Friday, 23 June 2017

Little Loves - Burgers, Manics and All Things Go!

Quite a few bloggers that I follow take part in Little Loves, a little way to share some of the great things that have happened that day/week/month. It follows a set of prompts that help you to share what you've loved. I always enjoy reading these posts, and I'm a sucker for starting a new blog series and never finishing them, so hijacking somebody else's seems like a natural progression from me. 


Read

I haven't made a lot of progress in my book this week, but I'm currently reading 'I'll Eat When I'm Dead' by Barbara Bourland on my kindle, and I'm pretty sure that if I actually dedicate some time to reading then I'll actually get somewhere with this. 

Watched

I haven't started any new series recently, but I'm up to date with Pretty Little Liars and cannot wait for the final ever episode next week! I'm in a dedicated WhatsApp group with some other PLL fans and its safe to say that no theory has been left undiscussed. We're all hoping for a corker ending, so fingers crossed it doesn't disappoint after 7 years of keeping us on edge! 

Heard

I saw Manic Street Preachers as part of Bristol's Harbourside festival, and they were so good. They're the band Joe and I have seen the most now, and it never disappoints. We've been eyeing up some other gigs in the future as our last three gigs have been the Manics so it might be time to mix things up a bit now! 

Made

Maybe nothing in the traditional sense, but I'm pretty glad I made the decision to order this amazing Marla Singer burger from Spuntino before we went to the gig. It was a massive burger, with pulled pork, homemade BBQ sauce and american cheese in a lovely toasted brioche bun. It's a combination that's been done to death but I very much enjoyed it. 

and lastly...

I've had a pretty exciting week as I was offered an interview that sounds really promising, and we viewed a house this morning. I went with Joe's mam as he had to zip off to work, but I'm hoping we can view it together next week after I send in our application forms tomorrow. As well as all of this, I was officially made a Women's Officer for my local Labour Party, and had an official email welcoming into the fray. I'm really looking forward to what the future holds for Labour!



Little Loves Coffee Work Sleep Repeat

Monday, 19 June 2017

Don't Mess With Me - It's Down To My Starsign

Sometimes I think I was destined to be a bit untidy. I've always loved the idea of a spotless, pristine home, but when you have two wild kiddos, sometimes things slide a little. Plus I've never been much of a domestic goddess at any stage of my life. I remember I once managed to bribe my Dad into swapping bedrooms with me, as logically if I had a bigger bedroom then surely I would have more space to put my things and my room would be tidier. Naturally, we swapped and I just ended up with more space to create a mess. 'Floor-drobes' is the phrase my Dad became quickly accustomed to.  
Now that I'm a wife and mother, I think I thought I would instantly love ironing and doing mundane chores like that, but alas, it's evaded me. Luckily for me, a link has been found between tidiness and our horoscopes. Check it out below!


I'm a Libra and although I'd say that my organisation skills are lacking a bit more than suggested here, I'd definitely agree that I'm more interested in having an aesthetically pleasing space, than an efficient one. I would say I'm quite creative in small doses - hence my bullet journal! - and my starsign definitely backs this up. We're currently in the process of decluttering the house, and this means that my bookshelves are being jiggled about and it's absolutely turning my creative side on it's head! I keep trying to dot my little trinkets about, but Joe feels like there's no place on the bookshelves for them. Luckily, if we need any extra storage space (yes, I know we're decluttering, but still!) then we could always get some next day office furniture to make use of the space. 

What do you think of the infographic? Does it match your tidying style? 

Saturday, 17 June 2017

King of Old Cool!

Growing up, my Dad really was my best friend. When my parents separated when I was a nipper, I stayed with my Dad and it seemed like the most obvious, most natural thing in the world to do. My Nana used to tell me that when I was a baby I would cry endlessly if anyone babysat me, but stop as soon as my Dad walked through the door. Through thick and thin, we stuck together and despite all the wonky pigtails he gave me, I'm still incredibly close with my Dad. 
Now, they say that straight women end up with a man like their father, and on the surface that couldn't be further from the truth for me. My Dad owns his own fabrication business and works with sheet metal every day, he's a biker and spends most of his weekends at various bike rallies and he's a man of simple tastes. Joe on the other hand, is a chef - which requires a delicate hand to ensure all the dishes look amazing. He's a big lover of music, coffee and keeping fit. I mean really, there's nothing crossing over between those two! Of course, deep down they are both kind hearted, warm, bend-over-backwards to help kind of guys, and the greatest dads. They both love me and the boys, and I'm pretty lucky that one's my dad, and the other is the father of my incredible kiddos. 



My Dad has always believed that life should be lived to the max. Unfortunately, his own father, my Grandad, died when my Dad was only 22 so I believe this is something my Dad has hung on to since then. You never know what tomorrow might bring, so make today worthy of your time. This advice is something I try to remind myself of every day, and when the boys are old enough to understand, it's something I'll pass on to them as well. 

*Disclaimer: This post a collaboration with Wadworth. Content written by myself.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Father's Day Gift Guide

I love Joe. He's a great dad to the boys, and a great wife husband to me. If I'm being honest, I don't often give him the credit he deserves, but with Father's Day coming up, there's no excuse to not spoil him. I used to love getting my own dad a special gift for Father's day when I was a nipper, and I know Dylan is already excited to pick something out too. Although if I let Dylan have his way, Joe would end up with a fidget spinner or a Pokemon-related toy. 

Maybe calling Joe a gamer is a bit too strong, but he currently has an Xbox One and always says how he never has time to play on his games. As they tend to be a bit more on the gruesome and gory side, he can't exactly play them when the kids are awake. In comes Nintendo Switch! I think everyone has fond memories of playing some sort of Nintendo device, and the Switch is the latest best seller. Joe really wants to play on the new Legend of Zelda game, and I know Dylan really wants to play the Super Mario games too! As it's more family friendly, Joe would get more use time out of this, and maybe the dad in your life will too!

