Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Competition-Win a Dickins and Jones cushion with House of Fraser

I have a fab competition for you today.

How would like to win yourself this Dickins and Jones Multi Cushion?

Know I don't know about you but lounges can sometimes be quite bland and plain so it it great to try and add a pop of colour to the room with some bright and vibrant cushions. I know my Mother in law likes to change her cushions with the seasons!

Why not brighten up your lounge this summer with some great cushions from House of Fraser, because let's face the sun has been a bit absent of late!

And if you are too afraid of the bight colours there are some fab neutral ones too, and so much choice too!

I have my eye on a few for our recently decorated lounge...

Like this Orla Keily duck egg blue one
Or this Linea HOME one
Anyway for your chance to win the Dickins and Jones cushion enter your details in the raflecopter below

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Monday, 18 May 2015

Life lately

Oh my, has it really been nearly two month's since I last posted!!

Is it really already half way through May already!?

This year seems to be going by in a flash, Alex has nearly completed his first year at school, which is pretty scary! He is doing well there though, and enjoys it as much as any 5 year old boy would-he does complain on a day where they "had to do writing", and getting him to do his homework can be a bit of a chore! It's amazing how much they get even at such a young age! Must admit, as much as I say I am going to be organised with it we always leave it until last minute!!

Talking of schools, I finally heard back about Sam's preschool place in April, luckily he did get a place (I had been worried that he hadn't got in as a few other's had heard weeks before me). Unfortunately he didn't get given a full day as they didn't have the space and not the full 15 hours either (which doesn't bother me too much for next year anyway), which is a bit of a pain for me with not driving and it taking me 20mins each way-I won't get my town shopping without kids just yet! It's scary to think that come January I will have him at preschool though, my little one growing up! Mind you I am already wishing for those few hours of just simple peace and quiet...

Being in our new house (which I really most post some photos of) has made the world of difference recently, the boys have been enjoying their new addition to the garden-a trampoline (paid for with xmas vouchers), it's just a shame that the weather has been a bit pants the last couple of weeks for them to really try it out. We have made the most of having a garden and have already had 3 BBQ's-making up for the lost time of not having a garden for the past 5 years, our neighbours probably think we are a bit mad!

I am enjoying having my own little craft space to make and create for my own small business Danielle Louise Designs, although I still haven't sold anything to anyone other than friends and family yet so I would like things to pick up a bit, it is so hard to be seen when there are so many people trying to make themselves seen in the same sort of market. It really does eat up so much time too, and I do find it hard to balance it all!

We have just booked a weeks holiday to the south of France with my parents, one of my brothers and my Aunt with her family, so have that to look forward to at the end of July. Looking forward to a bit of sun (hopefully) and James has already found out there is a large water park nearby too! It will be nice to show James the sort of holiday's I went on as a child-he has been very spoilt and gone to Florida far too many times over the years but hasn't really experienced a more cultural holiday in the most recent years (unless you count Mickey Mouse as cultural)!! I am not sure my parents will find it as relaxing as they may be hoping for with my two in the mobile home too-fingers crossed my two will sleep in a bit (crosses everything)!

Now only a few more days of the school run (probably in the rain, what is with the weather at the moment?) and then it's half term, we have 2 TD days tagged on at the end of it too, my parents are off to a Greek island too so don't even have my Mum as a half term saviour (we often meet up over the holidays a lot as she works in a school and with me not driving she often takes us to places I can't get to very well) so half term could prove interesting!!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Family Time

This day in age it's so easy to just get caught up with it all, the days, weeks and months just roll into each other...before we knew it was Mother's day!

We had a lovely family day, the boy's bought in their handmade cards, it was lovely as Alex made such a beautiful one at school. Still no flowers, chocs, or cake or anything else though-James can't have got the hint...again!

We spent he day with my parents and headed out to Bristol Zoo, it was a really cold day so a lot of the animals were hiding but it was a really great outing. I'd not been there since primary school-I had images of it being bigger, but in fact it's quite a small zoo and it's funny seeing all the houses around it too.

We were extremely lucky to see one lion, he even walked right in front of us, I don't think her of them made an appearance the rest of that day!

