I was recently offered my choice of gift from Museum Selection which is a most excellent website if you are looking for interesting and unusual Christmas gifts.
The thing that really caught my eye was this St Basil’s 3-D Jigsaw (RRP £27.99) because St Basil’s Cathedral has fascinated me ever since I saw it featured in the Pet Shop Boys ‘Go West’ video.
Last weekend, I spent a very enjoyable few hours constructing all the sections with my 9 year old niece, who is really good at this kind of thing. My brother-in-law helped too by putting it all together at the end.
The end result looks fab and very Christmassy! One day, I’ll get chance to go and see the real thing.
I received the St Basil’s 3-D Jigsaw for the purposes of writing this review. All words and opinions expressed are my own. Photograph by DTH Williams.
Hotter Shoes have changed how I feel about myself. I have feet which are wide across the toes and narrow at the heel and could never find shoes that fitted well, were comfortable to wear and looked presentable. But then I discovered Hotter Shoes. The 5.5 extra wide shoes fit perfectly, and are so comfy that they are almost like slippers, but more supportive. But the thing that is really surprising is how stylish they are. I have several pairs of the Valetta shoes, which are absolutely gorgeous.
Lots of pairs of shoes by other brands have been taken to the charity shop now that I have realised how comfortable shoes can be! I wear Hotter Shoes for work, weekends and social get togethers. They’re great for minibreaks, because the shoes are very light so you can pack a pair without making your bag horribly heavy. It is also good to know they are made in the UK.
Looking at the autumn range, I am particularly impressed by the Moonstone boots (RRP £89). They are beautiful to look at and make my feet seem dainty and elegant. I think they are the most comfortable boots I have ever put on. I tried them on in a Hotter Store and did not want to take them off. So when I won a pair of these boots through a blogger competition, I was absolutely thrilled. They look lovely with dresses and skirts as well as with my favourite jeans.
I’ve just treated myself to a pair of lovely Summit boots as well (RRP £115). These are lightweight Gore-Tex® walking boots, perfect for local walks. They are the most comfortable walking boots I have ever worn. And I love the red stitching detail.
Disclosure: I received a pair of Moonstone boots as a prize in a blogger competition. Some of the text in this blog post is adapted from text written as my competition entry, and was previously featured on the Hotter website. All words, photographs and opinions expressed are my own.
- Bananagrams | Cotswold Outdoor
£15 - cotswoldoutdoor.com
- Custom Made maps from Ordnance Survey
£16.99 – ordnancesurvey.co.uk
- Grumpy Yule Christmas Blend ground coffee – 227g – Grumpy Mule
£3.43 - ethicalsuperstore.com
- Boozik iphone amplifier
£18 – traidcraftshop.co.uk
This iphone amplifier is made out of bamboo and doesn’t need batteries. It’s also fairtrade.
- Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Set | Cotswold Outdoor
£25 - cotswoldoutdoor.com
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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?