Making A House A Home

Friday, 31 May 2013

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

After two years of living in my house I am finally ready to make a house a home. With it being privately rented we weren't sure whether we would stay long-term although we really hoped we would but now we're sure of it. Until we buy we don't want to move into another house and we won't be buying for a long time due to a serious lack of savings and a terrible credit rating. Good news for my landlord as he has stable tenants and a stable income from his house and good news for us because the girls are settled and it's so close to everything for us. We have started to make a few improvements like the garden and the kitchen but it's nowhere near my 'home' standard. Blame it on a severe lack of money for years so we've had to make do and buy second hand or blame it on the fact that I have no real eye for interior design but whoever or whatever is to blame, it needs a revamp.

While I'm still not rich enough to buy the long lusted after Pistachio Kitchen Aid mixer, it's here because I want one. I'm in love with the aesthetics as well as the power of the machine so a knock off could do to sit pretty. Everything else is pretty low-cost though with the most expensive thing coming in at £160 (the rug). I feel like the house needs more colour as everything is varying degrees of neutral so a pop of colour in a rug or a side table would do just fine in the kitchen to jazz it up a little. Everything apart from the Kitchen Aid is from Ikea so I think I need a big haul including meatballs and a slice of Daim cheesecake the next time I head there. I love Ikea pieces mixed with thrifted and re-upholstered or painted finds from the charity shops.

Now I know it's not on here but can you recommend a place where I can get cheap large throws to cover a three seater sofa and a two seater? I seem to only be able to find 150cm x 180cm throws and I'd need three to cover the three seater which I'd really rather not have to bother with if I didn't have to. My other option is to take my measurements to a fabric shop and just hem some weighty easily washable fabric but that seems like a whole lot of hassle when I can just order a few throws. So tell me, throw emporiums? Do they exist and if they do where can I get my grubby mitts on some?

Working Girl

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

While my first day of employment isn't for another week and a half, I thought I'd show you the outfit I'm planning to wear. Mainly because I'm nervous as while I like to look smart I'm not used to having to be smart daily and also because I value your input so let me know if I'm way off base here. Everything in the image I already own so I won't need to go out and buy new which is a huge plus and this is practically the only work appropriate outfit I own spare a few blouses and knee length pencil skirts. I really do need a capsule wardrobe in this department and I feel like this can be worn with so many other things and be dressed up or down for other occasions too. However it is a lot of black and for someone that likes colour, it'll be odd. Maybe something bold on the lips or a pair of turquoise earrings to liven it up?

So what do you think? Professional enough to make a good first impression?

52 Lists // List the things that make you feel healthy

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Eating a breakfast full of brightly coloured fruit
Brisk walks
Alone time for at least an hour of every day to think
Writing productive lists
Being organised
Deep breathing exercises
Forming and nurturing friendships and family relationships
Reading to my daughters
Getting up early
A hot, relaxing bubble bath
Accepting and seeking advice from others
Helping others to achieve their goals
Dancing in my living room in my pyjamas
Taking an incredible amount of photos to collect memories
Getting a really good night's sleep
Shopping in charity shops
Volunteer work
Sewing and crafting in general
Having a perfectly clean and organised space

Organised files on my laptop
Singing when I'm alone in the house
Spending the time to talk to friends about their lives
Giving presents and cards for no reason at all
Deep tissue massages
A day without painkillers of any kind
Yoga in the mornings
Being extremely productive
Writing down all of my thoughts before I go to sleep
Knowing when to wind down and relax
Loving and being loved openly
Not being afraid of who I am and all that that entails
Embracing other people for who they are
Snuggles with psycho pup
Sleeping in late at weekends and being brought coffee
A good stretch several times a day
Working hard
Not putting too much pressure on myself to be the best
Getting sunshine

What Laura Thinks ;; Compliments

Monday, 27 May 2013

Today I'm recycling a BEDM post from the other day which I haven't done yet. I've been really bad at this challenge and didn't make it past the second week but I'm trying to use the ideas regardless for blog posts during May and outside of it. I'm going to talk about compliments and the importance of them - giving and receiving.

