Archives for August 2010

The Supermarket Chic Challenge

Now that Supper Daddy and I have reclaimed our bedroom back as our own, buy viagra we have decided a mini make-over of our boudoir is in order. Little Princess Pink sleeps in her own big bed all night, drugstore with the exception of the odd occasion where she wakes to say there is a dinosaur under her bed or she is afraid of Santa Claus, and Little Monster Blue just LOVES his own cot in his own room between the hours of 7pm and 5.30am.  So with no moses basket, no need for Winnie-The-Pooh nightlights and no little people  sprawled sideways across the middle of the bed whilst Super Daddy and I perch dangerously on the edges, it’s time to get our bedroom back to a place for grown-ups only.

To be perfectly honest however, I can’t be bothered with the whole rigmaroll of painting, or wallpapering and while we probably could do with a new carpet I’m happy to wait until next year to do a complete overhaul.  So, for now, I simply want to bring a bit of colour to it, make it our little haven of calm and tranquillity (okay and erm, passion) without the risk of stepping out of the bed and trodding on a toy aeroplane.

I have in my head a vision of deep plum or aubergine accents which will contrast nicely with the coffee colours we have at the moment.  I’m thinking a warm autumnal / winter theme, with soft, luxurious and sumptuous fabrics, making a space that we can retreat to when it starts getting colder and darker in the evenings (me with a good book and Super Daddy with high expectations.)  A quick squizz through the M&S Home magazine yesterday left me disappointed, I’d half expected my vision to materialise on the pages before my eyes, nip up to M&S, load up my basket with items D, G, and H from pages 55 – 56, return to my bedroom, throw it all together and voila! But not so.  Half hour scouring the internet revealed lots of fantastic plum and aubergine tones. But at prices I just wasn’t willing to pay for a 60 minute makeover.  So, I filed the idea on my ‘one to do later’ list, and set off to pick up the kids at nursery, popping into Morrisons for a few ‘essentials’ on the way, i.e. wine and nibbles for the girls coming over for a catch up.

With my basket fully loaded (one red, one white, one Rose) I took a detour via the homeware aisle.  There nestled cosily together on the bottom shelf were two coffee coloured cushions with vibrant magenta and deep plum stripes across the front, exactly what I was looking for- perfect. £10 for two -bargain.  Into my basket they went.  Two feet away in the ‘lighting section’ (they had approximately 12 lamps) was a glorious plum lamp and base which matched the plum stripe in the cushion, another bargain, so I picked that up too and stowed it under my left arm.  Behind me, stood a full display of candles in every imaginable colour and two strawberry and pomegranate scented pillar candles also found their way into my basket.  With my basket beginning to overflow, and my eye on the clock for nursery pick up time, I started to make my way to the checkout only to spy a conical shaped vase, in deep plum which at £3.99 I just had to have. Very pleased with my purchases and even more chuffed that I had managed to pick up exactly what I was looking for on a spontaneous trip to the supermarket  I decided to set myself a challenge.  Surely I could create the look I wanted by picking up all my accessories and bedding from supermarkets?

If Coleen Rooney can successfully launch a clothing range in Asda, and Betty Davidson can stock the shelves of Tesco with her make-up range, then surely creating a luxury boudoir feel on a supermarket budget is actually a cool thing to do?

So on a bit of a (quite sad, really) mission, I threw the kids in the bath later in the evening, risked the laptop being soaked and checked out Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury on-line whilst LPP pretended to scuba dive and LMB used the pink teapot that’s not really a bath toy to pour water all over himself, LPP and the floor.

Excitedly I trawled through pages and pages of bedding, decorative accessories and soft furnishings, spying little pieces along the way that would be good for other rooms in our house (slate grey towels for the downstairs loo, red and cream spotty Cath Kidston-esque tea-towels and oven gloves for the kitchen and pink storage boxes with cupcake designs for LPP’s bedroom –and  all whilst obtaining clubcard points to boot.

