Our lovely neighbours are complete barbecue fanatics. As soon as there’s even a hint of nice weather, the most delicious smells start wafting through from their garden, making me really want a barbecue. I think the thing that’s holding us back is the thought of buying a big, expensive barbecue and then never using it, so last week we went out and bought one of those really cute, cheap little bucket barbecues to have a try without spending too much money. The lovely chaps at Very Lazy had, coincidentally, sent me a couple of their handy jars so I thought I’d start simply with a few sausages and a tasty maple and ginger barbecue chicken, using the Very Lazy jars of chopped ginger and chopped red chillies .
I absolutely adore St Petersburg. The last time I visited, back in 2012, we really only had one day there and I was desperate to go back and really explore. I absolutely love its buzzy vibe, the gorgeous beaches and the way the downtown area absolutely comes alive at night, with restaurants, bars and cafés thronging with people. Even as recently as the 90s, Downtown St Pete was really quite unloved. Remember Cocoon? Jeff, our lovely guide told us that the movie was filmed in St Pete in the 1980s, and it was an area known as ‘God’s Waiting Room’, full of retirees and not a lot else. Slowly, though, the locals transformed their beloved neighbourhood, and now it’s such a creative, lively place to visit, with a wonderful arts scene and fabulous shops, restaurants, galleries, stunning museums like the beautiful new Morean Arts Centre and the Dali Museum, and beautiful open spaces. Read more
Can you believe that the school summer holidays are nearly here? I love this time of year because it means… holiday shopping! I know, any excuse for shopping, but this one’s an important one: there are shorts and sandals and swimwear to be bought and you know what it’s like: blink and they’re all sold out! With this in mind (and because many stores have just started their sales), I’ve decided to put together a few tips to help you to simplify both the shopping and packing processes.
So did you know that Sunday was International Picnic Day? Luckily the weather was absolutely gorgeous so it was easy to get outside and do some alfresco snacking. Of course planning the perfect picnic really shouldn’t include limp sandwiches and sweaty salads – I think the key to an impressive picnic is to mix a few things you’ve made yourself with a selection of ready made bits and bobs, blurring the edges so nobody quite knows which is which. I’ve been trying out a few items from Tesco’s brand new Mediterranean-inspired Deli range, and they fit the bill perfectly: you can eat many of the items hot or cold, and there are loads of tasty little bits and pieces perfect for eating with your fingers.
Okay, so I’m aware that I’m publishing my weekend wishlist on a Thursday, but there’s a good reason for this: I wanted to give you a heads up about the return of the legendary M&S Summer Beauty Box! It’s always hugely popular and I think last year sold out within hours, so it’s really important that you get in there quickly! The offer is: spend £40 across clothing, homeware and beauty and get a beauty box gift – worth £105 – for just £10. The offer is valid from today until 26th June 2017 (but it’s doubtful whether stocks will last that long). The M&S Summer Beauty Box contains all sorts of gorgeous goodies, so if you’re planning a little M&S shop, this is the perfect time to do it!
In all the years that I’ve been visiting Walt Disney World, there’s been one iconic Disney place that I’ve never managed to visit: Celebration, Florida: the prettiest little community, and Walt Disney World’s home town. With wide streets and colourful shops and houses, it’s a really lovely place to spend a day, wandering the lovely, tree-lined residential areas (there’s actually a Wisteria Lane there that looks like it’s straight out of Desperate Housewives), and popping in to all the lovely shops (there’s a fabulous dog shop there selling everything you could possibly need for your pampered pooch!). Here’s my photo diary of our day: a little taster of what to expect when you visit Celebration.
The Far East boasts some of the most unique and diverse cuisines in the world. From Japan and Thailand, China, Vietnam, India, and Sri Lanka, the use of spices and aromatics bring flavoursome taste experiences like no other, with everything from fabulous, colourful street food to fine dining on offer. If you’re planning a culinary trip to the Far East, I’d recommend that you arm yourself with the local currency (especially important with the street food), so do your research on travel money providers (there are several companies reviewed here), and make sure that as you switch countries, you exchange your local currency before leaving. With smaller currencies like THB or INR, it can be tricky to get them exchanged after departing the country.
Hello! If you’ve been following me on social media, you’ll know that I’ve just spent a brilliant week with Virgin Holidays at Elite Island Resort’s The Club, Barbados, singing my heart out in the most amazing choir. Much more of that very soon (and more about the gorgeous resort as well), but for this weekend’s wishlist, I just wanted to tell you why Ultrasun should be in your beach bag (and on your face!) this summer.
