Life Lately

Our two-week summer holiday in Sweden  has all but faded to a distant memory but luckily we managed to fit in a bit of beach time before school started last week. We spent two consecutive Saturdays at the Witterings (both east and west) and rounded off August with a three-night break at a house on the beach, near Rye in Sussex.

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{East Wittering Beach – the weather wasn’t great but we spent the day with friends and had a lovely time playing on the beach}

West Wittering

{Having not been spoiled with sunny weather this year, on the hottest day of the summer we packed up the car and headed down to West Wittering in Sussex at 8am. A full day of swimming, building sand castles and soaking up the rays.}

V Festival

{Cameron and I went to the V Festival in Chelmsford to see Ella Henderson, George Ezra, and Ellie Goulding among others. A great experience despite the weather and toilet facilities!}

Bank Holiday

{We ended this year’s summer holidays with an impromptu weekend away at Petts Level in Sussex where we rented a lovely house right on the beach.}

Now we’re hurtling headfirst into autumn, my favourite season of them all. Bring on the falling leaves, cosy scarves and bobble hats, mugs of steaming cocoa, and crackling log fires!

Christmas 2014

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas filled with joy, presents, food, friends and family. Was Santa generous this year?

Unfortunately I was hit by the flu virus at the start of the week and by Christmas Day was suffering from a terrible head cold & a temperature of 39C 😦 Not quite the Christmas I wanted, but I managed to struggle on and enjoyed a lovely lunch with the in-laws and LOTS of present opening before collapsing into bed at 6pm. I’m slowly on the mend now and enjoying a few lazy days at home with my family, including much Lego building, watching Christmas films and consoling Baby Annabel when she cries (no, not a new bundle of joy, just the very lifelike doll that Clemmie got For Christmas!)

Given that I wasn’t exactly feeling on top of the world, I didn’t manage to take that many pictures on Christmas Day but here are a few from the last week:

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{Baking gingerbread biscuits is a tradition in our household. I buy ready made dough from the Swedish shop so it is easy-peasy, just roll it out and let the children go wild with the cookie cutters}

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{Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a few board games. Our favourites are Monopoly (ideally the Junior version as it doesn’t go on for hours) and Cluedo}

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{All ready for Father Christmas. I bought new personalised Christmas stockings for the children this year as the old ones were in such as sorry state}

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{This beautiful dragonfly necklace by British jeweller Alex Monroe was hiding in my Christmas stocking. Santa has obviously been reading my blog!}

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{And finally, the children in all their finery before Christmas lunch with the in-laws}

Wishing you all a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! X

 

 

Five (or more!) on Friday

It’s that crazy busy time of year again as Christmas approaches at seemingly lightning speed. Only six days to go now folks! I am pleased to say that I have finished all my shopping, written all my Christmas cards and even started on the wrapping (unheard of until now as I can usually be found wrapping the last presents at 1am on Christmas Day!) It’s so easy to get carried away with the stress of it all but this year we decided to keep it fairly simple, limit the number of presents we give and just concentrate on enjoying having quality time together.

The only thing I still want to do is find the time to bake some traditional Swedish saffron buns and gingerbread biscuits with the children. I ordered some ready made gingerbread dough so hopefully it shouldn’t be too taxing. Today is the last day of school so we are planning a trip to the park this afternoon followed by pizza. A great way to start the holidays!

Here are a few pictures from the last week or so, via Instagram:

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{I went into town to finish off my Christmas shopping last week and started my three hour shopping session with a gingerbread latte and croissant at Starbucks}

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{A lovely night out with my very best friend from school who came over from Ireland to celebrate her birthday at Zuma in Knightsbridge. Lots of bubbly, yummy Japanese food and great company – life doesn’t get much better!}

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{The festive countdown continued with a Christmas concert at Casper’s Beaver Scout group where he played a wonderful piano solo…}

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{..and a very sweet Christmas show by Clemmie’s little ballet class}

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{The tree is finally up. I tried hard to curb my OCD tendencies this year and put the kids in charge of the decorations. OK, so maybe I moved one or two baubles but I think it turned out OK!}

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{The Christmas cards have all been written…}

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{..and the Swedish Christmas food order has arrived safely}

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{We even had time for a trip to the park last weekend to make the most of the dry weather.}

Hope you have a wonderful weekend whether you’re doing some last minute shopping, preparing for the Christmas feast or just putting your feet up and enjoying the festive mood! X

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Christmas time

If we overlook the tiny little fact that we don’t yet have a Christmas tree, our house is starting to look very festive indeed. The tree will definitely be purchased this weekend and then we can hopefully sit back and enjoy the seasonal cosiness. We’re having some major building work done at the moment and I’m very relieved that the builders told us this week that the kitchen will remain intact until the new year. Somehow, I did not relish the thought of attempting to cook Christmas dinner in the microwave!