However with the water in the bath getting a little on the cold side, and LPP having decided to be an Olympic board diver instead of a scuba diver, I turned my attentions back to the task in hand, and purchased a great quilted throw which would tone with the cushions brilliantly from Sainsbury, a set of three plum coloured glass photo frames from Tesco and some plain coffee coloured jersey cotton bedding and a canvas print with just the right mix of browns and plum / purples that would look great above our bed from Asda. Job done.

With everything ordered and due for delivery by the end of the week, I’m looking forward to creating my ‘supermarket chic’ space, and making full use of it over the weekend.  Though come to think of it, it was probably about 4 years and 9 months ago that we last decorated our bedroom…..

My List of tricks to retain some glamour

A friend of a friend is due her first baby sometime soon, sovaldi and although she is feeling like she has it all under control and will adapt nicely to the arrival of a littlie, there she has issued her friends with a harsh  warning of ‘You better tell me if I start to let myself go.’

So, here’s my list of quick tricks for making it appear that you are still your glamorous pre-baby self, even if your bra still has a slight whiff of breast milk about it…

1)      Lipstick on the school run.  I can’t take any credit for this one- nor unfortunately can I give any to the very clever lady who wrote a full article dedicated to the subject in one of the major glossies about 3 years ago, as I can’t remember where I read it or what her name was.  But the integral part of the article has stuck with me. Lipstick on the school run.  It does not matter if you’ve not brushed your hair and you still have your pyjama bottoms on under your long winter coat. If you have your lipstick on, you look like you’ve got it together.

2)      Fake it. A slap and a slop of that wonderful moisturiser with the tiniest bit of fake tan in it before you go to bed will make that first glance in the mirror each morning a little less scary. Somehow dark circles and puffy eyes are immune to the effects of a little bit of a glow.

3)      Eye-drops. As much as the love for your newborn can give you a twinkle in your eye, the 1, 3, and 5am wake up calls have the slightly opposite effect. One or two drops in each eye will give you a little of that sparkle back.

4)      Dry shampoo. It comes in a spray can, looks very old fashioned, but has powerful effects. A quick spray on the roots, a little working it with your fingertips, a shake of your head upside down and ta-dah, you won’t need to wash it for another two days at least.

5)      Although the deodorising properties of dry shampoo have probably not been clinically proven, a quick squirt of the arm-pits should keep you smelling fresh for some time too. If nothing else, it’ll mask the smell of the breast milk.

6)      Smile. It costs nothing and will light up your whole face.  Just be careful not to over-egg it too much.  There is a fine line between happy mum and grinning maniac.

7)      Thick tights.  Thick funky patterned tights, skirts and knee high boots. Instant glamour, plus you don’t have to worry that you’ve not shaved your legs for at least three months. Note, this one doesn’t work quite so well in the middle of the summer.

And if that all seems like too much effort, then sod the lot, put on your comfy jogging bottoms and your ‘too tight across the boobs’ tee-shirt, pull your greasy hair back into a tight pony tail and smile, because your children, your husband and all who are lucky enough to know you will love you no matter how you look…….just take their gifts of fresh breath mints in the spirit with which they are intended.

My dirty little secret.

Hollywood’s Dirty Little Secret is the Nanny. Whilst they are kept firmly in the background, viagra canada surely it’s widely known among the wise that the nanny is the cog in the well-oiled machine that is the modern celebrity family. The closest I’ll ever get to an A-Lister is gazing at them in my weekly fix of trashy tabloid tat through sleepy eyes on a Sunday morning whilst spooning mouthfuls of Weetabix into Little Monster Blue and simultaneously attempting to wrestle the TV remote control from his sticky fingers – so there is fat chance of me having a nanny anytime soon. I do however have my own dirty little secret.

I have a cleaner.

Now before I launch into a great big spiel justifying this (perfectly capable of taking a cloth and a squirt of Cif to my bathroom sink as I am) let me say just this –  I am not embarrassed to admit that someone else literally does my dirty laundry.  Just as the celeb mums with their armies of nannies, don’t always openly state that they have hired help, I don’t broadcast it to all and sundry (well, didn’t until now.) This is mainly because it’s my money, my choice and my business (and my mother is still reeling from the shock of me letting someone else scrub my kitchen floors – god knows what my mother-in-law would think!)

