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Friday, 24 October 2014

Degustabox | September Box

As you might know, I've been lucky enough to be reviewing Degustabox recently. And it's fast becoming my most-favourite treat to look forward to each month.

I love the element of surprise and, for £12.95 a month, it's pretty decent value considering what you get. My favourite part, as I mentioned in my review of last month's Degustabox, is being inspired to try something new, and rustle up a new recipe.

So what was in this month's box?

Little Miracles Organic Tea - £1.39 per bottle

I've actually tried one of these before and they aren't too bad at all. I like mine ice-cold and they are great as a pick-me-up. I definitely preferred the Green Tea, Ginseng, Pomengrate, A├žai and Agave flavour, as I wasn't keen the on ingredients of the other one so much. They are a low cal energy alternative, but I would probably stick to water and fresh fruit if the need hit.

Elizabeth Shaw Dark Chocolate Mint Thins - £2.50

Oh these were one of my favourite items this month! Anything with mint and chocolate in makes me think of Christmas for some reason. These were a really posh-feeling after-dinner-mint and they were nice and crisp and thin and I loved them. So much so that I made cookies with them. Recipe coming soon!

John Crabbie’s Scottish Raspberry with a twist of Ginger - £1.20
John Crabbie's Alcoholic Fruits Zesty Lemon - £1.50

I was really excited by these, especially the Alcoholic Fruits one as it seemed a really lovely bit different idea. I liked this one best, as, while I love raspberry, I'm just not a massive ginger fan. The ginger was quite fiery and I imagine most would love it, but for me, I wanted more raspberry tang.

La Vieja Fabrica Marmalade - £1.59

I am currently saving this for the weekend, to have with some slices of wholemeal toast and a brew. I love marmalade - it reminds me of my grandparents and having breakfast when we used to stay over at their house as children. I've smelt this and my goodness it smells amazing.

Jordans Simply Granola - £2.69

I love granola. I really do. And this stuff was amazing. I love the recipe idea that came with the Degustabox, involving Overnight Oats. I definitely want to try that, but I'll have to buy some more of these first as I absolutely guzzled them for breakfast at work. And that's rare for me as I usually get quite bored of cereal very quickly.

Bahlsen Pick Up! - £1.69

These have become quite the staple in our cupboard - William loves them. And I must admit I have dunked one in a brew. I love that they are filled with chocolate rather than a cream. It's different and actually less messy for little ones too!

Burts Lentil Weaves - £0.69 per pack

Oh I loved these. So much so that I've actually bought a multipack from Waitrose already. They are light and have a really lovely flavour. With three flavours - Sweet Chilli, Sour Cream and Lightly Salted - they were enjoyed by by us all. I liked the Lightly Salted flavour best and I was really impressed to see a lower cal, gluten free alternative to crisps.

Carnation Cook With It! - £1.65

I was really confused by this at first - I assumed it was some sort of dessert or drink. But they are actually a lower-fat alternative to cream and can be kept in the cupboard for whenever the moment strikes. Considering I am trying to lose weight, I'm quite intrigued to see what I can come up with!

So that's it! I can't wait for the next box to come, and if you'd like to order one, you can get £3.00 off your first box with the code below:


You can find Degustabox via the links below.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

One For The Candle Addicts

I’ve always said I’m a summer girl, but every year I fall trap to the same old “silly me” reaction when I realise how excited I get about the colder months.

There’s nothing like sitting in the garden while William plays and Mark and I clink our bottles of Desperado and bask in the sun. But at the same time, maybe we sing ‘It’s The Most Wonderful Time’ for a reason.

 Because I’m giddier than a kipper. And there’s plenty of reasons for it. But one of them is candles.

I don’t know what happens to me when the days get colder, but I become some sort of candle addict. I’ve tried so many and I love having a candle lit once William goes to bed. It’s become a sort of routine. I’ll cook us tea (we call it tea now, because a certain individual from Preston refuses to adopt the term ‘dinner’) and Mark will take William up for a bath, while I wash up.

I always wash-up as fast as I can, because I like to quickly dash around the living room and put toys away and light a candle, before joining the boys upstairs. We do books and bedtime with William and then we come home to a cosy, awesomely-scented lounge and I get to put my head on Mark’s shoulder and do one hell of a contented sigh.

Normally, I’d go for the big jar candles, as they do work out better for money and the scent-payoff is great. But a few months ago I discovered something a little different, and I decided to give them a whirl.

Before I start, I bough these scented masterpieces with my own pennies. I’m just sharing them because it’s quite nice to do that sometimes isn’t it?

Introducing the Busy Bee Candles Magik Beanz.

Okay, so I’m probably not massively keen on the name, but I suppose they are as close to magic as you can get when it comes to smelly wax.

At £1.75 per tub, which includes around 15 beans, which is equal to 20 hours of burning time, these little scented soy wax beans pack a serious punch and are blummin’ good value. The scents are endless. And I went a bit crazy on my first order… Oops.

Instead of lighting a wicked candle, you pop these little guys into a burner, like the owl burner I have (also from Busy Bee Candles) and you light a little tealight underneath and let them melt and release a lovely scent.

First off – I don’t think I’ve experienced anything quite as scented as these. I use one or two beans per session, depending on how long I know I’ll be around for. And my stash has lasted me ages.

The nicest thing about them is that you can mix and match scents without having to invest in massive candles, or votives and tarts, which often give off less scent. And when you have scents like Buttered Popcorn, Bakewell Slice, and Freshly Washed Linen, you are spoilt for choice. They seem to add new scents every week and I’ve really enjoyed trying the ones I chose.

The postage and packing, could be improved on a bit, as some parcels are bound to be lighter/smaller than others, but I’m willing to get over that.

Everyone who has experienced the Magik Beanz has immediately asked what the smell is and where they can get them from. And I’m really quite sold.