Friday, 26 May 2017

5 Things You Can't Do With A Poorly Baby

We've been struck by illness this week, as Robin seems to have picked up some sort of bug that has completely unsettled him and knocked us all for six. Now, I don't know if it's because he's a baby or because he's a boy, but man - this kiddo is really putting on a show of being ill. I keep saying he has TinyManFlu, which doesn't go down well with Joe! Of course, it's always worse when your child is ill, and like any parent I wish I could be ill for him instead. Instead of feeling all sorts of woe for him, I thought I'd make this somewhat tongue-in-cheek post about all those things that get pushed to the back burner when you have a poorly babe. 


  • Tidying up. I'm sorry, dear family and potential house guests, but I have a clingy baby who hasn't let me do anything by myself for the entire day so those precious and very occasional five minutes of peace I get to myself are not being spent hoovering.
  • Dressing appropriately. I struggle to do this at the best of times when I'm not required to leave the house, but thanks to the aforementioned clingy baby also acting like my own personal hot water bottle, then a vest top is about the height of sophistication to me right now.
  • Leaving the house for leisure reasons. If I didn't have to pick Dylan up from school, I doubt I would leave the house at all when Robin is unwell. Everything just seems to be more of a slog when the little one is hot and bothered and actually doesn't want to be strapped into a pushchair for more than ten minutes.
  • Eating anything at the right temperature. When Robin's ill, he seems to set his little body clock to wake from any fleeting nap at the exact time I get comfy and can't wait to tuck into my lunch. Maybe he's really trying to teach me the skill of being able to work my way through a lasagne with only one free hand and a baby on my hip, but I can't say it's one I've ever dreamed of mastering.
  • Dedicate enough time to other family members. Poor Dylan has often been left to keep himself happy as I've slinked off upstairs to try and get Robin to nap in the quiet, and slightly cooler, bedroom. Joe's also been neglected when he gets home from work, as I'm often too exhausted from keeping everyone else happy that I'm asleep by 8:30pm. Heck, even Monty keeps giving me a side-eye when I don't offer him a hand to lick when I finally get to sit down with a quick cuppa. I'm sorry guys, try again next week!
That's the five things I promised, but I can definitely think of other tasks I've been avoiding unable to complete recently. Maybe all households get like this when there's an illness in the house, or maybe you're all somehow managing to get your stuff together and get on with it. If you fall into the latter then please share your tips! 


You Baby Me Mummy

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

It's So Easy To Hate

It can seem trivial to blog about everyday life occurrences after the Manchester attack. My usual posts tend to have some degree of pessimism to them, being that I'm a 'glass half empty' kind of gal, and it just doesn't feel right to write about something so insignificant in the wake of something so horrific. Of course, whenever that has been a tragedy like this, people come together and carry on. We cannot let the terrorists win, and we cannot stop living our lives. 

My good friend Michelle, as always, has found a way to say the things I can't put into words, and so I would like you all to read her post - Wonderful Wednesday in the Wake of Something Awful.


I don't have much more to add today. Phone those far away family members and hold your loved ones if you can. Live your life full of love, not hate.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Encouraging Outdoor Play and Turning #TearsIntoSmiles

You would think that it wouldn't be any trouble at all getting Dylan out and about to play outside. He's a really active kid and always full of energy. Sometimes though, he's more inclined to play inside with his DS or with his toys. As we creep further into British Summertime, I thought it would be time to start getting this wild child outside. 



We're very lucky to live in Somerset, as we're completely surrounded by plenty of beautiful places to go and roam. Whether it's a local woodland - my favourite is the aptly named Great Wood - or a national trust property like Dunster Castle, we're only a short drive away. However, Joe needs the car to get to work, so for five days a week these places are just out of reach. On these days, we try and make use of our garden, or the local play park facilities in our neighbourhood. 

Although Dylan would much rather play football, I'm more of a 'throw things at a stick' kind of girl, so I managed to get Dylan outside for quite a while playing this toss 'n' throw style game in the garden. In fact, he actually managed to beat my score by over 100 points, so maybe I need to learn how football works in order to actually win a game! 

Of course, being a nipper, most ventures outside - or inside for that matter - can result in a bump or a scrape. I used to hate getting plasters on as a child, and have vivid memories of my mam putting some sort of yellow disinfectant spray on any potential wounds , so when I saw that Elastoplast made Star Wars plasters, I knew I wouldn't have the same trouble with Dylan. They have a few different styles, so whether you're on the Dark Side or a Disney Princess kinda kid, there's a style to match. 




I think with kids, sometimes you need to calm yourself down first when you see them have a minor injury. The amount of times I've cooly asked Dylan if he's okay, for him to be fine, compared to the times I've panicked and rushed over with him then setting off the waterworks is astounding. These days, I know to walk over, give the scrape a quick look and go from there. Nine times out of ten, he'll be ready to play again within a few minutes. I always try and encourage Dylan to do the same activity again, too. So, if he fell of a swing, I'd try and get him back on it before we leave the park. Falling down is a part of childhood, and I think it's great to encourage curiosity and excitement while he's still young and pushing his limits. 


This post is an entry for the BritMums #TearsintoSmiles Challenge, sponsored by Elastoplasthttp://campaigns.elastoplast.net/plastermoments/uk

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Life Update: May '17

Okay, so its safe to say that I couldn't think of a snappy title but I've made a few life changes and thought I should update y'all on it. I've mentioned a few times before that I've been feeling like I'm in a bit of a limbo with life recently, what with my maternity leave ending but then not actually having anything to return to. It was tricky. As much as I would love to be a stay-at-home-mam to the boys and give them my undivided attention, it's just not possible financially for us and also I would miss regular interaction with adults. In my post regarding my plans for this year, I talked about wanting to find my calling in life and I actually stumbled headfirst into a political career. 