Believe it or not, having a cleaner or ‘lifestyle manager’ as she likes to call herself, actually gives me a sense of control in my home environment.  My life is one big juggling act of conference calls, nappy changes, show and tell preparations, project plans, bedtime stories and business cases and if I were to throw cleaning my house into the equation, well, I’d probably get my P45 from the circus.

Don’t get me wrong, I still RUN the house. I just don’t clean it.  I still open, read, deal with and file all the mail. I still pack the lunches, cook the dinners, make the late evening trips to the local corner shop when we run out of milk. I take the empty toilet roll tube off the loo roll holder and replenish it with a new one. I throw out the week old bread and eggs that went out of date last Tuesday.  I arrange home insurance when it needs renewed. I make the calls to the dentist when the reminder comes in for our 6 monthly check-ups. I make sure the kids go out wearing outdoor clothes fit for the season (and not (a) pyjamas or (b) summer dresses in winter). Super Daddy is great too. He puts the bin out every week and on Sundays he even puts the toilet seat down.

So on a Monday morning, when we’ve all exited the premises after the usual rush of hair plaiting, teeth brushing, sock matching and jacket finding, along comes Linda. She lets herself in, and probably makes herself a cuppa, pulls on her yellow marigolds and works her way methodically through my list of cleaning tasks (remember how much I love a list.) I like to think she puts on the radio, sings along very loudly and badly as she sweeps, dusts, hoovers, polishes, rinses and folds with the end result being my house shining like a new pin.

So my justification – and it actually isn’t that lengthy – I don’t want to spend my evenings and weekends knee deep in grime, I don’t want my best efforts thwarted when my kids drop their dinner on the just washed swept and washed kitchen floor.  I want to be comfortable in my home, knowing that any visitors who might pop in are coming to see our family and not their own reflections in my bathroom taps. And most importantly, any semblance of the adult social life I once enjoyed, was put to bed when the kids came along. My money is no longer spent on boozy Saturday afternoons with the girls, weekend city breaks or luxurious Caribbean holidays with my love, concert tickets, theatre trips, and indulgent beauty days with exorbitant price tags….

No, no, no…..I’d rather spend my money on the excited anticipation that comes from knowing that as I walk through the front door on a Monday evening, the smell of bleach, antibacterial wipes and camomile wood floor polish is going to envelope me and my spotless shower cubicle is going to send me wild.

Simply thrilling!

A Man’s Home is His Castle

Super Daddy is the man in our house, here and as the saying goes ‘A man’s home is his castle.’ Or in our case, pills his toy factory, playground, soft play and personal zoo, especially at feeding time.  It’s not that his table manners are that appalling, he does just like to throw his dinner on the floor every night then when he gets out of his chair he’ll scoop up and eat the more interesting looking elements of the food debris– oh, I’m talking Little Monster Blue now, and not Super Daddy, although he did eat a kebab off the floor of our car after dropping it at his feet on the way home after a very drunken night out…..

So, I’m off to visit a new friend on Thursday night, a fabulous lady and super working mum of two herself, who I have known through a mutual friend for over 4 years but only just sat down and eyeballed her over coffee for the first time a few months ago. I’ve never been to her house before, our ‘dates’ have so far been on neutral territory. But on Thursday, I’m off to her abode for a wee glass of wine.  We had an email exchange today which confirmed my attendance on Thursday (though we’re not being too formal!) and I asked for her postcode given my geographic abilities are somewhat limited without the aid of my trusty sat nav. Postcode provided, looking forward to seeing you pleasantries extended, then a heavily laden warning of ‘take the house as you find it, I refuse to decorate until No.2 is older.’  Oh, I hear you, loud and clear.

