I’m so looking forward to this weekend! After a busy few weeks, it’s time to kick back and enjoy a lovely few days with the family. It’s Charlie’s birthday so we’re planning to head out on Sunday for brunch and I’m fully intending on spending Saturday baking hot cross buns and scoffing chocolate – let’s hope it stays nice and sunny! If you’re entertaining this weekend, I’ve got loads of recipes for you, including big roast dinners, delicious desserts, baking and – of course – hot cross buns! For this big Easter roundup, I’ve also picked a few of my favourite sweet treats, just in case you haven’t chosen your chocolate stash yet. Enjoy!
So if you follow me on any form of social media, you can’t have failed to notice that I’ve had a bit of an exciting – and emotional – week. It started off with a magical invitation to a British TV first that saw Mr E and I checking in for a rather special Virgin Atlantic charter flight to Orlando with the very excited winners of the ‘place on the plane’ tickets from ITV’s popular Saturday evening show. Follow me, then, for a little photo diary of our adventure to watch the live final of Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway at Walt Disney World!
You all know I love a bright colour – there’s something about being surrounded by brights that constantly lifts your mood. Although I love a minimalist wardrobe, I don’t think I could ever have a minimalist home: for one thing, we’re too messy, and for another I love my bright blue kitchen table too much! This week I’ve been delighted to discover a new range, Tribal Treasures at Homesense and T K Maxx, which is both beautiful and inspiring.
I know I’m always ridiculously excited about sharing my weekend wishlist items with you, but this one really is a beauty: imagine your dream dress: just boho enough to wear on your holidays (I’m thinking uber cool beach cocktails in Ibiza, but insert your own daydream here), just chilled enough to wear for a summer party, and just laid-back luxe enough to wear to a wedding. Basically the dramatic dress of dreams. And where will you find this wonder? Why, Anthropologie of course – maybe not your first stop for online clothes shopping, but actually a complete treasure trove of gorgeous pieces.
I’m so ready for Easter! The clocks have gone back and there are new shoots and beautiful trees full of blossom everywhere you look (and obviously there’s the whole chocolate egg thing to consider). There’s something about this time of year that just brings the kid out in all of us, isn’t there? Daffodils, the smell of the mown grass, Easter egg hunts and hot cross buns – it’s one of my favourite times of year and reminds me so much of my childhood. This Easter, Sainsbury’s is celebrating never growing up, so it’s a happy coincidence that one of my favourite sharing dishes is a twist on another childhood favourite: fish fingers, chips and peas. These delicious salmon fish fingers are a great recipe for feeding a crowd, as you can just double, or even triple the recipe, and it’s also a really great way to encourage the kids to eat a bit more fish too. I’ve swapped the usual potatoes for sweet potatoes, and created a delicious, fresh mint, pea and yoghurt dip for dunking too.
How much money do you spend on your skin. Cleanser? Moisturiser? Serum? Maybe the odd facial here and there? I’m about the same. I’m very lucky because I do occasionally get gifted lovely items of skincare too. When it comes to tackling skincare over 40, though, I’m starting to wonder if my beauty regime is enough. I’m noticing fine lines (especially in pictures when I smile), and although I slather on the SPF, I’m worried I’m not taking proper care of my skin. I’m also confused things like Botox, fillers and other aesthetic treatments. Are they worth the money?
Ooh it’s a very exciting weekend wishlist this week. It’s just been announced that denim lifestyle range AND/OR has launched exclusively with John Lewis. Created by LA based designers Calvin Rucker, and inspired by the sunny upbeat lifestyle of LA, the premium range of jeans and denim is complemented with a full collection of clothing, shoes, bags, accessories and lingerie, and it’s all pretty heavenly, if I’m honest. I absolutely love denim and I’m so excited to see John Lewis teaming up with these incredible women. What I love about the AND/OR at John Lewis range is that it mixes classic cuts and heritage washes (designers Caroline Calvin and Joie Rucker originally met at Levi’s) with on trend pieces and great basics like tees and lingerie too.
You know me, I LOVE to bake. I go through spells of obsessing about things: recently it’s been fresh bread (including these yummy iced buns), all sorts of different flavoured brownies, and muffins, especially breakfasty ones. It’s funny how things change but at one stage the boys would happily scoff a big breakfast in the morning: eggs on toast, bacon sandwiches… that type of thing. Recently, they’re not as keen (probably because they’re always late) and I hate the thought of them going out into the world with empty stomachs. Bring on the breakfast muffin: easy grab and go food, and not too hideously bad for them (better than a McDonald’s breakfast, no doubt). I absolutely love the flavour combo of these fresh orange and dark chocolate muffins, although obviously you could add things like blueberries or chopped banana instead (I only add a scant 75g anyway).
