Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Tomorrow is a rainbow day...

Tomorrow is the day. I have been skeptical before but the curiosity of whether I am a clear winter or maybe more like a cool summer has got the better of me and tomorrow I find out 'my colours'!! And then the day after I will probably be found removing all the practical and black things from my wardrobe because they don't suit me and googling how to get red brassy tones out of my hair. (I do not need a colour specialist to tell me my hair has faded to gross... I know, I know and I hate it too!... How DO you avoid a brassy fade out when you're brunette?!) 

Tuesday, 25 September 2012



I've decided I think I should run a charity shop. Over the past few weeks I've had friends and mums and ladies I don't know all delivering their unwanted clothing round to my house all to be labelled up for our first ever Golddigger Trust Preloved Clothing Sale. I stole the idea from the school PTA who annually run a togswap to raise funds for the school with childrens clothing but we just decided lets do this for women, in an evening with wine and music and with all of those clothes that are just TOO NICE to throw in a charity bag - and too expensive... so they get a percentage and a percentage goes to the charity. Its amazing. I get to organise Versace tops and Louis Vuitton bags and although it is everso slightly appealing to my shopaholic nature and I might just BUY EVERYTHING BEFORE THE SALE EVEN STARTS... I also want there to be lots of goodies to make a really exciting night for everyone else...but if I do treat myself just a little bit I know it will be going right into the charity I am extremely passionate about! Win win!
With my own clothing however I am being ruthless. I've had the most extensive wardrobe clearout known to mankind. Enough of owning 578 things I can not see because they are behind the things I can see (so are then the only things I wear). I am big time streamlining! I also am going to keep less things in my children's wardrobes... because really if I was fair I would let them have space for their own things. I have 2 weeks to completely change my mind and snatch all my old clothes back again. Not sure which way we'll go to be honest. :S

Monday, 9 July 2012

Story Book Party

Holly is a reading addict. Any opportunity she has to spend a minute with her head in a book she will do. She has really wanted to have a reading party for about 3 years now. I understand that for her there is nothing better imaginable than having all her favorite people with her reading... I had to nicely try to explain that it might not be everyone's cup of tea and maybe a party should be a bit more lively and fun?!  So this year, for her eighth birthday, I considered her idea and we came up with the compromise of a story book party... We could somehow include bits of her favorite stories, a few more grown up games and a chance to well and truly declare to her friends that she loves books.

INVITES

We made the invitations by photographing a big stack of loads of her favorite stories and had them printed as matt postcards. I printed out some plain library book record inserts and wrote the info on there with the date stamped in a good old fashioned stamper. I got 100 of these printed for about £7. It means they can double up as thank you cards and the leftovers are totally usable for Holly as postcards throughout the year.

DECORATIONS
Decorations were nice and easy for this party theme. We had a few white balloons on old ribbons held down by a few old hard back books, bunting made from a second hand book stapled onto ribbon and some printed out quotes from well known stories and cut out letters dotted around and hung on ribbon. I did get a lot of objection when Holly saw me chopping up a book to make bunting but it was very ethical...a local charity shop had a big basket of second hand childrens books for 30p each. (I picked up a few from here for the party bags - see below) and I selected the ones I thought looked the most shallow and least educational for my cutting up. Turns out the Princess Diaries is not just a bit shallow but also not AT ALL a children's book despite the princessy name and front cover. I had to take down a few bits of bunting that were discussing birth control and plastic surgery. Glad I got those out of the children's basket before some unsuspecting young princess fan picked up those and got an early sex ed lesson!

We had fun making a 'Big Bad Wolf' pinata to hang in the gazebo above the party table. So long as you can tolerate the kitchen table being covered in newspaper and wallpaper paste for a few days while you're getting it done its a really nice way to get the children involved in all the planing and ideas. Elijah had a great time scribbling on the big sharp teeth with a marker pen.

THE CAKE
 The Cake! This was a little more complicated than I'd thought it would be. The 4 rectangles were easy enough. I made 2 pink cakes, 1 chocolate and 1 vanilla white sponge in rectangle tins and chopped down to size. Rolling out the fondant once the colour was mixed was far more tricky. I tried to cheat with the white one when I sent Joel to get me ready rolled sheet. It was round and so I had to squash it and roll it anyway. It took more hours than I'd given myself on my time allocated Things To Do list... so its a good job she loved it!

