The Wooden Furniture Guide


Wooden furniture adds depth and character to any room, whether you’re looking for

something contemporary or classic. However, without some knowledge behind your

purchase, then you may buy something that isn’t as good quality as you thought it was.

Types of Wood

There are many different types of wood and wood effects.

Wood-Effect – this is furniture made from synthetic materials, but is designed to look like real

wood. It is cheaper than real wood, quite durable and easy to clean; wood effect is an ideal

budget option.

Veneered – this furniture can be made from a range of materials, but they have thin solid

wood layers applied to the outside. If the base is solid wood or plywood, then it is a piece that

will last.

Solid Wood – a piece of furniture made from solid wood, like these ones from Furniture Plus

Online, is exactly what it says on the tin. However, a wood veneer is sometimes placed over

the top of tables for aesthetic or structural reasons.

Sheesham Wood – with an irregular grain structure, sheesham wood is an Indian wood that

makes for really beautiful furniture.

The Construction of Wooden Furniture

The construction of wooden furniture is a really important factor in determining a quality

piece. If it’s held together with staples or nails, or glue where you can see the glue, then it’s

not a good piece. If, on the other hand, it’s constructed with dowels, screws and dovetail or

mortise-and-tenon joints, then you’re onto a quality piece.

How to Clean Wooden Furniture

The way you clean your furniture will depend on what piece it is, but there are some tips that

are universal.

– Dust your furniture daily to avoid dust and dirt build-up. Use a lint-free damp cloth.

– Wooden furniture with a hard lacquer or waxy finish can be dusted with a dry soft


– If your wooden furniture is oiled, then you will need to re-oil it when it dries out.

– If dust and grime has built up, then a solution of mild liquid detergent dissolved in

lukewarm clean water will clean the surface. Use a damp cloth to rinse, and use a dry

cloth to buff. Don’t use water in excess, or be allowed to stand on the wooden surface.

Using Your Furniture

– Natural light can bleach solid and veneered wood furniture, so regularly moving or

turning furniture can minimise discolouration.

– Don’t place plant pots on wooden surfaces, unless they are watertight.

– Always bear in mind any weight restrictions of the product.

– Wooden furniture is not heat resistant, so try to avoid placing hot items directly onto

wooden surfaces.

*partnered post*

Are you a Smart Ass?

We love to play board games on a rainy day or after a filling Sunday dinner. That’s what we did when we reviewed the latest addition to our games collection. Smart Ass from University Games is GREAT fun. It’s a simple enough board game to grasp but you need your wits about you because it’s a general knowledge trivia game.

Smart Ass 1

The thing I loved most about Smart Ass is that you don’t have to wait your turn. We had four players (the game accommodates up to eight players – more than your average board game!) and we also had a brilliant evening!

The aim of the game is to answer questions and move around the board, and the winner is the first to land on the … Ass.

Smart Ass 2

The question cards are split into four groups:

Who am I?

What am I?

Where am I?

and finally – Hard Ass.

A colour die determines which question card is chosen and questions are open to all players, which as I previously mentioned makes the game more interesting because everyone is involved in every round.

The person who answers correctly then throws a second die to determine how many places they can move. Watch out though – a Kick Ass square sends you back three spaces!

The questions cover a wide variety of subjects and we encountered some really tricky ones as well as some easy peasy ones – it’s a game suitable for everyone.

The game doesn’t go on forever like some can, and it’s pretty light hearted too. We had a giggle over who didn’t know things that were obvious to everyone else, as well as being astonished at some of the stuff we did actually know between us!

Do you know where Oxfam was founded? Have you brushed up on your peace prize winners lately? You might want to consider a bit of light reading if you’re to be crowned the local Smart Ass!

The suggested minimum age for Smart Ass is 12 and over. That’s pretty fair, I’d say, because anyone younger would lack the general knowledge.

Smart Ass 3

Smart Ass retails at between £10.00 and £15.00 and is available at all the usual games retailers.

It really is a great after dinner game and definitely worth having at home – who doesn’t love a good board game!?