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Your Vote Matters

When a snap election was called earlier in April, I couldn't quite believe what I was hearing. It seems like elections are now a yearly thing here in the UK, and some places are even having two elections within a month of each other, due to local elections being held in this month. Politics is a tricky subject, and it's even trickier to get people interested in it. Sure, you might read a passing comment in the paper or see something retweeted into your timeline, but fewer and fewer people actually hold a proper interest in politics these days. 

It's understandable, too. We aren't taught politics at school - you only really get an option once you reach A Levels, and personally I think that's too late for many. Another reason for disinterest is that most politicians are just a carbon copy of the one before. You get promise after promise - anyone seen an election bus recently? - and they're broken before their term even begins. When the general election was announced, newscasters flocked the politics-savvy Bristol, and the first person they could interview gasped, 'no, not another one?' when told the news. 

If you couldn't tell, I am interested in politics - I've even put myself forward to become a District Councillor in the local elections. I strongly believe that if you want to see a change, you have to start with yourself. Of course, you don't have to nominate yourself to become a councillor, but if you do want to help your party then I'm sure they'd love an extra pair of hands. Delivering leaflets or putting a poster up in your window might not seem like a big thing, but it can really make a difference. 

Now, I'm not here to tell you who to vote for. You have your own personal reasons for voting and I doubt this single post could convince you who to vote for if you've never considered it before. I'm calling out to the person who doesn't vote, the reader who doesn't think their vote will make a difference. Without a shadow of a doubt, the number of people who don't place their vote will be of greater value or equal to than the winning party. These people could have made a huge difference, but unfortunately a vote not cast stands for nothing in the long run. You can check that you're registered to vote here, or apply for a postal vote if you think you might be busy as the election falls during exam season. 

If you're unsure who to vote for, it could be worth completing this quiz on the I Side With website. I tried it and my result was 87% aligned to my party of choice, so I'd say it's pretty accurate. Obviously if you get matched with SNP and you live in Wales, then you should maybe go for the next choice you feel fits you. It might open your eyes if you think you were definitely one party but only matched 12% of their policies. 

I've tried to keep this post as to the point as possible, so I do apologise that it's slightly on the longer side. I really hope it has helped you if you were on the fence about voting, and wish you all the best on June 8th! 



Thursday, 27 April 2017

"Stay Safe, Watch Them Roads"



Without a shadow of a doubt, if you're ending a phone call with my mam, you can guarantee she'll say, 'stay safe, watch them roads'. Even at 10pm when you're saying you can't wait to go to bed and finish your book, even if you've not been in the car all day. It's just a habit I guess, but because I've heard this phrase pretty much every day of my life, I've always been really aware of road safety. 

When Slater Gordon got in touch to talk about road safety, I didn't really need to think about it too much as we've just come back from a gorgeous family holiday to Italy, and immediately the first thing I really noticed was how different it was to drive over there. Sure you're on the wrong side of the road, but the cars going in the opposite direction would cruise onto our side of the road when turning a corner, or try to overtake when someone more cautious would know to wait until the gap is big enough. This seems like madness to me, and the potential for an accident just isn't worth it!

A few years ago, my dad was involved in a pretty bad road accident, which damaged his leg. He was driving a motorcycle and unfortunately the car driver didn't 'look twice' and failed to notice my dad, hitting him in the side. This is something that could be so easily fixed if you concentrate properly when driving. Things like making sure your mirrors are correctly positioned, or that your back shelf is clear of obstacles blocking your view can make a world of difference to someone. My dad is still affected by that accident every day, and to think that the driver could have spotted him if they'd just looked again is really disheartening. We're just lucky that nothing more serious happened. 

Of course, it isn't just other drivers that you need to think about when you consider car safety. Your own personal health or even the condition of your car should be a top priority too. How many times have you picked up a new prescription and in the small print it says to speak to your doctor before driving? Does anyone ever do this? Have you had a long car journey ahead and halfway through felt a bit sleepy? Do you pull over at the safest place and rest? Because you should! In a recent survey, it was found that only 39% of respondents put the personal health of the driver as the most important safety element, but it should really be higher. Your car can't go if you can't! 

What do you think about when you think about road safety? 


*Disclaimer: This post is a collaboration with Slater Gordon. Content written by myself.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

A Room Redesign

Sofa from DFS - Vase from Zara - TV Stand from IKEA
Rug from Anthropologie - Chair from Maison Du Monde
Do you ever get stuck in a rut and just hate your surroundings? Perhaps hate is a bit strong, but lately I've just wanted to get rid of everything we own and start again. I've even been looking at hiring a skip, but it was a bit daunting so I quickly clicked off the various builder websites I'd found myself on. We live in rented accommodation so we can't really make any big changes to our space, but I've been dreaming of a few new bits and bobs to transform our living room. Ideally, I'd rip up our carpet and put down some lovely wood flooring, but for now I'll have to just keep that in the back of my mind. 

I really love mustard and grey together, I think it looks incredible stylish - even if it is a bit cliche now. I thought we could possibly get away with a three-seater couch and then two single mismatched chairs. We currently have a two-seater and a three-seater, and it feels a bit much when you're all sat on top of each other. I'd love a sort of snuggle seat that I could cuddle into and get lost in a good book, but I'm still searching for the perfect one!

The rug really pulls the sofa and the chair together, but my goodness it's expensive. I've never bought a rug before, so to be honest I don't really know how much they should be, but this still seems expensive. So pretty though. 

