Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Mostly..........

It sounds so cliché but there goes another month! Where did July disappear to? I'm almost late with my Monthly Mostly post as well. July has been a bizarre and crazy month in the BBB household. I've just packed the other half off on a lads holiday (literally - he goes on holiday, I pack the case, what's that all about!?!) so me and Toby have been left home alone!
 
Here's what's been going on over this crazy month!
 
Moving up.......
 
Work always keeps me very busy, and soon after finishing this post I'll be doing exactly that, but I've had extra to do this month as I was hoping to achieve a promotion. A job came up for a senior role, and I was lucky enough to get an interview. Part of the interview was a pre-prepared question, which you had to present your answer too. I spent a good week on preparing this presentation and researching other elements of the interview before it took place.
 
I can say my preparation all paid off as I was offered the job a few days later. I'm not sure when I will start yet due to some internal issues, but an added bonus is that one of my colleagues also gained the same position.
 

Eating........

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As usual there always some form of junk food in one of these posts. This months junk food fad is Lotus biscuits. I saw a few bloggers chatting about the Lotus spread that apparently you can only buy in Waitrose. I was never really that fussed about trying it until some very unkind person decided to bring the biscuit version into work. Now I am hooked! I have recently discovered my local B&N bargains sells them too, and well, it's not good for the wedding dress diet lets put it that way! I'm on a mission to find this spread now too!

 Spending
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The wedding fund has sadly taken a bit of a hit this month, as we have had to find money for two 'emergencies' (ok one wasn't technically an emergency).
 
During the month my faithful old laptop decided to overheat and start turning its self off on a regular basis. This, coupled with the fact that the hard drive was showing that it was so full it was on red, we felt maybe it was time we invested in a new laptop. I often work at home and need a reasonably fast and reliable machine to do this, and as it had lost two reports in a week, we felt we couldn't really wait much longer. In October I usually get a bonus from supporting other members of staff, and the plan had been to buy one then, but the risk of losing valuable information was becoming too great, so we decided to dip into the savings. Once the bonus goes in, we will be immediately be putting this back.
 
I bought an acer aspire A5, which is, so far, running like a dream. Windows 8 is taking some getting used to, but is so much quicker, the screen quality is much better than my old laptop and its barely full despite all my music an photos. It did take about 3 or 4 days to transfer everything to the cloud and onto my new laptop though!
 
The second big expense was on Toby, as he spent nearly a whole week going in an out of the vets. The whole saga started about a week before when he managed to swallow a whole kebab including the wooden skewer. The advice from the emergency vet was to keep an eye on him as the chances were he would just digest it. A week later his greediness didn't appear to be having any adverse affects, then suddenly he began to go off his food and wouldn't eat a thing. The vet took his temperature which was a little high and gave him antibiotics. The following day out of nowhere, he suddenly became really breathless and his back legs didn't seem to work. We rushed him straight to the vets, fearing the worst, but by the time he arrived he had perked up. He was x-rayed and given more antibiotics, and a strong dose of sedative (do you know how heavy a sedated Labrador is!?) He was admitted the following day to have "barium swallow" which is where the vet tracks a substance through his digestive system, via x-ray, to check for blockages and leaks. He was in for the whole day (while I'm trying to do an interview!) but again still nothing. More antibiotics and stomach settlers and he was sent home, with a return clinic visit the following day just to check everything had passed through. Despite the various test and appointments, (and expense, although of course when it comes to keeping him healthy, money is no object!) we still don't have a diagnosis but now he's back to his old self. The vet believes it was a combination of the very warm weather and an infection. We might love the warm weather but it's not always good for our pets!
 
Taking My Own Advice
 
Due to the various expenses we've had this month (on top of my car MOT) finances have been very tight up until payday. As a result, I've been taking some of my own advice. You may remember some of the tips I  suggested back in January to help have free for fun and still get those fashion and beauty fixes. The warm weather has meant have had the opportunity to re-discover some of my clothes which are usually just resigned to holidays, so I haven't felt the need to go shopping. I'm also working through all my goodies from the #SheffieldMeetUp so I've had plenty of beauty products to keep me entertained too, along with my back purchases of Pretty Nostalgic.
 

