Saturday, 25 August 2012

People Tree Autumn/Winter collection

I've got to be honest, I've never bought fairtrade clothes before, even though I dont buy from shops like Primark anymore. Funny really because I always buy free range meat, fairtrade coffee, tea and bananas!

Anyway, this brochure popped through my letterbox yesterday and I just love it. I would happily wear any of these dresses and am thinking about finally spending some of my birthday money.

Check out these beauties: Sorry the resolution is poor, the images were tiny and when I tried to resize them, they went all blurry. Technology isnt my strong point.

Lydia Squirrel print dress, £80
A nice bit of Orla:

Orla kiely owl dress, £95

Jill Red striped tunic, £48

I've just noticed that there is a sale on, I may stock for up next year's Summer! Actually there's loads of dresses which are in the catalogue but not on the website yet, so I will post again when they appear.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Detox- days 3 and 4

Well I am still sticking to the Jason Vale 14 days to turbo charge your life plan. By the skin of my teeth! Yesterday, someone brought in a large tin of Roses into work (which were scoffed in less than 24 hours, naughty bunch) and then today brought in a load of birthday cakes. I had to use every bit of my strength to step away from them.

Link: Aikawaii shop, etsy

On day 3, I didnt really feel too hungover any more, although I must have been tired as I fell asleep on the sofa at 9pm. I did have a slight catastrophe though, as my vegetable "power soup" had developed muscles of  it's own and had started fermenting in the flask-yuuuk. So I had to eat an emergency avocado and keep focussed until my dinner, which was very nice. Honey roasted root veggies and salmon.

I had really horrible, vivid dreams for the last couple of nights too. Luckily, this had also happened to my friend who had followed a similar plan a few weeks ago.

My work colleagues are laughing at my "slime diet", as they see me walking around work with a glass of bright green smoothie. However, I am starting to see the effects now. I have lost about 4lbs in 4 days and I definitely have more energy. Usually by the evening, I would be collapsing onto the sofa, but I feel fine and am contemplating doing some dancing on the wii in a minute. Late night party! I feel like my body is running on that extra posh petrol you get at the petrol station, instead of my usual unleaded diet. I had a reasonably good diet beforehand, but it was probably lacking in quite a few vitamins. I also ate lots of snacks and treats, especially at work if I was feeling bored. Finally, I was doing no exercise at all.

So I'm feeling pretty pleased with how I am getting on so far. Next weekend, I am going to another music festival with the kids, so I wont be able to stick to it. However, I will be seeking out the fruit juice stalls and doing my best to continue.

I love cookie: etsy

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

14 days to turbocharge your life- days 1 and 2

So, as I wrote in my last post, my 37th birthday marked a bit of a turning point and a decision that it is time to start taking care of myself a bit better.

Spurred on by the success of a work colleague, I have started the Jason Vale 14 days programme. Basically, you have a nutrient filled, green smoothie for breakfast, a nutrient packed, green soup for lunch (or you can have another smoothie if you want) and then protein with salad or stir fry for dinner.

I'm currently at the end of day 2. Yesterday I was feeling extremely enthusiastic, cleaned the house in the morning and crashed and burned with hunger by 4.30pm. I didnt cheat but I made my dinner by 5pm on the dot! I fell asleep by 9.30pm and had some extremely vivid nightmares!

On Day 2 I woke up, feeling as though I had been on a late night drinking session and the hangover was just about to start. However, after a nice glass of green smoothie, I felt much better. I still dont feel entirely full as my body is used to having biscuits out of the tin ad infinitum, but my body feels cleaner, lighter and (dare I say it) a little bit healthier.

This is the recipe for the Turbo Power Smoothie. It sounds pretty disgusting, but actually it's not unpleasant to drink.


1/4 cucumber
1 celery stick
a handful of spinach leaves
1/2 pineapple
4 golden delicous apples
1/4 lime

then blend 1/2 avocado with some ice and add to the juice.

When I got home from work, the rain was absolutely chucking it down and there was thunder and lightning. I really didnt fancy getting my running gear on, but luckily for me, I have a 7 year old personal trainer who told me to get changed. The rain stopped and I did a 3 mile run (with walks in between) whilst she rode her bike, giving me encouragement and sips of water from her bottle.

I think my husband thinks I have gone mad! I have changed from a serial cake muncher to a health nut lol.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Birthday/ Plan B

It was my birthday on Friday and I was 37. I had a really chilled out weekend, with a vintage teaparty with my friend and 4 children on Friday, a delicious Sunday roast at a local pub today (without the children- woohoo) and a reflexology treatment. It's been lovely.

I've never been particularly bothered about becoming another year older, but 37 seems to be a bit of a tipping point for me. I'm not early thirties, I'm not really mid thirties, I'm entering my late thirties...this is uncharted waters. By this age I imagined that I would have finished having (at least 3) children, I would be on my way to being a having a fabulous job in the NHS, it would all be going exactly to plan.

However. Life over the past few years hasn't exactly gone to plan. I had 5 miscarriages between my 2 children, leading to a lot of medical tests, a lot of tears and a 5 year age gap between my children. I now have a toddler whilst all my friends' children are at school. I absolutely adore the ground he walks on and I wouldnt change anything, but it isn't what I had planned. I was offered the super duper job in Devon 3 years ago, but had to turn it down as we had elderly relatives to care for in Birmingham. One of them has had cancer and one sadly passed away last year. The NHS is a very different place to what it was 5 years ago. Promotions are scarce, cutbacks are rife, we are being told to work harder than ever and to be grateful that we have jobs.

I thought we would be living in a 4 or 5 bedroom house, preferably somewhere Victorian, a bit arty, a bit more expensive. In reality, house prices have crashed and the little semi we bought 5 years ago is looking like our lifetime home.

"The plan" has gone a wee bit pearshaped and it feels like it is time to take stock of my life, figure out what really matters and make some new plans for my late thirties/ forties.

A couple of weeks ago, I sat in the waiting room of the Oncology department of my local hospital, waiting to hear whether my mother in law's cancer had come back. That 20 minute wait was the longest of my life. Time seemed to stretch out endlessly. We flicked through magazines but didn't read the words. I tried to make small talk with her about the weather and the Olympics, whilst inside my heart was pumping. We had been here before, as much of my maternity leave was spent at a different cancer treatment centre, breastfeeding my baby whilst she was having her radiotherapy. Neither of us could bear to get up when the consultant called us into his office.

It was good news. The lump that they had found wasn't cancerous and she was free to go. I thought that I would feel elated but I didn't. I felt a mixture of weariness and the overriding feeling that I never wanted to be back in that room again. At that moment, my goals for the next 15 years were crystal clear.

1. Spend as much time with the children as I can
2. Make some quality time to be with my husband, even just a couple of hours a month
3. Enjoy what time we have left with my mother in law, the children's beloved Granny and
4. Look after myself, because if I dont do that, I cant do 1,2 or 3.

In the 8 years since I first became pregnant, I haven't done any regular exercise. I have lived on hardly any sleep for years and staggered through the day on a mixture of tea, nervous energy, chocolate and cake. It shows. My skin is grey, my eyes have bags, there are wrinkles appearing.

I've got to do something...

So this week, I have been on the wii fit twice. It told me that it had 1325 days since my last visit. That's not great is it? Tonight, my daughter rode her bike whilst I ran around the local roads, puffing like nobody's business and going as red as a beetroot. Of course, I bumped into 2 people I know- the shame!

We ate the last of the birthday cake today and tomorrow I am starting a detox. It's called Jason Vale's 14 days to turbo charge your life and involves lots of smoothies, fresh juice and moving my bum off the sofa. Gulp. A colleague at work recently did it and her skin, hair and eyes looked so healthy and shiny.

I am also starting to do some mindulness techniques, to help me to stop worrying about the plans we had that didn't happen and just to enjoy each moment, each day as it comes.

