Sunday, 29 September 2013

Green Loving Moment {green sofa}

I've decided that I'm fed up with the living room as it currently stands, and want a new sofa to sort it out! We have a massive three seater sofa, with a matching two seater in the bay window. Now no one ever sits in the window bay as it's too far from the TV. Instead, the two-seater just takes up all the room and is used as somewhere to dump things. I had this great vision of having a pretty sofa, and then an armchair and a coffee table in the bay window as a little reading area by the window... how charming! I saw a lovely yellow sofa but Barry preferred this one... which so happens to come in green, so who am I to say no ;) It'll be with us next month along with a beautiful teal armchair, I'm so excited!
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Saturday, 28 September 2013

{Photo Diary} Girls Night Out

I have known my friend Laura for eleven years now. We initially met at University, where we lived together as Freshers. Laura is one of the main reasons I moved to Bristol over six years ago and since then everything has fallen into place. I met Barry. She met her lovely husband (Barry's best friend, would you believe it!). We both bought our first house. I had two children. We obtained our first proper jobs. We also met the lovely Kerry along way, who was initially friends with Barry and Ben but has since become our friend too (yay!). In fact Barry and Ben met because of Kerry so really, if it wasn't for Kerry, none of us would be where we are today, so thank you Kerry!
We realised recently that we had never been on a night out with the just the girls and so quickly set out to rectify that. A girl definitely needs a night out with her girls to set the world right, it's the best form of therapy if you ask me!
Looking forward to the next one ladies!
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Friday, 27 September 2013

I've done it again!

Soooooo it seems I may have said yes to running a marathon... in April. Just like that. That's a whole 42 kilometres, or 26+ miles for you non-metric folks. In six months... Did I mention I've just had a baby? And that I haven't run in over a year with the pregnancy etc? Also my stomach muscles are still on the mend (apparently having a 10lbs9 baby will do that to you) so unable to exercise at all for now... But truly, those are just tiny little irrelevant details right?
My sister Chloe and her boyfriend have been running for several years and greatly enjoy it. I've always struggled with running... As much as I love exercise, I am incredibly lazy and getting me out of the door to train is very difficult. Luckily Barry is great at taking this onboard and kicking me out of the house to ensure I train!
Chloe has been trying to get me to run a marathon with her for some time now, and I've been unsure as to whether I could. However with all the recent events in my family, although I am by nature a pretty optimistic person I have been feeling rather overwhelmed. In light of this, when Chloe was talking about which marathon to run this Spring, I suddenly thought "sod it, let's do it!" (excuse my French!). Running has always done wonders for my mind as well as my body so it sounds perfect! I also turn 30 in April so what better way to celebrate than to run my first marathon and fundraise money for a good cause!! It is therefore decided, I will be running the Paris marathon with my sister on April 6th!


We're going to sign up for it tomorrow... So if we get in, I'll be posting my training progress on a regular basis. If I don't, well I'll probably post some more about cakes until I find my next fitness goal. Hopefully I'll get in though, as I will then be able to eat as much cake as I like... for my energy levels you see ;)
Slightly pink face but green medal, yay!
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PS: Mmmm cake...
*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

How to live life - save or spend?

This weekend, my sister and I helped my aunt's friend remove some of my aunt's possessions from her house into my grandparents' house. This proved to be a very emotional task, as my aunt passed away several weeks ago and it still feels unreal that she is no longer with us. Going through her things felt weird, very intrusive. That same weekend, we also saw my 90+ year old grandparents, who are now in a care home. Their stay in the care home is costing them a fair bit of money. All in all, these events got me thinking as to the value of things in life and how should we aim to live in light of this.
Growing up, my parents, grandparents and aunt always taught my brother, sister and I the importance of putting money aside for a rainy day. My family have worked extremely hard to be in the financial position they are today. I know they started off with very little so what they do have today, is because of their attitude and behaviour with money, and hard work.
Now I have never been good with money. Even when I would get my pocket money as a child, it would all go on sweets from the village shop! Growing up, I always found it hard to resist the temptation of buying new things. Especially if I was feeling low, I would usually go and buy something new to cheer me up. Naturally, it comes as no surprise then that I've never been particularly good at saving money!

Nevertheless, I always kept my family's advice in mind and I try to save money where I can. This is not always easy, especially as most of my money seems to go towards childcare (and let's face it, food/coffee). However, I also believe in living in the moment to some extent. I have always thought that anything could happen from one day to the next, and if I was to fall ill or go tomorrow, I would like to think that I managed to live striking a balance between allowing myself a few pleasures in life, as well as saving for a rainy day. And I think this is a really hard balance to get right... Indeed, my aunt was only young when she died, being in her early fifties. In comparison, my grandparents are in their 90s, and if they had not worked hard at saving money their whole life, they would not be able to remain in the care home they now live in.

