Lincoln: Kitchen design guide from Katie Brown Kitchens


This is a paid partnership with Katie Brown Kitchens

Are you currently feeling inspired to innovate your kitchen space? At the moment, I'm all about home decor and renovations as we are hopefully starting a long-awaited extension next year. I am always on Pinterest and getting inspiration from Instagram, and of course one of the most exciting things we will be doing is getting a new kitchen. When Katie Brown Kitchens got in touch I knew I had to work with them on a post - my friends have used them and have been really impressed and they have the most beautiful collection of kitchens with all of the special touches you want when you're planning a new space. 

Having a kitchen that compliments your home's aesthetic and design is important to any homeowner, and in this guide, Lincoln based kitchen designers, Katie Brown Kitchens showcase some of their top design projects to help inspire your design choices for 2021.

Contemporary twist

With kitchen design, you are not limited to either traditional or modern.

This Beverly shaker design offers a contemporary twist on the original shaker style, with sloped internal profiles and prominent v-grooves.

When adding contemporary elements to your kitchen style, it can help add a more versatile and unique look to your kitchen design.


Classic 

Looking for a classic chic and stylish kitchen design choice?

Adding simple elements to your kitchen design can be the perfect accompaniment to a classic and sleek kitchen.

With this Wilmslow shaker kitchen design we offer simple detailing that was complemented with designer accessories to offer a modernised look.

The contrast in colours and elements chosen also works perfectly for smaller kitchen spaces, as it helps to bring in more natural light flow, alongside innovative storage solutions.


An adventurous design

This stunningly vibrant kitchen design captures the true essence of sleek and contemporary.

The beauty of kitchen design is that you are not limited to what colour preference you have, whether you prefer more neutral tones, or vibrant bright colours, there's always a way to make colours work with one another.

In this kitchen design in particular, we have incorporated vibrant greens and oranges, alongside a bold navy kitchen island to add depth into this design layout.

At Katie Brown Kitchens, we always recommend that you can have an environment that reflects your personality and lifestyle.


Adding personality to your home

The finish to your kitchen doesn't just have to stop at one colour.

In this futuristic kitchen design, we created a cool iron paint finish that offers an ‘industrial’ look.

More modern kitchen designs are now bringing even more to the table (quite literally) with new innovative design techniques and additions that work to create a kitchen space you would not find in any other home.


About Katie Brown Kitchens:

Located in the Pelham Centre, Lincoln based kitchen design company, Katie Brown Kitchens go to great lengths to offer the very best in kitchen and bedroom design. 

Every step of the way, their team of expert designers are at hand to create every client's dream kitchen.

At the Katie Brown showroom you’ll find a passionate team of in-house designers that offer a range of skills and experience. 

You can also take advantage of their online design tool, where you can design your dream kitchen within a matter of minutes.

Lincoln: Beauty & the Beast press launch at the NTR Lincoln


Press event

This week I was invited to the press launch of the Beauty and the Beast pantomime which runs from the 10th December to the 9th January at the New Theatre Royal in Lincoln. 

We were introduced to the cast and their characters, all who were in full costume and looked amazing, before getting the chance to sit down and chat to them about the panto. You could feel how excited everyone was for panto to be back after the past 18 months. There was a real buzz in the air and it was a lovely event to be part of - everyone in the theatre from cast to the crew were so friendly and you can tell they all get along really well.


I spoke to seven of the cast members including the very popular Jake Quickenden, NTR regular, Chris Johnson, Camilia O'Grady, Vanessa Dumatey, Laura Wenton, Georgia Hayes-Cowley and Paul Aitchison. All of them were an absolute delight to talk to and made me even more keen to see the show. Here's what we spoke about;

Tell me about your character and what part you play in the panto

Jake: I play Flash Hugo, who if you're going by Beauty & the Beast, is basically Gaston. He's very self-loving and thinks everyone else loves him too - the perfect character for me! This is often the impression people have of me before they know me so it's quite an easy role to play. It's great fun being Flash.

