BARGAIN HAUL – WANNA SEE?

Now I love a bargain as much as the next (ever so slightly skint) person but personally I find the idea of rummaging through the January jumble-sale shop rails a thoroughly joyless exercise, so I tend to stick to online for any items I have had my eye on. HOWEVER, come February, once the madness had passed and we start to crave the promise of Spring that comes with the New Collections, this is my time. This is when I crawl out from my cocoon in search of that quiet little corner of the stores marked ‘Clearance’. Oh the joy of a 70% off label on something in your size! So here’s a peek at some of the purse friendly treasures I picked up yesterday.

I lucked out with this cute little necklace from M&S having my initial on it – so I took it as a sign I was meant to have it.

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Was £8 now £1.29!

I struggle to plan quite as far ahead as Christmas at this stage so I usually pass on festive items although there are great bargains to be had I know. I do try to hunt out good quality coats for the kids though, a size up, which can be put away for the next school year. Spud (my 7yr old) should get another year out of his Costco number (which by the way I would definitely recommend, it has a detachable inner section which can be worn as a light jacket and has fared well in the washing machine so far). Flump is almost 5yrs and a few growth spurts have resulted in her little wrists popping out of the end of her sleeves (diddums) so a new coat is definitely required. I visited a  Trespass  store which have big reductions both in-store and online, I’ve already ordered a few other styles online to try which should arrive this week. Her current coat is Trespass and it’s just the right amount of cosy with all the practicality of being windproof, waterproof, washable etc. I picked up these two but not sure which to keep- Practical Black or Pretty Print?

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Was £54.99  Now £19.99
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Was £69.99 Now £20.99

H&M is my go-to for good quality jersey basics so I nipped in to grab a couple of tube skirts and tees and spotted these bargainacious bobby dazzlers on the way to the till. Hard to see clearly in the photos but the lightweight navy cloud sweater is decorated with sequins and embroidery. I haven’t worn it yet so don’t know how well it will wash but for £10 I won’t be too devastated if I shed a few sequins here and there! The green cable detail sweater has a similar funnel style neck and the lurex adds a hint of shimmer without making me look like I should be hanging on a Christmas tree. Oh, did I mention it was down to a ridiculous £7?!!!

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Was £19.99 Now £10
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Was £29.99 Now £7

Housey things I do not need…Debenhams Blue Cross Sale is basically all the housey things I. DO. NOT. NEED. With 70% off.  I cannot defend this purchase on any level, and certainly not out of necessity; we have a fruit bowl, a perfectly lovely, relatively new and fit-for -fruit holding purposes fruit bowl. And yet somehow I find myself at the till purchasing a fruit bowl I DO NOT NEED.  It wasn’t even 70% off dammit but I did resist a whole heap of other lovely housey things I do not need. Nice though innit?

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Was £15  Now £9

 

Hand’s up who loves Tiger?? Yep, thought so. A treasure trove of things you never knew you needed, raging from wholly practical to completely ridiculous –  it never disappoints, and it’s pretty purse friendly to boot.

I spotted a cute little 2 sided mirror for £2, which will come in handy for showing Flump the back of her ‘hairstyle’ (ponytail, usually) in the mirror before school. Now she can stop pulling my vanity mirror down from the windowsill because I’m pretty certain one day she’s going to break it. The idea of looking into a magnifying mirror makes me want to cry a little bit but I was brave, I faced my fear and despite seeing every line, pore and pimple far too clearly for my liking, it’s upped my eye-plucking game no end and also reminded me to sort my tash out.

The little wire baskets were also £2 each, I grabbed a pink and a blue, I love a wire basket I do. Having the ability to make mess look instantly, well, less messy. I’m all for that and have a number of them stashed around the place. As you can see these one’s are the perfect size to use as a napkin holder too, which as luck would have it I do actually need and for £1 I thought these little heart napkins were a cute addition. The MASSIVE marshmallows (£3) were something I’d been on the lookout for and will be using next month at Flumps birthday party so they’ll probably make an appearance again in a future blog I’m planning.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a peek at my bargain haul -I know I LOVE seeing other people’s haul blogs – though they usually make me want to go out and spend, spend, spend! Thanks for reading and let me know if you found any treasures lurking in the Clearance section, I may need to go check them out for myself. X

 

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DARK CHOCOLATE DISARONNO CAKE

Thought that might get your attention, I might just use that title for all future posts! While flicking through my shiny new The Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking (excellent choice of Christmas pressie Brother-in-law) this little number certainly made me linger long enough to get the taste buds tingling. A quick scan of the ingredients (nothing ridiculous there) and I was on a mission to make this thing of beauty happen.

