January 30, 2017

What I’m loving this month

It’s time for my round up of things I’m loving this month.

  1. Sistema Storage

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One of my New Year’s resolutions was to get organised. I’ve been busy clearing out cupboards, selling excess belongings on ebay and sorting out my cupboards this past month and when it comes to organising the kitchen cabinets, Sistema has been a lifesaver. Their Kip-It range are not only super functional for holding all your opened items such as raisins, rice and cereal, but they can make your cupboards organised and beautiful – Just like you always imagined. Find out more on the range by visiting www.sistemaplastics.com  Prices vary by item.

2. Flat Stacks

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These nifty Flat Stacks from Wowzr are a real space saver. Another resolution for this year was to try and save money, so the husband is being sent off to work with lunch pre-packed everyday. The great think about these containers is that they are collapsible. Simply fold them up and they are easy to transport. They not only save room in your bag on the way home from work, but when not being used, simply fold up to be stored away from sight.

3. Itsu snacks

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Everyone is looking for the ultimate snack. Something that staves off hunger, is healthy and of course, low in calories…which is why these seaweed and miso soup snacks from Itsu are so great. Crispy Seaweed thins are available in three different flavours: Wasabi, Sea Salt or Sweet Soy and Sea Salt. At around 20 calories per pack, these are moreish salty little snacks. A great replacement for unhealthy crisps.

Also available are two different Miso Soups – around 40 calories each and available in regular and vegetarian. Find these at all good supermarkets now!

4. Lonely Planet Food Trails

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Another thing I’ve been busy doing during January, is dreaming of trips to take during 2017. This is where Lonely Planet’s Food Trails book comes in.  With a variety of itineraries for trips around the world which take in the best dishes, restaurants, food markets and more, this book highlights the must visit foodie capitals of the world including Buenos Aires, Puglia, Melbourne, Penang and Paris. A great read and a huge inspiration for trips.

Currently available for only £13.99 here.

Note: I was sent all of the above to review, but all opinions are my own.

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January 29, 2017

Feeling hot, hot, hot

New Year resolutions are tough. We all choose to start them straight after the festivities – going from drinking and eating to excess to hard exercise and diet programs. This makes us so likely to quit them before the month is out. According to a recent survey most people have given up their resolutions by the 17th January.

So why not take another look at those resolutions you made a month ago and set yourself some more achievable healthy living goals, now we are heading into February? To get you started I’m going to suggest a really easy thing to be adding to your lists – HOT YOGA.

On a freezing cold Saturday morning a few weeks ago I headed on over to Westminster Lodge in St Albans to try Hot Yoga for the first time ever. It’s always been on my must try list, but I kept chickening out, worried about being able to cope with the heat (and the yoga moves). Westminster Lodge has recently opened its own Hot Yoga Studio, specially made to create the perfect environment for the activity.

 

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(I stupidly forgot to take any lovely pictures myself, as I was too excited! If you want to see some great ones, visit Miss Wheezy’s blog, as she’s got some great ones)

They have a selection of classes which vary in warmth from Hot to Warm, with something for everyone. I headed to a Intro class which was made up of 10 people, who like me, were completely new to Hot Yoga, which definitely made it less scary. Surprisingly I wasn’t the worst one in the room – but even if you are, they let you go at your own pace and recommend that you don’t compare yourself to others (although that’s always hard to do).

We went through a series of moves which not only helped stretch us out, but which also got us sweating in the heat. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The time flew by and the heat wasn’t too much at all.

It really is the perfect, easy addition to your workout schedule and is a great way to warm up on a cold winter’s day. I can’t imagine a better way to whisk yourself off to an exotic location (mentally) while working out!

Here are just a few reasons why you should try Hot Yoga:

  • FLEXIBILITY Heat allows you to reach new levels of flexibility
  • STRENGTH Low impact and uses muscles you didn’t know you had
  • BREATHE Learn to breathe in a full and controlled manner
  • CARDIO A 90-minute class can burn up to 1,000 calories
  • HEALING The primary purpose of this yoga is therapy
  • DETOXIFYING Sweating throughout yoga detoxifies skin

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Find your nearest Hot Yoga Studio at everyoneactive.com or head over to Westminster Lodge in St Albans to sign up to their 15 days of hot yoga for only £20.

