Entries in Ikea (6)


Gingerbread House Party with a little help from IKEA


It is Gingerbread house party time - one of my favourite days of the year.  We gather together - friends & family,  from baby to oldie - and we build gingerbread houses.  If youhaven't tried it yeat, I urge you to get started.

Head to Ikea to get a flatback gingerbread house kit, bring your people around your table and get creative.

 You need lots of coloured sweeties - jellys, chocolates, cola bottles, jelly teddies, chocolate fingers - the more sweets, edible sparkles and sprinkles you have the better.  Who knew that icecream waffers could become solar panels or jelly beans could become a choir singing outside the house.

The icing is easy - although its not recommended to eat it as it has raw eggs in it.  Use a mixer with a paddle beater to get air into the mixture, do not make your icing in a blender as it will not get to the required consistency.

You need lots of icing bags and spatulas to get the icing into the bag.  I find disposible bags the easiest to use.  

To make the icing - 

Icing: Stir 250 g icing sugar, 1 egg white and 5 ml lemon juice/vinegar to a smooth, quite thick paste. Apply with a piping bag (can be made out of parchment paper).

A choir of gummy bears singing carols outside the gingerbread house.


Folks get very competitive! Suddenly everyone wants to make the best house possible.

Look at how two brothers get creative differently.

 Children are so creative and making gingerbread houses is a time for them to be free, messy, wild and just enjoy going for it.

THere's such a sense of pride with the houses.

 There is a real sense of joy.  Ikea has packaged what the Swedes know about bringing people together, getting cosy, staying warm, and having fun together by building gingerbread houses.  Get yourself to Ikea and stock up on the houses then get your gang together between now and December 31 to build gingerbread houses.

Sean our judge gave prizes out to everyone who took part - at Christmas everyone is a winner.

Get your Gingerbread houses at Ikea, plan a get together and have fun enjoying your initate creativity.

Send us some of your Gingerbread House pictures, and we will share them.

Happy Christmas, 

That's it for now ...


Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable



Ikea Food Hamper

I love the foodhall at Ikea - there are so many fantastic treats, like gingerbread, and rye crackers, chocolates, and sparkling apple juice.  Chocolate spread with pieces of honeycomb, sour cream crisps, mulled cider and juice.  

If you are not sure what to get someone for Christmas you should pop into the Ikea food hall and pick up a whole range of delights.  A food hamper from Ikea is the gift that keeps on giving.

Merry Christmas,

That's it for now ...


Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Don't invite stress into bed with you - Ikea Sleep Retreat

We spend nearly 2/3's of our life stressed, that's approximately 14 bouts of stress per day, and we are stressed before we even get out of bed.

Nearly half of us in Ireland and the UK, report they have interrupted or bad sleep.  It is a chronic condition because sleep is a vital part of our wellbeing.  It is not negotiable and lack of sleep can lead to a huge array of physical and mental health problems. 

Recently I was invited to spend the night in Ikea.  That's right inside the store in the bedroom department! During the Ikea Sleep Retreat in the Belfast store we learnt methods of relaxation and the importance of having a stress free comfortable bedroom in allowing us to get good sleep.

Research shows that pillows should be changed every one to two years, and duvets every three to five.  Ikea have a beautiful range of bedding, Salt and Sparkle love their pure linen range as well as pillows, duvets and blankets.

Waking up in a bedroom that is right for you, can change your entire day, as well as give you a sanctuary space to retreat to at the end of the day.

Salt and Sparkle team member Jude and I went along, to see if it really was possible to sleep in the store!

With pristine white cotton sheets, very comfortable mattresses, the double beds and plump pillows alongside a media player preloaded with a deep sleep meditation, made getting into bed in Ikea Belfast was certainly a joy.

Some people complained of not sleeping well, but as Jude rightly said, 'They admitted they don't sleep well at home, so why on earth would they think they would sleep well in a shop.'

Jude and I both slept soundly!  The beautiful massages we had right before bed, were differently a bonus.

Ikea Belfast, had brought in sleep expert Gillian Killiner, massage therapist Fionnuala Dunleavy and a yoga teacher Suzanne Cromie, alongside other sleep advisors, to give advice on how to get better sleep.

