Sunday 3 January 2016

16 in 16

Happy new year one and all! And a belated welcome to 2016!

We've all seen by now that television and social media are flooded once again with diet talk, Oprah and "New Year New Me" rubbish, right?

Well here's the thing. We will never be anyone else but ourselves, so trying to be a different person by making drastic changes is more than likely setting yourself up for failure. As such you will never see me making a resolution that means making unrealistic adjustments to myself *especially* if it involves any of those fad diets we see promoted all over everywhere around New Year.

Instead, the list-lover in me jumped at 16 in 16 when it was originally suggested by the awesome Soph from Busy Little Fee. She came up with the idea of setting sixteen achievable goals to work on in 2016 which is a much more realistic and fun thing to do than one giant looming resolution.

For my own sanity I have categorised this list. My brain doesn't like messy lists. (Unlike messy rooms which my brain is quite content with, much to my husbands dismay.)

The Online Bits

1. Work on the blog. 
I hope to freshen up A Curvy Cupcake this year with a new layout, updated information and a page on #thisisplus complete with press, background info and an FAQ.

2. Up my Insta game. 
I am terrible at Instagram. Truly rubbish. I aim to post more relevent pictures and reach 1000 followers this year. Hopefully I'll smash it and hit 1500 but we'll see eh?

3. Embrace Youtube. 
My four year old wants to make videos like his favourite Youtubers so I'm going to figure out how all this editing nonsense works and try to have some fun with it.

Mini Adventures

4. Go to a gig. 
It's been nearly 6 years since my last gig and it was a pretty big disappointment. I'm getting the itch to relive my yoof and with The Cure playing Wembley in December I'm thinking this year could be the one.

5. Revisit the Harry Potter Studios. 
I went in 2014 for the Christmas at Hogwarts thing and it was incredible. Back then there was no Hogwarts Express which means I simply must go back.

6. Get out more. 
This is vague but it does what it says on the tin. I aim to get out of the house more. On my own and with my children. I want to take my eldest to Kidzania and myself to more plus size events.

Image credit: The super talented Murder of Goths

7. Get all these women in the same room. 
This is one of those goals that is out of my control but I'm putting it here because I want it to happen. This group are my gang and I'd give the world to have one of our evening whatsapp conversations actually in person.


8. Pay off my Simply Be account. 
This one is self explanatory and needs to be on the list. I have around £150 left to pay which I can only afford in small instalments. Hopefully by around October it'll be gone.

9. Save TopCashback. 
I have a TCB* account that I rarely use and when I do, I cash in as soon as I hit a tenner. My aim this year is to use the site for every online purchase that qualifies and save that cashback until at least July. (*This is a referral link. If you join through here and earn £10 cashback I'll receive a £5 bonus.)

10. Work the sales like a pro. 
I've always taken pride in the fact that I can shop a good bargain and I hope to continue this in 2016. Basically I want to avoid paying full price as much as possible for Christmas and birthdays.


11. Say Yes More....
My anxiety issues have caused me to stop making plans for fear of not wanting to follow through on them. This year I will think before I make up excuses and endeavour to say yes to more opportunities. What's the worst that could happen?

12. .... And don't be afraid to say No
Having said that, I also need to know my limits. I will strive to say Yes more but at the same time if something is too much for me or the worst that could happen is certain death I will not beat myself up for saying No.

13. Schedule!!
I am not the best at things like spontaneous housework and writing. I need a visual reminder. I have bought a planner of sorts where I can schedule my day or week, allocating time to specific chores, activities with my home educated small person, blog posts and most importantly that precious half hour of Me Time in between the chaos.

14. Sleep.
Having three boys under 5 years old who like to wake up at 5:30am would be a lot easier to cope with if I didn't stay up until 1am every night. Time to wrap up my evenings a little earlier I think!

15. Wear my specs during screen time.
I have put off wearing my glasses because in my head I told myself short sightedness is for old people. Obviously that's nonsense (and I'm now a bit old) so it's time to avoid the headaches and put my specs on.

16. Love more.
This is everything. From communicating better with my loved ones to being more patient with the kids, from commenting on more blogs to reconnecting with my own self. I'm quite a negative creature so I need to make a huge effort with people this year.

So that's my 16 in 16 list! Is there anything on there you'd like to aim for too? Or anything you think I'm missing?

Leave me a comment and let me know if you have any goals and later in the year we can check back and see how we're getting on!

The following bloggers have also taken part. Once you're done here go and take a look:
CharliKerry-Ann, TanyaKattKittyBecky,VickyCathyBecky, Lucy

Thursday 31 December 2015

New Year, New Shoes

Babes, we're coming to the end of party season. For many of us that means dusting off the LBDs and killer heels one last time. But for me? Well... not so much.

