DESIDERATA – A MODERN DAY TAKE

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?

IMG_3416
Like me, a bit older and shabbier than when I first found it over 30 years ago! Pride of place in the downstairs loo.

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“.
sunrise-in-durbs-1560729
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!

x

Continue Reading

WHY AM I BLOGGING, REALLY? 10 GOOD REASONS

At the moment I’m still finding my feet as a blogger, having only posted a handful of blogs since my initial foray into this wonderful world a couple of months ago. If I’m excited about the prospect of starting something new, I tend to have a  ‘just do it now and figure it out as you go’ attitude. And boy have I been busy figuring it out! The realisation that blogging is  actually pretty hard work! (I know, shocker!) came quite early on,  the actual writing part makes up a small percentage of what you actually need to do if you want people to SEE you and interact with you. So as the initial excitement of ACTUALLY STARTING A BLOG! wears off and I continue to get to grips with all the different aspects involved, I found myself asking:  “Why am I blogging, really?”

IMG_3306

Luckily, I managed to think of lots of reasons – yay! So here are my own personal Top 10 Reasons for Blogging :

1.Skills! – I am not a writer. Or a food stylist. Not an ex-editor of ‘insert glossy mag name here’,  or a freelance writer or any such role that has ever required me to ever put words down in the understanding that someone is actually going to read them. Ah. While this would have been MEGA useful right now, I’m seeing it as a positive that at almost 37 (practically a dinosaur in my kids eyes) I’m on a steep learning curve as a result of my decision to start a blog ‘just for fun’. I am extremely lucky to have the time to indulge myself in some reading or writing blogposts while the kids are at school and although I probably spend far too much time doing this I do try to justify it to myself by getting the dark wash on and a bit of exercise in first! It definitely stretches the grey matter more than daytime telly that’s for sure.

