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Easy Pumpkin Carving Ideas

The carving of a pumpkin into a Jack-o’-lantern originates from an Irish myth about Stingy Jack, who tricked the Devil for his own monetary gain. When Jack died, the legend goes that God would not allow such an unsavoury figure into heaven. The Devil would not allow Jack’s soul into hell either, so Jack was sentenced to roam the earth for eternity.

In Ireland, people started to carve scary faces out of turnips and potatoes. They would then place them into windows or near doors to frighten away Jack’s wandering soul.  Irish immigrants took this tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and found that pumpkins are perfect for carving!

Pumpkin carving is the perfect opportunity to get creative at Halloween. Simply choose a large pumpkin and use a knife to cut off the crown. You then need to scoop out the seeds and fibres and discard. Tip – to keep your pumpkin fresher for longer, give it cold bath with a splash of bleach to keep the mould away! You can now design your lantern by either using a marker pen or a printed template. You can’t go wrong with the traditional Jack O’Lantern design, it looks great and is really simple to carve. If you’d like to go for something a bit more adventurous you can find lots of printable stencils online. Simply attach the template onto your pumpkin with pins or tape and use a nail or sharp tipped object to poke through and mark.

There are lot’s of other fun but simple ideas for your pumpkins, instead of discarding the seeds and fibres use them to create a vomiting pumpkin! Or how about carving a smaller fruit and posing it in your lanterns mouth. Pumpkins look fabulous with an autumnal spray of flowers displayed as a centre piece on your table. You can even cut out carving altogether and simply decorate with paint, glitter and other crafty materials. The main thing is you have fun with it!

Happy Halloween!

 

 

The Ultimate Cosy Night In

Cold, dark nights are upon us but it doesn’t have to be dull and gloomy. Create the ultimate cosy night in and you will soon be feeling all snuggly and warm! Staying in is becoming just as popular as going out. A cosy night in can be enjoyed alone, with your partner, your family or you can even invite friends to join in on your home comforts.

Lighting

Turn off any harsh lights, leaving just a low lamp on will immediately set the scene with an ambient glow. Make it extra special by lighting a few candles around your room, scented candles are even better for creating those cosy vibes!

Fireplace

Can you think of anything better than curling up in front of a fireplace on a cold, dark evening? If you are lucky enough to have an open fire, it’s time to fire it up and make the most of it. No cosy night in is complete without a crackling fireplace to gaze into. To keep your open fire burning longer into the night add Firemizer.

 

 

Get comfy

The best bit! No need for high heels or itchy tights, get in your comfiest loungewear, plump up the cushions and grab the cosiest blanket. And you can forget about that tipsy walk in the rain to find a taxi, it’s just a short trip up the stairs when your eyes get heavy.

Snacks

Make sure you have your favourite snacks in to nibble on. Easy go to options are crisps with dips, nuts, popcorn and crackers which you can just pour into serving bowls. Nacho’s are guaranteed to go down well, just add your favourite toppings and sprinkle with cheese. Then place under the grill for a few minutes and hey presto, the perfect sofa snack! Adding some sweet treats like chocolates, sweets or ice cream is a must for the perfect night in.

 

 

Pick your entertainment

This could be watching a good film or binging on your favourite tv series. If you’re spending the evening alone nothing beats snuggling up with a good book. Reading reduces stress and helps you sleep better so you’ll be in for a good nights sleep too. If you’re in the mood for something a little more stimulating, get out the board games, a great option if you’re enjoying a family night or having friends over.

 

 

 

 

End of Summer Gardening Tips

We are well into September and Autumn is just around the corner. Now is an ideal time to get your garden in order. If you work your way through our useful checklist of essential gardening jobs, come Spring you’ll reap the benefits.

1. Whilst it’s still relatively dry, get the mower out. Autumn often brings increased rainfall, making mowing a challenge so it’s best to tick this one off on a dry day.

2. Controlling weeds in late Summer will help reduce their presence in the following Spring and Summer.

3. End of Summer cutting back and pruning is essential to your gardening list. Cut off faded blooms just above two or three leaves behind the flowers. Not only does this process clean up the plant’s appearance, but it also encourages your flowers and plants to continue to grow thicker and fuller than before.