I find it incredibly difficult to take a compliment be it on my appearance or on something I've achieved. I mumble a "Thank you", go a little bit pink and brush it off. If someone tells me I look nice or that I've done something well I appreciate it but instantly pick it apart in my mind. Did they mean it or was it just something to say? Did they mean it sarcastically or could it be construed as to have negative connotations? I'm just really mean to myself and believe that every nice thing said to me has come with an agenda. I've been this way for as long as I can remember. If a boy took an interest in me I assumed it would be as a joke and so on and so forth in pretty much every area of my life. I remember the insults much more vividly than I remember the compliments.

I don't think I'm a bad person and I believe there are things that I'm good at, things I look nice in and days where I've done good things and while this is essentially a self-confidence issue, it is also because I have had compliments that have been accompanied with a rather large agenda. I've had people say something only to overhear them saying they said it as a joke and proceed to rally off a list of my not-so-complimentary qualities. These things stay with you no matter how old you get, how much you think you are over it or how much you try to love yourself. One bad word can bring horrible memories flooding back and turn you into the biggest self-loathing cow on the planet who wants to set out to make the other person feel as bad as they made you feel, even if they didn't mean to hurt you that much.

Of course, this is not healthy and I do try to keep a healthy mind about these things. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind and killing it with kindness is more often than not the most appropriate route to take, even if it's not what you really want to do in that moment in time. I try to focus on the good points, the strengths of people, the colours that are complimentary or the way the haircut really makes their face look soft. I don't always win this war with myself but I can always use my own words to make others feel better rather that tear them down. I am rather blunt and I think constructive criticism is much better for someone to hear than bubble wrapped compliments but I have a line that I try not to cross. If there is really no constructive element to the criticism, it's just harsh and that's not what we should be in the business of achieving. We should be building others up, supporting each other and basking in their glory that will no doubt radiate back to you as to how much you've helped. It's a really good feeling, even if you beat yourself up about it later.

So let's make a promise to compliment someone every day be it on their home, their lipstick, their achievements or the way they are. It could really make someone's day and the smallest gestures mean so much, especially to people who you may not know have fallen on hard times within themself. Let's also make a promise to compliment ourselves, even if it's just to say "Well you really are bloody excellent at putting yourself down". It'll come. Promise.

Five Things

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Inspired by a few blogs out there and taking the name of the series from my friend Erica, I give you five things I've been loving this week.

Blog posts
I love this post by Sunae just because I really want to live near mountains with waterfalls and take pictures inside of trees and oh God, whisk me away to Australia please! Obviously keep me away from giant mutant arachnids and anything that wants to kill me though.

After the tragic events in London this week where a soldier was mutilated and beheaded in broad daylight, I am so glad that the people I know have seen this for what it was - a tragedy. I have seen far too many acquaintances of mine that I thought were great people who have expressed some vile views this week on religion, culture and race. I won't go into my personal beliefs in too much detail as I have already expressed my opinion quite a lot on other social media platforms and while these acquaintances have swiftly been demoted to 'not on my news feed' I want to shake off the anger I feel at them and extend to you my appreciation for the acceptance of so many people I know and love. I am so glad that people do have balanced views and opinions based on fact rather than ignorance and prejudice. This is not an entitlement to an opinion debate as everyone is entitled to an opinion, opposing or not but this has really opened my eyes.

I made this pan eared honey glazed salmon with browned butter lime sauce the other night and it was delicious. I overcooked it a tiny bit so the next time I'll have to adjust my times but all the same it was beautiful and everyone who's a fan of salmon should try it with a few new potatoes and salad. Delicious!

Doctor Who
I know this was last week technically but seriously, John Hurt. My mind is whirring with why's and how's and while I do have my theories that quite a few people share, we all just know Moffat will make us cry. However the 50th Anniversary special airs on my 25th birthday so I'll have something else to cry about. The tears will just merge into one. Let there be cake!

My new job
You're all going to be sick and tired of hearing about it but I am so thoroughly thrilled it's hard not to bring it up here and a few of you have mentioned how you want to see some work outfit posts and posts on how I cope, childcare, the logistics etc so those posts will definitely come if you'd still like to read them in the future. It's crazy as I haven't been employed in almost two years and even then it was a bar staff job. An actual job where I have deadlines to meet and reasons to buy more black dresses? Total win.

