Sunday, 28 April 2013

Collective Bias Cooking Challenge Shop!

One of my pet hates is supermarket shopping. A little while ago I discovered the joy that is online supermarket shopping, however, there was one slight problem, whenever the driver delivered the shopping there was always an awkward pause where I was never sure if I was meant to tip or not. One of my friends once told me that the drivers are not allowed to accept tips, but still, the moment persisted. I find things like that really embarrassing so back to the supermarket it is! Usually, we shop at our local supermarket which is Asda, I kind of feel a bit brainwashed as I've attended a few events at Asda house in Leeds and really do like their stuff (plus it is VERY good value!). However, usually around pay day I like to splash out and do a Waitrose shop. I love shopping in Waitrose, it's so calm and relaxing, even on a Saturday. There is always a parent and child space really near the entrance, you don't have to put a pound in the trolley (I guess because Waitrose customers don't need to steal trolleys, they can afford to buy their own!), the staff are also VERY lovely. I don't know where they find the clean cut youths who work there, but they are very very polite and seem genuinely happy in their jobs (this is in the Otley branch of Waitrose, the one exception being the staff in the cafe who are a bit offish!). To me, this makes a big difference and is the main reason I don't shop in Morrisons; I simply wouldn't want to shop somewhere when I know the staff are poorly paid and are always utterly miserable, presumable because of poor working conditions. I'm considering trying the "feed yourself for a £1 a day" that a lot of people are doing this week, but it's going to have to be next week now!

Anyway, back to Waitrose; so before I set off I worked out my weekly menu which goes something like this:

My shopping list! I like to plan each meal day by day.

So this is my list for the week, (slightly different from above in the end!).

Us: Duck breast, spinach and new potatoes
boys: cod fillet, sweet potato and peas.

Duck green thai curry - duck, thai sauce, noodles and stir fry veg.

Pork loin with cauliflower cheese and sweet potato mash.

Pork curry with spinach and rice

Bought filled pasta, us crab and crayfish, boys pumpkin and pine nuts in a homemade cheese sauce.

Meatballs and pasta

Homemade pizza with peppers and spinach.

You can see here a picture of my fridge "before" I like to make sure I've emptied all the minging food before I go shopping so I can put it away as soon as I get home.

My emptyish fridge, ready and waiting!
Even though we only do one actual shop, we do pop down to our local co-op during the week for things like yoghurts and milk if we need them. I don't really like co-op though, it's all pork pies and ready meals, not nice ones either.

Our nearest Waitrose is about a twenty minute drive away, because it's quite far, we usually call in on our way back from shopping or theatre going in Leeds, though that usually involves one of the staying in the car with the children as it's just too stressful taking them both in sometimes. Unfortunately, even though it was only 10am, my youngest fell asleep in the car, then it started raining, then a police car flashed me and I thought my time was up, luckily he only wanted me to pull over! Not the greatest start to my day though!
Little man playing sleeping lions, he was actually quite happy to go in the trolley which is a rare thing!

My whole shop came to £113, e££y!
My whole shop came to £113 which is quite a lot more than I usually spend, normally about £75, but it was payday and I also bought several items like washing powder and toilet paper that put the price up quite a bit.

The young man on the checkout was very friendly and interested in what I was doing, I explained I was writing a blog post and we started talking about the £1 challenge, he even came up with some ideas of how a person could try to eat for £1 a day though we both agreed it would be a rather joyless experience. When I bought wine I fully expected to be asked for i.d., but it seems at the ripe old age of 34, married with two children, I am no longer deemed to look 17, sigh. He did though, have to ask his supervisor to approve the purchase for him.

So, here is my recipe for my *new* duck dinner!

Duck crown
"Whoopsie" Rose Val potatoes
Plum Sauce

As per instructions on the duck packet, brown the skin of the duck in a really hot frying pan, preferably with duck fat in it. Fry for about ten minutes on a high heat.
Lovely browned off duck!

