Monday, 31 December 2012

Looking back, looking forward

2012 has flown by in a bit of a whirlwind for me.

This year, my husband turned 40. We've been together for 20 years now. We had a wonderful celebration with family and friends and climbed to the top of a windy hill with our son and daughter. We ate an amazing star wars chocolate cake and taught our daughter and her friends how to DJ.

We danced in the fields outside a castle at Camp Bestival, stayed in an Airstream caravan and explored a magical wood full of fairy lights and toys at the End of the Road. We have made some great friends and our children have made great friends too. There has been lots of running around with glow sticks whilst we sat around in deck chairs drinking wine. We rode in a horse drawn carriage at Chatsworth House while a brass band played Christmas carols. I danced like a loon with my husband at an Orbital concert and had achy hips for a week afterwards lol.

We discovered Studio Ghibli films as a family and have had many happy hours watching them, cuddled up on the sofa.

I've never felt so tired in my life. I've been doing two jobs, studying, been a carer to my mother in law and a mother to my children. I've not really had the time or energy to be a good wife and I havent had any time to care for myself. So I know that needs to be my focus for next year. Think about how I can cut down my levels of work and stress and spend quiet, quality time with my family. My sons turns three next year, so I'm hoping that I might (fingers crossed) get a bit more sleep at night, which will help too.

We have some exciting plans for next year, going to a couple of new music festivals with the kids, going to see the Stone Roses in London with my husband, going to the Lake District in February. But I'm also hoping for a little bit more peace, quiet and ...time. How I'm going to make that happen I'm not sure yet, but I will try.

Wishing you a very happy night tonight and a peaceful new year xxx

52 weeks of happy

Hello, hope you all a lovely Christmas! Ours has been a mixed one, lots of fun on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but my other half has had the man-flu and it's been raining a lot. So we have spent a lot of time indoors, going a bit bananas!

I'm not quite sure which week I'm supposed to be on, I know I am a bit behind though...

Here are my four happy things this week, joining in with Little Birdie's project.

1. Big red bus

I picked up this wooden bus in a charity shop for £5 and it's been a massive hit with my son. He has been going on lots of little adventures with it and it is so sweet to hear him chatting to all the little men inside.

2. Little blue person

I saw this Fisher Price figure in the shop last week and it was like being transported in a time machine to when I was my daughter's age and used to play with my Fisher Price school house. I dont have it any more, so I had to pose her in my daughter's Sylvanian house instead.

3. New tea mug

I saw this mug in TK Maxx and bought it for myself as a wee gift. The message on the mug is a good one for me, it's something I struggle with sometimes.

If you look behind my mug, you will see my Snowman plate. Did you see the Snowman and the Snowdog? I thought it was great. And the documentary about "How the Snowman came to life" had me in tears.

4. Yellow scarf

This lovely yellow scarf is from Seasalt and is super snuggly. I'm hoping to have lots of outdoor adventures in my yellow scarf in 2013.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Daddy's Christmas beer

My husband and daughter have got really into watching the football together. They support Birmingham City, and the fans are affectionately known as Bluenoses. Or not so affectionately if you are an Aston Villa fan.

Anyway, they were going off to watch the footy yesterday, so we made him a bottle of "Bluenose Beer". I think that this idea is on pinterest with a red nose version, but I tweaked it a bit.

This will probably be my last post before Christmas as I expect I will be peeling sprouts this evening. So if you are reading, have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones xxx

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Giant Christmas baubles

I have a lovely friend who is an artist and has helped us to set up a "ladies craft night". It sounds very prim and proper but is really an excuse to make something pretty, drink cocktails and then sing karaoke. I've met some great new friends through this, it's very therapeutic and it's fun to have a go at making things again. I do a bit of drawing with the kids at home and at work, but it takes a bit of courage to have a go at making something in front of adults!

Anyway this time it was my turn to host and we made giant Christmas baubles, out of vintage maps, old comic books (I found a great pile of old Beanos at the charity shop!), a 1970s star trek annual and wallpaper samples.

Here is a collection that was made by myself and my friends. Each one is about as big as large melon, so fairly big.

