Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas Sale Bargains! Oasis £7 top, Baukjen knit dresses, Karen Millen half price offers and Hobbs...

These past few weeks I've been physically restraining myself from buying anything, even if they were on 20% or even 30% off, safe in the knowledge that very soon EVERYTHING will be heavily discounted. It was worth the the wait, there are some great sale bargains this year, though obviously it's important to get hold of them before they sell out, which quite frankly is what the internet is for, right?
First off, Oasis, I know I swore off this store, claiming it was for much younger women than myself, but I've spotted a few key pieces that are an utter bargain. I like this cape top (£15), still not sure if it's a bit ultra sloany, or even tasteless, but since I work from home now and hate having the heating on, it will be warm and I think it will be great over skinny black jeans.
Oasis cape £15
Great value as it was £55. Speaking of skinny jeans, I do love Oasis denim, though in recent times the denim has become a bit thinner than it used to be. But at £15 you can't go wrong with this pair (were £48). I kind of size up with skinny jeans, even though wearing my true size would be more flattering, there has to be a comfort factor too.
Oasis cherry jeans £15

I also spotted a couple of utter bargain tops that are more "throw on" for an instantly updated look, and could be worn for any day (and gets great reviews). I like this Victoriana top, (also comes in other colours, but I prefer the white. Now £9, was £35, love the shoulder detail which is great for me as I have narrow shoulders to it helps balance me out. I think this would look great with the skinny jeans or high waisted shorts and tights.
Oasis Victoriana Top £9
In terms of a cheap everyday top that can be worn under anything, I like this pleat neck t shirt which is only £7, again, great for widening narrow shoulders and could be worn with anything, or under other more see through tops.
Pleat neck t shirt £7
Oasis are also doing an extra 10% off sale items at the moment using the code CHRISTMAS10.

Right, on to more "in keeping" brands now, and I've spotted some great deals over at Pret-a-Mummy's fav shop, Baukjen.  I really love knit dresses as they look smart, can be thrown on and are a great alternative to jeans as relaxed everyday wear, whilst looking smart too. I love the versatility of this sparkly Iris jumper dress which is lovely and comes in blue and silver.
Iris Jumper dress silver £73.50

Iris Jumper dress blue £73.50
I love the idea of wearing this over skinny jeans or just on it's own with tights and boots. I think the silver version would also work in the evening, though I suspect it might wash me out a bit so I'm going for the blue version. I'm also tempted by the Zoe Knit Dress  which is £69.30 and is again very versatile, perhaps more so than the Iris dress as it's not sparkly and perhaps a bit less scratchy.
Zoe knit dress £69.30
I think this would look great with the leather wrap belt I bought from Baukjen a few months ago.

In keeping with knitted dresses, Karen Millen have some good offerings this season, with a few pieces I actually bought on Christmas eve, though I'm going to have to take them back for a smaller size.

I love this Block Stripe Knit dress, was £110 now £55. Again, a great alternative to jeans, comfortable and can be dressed up or down. the skirt section of the dress is lovely and fitted whilst the top section can actually be removed and worn separately.
Karen Millen Block Stripe Knit Dress £55
There's another Karen Millen Dress that I like, this peplum knit dress but I'm a bit unsure as to when I would actually wear it.  I'm also not sure about the stripes on the skirt as I suspect they are not majorly flattering owing to their horizontal nature. Still, it looks smart. On an aside, most stuff in Karen Millen is dry clean only but I reckon these knits would get away with a delicate wash (don't quote me on that).
Peplum Knit Dress £60
And last but not least, I love relaxed shirts at the moment, to be worn over jeans or black trousers, I quite like this Hobbs shirt, though I haven't seen it in the flesh, but it looks smart and comfy too.

Hobbs Lulu Shirt £65
Not particularly bargainous at £65 but lovely nonetheless. Anyway, I'm bobbing into Leeds tomorrow to take a few things (and by that I mean all my Christmas pressies) back for an exchange, so I will keep an eye out for additional items!

Have you spotted any sales bargains this year?

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Why my iPhone is driving me mad...

Now that I'm getting involved in more and more social media, and it's become part of my working life, I'm starting to rely more and more heavily on my iPhone. I've had it for nearly a year now, and I really don't know how I coped before I could access the internet on my phone. Before that, I really didn't have a clue and was wandering around with a phone the size of a brick that wasn't even cheap!

The problem though with relying on a phone is that when it goes wrong, it sends me into abject panic. For the past few months, things just haven't been right with my iPhone at all, I have no idea what is wrong with it. Basically, it is constantly freezing, it won't update properly and a lot of apps just don't work on it. I am constantly having to turn it off and on again, and sometimes it just turns itself off for no good reason at all, even when it's full of battery. A few months ago, I would have said that I would never try another phone, now I'm not so sure.

