Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Ten Traditions of The Festive Season

in the Appleby household........

All these traditions occur at some point during the weeks leading up to Christmas every year. Somehow it makes it all the more normal!

1.  A last minute panic that I have forgotten someone in the flurry of present buying.

2. The rapid deterioration of the standard of my wrapping. It always starts with such good intent of  pretty ties and ribbons and ends with a present cobbled together with the remnants  of a mixture of different coloured wrapping paper because I can't be bothered to buy another new roll.

3. All children have been yelled at for some inconsequential action and then hugged tightly. All the result of emotions running over.

4. An elaborate Christmas Bake off is planned, ingredients purchased, but instead a bog standard chocolate sponge is thrown together on Christmas Eve as time ran out again!

5. Christmas selection packs are purchased, eaten and repurchased without the children knowing. Ditto for the Baileys .

6. Compulsory argument about who to spend Christmas day with. Every year we vow to go away next year.

7. Tears over who had " eaten ahead " in the joint advent calendar. 

8. Pang of guilt that yet again I have sent no Christmas cards, but reassure myself that I will write New Year letters ( No I won't ).

9. Christmas tree is enthusiastically decorated by the children, then when they are sleeping redone by myself #OCD

10. A ridiculously late night on Christmas Eve wrapping the last of the presents and sipping mulled wine to make sure it tastes ok. Recipe for a thick head every year!

Happy Christmas one and all!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

And breathe..........

It's been a long time.

Things got pretty tough there for a while. 

I won't bore you with a long story, but just imagine hospitals and a precious child and you will get the picture.


We are entering Christmas having come out the other side in one piece ( read - broken into a thousand bits and put back together by support, love and care).

It is the old cliche that at times like this you know who will be there when the going gets tough.

Thank you for the messages and e.mails - they meant a lot. If I didn't reply it was simply because I couldn't.


A new year looms. I am still working full time and loving it, but life is busy . We are entering the phase of GCSEs with my eldest. I am not at all too proud to admit the work is too hard at times for me!

I will begin to renter the world of blogging as I am not ready to let go completely. I have been reading my favourite blogs over the past months and although silent I have loved the escape it brings!

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas with whoever you are spending this season with. Be gentle with those who are close to you. The threads of life are so very delicate and can be quickly and easily broken. Cherish the moments you have here and now with those you love.


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Rose hydrating mist by Aromatheray

I have been on the hunt for a rose water toner forever. Everything I looked at had such a high alcohol content in that I steered well clear.

Then I came across this....

Rose Hydrating Mist by Aromatherapy Associates

It was quite tricky to find the ingredients when I was ordering, but when I finally did it isn't too bad at all . The main ingredient is rose water . It can be used as a spray or you can apply to a cotton pad then swipe across the face. It can also be use to revive skin over make up . It is filling the gap I had in my routine for a toner when I don't want to use my liquid gold or exfoliating toners.

Gentle and hydrating - job done.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Liz Earles Cleanse and Polish

Frugal Friday ( or just a good deal!)

As you know I am a regular user of Liz Earles Cleanse and Polish. I won't review it again as it has been done many a time already!

However, I seem to always return to some basic products of Liz Earle even after straying to other brands for a season. Their haircare and skincare is just so sound that I like to use it as my baseline for beauty care. 

Last month I picked up the special addition tin as it was the best use of money. You get a few muslin cloths and a large 150ml container of product. Now the warmer weather is approaching I tend to use muslin cloths rather than a flannel - no reason for this other than the flannel can get too hot! I love the pump dispenser in this style too. It is far easier to judge quantities and not overuse it.

I am also, on the advice of a friend, using the tin as a money box to save my £2 coins for my next treat.

At present I am rotating my 3 favourite cleansers....

Balance me cleanse and smooth face balm ( review coming)

Ritessens milk cleanser 

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish

Have you tried the summertime  "flavour" of Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish, in orange flower  and chamomile?

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Summer Term

On the day before we return to school for the last half term of the academic year there is always a mixture of emotions running through my household. Nerves, excitement, intrepidation, disappointment. This year it is intensified as my role has changed. 