Then place in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes with your choice of potatoes cut up small and underneath the duck so they get the benefit of the duck fat.
Duck with soon to be roasted in duck fat potatoes!

When the duck is finished, fry the asparagus in the leftover duck fat and blanche the spinach in salted boiling water for about a minute.
Spinach and asparagus, health and stuff...

In our case, warm up hoi sin stir fry sauce, much cheaper than other sauces!

And serve! Here is the final result!

The final victorious yummy Saturday night dinner! Duck and all!

Whenever I hear the words "hoi sin" I remember Dom Jolly claiming they were Korean for one, two, haha!

So there you have it, a week in the life of my fridge and a lovely duck inspired Saturday night dinner, yum.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® #CBias #SocialFabric but all opinions are my own.

New Bed Time

Do you remember in days gone by when people would keep skanky old things for like, forever. Oh and you had to actually save up for things before you bought them, pah. I do wonder sometimes if it made things a little more special, knowing you had worked hard in advance to buy them, possibly. We are slowly paying off our credit card bill, that embarrassing, we stacked up about 5 years ago on a holiday to Canada. When we got there, the bank refused to let  us withdraw money from Canadian cash machines, so we had to pay for everything on credit cards. Then foolishly when we got back we just never seemed to get round to paying it of. It's been transferred from one 0% deal to another, one day it will be paid off I'm sure :/

Anyway, I remember when I was a child stuff in people's houses was always kind of worn out. I guess people just held onto stuff for longer. These days if I've had something more than about 5 years I start to think, "oh time for a replacement". It's the same with beds. I know people say that you should only keep a bed for about 10 years, as they do need replacing. It's really important to have a good bed for the sake of your back and health, plus don't they get full of those dust mite things? With that in mind, we've now had our bed since 2004 (when we bought our first house), it's a nice silent night divan, it's comfy but not at all pretty. Thing is though, those beds with bed steads take up an awful lot of room and I think I would always be stubbing my toe on the frame, is that what happens?

I personally believe it's worth spending about £1000 on a bed. Last year, at the end of the summer, Laura Ashley had some eye wateringly good deals on their beds, but again, they were frames and the bed heads were made of wrought iron, I just can't see how that it is at all comfortable. I guess the best thing to do is to find a bed that is normally around £1000 and get it in a really good offer.  After doing a google search, I found this deal at Oldrids, the bed is normally £699 but it's £349 and looks really good. I'm all for the drawers as well as they are a great place to store sheets and the like, we just don't seem to have any storage space in our house at the moment.
Oldrids bed was £699 now £349

What is your bed like? How long have you had it? How much do you think we should spend?

Friday, 26 April 2013

Bargain H&M Top for £2, Baukjen half price shirt and loving the maxi look?

It's been some time now since I wrote a "fashion" post (if you can call it that) as I am desperately trying to stop spending so much on clothes. Partly this is because my wardrobe simply won't take any more, it is full to bursting. That said, it is Spring now, which does warrant a bit of a wardrobe update.

A few weeks ago I started up with the idea of wearing black skinny jeans, a vest and a shirt tied with the bottom of the shirt tied round my waist (i.e. cinched in). Hubby really liked the look which prompted me to snag this lovely Baukjen shirt (currently half price at £49.99) in red.

It looks kind of creased as it's been packaged up, but you get the idea...

Lovely detail on the cuffs...

Baukjen Red CoCo shirt.
I'm a bit unsure exactly of how I'm going to wear this, but I'm thinking about pairing it with my Next black harem trousers that I mentioned in this post a few weeks ago.

next set
Black jersey Next harem trousers with black vest, red shirt to be worn over the top!
The other BARGAINOUS things I've seen recently have been in H&M. I would never buy their stuff in winter as frankly, it melts on my iron. But for summer it's fine, usually I wear their stuff for two summers then recycle, if you can afford it then ideally one summer of constant wearing pretty much does it.
Anyway, I bought this top in Coral for £2, I see myself wearing it under a blazer with black trousers or dark blue skinny jeans, great for those in between days.  Unfortunately this top is now sold out, but there are other similar ones for not much more money, I even used two codes from hotukdeals (one for 25% off and another for £5 off) and bought a lovely skirt as well, though unfortunately delivery isn't until June. On an aside, it does annoy me that when you go to order on H&M it doesn't make it clear that something is actually out of stock for the next few weeks until right before you order, humph!