I can't really say too much about the TV stand and the vase to be honest. They just need to be practical, and now that Robin's getting to be a bit more mobile, we definitely need a TV stand with drawers. With kids and gadgets 'out of sight, out of mind' is definitely a mantra I live by. I can't tell you how many hours a week I must spend putting all of Joe's various chargers or xbox game cases away after Robin has been left alone with them for five seconds!


Friday, 14 April 2017

Taking Inspiration From Other Bloggers



I'm here to admit that recently I've been taking a healthy dose of inspiration from other bloggers. Now, I'm not talking 'inspiration' as in copying content ideas, but actually being inspired by my fellow bloggers. I've been a blogger for quite a while now, and the bloggers I follow all come from different aspects of the blogosphere. Fashion bloggers to book bloggers, parenting bloggers to travel bloggers - I think I pretty much have it all covered! 

Now, I mentioned briefly before that I'm kind of in a no-mans land at the moment, career-wise. It's pretty daunting, and as my paid maternity leave comes to an end, I've had to try and scrabble some ideas together to see what I can do going forward. Realistically, my job opportunities are somewhat limited as I can only go back part time for the foreseeable future - yay, extortionate childcare costs! - but I'm trying to take this in my stride. 

Inspired by some of my favourite bloggers, I'm going to attempt to work from home. I've had a few ideas whirling around in my head for some time - including opening an Etsy store - so I've bitten the bullet and started to get the ball rolling. It's not quite ready for a launch yet, but you guys will be the first to know when it happens. As well as this idea, I also have my hands in a few other pies, and I'm always trying to improve my blog so to be able to work part time would hopefully help with this. I feel mostly excited by this and only a tiny bit terrified, but I'm sure the very real reality of providing for the family will spur me on. 

Which bloggers inspire you? Have you taken the plunge into something risky recently?

FYI - my inspiration for this post was the lovely Catherine from Little Paper Swans who has recently started to create some stock photography for bloggers via her etsy store.


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Robin's 6 Month Update


Okay, I may have accidentally stopped posting updates on Robin - I guess that's what happens when you get thrown into the dreaded 'four month sleep regression'. And, it continues a whole lot longer than one month, let me tell ya! I mean, I could lie and say that I intentionally stopped posting mostly updates after 3 months, as I wanted to continue posting 3-monthly updates, but that seems over complicated. Good way to fill up a paragraph though... 

Robin is now six months old, which seems really unreal. I guess I tell myself that technically he isn't as February was a short month, so he's only really six months and a few days, and not six months and a few weeks but still. He's come on so much since the last update, that I guess it makes sense he's six months old. 


Size - Feeding

We haven't been back to weigh him properly at a baby clinic, as they closed for a bit over Christmas (yes I know that was ages ago) and I just haven't bothered to check the new timetable to see when we can go. As I have to rely on Joe to drive me places on his days off, it seems like a royal waste of time to get Robin weighed when we could be doing something else. Sorry, Robin! As for feeding, he's now weaning, but we're having to do it in drips and drabs as we *still* don't have a highchair. I was hoping we could lend the one stored at Joe's parents, but it won't fit in our car, and they haven't dropped it over and it just goes on like that. I was intending on buying Robin a new one, but we have a holiday coming up soon so all our spare cash is going into paying that off and spending money. I'm sure Robin will thank me for delaying a proper weaning cycle over a holiday he can't remember when he's older... 

Sleep 

As I mentioned above, the sleep regression really hit us hard. I think it's mostly to do with baby teeth coming through - Robin now has two teeth!! - and he just wouldn't really sleep. Even now, he's sleeping better most nights but at least twice a week he won't settle and just cries/screams from 9pm until 2am. It's pretty heartbreaking as nothing seems to soothe him, but I'm hoping he'll get out of it soon. It really has a bad effect on me too, as after a couple of nights of waking up a lot, it'll make me wake up every evening at 2am, 3am, 4:30am etc for the next week or so even if Robin is sleeping. Joe made the mistake once of saying I looked tired and I was offended for about a week. You'd be tired too if you only had four broken hours of sleep! 


Looks

I don't really think he has changed so much, looks-wise. His head is a little fluffier as his hair is starting to grow on the top as well as around the back, which I'm quite pleased about. Dylan kept commenting that Robin had the same hairstyle as his grandad which went down well over Sunday dinner one week, ha! 

Milestones

Two bottom teeth!

Babbling and enjoying a chat

Sitting up unaided

We started swimming in February and he loves splashing



Monday, 3 April 2017

#ThankGoodness for Dolmio!*

If you've read my blog for a while, you'll know that my husband is a chef. Most people think that I must eat like a king due to learning a few tricks of the trade - or that I cook him hearty meals for when he finishes work, but this couldn't be further from the truth! I'm a really shoddy cook! When Joe has his days off work, he'll quite happily rustle us up something incredible, but when it's just me in the kitchen, I often go for the easy, predictable tried-and-tested recipes in my somewhat small repertoire. When I was offered the chance to work together with Dolmio to create a delicious and hearty meal for the family, I couldn't wait to get stuck in! 
Everyone has heard of Dolmio, and more often than not has turned to use their jars for a mid-week meal. I decided to make a simple spaghetti bolognese to try out on my willing family members. The jar itself has everything you need to create a great tasting dish and with no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or sweeteners! You won't find any nasties in there, just tomatoes, half an onion, a bit of garlic, a bit of basil and all the other usual suspects for a great tasting bolognese. I followed a simple recipe, by frying off an onion and some garlic - they're already included in the sauce but I love a good hit of garlic so added extra! - and then cooked the mince in the sauce, along with some carrot and a big green pepper. Following the instructions on the jar is so easy, I reckon Dylan could have done it - supervised, of course ;) Once the pasta was cooked, we spooned on the sauce and added a good grating of cheese - just like mama would make, as the Dolmio family might say!