2.It’s mine, all mine! MWAHAHAHAHA…. – At the moment my role of Mummy, SAHM, homemaker or whatever you want to call it is made up largely of taking care of my family, which I LOVE and appreciate every day. It was a conscious decision that Himself and I made after Flump, our second, was born and one I have never regretted for one second. However, giving up my job undoubtedly had its downsides too (apart from the obvious lack of cash appearing in my bank account every month). I definitely feel that I have lost my sense of independence, or that I at least have to try harder to be recognised as an individual, rather than someone’s Mummy. Starting a blog is a great way to have a project that is completely my own and although I would definitely consider it a ‘Mummy’ or ‘family’ blog (hence the name), its something that I keep totally separate from time spent with my family. One day my role as  wiper of noses, tables, bottoms or tears, will come to an end and I don’t want to wave my kids off into the world thinking “Wow, that was great but who am I again?”
Chat Bubbles on Modern Communication and Technology Word Cloud
3.Comradery – WOW, my experience of the blogging community so far has been nothing but positive. Such a welcoming, entertaining, intelligent, awesome bunch of people to hang out with! I’d say I’m generally pretty happy in my own company, I never really get lonely at home during the day and would much rather go out for the day by myself than with friends (is that really bad? I love my friends, I’m just not someone who needs to see them or be on the phone to them regularly. In fact preferably only when there is wine and no children involved). So in that respect, making new connections online suits me perfectly. I can happily converse with a total stranger on my thoughts on parenting/Topsy and Tim (please go away)/Cumberbatch (please come back), etc etc without ever having to leave my kitchen or tidy the house before you arrive!
4.Enrichment – OK, I’m aware this is now at risk of turning into one massive post so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet from here on in (*must work on waffling less). I’ve found joining in with linkys in particular a surprisingly enriching experience. Aside from the obvious benefit of a few people hopefully reading my blog, I have read and enjoyed articles which I never would have found otherwise. Some may be funny or useful but others have actually made me think about subjects which I would have never normally considered.
5.Confidence –  That’s not to say I am lacking confidence especially but would I want my nearest and dearest to read my ramblings? Probably Absolutely not, because in relation to writing, I am most definitely NOT confident (hence, for now anyway, I’m a relatively secret blogger).  Like most new skills, its a learning process, and the more I blog, the more my confidence grows little by little in my writing. Every tweet, every reply, every little comment from other bloggers or readers means a great deal to me, like a virtual ‘keep up the good work’!
Diary 2
6.Dear Diary – I couldn’t bring myself to refer to it as Journaling. When did that become a thing anyway? Isn’t that just a term that we stole from our American friends for writing in a diary Adrian Mole style? OK maybe Diarising doesn’t have quite the same ring to it (*waffling again, naughty). Anyway, there are already moments that are woven throughout my blog that I would have without a doubt forgotten had I not written them down. A family event, a special moment or an awesome experience that I will now be able to look back on in the future and remember fondly.
7. I got Style! – Or do I? In relation to the contents of my wardrobe I got ‘jeans and t-shirt’ style but as far as blogging goes, developing a writing style is actually something that never really occurred to me. I naively assumed that writing just consisted of getting the words from your brain onto the page. Nope. The more I read other blogs, the more I realise that there are actually quite a few different writing styles and that I have no idea how I come across to the reader. Another learning curve. For now I’m just writing the same way I would probably say things out loud, but minus the swears and with the help of spellcheck.
8. Contributing something – Despite starting a blog just for kicks, I would like to think that some of what I say might actually be read and enjoyed by other people. I mean, otherwise I may as well just keep it to myself right? I’m not talking changing the world with my views on e.g. the antics of CBeebies finest, but it’s nice to think that as I mooch through a linky, cuppa in hand, someone somewhere might be doing the same, enjoying something I wrote.
9.Wearing your Blogger hat – I feel like there should be some sort of official process whereby you need to sit an exam, or complete a challenge or at least do a meaningless 95% discounted Groupon course in Grade 1 Blogging before you should be allowed to refer to yourself as a Blogger?! But then I suppose I didn’t have to do any of those things to become a mother so…never mind. I now find myself questioning the most random of topics, thoughts or products as possible blogging fodder. Luckily for you, the majority of these ideas fall down the back of my brain never to be seen again but starting a blog definitely makes you think more about all aspects of life, however ordinary and I love that!
Computer key - Share
10. Courage of convictions – regardless of subject matter, blogging forces you to think before you type. Once you hit that ‘post’ button your words are out there for good, so you better be prepared to be accountable for them! Questioning what I truly feel on a subject, either on my own blog or when commenting on others has been a new and interesting  experience for me. Honesty is the only way, in my opinion, that you can write with conviction while building your own credible identity online, giving readers a true reflection of yourself at the same time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post, I did go on a bit didn’t I?! Sorry. I’m sure there are lots more reasons that I love blogging that I’ll remember later. I’d love to know the driving force behind your blog – what made you want to start and more importantly made you want to carry on?
X
Continue Reading

BOX ROOM BABY TO LITTLE LADY

When we moved into our current home just over 2 years ago our then 5yr old boy was lucky enough to get the biggest room, meaning he could have a midi bed in there with plenty of room for storing toys underneath and enough space for the kids to play together- happy days. As usual, at just 2yrs old, the baby of the family drew the short straw when it came to square footage and was assigned the box room. Actually, at the time she was delighted as the room happened to be painted pink, and her toddler bed fitted in there nicely leaving just enough room for her kitchen, dolly’s cot and other Very Important Princessy things.

Fast forward 2 years, the toddler bed had served its purpose and it was time to go ‘big girl’s bed’ shopping. After and evening spent searching online I soon realised that the beautiful, retro iron frames in pretty pastel shades that I had in mind were clearly not made with box room dimensions in mind! Bah! So on this occasion it was a case of functionality over form. I managed to find a slightly shorter than standard bed with drawers and shelving underneath which gave some much needed toy storage and the perfect place to keep Flump’s ever expanding dress-up collection. The princess pink walls were replaced by crisp white, leftover from another project (she still hates me for this).