Pinspiration Lately

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Fringes with shoulder length hair, polished nude nails, love and nude smokey eyes

As some of you may know when I say I'm going to bed I actually go to bed to lose hours of my insomnia nights to Pinterest. I've been in love with it since I was invited to join and I am an addict. There needs to be some kind of support group because by the time I'm finished with Pinterest I hop on over to Tumblr to become immersed in the humour and fandoms before my eyelids get heavy enough to decide it's time to sleep. It's usually around 3am and it's incredibly unhealthy. Think of how productive I could be in the small hours without reading another Destiel fanfiction that I really didn't intend to read all the way through? Think of the possibilities.

Anyway, I digress. I am an addict and the first step to recovery is admitting it, right? So I admit it and lately I'm lusting over all of the above. My fringe has grown to my cheekbones now and my shoulder length hair is starting to look and feel like there's something missing. A fringe, perhaps? Should I cut one again? It turned out rather well the last time I was bullied heavily suggested to get a fringe. You women know who you are and you should be ashamed of yourselves. You should also come and help me decide whether to cut it again. You know you want to.

What's inspiring you lately?

The Dream Job - Update

Friday, 24 May 2013

So as you may be able to tell - I got the job

On the morning of my interview one of my best friends Hannah posted the Gosling meme on my Facebook wall so it was only apt to add in another when I'd got the job! I am honestly thrilled and while I don't start for almost three weeks in the second week of June I know that time is going to be put to good use by writing lots of scheduled blog posts to tide me over in my first few weeks where I'm sure my head will explode from the information and by spending lots of time with my girls before they head off to full-time childcare. Luckily it's an inset day today and Layla has a whole week off school thanks to half term so it'll be one week after that of spending time with Amelia while Layla's in school before it begins.

Speaking of childcare, I had no idea how expensive it was. I've decided to go with a nursery rather than a childminder as I think my girls are still young enough where interaction and constant stimulation is important so I came, I saw and I didn't quite conquer. It was worked out at an annual cost (for one full time child, one part time child after school and full time in the holidays with a pick up from school) as £14,000 per year. Let's just take a moment to look at that figure. That's more than a private education. That's more than a 10% deposit on a decent house in my area. That's more than I earn per year. I won't lie and say that that figure didn't put a dampener on my employment celebrations but I know that it's for the best and I also know it's one of the cheapest figures in this area. One lady on Twitter told me about her £8,000 a year costs for one child three days a week. I can't even.

So I have a lot to sort out before I actually walk into the office on the 10th and attempt to get to grips with all they want to me do but most of it can't be sorted until the morning I actually start work so in reality, I'm just busy raising children and blogging. I can't thank you all enough for your tweets to #laurasdreamjob, the tweets of luck and the tweets of congratulations. This feels like more than a job to me, it's the start of a career if I can prove my worth, and to think that this little blog helped me get the job is a wonderful feeling because the blog wouldn't have kept going through some pretty tough times if it wasn't for all of your comments, emails and tweets. I've made some great friends through this and hopefully now some colleagues so let's just take a minute to have a big pixelated hug and tell each other we're fabulous.

#BEDM - Best Friends

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Emma, Christina, Hannah & Danielle

So long time no #BEDM but I am back and I'm here to show you my best friends. The best women I know who have been with me through pretty much everything in the last nine years. Emma, Christina and Danielle - the women I hope will never leave my side. When I was younger I had friends but they've not all stuck about and I never had best friends, more like fair-weather acquaintances. It wasn't until I was almost an adult that I got my friendship base and I am so glad I did. So, I'll start with Emma as there's a lot to say.