For now, I do not have a great amount of savings but I have some. I am also proud that I have no debts apart from the mortgage (although this took a year of working two jobs like a crazy person which made me a very irritable person but eh, it was worth it!). I know I spend too much money on food, and coffees. I also probably spend too much on clothes, although in my defence, I usually shop in high street stores such as H&M and Primark, as well as Next. Sainsbury's clothing range is also a current favourite. When my aunt passed away, I decided to treat myself to a few things.... a leather handbag, "proper" leather boots, clothes to suit my post-pregnancy body for the time being. All in all, they did not cost me that much money, but still had to take money from my savings to cover it, which is always going to make me feel guilty.

I am not sure I will ever strike a perfect balance between living for the moment and saving. However these events have also reinforced what I already knew: to be loved and to love is the richest thing you can hope for in life, so it is important to cherish each moment with your loved ones and to say I love you as often as you feel like it.

Do you have any advice on how to save money? Have you found your perfect balance? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter!
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Monday, 23 September 2013

Baking mad!

This week, I am helping my lovely neighbour and friend to host a coffee morning for Macmillan Cancer Support. This is a charity that is close to my heart as they've been really great with my godmother who recently passed away from lung cancer, and my grand-dad who is also terminally ill with cancer. I have felt a little helpless dealing with my family, but helping to fundraise for this great charity and amazing people helps me feel a little useful.
So in preparation for Friday, I am going to be baking like crazy! I have already baked a Black Banana Bread, will be making these amazing badboys:
I will also be making several recipes from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, including coffee & walnut cake, lemon drizzle cake, carrot cake, and peach & cream cupcakes. Photos to follow, and please have a look on the following link if you would like to find out more about the coffee morning and/or Macmillan Cancer Support.
Are there any charities that are close to your hearts? If so, what are your favourite ways to fundraise for them?  
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Green Loving Moment

Hello my lovelies, sorry for the lack of posts recently, it has been a busy and difficult few days but more on that later. For now, I've decided that once a week, I'll share one of my favourite green items of the week with you, to back up the blog's name! So for my first one, I found this saying below on Pinterest, and liked it.
Have a great end of weekend!
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Thursday, 19 September 2013

New domain and new look!

I am very excited about having my own domain and a new look for the blog. I'd love to hear what you think of it, and whether you have any tips for a blogger novice like myself!
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Amazing cookie/oreo/brownie cupcake thing!

I found this amazing recipe on Kaitlyn's blog. I have tried and tested it on my family and neighbours and it was a great success! I also had a lot of people asking me about it after posting a photo on facebook, so I thought I'd let you have the recipe with the English measurements in case, like me, you are not familiar with the American cup system. So here goes:
* Makes 18 cakes

Chocolate Chip Cookie Part
120 grams butter, softened i.e. room temperature
150 grams white sugar
45 grams packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150 grams cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips... I didn't check out the conversion this one but I put in 100 grams (as I buy them in 100 grams sachets) and that worked out just fine!
Brownie Part
1 box (13x9 pan size) of fudge brownie mix, prepared according to instructions (Kaitlyn only uses half a box, but I put it all in!)
18 oreos (essentially one per cupcake)

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
2. Prepare the fudge brownie mix as per the instructions.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugars together. Once mixed, add in the egg and vanilla. Beat with a mixer until smooth. Add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until fully mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Place the muffin liners in a muffin pan. Scoop 3 tablespoons of cookie dough into the bottom of each liner. Press down to flatten the dough evenly. If you have extra cookie dough you can just roll it into balls and freeze it to have cookie dough on hand! Or just eat it... I didn't have any left though...
5. Place an oreo on top of each cookie dough and slightly push down. Evenly divide brownie batter over the top of each oreo (a little over a tablespoon and a half).
6. Bake the cakes for 20-25 minutes, until the tops look set. You do not want to over bake these or they will get hard. After you remove them from the oven, fold over any "explosions" (see Kaitlyn's post for photos). Place in air tight container while they are still warm to keep them soft.
Et voila, you're welcome! ;)
Let me know how yours turn out! Or if you have a favourite recipe with oreos or cookie dough. I love both. And I love cake!

{Photo Diary} Date night

Barry and I before our date. We went to Piccolino's as Barry had never been and I really enjoyed my last meal there with work (it helps that their d├ęcor is very (!) green!). The food was amazing and it was great to spend some time just the two of us. Looking forward to the next one, which will probably be next month for our six year anniversary (six years!).


