Thursday 31 July 2014

What did I get up to on my holiday.....week 1

It's that time of year again, holiday time!! I absolutely love going away on holiday, I love everything from the packing to setting off early  morning knowing you are off work for a couple of weeks and heading somewhere well away from home for some well deserved r&r. 

This year we have had an early holiday and since Alfie is only 2 we are fortunate that we can go well out of season and take advantage of some much more reasonable prices (I am not looking forward to when we have to go in the school holidays!). 

We started our journey off at around 7am (ish!) and made our way down to Dover to catch the ferry and meet our friends (our other set of friends flew), we had an overnight stop booked at Evreux roughly around 3 hours into France. Having two toddlers between us we were naturally conscious that we didn't want to push it too much on our first leg of the journey. We stayed at the local Kyriad hotel and luckily we were able to put the little one's to bed and have the monitors outside while we enjoyed the start of our holiday with some vino in a rather unconventional way.....see below!

We decided months ago to head back to the Dordogne, South of France which is one of my very favourite places in the world and it holds some very special memories for me seeing as it is where my (now) husband proposed. 

So this year we decided to head back there with some of our friends and their children meaning we could get a really nice place to stay and share the cost between us. On our recommendation we booked with Gites Lacombe, having stayed in a couple of their other gites over the past few years we knew that we were getting immaculate, well presented and clean accommodation in an ideal position for chilling and exploring. The gite we stayed in on this occasion was called Les Bousquies, sleeping 8 and with a private pool of generous size we were more than happy when we arrived.

We had a lovely first week mainly relaxing and spending time by the pool, most days it was pretty hot! Alfie absolutely loved being by the pool and even more so in the water, he became such a water baby while we were away and was always asking for Daddy to take him in the pool. We got some brilliant underwater pictures using our Sony phones which are waterproof. 

We visited La Foret des Singes (The Monkey Forest) which we've been to a couple of times previously and it's a lovely couple of hours out, housing over 150 Macaques that are allowed to roam free throughout the forest. You get a little handful of popcorn that you can feed to the Monkey's which is a lovely thing to do and  they're so gentle when they take it too! It's a really pleasant way to spend the morning, not only is it nice to see the monkey's, the forest itself is very nice to walk around and extremely well maintained. 

We visited beautiful little towns such as Domme which is a bastide town (fortified Medieval town) and is such a pretty little place to have a stroll around, every time we visit the area I like to visit Domme not only for the magnificent views but just because I like it there! As you can see in the picture below the views are simply stunning, you can see for miles and take in the beauty that this area of France has to offer, I just love it. Domme is quite often full of artists and photographers and you can clearly see why.

We enjoyed lunches with the boys, absorbed ourselves in the culture and ate enough French food and cakes and naturally drank enough French wine to sink a ship.......and this was only the first week, we had a whole other week to go to continue to do the same ....... I could sense a detox coming on!

We visited the beautiful town of Sarlat where we all enjoyed some ice creams, some of us got a little messy!!! So this.........

Then led to this......!

I think it's fair to say that three little toddlers covered in ice cream, high on sugar and  running around in these fountains (in an attempt to clean them!) created quite a spectacle with people stopping to stare and laugh at them! It was quite a sight!

The trio of troublemakers!

Enjoying the sunshine around the pool.

We were really hoping that we could take the boys canoeing down the Dordogne which is a lot of fun. Sadly they are just a little too young at the moment so we settled for a little picnic by the river instead which was a lovely relaxing way to spend a few hours, we will have to return when they are a little older!

Seeing as we were away with friends we all agreed that it would be lovely if we could all get out for some couple time, particularly a meal out in the evening. We managed to get out for two lovely meals as a couple, one in the first week and one in the second,  it felt like such a treat! 

So that's pretty much our first week summed up, writing about it now gives me serious holiday blues! 

One set of our friends left on the Friday so it was just ourselves, our other friends and their little boy so we had a couple of things planned to do and the rest of the time we planned to spend more time by the pool and relax!

I hope you've enjoyed reading all about our first week, I will be writing about our second week at some point so hang tight!

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Wednesday 30 July 2014

Like, Love, Loathe - Link Up

Where did that week go?! It seemed to fly by! I'm a day late posting, I ran out of time yesterday but here is the latest like, love and loathe link up post.

So what's to like, love and loathe this week? 

Liking: That it's cooled down slightly! Although our office is still stuffy the outside temperature is much nicer to work in. I love hot weather but I hate mugginess so for it to be a bit cooler it's better.