We are looking forward to the summer together, the extended evenings, the BBQs, the hope of better weather, but wedged in between stretches eight weeks of term. Yes EIGHT weeks. It is a long haul this year.

We have had fun during this half term break and over Easter together. We got away to Cornwall for a family break and have spent time chilling out and recovering from having a house full of builders for months on end. Here are some snapshots of our time off.......

Life is settling into a pattern and we are becoming more accustomed to being a household with two parents working. However, everything hangs by a thread which is easily broken when a child is sick or a parent away or over worked. The ideal certainly would be for one of us to be part time to hold the fort at home a little better!
I am so fortunate in that I love my job - it is a vocation to me. I get engrossed in it, so much so that I have to stop myself from becoming too involved at times. I have to set a time to go home and stick to it as the job is never done, ever!

We have just finished the home office for my husband. The carpet goes in tomorrow so we can move him out of the living room! This means we can claim back another room in our house. I can't wait. Although we have paid someone to do this room I have been painting again and have taken before and after photos for you to see the transformation later this week. Slowly we are re gaining our whole house. By the summer things should be almost normal again.

I can't wait!

Friday, 30 May 2014

Bedroom revamp

The Lime Stripe.

We've had a lovely half term - much needed catch up time with family and sleep! Working full time is really no laughing matter - where does the time go?

Over the past months we have slowly continued with work on our house. My eldest son got a room to himself for the first time as part of our extension. This was simply because my hubby has moved out of the spare room which was being used as home office. The room is above the new kitchen and had been affected by the build so needed some remedial work doing to it. To save a bit of money I needed to undertake this myself. My eldest son had decided on a fairly complicated design for his walls. Being the person I am, I was not to be beaten and set to it. WIth the help on a couple of rolls of masking tape and a bucket load of patience I got there in the end. The whole room didn't cost much at all. Here is a run down.

The work as it started:

The paint goes on:

The finished job :

Lime : Fired Earth Sale £8.50
Linen: Existing
Grey: Fired Earth - left over from kitchen
White: Dulux £12.50 ( 1/2 pot left)


Bed: World Stores 30% off £240
Mattress : With Tesco Vouchers on double up . Used £60 worth of vouchers, no cash
Chest of drawers : £45 Ikea Malm
Desk : £125 Ikea Malm
Light shades: B and Q £5 and £10 Lime

The rest of the furniture and pictures were existing. 

He actually keeps the room fairly neat and tidy as he is so delighted with it. The arrangement of the furniture was his and he has since changed it again!

I now need to tackle my other sons bedroom, but we have decided to move a wall between my daughters bedroom ( seen here) and his . This is because her room is so small and his is huge - the wall is only a partition wall so in theory should be easy to move. Of course the reality is new carpets, redecoration, more mess etc etc!

I have also spent half term catching up with my blog and getting some posts written so I don't have another huge gap when term gets busy! 

It's good to be back.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

CND Vinylux Nail Polish

Wednesday Beauty Buys

Weekly Top Coat

I have been itching to try out some of these shellac style polishes that promise a longer lasting finish without the expense or the use of a lamp.

These Vinylux polishes by CND seemed a good place to start.

CND vinylux Pink Bikini, Rubble and Weekly Top Coat

I ordered two colours - Pink Bikini and Rubble and the Weekly Top Coat.

My favourite nail polish brands are Essie, Orly and Jessica , but even with a good topcoat I only get a couple of days out of a manicure with these brands. It would be great to be able to extend this to 4 or 5 days. I tried the bloggers favourite top coat Seche Vite, but I found my nails chipped sooner with this. I think it is the quick dry variety that somehow causes a shorter wear time. The best top coat I have ever had had is the Orly Top 2 Bottom product.

These Vinylux polishes are easy to apply. The brush is a good size and carries an adequate amount of polish. You do need two coats as the first can look patchy, although this may be poor technique on my part! You then apply the weekly top coat. This gives a shiny, gel look to the finish that lasts.

The verdict

I didn't get a whole weeks wear out of my nails, BUT  I got a lot longer than usual nail polish!!

This stuff is very hardwearing and well worth the hype.