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December 19, 2016

A review of PizzaExpress by my niece

My niece had to write up a restaurant review for a school project and she chose to do one at PizzaExpress. I couldn’t resist posting it on my blog for her. Enjoy!

PizzaExpress Review

By Harriet Nation

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Harriet (left) and her sister, Abigail (right)

At Christmas time, I had the most wonderful meal at PizzaExpress.

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First, I had a Bambinocino and it was delicious. It looked like this….

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Secondly, I had the loveliest  starter I’ve ever had which was doughballs dipped in butter with salad. The doughballs were very squishy, look….

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For my main course I had Pizza (which is why the restaurant is called “PizzaExpress”). It was very cheesy and yummy. The best bit about it was that I got to eat it! Yum!

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Finally, I had a scrumptious, apple-flavoured ice lolly. This was a great way to end the meal.

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The whole meal was fantastic but my favourite part was that there were activities to do.  The best activity I did was decorating a Christmas Bauble.

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December 11, 2016

What I’m loving this month

I know I’ve been MIA for the past month or so…but things are back on track now and life has settled back to normality, so here’s my round up of my favourite things this month.

1.Homedics Foldaway Footspa (RRP £49.99)

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This is an absolutely genius idea. Finally, a footspa which can collapse and fold flat for easy storage! Not only that but it’s a great quality item. Give family and friends the gift of relaxation this Christmas with their own easy to use spa from Homedics.

The footspa features soothing vibration massage and can be used with bath salts to provide a soothing experience for tired feet. Raised acunodes provide extra stimulation for tired feet and the fab keep warm technology ensures a comfortable water temperature throughout your experience. A great present for anyone (or yourself)

2. Ahmad Dessert Teas (£4 each)

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On a diet or just trying to cut back on sweet things? Then this new range of Dessert teas from Ahmad Tea are a must-buy. Indulge in dessert guilt-free thanks to these delicious flavours. Available in six different flavours reflecting some dessert favourites: Strawberry Velvet Cake, Pear & Cinnamon Strudel, Moroccan Orange Slice, Citrus & Mint Sorbet, Strawberry Basil Coulis and Mango & Lychee Souffle. Available from Ocado or follow the web link above to purchase.

3. Charles Viancin Camellia Tea Magnet & Infuser

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This little gadget makes enjoying tea leaves great fun. Simply fill the metal infuser with your chosen tea, drop into your mug and leave to soak. When it’s time to remove, use the flower (which is magnetised) to retrieve the infuser and place on the green leaf. A cute little addition to any kitchen and a great stocking filler.

4. Vileda Easy Wring & Clean Turbo (£34.99)

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I know, I know…it’s a mop. But this isn’t just any old mop, this is the Easy Wring & Clean Turbo from Vileda. The pedal powered wringer rotates 500-1000 times a minute to wring out excess water, with virtually no effort – a real life saver when you have a dog in the house like us. Apparently this means it gives 20% better particle pick up. All I can say is our floors look spotless and we’ve been using it for months now. There’s also the mop holder and easy pour function to help get rid of the dirty water with little effort. The mop head is machine washable too – simply pop it in the washing machine when it gets dirty and it will keep going.

5. Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Weightless Texture Spray

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This styling spray feels as though it has been designed for me – it works perfectly with my crazy, fine hair. The spray delivers a balance of body and definition for an effortless lasting tousled look. With beautifully fruity ingredients including Shea Butter, Coconut Water, Dragon Fruit, Lychee Berry and Green Apple Extracts. The spray also includes Imbe Oil which helps to block humidity and Aloe to add a weightless shine. This really makes my hair manageable and is a great everyday styling spray.

All of the above were sent to me to review, but opinions are all my own.

 

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December 11, 2016

Enjoying veggies with Mash Direct

A recent survey by the lovely people at Mash Direct discovered that British parents aren’t being swayed to eat trendy veggies like avocado and kale, even though they have huge marketing campaigns and celebrity faces behind them. The majority of parents surveyed will continue to serve up their old favourites such as potatoes, broccoli and peas.

It turns out the favourites are potatoes (76%), carrots (72%), peas (68%) and tomatoes (67%).

Surprisingly, the top instagrammed vegetables such as beetroot, kale, avocado and celeriac are the least liked by British families.