In an attempt to make the transformation from Box Room Baby to Box Room Little Lady, while still  appealing to the tastes of a very girly 4 yr old, I added a few pops of her “still most favourite colour ever Mummy” pink, while also incorporating her current obsession, unicorns!

IMG_3283

Her much loved pink gingham toddler bedding was replaced with grey and white (mean Mummy!) and I found some cute unicorn fabrics online to knock up a couple of scatter cushions. Obviously even I’m not mean enough to get rid of Bunny who seems pretty happy on his new bed.

IMG_3285

There were literally millimetres at the end of her bed to allow for the door to close so in place of a headboard I hung a floating shelf above the bed, which gives the effect of a headboard with the added bonus of somewhere to hang fairy lights (no need for a bedside light/table!) and display special treasures! (A birthday card from Flump’s Grandad to her Grandma when they first started dating in the Swinging 60s, a Shakespeare quote which is most fitting for a certain person, a hand knitted toy made by her Great Grandma and her first pair of Cons -too cute to ever throw away!)

Storage, storage, storage. Bedtime stories are now all neatly on display at the end of her bed ready for her to choose from. I also attached this cute birdhouse display box to the wall next to the bed so her bedtime drink is within reach. (Mermaids and hairbands model’s own but I like it!!) Oh, and I added a background using a piece of card covered in toadstool print fabric, again bought online for about £4 for a selection of 4 fat quarters.

IMG_3281And finally, making the most of the wall space available behind the door, some hooks – every girl needs somewhere to hang her OOTD right??!

 

Continue Reading

SPRING HAS SPRUNG!

Yay! We can officially wave goodbye to Winter and look forward to longer evenings and finally ditching the thermals!! Although it was a very gloomy morning here in Bedfordshire, the sun is peeping through the clouds as I type so it’s all good.

I’ve been on a quick H&M run for kids joggers, tees etc this morning and decided to celebrate the new season by treating myself to a little something (any excuse eh?!). Nothing fancy as funds are low and I really wasn’t on the look out for anything in particular, just something to brighten my day. With my pale Irish skin and dark hair the gorgeous bright yellow and orange tops that scream Springtime are a big no no for me, what with them making me look like a zombie and all, same goes for scarves or basically anything above the waist. I did however spot this gorgeous bright coral nail varnish from Liz Earle, just the right amount of bright without being brash, and even change some from a tenner – perfect!

IMG_3138

I am definitely a low maintenance girl when it comes to beauty products, partly because I really can’t justify the cost of manicures, tanning, eyebrows, highlights, lashes, waxing, facials, etc etc and partly because I just cannot be bothered with the faff of it all. While I do wear makeup every day, it’s purely because it makes me feel more confident, and so not to frighten any small children on the school run but that’s about as much effort as I’m willing to put in on a daily basis (well apart from showering and a quick whizz with a Bic obviously!)

I have toyed with the idea of investing in a home kit for gel nails as I definitely do feel a bit more ‘done’ with polish on and am fed up with spending ages waiting for undercoats, varnish, top coat layers to dry only for my hard work to be ruined by the end of the kids bathtime. While I decide whether or not to buy a home kit though, its plain old off the shelf, old school nail varnish for now.

IMG_3136 (2)

It was my lovely Mum who first introduced me to the Liz Earle brand waaaaaaaay back before it became widely known for its now cult status Cleanse and Polish formula with muslin cloths and when you could only get hold of it via mail order catalogue. Today its available in John Lewis and Boots to name a few which makes shopping for birthdays and Mother’s Day a lot easier for me than it used to be! While the skincare unfortunately didn’t suit my skin, once I tried the nail varnish (in Knockout, a vibrant red) I was really impressed. It went on smoothly, dried quickly leaving a lovely glossy finish and best of all stood up to an impressive amount of abuse before chipping. It’s still the polish I use for a rare night out.

