28 December 2015

Christmas 2015 in Pictures

Christmas this year has been a bit of a whirlwind, well, when isn't Christmas like that? To make sure I don't forget those precious moments, I have put together a post of just some of the pictures I took of just some of the things we got up to over the past few weeks.

Yummy star mince pies, they made the perfect treat for Santa and our guests over Christmas.


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24 December 2015

Simple Star Mince Pies

I do love mince pies, they are great to leave out for Santa, to serve to guests over christmas or just to relax whilst you have a cup of tea, however you enjoy them, it is important to get the correct mincemeat to pastry ratio.

So, on a mission to find the perfect combination and delight both to the eye and the taste buds, I set about searching the internet for inspiration. By combining the results of my internet searching, with my mum's recipe for sweet crust pastry, I created my very own star mince pies, you can enjoy them too by following the recipe below.



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20 December 2015

Hare and Tortoise at the Nottingham Playhouse - Review

This weekend, we were invited to review the Hare and the Tortoise, which is currently playing in the Neville Studio at the Nottingham Playhouse.

An adaptation of the classic Aesop Fable, this story tells of the forever in a hurry Hare and the slow and thoughtful but much slower Tortoise 

We had never been to the Neville Studio before, it is a small intimate theatre, which meant that the children could sit on the cushions at the front and we could sit a bit further back in the seats. Being sat on the cushions so close to the actors meant the children felt like they were part of the show.




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13 December 2015

A Barbie Christmas Wish List

We have been lucky enough to review some wonderful Barbies this year, from a mermaid to a superhero and a rockstar to a ballerina, there have been many to keep us occupied, and so that you can see them all in one place, here is our Christmas Barbie wish list.

We loved dressing up as superheros earlier this year, we had a party to celebrate the release of this wonderful and thought inspiring doll. My daughter has loved dressing up and believing in herself since the day we had our party, dressing up as superhero Barbie for Children in Need, it has inspired her to believe she can be anything and it proves that just because she loves pink doesn't mean she can't be super.



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11 December 2015

A Great Sprout Alternative

I love sprouts, they are a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals and I could eat them with every roast. But my family are not so keen, my son will eat brussels but only one or two, so when I was asked to try Flower Sprouts I was intrigued to see whether I could get the whole family to give them a go, by incorporating them into every day meals.


First of all what is a Flower Sprout? 

"The inspiration behind the idea for flower sprouts came from a desire to create a Brussels sprout with a more subtle flavourwhich was versatile and looked great. The result - a brand new vegetable which looks a little like a tiny cabbage with green frilly leaves and streaks of purple. Just 100g of Flower Sprouts® contain double the amount of vitamin B6 the vitamin that helps us use and store energy from the food we eat and twice the amount of vitamin C than standard Brussels sprouts."
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6 December 2015

Bringing Birds into Your Garden

Even though we used to live in the city boundaries, our garden had lots of trees and was always teaming with wildlife, from foxes to squirrels and many different birds. However, since we moved and only have a hedge behind us before fields, the amount of wildlife we see in our garden has dropped dramatically. For me and the children, this is somewhat of a loss. I had seen a few birds moving about in the hedge but with a few cats next door, they seemed reluctant to come down onto the garden to eat some mealworms we had put out for them.

So when we were at the local garden centre and spotted some suet blocks, we decided to get some to put on the fencing at the back of the garden. The idea came from when we visited Center Parcs last year and one of their wildlife experts gave us some to put on the window of our lodge. It was an instant hit with the birds who would fly up to the corner of the window and eat the suet. The children and the adults loved to watch the birds and it was a great feeling to be able to feed these wonderful little creatures.



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28 November 2015

Lazy Days and Rainy Play

Getting out and about in winter is important, with short days and not much light, there is nothing better that a bit of sunshine to boost your Vitamin D and most of all, you don't need to let rain stop play. On what started off as a slightly dull morning, we headed to Rufford Abbey, a regular haunt for us and a great place especially at this time of year.