But before you go out and buy one for yourself, why don’t you enter to win one for yourself – all you need to do is complete the rafflecopter widget below … good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ChillFactor Squeeze Cup: Review

Earlier this week the children received a ChillFactor Squeeze Cup to review.

It isn’t just a cup though, it is a slushy maker! What kid doesn’t love a slushy?!

I had a Mister Frosty when I was a kid and I remember it taking an absolute age to produce a drink. Now my children can make a slushy within a minute. That’s progress for you!


We received the purple Tutti Fruity cup, but there are also three other colours to choose from. In the box there is the cup, a lid, a spoon/straw and an instruction booklet. The box is covered in vibrant colours, making it appealing to children and adults alike. The cup is also bright in colour, is made of durable plastic and is lightweight too, making it easy for even the smallest of thirst-quenchers to have a go at making their own slushy drink. The cup is 11cm high so it fits upright in the freezer drawer, which is where it should be kept all the time.

I’m glad this arrived while they were at school because the Squeeze Cup needs to be frozen before use for between 4 and 6 hours, but by the time they arrived home it was ready.

We set to work …

The boys enjoyed doing this, and actually it wasn’t really about the drink but about the process of making it. They were impressed by the cups ‘magic’ and I’m sure I’ll probably be asked if we can do it again today. The cup serves as a great little introduction to making things for themselves and they were very proud of the end product. They didn’t lose interest of become frustrated because the process is too quick for that.

The only thing I’d consider improving on this would be the volume of the cup. There is enough for one slushy and the cup needs to be re-frozen for a few hours after every use. You can’t make two slushies out of one cup without freezing in between, so you’d need one cup per child. That’s okay if you have plenty of room in your freezer and if your own children had one each, but visiting friends would only ever get half a cup and you’d also have to sacrifice half of one of your freezer drawers if you bought more than one.

Overall I think this is a great little piece of kitchen kit for children and I think they’d make lovely gifts too.

The ChillFactor Squeeze Cup is made by Character, and is available at Argos, eBay, Amazon, Hobbycraft and more.

The RRP is £12.99 for one cup.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre: Get yo’ Ninja On!

This weekend, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre will be taken over by Ninjas! Don’t worry though, I’m sure they’re harmless. In fact, they might be ninjas you know!

For the entire weekend of 7th and 8th February, all children dressed as ninjas will receive free entry when they bring a full paying adult with them. If you’re anything like me, you’ll think 1) What does a ninja wear? and 2) How the heck can I make that without breaking the bank?

Well, I had a little google and I found this really lovely tutorial for a DIY no-sew ninja costume. It looks really easy and I could even manage this without pricking my finger!

LEGO Ninja

Photo courtesy of the LEGOLAND Facebook page


As well as a fun day out in fancy dress, your little ones will also be the first to see the new LEGO® Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu   episodes before their launch on Cartoon Network in March. Lucky them!

Also, if you go down on Saturday 7th February, you might just catch a sneak peek of the awesome and amazing ‘The Little Ninjas’ martial arts school, showcasing their skills throughout the day.

Not only do you have all the fun of an every day trip to LEGOLAND, if you go this weekend you’re certain to get incredible value for money. Get there early though – it’s bound to be a popular event!


If you’ve no little ninjas of your own, and you love LEGO but would rather visit without the deafening noise of children, then Adult Friends of LEGO is for you.

Held on a very regular basis, AFOL is a strictly child free zone where the over 16’s can enjoy the wonder of the brick in their own time – and I suspect without queuing for refreshments either! For all the up to date info on AFOL nights, click here.


We have had SUCH a great month in January with lots of exciting news and invitations for the year ahead. Our social calendar is looking promising already and I can’t wait to get it all documented here.

We are a family who love to get outdoors. We love music, shows, gaining new experiences, learning new things – there’s never a dull day in our house.

Everything we do contributes to the special memories I hope the boys will have when they look back on their childhood. I have such fond memories of growing up, and many of those are of simple, imagination-based activities. My children are slightly more fortunate though because from time to time brands like the look of what I do here on the blog and we get to work together on some pretty awesome stuff.

