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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


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 my nyssapod account 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.

I’m linking up with:

The Good Things

CBeebies Magazine – with ‘Kids Go Free’ vouchers

July 19, 2014


We love Cbeebies Magazine in this house. It the best magazine we’ve found for keeping Aled entertained. Each issue contains stickers, activities and simple puzzles, plus a couple of stories featuring Cbeebies favourites. And at only £2.99 per magazine it’s good value too.

And this summer Cbeebies Magazine is even better value! In every issue of CBeebies Magazine from 16th July until 24th September you will find two ‘Kids Go Free’ child entry tickets into a range of Merlin attractions. That includes places like Sealife, Chessington, Legoland and the brand new CBeebies Land at Alton Towers! Aled has already spotted the vouchers for Sealife Centres in the 16th July issue, which is out now. For further information, see the Cbeebies Magazine facebook page for grown-ups.

cbeebies kids go free issue cover

We will receive a complimentary subscription to ‘Cbeebies Magazine’ as a thank you for writing this blog post. All words and opinions expressed are my own.

Dove Men+Care (review)

July 14, 2014


This blog post was written by my husband, who also took the photo.

We were sent the Dove Men+Care body and face wash to review, together with deodorant spray. These are from the Clean Comfort range. As you can see form the photo, the body and face wash has a standard size 250 ml container, and the spray comes in a compact 75 ml can that holds as much deodorant as the standard 150 ml Men + Care sprays. I thought that both products performed well. They had a clean and fresh scent which was pleasant and not over-powering.

I had been looking for a compact deodorant spray that would fit easily into a travel bag, so was pleased to be able to review the spray. It is one of the best performing sprays that I have come across, with just a small application proving sufficient for long-term protection during the course of the day.

The body and face wash was also impressive. It seemed to be a concentrated gel, with a small amount being sufficient. The product states that it is “clinically proven to fight skin dryness.” It certainly seemed to leave body and facial skin feeling cleansed, without the dryness sometimes associated with less gentle gels.

Please note that the products arrived in a presentation pack. However, I was keen to investigate the contents and forgot to take a photo before having opened and disposed of the pack. Oops!

We were sent these Dove Men+Care products for the purposes of writing this review. Photograph and words by DTH Williams.

Magpie Monday: Orla Kiely book cover and make-up bag

July 8, 2014

Orla Keily book cover and make-up bag

How did it get to be Tuesday already? Oh well, never mind, here’s a quick ‘Magpie Monday’ post with a couple of pre-loved Orla Kiely items.

This copy of ‘Excellent Women’ by Barbara Pym was chosen purely because it features the fab Orla Kiely ‘Striped Petal Print’ on the cover. I found it in Oxfam’s Online Shop  which is full of tempting second-hand treasure.

The make-up bag came from eBay, and is perfect for carrying a stash of mini make-up items for a minibreak.

I’m linking up with Magpie Monday at Me and My Shadow where people share photos of their pre-loved finds.


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