Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Beauty Tuesday - Therapist Training

Those of you who follow me on Twitter might already have seen me mention (and I have a feeling I've mentioned it here somewhere within a post before as well!) that I'm currently doing some training in different beauty therapies.

As I said a while back in this post - my son has Duchenne and as he gets older I will need to be around more for hospital appointments and probably one day to actually care for him. I currently work as a Legal Executive as a small family law firm. Unfortunately that's not going to work very well alongside frequent hospital appointments or providing home care for my son. Generally I'll need to be home at lot during the day Monday to Friday and that is really the time when I would need to be the office.

So I made the decision a while ago to look into other career options. I settled on beauty therapy because I enjoy that sort of thing anyway, its not too expensive to do the training, and it would work well around my son - I can fit my clients in around hospital visits or do mainly evening and weekends when my husband is home.

Unfortunately I've received a fair bit of stick from family and friends for my choice - most seem to have the opinion that I'm "too intelligent" for this - personally I find that a bit insulting to all the beauty therapists out there, but it does seem to be the sterotype in people's heads that beauty therapists are young bimbos (they're not, FYI). To be honest its left me pretty upset as its not  been an easy decision to make and a bit of support would have been nice, especially considering I'm doing this for the benefit of my family. We simply can't afford for me not to work either.

Anyway, all their negativity aside, I'm excited and I'm enjoying it. I got my NVQ in Indian Head Massage back in July, I'm currently doing an NVQ in Make Up (hoping to do bridal make up particularly), and tonight I'm off to do a certificate in Gel Polish application. When my Make Up course ends, a fortnight later I start a course in Facials. So I'm pretty busy!

In the long run I'd like to do a proper 'full' make up artist course - working on photography make up, special effects and all sorts. I'm not sure, given my circumstances, where I'd go from there with it but I'd love to give it a go. I'm struggling though to find courses that are not full-time. I need an evening or weekend course really as I can't set aside 5 - 12 weeks Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. So I'm hoping the collective knowledge of my readers will help me out - I'm based in the South East and would appreciate if anyone has any recommendations?!

Have you retrained or changed career? If so, why and are you glad you took the leap?

Monday, 20 October 2014

Recipe Review Monday - Family Favourite, Grandma's BBQ Chicken

I'm going to do a couple of little mini-series on Recipe Review Monday - they'll run alongside each other so some weeks will be Family Favourites and other weeks will be 30 Minute Dinners. I'll probably throw some random recipe reviews in the mix as well but if Family Favourites and 30 Minute Dinners appeal to you, look out for my Recipe Review Monday posts for the next few weeks.

This particular recipe is one that's been passed on to me by my husband's Grandma (hence the name!). She's apparently been cooking it for years and its still much requested when we all go round their house for dinner. It's not the quickest dinner in the world and its not the prettiest to look at but I promise you, it is absolutely delicious.

I believe it originally came from an old Delia Smith special edition recipe book that was produced for Red Nose Day but I'm not sure how true this version is to the original - you know how it is, recipes can get tweaked a little over the years.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Favourites #1 - TV Series, Our Girl

This is a first for me - I've not reviewed any TV here but I've come across a programme the last few weeks that I've become completely engrossed by so I just had to write about it! Sadly it ends tomorrow night but I believe you can still catch up on all the episodes on BBC iPlayer. The programme I'm talking about is, of course, the fabulous Our Girl.

I know a lot of people saw the original one hour one-off last year, which I'll admit I missed and although I saw the adverts I never really thought much about it but whilst channel hopping during the first episode I came across it and within a few minutes I was hooked.

The show is all about Molly Dawes (Lacey Turner) who enlists as an Army Medic. This series has seen her sent out on her first tour of duty to Afghanistan.

This is an absolutely fantastic series- so well written and acted. The soundtrack is stunning too. I think it does a great job of showing the difficulties that I'm sure many women face in what is a very male-dominated world. Molly is cheeky, brave and quickly proves herself to her Captain and fellow soldiers. It is definitely worth a watch if you haven't already.

Now before I go on, I have to just mention the utter perfection and eye candy that is Ben Aldridge who plays Captain James in this series.

Having spoken to all the women I know who are watching this series, I don't think there is one of us who has not professed to be head over heels in love with this man - he is simply bloody gorgeous. I believe one friend even said he makes her "ovaries ache". Look at him - he would produce the most beautiful curly-haired babies, wouldn't he?!
Now I'm going to add a jump in here so if you've watched the series so far, click and read on, if you're not up to date or haven't watched it yet I suggest you stop here unless you're after spoilers!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Family Friday - Kids Clothing, Advice Needed

This post is going to be short but wordy (a distint lack of pictures I'm afraid). I just need some advice from my fellow Mums - maybe you're having the same problem as me, maybe I'm stuck in a rut but  I am really struggling to find decent kids winter clothes this year!

My son (9) is still fitting into much of his clothes from last year (being on steroids has its upside I guess, he grows very slow so is cheap to clothe as they last him aaaaages!) but I'd like to find him a few new bits and Dennis (2 and a half) has had an enormous growth spurt and she now needs size 3-4 (I kid you not, this girl is huge!).