Over half of parents questioned admitted they wouldn’t buy a particular vegetable without knowing how to cook it in advance, which is why Mash Direct is a great solution, with their huge selection of ready prepared vegetables.

We were happily sent a selection of Mash Direct items to try and they are fantastic! So easy to just stick in the oven, all the preparation has been taken out of your hands and each different dish provides a great weekday solution. Simply pop in the oven when back from work and serve with some quick pan fry fish or meat and you’ve got a delicious, easy and quick meal.img_2frq8r

We tried a large variety, as you can see in the picture and my favourites were definitely the sweet potato fries – deliciously crispy, these will definitely be a family favourite, along with the sweet potato croquettes, which are fantastic home comforts. Great for one of those days when you need something warming and comforting. Mash Direct has so many items to choose from.

Visit MashDirect for more info on where to buy. You’ll find Mash Direct items in Iceland and Budgens as well as many other good retailers.

 

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October 20, 2016

Competition time: Win Christmas goodies

I know, I know…I said the C word before Bonfire night, but it’s good to plan early when it comes to Christmas shopping. By planning early you can avoid the last minute rush, the crowds of Christmas shoppers and of course, only buy when the price is right. The best thing about all this? You get to enjoy the best bits of the festive season, such as mulled wine and mince pies without any stress.

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To help you on your way, I’ve pulled together a little package of Christmas gifts and goodies to help you get a good head start.

The winner’s package contains:

  • Deadpool Blu-ray
  • Two lovely fun Pug mugs from New Look
  • Champneys Body Souffle
  • Yankee Candles Christmas votive pack
  • Bic fun colours pens
  • The essential scratch & sniff guide to becoming a wine expert

Simply follow the rafflecopter details below to enter. Enter daily to increase your chances!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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October 19, 2016

Lily’s House – Cassandra Parkin

If you are looking for a real page turner of a novel, then this is the book for you. Lily’s House published by Legend follows the difficult dynamics between a grandmother, grand-daughter and her own daughter with twists and turns which are both unexpected and wonderful to read.

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Here’s the description on the back of the book:

When Jen goes to her grandmother’s house for the last time, she’s determined not to dwell on the past. As a child, Jen adored Lily and suspected she might be a witch; but the spell was broken long ago, and now her death means there won’t be any reconciliation.

Lily’s gone, but the enchantments she wove and the secrets she kept still remain. In Lily’s house, Jen and her daughter Marianne reluctantly confront the secrets of the past and present – and discover how dangerous we become when we’re trying to protect the ones we love.

The book is well written, drawing you into a colourfully described world, hiding secrets in the open and then unleashing them with great effect. It explores the strength of love and what binds us in a subtle and delightful way.

Find out more here: http://www.legendtimesgroup.co.uk/legend-press/books/1245-lily-s-house  and follow the book tour over the next few weeks across various blogs. See below for details.

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Out now in all good bookshops

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October 3, 2016

Crystal Clear with Brita

Brita has launched their new pastel Marella jugs range available in a variety of gorgeous pastel colours. If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your current filter or don’t have one yet, then now’s your opportunity as you can pick up a jug in pastel pink – yes, pastel pink!

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The jug holds 2.4litres and fits perfectly into the fridge door. As with all Brita filters it reduces levels of chlorine, heavy metals and limescale in your water to produce cool, clear, crisp water. We use ours all the time, keeping it nice and cold in the fridge for easy access.

The team at Brita have also come up with some delicious recipes using Brita filter water to try at home. The purple smoothie is definitely the winner for me, but why not try them all.

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Visit www.brita.co.uk for more information.

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October 2, 2016

Beautiful Bedrooms with Sheridan

One of the things I love most about staying in hotels is the luxurious bedding – from the soft pillows and cosy duvets through to the crisp sheets and beautiful duvet covers. So, why not try to create this hotel luxury at home? Thanks to Sheridan, the producers of the most luxurious linens on the planet, hotel luxury is within reach.

I was sent the Beadmore duvet and pillow set to review and it’s been our favourite duvet cover since. Not only does it look great in our bedroom, but it also feels amazing. You can really tell the difference and my new goal is to have enough Sheridan for every sheet/duvet change for every room in the house. It may cost more initially than a John Lewis own brand duvet set, but in the long run, you know it will work out to be a bargain, as the quality is far superior.