This is exactly what I want when it comes to feeding the family, so I knew we would be in safe hands with Dolmio.  Dylan loved the bolognese, and was slurping up his spaghetti with joy - along with covering his face in that delicious sauce! Kids, ey? 
Each jar of Dolmio also offers some meal inspiration - we decided to try out the sauce as a pizza base and it really made a great alternative to what we usually use! You can see more information and meal ideas on the Dolmio website. I'm looking forward to trying a Moussaka recipe from their site! 
Have you said #ThankGoodness for a 'Dolmio day' recently? What do you think of their sauces?
Disclaimer: This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmio. www.dolmio.co.uk/thankgoodness.

Friday, 17 March 2017

The Perfect Personalised Gifts - in time for Mother's Day



I can't lie - I love buying gifts for people. As a mam, you can guarantee that I''ll spend all my money on cute outfits or toys for the boys, and if there's a birthday coming up I love taking the time to find that perfect gift. While I hope that someone will think of me this Mother's Day, I'm already planning what to treat my own mam and mam-in-law for Mothering Sunday. As they're also grandparents, I think a photo-gift is the perfect way to celebrate Mother's Day by giving them something they can keep and treasure forever. 

When Mr Nutcase got in touch to see if I'd like to create something special for Mother's Day, I couldn't believe their huge range of personalised gifts! From vases to candles, mugs and even door stops - there really is a gift for every mam out there! I picked a lovely latte mug, which I thought was a more interesting shape than a standard mug. 


I would really recommend Mr Nutcase - I found it really easy to design my mug, and it was delivered quicker than I imagined too, which is great. Plus - they also have a special discount on the website at the moment for Mother's Day - so you've got no excuse not to order something special for your lovely mam - or why not treat yourself?


*Disclaimer: This post is a collaboration with Mr Nutcase. Content written by myself.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Lee Stafford Coco Loco Irons - plus Giveaway!



I've got something a bit different on the blog today - a review and a giveaway of these amazing Lee Stafford CoCo LoCo Straightening Irons! Lee Stafford is such a big name in the hair business, and I've always been a fan of his hair products, so was keen to see how the straightening irons worked.
The CoCo LoCo irons are infused with coconut oil - hence the name - and this is said to help keep your hair looking sleek, smooth and shiny. I think it also helps the irons to glide through your hair effortlessly, which is a problem I sometimes had with my previous straighteners. I've used plenty of deep conditioners with coconut oil, so have known about the huge benefits of this for your hair, but this is definitely the first time I've ever heard of it being infused to straighteners! 
The CoCo LoCo straightening irons really are a thing of beauty, the pale pink and rose gold design is a bloggers dream - and are much more my style than a plain black style. The rounded curve design is not only good to look at, but practical too as it allows you to create beauty waves and cute flicks as well as the important sleek and straight style. 
Another great thing about these is the heat settings - it's really simple to turn it up or keep it low, which can help to minimise damage to your hair. If you've followed my blog for a while you'll know that I've been growing out a pixie cut I had two years ago, so this is something I really keep in mind when using anything on my hair. I also like that the irons have a little lock, which is definitely something I care about as a mum of two young kids. Of course, this would have been helpful in my own younger days as I had a horrible habit of leaving my straighteners on and burning the carpet! 
Now for the exciting part - you can a win a set of CoCo LoCo Straightening Irons for yourself! Simply fill out the widget below, and good luck! Please note the giveaway ends on 12th April 2017.
Win Lee Stafford CoCo LoCo Irons
*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with Lee Stafford. Content written by myself.*

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

I Want A Capsule Wardrobe - the basics

Being a busy mam of two young boys, I don't always have a lot of time to myself on a morning. The sacred time I do get is often allocated to having my only drinkable cup of tea of the day, and maybe a slice or two of toast if I'm lucky. One thing I really struggle with is finding something nice to wear. A lot of my wardrobe had been separated out into summer/winter, which is a bit ridiculous as in good old Blighty we don't really get the full range of the seasons - really I should have a rain/cold wardrobe with the odd vest top included for a rare sunny day. While browsing Pinterest, I stumbled across capsule wardrobes, which really seem like the most genius, and more importantly timesaving idea. 
If you're not sure what a capsule wardrobe is, it's reducing your wardrobe into a few key timeless items that you can mix and match, but all clothing you can wear every day. You can dress it up or down, but it will focus on the staple items that you love wearing. After deciding on the style of wardrobe you'd like to curate - be it boho, sleek or girly - you then focus on a colour palette. This is really key to the capsule wardrobe. Buy the basics in neutral colours, so that's black, white, grey and tan, and then add a few little extras in your chosen colours - so, that could be red and leapord print, or maybe blush pink and teal. If you prefer, you could even omit the colour and just pick on a great texture, like sequinned skirts or fluffy jumpers, if that's your style. I've added a little guide below if you need a little bit of help visualising what I mean. 
I think with a few more browses on pinterest, and a good hard look through my existing my wardrobe, I might one day embark on a capsule wardrobe - hopefully sooner rather than later. 

I thought I'd stop with just the basics for now, hopefully as we enter the Spring/Summer season, I'll be able to show how I'm planning on adding colour and texture to a simplified  collection. What do you think of capsule wardrobes? Great idea, or waste of time? 
 
 

Friday, 24 February 2017

The 30 Day Music Challenge



I love talking about music, and it's something I don't think I've shared enough on this ol' blog. When I saw that Jaki had posted a '30 Day Music Challenge' post on her blog, I just had to give it a go myself. I think it started life as something you'd share on social media, one of those sorts of challenges, but I think it works well as a blog post! 
I decided to make a little Spotify playlist with my song choices in them, and I've listed all the prompts below as well. Doing it this way sort of makes it difficult to talk about the songs, but ah well! 

