Making Norfolk your Home

Aldiss.com – Norfolk’s largest range of home furnishings

This week’s guest blog is from Nanci Gillett of Burhnham Interiors

Our home is our castle, our safe haven and for some of us our biggest asset

As I sit outside my home in what has been another lovely warm sunny Summer weekend I think about what my home means to me.  As someone who runs an interior design and project management business on the North Norfolk coast, I love everything about houses.  I love the feeling that I get when I walk in the front door and know that I am home.  I love colours, fabrics, finishes and furniture, but I also get a buzz out of the way a house is constructed, the “bones” of a place.  I am a big fan of getting this right!  A lot of times these investments in our home are not seen by the naked eye like painting a room or recovering a chair may be seen, but are vitally important in not only maintaining or increasing our investment but giving our homes the feeling of permanence and style which is intangible.  When you are making these investments in the “bones” it is essential to make sure that you get the best trades or craftsmen that you can afford.  Ask for references or even better use someone who has been recommended to you, whose work you have seen.  To have someone working in your house who you like and instils confidence is as important as the quality of their work.  A home that is well plumbed, has good electrics or has good windows can make you happy.  Not having to worry about things going wrong, not working properly or the cold wind whipping around your house makes for a calmer life and a more pleasant environment.  Call me sad, but there is something to be said for this.  When I talk about the “bones” I like to also include our first impressions.

Cottage Front Door

The front entrance forms our first impression so make it count.  You can enhance your first impressions in the following ways:

  1. Guide guests from the street or drive to the front door with a clearly marked and well-maintained path that two people can walk side by side.
  2. A punch of bright, bold paint that contrasts with the siding and woodwork is an easy way to revamp a tired entry.
  3. Cut back overgrown plantings that block views of the front door or spill over onto walkways.  Flowers and plants in pots are easy to maintain and can be rearranged at any time.
  4. An entryway is the perfect location to splurge on gorgeous features, such as the wooden front door or colourful step tiles.
  5. Elevate the architecture by adding appropriate architectural details or by giving existing ones a fresh coat of paint.
  6. Connect the entry with the rest of your home’s exterior by repeating elements that create a cohesive look.
  7. If you have a front porch, give it a sense of warmth and comfort by placing an outdoor piece of furniture near the entry.
  8. If you have the space, you can open up your front entry with full-length windows on both sides of your door.  This will let light into your home and make your entry seem larger.
  9. Good lighting is so important for both convenience and safety.  Consider motion-sensing lights near the front door.
  10. Installing landscape lighting is a easy way to add pizzazz to your outdoor space, and this is a project which most people can do themselves.
  11. Having pots of flowers near the front entry is an easy and inexpensive way to add a dose of eye-catching colour.  Be bold with colour to see the containers from the street.
  12. Add a porch or awning over the front door to keep rain or (if we are lucky) sun off visitors.
  13. To create a polished and sophisticated entry chose the same colour or metal finish for the exterior hardware.

Making my house my home has been a tremendous amount of fun and it is an evolving, ongoing process, which I hope will also give you not only pleasure, but a sense of satisfaction.

 For more advice about making the best of your home you can contact Nanci at office@burnhaminteriors.co.uk

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Why professional cleaning of your soft furnishings is essential…

Aldiss.com – Norfolk’s largest range of home furnishings

This week’s guest blog is from Glyn Charnock, Owner of Chameleon Cleaning.  Glyn is also a Director of the National Carpet Cleaners Association.

After our home and car, the furnishings in our home are often the third biggest expense in our lives. When you add up the cost of the carpets, upholstery, rugs, curtains and other fabrics in your home, the result can be a surprisingly large amount of money. So, how do you know if you should call the experts in or tackle deep cleaning yourself?

It doesn’t matter how careful you are – eventually everything will need cleaning. With the fabrics in your home, (and yes, carpets are a fabric), keeping them clean not only keeps them looking good, it dramatically extends the life of the items too. In fact, the vast majority of manufacturers’ warranties on carpets are only valid if you have them professionally cleaned at the correct intervals – usually 12 to 18 months.

