Archive: May 2014

  1. From picnics to parties: 3 outdoor ideas to try


    Pretty picnic

    As the weather starts to get warmer, everyone wants to get out and about – suddenly Facebook is full of people enjoying the sun! If you want some photos to be proud of, make sure you set the scene: this picnic look is a fun, fresh and girly mix of summer colours and patterns, perfect for a bite to eat in the park right through to ‘glamping’.

    Whether you’re heading off for a posh picnic or to a music festival, the wicker hamper is just right for carrying your snacks and lending a little vintage charm. And if you’re simply staying in your garden to enjoy the sunshine, you can still capture that sense of summer adventure with this quirky bicycle ornament (below).

    Get the look



    Bicycle decoration, £10; wicker hamper, £15; coloured solar ball string lights, £12. Find all these instore


    Relaxed barbecue

    Sometimes, you want to keep things simple and classic, and that’s where this stripy dinner range really comes into its own. I love the mix of blue and white, it reminds me of family camping holidays in France.

    The large platter makes a great centrepiece, whether you want to cover it with cured meats and crudités or pile it high with sausages straight from the barbecue, while the bowl will hold more than enough salad for everybody. Why not mix in a few contrasting pieces of tableware too? It all adds to that summery feel.

    Get the look


    Salad bowl stripe, £3, see instore; large drum barbecue, £30; goblet, £2.50, see instore


    Party time

    You know summer’s really started when you can schedule an outdoor party without having a rain-safe ‘Plan B’ – I wouldn’t advise that yet though! Provided there are no showers on the horizon, these paper honeycombs are just the job – they’ll add a pop of colour to any location. I’ll definitely be using them for all my summer parties.

    Stripes are everywhere this summer and this outdoor tableware offers a quirky take on the trend with a pretty shade of pink. I’m going to mix and match this range with other prints as well: polka dots would add a playful edge, for example. For another twist, try using a watering can as a vase like we have in this picture – it’s such an easy idea, and one you could try inside too. Roll on the summer!

    Get the look



    Flourish Antique Rose watering can, £20; paper honeycombs, £3; extra large platter, £6. Find all these instore

    Tip of the week

    Why not light the way to your garden party with outdoor candles? A large lantern either side of your path or doorway will create a real sense of occasion.

  2. Win on Instagram with #SainsburysHomeHacks now!

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    Addicted to Instagram? Love making your home your own? We’ve got a competition that’s made for you! Show us the ways you’ve gone beyond the ordinary in your interiors and you could win £100 worth of Sainsbury’s vouchers in our #SainsburysHomeHacks competition.

    First, you’ll need to take a photo of your best home customisation or ‘home hack’. It could be a crate used as a bookcase, or filled with plants as we’ve done here – anything that shows your imagination! Then follow these steps for your chance to win:

    How to enter

    i) Visit the Sainsbury’s Instagram account
    ii) Upload a photo of your home hack
    iii) Tag your photo with @Sainsburys and use the hashtag #SainsburysHomeHacks

    Your photo will be added into our competition, which closes on 4th June 2014 at 12pm – please see our terms and conditions.

    The prizes

    Our favourite entry will win £100 worth of Sainsbury’s vouchers and two runners-up will receive £20 worth of Sainsbury’s vouchers.

    Be inspired!

    Don’t forget to check out the other #SainsburysHomeHacks creations on the hashtag, and look out for our favourites board on Pinterest! Here’s a little inspiration to get you started…

    Make, update and customise: A covered stool; labelled and re-used jars; a fabric-covered pin board; plants in trifle dishes and a lantern; books as a table leg, and a chalkboard-painted wall

    1. Cover all

    Covering a piece of furniture can be easier than you think: a stool is a good place to start, as there aren’t too many tricky angles. Alternatively, try covering solid objects with wallpaper, magazines or pâpier-maché – read our ‘how to’ here.

    2. What’s in store?

    Storage can add personality to your home, whether you buy a beautiful kilner jar or simply wash out an old one. Fill them up with dried goods or different coloured jams, then add your own handmade labels.

    3. Pin up

    Never have anywhere to store your jewellery? Stop leaving it in tangled heaps and try creating a display board instead. Just take a memo board and cover it with fabric, then push earrings into it. Necklace can be strung from the corners or added with thumb tacks.

    4. Seed of an idea

    When it comes to plants, it’s time to think outside the pot! Trifle dishes and glass lanterns make a more interesting home than ordinary terracotta, and will turn your plants into the focus of your room.

    5. By the book

    Got piles of old books you’ve already read? If you’ve made the switch to e-readers but don’t want to give away your favourites, try integrating them into your interior design: a stack of books could make a handy table leg, for example.

    6. Chalk it up

    Chalkboard paint allows you to make a statement anywhere in your home. Write a note, a shopping list or simply a doodle of the day – you can easily change the design to suit your mood.

    We can’t wait see your #SainsburysHomeHacks!

  3. Study in style: three ways to work smarter at home

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    Settling down to revise or tackle paperwork isn’t everyone’s favourite task, but a stylish update can make it that little bit easier. Here’s how you can create a study that’s easy on the eye – complete with a craft idea for you to try.