I am very hard on my nails . I am a cleaning junkie and an early years teacher - need I say more. If it lasts 4 -6 days on me then I am sure it will last even longer on a standard person! I also plan to try the topcoat out over normal polish - just in case it extends the wear!!

I got my polishes at Nail Polish Direct for £8.95 a polish and free delivery. They arrived well packed and quickly. I shall be back for more colours soon. 

Have you tried these polishes - how long did they last for you?

Monday, 21 April 2014

Organisation in a busy household

Trying to share out the jobs!

As you have probably seen from previous posts I am a bit of a list writer and a schedule maker. I find it helps me keep some level of sanity in our extremely busy life as a family of five.

As I embarked on a full time job at the beginning of the year I was fairly naive in thinking that mentioning to my family that I would be needing help with the cooking, shopping, cleaning and washing would be enough to  spur them into action. 

I couldn't have been more wrong.

The assumption is that woman can cope with whatever life throws at her .

In other words for the first 6 weeks of my full time job I could measure the amount of help I was given in single figures.

OH did put a load of washing on ( once)  and warm up a meal ( I think he was dirty and hungry). 

The kids revelled in their new found freedom not to complete homework and let their bedrooms descend into unrecognisable hovels.

I have learnt my lesson.

Easter has been spent not only resting, but creating a few schedules and rotas to ensure everyone does their bit. We have a cleaner coming to help out and the rest of the chores are being shared out. 

I shall have help.

Or they shan't eat.

I know just how the Little Red Hen felt now.

Some of my favourite advice and printables come from the blog I heart organizing , but be careful, you can lose a couple of hours at a time in her blog!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Unplanned break.

I have been absent from the blog for a while as life just became a little too much! Every time I came back to write I couldn't face it and for me this is optional, something I do because I enjoy it. So I took a break and spent it with my family.

Work continues to be all consuming, but I am loving it. I have to be careful that I don't let other things slip in my passion for what I do. Full time is a bit brutal, but we have some help set up for this term so things should be a little easier.This great trolley has become my trusty steed for walking to work at 7.30 every morning.

I treated myself at the end of term to a new bag - LK bennett in clay. Love the coral tag. I think I worked for this!

LK Bennett bag 

The work on the house continues. We have now removed the old kitchen and are in the process of converting this into an office for hubby - carpet is going in soon. We can then reclaim our lounge. Photos soon!

The aim is to get everything done by the end of the summer. It will be a real novelty living in a completed house.

I continue with the revamp of my children's room. My oldest boys room is just about done. We have decided to move a wall in between the other two children's bedrooms as they are very unequally sized at the moment! That will be another month of dust and debris - I am getting used to this!

I am enjoying ordering items to dress the rooms we have finished - at the moment I am trying to decide on a budget sofa that looks great for our kitchen. Despite my hubby's reservations I am thinking of grey so I can change up the accessories according to the season.

We had a lovely weeks break in Cornwall last week. The sun shone. We surfed and walked, slept and ate. Lovely family time.

Polzeath cliff tops

My dad is still hanging in there, but this final journey is oh so hard. He does not recognise us anymore. He  cannot walk or talk and is losing his swallow. He had his birthday this week which was bittersweet. We all sat with him, but I am not sure he knew why. It is the most painful and drawn out way to end your life. He is so brave.

I wish you all a very happy Easter with those you love. Enjoy the sun and the chocolate!


Saturday, 8 March 2014

Cleaning up my act

Clean Cleaning Products!

Over the past year I have been trying to clean up our lifestyle somewhat. It started with a few beauty products , mainly for the kids, where I began to avoid unnecessary additives and preservatives. This then became a full on change to the way we ate with a "clean" diet ( see this post). Some of these rules have slipped whilst I have concentrated on my return to full time teaching, but I am reigning things back in again.

My middle son has also been diagnosed with a plethora of allergies so it makes sense to look also to what I am spraying into our environment . I just don't want to be adding to his sniffles.

I like a clean house, I admit it.

 It messes with my sense of order and calm if my house is not clean and in order. I just can't focus and feel out of control. I am not talking immaculate here, but general clean and tidy - as best as can be with 3 kids anyway! So I looked into changing over to environmentally friendly products wherever I could. This included washing powders as well. 

