Lifestyle

My love of stationery – National Stationery week

The 24th-31st of April 2017 is National Stationery Week and I wanted to get involved with all the fun. I love stationery simple as that.

Note books

National Stationery Week

My favourite being note books and pens. I have so many lovely notebooks. I keep one in my hand bag, just in case I have an amazing idea while out and about. There is one by the bed, because it was so annoying when I come up with fabulous blog posts in the middle of the night, but I have forgotten by the morning. I have one for Each Peach Pear Plum  and one for Champagne and Petals, plus numerous others. I love nothing more than popping into a shop and seeing a pretty note book that I just have to have.

Anyway, everyone knows I love note books, but I thought I would share with you my other stationery loves too.

Planner

National Stationery Week

My Kikki K planner, stylish, chic and fun, soft to touch leather and full of everything I could possibly need. Space for my business cards to sit, or other lovely cards I have picked up at various events. Space for my calendar, which is so important for planning everything, my whole life evolves around my calendar. There are contact pages, notes for meetings, extra information, a section for each of the blogs. Note paper and cute little zipped pockets for storing things in.

I love the Kikki K range. There are so many beautiful items that I just want to take home with me. I visited their shop in Covent Gardens a little while ago, I had to restrain my spending that day. One of the things I do like about the range is they do all sorts of extra items to go along with each planner they design. Notebooks (yes please), pens, stickers, accessory packs, journals, gift wrap and cards, so many extras to complete your collection. They even have matching cups and saucers.

I think my love of rose gold and copper colours came from spending hours on their website last summer.

National Stationery Week

I had seen so many videos of people personalising their planners, with stickers, paperclips that had ribbon and feathers attached, little gems, washi tape, keyrings, book marks and various other creative items. When it comes to putting your personal touch to a planner anything goes. I had decided that I wanted to add a large fluffy pom-pom and tassels to mine, sounds awful but I really love it. Searching eBay I found a lush pink one that only cost a couple of pounds. I have found similar for a lot more on the high street. I find myself playing with the fluffy pom-pom during my idea-storming sessions, it seems to act as a stress reliever.

Pens

I also have a little collection of pens from various different places. Often I will pick up a nice pen if we go out for the day. I buy the children a pencil each from the gifts shop of all the places we visit. It’s great for them do some drawing on the way home in the car, plus they see it as a treat. My only problem with pens is I keep loosing them! I’m not sure if it is just me being forgetful or the pens just run away from me and hide in places never to be seen again. My Hubby is so good with his pens, each day he takes 3 pens with him to work. He always returns with the same pens, I have no idea how he does it. Perhaps he doesn’t actually do any thing at work…

National Stationery Week

There are so many stationery items I use all of the time, glue dots (high five to the person who came up with those little gems!), washi tape, craft scissors, cute little shaped paper clips, rubbers, list pads. The list is endless. Not forgetting my cute little business cards.

What is your must have stationery items for this years National Stationery Week?

 

Real Mum Reviews

 

Feast On London – OXO Tower Brasserie Review

During April some of the top restaurants in London take part in ‘Feast On London’, a month long city wide celebration of London’s culinary heritage.

As we were heading to London for the weekend we thought it would be a nice treat to eat in a fine dinning restaurant.

There were so many to choose from on Bookatable that it was very difficult to pick somewhere. We were however only booking a few days before our trip, so a lot of the restaurants had already been booked up. We were on a tight time frame because I had an event to attend in the evening. So, we decided on booking a 15.30 table, plus I wanted great views across London. I love the London skyline, it’s a fabulous view to gaze at. Each time we visit something new has appeared.

The OXO Tower Brasserie

The OXO Tower Brasserie seemed like the perfect choice, it was located fairly near to the London Duck Tour, which we were booked on to at 13.30. The menu looked great and at £33 per head for 3 courses plus a cocktail, it would be silly not to book. A great price for dinning in London. Plus not forgetting those beautiful views across the city.