Chris: I play Ivar Brainstorm who is Belle's Father, and I've just realised it means that Belle's name is Belle Brainstorm. What a great name! He's a crackpot inventor, he's a doting father and a bit of a fool. He gets strung along quite bit by our nasty villain, but it's panto so everything works out in the end!

Camilia: I play the Enchantress at the start of the show, Serenity Rose and also Gigi Vavavoom which is such a fabulous name.

Vanessa, Laura and Georgia: We play the Singit sisters - Cindy Singit, Lindy Singit and Mindy Singit. We're basically Flash Hugo's very energetic and sassy entourage so we go wherever he goes and are always fawning over him - his biggest fans. 

Paul: Well I don't play anything as obviously I 'am' Mary Muffintop! A very glamorous cake. Lots of cakes come in multipacks but this particular cake is single so if you know anyone who might be interested...single gentlemen - get down to the theatre and ask for Miss Muffintop.

What made you want to star in Beauty and the Beast?

Jake: I hosted a show two years ago, just before lockdown called Dance to the Music which starred Kristina Rhianoff at the New Theatre Royal. Whilst doing the show I met Natalie (who is Beauty & the Beast's Producer, Writer, and Director) and she said she'd love to have me star in a panto. The original plan was to do it last year but obviously everything shut down so it's been two years in the making. Natalie is so talented which is clear to see just by looking at the costumes. This is just the press day and there's such a buzz here.

Also, Lincoln is close to home for me as I'm from Scunthorpe so it'll be nice to be able to pop to my Mum's for some dinner! 

Chris: For me, it's the opportunity to work with the team at the New Theatre Royal again. This is my seventh consecutive panto with them and they're a delight. Whenever they call I'll always make it work. I'm not actually from Lincoln (although it probably feels like it as my face is on posters at every Christmas market!) but I started working with the guys here in 2016 and seven pantos later, I still love it!

Camilia: It's just amazing. It's magical in every single way from cupcakes and glitter to the lights and the show has the most fantastic characters. Everyone who works here is just so lovely and we get on so well - it's such a wonderful cast and crew. I'm having a great time.

Vanessa, Laura and Georgia: There's such a lovely family atmosphere at the NTR, and Beauty & the Beast is one of our favourite films. We also loved the idea of the sisters - we won't give away too much but they do a lot of singing (as you can tell by the name!) and have great fun.

Paul: I love that you've used the word 'star' as it's called Beauty and the Beast and I am the Beauty. There's a girl called Belle, but we humour her. I think she can tell that it's really Mary Muffintop's show.

What do you love most about pantomime? 

Chris: The fact that it's a gateway to theatre for a lot of children. I think it is most people's first experience of theatre and it opens you up to a world of working in the industry; the lights, costumes, technical side, the set, the music - I could go on! It's the spark for a lot of people in figuring out what they want to do when they grow up.

Camilia: The magic of it and the Christmas spirit. This year more than ever people are so ready for it.

Paul: I love the silliness and in a normal show you have to stick to the script whereas pantomime can be absolute chaos and the way the audience responds completely informs the show. It's so much fun to have such a live and energetic audience.

Because panto is all about Christmas - what do you love most about the festive time of year?

Jake: Presents! I love buying presents. I've got everything I need in my life now, so it's great to spoil other people. As a kid, I'd never have imagined that'd I'd prefer giving presents but I really do. It's also the first year with my little boy so that's going to be magical.

Chris: My official answer is togetherness, family and the spirit of goodwill, but off the record it's pigs in blankets.

Camilia: The build-up and the countdown, and obviously the pantos!

Vanessa, Laura and Georgia: It's a great time for family to come together and this year more than ever, people are so excited for it. You can't beat the Christmas countdown.

Paul: The pigs in the blankets - what we call the in-laws when they come and sleep on the sofa!

Lastly why should people come and see Beauty & the Beast?

Jake: Because they get to stare at me for two hours...only joking! Being serious, the show is going to be amazing, the costumes are incredible and it's been a tough two years. Let's have some fun, enjoy ourselves over Christmas with friends and family, and do all of the things we've missed out on.