The gorilla enclosure was really brilliant, although I always feel a bit odd watching the gorillas as it feels like you are staring at humans in some ways with all our similarities. We watched the talk & feed which was really interesting and was a great opportunity to see them all.

The boy's enjoyed the penguin and seal area-especially when the seals were play fighting! The both loved walking under the water too.

As it was cold the reptile house etc was perfect to warm up!

We also all had a bit of a race to see how fast we could run (it was meant to be for kids but me and mum also had a go), I was just pleased I won and that it warmed me up a little too! 

Sam loved the monkeys, and Alex found a drill that was less than impressed when Alex waved to her-but the boy's found it hilarious when she would hit the window each time he did it.

We popped into Ikea afterwards as I needed some more frames for my business, and then headed back for a perfect family roast.

Last weekend it was nice to take some more time out. We went to the Isle of Wight after Alex finished school-one advantage of him finishing early on a Friday! We went with James' family and shared a lodge with his sister and her boyfriend at Woodside coastal retreat.

We turned up to the lodges when it was dark so didn't really know exactly where we were as such, so it was a fabulous surprise on the Saturday morning opening the lounge curtains to find a sea view and blue skies too!

The lodges were really lovely, decorated fantastically and kept nice and clean with everything you need- I would definitely recommend.

We took it easy each morning but packed a lot in, in the 2 days there, We had planned on going on the steam train on the Saturday but it was only open Sunday's (Sam was so upset about this bless him and nearly cried, he kept asking to go on the train the rest of the day!), instead we took a trip to Amazon Zoo.

A small zoo but nice enough for a few hours, there is a good park on site too, and if you are staying for longer you can have a free return pass valid for a week too. The lemur enclosure was great, they were jumping up on a few of us and also there was a tiny 6 week old baby jumping  around too! Everyone found the talking parrot great too; I'm not sure if we timed it right but all the animals seemed really active, I for one have never seen a red panda wandering about as they are usually asleep!

We quickly popped to the Garlic Farm too, and tried a few samples, their makes are delicious, I think I would like to actually eat here one day for lunch-it smelt amazing.

We then had an early dinner at the White Mouse Inn, perfect for families as there is a decent sized play area-with a view of the sea too.

After dinner we popped quickly to the beach to watch the sun set, and wow the temperature dropped when it did!

The Sunday us 4 and James' sister and boyfriend popped to the beach which was less than a 2 minute walk from the beach, the boy's had great fun throwing the stones in the water whilst I had fun collected a bucket-load of shells, I say bucket-load but we had no bucket we had to use Alex's coat hood (he never wears his coat as doesn't feel the cold).

Then much to Sam's happiness we went to the steam railway, he was in his element with his wooden train whistle too, I think he thought he'd made the sound once when in actual fact in was the train's which was quite amusing.

They had some falcons and owls there when we visited, and Alex was brave enough to hold one (certainly helps having his young uncles to copy sometimes I think), I was really surprised he did it, i think he was proud about it too, he chose to hold Elsa the barn owl.

We then had lunch with everyone at James' parent's lodge and enjoyed another hour on the beach before the ferry. It certainly made the journey go quicker when a cruise liner went past and the boats played horn wars with the boat horns, the boy's (James included) loved this.

It was so nice having a couple of weekends to forget about the housework, school home work, and the 'to do' list, it was definitely needed-even if it does build up for afterwards!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Green bean and radish warm salad with Peter Rabbit #Tastytales

I've been invited to take part in the Happy Feaster Blog Tour by Ladybird Books and The Happy Foodie.   We have been asked to take storytelling from the page to the kitchen by creating a Spring recipe inspired by the Tales of Peter Rabbit!  I've decided to create a green bean and radish salad with my little bunnies (Alex 5 and Sam 2). 

For more Spring recipes, inspired by Peter Rabbit and friends, why not head over to The Happy Foodie and discover how celebrity chefs and their children are joining in!

As part of this campaign we were given 3 brilliant Peter rabbit books to inspire our ingredients or ideas behind our recipe. 
Sam and Alex both like this selection of short board books, with brief short stories of the main characters in the Peter Rabbit tales. we love that the reverse of all the books create an image if put in the correct order-we only discovered this a few days after we had first read them!

I love how this is a great decoration/backdrop as well as a short story too.

