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Keeping warm in style

I don’t know about you but I love the cold months, I am a proper winter girl through and through. I enjoy the sunshine and heat while I’m on holiday but it doesn’t really float my boat being at home and rushing around in the boiling heat. Unless it’s in the evening, then I love nothing more than sitting outside in a pub garden drinking.

Anyway, missing the point here.

We have HUGE bifold doors in our living room which are amazing, but god it can get cold sitting on the sofa next to them. Sometimes it feels like there is a full on gale force wind coming through, even though they’re really good, double (triple?) glazed doors. We have curtains up obviously but I love blinds and the way they can add that extra layer of insulation to the windows.

Duette energy saving blinds provide a sleek and sophisticated appeal that suits every single home. From kitchens to bathrooms, and living rooms to bedrooms, there are the perfect Duette window blinds for you. They take a similar look to the ever-popular pleated blinds, but are singled out with a clever design to help retain more heat in your home. The Duette blind range is complete by having a modern, sleek appeal with no unsightly cord holes and minimal wires.

I am still a minimalist girl at heart, I can’t stand too much faff and fancy so anything that fits in with that gets a tick from me! I also love the fact that you can have a your blinds fitted with two different levels of transparency, allowing your own personal approach. Or, as I like to call it, the “nosy neighbour blocker”!

Choose_stylish_blinds_for_your_home___Duette_co_uk

The blinds would have to be a dark grey colour for the living room. I might go a little wild in the bedroom colour scheme, perhaps a deep plum shade (which works with grey and white….!) while in the kids rooms we’d be able to go to the brighter end of the spectrum. The Boy loves oranges, yellows, blues and greens, and GG is all about pattern.

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Adding the blinds could well stop it feeling so damn cold in here in the evening, which would stop me whacking the heating up, which annoys the bloke, and then we could save some money on gas bills. Which we could then spend on drinks in the pub in the summer.

All round win win don’t you think!?

 

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NutriBullet

Hands up if you’ve heard about the power of juicing? (yup) Hands up if you’ve tried to follow a juice only diet for 3 or more days? (yup) Hands up if you thought it was practically impossible and you just gave up on the whole thing? (both hands up) You know me, I’ve tried most diet plans out there, anything for a quick fix! But, surprise surprise, just like your mum told you, you don’t get results by trying to cut corners.

I’ve had my Vitamix for a while now and I love it, but it’s just *so* big and takes a fair bit of cleaning, when you want to blast a quick juice in the morning, it’s not the most simplest of gadgets, which is why I was really interested in trying out the NutriBullet.

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The beauty of this is just how easy it is to use. It’s literally just a case of filling it with your fruit and veg, adding some liquid and blasting it. When it comes to washing it all goes in the dishwasher and you even get cups with lids so you can make one and leg it out the door screaming at the kids to hurry up if you want to. (What? It’s not just me that does that!)

I’ve been using mine for a week and a bit now, and I’ve got to be honest, I was worried about using greens in my juice. I know they’re a super food and amazing for you, but after having some really bad tasting veg juices I think I was scarred for life! I put the 50% spinach in the tall cup, added my pineapple, strawberries and blueberries and prayed it wouldn’t taste anything like spinach, and thank god it didn’t! It wasn’t fully green by any stretch of the imagination, but the book you get tells you to start yourself off slowly, I won’t be drinking sprout and cabbage juice anytime soon. I’ve gone for ease so far, using frozen fruit with my fresh spinach, which means my juices are like smoothies and that suits me. I’ve slowly found the right balance of water, the first few were a bit thick, but now I’ve got it down to a fine art.

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I haven’t tried adding a banana or avocado to the mixes yet, they’re meant to make it smoother and I’m tempted, but I’m not sure how avocado would work in a juice and I can’t stand banana in anything other than actual whole banana form. I have issues I know.

I love the size of the NutriBullet. I don’t have the biggest kitchen and counter space is limited so anything that stays out all the time has to take up as little room as possible and be something I use every single day. Compared to the Vitamix this is miniscule. I can leave the base out all the time, and if the large cup isn’t on it, it’s in the dishwasher, so it’s the perfect size.

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As well as smoothies, the NutriBullet can also make amazing soups, pasta sauces, dressings, dips and they come with a milling blade that can mill brown rice into flour, almonds into almond butter, and so much more. I want to make almond butter asap.

Even though it comes with a recipe book, I’ve been pretty much making it up as I go along, sticking with fruits I know I like, and using the spinach as the greens. I’m getting more fruit and veg in each day than I usually do and it’s a better breakfast than anything else I can make in that amount of time so it’s win win for me.

