One of the great things about blogging is that wherever you are, as long as you have access to your PC, tablet or mobile you can always busy yourself in someway or another. Drafting up a post from the comfort of your own bed or catching up on your favourite Instagram feed on the bus. This can be really handy but I never feel like I’m in the best frame of mind to write unless I’m sitting at a proper workspace. For months my proper workspace was the end of the kitchen table but I got sick of the laptop constantly being there along with the homework, marker pens, unidentified crafty creations etc etc. Oh, and sometimes we even needed to eat our meals on there.
Happy 2017 lovely readers – I hope you’ve had a fantastic Christmas and New Year filled with family, fun, food and festivities!!
NOW DROP AND GIVE ME 20!
Because I saw you sneak that third slice of pudding with custard AND double cream and now you must be punished OK? At least that’s how I used to see New Years Day. One seriously big dose of guilt and self-loathing after weeks of eating and drinking with abandon, sometimes (but not always) served with a side of optimistic enthusiasm for the new me. The ‘definitely being good from today’ mentality that year after year guaranteed the same outcome – TOTAL FAILURE! Yup, whatever half-cocked new foodie hogwash was topping the Amazon book charts, it was in my basket quicker than you could say alkaline acai bowl. Sometimes, if I was feeling really enthusiastic I’d even treat myself to the celebrity endorsed fitness DVD de rigeur to ensure optimum success. Six-pack sorted.
Does anyoneknow what day it is ? Anyone? Christmas was on a Sunday, OK so Monday, Tue- it’s Tuesday! Definitely Tuesday. Oh no hang on, has it been two days or three?
Every year we have this weird week of not knowing much for certain, other than our bank accounts have been well and truly drained and our tummies have been well and truly stuffed. In a Quality Street-induced sugar coma we bumble our way through the post-Christmas fog, trying to find homes for the mountain of ‘stuff’ that has appeared and wondering how long until we can start boxing up the baubles and getting the house back into some sort of order.
Yeah, yeah, I know it’s pronounced hoo-ga but that doesn’t stop my brain from seeing hygge as in ‘jiggy’ so just humour me ok?
A relatively new arrival to the UK, this Danish concept celebrates all things cosy and heart-warming. Think hot chocolate in front of a roaring fire with wooly socks and a good book and you get the idea. A more stark contrast to the recent trend for kale shots and courgetti you could not find. I’ll happily give myself to a lifestyle that encourages me to lie under a duvet and eat cinnamon rolls by candlelight. What’s not to like?
When it comes to kids magazines we have a love/hate relationship. The kids love them, I hate them. Gone are the days where I could carefully select a magazine for its educational and developmental benefits, nowadays it’s ALL ABOUT THE FREE TAT! Who cares about the actual content when there’s (another) free fairy wand or miniature skateboard thingy on offer eh? Fair to say I’d fallen out of love with the lot of them until I was recently sent some issues of ‘OKIDO- The Arts & Science Magazine for Kids’.
This is not your average kids magazine. For starters I’m a bit jealous of just how cool it looks. The whole design and illustration is fun, modern and enticing. Spud and Flump instantly recognised the characters from the hit Cbeebies show ‘Messy Goes To OKIDO’ and couldn’t wait to get stuck into them, pouring over the pages and pages of stories, puzzles and (secretly educational- shhhhh!) fun ideas.
The usually flimsy pages are replaced with high quality heavy paper giving the magazine a more book-like feel and making the cut-out activities sturdy and durable. Usually I try to get the kids magazines into the recycling bin as soon as possible without them noticing but I’m more than happy to keep hold of these for their reading baskets.
A few weeks ago I was tagged by Jane at Maflingo to take part in ‘Sisterhood of the World Bloggers’, a series of questions set by Jane which I have finally gotten round to answering.(I’ll then tag 5 bloggers to take part with some questions of my very own). Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
Who would you most like to meet and why? Given the opportunity to meet anyone I would choose my Granddad on my Dad’s side, who died long before I was born and never had a chance to meet. On a lighter note, maybe Greg Davis? I don’t know why but I find him weirdly fascinating!