Day 1: A song you like with a colour in the title 
Make Them Gold - I sort of struggled picking this one, as my mind went completely blank. Chvrches to the rescue! 
Day 2: A song you like with a number in the title
Fortune 500 - I could have picked pretty much every song off this album to put into my list, but I thought this was a great one to show off EE in one of my personally favourite songs. 
Day 3: A song that reminds you of summertime 
Beat Again - and yes, I obviously do the 'beat again' heart dance move. 
Day 4: A song that reminds you of someone you'd rather forget about 
Don't Bother - I can't tell you how many times teenage Chelsea cried and sang along to this song. 
Day 5: A song that needs to be played loud
Famous Last Words - if you were lucky enough to have me on Snapchat when I first downloaded it, you'll know I love lip syncing along to this at full volume. 
Day 6: A song that makes you want to dance 
We Have Love - I LOVE HOT CHIP. 
Day 7: A song to drive to
Sex, Power, Love and Money - although to be fair, you could pick any Manics song to drive along to. 
Day 8: A song about drugs or alcohol
Beetlebum - easily Blur's best song. No doubt, no doubt, no doubt. 
Day 9: A song that makes you happy
Born To Make You Happy - this just reminds me of practising dance moves with my cousins when I was 8 or whatever. 
Day 10: A song that makes you sad
Bear - The Antler's first album is just an amazing masterpiece, engineered to make you feel sad. 
Day 11: A song that you never get tired of
Apologize - it's too laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate
Day 12: A song from your preteen years
Caught In The Middle - I feel sorry for all these youngsters who don't know A1.
Day 13: One of your favourite 70s songs
One Way Or Another - we have this Blondie song on vinyl twice, so I thought it was only fair. 
Day 14: A song that you would love played at your wedding
Lovesong - this is really cliche, but I don't care. 
Day 15: A song that is a cover by another artist
Not In Love - a cover of some Canadian 80s pop hit, brought to the 21st century and turned into a banger. 
Day 16: One of your favourite classical songs
Nightbook - apparently a favourite of whoever picks BBC advert music. 
Day 17: A song that you would sing as a duet on karaoke
Too Lost In You - it's not really a duet, but I'd sing this with my bae Anth. 
Day 18: A song from the year you were born
Tainted Love - a grand song, if you completely erase the Pussycat Dolls cover from your mind completely.
Day 19: A song that makes you think about life
Stop Me... - this could have been any Smiths song, tbh. 
Day 20: A song that has many meanings to you
Always On My Mind - 🖤
Day 21: A favourite song with a person's name in the title
Sandy - could it be any other song? I think not. 
Day 22: A song that moves you forward
Fergalicious - I didn't understand the question. 
Day 23: A song that you think everybody should listen to
RUN - if you only listen to one song on this playlist, make it this one. 
Day 24: A song that you wish were still together
The Call - I think they might still be together, but aye. Tune, and that. 
Day 25: A song by an artist no longer living
Modern Love - a grand song from Bowie's weird 'car salesman' look. 
Day 26: A song that makes you want to fall in love
Dark and Stormy - I don't really want to fall in love again, but I love this song so... 
Day 27: A song that breaks your heart
Your Type - oh Carly Rae, it breaks my heart that this album didn't get you the recognition you deserve. 
Day 28: A song by an artist with a voice that you love
Reach A Bit Further - could have been any Wild Beasts song, really. 
Day 29: A song that you remember from your childhood
To The Moon And Back - I ruddy loved Savage Garden when I was a nipper. This song IS my childhood, and I did a dance to this song during my 11th birthday party. That should give you an idea of how cool I was. 
Day 30: A song that reminds you of yourself
Porcelain Heart - this song would remind me of myself if I had any singing abilities... 
Congratulations if you made it to the end! Let me know if you decide to carry out the challenge, or if you like any of my picks! 

Monday, 20 February 2017

Things I Have Been Doing Instead Of Practicing My Theory Test


So, I have my theory test coming up in the not too distant future and when I booked it, I felt like I had buckets of time to get some practice tests in. I felt inspired - I actually paid £2.99 for an official driving theory test app thing. Of course, my inspiration has waned since booking and now with the test around the corner, I've realised that I've spent most of my free time not practising. I'm a gal that loves a list, so let's see what's been taking up my time instead. 
  • Watching Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life. Luckily this has ended now, so I have a few more hours free...
  • Heading off to London for the day with the boys, and doing fun stuff with Becky
  • Writing this blog post *waves*
  • Going to a friends house for dinner one evening (who is actually also my driving instructor so if I fail I'm blaming that) 
  • Deciding (and then researching on Pinterest) that I need a capsule wardrobe
  • Meeting MPs as part of my role as a Women's Officer in my local political youth party. Check me out!
  • Trying to keep Dylan occupied during half term, usually with expensive lego bribes
  • Trying to tidy away all the mountains of lego even though it's half term and Dylan will just get it all out again
  • Looking at houses I want to buy with my nonexistent deposit and ready-to-go mortgage
  • Squidging Robin's cheeks and cuddling with him 
So, not a huge list, but all things that could probably wait - I'm sure you'll agree! Now I better head off and get some practice in before I wave my test fee money down the drain completely. If anyone has any tips for the clicky screen bit, let me know!

Update: you might be glad to know that I actually passed! Woo me! Clearly leaving your revision to the last minute is the way to go, ha!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

I Started a Bullet Journal!

Like many bloggers, I love being organised. Or at least, I love to think I'm being organised. Sure, it doesn't always go to plan but I feel good knowing the intention is there. Anyhoo - the latest organisational thing on the block is bullet journalling. It's not actually that new either, but a few months ago I decided to jump on the bandwagon. For those not in the know, a bullet journal is a diary, notebook and journal all in one. It uses spreads and collections to create the perfect journal for you - it's completely adaptable.  
I love being able to create my own lists of things I want to track or keep a record of - and you could track pretty much everything from how many episodes of Gilmore Girls you've watched to how close you are to your saving goals. My favourite lists, or collections as they're known, include keeping a log of the books I have read and tracking deliveries, which was really helpful on the run up to Christmas. 


