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Gift ideas for a minimalist man

October 25, 2014
Gift ideas for a minimalist man
Gift ideas for a minimalist man by nyssapod 

My husband is quite a difficult person to buy gifts for. He is a minimalist, and sometimes his first reaction to receiving a gift is to wonder how it will fit into his life.
So I thought I would share my ideas for gifts for a minimalist man, just in case any of you would find this helpful. These are all presents that would be suitable to give to a woman too – and I would be happy to receive any of these items myself.
This game looks great fun, and more portable than Scrabble. We already love the Fruitonimos game made by the same company.
I bought one of these for my husband’s birthday and it was a big hit (see blogpost for more details).
Coffee is always a good bet! This is fairtrade and a special blend for Christmas. We have a low-tech approach to making coffee in this house – using filter papers in a ceramic cone rather than capsules.
Lush stuff is life-enhancing as far as I am concerned! The ‘Whoop Whoop!’ gift box full of bath treats looks fab and is reusable and recyclable. Cosmetic Lad is a classic moisturiser.

This iphone amplifier is made out of bamboo and doesn’t need batteries. It’s also fairtrade.

These packing cubes are great for keeping small items like socks separate in a travel bag. They are also very light so don’t add much weight.

Disclosure: I received a free set of Bananagrams in a goody bag at BlogOnMOSI in May. All words and opinions expressed are my own.

The Photo Gallery: Eyes #‎seethemiracle

October 7, 2014

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Each week, Sticky Fingers blogger Tara Cain sets a Photo Gallery theme and other bloggers share their photos relating to the theme. This week’s Gallery theme ‘Eyes’ is in support of the ‪#‎seethemiracle‬ campaign, a new Sightsavers initiative called Million Miracles.

Sightsavers want to totally eliminate avoidable blindness and support people who are irreversibly blind or disabled to live independently. A sight-saving operation costs just £30, which means £30 million needs to be raised over the next three years to treat a million people in the poorest of countries. Every £1 you give will transform someone’s life forever.Follow Sightsavers on Twitter and Facebook and Chris who is writing about the campaign and sharing posts written by bloggers across the UK. You can follow the campaign and donate here: www.millionmiracles.org

For me, this is also a good excuse to share a favourite photo of my son, who has the most beautiful brown eyes I have ever seen!

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Why Kate Bush made me cry

September 27, 2014

Kate Bush tickets

On 9th September, I saw ‘Kate Bush: Before the Dawn’ live on stage at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith. And she made me cry. I couldn’t hold back my tears of joy for finally seeing and hearing her sing live after all these years.

She started with ‘Lily’, with such power and passion. She was in her element, full of confidence and completely holding us all rapt. I had 3 of my younger sisters there with me, which made it even better.

‘The Hounds of Love’, ‘Joanni’, ‘Top of the City’, ‘Running up that Hill’ and ‘King of the Mountain’ followed, all sounding awesome. Kate Bush rocks!

Then into ‘The Ninth Wave’, which was fantastic and fantastical. A set of songs that had kept me company night after night on headphones, when I was desperately homesick in my first year at university. Watching the whole thing play out on stage in front of me, surrounded by other people sharing the same experience, it was incredibly vivid.

And I loved the fact that she added “I’ll tell my sisters…how much I love them” to ‘The Morning Fog’!

After the interval, an extended version of ‘A Sky of Honey’, given full flight, birdsong, feathers and all. Kate Bush is completely bonkers!

Then an encore, and a complete change of pace. Just Kate and piano with a beautiful performance of ‘Among Angels’. So much more alive than the rather subdued recording.

And finally, one of my favourite songs ever – an ecstatic rendition of ‘Cloudbusting’, leaving us feeling intoxicated with happiness. I won’t forget.

Thank you Kate for a wonderful evening!

Picnic food from Waitrose (review)

August 25, 2014
Teddy bears enjoying the picnic

Teddy bears enjoying the picnic

Waitrose has a lovely selection of summer picnic food available in its shops and online at the moment. So when we were offered £60 worth of Waitrose vouchers to purchase  food, drinks and accessories for our very own teddy bears’ picnic we accepted without hesitation. It was a lovely way to celebrate our son’s birthday and our wedding anniversary, which both fall in the same week. We invited my sister, brother-in-law and nieces over to join us.

I decided to keep things simple and buy ready-made picnic foods, as shown in the photo below. But if you are feeling more adventurous there are some inspiring recipes on the picnic ideas for kids page on the Waitrose website. There is also a teddy bear picnic game, which was a big hit with my son because he could read most of the words himself and took great delight in ticking things off on the list.

Picnic food from Waitrose

Picnic food from Waitrose

As a veggie, I particularly enjoyed the Organic Hummous and the Spinach & Feta Bourekia. Both of these items have been added to my shopping list for future trips to Waitrose. The meat-eaters loved the British wafer-thin ham and the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie. The giant pretzels were wolfed down with gusto. And I wished that I’d bought two packets of the assorted mini rolls, because they disappeared extremely quickly.

We had retro ginger beer, elderflower cordial and cartons of apple juice to drink. For dessert, we guzzled juicy grapes and fresh pineapple, together with delicious mini brownies and flapjacks. My eldest niece requested that I buy more brownies next time!