I've hunted all my usual places - Asda, Sainsburys, Tesco, (kids outgrow their clothes too fast to spend a fortune), H&M, and even Next and I'm struggling to find much I like. I've picked up the odd pair of leggings for Dennis and I did get her a gorgeous grey coat in M&S here but otherwise I cannot find much at all. And what I can find seems to be all casual stuff.

Please help me - am I missing something or is all the kids clothing this year actually rank?!! (PS I don't usually bother with Primark as I find their kids stuff always washes poorly so I'd rather pay a little more in a supermarket or high street and find it stays nice for longer). Someone point me to a good kids clothing shop pleeeeeassse before I lose the will to live - kids and shopping are not a good mix, please put me out of my misery!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Family Friday - Comfort Foods

I know that in light of yesterday's post, this is a bit of a contrast but we all need a little comfort now and then!

All families have little traditions or quirks or just things they do in a certain way. In our house, one of those, is that when someone is ill or the weather is turning cold, we have a bit of a thing for cream of tomato soup and cheese sandwiches.

I don't know why, it just seems to be one of those things that we automatically turn to for a comforting lunch. A big bowl of steaming soup and cheese sandwiches (always on white bread too with lots of butter....oops!) to dip in it. Both my husband and I love it and so do our kids.

When its just myself and the kids eating, I will often be completely lazy and heat the soup in a Pyrex jug then just put that in the middle of the table and we all reach over to dip our sandwiches in! (Sorry but the less washing up the better in my world!!)

I was feeling pretty grotty yesterday, which is what inspired this post and as you can see from the picture, I was feeling lazy too. It had been a while since we'd had a soup and sandwich lunch so I really, really enjoyed it (as did Dennis!) and for some reason felt like I needed to write about it here.

I'd love to hear about any little 'traditions' or comfort rituals or foods your family has, let me know in a comment. The title has also just reminded me of the series Jamie's Comfort Food - has anyone else been watching it? Jamie Oliver made some absolutely delicious looking food!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Fitness Thursday - Breakfast Favourite Recipes

Getting fit and, particularly, eating right is not always the most exciting of things. If you don't experiment and branch out a bit you can find yourself getting a little bored. If you get bored, you're more likely to stray from the healthy foods and starting eating too much of the naughty treats again.

Breakfast is one of the trickiest meals to keep on track - for most of us, we don't have a great deal of time before we rush out the door for work to faff about with breakfast. At the weekend, healthier things like scrambled or poached eggs are ok as you have a bit more time on your hands but during the week, unless you have options to hand, it can be far too tempting to reach for the buttery toast or sugary cereal, that will have your sugar levels crashing within an hour or so, leaving you digging in the work biscuit barrel long before lunchtime...

With this in mind, I thought I'd share a couple of my favourite breakfast things to eat so that those of you who are also on a health kick might find some inspiration from these!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Family Friday - Barefoot SOS Face & Body Rescue Cream*

I may have mentioned here before that I have pretty dry skin and my poor kids seem to have inherited this unfortunate trait, particularly my son. He suffers with very dry skin with patches of eczema. In the winter his skin, despite my best efforts, gets particularly bad and no matter what I do he always gets chapped cheeks once the cold weather sets in.

I've tried nearly every moisturiser going to keep his skin in check and had little success. The prescription lotions from the Doctor (Diprobase and the like) are disgusting textured, thick, heavy creams that he hates. He used to stand and cry while I tried to rub it in. In the end it simply wasn't worth the battle any more. Someone did once give me a sample of Kiehl's Creme de Corps, which did a beautiful job of keeping his skin soft and supple but it cost me a small fortune as I have to use it on him head to toe after every shower, bath or swimming session and on his face at least once a day. I simply can't afford to pay that out all the time. I moved on to other moisturisers becoming more and more disappointed by them until I eventually settled on the Vaseline Intensive Rescue for Very Dry Skin for his body and The Body Shop Aloe Vera Cream for his face.

These do the job, just about, but his skin never feels soft like it did with the Kiehls stuff so I'm always on the lookout for something new that would do a better job and could help prevent the horrible red and cracked chapped cheeks in the coming winter.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Craft Wednesday - Latest Nappy Cake Creation

With a bit of a push from family and friends I recently decided to take the plunge and set up a little page on Facebook for my nappy cakes. Elliott and Rose Designs currently only has likes from my family and friends (or their family and friends) but its a beginning. I think it will always be a hobby for me but I enjoy it and knowing people get so much pleasure from my creations gives me a great feeling!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Beauty Tuesday - Body Moisturisers, Current Favourites (Body Shop, Neutrogena and Garnier)

I've probably mentioned here before that I get pretty dry skin. This means I'm always on the lookout for decent body lotions and I have to use these lotions daily. Going without daily body lotion leaves me looking more lizard than human. And that's not attractive. I do sometimes cheat a bit and use my Nivea In-Shower Moisturiser for Dry Skin but I can't get away with that for more than a couple of days on the trot.