Once upon a time I'd have been more than willing to sacrifice my pain-free tootsies to look good in a brightly coloured stiletto. I would even run for the train quite comfortably in 4 inch heels without a moments hesitation. But now? Now I prefer to treat my feet to a comfortable night out and there's no reason why this should mean having to compromise on an outfit.

These looks are just three of my outfits from this year where I've opted to swap the heels for a pair of flats and right now Simply Be have a fab selection of gorgeous flats for every occasion.
Check out their blog post for some amazing footwear inspiration on how to Pump Up the Party in some stylish flats.

The plimsol shoes are my current favourite style as they come in such a huge variety of colours that you can literally have a different pair for every outfit. Brogues are another firm favourite of mine but the possibilities if you decide to give your feet a rest and opt for flats this New Years Eve are endless.

What will you be sporting for New Year? Comfortable fats or those once-a-year killer heels?
Let me know in the comments below!

Monday 14 December 2015

George Secret Santa Swap

I go absolutely bonkers for Christmas and very little excites me more than a gift swap Secret Santa style so when I was invited to take part in George at Asda's Secret Santa, I was over the moon!

Each of us were given another blogger to buy for and sent off to stalk our giftee, picking their gifts from the extensive range at George. Then came the wait as the elves packed up everyone's goodies and sent them on their way. The jolly postman left me hanging and made a surprise 6pm delivery a week later.

I'll just shoosh and show you what I got shall I?

I adore this package! It has a gorgeous cushion and matching tealight holders. (I don't know if the colour coordination was intentional but I like to think it was.) There's also a Maybelline Red Siren set which I am really looking forward to trying this Christmas. You can never go wrong with all the red! I was also sent an AMAZING scented large candle. It's Baylis & Harding in Midnight Fig and Pomegranate and it smells utterly divine. I've not even lit it yet and the scent wafts around the room as you walk in.
And of course, the piece de resistance, the spotty Christmas tree jumper with red sequin stars. I've worn this a few times but I've been a bad blogger and not taken any photos. You'll have to wait for Christmas Jumper Day to see it in all it's glory but I'll tell you now it's bloomin marvelous.

Unfortunately we weren't told who are Santas were but I want to thank them for such a wonderful gift. So if you're reading this, Santa, thank you!

Thursday 10 December 2015

Charitable Christmas Colouring In

In recent months I've become a teeny bit obsessed with adult colouring books. I find it very therapeutic and soothing to channel my anxious energy into something calm and creative.

It's truly wonderful to see how popular these "mindfulness colouring" books and pages have become. Maybe it's because I've always been a big kid at heart or maybe it's because it's because I now have kids of my own that I can appreciate the innocence and simplicity of losing yourself in your own creative world. Just for a little while.

One of my favourite illustrators, Johanna Basford, already has a trilogy of incredible books to her name (Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest and Lost Ocean) and has now created some festive colouring pages for us to download and enjoy this winter with all proceeds going to Scottish charity Mary's Meals who feed starving children the world over.

Take a look at the video below to see Johanna talk about her drawings and her chosen charity then pop over to her Just Giving page and donate any amount you want to receive the link to your printables.

(As a rough guide, it costs around £12.20 to feed a child for a whole school year. BUT between now and December 28th, the UK government are doubling donations made so you could feed two children for a year if you donate the same amount of money. Amazing!)

The four seasonal printables come as high quality PDFs (ie large files, mobile and tablet users) and are an absolute joy. Though I'm now realising I need better pencils and some nice pens. Something to put on the Christmas List!

Monday 7 December 2015

Afternoon at Bluewater feat Scarlett & Jo

In the buildup to Christmas there is one place I absolutely must visit; Bluewater Shopping Centre.

My husband and I found ourselves with a couple of hours to spare this weekend so we drove to the surprisingly uncrowded shopping mall with the intention of just buying my Christmas present (which for the first time ever is not an item of clothing).

Of course with Christmas being Christmas and Bluewater being Bluewater, we couldn't just buy one thing and we came away with five additional christmas presents for the kids and a refurbished PS3. Doh!

And yes of course I did get my gingerbread latte.

Since I was already in the vicinity it would've been rude not to pop into Yours Clothing to check out their Scarlett & Jo dresses. They had a lot of the stunning velvet maxis but I chose to try on the more prom-style dresses. (Please excuse the minimal makeup!)

This first dress (Black & Gold Lace Prom Dress) was my favourite of the two I picked up. Classic S&J prom dress with a sheer yoke and sleeves giving plenty of stretch for those of us with big chests and/or upper arms. The thin ribbon tie details draws to the waist and the full skirt skims my belly wonderfully.