Chris: It's going to be a wonderful time at the New Theatre Royal with Christmas spirit and panto magic. And I'm baking hot in my costume so make it worth it, buy a ticket!

Camilia: After the year we've all had, we all deserve to have a magical, fun and amazing night and you'll find it at this show.

Vanessa, Laura and Georgia: There's going to be lots of songs, lots of dancing and amazing costumes. It's a show for everyone, not just for the young but for adults too - it really brings family together and will make Christmas extra special!

Paul: You'll have a lovely time - lots of laughs and jokes and some great songs. And obviously, you've got me as a cake. And if you want more than that for your Christmas present I don't know what's wrong with you!

You can book tickets to Beauty & the Beast by calling the Box Office on 01522 519999 or online here

Baby: My Positive Birth Story with my second baby


It's been six months since we had our beautiful Millie and I'm finally getting around to sharing her birth story. I wanted to make sure I had it written down so I could look back on it, and I loved reading positive birth stories when I was pregnant so hopefully it will be helpful for some of you! I did the Positive Birth Company course with Florence, and so bought it again so I could refresh my memory. Hypnobirthing has been amazing for me - you can read more in this post.

I went into labour four days early with Florence; you can read her birth story here but in summary, labour was really positive but was 36 hours from the very first contraction so quite lengthy. I was fully expecting Millie to be the same so it was a surprise when my due date came and went - and I didn't enjoy the constant questions asking if I'd had any twinges! I had a sweep at 40+6 which wasn't successful as she was so low so the midwife couldn't reach my cervix. She gave me some clary sage oil to massage in a couple of times a day as that can sometimes help bring on labour.

I was booked in for an induction on the Sunday, however on the Thursday morning I woke up early at 5.30 with a few contractions about 10 minutes apart. I then had one at 6.30 which ended with a big pop - my waters had gone! This was another surprise as my waters only went at the end of labour with Florence. I was laying in bed at this point and suspected what had happened so waddled to the bathroom and sure enough - they had very much gone. At this point my contractions started coming even more regularly and I just had a feeling that it was going to be quicker than with Flo bear.

I called the labour ward told us to come in to be checked (as my waters had gone) so I rushed around finishing my hospital bag and getting Florence ready to go to my parents. I was breathing through contractions and they were very manageable, coming every 5-8 minutes. 

We dropped Florence off and got to the hospital at 8.30 in the morning. It wasn't busy on the ward so we were taken to a room and told to get settled - I didn't know whether Chris could come in with me at this stage (Covid reasons) but luckily he was. I had two wonderful midwives (my main midwife was a student) and both were so lovely and I immediately felt at ease. They said they wouldn't do any checks for a while as wanted us to be relaxed and to get the oxytocin flowing. We were brought tea and toast for breakfast, and the room overlooked Lincoln Cathedral so it was just very lovely at this stage with a chilled atmosphere. Very different to when I arrived in labour with Florence when I was pretty out of it and couldn't eat anything! I bounced on my ball and the midwives set up an aromatherapy diffuser and gave us some Clary sage oil for Chris to massage in to my back when I had a contraction.

At this point the midwives weren't sure if my waters had actually broken, so were going to have to do an internal check and said they could then examine me and give me another sweep if I needed it. However literally as I was getting onto the bed my waters started leaking even more and it was very clear they had gone! 

Everything was very manageable until around 10.30 when the contractions massively ramped up - my student midwife had told me to do figures of 8 on the exercise ball which really seemed to get them going. The midwives couldn't believe the change as they left me happily chatting and bouncing on the ball and came back to me mostly stripped off with Chris holding a fan in my face. I put the tens machine on but it didn't do much at this point and the wires were irritating me. I was given some gas and air which was a good distraction. The midwives realised that things were moving fast and so rushed to get the birth pool filled which was in the next room. At this point I couldn't care less where I delivered but they knew I wanted a pool birth and that the water helped me last time.