 Sleep expert and nutritionst Gillian Killiner top sleep tips were - 


  • Have a cool room and a warm bed
  • Don't have any screens in your room - computers, tv, mobile phones, tablets etc
  • Don't use a mobile device with a screen in bed
  • Keep a notepad by your bed and write things down if you find your mind is anxious and full of thoughts
  • Ensure your blood sugar levels are stable, if you are concerned about this, visit your GP for tests
  • Don't drink caffeine in the evenings
  • Drink camomile/valerian tea or milk topped with cinnamon just before bed
  • Ensure your bedroom is ventilated
  • Mobile phones emit waves all night, if you can limit the use of sleep apps and use an alarm clock to waken
  • Eat a good natural diet high in fibre, full of green leafy vegetables and protein
  • Bananas are a great food to eat before bed
  • Don't eat a heavy or carb loaded meal before bed



 Massage Therapist Fionnuala Dunleavy's advice for good sleep 


  • Remember to breath and relax your muscles
  • If you find anywhere in your body feels tight, visualise yourself breathing into that space
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day
  • Breath in for the count of four and out for six, keep your mind on your breathing, bringing it back to the breath if it wanders off
  • Have massage treatments to help relieve stressed muscles
  • Use a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow to help you relax


 Ikea have put together this rather fun video with lots of great sleep ideas.  

Some of our favourites are 

  • A warm bath before bed relaxes your muscles and clears your head. You’ll find you fall asleep quicker, enjoy better quality sleep and a better day as a result of an evening soak.
  • Lavender is known to slow down your heart rate, lower blood pressure and put you into a relaxed state. So keeping some next to your bed will give you quality sleep with less tossing and turning. And it’s nice to wake up in a room that smells lovely.
  • Between 18 and 22 degrees is perfect for a night’s sleep. That’s why changing your duvet with the seasons will help you sleep better and wake up felling refreshed.
  • Light is a powerful instrument to regulate sleep cycle. You’ll get a much better night’s sleep if your room is in total darkness.
  • Eating a big meal late in the evening stimulates your body’s metabolism at the very time you need it to be slowing down. So for better sleep, try eating earlier and if you get hungry at bedtime, eat a banana. The source of magnesium and potassium help to relax muscles so you sleep better
  • A kiss from your partner when you wake up in the morning before leainv for work means you'll live on average 5 years longer
  • If you can't sleep - get up, get out of bed, go into another room, read, walk, listen to music, then try getting back into bed

Our lives are increasingly hectic, so it is well worth putting some order back into them, starting with a good nights sleep, so why don't you give some of these tips from Ikea a go and don't invite stress into bed with you.

What are your top tips for sleep?

Alright, good night, sleep tight

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Our Gift Guide pick of Plants and Pots from Ikea for Mother's Day

I've had lots of requests from readers on my favourite flowers to give for Mother's Day and what I'd recommend for you to give.  

As a trained florist and floral decorator, I have spent a long time learning about flowers, and plants. It's important when giving a floral gift to buy a healthy plant that has been well looked after and not forced.  One of my absolute favourite places to buy plants is Ikea.  I have used their plants to decorate television sets, weddings, churches, homes, parties and events, as well as homes, gardens and to give as gifts and time and time and time again I have found Ikea's plants to be of the highest quality, well looked after, and grown.

'Living Arrangements' are the best type of flowers to give as gifts, because they are the gift that keeps on growing and flowering.  Bringing endless pleasure to your Mum, because everytime she looks at that plant she will smile, and think of you.  Pots of flowers are one of life's simple pleasures that bring beauty and joy into your daily routine, they brighten a room, clean the air and bring a new life to the atmosphere.

I have taken three pots of Ikea Narciccus and replanted them in this really pretty and feminine lace edged mint tin bowl.  It's important when repotting narciccus to be gentle with their roots.

Narcissus symbolise rebirth and new beginnings, their flowers are one of the joys of springtime and the end of winter. Giving a bowl filled with Narcissus is said to mean you are giving a bowl of happiness.

This gift looks substancial and beautiful, and doesn't carry a high price tag.  

Orchids with their really delicate blooms are a beautiful gift. I have taken a deep lilac orchid and paired it with this pretty lemon one, and repotted them into a glass vase - it's important to repot orchids into clear glass vases as the light gets to their roots and allows them to grow more successfully.

This Ikea square glass vase is made of thick clear glass and its strong form and shape sit in good contrast to the softness and beauty of the orchids.

Orchids are a long-lasting and delicate flower, which makes them a great gift.  They are a graceful flower that immediately draw attention in a room, and they have a sense of innocence.  

Orchids are symbolis of wealth, love, and beauty, and are revered in many cultures for their healing properties.

Not every Mum is able to receive living flowers, but may still love to be given a plant as a gift.  That is where this elegant lemon tree from Ikea is a perfect gift, and one that keeps on giving, beautiful lemons throughout the year.