Loving: My new blog design!! It has been a year since I'd had my blog redesigned and in that time I've changed its direction a bit and I felt it needed a bit of updating. I'm super happy with the redesign, it's got that cute, girly, vintage feel to it that I like and I think it looks great. 

Loathing: I hate living away from friends, especially when I feel I really need to be around and I'm not. That is one of the worst things about living away, not being able to jump in the car and pop round to see a friend for a drink and a chat and to generally just be around. It sucks!

What are you liking, loving and loathing this week?

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Tuesday 29 July 2014

Summer Salads with Florette

With all this scorching hot weather the last thing I want to do when I come home is cook a hot tea, slaving over a warm oven just does not appeal! Lucky for me I am a fan of  salad and there is something much more appealing and delicious about a freshly prepared, crunchy salad for tea.

In our small garden we try to make the most of the space and grow some salad ingredients our self. During Summer we tend to be quite self sufficient with things like tomatoes, herbs, courgette's, beetroot and a few other yummy things, however sometimes we do need to top up with a trip to the supermarket to purchase a bag of Florette Salad. One thing that I find reassuring when we use Florette salad is just how crispy and fresh the leaves are, the secret to this is simply Florette using best quality leaves and knowing exactly where to grown them to ensure a delicious and fresh product. 

One of my very favourite salads can be found in the South of France. A typical French salad with lots of crispy green leaves, cubes of blue cheese crumbled over, sun dried tomatoes and foie gras finished off with a classic French dressing (oil, white wine vinegar and mustard) and crusty bread, mmmm mmmm delicious, my idea of perfection!!!! 

So at this precise moment in time I relish the though of a summer salad to eat for tea. Salads don't have to be boring, they are colourful and exciting with so many options to mix it up a bit.

Tonight, I challenge you to make a summer salad! What would be your ideal salad ingredients?

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* This post was written in association with Florette.

Thursday 24 July 2014

Glossybox July Stars & Stripes Edition - Review

So behind on all of my blogging at the moment but here is my review on the latest Glossybox. 

I do love a themed Glossybox and when I heard the theme for the July box I was pretty excited, one of the things that I like about receiving these beauty boxes is to discover new brands that perhaps I've not used before. In this months box the usual information card was received but the magazine appeared to have been forgotten or not printed this month which is a shame if that's case, I like having a little magazine to have a read of!

So what did I receive in this months box?

First impressions are pretty good, a nice variety of items and I was looking forward to having a play with them all! Not entirely sure how American they all are but hey ho!

First up we have Classic Carmex Lip Balm (RRP £2.69 for full size tub received) obviously if you read my blog regularly you will know my love of lip balms and I'm sure I say the same thing every time I write about receiving a lip balm! Happy to receive this even though I just received one in the Selfridges beauty box. One of my favourite lip balms and the amount I use I'm always going to welcome another!

The next item is  Bellapierre Cosmetics Ltd Mineral Lipstick in shade Ruby (£20 for full size received) I received a gorgeous post box red colour and having used Bellapierre items before I was fairly sure I would like this. It feels lovely when you apply it, moisturising but with a good pop of colour and it lasted pretty well through afternoon tea on Saturday! Nice packaging too.

The third item I plucked out was Absolute New York Perfecting Eyeshadow Primer (RRP $4.9 for full size tube received) , designed to be worn as a base for eyeshadow or to be worn alone to neautralise redness and brighten eyes. I tested this out over the weekend but don't think I blended it enough so it was a a bit thin, however my eyeshadow did stay in place, an item I will use (when I remember!).

The fourth item in this months box was a specially created nail polish shade just for Glossybox. Colour Club Nail Polish in shade Glossy Seal (RRP $8.00 for 15ml full size received) is a non-toxic, cruelty free and made in New York. The shade is a cute, glitzy blue shade and applies quite nicely, I may wear it at some point later in the year, I think it would be quite a nice Autumnal color. 

Last but not least Juice Beauty Green Apple SPF15 Moisturiser (RRP £35.75 for 50ml, small tube received) this is a lovely moisturiser described as lightweight and revitilazing. However, I don't really find it lightweight at all, I found it pretty thick when I applied it but once absorbed it's a nice moisturiser.

Overall a very nice selection of items and a decent box, bit disappointed that we didn't receive the usual monthly magazine but it doesn't take away from the box. I look forward to seeing what the August box holds! 

What did everyone else receive?