H&M Maxi skirt £12.99

H&M Top in Coral £2!

That's all for now, I really must stop spending! 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Garden Overhaul?

We've been in our house over five years now, though sometimes I think it looks a bit like we've just moved in. It's big enough, but because it's on three storeys it's a bleddy nightmare to maintain and look after, it drives me wild. Worse still is the garden, because our house was a new build, the garden seems to be bottom of the list of priorities for the builders. It is pure clay, with rocks and all sorts of things in it. We've literally spent thousands trying to get it right and make it workable, but as one of the gardeners once told us, "this garden is a money pit". Of recent years we've more or less stopped bothering trying to make it look good, my husband mows the lawn every week in summer, but that's about it. In fact, to be quite honest, we hardly ever go out there, it's always water logged and a swarm of mosquitoes seem to have taken root in our dry stone wall.

Out waterlogged garden
I have heard that the weather this summer is going to be slightly better than the last few years, I really hope so, because now the boys are older and a bit more mobile, it would actually be quite nice to get a little more use out of the garden. We do have an outside "security" light, until the police told us that they actually help burglars break in rather than scare them away! So now we've switched it off, and at night time our garden is really really dark as we aren't near any street lights. It would be nice to get some solar lights, just to brighten things up. As a bit of a bargain hunter, I like these dragon fly solar lights that are only £9.99, just to add a bit of fun to the proceedings, I wonder if our garden does lack a bit of colour.
Solar dragon fly lights, £9.99 bargain!
Another fav of mine, B and M bargains has some good deals on solar lights as well, these are £7.99 for a pack of four.
B and M bargains solar lights £7.99 for a 4 pack.
It's all about having a bit of fun and adding a splash of colour (did I hear someone say tacky?!). I've also come to the decision that solar lights start to look pretty sorry looking after a year or so, so it makes sense to buy cheap ones you can regularly replace once they start to look tatty.

What's your garden like? Do you have any lights and where did you get them from?

Monday, 22 April 2013

Carpets or Rugs?

We desperately need new carpets, thing is, it's a bit pricey. The other thing is, Son 2 is not yet potty trained and I'm a bit reluctant to shell out on new carpets when they are bound to be, well, stained (to put it frankly).

When we bought our house, it really was perfect. It was brand new and had that lovely newish smell, with carpets and new wooden flooring galore. Five years on and in theory everything should have lasted ok, but it hasn't, it all looks old and stale. I guess part of the problem is my general reluctance to clean, with two little boys, it's hardly worth it. So now I am starting to wonder about getting some rugs as a bit of a stop gap before we shell out on new carpets (that will potentially get covered in, stuff). Always a bit of a bargain hunter, I lie the selections at World Rugs and particularly like the Fusion Cream Rug which is only £31.

Fusion Cream Rug £31
 In days gone by, we would always go to Ikea for rugs, this is one of my favs, though it didn't last very well in our dining room (no prizes for guessing why) and it looks lovely in a playroom (priced £18)
I guess the rug thing is the way to go, at least that way we can keep our old carpets for another year or so.... what do you think? Rugs or carpet?

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game Review!

So it's not news to me that my four year old son is struggling a bit with his writing. His reading is fine, but he just doesn't see the POINT in writing. It kind of annoys him, as it's all a bit pain. The only time I can get him to write anything at all is if it's either a birthday party list or some sort of birthday/Christmas present list. He would never ever draw or write just for the love of it, which is ironic really seeing as how I love writing so much. Having said that, my handwriting is pretty awful really, it looks like I'm writing under the influence of something. These days though, I tend to type everything anyway, which I'm pretty good at. However, although it's anyone's guess as to whether anyone in the future will write by hand at all, it's still good to learn. The problem for my son is, his fingers just aren't very strong, he's fine playing with small toys and doing things like that, but he just doesn't seem to have the dexterity to grip a pencil particularly well. I'm always on the lookout for games and activities I can do with him that will help him with this. That's where Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game from Learning Resources comes in! I was sent this a few weeks ago, and we've been playing it loads, it's a really easy, simple yet effective game for children, with or without fine motor skills problems.