At £8.50 it’s more than I would usually spend on a nail varnish but given that I have already used it and been so impressed  with the results I was happy to pay this. It describes itself a Strengthening Nail Colour (bonus), claiming to last for up to 12 days, which I think is slightly optimistic but I would say in my experience, used without any undercoats or top coat it does last longer than any other mid range varnish I’ve tried.

I’ve applied two coats as per instructed for a lovely even finish –  at least this colour will last longer than the sunshine which already seems to be disappearing behind the clouds just in time for the school run!! x

 

Continue Reading

MOTHERS DAY – TOP SUPERMARKET PICKS UNDER £10

Time is money. So you’ll be glad to hear that this post is all about saving you time AND money. These are my top supermarket picks for Mother’s Day, all under £10 and all of which you can grab next time you pop in for a pint of milk.

 

Spectacles by Sue Perkins, £9, Tesco Who doesn’t love Sue Perkins? I mean if you don’t, then we need to talk. This #1 bestseller is top of my wish list this Mother’s Day (just above wine and chocolate). I’ll be factoring numerous ‘toilet trips’ into my day accordingly.

Spotty China Mug, 75p, Waitrose I’m a mug for a mug, and at 75p this little cutie is such a bargain you’d be a mug not to right? Fill it with smellies, fluffy socks or Mum’s favourite choccy bars for a cute personalised gift.

Lanolips Rose Lip Ointment, £8.16, Waitrose Made with medical grade lanolin and containing Vitamin E and SPF15 this hardworking treat for lips gives a hint of colour-perfect for everyday.

3 x Mini-notebooks, £3, Sainsbury’s These days if I don’t write something down you can guarantee I WILL NOT REMEMBER IT, hence the need for a notebook somewhere on my person at all times. I’m old school when it comes to note making, preferring actual pen and paper to anything remotely technical so these little A6 size notebooks are perfect for stashing in my bag, pocket, car or wherever inspiration might strike!

Champagne, was £24.50 now £10, ASDA This Louvel Fontaine Champagne Brut is currently just £10 at ASDA so it would be rude not to – no indication on how long this offer is running unfortunately until so GO QUICK!!

Large Trinket Box, £8, Sainsbury’s  I love the geometric shape of this bronze and glass trinket box, it would look great in the bathroom for cotton balls or as somewhere to store all the random bits of stuff that accumulate on the bedside table.

Rose Gold Frame - Sainsburys (3)Rose Gold Frame, £8, Sainsbury’s OK, now let me just say I am generally not a fan of most ‘Mummy’ specific tat gifts as I regularly remind my kids/husband. They know by now to keep walking past the gift section and straight ahead to the wine/confectionary aisle thank you very much. However, this frame caught my eye for three reasons. 1. It’s pretty to look at so I would actually consider having it in my home rather than immediately hiding it in the charity shop pile. 2. It allows your little cherubs to list the reasons you so are amazing to them which makes it much more personal and meaningful than anything Tatty Teddy could ever offer. 3. You could definitely use it to display cute prints, photos or future offerings from your budding artists if you’re a really nice mummy! (keeping your original list in the ‘special stuff’ box of course).

So there you have it, no excuses for anyone not giving/getting some well deserved treats this Mother’s Day – I hope you liked my supermarket finds and have a cuddle-filled day of celebrating Motherhood!

X

Continue Reading

WEEKEND BOX CLUB INDEPENDENT REVIEW *FREE TRIAL BOX*

IMG_3056

The house seems ever so quiet this morning following a week of half-term shenanigans! Trips to the park, playdates, cinema (followed by the obligatory half-term Happy Meal), baking and general  monkeying around made for a lovely week of family time; Himself even had a few days off work to join in the fun! I always factor a few lazy days in between plans for any school holiday as I think the kids do need a rest even though they will NEVER EVER admit to being tired. Their absolute favourite thing to do on our lazy days is craft. Anything involving paper, scissors and lots and lots of mess keeps them happy for literally hours. I recently discovered an online company called  Weekend Box Club who will post a selection of craft activities for you to enjoy containing everything you need to get going all in one little box! With half-term on the horizon I knew it would be perfect so I joined up and placed an order which arrived a couple of days later in time for me to stash it out of sight from little peepers.

