blog, Collaborations, LIFESTYLE

5 Tips to Create the Perfect Cheese Board (*In Collaboration with SPAR NI)

Hi there!

Can you believe how close we are to Christmas already?…Where has this year went to? I am slowly starting to think about the big Pre-Christmas decoration house clean and getting the social diary organised. Our social life normally revolves around food (!!!) and we rarely have a gathering in Rose Cottage without a cheese board making an appearance…any excuse eh?!

Cheese boards are a quick and easy way to impress your guests and there is something on there to suit everyone’s tastes; So here are my top 5 tips to make a simple cheese board for this festive season:

Tip 1 : Buy a wide selection of high quality food.

Your local SPAR store is packed with goodies to make entertaining this Season as simple as possible. Head there and pick up a variety of produce including cheeses, crackers, fruit and dips – keep in mind colours, as you want to make your board as interesting on the eye as possible.

Tip 2: Pick the perfect board.

Board shape will dictate the way you style your food. If you have a bigger gathering, be creative with what you use to display your food on; I have used a wood effect floor tile sample before which is a cheap and effective alternative.

Tip 3: Start by positioning your food on the board with the biggest items first.

I place my cheese and bowls before anything else, these take up the most room – you will tuck everything else into the blank spaces later on! I like using bowls to hold things like dips, pesto and smaller items; plus the height and round shapes helps break up the cheese board and makes it more fun to look at. I always choose to serve cheeses in a variety of shapes to add visual interest. SPAR have a fantastic range of cheeses in store, our favourite being the Wensleydale and Cranberry which is perfect for this time of year especially.

*Remember cheese is best served at room temperature which means you should take it out of the fridge and let it rest for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.

Tip 4: Place your crackers/ breads and meat around these.

Make little piles of crackers and put bread on its side to add height to your cheese board. Don’t forget to have some cutlery, especially knives close by to allow your guests to easily add extras on top.

Tip 5: Use fruit, nuts and sweets as fillers.

This is where the magic happens!! Filling the gaps in your cheese board is what really gives the professional and finished feel. Also these are the little extras which keep people coming back to the cheese board for more!

And lastly enjoy! As I said before, it’s any excuse here in Rose Cottage to crack out a cheese board and with SPAR stocking such fab produce, it couldn’t be any easier.

Be sure to tag me and SPAR over on Instagram if you make one using the tips so we can droll over it too!

Hope you enjoyed reading, as much as I enjoyed writing!

blog, Collaborations, LIFESTYLE

Autumnal Shoot (In Collaboration with Christine McIlroy Photography)

Hello there!

What a crazy old time we’re all having eh?! I popped a few videos up on my Instagram the other day which we had created during the first lockdown; it made me think about how as a little family we have created some of the best memories during such a wild time.

When the gorgeous Christine from Christine McIlroy Photography got in touch to see if we would like some family photos taken, I jumped at the chance! I want to remember this time when a lot of other things were taken away from us…we clung to each other. We didn’t need anything else, just each other’s company.

I will absolutely treasure these photos and look back on them with such fond memories of 2020. Thank you so much Christine for capturing our little family perfectly!

I honestly could not recommend Christine more! Not only was she fab with little Harry but she really put us all at ease and captured our family dynamic and personalities perfectly!

You can find her here –

On Instagram – Click here

Facebook – Click here

Hope you enjoyed reading, as much as I enjoyed writing!


Kitchen Lock Down List

Hello there!

Hope you are getting on well with lock down life?! It’s been a bit of rollercoaster over here but I’ve been trying my best to plough on with the never ending list of jobs!  What has really been helping me keep motivated is making lists.  If you follow me over on Instagram you will have seen that I have been going round Rose Cottage making a list of jobs for each room.  This has helped make the whole thing seem more achievable for me and giving me a real focus.  I started with the kitchen; my favourite room in the house and the one I spend the most time in (especially since lock down and having to make approximately 1,652 meals a day!!!).  The list for the kitchen alone was 2 pages long and included things like repainting furniture, defrosting the freezer and deep cleaning the cupboards. The (universal) kitchen lock down list went down a storm when I shared it over on Instagram, so thought I would share it over here too along with a few hints and tips.  So here goes…

  1.  Make a list (or use mine below) of the jobs you want to complete


2. Think about your storage solutions

Having the right storage in place in your kitchen can really help you to organise and make the most of the space you have.  Baskets are your best friend, I most use the Curver range (available in Tesco) and use them for food, cleaning products and lunchboxes.