When we were in France a few months ago, we were sitting at a table in a restaurant when I saw a lady doing some work on her smart phone. The screen was a fair bit bigger than my iPhone screen and it looked really cool too but I couldn't quite see what phone it was. Then a few weeks later, my dad got a new phone and it was the same one; samsung galaxy s3 (so you can see what it looks like). I can't help but wonder whether this might be better for me for work purposes. The screen looks great for emailing purposes which is one of my main bug bears with the iPhone. I'd be interested to know how quick the 3G is on it, my husband has an iPhone 3 which is bizarrely quicker to browse on that my iPhone 4! How does that work? Or can someone recommend a better phone. When you really rely on your phone for work, it pays to have the best, though I have a feeling the Samsungs are cheaper than iPhones anyway, am I right?!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

How do you shop?

I'm really starting to get into a new way of shopping. A few years I considered myself to be at the cutting edge where shopping and technology meet by discovering that a lot of sites accepted discount codes that were quite easy to find by doing a simple google search. After a while though, it became quite clear that the majority of the population were already well clued up about such matters and had been doing so for years while I had blundered on paying full price for everything. After a while, sites like vouchercodes and hotukdeals popped up (hotukdeals banned me!) and I felt like a bit of a Johnny-come-lately.

Even more recently, I've got on board with members only sites, and group buying sites like Groupon. Today I've been asked to review Achica Homeware, which is a luxury members only lifestyle store - here's some info:

It’s free to join ACHICA and, as a valued member, you can get your hands on luxurious items for your home, garden and lifestyle every day of the week.
We run exclusive daily shopping promotions - each lasting up to 72 hours only. As our sales are time limited, you have to be quick to get your hands on the best in furniture, soft furnishings, bed and bath, kitchenware, garden furniture, art, travel, fashion accessories, childrenswear and more.
Our experts are on hand to offer you ideas and inspiration, so be sure to browse our blog and free magazine while you shop. You can take advantage of our regular competitions and special offers too.
As a member, you will receive a choice of either weekly or daily emails at the opening of sales, with sneak previews of what will be on offer. Our promotions start at 6.30am every day, with late-night shopping promotions kicking off at 6.30pm every Thursday. But no matter what time of day it is, we're sure that when you log onto ACHICA you'll find something to catch your eye – be it for your home, a gift idea or a little something for yourself.
The general idea is that high quality items are available on the site at much discounted prices, be it bedding, kitchenwear, handbags, kidswear, loads of different stuff!
I've had a good look at the site, and the first thing that caught my eye was the great discount on Louis Vuitton handbags, this one is £385 rather than £450.
Louis Vuitton £385 on Achica website
However, the things I really love that are currently on offer on the site, are the Riedel Glassworks wine glasses.these are a bit different to normal, and may not be everyone's taste, but I love the non stem variety (less chance of falling over) and the crystal glass means they feel really delicate to drink from.
Riedel Wine Glasses
They do have the stemmed Riedel variety too. A few years ago we went on a wine tasting holiday to Canada. I loved Canada, but sorry guys your wine was not so good. However, we did discover these lovely glasses as every vineyard seemed to favour them. We almost bought some when we were out there then realised there was little chance they would survive the flight in tact.
Our wine tasting holiday in Canada....
Anyway, back to Achica. If you are after a luxury item for your home, it would be worth checking the site to see what they have available before you buy elsewhere. They also have a calendar telling you what events and items are coming up to purchase so you can be prepared. The items are only available for a certain amount of time so you need to be quick if you want something.
Something worth mentioning is both the delivery time, which is between 15-20 days due to the way that items are sourced, and the cost of delivery, which goes on weight, which is worth checking out before you commit to buy something.
What do you think of group purchase websites or members only sites? Have you had some good discounts and what were they?

I was offered a voucher to the Achica site for this post though all views are my own.

A Quest For a (man's) Coat...

My husband and I seem to spend a great deal of time talking about what coat he should buy. For years now, he has been seeking the perfect coat to no avail. Should it be: a blazer, a thick woollen winter type coat, a smart belted coat, a fleecey lined sort of mountaineering coat? We can never seem to find exactly what he's after. Part of the issue with coats is that it's not really possible to buy one coat that is right for all weather. For ages, we were both after a tweed blazer, until I pointed out that although it looked nice and smart, it wouldn't be warm enough for winter, but when the weather is milder, it would be too warm and you wouldn't want to actually wear it. Some people favour coats like Berghaus and North Face, but for us, they just aren't "slimming" (remember that word!) enough and always make the wearer look about twenty years older than they actually are. Having said that, there is something appealing about this North Face gilet, as it might look nice with skinny jeans, a hoody and boots (for casual wear obviously!), though £130 is a bit steep (have they put their prices up?!)
North Face Gilet
A few years ago, hubby had a lovely denim jacket/fleece combo from French Connection, but again, it wasn't really warm enough for the winter months, and he reckons now he would look ridiculous in it.
We've taken a look at these M&S tweed coats, though I have to admit they do look a little like a 1970s University lecturer would look like, but what's wrong with that? Better than looking like a (how do I finish that sentence without offending anyone?!).
M&S Sartorial Range Tweed Jacket £99
We went to have a look at it in M&S the other day. It's well made, though the cut wasn't mega flattering, though maybe hubby needed a smaller size. As I said before though, would it actually be warm enough? When would you wear it?

