Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Birthday Boy!

Our gorgeous baby turned 1 on the 23rd August (2011), and whilst I'm {still} very much in denial that his first year has flown by so unbelievably fast, I am so proud of my little man, and of Colin & I for being darn good parents! 

I've posted photos many a time over the course of this year, so I shall keep the photos brief, but our son has gone from this... this...

We celebrated his birthday by throwing a big garden party for our closest family and friends (not all of whom were able to be there, and were very much missed), and luckily Mother Nature was on our side and provided just the right amount of warmth and sunshine for Jamie's special day. We had a great turnout, the food, cake and activities (for the children, naturally) went down very well, and most importantly Jamie really seemed to enjoy his party!

On his actual birthday Mother Nature wasn't quite as generous with the weather, and the rain put paid to our plans of going to a local farm and activity centre, but we stayed at home with PLENTY of pressies to unwrap and entertain, and a good time was certainly had by all. Jamie was incredibly lucky and got so many generous and thoughtful gifts, and it was so wonderful for me to see the effort people had put in, and the love that was lavished on my little boy. If you're one of those people, then thank you, SO much, it is very appreciated.

Jamie's first year has been undoubtedly one of the best times of my life, ever, without a doubt. He's such a delight, and really lights up our lives. I can't wait for what the next year, and every year thereafter have in store, and with my cheeky little monkey by my side I'm sure it'll be plenty of fun!

*Disclaimer: I should probably have forewarned you all how gushy and soppy this post was. Oops. My bad! I could just burst with pride and love ♥

Record of the Week #4

Ed Sheeran - You Need Me, I Don't Need You

Love, love this. Wish I could have seen him live at the Reading festival last weekend (I wasn't there, but have seen/heard the coverage), it looked amazing. 

Monday, 29 August 2011

A Review: Kenzo FlowerTAG

Kenzo FlowerTAG
Eau de Toilette

What Do I Think?
I'll admit, when I think of purchasing a new fragrance, Kenzo is not a brand that would spring straight to my mind. I'd probably be enticed more by the giant powerhouse brands like Gucci, Dior and Armani. Having said that, I tend to chose my perfumes on scent alone, not just because I like the brand/packaging/marketing. This works in Kenzo's favour, because this scent is instantly appealing to me, and the fun packaging and marketing behind it also come up trumps. I'll have to rely on the official scent description, because although I have a sensitive noggin, I've got a limited knowledge of scents! This fragrance "starts with fruity blackcurrant, rhubarb and tangerine notes, before unfolding a floral heart of peony, jasmine and lily of the valley. The Kenzo note appears in the sensual base of tea, vanilla and musks". Ah, that'll be why I like it then, it appeals to the vanilla lover in me! This perfume, for me, is just the right amount of floral and musk, it lingers for a long time on the skin, and although it is definitely subtle enough to wear as a daytime fragrance, I think it's also sexy enough for night. Now, I have to say, I'm a little perplexed by the marketing behind this, which is bringing graffiti into the world of scents. I think the meanings behind it all are a little lost of me, but the press release does make for interesting reading. I'm shallow, I just like it for it's smell, not for it's brains or moral compass! I fear that my somewhat lacklustre description of the marketing campaign has sullied this review a little, but it's what on the inside that counts, right?!

Where Is It Available?
Kenzo FlowerTAG is available to buy nationwide from September 2011.

How Much Does It Cost?
30 ml will cost £31.00, 50ml will cost £47.50 and 100ml will cost £63.50.

Would I Recommend It?
Yes, I would. If you'd like something that'll look a little different on your dressing table, but with a very wearable and feminine scent, this will probably be right up your street. 

Star Rating:

*Disclaimer: I was sent this product for review consideration purposes. I am not affiliated with Kenzo in any way and as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I used my own nose to sniff it too! 