I had intended to hang them up from the ceiling, but I actually quite like them piled up, so they have stayed there.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Sunday cinema club: the Christmas Edition

So what are your favourite Christmas films?

For me, I have three. The first one has to be the Muppet Christmas Carol. Christmas doesn't really begin until I have watched this film, with my husband, with my children, with my friends. It's just one of those traditions that has to happen. I think that Michael Caine is just fantastic as Scrooge  and Kermit is a perfect choice for Bob Cratchitt.

This is my favourite song from the film and makes me cry each time I hear it. I just know that Christmas is around the corner.

My second film which I only watched last year with my friend and our daughters, was Elf. Just so funny and sweet.

And finally, Nativity. To be honest I thought that this film was going to be dreadfully cheesy and to be honest, it is. But in a good way. You would have to have a heart of ice not to chuckle at this film. I have heard that the new one isn't as good, so I'm planning to introduce the rest of my family to it this year.

And I've just remembered another one. The new Muppets Movie. Have you seen it? It's not a Christmas film, but it is so, so funny. The musical score is written by Brett from the Flight of the Conchords and the whole thing is like a long episode of this, but obviously suitable for kids. My daughter has been singing this song at the top of her voice and do you know what, the lyrics are just perfect. I've got everything that I need, right in front of me....

A beautiful song for Christmas

Phew...thank goodness. Ive finished work for Christmas. That means no reports or essays to write, no studying, no school runs, nothing at all for two whole weeks.

I've had a fantastic time this month, hosting a craft night and making some great Christmas decorations, going out with my husband to dance to our favourite band from when we first met and last weekend we went and stayed in an amazing old manor house in the Peak District. Which is why I haven't done any blogging for ages. Sorry.

I heard this song last night and it sent shivers down my spine. It feels just perfect for this time of year so I wanted to share it with you. It is a beautiful song by The Unthanks, called the King of Rome. Enjoy and have a wonderful Christmas xxxx

Saturday, 1 December 2012

A visitor arrives...

Every year on the first of December, we have a little visitor from the North Pole.

His name is Elvis the Elf and he has been visiting our children for the past five years.

Inside there is a little note, praising them for good things they have done during the year and giving them one little task that Santa would like them to try hard at.

This is just one of the little Christmas traditions that we do with our kids. What do you do with your family?

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Sunday cinema club- Alice in Wonderland


This is a film that I have been meaning to watch for absolutely ages, but I was a bit worried that my daughter, who is 7, would be a bit scared. I shouldnt have worried though, she absolutely loved it and now has a bit of a crush on Johnny Depp. Which is better than One Direction I suppose.


I just love the colours and the craziness of it all. There's that definite Tim Burton feel to it which I just love and it's amazing how children just take this sort of thing in their stride without batting an eyelid. My kids love all sorts of really surreal stuff now. The weirder the better!

 Helena Bonham Carter is a fantastic queen of hearts, although I must admit that I find Anne Hathaway a bit...drippy. I still havent got over her destroying one of my favourite books, One Day by David Nicholls.


Since she watched the film, my daughter found a free copy of  Alice in Wonderland on my kindle and we have been reading it together in bed. Last night we were laughing about the Caucus Race, when you can start and finish whenever you feel like. I think I would be quite good at that one. I'm loving the chance to revisit my favourite books from childhood with her.

52 weeks of happy- week 5

I feel as though I am lagging behind a bit with the happy series...but I'm not going to stress about it. If my 52 weeks takes a bit longer, that's ok with me.

My four things which are making me happy are

1. Boxes of clementines

For me, this is a sure sign that Christmas is not far away! I adore buying these lovely fresh clementines by the box and my family will munch their way through them in no time.

2. Pretty little squash (es?)

I saw these in the shop and am a bit scared of cooking with them, but thought I would bring them home as the colours are so pretty. A last little reminder of Autumn.

3. A gift from a friend

This was actually made my by friend and given to my daughter as a birthday present. But I love her too, so she hangs in our hallway. Isnt she lovely? Her legs and arms are made from painted twigs.