The second dress (Black & Red Jacquard Prom Dress) comes with an elastic belt to give the same look as their 2-in-1 dresses. I love these as they define my waist quite nicely. The jersey wrap top has a lot of stretch so it's perfect regardless of your chest size (but I think I'd need a pin to hide the bra) and the slightly gathered skirt is a lovely below-knee length. Perfect for those indoor Christmas parties where you don't want tights or leggings.

So all in all a nice productive day at old Bluey, followed by a tasty Chinese takeaway. Perfect!

Friday 4 December 2015

The Royal Oak Beefeater Review

I was recently invited to experience the freshly refurbished Royal Oak Beefeater in Wrotham Heath.

Whilst I'd like to say I took the whole family to experience the entire menu, I opted to leave the children with grandparents and have a rare and relaxing evening out with my husband. 

We arrived on time at 6pm, were seated instantly and introduced to our waitress who promptly took our drinks order. 

I was excited to try the Beefeater Festive Menu as I had heard good things about it in other restaurants but this didn't appear to be available. In fact there were no festive decorations to speak of although being November it was perhaps just a little early. So we took our picks from the standard evening menu and admired some of the quirky beef-related artworks mounted on the walls while we waited for our starter.

Because we went in the evening, I cannot say what this restaurant is like in natural daylight. Of an evening it is bright but cozy and has an air of familiarity that you come to expect from a Beefeater. The atmosphere was homely but vibrant and very family friendly. All of this was reflected in the staff who were extremely welcoming and a pleasure to talk to. The Royal Oak is also wheelchair friendly with great disabled access and the staff are more than happy to help with any needs or inquiries.

The food itself was wonderful. There is a fantastic selection of starters with three vegetarian options. In the end I went with the pulled beef in red onion gravy, yorkshire puds and a horseradish cheese sauce. This was a tough act to follow. The shredded beef proved to be a bit of a balancing act trying to keep it from falling off the well portioned yorkshire pudding pieces but this starter was amazing. I would've been happy even to have this as a main course.
My husband opted for the sticky duck wings. I was surprised with the amount of meat you get from these wings and the sweet chilli glaze gave the perfect kick to the dish.

Our main courses weren't far behind. Despite experiencing some technical issues, our meal choices were taken down and they were brought to us in good time, hot and delicious!

I figure you can't go to a Beefeater without eating (more) beef, so I had steak and chips and my husband went for the mixed grill. His dinner went down a treat and while my beef was ever so slightly pinker than I'd expect from a medium, it was an excellent main course and tasted great.

For dessert my husband scoffed down a giant sundae before I could even focus the camera, and I asked for the raspberry bakewell with ice cream. It arrived with custard and actually I think that turned out for the best! The slice of bakewell was rather large and came with a generous helping of custard to be poured over it. This was absolutely delicious and rounded off the evening meal perfectly.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to the Royal Oak for having us. I had a wonderful time sampling the menu and taking in the friendly atmosphere on a Friday evening. I'd thoroughly recommend this restaurant to anyone in the area and I'd completely and absolutely suggest that you try the pulled beef starter.

(This review was given in return for free, delicious food. This has no bearing on the content of the review and all opinions are my own.)

Thursday 3 December 2015

Top 5 Christmas Movies

No Blogmas is complete without a mention of festive films and a list of our favourite flicks of the season.
As mentioned in my Christmas Bucket List, I aim to watch my top 5 movies between now and Christmas Eve.

There are films that could go on this list (Die Hard, Home Alone, The Grinch) but this list is for those Christmas movies that I go back to year after year without fail.

Santa Claus The Movie
The one where an elf runs away from the North Pole and tries to find his way in New York.
The heartbreak when my little sis spilled orange juice on the video tape rendering it unplayable will never be matched ever. Thank heavens we grew up and bought our own copies on those new fangled DVD things.

The other one where an elf runs away from the North Pole and tries to find his way in New York. I was a bit of a Will Ferrell hater until Buddy showed up but this is a film that the kids and I love equally. Basically if you don't like Elf you're a cotton headed ninny muggins.

Love Actually
Billy Mack, Top of the Pops! This is my Christmas Eve movie. Last minute wrapping next to the tree with a glass of Baileys falling in love with Mark in that scene where he's probably being a douche by declaring his undying love to his best mates wife.

It's A Wonderful Life
After the wrapping is finished, Love Actually has ended and the Baileys isn't far behind I sit alone and watch this. And I cry. And I remember all the times I mocked my mum for crying at a silly old black and white movie. And I cry some more. Attaboy Clarence.

Polar Express
I was still living with my parents when this came out and I didn't see the appeal at all. But it's actually a very sweet film that has fast become my childrens favourite movie. It keeps them quiet which is good enough for me... and who doesn't love Tom Hanks?

Okay, okay...

Die Hard
It just felt wrong leaving it out, ya know? Yippee ki yay.

Enough now...