It was cold but we wrapped up in several layers and headed out for a picnic, some puddle splashing and a hot chocolate, with a spot of bird watching and leaf throwing too. A highlight of every trip to Rufford is stopping to watch the cars splash through the ford. 


We were sent some waterproof clothes and wellies from Helly Hansen a few months back and they are the perfect addition to rainy day play, allowing us to get out and about no matter what the weather and learning to enjoy being outdoors, come rain or shine. Splashing, getting mucky and no more excuses as to why we can't because daddy doesn't want mud in his car!
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23 November 2015

My Month of November

I have never needed my camera more, this month has been hard on the soul. With a funeral, illness, accidents and the events of Paris, which we visited earlier this year, there is nothing I have enjoyed more than photographing and styling to empty my head of its cloudy whirlwind of emotional mush.

The more photos I take, the more I love fall in love with my camera. Taking pictures of the children, places we visit and food acts as a journal, helping me to recall the wonderful memories we have made throughout the year. Days like this one, spent sauntering through the wonderful Elvaston Castle grounds, the children let their hair down and enjoyed the cool autumn day by running through the leaves and mud, collecting twigs along the way.


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19 November 2015

Barbie Dance & Spin Ballerina Review

We were recently sent the Dance & Spin Ballerina Barbie to review, this colourful and eye-catching doll jumps, spins anpliés with ease.The wand clips easily on to her waist and and as you push her leg down she leaps into the air and spins, her leg spinning round like a real ballerina, her dress spinning out out in all it's glittery glory.



I am not sure who loves this more, myself or my daughter well obviously its my daughter...just! For any little person that loves ballerinas, this Barbie is perfect, her pirouettes and pliés are very close to the real deal and even simple for little hands to operate.
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18 November 2015

Lovely Christmas Lighting

I love pretty lights and have a few up all year round, nothing says cosy winter evenings and Christmas like twinkling lights.

This year I want to light up the house, from the dining room to the kitchen and the lounge to the hallway I want to make sure the house sparkles and make it as magical as possible for the children.

Here are just a few of some of the wonderful lights available online and on the high street, how do you make your house sparkle?
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11 November 2015

A Record Breaking Day Out

During the October half term, we were invited to the Guinness World Record HQ, for a day of record breaking fun.

I feel bad to say now that before this, we didn't got one of the books in our house. So, once I knew that we were going, I tracked them down in the library and showed the children what it was about and what we might expect.

We headed on the train down to London and walked from the train station via the British Library to their head office, we were welcomed in their rather fun office with goodie bags and a party buffet.


My son was instantly entranced by their latest offering, the Guinness World Records Gamers Edition, he loves Minecraft and playing games so this was just perfect for him. My daughter looked through the shiny gold book which was the actual Guinness World Records. We also had a little booklet with some interesting facts in, including a picture of the tallest man in the worlds hand....just look at how tiny mine is in comparison.




image courtesy of ivan gonzalez


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8 November 2015

A Day Out at Midland Railway

Last weekend we visited the Midland Railway in Derbyshire, the journey started at Butterley station and we travelled down the line through Swanwick junction and on to Riddings, there the train waits for the engine to turn around, then goes back up the line to Butterley Reservoir and back again.

It isn't a long line but to be honest, since you can travel up and down as many times as you like with your day ticket, it didn't matter too much.

We paid an extra pound each to sit in first class which was well worth it for the Harry Potter style compartment we got to sit in. You forget the smell and sounds of steam trains, but they are still as enigmatic when you are 33 as they were when you were 5.



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29 October 2015

Cosy Sunday Morning Wishlist

Sunday mornings, you'd think after almost 10 years of living in my own home i'd of had lots of lazy Sunday mornings but the truth is I haven't. As an early bird with a husband who likes to lay in, I am often out of bed before him and that is that.