I placed the lemon tree in its original pot into this Ikea glavanised silver pot, the lemon and the silver sit in perfect juxtaposition with each other.

There are lots of tiny white lemon buds on these Lemon Trees which show the new growth that is to come - a harvest of lemons.

Ikea Belfast have a wonderful Grow event on in store from 28 March to the 6 April where they will have a wonderful range of plants on special offer, its definitely worth a visit.

Happy Mother's Day.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Gingerbread House Party with a little help from Ikea

Ikea sell the best Gingerbread Houses on the market.  The packs contain the walls, roof, gables, and chimney of the house, and each bit is made of crisp, lightly spiced gingerbread.

Children love being creative - and they adore spending time with family and friends making gingerbread houses at Christmas.  

A Gingerbread House Party is a really fun way to spend the weekend before Christmas.  Assemble some children, adults and prepare to have a blast.

All you need to gather are a range of sweeties - small and colourful are best - pop them into small bowls and glasses, arrange in the middle of the table within easy reach of the children.  Ikea do a range of jellies and pick n mix.

I also put out edible glitter, hundreds and thousands and other sugarcraft Christmas decorations.

Make Royal Icing using the powedered sugar and an egg white, according to packet instructions - having used lots of icings, I have always found McKinney's to be the best.  I make my icing in my Kitchen Aid, with the paddle beater, as this creates a firmer icing them making it in a food processor.

The icing is firm and thick, it will split cheaper icing bags - so get bags that are made from a strong fabric and not plastic.

Cover trays in foil, to build the houses upon and allow each child with the help from an adult to create and deocrate their houses to their hearts content.  

Improvisation with an icing bag made out of a sweetie packet.

Adults have as much fun as children.

Sometimes the icing ends up in tummies and not on the gingerbread.

Building the houses can be a little tricky, but with patience and laughter, it works.  Allow the foundations to set before putting on the roof.

Children love to be in control of the icing bags, and they create marvellous houses, which they are so proud of.

The pride on the children's faces when they finish their houses is mighty!

Gingerbread village.

Gingerbread House Parties are fun, festive and full of laughter.  Creativity runs in the blood of children, and giving them the opportunity to create and decorate their own houses gives such a sense of accomplishment and pride in their creativity.

Go on, head to Ikea stock up on Gingerbread Houses, invite children and parents and throw a Gingerbread House party this Saturday or Sunday, its a real antidote to the madness of the High Street at Christmas.

Send us some of your pictures, and we will share them.

Happy Christmas, 

That's it for now ...


Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable



Afternoon Tea for two for less than £2 @ Ikea

Stopping for tea is a very civilised & altogether well thought out thing to do. We eat on the go & drink our tea in takeaway cups.

We are missing out. Not only on the ceremony of afternoon tea but the te spent sitting in one place with friends or family chatting or alone contemplating. Sitting down and taking time out to stop is good for the soul.

I've been thinking a lot recently about how busy everyone is & how little time people spend reflecting or thinking. Or just taking time out to do things. This is something I'd like to do more of.

My sister and I joined forces the other day to tackle our to do lists together and in doing so spend sometime hanging out.

One thing on my list was to buy some sunflowers from Ikea. As we headed upstairs in the Belfast store a board caught our eyes of a cake stand filled with fancies. In the corner the price also took my eye £1.99 with a family card.

Afternoon Tea for two for less than £2 - now if it tasted as good as it looked - which it did, there's barely a better bargain.

Cups of English Breakfast or Earl Grey were accompanied by a cheese scone with a good Edamy flavour and a sense crumb. An elderflower iced fairy cake. Who would have thought elderflower would make such delicious icing! It's one I'll certainly try at home.

A toffee cookie with a good combination of crunch and chew, sat alongside side a marzipan chocolate fancy and a coconut dusted mocha bite. A Bakewell tart with crispy pastry and a soft sponge had a light almonds flavour.

Everything was very good. In fact Id go so far as to say I've never had a better afternoon tea at such a fantastic price. The quality of the food rivalled some afternoon teas I've had in five star hotels.

The setting in the Belfast store restaurant is open and spacious with a wall of windows, views over the runway at the George Best City Airport - it's a great place to bring toddlers and young children as they are fascinated by the site of the moving planes. I noticed children, grandparents, teenagers, mums with buggies and young professionals all in the restaurant. An eclectic mix.

It was a lovely way to spend 40minutes with my sister, enjoying a cup of tea and some fancies. I highly recommend it and the price is definitely not to be sniffed at!

I also recommend the Ikea ribs and chips - but that is as they say another story.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable