Sunday, 29 April 2012

Stuff I wear for drinks with Steve

I enjoy looking at how other people dress, how they mix and match patterns, fabrics, accessories etc. I have tried getting Steve to take photos for outfit posts but was always left feeling like an utter plonker posing for them. Anyway, last night I bit the bullet. Cue awkward looking photo of me...

After a drink too many, I am suffering horribly and have a children's party attend with Ben- wish me luck!xxx

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Saturday Sparkle

Sooo, I promised I wasn't going to buy anything as we're trying to watch money at the moment... but you can't hold a good magpie down and so today I indulged in some sparkle from H&M. These neck baubles were around £6-£8 each (although the last one might be going back- I have to worry when even my eight year old tells me it looks cheap)!

Other than that we went for a gorgeous giant walk this morning and tonight I'm hoping to drag Steve into Newcastle for a cheeky beverage or two (he's in reluctant fuddy duddy mode at the moment so we'll have to see about that one). 

Oh Saturday- I really could just smooch you, what a beautiful day you are! Hope you're all enjoying

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Thursday Through the Keyhole

I felt a little saddened taking these photos of Ben's room, it spoke to me of a boy on the cusp: no longer a young boy but just 'a  boy'.  The lovely rocket mural that my friend Gemma (and Ben's Godmothers) painted for him sits alongside the more grown-up football stickers he got from Santa. The room seems littered in such contrast, young boy and older boy. He's growing up. I can't sit here lamenting this fact as I love each stage of his development but still, it's always going to be a wrench. At the moment he still has a teddy, loves his rocket mural and will happily walk around the supermarket dressed as Spiderman- but I'm aware these days are numbered. 

If we were planning staying in this house, we'd decorate his room but as we're hoping to move it'll be like this for the foreseeable(cross fingers and touch wood we hope to move within the next 12 months). So here's a little peak at Ben's room:
{His bed cover is actually my brother's old 'He Man Masters of the Universe cover- true retro!}

{He's had these sweet door letters from being a baby}

{Drawers, lava lamp, copper jar (currently being saved for summer holiday) and fish tank}

{This fish is named 'Fishy' and there is another in the tank named 'Sucky'- Ben has a gift for naming pets!}

{Ben's bookcase- is it obvious his parents are both English teachers?}

{Old printing blocks from Tynemouth Market}

{Telescope and dream catcher; it does the job well as Ben's never had a nightmare}

{Bed side table is an old coal mining stool, my brother had one when he was young. Both have names and date of birth on them.}

So that's Ben's room. I have missed out 'The cupboard of doom' where all his toys are kept, but thought it might be funny in the future to do a post on all those hidden nooks and crannies in the house where you store your junk- I bet everyone has them one, or several if you're like us!

I'm already thinking about how to decorate his next room so any tips for an 8 to 12 year old would be great(he'll be eight when we move and I'm guessing he'll have his own decor ideas by the time he reaches his teens)!

Thanks for stopping by and happy

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Inspired by you guys... Glazed Pork

I was vegetarian from the ages of 11 until a year or so ago; I stopped eating meat because I felt the treatment of animals before slaughter (such as transportation) is often unethical. However, now you can pay a bit more and buy really decent meat that has had  a good life. I tend to get mine from the Blagdon Estate as much of their meat is born, raised (free range) and slaughtered on site (no hours of transportation or being cramped inside all their life). Since starting to eat meat again, my taste in meat has changed a lot from my preferences as a child but one of my favourites now is pork.

After reading this recipe here- link! I thought I'd have a go at this. I just simplified it down to two ingredients, Dijon mustard and an apricot glaze (you could use jam but I found this glaze in the baking section of the supermarket for cheaper than the price of the jam). Again, the recipe itself was slightly simplified (I did it two times and I can't say I didn't notice much difference when I didn't bother leaving it for hours to marinade).

(For four chops)
*Dijon Mustard- 2 tablespoons
*Apricot glaze or jam (I assume you could swap this for other flavours)- half a standard size jar
*Pork chops (again, I assume other meats would work)

1. Take the two condiments and mix then in a bowl. I used two tablespoons of mustard and half a standard size jar of the apricot. It seems like a lot but the flavours really mellow in the cooking.
2.Baste the meat with some of the glaze and heat a griddle/ frying pan. Pop the meat on (I didn't bother with any oil).
3. After a couple of moments, flip the meat and baste the other side. Repeat this until all the mixture is used.
4. After ten minutes, remove from the heat and enjoy!
The Verdict?
Yum yum yum! The flavours were subtle and we allowed the meat to go brown on the outside but the glaze meant that the meat was still very tender on the inside. We made this again the following week because it was so tasty! This is a really quick way to add a bit of spark to your dinner.