I'm starting to wonder if more of a wax jacket type approach might be best - looks smart (I think), last ages and is really warm. I remember having one when I used to go horseriding as a child, and having to apply some weird stuff to it (wax?!), and generally I am against clothes that require lots of maintaining, but maybe that's just the throw away culture talking.
I do like this Barbour jacket from E Outdoor, there are lots of choices but this is the one that I think I will get hubby (I am his unofficial fashion advisor).
Barbour Jacket
This is not "tacky" barbour, it's nice barbour! Would last for ages, looks smart and is warm, or will it add 20 years?! Hmm, what do you think?

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Why I will never have another child...

For some reason, the first 12 months after having my two sons I felt unbelievably broody for more babies. We wanted to have our second child as soon as possible after our first, but things just didn't work out that way, and we ended up having almost a three year age gap. I do sometimes wish the age gap was smaller, as it means that Son 1 is into completely different things to Son 2, and it can be difficult to co-ordinate interests sometimes. However it is nice to be able to have a normal conversation with Son 1 and I'm starting to see him as a good friend as well as my child.

Even though we found Son 2 incredibly difficult to manage for the first year, for a variety of reasons and mainly related to sleep, I was still keen to have a third child at some point. I guess we figured we were knackered anyway so where was the harm in adding to it!

However, more recently, things have changed. Now I have no desire whatsoever to have more children. In fact, the thought of having another child makes me terrified. I suppose it's partly to do with work, where we are in our lives, or maybe just the fact that I feel our family is complete. Having a third child would mean getting a bigger car, moving to a bigger house, would make holidays even more difficult and would basically mean that our children would outnumber us! Most of all, I don't think I could do it to the children we already have. It's already difficult enough to juggle our attention between them and ensure they get what they need. I do find myself opting out of activities that would benefit Son 1 as I know Son 2 won't be able to access them and it just becomes so it's not worth it. For example the other day, we were trying to make salt dough tree decorations, and Son 2 ended up smearing paint everywhere, smashing the decorations on the floor and generally causing chaos!

I'm also excited about the next stage of our life as a family; I don't want to go back to phase 1 again. I don't want to be dictated by naps, milk feeds and constantly changing nappies. I want us to be free to go on cycling holidays, long walks and adventures.  I don't want to burden my parents with looking after another of our children whilst I am at work, I don't want to lose my new independent income, I don't want to be even more tired than I already am.

I love our children, it's just that two is enough.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Asda Christmas Goodies...

A few months ago I was lucky enough to be invited to Asda Pie Event along with hubby, we had a great look at how Asda make their pies and then made one of our own. Though I don't like to talk too much about that part as our pie came last :(

Anyway, as I am now an Asda comvertee, I had a good look at some of their Christmas offerings, (I am actually eating most of it as I am writing this post and am not ashamed to say that!).
First up, take a look and weep at the whole selection of stuff I was kindly sent by the lovely Lucie.
I was really impressed to see those stencils that people hold over pies and drinks to make special pictures (I have no idea what the official name is for these things but I have ALWAYS wanted one.) so this basically means that I can make pretty patterns on my mince pies now!

My Asda Christmas Goodie Selection!

I also love these cool sweety reindeer and santa lollies which would be great for a stocking filler. I am ashamed to say I did not offer any of this to my children, yum. They have a sort of marshamallowy feel that I loved.

Santa and Reindeer Sweety Lolly.
Flakey Christmas Tree Biscuits
The flakey biscuits are amazing. I can't stop eating them, they are glazed and delicious and I love them! What's not to like, Christmas tree shaped, flakey pastry, sugary, sweet....

Chocolate Log
The chocolate log was a lot more, well, chocolately than I thought. I suppose it's because it's from the Extra Special Range, but it's very rich and yummy. Amongst all these things there was also stollen cakes, mince pies, a huge Christmas cake and some Christmas tree decorations. I do love yummy food but I am only one person, it's going to take some time to get through it all...

I'll write another post soon on the progress of the Christmas food, it's going to be emotional.

Maybe Christmas isn't so bad after all!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Where do you shop for your children?

Sometimes it can be hard to know what to do for your children in terms of clothing. Part of me is tempted to get everything in cheap shops since they grow out of things so quickly. But it seems a shame to always have them in cheap clothes, and as they are getting older, clothes don't seem to be grown out of so quickly so maybe it's time to splash out. We buy a few bits and pieces in places like Crew and Joules for my older son, the reasoning being that everything of his will also be worn by my younger son. So far, son 1 has never once moaned or indicated a preference to what he wears, he just doesn't seem bothered at all.

