Tuesday 25 July 2023

The Kitchen Appliance I couldn't live without

 Hi Everyone

This week's blog is a yummy one, I had to tell you about the kitchen appliance you won't be able to live without once you have one!!

And I’ll be showing you how to make my famous and favourite lemon drizzle cake that never fails to make your mouth water!!


All the best

Nicky 😊

Sunday 16 July 2023


Hi there


WHO ARE BLACKPOP?  Originating in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales, Founder and Design Director, Maxine Hall (seen here with the rather good looking woofer on her lap!!) first launched Blackpop in 2013.  Blackpop is a unique, luxury British label specialising in designer wallpapers, fabrics and bespoke furniture, all manufactured here in the UK.

Meet the Blackpop Team

The Blackpop team is made up with an abundance of talent and uniqueness, with each team member bringing their own special 'pannaz' to the table, helping to form the most incredible collections of intricate patterns, unique designs, opulent textures and vibrant colours that define the Blackpop label. 

Since 2013 Blackpop has enjoyed steady growth and as it approaches it's first 10 years in the business it would be fair to say is quickly becoming one of the UK's most respected and daring design labels.

How about a tour of the Blackpop Showroom to give you  a taster of just how breath taking and unique this company is:


“The National Portrait Gallery is delighted to be working with Blackpop on The Tudor Collection - Deconstructed, and excited by the creativity displayed in these beautiful designs.”
Nicola Saunders, Head of Business Development, National Portrait Gallery

“The Decorex judges were particularly impressed by the collaboration between Blackpop and the National Portrait Gallery. In taking their inspiration from Tudor paintings, Blackpop have created an exciting, relevant collection that is both traditional in reference and contemporary in colour palette. Intelligent and sensitive designing.”
Simone du Bois, Brand Director, Decorex International

"Blackpop Studios has designed a range that is nothing short of breathtaking. While they look like they could have been stripped from the walls of stately homes there is something uniquely modern and fresh about them too."

"Collections so beautiful and opulent, they transcend both a modern and vintage era."



If you're looking for inspiration and ideas pop over to the Blackpop Website and take a browse through the online Look Book, crammed with beautiful pictures of all the collections staged for full effect, this Look Book will not disappoint.  Click HERE


2016: ‘Best Licensed Product Award' - Association For Cultural Enterprise. Won in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery.

2016: 'Digital Innovation' - The English Home Magazine’s ‘New Years Honours List’

2015: ‘Best New Product in Show' - Decorex International


When it comes to quality and detailing, it would be hard to rival Blackpop's approach.  Take for example the making of their sumptuous velvet cushions, all hand made by a wonderful lady named Elaine, no mass produced unethical products can be found at Blackpop.  Even down to the fabric which is sustainable, being made from recycled plastic bottles is printed locally using water based inks to further lower the carbon footprint.  See for yourself with this little film featuring the lovely Elaine:


It is worth pointing out the outstanding level of service available from the team at Blackpop whose approach is to offer the level of support only a small independent brand is able to do, with such a personal touch and genuine interest in their customers bespoke projects.  Contact the studio to discuss your ideas and let them create something special with you.  Add in the comments anything you'd like to share on the blog, it would be amazing to see and hear about your own projects.


This might be just the time to show you my own little project.  It was because of this upcycling project that I first came across Blackpop and instantly fell in love with the company.  

With sustainability in mind for the project, it was especially pleasing to choose from their Sustainable Polyester Velvet (FR), I could not resist the "Hampton Gold Fabric".  A product inherently FR treated, suitable for domestic and commercial projects including upholstery and drapery.  I however was planning to line the back of my glass fronted cabinet!  This sustainable velvet is fire rated and made from 100% recycled plastic water bottles diverted from landfill.

"Hampton Gold"

Collaborating with the Sir John Soane's Museum and directly working and reworking architects' drawings, paintings and objects d'art, Blackpop has undoubtedly created one of its most opulent and dramatic works.  

From 'The Collector's Collection' which consists of 5 wallpaper designs, 3 fabric designs and 2 hand woven rugs, each with its own story to tell.

Every purchase supports the Sir John Soane's Museum - what's not to love about my choice!

Note:  Cabinet pictures will be improved asap!!

As part of my upcycling 'How To' posts and video series, you will be able to see how I upcycled this cabinet and attached the velvet to the backboard.  However, at the time of publishing this blog post the series is not yet available but will go live at the end of July 2023 and a link will be added!