The NutriBullet costs £99 and is available here. I’ve got to say it’s a bloody good gadget and I would have bought one myself if I hadn’t been lucky enough to be sent one. I know I’ll use it every day, the kids are getting interested in having juices, which can only be a good thing so it’s already paid for itself in my eyes. When you think about the cost of the Vitamix, this is practically a bargain!

I’m in love with this little baby, and if you have a look at my Instagram page you’ll probably spot a new recipe each day!

I was sent a NutriBullet for the purpose of this review but all views are my own obviously! 

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Sweatshirt Love ~ New Look

I am turning into a sweatshirt obsessive, if I could wear one every single day of the week, I would. And by that I mean, if I had enough in my wardrobe not because I have to dress in any specific way.

New Look have got five that I am in love with, I want every single one. You might notice a slight theme to them, they all have a slogan (I love a slogan top, it’s like my breton stripe) and they’re all grey, black or burgundy. In fact, I had picked the grey version of one of the burgundy but I thought it was a bit too much. I’m good like that.

Sweatshirt, skinny jeans, ankle boots. That is pretty much my A/W staple look. It’s warm, it’s comfy (I’m so high fashion aren’t I?) and it looks good. Plus, when it’s pitch black outside and I need to get the kids to school and myself to work I can’t be faffing around with what to wear. Grab and go, grab and go.

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I want them all!

In no particular order,

1: Burgundy Creme De La Creme £14.99 (bargain no?)

2: Black Nothing To Wear £14.99

3: Grey Je Suis Un Beauty Queen £17.99

4: Grey Gryffindor £22.99 (never been a Harry Potter fan, but I can pretend)

5 Burgundy A Unicorn Made Me Do It! £14.99 (this was the one I want in grey)

So that’s Monday to Friday covered…….

 

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Afternoon Tea with Laura Ashley

Laura Ashley. Not usually my kind of brand, because of the preconceived idea I had about it all being flowery and chintzy.

Wrong!

If you read my iPhone post last week, you’ll know I was invited along to their Manor Hotel in Elstree – no, I didn’t know they had their own hotel either! And I pretty much had to eat my words.

After meeting up with my partners in crime friends Kate & Kelly for a quick Costa, we made our way to the PR’s offices, ready to hop onto a vintage bus for the ride over to Elstree. Now, I’m early 30’s and I have two noisy kids but when you have a bunch of (mostly) fashion and beauty bloggers on a metal bus for almost an hour, your ears do start to really hurt by the end of it. I’m so glad I sat at the front…!

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Elstree isn’t too far out (is it? My geography skills are useless) but it felt far out enough to be away from the bustle of London, and as we turned into the driveway, it was like entering a piece of the countryside reserved just for Laura Ashley!

Stepping off the bus, we were met with a huge, stunning building, black timber beams, gorgeous. It was bought by Laura Ashley in 2012 and had a full makeover to give it the style they wanted. Inside was painted to add light and space to the original features, keeping some amazing pieces, the fireplace was absolutely stunning, as I’ve got older (gah, I keep going on about getting older!) I’ve found myself really getting into history and the stories behind things, especially old buildings.

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fireplace

We made our way into the dining hall which was beautiful, if you’re going to have afternoon tea, which I think we should all have at least once a month, then this is the place you want to have it. Katie from Modern Mummy had managed to get an amazing window seat, we were there on quite a warm day but I could imagine sitting there on a cold winters day watching the world outside. The tea, as you’d exepct from a brand like Laura Ashley was delish! Teapots & cake stands galore! I may not like chintz but I do want a teapot and a cake stand for my kitchen! We were treated to cucumber, salmon and egg finger sandwiches, scones with cream and jam (which order do you do yours? I’m Cream then jam which is Devon style apparently!) plus a selection of cakes, and can you believe we couldn’t even finish them there were so many yummy things to pick from. I could have quite happily sat there for the afternoon!

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Next up was a tour of the hotel (the real reason we were there obviously!) The Manor is surprisingly big, much bigger than it appeared from the outside. All the rooms were decorated in particular styles to compliment everything in there. Most of the rooms had stunning views, including the giant chess board outside in the garden, which gave some of the bloggers hours of photographic opportunity! Each room had something special to make you feel like you were able to switch off and relax completely, the Mayfair room was one of my favourites, but every time I said I liked a room the most, I was shown another!

