Sorting out the bedroom

4886297425_f34867ba41_zOkay, so you can probably tell I’m more than a little excited about our upcoming trip to Florida. I know I’ve travelled quite a bit around Europe, but since I’ve never been across the Atlantic, it’s something I just can’t wait for. And it’s always been my dream to take my family to Disney before they get too old to enjoy it. So anyway, in my excitement, I decided to get a little bit of a start on my packing. Yes, I know it’s still a month to go, but I wanted to make sure that I had enough summer clothes after my little wardrobe clear out to be able to make it through the trip before it got too late so I’ve got the chance to go shopping to get more.

Well, as it turns out, I didn’t have enough! As I said, I got rid of all the clothes that were just too short to wear anymore, and those that just didn’t fit my post-children body properly any more, and now I’ve only got a few summery dresses, a couple of pairs of shorts and various tops, not many of which will be good for the hot sun of Florida.

Unfortunately though, I may not be doing as much clothes buying as I thought since I noticed something when I got right to the back of my old wardrobe: woodworm. It’s a wardrobe we’ve had since we got married that we picked up in an antiques shop, so I should have known really that this would happen sometime, and I can’t believe I hadn’t noticed before! So that wardrobe has been completely emptied (onto the spare room bed…) and has gone to the tip, and I’m now looking at getting a new one installed, something along the lines of these sliding wardrobes will work well in our bedroom since we have a little alcove that they would slot into perfectly. I like how modern looking they are too, very different to the old one (which is very similar to the picture above)!

And of course, since I’m getting a new wardrobe that’s a completely different style, I’m having to look at other things around the room too to get them to match better. Everything will have to be moved around since the layout will be slightly different, and I think that means we’ll need to get some new bedside tables. We’ve only got one on my side of the bed since the room wasn’t big enough with the bulky old wardrobe in there, but I think there should be space for two now, and it would look a little odd if they didn’t match, so there’s a bit more money down the drain.

So, it looks like I’ll be budgeting for these new summer clothes! One of my friends who has been to America before (New York, but I think Florida is similar) told me that clothes are a lot cheaper there than they are here, so I think I might try to buy a few bits and pieces over there. I guess they’ll also be more suited to the hot weather than our shops will be too. The only thing I definitely need to get my hands on though is a probably fitted bikini since I threw out the old string ones. So a shopping trip is definitely in order for that!

Image courtesy of Silk Road Collection.

Can I be a beauty blogger too?

3953904690_da6fc340f5_zWhen I started this blog, I thought it would just be a way to keep track of what’s going on with the family, write a few updates on my life every now and again, a few complaints here and there, and just anything that came into my head. Before I set it up, I knew about the other “Mummy Bloggers” out there as some friends had been talking about them and introduced me to some that are now my favourite daily reads (or weekly, depending on my time!). What I didn’t realise though was that there are thousands, probably millions, of blogs out there, and all in different sectors and writing about different things.

I wasn’t trying to stick to any particular genre when I started out. I guess I’m more in the mummy blogger section as I occasionally write about my family, but I’m reluctant to share too many photos of them for the sake of privacy and safety on the internet. I do also venture into other things though – I’ve written about my love of fashion and travel (such as this trip to Madrid), as well as recipes, my attempts at exercising, book reviews and current news stories.

One genre of blogs I’ve recently fallen for though is beauty blogging, and I realised I’ve barely mentioned any of my beauty routines aside from the organic products I like to treat myself to. To be completely honest though, beauty and make-up aren’t something I have a lot of time for with the family being my first priority, despite the fact that I love to read blogs about how to apply the perfect face and get the perfect hairstyle. I have a simple make-up routine that I use every day that consists of a bit of foundation and concealer, followed up with blusher or bronzer depending on my mood and a quick swipe of mascara. I’ll occasionally apply a bit of beige or brown eyeshadow if I get the time, but that’s not often!