However I tend to shower daily and always first thing in the mornings so I need a nice moisturiser that doesn't sit on the skin as I want to get dressed and get going with my day asap (I'm a little demanding on my moisturisers!). I do like a lovely smelling lotion as well but that's just an added bonus.

Of course, given that they get daily use I also want my products to be reasonably priced. Therefore I'm a bit picky and its fair to say not many body moisturisers make the grade but the three in the photo above have wormed their way into daily rotation - sometimes I'll use a different one that's been languishing in the back of my cupboard for a while as I have to use them up eventually but its far more likely I'll reach for one of these three.

The lotions in question are Garnier Body Oil Beauty Oil-Infused Nourishing Lotion, The Body Shop Strawberry Body Sorbet and Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Deep Moisture Body Lotion for Dry Skin.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Recipe Review Monday - Bake Off Challenge #4 - DOUGHNUT MUFFINS

I'm back on track with my Great British Bake Off Challenge! I'll admit I skipped the enriched dough weeks - I figure if I can't quite get standard bread dough right, I don't stand much chance with more complicated dough! This week though the Bakers made doughnuts and I love doughnuts, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to try making them.
Unfortunately I don't own a deep fat fryer so that was a fly in the ointment, until I remembered a recipe I'd once pulled out of a magazine (I think it may have been Good Food but I have so many recipe clippings floating around that I lose track!). This recipe was for Doughnut Muffins and they did not contain any yeast and did not require deep fat frying. Perfect.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Book Review - Giovanna Fletcher's 'You're The One That I Want'

I love a good book. For me, as a busy mum, getting to read is actually a little bit of a luxury. There's nothing quite like getting the kids off to bed, and once I've got everything cleared away, finding some time (even just half an hour) to snuggle up somewhere with a great read. I'm currently working my way through the Song of Ice and Fire series (the books behind the fabulous Game of Thrones tv series) and I'm loving them but all the incest and treachery can get a bit heavy going sometimes so I've had the odd break and dipped into something a little lighter.

(Image from Amazon as my copy is on Kindle) 
Now, some of my friends are seriously scornful of my love for a romance book or film but I can't help, I just love a good romance - no matter how cheesy, predictable or contrived, I can't help but smile when you read about or see the story of two people falling in love. The way I always sum it up is that there's enough bad sh*t going on in the world every day for me to want to always watch or read dark and depressing things - a bit of light relief is called for sometimes, a sense that things can turn out alright in the end and that there can be a happy ending! Sounds a bit daft and naive but I just enjoy a bit of escapism.

Anyway, that leads me on to today's review. I did read it a while ago now and I've only just managed to sit down and finish the review! But given the length of time since I read it, its surprising that I still feel so strongly about it, which suggested to me I really should sit down and finish this post off.

So here goes - You're The One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher...

The blurb:

"Maddy, dressed in white, stands at the back of the church. At the end of the aisle is Rob - the man she's about to marry. Next to Rob is Ben - best man and the best friend any two people ever had.
And that's the problem.

Because if it wasn't Rob waiting for her at the altar, there's a strong chance it would be Ben. Loyal and sensitive Ben has always kept his feelings to himself, but if he turned round and told Maddy she was making a mistake, would she listen? And would he be right?

Best friends since childhood, Maddy, Ben and Rob thought their bond was unbreakable. But love changes everything. Maddy has a choice to make but will she choose wisely? Her heart, and the hearts of the two best men she knows, depend on it..."

Having already read and enjoyed Billy & Me, I was awaiting the release of Gi's next book with a significant degree of anticipation. It was preordered to my Kindle to automatically download on release day. I started it that morning and I barely put it down. The Kindle came with me round the house all day - it sat on my lap while I did my hair, perched on the kitchen side while I cooked dinner - you get the idea!

You're The One That I Want is one of the best books from this genre that I have read in ages. I really had no idea how it was all going to end (much as I don't mind a touch of predictability, I like to be kept in suspense more!), which meant it was a real page-turner for me. The characters were so well written, I really went on the emotional roller-coaster with them. I laughed and I cried at this book. It was just wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys this type of book.

I loved it so much that it actually inspired me to sit down and finally flesh out the plan for a book that I've had in mind for ages. Who knows if it will be any good or even if I will ever manage to actually turn it from a plan into a book but I've made a start.

If you haven't please do pick up this book (and her previous one - Billy & Me). If you have read it, did you enjoy it as much as I did?

Friday, 26 September 2014

Family Friday - Beverly Hills Formula Perfect White Black Toothpaste*

I recently received a lovely email from Samantha at The Whole Caboodle about a fabulous new product from Beverly Hills Formula and offering to send me a sample. As it was a toothpaste suitable for the whole family I thought I'd give it a shout out on Family Friday!