I also love the Ikea plastic storage solutions, especially for dog food, treats and cereal.


I like to reuse plastic food containers where I can.  The little trays which fruit comes in are great as separators for organising your drawers.  Keeps everything nice and tidy and also reduces waste – what’s not to love?!


3. Deep Clean

Here’s what I use and how I clean the following:

Washing Machine

Take out the powder drawer and soak in the sink for 10 minutes in hot water and fairy liquid.  Give the compartment a good clean with white vinegar and bicarb of soda.  I use this little tool – a Sonic Scrubber to get right in there.  Put the drawer back in and place a cupful of white vinegar into it.  Give the drum, door and seal a good wipe down with a damp cloth.  Put a cupful of bicarb into the drum and run on the hottest wash your machine does.

Dish Washer

Top up your dishwasher salt and rinseaid first, then put a small bowl of white vinegar in the top shelf.  Run on the hottest wash.


Sprinkle bicarb of soda around your plug, add a capful of white vinegar.  Leave for 10 minutes, then wash away with hot water.  Then add a few drops of essential oil for a beautiful smell!


I am trying to reduce the amount of heavy duty harmful cleaning products I use in my home, but still to find anything as good as Mr Muscle for cleaning the oven.  I always take the racks and spray them outside, leaving them to soak for 30 minutes.

Cooker Hood

Take out the filters and soak in a sink full of boiling water, white vinegar and fairy liquid for 10 minutes. Leave to dry fully before refitting.


Place a bowl of warm water and a few drops of lemon essential oil into the microwave for 2 minutes. Wipe down all surfaces.

Descale Kettle

Put into kettle 100ml white vinegar, 400ml water, 3 drops of lemon essential oil and boil.  Leave to sit for an hour, rinse, wipe and reboil.

Tiles and Grout

Using the Sonic Scrubber and some Cif I clean all the grout and then wipe down all the tiles with warm water.

4. Spend time planning your kitchen work tops

I wrote a blog on kitchen styling which has some fab practical tips on making your kitchen work for you!

Read it here: Styling your kitchen worktops

5. Don’t rush it!

You will never do all of this list in a day, make a plan to do it over the period of a week;  This makes it more realistic to achieve.  Plan to tick off a few jobs per day.

Let me know how you get on with your lockdown lists and any tips you have on keeping motivated!

Hope you enjoyed reading, as much as I enjoyed writing!

Collaborations, LIFESTYLE

Gift Different (In Collaboration with TKMaxx)

Hi there!
Can you believe how close we are to Christmas?!…Where on earth did 2019 go to?! This is my absolute favourite time of the year; getting the house all decorated, heading to parties and carefully choosing special gifts for friends and family!
When buying presents, I love nothing more than heading into TKMaxx and not knowing what range of goodies I will be able to pick up! It’s no surprise that it is Europe’s leading off-price apparel and homeware retailer as it sells such a huge assortment of big names and designers, top brands, up and coming labels and one of gems.  Everything in store is up to 60% less than the RRP and has significant savings compared to the prices you find in department stores or on the high street.  Because each store receives several deliveries every week containing thousands of items, stock is always fresh and changing, which means theres always something new in store to discover!  Whenever I find something I love in TKMaxx i’m always sure to grab it there and then, as nothing sticks around too long!!
Not only is it a fab store for picking up gifts at this time of year but it always has items for every occasion!  TKMaxx set me a challenge to head into my local store and pick up as many amazing gifts as I could for under £50.  I immediately though of my friend who has had a rough year and how I would like to pick up some nice items for her and make up a little gift hamper.  What better way for her to start of the new year, than with a selection of goodies to help her relax and look after herself!
Firstly, I got her some of the softest slippers I have ever felt!  I tried these on for size and honestly they are like walking on air!  I hope that when she gets home after a hard day and slips these on, they will instantly make her feel better.  In store they have the most amazing selection of slippers for men, women and children and this pair were a total steal at £12.99!

Next up, I bought her some PJs with little doggies on them.  She has a little dog who gives her much comfort, so I thought she could put these on and snuggle up on the sofa with him.  These PJs have such a luxury feel to them and will be so soft on the skin and at only £12.99 whats not to love?!