We’ve lived in our current home for just over 7 years, taking a fairly big jump up at the time in order to buy a house that would become our family home. We had visions of a home we would grow into, which would be filled with the love and warmth that a little family brings.  We didn’t bank on the huge amounts of paraphernalia that would take over our home as that little family grew.  Initially, when Little Princess Pink was a baby, her nursery was the focal point for all things child-oriented, with just one small cupboard in the kitchen being allocated as storage for bottles, sterilising equipment, formula powder, measuring spoons, then progressing to teething rings, then finger foods, weaning spoons and bowls, Annabel Karmel cookbooks and the odd ready prepared jar of baby food (or ten). Then slowly water squirting toys started popping up in the bathroom, board books found their way to the pile at the side of our bed, a toy box in the corner of the dining room and eventually a ball pool in the living room…

There does not remain one room in our house that has been untouched by the littlies.  My idea of tidy has morphed from a minimalist, clean, clutter free living space, with plumped up cushions and perfectly aligned curtains to an overflowing toy box pushed as far behind the side of the sofa as it can possibly go, with a myriad of toys piled precariously on top so that none of them are lying on the floor and the ball pool pushed neatly against the radiator under the window, which is actually still in the middle of the floor. Where the storage in my bathroom once had a lovely stacking unit which housed my Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Shea Butter for Dry / Sensitive skin and the oh-so-wonderful Hydra Quench Rich Cream and Ultra-Matte Rebalancing lotion, it now contains baby shampoo, bath cleanser for eczema prone skin, which resembles lard, three small plastic boats (one with Igglepiggle in it) Foam Letters N, G, X, F, H, Z, O and P (we once had a full complement of 26 but who knows where they’ve ended up – I should probably check LMB’s laundry basket) and a sparkly mermaid bathtime book – which LMB loves. Hhhmm.

The rustic solid wooden table and chairs in our dining room have slowly edged towards the wall on one side of the room and the remaining floor space has been commandeered by Rose Cottage (aka a full size Wendy House), a toy box containing puzzles, another toy box containing wooden toys and games, a bookcase (supplementing the bookcases in each of LPPs and LMBs bedrooms)  a toy box containing musical instruments, a toy box with puppets, yet another toy box containing those bigger chunky toys that don’t really have a ‘category’(!) – you know, shape sorters, a pirate ship, a fire station, Noahs Ark,  a Barbie Unicorn, a Farm, an abacus; a toy box filled with the plastic characters  from the aforementioned articles – pirates, a parrot, a farmer, a sheep, a chicken, a cow, a pig,  Noah and Mrs Noah, Lion (x2), Hippo (x2), Giraffe (x2)……and a cuddly toy (or ten.)

In addition to the toys, games and books that have become part of the furniture in our home (literally – as I did catch myself going into the playroom the other night to get the Dora the Explorer stool for the piano in order to use it as a footstool) so too have the reams and reams of artwork our children have crafted and created on a daily basis.  The side of our fridge is adorned with first finger paintings, little cards with gummed paper circles and feathers stuck on, glittery and sparkly collages, LPPs first proper drawing of an animal, along with a photo of her drawing it, and sticking her tongue out in concentration like her Daddy does. Our mantelpiece has various sizes of haphazardly cut cards (with safety scissors!) all with the drawing of the moment on the front – which is LPP on the waterslide on our holidays and a dolphin.  Although on Friday we did get a drawing of a fairy castle with LPP in the turret, and a prince in the garden below carrying a lollipop for her. Like her concentration face, she clearly gets her romantic cues from her Daddy. Our shelves in the kitchen house a variety of ‘junk modelling’ creations, or ‘art projects’ as we call them in this house – the latest addition was a paper aquarium which took an eternity to make and I ended up doing the bulk of the colouring, cutting and gluing and LPP got the good ‘decorating with sequins at the end’ part (Thank you Auntie Joanne and Auntie Lottie!)  In both the kids bedrooms, a mini canvas hangs on the walls with a pink handprint and a blue footprint, made in February 2009 – a lasting memory of the teeny size of my babies, and a reminder that they are getting very big, very quickly.  And in the hallway, right at the bottom of the stairs about a quarter of a metre high, is a large orange squiggle, created by little hands – probably an early attempt at a dolphin and a waterslide. I might just have to put a frame round it, because like my new friend – I refuse to decorate, probably until my no. 2 is at least 18.