Shot of the Beadmore duvet on my bed

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The official shot

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Take a look at Sheridan for their range of duvets and to purchase.

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October 1, 2016

What I’m loving this month…

I know everyone says this as we get older, but really, where is the year going?! I can’t believe it’s October already! Anyway, here’s my monthly round up of favourite things.

1.Bar Keepers Friend range

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If you’ve been following me on twitter, you will have seen how addicted I became to Bar Keepers Friend. I literally had to hunt around the house to find things grotty enough to clean up. (see above for the amazing transformation on my little copper pot. Left is before/right after)

There’s a reason this has been around since 1882 – this works. Literally anything that needs cleaning up, this is the guy for the job. They have a range of items which can be used in different ways…so why not stock up on them all. They can literally be used anywhere around the house. Visit John Lewis, Lakeland, Wickes and many other good retailers.

2. Savse Smoothies

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Savse are my favourite smoothies. Packed with only 100% natural ingredients and cold pressed to ensure the quality of the ingredients, these really are the best you can buy.  Available in a variety of options including Protein Punch, Super Purple, Super Green, Super Red, Super Orange and Super Blue.

I actually used my selection of juices to do a three day incredibly tasty juice cleanse. Why not try a quick cleanse yourself or simply add a Super Green into your daily diet to boost your nutrients. Visit www.savse.com to find out where to buy near you.

3. Scrub Love

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I’ve seen a lot of lovely Instagram shots of beautiful people covered in coffee scrubs. Great shots, but it did nothing to tell me whether these coffee scrubs were actually any good. So, when I was approached by Scrub Love to try their coffee scrub, I was willing to give it a go and find out more.

Unfortunately for me these delightful scubs have almond oil in them (I’m allergic), so I had a friend test out the Mint Temptation scrub I was sent to review.

Scrub Love only use 100% natural and organic ingredients and the mint temptation scrub smelt amazing. They’ve combined organic roasted coffee, peppermint oil, tea tree oil, Dead Sea salt, Argan Oil and Aloe Vera to create a unique and fantastic smelling combination. All you have to do is get in the bath/shower and cover yourself in the scrub, leave for 5 minutes and wash off. My friend was incredibly impressed, with soft silky smooth skin. Definitely one she’d buy again. Visit uk.scrublove.com for more info and to purchase. (£12.95 each)

4. Tiger Folding Lunchbox

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This is such a ridiculously simple idea, and yet, I’ve not seen it before. Tiger has taken the typical lunchbox and made it into a nifty little box which closes down to almost nothing. Take a lunchbox into work with a healthy meal packed and then simply fold down to take home. You can take food or munchies anywhere and then simply shut it down to its smallest form to carry home. Well done Tiger – absolute genius. You don’t need a reason to visit Tiger, there’s already so many, but I’ve just given you permission to pop in on your lunchbreak…

5 & 6 Moma Raspberry & Coconut Bircher Muesli and Stoats Toasted Oaty Flakes

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It’s always been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I’ve got two good reasons to make sure you don’t miss it. New Moma Raspberry & Coconut Bircher Muesli is available now. Gluten free and without any added sugar, this Bircher Muesli has been made with quick soak oats – no need for overnight oats…just enjoy quickly in the morning. Delicious!

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Stoats Toasted Oaty Flakes are a 100% wholegrain cereal made with premium oats which have been cooked and roasted for flavour. These are really tasty and available now in all good stores.

Thanks to everyone who sent the samples. Opinions are my own as always.

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September 30, 2016

Paul Hollywood takes over my kitchen

Yes, it’s back. The Great British Bake Off is taking over our screens and our hearts for a second season. As such, it’s the time of the year when we all begin to think we are baking superstars and head to the kitchen to bake up a storm.

First things first, there’s no way you can produce the best bakes, cakes and breads without the appropriate equipment. You don’t want anyone having to experience a soggy bottom after all…

The Paul Hollywood collection from KitchenCraft isn’t just beautiful, it’s also incredibly practical, with every item you could possibly desire for baking and bread making. See below for just a small selection from the range.

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The range has all been thoroughly tested and approved by the man himself, so you know the range works. From the Pizza Crisper and Baking Stone, to the Brownie Tin and Sandwich tin, everything has been produced to the highest standards.

