Friday, 24 October 2014

Friday Faves 24th Oct 2014

Well, this week has really gotten away from me. Where has the time gone? I feel like I have been so busy trying to unpack, do laundry and get back to a regular non-holiday schedule that I haven't had much chance to do anything else. As much as I love holidays, I am not too keen on the pre-holiday packing or the post-holiday chaos but I'll take both for the chance to be away with my family! :)

So on this very rainy, cold and busy week here are a few of my favourite things:

1) Some new Yankee Candles! I am obsessed with Yankee Candle and all their beautiful candles and scents. I tend to go through them very quickly as well and so I have been trying to keep to buying them as treats really. This time around I got quite a few small jars and these three are my Autumn scented ones that I'm loving right now.
Cranberry & Pear, Halloween Candy Corn and Honey & Spice
2) Running. I haven't really been running in a couple of weeks which annoys me but it is one of those things that has just happened (or not happened as the case my be!). Anyway, last night I went to running club and ended up having a really good run. About 6.5k (4miles) and I felt so good afterwards. Hello Running, so nice to be back :)

3) Halloween Decorations. I have been slowly decorating for the Autumn and Halloween and have completed some parts of the house. I don't tend to go overboard with decorations any more as the boys pretty much wrote off all my Christmas decorations last year. They just think everything I put out is a toy. So here is a sample of a little Halloween area in the house!

The pumpkins are usually in a different formation but the boys have gotten ahold of them!
4) My new Sarah Chapman Skinesis hand cream. Oh man, my hands are pretty horrible right now. They are dry, my nails are splitting and I have such sore cuticles I can't stand it. So when I read a review of this hand cream (well, it is really an oil) I jumped on the band wagon. It is a little on the pricey side since I normally buy my hand creams at the supermarket, but it seems to be helping!

Bedside essential and treat!
5) Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and The Spending of A Great American Fortune. I started reading this book on vacation and it is so good!! It is non-fiction and I seldom pick up a non-fiction but the two writers have a fantastic style and I am so hooked into the story I can hardly put it down. I have so many questions about this woman and her family and I cannot believe this book is non-fiction!
I have downloaded this on my Kindle but here is the cover.
That is it for this week. I hope you have all had a great week.

What are your faves this week? Any good books? 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Portugal 2

So my last post left off just after I had taken a bite of a maggot (argh!)...well, nearly anyway! However, I guess I should really start at the beginning of our trip for a proper recap.

Yes, my suitcase has legs! 
Our holiday to Portugal was a little last minute. We had all been under a lot of various stresses: work, new school schedules, etc... and we also acknowledged that this would probably be our last year of being able to take the boys off whenever we wanted (versus half term school holidays) so we found some cheap flights, hired a car (another cheap deal) and booked some accommodation through Airbnb. I'm not sure if any of you have ever used Airbnb before, but 'regular' people (as opposed to companies/hotels) list either rooms or whole apartments/houses that are up for rent for holiday users and generally cheaper and more interesting than just staying in a hotel. We have used it before and are big fans! This time was no different.

Our first point of call was the South of Portugal in the Algarve. I had never been to Portugal before but had heard many people talk about the Algarve and how nice it was. The beaches were lovely, the water wasn't too cold and the seafood was great! Unfortunately, we encountered a lot of rain. Luckily the rain was only intermittent so we just ignored it and carried on sight seeing and enjoying the pool. :)

Benagil Beach
Climbing the rocks at the beach
A few days later and after a 5 hour drive we had arrived in Amarante (just outside of Porto in the North of Portugal) for a few more days. The house we rented there was a lovely old farm house with a swimming pool and completely unbeknownst to us actually had fruit and veg aplenty growing right there on site. We had corn, squash, tomatoes, peppers, chilli peppers (the hottest I have ever had, which is saying a lot!), lettuce, oranges, grapes, kiwi, some strange kind of apple and many others. It was amazing. We also collected chestnuts one night to roast on an open fire. The historic town of Amarante was pretty but once again the weather was just not behaving. It was cold and raining (a torrential downpour kind of rain). :(

Roasting Chestnuts

Local sparkling green wine!
Finally, with 3 days left of our holiday we got into the car (armed with our own food, I wasn't risking bugs, maggots or anything else again) and headed down South to Lisbon, Portugal's capital city! Our apartment was right in the centre and had the most amazing views of the city. We stayed in a modern apartment right in Barrio Alto. The weather while we were in Lisbon decided to cooperate as well so we were blessed with some hot and sunny days! It was great. :) We went exploring the city, had ice cream, rode on a tuk tuk, rode on the trams, had many delicious pastries and coffees (and of course more wine!).