As well as yummy food and drink, Waitrose also have a fabulous selection of picnic ware including napkins, table cloths, plates, dishes and beakers. The little square melamine plates, shown in the top photo, were chosen because they are just the right size for children or teddy bears! Also, unlike paper plates, we will get years of use out of them.

We received a £60 voucher to buy a selection of Waitrose picnic food and drink, as shown in the second photo, for the purposes of this review. All words and opinions expressed are my own. Photos by DTH Williams.

Thrifty tips – 1. stick to cash

July 31, 2014

Cash and purse

I’m learning to be thrifty and save money, and even my husband is impressed with my efforts. I’m the breadwinner, and we have a bigger mortgage since we moved house last autumn, so we have to be careful with money in order to get by. We also want to ensure that we have some money spare to do fun things together. So I’ve decided to share my thrifty tips in case you find them useful.

My first thrifty tip is this:

use cash in preference to credit cards and you will spend less

Some folks advise you to pay for almost everything using your credit card, because that way you have a record of everything you spend. But I have found that by sticking to cash, I am more aware of what I am spending, and I spend less overall.

Somehow, cash seems like real money and my credit card doesn’t. Especially now that I can make a credit card payment by tapping 4 digits into a machine, so I don’t even need to write my signature.

I’ve been using cash in preference to my credit card for the last month and it really has made a difference. There have been several expensive items I simply haven’t bought because I could not bring myself to hand over the cash, especially if it meant an extra trip to a cash machine before making the purchase.

The reason I tried this in the first place was that I watched a television programme called The Men Who Made Us Spend which mentioned some research that showed most people spend more if they pay by credit card.

So what do I do if I’m shopping online? I still have to use my credit card for making online payments, but I type the all credit card details in afresh each time, rather than ticking the ‘save payment details’ box or using PayPal. That way, the whole process is slower and I am more aware that I am spending real money. And again, there are several purchases I haven’t made as a result of making it harder for myself to spend money.

So for me this experiment has been a success. What about you? Do you think that credit cards encourage you to spend more? Have you tried sticking to cash? Did it help you to spend less?

Preparing for a digital detox

July 27, 2014

Jane Austen novels

 

Life is becoming a bit of a blur and I’m feeling the need for a digital detox, so I’ve decided that next weekend I will put away the iPhone, the Nook and all my other gadgets. The internet will have to do without me for 48 hours.

If the weather is nice, I’ll go outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. I’m also looking forward to reading some real books instead of ebooks. I’ve treated myself some beautiful editions of Jane Austen’s novels, which I found in the local bookshop. The Vintage Classics Austen series is designed by the writer and illustrator Leanne Shapton and each book is introduced by a contemporary writer.

I’ll also read a couple real newspapers. And do a bit of stitching. Cook and eat a meal without looking at a screen. Have a long leisurely bath. Write a postcard or two instead of instagramming or tweeting and doing facebook status updates. I might even play a board game.

Have you ever done a digital detox? Do you have any tips? If so, please comment below.

PS – It seems I’m not the only one rediscovering the joys of paper! I’ve just found out that The Reading Residence blog has a Papery Peep linky.

The Reading Residence

The Vintage Village at Stockport Market

July 20, 2014

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I really enjoyed The Vintage Village at Stockport Market on Sunday. It takes place on the second Sunday of the month, and people set up their stalls inside Stockport’s handsome Victorian covered market hall. All the stall-holders were very friendly and happy to talk about the items on their stalls, which included tea-sets, lamps, records, books, coffee tables, haberdashery, and clothing. And talking of clothing, some folk dress up in tea dresses or mod frocks or teddy boy gear but I just went in my usual check shirt and jeans.

There is a fantastic selection of food and drink too. I had a lovely slice of chocolate flapjack to sustain me whilst browsing the stalls.

I was looking for items that would be useful and practical, as well as attractive. I was very pleased with my finds, which were as follows:

  • Five Tupperware Plate-o-Bowls, bought from ‘Vintage Queen’, shown top right. These cost £12 for the set, and have barely a scratch on them. They will be great for picnics and are very child-friendly.
  • Some cotton lawn fabric, buttons and a cross-stitched scissor-keep, shown bottom left, bought from the ‘Vintage Clutter’ stall shown top left. £9.25 the lot. I will probably use the scissor-keep with some better scissors. The fabric will make a lovely lining for a small bag.
  • A sugar bowl (Elizabethan Fine Bone China ‘Fresco’) and a USA ‘F’ Heat Proof glass dish (similar to pyrex), shown bottom right, purchased for £10 in total. I really liked the patterns on both dishes, and the blues go nicely with my kitchen.

The prices seemed very reasonable in comparison to those charged by online vintage shops and auction sites, especially given that I could inspect the items and did not have to pay postage.

All in all I came out feeling very contented indeed and determined to go back to The Vintage Village at the next opportunity. My photos, originally shared via on Instagram and twitter, have been included in the Visitors’ Gallery and I’ve been invited to be ‘Finder of the Fair’ on Sunday 14th September, which will be The Fourth Birthday Bash Fair.

Update – you can now see my Finds of the Fair 14th September 2014 on the Vintage Village website.

I’m linking up with:

The Good Things
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