So if a man’s home really is his castle, then ours is one made out of yoghurt pots and cereal boxes decorated with smudgy fingerprints on mirrors and orange squiggles in the strangest of places, there’s three day old toast on the floor under the kitchen table and a toy pink flamingo which has been on the stairs for over a week now, but it’s our home and its filled to the brim with sparkles and memories and lots and lots of love and laughter.

Jingle Bells in July

At my last count, nurse there were another five months to go until the big guy in the red suit would be taking that dangerously tight  squeeze down our chimney, cialis yet in the past few weeks the Christmas references have been in greater abundance than the number of old drunk Aunties round the dinner table on the 25th December (or is that just my family?)

We overhauled Little Princess Pinks bookcase recently as it was quite literally bursting at the seams. Naturally Little Monster Blue inherited a huge proportion of the books that were deigned far too babyish by the 4 going on 14 year old. One such book was The Nativity. I’m not sure there is an average age by which a child outgrows The Nativity story, but given most seem to have written off Santa Claus by the time they reach 8, perhaps one of the oldest tales in the world does have a shelf life. As this version of The Nativity was an Usbourne touchy feely, I allowed it to be placed on the shelf in LMBs bedroom. And there I expected it to stay until the 1st December at least. But not so.

LMB is just getting to that stage where he likes to choose the three books we read each bedtime,’Baby Zoo’, ‘That’s not my Monkey’ and ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ have been on his short list for some time now. But that all changed with the arrival of new books on the block, The Nativity coming out tops. For the last week and a half.

At first I tried to discourage him, suggesting ‘The Tiger who came to Tea’ was much more exciting, and even had a tiger who drank all the water in the taps in it,  but that didn’t hold the same appeal as a lady in a blue dress on a donkey. So, The Nativity it was. More for my own sanitythan anything else, I tried to tell the story with minimal Christmas references, which is pretty hard when you’re faced with an angel, three wise men and the baby Jesus himself. I tried to focus just on the animals in the story, and at one point deviated to sing Old MacDonald had a farm (predominantly with sheep and a donkey). Then I tried the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star route when we got to the page where the three wise men followed the star to Bethlehem. But nothing could detract from the fact that we were reading The Nativity. In July.

At the same time we made the discovery of The Nativity book, so too did we find ‘Mr Men – Mr Christmas Saves the Day’.  A fun story about Mr Christmas being drafted in to help the real Father Christmas who was way behind on the Christmas preparations due to playing too much golf and drinking too much beer (okay, I made that last bit up, but in the story he had being playing too much golf – probably a discussion point in many a household.) It’s a colourful, brightly illustrated board book,and great for little hands to turn the pages, oh and just perfect for little fingers pressing the ever so slightly annoying musical button which plays Jingle Bells. Over and over.

Then as if entering a bizarre parallel universe I logged on to my PC to get my daily fix of mini-blogging – i.e. Facebook – only to find that on the 25th July (officially smack bang in the middle of summer)  one of my friends was wishing everyone a Merry Christmas…you know who you are Mrs W – being Down Under is no excuse!  Further facebook updates have followed with friends having bought presents already to hide in the wardrobe / under the bed / in a safe place only to forget where they are and have to go and buy replacements when they can’t be found (probably just me again on that one – we’re still missing a Teletubby from 2006…)

Finally, to top it all off, I opened the free local newspaper which pops through the letter box every Friday, to be faced with a centre page double spread of Christmas Party Night adverts and sample Christmas Lunch Menus. The pages were decorated with the dark green holly and deep red berry colours of Christmas, there were flutterings of little fake snowdrops making their way down the pages, a shot of a wonderfully lit Christmas tree, stacked high with ornate decorations and packed underneath with shiny foil wrapped presents tied in great big bows. The Christmas menus couldn’t have been any more traditional – turkey with all the trimmings, brussell sprouts with chestnuts, roast potatoes oozing in goose fat, and Christmas Pudding with brandy ice-cream.  There were cheesy pictures of couples snogging under huge bunches of mistletoe, hazy photos of little children sitting at the feet of Father Christmas, looking at him with awe and wonder in their eyes.  I mean come on. It’s July. There’s five months to go…….

Hhhhmmmm, though a brandy and a mince pie might just go down a treat right now….

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