Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Mothers Day Gift Ideas for under £13

You know I have a bit of a soft spot for Russian Dolls don't you. Not really sure what it is about them maybe its their kitsch colours or that they remind me of my childhood. My Nan had a set  that I would sit and play with for hours and my Granddaughter now does the same with my Russian Doll set. 

So when the lovely people over at www.find-me-a-gift.co.uk asked me if I'd like to pick something from their website to feature as part of a Mothers Day gift guide my eye was immediately drawn to a set of Russian Doll storage boxes. 

They are so cute and when not in use they snugly nest inside each other. They can be used as lunch boxes, frozen left overs and more. Microwave safe, freezer safe and dishwasher safe, they will add folk charm to your kitchen. Ideal house warming gifts and kitchen accessories. The Matryoshka doll food containers hold 28 oz, 20 oz and 12 oz of biscuits, salads, gravy stock, left overs, buttons or beads.

I love them and my girls really like them too and have been using them for their lunches. I love them for the fridge to store salad and fruit. The 'Store M's - Russian Doll Storage Boxes' are a fab, very reasonably priced gift at £7.99 that any Mum or Nan would be thrilled to receive for Mothers Day.
A few other gift ideas for Mothers day are:
Hanging Tea Light Holder - £6.99 - Ideal for garden parties.
'Great Mum' Spaceform Glass Token - £12.99 - Perfect paperweight
Mrs Miracles Gift Set - £11.99 - A pamper set
Dear Mum From You to Me Journal - £11.99 - A journal full of questions

*This product was sent to me free of charge for the purpose of this review.*
I have received no financial reward for writing this post and I give an honest and unbiased opinion.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Magpie Monday - Its all yellow

I'm really happy with my Magpie finds this week and Im pleased to back in the swing of things again. First thing I bought from my local charity shop this week was some lovely yellow wool. All three balls for £1.50. I love the colour and have started making some leg warmers with it which I hope to match with my lemon PJ's. 

Then I spotted an outdoor light that looks as though it has never been used ...A real bargain at £1.50. Papa put it straight up in our back garden. It gives off a nice yellow glow as it turns dark. Perfect for the evening after a summer BBQ.

So have you spotted any bargains this week?

Linking up to Lizzies Magpie Monday.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Flashback Friday - 1985

Flashback Friday is back and being hosted by Emma over at A Matter of Choice. I love looking through other peoples old photos and sharing their memories. Their past is what has made them the people they are today and I just think its interesting hearing about peoples experiences in life so I'm really pleased this linky is up and running again. 

So for my first week of linking up I'm taking you back to 1985. I was fifteen in this photo and on my way to our local youth club with my mates. It was a place we all went to every week, a popular place to hang out  loads of teenagers would meet up there. There would be a disco every Friday night where we danced our socks off to tunes from Janet Jackson, Madonna, five Star, Band Aid, Wham, Paul Young, Culture Club and Duran Duran. Every time I hear Wham's Last Christmas it takes me back to this time and I see myself linked arms with the girls singing along to this Christmas classic.

I'm the one posing in the pale pink outfit (although it looks white in this photo.) At the time we wore big baggy shirts with massive diamante brooches at the neck. I wish it was a little clearer because this brooch I was wearing was multicoloured and I loved it. I was also wearing gigantic pink loop earrings and I know I would have been wearing tons of bangles up my arms because I never left home without them. I love that my mate next to me is blowing a big bubblegum bubble, we thought we were so cool.

Linking up to Flashback Friday

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Gallery - Landscape

As a lot of you know one of my favourite places in the whole world is North Devon. We lived there for 12 months a few years ago not long after losing my lovely Mum to Cancer. 

The village we lived in was called Appledore and it is a very special place to us. I have even described it before as feeling like this beautiful place wrapped its big green arms around me and gave me huge comfort during a  painful time of grief. 

We lived in a tiny fisherman's cottage with the most amazing scenery from the back of the house. This is the view from our bedroom window. Every Saturday morning I drank my coffee from my bed and just admired the view. I couldn't help but feel relaxed. 

While I was living here I took thousands of photo's and here are a few of my favourites. Walking here was a popular activity and we did it a lot. One of our favourite walks was along the coast and up into some woods that run all along a coastal path. Only a few minutes from our cottage we would pass these abandoned ships as we made our way to the woods. There was something really peaceful about them and even a little eerie as they lay discarded. 

