Thursday, 28 March 2013

Reasons To Be Cheerful

My week has been spent in my kitchen. This is the second week of the Syder kitchen re-fit and we are still not finished. We haven't done bad though, considering we are fitting it in around our work commitments, and Ive even managed to study for an OU assignment in between. I must admit though, I'm getting a little frazzled now. My house is in chaos and I'm struggling to find anything but I know it will be worth it in the end.


1. Even though I feel all upside down and I have a thick layer of dust everywhere, I am very grateful that I have a Hubby who is good at DIY and can put together a new kitchen. We really wouldn't have been able to afford to have a professional do it, and Hubby (and my Brother) are doing such a fabulous job. I'm very lucky.

2. I got 72% for the OU assignment that I submitted last week. I'm really pleased with that mark as I was convinced that I had failed it. It was a tough one, I pushed myself (after very nearly giving up, several times) and I succeeded, so I'm chuffed with myself.

3. I haven't gained any weight. My diet has been on hold as I've had no kitchen to prepare proper meals, and as we have been working up until 9pm most nights our meal times have been all over the place and I've been eating what I like, when I like, so for my weight to have remained the same, I am very happy.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Gallery - Walks


Both me and the Hubby walk quite a lot. We are lucky to live in the countryside with many gorgeous walks right on our doorstep.
 Its nice all year round but when the sun shines I could walk all day...














Monday, 25 March 2013

Have a Colourful Easter with Eggnogg: Children’s Easter Gifts



Children can enjoy an Easter colour-in extravaganza with a range of creative goodies on offer at Eggnogg.co.uk

Whether it’s decorating the house with colour-in Easter bunting and themed colour-in Easter decorations, the quintessential Easter egg hunt with colour-in Pocket Treasure Hunt clues providing double-the-fun for the egg hunt and beyond, or tea-time colour-in Tablecloth fun, Eggnogg.co.uk have it all in-hand!

Colouring-in has satisfied many a generation of child.  It’s widely known the activity of colouring-in can be useful in aiding the development of a wide-range of important skillsets:  coordination, imagination, recognition of colour, line, perspective, shape and hue, etc.  The fun needn’t be restricted to the children alone either, why not get the whole family involved!

Eggnogg.co.uk create products that allow children to have fun and fuel their imagination. Each design uses unique black line and textures, helping challenge the senses.

We were sent an Easter tablecloth to colour in and over the weekend my 13 year old had a sleepover with her Cousin, and I thought it the perfect opportunity to see what the kids thought of it. The Girls sat for a good two hours colouring in and they really enjoyed it. They commented on the drawing and liked the design very much. A Big thumbs up from The Syders, we really like this product a lot.

The full range of Easter products are available to purchase directly from: www.eggnogg.co.uk

Easter Tablecloth (2-pack) RRP £11.99 


*We were sent an Easter tablecloth by Eggnogg free of charge for the purpose of this review. We received no financial reward and our opinions are totally our own and unbiased.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Reasons To Be Cheerful - The Kitchen Edition


I've had a busy week and due to a kitchen re-fit my house is totally upside down, but I feel happy and excited.


1) New kitchen re-fit - I hated my old kitchen, and finally after 3 years of living with it, we are putting in a new one. We are doing it on a budget of a £1000. We have scrimped and saved. We spent weeks researching the cheapest and best value kitchen suppliers and now its here, its all flat packed and Papa and I have been working together to fit it. We have sworn quite a few times, but the money we have saved by fitting it ourselves thrills me.



2) Mess - Upside down, chaotic mess. My kitchen is now in my lounge and I can't find a thing but I am happy because it means I have had a good clear out. So everything in the boxes will be used in my new kitchen. I got rid of everything I don't use. I love a good e-clutter, it always invigorates me.


3) Study - I'm studying for a psychology degree and last weekend an assignment was due in. An assignment that I really struggled with. In fact I was pulling my hair out. I wasn't the only one though as everyone on my course forum felt the same as me. The reason I am happy about this is because I really pushed myself with it, after very nearly throwing in the towel several times. I completed it and managed to submit it on time. Hooray!


Thanks to Seasider In The City for hosting another #R2BC while Michelle is having a break



Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Gallery - Red

Red is my Favourite colour. It always has been as far back as I can remember. When I was a child I lived in my red wellies, then as a teenager my bedroom was red & white and now as an adult my lounge is red and so are my kitchen accessories. I wear red flowers in my hair, red shoes and I only ever wear red lipstick.