I expect I will fall off the wagon spectacularly, with the exercise and the healthy eating, but I really want to give it a go. I don't want my kids to remember me as tired, grumpy and stressed out every evening because I'm shattered. I want to have enough energy to play with them, to dance with them, to ferry them around when they are teenagers.

Plan B starts today :) Wish me luck x

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

My mind has gone blank

It's 2 days until my birthday. My husband's asking me what I would like, my Mother in Law's asking me what I would like, my friend is asking me what I would like.

I have absolutely no idea. This happens to me every single year and it drives my husband bananas.

He can't really buy me any clothes, as I rarely buy clothes and they are usually vintage or from ebay.
He can't buy me music as I dont really collect cds any more. If I want to listen to music, I go on spotify, youtube or bbc iplayer.
He cant buy me an art print because a) he is colour blind, b) it would probably involve something from Star Wars and c) I am a bit fussy.
I dont really drink alcohol much these days.
He can.t buy me anything for the house as the things I like are from quirky places like Etsy, Donna Wilson, Marimekko, Pedlars etc. I dont think he would have heard of any of them, bless him.

Even the things I thought I wanted don't seem so appealing any more. I had wondered about buying a new satchel for work, but suddenly, my ancient work bag seems like a faithful old friend.

I found a lovely red Catherine Holm coffee pot on ebay, but decided not to bid on it 5 minutes before the auction closed.

Is it just me who has this terrible affliction? I think I will just wait and if something catches my eye, I will buy it later in the year.

In the meantime, on Friday I have invited my lovely friend and her 2 daughters to come for a teaparty. My mother in law has lent me her china teaset. It's over 100 years old so I am hoping that I dont drop anything. She has already told me not to worry, but all the same...gulp. I am thinking pink lemonade and roses. It's actually a trial run for my boss's retirement party in a couple of weeks time.

Then on Sunday, the same friend has offered to babysit, so me and the husband can go out for Sunday lunch at a lovely pub or cafe and then I have a reflexology and aromatherapy treatment booked at 3pm. It was a bit of a groupon bargain, only £11 for an hour! I am so looking forward to it.

Vintage, tea, cake, friends, children, lovely food and being nurtured....that's all I need and more :)

Monday, 13 August 2012

Yellow submarine

My daughter is away on her first ever Brownie camp and I am really missing her :(. The house seems so quiet! I hope that she is ok, she had declared that the best thing about being in the Brownies was being allowed to go away without her parents and that she wouldn't miss us at all. However on Friday night, we had a few tears so she isn't quite as fearless as she thinks...

Anyway, last week I decided to teach her how to play "Yellow Submarine" on the guitar so we could play together and be in a band. My toddler was on drums (an old set of bongos from our Uni days), she was the lead singer and guitar in the chorus and I was the guitarist. We had such fun that she said, "wouldnt it be great if we could build our own yellow submarine?" So we did. We found some of the Yellow Submarine artwork and used it as inspiration.

Hope her guitar teacher doesnt mind her adding her own songs into her book!

 It took the rest of the morning to paint the giant cardboard boxes, make some portholes out of paper plates and plastic film and spray the periscopes gold (deoderant cans and recycled plastic cartons). It was big enough to fit two kids inside and came up to my chest by the time it was finished!

We then proudly placed the submarine onto my beloved crochet granny blanket and set sail on the sea of green for the rest of the day...

The basketball became a giant octopus for the Octopus' garden...

Sargeant Pepper was the captain!

I have had such a lovely Summer holiday so far, but this was one of the best days and it cost absolutely nothing.

I'm back to work tomorrow, boo hoo, but I am thinking about having a few girls over for a birthday tea on Friday, which I'm looking forward to very much.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Our airstream adventure :)

This Summer, the intention had been to go camping for a week in Dorset. In about February, I showed my husband the website for Happy Days Retro Vacations, an airstream holiday letting service, but at the time, he really wasnt sure about the whole thing. I think he thought it was another of my "mad hippy moments".