I do however love lipsticks but tend to steer away from them in the day time as I feel they can be a bit too attention-drawing on your face for every day wear, and I tend to get little hands all over my face smearing it everywhere if I’m taking the little ones anywhere. So I generally only wear lipstick if it’s a special occasion like a meal with the hubby or a girls’ night out. I do have a surprisingly big collection of lipsticks though, some only swiped on the lips once to check whether they suit me or not before being resigned to the depths of my drawer. So I decided to make a bit of a resolution to start wearing my lipsticks more often. Of course, I’ll have to try and keep the boys away from my face while I’m wearing it, but I do have a couple of those lip stains which I think will work well for every day. So here’s a list of some of the ones I have right now, and what I think of them:

MAC Vegas Volt: this is pretty bright and is fairly matte on the lips. It’s sort of between an orangey red and coral, but it suits my skin tone nicely, mostly good for meals out with hubby as it stands out but isn’t over the top.

Rimmel Apocalips Lacquer Stellar: this is new, and this is bright! I liked the look of the tube, and the colour on the stick looked pretty so I bought it, but it’s very bold and pigmented, more of a hot pink than a red. It’s a bit messy to apply, you have to be really careful not to go outside the lip line, and is perfect to make a BIG statement on a night out.

Barry M Magic Lipstick: this one will have you intrigued if you clicked the link – no, it’s not green, I promise! That’s why it’s called magic lipstick – it turns pink when you apply it, according to your skin tone and the pH level of your lips. It comes out well on me and is smooth to apply.

Gosh Lip Stain Berry Red: I think this might be my new everyday lipstick (or lip stain). It’s got a felt tip-like pen to apply it and stays on really well. It’s a pretty average red and isn’t too bright.

Do you have any recommendations for lipsticks? I’d like to try another coral coloured one, or maybe one with more orange in because I think these suit my skin tone best, whereas blue toned pinks don’t. I think I’ll need to try another lip stain, so let me know your favourites.

Image courtesy of pomo mama.

Flights to Florida booked on the Thomsom Dreamliner

8972592333_661b21f885_kI’m obsessed with thinking about this holiday to Florida now! We’ve got it booked in for right at the end of August crossing into September for 2 whole weeks. Since we don’t need to pay accommodation as we’re staying at my sister’s holiday home (all she wants us to do is to buy her a couple of things for around the house and some food as payment – lucky us!), we’ve got a bit of extra money to spend elsewhere. Of course, as I said before, it’s easy to save money on theme park tickets by buying several days worth and getting them altogether, so we’ll be doing that, so our splurge is on something a bit different this time: hubby allowed me, for the first time, to upgrade our seats on the plane to Premium Economy! I was initially planning on budgeting a bit on the flights, for example, using the same app my sister did, SendMyBag, to get our luggage over instead of paying extra for all the kids’ stuff including pushchairs, but apparently with our seats, we get additional luggage allowance too, so there’s no need this time.

I’m really excited as I’ve never flown anything other than economy before, and even better, our flight is on the new Thomson Dreamliner. We get extra legroom, wider seats, our own personal TV screens (I know the boys are going to love this – a brilliant way to keep them occupied during the 8 hours!) and slightly better food and drinks than economy. There are also features that are exclusive to the Dreamliner plane including windows that can turn opaque at the touch of a button instead of having a screen to pull down over them, lighting which imitates sunset/sunrise, more oxygen pumped around the cabin and a higher ceiling. Apparently the whole experience makes it easier to cope with jet lag, so that’ll definitely be interesting to test out.

The configuration of the seats is 2-3-2 across the plane, so we’ve booked two sets of the two seats with the windows, so we’ll get to test out the ingenious new features – very exciting! I can’t wait to see what it looks like. Even the economy seats are apparently wider than a normal plane, so I’m not sure we need the extra we’ll be getting, but it’s nice to treat yourself every once in a while since we’re saving money in other areas. I’ll be sure to report back on it!

Image courtesy of Mark Murdock.


Starting the Couch to 5K

1030466666_32da2c87b5_oLast month, I decided to take up Pilates, and I’ve been very pleased that I’ve managed to stick with it so far. I’ve done another 4 or 5 classes since I last talked about it and have continued to enjoy it, although there have been a couple of moves which have been fairly difficult and have had me a bit confused, including the “Seal”, which includes a fairly comical rocking motion with clapping feet (no one outside the room will ever see me doing it, but see this video for an example!) and the “Swan Dive” which was really hard (again, watch the video rather than see my poor attempts).