I love to eat red too. Red cherries, red apples, tomarto's, chillis and peppers. My eye is just always drawn to red items. I buy them, I wear them and I photograph them. Red is my colour.

As a psychology student I know that loving the colour red so much probably says something about my personality, and as I research a little deeper I am told that people who's favourite colour is red are passionate (about everything), love the outdoors, love people, seductive, impulsive, like to be in control, energetic and have a fiery temper. I guess that kind of sums me up (although not too sure about the seductive bit, haha!).

My Red Lounge

My Red Lipstick

My Red Caravan Interior

My Favourite Red Cardi As A Nine Year Old

My Favourite Red cardi As A 40 Year Old

Red Roses in My Garden

Do You have a favourite colour?



Tuesday, 19 March 2013

What Is Happiness?



When we decided to downshift our busy lives, it was hard. We had become so trained to cram as much as we could into each and every day that we had forgotten how to live. Slowing down to 'Stop and smell the roses' was something that we hadn't done for such a long time, and in actual fact we no longer knew how to unwind or relax. With our minds constantly racing with our 'to do' list, even sleep had become difficult. The busy things we thought we were doing for the good of our Family actually ended up destroying it. 

The catalyst for our life change was the very sudden death of my Mum in 2006. As she lay on her death bed, her only regret was that she didn't get to retire and have the time to take her Grandchildren down to Clacton Pier for an ice cream. As she told me, I could see the panic in her eyes and sadness she felt that she had never got to spend much time with her Grandchildren. It suddenly dawned on me that there was much more to life than spending it running around doing pointless things and wasting precious hours on 'nothing'. It took us another twelve months (twelve months of hell) to actually take the plunge and change our lives. We didn't know how or where to start, but a move to a smaller property in the Devon countryside was a very good start.



So, the first thing we did was downsized. We no longer needed bigger and better. We just wanted Happier. In order to downsize we needed to de-clutter our house, a house that was bursting at the seams with too much stuff. Stuff we didn't need. It all went. Into the skip, to the charity shop or sold on ebay. It was the biggest clear out of our life. Removing the clutter immediately had an affect on me. I began to feel free, my mind clear, I felt positive, enthusiastic and energetic.

The next thing we did was de-clutter our Friends list. One of the things that put pressure on our previous busy life was doing too much for other people. As I left my old life behind and began to enjoy my slower, more simple lifestyle I began to analyse my old life and the reasons why I had got myself into such a stressed out mess. One of the things I often did was, never say "No" to Friends. I would babysit their kids (a hell of a lot), yet on the very rare occasion I would ask them to return the favour they would make excuses. I would help clean their houses, gardens, decorate, build furniture, go shopping for them late at night. You name it, I would say yes. But if I ever needed help with anything, no one would be available. How did I not notice at the time, that they were sucking the life out of me?

Over the past few years I have gradually reduced my Friendships. I no longer have anyone in my life who sucks out my soul. My time on this earth is precious, so very precious and I need to spend it wisely and by doing things that are meaningful and with genuine people. Sadly, I have realised that I had accumulated a lot of people in my life who were negative, toxic and only 'out for what they could get'. It has been a painful process, with many tears along the way, but my easy going nature had let too many people take from me and manipulate me. In order for me to be completely happy, my toxic friendships had to end.



'Make do and Mend' has become my new motto. We still buy new stuff. The kids still have all the modern gadgets that their Friends have and we sometimes have certain items that could be described as luxuries. The difference is that nowadays we manage not only our time better but our money too. We cut back, scrimp, thrift and build. For example, instead of spending a fortune on a new fence, we built one from pallet wood and we have also built furniture from driftwood. We grow our own vegetables, keep chickens, and generally save where we can. 

Everything we do is now is done on a budget. I buy good quality items that I know will stand the test of time. I check online sales, ebay and charity shops, first before buying new. I plan for Christmas all year and we pay for our family holiday weekly.  

The way we were living before was bad for our mental health. It was dragging us down and we not enjoying the things that we were working so hard to get. The more, materially that you strive for in life, the more dissatisfied you feel as you begin to compare what you have with everyone else. Your happiness can not be bought. Real happiness does not have an economic value or financial status, it  is contentment, inner peace and a sense of self worth.


Saturday, 16 March 2013

BassBuds Launch Party Competition!


The Syders have previously reviewed and blogged about BassBuds high performance in-earphones and BassBoomz Bluetooth Speakers. We love them, as they are excellent quality and great value for money, so when we found out that there is a competition to win lots of BassBuds goodies we just had to tell you all about it.
 

Saturday March the 23rd sees the official UK launch of 2013: BassBuds, the high performance in-ear headphones!