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Loving & Loathing #4


Celebrating - as you will know from this post, I turned 25 recently. I had an absolutely wonderful birthday, filled with almost all of the people I hold closest to my heart, PLENTY of cake (I gained 2.5lbs from cake and other birthday goodies!), lovely cards and gifts and a delicious meal out with my biggest man. The day after my birthday Colin took me to Cheddar Gorge for some seriously breathtaking cave exploration, AND Longleat, for some mischievous animal fun. It was a fantastic day out, and I would thoroughly recommend both attractions (I love Longleat, can't wait to take Jamie when he's a bit older!). The next day saw Colin and I celebrating 7 years together, and although we didn't do anything special, it was nice to recognise that we've overcome to 7 year itch and are still going strong! I had a splendid few days and felt totally spoilt, just as the birthday girl should, no?! Also, a huge thanks for all of the comments on my turning 25 post, it felt really cathartic to write something like that, and I love that my blog is a place I can share my innermost thoughts.

My new Soap & Glory goodies - I was bestowed with some lovely gifts for my birthday, and I'm really enjoying pampering myself in the heavenly and familiarly comforting aromas. Ah, bliss!
Retro sweets. Nuff said!

Party planning - Jamie turns 1 this time next week, and whilst I am utterly in denial, shock and amazement (all at the same time!), it's quite exciting planning his party, cake and pressies. We will be having a gathering of his/our friends and family this Sunday, followed by a day trip to a local farm (weather dependent) on his actual birthday next Tuesday.
Simple accessories. Namely my lovely bracelets made by Victoria, aka Lily Loves Lola.


Babies being poorly - Jamie is recently recovered from a horrible 48 hour virus, and it was utterly heartbreaking to see him looking and feeling so horrid and helpless. He was super duper cuddly and basically spent 2 days snuggled into me wearing just a nappy or vest and crying his little eyes out :( I know there could be MUCH worse things to suffer, and I know people who endure worse on a daily basis, but it's the feeling that you just can't help them enough that is so hard to bear. On this plus side, he was so cuddly, which although is a sign of him being unwell, is lovely for me!

Books don't like rain - who knew?! As I shamefully mentioned here, my beloved Nigella 'Domestic Goddess' book got carelessly left outside in the rain. The poor book was just lying on the table getting soggier by the minute, waiting for the moment I opened the curtains with a horrified look on my face. I think I might have to sell some of my possessions to raise money for another, I can't beat to look at the crinkly, sodden pages :(

Time going by so fast - as I mentioned above Jamie turns 1 next week, and I honestly feel like it can't be happening, I'm not ready to have a 1 year old, how did my baby suddenly get so grown up?! Looking through the photos when I made his personalised birthday card online the other night was emotional to say the least! It seems like it would be forever before he was in his big boy car-seat etc, but now he is...*sigh*

Thursday, 11 August 2011

A Review: Denise McAdam Blonde Highlight Enhancing Shampoo

 Denise McAdam Blonde Highlight Enhancing Shampoo

What Do I Think?
Don't you hate it when you feel obliged to use up a product you detest purely because you can't allow yourself to 'waste' by throwing it away? Yeah, that. I purchased 2 bottles of this shampoo via a '2 for 1' deal in Tesco many moons ago, hoping that it would be the poor (wo)mans answer to the John Frieda Blonde range. Well, I was wrong, but now that I have eventually, and begrudgingly, finished up both bottles, here I am with my thoughts! The packaging has recently been redesigned (I'm going on the fact it all looked different the last time I noticed it in Tesco!) so it no longer looks like the above stock image. There is nothing about this product that appeals to me after having used it, it cleans my hair in the way any bog standard shampoo would, but it leaves it very knotty (even after conditioning, which is BAD!), and it doesn't feel clean for very long either. From what I can remember the scent wasn't particularly offensive, but given that I can't recollect it, clearly it wasn't overly wonderful either! It took a lot of product to create a decent lather, and to actually spread across my mid-length locks, and I most definitely saw no enhancement to my blonde highlights whatsoever. It didn't leave my hair with a glossy shine , or a soft and bouncy texture...nothing, just washed, but not very freshly, and very under par for what is supposedly a 'professional' haircare product. I will be sticking with John Frieda...and breaking into Jamie's piggy bank to do so (joke)!

Where Is It Available?
Denise McAdam hair products are stocked at Tesco in the UK. I've not Googled for other sources, so please do if you wish for more information.