Thank you Becky for the inspiration!xxx

Monday, 23 April 2012

Beauty Heroes (1-3)

The Beauty Hero Rules:
1. I have to have used the item for over six months
2. The item must have been re-purchased at least once

So, I thought I would share with you some of the products that I readily recommend to family and friends. Firstly though, I wanted to set out some rules. The first rule comes about as a result of reading beauty blogs that rave about a new product and then the next week it's some other wonder product and after a week of the old 'must have' they're not so convinced it was ever that great! Annoying. Furthermore, all of these products are ones that have been tested over months (sometimes years) and have been repurchased at least once. You'll notice some obvious basics (such as mascara or moisturiser) are absent, that's because I've yet to find the 'Holy Grail' of such products so generally I flit from one brand to the next, hoping to find the elusive perfect product for me.

MAC Lipsticks
I'm going to do a full post on my favourite colours over the next couple of weeks, but when I want a new lippie I generaly head straight for MAC. They have a massive range of colours/ finishes and are pretty resilient: I have a ton and have use them daily, they've never dried up/ changed consistency (even after a few years) and only one has ever snapped on me. Top tip: if you're getting products costing over £25 from MAC you can book a free make over (more about that in my MAC lippies post, coming soon). 

Mitchum Deodorant
Okay, so this isn't at all glamorous but neither is sweaty pits! This is a couple of quid and I can hand on heart say I've never ever had a damp pit or nasty pit whiff when wearing this stuff. I'm sure it's full of chemicals but it does what it says on the label and I've been a devotee of this stuff for a good few years now. It's the only deodorant I've found that allows me to dance the night away and not smell even by the next lunch time! Genius.

L'Oreal Studio Secrets Smoothing Resurfacing Primer
There's probably no way of following on from the last product without making myself sound like a right sweaty beast but hey ho! I went through a bit of a quest to find a primer that delivered what it promised but to no avail. Then, one day I was in Boots and came across this little pot of magic for just over £10. Use a tiny amount (think half a pea) and apply it to your nose, forehead and chin; I avoid applying it anywhere else as I like to have a natural look and let some shine come through on my cheeks. You need to make sure you gently blend it with your fingers otherwise you can end up with white streaks as it isn't fully transparent until blended. I've yet to find another primer that comes close to this and it makes a HUGE difference if I forget to apply it before my morning slap. Defo another beauty hero (though probably only for oliy/ combination skin).

Would love to hear about some of the beauty heroes that save you on a regular

Friday, 20 April 2012

Inspired by you guys... Shop your pantry

Generally I'm in charge of the food shopping in our house as I tend to do most of the cooking. Steve is a great cook but I take take pleasure in cooking so generally I cook and Steve (bless his heart) washes up afterwards (and I really mean he needs blessing as I'm the type of person who uses loads of pans when cooking).

Anyway, a few weeks ago I was totally inspired by Ashley's great idea to shop your pantry which you can find here- link!This gives a far more comprehensive guide then mine (which is more a test drive of her idea). She also does a second update here- link! It's an organised and cost effective way to plan your meals based on what you already have at home.

The basic premise is that you list everything you have in your home and base meals around them, using up what you have and planning meals so there is as little wastage as possible. I love this concept as it's cost effective and saves time in the long run plus (excuse the pun) food wastage leaves a sour taste in my mouth!

This is how I did it:
1. List the items you already have in. I must admit I didn't list every last thing (e.g. mayo, different types of cheese etc) but instead will just add these to the chalk board when I run out and add them to the shopping list.

2. Create a grid for the days of the week. Plan meals to cover each day of the week, as I went I did a small tick next to each item I already had (on the original food stock list) so I knew it was being used, then added any ingredients I didn't have for that particular meal to the shopping list. There were some scribbles as I reconsidered the order depending on which fresh foods would go off first.