IMG_3057

I ordered the Bumper Box which includes 4 activities and costs £7.50 per box but they also offer a Mini Box which includes 2 activities for £4.95. The Mini-Box is delivered fortnightly and the Bumper Box can be delivered fortnightly or monthly. They also offer gift subscriptions which I think is a really lovely idea and way more fun than a bunch more plastic tat for the toy box.

As you can see the packaging is pretty trippy which I love and as soon as the kids saw it they couldn’t wait to get inside and see what it was all about! You’ll be introduced to Hattie, Wooster, Sammy & Oswald and inside you will find your brightly coloured envelopes containing supplies, clear instruction cards for each activity, stickers and a certificate to colour in on completion of your masterpieces!

IMG_3059

Each box has a theme and we received the Native American themed box. Card, string, powdered paint, a paintbrush and even blu-tac were supplied to make a native American headdress modeled here by Flump (customised with insect doodles and stickers).

IMG_3105

Spud decided to make the dreamcatcher which is hanging proudly in his bedroom window and looks great, lots of beads and feathers in bright colours and he loves the idea that his bad dreams are now being captured by his creation! (Also customised with insects for some reason?)

The third activity was making your own totem pole, for which you needed to supply your own loo roll tube. The envelope supplied some sticky backed foam to make your totem pole animals with and crayons to decorate the pole. We found this one a little less exciting but still enjoyed thinking up our animals and the cutting and sticking of course.

Of the four activities one involves baking, on this occasion BBQ Baked Beans. The envelope included a sachet of sugar and one of spice. Unfortunately the kids weren’t impressed with this one and I didn’t have the ingredients required to hand  even if they had wanted to make them. I understand that the baking activity is chosen to fit with the theme and will always require some additional ingredients/equipment, which I would not expect to be provided by post, but I did feel this particular envelope was a bit disappointing given what was provided.

IMG_3096

Overall I would definitely give the Weekend Box Club a big thumbs up. We spent a total of 3 hrs (with a snack break for Little Bird and Big Chief Bear Catcher) happily cutting, sticking and painting and it would have been more if we had done the baking activity so in terms of entertainment this little box packs a big punch! For those on a budget you can easily add to the quite generous supplies provided using your own stash, as I did, to allow for two children to complete each activity; which works out considerably less expensive than most kids activities x2 or even a magazine each! I also think it would be a great treat for Grandparents to have up their sleeve for sleepover weekends, where they may not have quite the amount of crafty bits and bobs to hand as Mummy Maker does.

I will say that this is not something that can be used to keep the kids amused while you get on with the ever growing heap of laundry. Both Spud and Flump needed quite a lot of assistance along the way so make yourself a cuppa and set aside some time to enjoy this as a family activity. Personally speaking, my two just want my time and attention 24/7, which they don’t get because LIFE, but when they do it means a lot to them. In fact the Weekend Box Club sum this up perfectly in their own philosophy, “Enhancing You and Them time, not replacing it”.

If you would like to try the Weekend Box Club for yourself they very kindly offer a FREE first box when you join up using this link and you can cancel really easily through your online account should you wish to.

Let me know if you try it or if you are already a member of the club (my weekend club memberships have changed somewhat since becoming a mother, although this one costs a lot less and comes with a no-hangover guarantee!!)

Have fun!

x

Continue Reading

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.

IMG_3046

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?

IMG_3047
Was £54.99  Now £19.99
IMG_3048
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?!!!

IMG_3050
Was £19.99 Now £10
IMG_3049
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?

IMG_3043.JPG
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

 

Continue Reading

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

Continue Reading

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.

sloth-costa-rica-1333288

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

 

Continue Reading