Since we moved into our new home though, I have managed a few. Snuggling up with a coffee, the sunshine streaming through the windows, surrounded by crumpled sheets and and in my favourite bed socks. And with the mornings getting colder there is nothing I would enjoy more than to snuggle up in some of these beauties. This is my Cosy Sunday Morning wishlist...


Cosy Sunday Mornings
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25 October 2015

Barbie Saddle ‘N Ride Horse Review

Growing up, I would have given anything for a Barbie with her own horse and for one that walked, I'm sure my little heart would have burst!

My daughter has now got to live my dream, with her own Barbie Saddle 'N Ride Horse. Not only does this horse move but even better, Barbie jumps onto the horses back and off it goes. You simply pop Barbies gloved hand into the side of the horse and then pull her round until she clicks and stands up, you press the button which is the horses mane on the front of the head.




The horse is more steady on a flat surface, it falls over on our carpet, so this is something to bear in mind if you are thinking about getting one.

The excitement when we finally popped the batteries in and got her moving was just brilliant, my daughter was giggling and laughing and to be honest I was too. The way she flips round onto the horse is just amazing and you can tell lots of thought went into it. The horse has a brushable tail and comes with it's own little brush which attaches to the gloved hand.

My daughter loves brushing her hair and we even played with our other Barbies, they shouted from the sidelines as the Barbie and Tawny raced through the dining room.



We both love the Saddle 'N Ride horse, the horse itself is really cute and we love Barbies outfit, the cute little floral top and denim jacket combo is great and the fact she has hat for safety is also really helpful when trying to get my daughter to wear hers on the her scooter.


This would make the perfect Christmas present for any Barbie or horse loving child and for me this is something that will get played with over and over.

And finally if you haven't seen this wonderful new video from Barbie then I can highly recommend a watch, it certainly put a smile on my face.


NB: We were sent this doll to form a review, all words opinions and pictures are my own.
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24 October 2015

Pumpkin Picking, an Autumn Treat

It's half term for us at the moment and with the weather holding out for the time being, we headed to Maxeys Farm Shop for a bit of pumpkin picking. We visited last year and the kids loved it, if you are local to Nottingham I can highly recommend it.

With a wheelbarrow in tow, we headed out into the field to survey the pumpkins and pick the ones we wanted. With prices ranging from £2 to £5 or a bit more for the really big ones, there isn't much difference between buying from a supermarket, except with this you are supporting a small and local business.





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19 October 2015

Learning Food Photography at The School of Artisan Food

This weekend, I was invited to attend an Introduction to Food Photography Course at the The School of Artisan Food on the Welbeck Estate in North Nottinghamshire. I love taking pictures of food so I jumped at the chance.

Food is something that I not only love to make, but also love to take pictures of, it doesn't move around and can look stunning if styled right. So, I went along, having not really used my camera on anything but automatic before, I didn't really understand the settings. No matter how much I tried before, nothing ever changed, so understanding more was something I was looking forward to.

First of all, the wonderful Joan Ransley sat and told us about her work and explained to us which settings to use on the camera, both on and off the tripod. It was really insightful and taught in a way which made sense. After some coffee we went down to the foyer to find the best light, with it's huge glass windows, this was the perfect place.

Learning about light and how important it was made sense to me, I have always found that natural light is great for pictures. Joan went through in great detail how she was using her camera to capture the image and how to place the wonderful produce we'd been given from the school. She had many wonderful props with her and I couldn't wait to use them later on.


After lunch, which was all homemade at the school, we were set free. In groups of two we chose our produce, again from the school, to go and take pictures with. My partner Elaine and I chose this wonderful plum tart, the lines and detail in the cake were perfect. We went outside to the abbatoir, the stone floor was perfect for pictures, as was the light. How important the light is is something I only became more aware of recently, the light that came through that door was simply perfect.
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18 October 2015

Black & White Photography Project Week 67


I went on a food photography course yesterday, it was inspiring and thought provoking and I had so much fun. Although this isn't one of my favourite from the session I wanted to save those for another post. This is still full of detail though and the shapes and textures of the plums, cake and stone floor is just wonderful.