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game by Learning Resources

As a parent, I really liked the simplistic nature of the game. Basically how it works is you all have an acorn holder that comprises various colours. You put all the acorns in the lid of the box and roll the dice. The dice then tells you what you have to do on your go. Mostly you have to use a squeezy squirrel to pick up acorns and carefully drop them in your acorn holder. The squirrel squeezer requires a certain amount of dexterity and strength to squeeze (if that makes sense) but isn't so difficult that a small child wouldn't be abele to do it. The best thing about the game is that it's so EASY, my two year old could play it (albeit without reference to the "rules" but so could my four year old, who started to appreciate some of the strategies he could use in order to win.  As a teacher, I also liked the game for things like, sharing, turn taking, strategy, fine motor skills, colour matching, all sorts really!

Son 2 aged 2 putting his acorns in his acorn holder!

Son 1 with the squeezy squirrel, matching the colours up.
I think this game would work really well either at home or in school or nursery. There are loads of elements to it so it doesn't get boring and best of all, a real range of ages can play. We had loads of fun playing this game and I would recommend it to any parent or teacher!

All thoughts are my own though Learning Resources did send me this game to review free of charge!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Five Summer Buys for Kids!

I recently did a post in which I listed my top  5 summers buys for the summer, and being a bit of a Mummy fashionista (yeah right), I thought that it was only right that I put together a little wish-list for my oldest son as well (he's nearly five…) Firstly, you can't beat H & M when it comes to great summer outfits, I love these cool t shirts and this Gangnam style t shirt really made me laugh! Not sure I would actually buy it though...
H&M Gangnam Style T Shirt £5.99

They also have some great hoodies which are also £5.99, I love this colour, though they have every colour you could think of! Can't see these lasting that long but at that price, it barely matters.
H&M Hoodie, £5.99

I'm also a bit of a fan of Polarn O. Pyret, especially if it's for something a bit special like a party or a wedding.   If you have a look in the kids clothing selection you'll see lots of lovely things just like this fab outfit I've put together for my little boy. It's his birthday coming up and I always like to get him something new to wear for his party.
Polarn O. Pyret T shirt £18.50

Polarn O. Pyret Loose Fit Jeans on sale at £17
This rain hat is also very cute, though I'm not sure I'd make him wear it on his birthday!
Polarn O. Pyret rain hat £12
His birthday is coming up soon and he's made a little list of what he wants, here it is....

I am pretty sure the top one, if you spell it out phonetically reads "angry birds". Normally he can write much better than that! I guess the words were more complicated than what he's used to. If anyone can decipher what else is on the list please let me know, now all I have to do is send this website link onto his grandparents so they can buy all the rest of the stuff! haha!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Great Sunglasses Fiasco...

I have never ever owned an expensive pair of sunglasses, there, I've said it. I see friends of mine with silver "Gucci" embossed cases and I don't envy them one jot. Why? Because I know that if I owned something like that I would either a) lose them, b) break them or c) get sick of them. That is why every year I buy a cheap pair of sunnies from a high street store. I once bought an expensive pair of sunglasses, albeit from TK Maxx. They lasted a while, that is until they were unceremoniously dumped in a hotel bedroom and lost forever, weep. Anyway, last year my husband kindly bought me a pair of Ralph Lauren sunglasses in some sort of sale somewhere, I think they were about £30 which to me, is a ludicrous amount to spend on a piece of plastic, quite soon they were relegated to my handbag, minus a case, all sort of scratched and unloved.

