Monthly Archives

January 2016

Bathroom, Bedroom, DIY, Downsizing, Kitchen, Lifestyle, Living Room

Marianne Shillingford’s 5 Tips to Upsize Your Downsized Home

January 31, 2016

Downsizing: you’re thinking of it, you’ve done it but how can you maximise your minimal space?

I spoke to Marianne Shillingford from Dulux about this – she has so much experience and love of colour and she explained to me that you can trick the eye and senses and make interiors feel more spacious and welcoming. I love colour but when it comes to decorating I’m so unadventurous- I keep reaching for the magnolia…everywhere! Marianne however, has some brilliant tips and insight to share with us, so here they are


Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux and Design Director of the Dulux Design Service

Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux and Design Director of the Dulux Design Service

Tip 1: Creating a guest room/ home office combo

Whilst it may seem difficult to catch the balance between creating a productive home office and cosy guest bedroom it is important to remember that both spaces should encourage serenity.


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Mobility Aids, Universal Design

The Easy Way to Unlock your Front Door from the Inside

January 23, 2016

I had a lot of fun choosing the front door. Hours of late night pinning on Pinterest  ..digging around looking at doors – I decided to keep it modern, solid, simple panels and oak. It was this Pinterest board that set the look of the rest of the house; the internal doors, oak parquet floor and the oak kitchen.

But when it came to the door locks, well…it began to look like I was looking for the impossible- a latch and a deadlock that could be opened and also locked easily from the inside.

I needed the locks, a latch and a mortice deadlock, to be:

  • A latch that is easy to open from the inside for a weak grip and arthritic hands
  • A deadlock that locks from the inside WITHOUT a key and with a large, smooth action lever
  • Key turning that has a smooth, positive action, easy for a weak grip
  • Secure and solid
  • Chrome (it looked modern and bright  on Pinterest boards)

I began to investigate around and what I read began to make me sad. There were references to people who found opening the latch difficult and so they didn’t go out much. Stories of people not locking their front door properly, leaving it open but on the chain so that they could answer the door easily. I read stories of how some people were helped by innovative ways of extending the latch. These guys at remap who design and custom-make equipment to help with accessibility issues, made a door latch extension with a screwdriver:

A lady with arthritis that restricts hand movement asked if we could help her get out of her house. The problem was that she found it difficult to operate the small latch on the front door. Remap engineers looked at the problem and provided a simple solution: they made the latch bigger by grafting on a screwdriver handle! The client now gets out more.



and then there are websites with all sorts of innovations, such as the

The Doornuts Door Knob Turners are great for arthritis, MS, Carpal Tunnel, recovery from stroke or surgery, weak hands, or fingers. As an arthritis product, the door knob turner allows the doorknob to be turned without the use of the hand. Door opener fits any size doorknob and installs in 1 second, no tools needed. Openers and enlargers make a door easy for anyone to open.

I was determined to find a latch and deadlock that solved the problem and looked smart. I just didn’t want to install something that needed me to start going all Blue Peter.

Back to Google and Pinterest and a lot of latches with tiny handles and loads of deadlocks that need to be locked internally with a key. I did find a few Yale latches that I though might be ok but the deadlock became my bugbear, I started to fret about lost keys, getting locked in and that keys can be difficult to turn in a hurry.

And then I found the easy way to unlock a front door from the inside (by the way I had also ruled out a keypad lock) : the Banham Rim Deadbolt and their Thumbturn deadlock.

The latch handle is large and easy to grip it can be pulled forward with a flattened hand. I was delighted with the deadlock mechanism, it’s designed so that an internal lever that is easy to turn and its not fiddly, flips to lock the deadbolt.

…and all in chrome finish – perfect!

The next few steps weren’t as easy as they should be, firstly I couldn’t find a supplier so I rang the London office. On the phone I found it difficult  to get a quote, get a booking and for Banham to get the address right. But, I persevered and because I had done my research I got the locks that I wanted. The  Banham engineer who did the installation was brilliant. He positioned the locks so that they would be easy to reach, not too high, not too low.  That bit was EASY and I’m very pleased with the result. There is an added bonus, Banham can set the locks up so that both can be unlocked by the one key. Have you seen the size of the mobility, arthritis aid key holders?

This Banham set was the only set of locks that I found that address accessibility issues, that are secure and look good. I’m just wondering if any of you have found an easy lock solution too? I would love to hear from you, email me at and share your finds.






DIY, Featured, Kitchen, Lifestyle, Recipes

Best Tip Ever: make chicken noodle soup, now!

January 18, 2016

Yes, it’s true, Polish chicken noodle soup IS Polish penicillin. Make it because it’s warming, it’s comforting, it awakens the appetite, it’s good for young fussy eaters, it’s good for anyone who is unwell and it’s delicious when you are feeling happy or like me today with a case of the Sunday Blues. We call it Rosół- that’s pronounced ro-soow.