We arrived to a warm welcome up on the the 8th floor of the OXO Tower, by a friendly receptionist who stored our coats and arranged for us to be seated.

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

Our table was just one row away from the window, which still gave us great viewing opportunity. After we had made our orders for drinks, a white wine for me and a beer for my Hubby, the table next to the window became available. Our kind waiter asked if we would like to move across, perfect! Right next to those beautiful views. During the summer months I can imagine the roof terrace to be full of people having cocktails and delicious foods. On our visit however it wasn’t overly warm and quite cloudy, so no-one was outside.

Feast On London Menu

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

Our attention soon turned to the menu. I opted for the Cod cheeks, followed by the Roast Chicken and then the Chocolate hazelnut cake. My Hubby went for the Rabbit Ragu, Roast Chicken and the Treacle Tart. We also ordered the roasted new potatoes and sprouting broccoli sides.

The Cocktail

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

The cocktail that came with the menu was Bombay Sapphire and Hibiscus. It came served in a tall glass with ice, lemon and Hibiscus petals floating in it. We both thought it was a tasty cocktail, not too sweet, with floral flavours that finished with a warmth of gin. We both would happily have had 2 or 3 of these.

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

The Starters

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

We didn’t seem to be waiting for too long when our starters arrived. What with us chatting away about our day so far and plans for the rest of the trip along with looking at that stunning view of London.

OXO Tower Brasserie ReviewMy starter of, beer-battered cod cheeks, bitter leaf salad, lemon and seaweed aioli. It looked amazing and smelt amazing on arrival I couldn’t wait to try it. The cod cheeks fell apart and melted in the mouth, all the little flavours together was just fabulous. The little lemon oil along side the seaweed aioli worked perfectly on the dish.

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

The Hubby had slow-braised rabbit ragu, pearl barley and truffle pecorino. I’m not keen on game, so it is my Hubby’s choice of food whenever we dine out. He loved it, saying it was full of rich tomato, gamey flavour. The rabbit just fell apart. It seemed to be a winner for him.

The Main Courses

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

We both opted for the roasted chicken, slow-cooked bacon collar,truffle onion purée and spring greens. Adding sides of roasted new potatoes and sprouting broccoli. It was truly delicious. That salty bacon flavour against the truffle and onion purée just cut through the flavours. The roasted chicken was soft and tender still full of moisture, the knife just glided through. Even though we added a couple of extra sides to the meal, we really wouldn’t have needed to as there was more than enough.

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

The Dessert

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

I went for the chocolate hazelnut cake with condensed milk ice cream. I was honestly disappointed with my dessert. It wasn’t what I was expecting, I was expecting a chocolate cake however it was not. I felt the cake was a little dry and the hazelnut crumb was burnt. It had that bitter burnt taste across the dish, which honestly wasn’t brilliant. The ice-cream was creamy and smooth, however I couldn’t tell it was condensed milk. So, I was disappointed with my dessert and I wish I had opted for something else.

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

My Hubby opted for the treacle tart, rhubarb and clotted cream, he loved it. The rhubarb was well cooked, with just the right amount of acidity to cut through the sweetness of the treacle tart. Amazing along side the clotted cream.

Overall Review

We both really enjoyed our meal at the OXO Tower Brasserie, there was a relaxed atmosphere with friendly staff that were happy to help you out. There is an open kitchen so you can see the food being prepared, over seen by head chef Keir Barry. Who designed the British style menu. Even though I was not overly impressed with my dessert it would not put me off visiting again on our next tip to London.

 

 

Loosing my Mum to cancer…… 5 years later

cancer

Today is the 5th Anniversary of my wonderful Mum passing away. I thought I would share my story with you all…

How life changes in a few little words…

The 8th March 2012 was a day my life changed, everything seemed to stop. This was the day we were told that my Mum had cancer. As a close family of 4 we cried, planned, prayed and hoped for 24 hours until we were told by the consultant that the cancer was terminal. How is that even possible?? My Mum……… My MUM!!!!!