PARTY BAGS
The Party Bags. I'm not a fan of the typical party bag. My mum tried to persuade me to stand my ground and not do them. I'm not into having 30 upset children at the end of an otherwise successful party so I've never gone down that road but I equally don't see the point of spending my money of pieces of plastic to share out between friends bins. This year they all got... 2 chocolate mice (one white, one pink made in molds from Lakeland) a Russian doll notebook, a pencil and a classic old second hand book. I suddenly got very jealous of all the great stories I had managed to find in charity shops and book stalls that I was about to give away. I almost got Holly onto reading as many as possible before her friends arrived. She is a fast reader but I think getting through Black Beauty, Wind In the Willows, Heidi, Watership Down and about 8 Enid Blyton books in 3 hours was a bit ambitious. I will have to enjoy trying to re find some of those again.


 I've not jumped on the cake pop bandwagon. I did that with macaroons and learned how to make them just before they were becoming very cool again and then I spent far too much time and egg white making batches where half would be great and half would be 'mistakes that I have to eat'. My mum is into cake pops though and I think one cake pop maker in your close family is enough -I think they can just make them for you. She has 2 books and a cake pop maker (which makes the cake mix into perfect little spheres) I shall leave her to it...and she produced these little faces :-)

Recycled drinks bottles dipped in chalkboard paint. Write the childrens names on and they wont lose theirs.

ACTIVITIES
I wanted all the activities to suit the theme so for a craft activity on arrival we made book marks. I just collected some stamps, cardboard letters, stickers, brown paper and textured paper together and printed off a few phrases 'fairest of them all' 'theres no place like home' 'once upon a time' and wildest of them all' and bought a couple of rolls of fabric tape. I had ribbon thread through once these were laminated too. 
I had a code breaker activity going on too so that not everyone was making book marks at the same time and a photo opportunity. We stacked up a load of blankets and mattresses to make a 'Princess and the Pea' bed and took tonnes of pictures. 
GAMES
Each guest brought one of their favorite books wrapped in newspaper and Holly collected them on arrival in her red riding hoods basket. Everyone chose a parcel to unwrap and then we had a guessing game to find who the book belonged to. 
We played story consequences which took up most of the time but was nice to play something a little more substantial with them now they are a little older. I printed out sheets with the guidelines for what to put eg describing word, girls name, MET, describing word, boys name etc. I dont think any of them had played this before but once we got going it went well and there were many many giggles when it came to reading them out...especially the ones involving some of the names of their school teachers getting married and falling down the toilet.
Pass the parcel because they do all love it. I found 2 vintage looking jigsaws in a bargain bookshop in a box shaped like a book. One was an Alice book with a jigsaw inside and the other Black Beauty so I'd snapped them up while on holiday a few months ago for pass the parcel prizes. Then we ate and sang and finished with the pinata.

It was great fun, surprisingly chilled and ended with a sleepover thanks to there being an inset day at school the next day. Good time had and onto planning he boys camping party for 2 weeks time!!



Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Queens Diamond Jubilee Party

The home brew!

Our little British brick BBQ!
I absolutely loved throwing a party for the Queens Jubilee. I just watched her give a Diamond Jubilee message on TV and in that she said thank you to all the people who have joined in the celebrations with her. Its not like we were on the streets of London waving flags at her - and its not as though we shared fond memories of her reign throughout the 10 hours we were going...but I like to think that the queen is a bit like the mum of the country - and mums are always happy when their children are getting on well and spending time together?! So she would have fondly loved our little muddy gathering!

   

 
The theme is ridiculously easy - red, white and blue napkins, straws, cake and, of course, ridiculous amounts of bunting. We tied photo frames of pictures of the queen onto the trees with string, made up jugs of Pimms, a home brew and a few local beers, BBQ'd British burgers and asked everyone to bring something British along. Easy-peasy to host and its always fun to see what people will bring... we had an amazing mix of mini roast dinners in yorkshire puddings, union jack pizza, egg sandwiches, strawberries and cream, scones, strawberry vodka jellies, chocolate guinness cake, Coronation chicken, red white and blue cake pops, eaton mess... what an amazing country we are! Joel built a mini climbing wall onto the side of some old shed panels, put up a slack line between 2 trees and these kept the kids busy at the opposite side of the garden to the BBQ and fire. We made an extensive playlist on spotify of all our fave old British bands...what could be a better excuse for some Elastica, Carter USM, Pet Shop Boys, Blur and East 17?!
DIY climbing wall out of an old shed.

