Sunday, 1 December 2013

Getting festive at home

My husband is really keen on scented candles and little V appears to have inherited this interest! So today we spent 20 minutes sniffing all the candles at a Yankee Candle stall when passing through a shopping centre, V making us laugh with his appreciative noises when he particularly liked a scent! Both my boys chose some little candles and we also decided to pick up this big 'Sparkling Cinnamon' candle as it smells so deliciously Christmassy. It's currently burning in our sitting room and making me feel like I want to get my tree and Christmas decorations up soon. Do you like scented candles, and do you have any favourite brands or fragrances to recommend?

Friday, 29 November 2013

Winter make-up

The make-up trends I've been noticing lately seem to involve defined brows and of course a bit of festive sparkle in the run up to Christmas. I picked up a three for two in Boots today thanks to the current offer on Maybelline cosmetics. I got the Brow Drama in dark blonde, which I've been keen to try for a subtle take on defined brows. It seems like the perfect shade for me and is easy to use. I also got the Master Drama liner in ultra black and the Color Show Brocades polish in knitted gold. The gold sparkles appealed to the magpie in me and I'll be trying this soon! Have you tried any of these products? Do you like a bit of sparkle in the winter too?

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Gifts for me!

When doing a spot of Christmas shopping, do you ever 'accidentally' buy yourself a few little gifts? Remember, you need to be treated too! Yesterday I enjoyed a little festive outing, started ticking off the present list and picked up these goodies for myself. Beaded necklace from Miss Selfridge and 'Beehive' lipstick from Topshop.

These will add a bit of pretty to warm winter outfits. What gifts have you bought yourself recently?

I'm linking up with What I Wore Wednesday:

And Fashion Friday:

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Winter boots

The search is over for a pair of sensible winter boots, and luckily I found some I liked that were also a really good price.

My criteria were that my boots should be flat, black and knee high, and I found these in store at Marks & Spencer. No link as I can't find these online. They are pull-on with a stretchy back panel, so they hug my legs quite nicely. And after a whole day of wear today, I can report that they are remarkably comfortable for a new pair of boots. These look and feel good quality but only cost £39, so I hope they last through the winter.

I just noticed there is 20% off M&S online today!

Are you getting kitted out for winter weather too?

I'm linking up with What I Wore Wednesday
And Fashion Friday

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Make! Spiced baked pears and plums

Here is a nice little winter warmer and a simple pudding. Cut a load of plums in half and slice up some pears, then place in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle generously with honey and sprinkle all over with cinnamon. Bake in the oven at 180c for around half an hour. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt. A very comforting and satisfying pud for a cold and wet day!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Visiting Barcelona with a toddler

Last month we had a week's holiday in Barcelona, and what a great city break destination it is to visit with a toddler. I had been to the city before in my early twenties, but I can truly say that I enjoyed the family Barcelona much more than the party Barcelona I previously knew!
Although V is normally in bed by seven, he'd had a long nap on the plane journey so we were able to take him out for a late dinner on the night we arrived. It was a great way to kick off our holiday, dining al fresco on a warm October night. He was very interested in the lobsters and other seafood on display at the restaurant.
For accommodation we decided to stay in the beach neighbourhood of Barceloneta and we found this spacious apartment on Air BnB. It was ideal for our needs as it had a separate room where V could sleep, a good kitchen where we could cook our meals, and a balcony where R and I could have a glass of wine and enjoy wonderful views over the city by night.
We cooked most of our evening meals in the apartment, which suited us best as V is early to bed. For lunches we ate out, and we found that tapas style dining was ideal for a toddler. Dishes of olives, patatas bravas, local cheeses and cured meats kept us all very happy.

As for food shopping, Barcelona is famous for wonderful markets like La Boqueria where all kinds of fresh produce are available. So we stocked up on lots of fruit for snacking and local meat, seafood and vegetables to cook our evening meals. Why can't we have markets like this at home?
We meandered around the city at a toddler's pace. I think when you have small kids it's important to realise that you can't rush around a city at breakneck speed, ticking off all the sights like you may have once done on visits to big exciting cities like this. Barcelona just seemed perfect for our needs, as it's full of beautiful parks, open squares and great little play areas for kids. There was always somewhere we could stop off and get an ice cream and let V run around. He had a great time every day playing with local kids at the play park in Barceloneta's market square, right next to our apartment.
There are so many activities you can do in Barcelona that kids of all ages will love. Some of our favourite trips were to the aquarium, the zoo, Park Guell and Parc de la Ciutadella.  

Not to mention the beach! We were staying a stone's throw from it and we spent a couple of lovely chilled mornings down there. We rented loungers and a parasol so that V could play in the shade, building sandcastles. Good times!
City and beach: could there be a more perfect combination? Early October was the perfect time for our visit as it was still sunny and warm, but not so hot that it was uncomfortable to have long strolls and be outside playing in the middle of the day.
 We had plenty of comics, crayons and stickers to keep V occupied in the apartment, in addition to a few small toys.