By now my beloved Mum was very poorly and just wanted to be at home. Having been in hospital for around 8 weeks we were told she had Diverticulitis then Crohns disease, seeing a diet specialist……. how wrong they were!!

I’m still angry at the hospital for not finding out earlier, she been in hospital a few times between the October and March and yet it still took them so long to diagnose her!! In fact 5 years on I have so much hatred for what the hospital put us through. With all of the tests, scans and cameras they used on her how could they not see it was cancer?

5 days after we got the ‘I’m sorry it’s terminal’ we got Mum home. She had decided that she did not want to be prodded and poked by the hospitals anymore. So she would not have more tests or any treatment. It was believed that Mum had secondary bowel cancer and we had been told the primary cancer was likely to have been lung cancer. Not that Mum had any symptoms you would believe for lung cancer. No cough, no coughing up blood, no chest pains or shortness of breath.

The next couple of weeks at home we met the wonderful Macmillian team and the Nurses and Carers from the local hospice.

Mini Bucket list

We made plans as a family. A mini bucket list. Horse racing, sea-side trips, family weekends away. My cousins wedding was 6 months away. My Mum was amazingly proud of her niece and very close to her, it was one of her goals to make it to her wedding, though it was not to be…

In fact over the next couple of weeks Mum went down hill fast. We made it to the point to point horse racing. But that tired Mum out so much we were then unable to do any of the other things we had planned. It is one of the many reasons I’m still angry with the hospital. If only they had diagnosed earlier we would have been able make lots more happy family memories and completed these few things Mum wanted and lots more. Even if the outcome was to be the same.

Soon we changed the house around, setting up a hospital bed in the living room. With either my Dad, sister or me with Mum at all times. Mum wanted to be at home with us, she didn’t want to be in hospital or a hospice and we didn’t want that for her. We wanted her at home, with all of our family memories around her. My amazing Dad became her carer along with the brilliant nurses and carers from the local hospice, Macmillian Nurses,  Marie Curie Nurses,  and my sister and me as much as possible.

My little boy was my Mum’s pride and joy. She had cared for him while I worked, from him being 7 months old. He loved her and they had such a close bond. On Mum’s poorliest of days whenever he visited (which was as much as possible) her face would light up even when she could no longer talk.

6 weeks to the day of being told Mum had terminal cancer she passed away at home, with my Dad and sister at her side. I couldn’t be there as the Hubby was working nights so I had to be at home with my son. I took the phone call at 03:05 and just knew she had gone. My heart broke. I cannot even begin to explain how I felt getting that phone call in the middle of the night. My life just seemed to stop.

Yes she was very very poorly. Yes she was in pain and I understand she no longer had a good quality of life. No, I did not want her to suffer, but still it was my Mum. A constant in my life. An amazing inspirational lady who never asked for anything. Who did everything she could to help others, she lived for our family, my Dad, her girls and of course my little boy.

Suddenly taken away, how can that be fair? Why her? Why my Mum?

Life goes on….

I couldn’t understand how this event for our family was life changing. Yet everyone else’s life just carried on as normal, going to work, school, shopping. Yet, here we were. Lives seeming to fall apart, the person at the centre of our family gone. How could we carry on? How would my Dad cope on his own, married for 30 years, to a woman who did everything for him.

As the days passed in a blur of sorting things out. I never knew there was so much to sort out when a person dies. On the lead up to the funeral people seemed to care asking how we all are, how my Dad and Sister were doing, but this stopped shortly after the funeral. As though we would all be ok…

No. It was not ok. Yes, we all returned to work. Yes, we all tried not to break down in tears. Yes we carried on, but for me on the inside I was breaking. Trying to be the best Mummy to my 2 year old and help him understand that we could no longer see Nanny. Explain that she was now a star in Heaven.