How Much Does It Cost?
I can't find this on the Tesco website, and I really can't be bothered to find out (sorry)! It was probably about £3.00 ish?

Would I Recommend It?

Star Rating:

*Disclaimer: As ever, all thoughts and opinions are my own - please bear in mind that what doesn't work for me might work for you. I purchased this with my own money, bah humbag!

**CLOSED** The Soap & Glory Challenge + MINI GIVEAWAY!

 Soap & Glory
"2 minute rinse" 

At the moment my bathroom resembles somewhat of a homage to Soap & Glory, with bottles, tubs and tubes of their fantastic loveliness everywhere (not that I'm complaining, but I should probably tidy it up, a little)! As you may have noticed I've been doing some reviews of my favourite Soap & Glory products recently, and you can most definitely expect to see more where they came from. I am what you may call a fan! Today though, I've got something a little different, I wanted to bring to your attention a really fabulous little campaign that Soap & Glory are challenging their fans to do, called the "2 minute rinse". 

One of Britain's biggest environmental issues will soon be water shortages, and it is in everyone's best interest to try and be as savvy as possible when it comes to making positive changes. Do you really need to leave the water running whilst you shampoo your hair, shave your legs or cover yourself in yummy soapy suds? I don't think so. I'll readily admit I am no water saving angel, but I'm prepared to do my bit, and I'm glad this campaign has come to my attention.

 For more information, tips and tricks, and even a chance to win more prizes, head over to the Facebook page.

Pictured in the top photograph is a cute little egg timer device that will assist you in your undertaking of the "2 minute rinse", and I'm running a little give-away, courtesy of Soap & Glory, for 5 of my readers to win one of these. Leave me a witty comment below, with your email address for contact purposes, and I'll randomly pick the 5 winners in one week from now (18/08/11).


So, do you think you are (wo)man enough to take the "2 minute rinse" challenge? I double dare ya ;) Please let me know how you get on, and also don't forget to leave your thoughts/comments on the Facebook page.

*Click images to enlarge. Images provided by PR with the exception of the top one, which I Instagrammed (obviously!).
**Disclaimer: The promotional information in this post was provided by Soap & Glory's PR company, and the egg timer prizes will also be provided and dispatched by them. All other words and opinions are my own. I am not affiliated with Soap & Glory in any other way than being an avid fan of them!

Monday, 8 August 2011

The Sanctuary Series #4

Sanctuary Spa Essentials
Salt Scrub


What do I love about the Sanctuary Salt Scrub?
Well I adore the scent and the super soft oil that stays on your skin afterwards, without being heavy or greasy. Scoop out a handful after dampening down under a warm shower, and gently massage on. The oil is absorbed and after you've exfoliated, you rinse off the salt residue. It's best to just pat yourself dry with a soft towel afterwards or you remove all that lovely moisturising almond, coconut and jojoba goodness.

I've been using it for two to three years, once or twice a week and there has been a huge improvement in my skin, which used to get dry and flaky, especially in the winter, with wind and central heating to contend with. If I'm feeling really in the mood to pamper my skin I finish off with a slick of Age Repair Hydrating Body Serum which is another of my 'must have' Sanctuary products, I'm never without at least one spare in the cupboard.

Cost - just over £10 from Boots but it lasts quite a long time and they often do 3 for 2 deals, which is a good time to stock up, plus of course, you get Boots points, so you can save those up and get more Sanctuary goodies!
*Disclaimer: My Mum is a bit mad, but she wrote all of these words by herself, and emailed them to me, so I don't think she is under the influence of anyone or anything except the aromas of Sanctuary products :)

Friday, 5 August 2011

A tale of two bloggers...#2

I'm sure you'll be aware of the lovely Lydia, and our friendship initially blossomed when we met online via our blogs and Twitter, and we have since met up a few times. We always have lots of fun when she comes to play, and I thought I'd share some photos of her most recent visit this week. 