Savarin top

To give it it’s official title, Martha’s Dark Chocolate & Almond Liqueur Savarin, is like a cross between a cake and a Panettone. A savarin is a light ring-shaped cake made with yeast and soaked in liqueur-flavoured syrup -although the ingredients are sweet the end result is not overly sickly.

The recipe is broken into three elements: dough, brittle and syrup (plus the melted chocolate for decoration which is optional but looks cool and worth doing just to let your kids have a go splattering it onto the cake/walls/floor). I wouldn’t say it takes a great amount of skill to make but there are a few stages so you do need to plan ahead a little and *adopts Mary Berry voice* make sure you read the recipe three times before you do anything. I was making it for an annual family gathering so I do tend to put in a little extra effort to try something new every year (along with the annual Pavlova, without which I would be refused entry!)

I found that the brittle recipe yielded more than I needed so you could probably get away with half the amount but I’m not going to complain about having to ‘tidy up’ leftover brittle. I also didn’t boil the sugar for long enough; too many GBBO contestant’s tears have been shed over a burnt brittle for me to risk such a terrible fate, so I chickened out too soon and was left with anaemic brittle which refused to set. Luckily it wasn’t a total disaster as you can just bung on a low heat and it will melt and start to take on a bit more colour after a few minutes.

I would definitely recommend trying this at least once as a special pud for grown-ups and the good news is that any leftovers keep long enough for you to finish off for breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the week! I’m already thinking of combinations for my next attempt- orange and Cointreau, white chocolate and Limoncello….let me know if you come up with any suggestions!

I can’t find a link to the recipe online but if anyone wants to give this a try let me know and I’ll type it up in the comments. Oh, and here’s the much less fancy but just as well received annual Pav.

Pav

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JANUARY – WHAT’S THE PLAN?

Poor January, year after year, following the festivities of Christmas and NYE high jinks (Prosecco. PJs. Sofa) we turn on you like a rabid dog. Our banks accounts drained, minds frazzled, bodies 50% shortcrust and soaked in booze, we stagger into the new year feeling less than impressed with ourselves. Let’s face it, January does not see us at our best. Then slowly, slowly we crawl through the first week usually contemplating The Plan. The Plan as we all know is not merely a new year’s resolution, no, no ,no. The Plan is a realistic, achievable, sensible goal. A lifestyle change. As soon as all the Quality Street have gone and supermarkets clear the posh mince pies for 37p (37p for a box of Heston’s??! Well you’d be mad not to. I’ll take 10 please.) Yes, after all that and once the kids are back at school, no messing, The Plan will commence. Basically, it’s a half-arsed excuse for not being able to face the thought of doing anything remotely virtuous until at least mid January, when hopefully people won’t notice you haven’t yet started to overhaul your finances/health/wardrobe etc etc.

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Of course the highlight, or lowlight as it were, is Blue Monday – BOOOOOOOOOO… (proper panto-season style please). Now I’ll be honest I’m not sure when Blue Monday became a thing. I first heard word of the ominous date being bandied about two or three years ago, when my brother informed me that his birthday was due to fall on the same day – DUN, DUN, DUHHHHHHHHHH! It falls on the third Monday in January in case you’re wondering and has something to do with being extra skint and having ditched The Plan to spend the evening eating a bargain bucket in your Lulu Lemon yoga pants.