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view

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green room

gold bed

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If I were having a weekend away from the kids where it was just about relaxing and reading a book, walking around the grounds and really taking time out, The Manor would be amazing, it just has the whole ‘switch off’ vibe that you want from somewhere like that.

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chess board

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Big thank you to Laura Ashley Elstree for inviting me along and for the lovely afternoon!

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Dukes Boots

Ah winter. Sorry to say it, but my favourite time of year. Yes, I love throwing on a pair of flip flops but nothing beats snuggling up in huge boyfriend coats and buying that perfect pair of boots. Not to mention candles, blankets, hot chocolate, red cups and CHRISTMAS!

On my wish list, you know, that virtual list you have, where, if money were no object you’d be spending up like a crazy spend-y person are Dukes Boots. They are gorgeous. And, and! You can have them monogrammed! I am *all* over this right now so these babies are right up there!

It all started back in 2005 while Daisy (Dukes lady obviously) fell in love with a pair of boots. It turned out, of course, that it was impossible to get the boots in Britain, so Dukes Boots was born!
Daisy’s love affair with boots has a longer history than a love of our particular boots discovered on her travels. Boots run in the family for decades with her family designing the infamous Cowboy Boots – R.Soles.
Designed by Daisy in the UK, the boots are all handmade by traditional Artisans in the mountains of Spain using the highest quality natural materials. Every component is hand crafted using traditional methods ensuring the boots are designed not only to look beautiful but are made to last.

I present to you the boots I have been stalking….

boots, chelsea, ankle, womens

We have, Emmie (with the orange) £155.00, Grace (dark brown leather) £160.00, Ruby (blue and pink) and Lily (brown and yellow) £150.00. The personalisation is £14 for two letters, £18 for three.

My issue would be which pair to pick, I love them all!

Side note, this isn’t a sponsored post in the slightest, I just love these boots!

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iPhone Life #Instagram

Can I just start this post by saying –  HOW the hell is it November already? It doesn’t seem like 2 days ago we were counting down the weeks until we were on our way to Spain and now we’ve almost been back a week. I know everyone says it, but this year has just flown by. It’ll be Xmas before we know it.

Anyway. As always, I’m obsessed with Instagram. I love scrolling through my timeline looking at all the photos, I love being able to nose through peoples homes, wardrobes and lives. I get really annoyed when I get to the end of the scrolling and it won’t let me go back any further….! I thought I would do a little October catch up, you know, if I was one of those organised bloggers I would commit to doing this each month, but we know what I’m like so I’m making no promises!

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I can’t for the life of me remember what happened at the very beginning of the month (apologies if it was something really good…) but my camera roll starts with GG’s 12th birthday. Twelve. Can you believe that? This time next year I’ll have a teenager on my hands. When I still feel 16 in my head, I’m not sure how that’s going to play out, but luckily she’s a bloody good kid! We spent the day in Brighton, her doing some serious retail therapy and us following her around, we had a good day despite the weather and the Boy feeling poorly and it was lovely spending it together. One of her pressies was having her hair done, she’s been desperate to get it ombre’d for ages, but we didn’t know if it would be allowed at senior school, so I gave her the chance to find out & get permission, and if it was ok, then she could have it done. It looks bloody brilliant!

I was invited along to the Laura Ashley Hotel in Elstree to have a look round at the stunning grounds and the gorgeous rooms, all completely decked out in Laura Ashley products. I’ve never really considered myself a fan, but being in the hotel quickly got rid of any misconceptions I had, there were a couple of rooms I would have happily lived in myself, not a flowery print in site! Aside from the amazing rooms & hotel, I was also treated to afternoon tea and a glass of bubbles and the chance to chat to some of my favourite bloggers, Kate, Katy & Kelly and met the gorgeous Trusha who had the most amazing skirt on! We had a good laugh and it was good to get back into an event, it’s been a while!

Beauty goodies galore in October! My Little Box – from Paris! Is my favourite beauty box ever! I’m 2 boxes in and I can’t see me ever getting bored of what they send out! Clarins, as always, come up trumps. Instant Smooth is *the* best invention ever. I’ve given foundation the boot since I’ve been sent this and I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to face the world (or the school run) at 8am knowing I don’t look half dead. Obviously I’m still a make up addict and I’m never going to get rid of my bases forever, but giving my face a break every once in a while is a treat.