I also got her a glass water bottle.  Keeping hydrated is so important for staying healthy and doesn’t water always taste so much nicer from a glass bottle?? I picked this up from the clearance aisle in the home department, when an item has a red sticker in store I always grab it extra fast!!  £12 – Such great value!

And lastly a beautiful relaxing candle and room spray.  These will be great for her unwinding in the bath and before bed time – £12 for both. I could spend hours in the candle aisle in TKMaxx, and if I go missing in store you’ll always find me here!! 

Not only is it fab to get into your local TKMaxx store for a good nosy about but they also have an online store – which is full of amazing product categories at great value and with amazing savings.  Let me know what treasure you are able to pick up in your local store?

Hope you enjoyed reading, as much as I enjoyed writing!

Collaborations, LIFESTYLE

Transforming my skin (In collaboration with Revilo)

Hello there!

The lovely team at Revilo got in touch to see if I would like to try out some of their products.  I jumped at the opportunity as my skin has been in bad need of some love and attention of recent.  The company was founded by a Husband and Wife duo who are from Ireland;  with Lucy having over 20 years experience in the luxury spa industry, I felt in very safe hands when explaining my main skin concerns.  They recommended I try the Skin Refiner Nano with a box of ampoules for purifying and clearing.


The Skin Refiner Nano is an award winning, non-invasive skin care enhancement device. It is now available in Ireland and the UK for the first time exclusively through Revilo Products. It has been sold in Germany, Austria and Switzerland already.  It is similar to micro-needling, however unlike micro-needling there is no downtime and no needles; just a gentle disposable Silicone tip and is completely pain free with instant results.

The Skin Refiner Nano creates invisible Nano channels in your skin increasing the absorption rate of your skincare products into your skin from approximately 30% up to 70% that’s why it works so brilliantly.  As you get older collagen begins to break down in your skin resulting in lines and wrinkles, however the Skin Refiner Nano is fantastic for anti-ageing as it naturally stimulates your collagen giving you plumper, firmer, radiant skin. (What’s not to love eh??)  The Skin Refiner Nano uses disposable ampoules filled with hyaluronic acid and powerful natural ingredients that work at a deeper level because of the nano channels created making your skin visibly plumper and glowing with hydration.  Hyaluronic acid is known for replumping and hydrating skin.  The hyaluronic acid contains 4 different molecular sizes to hydrate your skin at different depths. The smaller ones go deeper and the large ones stay near the surface.


There are three ampoules to choose from depending on your skin’s needs. One for Anti-aging one for Pigmentation and Redness Reducing (sensitive skin) and one for Purifying and Clearing (oily acne prone skin).  As I previously mentioned, I went for the Purifying and clearing one, as acne is my main skin concern.

And here are the results!…


To say I am pleased is a massive understatement!!!  I could not be happier with these results and they were achieved in just over 2 weeks!  It has massively reduced redness, prevented further breakouts, and left my skin feeling plumper and more hydrated. 

As an added bonus, all of the products are vegan, gluten free, not tested on animals, free from mineral oils, free from chemical fragrances, microplastics, harmful emulsifiers, dyes and artificial preservatives, with just the minimum of packaging.

Want to have amazing skin in only a couple of weeks too?! The lovely team at Revilo have very generously offered me a 10% off discount code along with free P&P – Use the code JILLBF at checkout via the website here.

If you have any questions at all please get in touch!

Hope you enjoyed reading, as much as I enjoyed writing!