This year I am starting to wonder if the "buy cheap, buy twice" philosophy has finally taken hold. Maybe it's better to splash out on a nice pair of sunglasses, look after them, and make them last? It would probably be cheaper to do that than constantly buying cheap pair after cheap pair. What do you think? With that in mind, it seems sensible to start looking around for some good deals early doors, before all the best buys go. I quite like the Red Hot Sunglasses website for good bargains, and am especially partial to the Ray Bans they have. To me, Ray Bans represent a halfway house between really expensive and treating myself to something that's going to last, if you get my meaning.
Ray Bans £90
I don't know why I like the Ray Bans so much, I think there is a little voice inside of me telling me they are hard wearing and good value, but I can't tell you why I think that. Maybe it's the image of various members of the Royal family wearing them for expensive skiing holidays, whatever it is, I want some. There are lots and lots of brands on that website which makes things easier and saves you trawling round the internet, it's all about time saving innit?

What do you think about sunglasses and what's your fav brand? Buy cheap or buy expensive and look after them? What do you think?

Saturday, 13 April 2013

My Top Five Summer Buys!

So Summer is on its way! Honest it is. It doesn't feel like it though, although the evenings are getting lighter I've still got the heating on full blast, it's essential to ensure I don't turn into an ice block. However, I do have my eyes on a few lovely items for summer that will really bring my wardrobe to life!

My New Found Love
First and foremost, I have to make a mention to my new most favourite jewellery site, (a quick mention to Style Guile here as that is where I read about them) Anathema Designs.

I like the fact that the designer is still a student and the prices are RIDICULOUSLY low. I ordered these gold zillet earrings for only £15, considering they are handmade and they don’t really make a lot of them at all, it's a steal!!

Anathema Designs Earrings £15! 

Polka Dot Princess
We have finally booked a holiday and I'm going to be choosing some swimwear this year from Figleaves  – they stock most of the swimwear brands anyway and it's easier just to look for it all in one place isn't it? Being a bit of a bargain hunter I love the fact that they have 20% off too (use code TWENTY). I like to keep it simple when it comes to swimwear which is why I think this one is my fav, spotty too which I love!

Figleaves Itsy Bitsy Polka Dot Bikini (Swimwear), £35 

Our holiday this year is actually going to be Center Parcs so what I like about this swimsuit is that it's quite discrete and not too over the top (children will be present!) but flattering and feminine too.

On an aside, I do love Center Parcs, it's so easy there and luckily my son has the second week of the May holidays off school so it's also a bargain! Yay!

Harem Pant…Tapered Trousers…Whatever they’re called!

Next Harem Trousers £18

 I love a bit of myfavourite Mummy fashion blog, Style Guile and on her advice, I've bought myself two pairs (in blue and black) of these very comfy and versatile harem pants from Next. Not pants pants, trousers pants!

They look pretty cool and I must say are not hugely slimming, but who cares because they are LOVELY. The weird thing is that they are called "tapered jersey trousers" on the website, but when I bought them, it states "harem" on the label…soI'm quite not sure what's going on there?

I bought the blue and black pairs (£18 each, what a bargain!) but I did see someone at the doctors(glam location) today with the multi print on and they looked FAB. I advise sizing up as otherwise they cling to the derriere and not in a good way :P

Pretty in Pink
Ilovely this amazing pink skirt from Topshop. It's £48 which is a bit excessive, but I'm so in love with Topshop at the moment I don't mind. It's not too short, and would be great for either a day at the seaside, in town or just walking along pushing a pushchair. The flared skirt will hide a multitude of sins too....

Pink Double Pleat Skirt, Topshop

Shoes wise it would be great with either flats or open toed sandals. Skirts are tricky in summer sometimes, if it's windy they sometimes blow up, which when you are holding hands with two children creates its own challenges, we've all been there....