What’s your earliest childhood memory? I can’t remember much before about the age of 5. They’re all pretty random things that have stuck in my mind, more snapshots in time than actual experiences. An apron that used to hang on the back door, or a very specific bathroom tile that had a pattern a bit like a bird if you squinted. When we lived in Dublin my Aunt lived on the same street and I remember visiting her and discovering a big bar of chocolate in the kitchen drawer. Obviously I broke off a chunk and started scoffing only to discover that someone had created the most revolting tasting chocolate as some sort of sick joke! Diabetic chocolate has come a long way since 1984.
What’s your favourite film and why? I rarely have the inclination to watch a film these days unless it’s something really special but as a teenager I used to watch ‘Clueless’ over and over again, usually on a Sunday while doing the ironing in my parent’s living room -it still makes me smile.
Name three of your ‘guilty pleasures. Just three?? OK Hagan Dazs straight from the tub with my favourite ice-cream spoon. Preferably on the sofa, in my jammies after the kids have gone to bed. Blogging (OK, reading other people’s blogs) when I have an endless list of jobs to do. Post-school run cake for breakfast – I’m not sharing!
Which superhero would you most like to be and why? I’m not up on my superheroes (sorry Jane!) but I had really vivid, recurring dreams of flying as a kid so any one that can fly would be UH-MAZ-ING.
What’s your proudest moment. Oh God as a parent I get ‘Proud Mum’ moments about the most ridiculously small things all the time. I rarely feel proud of myself, in fact it makes me uncomfortable just trying to think about it (hello Catholic Guilt!) Maybe the first time someone said they enjoyed my blog -writing is a totally new thing for me so it was like validation that I was doing alright.
What’s your most embarrassing moment (I’ve shared mine, you share yours!)? When I was younger my Mum would insist on calling me ‘Fanny’ – more ‘years of utter mortification’ than embarrassing moment.
What or who makes you laugh and why? My family aside (hey, if you don’t laugh you’ll cry) silly humour really makes me laugh. The Inbetweeners, Alan Partridge, The Office, Man Down, Gavin and Stacey, Peter Kay – you get the picture.
Who’s your favourite character from a book and why? Easy. The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Stuffs face, sleeps for a fortnight, emerges a fabulous creature.
When was the last time you cried? Yesterday. Becoming a mother has turned me into a massive cry-baby!
My nominations for Sisterhood of the World Bloggers tag are:
I returned home from a few days in Norfolk with the family to find my very first Glossybox waiting for me (shout out to all posties who hide stuff behind the bin and save me a trip to the depot- I love you.) This is a VERY quick post just to show you the contents. I’m no beauty blogger but if you want a nice shiny review with pretty pictures a quick Google should bring up plenty of professional offerings, this is just for anyone who fancies a nosey.
I was quite looking forward to opening that myself actually.
I should start by saying I’m not particularly high maintenance when it comes to my beauty regime but I’ve always been tempted to give Glossybox, My Little Box or Birchbox a try. Last week I spied a code which bagged me “£20 worth” of extra booty with my order so decided to treat myself and see what all the fuss was about.
I paid £13.25 inc (very pretty) P&P, here’s what I got:
MUA Full Size Eyeshadow Pallette (£4): I was pretty happy to receive the ‘Heaven and Earth’ (bronzy browns) option as I’ll probably get more use out of that than the bluey grey alternative.
Spa To You Deep Pore Facial Cleansing Brush Full Size (£6.99): Never one for creamy cleansers, I love a good scrub and am a devoted face wash and flannel user when it comes to cleaning my mush. This product is right up my street, you just apply your face wash as usual and use circular motions with the brush for a good ol’ exfoliation. It comes with a nifty little stand/cover which turned out to be not so nifty when it kept falling over backwards. I propped it up against the wall, the world went on, my face felt suitably buffed. I like it, I’d probably use it 2-3 times a week rather than everyday.