The showroom, studio and workshop are based in the historic village of Wirksworth, Derbyshire and the team at Blackpop are always happy see their customers visiting to plan out their projects, so if you are local to the area then why not drop into the Showroom for inspirational ideas and to see for yourself their incredible collections.  It's worth noting that if you would like to discuss in detail any of their collections then consider making an appointment to ensure their undivided attention and time.  The contact details can be found HERE

I hope you enjoy this post, I love receiving comments so don't be shy, pop below even if it's just to say hello!

All the best
Nicky 😊

Monday 10 July 2023

Slow-Cooker Roast Shoulder of Lamb with Crispy Roast Potatoes

Hello there

Well, if like me, you found yourself looking at ways to save money on electricity this year, I read quite a lot of articles on how to do this.  I decided to dig out my Slow Cooker, something I am sorry to say has only ever been used a few times in the past 5 years of me owning it!! 

It may interest you to know that the slow cooker is one of the most economical ways to cook, using much less electricity than any other kitchen appliance when cooking meat, roasts, stews, casseroles and baking, etc.

But before I ramble on, I thought I’d just show you a little video of my method for cooking a roast shoulder of lamb in the slow cooker to wet your appetite. 

Now for those of you with a keen eye, you may have noticed a few discrepancies in my recording of the video, which I have to admit I've not mastered yet, but I’m working very hard to rectify as speedily as I can!!! you will notice that I served it up with roast potatoes but in the video showed you a saucepan of lovely green broccoli and gravy!!  As it would be rude of me not to share with you, my secret ingredient in producing these gloriously crispy, light, crunchy, golden roast potatoes that never fail to make your mouth water, I have added another video for just that!

It’s definitely worth remembering that this method of cooking the lamb works perfectly with beef, pork and even chicken. Only have a shallow amount of liquid in with your meat and vegetables, so as not to boil the meat as opposed to cooking it slowly the dry method.  By putting herbs, spices and seasoning on the top of your joint, it will allow the flavours to penetrate into the joint during the cooking process.  And as with the lamb once the meat is finished cooking in the slow cooker, you can always brown off your finished joint in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes just to give it a more colourful and crispy appearance.



Maris Piper Potatoes (enough for the number of people you are serving.
Salt and pepper to taste.
2 TBLS of Semolina
Sprig of mint
2 x TBLS of Duck fat


As mentioned before I needed to cut down on the amount of electricity I was paying for because like most people in the UK, I was horrified when my electricity bills tripled in price. I’m happy to say that it’s been a really worthwhile exercise to do and I thought I would share with you some of the things I have learnt in doing so.

With a passion for food, I wanted to investigate different costs of cooking methods. I thought it would be fun to finish off with some energy efficient, mouth-watering solutions to conventional oven cooking.

Well as you can see, the Slow Cooker is a clear winner in costs and now that I have mastered more ways to use it other than casseroles and stews I find myself using it almost all the time.  Funnily enough it has freed up so much more time for me once I have done the preparation and set it up, I can literally get on with my day knowing my food is being cooked for later!

I really hope you enjoy the blog and try out the recipe's for yourself.  If you have any fantastic recipes that you use in your slow cooker I would be thrilled to hear from you in the comments.  Let me know if you have a go at adding "Semolina" to your roasties!!

Take care.

Nicky :) 

Tuesday 4 July 2023

Nobody's Child - Eco-Conscious and Affordable Fashion

I recently came across Nobody's Child an eco-conscious and affordable fashion brand, thankfully through following the lovely Fearne Cotton on Instagram.  Fearne has a collaboration with Nobody's Child and you can read all about that below.  I instantly fell in love with this brand and their wide range of beautifully designed collections.  Read on and I have a personal code for you to use at the checkout if you would like 20% off, this offer is for a limited time so scroll on down.

Nobody's Child

The ethics behind this company are truly inspiring and ticks a number of boxes for me personally.  What's not to love about their Responsible Statement:

Responsibility is in our fabric:

"Nobody’s Child is a responsible brand on a mission to bring beautiful fashion to every woman, everywhere without costing the Earth. Passionate about lower impact fabrics, we’ve spent the last eight years running away from materialism. Nobody’s perfect. We’re proud that our spring/summer 2023 collection is our most responsible yet. It’s designed in-house at our London-based studio and is made from over 95% organic, lower impact or recycled materials. 