So I’ve been talking to a few of my friends about my new found love for pilates, and they agreed with me that it is a great way to get into exercise, but I should try to include some cardio too. I’ve never been one for getting really hot and sweaty, and just throwing myself into these cardio exercises tends to that. But one lady recommended the Couch to 5K to me – it’s an NHS programme that builds you up slowly towards running 5km, which is about 3.1 miles. It’s supposed to take 9 weeks to get you to the level of being able to run the full distance without stopping, but I think it might take me a little bit longer as I’m planning to repeat some of the runs until I’m completely comfortable doing them.

So far, I’ve only completed Week 1 and just started on Week 2, which means moving from doing 60 seconds of running followed by 90 seconds of walking and repeating it for 20 minutes with a warm up and cool down 5 minute walk, up to 90 seconds of running and 2 minutes walking for 20 minutes, still with the warm up and cool down. I had to get myself some better trainers and a pair of shorts to wear outside since it’s fairly warm at the moment, but it hasn’t actually been too bad and I’ve actually looked forward to getting out for the runs a couple of times! It’s difficult to arrange a time sometimes as the boys are usually around and need me there, so I have to wait for an evening when hubby’s back or at the weekend. You’re supposed to do it 3 times a week with at least one rest day in between, but sometimes I’ve taken 2 or 3 just to fit it in.

I’ve tried a couple of different ways of doing it – the first is the app which allows you to play your own music and get prompts from “Laura” who tells you when to walk and run and encourages you along the way; the other is just to download it from the NHS website and play it on your player. This is still Laura and the same prompts, but includes music chosen by the makers. I find I prefer the last one as the music speeds up when running to keep you motivated, so it’s a bit easier.

I’m looking forward to finishing this week now and starting Week 3, although I’m a bit worried about the 3 minute long sections of running. I may repeat a Week 2 run once though, just to make sure I can do it.

Image courtesy of reb.

Booking our first Florida holiday

Disney CastleI never thought I’d be able to say this, but I’m currently booking up our first holiday to Florida! I’d always dreamed I’d be able to take the kids to Disneyworld one day, but didn’t think we’d be able to afford to make it a reality any time soon. Well, since my sister went and bought a holiday home there, all we really need to pay for are the flights! However annoying it might have been packing up all her stuff to send over there, it’ll all be worth it to be able to have the holidays of our dreams in the sun.

So I’ve got some dates planned for the flights – since neither of the boys are at school yet, we want to make sure we make use of taking trips during the school terms, so we’ll be going at the beginning of September. We’ll cross over with my sister whose daughters will need to be back for school, but we’ll get to spend a bit of time with them and she can show us around before we get to relax by ourselves for a while.

I read this article the other day about hilarious and weird complaints people have made about their holiday homes, including there being too much food and that their pre-holiday diet had been wasted! I’ve had a look at my sister’s pictures of the place and it looks amazing so I’m really looking forward to it – there shouldn’t be any surprises in store for us when we get there. Although maybe with the amazing food I’m hearing stories of in America, I may be complaining about weight gain after the trip!

I’ve started looking at tickets for the Disney parks too – there are 4 theme parks and 2 waterparks, so I’m not sure whether to do them all and get some good discounts on tickets, or whether to just do a couple and save them for another time, since we’ll inevitably be back with the house out there. There are also two other parks that have been recommended to me: Universal and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, but apparently they have more big rides and not as much for the kids, so I think we’ll stay away from those until they’re a bit older, although I would love to visit the Harry Potter land!

If you have any recommendations for places to go and things to see that aren’t Disney parks but are good for young families around the Orlando area, let me know and I’ll check them out.

Image courtesy of Express Monorail (but soon I’ll have my own!).

Wardrobe Recharged

vintage clothes 2Recently I’ve had a bit of an overhaul of my wardrobe. I noticed that I’d been collecting a lot of old clothes from back before I had the boys – I’d always had it in my head that I would save some things for my daughters one day like my mum did for me, but now I’ve got the boys and I’m not planning on having any more, there isn’t really a lot of point. I’m very attached to some of them, so of course I won’t get rid of them all, but I’m having a proper clear out of everything so I can be more focused on things I really like.