Pretty Ballerina
H&M ballet pumps £14.99

I'm also loving these shoes from H&M (great with the Topshop skirt too!),in fact I've bought a pair in black already, priced £14.99 they are an UTTER BARGAIN. True they make my feet bleed, but so do most shoes, so it's no biggie.They also have a sort of nude colour which I loved but I didn't think would go with as many things, maybe I'm wrong there, what do you think?
So there you have it, not all summery, not all to your taste most probably, but these are my loves so far! What have you spotted on your travels? Anything fab and “bargainous”? Tell me all about it....

Friday, 12 April 2013

Save Money with SSE Electric

A few months ago I wrote a post about Money Saving Madness which was basically loads of ways I saved money just from making a few phonecalls. It's really important to me that I not only save as much money as possible on things like energy bills, but also use companies with really good customer services. There's nothing I hate more than being forced to wait in a "queue" for ages to talk to someone, or not being told about the cheapest tariff and having to do my own digging. SSE Electric aren't like that, in this video below they talk about their amazing customer service and commitment to finding the best tariff for their customers. That's what it's all about after all. Maybe it's time to switch over? In the past I always had energy fatigue, not any more. Now I like to take control of my monthly outgoings and make sure that I'm paying the cheapest possible price with the best customer service thrown in too for good measure. Life's too short otherwise isn't it?

All thoughts are my own, though this post was sponsored by Spreaditfast.

Thursday, 11 April 2013


To celebrate the Queen's birthday this month (21st April), card and gift specialists Hallmark is asking Twitter users to tweet about the highlights of Her Majesty’s reign (from the coronation to her Bond cameo) using the dedicated hashtag #HappyBirthdayMaam.

Tweets collected from this hashtag will then be used to create a unique personalised card for the Queen. What's more, three lucky winners will also be chosen from those taking part to win a year's supply of Hallmark Cards*.

The competition will end at 10 am on Friday 12th April 2013. Those wanting to enter, or add their royal memories, can log onto, type in #HappyBirthdayMaam and share their favourite moments. Twitter users can also follow Hallmark directly through their Twitter channel @HallmarkUK.

Tamsyn Johnston Hughes, PR and Social Media Manager at Hallmark, said:

“Twitter is such a great tool for sharing your thoughts with friends and family. However, when it comes to life’s special occasions, there’s no real replacement for a tangible card which can be displayed proudly and treasured for years to come. Bringing these two methods of communication together, as well as the nation’s memories of the Queen, is such an exciting project and we hope to see lots of Twitter users joining in. We certainly can’t wait to see what the finished card looks like and we can only hope that Her Royal Highness likes it too!”

*Prize packs will contain over 40 cards, with the average UK adult sending 36 per year.

Monday, 8 April 2013

A letter to my 18 year old self...

Dear Heather,

First things first, get rid of that boyfriend. He's spoiling your fun and trying to control you whilst at the same time most probably being completely unfaithful. I've learnt over the years that people who are jealous like that behave that way because they know they themselves can't be trusted. It will also be good for him to actually have a bit of a shock and go out and get a job. There's also the small point you have nothing in common and in years to come you will cringe that you ever went out with him. He will actually end up marrying that girl that he talks about all the time, so even though he'll be upset for a while, it has a happy ending so there's no need to feel guilty.

The other thing is, stop doubting yourself and worrying about your exams, you're going to do really well and completely surprise yourself, it really isn't worth all that worrying. I wish I could tell you a bit about University and how it's going to completely disappoint you. In fact you've got a pretty groovy set of friends right now which will be hard to find again, so be nice to them and don't keep ditching them in favour of your loser boyfriend. You are expecting University to be a big ball of fun and going out all the time, the fact is that because you are going to get good A Levels, you are going to end up on a course with dead brainy people who are only interested in doing well (imagine that!), and you're going to act all aloof and like you are too cool for school and no-one will like you. There's not much I can say about that but do try and be friendly, even if they are called Rupert and Casper, they didn't name themselves, poor devils.

Take up exercise as well, if you don't then you are going to get a little...podgy. Learn to look after yourself and be kind to yourself too, eat regular meals and don't do everything to excess.