4. Take cuttings from plants such as fuchsias, salvias and pelargoniums. They root quickly and if they are then kept indoors they’ll be ready for planting out next Summer.

5. Prepare to fill your garden with colour come Spring. Now is the perfect time to plant bulbs such as daffodils, crocuses and bluebells. When buying bulbs check they are as fresh as possible, or you could face disappointment.

6. Clear up any fallen leaves, try to do this job on a dry day as leaves are more easily picked up when they are crispy rather than wet, heavy and soggy.

7. Keep the colour in your garden by re filling your pots with Autumn/Winter flowers. Pansies are a favourite! They always look lovely and are also very hardy.

8. If you don’t already have one, consider a compost bin. Compost acts as a wonderful slow release organic fertiliser, but you must avoid putting diseased or infected plant material in your bin.

How To Cook Bread Over Your Firepit

Cooking bread over a firepit couldn’t be simpler. The summer holidays are in full swing and you might be running out of fun things to do to keep the kids entertained. Fire building and cooking is without a doubt a favourite with both adults and children alike. You can cook just about anything over an open fire, but some of the best recipes are the simplest. Trust us when we say that freshly baked bread smells even better on a campfire!

You could start your activity by going on a stick hunt. The best sticks should be long enough so that you can hold them at a comfortable distance from the fire and around 1.5cm. Freshly cut greenwood is good, because of its moisture it won’t burn so easily.

How to cook bread on a stick over your firepit

Ingredients
  • Plain flour 150g
  • Salt a pinch
  • Olive oil 1 tbsp
  • Cold water
  • Sticks

Method

  1. In a large bowl mix the flour and salt together. Add the oil and a few splashes of water, then bring the mix together with your hands.
  2. A little at a time add water to form a dough. If you add too much water, don’t worry, just add a little more flour.
  3. Split the dough into quarters and roll it between your palms to form a long sausage shape.
  4. Wrap the rolled dough around your stick; make sure your stick is long enough to keep your hands from getting too close to the fire.
  5. Hold your dough over you firepit, turning the stick until the bread turns golden brown on all sides.

Tip: add butter, jam or even Nutella for an extra special treat!

Remember with open fires and children, you have to be extra careful. Never leave your children unaccompanied by your firepit.

Don’t forget to use firemizer under your charcoal or wood as this will help even out heat giving you an even burn which helps cook over a fire!

Why Firepits Are Good For You

Firepits don’t just bring you warmth, they have lots of other advantages too. As well as being practical they can bring you health and emotional benefits too. Here’s just a few reasons why firepits are good for you…

Help you to relax and unwind

After a busy or stressful day can you think of anything better than sitting by an open outdoor fire? Scientists have found that an open fire reduces blood pressure. Subsequently the longer people sit in front of a roaring fire, the greater the relaxing effect it has on them.

You can use them all year round

Using a firepit enables you to enjoy outdoor living all year round. As a matter of fact there is no reason why you can’t throw an outdoor party, even in the middle of winter! Undoubtedly a burning fire is sure to keep your guests warm on a cold evening. In fact, why not get out the marshmallows for a delicious s’mores treat for everyone to enjoy.

It lights up the night

No outdoor lighting can compete with the blaze of a real fire. Firepits provide an ambient glow to your evening long after the sun has gone down. Make the most of your garden sat in the warmth and comfort of your open outside fire gazing at the stars.

Creates a romantic atmosphere

While firepits great for gatherings, they also set the scene for a romantic evening for two. No need to go ‘out out’, as an alternative share a bottle of wine and gaze at the twinkling sky snuggled up with your loved one.

You can use it to cook

Cooking is simple using your firepit. All you need is a grill rack, a couple of pots and some tin foil. Classics such as hot dogs, burgers and kebabs are always delicious. Try wrapping potatoes in foil and tucking them amongst the coals for perfect jacket potatoes!

 

Now you know why fire pits are good for you, keep your fire burning even longer into the night by adding Firemizer. Click here to order yours.