Standing out on Instagram

Hello there!
I recently wrote a Guest Blog Post for Rapid Marketing on ‘How to stand out on Instagram’ and thought I would share it on here too…so here goes!
image1 (1)
Thinking back to when I first started out on Instagram, being surrounded by super creatives with great talents, as a newbie I was totally intimidated and really didn’t know where to start.  Looking at my most favourite accounts to follow I started to realise they all had a unique and recognisable style.  I would immediately recognise one of their images when it popped up on my feed, without having to even see their name.  Little did I realise at that point, the months, maybe even years of hard work (and most likely tears and tantrums) which it would have taken them to create this unique style.
Find your style
Having been on Instagram for over 3 years now, it has taken the majority of that time to discover my style.  Finding your style takes hard work, dedication and the courage to try something new; But the outcome is a feed that exudes passion, personality, and individuality in a way that taking someone else’s simply cant.  Along the way I have taken risks with outcomes that weren’t what I had hoped for – plummeting engagement, loss of followers – but I picked myself up, dusted myself off, made a few minor tweaks and tried again.  I needed to take these scary steps to get it right.  Ultimately this was how I truly began to understand my own personal Instagram style and subsequently, what works for me as a creative.  The learning, the mistakes and the successes are all a vital part of this journey.
Creator Authenticity…
I was (and at times still am) influenced to create images I think Instagram wants to see, without considering what I want to create.  Its so easy to get caught up chasing the aesthetics of what I think Instagram wants to see and then forget to ask myself what to I want to see and create.  Instagram has become an echo chamber of ideas; we are all drinking from the same mug of inspiration, so it is to be expected.  We follow the same people, ‘like’ the same posts, see the same trends, the same places, so, naturally, at times, the content we surround ourselves with can feel repetitive.  It is totally saturated with cups of coffee, bunches of peonies, food flatlays, and of course, there is not a thing wrong with this, we all enjoy seeing them on our timelines and they do make beautiful images.  However, it can become more challenging to grow your following when the market it so saturated, and the competiton is fierce.  This is where I felt my images needed to stand out, to grab attention and hold interest.
The Instagram Community is Massive – there really is a someone for everyone…

Standing out from the crowd on Instagram will only ever be a good thing and you will always find someone who is interested in your content.  For me picking a couple of things I have a passion for and really concentrating on creating content around those has been key.  You’ll find more success on Instagram doing one thing brilliantly, than you will doing a few things average.  My Instagram journey has (and still is) about pushing boundaries, challenging my mind, asking questions, stretching my skills and most importantly taking risks.  I am constantly striving to do more, always posting my best, surprising my audience, sharing content that wows and winning users over through my content.  I suppose the challenge always is staying positive and keeping up the momentum.

So are you going to join me in standing out from the crowd on Instagram??
Hope you enjoyed reading, as much as I enjoyed writing!
Collaborations, LIFESTYLE

Sleeping Soundly in Collaboration with Future Weighted Blankets

Hi there!

When Future Weighted Blankets got in touch to ask me to review one of their blankets, I absolutely jumped at the chance!  I first came across weighted blankets around 7 years ago when I worked in a school for children with disabilities.  I supported kids in the advanced support unit of the school where needs were high and complex.  We used the weighted blankets regularly in this setting to provide calm, reduce anxiety, focus abilities in the classroom and avoid outbursts where possible.

Before I got the blanket for myself, I was hoping that it would reduce my anxiety, help with restless legs and promote a good nights sleep.  (Not asking for much was I?!)  Fast forward to today, I have now slept with the weighted blanket for 2 weeks.  Firstly, can I just say I am totally blown away by the effects.  I honestly could not have wished for anything more from this blanket.  It has given me the feeling I am getting a big hug all night long!!  The sense of security and tranquility it has provided has really helped sooth my everyday stress and anxiety and improved my sleep.

Ash is forever “commenting” on how restless I am in bed and how this also affects his sleep (I mean, dear love us all if a man doesn’t get his 8 hours!!!); and even he has noticed how uninterrupted my sleep has been.  I really feel the quality of my now uninterrupted sleep is much better which has allowed me to have a more restful night. Studies on these blankets show they trigger happiness hormones and I have to say it really helped relax me.

The quality of the blanket itself and the 2 covers it comes with are high and it is constructed really well.  The covers are made of eco friendly silky bamboo, soft cotton and one is textured which would be perfect for a little ones sensory needs.  The small pockets in the duvet keep the beads in place and I didn’t find the beads shifting at all when using it and the duvet stayed in place within the cover.

If anyone else out there is struggling with sleep like I was, you will know how it affects your daily life with keeping focus and concentration (queue Jill putting TV remotes in the fridge and butter in the tumble dryer!!!).  As a working Mummy sleep is so so precious to me and vital to functioning effectively.  I am looking forward to reaping more benefits from this blanket in the coming months/years and so are my family!


To find out more about investing in a blanket please check out Future Weighted Blankets on Instagram here

To buy a blanket click on the link here

If you have any other questions, as always please get in touch!