4. A real kiss!

My son who is two has just learned how to do "real kisses". before he would just grab me and slobber on my face, but now he grabs me and gives me a big smacker, then nestles his head into my neck for ages. It's the best feeling in the world.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Morroccan lamb tagine

Sorry it's been a while since I've posted. Life is busy right now. I'm doing two jobs, a course and I have essay deadlines and report deadlines to meet. Ha ha I should be writing the essay now but am doing a cheeky bit of procrastinating instead. At least it will all slow down a bit in a couple of weeks time.

I made this for the first time and it was really easy and very lovely. As a novice, I decided to use a ready prepared spice pack from Spicentice. This is a new company which was set up by a student, after her Mum used to send her to Uni with pre-prepared packets of spices so she would cook properly! Isnt that sweet? I used to live on supernoodles, beans on toast, flapjacks and the occasional chinese takeaway when I was at uni. And lots of cider of course.

Anyway, it was so, so easy to prepare as all the recipe instructions are on the back of the card. Even the children loved it so I will definitely use this again and perhaps try some of the other packets in the range.

Perfect winter food with a nice bottle of red wine.

Friday, 16 November 2012

52 weeks of happy- 4

This is going to be a very quick post as I'm off to a wedding today and the kids will wake up any minute!

Here are my happy moments this week:

1. Random loveliness

 I am totally shattered at the moment. I'm doing 2 jobs and a course and deadlines are looming! So I was very happy when a lady in the hairdresser told me she thought I was 28 and I look too young to have a 7 year old. Hooray, I feel more like 50!

2. Gingerbread porridge

 I found this amazing gingerbread porridge in Home Bargains for £1.28. I love anything with ginger in it and I adore Dorset Cereals. If it's good I'm going back to the shop to stockpile for the winter...


3. Tiny converse hi-tops
I really struggled with how to dress my little man for today's wedding. I dont know why, but I'm not keen in toddlers dressed in suits. So he has a little tank top and shirt from Gap, some new jeans which dont have pictures of diggers on them and these little converse from ebay. He loves them and cried when it was time to take them off at bedtime. A boy after my own heart. I love my cons too. 

4. Cuddles
Sadly I went to the memorial service of my friend who passed away last week. She was an amazing nurse who touched the lives of so many people and left behind 2 fantastic children. She was too young to go but she made the most of every day. With this in mind, I have spent lots of time with the kids, watching films cuddled up on the sofa with a little one under each arm.

Have a great weekend x

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Flander's Field

Here is a picture that my daughter drew of Flander's Field. She's at brownie parade now. Very proud Mummy.


Yesterday was the first anniversary of my father in law's death. At times, this has been hard for our little family, especially for my daughter who was very close to her Grandad.

Grandad was a huge steam train fan, so in order to remember him and celebrate him, we all went for our first ride on a steam train. Including Granny who is 77!

We went to the Severn Valley Railway and we had an awesome day. The sun shone, the inside of the train was beautifully refurbished and the scenery was just stunning. I felt as though I was an extra in a Miss Marple murder mystery. The guards were lovely and my daughter was allowed to go into the ticket office, look at the old machines, lights and try on a guard's cap.

The most bizarre moment was when we drove through a local safari park and could spot elephants and rhinos from the train!

My son adored going to the engine house, eating a picnic next to the engines,  inspecting them thoroughly and discovering a train table with a Cranky on it. Toddler heaven.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

52 weeks of happy- week 3

Well a whole week has flown by, so I am just trying to pick the best four little things which have made me happy this week.

1. Giant jumpers.

 I bought a vintage brown and purple stripy jumper at a festival this summer and I havent taken it off all week. It feels like the sort of jumper that you wear when you are poorly because it's so soft and comfy. A sartorial cuddle.

2. Great TV!

I am really enjoying watching George Clarke's amazing spaces at the moment. Owning a campervan with 2 small kids means that we have become fairly expert at living within a small space. I just loved the ingenious beach hut, the modular eco lodge and the flat made out of a shipping container! I was shaking my head sadly at the airstream conversion- too much of a dodgy nightclub/ keys in the fruitbowl scenario going on there for me...

Oh yes, I loved the bus too! Here are some images from their website, I would love to stay in this bus for a weekend :)

3.More great TV!

Did you see Kirstie's vintage home this week, with the amazing 60s makeover? Loved it. Cant wait to see the next episode.