A special edition for Penguin's 80th anniversary. A really lovely story-we didn't have any Peter Rabbit stories beforehand (I must ask Mum if she kept my collection I had as as a child!) and Alex and Sam have both sat down and listened nicely to the story.

It was the original Peter Rabbit tale where we got our recipe inspiration from:
Peter Rabbit is partial to pinching some of Mr McGregor's radishes after all!

"First he ate some lettuces and some French beans; and then he ate some radishes"

Green bean and radish warm salad
A small bag of green beans
1 small red onion (diced finely)
2 cloves of garlic (diced finely)
1 tsp of grainy mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
A small handful of radishes

-Chop the ends off the green beans and put on to boil for 4-5 minutes.
-Slice the other vegetables finely.
-In another pan sweat the onions and garlic for a few minutes, meanwhile mix the oil, mustard, and lemon juice in a small jug, season to taste.
-Add the onions and garlic to the oil dressing.
-Drain the beans and mix with the radishes, toss with the dressing.

This dish will be the perfect side dish to barbecues, we enjoyed it last night with chicken and sautéed potatoes.

If you've enjoyed this then why not stop by Over 40 and a mum to one tomorrow to check out what delicious Easter ideas she has for enjoying with your families. 

Also follow the hashtag #tastytales to see what other people and bloggers have been inspired to make. 

We also did a quick bunny bake last night, now I am sure if you have little ones you would've sung the song 'Peter Rabbit's got a fly upon his nose'...

Well with that in mind we a quick batch of biscuits-with cinnamon cranberries for the fly upon his nose! I don't think the people at Biscuiteers have got anything to worry about as it's not a patch on the surprise Peter Rabbit biscuit we received-we haven't had the heart to eat it yet as it just feels wrong as it looks so good!

Friday, 6 March 2015

Apologies-my blog has been a bit quiet of late, and also apologies to any blogs I normally read too-I just haven't had the time/have been far too tired when I do.

I have been busy trying to get my craft business up and running-even got around to letting the tax man know about me last week (not that I will be making that much from it!).

It is going quite well, slow and steady but I am getting a few orders in and spreading the word (and my work) out there a bit.

In our new house I am lucky enough to have a craftroom, my husband still calls it his office but the desk is usually covered in felt, a glue gun, buttons and papers so I think I win there.

It is so nice to finally have a space where I can a. do any craft I want to and b. be able to leave it all out, exactly as I want and come back to it when I can. I feel very lucky to have this as it is something I have pretty much been dreaming about for years!

The last few weeks have seen me busy with new home makes and Mother's day makes too, I am thankful that my friends have given me a chance in ordering some of my items too.

Here's a little peak at some of my recent makes:

A personalised new home make

Mother's day doesn't have to just be for Mum's :) felt rose heart
This colour card has been popular with my netball friends-Mother's Day card
I must admit the hardest part of having this business on the side is the feeling that I am not really being there for my family as much, far too often the tv has come to keep the kids entertained whilst I have been up stairs making. So time management is something I really have to work on a bit!

I also get a bit anxious when sending out parcels as to whether they will get there ok, I am always worried the glass will break and with the cards I am worried they will get badly bent-but then I always like something to worry about don't I!?

If you like what you see I would be ever so grateful (if you are on facebook) to give my small business a like, just remember when you buy handmade you aren't paying for some fat cat at the top to enjoy a swanky holiday you are helping a small family save for day's out, clothes, or after school activities.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Why can't I play with my boys?

So I have a confession and it really isn't one I am proud of at all.

I suck, really, really suck at being a good Mum who finds time for and plays with my children.

I always wanted to be a fun Mum, making dens, crafting, dressing up and being silly.

Getting involved.

But I am not.

I am a Mum who is always making excuses, always craving 'me time', choosing a house job over playing (despite hating housework) sitting with them but not engaging properly with them, phone in hand usually, or laptop breaks when my mind wanders.

I am sure the words my son's hear most are "in a minute", "later", "we'll do it next day/week..." and how sad is that?

I am more than happy to watch, but I get bored playing the games with them (I am ready for the backlash of that comment as I am sure many people will say how can you), I find it hard to play the same game or push the same cards around over and over.

And yet, as much as I feel guilty I still so nothing about it. What does that say about me?

