Last year, Boden released a limited, special edition collection called Boden ICONS. The capsule collection of cool British premium items was snapped up quickly, so I was delighted to see it back again this year. I’d seen little snippets online but the full collection is utterly breathtaking. If you want one of the pieces, flex that credit card and get over to Boden’s website stat. These pieces won’t last long. Read more
See what I did there?
On Tuesday, I hot footed it to High Wycombe to attend the opening of the new Dunelm store in High Wycombe. If, like me, you’ve mostly used Dunelm in the past when you needed a new doormat or washing up bowl, you won’t believe the difference. Existing Dunelm stores are having major refurbishments done, and new ones are light, bright, modern and user-friendly.
January sucks, doesn’t it? One thing guaranteed to make it better, though, is to land yourself a steal in one of the sales, many of which start today. Regular readers will know that I’m obsessed with hush, and the hush sale is always one of the best. Here are my top picks for things you should grab before they’re gone!
If you’re a ‘last minute Larry’ like me, there are still plenty of wonderful things to buy, and often, if you hang around for a bit before ordering, you’ll find there are quite a few deals to be had. First things first, though, you need a mince pie and a glass of fizz….
One of my favourite places to shop is upstairs in our local T K Maxx. I’m not massively keen on the clothes, but I love all the kitchen stuff, gifts and candles. We recently discovered their new shop on our way to Lidl in Aylesbury (I think I mentioned it here), and Mr E and I recently went back for a proper look around and ended up having a really lovely Christmassy afternoon of shopping. Here are my favourite discoveries:
The best thing about winter when you work from home is being able to snuggle up in a lovely warm jumper, light a candle that smells of Christmas pudding, make yourself a hot chocolate with extra marshmallows and sit in front of the fire all day, with a warm whippet for company. Unfortunately the aforementioned whippet also needs to stretch her legs, so my day is broken up with a couple of frosty walks, which actually I don’t mind, as long as I’m well wrapped up.
I’m SO excited about all the new autumn/winter 2015 collections I’m seeing. It’s funny isn’t it, how after thinking of nothing but bikinis and straw bags for weeks and weeks, all of a sudden we just turn our backs on it all and start oohing and aahing over coats, chunky leather boots and gorgeous knitwear.
I think really good basics should be the foundation of everyone’s wardrobe. A well-fitting tee is just so effortless. I love the hush summer sheer crew tee. They’re so soft and drapey (that’s a word, right?) and look fabulous on (I’m about a size 12 and go for the s/m size). The silver is such a lovely colour and seems to go with everything. A great basic (£35):
Happy Sunday! I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. We’ve mostly slobbed around, eaten cake, signed the contracts ready to exchange on our house (YAY!), splurged in Majestic Wine (this Stag’s Leap ‘Karia’ Chardonnay was buy two, save £10), stroked our gorgeous little furball family and started prepping for our next painting project: Sam’s bedroom (feature wall dark grey, other walls silvery grey).
I’ve got my first trip coming up very soon, a cruise on the gorgeous Disney Dream – one of my favourite ships, so I thought it would be a good time to stock up on some of the summer stuff that’s inevitably in the sales:
So next on our wonderful trip to Florida, we hopped back into our amazing Mustang and headed down to Sarasota, to the brand new Mall at University Town Centre (UTC for short). The brand new Macy’s there is utterly fantastic, and very state of the art. We joined store manager Kerry Yelle for a tour of the store. She’s understandably pretty proud of the place and pointed out several really cool features that are unique to this ‘smart store’. The lighting, for example, has been designed to be sustainable and the lamps don’t need replacing, plus the changing rooms have lights that only come on when you enter, to save energy.
So with news that the House of Bodily Fluids could soon be ours (I guess we shouldn’t totally get our hopes up until we’ve actually exchanged contracts), we’ve started doing that nesting thing where you go out window shopping for things you’ll never really be able to afford but you’d buy if you had unlimited funds (known as ‘champagne lifestyle, lemonade budget’ in our house).