University isn't really going to suit you, don't worry about finding a husband there, you aren't mature enough to know what you want anyway. TRY to concentrate on your course and looking for opportunities, as it's going to set you back a few years if you don't. If I'm honest the next 5 years are going to be really hard, you're going to find it really tough going into the real world, although you will eventually find out that you prefer being busy and working hard in a job. Above all, try to find what makes you happy, look for it in every nook and cranny and don't rest until you find it, because later on you won't have time to look.
18 year old fun...

See you in 16 years.

Love Heather xx

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Lovely Zulily Goodies

For quite a while now I've been into these flash sales sites, I've had some great success with some of the goodies I've had from Achica and now I've found another one - zulily They are a flash sales site for mums, babies and kids. Showcasing, big brands alongside little treasures you might not otherwise have discovered, they have around 8-10 new events every day with up to 90% off retail prices.
Their specialist buying team sources products from home-grown British brands to around Europe, the US and as far away as Australia. Zulily’s delivery times can sometimes take a little longer than other retailers but this is how they manage to bring you such big discounts. With great buys by the buggy load, there’s only one problem: what on earth to choose?

I was lucky enough to be sent some lovely clothes from zulily for my oldest son, he's getting to the age now where he's a bit more conscious about what he's wearing.  They didn't take long at all to arrive and I was pretty happy (to say the least) when I opened the box. There were some super cool fur lined Timberland boots that he just LOVES. Even better in melting snow as he can run around with warm feet. The laces took a little getting used to, but that's life eh!

We were also sent a lovely warm red hoody which my hubby is a little jealous of! It's so snuggly and cosy and great for wearing under a gilet. I also love the checked shirt which my little man wore to a birthday party last week, here he is in all his glory...
Lovely zulily hoody!

More Hoody Action!

Lovely Timberland Boots!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Wanted: New Favourite Shop

Thinking is exhausting isn't it? I hate having to decide and make decisions, it's one of the most tiring things about being a parent. Every minute of every day is about being in charge, deciding things, it gets annoying. There is nothing worse even for a bossy boots like myself. That is why I guess known brands do so well, they remove the necessity to think, there is some comfort in the familiar because we know what to expect, we like the brand to do the thinking and deciding for us. For a while, I've been a bit of a Baukjen girl, I've spent several hundred pounds there but one thing has become hugely clear to me; Baukjen clothes just don't iron well. You have to have the iron on a really low setting and about three seconds after putting it on, it looks creased again. Then last week I burnt my £99 high waisted pencil skirt right on the front. It is singed, it looks sad and lost. I can never wear it again. I have therefore decided to choose a new brand to make all my decisions for me. Quite a while ago I read a post on one of my fav blogs, Style Guile about a new brand called Mint Velvet (they are stocked in John Lewis which makes them even more of a must have) and got in touch with them about doing a post for them on my blog. They offered to send me some sample pieces but I was worried about sticky hands so regretfully declined. However I am still willing to give them a go and wanted to show you a round up of my fav pieces of their SS13 collection.
I love the fact that on their own website they have a "buy the outfit" section, it's genius! Perfect for busy mums and lazy fashionistas. I'm loving this Lily Print blouse which is £69 and is 100% silk. Pretty reasonable price really.
Mint Velvet Lily Print Blouse £69
I also like their double layer clothes which would be super for breast feeding mums, this Navy stripe Double Layer Top is a good example of something super flattering..
Navy Stripe Double Layer Top £59.
Now I could be totally wrong about these, but I do like these peg leg trousers, they look amazing comfy for summer though as with all peg leg trousers I have no idea what I would wear with them...any ideas?
Mocha Tencel Peg Trousers £59
Have you ever bought anything from Mint Velvet? What did you think?

Monday, 1 April 2013

Date Night at Malmaison Birmingham!