SO MANY people were impressed with the party wine glasses. These things are the easiest thing in the world!! Basically those horrid disposable plastic cups cost a small fortune. These value wine glasses cost just over 25p each (the disposable ones only a few pence less) and then I dipped the base in blackboard paint. Guests can write their name on in chalk and then they wont lose their glass. Saves on washing up and is much easier to find yours than those wine glass charms. I do the same with these old tonic bottles for kids parties. Dead cheap and easy enough to store, look a million times nicer than disposable ones and of course they are more eco friendly! 

 

DIY outfits.

Holly and I had fun making our matching outfits. A primark kids dress each for £6, a red fabric rose, a few flags off the end of the bunting and our hunter wellies because it was very very muddy! God save our very beautiful Queen!






Wednesday, 29 February 2012

New shoes

Joel and I don't go shopping together often. On the rare occasion that we shop we end up stood debating new shoes for Joel. Today was the same. I asked him to come to the shops with me as I wanted to get a dress I liked. That was ok because then I would accompany him to B&Q to get some brackets. The dress I wanted wasn't there and Joel once again said "Do you think I should get some new shoes to replace these?" "These" refers to Joel's 'best' and 'smart' shoes that have had this status actually since last century. He keeps 'replacing them' but with shoes that are of a different variety and so can't bring himself to throw throw them out. Today I think we have achieved the relevant replacement and I think, after many years of faithful service, these ones can finally leave the building!

Ewwww and good riddance! (and £100 sketchers reduced to £36 with some free protector spray!)

£3048.51 D I am so very close to being in the 2000's :-)

Monday, 20 February 2012

Fence-gate


This is such an exciting chain of events. Firstly there was NO fence - none whatsoever. Some posts and concrete later there was one panel and by 5pm THREE BITS OF FENCE!! I helped out a mini little bit holding posts extremely strait and telling Joel what I'd knocked over... other than that I stayed inside baking cakes. I can't wait to see what happens next!

Valentine

I love my little family and my little family is full of love

Thursday, 9 February 2012

2012 is the year.

A lot can change in a year. I just read back a couple of blog posts from a year ago... I had just dyed my hair blonde. I think it took 5 packs of pretty much neat bleach. I then went on to have it cut so my hair responded by growing REALLY quickly. I got fed up with roots and had it dyed light brown. Grand total of lots of waste down the sink. Since September I've not had to dye it even once - I accidentally managed to get my hairdresser to dye it to my actual hair colour (who knew what that was!?) and so dark roots/pale roots are no more and I have saved some dosh! I also notice I was starting to party plan in February (for the children's parties in late June and July) well this year the cakes are already designed, the party bags sorted and just a few more games to plan... a BIT eager again.
Financially things are really different for us. I am now paid 2.5 days a week and Joel has a few random paid days that are irregular and is also balancing that with doing an MA. Its been the most tricky year so far in terms of keeping a tight budget and basically we're working really hard to spend as little as possible. Out budget is divided between 5 bank accounts and we have to save up as much as possible just so that we have a bit of a nest in case there comes a month where we earn nothing... eeek! Its meant though that if we do earn a bit more, and being used to not spending anything extra, that we've been mega keen on credit card payments. This time last year the balance was a whopping £9321.72 - THATS NEARLY TEN THOUSAND POUNDS - AND IT WAS WAYYYY MORE THAN THAT BEFORE!! Today I am happy to have just been able to make payment of £1500 (the entire amount of my first overdraft goal...in one go!) and the new balance is £3248.51 D!! I'm pretty excited by that! The amazing thing is that we now actually do have more than that saved up for living costs. If we didn't have to eat or pay our mortgage we could actually pay it off... which means that for the FIRST time in our almost 9 years of marriage we are (kind of) in CREDIT! Off to celebrate with a lemsip :-D
Joels a bit worried by my goal to pay it off really quickly but it HAS to be done. End of the year. 2013 will be debt free for SURE. But, hey, lets aim for summer?!