We’re so lucky where we live to have an amazing choice of food shops – I shop all over the place: our lovely local farm shop, several different supermarkets and sometimes at a local, but quite small M&S Simply Food. We love M&S food and wine, and we often pop in, especially if I’m going to be away, to stock the boys up on their pizzas, which are amazing, and their meatball pasta sauce, amongst other things. Plus, of course, I need to keep myself stocked up with Penny Pigs. My fave.
I’m very lucky, and the postie often brings me all manner of yummy bits and bobs (he doesn’t miss out – he’s got a bit of a thing for blue cheese, which I’m not massively keen on, so he’s often rewarded).
Here’s the latest bunch of postal bounty that we’ve loved:
Abra-ca-debora pancakes made me my very own pancakes in time for Shrove Tuesday – isn’t that amazing?
But pancakes aren’t just for pancake day – these beauties are the perfect storecupboard ingredient all year round – fill them with creamy chicken and spinach, or roasted veggies in tomato sauce. Scrummy.
Steenbergs Organic were established in 2003 and are based in North Yorkshire. They sent me a fabulous selection of products from their amazing array of fairtrade and organic goodies. The spiced chai sugar is absolutely gorgeous, and the flavourings are incredibly good quality. Check out their website as I can’t even begin to list all the stuff they sell.
We’ve been drinking a ridiculous amount of this delicious Villa Maria Gewürtraminer. It was on spesh at Majestic but is sadly back up to £9.99. I’ll be watching out for the next time it’s on offer.
Cawston Press brought out a range of ‘grown up’ fizzy drinks (just in time for my failed attempt at alcohol free January): the sparkling apple & rhubarb was my favourite, closely followed by the sparkling lemon and lime (which tasted sublime with a dash of gin).
Lovely Sophie at Mullion Cove makes traditional Cornish fairings. They’re gorgeously soft and spicy, and the fig and ginger had us all fighting over the last one. Oh, and apparently the word ‘fairing’ comes from the fact they were sold at Cornish fairs and feasts and in Victorian times they were brought by a gentleman to give to his sweetheart as a love token!
French’s have brought out some new products this year: our faves by far were the Jalapeno Tomato Relish and the Sweet Onion Relish (scrummy on hot dogs, but I’ve taken to putting it in toasted cheese sandwiches too). I’m not keen on mustard, but English Dad insists that the new Smooth & Spicy version of their original yellow mustard is fabulous too.
Elizabeth Shaw have brought out two new scrummy new flavoured bars: Pear and Almond and Blackberry and Ginger. We liked them both, but I would have liked to see larger chunks of nuts in the almond one that came across as slightly gritty. I was, I admit, in the minority in this view, though, and they were both scoffed in seconds.
The lovely chaps at Farmison sent me an ENORMOUS British artisan cheese box. Really well packaged, with lots of ice packs to make sure the cheese stays in perfect condition, the selection was varied, interesting and creatively put together. The Caboc Highland Cheese, which is covered in oatmeal, I think, was especially delicious (just as well as there were two of those in the box), and my other favourite was a sharp, but still creamy Keens of Wincanton Traditional Cheddar. For blue lovers there’s a hand-made Yorkshire Blue and a seriously strong Colston Bassett. The quince paste and water biscuits are delightful extras. The whole box would make an amazing present for any cheese lover.
Wagamama‘s new chilli, coriander and ginger dressing is fab on salads and in chicken wraps, but SUBLIME on avocados, mushed into rye toast. Don’t question me, just do it. We also tried Nando’s Smokey BBQ marinade which is lovely with chicken, sausages, ribs and any chunky white fish.
I think that’s it. Go forth and get shopping!
Firstly, can I say that this review is about the online shopping experience and not about the iron – although this iron has given me so much entertainment, I’ve popped a little video at the end, just for you.
When Littlewoods asked me to give their online shop a go I was a tiny bit dubious. I think probably because I’m remembering the Littlewoods catalogues my Mum had when I was a kid. Now, happily, you can buy just about anything you could possibly want, and, although you can still do that thing where you pay for things weekly, you can also pay by credit card very easily. And now, with the addition of the gorgeous Myleene fronting their adverts (check out her lingerie collection, it’s gorgeous), Littlewoods is fresh, modern, and just a little funky. Brand-wise I was really impressed: there’s all the big guns like Coast, Lipsy and Ted Baker for the ladies and stuff like Superdry, Diesel and – my teenagers’ favourite G-Star RAW for the fellas, as well as all the usual big household brands.