Even The Sagrada Familia has a play park! How ideal for us. We didn't make it inside this time, but instead we had an ice cream in the park and marvelled at the wonder of architecture before us!
 The great location of our apartment meant we could explore the whole of central Barcelona on foot. We didn't once take public transport, but then we do like to do a lot of walking. We had a light folding buggy and I imagine we could easily have hopped on the metro or a bus had we wanted to. The Barri Gotic was about 20 minutes walk, while the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell were closer to an hour away on foot.
Another little play park at Placa George Orwell. Our time in Barcelona was so enjoyable and stress-free. V has even told us he wants to go back again soon! What a wonderful place to take a toddler.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The Sublime Home: A work in progress

After two years of living in our flat, we've finally got round to having these shelves built to house our massive book collection. It will be a relief to move all of our books, plus the TV, DVD player and sky box into this big unit with locking cupboards. All out of the reach of little people! Apart from the little desk at one end where V can sit and play and read his own books.

The shelves are made of plywood which we will paint white, so our materials were fairly inexpensive and a great joiner put this together in less than two days. I love having tons of storage space so I'm over the moon to have this in my sitting room. Our very own library!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Toddler Art

It's fun when little ones start getting creative! V has been really into painting, gluing and sticking recently and we've been stocking up on craft supplies like tissue paper, feathers, pipe cleaners, buttons and glitter. Here are some pretty autumnal pictures he made at our local craft group this morning. Are your kids into craft and if so what are their favourite activities?

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Days out in Glasgow: Pollok Country Park

This is one of our favourite places to spend a day in Glasgow. The beautiful estate on the city's Southside provides a haven for walking, playing and picnicking just a few minutes' journey from the city centre. Earlier in the week we enjoyed a rather damp and very autumnal-feeling picnic overlooking the White Cart Water next to Pollok House (pictured above). When living in or visiting Glasgow you must learn to enjoy being out and about in wet weather a lot of the time!

Aged sixteen I had my first job working at the tearoom in the old kitchens of this house, so I've spent far too much time here! But historic houses fill me with a sense of magic and I still love exploring the rooms and passages of this fascinating eighteenth century home. It provides an insight into the aristocratic life of the Maxwell family, particularly during the 1930s, complete with El Greco and Goya paintings on the walls. The surrounding gardens are gorgeous too.

Also housed within the grounds of Pollok Park is The Burrell Collection: one of the city's best museums and art collections. We can't visit the park without a good run around the big play park opposite the Burrell.

My favourite park in the world. Please don't miss this out on any visit to Glasgow!

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Yesterday morning we dashed out to Waterstones, where my husband and I each picked up a copy of Donna Tartt's long-awaited new novel! The hardback edition is a beautifully made book and I can't wait to get stuck into it. Her first novel, The Secret History, is one of my all-time favourites.

What are you reading at the moment?

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Pink Coat

You may have been wondering the reason all the fashion magazines are telling you to buy a pink coat this winter. The truth is, it's because of me. Last year I picked up this sugary pink number in a junk shop for £5 and wore it all winter. Obviously I was spotted by a few fashion editors and now the catwalks are rife with coats in all shades from pastel to fuschia. It's a tough life being a trendsetter ;)

I'm linking up with Fashion Friday:

And What I Wore Wednesday:

Budget beauty must-haves

Here are a few recent makeup discoveries that have become favourites of mine. What these all have in common is that they are easy to use and none of them have a decadent price tag. Along with some bronzer, blush and eyeshadow this was all the makeup I felt the need to take on holiday with me.

Rimmel scandal eyes retro glam mascara in black. I will resist spending £20 plus on fancy mascaras for a while after using this: it's as good as anything else I've tried, including my favourite Diorshow mascara. Although it doesn't have a rose petal fragrance like the Dior!

Bourjois color boost glossy finish lipstick in peach on the beach. This is a nice balmy formula and lovely brightening peachy shade.

Collection eyebrow definer in blonde. I've mentioned this before and I use this most days now on my brows, in spite of being someone who used to shy away from eyebrow pencils. It's subtle and easy to use. Not to mention very cheap.

Maybelline dream pure BB cream in light. This is a BB cream for oily skin with SPF 15. It actually works brilliantly for my oily skin, something I never expected from a BB cream. It was great on holiday in place of my usual moisturiser and foundation and I liked it so much I've continued to use it at home.

Have you tried any of these products, or do you have any budget beauty favourites you'd recommend?