Now I must admit this brand is one I've heard of but never actually used, add to that the fact that, as Samantha explained, this toothpaste is black and I was completely intrigued. BHF say that this toothpaste will help keep little ghosts and goblins keep their teeth clean as we approach Halloween. In my book anything which encourages my kids to brush their teeth can only be a good thing!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Fitness Thursday - Benefits of Walking

I received an email earlier this week from the lovely Sophie at www.worldwalks.com about their intiative to try to get people walking. For me, their message was spot on - walking can be such a great form of exercise! For a start, its completely free - even for running you need a decent pair of trainers and probably some running leggings and maybe an armband for your phone or MP3 player; its suitable for anyone of any age and can be done any time you like. What's not to love?

My mum is 63 now but she still likes to keep herself fit so I often go out with walks with her (although my pace is a bit brisk for her liking!). For someone leading a fairly sedentary lifestyle who is looking to lose weight, you will definitely see results just from getting out there and walking a couple of times a week. Just make sure you keep a good pace - no dilly dallying down the road!

Find out more here:

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Beauty Tuesday - Tips & Tricks

A quick post and run from me today - life's a little crazy here at the moment, did I say that already?! But I want to leave you with a few quick tips and tricks from me.

Basically I'm a lazy madam a lot of the time and I also hate wasting things I have bought, so...

1. If I buy a lip balm and find I don't get along with it for some reason, it doubles up as a handy cuticle balm! (The cult Nuxe Reve de Miel lip balm has been consigned to this category for me - didn't like the texture, too thick!)

2. Baby shampoo doubles up as a cleaning solution for my make up brushes

3. Any hair conditioners I find I don't like get used to shave my legs! (I actually think I now prefer using conditioner to proper shaving cream)

4. When I use bronzer during my make up application, after I've contoured my face, if I'm short on time or want a quick fix, I gently run the remnants of bronzer on the brush over my eyelids (literally one quick sweep) to perk them up a bit.

5. If I don't get on with a face exfoliator (particularly if I find it too harsh), I will use it up as a body exfoliator on more sensitive areas or on an exfoliating glove all over.

What tips and tricks do you have for making your products go further or using up things you've been disappointed with?

Monday, 22 September 2014

Recipe Review Monday - Bake Off Challenge Week #3 - Custard Tart

I know, I know, I missed it last week! I'm really sorry to anyone who was looking out for my post. Things just got so hectic and custard tart was a bit more time consuming than I could manage!

My current schedule includes - attempting to move house (Offer accepted today! Exciting but also terrifying!), going on holiday in a few weeks to Disney World with the Make a Wish Foundation, taking two NVQ courses (make up and facials), one finishes before our holiday and the other starts the week we get back, plus the usual mum and work stuff, and blogging and writing a book, oh and I've started selling nappy cakes properly too! No I'm not sure where I fit it all in either....

Anyway, on to the good stuff... cake! Well tart!

I decided as pastry is a bit of a nemesis for me and I've never really made custard (I'll make you a pudding but your custard will be shop bought, and no I'm not sorry!), to stick with a simple basic custard tart, following Delia Smith's recipe, which can be found here.

The recipe was easy to follow but, as anticipated the pastry was a b*tch to do. I'm not sure why I can't get the hang of pastry. It might be my lack of patience but its just never quite right.

On this occasion, though it had its problems, the pastry was pretty good in terms of taste and texture (and only a slight soggy bottom!).

Yes, I know it looks a little rough and ready but I'm not about to actually go on GBBO any time soon so let's work on taste first, shall we? Looks can come later!

The skin did catch slightly in the oven - annoyingly about a minute or so before it had looked fine, but it didn't actually taste burnt so that was fine.

Overall though it was a nice tasting custard tart but the recipe has a lot of steps - each one is simple but added together its a bit of a faff to be honest. Would I make it again? I'm not sure I would.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Fitness Thursday - Exercise DVDs

You may have read me mention here before that I have a weekly exercise date with a friend from work - we both needed a bit of a boot up the bum to get fitter so we decided, about 6 or 7 months ago that one night a week we would meet up at her house or mine to workout. Neither of us wanted to commit to an exercise class - especially given that they're about £6 or £7 a week, not a lot on its own but it adds up pretty quickly over a month! Plus with kids and so on, it was easier to just go to each other's houses and do a DVD workout. So my epic collection has come in handy and has in fact expanded since we started having our exercise date.

In fairness, if ownership of fitness DVDs were a guarantee of your level of fitness, I would have thighs that could crack nuts and abs you could bounce a penny off.... But I don't. I do however have a hell of a lot of fitness DVDs!
The picture above is just what I currently have out - as we're living with family at the moment, the majority of my collection is in storage, I just kept my favourites out and I rotate through them.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Recipe Review Monday - Bake Off Challenge Week #2 - SELF-SAUCING PUDS

On last week's Great British Bake Off, the theme was puddings. I decided to go for the signature bake idea, which was self-saucing puddings. I've done this sort of thing before - in fact there's a post I did a while back on Banana Batter Cake which was a self-saucing pud of sorts.

Now on the Bake Off they had to make 12 (or maybe it was 24?!) small self-saucing puddings but as I'm yet to get around to buying some ramekin dishes, I decided to find a recipe that would make one large pudding.