They are two very happy souls, who are currently playing great together as I type this. Crashing their noisy 4x4 cars into each other and collapsing into giggles, and instead of joining in I am sat watching.

I always had visions of being a fun mum, and I am sure I used to be more of one way back but why can't I be now?

I NEED to snap out of this!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Review: Gousto meal box

We had the pleasure to review one of Gousto's meal boxes for two last week-and what a treat it was!

Not heard of Gousto? Well they are a brilliant company that deliver food boxes right to your door, similar to veg boxes you can get from other companies however Gousto's boxes include everything you need to make the meals.

Everything was packaged nicely in the printed box. I must admit I was intrigued as to how it would be packaged with such a variety of ingredients! 95% of the packing is recyclable and from renewable resources which I think is a great thing for companies these days, the meat and cheese was kept cold with a couple of large ice packs and everything protected by a bag of wool which also helped with keeping it all cool. The box was in to compartments which stopped the vegetables and fruit from getting bruised. The only slight problems we had were that the spring onion looked a little limp and the vinegars had very slightly leaked from their pots and bags, but to be honest I wouldn't know a better way to package these. 

It was very exciting to have all the ingredients ready to go for the meals, I am very much an 'open the cupboards and see what dinner I can make from it' kind of girl normally! As I said all the ingredients are there, the only things we needed extra for our meals were house essentials such as milk, butter, salt, pepper and oil.    

We had a box which was for 2 people, which included 3 separate meals:
Steak and blue cheese
Pork and braised apple
Sausage and bean mash

Each meal has a menu card, showing clearly the ingredients needed, quantities (as you can get boxes for 4 people too), time, cuisine, and calorie count per portion. What I really liked about these recipe cards is the easy step to step instructions with photos for each stage, now I am relatively ok with cooking but if say my hubby or my brother was cooking a meal they may need these photos a bit more than I did (shh I didn't say that about them)! I also came across a video icon on one stage on the pork and apple meal which lead to a short tutorial

I'd say each meal pretty much took the same amount of time said on the card, I liked that they were all cooked within 15-30mins each, I think I have always been of the thought that tasty meals took ages to prepare and to cook!

All three meals were great, the stilton (which I don't normally like) was delicious, the pork and leek sausages were the best sausages I have eaten in a long time, and I think the pork and apple meal was our favourite out of the 3. 

Gousto box prices are:
  • Meat box for 2 people - £34.99 per week
  • Meat box for 4 people - £49.99 per week
  • Veggie box for 2 people - £33.99 per week
  • Veggie box for 4 people - £47.99 per week 
If you ever need to cancel or pause you can do so, you just need to make sure you do it before noon on a Sunday before the delivery. I have also discovered you can do a monthly delivery from reading on their website 

Now if I am honest we couldn't afford to get one of these boxes weekly at the moment what with having just moved. But having said that if we did have enough money I would definitely be considering it as it takes the stress out of deciding what you want to eat when on the food shop, everything is ready to go and the meat and vegetables were all of a brilliant quality. 

"Our sourcing team channels an unfathomable amount of effort into finding the best possible quality for you. Not that we're complaining, it keeps us in shape! Our smoked fish, for example, comes from a smokehouse in Wiltshire. Our meat is 100% British and always will be. Take our chicken, it’s supplied by a family owned butchery in Lancashire (and they get it from Cumbria). And our eggs? They come from a free-range farmer called Steven Rowbottom – you couldn’t make it up! He’s based a mere 2 miles away from our warehouse, in egg miles that’s less than a stone (or egg’s) throw. And if all that’s not enough, our sourcing team also do their utmost to buy from ethical suppliers like Suma and Mr. Organic, and family-run businesses like Direct Poultry. Phew!"

Also I am not sure about you,but do you end up cooking the same old meals every week or two? Gousto have a nice range of menus and I know from looking at them there are many things I normally wouldn't cook (or even really try as I tend to stick with what I know) so it brings a bit of variety and an eating experience too. They bring out new menus each week for you to choose from so there is always something new and exciting. 

Now what I want to know, is there a pudding option somewhere on the horizon too? (Sorry- ever the sweet tooth)!

We recieved one Gousto Meat box for 2 to review, but all opinions are our own. 



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