People kept saying time is a great healer. I think this is true, we got on with life, the tears slowed down but there was an ever present empty space in our lives. Even now I still want to phone my Mum up for advice only a Mum could give. I want her to see her wonderful grandchildren grow up.

Each year we spend the 20th of April together as a family. We often talk about Mum, now with less tears but just as much emotion. Mum was taken away from us far to soon, we will always remember my wonderful Mum. I still talk to her photos now. Mum will always be with us and we will share her memory with her Grandchildren, so they know lots about her.

My Mum always said that when a Robin visits, it is a loved one coming to make sure everything is ok. I have a lovely Robin who often visits my Garden. I always think of him as my Mum coming to say hi.

Have you struggled to deal with the loss of a parent? Did you find some support? I was luckily to have my wonderful Hubby, family and friends around me, I’m not sure how I would have done it on my own.

 

*My Mum loved flowers and the garden, hence these beautiful images*

Just Us Box Wilderness date night

Our Wilderness date night box arrived from Just Us Box almost 3 weeks ago now. We still have not found time to have our monthly date night. March and most of April has already flown by. My Hubby was away on a 2 week course with work, then away in Barcelona for a weekend on a stag do. So we just haven’t had time. I know our next box Sensuality will be arriving in 10 days, and I don’t think we will have even had the time for our Wilderness box before then.

just us box wilderness date night

So this month I though I would show you what was included in the box. My Hubby was really impressed. As an outdoorsy person with a keen interest in bushcraft, he liked the concept of this box. Packed full of things for a date night in the ‘Wilderness’ in our garden.

Foraging for Food

just us box wilderness date night

This month we were give a link to a video to watch, which gives you all the details you need to make your very own nettle soup. Robin Harford is a foraging expert, I really enjoyed watching the video. He is full of knowledge about what wild plants you can eat. Have a watch then you can head out into the woodlands for a nice afternoon and forage for stinging nettles. Don’t forget your foraging bag, it’s included within your date night box. Did you know that stinging nettles contain 7 times more vitamin C than an orange and are 3 times more nutritious than anything else you can grow. So what are you waiting for? Head out and grab some stinging nettles and make some tasty soup.

Building your shelter

 

just us box wilderness date night

Included in the box is also a large tarpaulin, rope and pegs. This is for you to build your shelter for the evening. Find the perfect spot in the house or garden and set up your shelter. Inside your date night guide shows you 3 different types of shelter you can build.

Making your fire

just us box wilderness date night

If you have a log burner or open fire in your house then you are ready to go. If not, included within the box is Magnesium, a fire-steel and tinder (cotton wool) to make your very own mini fire and get your gel burner going. All the instructions are included within the date night guide. If you or your other half don’t fancy a bit of Ray Mears style fire lighting you can always reach for the matches.

Enjoy some food

just us box wilderness date night

If you have made your nettle soup, now’s the time to sit and enjoy it in the soup containers that are included. After that is time for desert. Once you have the gel burner going, you can make some s’mores.

Included in the box is everything you need to make these tasty treats. They are so easy to make. Add some chocolate to a biscuit base, then toast off your marshmallow over the fire. Once the marshmallow is all golden brown place it onto of the chocolate for it to melt in, then top with another biscuit. Enjoy…. they are super yummy.

Campfire Entertainment

just us box wilderness date night

A large part of being by a camp fire is entertainment, often telling stories, playing games and singing. So included within the date night box are some dominoes and a book of ghost stories. Your date night guide has a couple of games for you to play. Plus there is a ‘Knaughty Knots’ guide, if you fancy having a play with tying each other up for some extra date night fun.

Another fabulous box, packed full of treats for the perfect at home date night. I can’t wait to make our shelter, enjoy some yummy s’mores and try some new knots…

…It might bring out my wild side.

 

*I was sent this box for review, all thoughts and opinions our my own*

 

Mummy in a Tutu