 My favourite spot along the this stretch of coastline was about ten minutes walk from our cottage. We would walk here most days and every time I sat here the landscape took my breath away and comforted me. North Devon is stunning and a very special place. Our time here totally changed our life.

 Do you have a favourite landscape or a place that is really special to you?

Linking up to Tara's Gallery over at Sticky Fingers

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Happy Birthday Mum!

♥ Happy Birthday Mum! ♥
I can't even begin to describe how much I miss you...especially now as I need you more than ever. I so need to hear your voice and for you to tell me that everything is going to be ok. I'll never stop needing you. 
♥ Love you Mum ♥

Monday, 20 February 2012

Listography - Top 5 Things That Make Me Happy

This weeks Listography is following on from Kate's Blog Hop The Happiness Project. I really enjoyed joining in with that and reading what made everyones kids happy. Some of the answers were really entertaining and sweet. So this week its our turn. I have the obvious things like my Family, crafts, gardening and my chickens but I have other things that make me happy too. So Five things that make me Happy are:

1) My Family - I know its an obvious one and I think Kate is looking for everything but the obvious. However my family are my main pleasure in life and I love their company. My Hubby of 23 years, our four kids and our Granddaughter, I count my blessings every day and truly appreciate every second I spend with them. They are Awesome!

2)  The Sea. I have always loved the seaside and I think that's because my Mum did. Everyday during the school summer holidays of the 1970's, early 80's Mum would squeeze us into her green Mini Cooper and fly down the A127 towards Southend. She would sit there all day, watching us play, eating hard boiled eggs and oranges. Just before we went home we would be allowed an ice cream. As an adult being beside the sea totally calms me down and relaxes me. I Love it!

3) Summer Barbeque's - I love Summer time mostly because it means I can sit out in my garden to eat. We always enjoy a good barbie. There is just something about barbecued food isn't there.

4) Our Open Fire - Apart from Christmas the good thing about winter is lighting our open fire. Its so cosy to sit beside a roaring fire with the wind and rain pounding outside. Having a real fire makes me happy.

5) Drinking coffee from my flask - I just love coffee on the go!

What makes you happy?

Linking up to Kate's Listography.

Friday, 17 February 2012

I've been Tagged!

I've been tagged twice this week first by Hannah over at Cupcake Mumma then a few days later by Heather at SAHM - Loving it. The idea is for me to answer 11 questions that have been set by my taggers, create 11 new questions and then pass the tag on to more bloggers. As I've been tagged twice I'm going to choose six questions to answer from each person.

Hannah's Questions

1. How long have you been blogging?
Four years

2.  What is your favourite time of year and why?
Christmas - Papa and I love the build up, buying pressies, making christmassy things, watching Crimbo movies and the kids opening their gifts. Such an exciting time of year.

3. If you were to go and cook something right now, what would it be?
The kids love my spag bol so it would probably be that. When the kids were little all the local kids would come to our house if they knew I was cooking it for tea.

4.  What was your last thing you bought?
Some Mod Podge from ebay (its a glue). I want to make lots of crafts with it, starting with some jewellery.

5. If you could travel in time where would you go and why?
I'd go back and see my Mum again before she died. I have so many things I want to tell her and ask her about. I miss her more than words can express.

 6. Where did you go on your first holiday?
North Devon with my Mum and Dad. I was about a year old. I was lucky that my Mum loved her holidays, so growing up we went away a lot to all different places here and abroad.

 (Me and Mum)

Heathers Questions

1. What's your most embarrassing moment?
I was pregnant with my first child and sitting in the doctors waiting room, this woman walked in and sat opposite me. I thought she was a girl that I hadn't seen for ages and I started chatting away to her. I asked her how her Mum & Sister were, did she still live in the same place, does she still see Vera - You name it I asked her it. I thought it was odd that she only gave yes or no answers and that she didn't engage in the conversation until as I got up to leave I realised she wasn't who I thought she was. It was a real 'Cringe' moment, So embarrassing...She must have been thinking "Who is this crazy woman!" 