Less than an hour later I could feel my body starting to push (just after saying that I couldn't do it and was too tired, hello transition!) and luckily the pool was ready so I could get in. I pushed for about 45 minutes with Chris guiding me. The only time the midwives got involved was when birthing the head - I had to slow my pushing and do little breaths. When pushing the body the midwives quickly realised that her hand was by her face so helped me onto my back (I was on all fours) so that they could help manoeuvre her out. And then she was here at 12.28pm, born in the water! We checked to see what she was (another girl - of course!) and had some cuddles in the pool before I was given the injection and delivered the placenta. 

I was never actually examined internally so it was hard to know exact times, but labour was recorded as 6 hours with 1 hour 45 minutes of established labour - a lot quicker than with Florence! They thought her hand might have caused a tear but it was just a graze so I was very lucky.

We had lots of skin to skin and were able to go home the same day - the hours following both births have been my favourite life moments ever. I loved telling our family the news, and even though I was sore and tired, the high was unbeatable.  I feel so lucky to have had such a positive birth - the midwives were just amazing and didn't do one internal exam as could see everything was progressing (was pleased as I found the examinations really hard with Florence) and they mostly left Chris and I to it. Hypnobirthing definitely helped keep me in a calm space even when things got intense so I really do recommend it.

Pregnancy: The Third Trimester


I meant to post this during my actual third trimester but time ran away and now it's May and I have an 8 week old (how?!) baby girl next to me. So here's a little throwback post to when I was 39 weeks pregnant...

______________________________________

So here we are - I'm writing this at 39 weeks pregnant and can't believe we are nearing the end of pregnancy and will be soon meeting our little baby cheese. The past few weeks have just flown which is strange with us being in another lockdown.

I've found the third trimester a lot more uncomfortable than I did with Florence - but then I have to remind myself that I wasn't running around after a two year old, could have leisurely mornings in bed and nap whenever I liked!

I have had two growth scans in the third trimester although everything has been absolutely fine and it's been because of a rogue fundal measurement which then threw off all future bump measurements. I was seen really quickly both times and it was lovely to see baby on the scan again. Apart from that everything has been going smoothly at all of my checks and him/her has been head down for weeks now.

The bump is feeling pretty big and heavy, and this baby is such a wriggler. Watching my belly move has been pretty crazy as you can almost see the limbs poking out! When we speak to the bump, the baby responds and they love music!

Third trimester tiredness has been a real thing this time and I'm back to having to nap most days to get me through. I'm also needing a wee a zillion times a night, and in the day too. I will leave the house for a walk and have to come straight back to have another wee! I'm so looking forward to being more comfortable again when baby is here, and being able to sleep better too - even if I will be getting less of it!

Everything for the baby has come down from the loft and has been freshened up - today we set up the Snuzpod and it was so strange to think we'll be doing it all again. Can't wait to meet you baby cheese!

Pregnancy: 5 tips to survive being pregnant and looking after a toddler

 


Being pregnant whilst also looking after a toddler has made pregnancy very different to the first time round - Florence was almost two when we found out we were expecting! In my pregnancy with Florence I could take it easy when I needed to, keep my head down at work and sleep all weekend if I wanted to. I also didn't have to bend down a million times a day to pick up toys and to lift her up. Although saying that, it has been nice not having to commute and not being pregnant in a heatwave this time!

Here are five tips to help survive being pregnant whilst also looking after a toddler. I have had a straightforward pregnancy with no sickness and just tiredness mainly (and the usual aches and pains) - obviously it is a total different ballgame if you're suffering with bad morning sickness!

1. Sleep when they sleep

You have to grab those moments when you can rest and so try and sleep when your toddler sleeps. I have been very lucky in that Florence loves sleeping and her naps. In the first trimester I would always go back to bed when she went down for a nap and it would help me get through the day, and I have done the same quite a few times in third trimester as tiredness has reared its head! I would also go to bed early. If Florence didn't still nap I would have been in bed at 7.30. 