Which brings me to the first announcement of the year – we are going to be …

Geronimo Ambassador

Ambassadors for the Geronimo Festival!

We are incredibly excited to have been chosen as ambassadors and can’t wait to get over to Tatton Park at the end of May. Louis has already had a look through the site with me and picked out certain things he wants to do … like riding a camel! Actually, when I got this email I responded to say I’d just flown 1700 miles to ride a camel, and now it turns out I could’ve just driven down the M56. Ah well.

When I read the press release, one of the points highlighted was that the aim of this event is to encourage quality family time. I put a lot of emphasis on family time for me, Ted and the boys so I think it was this line that caught my eye.

So, during this family time, what can we do? Lets see …

Aside from riding a camel (I’m not even making that up) there is SO MUCH on offer, and something for each age group too. I’ve been to many events, and often find that very small people can be easily overlooked. Geronimo is actually free for the under twos so considering there will be no charge for them I was surprised to read that there is a dedicated area for those of us less than three feet tall. I won’t qualify for that though – just!

Another thing that grabbed my attention was something that made me think specifically of Rowan. He’s been learning all about circus life at school for a few weeks now and is on a school trip next week to learn circus skills. I can’t tell you how excited he is. He’s pestered me to find a song online that he knows from school (I had to google the few clear lyrics he knew) and it turned out to be ‘Join the Circus’ by Barnum. Now he knows plenty more of the words … and so do we!

Anyway, I digress. Rowan will be beside himself when he sees the Circus Zone. In fact, I can see Ted having to take Louis off to the Adrenaline Zone while I spend all day watching Rowan fall off a (hopefully very low) tightrope. I’m kinda hoping though that we’ll be allowed to leave the dangerous stuff to the professionals!

All in all, there are six areas of great big massive fun to be visited throughout the day. they are:

The Geronostage zone

The Adrenaline zone

The 3ft and under zone

The Groovy zone

The Funky Junk zone

The Circus zone

Early Bird tickets are on sale now and start at £16 per person, which to be honest seems really reasonable to me – and I’m a bargain hunter!

You can get a whole host of information about Geronimo Festival on their website and you can buy your tickets there too.

Oh – and did I mention that Katie from Cbeebies’ I Can Cook and Mr. Bloom will also be there? The kids will think you’re the bees knees when they meet famous people!

Are you going? Which zone are you looking forward to showing your children?


Brown Spike’s Hiccups

Here is our entry into the Not on the High Street Storytelling Competition!

Two friends, Brown Spike and Ghost of Fame, try to cure a case of the hiccups. Follow our story including sound effects from the brilliant Storytime Sounds app from Not on the High Street.

Louis is seven, and thought up the story himself. I just wrote it down because he claimed to have tired hands from writing at school! Cheeky.

I hope Louis is in with a chance of winning, but moreover I hope he is as proud of himself as I am of him!

Here are the terms of the competiton


Mini Creations

Project 365: Weeks Three & Four

Today I’m posting two weeks worth of 365 photos because I was away from my laptop last week, as you’ll see from my photos!

So here we go, Sunday 11th to Saturday 24th January 2015.

Day Eleven

On day eleven we did what all superheroes do and made multicoloured spaghetti for messy play. We’ve never done this before and Rowan thoroughly enjoyed it.

An average afternoon ...

An average afternoon …

Day Twelve

Monday was a pretty boring day, if I’m honest! The only time I took a photo was when Louis was reading bedtime jokes to me. I’m so glad we’re able to read joke books now. Kids made up jokes are pretty rubbish mostly, aren’t they!


Day Thirteen

13th January was my 33rd birthday. My sister offered to take me out for lunch since the kids were at school and Ted was at work, so we walked up Holcombe Hill which is about 7 miles away from my house. Then we lunched at the Shoulder of Mutton in Holcombe Village. It was a lovely day. We had a flurry of snow at the start of our walk which was beautiful.