My Top 5 items from the range:

756x756-fit-phdollylrg_201. Something I’ve always wanted is a Hand Raised Pork Pie Dolly and the range has one. Made from Beechwood and looking gorgeous, this item looks great on the shelf when not being used and makes creating a hand made pork pie easy peasy. This pie dolly has a ‘secret weapon’ that will help you master the art of pie making in minutes. Traditional pork pie moulds are made of solid wood, which tends to get stuck to the pastry case when it has formed. This dolly is drilled with holes and has grooves along the sides that prevent a vacuum forming, so your shaped pastry pops straight off. It’s such a simple idea, but such a timesaver for anyone who enjoys baking their own pies.

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2. Another favourite from the new range is the Stainless Steel Star Pattern Bread Stamp. A simple idea that turns your bakes up a notch, by making them look like professional rolls. The stamp is made of sturdy stainless steel, so it will last for ages, and it has a comfort-shaped handle. This means you can stamp big batches of bread rolls without straining your hands.

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3.  The Paul Hollywood Electronic Scales are another must-buy item.We all know that baking is a science, and if your scales are off, your cakes won’t rise and your bread will be a flop. These scales have been created to make sure they are incredibly accurate and handily have measurement conversions printed on the front.

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4. The Loose Base Mini Sandwich Tin is a great idea. With removable bottoms, nothing will get stuck and it’s been designed to be incredibly sturdy, versatile and practical, with a strong carbon steel construction and superior non-stick coating. With a unique way of easily removing individual desserts and cakes, simply pop up each of the individual loose bases to remove.

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5.  The Rattan Round Proving Basket is really useful if you are trying to free bake, without using a tin, as while proving, it keeps the dough in lovely round shape and the spiral textured interior leave an attractive imprint on the dough, which gives the loaf a rustic finish when it comes out of the oven. Great for making a delicious sourdough loaf.

These were just a few of my favourites, but there are so many to choose from. Visit www.kitchencraft.co.uk to find out more and discover where to purchase your favourites.

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September 29, 2016

Laundry days

Yes, this is another post in which I’ll be professing my love for all things Brabantia, but just to jazz it up a bit, I’m also including Vileda today.

Laundry might not seem like the most exciting topic in the world, but when it all goes smoothly, it can really knock a good few hours off your housekeeping chores in the week…and we all know that every minute counts!

I was recently sent the wonderful Brabantia Wallfix Rotary Dryer to try. It might be heading into the Autumn days now, but we’ve still been lucky to experience some fantastic sunny days (or hours), so I’m using this while I can to dry the laundry. Tumble dryers are great inventions, but when we’ve got the weather, why not let nature do the hard work!
brabantia-wallfixThe Wallfix is the perfect washing line for the UK weather. It is permanently fixed to the wall and can be pulled out to use whenever you need to. It’s a great space saver, doesn’t take up any room on the lawn for the 9 months you won’t be using it and looks lovely when tucked away. It opens easily and can take quite a weight of washing. It’s a really nifty gadget which I will make my husband take down and bring with us if we ever move house.

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If however, you find yourself battling with rain clouds and drizzle, why not try the Vileda Cascade (£31.99). This strong indoor 3-tier airer has 15m of drying space and has clothes hanger hooks on each corner. It has an easy opening and closing mechanism, three drying heights and foot protectors to prevent floor scratches. It can be closed up flat and stored away easily too. A great invention, that holds as many clothes as you want to dry!

Another laundry changer has been the Brabantia Laundry Bin.

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This stunner doesn’t look out of place in our hallway upstairs. Bright white, with a small hole in the middle, it hides your laundry away from prying eyes but also makes throwing something in a doddle. It literally just slides into the centre. Inside is a sack, which means you can carry the goods over your shoulder down the stairs (like a rather depressing Father Christmas figure, handing out smelly socks). It can also just pop in the washing machine, so I fling it in every time to make sure it’s sweet smelling. A real beauty of a laundry bin, which is also covered by the fantastic Brabantia 10 year guarantee, meaning this will see me through a LOT of laundry.

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Need something a little smaller in the kids bedrooms, or in our case in the bathroom, then why not pick up a stackable laundry box. Available in pretty much any colour going, it will fit in with any décor and can be opened from the top or from the front opening.

Brabantia and Vileda have made laundry a doddle.

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