I did come across a number of gorgeous vintage pieces that I used to love when I was younger, and it’s made me think about the type of clothes I prefer to wear now. As I’ve mentioned before, I used to shop in the more fashionable places like Topshop, Zara, H&M etc. but I’ve recently started veering more towards what I’d call “Mumsy” shops, but are actually really good quality, not at all frumpy like I used to think, and will last me a long time. I’m finding a lot of my older clothes to be the more “on trend” type, so not made to the greatest quality because they’re only produced to last a season or two, and quite frequently way too short now!

So, all the too short items have gone straight into the charity shop pile, along with anything that’s too on trend from years ago and I’m not likely to wear again. A few of the vintage pieces that, ahem, don’t quite fit any more have gone into a to-be-sold pile which will probably go onto eBay at some point, but I haven’t got round to that yet. But since rediscovering some of my old vintage loves, I’ve remembered how much I used to love digging them out and wearing them – most of them are pieces that will never go out style because they’re classically shaped.

vintage clothes

I used to frequent the vintage and charity shops when I was younger, but I haven’t been for years so I’m not even sure where they are now! I’ve heard of these vintage fairs that are put on quite regularly though, so I might give one of those a go and see what I find.

All in all, I think I’ve cleared out about 50% of my wardrobe, and to be honest I don’t think I’ve worn any of those things for at least a year now anyway so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything, and hubby’s certainly glad of all the space for his stuff now! But I’m a little low on some of the basics, so I’m going to have a few shopping trips over the next couple of weeks and try out one of these vintage fairs to see what I can find.

Gone Girl: Book Review

Gone_Girl_(Flynn_novel)One thing I haven’t really mentioned on the blog up until now is that I like to read. Sometimes me and my friends get together and do a sort of “book club”, although it’s more like an excuse to have some nice food and a drink together! One of them recommended Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn to me a few months ago. I’d heard quite a bit about it, apparently it was super popular when it came out and there are hundreds of raving reviews about it on the internet. I found out that there’s a film being made from it that’s out later this year with Ben Affleck (swoon!), so I thought I’d get on and read the book before it comes out.

The book itself is fairly average looking, about 400 pages, which isn’t too bad, and a dark cover with red writing. I knew it was a kind of mystery, but didn’t quite know what I was in for with it. I actually ended up reading the whole thing in about 3 days flat, and that’s quite an achievement with my two boys around!

The story is set in Missouri, America, and begins on the day of Amy and Nick’s fifth wedding anniversary, but strangely enough, Amy isn’t present: she’s gone missing. The house is a mess and her blood is on the floor, and evidence slowly begins to point to the husband, but was it him?

The book has alternating chapters: Nick tells the present, Amy’s diary up until the present fills in the alternating chapters. It isn’t until around half way that you get the main reveal, which I really can’t spoil for you, but it’s a good one, believe me!

I’m really looking forward to the film coming out. Apparently the ending has been changed quite a bit, so that’ll be interesting to see. I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone, even people who don’t particularly like reading since it’s so good! I’m trying to get hubby to read it now, but he’s never so much as read the back of a book in the time I’ve known him, so it’s not looking likely, but at least he’ll come to see it with me when it comes out.

Starting the big move

BoxesSo when I said that my sister had bought a villa in Florida as a holiday home and she would be going out in a couple of months to take a look and get things set up over there, I didn’t realise it would come round so soon! The first flights she’d booked were actually only a month away (unbeknownst to me!), so I’ve had all the hard work of helping her pack things up to take over with her for their first trip over with the kids during their school’s half term next week.

So as I mentioned before, she decided that it would be a good idea to send a few boxes of things ahead of her to save her carrying them all over on the plane and having to pay more. Why she didn’t just buy things for the house over there is a mystery to me, but that’s my sister for you! So over the last week, I’ve spent quite a bit of time over at her house, helping her choose which things to pack and organising them into boxes.

We started off with a couple of cardboard boxes and marker pens, thinking that would be alright, but we were so wrong! Of course, she has way more stuff than that, plus it’s also way too heavy for regular cardboard boxes! So we ended up buying some sturdier plastic ones in IKEA and we had to get some labels sorted out to stick on them too – we found those for a pretty good price on a website called Data-Label. Honestly, without me she would have had everything in raggedy old boxes in no sort of order whatsoever!