For my younger son, we were looking today for something nice for him to wear on Christmas day, but just couldn't find anything smart enough that would also be comfortable for rolling around the floor all day. I do like Scandinavian designs for kids like Molo (there are great things like this available in TK Maxx - thanks for the info Claire!), I've found a lovely kids clothes shop today with some really colourful bits and pieces.  I spotted this ridiculously gorgeous t shirt , I love anything with applique on it and ducks are always a winner!
A few months ago I spotted another shop with kids clothes in that were hand wash only! How ridiculous is that?!

What clothes do your children wear?

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Why I don't like Christmas...

There must be something wrong with me, I must be the only person in the whole world, who dreads Christmas. I couldn't tell you when it began, maybe it was because Christmas always had the impending threat of having to be nice to people all the time. It might be just be, I can be a miserable so and so, but I'm not good at being nice on demand. Christmas always makes me feel a bit trapped: trapped into spending my hard earned money on buying things for people that they probably don't even want; trapped into being places I don't want to be; trapped into eating Christmas dinner, which I don't even like particularly. I don't enjoy traditions, because I don't really like being told what to do, and to me, that's what a tradition is.
My thoughts exactly...

Thing is, with the buying pressies thing, it fails on so many counts. I can see that it's nice to buy presents for children, let's be honest, they aren't bothered how much you spend, as long as it looks "big". But buying presents for grown adults who are perfectly capable of buying things for themselves (at half the price in the sales a week later) seems ludicrous. I like the idea of making home made jams and biscuits or something, but it's never something I am organised enough to do. Some people do things like offering to help someone or give their time up instead of buying something, but I have no time to give! Also, what is the point in sending Christmas cards? With the price of stamps these days the stamp costs more than the card, then you have them cluttering up your house for weeks on end before you can finally breathe a sigh of relief and recycle them all which requires more work, plus the loss of trees in the making of them.

The other thing I don't like about Christmas is spending too much time cooped up in the house. Central heating does not agree with me and makes my lips swell up (have no idea why this is) so spending hours and hours indoors does me no favours. Since all the shops are shut, the only other alternative is going for a walk which with a screaming 21 month old who always wants to walk the other way and hates being in a pushchair, is no joke.

And while I'm on the subject, I don't like Christmas decorations either,  they clutter up our already cluttered house and collect dust. The tree creates more work for me as it drops pine needles all the time, plus I resent paying £45 for it when I'm only going to have to chuck it away again in a few weeks time (at my own expense and will also end up having to extract pine needles from the car boot).

My sons also have no sense of time and my youngest in particular, can't understand why he can't eat all of his advent calendar chocolates in one go. He moans about it all day long and is constantly presenting me with it chanting, "choc choc choc choc". It's nothing but trouble.

On that note, Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Sponsored Video - Tom Tom Game!

I've always been one for getting horribly lost, all the time. It's ever so frustrating, and also takes up quite a lot of time and petrol. Now I have a sat nav, I still do occasionally get lost, but less so. Still, I do wonder if the very act of buying a sat nav is a bit like giving up, like, I'm never going to find my way anywhere so what's the point in even trying!

Speaking of sat navs, Tom Tom have a great competition at the mo that I thought you would like to hear about. Basically all you have to do is click on the link above and you have the chance to win a great driving experience by selecting a wrapped continent and "unwrapping" it! Sound cool or what?!
Once you've unwrapped a route, you'll be able to upload a file explaining why you should be the winner! There are lots of other spot prizes to win and the competition ends on the 15th January 2013.

I can also give you a special code for extra coins for the game! How cool is that!


Anyway, I'm just off over to enter, though knowing my navigational skills, I don't stand much chance, weep...

This is a sponsored post though all thoughts are my own.

Baby Changing Bags...Which One?

It's been a while since I've had to worry about this, but a few years ago I was consumed by worry and anxiety about which baby changing bag I was going to buy. Being the mother of two boys, I wanted something girly (for myself) so opted for a Radley bright pink changing bag. It was my second Radley changing bag, the first one was too big. Guess what? Yes, the second one was too small. In my Goldilocks style quest, I was after something, "just right". As I often covet and desire stuff that other people have, I noticed one of my friends had quite a cute yet practical girly looking changing bag I had never seen in the shops, turns out they are made by Pink Lining and there are lots of designs and I love them and I want them all! I ended up buying the Peppermint Bottom of the Garden bag.
Pink Lining Bottom of the Garden Bag
I don't think they actually sell it anymore, but I love it. There are loads of pockets, some insulated, but best of all it comes with a cute changing mat and other bits and bobs.

I've never looked much at any other changing bags as my husband banned suggested to me that I had enough. However in terms of value for money, this Baby Mel bag is pretty much on the money, so to speak. At £39.95 it has a wipe clean changing mat and all sorts. Thing I love the most though, is the way that it clips to your pushchair, this is really important, as I found when I was sent the Easywalker June, if it has rounded handles, you can't hang bags with normal straps on it.
Baby Mel Bag £39.95
Part of me feels a bit sad that I will never need to buy a changing bag again, but part of me is excited and looking forward to the next part of our lives, with our boys...