3.As Steve eats toast for breakfast every morning each week day, I have cereal at work and Ben has it at the childminders, I left gaps in weekday breakfast/ lunches and just added what I would need straight to the shopping list e.g. sandwich meats, fruit etc.
4. I picked three new recipes to try this week but I'll try them on Sunday and Friday so I'm not stressed about cooking them after a long day at work. I also planned to keep one freezer pizza (for those emergency nights when you're shattered).
5.I then went back to the shopping list and added other things such as cleaning products, bird seed, light bulbs etc.

There were a few bits and pieces left (such as 50 party size sausage rolls that were never used at a party) but I guess they'll have to wait for another day! Also, I didn't put it into sections in the supermarket (if I'm honest it's just because I forgot) but I'll just take a pen this week and cross them off.

The verdict so far:
I was quite surprised how short the shopping list was as I felt I had nothing in at home but when I reevaluated, it just wasn't things that went together. I'm hoping I should be able to buy the food for between £50-£60 but I'm not really sure. I didn't plan a strict budget this time and only planned for one week: it's my first week trying this and I'm a bit clueless about how much we normally spend and also I'm aware we run out of fresh food such as milk and fruit on a weekly basis so would need to restock. I'll report back on how I found this in a month or so when I have a chance to really get to grips with it.

Thanks Ashley from The Vanilla Tulip for such a great idea and happy Friday everybody!xxx

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Flowers (Part 2)

Well, I spoke to my wonderful Friend Gemma from beautiful Fluert in Monkseaton (if you're passing I strongly recommend checking out their stunning window displays). She gave me a ton of advice on flowers, so much so that I'm going to divide it over a couple of posts!

I used a question/ answer format and there are still more to come but if you have any specific questions you'd like me to ask her, please feel free to pop them in the comments box at the bottom.

What should you look for when picking fresh flowers?
Flowers such as lillies must always be closed to ensure they will last longer. The head of more structured flowers, such as roses, should feel hard as this means they are fresh. The best way to check any flower is by the greenery; it should look healthy and green as that's the first thing to go.

Even if the flower head seems fine, always check the stems. Avoid any flowers where the stems are turning brown, soft or slimey.  Obviously there are many different flowers, some with woody stems and some types already have soft stems such as calla lillies, but older stems will be easy to identify as they will seem slimey and the stamen inside will be brown.  

Another good indicator is the way the flowers are kept in a shop: they should be in clean water as this shows they have been looked after (dirty flower water gives off a foul smell so you can normally tell if it hasn't been changed frequently). Also, avoid flowers that are all crammed into the pot, each stem should have a sufficient amount of space so it's not crushed.

Avoid flowers that have had exposure to extreme temperatures. Flowers that have been too cold or too hot will have crispy greenery, especially in lilles where the heads will look slightly brown and be soft to the touch- they will probably never open! As flowers should be kept in a cool atmosphere and shaded from sun, those displayed outside/ in the window are best avoided. Flowers left outside to the elements such as rain frost or direct sunlight will be damaged so it's best to avoid these and better to select your flowers from inside of the shop. 

Which flowers last the longest? 
The longest lasting flowers are carnations and crysanthemums but all flowers last if cared for and the water is changed regularly. Flowers such as: anthuriums, cut orchids, calla lillies and proteas can all last up to 3 weeks. Another tip is to opt for some really lovely greenery such as large fatsia leaves which are sturdy and glossy, adding a bit of 'wow' to arrangements. There are too many palms to name them all but they do the same job. Personally, I like to use greenery as it adds character and longevity to an arrangement, it's not technically a flower but it frames the flowers if used correctly. Finally, bamboo is fab at lasting.

Which flowers are best for a gorgeous scent?
Flowers which are the most scented are the white and pink oriental lillies ( yet the orange, pink and yellow asiatic lillies don't smell at all). Garden roses have a sweet smell, are very beautiful and natural in appearance but they aren't as long lasting. Orchids have a very sweet smell (although I personally dislike the smell but love the flower). The best scent in my opinion is stocks but again they are not long lasting but just lovely all the same! Another pretty flower is freesia which is very scented when in bloom.

I always explain to customers the longevity of flowers to assist them in making their selection and a good florist should be able to do this for you. They should help you work through a range of factors such as: appearance, colour scheme, occasion, scent, longevity, budget etc to assist you in your selection.

