Five on Friday

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{A takeaway latte and almond croissant to start off yet another grey January morning. No New Year health kick for me although I have been to the gym twice this week so I refuse to feel guilty about the little treats}

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{These lovely colourful bulbs outside our local florist were a timely reminder that spring IS on its way. If our house wasn’t a building site I would have bought some to brighten up the place}

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{I’m enjoying trying out all the beauty products from my Liberty London advent calendar. So far my favourites are the Kiehls body lotion, the Laura Mercier lipgloss and the Dr Sebagh repair serum}

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{I don’t mind the cold as much as the rain and this week we have had some lovely crisp sunny days. I snapped this picture on a late afternoon walk}

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{My husband and I are going away for the weekend to Amsterdam at the start of next month. It will be the first time that we are both away from the children for more than one night but I am confident that they will have a great time with their grandparents. Lots of shopping, sightseeing and dinners/cocktails à deux are on the agenda}

Hope you all have a great weekend! X

 

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Life Lately

Sorry about the lack of updates but the weather here in the UK has been too good lately for me to want to spend any more time than necessary in front of a computer. There was some drizzle and rain over the weekend but next week looks set to be nice again, albeit slightly cooler than last week which is not necessarily a bad thing. Soaring temperatures and long school days often result in frazzled tempers by mid-afternoon.

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{Breakfast in the sunshine. Why does food taste so much better when eaten outside?}

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{New sandals for Clemmie – pink of course!}

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{I’m trying to encourage the children to help out more with the housework so hopefully before long Cameron hoovering the kitchen won’t be such a rare sight.}

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{Two little monkeys ♥ }

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{On Friday I took the day off work and Clemmie and I went to Peppa Pig World with my friend and her daughter. It was the perfect day out for two Peppa obsessed three year olds and the girls loved every minute. And promptly fell asleep the minute we got in the car to go back home!}

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{Today was Father’s Day and the daddy in our family was treated to a cooked breakfast and lots of cards and presents – including a rather fetching Daddy Pig mug chosen by Clemmie.}

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{Breakfast was followed by a trip to the golf store so he could choose his main gift – a new golf bag.}

Hope you have all had a lovely weekend! Are you watching the World Cup? I saw the amazing Spain-Holland match on Friday and watched half of England’s first match last night. X

Recipe: Vanilla Granola

Vanilla Granola

There is not much that beats a tasty bowl of granola with yoghurt and fresh fruit to set the day off to a good start in my book. The best granola I have ever eaten was a vanilla one created by the aptly named Hotel Vanilla in Gothenburg where we stayed for two nights a couple of years ago. I brought a bag of their granola home with me, but it ran out many moons ago, so I was thrilled to find a recipe for a very similar sounding vanilla granola on a Swedish baking blog. I have made a couple of minor adjustments by adding cinnamon and almonds, and the result is, in my opinion, nothing short of divine. When breakfast tastes this good it is definitely the best meal of the day!

280 g rolled oats
50 g mixed nuts and almonds
a good pinch of salt flakes

2 tsp cinnamon

100 ml water
80g sugar
3 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp vanilla essence

In a bowl mix together the oats, nuts, cinnamon and salt flakes. Put the water and sugar in a saucepan and simmer gently until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the oil and vanilla, then pour the liquid over the oat mixture and stir it all together. Spread the granola out on a baking tray covered with parchment paper and bake in the middle of the oven at 100C for approx 2 hours. Stir the mixture occasionally, every 20-30 minutes. Let the granola cool completely before transferring to an airtight jar.

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A healthy breakfast to kick-start your day

Breakfast

I hardly ever skip breakfast and on the rare days that I do, I very quickly live to regret it when the inevitable mid-morning energy slump sets in. Whether or not you adhere to the old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, a healthy one beats a sugar-laden bowl of cereal hands down. My favourite go-to breakfast is my homemade low carb muesli but on cold mornings I often crave something warm like eggs or porridge. I found this recipe on Pinterest – it’s super simple and guaranteed to keep your energy levels up until lunch time. And if you’re not a breakfast fan, it tastes just as good for lunch, maybe with a bowl of soup.

The recipe specified Ezekiel bread but I’ve never seen that in the supermarkets here so I substituted my regular Soy & Linseed bread. Simply toast the bread, spread avocado on top, sprinkle over some crushed red pepper, season with salt & pepper and top it all off with a fried egg, sunny side up.

A delicious start to the day!