    Stylish storage; a selection of box files with home-made labels to keep important documents in1. Store it away

    Storage is the key to keeping all those ugly papers organised and out of sight, so think about box folders, shelving and under-desk storage. Wicker baskets are great for storing old magazines, while a simple drinking glass can be a neat place to store pens and pencils.

    2. Make your own labels

    Once you’ve stashed away all your desk clutter, you could try creating fun labels for your folders and files using neon masking tape. It’s matte so it’s easy to write on with any pen, and even a chalkboard pen wouldStudy lighting; a classic desk lamp sits with a lemon metal case and a selection of pencils work to write (and wipe off) what you’ve stored inside. Why not choose a mix of orange, pink and yellow labels to colour code your filing around revision topics or types of bills? This mix of floral folders and fluro tape feels really fresh for summer.

    3. Choose your lighting

    Good natural light is a must for any study, but be sure to add a desk lamp for after-hours working to avoid eye strain. An angled lamp is a style classic that allows you to position the brightness right where you need it – but try not to stay up all night!

    What’s your secret to a stylish study?

    Tip of the week

    For a printed twist on Susie’s neon labels, cut an oblong of re-used wrapping paper just a little larger than a plain white label to create a border. Stick your plain label over the top, then fix to the spine of your folder.

    Three key pieces

    Clear soda glassRed chrome angled desk lampWhite dipped wicker basket large

    Clear soda glass, £1.50; red chrome angled desk lamp, £7.80; large white dipped wicker basket, £10

  4. Good Housekeeping cookware: tried and tested!



    On my first day as Acting Cookery Editor at Good Housekeeping, we undertook the challenging task of blind-tasting mountains of chocolate Easter eggs – all in the name of choosing the very best! The Good Housekeeping Institute has been testing and evaluating consumer products since 1924, so our Tried & Tested mantra is at the heart of everything we do – including our new Good Housekeeping range created with Sainsbury’s. You can browse and buy the collection by clicking here.

    Working to our shared values, we’ve come up with perfect cookware at an affordable price and while it’s been hard to pick my favourites, I have come up with a top three.

    Good Housekeeping cookware: steak with griddle lines, potatoes and salad


    Good Housekeeping cookware: cast iron grill pan with steak bar

    Best for steaks

    I know a bad workman (or chef, as the case may be) blames his tools, but making food look perfect to photograph on our Good Housekeeping magazine shoots would be mighty tricky without the best kitchen equipment. The Good Housekeeping cast iron grill pan with steak bar has been lugged with me on every summer shoot to ensure I get the perfect griddle lines for the picture: the steak bar ‘lid’ has been designed with griddle grooves so that, once heated, it weighs down and sears the top of food, too. I’m also a fan of the lip for pouring off excess fat, which will help keep things lighter if you’re calorie counting.


    Good Housekeeping tip: This pan has been made of cast iron so it can reach a high temperature – therefore, be patient and wait for the pan to get really hot before griddling meat or vegetables. Always oil the food rather than the griddle, and for the best charred griddle lines on your meat, don’t be tempted to move it round the pan!

    Good Housekeeping cookware: metal mixing bowl, saucepan and electric weighing scales

    Best for baking

    Goodhouse Keeping non-slip mixing bowl

    If you think a bowl’s a bowl, think again! Whipping up the number of cakes that we do on the Good Housekeeping Cookery Team, I recognise the virtues of a good mixing bowl – and this set of small, medium and large stainless steel bowls ticks all the boxes. They’ve been designed with a non-slip base ensuring easy use on all surfaces, as well as a generous depth that ensures my batter stays in the bowl – rather than flying out all over my cookbook! I’ve also been loving the addition of handy markers on the bowl’s inner side for speedy measuring. These days you’ll rarely see me using any other bowls in the GH test kitchen, unless the others are already covered in cake mix!

    Good Housekeeping tip: Plastic bowls are notorious for absorbing grease, which is the known enemy of egg whites. To whisk up your whites to maximum volume, use a stainless steel bowl like these – or a glass or copper one – and make sure both beaters and bowl are scrupulously clean of grease and fat.

    Slow cooking meat for flavoursome stew

    Good Housekeeping cookware: cast iron casserole dishBest for slow cooking

    I love slow cooking. Nothing beats stepping away from the casserole and letting the magic happen, safe in the knowledge you are going to take all the credit for doing next to nothing! I’ve found the Good Housekeeping 2.85L round cast iron casserole dish is a perfect size when cooking for two and to store in a small kitchen like mine at home. If you’re feeding a crowd and space is no object then the luxurious 4.75L round cast itron casserole dish is a winner. These dishes are designed with unique nodules on the lid so that, as moisture from the food rises, droplets of condensation drip off the nodules back into the dish for the juiciest, most tender stews ever!

    Good Housekeeping cookware: assorted knives and a chopping board with measurements



    Tip of the week

    Love international recipes but tired of trying to turn different measurements into metric? The Good Housekeeping wooden chopping board features useful conversions, exact width measurements for julienne vegetables, and ruled lines for cutting perfect-sized pastry – all printed on the sturdy wood.