Then we have the biggie. The event taking up almost all of my camera roll. Espana! Oh it was a long time coming but we finally got all four of us on a plane, out of the rain and into the sun. 7 days of pure blue skies, sandy beaches, warm water, designer glasses and no emails, traffic, school runs, commutes, it was *just* what the doctor ordered. TB had never been on a plane and as we were taking off he turned to look at me and said, and I quote “I will remember this forever” I mean, heart melting or what?! They swam with fishes, body boarded, we covered ourselves in mud, ate squid & octopus, played on a beach for entire days and just generally had an amazing week. It’s given me a serious travel bug now, I’ve always known visiting other countries can teach kids things, but until you see with your own eyes how it can open up the world for them, it can teach them so much. There are a whole list of countries I want to visit, with the kids and without. Even a quick (dirty) weekend livens up the life and takes date night to the new extreme!

As we flew back into a very foggy (and a crazily bumpy landing) halloween, we had to do the last minute shopping dash, which resulted in two sorry looking  pumpkins but we did our best. Next year I am going to buy 2 (maybe 3!) giant pumpkins and I am getting my craft on. Ours weren’t too bad but when we went trick or treating they looked pathetic next to some! Face painting is my new favourite hobby! Can people get jobs as face painters?! If they can, then I want to join in! Pretty damn pleased with the Sugar Skulls and skeletons on my babes!

In contrast to the hot weather of last week, we’re now back to rain and grey skies, TB has yet another chest infection so I’m watching him like a hawk to make sure it doesn’t turn into pneumonia again, I’ve got the obligatory plane cold so I spent Sunday evening curled up on the sofa doing a bit of ASOS browsing and last but not least, we have the pooch home, and we think he’s happy to be back, even around TB, they snuggled up to watch The Simpsons Movie together last night!

If you’re on Instagram, come and follow me, I’m @kateag I love getting new followers & inspiration!

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Fancy dress, fancy competition!

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We are big fans of Halloween in this house, ever since I can remember I have loved doing a pumpkin each year, loving all the scary stories, witches and ghosts! GG was even due on Halloween (but obviously came 3 weeks early!) so we love a bit of fancy dress and face painting! I’m still determined to have a proper adults only Halloween party one year…. need to get round to that!

Pink Lining are holding a competition at the moment to find inexpensive, homemade costumes. They’re looking for sheet ghosts, toilet paper mummies and ever sock octopi! The best costume is going to win a fab Pink Lining Wheelie case!

Now, while I love Halloween and the kids love dressing up, I have to admit our costumes have always been shop bought! Doing the weekly food shop, stick a costume in the trolley for less than £10, done, so I’ve never attempted to make my own before. I had a look at Pinterest and was *AMAZED* at the efforts out there! Thank god I didn’t get the kids to look because I could have been stuck with some seriously complicated outfits! In the end I decided on skeletons. Nice and simple, and they always look good. Plus, it fitted in with the inexpensive side of the comp!

I grabbed two t-shirts from the mens section in Sainsburys, plain black, short sleeved tops for £5 each. Bargain. Then, I printed out a rib template that I found via Pinterest, via Martha Stewart. Good old Pinterest!

To save you from having to cut out the template twice, while the t-shirt is laying flat on the table, pick up two centre points, top and bottom, and fold down the middle so you just have the left side of the front, and the right side of the front (no back) to cut out. The more arty way of attaching the template would have been to stick it with adhesive spray, but I decided to do it free hand and copied the template straight onto the t-shirt with white chalk, this meant that I could also adjust the size of the ribs for The Boy, because his needed to be a lot smaller than GG’s!

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Now, in a more organised house you would be able to find your craft knife and use that, you wouldn’t be presented with a clay knife (plastic of course) by your daughter as a suggestion…! If you live in a house like mine, then you’ll have to use sharp scissors to do the cutting out! I started at the bottom and worked my way up, cutting through both sections so they were a mirror image of each other.

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Keep going until finally, you open the t-shirt out and you end up with something like this:

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We layered ours over a plain white t-shirt to get a better effect, but you could do it the other way round, whatever you like!

No skeleton is worth his weight in bones without a decent scary face so I attempted my own version of face painting, using my own black eyeliner and shadow! Probably would have been better to get a pot of black face paint, which I’ll probably buy for the actual day, but as practices go, this wasn’t too bad for a first attempt! It was just a case of circling the eyes and filling them in with black eyeshadow, then drawing on the jaw, cheekbones and colouring in the nose. I was quite pleased with myself!

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There we have it! My very own scary (if slightly grumpy?) skeleton! All for £5. We’re going to team it with some black skinny jeans and a couple of accessories and he’s good to go. I might even make myself one! If you want to enter the competition, all you need to do is make your own costume, take a picture of it and upload it to the Pink Lining website. You can find all the comp details here.

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