This Week’s Favourites

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I suppose the title of this post should really be ‘last week’s favourites’…I’m a day late but with all the party preparations last week and then the clearing up yesterday I have a feeling I’ll be playing catch-up all week. Anyway here’s a quick round-up of the last seven days:

1. My thermos mug from Ikea comes in handy on busy mornings when I end up having breakfast on the run.

2. I made another batch of low carb muesli this week (find the recipe here) – my favourite breakfast.

3. Banana bread is great to put in the children’s lunch boxes and as an afternoon treat with a cup of tea. (Recipe here)

4. The week started off very warm and we made the most of the sunny weather with a trip to the playground after preschool. As the week went on it got progressively colder and I think it’s definitely time to dig out the hats and gloves (although I think the chances of finding a matching pair are very slim, given how many gloves were lost at school last winter).

5. Beautiful autumn colours on a crisp, sunny morning.

6. I had been looking for a new ‘smart’ winter coat for a while but not found anything that was quite right. I have a padded coat from Zara which is great when it gets really cold but I wanted a slightly dressier one to wear for nights out. Usually buying coats is a nightmare as I’m small and unless I find one in a petite fit (which means much less choice), the sleeves are too long and it swamps me. But I went into town mid-week to take a few things back and there it was – the perfect coat. As luck would have it there was one left in my size and, being H&M, it was a total bargain at only £39.99! I tried to find it online to link back to for a better picture but for some reason it’s not up on the H&M website, so you’ll have to make do with the picture I snapped in the changing room. The main body of the coat is a black and white tweed type of pattern, with black sleeves and a detachable fur collar which you can of course wear with other coats and jackets as well.

7. It was only a quick trip into town but I did manage to have a wander through our local department store where they were setting up the Christmas display. I know a lot of people complain that the stores bring out the Christmas decorations too early but I kind of like it. The boys’ birthdays are at the end of October and beginning of November but after that I like to start planning for the festive season – I can’t stand stressing about it in mid December when the shops are full of people and things are starting to run out, or worrying about Internet deliveries arriving in time. Only ten weeks to go until Christmas Day folks!

8. Every Friday Clemmie and I go to Gym Tots with my friend and her daughter. The girls love running around, climbing on all the gym equipment and bouncing on the trampolines.

9. As you probably know by now the week culminated with a birthday party for my husband which went on into the early hours of Sunday morning. We all had a great time and he got some fantastic presents – almost all of them golf related!

Hope you’ve all had a fantastic start to the week! X

This Week’s Favourites

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A groggy but hungry boy tucking into pizza after his operation; Casper brought in his ‘bravery certificate’ from the hospital to show his classmates; Cameron was proud to win the trophy for good behaviour at Cub Scouts this week; Breakfast x 2 – yummy apple & cinnamon yoghurt and an omelette made in a ramekin dish; This week’s favourite outfit – I love my H&M snakeskin ballerinas; On the train back from London; A tired girl fell asleep in the carseat yesterday afternoon after a late night on Friday; After the train ride earlier this week Clemmie was delighted that the boys’ Scout group had organised a day out at a model railway today.

Bizarrely, I seem to have even less time to get things done since Clemmie started preschool. I think my expectations of how much I could achieve in 12 hours a week were perhaps a tad overambitious. Anyway, once you factor in the time it takes to drop off and collect her at preschool the time easily drops to 10 1/2 hours a week (and that’s assuming I go straight home without chatting to any of the other mums…). I suppose this week has not been typical as I had to collect Casper from school early on Monday before he had his operation. It all went fine – he was such a brave boy and didn’t complain once but that hour waiting for the nurse to come and tell us that he had woken up felt VERY long. Then on Thursday my other son had a (routine) hospital appointment up in town. My husband took him to the appointment but had to go on to a business meeting so I picked up Clemmie early to catch the train into London and meet them for lunch before taking the kids home. As we usually drive into town, it was Clemmie’s first time on the train and she loved it so much she cried when we had to get off. Now I know that if she’s having a bad day I can just buy a Travel Card and go up and down the train track to keep her happy!