 We didn't get to do too much, but there was plenty of playing, pressies (belated birthday for me, and early birthday for Jamie), sunbathing, a walk to the duck pond (with a sad lack of ducks), blackberry picking (with me nearly falling head first into a very prickly bush), a VERY hot and sweaty Zumba session, home-made pizza cooking, cupcake/biscuit/cake baking and eating, photo taking and hugs!


 We love you Lydia ♥

A baking frenzy!

We had lots of fun baking up a storm when Lydia came to play, and because I'm such a lovely person, I thought I'd share the recipes we chose. Enjoy!

 Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

You need:
100g butter, softened (we used unsalted)
225g caster sugar (we used golden)
100ml milk (we used skimmed)
210g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
3 eggs
2tsp vanilla extract (we used pure vanilla)

Preheat your oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan assisted). Cream together the butter and the sugar (you can use an electric mixer for this, but we prefer to do things by hand). Then stir in the vanilla, eggs, milk, flour and baking powder, and mix until they are fully combined. Line your tin (we used a muffin tin) with 12 muffin cases (you can use a tart or silicone cake tray/cases if you prefer), then spoon the mixture in. Make sure not to overfill your cases, about 2/3 is desirable. Pop them into the oven, middle shelf if you can, and bake for 18-20 minutes until the cupcakes are risen and turning golden brown on top. Leave to cool on a wire rack, then you begin the messy part - decorating!

*This recipe comes courtesy of the FABULOUS Pink Whisk.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

You need:
140g butter, softened
 280g icing sugar
1-2tbsp milk
splosh of vanilla essence

Be prepared for mess :) Simply beat the butter in a large bowl until soft, then add in half of the icing sugar. Beat well until smooth, and try not to choke on the plumes of icing sugar dust! Add in the remaining icing sugar, along with 1-2tbsps of milk and the vanilla, and beat the mixture until it has a smooth and creamy consistency. Add more milk if necessary. Decorate until you can decorate no more!

*This recipe comes courtesy of BBC Food.

 Golden Syrup Loaf Cake

You need:
75g butter, softened
75g caster sugar
200g plain flour
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp of baking powder
125g golden syrup (we used 150g ish)
160ml boiling water

Preheat your oven to 160ºC and line a loaf tin with baking parchment or a tin liner. Place all of the ingredients into a food processor or large bowl and blend, blend, blend. Couldn't. Be. Easier. Pour your mixture into the loaf tin and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Once baked and beautifully golden on top, remove from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

*This recipe also comes courtesy of the FABULOUS Pink Whisk.

 Butter Biscuits with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

You need:
150g butter, at room temperature
75g caster sugar
225g plain flour (plus extra for rolling)
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 170ºC, and line 2 baking trays with baking parchment. Dice the butter into a large bowl, then add in the flour, sugar and salt. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until you can form a big ball of dough. Wrap this in cling film (evil stuff!) and leave to cool in the fridge for 15 minutes or so. Once chilled turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll out (adding some flour to your rolling pin helps to prevent the dough sticking too) at about 1/2cm thick. Using whatever cutters you have cut our your biscuits and transfer to the baking trays - remember to leave space between them. Use up all of your dough, then bake in the oven for 15-25 minutes (I'd advise keeping a close eye after 15 minutes). Once the biscuits have cooled down, decorate them however you like - we used up some of the leftover buttercream frosting and sprinkles to decorate some, and left the others plain. The hardest part of this recipe is not eating all of the biscuits at once ;)

*This recipe comes courtesy of the Good Food Channel website.

Just a light afternoon snack :)

Readers, I feel it is my duty to share some very distressing and sad news. Please do not read if you are in any way overly sensitive to book abuse. My beloved Nigella 'Domestic Goddess' recipe book got left outside in the rain, all night, and is currently very damp and soggy, drying in my airing cupboard. I can not yet say how much fatal damage has been done. I am devastated that I allowed this to happen. I should probably be locked away. Nigella, please, forgive me, for I have sinned.

What are your favourite recipes when baking up a storm? Do you have any recipe requests?

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Corners of my Home

I've seen this type of post on a few blogs that I follow now, and I've been meaning to do my own version for ages. I finally got around to taking the pictures a couple of days ago, using my trusty Instagram iPhone app.