A HUGE THANK YOU to Gemma for taking time to answer these questions. In my next installment I'll cover things such as how and where to keep your flowers once you get them home.

Remember, you can ask any specific questions for Gemma in the comments box.

Today we're having a thrilling day tidying before we go back to work tomorrow, hope your day holds something more exciting!

Happy Sunday everyone xxx

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Flowers (Part 1)

As I've already mentioned, it takes my breath away when I think about how talented my friends are, including Gemma who is just the most talented florist I've come across! I realised that I should fully exploit our friendship (ahem), and get all her wonderful knowledge about flowers and share it with you guys.

So when I see her tonight, I'm going to find out her top tips for buying fresh flowers (how to make them last, best value for money etc) and hopefully in future I'll add some simple tutorials.

But to start, I wanted to add my tip for flowers which is: squeeze the most out of your bunch!

This is a gorgeous bunch I got from Gemma but I noticed after a couple of weeks a few flowers were past their best, so rather than just chuck them as I would have done in the past, I separated them into two bunches:

Once a few more start to fade, I'll separate them even further down to just a couple of stems in a single stem vase/ jam jar with a ribbon round etc.

This tip also works when you can't afford a bunch but want the pleasure of fresh flowers; pick just one or two stems (I'll be checking with Gemma which last the longest), though I know from my own experience that the Lucky Bamboo on my dresser has been going strong for over a year and cost £1.50!) and pop them in a smaller vase.

Happy Saturday everyone and pop by tomorrow for tips on flowers from a real pro (and also a wonderful friend).x

Friday, 13 April 2012

And the second award of the evening goes!

You bloggers are just choc full of love today! How kind of Debra from My Darlings and Me to put her faith in this blog, especially as it's a newbie for her.

As ever, there are rules and regulations which are:

1. Thank the blogger who has awarded you and link back to them.
2. Share seven things about yourself
3. Pass the award along to 5 other newly discovered blogs

These are all relatively recent discoveries as I'm pretty new to the world of blogging! The first two are recent finds and the last three are ones I've followed for a couple of months but remain a pleasure.  

My Five Blogs:
1. Lady Liquor Vinatge-just gorgeous thrifty, vintage loveliness!
2. The Simple Swan- if only I'd looked like this when I was 
3. Baby Baker Love- I really relate to the overwhelming sense of love this mother feels for her baby, it's obvious in her blog.
4. A Comfy Little Place of My Own- this woman is an inspiration
   and I just adore the home she has created.
5. The Vanilla Tulip- great tips, gorgeous family and I love that
   she appreciates being a stay at home mum which, although I 
   love teaching, is my 'if only' dream.
My Seven Things:
(I was going to give you some deep and meaningful ones but they ended up being FAR too long so instead these are very shallow and short)!

1. I adore film, so much so that I can't pick a favourite but
   have a top five in each genre (which is subject to change 
   according to my mood and latest viewings).
2. I have a rather ridiculous phobia of belly buttons, which I
  find hard to accept as I like to consider myself a rational 
  young woman!
3. My guilty pleasure is undoubtedly trashy magazines.
4. Nearly every room in my house is blue (it would have been every room if I'd had my way)
5. The one destination I'd love to visit is Cambodia.
6. I had my tongue pierced as a teenager.
7. As my Dad is a well known climber, I have climbing routes
   named after me, including one called Nappy Rash- how 

Thanks again Debra!

Goodness gracious me! The Liebster Award.

Imagine my surprise when, half asleep this morning, I logged in to see that I had been put forward for not just one, but two blogging awards! I'd like to thank my parents, my teachers...

No, seriously though, it's lovely to know that those who stumble across this blog find some value in it.

So, let's start with the The Liebster Blog Award. To pinch the definition from the darling who nominated me: Liebster is a German word meaning 'dearest'. The only real specification is that the blog must have less than 200 followers, the premise being to share a little love and appreciation for those just taking their first tentative steps in to the world of blogging.

Firstly to thank Tabetha from The Closet Intellectual for the nomination (more on the lovely Tabetha later) and then my duty is then to select another five to share the love with, and so here they are:

Captains Locker Vintage Finds
Now, I know these are a shop and I've just assumed that they have under 200 followers (as it's relatively new) but I just see something special in this blog, for what my opinion matters, I reckon it'll go places! I love that it's laid back and unpretentious and I also heart the Captain's style in a big way- what a dashing young man! My only gripe with this blog? I'm dying to stick a possessive apostrophe in 'Captain's'- sorry, I can't help it (I'm an English teacher)!