I’m also very jealous, seeing her pack bikinis and shorts into a suitcase while it’s been pouring down the last couple of days here. Not to fear though as I’m now looking into booking my flights to go and stay over there soon – hopefully sometime in the next couple of months, but I’m trying to find the cheapest ones at the moment. I’ve never been out of Europe before, so that’ll be really exciting, but I’m not so sure about the long flights. We’ll just have to see how it goes, but I’d really love to go to Florida yearly now I get free accommodation!

Image courtesy of quadrapop.

Car Booting

Car boot saleI saw a few signs around where I live recently advertising a local car boot sale that was going to be taking place, and I thought it might be the perfect opportunity to get rid of a few things. I’ve never sold at a car boot sale before, but I used to frequent them when I was younger for buying. I would only get little things like old clothes and beauty products that hadn’t been opened or used, as well as the occasional piece of furniture. I’ve got a load of baby clothing that the boys wore when they were smaller, and since I’m not planning on any more and the clothes are just hanging around the house, I decided this might be the chance to get rid of them all in one go.

Since I’d never sold at a car boot before, I took a bit of time to do some research beforehand into the best ways to go about it. I’ve sold a few things on eBay, but it’s not the same at all. Here are a few tips I collected and found useful before I set up my pitch:

  • Research what you have on eBay first to find a general value for things. I discovered an old book I was planning to get rid of in a box full was actually apparently a first edition, so I should have been selling it for much more than the £5 I got for the whole box!
  • Get everything into the car and organised the night before. Car boots generally start early, and as a first time seller you’ll want to get there even earlier so that you’re prepared when the buyers start to arrive.
  • Make sure you’ve got plenty of small change in case people are trying to buy with bigger notes. And don’t give away all your small change straightaway, especially if for a low priced item. Offer to keep it to one side under they have more change.
  • Take a chair along for quiet moments as it can be a long day on your feet.
  • Take along a lot of carrier bags and some newspaper for wrapping up any fragile items.
  • Final tip: it sounds silly, but this was a great tip my “next door neighbour” stall offered me. Make sure your car’s interior lights are all switched off when the boot is open otherwise you might end up with a flat battery and not being able to get away at the end of the day!

I only ended up making about £60 in the end, but that wasn’t bad really – I was in profit after paying the £10 fee and I’d managed to get rid of a few boxes full of stuff. My sister and I are thinking of doing another soon where we put some of our old clutter together because hopefully we’ll sell more then we can split the cost of the fee. I’m looking forward to it already!

Image courtesy of Lamerie.

Labour wards

pregnancyEvery morning I wake up to the sound of the radio playing. My husband always has it on as an alarm clock to get him up for work every day, and I usually lounge around for an extra 10 minutes after he’s got up to listen to the news before going to check on the kids. Today a news story peaked my interest in particular: it was to do with healthy pregnant women to be encouraged to use midwife-led units to give birth rather than traditional labour wards with doctors.

This is something I have fairly strong opinions on since, as you might remember from when I mentioned it, I had a rather difficult pregnancy and birth with my first. I suffered terribly with morning sickness (although it was rarely just confined to the mornings!) through the first few months, and even though it improved later in the pregnancy, I still had issues with it right up until the little one arrived. There was one occasion where it got close to me being admitted to hospital because I was dehydrated and actually losing weight rather than gaining it.

The birth itself started off fairly well – I went into labour only a day after my due date and seemed to be running smoothly through each of the stages with not too much pain. But things began to slow down, and I ended up being in the throes of labour for about 23 hours. It was a close call to me having an emergency caesarean because the baby’s heart rate was racing and I was exhausted, but he was finally born naturally. I dread to think what would have happened if I had been in only a midwife-led unit rather than a labour ward and had needed to have that emergency caesarean.

But then again, perhaps I would have been advised to go to a hospital rather than a midwife unit because I’d had a more difficult pregnancy than most. Apparently only straightforward pregnancies and women at low risk are being advised to attend the midwife units. According to the statistics that have come out, the care from these midwife-led units is just as safe as hospital care with doctors if you’re at low risk, particularly for women who have already had one child. What do you think? Have any of you mothers experienced the care of a midwife-led unit?