Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Red, pink, purple wash - avoiding laundry woes

I used to own for many years a pair of red pyjamas by Toast made from soft Indian cotton. I loved them and I have a treasured photo of myself holding new born Curly Haired Beauty wearing them, clashing nicely with the bright orange pillows (you had to bring your own pillows to the labour ward and was tipped off to bring non-white ones so you don't forget to take home!). But the hazards of owning such an item was the fall out if you accidentally washed it with white items - whoops. I turned too many items into a cheerful pink - luckily the baby was a girl and didn't mind so much. Less so for t'husband...
Image from Jamie Oliver website

Now in a form of revenge he has a beloved Ralph Lauren red hoody - same one, as worn by Jamie in his TV show. Which literally bleeds out the dye in every wash.

It has to be washed on its own - as the dye turns the water red, LOOK above at the evidence

But a genius product which has saved me many a laundry issue is the  Dylon colour Run Remover. I keep a stash of this next to the washing machine if ever I have a wash accident.

NB Product brought with my own money and all my opinions are my own.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Breaking eggs

To make a change from the avocado and toast I have been eating on an almost daily basis. A quick and easy breakfast/lunch/supper or anytime meal idea is an omelette.

If you have 3 eggs, I love these blue ones by Clarence Court , any veggies you have in the fridge (in this example 3 spears asparagus, 3 chestnut mushrooms, coriander. 

Chop the veggies and fry in a very hot non-stick frying pan with a little olive oil. In a bowl beat the eggs and add a pinch Himalayan pink salt Himalayan Pink Salt and smoked paprika.

When the veggies have softened, turn down the heat to low and add in the egg mixture. Move the eggs so they coat the veggies and leave a few minutes for the eggs to cook and solidify.

When the egg has almost set and there are only a few wobbly bits on the surface, carefully tip out the omelette onto a plate and flip in half. The Omelette carries on cooking with the residual heat. Scatter on the coriander and eat immediately.

Bon appetite

twosp x

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Hands up

So I have a teeny tiny addiction - nothing serious at all but amongst my possessions, in and around the home - upstairs/downstairs, in all my handbags I have a tube or two of hand lotion/cream/balm/oil.
This is just a quick snap shot of what I am currently using - there are probably more lurking in the multiple bags I own but I couldn't be bothered to dig them all out. 

I suffer from very dry skin on my hands-  see that stack of copier paper at the office? I only need to look at them before getting an instant paper cut on my dry hands. Up until earlier this month I was still wearing leather gloves on my commute to work to protect my hands from the cold weather. I hate nothing more than the feeling of sore, dry, rough skin and cannot wait to smother a healing moisturising lotion to calm and soothe my skin. 

As a consequence I suffer from hangnails too and always get caught out when they snag so I find myself unladylike trying to nibble them off... A great product that helps sort out my cuticles is by OPI Avoplex Nail and Cuticle Replenishing Oil. Brush onto the cuticles before bedtime - the next day the pesky hangnails and dryness are banished. 

NB: All products were bought with my own money and my opinions are my own.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Breakfast with the Bennet's

I apologise for the poor quality photo - taken off the telly with my mobile. It's from the BBC series Pride and Prejudice, the one with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle from 1995 (yikes that long ago!)

It's the Bennet's gathered around having breakfast and I have been searching high and low for a similar fine porcelain set for my own table. It's a typical Georgian Green  with gold gilt edge and a simple floral pattern. Not hard to find you would think at the weekly antique fairs D goes too. But still allusive.

I once spotted something very near to this but it was more of a bluish hue at Wimbledon Stadium Car Boot. I wish I had bought it but at the time I was heavily pregnant and tired and ended up buying an Ercol chair  just so I could sit down and rest.

We still have that chair and it's in the kitchen (perfect for standing on to change lightbulbs!). I'm constantly surprised how much Mid Century furniture has come up in price.  Margaret Howell  stock reissues of the Original Ercol designs in her store.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Scrub a dub dub

If you are fortunate to work in Central London, and have someone super organised to arrange for Kiehls to come into your office - they can set up an in-house pop up store. I was lucky to have this arranged last month - you can test all the products, speak with the skincare experts (who normally work in the stores) and buy the products with a 20% discount. What's not to love?