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Tuesday 22 July 2014

Like, Love, Loathe - Link Up

It's Tuesday which means it's like,love and loathe time!! What a hot old week it's been, I've had a pretty good week other than the muggy weather and all of my likes, loves and loathes this week revolve around this!

Here are my likes, loves and loathes for this week. 

Like: Ice lollies!!! Ice lollies all round, nothing better than getting home from work on a hot day and having a nice icy lolly, yum yum!! My favourite flavour at the moment is Cola, I find it so refreshing and cools me down a treat. 

Love: Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!! One thing I love about living in Suffolk is living a short distance from the coast, Sunday was particularly muggy and we decided to head over to the coast for a couple of hours and it was so lovely. It was actually quite cloudy but lovely and warm with a gorgeous coastal breeze, bliss!! 

Loathe: Thunderflies!! Little, pesky things crawling over me, erghh there has been so many of the little pests!! I hate them! Everywhere I look I see them, over the washing, on the plants, on me, this weather just brings them out!! 

What have you been liking, loving and loathing this week?

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Considering Fostering?

Ever considered fostering or adopting? Both options are so wonderful and people like these Florida adoption agencies can provide some wonderful inspiration and advice if you are considering going down either route. This useful article will also discuss some of the most important things to consider before you approach agencies to get started on this incredible journey.

Things to consider if you’re thinking about fostering
Fostering is an incredible way of improving a young person’s life. Whether you can’t have children yourself or just want to help a young person in need of a family, fostering may be hard work at times, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.
However, there are some things you need to consider first…
Are you physically able?
Most foster agencies will require you to undergo some form of medical evaluation, either by your GP or external assessor, in order to determine whether you’re physically able to look after a young person. This won’t be an issue for most, but if you are obese or have other serious health issues then this may affect your ability to foster.

Do you smoke?
The welfare of the young person is of utmost importance. Smoking doesn’t automatically mean you can’t foster, but some foster agencies state that smokers can’t foster a child under the age of five years old. You have to consider what health implications smoking may have on a child.

Do you drive?
Being able to drive is a major advantage when fostering, and if you don’t drive then it might count against you. You won’t be discounted entirely but not being able to drive may hamper you’re ability to undertake tasks such as taking the child to school or to the doctors if needed.

Do you have a criminal record?
You might think that having a criminal record will automatically rule you out of fostering but that’s not the case. Everyone who fosters will have to undergo a criminal record check (or DBS as it’s otherwise known) and there are various issues that will be taken into account. The safety of the young person is the most important thing, so the nature of the crime, how long ago it occurred and various other pertinent factors will be considered before a decision is made.

Are you in debt or have you been declared bankrupt?
It’s important that fosterers have the financial means by which to look after a young person, but being in debt doesn’t exclude you. You will receive a weekly allowance and your financial situation will be discussed in more detail in interviews.

Are you in a same-sex relationship?
Those in a same-sex relationship may wonder whether they’re suitable to foster, and the answer is a resounding YES! Same-sex couples should be treated the same way as any other potential fosterers by any reputable agency.

Do you have a spare room?
The general rule with most foster agencies is that each child you foster will need to have their own space and therefore you must have a spare room available.

Do you have pets?
For the vast majority of cases, having pets isn’t an issue when fostering. In fact, most of the time children can actually benefit from living with animals. There may be some exceptions, however, and this will be discussed during the assessment process.
These are just a few of many, many things that need to be considered when fostering. You can read more in this foster care FAQ to see whether you would make a suitable foster carer.

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Sunday 20 July 2014

Silent Sunday - 20/07/14

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Thursday 17 July 2014

Tips for Throwing a Great BBQ!!

With all this beautifully hot weather it's definitely BBQ season and in this post here are some tips to hosting the best BBQ ever!!

Tips for Throwing a Great BBQ
Whilst we may get a lot less sun than we’d like in the summer, we still like to fire up the BBQ whenever we can and get grilling. Doing a BBQ for dinner is nice enough, but it’s even nicer if you’re throwing a party, and here are some top tips for throwing a great BBQ this summer…

Get a decent BBQ
It might sound blindingly obvious but you’re going to need a decent BBQ. One of those disposable ones from supermarkets might be fine if you’re going to the beach, but to throw a proper BBQ at home you’ll need something a little more substantial. Broil King are one of the best makers of BBQ so if you have some money to splash out then you can’t look much further then them.

Have it late afternoon/evening
If you do manage to catch a sweltering hot day then you don’t want to be stood by the BBQ in the midday sun – you want to spend that time relaxing and grabbing a tan! You might find that people aren’t that hungry if it’s too hot, too. Instead, try waiting until late afternoon or evening when it’s slightly cooler and more bearable to be outside in front of a grill.