I’ve had a think about it, and I’ve decided that having Mother’s Day and my birthday on the same day is the way to go. I appreciate it’s not something I can dictate, but it made for such a wonderful weekend – full of my favourite people, some delicious food, and many laughs – that I think I’m going to try and swing it from now on. We started the Mother’s Day/birthday weekend (or should that be the Motherbirthday weekend?) with a trip to the cinema to see Beauty and the Beast. Oh, I loved it – I adore Emma Watson anyway and Beauty and the Beast has long been my favourite Disney movie, so the combination of the two of them, along with my three favourite men plus being able to sip a glass of wine (the Odeon MK has a gallery area where you can order a drink before your film) while I was watching was possibly the best thing ever.
Honestly, it feels like we’ve been refurbishing this house for years. But now, with the flooring done, it really feels like we’re getting somewhere. Our last two big projects to tackle are the two bathrooms: the main bathroom which the boys share, and our own en-suite, which we’ve lived with in a right old state since the shower developed a leak over a year ago. The problem with bathrooms are that they’re expensive. Even if you find all the ‘furniture’ at the very budget end (which we did), you need someone skilled to come and do things like tiling and plumbing, so we waited until we could just about afford it all, and made savings wherever possible. Here’s a bit of en suite inspo for you, should you be considering doing the same:
When friends and readers are planning a trip, I’m often asked for my advice about things that they absolutely mustn’t miss, and always about the best rides: what’s worth queuing for, what’s worth using a FastPass+ for, that sort of thing. This got me thinking about my favourite experiences at Walt Disney World Resort, Florida: the things that I would rush round and do if I only had, say, a day at each park. So here’s my little list of Disney World’s best rides – I know it’s subjective, but these are my own personal faves. I’m bound to add to it, so do refer back every so often!
Now our boys are older and have their own money, when it comes to gifting they tend to just ask what I’d like. I’m always happy with flowers or chocolates, but when they or Mr E want to buy me something lovely that I might not splurge on for myself, I tend to head straight for beauty products. You already know that I’m a big fan of M & S beauty, so I thought I’d pick a few things that I love that would make amazing Mother’s Day gifts (or, frankly, a well-deserved bit of self-gifting too). Read on to find my top picks for Mother’s Day beauty with M & S:
I’ve been fiddling around a lot lately with this recipe. The boys have (mostly) been willing testers, although one of the batches tasted ‘kinda like chocolate pizza’, which wasn’t really the result I was aiming for. What I have been aiming for is a really soft white finger roll – you know, like the ones you buy in a bakery, smothered in gooey icing. I think the best ingredient in getting these soft iced buns as light as possible is actually time – they need to rise slowly, then be shaped, then rise slowly again. The perfect rainy-day occupation, then. And there have been quite a few of those recently (although yesterday I made them while the sun was shining and the kitchen door was open – and that’s good too.) Read more
I’m so lucky to have my Mum. She’s my biggest cheerleader, supporter and advisor – always on the sidelines cheering me on, always there with great advice, never interfering, never judging. Mr E and my Mum get on really well, and the boys quite rightly adore her (she spoils them silly, even now they’re big), so she’s always played a huge role in our family life. This Mother’s Day, I’ve teamed up with John Lewis to create a lovely hamper of gifts for my mum as inspiration for Mothers’ Day gifting. Here’s what I chose to say thank you to my lovely Mum.
I’m such a monochrome shopper it’s not even right. Absolutely everything I purchase (apart from denim) is black, white, or grey, so my current obsession with everything nude and blush has kind of caught me by surprise. Although, I guess nude is a neutral, so by rights my wardrobe should all still fit together, no?
I’m just not really a breakfast person. I’ve tried hard to change this, but the most I generally eat before about 11am are copious cups of tea and maybe a biscuit or a banana. So when Breville came along with their Blend Active Diary Challenge, bandying about phrases like ‘a smoothie a day’, and phrases like ‘lesser used vegetables’ and ‘superfoods’, I was a bit worried I wouldn’t enjoy my challenge week. Still, I’m always up for a bit of experimentation, and let’s face it, an entire healthy meal in a glass sounds like a lazy person’s dream come true. Here’s how I got on:
- Family holidays in Kissimmee: fab villas and outdoor fun! May 23, 2017
- The weekend wishlist: summer glow May 20, 2017
- Post 40 beauty: a hair revamp with The Hair Secret, Berkhamsted May 18, 2017
- A Trainline trip to Birmingham May 16, 2017
- Tips on buying a bikini if you’re curvy May 15, 2017