You place your order and can pay by card and the next day - they will deliver your items to your office; in their retro brown paper bags and include some generous sample sachets.

I bought a selection of body products from the Creme de Corps range (plus a few other bits!). I have always loved the super rich body lotion but tend to find it hard to dispense from the bottle as its so thick. For the Summer they have the whipped body butter  in Lavender. It comes in a hefty sized tub and this has really rehydrated my parched skin, especially on my shins. But of course there is no point moisturising if you don't get rid of the old rough skin cells. So I also bought the Soy Milk and Honey Body polish. This thick exfoliator is a joy to use. You don't need to work it in too hard on the skin and I tend to focus on my drier areas like the shins, knees, elbows etc.

My skin is so super smooth afterwards - the results speak for themselves! Mr. Fashion (Twin 1) loves to rub his cheeks along my bare arms sniffing the fragrance and telling me how soft and lovely I am...I should delight more in his childish joy but get paranoid he is also wiping his nose on my arm and leaving a snail trail. Something he does a lot of unfortunately!

I've even used the whipped body butter on the kids post-swimming. Kiehls UK stores used to do a baby range but it's no longer available here which is a shame as I loved using it on my brood. I try and encourage my kids to look after their skin by letting them choose which body moisturiser to use after a bath. The French (Decleor), The American (Kiehls) or Cousin J (Johnson's Baby Lotion).

My cousin really was named after the baby product , he was my Aunt's second child and she must have run out of ideas or been hormonal...! I can empathise with that as I had a terrible time deciding on the twins names. They should have been girls called April, May or Summer (possibly June) depending which month they turned up in. I wasn't prepared for picking boys names and can still remember the shock of being told there were two boys inside!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Berry nice

This year I haven't tried to grow any produce, not for want of trying but peas never seem to grow beyond a few tendrils before the slugs get them, tomatoes never ripen...the only thing that seems to grow in my garden is mint!

But I had a few strawberry plants  bought at a church fair a few years ago and for some reason they have actually fruited really well this season. I haven't done anything different this year but maybe the combo of slugs/snails have kept away and we did have a few bright hot sunny days earlier in the month.

Not quite a punnets worth or enough to make jam with but still highly satisfying to eat home grown fruit - they were planted in last years used tomato grow bags.

What have you grown in your garden this year?
twosp x

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Happy Un-Birthday

Today was the due date for the twin boys - born 9 weeks early and turned up in April which shocked us to the core with their very urgent and rapid arrival.

This year was the first year I didn't feel overwhelmed, anxious or stressed out with their healths - they say time is a real healer and it has taken these long six years to come to terms with everything and know they will be all right. I am very blessed to have them here with me - each day is unpredictable with their funny little sayings and determined little ideas.

Both are doing so well in mainstream school - something I thought would never be achieved after reading all the bumpf in the Special Care Baby Unit where they spent their first five weeks. It was torturous feeling so helpless whilst they learnt to breath on their own and later had to be taught to suckle and take their feed from a bottle - rather than from a nasal gastric tube (Twin 2 was good at pulling that out all the time). Looking back at their premature baby photos I no longer feel depressed and can celebrate their childhood rather than mourn for the loss of their babyhood.

A super charity that helps babies and parents called BLISS are always looking for more funds and help.

twosp x

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Red House - National Trust visit

The other weekend D and I had a few rare child free hours and we DID NOT KNOW what to do with ourselves...seriously 3 + whole hours with no children on a Sunny weekend! I have often dreamed about when this moment would come. It has been that hard to find anyone willing to take all three kids off our hands. They are good kids, well behaved but the idea of twin boys puts a lot of people off. Most folks will take the older girl out but that still leaves us with the twins :-(

Anyhow my brother and his wife were good enough to entertain our kids for the afternoon so after a quick internet search 'what to visit less than 20 mins drive from us' - we headed to the  Red House
The beautiful red brick home now looked after by the National Trust - surprisingly plonked in the middle of 1930's semis s'burbs.