Meanwhile, the schools have started the rather grueling countdown to the Christmas holidays. I know it’s all good fun and I’d hate to sound like the Grinch but at the moment emails are being fired at me left, right and centre about Christmas concerts, class parties, Christmas hat day, Christmas jumper day, Christmas mini market etc etc. To be honest, the children are all completely exhausted and as they don’t actually seem to be doing any work at the moment maybe the schools should consider breaking up this Friday rather than next…

At least my Christmas shopping is done now, after numerous Amazon orders and a four hour session in town today. All that remains is the wrapping and of course sending out the Christmas cards (I bought pre-printed ones this year to save time) and then I really will put my feet up and sip a glass or two of mulled wine.

How are your Christmas preparations going?

 

Five on Friday

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{This week was half term and we were so lucky with the weather at the start and end of the week. On Monday we went to a nearby National Trust garden and walked around the lake, stopping along the way to climb trees and skim some pebbles.}

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{I also took the boys to have their hair cut. It was long overdue as they could hardly see from under their fringes, but we only seem to have time to go in the school holidays.}

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{I went to have my own hair cut and coloured the following day. A bit of a radical change but I think I like it.}

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{Today, of course, was Halloween so the pumpkins had to be carved and placed on the porch…}

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{…before my three little monsters went out trick or treating around the neigbourhood, returning with buckets full of candy. Enough to last them until Christmas I think!}

I’m pretty exhausted myself so that’s it from me tonight. Hope you have a great weekend! X

Five on Friday

Hello! Friday again! The only good thing about the weeks flying by is that the weekends come around sooner than you expect. Yesterday was my birthday so today’s Five on Friday is a bit of a birthday bonanza. It was a great day – the sun was out and I was suitably spoiled by family and friends with cards, presents, champagne and even a cake made by my husband (his first one!).

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{Once the kids were dropped off at school my husband took me out for brunch at a local cafe}

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{I had my favourite – eggs benedict, with a large latte of course}

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{Well, it was my birthday so it would have been rude not to..}

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{Some fabulous cards…}

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{..and presents, including these Dinny Hall earrings and Stella & Dot necklace}

Tonight will be a more sedate affair – the husband is going out and one child is away at a sleepover – and I plan to eat the leftover tacos, maybe watch a movie and just relax. Tomorrow will be a whirlwind of kids’ activities, looking at flooring for the new kitchen, and dropping off three huge boxes of baby stuff at the local Good as New Sale, followed by joint birthday drinks with friends in the evening.

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend! X

Autumn Resolutions

Autumn resolutions

Summer is still lingering here in England – the weather is (mostly) T-shirt friendly and the Mr Whippy ice cream van is still parked outside the school gates every afternoon tempting us with yummy ice creams. But there are definite signs that autumn is drawing in – the mornings are much cooler, the evenings are getting darker and Halloween themed merchandise is starting to creep (yes pun intended!) onto the shop shelves.

Autumn will always represent new beginnings to me. It is my favourite season, not least because my birthday falls in it (as do my husband’s and both my sons’ so it’s a busy time of year). As a child the arrival of fall would be signalled by the start of a new academic year and all the paraphernalia that it entailed like new school shoes and new pencil case. And while I left education many years ago, I still feel that renewed sense of purpose at the end of summer. For me, autumn beats new year hands down when it comes to drawing up a list of goals and resolutions for the next 12 months.

Some of my goals from last autumn remain the same: exercise more, eat healthily, strive to live in the moment but I have also added a few more:

1. Be more selective about my spending. The 30 Day No Shopping Challenge made me think about how often I buy things (for myself or for the children) that I simply do not need. 9 times out of 10 I shop online and somehow when you ‘click to buy’ it feels less real than punching in your pin at the counter or handing over real, hard cash. I really should be focusing on clearing things out of our house rather than bringing more stuff in.

2. Stress less, or to quote that popular saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. Let’s face it, I’m not a brain surgeon – if I make a mistake at work it is not going to kill anyone. Similarly, the world will not end if my son is late for tennis or my daughter forgets her schoolbag. And let’s not even get started on all the replaying in my head of conversations I’ve had and agonising over what I’ve said or not said. If something is said and done there is no point in worrying about it.

3. Use my time wisely. Now that all three of my children are at school, all of a sudden I have 30 (!) child free hours every week. Sixteen of those will be taken up by work but the rest of the time is mine. Fourteen hours sounds like a lot but I know how easy it is to fritter them away doing nothing apart from checking Facebook, Pinning pictures of my dream home or searching online for stuff I don’t even need. So if I want to be able to fit in the things I want to do like exercising, seeing friends and blogging as well as the things I need to do like the ironing, cleaning and cooking I need to plan my time better.