Castle at the top of a hill (blocked by silly van)

Grumpy pose
I guess we didn't get up to as much as a normal tourist would but we think that sometimes just taking things easy and working with what we think the boys can do and will enjoy will lead to the best family memories. :)

We are back home now and looking forward to taking on the next couple of busy months in the lead up to Dun Dun Dah.....Christmas!! ;-)

What are your family holidays like? Do you fill them with sight seeing, take it easy or a bit of both? 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Portugal 1

Hello from Portugal! Well, I was going to be blogging through out my trip over here but... Despite the promise of wi-fi at each place we have stayed, we have only just got it at our final destination with only two days left to the holiday! Oh, well!

Our trip has definitely been eventful. Full of good times and interesting things and also full of crazy stuff that really could only happen to me. I mean who else bites into a homemade baked good to find a maggot crawling into their mouth? Yes, this really happened and yes, my husband did nearly drive off the road when I screamed, threw the cookie and was literally paralysed with disgust! Poor husband, poor boys (what the heck is up with mummy?), poor me and poor maggot!

We have so far travelled from The Algarve in the south of the country to Amarante (just outside Porto, in the north) and now we are in Lisbon.

I will try to get my act together and write a proper holiday catch up post when I get home as I think this trip warrants a little post at least ;) but for now just wanted to say Ola! We are all alive and well...with the exception of the maggot (I hope) and I will be back to regular blogging soon my friends. :)

P.S. the below was meant to be my food and fitness post for this past Sunday! Pretty right on with the exception of the fitness. Despite bringing gym kit, I haven't done anything fitness related except walking. Back on it next week!

Well, I haven't got a clue but I can imagine it will be a lot of seafood, meats, cheeses, wine, pastries, and more wine.

Again, not sure. We are moving through Portugal on a bit of a tour so every location will be different.  I do hope to get out for some runs and if time allows do some body weight workouts too.

Have any of you been to Portugal? What was your favourite thing about it?

Friday, 10 October 2014

Friday Faves 10th Oct. 2014

Happy Friday! Yay, it's the end of the week and a long one at that. I suppose it has been long for us as we've all be looking forward to starting our holiday in Portugal next week! I am looking forward to a little bit of sun, warmer weather and fingers crossed a bit of time to relax - as well as, obviously, soaking in all the culture of Portugal.

Apparently, all the places we will be staying in have wifi so fingers crossed I'll be able to get a bit of blogging in while away, but if not I definitely promise photos and a post from the trip when we return!

Here are some of this weeks faves:

1) New key chain- this beauty finally arrived and I love it! All my keys fit (no need for a ghetto rubber band to hold things together) and it even has a little hook thing for my Sainsbury's cart token (ah, it's the little things!). Also, I am a big fan of cute owls and this one is fab :)

So cute!
2) A new training plan- my trainer has developed a new plan for me with a focus on core repair (still struggling with diastasis recti) so when I get back from my holiday I fully intend to embrace this new plan!

3) Genius Gluten Free Bread- Ok, so I don't think I have any intolerance to gluten although I simply can not eat white bread (I feel bloated for like a week after I have a slice) but I picked this up on a whim with some suspicion that I may be eating too many glutinous things and boy is it good!! I am definitely a fan...mind you I may have cancelled out any good thing about it by adding Nutella but hey ho! ;)

4) Holiday- It's no secret, I have been pretty stressed out with things recently so a holiday is really just what the doctor ordered. Hoping my lovely husband and I will switch who gets up early with the boys each day and I get some time to read and relax. Although, I'm pretty sure some vino and sun will be enough to cheer me right up!
Attempts at packing! Disaster!
5) Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Therapy Oil- Ok, a friend of mine recommended this to me a week ago and I can't stop using it! Normally I use the entire bottle of cream or whatever it is I am using on my skin before I swap over to a new one but man this stuff is good. The smell is heavenly, the oil sinks right in (no sticky mess) and man oh man it seems to be working! I am currently using it on my stomach to help with stretch marks and generally to get the skin there back in shape...LOVE! Get yourself some  :-)

This stuff is fab!

That's it for today! Have a great weekend and hopefully be back with posts from Portugal soon!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A Photo Shoot with Two Toddlers

About a month ago we decided that a long over due family photo shoot was in order. We kept saying that we wanted to do one for ages but then never really got around to doing it. We also didn't want anything too cheesy. I guess it is important to note that my husband is a very good photographer (and photo editor, thank goodness) so therefore he was leery about getting just anyone to take some mediocre shots and pass them over after we have parted with hundreds of pounds.