2. If you weren't with your partner/boyfriend/husband/significant other (or, if you aren't with anyone right now - bonus!) and you could have one date night with someone else, who would it be and what would you do?
Jared Leto - I would get him to... sing for me. Yes I'm being serious that's all, just sing ;-)

3. Is there one television programme that you couldn't live without in your life?
Corrie and Eastenders 

4. If you could go on holiday anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
I'd go to Canada and visit my Brother and his family in their gorgeous new home. 

5. Do you prefer a wild night out or a quiet night in?
Quiet night in - Although wild nights out would have been my answer not so long ago. I was quite the party animal.

6. If there was a film made about your life, which actor/actress would play you?  
Martine Mccutcheon - Because in my 'slimmer' days people said I looked a bit like her and I've been told a lot that our voices are the same. I don't see it myself but she is the only Celeb I've ever been told I resemble. Wish I had her teeth!

(Martine Mccutcheon - Image source)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Reasons to Be Cheerful

It has been a really happy week here at The Syders mainly because it is half term but other reasons that I have to be cheerful are:

1) Our Granddaughter is staying with us for a half term visit. We all look forward to the school holidays for this reason. She brings us so much Joy and she is so funny. 
A few days ago She turned to Grandad and said "Its my birthday tomorrow Grandad" (Its actually in November) So Grandad said "I thought you already had your birthday when you was six" Her reply "Doh, No Grandad I'm going to be nine when I wake up!" So Grandad came home from work the next day with a birthday cake and we all sang 'Happy Birthday'. I know we shouldn't encourage 'fibs' but her face was such a picture, She looked at us as if to say  "Did you lot actually believe me!" So funny! x

2) I re-joined Slimming World last night. Is dieting a reason to be cheerful? Maybe not, but my dream weight is. The other day when I was sorting through old photo's for this weeks Gallery I found this one of me before I gained weight. It was taken in 2004. I've now stuck it to my fridge as an incentive.

3) My bedroom wallpaper finally turned up. It was out of stock for ages. Once the kids are back at school I'll put it up. Can't wait!

So hows your week been? 

This week Michelle's  #R2BC is being hosted over at Seasider in the City.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Listography - What a Mug!

OK, so I nearly didn't join in with this weeks Listography because I'm really not a massive Mug user (I prefer small cups) and the ones I do have I didn't think were very interesting but then Kate mentioned the chance of winning a Cath Kidston mug I just couldn't resist linking up. 

My Mug - It is vintage bone china and its a mini mug. It is the only cup I will use and if anyone makes me a cuppa in any other cup then I transfer the drink into this one. 

I love this next mug, it is so kitsch and reminds me of my childhood. I usually make Hubby's tea in this one (and no he doesn't complain, although he did at first). Yes, he is a Saint.

As some of you know I love vintage Pyrex and these are very similar to Pyrex with the white glass and bold print. I love this design. 

Now, I have two of these mugs and I usually give them to guests but I have no idea what make they are which really bugs me as I would love to look them up on ebay and get some more. They look very 50's/60's. If you know what they are please tell. 

Linking up to Kate's Listography

The Gallery - Embarrassing Outfits

This weeks Gallery is going to be an interesting one. I can't wait to have a giggle over everyones embarrassing outfits. Being a 70's child I have quite a few like the horrible dresses my Mum would make me wear in the 70's and the famous 80's perm. However I find the most embarrassing era for me was the 90's and not long ago my eldest Brother tagged me this photo on facebook and I couldn't stop laughing. I'm standing 2nd from the right in the long black dress.

 ( From left to right - My Brother and his Wife, Me and my Mum)

What was I thinking! 

Papa bought me this dress for my birthday from Walthamstow market in around 1993 (ish) So I was about 23. I loved the dress so much, it was ultra trendy. What I'm dying to go back and ask myself is "What's going on with the tan????" 

My face is pure white, arms and legs brown but my feet and ankles are pure white. Back then I foolishly used sunbeds so I don't know how the hell this happened or why I walked around like that. Still it gave me a giggle.

Linking up to Tara's Gallery

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The Love of My Life...

Got your sick buckets at the ready? You might need them for this post as it is probably going to contain some mush.

As it is Valentines day today my thoughts turn to the only Valentine I've ever really had...My Hubby. Apart from my Dad I can't remember ever receiving a Valentines card from anyone else. Although Dad would send me a card every year and sign it with just his initial I still used to try and figure out who it could possibly be from. I guess once upon a time he did feel some love for his Daughter to go to that effort every year...shame that love didn't last.