Garden features a wishing well - every Victorian had to have this.
We came too soon before the roses were out otherwise this would have been a scented delight to walk through
Herb garden near the kitchens (now a cafe that serves a good afternoon cream tea).
You can't see but cunningly hidden is the recycle bins behind here - *sign* why can't my flower beds look this good?
Large entrance hall, perfect for those ladies in full crinoline skirts - but the lady of the house used to wear robes without corsets underneath #scandalous 
Mural detail on the wall next to the Minstrel gallery

Imagine perched up there with your lute players - the first floor living room
Wood block used to make the now classic William Morris wallpaper. There were thick sample books of the original wallpaper designs to flick through. Amazing how luxurious the colours and textures were and still relevant today.   

Hand painted ceilings
Lot's of William Morris details everywhere
I took loads of pictures for inspirations but edited out the ones of me doing a lot of pointing...
I'll leave you with this quote from William Morris -  'Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful , or believe to be beautiful'. 

Monday, 22 June 2015

Le Jardin in the s'burbs

Over the years the garden has been sorely neglected, what with going out to work and raising the children etc. Back in the day, I read 'the' baby rearing book which counselled against certain plants as they were poisonous or could irritate the skin on contact. So I avoided having those plants in my garden in case I had one of the babies eat something they shouldn't of. OF COURSE I should have ignored that book since none of my babies could crawl in the summer months when they were out in the garden and when they were toddlers didn't seem to show any appreciation of plants let alone interest in stuffing their mouths with green matter!

Oh well lesson learnt - but now I can start getting in plants to add colour and interest rather than green, on green, on green.
Verbena Lollipop - attracts lots of insects, grows really tall so plant at the back (unlike me as I had put it in the front of the border!). I got mine from Crocus a lovely informative gardening website which stocks plants that have been used at the Chelsea Flower show.

Poppies - 40p from Waitrose - go on a Monday afternoon when the plants are all discounted
Wild Edric rose - has really spiky thorns, beautiful rosey scent. I picked this thinking it may help deter the local foxes from jumping over the fence...but nah they are hard core around here. Bought from David Austin Roses as bare roots. They stock a huge selection of roses and the ones I have from there are all doing so well, flowering in the first growing season. Even the MiL was pleased with the ones I sent to her as a gift.
Fox gloves - poisonous if eaten but I should have included these in my garden years ago at we have the perfect shady corner for them. Kids love seeing the bumble bees crawl out of them.
My mum popped this into the garden - think its a Calla lily. Note the mint which has really grown in this shady spot (the garden faces North and is mostly in shade).

Saturday, 20 June 2015

By Jeeves

It's Summer - let me check again outside....yep the sun is still out which means it's Pimm's O'Clock.

But there are alternatives for the beloved British Summer cocktail beverage and Jeeves (stocked in Tesco ) is a lovely alternative. I like to mix mine with lots of Ginger ale and fresh mint leaves. The mint is growly wildly in my garden (well nothing else will grow in that patch) so I can grab handfuls of it to throw into my glass.

I've heard Austin's which is sold in Aldi is another great alternative but as there isn't a store near me I haven't been able to check it out.

What's your go to refreshing Summer beverage?

twosp xxx

Friday, 19 June 2015

Summer Exhibition - Royal Academy

I finally made it to view the Summer Exhibition held at the prestigious Royal Academy. Every Summer I tell D I'm going, and for one reason or another (work, pregnancy, baby, work, pregnancy, babies, work, kids etc.) I had never gotten round to it until now. What an achievement for moi.

The Exhibition is open to anyone to submit their own art, established artists and to everyday folks. It was pretty inspiring to walk around and to see the walls stuffed with ART. Some good, some bad, some just awful you have to wonder why it was chosen...but that's the beauty of art, it makes you think, there is technique, skill involved and it makes you want to have a bloody go!

Back in the day I went to Art School - I used to paint, I used to create. In the ladies loos I ran into an former work colleague. She used to paint as well and we had a great long catch-up chat and came to the conclusion we can do this, we have to send in something for next year....a lot of older ladies were tutting us as we messed with the queuing system and got in the way as we chatted intensively about our painting passion.