Write a menu
You can, of course, do the standard burgers and sausages but it might be fine to create a bit of a menu and change things up a little. You can have burgers and the like, but offer them on different types of bread or with various condiments, or even meats that aren’t normally served such as venison. If there aren’t too many people at your BBQ then you could even do things to order to minimise wastage. Don’t forget the vegetarians though; make sure you have plenty of nice, fresh veg available – corn on the cob is delicious when BBQed.

Pretty much everyone loves a cocktail, especially when it’s warm and sunny. Again you could write up a menu of some cocktail favourites such as Sex on the Beach, Pina Coladas, Mojitos and Cosmopolitans. This can get quite pricey if you’re getting everything in yourself, so either ask everyone to bring a bottle or to put some money in beforehand. Remember to get some non-alcoholic ingredients in so you can make some mocktails. Check out this brilliant cocktail guide for inspiration.

If you want to add some glitz and glam to your BBQ then consider decorating your garden a bit. You can but up some bunting across the garden and scatter some lights around the place to make the place look fantastic when the light begins to fade. These are some great lights for garden parties and will really help turn your garden into a stunning setting for your BBQ.

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Wednesday 16 July 2014

My Summer Soundtrack

I love music, over the years my taste has changed somewhat but I have to confess deep down I am still a huge fan of a fluffy pop act such as Katy Perry, Little Mix or even Britney Spears!! With my summer holiday a few days ago it got me thinking about what will be on my summer 2014 play list. I also have a weird obsession with watching music videos, I'm not even sure why I just find it adds another dimension to the song.

Without further ado these are my top tunes at the moment I can't get enough of them so turn them up and I hope you enjoy.

First up, Mr. Probz - Waves. You simply cannot get a more chilled out summery tune than this, it makes me want to lie of a hot and tropical beach and sip a pina colada.

Next up is Kiesza - Hideaway. A Canadian song writer with a funky voice and a pretty cool video, it's been stuck in my head for weeks now and it puts me in a happy mood every time I hear it. 

This next video is Tove Lo feat. Hippie Sabotage - Stay High. I've been listening to this way before I heard it on the radio, awesome tune to chill too.

Naturally I couldn't feature my summer soundtrack without a Katy Perry track, this is her new one called Birthday, I wasn't keen on it at first but now I love it. 

Oh my goodness, welcome back Cheryl Cole! Love her new track Crazy, Stupid, Love. I heard this the other day and I cannot stop listening to it, such a good song.

The next song has been a grower, it's Ella Henderson (from X Factor) with her debut single Ghosts, wasn't a massive fan of her on the show but her new song is great, I'm looking forward to hearing what else she brings out. 

Another singer that I really like is Lana Del Ray, her voice is like liquid gold, so beautiful, I really do think I could listen to her all day. This song is called Ultraviolence and is from her new album which is just beautiful.

Next up is Bastille, I love this group!! They're cool, unique and bring out some bloody good music!

Last but not least I love, love, love Sam Smith. His voice is incredible and he's bringing out tune after tune that are just great. 

Obviously there are loads more tunes that I am loving at the moment but these are just a small selection and snippet into my music tastes.

What songs would be on your Summer 2014 soundtrack?
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* Please note all videos are sourced from You Tube.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Like, Love, Loathe - Link Up

It's that time of week again, the 3 L's hosted by Bex at Futures and Sarah at Life in a Break Down ! Like, love and loathe, what are mine this week I hear you ask!

Liking: I have lots of exciting things planned in the next few months, too much in fact! I do like to be busy and love having things to look forward to but I do have to be careful of the amount that I book in advance as I have to work about 1 weekend in 4. So I am very much looking forward to the things that I have got organised. 

Loving: I'm seeing my bestie this weekend, I've known her for most of my life and I miss not living near by.  Living away from family and friends is hard but when I know friends are visiting it cheers me up. She's been through alot in the last few months, she's a tough cookie but she needs cheering up, I have a little something planned on Saturday for us all so hopefully we'll all have a nice time :-)

Loathing: Hot weather while working. Erghhhh I hate it!! Our uniforms make me feel sticky and confined. Our office, nicknamed 'The Den' is dingy, hot and stuffy, yes it's nice to be able to drive around in nice weather but I'd much rather be in comfy scrubs while visiting patients!

What are you liking, loving and loathing this week?

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