So yes, to cut a long story short, I have not really accomplished much this week. I had visions of myself embarking on an exercise regime, doing a massive clear out of all the kids’ toys and clothes as well as catching up with the paperwork and answering all those emails which fill me with guilt every time I open my inbox. But tomorrow is a new start, with seven unwritten days stretching out in front of me, and as I’m booked into a gym class at 9.30am I hope that will set me off in the right direction. If not, there’s always next Monday…

This Week’s Favourites

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This week has whizzed by as I knew it would. It’s funny how in the summer holidays time seems to slow down but as soon as school starts – and with it the relentless routine of school run, homework, after school clubs and weekend activities – I hardly have time to blink and it’s Sunday night yet again. Despite the rain (yes I know, I will stop going on about the weather soon!) it has been a good week, catching up with friends I haven’t seen for six weeks and watching the boys settle happily into their new classes.

Now all the kids are in bed and we’re just about to watch a movie – probably The Oranges with Leighton Meester who played Blair in one of my favourite TV series, Gossip Girl. But first, here is a quick round-up of the last few days: Clemmie started ballet class this week and amazingly didn’t cry when I left her there (it probably helped that she was with her best friend); The Chanel nail polish in Particuliere is one of my favourite autumn hues; I finally got to wear some of my Fall purchases such as this knitted jacket from River Island and tiered sweater from Anthropologie; My bargain of the week was this floral tube scarf from H&M for £6.99; I’ve also been digging deep into my wardrobe and uncovered some old favourites like these Miu Miu heels that I bought for my hen night 12 years ago. I wore them with the Anthropologie sweater and skinny jeans for a night out with friends; A morning latte to brighten up a drizzly morning; In our house weekends mean pancakes for breakfast; One of the best things about Autumn is snuggling up on the sofa to watch a film with candles lit on the mantlepiece.

And that my friends is exactly what I’m going to do now. Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend. X

Recipe: Classic Scones

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What could be more British than afternoon tea with a pot of steaming Earl Grey and fresh-from-the-oven scones slathered with butter and jam (and maybe a cheeky glass of Prosecco)? This recipe takes no time at all to whip up and the scones taste as delicious for breakfast as they do for a traditional cream tea.

Makes around 10 scones

400g plain flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspooon salt

100g butter

300 ml milk

Preheat the oven to 250c. In a bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and pinch it into the flour mixture with your fingers until it forms a crumbly consistency. Add the milk and stir it all together – don’t over-mix, stop when you can form it into a dough. Roll the dough into balls and place in a muffin tray before baking in the oven for around 12 minutes.

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This week’s favourites

This week has had definite highs (the scorching weather for a start) and lows (all three children coming down with the sickness bug springs to mind…).

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A trip to the garden centre at the start of the week to get some new plants and sand for the sandpit.

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Dinner at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant with the whole family after shopping for more birthday presents for Clemmie. I had a yummy starter of deep fried squid followed by the Black Angel pasta. I then spent the remainder of the meal trying to steal spoonfuls of Cameron’s salted caramel ice cream – definitely having that next time!

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Summer is now officially here! Faking it is the only way to tan these days and I can always rely on Fake Bake’s tanning mousse to turn my limbs from lily white to sunkissed. I also tried the St Tropez Tan Optimiser application mitt for the first time and it really helped to blend the colour and get an even coverage. Highly recommended!

Sun Collage

A game of badminton against Daddy in the garden before bedtime (which somehow seems to have moved at least an hour later than usual..):

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Breakfast on the terrace in the sunshine. Freshly baked scones and a large mug of coffee.

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On my way to a fab 40th birthday party that sadly my husband had to miss as he stayed home to nurse the sick children. The £7 H&M dress had its first outing, teamed with metallic wedges from Kurt Geiger. By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m holding my hands funnily it’s because I was rushing to get ready and had only just applied a fresh coat of nail polish!

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The calm after the chaos…

Breakfast

With three children to get ready and out of the door by 8.30, our mornings have always been rushed but lately they seem to have become even more chaotic. The lighter evenings mean that the kids are staying up later and struggle to get to sleep when they are finally in bed. As a result my own bedtime has been pushed back as I try to savour the few hours of quietness when I can relax, read or watch TV (I always plan to do various jobs in the evening but it hardly ever happens as by 8pm I’m too exhausted).

This morning the boys were still chewing on their toast as  my husband took them to school. With Clemmie parked up in front of CBeebies, I managed to have a leisurely breakfast and read a few pages of the magazine I bought last week. A few cups of coffee later and I feel almost human again! Hopefully we can all get an early night tonight…

The flowers which my mum gave me for midsummer are still going strong. Love the colour combination!

The flowers which my mum gave me for midsummer are still going strong. Love the colour combination!

Ready to face the day!

Ready to face the day!