Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tour of a masculine bathroom...


A few weeks ago I showed you some photos of my mum's newly renovated en-suite and promised you as glimpse of my dad's when it was complete. For those of you who missed that first post, I should explain that yes, my parents have two en-suite bathrooms which are both a compact 2 metres square.

As they are positioned next to internal walls, they have a Velux instead of a window for light and at night they are lit by LED spots which means they are always light and bright.

Whilst my mum's en suite is great in its own right. I think my dad's is rather special. He's managed to pull off something quite clever by making it masculine and yet not dull. Once again this was a room that originally had a corner shower which has been ripped out and replaced with a larger walk-in enclosure. Both the toilet and sink are wall hung and there's a heated LED mirror and tiled recesses for storage.

The space has been used really well throughout and it shows how a little bit of planning can really pay off with bathroom design. My dad also deserves a mention for something else... Look how clean this bathroom is! It is actually literally spotless and he's been using it for several weeks. I might have to ask him how he keeps his shower door so immaculate, though I suspect that a water softener plays a big part!

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Monday, December 15, 2014

A winter's morning at the beach...


As you may have seen from my post yesterday, we spent Saturday morning down at the beach at East Head filming part of our video entry for this year's Mark Warner ambassador application. It was pretty cold, but it's really lovely having the beach so empty at this time of year.

Theo was running through the grass telling us he was exploring a jungle whilst the dogs were leaping up and down the dunes following the scent of rabbits and Jim and I were enjoying soaking up some winter sunshine.

As I hinted last week I have made the decision to leave my graphic design degree at the end of the first academic year in a few weeks. There is so much I want to do next year. Some of it work related and some it about making the most of this lovely spot we live in. I'll reveal a bit more in the new year, but I feel that 2015 is going to be a brilliant exciting year.

One of the things that has affected my decision to leave my course was how creatively drained I felt after hammering out 20 hours a week of study and so by making the decision to quit, it has lifted a huge weight and meant that suddenly things like Theo's weekly portrait have become a pleasure again and not an obligation. 

Jim would say that none of this is a huge surprise and that I constantly take on too much, but that is something us women specialise in isn't it? I guess the art is to learn which things help us grow and which drag us down and adjust accordingly.

Linking up with Katie and...

living arrowssnowingindoors

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

I want to be a #MarkWarnerMum


I'm sure it won't surprise you to know that the shorter days and colder weather has recently had us daydreaming about next year's summer holiday. I stumbled across Katie's (Mummy Daddy Me) review of the Levante Beach Resort in Rhodes a few weeks ago and made a mental note that it looked like it would suit us perfectly. Then only days later I found out that Mark Warner are searching for next year's blogging ambassadors.

They want bloggers to tell them a little bit about their family and what the ingredients would be for their perfect family holiday.

We are a family of three, though really I think my husband thinks we're a family of five, as my GoPro and DSLR go everywhere with us. Despite living in Canada and Cyprus early in our marriage, we've never actually had a family holiday abroad, although last summer we did go to the Isle Of Wight which I believe technically could be classed as "overseas"

As a family we love watersports (Jim and I are both PADI and RYA qualified) photography (mostly me behind the camera and Jim and Theo as my long suffering subjects) and good food, but rather than give you a really long blog post to read, we thought it would be a lot easier to make a video so you can get to know us better and see what would make our perfect holiday.

I won't lie, filming on a beach in the middle of December wasn't very idyllic, but if we can make that look good, just imagine how good we could make a Mark Warner resort look...


Linking up with Hollybobs and Jenny...


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Friday, December 12, 2014

#TassimoPerfectHost Festive Coffee Morning

The run up to Christmas is a great time for a catch up with friends and when Tassimo asked me to take part in their #TassimoPerfectHost campaign and try out one of their coffee machines and a couple of recipes by John Torode, I leapt at the chance.

Friends and family are more likely to catch up over drinks and coffee during the winter months than at any other time of year. So I decided to round up the ladies for a festive coffee morning and who better to sample John's whiskey brownie and shortbread biscuits than a few of my fellow Clandestine Cake Club members and a couple of my neighbours.


The Tassimo machine is a rather clever gadget as it doesn't just make coffee, it also does frothy tops for capuccino, tea, hot chocolate and babycinnos. In fact we said the only thing missing from the Tassimo range is a mulled wine pod to pop into the machine - I'd like to take credit for that when they start selling them next Christmas!

As part of their Perfect Host campaign Tassimo have recruited a team of experts to help your festive gathering go smoothly this year. Fashion designer and former Made in Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh recommends thinking about lighting to get the mood right "candles and lamps can be used to soften a room" (I also think fairy lights work wonders at this time of year) whilst coffee expert Hazel Middleton suggests preparing cakes the day before "to avoid panic on the morning."