Our unwavering commitment to sustainable fabric innovation has driven us to prioritise responsible materials alongside promoting ethical sourcing and continually improving our practices. Believing strongly in the power of collaboration, we work with NGOs and industry experts to share the knowledge, critical expertise and oversight needed to further our mission. Our employees, the very backbone of the brand, are deeply engaged in our sustainability initiatives. Similarly, our customers play a crucial role as advocates of sustainable fashion. It’s your demand for responsibly made clothes that allows us to do what we do. 

Finally, we work closely with our wholesale partners, supporting them on their own paths to sustainability, creating a ripple effect in the fashion industry as a whole. Nobody’s Child isn’t just about us. Every step we take is a collaborative effort."

Nobody's Child, 2023 

My Recent Purchase!

Their clothes are bright, comfortable, well made and fun to wear.   The prints are divine and I am thrilled with my own recent purchase of the White Fruit Print Starlight Midaxi Dress, this will almost certainly be a style that will stay in the fold for ever, it's such a flattering shape.  I wish I had taken more note of their advice on sizing down if you like a slightly closer fit because I am afraid I had to replace mine as I ordered wrongly.  However, without any hassles at all I was able to return the dress and order a replacement size straight away.

This iconic dress is made from plant-based fibres blended with a touch of organic cotton, I particularly love the fruit bowl print. The quality of the sleeves is incredible with double material to give soft puff gathering, the buttons are covered and add a lovely touch to the very flattering shaped front and oh my goodness it even has pockets!!

  • Low v-neck
  • Short puff sleeves
  • Covered buttons
  • Pockets
  • Panelled waist designed to flatter
  • A-line skirt that skims the body
White Fruit Print Starlight Midaxi Dress

Fearne Cotton and "Happy Place"

In September 2022 Nobody's Child partnered with Fearne Cotton, English Broadcaster and Author and together created "Happy Place" a joyful collection of clothing incorporating Fearne's unique easy to wear style with the sustainable, eco-conscious branding qualities of Nobody's Child.  This is truly a superb collection.   You can shop Fearne's collection HERE

Here you can catch up on this interview with Fearne:

Where can you shop Nobody's Child?

Nobody's Child flagship store is situated on Carnaby Street and is definitely worth a visit if spending time in London.  This year you can also enjoy to search through the collections in a number of London Pop-Up's.  I am happy to pop below all the information for you.  If however, like me you enjoy to shop online, the service is great and ordering is easy so you can pop directly to www.nobodyschild.com 

Nobody's Child Shops 2023

  Carnaby Street                Covent Garden                 Kings Road                   Spitalfields        

Rent from Nobody's Child!

Wow, did you know that you are able to rent the latest trends from Nobody's Child!  Rental is available for everything from women's dresses, jumpsuits and casual wear on repeat, the perfect option for an occasional piece.

You can:

Rent 2 items for 4 days for £35 using code 2FOR35 at the checkout.

Rent 3 items for 10 days for £50 using code 3FOR50 at the checkout.

NOTE:  This discount cannot be used in conjunction with any other discounts and Items rented using 2FOR/ 3FOR codes and capsule orders are not eligible for rental credit.


At the time of writing this post there is a 50% off Sale on the website.

If what you fancy is not in the sale, then, for a limited time only you can click my link to get a 20% Off code to use at the checkout. 

(this offer ends 1st August 2023)


What does the future look like at Nobody's Child?

Live gently upon this Earth. Be Kind.

We’re on a journey to transform our business so it’s completely circular, giving back what we take away. We’ve highlighted three goals below that we’re focusing on. Our plans are underpinned by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. Here at Nobody’s Child we align our activities, goals and reporting to these SDGs.

1. Introduce circular design principles into 75% of our range by 2025

We’ll train our design and buying teams on circularity. In fact, we’ve already started. We’ve introduced specific training for our design team and we’re developing tools to ensure circular principles are incorporated into all our clothes.

2. Make every collection from 100% responsible fabrics by 2025 

Responsible fabric alternatives will be continually assessed for all product types and integrated into our material mix regularly​. We’ll continue to always choose the most responsible versions of all key fabrics and stay up to date with the latest innovations in the industry.

 3. Be a climate positive business by 2025 

We’re in the process of updating our carbon footprint with the overall aim of becoming climate positive. This goes beyond achieving net zero emissions to create an environmental benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

Nobody's Child, 2023

I think the future of fashion is in safe hands with intelligent, forward thinking company's like Nobody's Child, I for one will be watching their journey with huge interest and will happily support them along the way.  

