New Kitchen and Homeware! ~ from Chefs Collection

I was recently sent some goodies in the post from Chefs Collection to try out some of their most popular kitchenware and bathroom products. I was delighted to receive these cute gifts in the post and I’d like to share my thoughts on these items after trialing them in my own everyday life over the last week.

Chefs Collection specialises in cookware, bakeware, homeware, and all manner of kitchenware you could wish for from top quality and unusual brands that you won’t find in your everyday high street store. They were founded in 2016 in Norwich, (my home town, incidentally) and they stock an impresive range of kitchen and home brands at really good prices. Well worth a browse if you’re looking for some attractive designs for homeware or even if you’re after a wedding or birthday gift.


Champagne flute: La Rochere ‘Bee’

This champagne flute is a beautiful and yet practical piece of glassware; it’s very sturdy, unlike a lot of champagne flutes that I find tend to topple over, but it’s also very delicate. It feels like an antique, classic French design at the same time as looking quite modern. You will also notice the little bees at the top of the flute – the only detail on the flutes and this cute feature adds a little bit of country charm. La Rochere are inspired by 18th century designs and the bee flute takes me back to summers in the south of france, walking around lavender fields and vineyards. The brand dates back to 1475 and La Rochere is the oldest working art glassworks in France.

As I’m currently 7 months pregnant, I can’t put these champagne flutes to their optimal use so I’ve opted for apple juice instead. I have to say, it makes a soft drink feel very elegant and classy. I’ve enjoyed drinking from these flutes in the garden, enjoying the last of the late summer evening rays after work, and they will be a regular feature on date night home-cooked dinners.

La Rochere Bee champagne flute

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Spreading knife – Opinel

The website declares that Picasso owned one of these knives! Quite a claim to fame for Opinel. I wonder if he used it for spreading jam on his toast or for painting his Cubist masterpieces?

This is another established brand, dating back to 1890, and the spreading knife is a new addition to Opinel’s range of simple and elegant kitchenware.

This knife is definitely a quality item; it feels very robust, which you don’t normally get in a spreading knife as they can be quite flimsy. The blade is spatula-shaped and lends itself well to spreading butter and jam. I used it to spread my favourite Lotus biscoff spread on a homemade banana bread I made recently (by the way, that’s a great combination.)

Opinel spreading knife

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Nail brush – Andree Jardin

Here we have another company with a history in France making iconic designs known for their quality. This beechwood nail brush has proved very helpful after an afternoon in the garden; getting the soil out from under those fingernails is a tough job! The nail brush is quite a simple design with soft bristles and delicate lettering on the underside. It’s comfortable to hold and it doesn’t take long to get the dirt off; it rinses well after use and is an attractive feature on a bathroom shelf.

I was a bit concerned to see the bristles are made from horse hair unfortunately and the wood is polished with beeswax; I recognise that for most people this would be a mark of quality but using animal by-products is a bit of a let down for me, and I hope the brand can move away from this in future as there are modern alternatives available. (Horse hair, by the way, is usually ethically and humanely ‘harvested’ from grooming but is nevertheless a by-product I’m not comfortable with.)

Andree Jardin nail brush

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* I received these products for free to write an honest review of them. Thanks to Chefs Collection for sending me these items to try out. *

 

 

 

 

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Homemade Cleaning Products

Finding household cleaning products that don’t test on animals, though much easier these days, is still difficult and time-consuming and requires a lot of research. Sometimes we forget that human beings actually managed to survive relatively free from disease in decent hygiene for centuries before supermarkets appeared.

So how did they do it? Mother Nature provided.

Plus they were probably a little less anal about cooking in a germ-free kitchen.

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Here’s my quick guide to homemade household cleaning products that are natural, cruelty free, fairly cheap, easy to make and readily available.