However, at Whitsun, we had a thoroughly cold, wet and generally miserable week's camping in the Cotswolds and I was not a happy bunny afterwards. I started looking at static caravans on ebay. I muttered about sticking the campervan up for sale, much to my husband's alarm.

The rain continued for most of June and the start of July, when my husband suddenly had a great idea...why didnt we book a caravan holiday? Quick as a flash, I checked the Happy Days site and there was just one airstream free- Dee Dee. I booked her like a flash and to be honest, I was even more excited to be staying here than I was about going to Camp Bestival.

On the Monday, after a mammoth session in the laundrette and a couple of hours on Swanage beach, we arrived at our destination. We were met by Kevin, possibly the most cheerful man I have ever met! He and his wife Jenni are the owners of happy days. He told us his story of the how the business was created, after his wife fell in love with a friend's airstream and then he had a motorbike accident in London. They left the city and set up a new life with their two children in Dorset. They now own a fleet of 4 shiny silver ladies- Betsy, Gloria, Dee Dee and Peggy. They date from 1959 to 1973.

So here is Dee Dee, in all her glory!

Oh there were so many things I just loved about her...from the fresh roses on the table, the fairy lights, the little wooden drawers that creaked when you opened them, the whistling kettle, the crochet was my idea of heaven. Jenni has done such a great job of making it feel stylish and yet very homely. We all relaxed in there immediately and although we were aware that Dee Dee is an old lady and needs to be treated carefully, we are used to that with the camper.

One of my favourite things inside the airstream was this little sugar bowl. It's my birthday next week, so I have managed to track down the artist, Becky Ryan, and buy one as a little souvenir. It says Hello Sailor! on the top.

At night, the solar fairy lights came on and all four silver ladies looked very beautiful in a row. We were also able to have a campfire outside, which was lovely. On the last night, my daughter was singing her heart out to Noah and the Whale and I will never forget that moment. In fact, I am going to make a playlist of all the songs we played that night- Beach House, First Aid Kit, Stornoway, Ben Howard etc.

There's no entertainment laid on, other than the field, a little lake and the other children. This was great as the children quickly made friends and had a great time, just racing around, playing frisbee, making up games. The camping pitch is very generous, which gave the children plenty of room to play and us a huge, star filled sky to stare at at night.

The vans are sited on the edge of the New Forest, but only 45 minutes away from the sea, so we did a lot of playing in the forest, crab fishing and we also spent a day in Weymouth, where we watched the Olympic Sailing.

I felt very priveliged to have the chance to stay in Dee Dee and I thought that the price for 4 nights in the school holidays was very reasonable.

Although it would be an absolute dream to own our own Airstream, it's probably not going to happen as they are a lot of money and we live in a cul de sac in the middle of Birmingham! But as a special little escape, I dont think we can beat this holiday.

Well done to Kevin and Jenni, you have created something really special here folks x

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Camp bestival- a belated review

Camp Bestival finished last Monday, but we decided to make a holiday of our time down in Dorset, so we only returned yesterday.

Last year, I had a pretty mixed time at Camp Bestival to be honest. I had been looking forward to it so much, but a lack of sleep due to a baby/ stressed out 6 year old and too much expectations caused it to feel like a bit of a let down.

So this year, I hadnt really thought about it much at all. The line up wasnt particularly up my street, as the headliners were acts that I was either not particularly interested in (Hot Chip, Earth Wind and Fire) or I had already seen them this year (Happy Mondays). And in hindsight, I am really pleased about that, as it freed us up to move away from the main stage and explore some of the more quirky aspects of the festival.

We had come down to Lulworth Castle in convoy with 2 other families. Between us we had 5 children, ranging in ages from 1-7. We had stayed in a travelodge overnight, had a lovely breakfast in one of those fancy Little Chefs designed by Heston Blumenthal (birdsong in the loo, anyone?) and had a one hour drive to the festival, which meant that we were one of the first families to get in. We pitched our 3 vans side by side and had enough room to pitch my event shelter, which gave the little ones some much needed respite from the sun. Now there's one problem I didnt expect us to have this year.