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Furniture finds

One man's trash is another man's treasure! Here is a nicely shaped chair that I found out on the street near my house recently. I'm looking out for a suitable bit of fabric to cover the seat and restore this chair to new glories. Do you like to rescue and recycle old pieces of furniture for your home?

Sunday, 13 October 2013


Due to a rather spontaneous holiday in Barcelona, I've been absent from blogging for a little while. We've had a wonderful time and are now settled back in at home, so I'm looking forward to getting back into writing the blog and catching up on my blog roll too. Expect some upcoming posts on Barcelona and travelling with a toddler. It's good to be back!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Review: Boogie Wipes

Did the name of this product make you giggle? I thought it was quite funny when I was sent these wipes for review. Boogie Wipes are soft and moist with a saline solution for wiping little noses. I'd normally tend to just wipe V's nose with a baby wipe or tissue, but these purpose-made nose wipes are also soft and gentle and come in a variety of handy sized packs. They are not abrasive like dry tissue can be on sensitive skin. V usually objects to having his nose cleaned but he seemed happier to do it on his own with these wipes, which come in unfragranced as well as pleasantly fragranced options. We liked the grape!

You may find these handy packets of wipes useful for carrying around for your kids, or even popping in their school bag.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Thirty-one going on thirteen

Wearing this oversized checked shirt takes me back to my early teens and the grunge uniform of the early 1990s. Now I'm just missing the Doc Martens, angst and acne of those days! Okay, admittedly the acne has lingered a bit ;)

It's nice to reminisce about my youth and feel like a teenager again in clothes similar to what I wore then. Perhaps I should revisit those DM boots too, although I think I'd miss out the bright coloured shoelaces that my friends and I used to add to them back in the nineties! Is there anything you wore at secondary school that you'd wear again now, or do you think the trends of your teens should strictly be left to the next generation?

This shirt is from Zara, the dress underneath is H&M.

I'm linking with Fashion Friday:

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Naughty little winter treat: Raspberry Gin

Last autumn I made raspberry gin, and come our Christmas party it went down such a storm that I've decided to begin a festive tradition and make it again this year. It is very easy to make and just requires a long time left in a dark cupboard to develop its full loveliness.

I use 1 1/2 litres gin, 350g raspberries and 350g caster sugar. Frozen raspberries will work as well as fresh - the ones you can buy in the supermarket are usually surprisingly sweet and delicious once defrosted.

It is important to sterilise the containers you will be storing your gin in. I use a 2 litre Kilner jar and I actually sterilise it in a steriliser for baby bottles - it just fits! It's an easy way to do it if you have such a thing to hand.

Simply mix all your ingredients in the cooled sterilised jar then seal and put away in a dark place. Mine will hopefully stay (on a high shelf!) in a cupboard until Christmas, in three months time. I'll probably give it the occasional gentle shake every couple of weeks or so. Then you just need to strain out the fruit before serving. Small bottles of this make lovely gifts, or it will make a delicious cocktail when mixed with apple juice and soda water at your Christmas party!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Low carb eating: cauliflower rice

Do you see a pattern emerging with my food posts?! Eating a lower carb diet for a few days is something I like to do when I'm feeling a bit sluggish or when I've had a particularly indulgent weekend/holiday! I just discovered cauliflower rice thanks to Jamie Oliver's 'Jamie's Money Saving Meals' and it's a great, filling alternative to rice if you're eating a low carb diet or counting calories. For one portion, I used a couple of handfuls of cauliflower florets, blitzed to a 'ricey' texture in the food processor, then cooked on full power in the microwave for one minute in a covered microwaveable container. Your 'rice' should come out piping hot and steaming. This works really well as an alternative to rice when served with curries, stews, chilli con carne, etc. It tastes fairly bland so it's good when paired with with tasty sauces and bold flavours, just like ordinary rice. I fed this to my mum and dad with a curry and they loved it (at least that's what they said!) Have you tried cauliflower rice?

I'm linking up with Tasty Tuesdays:

Friday, 20 September 2013

Low carb treat: zucchini 'spaghetti'

Previously on the blog I've mentioned my new favourite kitchen gadget: the spiral slicer! Here's a little serving suggestion and a low carb alternative to a big bowl of spaghetti.

I simply slice a couple of courgettes into fine noodles using my spiral slicer, then fry in a generous amount of olive oil with minced garlic. I then season with dried chilli flakes, black pepper and Parmesan cheese. I love courgettes and I've become a bit addicted to eating them this way.

My Gefu Spirelli slicer appears to have now been discontinued at Lakeland, but they are still available from some other online retailers including Ebay.

I'm linking up with Tasty Tuesdays:

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Horrid weather!

Just for fun: here's me in a sou'wester I actually wore on a walk to the local shops this morning; the rain was so torrential! I'm sure my husband would have refused to be seen with me wearing this but luckily it was just me and V, who doesn't even care how silly I look. Yet ;)