4. Watching live music.

This week I was a free ticket to see Jack White (previously of the White Stripes) play in Birmingham. As I edge ever closer to 40 I am much more content to watch my live music with a mojito in my hand, on a picnic blanket, whilst my kids run feral with glowsticks. However, there is something just amazing about watching talented musicians play, entertain you and make you dance like you're 19 again. Shame I had to wake up at 5am the next morning with a toddler. But even in my sleep deprived state, the cuddles are worth it.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Letting go

Over the past few weeks I have been avidly reading some thrifty blogs. Some of the bloggers out there are just incredible at spending absolutely no money! Thrifty Queen is the most hardcore blog I've seen and she is incredibly productive- quilting, baking, sewing,, upcycling whilst doing a full time job. Frugal Queen, I salute you! I've also really enjoyed reading the blogs by a thriftymrs and just a little less by Dolly Mixtures. In fact, I think it was her blog which opened my eyes to this way of being.

In the past, I've always been very careful with how I spend money and if I want nice things, I save up/ ebay other things first. I also buy most our furniture from ebay and prefer handmade stuff from the charity shop than big chainstores. I hate going shopping in "real" shops and would much rather go to a carboot sale or buy from Etsy or Folksy. I love reading the Money Saving Expert Grabbit boards and have bought some brilliant toys through there. So the thrifty blogs are not completely unfamiliar to me, but I realise that I could do more.

One of the things I've learned from the blogs is that being thrifty is not about being stingy or having a miserable life with no joy in it. It is about thinking hard before you spend your money, making things yourself and with love and sharing this love with the people around you. It is also about leading a "lighter" life- less stuff, less worry about acquiring more stuff, having a calmer home and a calmer mind.

I'm not going to stop buying nice things but I am going to have a good old think to make sure it's something I really want and need before I do so.

With this in mind, I have started to have a major declutter. I have gone through my drawers and thrown away clothes which dont fit me or that I dont like but felt guilty about giving them away. I have advertised my beloved pushchair in the local paper. I have deep cleaned my bathroom and given a load of toys to the charity shop. It feels really good.

I've also decided that it's time to let go of some mental clutter that was bothering me. I was feeling miffed that a job I had expected to get when my boss retired was cut, as part of the NHS cuts. I was fed up with trying to find babysitters when all my friends seemed to have lots of support.

And do you know what? This week, amazing things have happened.

I have been approached to do some work by three different people. I have had old friends get in touch. I was given free tickets to see Jack White and had a great time dancing. And I had an offer from a friend to babysit my kids next year so I can go and see my favourite band in London with my husband. How good is that.

Do you have areas of your home or life that could do with a good declutter? Honestly, I feel as though I am on a roll now. Dont just think about it, do it!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Bonfire night art

It was my turn to help at playgroup today, which meant I had the pleasure of creating 30 fireworks pictures with the toddlers! I quite enjoyed myself actually.

Here is my son's effort: (art critics go easy, he's only 2!)

This afternoon, in some uncharacteristic fit of domestic goddess-like behaviour, I cleaned the windows, scrubbed the stained glass window and scrubbed the tiles in the shower with a toothbrush until it shone. Then I made homemade pizza with the kids.

(wow, that's my first photo collage! Chuffed :))

Unfortunately, both kids said "yak" after they tasted it and I ended up making them sausage and spaghetti hoops. Not such a domestic goddess after all... looks like I'm having leftover pizza for lunch tomorrow.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

52 weeks of happy- week 2

I'm joining in with Little Birdie's 52 weeks of happy. Weeks 2 and 3 were a bit rubbish, so I'm just going to forget about them and start again.

4 things that are making me happy this week:

1. Flying paper aeroplanes in pyjamas...

2.  My son's new favourite game. Rolling his metal truck down the slide with huge fits of laughter.

3. Enjoying the last flowers of the summer. I picked up some really reduced clematis viticella plants and planted them.  They need to be heavily pruned in the Spring but will then be as good as new. I heard someone on Gardener's World call it the "Valentine's day massacre!", so hopefully I wont forget to do it. I'm hoping that next year, our old pergola is going to be covered in flowers.