I must apologise at this point for the horrendous photo but I wanted to make the pudding last night in time to do this post today and that meant making it late and having awful lighting. Plus the camera had no batteries in and my family wanted their pudding dished up so I just took a quick snap on my iPhone.

Self Saucing Butterscotch Pudding

Monday, 1 September 2014

Recipe Review Monday - Bake Off Challenge Week #1 - BREAD

Well, as promised in my post last week, I made bread! I used a recipe that Beca Lyne-Perkis posted here. Its a chocolate chip loaf and being as my husband and daughter particularly are chocolate fiends, I just had to try it.

I should say here that this was my very first attempt at bread (aside from in a bread machine but that doesn't count!) so my results here are in no way a reflection on the recipe itself.

The recipe was simple, clear and dead easy to follow. However I think what let me down is my kneading technique. Firstly I kneaded it just for the amount of time shown but having read further tips afterwards (thank you Paul Hollywood's website!) I've discovered that if you're new to bread making then the kneading will usually take a bit longer. I also now know what properly kneaded bread dough should likely (mine did not...).

It came out ok and as you can see from the photo above it looks fine from the outside. The taste was nice but....

Friday, 29 August 2014

Family Friday - Getting a Little Bit Personal

Up until now there's a part of my life I've chosen not to share here on my blog. It wasn't so much a conscious choice, more that it just hadn't come up as topic but its been on my mind lately so now seemed a good time to broach the subject.

My 9 year old son has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Beauty Tuesday - August Lust List!

With my husband having been unemployed for a while now, money hasn't exactly been easy to come by in our house. That means my budget for beauty products has been severely limited and as a result I've tended to stick with simply replacing old faithful products that I know do the job rather than trying out exciting new things.

The beauty magpie inside of me has found this very, VERY difficult and the way I found of dealing with it was to keep a note on my phone of all the things I would like to buy once I had the money.

Beauty Lust List

Now I should say, my beauty shopping / wish lists are not normally this full of 'high end' products - my beauty regime is a fairly even mix of high end and budget (if anything, there's more budget) so this is unusual. I think a few budget items have snuck into my basket even while money has been tight whereas I just couldn't justify the money for these products. It may still take me a while to save up my coppers for all of these bits but hopefully not too long!

What shall I buy first? And are there any new 'must-have' products that I've missed?

Monday, 25 August 2014

Recipe Review Monday - Bake Off Challenge!

If you're a regular reader of my blog or follow me on Twitter then you're probably well aware that I love baking and my love for baking goes hand in hand with my love for the Great British Bake Off, which started again a couple of weeks ago on BBC1.

For a start, Mel and Sue are just hilarious, I love Paul Hollywood (I'm not entirely sure why but there's definitely something about that man!) and Mary Berry is the Queen of baking. Add to that seeing all the yummy things the bakers turn out and I really don't see how you can't love it. Of course, the mishaps make it all the more fun to watch although I do feel for the poor bakers, it must be so nerve wracking.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

A Fresh Page

So this is my first post since 24th July. A whole month without blogging and I've barely tweeted in that time as well. I'm sorry to any regular readers or fellow blogger friends who were waiting for updates but I just haven't really felt like it. Things have been pretty crazy here and I've been shattered most of the time, with blogging being bottom of the list of priorities. So I've tried to just have some time for me to rest, relax and do things like read (I managed to get through the first book from the Song of Ice and Fire Series that Game of Thrones is based on and I'm well into the second) and spend time with the children.

Its not been a very nice few weeks - my uncle passed away on the same day my dad had a pacemaker fitted, work has been really busy and stressful, my parents have decided to separate (and not in the most civilised manner), and in the midst of all that we had my son's 9th birthday and our 4 day holiday to Dorset. On the plus side though my husband now has a job, which he starts on Tuesday.

Writing it all down it seems a bit daft that I got myself in such a knot about it all but at the time it just felt like the world was falling down around me. Things are getting better now though. This week particularly I've picked myself up a bit, I've got back into tweeting a little more and I've started planning things from here on. There's a lot of notebooks around my house for my various projects and interests, filled with to do lists and I created a schedule with specific times to work on different things. I've joined Slimming World to try to get my focus back with getting fit and healthy - having never tried SW before I'm intrigued to see if it works for me. I also spent some time this week setting myself some goals for both the short and long term, for my blogging, my weight loss and my career.

So I consider this a fresh page, turning over a new leaf after a dark time and putting the bad stuff behind me. I'm feeling focused and motivated, I just hope it continues! Thank you for bearing with me while I had this little break and I hope you enjoy hearing from me more from here on.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Fitness Thursday - Week 3

Two Pound Coin
So this is week 3 of my Healthy Selves and 'sort of' clean eating regime. I'd been  trying to lose weight before this but I'd lost my weight a bit. I now have to be committed as we only have a few months til our trip to Disney World and if I go looking as I do now, I know I will be very unhappy. 