I stumbled across this brand on another blog and was really impressed with the results of the polish so took the plunge and ordered a whole range from The Big Green Smile. Most of these products are from Method, although the fabric softener is Attitude , as is the window cleaner. I felt that they were all very good value for money and good size bottles of product too. You don't need much to get the results needed and the smell is lovely - not at all artificial, just fresh, clean and natural. I am on to a winner here. I also got a load of coloured micro fibre cloths to colour code my cleaning too. 

Obsessed Moi?! 

Maybe just a smidge.

Cleaning Caddy

Daily Cleaners

This pink grapefruit multi surface cleaner is fabulous. Not only does it clean up any grease, it smells divine.

The bathroom cleaner gives a shiny finish and also a pleasant, just laundered scent to the room - I will be using a lot of this one.

This is a beautiful scent again - leaves the kitchen spotless and with a lingering smell of having been just clean for hours.

 Daily granite cleaner - there is a bit of a knack to this, but it does give a sheen back to granite that is smeared or dull. I use it once a day. ( Apologies for the photo)

This was the one that started it all off. I know when I spray this onto my wood I am putting something good into it! It smells great - not like artificial polishes do . It gives a moist shine and keeps working too.

This is the window cleaner spray - I use it on mirrors too. Great - no smears as far as I can tell!

Again a great product - I have gone through a bottle of this already. I can see a bulk order coming up!

The thing that I really like is that I know I am not pouring anything nasty down drains and into our environment. These products are effective and smell glorious. Definitely worth a look. They retail from £3.00 depending on the product. I got mine from The Big Green Smile. They have a wide range of products for sale on this site.

*I brought these products myself. I was not sent these to review. I am a cleaning junkie!

Monday, 3 March 2014

A few gifts

of the Laura Mercier and White Company kind.

There have been two occasions where my OH has arrived home with a gift for me over recent weeks. I haven't quite decided whether it is because he knows things have been tough or he likes spending the money I am now earning.

Either way I won't say no to gifts of the following calibre.

Laura Mercier ambre vanille souffle body creme - Oh this is good, so good!

Two white company goose down large, square pillows in soft grey . Perfect on the bed and for propping myself up whilst having a lie in over half term ( and in the sale I believe!) 

....and no my bedding wasn't ironed!

I could get used to this.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Family Meals

AGA flan

I am increasingly on the look out for easy meals that I can throw together quickly, simply and cheaply.

I am loving my Aga - it is so simple to cook on and fantastic for slow cooking. I can pop a casserole in early in the morning, knowing it will still be moist and tender when I return from work.

However, for those days when speed is of the essence I have a bank of meals that I rely on.

This flan is so versatile - you can make it with an egg and milk base and it is more like a quiche or use creme fraiche for a totally different taste to it. Both are simple and quick!! We call it an Aga flan , but you can cook it in anything!


Aga flan

Pre rolled puff pastry ( speed!)
Or any other cheese you wish to add to it!

3 - 4 eggs and a splash or two of milk OR a couple of pots of creme fraiche to make the base.

Any additions:

I have put rocket in this and some corriander paste ( this and chilli flakes - love them!) to add a bit of bite!

A lot is dependant on what you have in the larder.

  • Lay the pastry base in a shallow tray.
  • Chop the mozzarella into pieces and add any other ingredients to line the base - I added some peppery rocket.
  • Beat the eggs and milk in a separate bowl - I added 2 tsps of corriander paste to add a bit of bite.

  •  Grate over some cheddar and any other cheese you may wish to add.

  • Pour the milk and egg over the base. Instead of a milk and egg base you can just add a pot or two of creme fraiche. I just don't always have it in the fridge.

  • Season and grate some parmesan on the top.

  • Pop on the middle shelf of the roasting oven if you have an Aga. Temperature is about 200 degrees for about 20 - 25 minutes.

  •  She is done when the top has risen and is firm to the touch.

  • To keep things really simple serve with pasta and green veg 

I will post a few more of my quick and easy meals - they are becoming a bit of a necessity now I am teaching full time!