You don't really need any particular items to start a bullet journal, just a notebook and a pen would do but I decided to buy a fancy yellow Leuchtturm notebook, which is the typical notebook of choice for bullet journal aficionados. I haven't bought a specific pen for my journalling, but I did buy some amazing highlighters for doing headers and decoration - the grey is my favourite!  


I've got to be honest and say that I don't actually use my bullet journal every day - which to some would be a bit pointless - but I'm not currently at a stage where I need to be. I'm hoping to have a more 'full' week soon by starting some baby classes with Robin, and I think that will mean I use my bullet journal more often on a daily basis. Even though this is the case, I've been able to create more unstructured collections - such as what I've read recently and tracking my 30 Before 30 goals - which don't really need to be within a daily, weekly or monthly timeline.

I'd really recommend bullet journalling to anyone who loves to be organised, or even if you're just a big stationery fan. Although I'm not really creative, I feel like it's let me access a creative side by being able to create my own layouts as such - so don't feel like you need an Art degree to give it a go!



My Petit Canard

Bullet

 

Thursday, 2 February 2017

A Kitchen Wishlist*



Despite mentioning on a semi-regular basis that I'm married to a chef, I don't think I've ever featured a kitchen-based wish list on my blog. I guess it's because I usually see the kitchen as solely Joe's domain, but I'm a pretty nifty baker so I spend my fair share of time in there too! I asked Joe what would be the top of his kitchen wish list and he practically gave me a list longer than my arm - so I won't bore you to tears with the entire list, just my top five! 

Joe is an excellent bread maker, and whenever he is off work, he'll make a fancy loaf or two. I, on the other hand, am a pathetic bread maker and pretty much had a breakdown when I attempted to make cinnamon buns recently. I would love this Bread Maker from Panasonic, as it just looks so sleek and easy to use! Perfect for a beginner like me! 

Next up on my list, we've been dreaming of warmer weather and therefore an ice cream maker seems ideal. If money were no object I'd love this Sage by Heston Blumenthal one, but I'd settle for any old thing if it could make me a delicious mint chocolate ice cream! Another somewhat essential for the kitchen is this cute little kitchen shelves. We have limited space in our kitchen and I'd love to be able to display all of our recipe books on these shelves. I've also got a gorgeous glass teapot which would look lovely on show instead of stuffed at the back of a cupboard. 

Speaking of recipe books, another essential for us would be Marcus Wareing's newest cook book, Marcus at Home. Joe and I love watching the professional version of Masterchef, and I've made it no secret that I think Marcus is a bit of a silver fox, so I'd gladly add this to our collection. 

Of course, the ultimate item in any kitchen wish list is going to be a KitchenAid food processor. We have a really good mixer at the moment, but a KitchenAid would make me feel like a proper grown up, if that makes sense? The red one would be perfect in our current kitchen as we have red 'accents' but I'd love a pastel shade, maybe the lemon or pistachio colour? Ah, a girl can dream! 

*Disclaimer: This post was a collaboration with Panasonic. Content written by myself.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Taking Time, Taking Stock

So I accidentally ended up taking some sort of break from blogging, which was totally unintentional. I wish I could say I took time away and achieved many great things, but in reality I've watched lots of Gilmore Girls, (unsuccessfully) pestered Joe to make pie and that's about it. Instead of wallowing in that, I thought I'd go down a tried and tested route and show my time away from the blog through the medium of verbs. 

Making: a mess, everywhere I go, much to Joe's delight.
Cooking: my midweek favourite, enchiladas!
Drinking: copious amounts of tea. Or at least half-cups, as keeping Robin occupied often means my tea ends up cold.
Reading: I just finished reading Cherry by Lindsey Rosin, a really fun YA mostly about friendship, but also about sex. It's pretty much a teenage girl version of American Pie. 

Wanting: some new clothes! I feel a bit like I wear the same 3 BF-friendly tops and all my jeans make me look frumpy. 
Looking: like a gothy bruise after accidentally dyeing my hair black and blue.
Playing: The Simpsons bloody tapped out, thanks to one of my friends casually mentioning it. I get weirdly obsessed with games like this. 
Wasting: time playing that silly game. I don't even watch The Simpsons anymore!

Fixing: up our windows, as it has been getting a bit wild with condensation recently. Adult life, ey?
Deciding: - or at least trying to decide - on what to do with my life after my maternity leave ends.
Wishing: I had a plan for what to do after my maternity leave ends!
Enjoying: the tiny amount of time Joe and I get together.