What have you been Mostly......  this month?

Sunday, 28 July 2013

#CharcoalChallenge - Indoor Picnic











 
A couple of weeks ago I received an email about taking part in MoneySupermarket's #CharcoalChallenge. The idea is that you are given a £50 budget* to create a budget barbeque for family and friends.
 
On Tuesday, my future husband, is going on a boys holiday for a week, so I wanted us to be able to spend some special time together as a family over the weekend. Sadly, the weather decided to turn on us this week, so I wasn't holding out much hope of our barbeque happening at all. Ever the pragmatist, Scott thought we could dodge the rain enough to cook the food, but would have to eat indoors. (This turned out to be precisely true, as within minutes of taking these pictures, the heavens opened.)
 
We spent most of our budget on food and drink, but as we don't yet have any garden furniture, I opted to also include a picnic rug within the budget, with the hope that we can use this on future family outings. My picnic basket was bought from an antiques shop as a gift from my mum and dad. It was part filled already, but I added items from a little backpack picnic set I already had. The great thing about having a solid picnic basket, is that its great for standing drinks and sauces in. The fairy lights, cushions and bunting I already had in my living room (you may remember my bunting from a blogger swap last year) and I used them to make a little indoor pretty picnic for us both. The added bonus of eating indoors, was that we could snuggle up with Toby in front of a good film too - how he managed to stay away from the food I have no idea!
 
So our shopping list looked like this :-
 
  • Blanket - £8
  • Lamb Steaks & Skewers - £6
  • Burgers - £3
  • Bread Cobs - £1 (showing my regional accent here!)
  • Ribs - £5
  • Potatoes - £1.50
  • Salad and Dressing - £3
  • Strawberries - £2
  • Meringues - £1.80
  • Ice Cream - £2
  • Strawberry Cider - £10 (for 6)
          Total = £43.30
 
We didn't spend all of our budget, and we also had plenty over for the next day, so this could have easily gone around at least 4 people. For pudding, I made Eton Mess from Strawberries, Crushed Meringues and Strawberry and Vanilla Ice Cream. It was a real treat and serving it in a glass made it extra special.
 
We really enjoyed our cosy indoor barbeque, and it was really nice to spend some quality time together.
 
Have you taken part in the #CharcoalChallenge?

 

*£50 provided by MoneySupermarket

Friday, 26 July 2013

Bows Bangles & Bakes Book Review - The Secret Island

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Bit of a classic read this month. The Secret Island by Enid Blyton has got to be up there as one of my favourite childhood books. When I hit my teens, I sadly got rid of a lot of books I had - Secret Seven's; Famous Five; Mallory Towers; Trebizon; Babysitters Club (remember any of these?) and although I don't really have the space I massively regret this, and I'm slowly trying to re-build some of these collections.
 
One of my favourites was Enid Blyton's 'The Secret Series." It's typical Blyton fare, full of "gollys" and "gosh" and 'lashing's of ginger beer'; (did you know that the phrase lashings of ginger beer was never actually said in a Famous Five book; it actually came from the satirical Comic Strip Presents......Five Go Mad in Dorset)and the usual girls making house, boys doing boy-type things but I can easily get past all that by accepting that was how genders were perceived at that time.
 
The Secret Island involves three siblings, who are living with their 'horrid' Aunt and Uncle, after their parents died in a place crash, and their friend Jack, tells them that they can go and runaway together and live on an Island in the middle of the nearby lake. The story is about how they live and survive on the Island
 
I think the reason I like this book so much, is the whole practicality side of things - they literally think of everything and anything they might need - including a cow and some chickens for fresh eggs and milk (obviously!). The fact that they manage to avid by found for so long (the book implies months) could only happen in an Enid Blyton book, and the ending is just as typical, but do you know what, that's exactly why I love it.
 