So if you’ve been following along with my post 40 beauty diary, you’ll know that I’ve been trying hard to take better care of my skin, and trying out a few different treatments with the lovely people at One Stop Doctors, a brand new medical facility in Hemel Hempstead. After my consultation with GP and Aesthetic Doctor, Dr Heidi Miller, I was really excited to take the next step and book in for some Botox. If you’ve been considering having any aesthetic treatments, I thought it might be helpful to give you a completely honest account of what it’s really like to have Botox.
If you’ve ever been to Walt Disney World, I think you’ll agree that one of the highlights has always been the wonderful ‘Wishes’ show at the end of the evening, with fireworks lighting up Cinderella Castle, accompanied by beautiful Disney songs. As soon as the sweet voice started singing ‘star light, star bright’, the goosebumps would start and by the end I’d generally be blubbing (I know, but it’s so beautiful). Unbelievably, the Wishes show has been a family favourite since something like October 2003 and is definitely a bit of a Disney institution, so the brand new show, Happily Ever After at Walt Disney World had a lot to live up to.
Now you all know I’m a huge Boden fan, and it’s that time of year again when they’re releasing gorgeous pictures of all their beautiful beach and holiday ranges. I love Boden for great quality, bold patterns, awesome design and just a little hint of British quirkiness. As an added bonus, from now until tomorrow, Sunday 11th June, there’s 30% off dresses, (including playsets and rompers), accessories (non-footwear), boys’ trousers and menswear with code: 6T2C. Here’s my pick of Boden’s holiday heroes – get those credit cards at the ready!
Last week, I mentioned my need for a few little calming rituals, like my coconut chai tea. My brain is particularly whizzy at the moment (hence, I went to my first yoga class this week – and loved it), and if I’m up really early, I quite like to go downstairs, say hi to the dog and have a little potter in the kitchen. At the moment I’m a bit obsessed with baking bread – I tend to bake two loaves at a time, using my standard, lazy recipe (which doesn’t involve any kneading at all). I’ve mentioned before that rye is really good for you – I don’t make 100% rye bread, which we find too strong, but when mixed with white flour, this is our absolute favourite. Another bonus of home made bread is that it lasts ages when compared to shop bought, which seems to go mouldy very quickly. This particular recipe has rosemary added, which is surprisingly delicious. Here’s how to do it:
So last time, I was telling you all about family holidays in Kissimmee. The next stop on our little tour of alternative Florida destinations was beautiful Clearwater. This gorgeous Gulf Coast barrier island destination sits just across Old Tampa Bay on the west coast of Florida along with St Petersburg. Between them, they boast 35 miles of white sandy beaches and an average of 361 sunny days per year. So apart from lazing away endless, sunny days and glorious sunsets in this pretty resort town, here are a few other reasons why Clearwater is a fabulous choice for a family holiday.
I’m currently obsessed with everything pineapple and I fear my fever is getting worse, not better. Everywhere I look (mostly on Instagram, admittedly), pineapple symbols and patterns are adorning everything from swimwear (see the evidence here) to sofas and most things in between. I’ve seen pineapple earrings, pineapple lip balms and of course, I love my pineapple trainers. Yes, friends, pineapples are no longer just for pizzas (I never did that, honestly) and it’s time to put your hands up and admit that you’re a bit of a devotee of pineapple perfection. It’s not just me, surely?
With all four of us now driving, a pretty big part of our family finances at the moment are given over to motoring expenses. We’re very clear with the boys about what we expect regarding how they drive (one of them has one of those black box telematics things which records how they drive). Recently, quite a few new rules have come into force, many of which are to do with speeding and mobile phone. Chatting about it with friends and family, though, it seems like many people aren’t aware of the changes. Did you know about the new speeding fines? Read more
So remember a while ago (actually about a year ago) I talked about the positive life plan? It stemmed from a lovely conversation with my friend Erica, and was a bit of a life-affirming exercise in which we discussed aspects of our life and added our thoughts about them (adding the rule that everything had to be positive). I now have a notebook especially for the plan, and update and add bits to it all the time (I’m pretty much a notebook nut – my whole life revolves around notes and to do lists and little snippets of things I’ve copied down).
- A salted caramel layer cake for my lovely Dad July 25, 2017
- Weekend wishlist: the summer kitchen roundup July 22, 2017
- The positive life plan: self July 20, 2017
- News from D23 Expo: what’s coming up at Walt Disney World, Florida July 18, 2017
- Top activities for adrenaline junkies July 17, 2017