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Thomas Land/Drayton Manor Press Day!

On Saturday 24th November, by son's dream came true. We were invited to the Drayton Manor/Thomas Land press day!  Even though we knew it would be freezing, we set off straight from work on the Friday night in fine spirits, safe in the knowledge that we would soon be at one of our all time family favourite days out! We arrived at the hotel late on Friday with two VERY tired boys. We knew there wasn't a cat in hells chance that we would get a Thomas room, but the room we stayed in was absolutely lovely. The hotel itself was really quiet, though there was Thomas plaques everywhere, a toy shop (mercifully shut at that time) and a carousel in the middle of the room that little fingers could switch on at the touch of a button.

The boys luckily went to sleep ok in lovely comfy beds, and we woke up refreshed the next day though a little disappointed at the weather.  You can see how cold it was by looking at this beautiful leaf with a spiders web etched on it. 

Icy Leaf
We really enjoyed breakfast and toyed with paying the upgrade to have breakfast with the fat controller. However my son is actually a bit terrified of the fat controller and wept when we mentiond it, so we decided to not waste our money if it would just end up with tears and tantrums. There is a little train that runs from the hotel to Thomas Land, though we didn't bother with it as we had quite a lot of time to spare - the park didn't actually open until midday and we had to check out at 10am so there was a bit of time to kill which was a bit annoying as there wasn't really anything to do. 
Making Friends

Breakfast at the Drayton Manor Hotel
Anyway, we had a walk, then started queueing to get in. Most people seemed to have either Tesco Voucher tickets etc to get in, and actually once the gates opened it was quite quick to get in.

We were given a time to see Santa, which seemed like a good idea, and joined the queue which moved really quickly. The staff were very authentic and our Santa was wonderful, just right and said all the right things to make the experience magical for my boys. 

Unfortunately it started raining fairly heavily very soon after we got there. What this did mean though was that there was hardly any queue for the rides!  Unlike Disneyland Paris, which we went to a few weeks before, and were queueing up to 2 hours per ride, we were able to go on any ride we wanted straight away! Sweet!
Anyway, here are some pictures of the boys enjoying the rides...
Naughty Diesel

A blurry Harold
A sleepy James

As part of the press day we were invited to a private screening of a 4D version of the Polar Express. We've seen the film many times, and in 3D too, but the 4D version was cool; there was fake snow, bubbles, water sprayed in our faces, it was amazing. It's definitely a film to be seen on the big screen.

After the 4D showing, there were fireworks and other such things, but I'm afraid we were just too wet so we went home. We were treated to goody bags which the boys loved and the press staff did a great job of making us feel special. 

We were invited to Thomas and as part of the press day and were given a free nights accommodation in the hotel, but all thoughts are my own.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Nursery Re-Vamp..

Our house is a tip, especially since I went back to work full time. The ironing basket is constantly overflowing, the dust is gathering, the washing piles up and up (I now have a "two wear" rule for all clothes!) and the surfaces seem to require constant wiping. The one job I enjoy doing is bleaching the dish cloth, I dislike any sort of smell and the bleach eradicates it instantly! Anyway, with this in mind, we are now employing the services of a cleaner so I actually have time to get some work done and earn the money to pay for the cleaner as that is quite important.

Anyway, with all this mind, we've decided to have a bit of a rethink of son 2's bedroom. The poor thing did not benefit from the careful planning that went into son 1's nursery. In fact,  son 2's room is essentially a guest room with a cot in it. This is one of the drawbacks of living in a three bedroom house - there simple aren't enough rooms! Having said that, now that we have taken the dramatic steps of taking the stairgates off, it feels that it might be time to make son 2's room a bit more, "big boy". We are in two minds as to whether we should get son 2 a bed or assign him to the double bed already in the room, it seems cruel - but I just can't logically approve of getting rid of a perfectly good bed in order to make room for a new one...

This time, I want to make sure that he gets the room he deserves, so I've been scouring the internet in an attempt to find the best stuff. I love the idea of getting nursery wallpaper that is made specifically for children, and this one is definitely my favourite.
Kidsen Wallpaper
In terms of decor, we could do with some new bedding and certainly some accessories such as a pillow in a bag.
Kidsen Pillow in a Bag
In terms of bed, my older son has a Silent Night My First Bed, which he loves. He only really started sleeping in past 5am since we bought him the bed when he was about 2 and a half. At the time I bought some bedding in TK Maxx, including a feather duvet, which he loves. Although the feathers do bunch up a bit which means that the duvet requires more or less constant shaking!

So, back to the bed situation, are we right to keep him in the double, or will he looks very small and hate it!?

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Make do and mend...