I met Emma or 'Er Indoors when I was sixteen after she'd been on a date with a mutual friend to see The Dukes Of Hazzard in which she made sang the diddy the horn makes through the entire film. It was outside the rock club TJ's and we started calling another mutual friend extremely rude words and getting a mass chant going. It was love. For the next three years we were inseparable seeing each other every day and eventually moving in together arousing suspicion that we were more than friends. We weren't but damn she gave good massages. She's a bit Monica with the cleaning but it worked well as I'm a complete mess. 4am saw us with bottles of Dettol cleaning the house top to bottom while drunk. 3am saw us sellotaping batteries to Charlotte and deciding we should form a website called 'Stuff On Our Charl'. We have so many inside jokes we could write a book, our anecdotes could keep you entertained for hours on end and she saw me through my mother's death, my nan's death, two boyfriends and a pregnancy before she moved down to London with her now ex-boyfriend. But in 2011 she returned to live with me and mine for a few months before moving in with her brother and then up to Cardiff with her now-fiancé. We speak at least once a week although we haven't seen each other in a little while due to us both being so busy but the beauty of her is that our friendship can take this. After two years of London life she came home and we picked up where we left off like no time had gone by and we'll do the same now. She is the link to my past that most of the time I'd like to forget but she's still the most hilarious and strong woman I know, even while sat on a crate of Castlemaine while telling an online metal radio show to play McFly as it was my birthday...which he did.

The wife. The one that gets the way I'm feeling by a simple glance. She treats me like a Queen and I treat her like a Princess. She's there at any time of the day or night to pick me up when I'm down, she's the most understanding woman I have ever met but she won't hesitate to tell me to get a grip and I quite like her husband too. We met at a lock in that a mutual friend took me to on a night out and instead of being with him and my friends I decided to rock up to Christina and make friends. Make friends I did. We talk daily. We see each other as often as we can. From Sunday Shenanigans at the old flat where we drank a lot, sang loudly to 70's and 80's rock on tiny speakers to annoy our upstairs neighbours and played a few too many risky games - she's a hell of a lot of fun. She inspires me and loves me for who I am and who can ask for more? There are no words and our anecdotes are private but she is my rock and I wouldn't be where I am today without her, that's for sure.

Hannah and I met on Myspace when I was sixteen. We had a love of metal music and bearded men but the problem was that she lived in Oxford. For months Hannah would drive up to Wales to spend the weekend at my house where we'd drink, explore new places, shop like hell and have a great time. Getting the train down to Didcot was exceptionally terrible as I tried to get on for a child ticket, ended up being caught and fined! However we ended up in Reading until 4am with a drunken man waiting for his friend who serenaded us with Robbie Williams' Angels before heading to Tesco for flapjacks and magazines at 5am and sleeping in the car. From there on out we talk a lot, see each other a little less than before since she has a Welsh boyfriend who takes up a lot of her time and she still works down in Oxford (although she is buying a house in our lovely country which I am very excited about). We go to gigs together, shop for stationary, have a huge love of New Look and charity shops and whenever I see an owl print, I think of her. Plus she loves my dad and we once printed Roy Cropper on a t-shirt. Brilliant.

Danielle and I met when she confiscated my alcohol when she was working in a bar I frequented in my youth. She gave it back to me and we got to talking. We bonded over our children being of a similar age and show tunes as we both liked to belt out a good musical number on karaoke. We talk almost every day but since we're both quite busy we don't see each other as often as we would like so when she does pop around one coffee turns into five and we'll do a marathon catch up. I find myself speaking a lot more eloquently when Dani's around as her accent isn't your typical Welsh. I find myself talking about work and creative projects with her alongside family life and the daily grind. She's always made up for me when I have something good going as I am with her. She's extremely supportive and generous, knowledgable and experienced plus creativity runs through her like nothing else. She's a charity advocate, writer, saleswoman, mother, step-mother, girlfriend, actress, presenter, producer and director and God she knows her stuff. She never fails to perk me up and I love that when we call each other we say "It's only a quick one" and two hours later boyfriend is dozing off on the sofa and we're still going. I hate talking on the phone but I make an exception for this gem.

So these are my best friends. Who would have thought I'd have my own SATC life going on? With less cocktails and flat shoes though, obviously.

Where Have I Been?