Hope you enjoy reading, as much as I enjoy writing!





Hello there!

I recently did a Q&A style interview with a local PR company and thought I would share it with you all on here so you could find out a little more about me!


1. How did you first get into blogging, and how would you describe your blogging style?
My blogging journey started over 3 years ago when we were renovating and moving in to my grandparents house. I was posting photos onto my instagram to show friends and family what we were getting up to; I couldn’t believe it when other people (I didn’t know) wanted to follow along too! I decided to create an interior based blog as that was what all our energy was being focused on at the time but it has since developed to include family and lifestyle too since my little boy came along. I would said my blog is very much an informal chatty style, as I hope to make it as easy and accessible as possible…For me a lot of the time I let the photos speak for themselves!
2. What do you think is the best strategy that worked well for you to get more traffic to your blog?
Definitely using all the social platforms available. Direct people from Instagram to your blog, from you blog to facebook, facebook to Pinterest etc etc. This helps to cover all audiences available. I try where possible to chat about topical subjects and also like to either entertain or educate people with my content – helps them to come back for more!
3. What inspired you to start your blog?
I wanted to use my blog to document the renovation journey of Rose Cottage, it was the best way I felt I could keep all the memories in one place. The blog is a real creative outlet, a bit of fun and a little something for me; its a way for me to let my hair down and a hobby which doesn’t involve needing a babysitter!
4. How active are you on a weekly basis? How often do you communicate with your followers?
I am active daily on social media – mostly instagram as its my favourite platform and where I have the biggest audience. Instagram stories I feel is the best way to connect with people and show your true personality.
5. What is your biggest challenge?
I would say juggling (!!!) Being a wife, mum, working a part time job, keeping a house and having the blog can be demanding – often there just isn’t enough hours in the day.
6. What’s your best advice for handling criticism on social media?
I think if you put yourself out there on social media you have to expect to get a little bit of criticism – not that this excuses it in any way. I have never responded to anyone who has been unkind to me, I simply ignore and delete.
7. Have you ever worked with any brands/businesses through your blog?
I have been so lucky that organically the blog has grown (its been so unexpected) and I have got some amazing opportunities through it. I have worked with some big brands such as Tommee Tippee, Asda, Sainsburys, Primark, M&S, and local business such as The Boulvard, Spar NI and Roe Park Hotel.
8. What is important to you when working with brands?
When working with brands I think the most important thing is good communication on both parts. The collaboration should be mutually beneficial, therefore a good discussion agreeing expectations insures everyone is getting the most of out it.
9. What advice would you give to a brand/business who wants to work with an influencer?
Do your homework! Make sure you follow an influencer and watch what they are up to before you chose to work with them. Make sure they are a good fit for your brand and you haven’t just chose them based on number of followers. Ask them for their audience insights and check they are inline with who you wish to target. Follower numbers are definitely not the be all and end all – check their engagement levels (number of likes and comments) to ensure they have a loyal audience.
10. What social media site do you feel is best for you to reach your target audience?
Instagram has definitely been the best site for me personally. My target audience are Mums aged 25-45, and instagram is where they all currently hang out!


If you have anything else you would like to know, please get in touch!

Hope you enjoyed reading, as much as I enjoyed writing!




Life lessons learned now I’m a Mummy!

I can not believe I am saying this, but I’m now a Mummy of a 2 year old!!… And I have no idea how this happened! Feels like 1 minute I am giving birth to a 5 pound bundle of innocence, next I’m filling in a pre pre school form for a cookie loving, Peppa Pig addict!

I have learned to appreciate an awful lot since being in survival mode for just over 2 years…here’s a short list of 10:

1.You can be rude, without people thinking your rude.

The next time your mother in law starts “giving you advice” about childrearing you don’t have to nod, smile and pretend to take it all on board – just close your eyes and fall asleep.  There’s no way she could be offended as she will assume you have been up all night with the baby.  (Forget, on purpose, to tell her the baby has been sleeping through for over a year now!!)


After you become a parent, sleep becomes like trying to chase the wind.  Then there are a hundred things to do when the baby goes to bed. But it’s ok; you can always sleep when your dead.

3.You’ll never be short of an excuse again.