I've been running and doing other forms of exercise regularly as well as eating much better. And if nothing else I feel better for it - more energy, less stressed and my tummy is definitely less bloated feeling. I've started to remember what hunger feels like rather than eating because of one emotion or another or just out of sheer boredom. I feel good and I like it!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Craft Wednesday - More Nappy Cakes

Let me just start this post by saying please excuse these dreadful photos. These nappy cakes were made as samples for a nearly new sale I went to (the nappy cakes are brand new but the sale has various 'business' sellers as well as nearly new but as my friend runs the sales I had a mixed stall!) and I had gotten a bit behind, what with studying for my Indian Head Massage Course and other things so these were made the night before and I had to take photos then and there as I wouldn't have had time to wrap them in the morning. So it was poor photos or none at all and I'd rather have some record of my creations than nothing!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Beauty Tuesday - My Routine (Hair)

I've decided to start a little series on Beauty Tuesday based on my routines. I'm a creature of habit and although I love trying new products, I also have some old faithfuls that I tend to fall back on. I also have some daily and weekly 'rituals' or routines that I do without fail as sort of upkeep or maintenance of my skin, hair etc. So I decided, it might be interesting for my readers if I did a series based on my current routines. I'll tell you what I do/use and when, and I'll give a mini review of each of the products I use for the steps. I hope you enjoy it....

Hair Routine

I decided to start off with hair - partly because I was pressed for time when prepping this post and my hair routine has the least steps and products involved! I also must apologise for the horrific background for my photos (yes, yes that is my lovely snuggly George at Asda leopard print dressing gown - I was in a hurry and my bed was disappearing under a mountain of ironing that needed putting away so I just grabbed what was closest!).

Monday, 21 July 2014

Recipe Review Monday - Carnation Lemon Drench Cake

Carnation Lemon Drench Cake
When you read this post I shall be starting my annual staff training day! Now I only work in a small office of 9 people so its not exactly the crazy team building exercise you hear of many firms doing. Its more of an informal day chatting and discussing and brushing up our various skills. 

The last couple of years, my boss has laid on a big picnic style lunch for us all but this year, as a few of us are keen bakers, we thought we'd bring along some treats ourselves too.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Family Friday - British Summertime @ Hyde Park

You might recall my post back in May where I talked about the McBusted concert I went to at the O2 Arena. And if you do, you might remember me saying that I had booked to seem that at Hyde Park in July. The exact date was the 6th July (last Sunday) at the Barclaycard British Summertime Festival.

Hyde Park British Summertime BST
I went with two friends and we had the most amazing day. We had bought priority entry tickets for about £60 (£10 more on top of the standard ticket price which meant we got in half an hour earlier.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Fitness Thursday - Eating Clean (Sort Of!)

Banana and Almond Butter Smoothie
The last few weeks I've been considering my diet. What with running two or three times a week, a weekly 'exercise date' with a work colleague and another once or twice a week of walking or pilates with my mum, I think I've got the exercise side of my healthy lifestyle plan sorted.

My eating however, needs serious improvement. I have been tracking sporadically on My Fitness Pal but not enough really to make an difference to my weight or well being.

I have been told in the past that I'm considered at a high risk of developing diabetes - there's a family history of it (many family members on my dad's side, including my dad developed Type 2 later in life) and both of my children were bigger than average birth weight, which can be an indicator. Add to that the fact that I'm overweight and its a recipe for disaster! So I've decided I'd rather do something about it now than when I'm told I 'have to' - which personally I always find much harder!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Beauty Tuesday - End of Spending Ban / Body Shop Haul

Body Shop Butters Scrubs Exfoliators

As my regular readers will already know, June was a month of no spending for me (original post here). This nearly killed me. Ok perhaps that's a tad dramatic... But it was tough. I did buy one product (we all agreed at the outset on a 'freebie'), which was the Models Own Hyper Gel Top Coat, that I reviewed here. Towards the end of the month, I was worried a few of my regular products were getting empty and so I had to be careful with using them so I didn't run out entirely (I should say my fears were entirely unfounded as we're a week into July and they're still all going strong - what can I say, I'm a panicker!)

Monday, 7 July 2014

Recipe Review Monday - Hairy Bikers Chilli and Ginger Salmon

If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen me tweeting pics of this recipe earlier today. Its a favourite in our household and is regularly put into my weekly meal plans to get some fish in our diet (so neglected as a food group in our house - anyone else have the same issue? I just tend to forget about fish!).

Its taken from the Hairy Biker's first Diet recipe book, though I've made a couple of minor tweaks for our personal taste but it is delicious. And very healthy.

I must admit I've got both of the 'Hairy Dieter's' books and love them both - I've got quite a repertoire of healthy dishes from them plus lots of tips to make my other recipes healthier. And I haven't got round to trying everything I like the look of yet so they were definitely money well spent.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Style Sunday - Wedding Guest / Yours Maxi Dress

This weekend we had my father-in-law's wedding. I'd been struggling for ages to find an outfit if I'm honest - partly because I'm not comfortable with my own body at the moment so everything I tried looked awful to me and partly because I'd set my heart on a maxi dress. Their wedding was at 11am and the travel time for us to get there was about 45 minutes, the reception was due to finish about 11.30pm so I was going to be in my outfit all day.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Fitness Thursday - My Results So Far

Well, as you know I'm on a bit of a mission and it seemed rude not to keep my lovely readers filled in on how I'm getting. So far I've talked about my love for kettlebells and running (as well as a couple of running app recommendations), I've also talked about I'm tracking my food with My Fitness Pal.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Craft Wednesday - A Homemade Father's Day Gift

My husband is notoriously difficult to buy for and as we've always done small gifts for Father's Day and Mother's Day, it makes it even harder to find something that he'll like and actually enjoy or use! (If anyone has any suggestions for gift ideas for men like this, please leave me a comment!)