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Blog design for friends, presents all the way from Australia courtesy of Sunae, flowers from boyfriend as I have been unwell, Amelia on the mini carousel ride, my glow in the dark white legs before tan, my legs after tan, lazy days with my hair pinned to the top of my head & boyfriend passed his exam so brought me home a Coke with my name on it.

I usually leave these posts to the end of the week but I'm feeling like a really bad blogger as I haven't posted much or written anything of substance in a while. Life has kept on going as it always does but I've been somewhat caught beneath the landslide. I've been unwell all week with what I first thought was a cold that developed into three days of a big sickness bug and now it's tailed off to a true cold full of tissues, coughing and headaches. Boyfriend came home with flowers Wednesday morning to cheer me up a little and every time I look at them in the kitchen window they really brighten my day. I love when he does his little romantic gestures for no reason other than to make me feel better. He's not a romantic person but he is if you get what I mean? So while I'm feeling a little better I'm not on top form so what do I do? Decide to clean the house top to bottom in the hope that I can be let off for my annual 'Drink wine and sing songs I don't know' Eurovision day.

I've been getting back into blog design lately. I've designed two this week that are live on their respective blogs and I'm in the process of designing two more but my MacBook has died a decidedly inopportune death. I've had her (yes, her - her name is Matilda) for five years and although she's stained, battered and missing an 'N' key, I thought we'd be together forever. Sadly that wasn't to be as after a lot of chugging along very slowly the speakers had died and she now takes 35 minutes to load The Sims to base game. While I'll be using her for word processing she is no longer able to chug along anymore and so I've had to go out and buy an inferior laptop on Windows (the shock...the horror). I just can't afford to save any money until I have a job and I can't afford to even buy second hand so I've done a very stupid thing and bought a laptop on hire purchase knowing the extortionate interest rates. However, beggars cannot be choosers and I'll be happy when it arrives Monday that I have something to be able to write and work on.

If you've read my rambling this far, I salute you and I ask for your help. Next Wednesday I'm attending an interview for my dream job in social media and to give myself a leg up to the competition I've started my own hashtag. I'd love to ask you if you'd tweet your dream job to #laurasdreamjob so I can show the tag in the interview and prove that I can use social media to my advantage. If I can use it to my own personal advantage, I can definitely use it for a company that commands a lot of interest. It may help, it may not but if I don't do something I'll regret it on the day.

So this has been why I've been gone. Boyfriend has had the beginning of his exams and with his new job offer all of the benefits we used to receive have messed up leaving us with just half of the rent needed by the end of the month. I'm hoping and praying we can come to an agreement with our landlord that the excess is paid out of his first wage but it's all very much speculation right now as I'm trying to find the excess money quickly. It's a lot of stress but a lot of good things coupled with things that have a very good possibility of being great and I'll be back to regular blogging Monday or Tuesday (as soon as the laptop arrives and all the relevant programmes are installed). Thank you for bearing with me.

Spring Nails

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Until last year I have never been a fan of light coloured nails, always opting for the darker, slightly more goth shades in a range but now I'm obsessed. If it's pretty and pastel, I'm wearing them and while I do dig out the blood red's and deep burgundy's in my collection for A/W it's all about the light tones right now. Here a few of my favourites.

1 - NARS Thakoon in Kutki
A beautiful light sky blue, this polish has a tendency to separate in the bottle where you'll find deeper blue misting around the bottom but with a simple shake it comes back to being the perfect even colour. Two coats is all you need but I prefer a third as the first coat can go on a little streaky. The chip rate isn't fantastic for such an expensive bottle of polish but with a Seche Vite top coat you're good to go for a week.

2 - Barry M Textured Nail Paint in Ridley Road
I'm not a huge fan of the textured polishes and while they don't bother me like they bother some, the main reason is because they get very dirty very easily. I can forgive it for it's beautiful mint green colour for a few days and with a top coat it isn't so bad. Chip rate is likely to be some at the tips of the nail by the second to third day.

3 & 4 - Barry M Nail Paint in Aqua Glitter & Pink Glitter
Opaque coverage in two coats from a glitter polish (especially from the high street) is almost unheard of but this is what these give. The pink glitter is a much more champagne tone on the nails which is gorgeous if you're going for a subtle elegant look but want a little sparkle. The Aqua colour looks amazing on the ring finger accompanied by the NARS too.