Mudmasky Facial Detox Purifying Recovery Mask 20ml (£53) Their website states £60 per 60ml (!!) but currently offering 20% to Glossybox subscribers. At this price I’m going to enjoy every ml. I used it after the cleansing brush above so I’ve probably taken strips off my poor face but actually it felt really nice – tiny tiny ‘scrubby bits’ (how am I not a beauty blogger?) which I like, went on really easily and smoothly, smelt a bit like washing up liquid, made me look like Elphaba from Wicked (bonus points). Dried hard but as the layer is quite thin it doesn’t do that horrible crackling thing which freaks me out a bit. Washed off easily and left my skin feeling really soft and not at all tight or irritated.
Cowshed Wild Cow Invigorating Body Lotion 30ml (300ml £20) Not sure I would spend £20 on a body lotion for myself but I have had a few Cowshed products in the past and really liked them. From the packaging I assumed it was going to be menthol/eucalyptus which I hate so I was very pleasantly surprised when I got my nostrils round it.This one smells so good, similar to the gorgeous Origins Ginger range or Champneys Citrus Glow range. Luxuriously thick but easily absorbed, this went on beautifully. I. Smell. Lush.
GB Monogram Pochette designed by Rae Feather – Either you’re up to speed with this monogramming accessories brand du jour, or like me you’ve never heard of it because these days the closest you get to monogramming is scribbling your kids initials on their PE kit. Anyway, the inclosed newsletter informs me that the likes of Louise Redknapp, Poppy Delevigne and Coleen Rooney are big fans. Smallish but handy little zip purse useful for stashing bits and bobs.
All in all I’d say I got my money’s worth. These are products that I can use and although I may not necessarily have bought them for myself, the whole idea is that the box is a little treat. I like nice smellies as much as the next person but in all honest beauty isn’t really my thing so while I may not seem over enthusiastic about my Glossybox, I don’t mean to sound negative. If beauty is your thing then I’d definitely give it a try, I think you’ll really like it. Me however, well my idea of a treat remains a (large) wodge of cake or a glass of red.
(PS below are the products I received with my code for a bonus gift worth £20)
A very wearable full size 10ml Nails Inc varnish ‘Uptown’. This picture makes it look a bit more peachy than it really is, it’s more of a rosey pink. Really happy with this.
Eylure false lashes . I LOVE how pretty false eyelashes can look but I HATE the feeling of them on my eyes and these are some chunky bad boys so if I ever did manage to apply them properly I’d probably have to walk around with my eyes closed.
Collection 2000 Teal Gel Eyeliner. Pretty sure the eyeliner will go to my makeup obsessed friend who can rock any look, unlike me who would look like a pantomime dame if I attempted anything remotely trendy.
Hope you enjoyed this sneaky peek into my August 2016 Glossybox!
Last week Stevie from A Cornish Mum set herself a ’40 before Forty’ challenge featuring a list of, you guessed it, 40 things she would like to achieve before her fortieth birthday. This is right up my street, I love a good list so I went to work on putting together my own ’40 things’ and in no particular order here’s what I came up with:
Learn to play Poker (and win a game)
Post more cards/letters/gifts
Craft something functional, that actually looks nice.
Learn to play the drums
Learn a ‘proper’ dance.
Learn to swim (yup!)
Grow something, anything, successfully.
Visit Lake Bled, Slovenia
Make my own jam
Read more Oscar Wilde
Take a hot air balloon ride
Buy a proper grown up camera
Learn how to use it
Weekend away with the girls
NYE fireworks in London
Get a 6 pack
Run the London marathon
Family knees up with my cousins
Learn (a lot) more about blogging
Afternoon tea at The Ritz (and Claridges!)