4. Carry on blogging, but in a realistic way. I started this blog as a creative outlet when I was in between jobs. Now that I’m working again, the blog has slipped down my list of priorities and over the summer I questioned whether it was worth carrying on with. I have decided that it is but posting every day is not an option at the moment so two or three posts a week is a more realistic goal.

5. Make a real effort to spend more one-to-one time with my children. It’s easier said than done as the weekends tend to fill up with sporting activities, birthday parties etc but having time alone with each child is so important. They’re all at different stages of their childhood with different things going through their heads and I want to give all three of them a fair share of individual attention.

6. Get more sleep!!! I’m doing better than I was but still spend much of the day yawning and wishing for bedtime. I’m prescribing myself camomile tea and no screen before bedtime.

And on that note I’m off to bed. Happy Thursday everyone! X

 

 

Five on Friday

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{The boys went back to school last Tuesday. For one year they are at the same school, before it is time for Cameron to move on to secondary school.}

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{Clemmie didn’t start school until today so she and I went to Sweden for three nights last weekend to see my sister and her kids. We had loads of time at the airport before our flight so I treated her to an Anna from Frozen doll. Traveling with just one child was so easy and we had a great time.}

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{Today was a big day for Clemmie but she loved putting on her uniform and going into school. Some of you may remember that I was less than thrilled about her starting school so young but after several chats with the headteacher I felt reassured that the focus in this first year is very much on play.}

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{Some new beauty buys: A Rodial bee venom serum that I bought on the flight back from Stockholm and I also managed to get my hands on the much-hyped Multi-colour Les Beiges by Chanel. I feel a beauty post coming up soon!}

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{I am a self-confessed knitwear fanatic and these two jumpers from H&M and Hunky Dory are new purchases for the coming season along with a pair of boots, also from H&M. I love the zip detailing on all of them.}

Now that all three children are at school, I hope to have some more time for blogging. I have so many ideas but time has been very scarce over the summer holidays. Thank you to all of you who kept reading and commenting despite the rather patchy updating.

This weekend we’re going to Bristol to visit an old friend of mine. Last time we went it took us over four hours to get there so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the traffic will be light. Hope you have a fantastic weekend whatever you’re doing. X

The BBC Good Food Festival

Last Saturday we went to the BBC Good Food Festival held in the picturesque grounds of the historic Hampton Court Palace. It really was a feast for all the senses: a beautiful setting, gorgeous smells and of course lots of yummy food to taste. And taste it we did, walking up and down the stalls sampling everything from cheese and chorizo to brownies, biscuits and fudge before deciding what to buy. We were lucky with the weather too, it was the last day of sunshine before the rain arrived.

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{The boys and I in front of the fudge stall that sold almost every flavour imaginable from traditional vanilla and clotted cream to Jammy Dodger, Skittles and Bailey’s fudge. Casper got a tad over excited!}

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{Cameron tasting some cheese. In the end we bought five different varieties to take home, including caramelised onion, mango and garlic cheeses.}

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{These deep fried sugary churros were delicious – even more so when dipped in the pot of melted chocolate that they were served with. I have found a recipe on Pinterest that I intend to try next time I feel in need of a calorific treat.}

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{The beautiful palace was the perfect backdrop. It’s almost impossible to get a photo of Cameron these days without him doing the ‘Victory’ sign. Must be a ten-year-old boy thing!}

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{When you got bored of eating there were lots of games to play in the gardens, including croquet, giant chess and connect four. The children challenged Daddy to the tug of war and, thanks to a superb team effort, they won!}

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{Clemmie loved the ‘princess’ stamp that the ticket lady stamped on our hands when we arrived at the food festival}

All in all, a lovely day out. This week so far has been work, work and more work. Looking forward to the weekend and my mini break next week. X

 

Five on Friday

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{Clemmie was happy to be back home with all her toys. She and I are off to Sweden again in two weeks’ time to visit my sister and her family.}

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{I’m still on a shopping ban but the kids desperately needed some new clothes for autumn so I went slightly mad in Zara Kids this week. They really have some fabulous stuff for both boys and girls.}

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{Now that Casper is moving up to the junior school, both boys needed new backpacks and school supplies like pencil cases, pens and water bottles etc. I still LOVE shopping for back to school things just as much as I did as a child.}

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{OK. so I’m not allowed to shop but I can still look, right? The planning for my A/W wardrobe is well underway and this jumper from All Saints is top of the list along with a new pair of ankle boots and winter coat.}

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{Two weeks of pizza, ice cream, chocolate, cinnamon buns and wine (not necessarily all together) have left their all too visible marks. Time to switch up the healthy eating a gear with the help of recipes such as this delicious-looking one for salmon and chickpea salad. More food inspiration can be found on my Pinterest board.}

Hope you have a fab weekend. It’s a three-day one here in the UK and we intend to make the most of it with plans to go to a food festival and to Ikea to check out new kitchens. What are you up to? X