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...

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Christmas Bucket List

Good evening folks!
Do you, like me, enjoy making lists? My usual starts as a well meaning To Do List first thing in the morning which eventually turns into The Big List Of Everything You Didn't Do Today by mid-afternoon.

But there's something about this time of year that makes me want to do a Christmassy bucket list. So without further ado, I present to you The Little List Of Things I Probably Won't Get Around To This Christmas.

What are your "must do" plans for the holidays? Do you have a Christmas bucket list? Let me know what you'd add to the list in the comments below!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

So This Is Blogmas

Hooray, it's December!

One day into Advent and I've already put my poor young boys in their Christmas jumpers, made a gingerbread house (out of paper, not actual gingerbread so... just a house) and sat them down to watch Polar Express with hot chocolate and marshmallows. To say I'm feeling festive is something of an understatement so I've decided to channel my Christmas cheer by taking part in Blogmas this year.

Every day from now until the 25th I'll be posting to the blog. It won't necessarily be about Christmas every time but I'm fairly certain I'll cram in as much festivity as possible in the next 3 and a bit weeks. Here goes!