I hope you have enjoyed reading the blog post, I also hope you will enjoy to investigate this gorgeous brand for yourself.  I love to hear what my readers think of the posts I publish and also about the brands I am blogging about, so please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts, be kind!

Thank you and take care.

Nicky :)

Thursday 25 May 2023


 Hi there

Today I'm talking about the amazing skin care range BALANCE ME, which can be found at www.balanceme.com.  I first came across this incredible brand during the lock down whilst watching the gorgeous, Lisa Snowdon on Instagram.  Lisa, a TV Presenter, Celebrity Master Chef Winner, Author and Brand Ambassador did a post covering Balance Me products and the brand.  I took advantage of the collab offer she had at the time and have not looked back, I truly love the products, they make my aging skin feel rejuvenated, plumped up, hydrated and healthy, I just had to share this with you.

When swatting up for this post it quickly became apparent that I was unlikely to do this incredible company and its founders' justice, so I have tried to highlight the main uniqueness of what I learned and hope that it will inspire you to delve deeper and follow the links I have attached to lead you on your own journey of exploration!

Who are "BALANCE ME"?

Balance Me is co-founded by two sisters, Clare and Rebecca Hopkins.  Back in 2005 long term stresses and 21st century fast paced living had taken its toll on their health and skin.  They were experiencing everything from sensitive skin reactions to hormonal breakouts and they were eager to turn to natural skincare to balance their skin.   

Clare & Rebecca Hopkins (Courtesy: Balance Me Website)

Rebecca retrained as a reflexologist after working both in Paris and London for a Global beauty giant; Clare harnessed her passion for aromatherapy, having discovered the power of essential oils as a student, and travelled the world to learn yoga, saying goodbye to a successful business career in the City. 
In the name of balancing skin and minds, as well as doing good for the environment, Balance Me was born. 
Both Clare and Rebecca were meticulous in ensuring Balance Me lived up to its name to deliver balanced, happy skin – naturally – for every skin type, solving skin concerns without creating others.  

Balance Me is very proud to hold B Corp status, an achievement not to be taken lightly.  B Corp certification is an ongoing commitment to continue to be assessed, to strive for even better scores and ways to improve the business.

What is B Corporation?

B Corp Certification is the World's leading measure of how consciously a business makes its products, treats its people, chooses its suppliers, governs its actions, respects its community and helps the environment.  All certified stakeholders adhere to:

The Declaration of Interdependence

We envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good. This economy is comprised of a new type of corporation - the B Corporation - which is purpose-driven and creates benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders. As B Corporations and leaders of this emerging economy, we believe:

That we must be the change we seek in the world. 

That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place matter. 

That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all. 

To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.

Being B Corp Certified is a really big deal and demonstrates that Balance Me not only create brilliant skincare, but show respect and care to the people in their business, our planet and their profit.

In their own words:

"When we first started Balance Me, we wanted to create a brand that helped women like you feel good about their skin, using the best blend of natural ingredients we could find to achieve that.  However, what has also been at the heart of everything we do, is ensuring we’re responsible. That is why we’re so excited to make our official B Corp announcement!


In short, it shows our commitment to balancing people, planet and profit.  We are now part of a wider Global movement that is committed to making business a force for good.  We’ve lived and breathed these standards from the very beginning, however now we have the B Corp framework to help us achieve even more.


Thanks for your ongoing support on this journey."


Clare + Rebecca Hopkins

Co-Founders, Balance Me

Balance Me creates skincare with purpose:

"...20% of our profits going to charity, where we are responsible with our sustainable packaging and where we award our employees with private healthcare that rewards them for staying active. And we will not stop there. We are constantly improving our social and environmental performance with transparency and accountability. 
Simply put, we are championing for change within the skincare space."  

Balance Me has actively supported many charities over the years including; Beauty Banks, House of St Barnabas, Surfers Against Sewage, Hackney Food Bank and Shelter to get products to those under the poverty line, with product donations, team volunteering and monetary donations.

For 2023, Balance Me are thrilled to donate 20% of profit in products to their official charity partner; The Hygiene Bank.

"Everyone has the right to be clean"

Lisa Snowdon's Super Hydrating Trio Offer!

And, as if all of the above isn't enough, you simply cannot afford to miss out on the latest Collab Offer with Lisa, pop over to BALANCE ME and grab yourself this incredible collection - Lisa's Super Hydrating Trio.