2. Play with toys that encourage independent play - or that allow you to rest up

Encourage lots of play with toys where your toddler will play, or mostly play independently. Florence loves Duplo and Magnatiles so these are always a good call if I just want to sit with her rather than having to do too much. She also loves tea parties, playing in her kitchen and making me ice creams with the Melissa & Doug ice cream counter - all which mean I can sit and let her serve me! I am also a big fan of playing doctors, and also the 'lets put Mummy to bed' game where I can lay on the sofa!

3. Use the TV when you need to

Pregnancy (or a pandemic) is not the time to feel guilty about screen time. It's a great tool for giving you half an hour to chill on the sofa. During my third trimester we have got into a nice routine of watching TV around 4pm. Florence will happily sit with some raisins and watch the TV whilst I usually have a quick 20 minute nap! It has really helped me get through the day.

4. Involve your toddler with your pregnancy

It will depend how old your toddler is as to how much they understand. Now that's she's almost 2 and a half, Florence does seem to understand that there's a baby in my tummy and will often cuddle the bump and chat to 'baby cheese' which is what she has called the baby - she did get a shock when she was hugging it and baby did a big kick! We've been talking to her about being a big sister, and asking what she thinks of names so that she feels as involved as possible, and so it won't be too much of a shock when baby cheese arrives. 

5. Don't put pressure on yourself 

I think it's important to constantly remind yourself that you are pregnant, and that you need to take it easy and to not put pressure on yourself. Some days I've felt really ropey and haven't been able to tick anything off my to-do list and I've felt so unproductive but have to keep reminding myself that the most important thing is listening to my body. 

***

Sending love to anyone else who is pregnant, especially at the moment during this strange time. 

Lincoln: Stokes Coffee Innovate with their Takeaway & Delivery Service

Stokes Coffee Lincoln innovate with takeaway and delivery service

This is a paid and gifted partnership with Stokes Coffee

During this strange time that we're living in it's so nice to be able to support local businesses and help promote what they're doing (which is why I love running the Lincoln Bloggers UK community so much!). I'm delighted to be working with Stokes Coffee to share more about their takeaway and delivery offerings and to talk about the delicious afternoon tea that I was treated to. Hopefully this will be of interest to my Lincolnshire based readers.

Here's more on what Stokes Coffee are offering

Lincoln residents are elated to hear that Stokes Coffee now offers their quintessential English cafe experience at home.

In the face of the current pandemic, businesses have been encouraged to adapt their approach, which is why long-standing Family based company, Stokes Coffee decided to provide their much-loved coffee, tea and comforting meals for take-away & delivery.

Fourth generation MD, Nick Peel, and the team were determined to continue working alongside the Lincoln community and local producers. Just because their cafes had to shut did not mean they wanted to stop providing the very best for their customers during a time when those more frequent visits to your local cafe were not as regular. 

Stokes are also connecting with local support and community groups, so individuals can collect hot meals for those vulnerable members of the community who are shielding and isolating.

Bringing the Stokes Experience to your home

The take-away and delivery service focuses on bringing the cafe experience that many of us know and love, into the comfort of our own homes.

They offer fine and fresh, locally sourced ingredients while maintaining the responsibility of being kind to the environment. Their home cooked and home baked food is designed to satisfy everyone in the Lincoln community, as they can still bring an essence of the ‘Stokes experience’ into their homes.

Here is some of what they currently have on offer - 

  • Breakfast
  • Brunch
  • Lunch and British Classics
  • Gluten Free Menu
  • Omelettes and Salads
  • Grilled Sandwiches
  • Sandwiches & Gluten Free Sandwiches
  • Kids Menu
  • Cakes, Scones, Etc
  • Tea & Coffee to Infuse

Within their classic English menu, Stokes offer an abundance of their well-known dishes, including vegan and gluten-free options.

We are having to adapt how we traditionally celebrate special occasions and find new ways to make the days special. With Valentine's day soon approaching, the Stokes takeaway experience can provide you and the one you love with a beautiful selection of delicious dishes and treats made with the finest, locally sourced, produce including traditional breakfasts, elegant light bites, afternoon and cream teas (subject to availability) seasonal specials and hearty main meals. Which can be enjoyed together, or even virtually.