4. Wrist warmers- yay! How can gloves make you smile so much?

Saturday, 3 November 2012

sneaks in at the back...

Hello there. It feels like ages since I've been on here. I was doing two jobs, a course, looking after two little children and an elderly mother in law. Things had been difficult at work too. My manager, who I was very fond of, retired and one of my colleagues passed away after a long battle with cancer. I was getting more and more exhausted and depressed and was fighting off coughs and colds, but kept on soldiering on.

As soon as half term arrived, I got sick. Proper sick and I just couldnt get out of bed. Not exactly great timing when you have to be responsible for a 2 year old and a 7 year old for a week. Luckily my friends and my husband rallied around and took the kids out as much as they could and I stayed in bed. After a week I still wasnt better and got some antibiotics. Almost a week later and I still feel a bit rough but am definitely on the mend.

I didnt feel like blogging because I wasnt feeling happy. Each blog I read made me feel as though I wasnt cool enough, not creative enough, not popular enough...just not enough. Even thinking of little things to share became a struggle.

I started to wonder whether I should give up blogging if it was making me feel this way. But I really dont want to do that. This is a little space where I can create some time to be me. Not particular cool, or popular or creative, but just me.

I have started to read a few blogs on living a simpler life, with less possessions, spending less money and enjoying the simple things. The song I walked down the aisle to was "All I need" by Air. We didnt have an expensive venue or flashy reception. Our wedding car was our yellow vw camper, covered in balloons. We then took our friends to the pub and had a BBQ in the evening. It was my happiest day ever. I want to try and return to that philosophy of living simply and having fun.

Anyway, if you are reading this now, thankyou for bearing with me and I hope you will stick around x

Saturday, 6 October 2012

52 weeks of happy- week 1

52 weeks of happy is a great idea from one of my favourite blogs, Little Birdie.


So here are my 4 favourite things this week that are making me happy.

1. Singing along with my kids in the car to the Beach ba ba, ba ba baran (or is it Barbara Anne) !! Pretty similar to this youtube video, if you want to join in :)

2. Winning an amazing carrot cake in a raffle at work, in aid of Macmillan nurses. Everyone in my team was desperate to win this, so I am going to donate it back to the team and we can scoff it together.

3.  It is the Beatles' 50th anniversary, so I am going to include this lovely picture, which makes me smile whenever I see it. This vintage print is from

4. I should put something about my kids in here, shouldnt I? But I've got to be honest, they are driving me crackers this morning, having spilt apple juice on the carpet, splashed water on the floor, creating general mayhem, not allowing me to write this blog post as they wanted balamory karaoke on cbeebies and woke me up at 5.45am. My husband has just taken them out, so I can get some work done. So what I'm grateful for right now is....

Silence. That's better.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Autumn checklist

  • blackberry and apple crumble and custard? YES!
  • granny squares blanket out on the sofa for snuggling under? YES!
  • red wine instead of cider? YES!

Hooray, it's officially Autumn and I blooming love it.

My favourite Autumn song was one we sang at assembly when I was little..if any of you are seventies children you might remember it.

"Autumn days when the grass is jewelled
and there's silk inside a chestnut shell
Jetplanes meeting in the air to be refuelled
All these things I love so well
So I mustnt forget, no I mustnt forget
To say a great big thankyou, I mustnt forget"

and I've just found this song by Yo la Tengo called Autumn Sweater, which I think is rather lovely :)

Monday, 1 October 2012

Lazy weekend.

I haven't been around for the past couple of weeks because I have been busy planning and recovering from my husband's 40 th birthday party. 24 of us (12 adults and 10 children) went away together to a youth hostel in the Peak District. Luckily we had the whole building to ourselves as we are a noisy bunch!

On Friday night, we had some amazing home made curries and beer. There were 4 children sleeping in our room (eventually, after much leaping around and late night chatting), but unfortunately, the little one woke everyone up at 6am, so we were all a bit frazzled!

Eventually, we rounded everyone up and made our way to the Treak Cliff Cavern, where we saw how they mine BlueJohn stone and thousands of stalactites. The man who did the guided tour was very funny and a wee bit bonkers, so that was certainly an experience.  Then my husband took the kids mountain biking whilst I had a little rest in the pub and a nose around Castleton Village.