How to keep your furnishings clean

Obviously, regular vacuum cleaning is very important as is dealing promptly and appropriately with spills and accidents. But there comes a time when deep cleaning is required. So should you try to do this yourself? Or bring in a professional?To get the best results and prevent any damage, it’s essential you understand the fibre type and construction of what you’re cleaning and the type of soil you’re dealing with. This will indicate the appropriate cleaning methods and products.

As a homeowner, it’s unlikely you will have this level of knowledge to clean safely and reach the standards you would expect from a professional.

Avoiding supermarket cleaning products

Consumer cleaning products promise the earth in TV adverts but they really aren’t all they are cracked up to be. The same applies to the cleaning machines you can hire from many supermarkets and DIY stores. If they were half as good as they are made out to be, as a professional I would be using them too. Not likely!

I regularly get calls from homeowners who have attempted to clean items themselves and it has gone horribly wrong. You might think that anything sold to the public would be safe but these products and machines often cause bleaching, colour run, fibre damage, rapid re-soiling and lots of other issues.

DIY cleaning disasters

These photos show the damage caused by a DIY carpet clean.

Carpet damaged by home cleaning productsCarpet damaged by home cleaning products

You can see how the carpet has shrunk away from the skirting board. It may have been possible to stretch it back in to place, but the carpet had also delaminated.

The latex glue in the backing had failed and the carpet was literally falling apart, meaning the only option was to replace it – a very expensive mistake!

Using a professional cleaner will give you better results, keep your precious belongings safe and ultimately save you money. Provided the cleaner you hire really is a professional.

Unfortunately, the cleaning industry is completely unregulated, meaning that anyone can buy or even hire a cleaning machine and call themselves a professional. Just because they want to charge you money for doing a job doesn’t make them a professional!

How to find a true professional?

The best place to start is with the National Carpet Cleaners Association, the NCCA.

To become a member, cleaners must undertake training and pass examinations on assessing items to be cleaned, cleaning methods, fibre identification, carpet and fabric construction, the chemistry of cleaning and more.

Members must also carry Treatment Risk Insurance. This professional indemnity insurance means any item being worked on is covered should any damage be caused by the cleaning process. This isn’t the same as Public Liability Insurance.

Find your local NCCA members.

The benefits of using an NCCA member are explained in their video:

 

Keeping up to date with industry developments

Members also keep up to date with latest cleaning news through a monthly magazine and have access to a Technical Helpline, which I help to run.

There are, of course, some very professional carpet and upholstery cleaners who aren’t members, but it is difficult for homeowners to check they are properly trained and insured. Using an NCCA member removes any uncertainty.

Should you call a professional, or Do It Yourself?

Not all cleaning problems need a professional, but think of the value of the items you are going to clean and ask yourself a simple question. Is it worth spending a little money to protect an expensive item?

For handy hints and tips on cleaning please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on our website.

You can also tweet us @DirtDetectives

Strawberry Mousse Cake Recipe

Aldiss.com – Norfolk’s largest range of home furnishings

This week’s guest blog is a lovely, summer recipe for Strawberry Mousse Cake from Pixie Hall Cakes.

Stawberry Mousse Cake Recipe from Pixie Hall Cakes

Strawberry Mousse Cake

When I was asked to write a baking blog for this website, I will admit that I got a bit obsessed with picking recipes to share with you. I was thinking summer berries, autumnal apples, warming winter spices and bright spring flavours. It was exciting!  I love to bake with seasonal ingredients as I think you get the best flavour that way.

 

As we’re having fairly decent summer weather at the moment, I immediately thought about the fantastic strawberries on sale just about everywhere. Strawberries are the quintessential berry for the British summertime, and we’re lucky to have some excellent local growers nearby in Norfolk. I also thought about summer being barbecue season. Us Brits will fire up the barbie as soon as the sun shines and invite friends and family for an al fresco supper.

 

When we’re entertaining, I’m usually put in charge of dessert. I’m all about the sweet cakes and sticky puddings whereas my partner is in charge of the barbecue.  I’m a bit of a show off when it comes to this sort of thing, I like to bring something exciting to the table to round off the meal as I think that dessert needs to be something to remember!