This year I have officially got my figure back after having Son 2 (who is nearly 2!). In fact, if anything, I am slimmer than ever before which I can only put down to having two children to run after (well, if Victoria Beckham can use that as an excuse then so can I!). I've had a good look on the high street for what I'm going to wear for my Christmas do, but I am yet to find anything that really encapsulates what I'm after. So I've decided to do something radical, I'm going to make do and mend! So basically, I have a Coast dress that I bought about ten years. It's a classic LBD, except for it isn't, as it looks rather dated now. So I've taken it to my local garment alterations place, and I'm having it brought bang up to date. It would have helped if I had taken a picture before I took it, as the before and after would look quite interesting, but of course I didn't. So instead you will have to rely on my description. It's a boned black dress in duchess satin, very slim fitting. It has a sweet heart neckline and is an A line at the bottom. It also has very thin straps which do nothing for my rather rounded shoulders. So what I am having done is:
  • the A line is being shaped round to a tulip shape (as the dressmaker put it), or pencil skirt type style.
  • the excess material from the skirt is being made into thicker straps which will be really tight so they don't slip down all the time.
  • The neckline is being squared off which is far more flattering to those of us who are not blessed in that area.
I will post a picture when it's done, but I'm expecting great things. Best of all it is only costing £35 for all of that which is far less than a similar dress would cost new. I have a wedding to go to after Christmas so I might get a faux fur shrug and wear it to that too! Far better to spend money on things I am going to wear regularly than on one item, or am I being really tight and I should treat myself to a new dress?!
What do you think?

Monday, 26 November 2012

The lost kittens!

I've never been one for pets, mainly because of the extra work they involve. A few days ago however, two black kittens turned up at our front door. I know I shouldn't, but I kept nipping out to give them some milk as they looked so thin and kept miawing so much. As a person who regularly moans about cats using our garden as a toilet, my neighbours were pretty shocked at my change of heart. But these kittens were so so so lovely, they were so playful and friendly.  I was convinced they didn't have a proper owner and was intent on rescuing them in some way. That was until I remembered the story of a friend of mine who recently spent over £300 on an operation for his cat because he didn't have pet travel insurance.

Anyway, it turns out that if you persist in giving kittens milk then they keep miawing pathetically on your door step for hours and hours at a time. If you are cooking anything remotely meaty they will also try desperately to get inside your house at all costs. They will dodge through your legs and will not be put off by anything. They will then run riot all around your house and do a few wees on the carpet and scratch your leather settees. When you do eventually get them out, then when you try and go out in your car they will purposefully sit behind the wheels so that you are in perpetual fear of running them over. They also like hiding behind inaccessible objects in garages and generally making life difficult for you. I think I've just talked myself out of "rescuing" those kittens!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Life of a Full Time Working Mummy...

I'm not trying to score points with this post, or annoy anyone into commenting about the rights and wrongs of stay at home versus working (outside the home) mums. About six months ago I was considering giving up work altogether so I could be with my boys and reduce stress in our lives. I have worked part time since I went back to work after my first maternity leave in 2009. Working three days was great and I did it for two years until I went on maternity leave for son 2. However, going back to work when he was 9 months was very very hard. He still wouldn't take a bottle and I would get very uncomfortable at work and was always itching to get home so I could feed him. Worst was, he still wasn't sleeping through the night which made working a ruddy nightmare, we were tired constantly.

After a while, the stress of it built up until we could not cope anymore, so I decided to resign and we would have to somehow manage financially. Luckily I managed to get a new job much closer to home, working two days a week instead of three. The one day difference made things so much easier for us as a family. It meant only two days getting our boys into the car to take them to my parents at 7.20 in the morning, something I have always felt very guilty about.  However, my stress levels on the whole didn't decrease. Being at home with my children was certainly no easier than being at work all day.
Around that time something happened that was amazing; I had been working for lovely teaching resource website twinkl for a while doing bits and bobs of social media in the evenings. After a while one thing led to another and it turned out that they wanted me to work two days a week, this meant I could work from home. It was like a dream come true to me - I could work from home, be there for my boys, drop off to school etc at a reasonable time - when it's light and stuff.

However, I am now effectively a full time working mum. It is hard, and the house has definitely suffered, it's an utter tip. The washing has stacked up, the house needs a bleddy good clean and it seems that we are living off easy to cook food. This is my typical Sunday evening:

  • cook whole chicken
  • boil veg to save time tomorrow
  • make three lots of sandwiches
  • iron uniform for the whole week
  • sort out swimming kits
  • clean shoes
  • change beds
  • do another load of washing, hang out, fold clothes and put away
It sounds exhausting doesn't it! But because I have no time in the week now, if we go away for the weekend then it all just becomes unmanageable. Being a full time mum AND a full time worker is hard, very hard. But it means we don't have to worry about money, I feel utterly fulfilled professionally and we are all (hopefully) happier long term. Just need to schedule in some sleep zzzzzz

Friday, 23 November 2012

What do you get the man who has everything!?

