop in your reeds

You can top up with a few drops of oil every week to keep the fragrance fresh but remake or choose a new blend every month to keep the strong fragrance. 

All year round blends

This are all very fresh blends that give your home a clean feeling, the relaxing blend works well in the bedroom.

Fresh clean blend – Lemon, peppermint, and eucalyptus

Relaxing blend – Lemon, lavender, and rosemary

Energising blend – Peppermint, grapefruit and spearmint

Christmas blends

These diffuser blends will create the perfect Christmas atmosphere.

Orange, cinnamon, and clove

Pine, spruce, juniper and cedar-wood

Orange, peppermint and frankincense

Douglas fir, cedar-wood and juniper berry

Stack,Of,Towels,And,Detergent,On,Table,Against,Blurred,Background

The Do’s and Don’t’s of fabric conditioner

Fabric conditioner isn’t just about making your clothes smell good and keeping them looking fantastic it has its place and sadly can’t be used on all fabrics. When you do use fabric conditioner it is truly amazing and will help to keep your clothes lasting longer, help to retain their shape and protect against colour fading.

It will also help to speed up the drying and that dreaded ironing.

When NOT to use

Cashmere and Wool

Don’t lose the luxury of a cashmere sweater or a soft woollen jumper. Expensive and high quality fabrics like these can be damaged by softeners which can cause bobbling, wear down the fibres and pilling. Fabric softener can also make them feel stiffer.

An easy rule of thumb is to not use fabric softener on an expensive item of clothing.

To keep your jumpers in tip top condition always ready the care label, wash inside out, wash on a low temperature with a low spin and use a gentle detergent designed for delicates. Avoid using enzyme based detergents as this can destroy the protein in the wool.

Towels

Fabric conditioner makes your towels less absorbent, wears down the fibres, makes them slippery and gives them a greasy feel. If you want to keep your towels feeling like new, soft and fluffy then add in 20ml of white vinegar to the wash, you can either add this directly to your drum or add to the fabric conditioner compartment of your washing machine.

The vinegar softens towels and helps removes bacteria, a much better option than coating the towels with synthetic chemicals. If you want fragrance, you can add a drop or two of pure essential towards the end of the cycle.

Follow this advise too for microfibre cloths.

Sensitive skin

Although fabric softener is gentle on fabrics, it can be harsh on your skin. If you notice a skin reaction such as irritation or a rash, it could be your fabric softener. If a reaction occurs, stop using your softener immediately and see if you notice an improvement.

If you have sensitive skin, it is worth checking the label before you buy your softener to see if it is suitable. Some fabric softeners are formulated to be kinder to sensitive skin.

Flame resistant

Fabric softener can also reduce the effectiveness of flame-resistant clothing as it covers the fabric with a waxy coating. This can actually make them more flammable, so stay away from softener when washing items such as baby clothing, children’s pyjamas, dressing-up costumes, and anything else with a flame-resistant label.

When to use

Bedding

There is nothing better than snuggling down in freshly changed bed sheets that smell amazing and fabric conditioner makes this all the more luxurious by keeping the fibres soft and reducing static. If you only use fabric softener on one thing, let that be your bedding! 

Top tip – using a lavender-scented fabric softener on your bedding can improve your quality of sleep, as lavender has been proven to aid sleep

Synthetic fibres

Clothing made of synthetic fibres like acrylic and polyester.

When in doubt leave it out.

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Christmas stains

Christmas can bring with it a lot of mess and one of biggest messes is stains, I have put together my Christmas stain busting guide so you can deal with those pesky stains quickly get on and enjoy the rest of your festive activities and plans.

Red wine

Probably one of the most common Christmas stains, this isn’t the easiest stain to remove and please do NOT chuck a glass of white wine over it as it will be a complete waste. The trick never works.

The key is to get these stains as soon as possible and use cold water to try and release the stain, hydrogen peroxide works well on carpets but do a patch test on your carpet first, ensure you dab and do not rub as the rubbing will make the stain worse. For clothes, liberally spray the stain with white vinegar and then after 5 minutes soak in cold water, chuck in a few ice cubes too so the water is really cold.

Failing this you will need to get yourself a bottle of wine no more, this product is yet to fail me.

Candle wax

Lighting a few candles is the best way to create Christmas ambience but can often drip. Wax is easy to remove, start by using a blunt knife and scrap off as much as you can. Next cover with brown paper or some kitchen roll and then apply heat. You can use your iron or hair dryer for this. Put on a mid-heat setting and heat over the covered wax. The wax will liquidise making it easier to remove.

This will also work if wax gets splattered onto your walls, after heating wipe off as much as you can and remove any left residue with soapy cloth.

Hot chocolate

We all love to curl up with a mug of tasty hot chocolate, a good film and a cosy blanket but it is really easy to spill that hot chocolate down your top or onto the carpet.