Day Fourteen

Back to normality on day 14. The boys came home from school and it transpires that Louis is a fan of monsters. Not just any old monsters though – ones he creates himself. He’d designed four that day. He’s incredibly proud of his creations – and I’m incredibly proud of him.

Louis' monster creations

Louis’ monster creations

Day Fifteen

We received our Big Garden Birdwatch pack, ready for our survey tomorrow. The RSPB do this every year and it provides valuable information on which birds we’re seeing more (and less) of at this time of year in different parts of the country.

Big Garden Birdwatch

Big Garden Birdwatch

Day Sixteen

Friday 16th saw me packing my case ready for my trip to Morocco. A birthday gift from my husband – isn’t he wonderful?!

I took me forever to choose what to take but fortunately this dress looked better on me than it did my hubs!


Day Seventeen

After a long journey, Emma and I arrived at our destination: Agadir, Morocco. As we arrived at our room we were greeted by this beautiful sight. Watching the sun setting on the horizon was just wonderful.  This photo was taken from the patio.

Moroccan Sunset

A beautiful Moroccan sunset

Day Eighteen

Another photo of myself! I’m becoming quite vain this week!

This is the dress previously modelled by th’usband. I rather hope it looks better on me!


Day Nineteen

A VERY busy day today. We rode camels, visited an Argan Oil factory, traavelled to what is left of the original city of Agadir after the 1916 earthquake that killed a third of its people, and took photos of a magnificent mosque – the biggest in the city. Lastly, we visited the Souk. We had opted for the small souk rather than the big (scary) one and what a wonderful experience it was. I bought a pashmina softer than a baby’s bottom and a real, handmade leather clutch bag with matching purse. In total, I spent less than thirty pounds. This is a photo of just a small collection of handcrafted items we saw. I wish I’d had the money to kit out a mansion with it.

Inside the Berbere Souk

Inside the Berbere Souk

Day Twenty

A more relaxed day today. We spent our time sunning ourselves by the heated outdoor pool and generally eating every five minutes. This is just some of the wonderful food on offer. I certainly tried some dishes I’d never had before.

Just a fraction of the delicious (yet, at times, questionable) food on offer in the hotel restaurant.

Just a fraction of the delicious (yet, at times, questionable) food on offer in the hotel restaurant.

Day Twenty One

Ah, alas, my holiday is over. Just a few days without the boys is more than enough though and I was glad to be on my way home.


Day Twenty Two

Now after being away from my babies for a few days, wouldn’t you imagine my first photo to be of the boys? Well apparently not. The first (and only, actually) photo I have from Wednesday 22nd is of my dog Betsy. I had just collected her from the dog sitter and she was rather snow-speckled.

Snow-speckled Dog

Snow-speckled Dog

Day Twenty Three

My penultimate photo of this post is of my grown up boy. Here, he’s chatting on Facebook messenger. He was under strict supervision of course!


Day Twenty Four

Finally (gosh, this has taken SO long!) here is a photo from today. I could’ve chosen one of my sister in a very hungover existence, but instead I give you this – a photo of an ornament in her kitchen and something that’s almost always true.

In case you were wondering, the little note underneath reads ‘and a new hob’ because last night, in her inebriated state, my sister smashed her brand new (21 days old) electric cooker hob. Worra numpty. I left the note. I’m nice like that ;)


TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

My Adventure in Africa

I’m actually too tired to even start to write about my adventures this last week, so for now, here are some photos of what I did on my recent trip to Agadir in Morocco. I’ve never been to Africa before so I was quite excited! I will give you the full low down later in the week, but for now, here’s a photo of a camel and some other stuff.


Riding a camel.



Inside the Souk



At the Kasbah, overlooking Agadir



Hillside in Agadir which reads God, King, Country



Agadir Mosque




Blogging: Getting Started.

When I started blogging four years ago, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Some may say I still have no idea!

I have, however, learned some valuable lessons about setting up a blog and making it work.