MUA Lush Lilac
At £1 all the bad things I could say about this polish (chips within a day at the tips of the nails without a topcoat, need 3-4 coats to be fully opaque) disappear. The brush is a lot better compared to the square bottles in the main line for £1 and honestly, if you overlook the blatant Essie rip-off-ness (it's a word) it's rather good.

What are your favourite Spring polishes? Have you tried any of my favourites?

Wednesday Wishlist

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

The weather outside may be wet and dreary but I am dreaming of dresses teamed with obnoxiously high heels, delicate jewellery, scalloped edge clutches and a classic adrogynous blazer. The pinafore is one of the most adorable I've found with the delicate heart print and navy material. The colour of the teal dress isn't something I would usually hunt out even though I love the colour teal (go figure) but it reminds me of a silver one I had from H&M a good eight years ago and I couldn't resist. Nostalgia at it's best. The clutch though. I mean, it's beautiful right? Not to everyone's tastes but it is to mine and I have to order one before they sell out or I'll kick myself. It would be the perfect update to black skinny jeans with black heels, a white t-shirt and blazer combo. Also, the blazer. The blazer. I'm all for the man-ish cut as most high blazers hit me mid tummy and good God that is not a good look. For £30, you can't go wrong at all.

Which are your favourites from the list?

52 Lists //

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Umbrella Collective - The Favourite Dress

This week Amy, Alice, Rhiannon and I have decided to write a post about our favourite items of clothing. I'm doing two as I'm a cheat.

Both dresses are from Primark and can be found on eBay

Both of these dresses are loves of mine for different reasons. The white lace dress is the perfect length for me which is a rare find - just an inch above the knee and fits perfectly and it's not even in the biggest size. Usually in Primark I am the biggest size available and it's hit and miss as to whether the item will fit well (or at all) but when I picked up this beauty it was like it was meant for me. It goes so well with nude tights and tan accessories and is one of the dresses I reserve for Spring/Summer occasions but no doubt as soon as Summer is over it'll be whipped out with jersey blazers and soft insulated tights too.

The taupe-brown sheer overlay dress is one of my 'just throw it on, it looks good' dresses. Whether it's with leggings and boots, tights and heels, tights and boots, blazers or jackets it just seems to work and I love it for it. It's a little shorter so I tend to wear a black bodycon skirt underneath in case of a sneaky gust of wind or I may risk exposing far too much. Mine is a little battered now with a few snags to the back but it's perefectly wearable and something I reach for on a bad body image day, even if it does exasperate the situation by making me look a little pregnant.

I don't have any photos of me wearing these dresses because I honestly don't tend to photograph my outfits or be photographed that much so these are just stock images pulled from Google that I finally found.

ghd Curl Hold Spray Review

Monday, 13 May 2013

(*) ghd Curl Hold Spray - £12.95 from here

When I was contacted about reviewing a product from the ghd Style range, I'll admit that I was quite excited. I spend so much money on my skin and face but barely anything on my hair. I love curls in my hair but because my hair is very thick it's hard to get them to stay put without dropping considerably and leaving me with beachy waves. That's all well and good if I want beachy waves but when I want big voluminous curls, it's a problem.

What it claims it does
GHD say this product is to be used on dry hair only and is to be applied in one or two sprays evenly to each section of the hair, worked in with your fingers and then you should curl your hair with your heated styler. It contains the ghd Heat Protection System so there's no need to use a separate product before curling.

What I claim it does
I really like using this product not only because it does what it says it does (an extra three hours of big bounce) but also because it applies well in a spritz rather than an aerosol fuelled spray and it leaves my hair feeling touchably soft. I have really frazzled hair from so much dying and styling that this is a big thing for me and I find myself using it at least once a week to make my hair look as pulled together as my face. I'll definitely repurchase this when it runs out which I feel will be a while as it's a decent sized bottle. The packaging is gorgeous and looks fantastic on my shelf so I really have no complaints whatsoever.