  1. Vinegar cleaner: white vinegar cleans pretty much everything successfully. Mix with a bit of baking soda and lemon or lavender to scent and essential oils (they disinfect.) You need nothing more than this to clean basically anything.
  2. Scrub: slice a lemon and dip it in Borax. Scrub those hard, baked-on or rusty stains off then rinse clean.
  3. Brass cleaner: dampen sponge with white vinegar or lemon then sprinkle on table salt. Scrub lightly then rinse and dry with a clean cloth.
  4. Deodorizer: for bins, use lemon or orange peel; for carpets, sprinkle baking soda before hoovering; for garages/basements/cellars, leave a sliced onion on a plate for a day.
  5. Drain cleaner: 1/2 cup of salt in 4 litres of warm water and pour down drain. For a stronger reaction, try pouring 1/2 baking soda and and then 1/2 cup vinegar. After 15 minutes pour down boiling water to clear.
  6. Oven cleaner: wet surfaces inside with water. Use 3/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 salt, 1/4 water, mixed into a thick paste applied throughout oven interior. Leave on overnight and remove with a spatula and wipe clean. Use steel wool for tough grease.
  7. Rust remover: salt sprinkled on rusty area, squeeze a lime over the salt until wet. Leave for a few hours then scrub off.
  8. Shoe Polish: mix olive oil with a few drops of lemon juice, apply to shoes with thick cloth. Leave for a few minutes, wipe clean, buff with clean cloth.

 

Happy cleaning!

On the importance of house plants

I have a minor obsession with house plants. I’ve got spider plants, rubber plants, ivy trailing everywhere around my home. I frequently run out of pots to put them in and have to buy more pots; this frees up the smaller pots, and I buy more plants.

Vicious cycle.

But I really do think they improve my day, and there’s lots of evidence to suggest that they improve your health as well. I like seeing greenery indoors, I enjoy watching them grow, and the cat likes to chew the leaves.

So what are the benefits?

  1. Purify the air: plants can absorb harmful toxins from the air, break them down, and release the harmless by products.
  2. Remove carbon dioxide: it has been suggested that plants can remove up to 10% of carbon dioxide from the air. (So’s it’s really concerning when trees are cut down when we have a global problem with carbon…)
  3. Increase the humidity: this is much healthier than dry or dusty air, which causes throat, nose, and eye irritation.
  4. Improve relationships: caring for nature increases compassion and boosts our mood, making us just a bit better at putting up with each other.
  5. Help us to think: plants increase our capacity for memory, increase productivity and creativity.
  6. Help us to heal: patients recovering from surgery heal better when they can see plants – they have lower blood pressure, and less pain and fatigue.
  7. Reduce noise pollution: this probably helps more with outdoor plants, as you can plant a large hedge between your house and the road to block out the traffic noise.

Which plants should you choose if you want to improve the air quality in your home?

NASA went to great lengths to thoroughly study which plants could be used to purify the air in space facilities, so we have a pretty good idea of which plants to buy if we want to improve the air quality in our homes.

Snake plants – otherwise known as ‘mother-in-law’s tongue’ (because they are sharp.) They give out oxygen at night, unlike most plants, so they work best in the bedroom.

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Broadleaf lady palm – to be honest, I had never heard of this one. Apparently it can extract ammonia from the air so is really helpful at detoxifying the air after using cleaning products.

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Aloe vera – a spiky succulent that fights benzene, which is found in plastics and detergents.

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Spider plant – combats carbon monoxide. What a beauty!

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Chinese evergreen – likes humidity, thrives in bathrooms where it can tackle the formaldehyde from cosmetics.

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Ficus/ weeping fig – cleans the air of fireplace smoke so perfect for rustic living rooms.

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English ivy – removes airborne fecal matter!

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Orchids – another one that gives off oxygen at night time so perfect for bedrooms. Also tackles the chemicals found in shoe polish. (So fill your shoe polishing room with orchids.)

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Looks like I need to plan a trip to a garden centre soon…….

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