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The importance of Date Night

Lately, since the birth of Hugo and everything going on with my mother's family, it's been a little hectic. In order to cheer myself up, I've been organising a night out with the girls (next week, I can't wait!) and dinner/shopping trips with my sister. Then I realised yesterday that with all that, I wasn't planning anything with only Barry and I. I therefore immediately enlisted the babysitting services of my sister so I could take Barry out on a date tonight.

I truly believe that being in a relationship can be hard work. Barry and I have always acknowledged this, right from the beginning almost six years ago now! We don't believe that you can just sit in a relationship without taking action and expect it to build great and strong. After all, it is the same with friendships, if you don't work hard on friendships, you may end up losing friends. However, as life does, it can get in the way and make you forget this.  The birth of a child is always going to be a difficult test on a couple... You are sleep deprived, you may not have showered that week or even if you have, you are now covered in all sorts of bodily fluids and food. At times you have absolutely no idea what you are doing and you are running on instincts alone. You may have a different idea on parenting than your partner. One of you may have been at work all day to come home to screaming kids and/or a fed up wife/husband/partner... Or you may be the one who has been at home all day slowly losing your mind and feel like you're not coping too great with this whole parenting thing. Naturally, there are loads of really good days in between. But it is the bad days that can really put a strain on your relationship. Whichever one of the above two examples mentioned you are, either way, it can be difficult to remember making an effort to put your relationship as a couple first.
I have been feeling guilty lately that I am not being a great girlfriend to Barry lately. I've been tired, overwhelmed, grieving therefore sad... and so I have locked him out as a self-preservation bid to keep it "together" as much as possible. However, I have been greatly looking forward to going out with friends and family. This replenishes me. And so I was reminded that Barry and I used to always go out on dates pre-babies. Whether just for a drink after work simply because the sun was out. Or out to dinner because we did not feel like cooking. This carried on until pretty much the week Siena was born.
The first few months after Siena was born were hard. It was a whole new world and took a lot of trial and error before finding out what worked for us. Once we were a little more settled into this whole parenting thing, we decided to go on a date at least once a month. We did not always strictly adhere to this new rule, as we felt bad always asking friends to babysit and could not afford a babysitter that often. But we made sure we made the effort as much as we could. We also enjoyed loads of days out as a family, but in order to be good parents together, we need to ensure we are a strong couple.
Pre-Hugo, we were starting to go out more often, even if only to the local cinema to catch a good film. However, as is to be expected, life has been manic since the arrival of Hugo and having to get used to being a family of four.  Barry and I have been out a little, sometimes together, sometimes with our respective friends, but not yet on a proper date.
Barry and I have been together almost six years now. He knows how much I love food and how I am unable to eat small portions. He makes fun about my taste in music and the fact that I'm foreign. He understands that family comes first no matter what, and respects that. He is always happy to look after the kids if I need a night out with my friends or a shopping trip with my sister. He knows I'm grumpy with hungry. And tired. And stressed. He knows I need to be me, and not just a mum. I sometimes forget how well he knows me, but he always reminds me of this through little things.
I am therefore looking forward to tonight to catch up, have a drink, and remind him (and myself!) that I love him, that we are doing just fine, and have two beautiful bambini to prove this. I have no idea where we are going to go, or what I am going to wear. But what I am really looking forward to is just spending time with my man.
What about you? Do you hold regular date nights? What do you do to ensure your couple remains strong (whether you have kids or not!). I'd love to hear from you :)

Sunday, 15 September 2013

{Photo Diary} Clifton

I love Bristol. One of my favourite places is Clifton Village. When I first moved to Bristol, I lived with my friend Laura, and we'd often take the bus there at the weekend for a cup of coffee and wandering into its many individual little shops and arcardes. When Barry and I first started dating, I'd drag him there too. Since having the kids we don't go up there much anymore, but I still love it.
This weekend Barry's dad and his girlfriend came to see us in order to meet Hugo. It was also Bristol Open Day on Saturday, so we decided to go up to Clifton Village for the day (yay!). Siena got to use her new umbrella. We went on the Suspension Bridge. Had lunch at The Clifton Sausage. By the end of the day the sun came out and it was surprisingly warm. Today the Bristol Half Marathon was on. We wandered into town to cheer on Laura's husband. Unfortunately I did not see him run past us as I was too busy admiring a banana, a gorilla and a shoe. But saw him at the end and he did a really good time. Rest of the day was spent on the sofa, with a big jumper on, drinking lots of cups of tea, enjoying cuddles with Barry, Siena & Hugo while catching up on recorded TV & X-Factor... Good times!
What did you get up to this weekend?


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