Life Lately

Sunday, 12 May 2013

I've been a bit lax with blogging lately and I've definitely failed the #BEDM challenge but there's been so much going on that I just haven't had the motivation at the end of the day to sit down and write. The biggest news is that boyfriend has a job and he starts at the beginning of next month! Thank you for all of your kind words on Twitter, it means the world to us. Also the club I had booked for Layla's fifth birthday next month has fallen through due to it closing so I am left without a venue, without entertainment and with less than a month to sort it all. Please comment below with all of your ideas and as to whether just inviting 5 over to the house for a cake decorating party would be too stingy!

I saw Star Trek Into Darkness at the midnight showing with my best friend, her husband and our mutual friend (and also boyfriend's boss) which was amazing. It's not quite up to the standards set by the last film but it's definitely close and so many actors steal their scenes. I need to see it again with boyfriend as this time he was at home with the girls but soon, I am going back for more Pine and Cumberbatch romancing.

Red Hot Buffet Cardiff

Thursday, 9 May 2013

On Tuesday, boyfriend and I decided to head down to the new all you can eat world buffet restaurant Red Hot Buffet that's just opened in Cardiff. Located just outside of St David's 2 it's central for shopping and with bars dotted around just a short walk away it's a great location for a filling meal. I've been to a few restaurants like these and I can honestly say I've never been to one with so much choice and that choice to be so well presented. Plus it has a sushi bar and I love sushi.

The premise is you pay a flat rate for the time and day you eat and then you can basically fill up on whatever you like and keep going back for more. From sushi and cold salads, breads and potatoes to oriental dishes, dishes that are cooked to order for you, an entire length of bar dedicated to desserts with a chocolate fountain, main meals including things such as curry, burgers, rice, cottage pie, chicken nuggets, pizzas and chips and essentially an ice cream parlour, you really do have everything under one roof. Except a good roast dinner and guacamole - they should really put those on the menu. Boyfriend spent his time there sampling as much as he could in tiny quantities and being the big foodie that he is even gave his stamp of approval on 80% of the food on offer. I digress, you can eat as much as you can handle and with cocktails at £6 and a pint of Coke at £2.80 it really doesn't break the bank.

At lunch the prices are slightly cheaper (£8.49 Mon-Fri, £9.99 on a Saturday and £12.99 on a Sunday) and for dinner are extremely cheap for all the courses and food on offer (£13.99 Mon-Thurs, £14.99 Fri-Sat and £12.99 on a Sunday). Children eat half price regardless of the day or time and while the ceiling is a little low for me not to feel slightly claustrophobic it's child friendly and spacious. I'll definitely be having lunch with my best friend there in the coming weeks after a slightly too lengthy shopping spree and no doubt we'd end up taking both the girls to sample the offerings (dessert table - watch out).

They have Red Hot Buffet's in Cardiff, Manchester, Leeds and Milton Keynes but prices may vary restaurant to restaurant. I will mention that I was asked to blog about this restaurant and our meal was complimentary but that doesn't sway my opinion. It's good food at a good price in a great location so I suggest you all go visit and take me with you because this diet is making me hungry.

The Umbrella Collective - 16

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

This week Amy, Alice, Rhiannon and I have decided to get all serious on you and write a letter to our sixteen year old selves. It's been done but not by us, not yet.

Hey you,

So you're sixteen and I'm twenty four and there's a whole eight years difference between us. Nothing much will have changed in those eight years, right? You've got it all handled now, it'll all be fine then? Oh sweetie, no. I don't have any of my shit together and I'd like to blame you because you had all the potential in the world but I'd just be blaming myself and we both know we don't like to do that. Let's blame someone else. Dad? We'll blame him for a lot in the years to come even if none of it was his fault. Some of it was and he deserves a kick up the bum for that but mostly, it's on us, kid.

The friend you just made or will make in the next few months? She'll be your best accomplice, counsellor, sister and biggest pain in your arse but she sticks around and you both make it through. Never let her go because she is now the window to your past self and will call you out on your crap from twenty miles up the road down a gravelly phone line at 4am. She will be the witness to your teenage self when everyone else has since forgotten the mistakes you made and while that seems scary, it's actually rather humbling. Some other friends will stick about but mostly they'll be passing acquaintances in a crowd of a club or mistakes you made while drunk on tequila in situations I'd rather you not be in in the coming years so spend time with them, love them for who they are but forget them swiftly.