So far, so meh. January may not be ideal, the weather alone is cause enough to write it off as a contender for ‘Month of the Year’, but like that first act on the X-Factor final, there’s a lot of pressure to open the show. It may not have the promise of Springtime or the bright blue skies of Summer (abroad), but credit where credit’s due, January is not all bad. Cue: 10 REASONS WHY JANUARY IS NOT ALL BAD

  1. Fresh Starts – There is definitely something in this, forgetting the resolutions, The Plans and the promises, January is the New Stationery of the year, just after you’ve taken the cellophane off and before the kids have has a chance to destroy it with a jumbo crayon.
  2. Routine – In a life before kids routine is not a word that holds much relevance unless say you’re a farmer, or an elite athlete or maybe a cheerleader. I’m none of those and so out of office hours I did pretty much what I liked, when I liked. Two little people later and I’m fully converted to a life routines. After the excitement (chaos) of the Christmas holidays I’m always happy to welcome the return of the Back to School routine. The Bedtime routine being the most challenging but ultimately rewarding of all. Oh, and as a result you’ll know exactly what day it is, without having to ask two other people who also aren’t entirely sure.
  3. A bigger house – Once the tree is down and the decorations are packed away, my house immediately appears at least 30% bigger.
  4. Sales – Let me finish! I don’t mean going into the actual shops, or camping outside NEXT, unless that sounds like fun to you in which case go for it. I mean if you can hold out until January for those highly impractical holographic stilettoes, chances are they’ll be in the sale. DO NOT check the price of any item you have purchased pre-sale unless it is still in the bag and you have the receipt, just don’t do it.
  5. The Boots Sale – No explanation necessary, I’m sure you’ll agree the euphoria of 70%  off a Sanctuary box set warrants a bullet point all to itself.
  6. Accessories – Winter accessories are the best. Massive scarves, beanies, leather gloves, ear muffs, whatever form of cosiness rocks your world, January is one big fluffy accessory-fest.
  7. Low Maintenance – I’m talking a day (or three) between leg shaving, thanks to my 40 denier friends. Ditto fake tanning, especially if you happen to be a pasty 5’3″ Irish lass. Oh and you might as well forget the lawn for a bit (the garden lawn!), you’ve got at least two more months before the trampoline dries out, otherwise I can’t think of any reason why anyone needs to venture out there.
  8. Holiday brochures! – In reality we’re doing school runs in the pi$$ing rain, but in our minds we’re lounging on a beach in St Lucia with a G&T. Yes, only 14 more years and we can finally book that child-free trip of a lifetime. Until then Haven holiday park here we come!!!!!!
  9. Good telly – I like a Christmas special but January is when the real corkers hit the schedule right? Anyone for a spot of Cumberba… er, I mean Sherlock?
  10. It might happen to be your big brother’s 40th birthday and you might go for a right good dinner at Duck & Waffle, or something else lovely like that, I’m sure you can think of ONE THING, come on, what is it?
dandw

 

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THE QUIET MAN

Sometimes I wonder how on earth my children came out of the same womb! Despite being brought up in the same environment they are different in so many ways. It’s fascinating to watch them evolve into these little characters who will one day go out into the world, armed with their own persona as a result of everything they have experienced and the opinions they have formed as a result. But what is it that determines how or why they learn to act or react to different situations? The age old question of ‘Nature Vs Nurture’ certainly raises its head.

As a mother I’m hardwired to worry about every aspect of my children’s development and personality is something that determines so much in our lives that I find myself constantly questioning my parenting style and its affects. Am I doing enough to raise children who will have the tools to deal with life and it’s challenges in a way that is reasonable and healthy? Am I overly authoritative? Am I stifling their personalities?  Do they know they are loved unconditionally? Are they happy? The list seems endless and exhausting! From the moment we first pick up that Gina Ford book (who doesn’t want a contented little baby, right?) we question our actions as a parent.

The thinking man

Now I would consider both my children to be generally happy, healthy little souls, completely oblivious to all of my concerns on the above. They go to school quite happily, enjoy a good social group of friends and a loving home life (despite their constant bickering!). I can usually take them out in public without them acting like total morons, they generally do as they are asked and have a pretty good understanding of what is and isn’t socially acceptable. Pretty standard stuff for any 4 and 7 year olds. Personality wise, my 4yr old daughter is the funny, independent, creative, slightly bonkers, more confident of the two while my 7yr old son is a totally different animal. Outwardly he is a typically energetic, inquisitive, cheeky little chappy but he is also kind, and gentle, he has an understanding of how his actions affect others. He is loving, thoughtful, affectionate, perceptive, logical, introvert. He questions life, and religion, and death. He is my little thinking man.