You can learn all about this fabulous Trio by watching the most recent Self Care Sunday slot on Lisa's Insta, she has a fun LIVE chat with the lovely Rebecca from Balance Me.  They take you through the products and show you how to apply and what the benefits are.  Lisa's Self Care Sunday slots are always a must for me, they are informal and fun and she puts so much into researching and supporting great brands.  


Don't forget to join the Loyalty Club at Balance Me to stack up your points.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit the blog, I hope you will be inspired to try out the products for yourself, please leave your comments below, I would love to hear if you found this useful and what products you tried out.

All the best

Nicky :) 

Thursday 23 February 2023

Personalised Keepsake Boxes

Hi Everyone

Let's talk Keepsakes!  What lovelier way to store all your memorabilia and personal keepsakes than in a personalised box, which in itself is decorated to reflect personal favourite characters, flowers, hobbies and special colours.

A few years back, I was approached by a friend, with a plain wooden box and asked if I could do something with it, so that it could be given as a gift to a special family member.

I hadn't thought about doing something like this before so, as with most things in my life, I said yes and then set about learning how to do it justice.  Here is that first ever Keepsake box, one of many now!!

"Beatrix Potter"

Of course that opened up the floodgates and since that very first box I have produced a variety of different boxes all unique to each recipient.

"The Construction Box"

I was amazed at the list of things people stored in them but I think the most important thing in all of this is that each one is totally unique and I have found them to be especially popular for people keeping memories of past and present loved ones for the younger generation.  Photo's, medals, remnants of teddies and special baby clothes, premium bond certificates and collectors stamps and coins.  Letters are a good one, full of sentiment and truths, personal love letters, timeline letters being left to a surviving child or friend.  

"Alice with an Environmental Twist"

I remember last Christmas racing against a deadline to produce 4 boxes all for the same family so with a general theme but each slightly different.  I personally loved the Steampunk, Clocks and Watches theme and had a lot of fun putting them together.

Painting and Decorating

It's always worth remembering that if you are using a light coloured paint, there is the risk of bleed-through from the wood so I always use a Shellac Based Primer which will prevent any tannins from the wood bleeding through.  I would suggest something like Zinsser Primer which is not particularly nice to apply and will need a light sand between coats but it is good and I use this on my furniture as well, because of it's reliability.  I purchase a lot of my painting supplies from My Paintbrush Decorating Supplies, they are always so prompt and very helpful if ever you need advice.  

I tend to use a variety of paints depending on what shade or colour I am trying to achieve but my go-to's are Vintage With Grace and Dixie Belle All In One, both these brands give a fantastic coverage and the depth of colour with just a couple of coats is great.  If you are going for a blended look then the Dixie Belle Chalk Mineral Paint is great for achieving this effect.  If you are local to East Sussex you could try the lovely Angie the owner of Fantissimo, who has a great range of paints and products available in her incredible shop.   I have included the links where you will be able to find local stockists near you.  To be honest a tester size pot is more than adequate to complete a box so if you want to attempt your own box then don't waste money on buying full size tins of paint.

For decorating I use a mixture of Decor Transfers, WoodUbend Mouldings and huge amounts of Re-Design with Prima Moulds that I make up myself using resin, my favourite Resin is Amazing Casting Resin which turns white and cures in 10 minutes (N.B. or less, you need to work quickly! always be totally prepared before mixing).  

Moulds, Transfers and WoodUbend
More recently, I have been learning how to produce my own Decor Waterslide Transfers which are incredibly simple to make, even if they are a bit fiddly.  I particularly like this idea as you are able to reproduce images and wording from any source and print them yourself using just a simple Ink Jet Printer.  

(I will cover making Redesign Moulds, using WoodUbend and Transfers in other blog posts at a later date, contact me if you would like me to cover anything else to do with the boxes.)

At present I am working on an Alice In Wonderland Box.  I particularly love this design and I love the gorgeous colour "Bewitched" by Vintage With Grace which goes amazingly well with the colours in the Dixie Belle Transfer I am using.
A work in progress!

I honestly had no idea how this would grow and at one stage I said I'd never do another, they really are a mission of mercy.  But here I am still painting yet another!

If you would like to purchase a Personalised Keepsake Box then click this link Drewsan Home and we can discuss what colour and design you would like.

If you have any questions or want to comment please pop it in the comments sections and I'll happily get back to you.

All the best
Nicky 😊