For this reason we went for homemade gifts this year! The poem above I originally found online somewhere and I've now completely lost the link (thank you Google and iPhone synced bookmarks!). The version I saw had the footprints done in paint but the idea of painting Dennis' foot terrifies me - I have visions of her running off before I can clean it and having nice paint footprints all over the house.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Beauty Tuesday - Model's Own Hyper Gel Top Coat

This was a very considered and researched purchased and it was the only thing that I was allowed to buy during my June spending ban (read more on that here).

Models Own Hyper Gel Top Coat
I have other top coats and have recently been mainly using the Champneys top coat that I talked about here and here. And I do like the Champneys one a lot but being a Mum I don't always have a lot of time on my hands to keep changing nail polish because it has chipped. I like to be able to do my nails once or twice a week and that's it. So I've been on the look out for something hard wearing and long lasting.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Recipe Review Monday - Chicken & Leek Pie

Jamie Oliver Chicken Pie
I'm not really a massive fan of pies. Sounds odd to start a post about a pie like that doesn't it?! I think I just find all that pastry a bit heavy but in recent years more and more pie recipes have become popular when you don't use an entire pastry case, just a top. That sort of pie I can get along with.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Craft Wednesday - Card Making

Something I haven't mentioned here to date is that I like making my own cards. I haven't had the chance much in recent months and because we're waiting to move, my card stuff is packed away but I thought I would share with you a few of my favourites cards I've made over recent years.

It's a shame because I love it and going through my photos to find some to share has made me really want to get all the boxes (and boxes and boxes) of paper and stamps and pens out again and get creative! Hopefully I'll be able to soon but in the meantime I'll be posting a few old cards from time to time on a Wednesday. I hope you enjoy seeing them!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Beauty Tuesday - I'm a Bit of a Scrubber! (Body Shop & Rituals)

Yes, you read that right - I love a good body scrub and today I have two of my current favourites to show you - The Body Shop Raspberry Scrub and Rituals Sakura Organic Rice and Cherry Blossom Sugar Scrub.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Recipe Review Monday - White Chocolate Cheesecake

This is another old reliable of mine that is often requested by friends and family, especially at summer BBQs! It's delicious but very rich so only a small slice is needed. (Please excuse the chunk out of the back of this one - my husband was in charge of getting it out of the tin and as it was just for us, he decided to pinch a bit!)

It's particularly nice (though only for adults!) if served with a medley of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries (a punnet of each), sprinkled with 1 tbsp of caster sugar and 1 tbsp of Malibu white rum. Note though that the rum starts to mush the berries down so only pour it on a maximum of half an hour or so before eating!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Style Sunday - My Summer Wishlists

This week I discovered Polyvore - how have I never even heard of such a thing?! I heard it mentioned a few times by some other lovely bloggers on Twitter so I thought I'd give it a go. I haven't played with it as much as I'd like to yet but I did create a few wish lists with summer in mind, which I thought I'd share with you.

If you follow me on Twitter or Polyvore, you may have already seen these but I hope not!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Family Friday - You Are My Sunshine...

I chose the title of this post because, to be honest, that's how I feel about my kids. They really do make me happy 'when skies are grey' and I don't think children ever realise quite how much their parents love them.

(This photo is from about a year ago - my daughter now has the most beautiful long hair)

I have to say, when we had Dennis, one thing I was not prepared for is how different my children would be. I know its obvious, isn't it? But there's a part of you that can't comprehend it because you don't doing anything significantly different from one to the next and yet they are utterly opposite ends of the scale.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Fitness Thursday - Running with the Couch to 10k App

Way back in October I decided to set myself the challenge of running a 5 mile race for a charity that's very close to my heart (more on that another day). The race was listed for 23rd December and so I downloaded the Couch to 10k app, which is free, and got myself a decent pair of running shoes.

Along the way I added some running clothes (all bought from Asda - yay for nice workout gear that's not too spendy!) and a nice water bottle from Sports Direct. I even took my running gear on my holiday to Kos in late October. Unfortunately a horrible ankle sprain in early December meant I couldn't race (my entire foot and ankle went black. Eurgh!) so in January when it felt steady again, I started back up with my app and on 23rd March 2013 I ran 10km for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign in 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Beauty Review Tuesday - Nail Art and New Nail Polish

I love having painted nails, there's just something about it that makes me feel better. Shallow but true.
So lately I've been trying to regularly do my nails because it makes a small but significant difference to my general feeling of well being. I think it just makes me feel more 'put together'. (The more I say it, the more shallow it feels!)