Me (in the middle) with the Dad I once adored.

The love that has lasted the test of time for me isn't from my Dad like a lot of women, it is from my Husband. He has loved me since we were teenagers way back in the 80's. He was sixteen and I was seventeen. The first time I saw him the words that slipped out of my mouth was "I'm in love!". He later told me that the first time he saw me he knew he wanted to marry me. I guess you could say it was Love at first sight. 

See, I warned you the sick buckets might come in handy!

Within two weeks we were living together, within two months we were engaged and eighteen months later we were wed and about to become parents for the first time. 

We have been married 23 years this year and I love him more than I ever have. Believe me when I say we have been through a hell of a lot to get where we are today. We have fought, bickered, laughed, loved and cried. We have both even imagined the grass might be greener on the other side. There are a few things that we wish we could go back and change but to be honest if the rubbish stuff hadn't of happened then I don't think we would be so in love now. Most of us become a bit wiser as we age don't we, and that is because we have often experienced lots of stuff from our own mistakes or those of our friends and family. 

So I'd like to wish my wonderfully devoted Hubby a very Happy Valentines Day and to Thank him for all the lovely things he does for me and our Kids. I Love You and Always will!

Friday, 10 February 2012

What Really Makes Us Happy?

The lovely Kate has been questioning what truly makes us happy in life. I questioned the exact same thing the year my Mum died. As I spent her last days sitting by her side I realised that the only thing that really mattered to her was her Children and the Grandkids. Her only regret was that she didn't get to retire and spend more days at the seaside with her Grandchildren. 

Mum told me that she was so regretful that she didn't spend more time with them. My heart broke for her and the following year I questioned my own life. In a midst of grief and confusion I swore that I would live my life with no regrets. That year my life crumbled around me. I questioned everything and everyone, I cried, screamed, shouted and lost the plot. Papa and I separated. 

Alone for twelve months I struggled with life. Being a single Mum was bloody hard work. I was lonely. I was full of sadness not just grieving for my Mum but grieving for the relationship I had been in since I was a teenager. I felt so lost.

Papa and I got back together and for the next twelve months we retreated to a small village by the sea in the beautiful North Devon. We questioned our happiness and what we were going to do with the rest of our lives. The simple tranquillity of our surroundings forced us to realise that living a simple life had totally changed us.

We were happy. We had found our answer to happiness. With that knowledge we packed up and headed off  to Essex to be close to our eldest Son and Granddaughter. We have never looked back.

After Kate's prompt to ask our kids what makes them happy I asked my youngest. Her response....

"One Direction" 
Slightly disappointed I asked "Anything else...like fluffy bunnies, the seaside or your family?????"

"Eww...No Mum, just Harry Styles!"

Well, I guess that proves that kids have to learn for themselves. At least its not  Bieber anymore!

Linking up to Kate's blog hop.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Celebrities are Pushing The Envelope

 (Rod Campbell's envelope)

Prominent names from the fields of art, design, fashion, television, theatre, film, sport and literature are getting creative this year by designing envelopes that will be sold to the public to help raise money for the National Literacy Trust.

This is the seventh annual Pitney Bowes 'Pushing the Envelope' campaign and the celebs involved have transformed everyday envelopes into exclusive works of art which will be sold on eBay from 12th March 2012 until 22nd March 2012. All proceeds from the auction go to the National Literacy Trust; a charity that works in disadvantaged  communities across the UK, helping people to gain the literacy skills they need for success and happiness throughout life.

All entries this year are based on the theme ‘Inspiration’ giving extra insight into the creative minds of the celebrity supporters. 

The designs are really good and my particular favourite is Dame Vera Lynn's...

Some of the Celebs have also written words of inspiration and I was intrigued and excited to read the words of the Legend that is Vera. I wasn't disappointed...

(The Words of one of my favourite charities are 'It isn't what you can't do, it's what you can do.' The Dame Vera Lynn Trust with Cerebral palsy.)

 There are so many gorgeous designs that I wish I could share on my blog but here are just a few from Laura Hambleton, children’s illustrator,  Helen Craig, children’s author and illustrator and Matthew Rice for Emma Bridgewater, home wear designer...