It also got the boys’ vote for things like the ability to pre-order games such as Halo 4 and for good value gaming bundles too.
I purchased an iron (more of this later) and was able to pay, and chose a delivery time and date all within a couple of clicks. I was also sent tracking information and was kept up to date with emails. You can also reply to the emails to easily change the delivery date if it turns out it’s not convenient after all.
Delivery was very smooth and there was no waiting – the van was waiting for me on my return from the school run on the date requested. Impressive.
All in all, I came away with a completely positive experience of shopping online with Littlewoods and will definitely be back (well, now I’ve got an account it would be rude not to) to do my Christmas shopping.
And the iron? It’s great: it has a massive 300ml water tank, a huge 3 metre cord, and is heavy enough to feel substantial whilst not breaking your wrist every time you iron a shirt. The soleplate is pointy so it’s easy to get in between buttons on school shirts and it gives a big, hefty shot of steam when you need it. There’s just one downside:
I SAID, I’M I R O N I N G! NOPE, I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!
It is, quite simply, the loudest iron in the world. Now I don’t really care, as its strengths outweigh the single flaw, but if you routinely iron while you’re watching TV, or with a sleeping baby in the room? Forget it. WHAT? I SAID FORGET IT!
Many thanks to Littlewoods.
So you know the feeling, you return from holiday, suffer the Gatwick Express, then the tube, then possibly a taxi too, finally open the front door and the first thing you can think of is a nice cup of tea. But the problem is that the milk you left in the fridge two weeks ago now resembles furry blue yoghurt.
During the summer, Tesco tested out a brilliant service at Gatwick Airport’s north terminal: the Gatwick ‘virtual store’. Customers could view a range of products by whizzing through some very flashy moving screens on large virtual ‘fridges’. They could then scan the barcodes (iPhone or Android) to put goods into their online baskets, then book a home delivery and pay. With hour slots, you could practically predict that your shopping would arrive home at the same time as you. Here’s a link to the video of the ‘virtual store’ in action:
Tesco let me have a dabble with their online app, available here, so I could see the technology in action. I’m not massively techno-fabulous so I enlisted the help of the Death Wish Dude (my first mistake). After an easy (and free) download, he set about roaming the house, randomly scanning barcodes, to see whether we could arrange an entire shop using just the barcode scanning.
The technology, though fabulous for when you get back from holiday, is also fabulous when you’re stuck at home. Someone on Twitter asked me if you could scan goods as they run out throughout the week, and yes, you can. It remembers the goods in your online basket, ready for you to ‘check out’ at the end of the week. No more shopping lists stuck on the fridge.
The dude’s verdict? Generally positive although it didn’t recognise the barcode on Nutella and we noticed random things like if you want to re-order a box of Bud, you can’t do it unless you kept the box as there are no barcodes on the bottles. Still, easily searched for on the search engine.
The delivery: spot on time, VERY friendly and helpful, took away all my plastic bags for recycling, gave me loads of tips about busy/quieter delivery times, and my order was perfect, not a single replacement.
A massive thank you to Tesco for letting me have a go with the app, and huge apologies for the randomness of my order which, thanks to my youngest son, included such delights as two massive jars of coffee (‘what? It was buy one get one free.’) a large amount of Double Deckers, and some David Beckham aftershave. I vote to make the service permanent at Gatwick too. I, for one, could do without furry blue tea after a week away.
- Extra cheesy bacon mac and cheese with a herby crunch topping August 23, 2017
- The crunchy brunchy breakfast burger and a Snaffling Pig Co giveaway! August 21, 2017
- Weekend wishlist: oh, hush autumn 17, you’re looking lovely! August 19, 2017
- Honey and mustard glazed pork medallions August 17, 2017
- The De Vere Latimer Estate August 15, 2017