Whether you are planning to celebrate Valentine's Day, an anniversary, Mothers Day or simply as a pick me up, the Stokes Afternoon Tea provides the perfect luxury. 

The takeaway service is available on JustEat, where you have the option to have your British classics delivered to your door, or collection is available at The Lawn Cafe, situated within the Stokes Coffee roastery in uphill Lincoln. 

Opening Times -

Delivery: Monday - Sunday - 09:00 - 14:30 

Collection: Wednesday - Sunday - 09:00 – 14:30 / Monday & Tuesday - CLOSED

My afternoon tea

Stokes Coffee Lincoln afternoon tea

Afternoon tea from Stokes Coffee Lincoln

Afternoon tea from Stokes Coffee Lincoln

I'm a huge fan of afternoon tea and so I eagerly picked up my tea for two on Thursday morning. I arranged a time slot and collected it from The Lawn Cafe which was very straightforward - if you live closer to the centre then you can have it delivered to your door via  JustEat which makes it even more convenient. 

I had specified my dietary requirements beforehand and Stokes were very accommodating and I could choose between getting coffee or tea as part of the tea. It was put in a lovely box and was a real treat to open - as you can see in the first picture, the top layer contained all of the gorgeous cakes and there was also a bottom layer with the savoury food such as the sandwiches and mini quiches. I was also given napkins, wooden cutlery, two teabags, two mini jams and two pots of clotted cream. 

I couldn't fit all of the afternoon tea onto my stand as you get so much food, which is brilliant. Savoury wise, we received smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches, cheese and pickle sandwiches, mini quiches and sausage rolls. It all tasted great but I was a particular fan of the cheese and pickle sandwiches as the pickle was just delicious! 

The sweets were just as tasty with a big selection of treats from a fruity cheesecake to macarons. The fruity cheesecake was a favourite and also the little lemon slices. The size of the sweets was perfect as sometimes I can find it a bit overwhelming. And of course, afternoon tea wouldn't be complete without scones with plenty of clotted cream and jam. Yum.

Overall, it was such a lovely treat - which is what we need at the moment, and would be a perfect way to celebrate an occasion and to make that little bit more special, as well as supporting a local business which is something that is so worth doing at the moment. Thank you Stokes Coffee!

Pregnancy: The Second Trimester

 

This blog has been very neglected over the past few months but I wanted to make sure to write a post about my second trimester of pregnancy as I love looking back on these posts. 

I'm now 32 weeks so well into the third trimester (it's all feeling very real now) and feeling very heavy and achy, but for the most part the second trimester was pretty smooth sailing! It was a lot less tiring than the first although I did find it harder to get up and move around than I did when pregnant with Florence. There have definitely been more aches and pains this pregnancy! I invested in a BBhugme pregnancy pillow (second hand on marketplace for almost half the price and in great condition - winner) and it has been one of my best ever purchases - I don't know what I would have done without it! I was finding it so hard to get comfortable and this really helped.

I started feeling movements around 15 weeks which was earlier than I did with Florence although I did have an anterior placenta with her which mean you can feel movements later. The baby is super active and decides to party hard when I go to sleep which can be a bit distracting! Although they don't get hiccups at all which is funny as Florence always had them in my tummy - and gets them a lot now when she laughs too much. 

Speaking of Florence, she's loved seeing my bump grow and has named the baby 'baby cheese'. She has been pressing her face to it and chatting away. And when we came home from our 20 week scan she pointed to the ultrasound and said 'baby cheese!' which I was pretty impressed with. 

Our twenty week scan went well and all is looking good with the baby. It was amazing to see him/her wriggling around on the screen and feel kicks at the same time. Chris was allowed into the scan with me too which was good as I know lots haven't been able to because of the pandemic. We are going to have another surprise although it was so tempting to know at the scan! I feel like it's a boy but I did with Florence so who knows. 

We have a few girls names on our shortlist and a couple of favourites, and we have a few boys names but are finding them much harder! We might just get Florence to choose - baby Cheese does have a ring to it!