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16 October 2015

Exploring Nottingham

I have lived in Nottingham all my life and as a child spent so much time visiting many of the city's attractions, whether on school trips or with my parents. Some of those attractions are long gone, like the Tales of Robin Hood for instance and for a time Brewhouse Yard which now only opens at the weekends.

But there is still a lot this beautiful city has to offer and on Saturday as part of the Get Creative Arts Festival we were invited to visit some of the attractions and really experience what Nottingham has to offer.

First of all, we stopped by the wonderful and historic Theatre Royal, this building has been standing proudly in our city for the last 150 years. Meaning that many generations of my family will have seen it and most likely been inside too. The Theatre is as magnificent now as you imagine it would have been back then, with very few changes having taken place in that time, not because they couldn't be bothered but why change something so beautiful and that works. Having only really ever been in there when it's full, I hadn't had time to appreciate the acoustics of the theatre, it was magnificent and a true work of art in itself.




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12 October 2015

Marlenka Honey Cakes Review

Imagine a cake that you can buy and keep in your cupboard for a few months, that emergency pudding or cake for friends or family who pop over unannounced, well with Marlenka cakes you can do just that.

These cakes can keep for up to 90 days, I say can because as my son said to me 'we should have these more often' so I don't think they'd be in our cupboard long.


We were sent some of the honey cocoa nuggets, honey lemon nuggets, honey cake, honey cocoa cake and a couple of the snack bars, which are all great in their own way.

The nuggets were the perfect treat to have with a cup of tea, they were also ideal for me to pop into my Yumbox for work, in fact it was like they were made for the little pot I popped one in. I offered them to all my family that visited and they all thoroughly enjoyed them.


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11 October 2015

Black & White Photography Project Week 66


Yesterday we were lucky enough to be invited on a fabulous blog event in Nottingham, we visited several of Nottingham's wonderful attractions, more to come on a blog soon but I wanted to include this beautiful picture of my daughter making a clay butterfly. It works so well in black and white and I just love how it works.


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7 October 2015

Southwell Ploughing Match 2015

A few weeks ago, we headed over to the Southwell Ploughing Match, it has grown since we last went and we spent at least 6 hours wandering round the many stalls tents and exhibits. It was a great day out, that also allowed us to show the children what farming was like many years ago and now.  As well as how important farming is to Britain and how we need to support local producers with a fair price for the extremely hard work that goes into farming.

The ploughing itself took place early on in the morning, so first of all, we went to the fields to watch this. With lots of different machinery, from horse drawn ploughs, through to the first motorised models and to the modern machines of today, it was a wonderful look into how far we'd come.




Afterwards, we grabbed some food from one of the many wonderful food stalls in the farmers market area, for lunch, we chose our favourite farm shop which is Maxeys and grabbed a few of their wonderful burgers. As well as a few beers from a local brewery's stall, later on in the day we bought some cakes from All Mine Cakes and some raw milk from Milky Business, both fabulous local businesses. 

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4 October 2015

Black & White Photography Project Week 65


Goose fair, it has been a tradition for us for the last few years to visit with the children something we hope to continue for many more years to come. This picture was one I snapped earlier on as the darkness fell. It is magical in colour but I loved the outlines of the rides in black and white.


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29 September 2015

Win a Barbie Princess Power Doll

A few months back we were sent the fabulous Barbie Princess Power Doll to have a play with, we had a party to celebrate the release of the doll and DVD and it was great to see my daughter become a little superhero.



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27 September 2015

Black & White Photography Project Week 64


This weekend we visited Southwell Ploughing Match, we visited a few years ago and it was such a great experience for the children to see some history and agriculture, a sometimes forgotten part of our lives. But with livestock, shows, ploughing and much more it was a brilliant way to spend our Saturday.
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23 September 2015

Barbie in Rock N Royals Doll Review

My daughter is growing up rather quickly and part of that means finding new toys that excite and engage her. She has an unbelievable imagination and can often be found playing the most wonderful games and telling stories.