Not only did we try out John's whiskey infused brownie at our coffee morning, but I also made his shortbread biscuits and served them with Affogatto, otherwise known as vanilla ice-cream drenched in hot coffee. It was a big hit and a lovely indulgent winter treat . In fact the Tassimo machine was such a success, that one of my neighbours invited herself over again this morning to have "another one of those lovely coffees" but I'd actually run out!

If you'd like to try making your own Affogatto, here's John's recipe...


John Torode’s Affogatto with Short Bread Biscuits

You will need:

• 4 bowls
• biscuits
• 8 scoops of vanilla ice cream
• 4 individual espressos

Ingredients (for the shortbread):

 • 200g plain flour
• 90g caster sugar
• 60g ground almonds
• 200g butter chopped into bits
• 1 egg
• The zest of half a lemon
• 2 drops vanilla essence
• pinch of table salt

Instructions:

1. Put the flour, sugar and almonds in a food processor and whizz at full speed for a few seconds. Add the butter and whizz again briefly; the mixture should resemble fine breadcrumbs. Add egg, lemon zest and vanilla essence, then whizz again briefly until the pastry forms into a ball.

2. Scrape contents onto a sheet of cling film, then either shape into a rough ball or roll into a cylinder shape, roughly 5cm in diameter.

3. Wrap and chill the biscuit dough for at least 2 hours. You can also freeze it or make a few days ahead and keep in the fridge.

4. Cut into flat discs or stars. Bake in a preheated oven at 190C on a flat baking sheet for 12-15 minutes

5. Once baked and cooled, serve on the side of your affogatto.

Big thank you to my sister Jane for taking photos of our gathering and to Tassimo for inviting us to join the #TassimoPerfectHost campaign. 

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com 
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Monday, December 8, 2014

Kicking over the leaves...


Another week has flown by with barely a chance to raise my head and catch a breath. Christmas is a busy time anyway, but with two university modules due in January, I find I barely have a chance to do anything but study.

This weekend we did find some time to put the Christmas decorations up and clear the leaves, but they were brief moments squeezed in between other obligations and with the days so short at this time of year, I all too quickly find the sun has gone and the moment to do anything has passed.

This year has been so full and busy for all of us, I think I want next year to be a little less hectic. On Thursday we found out Jim is going to be promoted, which is exciting and comes with the added bonus of at least a month off over the summer between his current job and a training course. I am already daydreaming about what that could mean... Maybe a bit of traveling before Theo starts school? Or a chance to do some work on our garden?

The list of things I want to do in 2015 is very long and more and more I find that studying is slipping closer to the bottom of that list. I think about the summer before last and how I had time to make Theo multiple pairs of shorts (which he loved) and how this summer instead of going with him to pick out fabrics to make new pairs, he had to squeeze into the old ones because there was no time to sew.

There's a lot of thinking to be done in the next few weeks and planning for the kind of 2015 we want to have...

Linking up with Katie at Mummy Daddy, Me and...

living arrows

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Vlog : Hillary's Craft Event in Brighton

image

On Saturday I went to the Hillary's Craft Event in Brighton. It's been six months since my last blogging get together and during that time I've learned a huge amount about the importance of meeting people face to face. So after missing out on Blogfest last month (should have bought a ticket!) I was thrilled to have the chance to spend the afternoon in Brighton doing crafty stuff and putting real faces to profile images.

It was also a brilliant excuse to play around with some of my video kit and produce some content for my new YouTube channel (more of that in a sec)

The event was overseen by Kirsty of Make Do & Trend who talked us through making no-sew bunting (which looks great by the way) and fabric Christmas baubles with a pattern based around the Cathedral Windows quilt square. Even though I didn't finish my bauble (I was too busy eating cake!) it was great to see how the pattern comes together, as it's something I've always been rather terrified of doing with quilts.

If you want to see what the afternoon was like (and how amazingly lovely Brighton looked on a sunny day in November) check out the video below and please subscribe to my channel. I think 2015 is going to be a very exciting year for vlogging, so I've jumped on the bandwagon.

I'm aiming to produce a couple of vlogs a month, so don't worry, you won't be swamped if you subscribe...



Linking with Em for Point & Shoot...

snowingindoors

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Living Arrows 48/52

ISO 320, 50mm, f/6.3, 1/125

On a rare afternoon when it wasn't raining last week I took Theo to our local playground and saw for the first time the little social life that is opening up before him.

There were two little girls of his age there, one whom he greeted with great enthusiasm by name and another who we hadn't met before but it turns out will be in his class at Primary School next September. Within minutes he was bouncing around the playground with them, throwing himself with huge enthusiasm into every game they wanted to play and loving the attentions of his little girl pals.

It's not just these new friends that have appeared from nowhere. Over the last few weeks we've also had other glimpses into a world we don't see. First he started singing the Meghan Trainor song with wonderful misheard lyrics of "Double Bubble, no trouble." then it was Let It Go from Frozen, a film that none of us had actually seen yet.
 
He may be barely three, but he's so ready for school next September. I think he's going to love it!


living arrows

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