 

The recipe I have chosen to share with you is one my mum has been making since before I was born. She’s an occasional baker, but she has several favourite recipes that she goes back to time and time again. When I asked her to send me this one, I opened up my emails to find an image of a handwritten, slightly smudged recipe that she copied down from a magazine sometime in the 1970s.

 

It’s a well loved recipe for a Strawberry Mousse Cake. It’s a beautiful looking dessert and is a bit of a show stopper. Perfect strawberry halves secured in a light strawberry mousse, a soft sponge cake keeping it all together and a topping of whipped cream (a strawberry’s best friend). Perfect for a barbecue, a supper or a light summer lunch. Keep it in the fridge until you serve it so that it doesn’t collapse in the heat.

This recipe uses gelatine so it’s not suitable for vegetarians. It also contains raw eggs so shouldn’t be given to the pregnant women, the elderly or to young children. It’s best to make the cake the day before you want to serve it, leave it to set overnight and then decorate the top just before serving.

 

Strawberry Mousse Cake

Serves 10-12

Strawberry Mousse Cake Recipe from Pixie Hall Cakes

Strawberry Mousse Cake

 

Ingredients:

For the sponge:

2 eggs

100g self raising flour

100g butter, softened

100g caster sugar

 

For the mousse:

1tbsp powdered gelatine or 6 leaves

4tbsp water

3 egg yolks

75g caster sugar

250ml pureed strawberries

1tsp lemon juice

150ml double cream

2 egg whites

 

For decoration:

350g strawberries

150ml double cream

 

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 190C. Grease a 23cm round springform tin and place a circle of parchment paper in the bottom.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer) place all of the sponge ingredients and beat, at medium speed, until combined and smooth (about 2 minutes).

3. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and spread evenly.  Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool for a few minutes before turning the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

4. Wash and thoroughly dry the tin and then line it completely with cling film.  It may be a bit tricky to get the film to stick so you can always grease the pan a little to help the film stay in place.

5. Put the gelatine and water into a cup, put the cup in a bowl of hot water and stir until it dissolves. Take out and allow to cool.

6. Put the egg yolks and sugar into a bowl and whisk until pale and thick. The whisk should leave a trail in the mixture when lifted. Stir in the strawberry puree, lemon juice and gelatine mixture. Whip the cream until lightly stiff and fold into the mixture.

7. Whip your egg whites in a clean bowl with a clean whisk (really important!) until quite stiff. Gently fold the egg whites into the strawberry mixture being careful to not lose any air.

8. To assemble the cake: Slice your sponge cake in half to create two discs. Put one half in the base of the prepared tin. Slice about 250g of the larger strawberries in half from top to bottom and arrange, cut side out, around the edge of the tin. Pour in the strawberry mousse mixture and top this with the other half of the sponge. Chill overnight until set.

9. Carefully remove the cake from the tin and place onto a serving plate. Whip the cream until stiff and pipe or spread on the top of the cake. Arrange the rest of your strawberries on top and present to your hungry guests!

Stawberry Mousse Cake Recipe from Pixie Hall Cakes

Strawberry Mousse Cake

Linds Hall runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography

What you need to know when buying a new bed

Aldiss.com – Norfolk’s largest range of home furnishings

Are you;  moving, or setting up home for the first time? Starting to feel uncomfortable and not getting a restful night?  Or is your bed beginning to look worn out, or even springs are starting to stick out!  If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions then chances are you might be considering purchasing a new bed.  If that is that case then there a few things you need to think about…

Divan or bed frame?

For a traditional look to tie in with your bedroom furniture, a bed frame can give character to a room. Metal, or wooden options are available in a variety of finishes. Pay special attention to the construction of the frame and the materials used, incorrect joints and assembly can quickly mean your bed begins to squeak as you move in the night – this can spoil a peaceful night and shorten the life of the bed. Also make sure there are sufficient slats in the base providing further strength and support, but not so much as to prevent good ventilation of the mattress. It sounds obvious but remember to check the bed frame and mattress you choose are the same size.

Divans offer a practical solution and provide optimum support for the mattress. They are particularly useful when ordered with drawers, or as an ottoman base, providing additional storage. Larger divan bases come in two pieces to be fixed together allowing easier access when being delivered.

What kind of mattress?