 

How to Help The Environment in 5 Simple Steps

It is important that we all know how to help the environment. Just a few simple changes to the way we live can have a huge impact, not only the environment but your bank account too! Being mindful of your consumption habits can save you money.

Being environmentally friendly can be a fun challenge for all the family, so get the kids involved too!  Just think how much cleaner the planet would be if everyone adopted even 1 or 2 of the following changes…

1. Leave the car at home

Ditch the car for short journeys in favour of walking or cycling. For your commute to work, could you use public transport or car share?

2. Re-use

Not only will this save you money it will save resources and energy to manufacture new ‘stuff’. When shopping, always use a reusable bag. Plastic bags end up in landfills or other parts of the environment, which can then become harmful to animals. You can also minimise the use of  disposable cups and bottles by always carrying a reusable alternative.

3. Recycle 

Recycling is so simple, always make use of your recycling bins at home and visit your local recycling centre regularly.

4. Shop local

Shopping locally not only supports small businesses but reduces your carbon footprint too! Check out local retailers before you click for that next day shipping. You can visit your local farmers market for fresh, package-free food.

5. Save water

Conserving water at home is easy, simply turning of the tap when brushing your teeth makes a difference. Collecting rainwater to water your plants and only turning on your dishwasher when it’s full are great habits too.

 

Undoubtedly, big changes are needed, but little ones do add up. Knowing how to help the environment by following these simple lifestyle choices can reduce your carbon footprint and make a major impact on the planet.

Host the perfect garden party!

With Covid restrictions lasting a few more weeks, your original social plans may have had to be cancelled. Why not host the perfect garden party to lift your spirits?

It doesn’t have to be a stressful task, you can easily create a fabulous party for all to enjoy with a few of the following ideas.

Bar Area

There is no denying that outdoor bars look great! They have become increasingly popular over the last couple of years. Best of all you don’t need to spend a lot of money to create your very own tavern. A simple shelf accompanied by a couple of stools looks the part, a potting bench can also easily double up as a stylish bar. Display your favourite beverages along with ice and glasses and hey presto – bar area complete!

Party Games

Undoubtedly getting out the games will entertain guests of all ages. Keep it simple by leaving out classics like Twister, Swing ball and Jumbo Jenga to get your party going. However, you can always make your own games out of things lying around the house. Ring toss and tin can bowling are really simple to create!

Photo Booth

Capture the fun times with a homemade photo booth. Leave out some props in a signed area and let your guests do the rest. Gardens provide the perfect backdrop for fantastic snaps!

Set the scene

Host the perfect garden party with a theme. Whether you’d like bright and colourful, comfy and cosy or sleek and sophisticated, setting the scene will certainly wow your guests. Textiles such as table linen, rugs, blankets and cushions are great way to make your garden inviting. Whether it be with candles or lights, you can’t go wrong with lighting and it makes a huge difference to the ambience.

Buffet or BBQ?

However you decide to feed your guests it’s always a good idea to check for any special dietary requirements of your guests. You don’t want anyone leaving with an empty tummy!

With all this in place who needs to go out-out?! 🙂

 

                                                                                                                                             

How to clean your wood burning stove – a useful guide!

How to clean your wood burning stove, now is as good a time as any with the warmer summer months upon us.

Although wood burning is brilliant for generating heat efficiently, it can become messy if you don’t keep on top of maintaining it. Keeping it clean will also increase the lifetime of your stove.

Here are some tips to get your stove looking and performing it’s best

 

Firstly there are a few things you’ll need to check

  1. Examine the firebrick lining and see if it needs replacing  – the lining will keep the stove from overheating
  2. Make sure the chimney is cleaned. This will prevent chimney fires and help your stove burn more efficiently.
  3. Check the sealed door. You want a tight seal to make sure smoke doesn’t enter your house. The cord that’s around the door may need replacing on occasion.

Before you start make sure your stove has fully cooled.

Equipment you’ll need:

  • gloves
  • newspaper
  • a small ash shovel
  • a small brush
  • a metal ash bucket
  • household glass cleaner
  • cloth

It’s a good idea to wear protective gloves whilst cleaning your stove. Place newspaper on the floor around your stove then use a small shovel to remove all the ash into your metal bucket or container, you can use a hand brush to gently sweep any remaining debris.