To treat hot chocolate stains on clothing, immediately rinse the garment under cold water, running the water through the reverse side of the stain to flush it out. Pre-treat the stain using a liquid laundry detergent, soak for 20 minutes and then wash as normal.

For the carpet, immediately blot up as much of the liquid as possible with a clean white cloth or thick kitchen roll and work from the outside in. To rinse the area, fill a spray bottle with cold water, spritz a small amount over the stain, and blot again. Using a cloth dipped into a mixture of warm water and a small amount of washing up liquid, blot the area until the stain is gone. Remove any soapy residue with a clean cloth dampened with warm water.

Lipstick

Christmas glam may leave your napkins stained, lipstick is normally easy to remove so don’t panic. If you have some micellar water for removing your make up then grab this and cover the stain, let it soak for 10 minutes then rinse away alternatively use your liquid laundry detergent again as a pre-stain treatment.

Soot

Nothing like a burning fire over the festive period. But ash and soot can make a real mess. To remove soot stains on your carpet sprinkle with bicarbonate of soda and leave to sit at least an hour, this will hopefully absorb the staining. Then vacuum the area thoroughly. If the stain remains use a specialised carpet cleaner like the Dr beckmann one.

Food grease from cooking

Head chef over the Christmas period is bound to pick up a few grease and oil stains. Pop washing up liquid on the stain straight away as this is a degreaser and let it sit for 10 minutes, rinse with cold water and then wash as normal. Repeat if there are still traces of the stain. Remember: You should always confirm a stain is completely gone before drying. If you need to repeat add in a few drops of lemon juice to help fight the grease.

Cranberry sauce

Most likely to hit your Christmas table cloth rinse or blot with cold water, spray with white vinegar and rub in some washing up liquid, let it sit then blot, use a white cloth so you can see if the stain is lifting and then wash as normal.

Gravy

Over Christmas dinner there is bound to be a gravy disaster and if you are busy enjoying your dinner the chances of you dealing with it straight away are pretty slim. Scrap of as much as you can using a blunt knife. Then use warm water and washing up liquid, and it will easily remove.

Don’t forget my book – How To Clean Your House at Christmas: The ultimate how-to guide for cleaning your home, with an updated chapter to help at Christmas is available now.

Homemade,Butternut,Squash,And,Chilli,Soup.,Served,With,A,Dollop

Slow cooker chilli soup

If you are a fan of using your slow cooker and chucking everything in then you are going to love this super quick chilli soup. This will make up 6 tasty bowls perfect for mid week lunches when you are busy or makes a quick evening meal served with warm crusty bread.

Ingredients

3 large potatoes

7 carrots

170g chopped chorizo

3 garlic cloves

1 litre of vegetable stock

30g of frozen or fresh coriander

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp curry powder

Method

Literally chuck it all into your slow cooker and cook on high for 2.5 hours, save some of the chorizo for the topping. You can also add a dollop of cream if you want to cook it down a little.

Enjoy

Carrot,And,Coriander,Soup

Carrot and coriander soup

Make this warming carrot and coriander soup on a cold day for the perfect delicious lunch. This recipe will make up 6 bowls, can be frozen and will cost just £1.45.

Ingredients

500g of carrots

1 large white onion

1 large potato

1 litre of vegetable stock

1 tsp ground coriander

30 g of frozen coriander

Method

Chop and fry off the onion in a little oil.

Add in the chopped carrots and potato and cook for another 10 minutes

Add in the veg stock and the ground coriander and cook for about 20 minutes

Lastly add in the frozen coriander cook for another 5 minutes then blend together.

Enjoy this comforting soup with a warm flat bread or add in some croutons.

Tomato,Soup,On,Wooden,Table,Using,For,Wallpaper,,Top,View,

Chorizo and sweet potato soup

This is the perfect warming comfort food for this time of year. The colour alone is enough to put you in a good mood and it really does not take long to make.

This recipe will make 4 large portions and is great winter meal served with warm crusty bread or a filling lunch.

Ingredients

100g of chorizo sausage skinned and chopped up small

Olive oil

1 large white onion

2 garlic cloves

2 large sweet potatoes

1 litre of vegetable stock.

Method

Peel and slice your potatoes

Place into a preheated, oiled oven tray for 30 minutes and part roast them.

Heat the oil in a pan and fry off the chopped onion until golden brown

Add in your chopped chorizo, garlic and fry for 10 minutes. Keep a little chorizo back to garnish.

Make up 1 litre of vegetable stock and add into the chorizo pan along with the sliced potato

Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes.

Blitz up using your blender

This soup is quite a thick in texture. Serve into warm bowls and garnish with the rest of the chorizo.

Enjoy

I have lots more wonderful easy recipes on my website