This recipe is my version of chicken noodle soup that I make for my family or friends; my mum makes her version, my dad made his, my grandmas made theirs and my son makes his own. My dad’s golden rule was that it has to be eaten a soon as its ready and can’t be reheated. My mum’s rule was that she cooked it (with loads of sweet carrots) before  I arrived with her grandson  so that she could give it to him for his mid morning meal… after I had finally left them alone.

This recipe is my version that is perfect for taking over to a friend or relative who needs…some chicken noodle soup. Its full of vitamins, micro nutrients from the vegetables and the chicken bones and chicken liver but it just tastes light and savoury and sweet. It’s umami on a spoon. I can only get all the right ingredients for myself from the Polish Shop in Streatham. But as almost every High Street in the UK has a Polski Sklep, I will point you in the right direction so that you can get the right stuff too!

Ok here goes:

In the veg area of the Polski Sklep find a bundle of vegetables called WLOSZCZYZNA (V-WOZH-CHEEZNA)

chicken soup veg

At the meat counter let them know you are buying chicken and ingredients for RO-SOOW and you will get exactly the right ingredients. Half a large chicken: these used to be called boilers in England, chicken gizzards and chicken liver, if they have chicken necks, just take those too!

Rosol ingredients

Wloszczyzna veg bundle, chicken gizzards, onion, chicken livers, chopped carrot, peppercorns and pack of egg vermicelli noddles

for roll

Flat leaf parsley and diced carrot









Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe


Half a large chicken (bones included and don’t remove any fat)

1 small washed wloszczyzna bundle

1 large Spanish sweet onion or 2 large shallots, peeled and whole

150 grams chicken livers, washed

150 grams chicken gizzards, washed

2 Large handfuls of egg vermicelli noodles

1-2 carrots finely diced

Half teaspoon of peppercorns

Salt to taste

OR Optional: half a Knorr stock cube


For the soup – Large pasta saucepan with lid or a large saucepan and a slotted spoon

For the noodles – Small saucepan and a sieve

Vegetables and herbs – Sharp knife and chopping board

For taking to a friend or family:

4 small bowls

A large glass jug, or an earthenware bowl


For serving at home:

Soup bowls

OK Let’s Do it:

In a large saucepan of cold water boil up the half chicken, gizzards and liver. I use my pasta saucepan for rosol as this makes it easy to lift out all of the meat and veg out of the cooked soup at the end. Take this to a rolling boil and skim off the brown foam until it all looks clear. Add the onion or shallots, peppercorns, whole carrots, parsnip and chunk of celeriac.

Use a stock pot or a spaghetti saucepan

Simmer for half an hour.

Add most of the bunch of flat leaf parsley, including the stalks. Carry on simmering for another 30-40 minutes

Add a small bundle of flat leaf parsley

Add a small bundle of flat leaf parsley


rosol Polish Chicken soup

Carry on simmering with the lid on

In the meantime, add 2 handfuls of egg vermicelli noddles to a small saucepan half full with boiling water. Boil for  2-4 minutes, strain and immediately cool down by running cold water over them. Drain and then set aside in a small dish.

Strain, cool down and then drain the egg noddles

Strain, cool down and then drain the egg noddles


Check the flavour of the soup and add salt to taste, sometimes I add half a Knorr chicken stock cube but that is optional. If you don’t have Knorr, don’t bother.

Chop the flat leaf parsley leaves and put into a small bowl.

By now the chicken soup should look clear and golden, smell and taste good. The meat should be falling off the bones and all vegetables very soft but not falling apart.

Remove all the ingredients, if you are using a pasta pan just lift the strainer out and let it drain, otherwise lift out the meat and vegetables carefully with a slotted spoon and put to one side.

Keep the remaining broth on a low heat, add the diced raw carrot and allow to cook. When the carcass has cooled,  pick off the meat and place into a small serving bowl. When cooked, strain the chopped carrot and add to a bowl. If you like extra vegetables, dice one of the cooked carrots and a parsnip for serving as well.


Ready for packing up...

Ready for packing up…








Arrange the cold ingredients: noodles, diced carrots, chicken meat pieces, raw but chopped flat leaf parsley in separate bowls and cover with cling film or lids.

Pour the cold chicken soup into a jug and cover with a lid or cling film and you’re ready to go…


Heat the soup to almost boiling. In soup plates or bowls spoon some noodles, chicken meat and carrots. Pour the hot soup over, sprinkle with flat leaf parsley





When people are in pain or unwell the thing that makes all the difference is human kindness.





DIY, Downsizing, Lifestyle, Living Room, Mobility Aids

HACK: how I converted a sideboard into a tall but downsized tv stand!

January 10, 2016

If you are looking for small but solid furniture that isn’t flat packed look no further than Dunelm Mills. What no one tells you about Dunelm is that not only do they have a fantastic range of styles, colour ways and an emphasis on building a ‘look’ but that the furniture seems to be the perfect size for downsized living and well built enough to withstand my hack!

Seville Sideboard in Dunelm Mills

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