Waiting: for Dylan to go to bed so I can watch more Gilmore Girls, ha!
Liking: that tulips are back in season.
Wondering: if I'll manage to make a birthday cake for Joe's birthday tomorrow! eep!
Loving: the ten minutes of peace I get when Robin first goes into his bouncer - he quickly loses interest though!
Pondering: what photo I can use for my candidate photo, no pressure or anything. 
Considering: what I should have for tea - we have some pulled pork left but I should really eat something boring and healthy.
Watching: nothing currently, but Joe and I have finally started watching Fargo as we missed it when it was on TV and I'm loving it! 
Hoping: we can watch more Fargo tonight!
Marvelling: at how well Robin is doing - I can't believe I have a five month old baby!
Needing: a bath, I've got a pain in my back that only a relaxing bath can solve.
Smelling: like I need a bath, ha! 
Wearing: a stripy jumper and some tartan pyjama bottoms, going for comfort rather than style, clearly
Noticing: our fridge noticeboard needs updating. 
Knowing: that I should probably be really busy tomorrow but I'm not sure I'll be able to with no one to assist with the boys.
Thinking: about how I need to sort out the passport applications for the boys! Only nine weeks until we go on holiday, so it needs doing sooner rather than later!
Feeling: like I should be doing something important, but not sure what that is exactly at 7:54pm on a Friday... 
Admiring: a picture Joe sent me of the work he did yesterday - he helped his head chef at a fancy event and a local photographer got a really nice shot of them all. 
Buying: some of those no-nails picture hooks because I'm bloody sick of living in a house with no personality to it. 
Getting: an earful from Robin because I've dared to sit down with a cup of tea for five minutes. 
Bookmarking: various cake recipes to try out for Joe's birthday. Going to attempt Gem's individual cakes for the big day, and then Cathryn's Double Chocolate birthday loaf for the meal we're having on Sunday with the extended family. That Joe's a lucky chap. 
Opening: books and then remembering that I have no time to read books! I should be baking/feeding the kids/washing up etc etc etc until the end of time. 
Giggling: (and then denying that I'm giggling) at Dylan telling Robin the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. He keeps bellowing like Brian Blessed, hilarious! 
So there we have it, a few verbs to explain the goings-on around here. Kudos to you if you even managed to read this far! Maybe pick few and let me know how your week is going? 



My Petit Canard

Monday, 9 January 2017

2017 - Let's Do This

Like everyone in the entire world, I love wiping the slate clean on January 1st. Now, I'm definitely one of those 'make a load of resolutions, never follow through on them' kind of person. Even when given 1001 days to complete some goals, I still pretty much failed miserably. I'm a learner though, so I've come to realise that maybe I was giving myself some unrealistic things to achieve. One thing I thought would be easy to achieve - building a snowman with Dylan - was thwarted by global warming as it didn't snow the entire 1001 days of my quest. This time around, I'm going simple with my goals for 2017. 
Work Out What I Want To Do 
Okay, so this sounds like a big hitter but hear me out. I'm still on my maternity leave, and theoretically, I could stay off until August. My work contract actually ended when I left to have Robin, so I'm technically jobless. Since leaving university, I have always strived to be in work, and sometimes this resulted in jobs I didn't really have any passion for. I'd like to take the time off that I have to either find out which career I could have to use my skills or go back to university and start my Masters. 
Work Out Who I Want To Be
Sort of related to the above, I feel like I've sort of lost my personality a bit. Since becoming Dylan's mama at 19, and then Joe's wife at 21, I worry I've become two-dimensional. Although I loved university and made some great friends, I wasn't able to join in with freshers or things like that. Now that I'm sort of floating about in life, I'd like to work more on myself. I've already started this a little bit in 2016, but I'd like to really go with it this year. 
Sort Our Finances
Despite loading myself with thousands of university debt, I've not been able to get a decently paid job. When I finally Work Out What I Want To Do, I hope that it would be in something that pays more than the minimum. I'd like to *finally* clear myself of my overdraft, and start to create a little savings pot for us. I like to think that this would be achievable, but I guess it relies on Goal 1 working out okay. 
Blog More! 
I love blogging, and I was convinced that I'd have heaps of time for blogging with a newborn baby around(!) but clearly that wasn't the case - I actually ended up posting around half the amount I did in 2015. I'm going to start typing out blog post ideas on my phone, taking photos in bulk and perhaps relaunching the ol' youtube again. 
So, four kind-of ambiguous goals that I'd like to achieve in 2017. Totally doable, amiright? 
My Petit Canard

Saturday, 7 January 2017

The 2017 Goodreads Challenge



Back in the day, I would set a reading challenge and happily surpass my goal. In 2014, I pledged to read 20 books, and I read 22. In 2015, I set a goal for 25 books and ended up reading 31 books. So, riding on a high - I thought I'd easily read 30 books. I ended up reading 20 books. A paltry 67% of my goal. This year, I have decided to lower my reading expectations - being on maternity leave doesn't mean I have endless hours of reading to do, but endless hours of entertaining a baby, keeping him fed and looking after his older brother too. As much of a joy this is, it really scuppers my reading time. 
I've decided that this year I will aim to read 12 books. That's a book a month and should hopefully be pretty doable. I've got a few books on my kindle that I've been meaning to read, but I haven't been picking it up since I stopped commuting to work. Ideally, I'd read six books from there and six physical books from my TBR shelf. As part of my 30 before 30 list, I'd like to read 10 books from 1991 so I'm hoping to actually find a book from 1991 that I want to read. It's a bit of a struggle so far. Any suggestions there would be greatly appreciated! If you've struggled with a reading goal, or just want to read a bit more, I've listed some of my top tips below! 

  • Always have a book with you! It might sound obvious, but if I had a small paperback or my kindle on me, I was more likely to read on the go. You could even download apps for this if you don't have a kindle device!
  • Carve time out of your schedule. If you think you're too busy to read, put a note in your diary that at 8pm, or perhaps during your lunch break, you have a meeting with your book. That way, you're more likely to actually read it, and won't be tempted to make another meeting.
  • Read when you go to bed - a classic, but it works! Pop a book on your bedside table, and even if you just read one chapter a night, it's better than nothing!
  • Get a library card. Some people don't want to spend upwards of £10 on a book if they don't think they'll read them or even like them. Visiting your local library is free, and they often stock new books as well as the old favourites. Most libraries are part of a county group too, so if there's a book you want but they don't have it, they can usually get it sent in for you.
  • Read what you want - it can sometimes feel overwhelming to read the latest book with the biggest buzz around it, but I've often found that this is disappointing for me. If you know you love SciFi, reading the latest romance novel won't float your boat! 
If you're on goodreads, let's be friends and we can help each other along! 
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