Sweet Thing
Has this blog got 200 followers? I have no idea because it doesn't say but if not, it should! Gorgeous images have me lusting over all the sweet things and I love the clean, fresh look of the blog overall.

Lucy loves to blog
Oh to be young and beautiful! Lucy wears all the clothes I would if I were twenty and not thirty (sigh) but I enjoy living vicariously through her fashion choices. Fashion conscious but not a fashion slave, the girl's got style.

Paper Thoughts Fabric Dreams
I love all things crafty and this blog is inspiring without being daunting and intimidating. Its combination of 'the best of bits from the net' mixed with lovely ideas is a winning combination and reminds me of A Beautiful Mess which is one of my all time favourites.

A Closet Intellectual
Am I allowed to nominate this blog as they nominated me? Well, I don't care whether I am or not (I've always been a bit of a rebel)! If there is one word I would use to describe this blog it would be 'sunshine': a little ray of sun in my day that perks me up and brightens my mood. I think I hold this blog close to my heart as I think it's similar to my own, but hopefully that's a good thing!

Congratulations to all you bloggers and keep spreading the Liebster Love!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Inspired by you guys... Green Smoothies

I was reading an article about targets for the following year and it made me realise that I need to try and be more organised and get things done! I see so many great ideas from fellow bloggers and think 'Ohhhhh, I must try that...' but it always gets shoved to the bottom of the pile as more practical day to day snores, opps, I mean CHORES, take over.

So here is a pledge to try and get one thing done per week, either after being inspired by others or my own little brain waves.

Starting this week, I'm adding some green to a smoothie after seeing this idea here- link! (Note: I heart the brilliant ideas from A Beautiful Mess and recommend you check them out).I don't think I'll manage a full week of smoothies but one day per week is a do-able trade up on my usual fruit-based smoothie. 

Here's how I was inspired by the great gals at A Beautiful Mess:

Usual Smoothie
Plain yogurt
Cherry yogurt
Vanilla extract

Green Smoothie:

The Verdict:
The spinach was great as I couldn't taste it at all, I'll definitely be adding leafy greens to my smoothies from now on. However, do not add desiccated coconut- what a lumpy mess, think dog vomit! In future I'll opt for fresh coconut.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Three Months Old Today!

The Sanderson Smith Story is three months old today; my first few tentative steps into blogging have been a thoroughly enjoyable way of documenting our daily life. Although it is intended purely as diary, it's nice to have my lovely 31 followers and over a thousand views, whether you stumbled across this by accident or not, it's still nice to feel like I'm not just typing into the abyss!

I already envy those who have been blogging for years, especially those who blog from their pre-parenthood years- what an amazing gift to share with your children one day. I love that we'll be able to look back at this in a few years and hopefully blogs about what we were cooking or our days out will bring back the memories.

Finally, thank you to all of those who take the time to blog, I love both the real and the aspirational blogs out there and never fail to find everything from practical tips to philosophical provocations.

Happy blogging

Monday, 9 April 2012

Row row row your boat!

One of my highlights of Easter weekend spent in the Lakes (and the only days with half decent weather)was rowing on Windermere. Just gorgeous!

Hope you all had a wonderful

(PS- please excuse the grainy pictures, I had to use an app to brighten the images as, despite the gorgeous sunshine, the photos came out a touch dark.)

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Ice-cream and 30 seconds in a night club!

Yesterday we met friends for lunch and, most importantly, ice-cream at the wonderful Wheelbirks- link! near Shotley Bridge (Co. Durham):

Later we went for a meal for Kim's birthday at a cheap restaurant down North Shields Fish Quay. Ben thought it would be funny to do this with my pud:

I met friends in town after with the aim of going clubbing; that's a big deal considering I haven't stepped foot in a club for about 18 months. The girls and I got dressed up and hit the bars in Newcastle, finally stumbling into a club called The Cut- link! Except after half a song (I wish I was exaggerating) there was a power cut! After that we couldn't be bothered so got pizza and headed home. Still a great night and lovely as ever to catch up with my gorgeous friends.

Happy Sunday everyone, hope if you were out last night you managed longer in the club than us!