Admittedly, I did none of the research as 1) this is not my forte and 2) I would have just gone with the photographic studio in Mothercare or asked a friend to recommend one. At any rate, my husband picked out a photographer that he often saw the sign for on his way to work. What my husband failed to notice was that the sign on the studio said 'Commercial Photography'...whoops!

At any rate we made the mistake of really bigging up this photo shoot to the boys, so needless to say they were completely unruly when we arrived for the shoot. No, they didn't want to smile; no, they didn't want to change into something nice; no, they didn't want to sit/stand/lie down! My husband and I did a good job of making things work given the circumstances but the photographer didn't have a clue.

Unfortunately, this photographer was used to working with models so kept asking us how often we had practised with the boys? What?! Never! It is supposed to be fun and natural and we were expecting him to have had a bit more experience with children on shoots. The boys are normally quite happy and love to smile and laugh - just not that day. He also kept saying things like get rid of that toy or just hold them still. Again, not helpful and not happening! I think his biggest mistake was not taking the camera off the stand and walking around to capture less posed moments.

At that point, I told my husband that we should just make due with what the photographer had already and head out. We did get a few of the two of us as well which were nice, but not made without comments from the photographer such as 'you know you don't need to smile with your teeth!'. Cripes, sorry mate, that's how I smile when I'm happy!

I don't want this post to come across as a massive whine; after all we did manage to get a few beautiful family photos (after some editing by my husband), we spent the afternoon together, probably got a deal on the price and I'm sure we'll someday be able to laugh at this experience. Plus we have some good photos to show at the boys wedding (hehe!)! :)

So here are a few tips I took away from the experience:

  • Book a reputable family photographer who has a few year's experience (especially with little ones)
  • Don't make the trip to the photographer's a big deal (I think in hindsight it stresses the little ones out, this might be different for slightly older children)
  • Put the little ones in the clothes you want them in for the photos (changing doesn't work, or just change shirts)
  • Make sure clothes, props etc... are ready well before the shoot (yes, we were ironing about 2 minutes before we left the house!)
  • Bring only props that you don't mind having in photos (just in case they won't let go!)
  • Try for more natural photos (less posing = less stress for the little ones that don't want to sit still)
  • Go to the shoot with ideas of any poses you do want
  • Go to the shoot with ideas of what you don't want 
  • I would recommend a morning shoot (we had afternoon) but that is based on my children being happier and more rested then
  • Have fun and relax! Show who you really are toothy  grins and all! ;)
Have any of you had good or bad photo experiences you'd like to share? 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Food & Fitness 5th October 2014

Hello on this very very rainy Monday morning! It is pretty torrential over here today but luckily we can spend most of the day inside! Just a couple of soggy school runs to contend with!

We had a fantastic weekend just getting some things organised around the house and starting to get prepared for next week's holiday to Portugal! We still haven't finished our entryway room but it is nearly there and the last bits that need doing really must now be done by a professional so fingers crossed we'll have it done by the end of this month ;)

Passed out after all his hard work!

Here are my plans for this week:

Sunday- Coconut Chicken Curry with Rice (I could totally eat curry everyday!)
Monday- Salmon with Asparagus and Roasted Veg Couscous
Tuesday- Sausage Pasta
Wednesday- Meatballs with Mash and Peas
Thursday- Chicken Broccoli Gratin
Friday- At the airport
Saturday- Portugal Feast!

Sunday- Rest
Monday- Rest
Tuesday- Strength
Thursday- Running Club
Friday- Personal Training
Saturday- Holiday/Rest

Running with Racheal

That's it for now. Have a great week!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Friday Faves 3rd Oct 2014

Phew...another busy week has finished up! Although it was busy I really feel like I got a lot done and even caught up with some things that had been hanging over me for awhile.

This week my faves are:

1) Pumpkin Spice Latte - I love it! It isn't great for you but it tastes so good and it is only a treat ;)

Pumpkin Spice Latte robber!

2) Autumn Decorations - I have been Pinning on Pinterest and have come up with some good decor for this Autumn. I am also digging out some of my fast faves this weekend. Ikea had a lot of nice things I just got one but I may end up back for more!

3) Curry Night - Some nights when you can't be bothered cooking and you know you want something that will definitely be good and spicy; a curry is the best treat!

4) Finished Painting - I have finished what turned into a mammoth task of painting our entryway room! It looks fab if I do say so myself. Now to get a handyman in to hang some curtain rails, blinds, shelves and fix a step (an even tougher job!).

No more pink walls or magnolia!

5) Workouts - Yes, workouts have been back on the menu this week and I am happy about that. I got in a good strength workout this morning and a fantastic run on Thursday night! Fingers crossed my workout mojo is back!

Alright, well off to enjoy my curry! Have a good weekend :)