After a couple of hours, we went down to the main festival area, where the girls bought animal tails, blew bubbles, ate ice creams and did some singing, dancing and instrument playing in the Rob da Bank music tent. We also had the chance to see the Wall of Death, which is a terrifying fairground attraction where 3 people drive motorbikes and a buggy around the walls of the arena, like a giant and very noisy salad spinner. I was watching from the top with a couple of the girls and I was genuinely terrified... Then it was back to the vans for an early night, via a festaxi- this is a golf buggy, driven by a hippy at fast speed, up and down some rather steep hills! We had a rather long wait for our taxi ride as there were only four taxis for the whole festival, so we were given a free ride which was very lovely of the organisers. I~ think we could do with some more of those next year, Rob da Bank!

On the Friday, we mooched around and spent a lot of time sitting on old sofas outside the bandstand, sipping  
cocktails. I had premixed and frozen some weak mojitos, and then bought a shot of rum and ice from the bar so I could have a proper cold drink. My daughter was able to get up on the bandstand and sing backing vocals to "Valerie". I was so proud of my little rock star! Amazingly, she got up, sang her socks off and took it in her stride.

We had a really good laugh dancing to "Mr B the gentleman rhymer", he is like a posh rapper! As I was a child of the 90s, I particularly enjoyed his rave covers on the banjo, including "Move any mountain" and "Ebeneezer Goode". He also covered Blur, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and loads of my other favourite bands, so we were very happy.

I wont bore you with all the music we watched, but another one of my favourite bands was Bellowhead. They are fantastic live and perfect in the sunshine. I went and right danced right at the front to this one, it was a very funny experience being in a folk moshpit.

On Friday night, we decided to watch the Olympic Opening ceremony in the Big Top. I am so glad we did, it was an absolutely amazing experience. There must have been a couple of thousand children and parents crammed into the big top, and counting down to the start of the show was a moment I will never ever forget.

On Saturday, we took part in the fancy dress parade, mooched around a lot in the afternoon, danced in the silent disco with the kids, watched some theatre in an old Routemaster bus and had a late night boogie to DJ Yoda and the Transsiberian Marching Band. They played such happy, upliftting, soulful music. My late night dancing was fueled by a brandy hot chocolate from the Hurly Burly bar. I dont drink much alcohol these days and this blew my socks off!

I also really enjoyed some of the sponsored tents, which I hadnt expected to as I am not really a fan of corporate sponsorship at festivals. I had a great time in the Persil Mosh and Wash tent, watching children take part in the rock karaoke. The kids had a chance to get up on stage with professional backing singers, a drummer and a guitarist. What an opportunity! And also, persil were offering a free laundry service. If my clothes werent miles away in the campervan, I would have grabbed them like a shot. The Ecover tent did a really good dance workshop for the children too.

Other highlights for me included taking the children underneath the castle to listen to "Yellow Submarine" by the Beatles on an amazing Linn stereo system, getting some peace and quiet in the Dingly Dell play area and watching DJ Derek with my toddler on Sunday afternoon. If you havent heard of him, he is a 70-something year old pensioner from Bristol, who plays the most lovely 60s reggae from the Caribbean. I spent 2 hours in heaven, listening to some wonderful tunes and blowing bubbles for my son to chase.

So all in all, we had an amazing time. The sun shone, the kids were happy and it didn't feel as stressful as last year.

Would I go again? I'm not sure at the moment. The entertainment for children and adults is amazing, but we've been 3 times now and it feels as though it may be time to try something a bit quieter and smaller. Camp Bestival is great fun, but not very relaxing! We are trying a different festival at the end of the summer which has a more folky vibe, so I'm looking forward to that. The kids really do love it though. It's like Christmas in Summertime.

After the festival had ended, we were all pretty shattered, but luckily for us, we had the chance to go on a very special little holiday holiday afterwards, which I will tell you about in my next post...