Since she found my old Barbies at my mum and dads house she has loved dressing them up and using them as her play friends. So when we were sent the new Barbie in Rock N Royals doll I knew it would be a hit but I didn't know how much. From the moment we took her out of the box she was full of excitement and spent hours singing with her, it took only a few plays of the song for her to know the words to sing along to.



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22 September 2015

Looking After Little Eyes

We all know that eyes are important, but do we do enough to look after them?

This week is National Eye Health Week and I have been talking to our children about their eyes, how we can look after and protect them, as well as what would make them even better.

With iPads, computer screens and other mobile devices becoming more prominent in our daily lives it is important now, more than ever that we put in place ways of protecting our children’s eyes. We need to ensure that they are kept up to date with eye checks at the opticians and make sure we limit their time spent playing on these devices.

To help promote National Eye Health Week, Boots Opticians asked me and my children to talk about our eyes.

To start off, we talked about our eyes and the colours of them, how they worked and what we could do to make them even better, here's what they thought.


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21 September 2015

Autumn/Winter Boot Wishlist

A pair of good boots are a staple for your autumn and winter wardrobe, whether for work, wearing with your favourite comfy jeans or dressing up with a skirt. Now more than ever, there are a vast selection of ladies boots out there to enjoy.

I love these Timberland boots, they would look absolutely fabulous with skinny jeans and a big chunky coat, a stylish look for cool dry autumn days.


Next up, another great pair, these boots are a classic chelsea boot and a staple for wearing with jeans, trousers or skirts, this dark rich brown is the perfect colour for autumn.


And finally, I have never owned a pair of knee high boots, I would love to though and I adore these Rieker Boots, the buckle detail is great and the not overly big heel is ideal for someone tall like me, great for busy mums on the school run or for a day out shopping.


Nothing says autumn more than boots, snuggly coats, scarves, gloves and hats and with these boots then the cool days are sure to be even more stylish.

NB: This is a collaborative post.
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My Favourite Instagram Acounts

I love Instagram, it's such a friendly place with inspiring pictures and people.  It is always the first place I turn if things aren't going great that day.

Full of wonderful snippets of life, whether staged or not, they are tiny squares of prettiness, sadness, glory, hope and everything in between. So I wanted to share with you some of my favourite Instagram accounts, people who have inspired me and made me smile and always bring a little square of joy into my life.

First up, I love Capture By Lucy, Lucy's photography, her styling and kind heart always shows through on her pictures and I love the little snippets into her life (even if I am slightly envious of them). She gets to play with such wonderful flowers and I adore her honesty and love that shows in every picture she takes.


Next is My Little Wildings, this gorgeous mama Zoe has the most adorable children and the most wonderful of jobs, her feed is just full of life and her beautiful work, each picture makes me smile and a lot of the time the pictures of the cutest tiniest babies make me feel broody!


I first saw Katy from Apartment Apocathary at BritMums Live this year and have been swooning over her feed ever since. Her beautiful styling and home are something I aspire too and her pictures are truly stunning.


For a colourful feed full of handmade gorgeousness, then look no further than Hollie at Flora Fairwather, she has the most beautiful handmade blankets, her feed is wonderful, bright and is sure to brighten up any dark day. I adore her feed and she is a lovely lady to boot.


And finally, this account offers the most fabulous foodie delights and after stalking her for the Springtime Surprise Project earlier this year, I can honestly say her feed makes my mouth water and my taste buds tingle. Claire at Foodie Quine has an amazing food blog and her feed is full of foodie inspiration.


Who inspires you on Instagram? Do you love it or loath it? And finally if you are on there then do pop over to my feed and say hello, I can usually be found posting pictures of stuff I make, love or my jelly shoes.
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