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Make your new kitchen fit for a party

Make your new kitchen fit for a party
In most houses, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It needs to be fit for multipurpose – fit for a family by day and fit for a party by night, for instance. As the saying goes ‘you will always find me in the kitchen at parties…’

But how do you design a kitchen that can accommodate both whilst still reflecting the ‘wow’ factor? Kitchen design specialist Harvey Jones has utilised their expert knowledge to offer you the best advice and inspiration to help you create the kitchen that is the perfect medium between family living and a great party venue for all your guests.

1 – Add a peninsula or island for your guests to gather
 A kitchen work surface that can be accessed from both the centre of the kitchen and outside can be utilised as a breakfast station and yet can also be quickly transformed into a buffet station to hold all your party nibbles. Barstools can be added to accommodate those who want to sit and enjoy the party food with a glass of fizz in their hand too.

2 – Create a drinks station 
Every party needs a drinks station, or a bar. Tambour-fronted or double-doored breakfast stations are all the rage at the moment but can easily be turned into a bar for parties. Cereals, bread and biscuits can be easily replaced with glasses, snacks and cocktail-making essentials. Access to a plug enables you to add tech like a blender or ice machine to your bar, and incorporating a wine cooler or mini fridge into the design means your guests will always have access to their favourite tipple, chilled or poured over ice.

3 – Have plenty of places to sit 
You can add a new dimension to kitchen seating by adding a bench to your design, or ensuring you leave room for an extending dining table. You want to have a place for your guests to gather and socialise together. In the early stages of designing your kitchen, you should consider where you might store extra chairs. Fold-away chairs are the easiest to conceal and store away until a party. You might want to consider building in a multipurpose utility cupboard where you can store these extra chairs alongside your vacuum, mop and bucket and your ironing board though. It’ll be a space that hides them away out of sight, but leaves them right at hand when you need them.

4 – Light it up 
Nothing creates a party mood more than good lighting. Whilst you might not want funky, colourful lighting all year round, you may want to consider adding a few extras in the design process to make sure you have light settings for all occasions. Colour-change LED lights can be concealed underneath cupboards and island work surfaces, or below plinths and even behind glass splashbacks. This means you can have a little something up your sleeve to really help set the mood for your guests. Not only that, but zone lighting and dimmable switches help to define areas of the kitchen and create different moods suitable for any occasion whilst wowing your guests.

With a little help for Harvey Jones, you can design your perfect party kitchen in no time.

Taking Mental Health Seriously

Taking Mental Health Seriously
A few years ago now I got diagnosed with mental health problems. At the time I was pretty embarrassed of it, and didn't really speak up much about it. Once I decided to I learnt that actually a lot of my friends had similar problems, and really there isn't much of a stigma around them. 

In fact mental health is a lot more common than I first thought, with 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental illness each year. But still there's not a lot of awareness of mental health issues. I know personally I've struggled in the past to get help for mine, and I've found it's often because there's a lack of funding or research into mental health in young people. It often felt like I was fighting a never ending battle with my GP to even be put forward for CBT, and I honestly think it's down to a lack of awareness, and I know a lot of my friends have had similar problems. 

I came across this infographic from MQ Mental Health Charity and thought it raised some interesting points about mental health, particularly about the funding constraints meaning that some people aren't receiving the treatment and support that they need. 

MQ Mental Health are a charity that are all about understanding mental health, ensuring that it is treated, and ultimately prevented. And with the help of their supporters they can understand better mental health. Personally I am very keen to get involved with with supporting such a great charity, if you'd like to as well you can find more information here

Busaba St Albans Restaurant Opening

Busaba St Albans Restaurant Opening
I live about 20 minutes away from the town of St Albans, a gorgeous city full of adorable coffee shops and amazing looking restaurants, all of which I want to explore more of. And last week I was invited along to experience one of St Albans newest Thai restaurants, Busaba, and was invited to their launch night, doesn't that sound fancy? 

Enjoying the perks of being the boyfriend of a food blogger, I brought along Chris with me to the opening of Busaba, where we were both greeted with a glass of bubbly. Looking around the restaurant you could see it was full of hussle and bussle and excitement for the opening, with a DJ playing music, and an artist creating art work to be displayed in the restaurant. 

Once we were shown to our table we were greeted by the head chef who presented to us a sample of four dishes to try from their menu while we decided what to eat. The dishes were designed to be sweet, sour, salty and spicy and were a great sample to the food we were about to taste at Busaba.

As it was the opening night they had a sample menu available for a few of their dishes, as well as a few signature cocktails. For my starter I decided on the Thai Calamari, which came with ginger and green peppercorn, and gosh did it taste amazing - a nice twist on a normal calamari dish.

Chris, who's a little more adventurous with spicy food, picked the Som Tam - green papaya salad, dried shrimp, peanut, cherry tomato and lime. I'm not one for spicy food, but Chris loves it so it wasn't a surprise he picked out one of the spiciest things on the menu. It was fiery dish, with lots of flavour - perfect if you like something a little hotter.

When it came to picking a main there was no competition from me, I had to pick the Tamarind Grilled Duck. As a big lover of duck dishes I was excited to see what the Thai take on this would be, which came with Chinese broccoli and sticky rice. The duck was cooked absolutely beautifully, and the tamarind sauce really complemented the flavours of the duck.

Chris once again decided to pick out the spiciest dish, and opted for the Pad Kwetio - flat rice noodle, smoked chicken, king prawn, shitake mushroom and sweet potato fries. As it's another spicy dish, and I'm a wimp with spice I didn't pinch any of Chris's dinner, although I may have pinched a few sweet potato fries, which were oh my, amazing. 

All in all it was a lovely evening, and the whole atmosphere of the opening night was wonderful. If you looked around the restaurant you could see tables of people enjoying the food and cocktails on offer, and overall looked like it was a successful opening night. Not having experienced proper thai food before, I wasn't sure what to expect from the food, but I feel like I know a little more about the flavours from a Thai dish now, and I'm looking forward to heading back to Busaba to try some more soon!