Most of the Art were for sale and prices started quite reasonably - there were lots of red dots (sold) on frames of day two of the exhibition.

A beautiful Summer's day

Courtyard sculpture

Inside the stairs leading into the exhibition - they did strobe on your eyes

Loving the pink walls in this room 

Tracy Ermin's water colours were pretty popular - look at all those sold dots! 
Grayson Perry's HUGE tapestry 

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Blogging mojo

Getting my blogging mojo back hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be. Writing what I would like to read myself, not worry about the stats, comments/commentators, just be happy if anyone stops by for a browse just like the good old blogging days. Things have moved on in Social Media (for want of a better term) since I started 2008/9. But you won't catch me vlogging just yet or running webinairs or get out and about to blogging events. This is just a little creative outlet for bashing out stuff that's in my head... I'm making up for lost time!

Photo taken at the Royal Academy - review of Summer Exhibition on next blog post

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Sun scream

We all know how the sun rays can be damaging to skin - I gave up sunbathing at 30 and I think this really helped preserve my complexion and I am really reaping the benefit now I'm in my forties. Every Day moisturiser I slap on, contains at least 15 SPF and during sunny months I switch over to ones that contain 30 SPF. 

Currently I'm loving this Kielhs cream (but hate the name) and I wish L'Occitane still did their Shea Butter face moisturiser with SPF 15 but its now discontinued. I wish big brands wouldn't do that! You fall in love with something that works and then they take it off the shelves. I can't tell you how many hours I have spent trying to find my beloved Chanel Coco Rouge lipstick in Paris (tracked last tube in Canada - thank you eBay). 

For the kids who tend to be wiggly things on the rush out to school; I like to use Bare Minerals Natural Sunscreen - it's a barrier powder that contains Titanium Dioxide which I can buff onto their faces and necks/ears with no sticky mess. The handy portable size means I can carry this around in my grab bag for top up's during the day. 

It's so funny to hear the 6 year twins asking for their faces to be powdered in the morning.  It comes in 3 shades (light, medium, tan) and the Medium one suits us best.  

NB all products were bought with my own money and reviews are of my own opinions. 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

5 Hours of Summer

I hadn't meant to take a blogging break but going full time into work - now all the kids are happily settled into school life - and joining a company that had restrictions on social media including blogging....kept me away from here. I've still been reading blogs and occasionally tweeting but I have almost given up an on-line presence.

Until now!

Summer is here and having been caught out on what to wear to work without coming off public transport a steaming melting mess...here are some ideas to keep your cool but maintain a professional air.

Silk shirt - not as high maintenance as you may think to own and wear - the ones from Uniqlo are machine washable and I've got nearly one in every colour way. A bonus that the pink one is currently on sale. An immensely flattering colour that will suit all skin tones with or without a tan. I once read if you wanted to be taken seriously as a woman at work  - not to wear a cardigan, not to smile and not to wear pink! Oh well take what you will from that...

I have lived in these trousers by GAP , a great fit and in my pursuit of easing up my domestic chores I can wash and hang up - no need to iron (but you have to hang up straight away to dry). I have one of those electric clothes dryer from Lakeland which is amazing , I know a bit weird to be happy with such a domestic appliance but saves loads of money in electric bills compared to using the tumble dryer and not a lot of my clothes can be tumbled dried. 

These sandal clogs from Toast are the perfect neutral colour way to go with most outfits. Heel gives just enough height to lift you and the leather straps are butter soft and won't cut your bare feet to ribbons. Also the thick straps hide enough of your toes so you can forego polish on your nails. A bonus if you are not 'Summer ready' - I really hate that term but it's sticking due to intensive advertising from a well known high street chemist!

I'm currently into wearing delicate gold jewellery and a fave of mine is the Baby Bee necklace by Alex Monroe. A Googler (person who works for Google), American and was obvs Not trying to pick me up or had ANY interpersonal social skills screeched out in the lift lobby ' OMG, you've got a bee around your neck!' and my response to his reaction was, 'Yeah I caught a bee and dipped it in gold to wear'... Luckily the lift came and I escaped before having to speak more! ! ! v . strange people you meet at work.

What do you think of my Summer dressing picks?