My top tips would have to start with advising would-be bloggers to decide on a niche. Are you a parent blogger? Beauty blogger? Fashion blogger? With grumpyishmum I am primarily a parent blogger, though I do blog about other things too. Even within the parent blogger category, I would like to narrow down my specific focus area. There are bloggers, like Rain or Shine Mama, that are excellent within their niche. Find what you love and write about it.

Secondly, I would recommend that you have a decent camera. DSLR seem to be very popular, but for a beginner blogger they really aren’t necessary. Do your research on affordable, good quality point and shoot or superzoom cameras and you can’t go wrong! Take advice from great photography bloggers too, they don’t get brilliant for no reason! I love joining in with The Boy and Me‘s photo a day linky; I’m always picking up new ideas.

Something else I think is super important is to read other blogs. I’m guilty of not reading enough blogs, so I could do with more hours in the day (who couldn’t!) but reading other blogs will bring you both inspiration and motivation. You can also join in with linkys – these are a great way of finding new blogs and also help to get your blog ‘out there’ too.

Are you an established blogger? I’d be interested to know what your advice would be to a new blogger. I see so many bloggers these days starting blogs and expecting to be sent review products immediately. It really makes me sad that some of them have almost a sense of entitlement as soon as they start. Reviews and paid work will come your way if you build up your blog, little by little, and show prospective brands that you can write well and deliver good quality posts.

This post was written in conjunction with Panasonic, but I actually would recommend doing/thinking about all of this stuff if you’re a new blogger!

Post published in line with Grumpyishmum’s disclosure policy

Simple Home Upgrades That Will Make a Huge Difference

Your home isn’t in need of a full renovation, but you know it needs more than a spring clean. Do you knock out a wall, build an extension or paint through the house with a new colour? Upgrading your home needn’t be that dramatic; there are a number of upgrades you can organise for your home with relative ease. Consider these simple home upgrades that will make a difference to your home.

Replace the Windows

When people think home upgrades, the first thing that comes to mind generally isn’t getting new windows, but maybe it should be. Think about your current windows – could a five year old pick them open? Does your flyscreen let in more bugs than it keeps out? You’ll be amazed at the difference, both visually and practically, a new window makes to your home. If you think swapping your old windows for new ones could be the upgrade your home is looking for, contact a window exchange expert, such as Stylewise Security, to see what modern and stylish window options are available to you. And don’t worry – companies like this will perform the exchange and take care of the old windows for you.

Put the TV on the Wall

It’s one of those jobs that everyone thinks of doing but never gets around to. Flat-screen TVs look fantastic on the wall. You can reclaim bench-space on the entertainment cabinet, set it at the right height for your eyes, and no longer have kids touching it, leaving fingerprints all over your screen! It’s worth popping to the hardware or electrical appliance centre to pick up a wall mount this weekend.

Consider a Feature Wall

A feature wall can make an otherwise monotone space much more liveable. It can add depth perception, brighten a dark room, or just make things feel so much fresher. Have a flip through some home decorating magazines to see what colours you like. Feature walls can be done quickly and easily; it’s a weekend project that can really add some ‘zing’ to your place.

New Artwork

Still have the huge wooden spoon and fork on your wall? Or the three ducks? A macramé pot-plant holder? Yes, trends date and so do artwork and decorations. Art can enrich a home or restrain it. You might want to consider an original piece from a gallery or a print of something you love. Unique artworks attract the eye and can be a great conversation point when guests come around.

Replace Handles

Consider replacing all the handles in your kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms. Have a look at your current ones. Are they small or hard to grip? Mismatched? Loose or even missing? You’ll be amazed at the practicality and function new handles bring to a room. Consider swapping tarnished silver with sleep chrome, or heavy blacks with chic brushed metal. Check out the range at your local hardware store – it costs nothing to see what’s available!

Have you recently done any home renovations? How did you find it? Do you have any tips for a new renovator? Share your ideas or tips in the comments below – I’d love to read your home improvement wins and fails!


Post published in line with Grumpyishmum’s disclosure policy