You will find that if you have been using Firemizer there will be a significant reduction in the amount of ash produced, therefore making it easier to clean!

When your used Firemizer starts to deteriorate, ensure it is cold before removal. Firemizer can be recycled with your normal household metal waste.

Click here to order your replacement Firemizer.

Take the ash to a safe place outdoors away from any bushes or other materials that might catch fire. Leave for at least 24 hours before you dispose of it.

Apply glass cleaner to the glass and wipe using a cloth until the window is clean. If parts of the window don’t clean straight away, let the solution react for a few minutes before wiping. You can then use a dry cloth and hoover to clean the exterior of your burner.

Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions which came with you stove. The information provided is guidance only, and should be followed only in accordance with the guidelines of the manufacturer.

So now you know how to clean your wood burning stove, there is no excuse not to keep it looking spick and span!

 

Try Firemizer in your BBQ!

As the weather is forecast for a hot weekend it’s perfect weather for a barbeque! Why not BBQ with Firemizer! If you have some life left in your Firemizer, simply migrate the material into any outdoors solid fuel appliance like a Fire pit, BBQ or even a Pizza oven!

Why not check out Firebuilder to start your summer of environmentally friendly! find out more here

To get your BBQ to cooking temperature 20% faster here are some of our top tips!

BBQ With Firemizer

types of BBQ

Simply place it on the base of your BBQ, place the coals on top, and start it like normal and see the difference. It’ll get your coals hotter much faster, help them to burn more efficiently and last up to a third longer, and reduce any harmful pollutants emitted by 72%. The only way to BBQ is a BBQ with firemizer!

Using Firebuilder

why not try using Firebuilder to start your fire? With no kerosene, the food will be free from any harmful chemicals to keep your food tasting great. Just break the cardboard brick, light the edges, place it on top of your solid fuel and let the fire burn downwards.

Grilling Meats

  1. Beef = ground beef cook at 71°C Fahrenheit, steaks cook at 62°C. Use direct heat for chops and steaks. Use indirect heat for roasts and larger cuts of beef.
  2. Chicken = chicken breast and legs cook at 73°C. For thick pieces of meat cook over direct heat, larger pieces over indirect heat.
  3. Pork = sausages cooked at 73°C while pork chops cook at 62°C. Start cooking sausages on high heat so the outside is nice and charred then move to a cover part of the grill to finish off.
  4. Seafood = salmon or shrimp cook at 62°C. Oil the grill well to reduce sticking. 

For more tips and great advice check out this article

4 Things To Do While You’re At Home

The first day of spring is here and no one imagined spending most of Spring at home but here we are. To help with boredom here are some activities you can do while at home!

Indoor camping

If you’re stuck at home with kids struggling for ideas to keep them occupied then indoor camping might be the way forward.

  • get the snacks and drinks – hot chocolate is a good choice
  • Make some games – cards, board games or treasure hunt
  • You can use a tent or make one out of bedsheets and blankets
  • Make sure to fill the tent with blankets and pillows so its extra comfy

smoreIndoor S’mores

To fit with your indoor camping why not make some food to enjoy! S’mores are the best treat to have while camping. Grab some crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate and you are ready to go. Check out our other blog all about S’more and other yummy ingredients you can use.

Gardening

Being inside for most of the day isn’t fun so bring some of the outside inside by taking up gardening!

Start easy with some herbs like basil, rosemary or mint, make sure you don’t overwater them and they have adequate drainage. Another idea is making your own terrarium, this is a collection of small decorative indoor plants that created by you is one of a kind. You can buy kits to help you get started then once you’ve got the gist you can experiment with other decorative elements.

If you do have access to a garden then go to town with herbs, vegetables or flowers. Did you know using Firemizer in your wood burner creates finer ash. This can be used in your garden or for composting.

CinemaMovie Night

Who doesn’t love watching a film!  So why not make it more memorable than just sitting on the sofa. Create your own cinema, get some sweets and popcorn, set up a comfy, cosy seating area full of blankets and pillows and you’re ready to go. Don’t forget the films though!

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