Even so its fact I'm sure many women can relate too - or maybe it really is just me??! Anyway, with my love for nail polish in mind, I decided to do a little post about nail art and my most recent additions to my nail polish collection!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Recipe Review Monday - Banana Batter Cake

This week I had a few extra bananas left over that were looking distinctly over ripe. Having already made a banana loaf (standard use for them once past their best!), I was on the look out for a recipe that was slightly different.

I had a little hunt online and on the Guardian website I came across this one....

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Style Sunday - A Belt Makes It All Better

I've had this dress for a while but as you can see on me, it looks a little, well let's be honest here...frumpy!

It's from Very's Holly Willoughby collection about 2 years ago and it's sat in my wardrobe ever since. It looked so good on Holly in the website photos that I just couldn't bear to sling it in the charity bins. I've worn it once or twice but always felt very self conscious in it.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Why Blog?

First off, those of you who've read my blog from the outset will know that I set myself a weekly schedule of what I write about and on what days - I don't always write every day but as my content is so varied it means you know what days to look out for the posts that interest you! Anyway, I'd left Saturday free as I couldn't think of something I was particularly passionate about to include there. I've now decided Saturdays will be Random Saturday! This means anything that doesn't fit into my 'usual' categories will appear here on Saturdays - it could include book reviews (there was some discussion on Twitter about a Bloggers Book Club ), tag posts or completely random chit-chat like today!

This second part of my post I'm going to answer a couple of questions which I think might be of interest to my readers. If any of you also blog I would be interested to read your own answers to these questions too so feel free to pinch the idea, just leave me a comment so I can check out your post!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Fitness Thursday - MyFitnessPal

I'd been on WeightWatchers for about two months now and to be honest my weight loss was minimal. Its almost certainly my own fault for my lack of willpower and tendency to say 'oh sod it, one naughty treat won't hurt.' I was starting to begrudge paying £11.95 per month when I didn't seem to be getting anywhere so I decided to cancel my membership!

Now, let's be honest here, those of us who want to lose weight (and I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being bigger here - I've said it before, if you're happy then I think that's amazing, I however am not happy and would feel better if I lost a few pounds), we know the formula is pretty basic - eat less and move more!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Beauty Tuesday - June Spending Ban

I was chatting on Twitter the other night when I came across a tweet from the lovely Jaq @ Lazy Days Beauty saying she was starting a beauty spending ban in June and wanting others to join. Eesha from Eesha's Glam was already on board and then I joined to make it a trio!

Being as my husband is still out of work and we're saving to buy a house, I'm not exactly rolling in cash right now so it seemed like a good plan. I always spend more than I really should in general but beauty products is a particular weakness. I, like many women and in particular beauty bloggers, am always on the hunt for holy grail products! I'm also a sucker for companies big fancy PR campaigns and have many a time fallen for their big claims only for the product to be a huge disappoint.

This has resulted in an overflow of products - they're everywhere! Half-finished bottles of this, that and the other that I keep promising myself I will finish up and haven't as yet! So this month I'm going to start getting through them all.

I've decided I'm going to try not to spend on clothes or shoes either this month. Really just to see how much I save.

I do though need a pair of new wellies and a new photo diary so they will be my sole spends for the month (apart from the one beauty product Jaq says we're allowed on the ban!).

I'm already planning what my one other purchase will be - I think it might as a necessity be a silver shampoo to remove the brassiness from my blonde hair unless anyone has any amazing tips for a homemade remedy for this?!

In the meantime though, my June reviews will be limited to reviewing the bits I bought from Superdrug before the ban started (3 for 2 on make up - go there now!) or old favourites or, hopefully, things I've come back to that I'd forgotten and subsequently fallen in love with. Here's to hoping anyway!

Can I do it? I hope so! I'm sure there was once a time when I didn't feel the need to splurge on this sort of thing so hopefully this will help curb my spending even after the ban ends.

Wish me luck!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Recipe Review Monday - Oreo Brownies

A couple of week's ago my husband's cousin turned 21. She's a bit of a chocaholic and she had text me some time ago asking if I could make some brownies for her party. I have a recipe for triple chocolate brownies that I blogged about here but I wanted to try out something different.

Oreo Brownies

I had a scout around and came across a recipe for Oreo brownies I'd been sent by a friend ages ago. This seemed like the perfect time to try it!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Craft Wednesdays - Another Nappy Cake

As mentioned in my previous post, my friend asked me to make another nappy cake for her cousin. The baby shower was Saturday so last week I spent some time putting it together.

My friend's cousin knew she was having a boy so she wanted a blue and white themed cake.

Boy Nappy Cake

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Beauty Review Tuesday - Sparkly NOTD and a First POTD

Champneys Nail PolishI like to have painted nails most of the time - it doesn't always go to plan of course, being a mother of two its hard to find the time to do these sorts of things for myself! I also have a tendency to chip nail varnish quite quickly so its requires regular maintenance!

My toe nails on the other hand last a lot longer so they are almost constantly sporting some sort of shiny polish.