Botox my 11s (the angry looking bit between the eyebrows)
Learn to speak French
Drive and Aston Martin on a racetrack
Visit a vineyard
Spend a day watching all those old movies I’ve been meaning to see forever
Life drawing class
Buy a piece of art
Prettify the garden
Go to the ballet
Jump off a diving board
Christmas Carols at The Royal Albert Hall
Get a National Trust membership
Drive a campervan around Ireland
Visit a theme park
Take the kids to see a West End show
Cook every recipe in ‘Leon- Baking & Puddings’
Quit stressing about turning 40
Given that I have a MUCH smaller time frame than Stevie to achieve the above (3 years in June!) I probably need to start oooh about 6 years ago. I’ll also need to sell a kidney to fund it all but apart from that I’m good to go.
I’ll admit No.15 is a little bit cheaty because I do actually have a girls weekend away coming up but this is something I’ve never done, even before kids, despite wanting to for years so it’s staying.
NYE Fireworks in London I’d like to do just once because actually I secretly like staying in with Himself watching it on telly with a bottle of bubbles. Learning to play the drums is something I’ve wanted to do for so long, it’s only the teeny matter of actually needing to own a drum kit that’s been holding me back. There was a brief moment, student loan safely secured in my account, when I came close. Sadly I had to choose between that and food. Let’s just say I put on quite a bit of weight that term.
Abs? Pahahahahahahahahahhah! Neevvver gonna happen. Marathon? Again,unlikely given my aversion to anything remotely athletic.
Even still, looks like I’m going to have a busy few years ahead, best crack on I suppose…
This week Flump turned 5 and we celebrated with a little party in the house, just a handful of her classmates and of course big bro, Spud. Himself was back to work after a lovely few days off for Easter but luckily I had lots of Mummies on hand to help out. Flump is big into unicorns at the minute so we went with a ‘Magical Unicorns and Rainbows’ theme which I have to admit I absolutely loved!!
I wanted to keep the budget fairly small for this one as it’s tempting to get carried away with party planning these days with so many gorgeous ideas and inspiration online (Pinterest I’m looking at you!!) I honestly think a lot of it is wasted on the kids who just want to be made a fuss of and run around with their friends like a bunch of loons. So on a mission to get the balance of fun and finance right, I started looking out for anything that might fit with the theme well in advance, picking up brightly coloured pieces here and there and stashing them away in preparation for the big day. I’ll try to note where everything was from if I can remember but if there is anything in particular you would like more info on just comment below.
The invites went out pretty early as the party was being held during the Easter Holidays so I needed to know if people were going to be away on holiday – luckily everyone was around that day – phew! I saw these notelets in Paperchase and although I know you can buy much cheaper ones these were so cute and perfect for the theme I just couldn’t resist them!
I found some party bags on Ebay and picked up unicorn trinket bracelets (also Ebay), a selection of pens/pencils (B&M) individually wrapped sweetie necklaces and marshmallow twists (Poundland) as party favours.
Sticking with the theme I decorated the room with a unicorn helium balloon (Amazon) which turned out to be HUGE and some coloured paper decorations and balloons (both ASDA) which I tied together in rainbow colours.
Before the guests arrived I laid out a few crafts on the table (covered in this cute rainbow fabric available by the metre at The Range) to keep them occupied. ‘Make your own unicorn horn’ station with cones made from sparkly card and lots of jewels and stickers for them to decorate with – they loved this! We had colouring sheets, glitter tattoos, nail painting, glow sticks and some good old fashioned party games like pass the parcel and pin the horn on the unicorn (with some painful looking results!!)
I made this Rainbow Unicorn cake inspired by a YouTube video by My Cupcake Addiction although I used a few more colours and made them a bit less bright as I wasn’t so keen on the red buttercream used in the original, I also added a buttercream ‘cloud’ for the unicorn to stand in. The unicorn topper was made by piping white chocolate (using a template underneath some greaseproof paper) and sprinkled with a mixture of sugar and edible gold dust – BLING!! (Apologies for the rubbish shots, it was a bit of a manic day!) The usual triangle sarnies, crudités and cocktail sausages kept the girls happy followed by cookies and giant marshmallows (Tiger) on sticks which I dipped in pink candy melts and then into sprinkles – so easy and mega cool looking.