 Anyway – I’ve scheduled this post and I’m on my way home as you read this.

I think tonight is a Pumpkin Pie kind of night.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

That Little Boy

I haven't written about William for a while. At least not in the form of a post all his own.

Partly this is because my little boy is growing up - did you know that he's 28 months now? That's Almost two-and-a-half for those who never understand why parents don't just say: "Two." I suppose, when they are this dinky, every month counts. We started with days and weeks after all.

But yes, he is getting older, and this means many things.

Firstly - life is easier. Toddlers aren't easy, don't get me wrong. But I can move without a baby attached to me. My nipples are mine again. And, dare I say it, but I'm really getting the hang of motherhood. And he's getting the hang on being his own little person too.

Secondly - photographing two year-olds must be the hardest task in the world. Too big to roll around and smile goofily at the camera. And too little to understand: "Bill? Billy? Just stand there okay? Yes?" I like to call my shots of him 'candid' but realistically - they are just blurry.

Thirdly - I'm not going to wean him from this blog completely, but one thing you do learn is that they have their own minds, opinions, voices, and I don't know if I want to shove him in your faces every five minutes. I've never been the sort of mum to share potty shots, or naked bottoms anyway. But I want him to look back on this blog and look up, smile at me, and say: "God, you really love me don't you Mum?" Yes Bill, I do.

But Bill. Sweet little guy. Where are you up to?

A little memory to start.

On Monday evening, I got stressed. Our cheap oven (a last-minute purchase when we moved in and there wasn't an oven to be found) likes to smoke like a chimney. I attacked the smoke alarm with a tea towel as it never stops going off (hi five for health and safely) and William was intent on doing the opposite of what I'd like him to. As I tried to cook, and he played with Mark, we had the same old in-and-out of the kitchen game. He wanted this, he wanted that, he stole things, he got angry with me. And I just wanted to get him fed and in bed. I felt like a mean old mummy.

Then, just as my patience was wearing thin and I was kicking myself for the No Drinking On a Weekday Rule, he said:

"Hi Mama! What you doing? Ooo you cooking! Can I help?"

And my heart melted.

He dragged his little stool over to the counter, and he helped. He added the coriander into the dish. Helped me stir. Reminded me not to touch as it was: "Too hot Mama! Careful!" And when Mark joined us and put his arm around me and kissed my cheek, and we praised William together, I just wanted to bottle it up. Film it. Remember it. And I remember blinking and trying really hard to commit this to memory. Please don't let me forget the feeling.

And William can be a little rat bag. He's fully aware of when he's pushing boundaries and being cheeky and he revels in it. Not in a naughty way, but he is like me. He's headstrong and want to do things his own way. And I don't say that in a 'generic proud parent' way. Because it's both a strength and a downfall - I've 26 years of experience. And it can make for some long days.

He gets angry now. And it's so funny to watch. Because I think I get angry about such massive things - like inequality, forced-opinions and bullying (silly word, big meaning). But he gets angry when the cats go outside and he can't pick them up: "Oh Gatsby! You too hebby [heavy]!" And he gets angry at being told no. And he scowls. And my goodness it's hard to keep a straight face.

He does this thing, where he holds one arms across himself, with his fist balled up, and he swipes his free hand across it, almost as you would when you strike a match. It's almost like his sign-language for TODDLER RAGE. And he scowls, narrows his eyes, and pouts. And this God-awful noise comes out of his mouth and it's the most angry grunt in the world. And he does it with such force that his hair flaps like Michael McIntyre's. And I have to breathe and force down the corners of my mouth. I have to absolutely avoid eye-contact with Mark too - or else both of us will end up in fits.

Bill also likes to be free. Not just in the 'let him loose at the park' sense. But in the 'let's take our clothes off' sense. Most nights we go and check on him and he's stripped off everything and is lying there, spread-eagled and we have to pray he's not wet the bed. Sometimes, we're too late. Sometimes, we're all clear. And other times he'll be in his PJs sleeping like an angel. And it's quite normal to be woken up to our bedroom door opening to find a naked child grinning at me, holding Teddy and Mark Cow (his name choice, not ours) and saying: "HAI MAMA!" It's terrifying and funny in equal measures.

As for adjusting. Bill, in many ways, is lucky that his parents split when they did. And that he met Mark when he did. He can't remember any different, and, in fairness, his dad is the first to agree that working hours meant that we parented separately for the most-part anyway.

He's quite happy to spend time with all of the people in his life. But there's nothing like the smile that Mark and I get when we pull up outside my parents' house and he runs towards us, looking like he couldn't be happier. That moment is probably my favourite part of my working day. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and this heart of mine aches for my baby.

His voice is my favourite part of him. The ability to converse with my son. It's beautiful. It's funny. It's the one thing that this mother has looked forward to since the day she first held him in her arms. He's very articulate. At least, from what I can gather. He did throw himself in words, and I suppose part of me wonders if we're the same that way. He just comes out with the funniest things and listening to him play on the floor beside me just makes me smile. He's always rescuing cows and horses from some sort of dastardly fate and the cries of "Oh noooo! HALP! I rescue you!" fill our house up with happy imagination.

I really love my son.

He forced his way into my life. He threw my plans out of the window from his home in my tummy. And he has forced me to open up my mind and look at different paths to follow.

It has not been an easy road for us. In the last 28 months, and even the nine before that, my life has changed insurmountably. But I am writing this, from a lovely office in rainy Manchester, on a salad-fuelled lunch-break, with the man I love sat on the other side of the room, and a family home, with two black cats waiting for me.

And it's all because of a little boy. Who is currently at his great grandparents' house with Granny. Showing them his nursery report, while children's telly plays in the background.

Speaking of nursery report. This just about sums him up.

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