Do you remember any of your favourite childhood books? Did you keep them all or do you regret giving them away when you got older?

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

MyCocktail Review



This is a product for over 18s only
 
A couple of weeks before my holiday, I had a rather interesting email asking me if I would be interested in trying out some ready mixed cocktails. I agreed this was right up my street, and then promptly forgot all about it, until a very large box turned up on my doorstep - on my birthday coincidentally! As much as I was tempted to crack one open there and there, I took the sensible decision (it was only 10am after all) to wait and take them away with us.
 
I saw sent two types of cocktail to review, 1.5litre Cosmopolitan pouch and a small frozen MarGOrita cocktail. I froze the smaller one before we set off and it acted as a brilliant ice pack in the cool box, and was not completely defrosted by the time we arrived. The pouch style packaging makes them really easy to transport and a lot less weight than taking glass bottles or cans - perfect for festivals! The pouches are 10% abv, and there are about 14 servings in each one.
 
If I'm completely honest I found the Cosmopolitan cocktail too strong for my liking. I like my cocktails to taste like there's no alcohol in them, but this tasted really strong! I am going to try  adding maybe some more cranberry juice and giving it an extra good shake next time I try some, but at the moment it is sat in the back of the fridge.
 
The MarGOrita has been in and out of the freezer so many times, but it happily kept getting re-frozen. At first I also found this a little bit strong tasting, but after adding a bit of sugar, as well as coating the rim, I found it really refreshing to drink during the warm summer days we've had recently. I think there would be a definite danger of drinking too many of these on a sunny afternoon so be warned!
 
I will certainly be re-purchasing the MarGOrita frozen cocktail in the future, as well as the Strawberry Daiquiri flavour, which is one of my favourite frozen cocktails! The other half has also requested a WooWoo pouch. The company also sell mocktails too, and most of the different varieties can be found in your local Asda - the pouches retail at around £8.00.
 
If you want to find out more check out www.my-cocktail.co.uk


Monday, 22 July 2013

Further Adventures.......














 
During our little UK break, we did occasionally venture away from the retreat of our log cabin and hot tub. It's been a long time since I visited this area of the country, but it's home to one of my very favourite places (and my Mum's!) - Barter Books.
 
Barter Books is one of the largest secondhand bookshops in Britain and is housed inside Alnwick's old railway station, which sadly closed down in 1968. The owners have managed to retain some of the beautiful features of the station, whilst housing the largest array of secondhand books I've probably ever seen. Needless to say I never leave without making some sort of purchase and I could literally spend hour upon hour, gazing at the murals, poems, and quotes that adorn the walls; the model train which runs around the top of the book cases, as well as wondering at some of the old and rare books, whilst enjoying a cup of tea. (Subject to a small donation) There is also a small tea rooms inside, and, in complete contrast to so many shops, dogs are very welcome! Sadly, Toby isn't quite as fond of books as me (unless it involves chewing them) so my time was somewhat limited, but I would have loved to spend more time, just enjoying the history of the place. There is also a self-guided walkabout tour that you can have a look at, which tells you more about the history and architecture of the building. Interestingly the famous "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster was actually discovered by the owners, in a box of old books at auction. After displaying it in the store, they had so many requests for copies, that, after checking the copy write was no longer in place, they decided to reproduce it for sale. It has now become iconic with the resurgence of vintage-cool.
 
Following my foray into the world of literature, I felt Toby (and indeed the other half!) deserved to do something they enjoyed. We headed to a beach a few miles away called Cresswell, which we had been told about by a friend. It was more or less deserted, and has no real beach front, aside from one small ice cream shop, which probably explains the lack of tourists. The biggest attraction for us though, is that dogs are allowed on it all year round, which is a rarity come the summer months.
 