I love any campaign that encourages children to read and I think this one is so lovely. If you would like some further info or would like to view a selection of the envelopes you can at the campaign’s website www.pushingtheenvelope.info

National Literacy Trust Director Jonathan Douglas said: “Every penny raised from the Pushing the Envelope campaign makes a difference to our work in disadvantaged communities across the UK. The money will provide children with books of their own for the first time or help struggling teenagers gain the communication skills they need for the workplace. Raising the literacy levels of children and families in need will help them to enjoy better opportunities throughout life.”

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Gallery - A Family Story

I Love old family photo's and I have a fascination with the women who walked before me. My Great Grandmothers on both sides intrigue me. I have been told my Great Grandmother on my Dads side was a petite, feisty cockney who adored her four boys, one of which was my Grandad and on my Mums side she was well spoken, gentle and came from 'posh' stock. 

I only really know about these two Great Grandmothers and I love to hear stories about them and when I have more time I will research more of my family history to hopefully find out more about my other two Great Grandmothers.

I have played around in photoshop and created six generations of the women and girls on my Mums side. I am there in the middle and even though my Daughter next to me isn't my Granddaughters Mother (She is my Sons), she is the sixth generation. So my Great Grandmother is my Grandaughters Great, Great, Great Grandmother.

I have written about my Great Grandmother (far left) before here. Sadly she lost her life during the blitz as her air raid shelter was bombed, she was only in her fifties and left seven children behind. My Nan being the youngest, was only thirteen when she lost the mother she adored. 
We then lost our Nan last year age 83 and my Mum five years before her in 2006...she was only in her fifties too just like her Grandmother.

I've created two of these montages for the benefit of both my Daughters, so that they are both included and on the end we have our Granddaughter.

Linking up to The Gallery
The theme this week is A Family Story.
I think these photo's tell a story...Do you agree?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

My Phonics Kit Review

Much-loved characters Biff, Chip and Kipper are offering a helping hand in run up to the Government’s new phonics check. 

This summer all six year olds in schools across the UK will be having the first ever phonics checks. To help children prepare for these checks Oxford University Press have just launched a new phonics activity pack that is designed to support parents whose children are in Year 1 and will be undertaking the first national phonics reading checks.

My Granddaughter is in year 1 and is already familiar with Biff, Chip and Kipper so I was curious to see what the kit is all about and how it can help our kids. 

The kit comes in a handy pouch that includes a CD-ROM with eBooks and phonics support, reward chart, sticker sheet, tips for parents and 3 phonics workbooks. It has been created by educational experts, to be totally in line with how children learn to read in school. The Kit combines decoding practise with engaging stories and interactive features – making learning to read a fun and exciting journey.

My Granddaughter come to stay with us over the weekend and I was keen to see what she thought. We liked the kit most because it looks like a 'play schools' game and as I'm a strong believer in kids enjoying education especially reading this really appealed to us.

The activities inside the workbooks are very well designed and my Granddaughter enjoyed them so much that she thought she was playing a game of schools rather than practising for a Government check.

'My Phonics Kit’ is widely available to purchase at a RRP of £9.99 
 It is the latest addition to the wide range of Oxford University Press phonics resources for parents, which includes free eBooks and advice on www.oxfordowl.co.uk

*This product was sent to me free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have received no financial reward for writing this post and as a family we always give an honest and unbiased opinion.*  

Monday, 6 February 2012

Thrifty Garden - Tea Cup Bird Feeder

Pin It
Since I became addicted to Pinterest I have been inspired to make quite a few things. As a crafty person I'm always on the look out for my next project and when I read that Kerry was going to start up a #pinaddicts linky for all those pins that we are dying to make I was excited to join in. 

My first entry is a Giant tea cup bird feeder. I had one of these cups already in my garden that I usually plant flowers in and as it sits empty all winter it may as well be put to better use as a feeder for the birds. 

The original pin is here

The original tutorial is no longer on the site for some reason or maybe it has just been moved. However the feeder is very easy to make and this is how I did it... 

I drilled a hole through the bottom centre of the cup and the saucer...

We then screwed it to an old post that we had in the garden and attached a square piece of ply to the bottom which stabilises the post.

We buried the bottom of the post under the soil and put a few stones on top to secure it in place.

The bird feeder is then ready to be filled with seed of your choice.

This feeder ideally  is better for bigger birds. We have a different feeder for the smaller birds that visit our garden. 


Pop over to Kerry's place at Life as I know it and check out the other #pinaddicts


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