There are many different types of mattress and to really find out which is the best one for you, you need to visit a store that sells beds and spend some time lying on the different types of mattresses – just try not to fall asleep!

Different types of mattress:

Open coil

A popular choice for mattresses as they are often at the entry price level. The springs in this mattress are set out in rows, linked together by a spiral wire. This method of construction helps to spread body weight across the mattress.

By using differing thicknesses of wire in the springs, mattresses can give firm, medium or soft levels of support.

Pocketed

As the name suggests, the springs in these mattresses are contained in a fabric pocket. The spring count can run into 1000’s and sometimes form double layers,

The key advantage of the pocket sprung mattress, is that each spring can work in isolation, giving the correct level of support across the body and reduces roll together when the bed is shared.

Memory Foam

The term memory foam does not mean the bed remembers your body shape; rather the material reverts back to its original shape after being used.

This type of mattress has been proven to significantly reduce sleep movement and reduces pressure on key points of contact such as shoulders, back and hips.

Foam has the added benefit of being resistant to dust mites and other allergens.

This short film from The Sleep Council offers more advice when thinking about buying a new bed:

Top Tips from The Sleep Council when buying a bed:

Decide your priorities and concerns in advance. For example, is it: price, storage, access to bedroom, turning the mattress, getting in and out of bed, overall size or shape, a health issue, etc.

If possible, try a selection of beds for comparison before you buy. Set aside enough time to do the job properly so you can appreciate the differences and seek advice from trained members of staff, who can help narrow down the initial selection and help you target the correct bed.

Buy for correct support and comfort for your weight and build – not just firmness.
table.

Wear comfortable clothing, remove any outdoor gear and lie on the bed for quite a long time – at least 5 minutes. Lie down in your normal sleeping position and make some turns, too.

Try it together, if the bed’s for two. You both need to feel comfortable.

Think big – larger beds are more comfortable. Being disturbed by a sleeping partner is one of the most common complaints. With a larger bed you are less likely to disturbed.

You get what you pay for – both in product and service – so spend as much as you can afford.

It can be tempting and more economical to buy a new mattress with the intention of using it on your existing base.  Please seek advice if considering this option as it can mean the performance of the mattress is compromised, and the supplier guarantee, so you may not be getting the very best from your new investment.

There are more tips and advice in this short film from The Sleep Council:


Remember! In 7 years you’re going to spend over 20,000 hours on your bed, so it’s worth taking a little time and effort in the beginning to make sure you make the right choice.

Still not convinced you need a new bed?

Try the sleep councils Bed MOT

Looking At Cooking!

judgeModern cookware has become more versatile and with the introduction of oven safe plastics and silicones our way of cooking has altered. A modern saucepan set can now be used for more advanced and multipurpose cooking techniques. Everyday pan sets now incorporate features such as non- stick coatings, oven safe handles and heavy bases which distributes the heat evenly for better cooking results.

A pan set that highlights these features is the highly recognized and valued cookware range Judge Vista, a household name known for superb quality. Judge has incorporated traditional style with modern features and exceptional quality to create the perfect everyday cookware set.

The quality is largely due to the 18/10 stainless steel exterior and thick “hot forged” thermic base. Easy to clean and sturdy enough to cope with all types of hob, the thermic base holds and distributes the heat more evenly. It retains more heat making it more economical and especially suitable for induction hobs.

The easy grip phenolic handle, is made from a type of plastic that allows the pans to be put in the oven and withstand temperatures up to 180oC (gas mark 4, 350f), making this pan versatile in all types of cooking.

Excalibur is the toughest and longest lasting non-stick interior. The highly durable material is infused with a patented stainless steel which when combined with the stainless steel judge pan range makes them well built in every aspect. Judge is so confident with the Excalibur non-stick interior that they guarantee it for 10 years.

With a fully non stick interior on the majority of the range, you can fry, sauté, boil and even oven roast all types of foods. This makes recipes where you require more then one type of process easy and retains all the flavours by keeping the same pan throughout.

The shatter proof glass lid has the same quality feel as the rest of the pan, with a phenolic handle and steam vent.

The range has a multitude of options for all types of cooking, allowing you to pick the pan size and style you require.