As you can see she seemed pretty happy as we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ (accompanied by Spud on keyboard) as she was presented with her birthday cake adorned with FIVE (how is this possible??!) silver candles. Party bags distributed and lots of kerfuffle with coats and shoes, the guests headed home and the birthday girl settled down to open her gifts – exciting! Mummy put the kettle on and cut an extra large slice of cake. Birthday party, done. Now I could do with a magical unicorn to tidy up this aftermath.
For anyone not familiar with the Desiderata, it is a poem written in the 1920s by American writer Max Ehrmann. As someone who has never had much interest in poetry I hold this particular piece of writing close to my heart. I first came across it at the age of about 6 while mooching around my Aunt’s house one weekend. She had a copy of it, with a colourful floral border (which is probably what really initially caught my eye) and it was sealed inside a hardback plastic cover with a hole at the top for hanging. Even at such a young age I knew there was something special, almost magical about the words, or at least the sentences I could understand! I was a very happy girl when my Aunt let me take it home with me that day.
Over the years it has been stashed at the bottom of drawers, packed away with a car boot load of university-bound belongings and stuck inside the wardrobe door of my London bedsit. And today? It hangs proudly in my downstairs loo (hey, some people keep their Oscar’s in the downstairs loo!). If you’re thinking that’s not a very salubrious spot for something I hold dearly, let me explain. Where else can you go everyday, anytime you like, even if the kids are home for a couple of minutes to yourself? See?
Onto the poem in question, below you will see the beautifully written words by Ehrmann in bold italics, with my slightly less romantic interpretation below on how I apply it to my own life. If this is the first time you have read it I hope you enjoy and get a lovely warm fuzzy feeling inside (oh, and sorry if my bits spoil the magic, you may want to ignore those for the first read through!!)
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Don’t be a drama queen. Don’t take any nonsense from people. Don’t be a dic treat others how you’d like to be treated.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Be honest. Be friendly.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
If someone winds you up, or drags you down you don’t need them in your life right now. You’re never going to have Kylie’s bum, get over it and remember there are a lot of people who would give anything to be in your state of health today.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Have something to look forward to but take time to appreciate the special moments in the day. We can’t all be chocolate tasters for a living, but whatever you do, give it your best.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Don’t be no fool. Recognise and appreciate small acts of kindness (and do the odd favour when you can).
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
As the man says, “Be Yourself”. Don’t be fake, you’re not fooling anyone. Love and know that will always be loved.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Ah, this one is particularly testing! Accept that ‘laughter lines’ are not the end of the world. Maybe leave the Jagerbombs to the 20 year olds, (apart from the odd particularly messy night out obviously, after which having been woken up by a small child playing the tambourine at 7am, you’ll wish you HAD done!). What’s wrong with a nice glass of red on the sofa anyway, eh?
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Believe in yourself, you’re stronger than you think. Don’t over-think things or you’ll drive yourself mad.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
STOP BEING SO HARD ON YOURSELF! We’re all pretty awesome in our own way.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
Take a walk, look around, watch your little munchkins when they don’t know you’re looking, appreciate the wonder of life. If that’s not always possible, (or you’re not feeling that Zen today), remember: grapes = wine = kind of amazing).
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Life isn’t always easy, chin up and enjoy the good times.
Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata“.
Every time I read this a different part resonates, depending on what happens to be going on in my head but one thing is for certain, I always carry on my day feeling just a little bit more chipper as a result.
On a few occasions I have printed a copy and framed as a gift and it has always been genuinely appreciated by the recipient. If you would like to do the same or have a copy for yourself you can find lots online, I like this one in particular, if you click on the link it will direct you to a free printable download.
I hope you enjoyed reading this – what do you think of the Desiderata then? I’d love to hear your thoughts!