As my regular reader(s) know, I love a good date night. To be honest, I'm pretty exhausted by the time 7pm rolls around, but sometimes it pays to be active and make yourself go out, even though you have to put perky up eyedrops in your tired eyes and have a cold shower to get the adrenaline going again.  Hubby and I try to go out at least once a month, generally we like to go away for a night if we can, or go for a meal in a local restaurant. As we don't go out very often, we generally splash out a bit when we do, starting with cocktails and generally finishing with a lovely port. We like wine and have been on quite a few wine tasting holidays, before children that is, happy days....

Anyway, back to our date night. A few days ago we took the opportunity to leave the little terrors ones with their doting grandparents whilst we had a well earned night away, I only ever stay in really nice hotels these days (don't like wasting opportunities) and so Malmaison in Birmingham was an obvious choice. This particular Malmaison is right on the edge of the lovely Mailbox shopping centre (I didn't realise this until 5.55pm so sadly had no time to look around anywhere) and as soon as I walked in I could already hear a buzz of noise from the cocktail bar above (a good sign) and after a smooth check in, we found our way to our room. I did have a rather confusing conversation with one of the Malmaison staff that went something like this (my husband was just parking our car).
Staff member: can I just take a swipe of your card then he will pay.
Me: who is he?
Staff member: the one you talked about.
Me: did I? Am I meeting someone?
Staff member (looking totally confused): Yes you said you were, he can pay at the end if you want?
Me: The manager?

It went on in this way for a while until my husband appeared. I think by this point the member of staff thought I was meeting a complete stranger for a night in a hotel together! The reason I was confused was because I was reviewing Malmaison and sometimes when I do reviews the Manager likes to come over for a little chat...

Anyway, here are some piccies of our room and the hotel in general...

The bag on the bed.

The room was lovely and very spacious. Every Malmaison is a bit gothicy so I loved the velvet curtains (more importantly these serve as blackout curtains, ESSENTIAL for poor sleepless me).
Me, yes, dressed up.
I'm very obsessed by my Topshop ruched pencil skirt at the moment, but I also wanted to get something new for my night out, so I popped into Oasis and grabbed this lovely top, perfect for tucking in with a wide elasticated belt.

We decided to go out a bit earlier than normal so at 7pm we headed down to the cocktail lounge with full intention of having one then going to another bar in the Mailbox, we never made it out of the bar....I had a Cosmopolitan (predictable) while hubby had some whiskey cocktails.
Hubby with his "Old Fashioned"
The meal itself was more like an event, it really was. The staff were amazing and really looked after us. They were really knowledgeable about the hotel chain and the food too. We were really impressed with the Sommelier who seemed to know everything about wine and even let us try a really rare Croatian red which my hubby loved. 

For my starter I had some lovely fried scallops and squid with dip. It was amazing. That is all I can say.
Frito Misto
Each course was paired lovingly with a glass of wine from our friend the Sommelier (we tried to impress him with our wine knowledge, not sure it worked).
Wine matched to our starters
For my main course I had Monkfish with a green thai sauce. The sauce was lovely though the Monkfish was ever so slightly dry, though I appreciate that Monkfish is pretty hard to get right. Hubby had a lovely lamb dish which was perfectly pink...

When dessert came around I was excited as I had been watching the cheese cart being pushed around for some time. There really was no other option.
Amazing Cheese

Hubby's Creme Brulee

I was really full by this time, but the cheese was so amazing I had to give it a try. Luckily we had some amazing dessert wine paired with our choices including a glass of port that really brought out the flavours in the cheeses. 
Dessert Wines
I'd like to think that by this time I wasn't ranting about Canadian dessert wines but I think I was.

We had an amazing evening and were looked after superbly by the Malmaison staff. We slept soundly considering it was a city centre hotel and the next morning managed to try some breakfast (it was really busy in there) which was as you would expect from a great hotel like Malmaison...
Healthy Start
We had a great time and I'd like to thank the amazing Malmaison staff for really looking after us and making our stay restful and memorable. We will definitely be back soon.

Malmaison offered us a discount on their normal rate for the purpose of this review though opinions are all my own and are my true thoughts! 


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