As you can see, Toby was especially happy with his stick discovery (there's no one happier than a Labrador with a new stick!) and all the new sights and smells of sea and seaweed. I'm sure he would have loved the sea, but being bad parents we forgot a towel so we couldn't really allow him to go in. It was quite a way out as well and he never showed any real interest - he was too fascinated by his paws sinking in the soft sand!
 
After all that fresh air, it was back along the coast for a big bag of fish and chips (also enjoyed by one very happy Labrador) in the car, just as the rain came pouring down.
 
There really is nothing quite like a very British holiday!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

OOTD - Feeling a bit Fifties





Shirt: Dorothy Perkins via Charity Shop//
Skirt:River Island via Charity Shop//Belt:New Look//
Shoes & Sunglasses: Primark// Bow: Gifted (blog swap)
 
It's been rather a while since I've done an outfit post, and I've never actually taken any photo's outside, so I was really unsure overall how this one would turn out. I had hope to get these pictures during the sunshine, but by the time I'd got home from work and got sorted, most of the sunshine had gone off my garden.
 
I don't think I've tried black and white pictures before either, but as the outfit was black and white, I didn't think it took anything away from them. I always feel if I'm wearing something colourful I should show the colours of the outfit.
 
I've worn this outfit to work a few times during the hot weather. I do find dressing for work in this heat quite difficult, as there are certain policies about what is and isn't acceptable, and I've always still got to look professional, Although this skirt is perhaps a little shorter than I would like for work, as it's floaty, rather than tight it seems to work quite well. I love the tie bow front and ruffles on the shirt, and all together it feels a little fifties vintage almost, to me. I feel really comfortable and girly in this outfit - aided by the addition of the little bow on top, and some big sunglasses!



Thursday, 4 July 2013

Adventures.......

Last week I spent a few days away with my other half and our black Labrador Toby, in what was basically the middle of nowhere, with no Internet access and very little mobile signal. This is probably most bloggers idea of hell, but actually I loved my social media mini-break!
 
We had booked a lodge style cabin in Northumberland, just on the edge of the Keilder Forest, which forms part of the National Park. We stayed with Border Forest Lodges, and booked our holiday through Hoseasons. As we were staying inland, we opted for a little added luxury of a private hot tub, and we packed up the car with wine, books, goodies and the dog for a few days of blissful relaxation.
 
The site itself is very small, with no shop or bar on site, but the owners are very welcoming and really couldn't do enough to help. Considering we were able to take the dog with us, we weren't expecting much from the interior of our lodge (despite the photographs online looking rather impressive) so we were very surprised at the quality of the furnishings inside.
 







 
It wasn't just the quality of the interior that was impressive, but also the little added extras that the owners put in, such as a little welcome basket of tea, coffee and biscuits, milk in the fridge, plus a dog blanket and bowls for Toby (at our request, as we were terrible pet owners and forgot to pack them!) We were shown the basics of how to use the hot tub and we were then left to explore at our leisure. We were asked to keep Toby on his lead whilst on site, as the chickens like to roam around of their own accord. At the back of our cabin was a little picnic area for BBQ's, and a burn running along behind. I loved this as I could sit listening to it whilst in the hot tub. My other half hated as it meant in the evening the midges came and he did not fare well!






The site itself has a touring park at one end, and there is another, much larger burn, running here too, which we often saw some campers fishing in. Once you cross the bridge you step on to part of the Pennine Way, which is a national trail that runs from Edale in Derbyshire (almost home!) to just inside the Scottish Border at Kirk Yetholm. Its 268 miles long in total, but we walked merely a fraction of it, along with many woodland paths and trails we (and Toby) discovered.
 
After a long day walking, we would spend a some time in the hot tub reading (me) sleeping (not me!) before rustling up soemthing tasty for tea, and settling down to watch the many DVDs that were provided within the lodge for us.
 
More on my adventures in Northumberland soon, including my favourite ever bookshop!

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