When hubby and I first got together, we hardly had anything. No money, no cars, no house, hardly any nice clothes. We really were just starting out. It was nice in a way to come into a relationship where we were on an equal footing as I see people having to give up their own house and move into their partner's house and see how they struggle with it. Eight years on, we have been through many birthdays, Christmases and anniversaries together, and I am honestly starting to run out of ideas of what to buy for him. It is actually starting to get to the stage where we are "rebuying" stuff that we have already bought because they are worn out. That is scary as it means we have been together a really long time!

A few years ago I bought hubby, what I considered at the time to be quite an expensive watch. It was probably about £100 and we had only been going out about six months, but I wanted to get him something really special. These days we've upped our game and recently hubby actually bought me a watch for no reason at all (he called it a "push" present) which was a ludicrous amount of money. So this Christmas, I want to get hubby a watch, not an over the top expensive one like mine was, but just something special without causing us to sell a kidney or something. I've spotted this ToyWatch by Van Mildert and at £311 I think is a bit of a bargain, just the right price for something a bit special.
Van Mildert ToyWatch £311

If I'm honest though, probably hubby's choice would be something by Tagheur, something like this at £1116.50, OUCH!
How much do you think is a reasonable amount to spend on a watch?!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Hotel Chocolat Surprise!

The other day I was working from home when the doorbell rang. Being a bit of a workaholic it was with some annoyance that I turned my attentions away from what I was doing and went to answer the door. Happily it was the postman rather than an unwanted sales call who asked me for a signature. Though unhappily as I was signing for the parcel the postman DROPPED the parcel which resulted in what can only be described as an unsettling crashing sound. This was the result...

Hotel Chocolat Reindeer
It was a lovely reindeer from Hotel Chocolat, or at least it once was. I felt rather sorry for it all squashed up, however it didn't stop us from scoffing the lot and very delicious it was too. The chocolate tasted like "proper" chocolate if that makes sense, very rich and yummy. I see myself buying one of these perhaps for a niece or nephew or as a stocking filler for one of my boys for Christmas.

A shame it had been dropped, but these things happen, and anyway, it didn't detract from its general yumminess!!

This chocolate reindeer was sent to me to review by Hotel Chocolat but opinions are entirely my own.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Early Thrifty Thursday! Baukjen Surprise, Joules treasures and Sparkly H&M Shoe Bargains!

Ruched Jersey Dress by Baukjen £99
Now though I admit I do paid posts sometimes, this isn't one of them, this is something I think is a great deal! As you will know if you are a regular reader, I am a bit of a fan of Isabella Oliver now rebranded as Baukjen. This season's offerings haven't been that great if I'm honest, and there has been a bit of repetition or in the case of the button t, a "less good" (is that a phrase?!) than last year as this year's looks a bit slouchy for my liking. When I was pregnant I fell in love with IO, and even though it's pricey, they do enough 20% off days and the like to make it more or less affordable. A few months ago, my mum bought me the lovely ruched jersey dress for my birthday which I love. I keep meaning to put pictures on my blog about it but on the day I wear it (which is often)I never seem to find the time to take a picture.

Baukjen Pink Drape Cardigan £57
I always pair it with this lovely wrap leather belt also by Baukjen. The colours actually contrast quite nicely though you can't tell from the pictures.

Anyway, the reason I am writing about Baukjen is that they are doing a lovely SURPRISE at the moment, basically until the end of today, if you buy anything worth £45, you enter SURPRISE at checkout and you get a free item of clothing! You can't choose yourself, but it's either a white shirt, a maxi skirt or the lovely wrap dress. I really want the maxi skirt as I've been looking for a nice long skirt for ages to wear with a white tee. All the items are worth up to £100 so to me, it's a pretty good deal and also includes free delivery. I've decided to get this lovely Pink Drape Cardigan which is in the sale at £57. So basically for £57 I get a cardy that was £95 and another item worth up to £99, bargain!

Elsewhere on my travels I've been obsessing about joules recently. I love their offer at the moment of £20 off £100 spend which basically means 20% off. I bought two lovely things from there, this Bronwyn loose print top £49.95, which looks nothing in the picture but is absolutely lovely in real life.

Joules Fiona Loose Fit Shirt, £59.95
 The square neck is great for me as I have narrow shoulders, and it helps to balance me out a bit. I also love the Fiona Loose fit shirt (£59.95), which I only picked up as I wanted something to wear with skinny jeans, and though this isn't a great pic as the shirt is a bit creased, it is lovely I promise. The material feels "expensive" and it looks great with navy denim as the prints on the shirt are also navy.

On a completely different note, I'm looking for a lovely little black dress for the party season. I have yet to find anything I like, though I might get one of my existing dresses taken in as a nod to austerity! However, I don't mind spending £24.99 on these bargain H&M glittery party shoes!

H&M glittery party shoes £24.99

If you see a lovely lbd on your travels let me know, I need something to go with these shoes!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

I love my new EasyWalker June!

It's been a few weeks now since I first started using my fabulous EasyWalker June! So far I've been really impressed with it and more to the point it looks very cool. I love the way the handle goes up and down which is great for my long legged self and also works wonders for getting it in the back of the car. The seat is also very comfy for my son unlike the Phil and teds which has hardly any padding. He does look rather large in it but he is happy to sit and be pushed around and that's the main thing!