Be kind to mum and nan. You have a lot to come in the next three years and it'll devastate you, worry you, grind you down and dismantle you more than you think you can handle but you come out the other side, promise. Don't blame other people for your personality faults - own them because one day those personality faults save your life and forge you a career out of thin air. Work hard at school because there does come a time where you need the things you thought you didn't and when you can't pluck the answer out of the recesses of your memory it's rather embarrassing. University seems like the be all and end all for you right now but that time will come, take it as it comes and remember that your life is going to be more exciting and more dull than a classroom all at the same time. Stop smoking now because I'm sat here with a Nicorette tab in my mouth quitting and if you'd have quit I wouldn't be here right now. Also, keep an eye on your weight because after two children you don't get that luxury as much. Treasure your boobs because they're...different now.

Oh, did I mention we have kids? Girls. They'll be the best things that have happened to you and they'll make you grow up like nothing else.

So I have some advice for you. Stop being a cow to the people who love you. Stay up all night drinking tequila with that friend I mentioned earlier. Experiment with your sexuality and never be afraid of it. Stand up for what you believe in even if you're the only one standing. It's not important for everyone to like you as long as they respect you and you respect them. Keep singing. Keep dancing. Learn quickly that Sambuca is bad for us. Learn extra quickly that men with beards and shaved hair that are built like rugby players are our type but the majority are not for us. Don't take risks with your health, sexual or otherwise. When the first man asks you to marry him, don't do it but stay with him as when it runs it's course it'll lead to something beautiful and remember that you won't have to wait too long for someone to truly loves you and not someone who loves you for what they can get from you.

So in short, don't do much differently. I really enjoy who I am and I am that person because of the epic cock up's you'll make in your future. You can't stop what's going to happen but when you're drunk on a concoction of spirits and wine, make good choices because I have scars that I wish weren't there.

Also that boyfriend of yours you think will last forever? He won't. There'll be more. There'll be more that you wish weren't even for one night but that's okay because it leads you to the person you're with now and he wouldn't have fallen in love with you if you weren't such a complete mess. Be a mess. It's worth it.

Bank Holiday Fun

Monday, 6 May 2013

Bank holidays have been less fun every year since the girls were born. That sounds mean but it's true. There are no more lengthy walks finished off with a few too many beers in a sunny beer garden unless we want to pay £40 for a babysitter. Taking them with us usually results in tears, tantrums and "But I really don't want to" outbursts at least once an hour. I love doing the things we do together such as beach trips, picnics, park days out and arts and crafts featuring a hefty piece of coloured chalk on a pavement but I am really missing the adult bank holidays of summer's past.

So instead of having a lovely family day out today we attempted to go out which failed within ten minutes as we had such a huge hissy fit from Amelia for not wanting to walk or go in the pushchair that we turned around and came home. Since then we've been playing with balls and chalk in the garden where tantrums are a) easier to handle and b) not dangerous as they're not next to a main road. My body is in revolt again as last night my leg gave way on the way down the toilet and I smashed my head into the banister. Since then it's a rollercoaster of pain and manageable pain.

Layla and I took a walk down to Tesco to buy some fruit and veg on vouchers we received and found that we had no bags and no money for bags. After braving the in-law's who hate me to ask to borrow a few of their nice sturdy bags for an hour we headed down to realise at the checkout the fruit and veg had gone over budget and I had no money to pay the extra. Cue embarrassment while handing back a pack of avocados. I really wanted those avocados too.

But the sun is shining, it's that beautiful mix of mild wind and blue skies and I have a huge bubble and squeak on the go as a Monday dinner (we never have money for a Sunday dinner so it's always a Monday one here) and I've been promised a make up massage since boyfriend has been in a foul mood with me all day. Bank holiday's may be the one day we get an extra day off work but when you don't have a job they're just like any other day only with more shops with their shutters down and masses more people in the pub.