In a world where extroverts are generally perceived as the superior, more celebrated camp I often worry that I should be doing something to encourage my son to develop a thicker skin, to be more confident, to be different. It saddens me so much to think that my little man, with his beautiful, perfect heart should change anything about himself in order to be on a level pegging with the next person. Is he a more likely target for bullies? Will he be able to present himself well in a college interview? Will he have the self confidence to put himself forward for a promotion? Of course we all want the best for our children but maybe it is time to celebrate all the positive qualities our children have without trying to change them. Maybe that in itself would instill a greater sense of self-worth as a child and ultimately throughout life. After all it seems such a shame to try to quash these precious traits that are often lacking in the world today. Let’s celebrate the introverts in our lives and appreciate how a quieter perspective on life might just be a positive thing in a very noisy world.

 

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PERFECTLY ORDINARY

I remember when a perfect weekend started at 5.31pm on a Friday and almost certainly involved the office local, lots of vodka & Diet Cokes, and too many Marlboro Menthols. There were lie-ins, walks in the park and maybe a bit of market mooching and cake munching along the way. Ahh bliss… I do miss those days a lot but these days a perfect weekend couldn’t be further away from this. If you’re reading this chances are you’re a parent who waved goodbye to lie-ins long ago. You may (like me) be a one income family or a single parent meaning disposable income is something you no longer need concern yourself with. All that that lovely vodka money?  That’s now been gobbled up by Aptamil, nipple cream and teething gel or if your further down the parenting road uniforms, school trips and Match Attax cards.

Yes, things are a little different these days. As life’s stages shift and unfold we discover a whole new world where it’s not about us anymore, but these little people bumbling around our legs trying to figure out the world around them. Now perfect weekends come in the form of dozy little snuggles in bed (usually way too early in the morning for my liking but one day they’ll stop and so until then I remind myself how very lucky I am to have them). Lazy mornings still exist but involve cartoons (and coffee!) in our dressing gowns followed by footie training for Spud and ballet for Flump (er, no intentional gender stereotyping here – I promise!!). The rest of the day was just a content blur of good ol’playing, bickering and munching, I even accomplished the odd bit of housework before bathtime.

Sofa
Saturday morning Sofa Sloths

The kids faces lit up on Sunday morning when they looked out the window to discover an overnight dusting of snow (just enough to squash together a muddy little snowman!)  Flump had to check it was snowing out every window and then it was snowsuits and wellies on and out into the garden to play! Flump had the good sense to come in once the initial excitement wore off her gloves started to get soggy but Spud is clearly made of stronger stuff than us girls and was determined to stay out to finish his snow (mud/grass) man.

Snowball

We are lucky enough to have wonderful in-laws nearby who cook a full Sunday roast for us every week ( I know!) and so we spent the rest of our day stuffing ourselves silly and tormenting Great Grandma, as per usual. And that’s it, our very ordinary weekend, not particularly eventful but perfect in so many ways. I already know that these are the days I will look back on fondly when the kids are all grown up and sleepy cuddles and cartoons are a distant memory. X

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THROW BACK THURSDAY? NO THANKS!

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Today requires a list. Not one of your ‘send off passport renewal forms, pay window cleaner etc etc’ type lists. More of a ‘How to function as a human being until it is acceptable to go to bed’ type list. Yes, I know all you parents of teeny tots are struggling with serious sleep deprivation day after day, I’ve been there, twice, and then I stopped having babies so I could FINALLY GET SOME SLEEP! Last night however, in some weird kind of time travelling nightmare I was right back to those nights of stumbling across the landing in a bleary eyed stupor, in the dark, at some ungodly hour to tend to a little person.

Firstly to Spud with his hacking cough and wheezy little lungs, medicine and inhaler administered and back under my duvet for just enough time to get warmed up and doze off before I hear Flump crying out ‘Muuuuummyyyyy’!! Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle again, “What’s wrong?”, “I’ve had a bad dream, I was on fire”. “There, there…shhh…shhh, etc etc”.