I also have a list of some stores in the UK that are now stocking the EasyWalker June!

346 Holderness Road
HU9 3DQ Hull, East Yorkshire

Ladybugs Ltd
53 Park Lane
SK12 1RD Cheshire

Winstanelys Pramworld
725-729 Ormskirk Road
WN5 8AT, Wigan

Twins Store Ltd
6 Brockhurst Way
CW9 8AP Cheshire


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Asda Pie Event!

Asda Pie Event!
As a blogger I am constantly receiving emails, some nice, many spammy, and some downright bizarre! However, a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to receive an email from the lovely Lucie inviting me to a pie event at Asda. I was rather unclear as to what the event would actually entail. In my head I saw rows of pie waiting to be tasted and me giving them marks out of ten, saying things like, "yes this one has too much pastry". In fact I already had my responses rehearsed in my mind based on the professional version of Masterchef, "you can't put that rubbish in front of Michel" type of thing.

I was also interested in having a general nose round Asda' head office, it's based in Leeds city centre and I've driven past it many times and wondered what goes on in there. It was very lovely inside and looks like a great place to work.  I was also pleased to see that most people had gone when we arrived there at 6pm. There is nothing more depressing than seeing people working past 5.30pm.

Upon arriving we were ushered to "The Green House" where it turns out, all the magic happens. It was like a home from home, lovely dining table surrounded by cook books (well, not our home obviously, but a nice home) and a large kitchen, something akin to a high tech home economics room. There were  some other bloggers attending the events so I did the inevitable staring at name badges and trying to decipher hand writing and work out who was who. 

The event itself comprised of being shown how Asda make their pies, which you can see in the pictures below. They area actually made in a far more homely fashion than I imagined and we were shown the methods used and it is all exactly how I would make a pie at home myself. The Asda team work together to try out different ideas and flavours and then do complicated stuff where they work out exactly how the pie will be made and the costs involved. The Pork Farms chefs onsite showed us how to make the perfect beef and ale pie, the smell was overpowering and I think it made us all a tiny bit starving seeing as how it was tea time and all.

Chef hard at work
There were some really good tips about how to thicken the sauce up in various ways and also about reserving some of the beer for the end of the sauce creation process to further flavour the mixture with that distinctive "ale" taste.
The pie mixture just being finished off.

Finished pies about to be cooked!
Pie and Beer shot!
I was pretty impressed to hear that Asda use local ingredients wherever possible and actually seek out boutique producers like Joule's Beer Makers for the ale element of the pie. We actually had a chance to try some ales (more later!). We were quite surprised to find out that part of the evening involved a pie making competition for the bloggers present! I felt completely out of my comfort zone as I have never made a pie before and am hopeless with pastry, however luckily the pastry was pre-made so all we had to do was roll it out. We were given a large selection of ingredients to choose from (it really was like Masterchef in that respect!) and set on our way! My husband (who I had persuaded to go with me) and I decided to go for something a bit different to the norm so we made a salmon and creamed leek pie with a puff pastry topping. 
Hubby doing some tasting for seasoning purposes!
It was basically the same as the mixture that I make for normal fish pie (with a potato crust) which wasn't too challenging, however we were pretty clueless when it came to rolling out the pastry. In the event we rolled it too thickly which meant that it was all pastry and no filling! Anyway, here are the finished pies...

Bloggers' Pies!
Our entry, nearly done!
We tasted some of the lovely Joule's ale as our pies were baking (my husband enjoyed this part) which was a bit of a treat, I like blonde ales (I like to claim it cures my heartburn!) and it was nice to try the different varieties.

We all then sat at the lovely dining table and ate the pies. There were some interesting and varied ideas including an em-pie-nada which was chorizo, chicken and tomato sauce and a vegetarian layered pie with med veg and cheese. Everyone had a taste and then the winner was announced, it was interesting to see how competitive everyone had got during the course of the evening. At one stage I promised hubby that I would definitely cry if we didn't win. In the event we didn't win and the worthy winners were the creators of the em-pie-nada, one of which was the lovely Laura from Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? Laura and her friend (sorry I've forgotten your name (!)) were presented with £50 Asda vouchers each and looked absolutely over the moon (it was the joy of winning rather than the money I think!). Sadly I think our pie actually came last. Poor pie.

We really enjoyed our evening with Asda and particularly enjoyed being shown round the tasting rooms and seeing the little computers behind little windows where people do blind tastings. It was all so "un-corporate" and made the people of Asda seem real rather than a faceless large company. 

We really enjoyed our evening, and now you can have a little taste of Asda too! I've giving away a £25 Asda gift voucher to someone at random through this handy rafflecopter widget.

All you have to do is:
  • leave a comment on my blog
For extra entries:
The giveaway ends on 25th November, I will notify the winner on 27th November. 
For full terms and conditions see here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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