On the Saturday night, we had a meal at the YHA, which was very cheap but sadly not the greatest meal I've eaten. We finished it off with an amazing chocolate Chewbacca cake. He was absolutely awesome, the top bit was a giant chocolate rice crispie cake. It was made by my friend Jess, who runs a cake business called piccolina cakes.

Then we went back to the hostel, changed the kids into their pyjamas, gave them a glowstick each, put the disco ball on and then had a party. The kids learned how to DJ on our decks and made a runway/ stage out of all the benches in the kitchen.

On Sunday morning, we made breakfast together and a packed lunch, ate the Chewbacca cake with lots of cups of tea and finished off our weekend with a walk up Mam Tor. We used to do lots of hillwalking as a couple and it felt wonderful to share this with the kids. Our eldest really enjoyed herself and is proving to be quite an adventurer. Her idol is Helen Skelton from Blue Peter, "because she faces her fears".

See that bit at the top? We were up there!

I've to to say though, since we've come home I have been so shattered and cried most days out of exhaustion. I am so not able to party into the night as I used to, I wonder if I will ever be able to stay up late, or if it's just having young children?

So apart from a few hours of work on Saturday morning, I planned on doing absolutely nothing this weekend!

It didnt quite work out that way though, with more mountain biking, lots of saucepan drumming, high pitched screeching, kitchen dancing and general craziness going on.

We did manage to sit down last night to watch "Castle in the sky" by Studio Ghibli. It was aimed at a slightly older audience than the other films we have watched. I have to say, I prefer the cuter ones...

Hope you had a good weekend. I am just about to go and finish off a large bowl of apple and blackberry crumble before doing the school run...

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Sunday cinema club- My neighbour Totoro

Now we are back into the school routine, we have reinstated our Sunday cinema club. From 4-6pm, we close the curtains, watch a film as a family and the kids get to choose it. No iphones or chatting allowed!

This week, we are watching Kiki's delivery service (again!) My 2 year old adores Kiki. Not sure why but he is a huge fan...

Last week, it was My Neighbour Totoro. I would love to give you an indepth review, but unfortunately I fell asleep on the sofa. oops. Slightly breaking my own rules there. What I saw was amazing though, like a Japanese Alice in Wonderland, but wierder!

Image credit:

I then found a tutorial on how to draw Totoro here: and we all had good fun having a go at drawing him.

We then had lots of fun looking at cute Totoro stuff on Etsy and google. Our favourites were

Lego Totoro from Japanistic blog

Totoro hat from Scotako

Ecocycled: Etsy

Watching these beautiful Studio Ghibli films with your kids makes you feel like the world is a magical place. Just for those two hours when the curtains are closed, the phones are off and the jobs can wait.

A big hello to my 2 new followers, S:; and Hannah Phillips. Thankyou for joining me x That's a grand total of 10. Yippee!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Blankets...lovely snuggly blankets!

I am sitting at my laptop with my big, snuggly vintage jumper on. It is brown with purple stripes and I just love it. Cant believe that only 5 days ago, I was outside with Factor 30 suncream on!

As much as I have loved the Summer this year, I also love Autumn to bits. It's my favourite season of the year. Although I quite like winter as it's Christmas and my children's birthdays. And I love Spring too and getting the first load of washing on the line each year makes me feel a bit brighter.

But for me, Autumn is all about snuggling. It probably reminds me of being in my campervan, as that involves a lot of snuggling under blankets when it's cold.

My 2 year old boy has inherited the box room and it has 2 external walls. I am therefore on the hunt for a lovely blanket for his bed. I was watching this alphabet one on ebay, but sadly it sold for £68! I guess it's not that surprising as so much love and work has gone into it, but that's beyond my budget right now.

I like this black and white ripple one too, from Mamalscrafty on Etsy.

Oh I love this one too! For me though mwah ha ha...from Tintedvintage on Etsy.

I am also a big fan of Donna Wilson's blankets...

I love this one which can become a den...

I love the idea of escaping from the clouds and rain under this one...

and this Marimekko Uniqqo blanket looks so soft and warm too.