Now you’ve got a child you can get out of any social event you don’t feel like going to.  For example, ” I am so sorry I can’t run that marathon with you on Friday but my baby’s not himself and I wouldn’t be happy leaving him”.  Once you’ve excused yourself, pop on your PJs and Netflix and get a glass of wine in hand!!

4.You get to go shopping and not have to carry any bags.

As well as putting your baby into the buggy, you can also chuck in the rest of your belongings.  Years of not carrying anything, including your cup of coffee if you get a good model!

5.Restaurants that have a drive thru.

I am all over any restaurant that has a drive thru. Rather than having to get out of the car which involves loading and unloading pram, baby, changing bag with stuff to cover all eventualities including nuclear war, etc etc, sit and order from the comfort of your car with none of that hassle!

6.Always having company.

Whether it’s going for a pee, having a shower, cooking dinner, you name it, you will have a shadow in the form of a child. No longer is peeing alone a human right.

7.You’ll get lots of free sweets and chocolate.

People give children huge amounts of sweet stuff for all occasions.  I’m all about giving my little one his 5 portions of fruit and veg per day and save the sweeties/chocolate only for a special treat.  So as the great parent I am, I stash the goodies out of reach in a kitchen cupboard and eat the lot.


So before I became a mummy I thought wipes were just used to clean babies’ bums – how foolish was I??!  Now I know they can be used for cleaning stains off clothes, highchairs, ceilings and car dashboards.

9. Family photos.

So in normal everyday life you hold the camera up, tell them to “say cheese” and snap a photo.  This doesn’t happen when children are involved.

10.Your own parents.

Before I had my little man, I didn’t fully appreciate my own parents.  Now I get what I put them through and all the things they still done for me.  I’ve apologised for most things now (I think!!!).

Would love to hear what you all you Mummy’s out there now appreciate!

Hope you enjoyed reading, as much as I enjoyed writing!






12 Sites to see over the Christmas Period in Northern Ireland

Hi there!

This is the first entry in my 12 days of Christmas Countdown for Christmas at Rose Cottage!  I have pulled together a list of events we hope to attend this month and thought I would share them.   Please note, a lot of the events require tickets so check first on the links I have provided:

  1. Rock around the Christmas Tree

Thursday 13th December 4-7pm, Market Square Lisburn.  The Market Square will be transformed into a massive family friendly dance party with amazing outdoor lighting, disco balls, Christmas characters and lively tunes from DJ Andy Baird.

2. St Georges Twilight Market

Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th Dec 4-11pm, St Georges Market Belfast.  Sample local food, drink and craft stalls.  There will also be live entertainment and cookery demonstrations.

3. Santa’s Magical Kingdom at the Argory

6th-16th Dec at The Argory Dungannon, there will be festive tales from Mrs Claus, lots of elves and Santa himself.

4. Santa and the Gruffalo’s Grotto

2nd-21st Dec in Colin Glen, Belfast.  There will be story telling and a visit to Santa’s Grotto.

5. Belfast Christmas Markets

17th-22nd Dec in front of the City Hall in Belfast.  This is my favourite Christmas event, with an outdoor food court, live music and lots of craft stalls.

6.Belfast Community Gospel Choir Concert

16th Dec 7.30-10.30pm in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast.  Tickets range from £22-25.

7. Enchanted Winter Gardens

7th-17th Dec 4-9pm, Antrim Castle Gardens.

8. Christmas Market and Fun Day

2nd Dec 12-5pm at Belfast Castle.  There will be a Christmas Choir, santa and face painting.

9. Yuletide Market

Saturday 8th – Sunday 9th Dec in Rowallene Garden, Saintfield.  Craft fair, food and drinks, a local choir and vintage carousel.

10. Christmas at the Museum

The Polar Express comes to the Ulster Museum Belfast on Saturday 15th Dec .

11. Christmas Rooftop Cinema

Monday 10th Dec 7-10pm, The Perch Belfast are showing The Grinch.

Monday 17th Dec 7-10pm, The Perch Belfast are showing Elf on their outdoor roof top.

12. Santa Paws

On Sunday 2nd and Sunday 9th Dec 12-4pm, the Dirty Onion Belfast are holding a festive afternoon of live music, doggy fair and a photo of your dog with Santa!

I’ve tried to include something for everyone in here! Please let me know if there are any others I can add to my list!

Happy Christmas!