By this point my brain had clocked in for the day and was trying to have a conference call with my body which was screaming “Shut the *$%@ up!!!! Now is not the time to be planning lovely craft ideas for Flumps 5th birthday in MARCH!!!” then pretends to be asleep. Luckily for brain, it wasn’t too long before another holler came from across the landing. “Muuuuuuuummmmyyyy, my clock’s beeping at me, I didn’t do anything, it’s just beeping!”

I look at the clock, praise be, only 15mins until it’s officially an acceptable time to be awake. “Only 25minutes until wakey time pet” (leaves with clock).

Hence the list, which has helped immensely by the way.

1: Eat breakfast (not cake). Stuff Nutribullet with healthy berries, green things etc. Tick.

2: School run. Tick.

3: Get some air. Walk to next town, pop into Waitrose for a few bits but mainly for the free latte (fist pump). Tick

4:Pretend not to be grumpy. (Listening to Scummy Mummy podcasts = LOLs) Smile at everyone I pass on my walk, goes down pretty well apart from two occasions, both teenage boys, who to be fair did smile back, nervously. Tick.

So far so good; I would have preferred to lie on the sofa and catch up on The Man in the High Tower but hey ho. Actually something pretty cool happened on the way back from my walk. I bumped into a friend who was out walking with a woman I had never met before who lives 5 houses down from me! Good stuff huh?

Right, next on the list: Eat nutritious, low GI lunch to maintain energy levels…umm, are Tunnocks Tea Cakes low GI???

X

 

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THAT DIFFICULT SECOND POST

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It’s been exactly a week since my first blog post. It’s out there, floating around like the new girl in class, smiling at all the other mummy blogs shyly, giving a little wave while thinking “please like me, please like me” but mostly getting ignored by the cool girls who’ve earned their spot at the top through hard work and dedication.

Rightly so. There is no magic formula for a successful blog but if you’re willing to put in the hours reading, researching and trying to figure stuff out (oh and actually enjoying the process of learning along the way) then at best, other people will want to read it too and at worst you get to enjoy your own little corner of the internet to do with as you please!

It’s a strange feeling, writing a blog entry that may in fact never be read – a bit like the online equivalent of talking to yourself. I definitely feel a bit crazy doing it- but I like it!!

Since my last post I’ve been swotting up, there’s a lot of ‘how do I…, beginner’s guide to… and ‘top tips for new bloggers’ in my search history. What do I blog about? Who is my target audience? What identity do I want my blog to have? Basically A LOT OF QUESTIONS. Obviously there are many amazing bloggers who I enjoy following (check out my blogroll) but I don’t want to (nor could I even attempt to) steal their style.

It seems obvious that I blog about what I know and love, mainly my family, my home, food, fun and the odd random sparkly life-size unicorn thrown in for the hell of it (don’t you just love TK Maxx?!). I want my posts to be honest, light hearted and enjoyable. I want you to know that I am human. I want this to be a journal of all of the above in one place like an online equivalent of a child’s sprawling ‘What I did this Summer’ scrapbook. I think Oscar Wilde, my undisputed king of quotes says it perfectly, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

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HERE GOES…

Hello!

Thanks for dropping in to my brand spanking new-born blog. This is my first ever post (go easy on me) and I am so excited and a little nervous to be dipping my toes in the pool of Mummy blogging. It feels exactly like the moment between being belted into your seat, and climbing the Big Dipper!

A big fan of many of the other amazing Mummy blogs out there for years, reading mainly when my babies were sleeping and I should have been catching up on housework or doing something remotely productive, you know how it goes. This year my littlest started Big School and after a few busy months with building work at home and the excitement of Christmas now a distant memory I feel ready to start something for myself. A little corner of the internet for me to share my thoughts on family life, food, style and general chin wagging with similar minded big people with little people.

If you would like to know a little bit about me please click on the About tab above. Feedback, comments and hellos are very much encouraged, you can do so below.

I really look forward to getting to know you and hope you enjoy visiting my blog (even if the baby is sleeping and you should probably be doing something else!)

x

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