To celebrate the official launch, BassBuds are hosting a competition with over 100 prizes to be won, including BassBuds in-ear headphones, Bassboomz portable bluetooth speakers, VIP tickets to the celebrity launch party, and VIP tickets to The Show Tour (90's R&B Groups Edition), which has an impressive line up of 90's R&B favourites such as Dru Hill, Blackstreet, Jodeci, SWV and Changing Faces.

The Show Tour is next Saturday 23rd March, 6.00pm at Wembley Arena - theshowtour.com 

 To be in with a chance of winning one of over 100 prizes, then pop on over to BassBuds
It is totally free to enter!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Scooby Doo - Mask Of The Blue Falcon Review


As you know The Syders are big Scooby fans. Back in the 1970's, I would rush home from school to watch my favourite cartoon, my kids loved it and now we share Scooby stories and DVD's with our seven year old Granddaughter. So every time we discover that there is a new  Scooby release from Warner Brothers, we get excited.

This time the gang investigate at the Mega Mondo Pop Cartoon-a-Con where the villainous Mr. Hyde releases a horde of evil creatures. Shaggy  and Scooby take inspiration from their favourite superheroes Blue Falcon and Dynomutt as they attempt to put a stop to Mr. Hyde's wicked ways and save the convention.

Bottom Line - Do We Recommend You Watch This DVD? Hell yeah! Its Scooby at his best, full of creepy, jumpy fun and it made us giggle too. Big thumbs up from The Syders.


Available to buy from Amazon priced £9.99


*We were sent a copy of Scooby Doo, Mask Of The Blue Falcon from Warner Brothers for the purpose of this review. We received no financial reward and our opinions are completely our own and totally unbiased.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Secret To Our Happy Marriage



Papa Syder and I have never had a lot of money. In our younger days we were a bit obsessed with 'keeping up with the Jones's' although we didn't actually realise that we were, our lifestyle just expected us to. We both worked around the clock to provide the family with not only a living, but with possessions that we thought were important to our family and to our happiness. 

When our four kids were small Papa and I worked our shifts around each others to ensure that one of us was always available to take care of the kids. It worked out well for the first few years, the money was rolling in, we could afford lots of nice material things and as a married couple, we thought we were happy. The reality was, we had become like passing ships in the night and with every year that passed our marriage was being stretched further and further apart, until one day, it couldn't be stretched anymore and it just snapped. The closeness we had once shared dwindled away with every long shift we worked. Every extra hour we spent at work was taking us away from each other and our marriage.


It took the death of my Mum in 2006 to open our eyes. That year I fell apart. I realised that my life had become unhappy, I didn't know why and as I grieved for the loss of my Mum, I become really angry with the World, and in particular my Husband. I asked him to leave. I pushed him away. Far, far away. It was the first time that I had ever felt 'real' grief and I was confused by the way it made me feel. I thought I was angry with my husband, but in reality I was angry because my Mum had died.

Hubby moved away, but we spoke almost every day on the phone. Sometimes we argued and sometimes we asked each other where it all went wrong. He had been my best Friend since I was 17 and I missed him. I missed having someone beside me who knew me better than I knew myself. I missed the small things like having him there to eat with, to shop with, to walk with...to be with. 

Twelve months later, he came to visit me. As soon as I saw him I knew I still loved him. We got back together and moved house for a fresh start. We knew things would only work out if we could identify where our marriage went wrong and why it wasn't strong enough to cope with the loss of my Mum. 


We moved away to a rural retreat. A cottage beside the sea in North Devon. For the first time in our marriage (and lives) we had no distractions. Life suddenly became very simple and the sea our therapy. We walked and we talked. We made the decision that to be happy we didn't need much money, in fact we were happier with less. 

We fell in love all over again, except this time it was different because we were older and wiser. We knew what would work and what wouldn't. I read about families who had changed their lives by downshifting and I instantly knew that we needed to do the same.

We relocated back to Essex as changed people. We were refreshed, invigorated, inspired and full of optimism for the future of our marriage and our lives together. This year we celebrate 24 years of marriage and we now know that money really does not buy us happiness. 

Togetherness is the key to our happiness. The main thing I have learnt is that no marriage is perfect. It is not a fairytale. Things go wrong. S**t happens. Trust is lost. People make mistakes. But it can be fixed, and when you fix it, it can be stronger and happier than ever.

These days we do things very differently. 'Stuff' still happens and stress still exists but we now tackle any problems head on. We have no room for negativity or for people who cause it. We work less hours so we can be together more. We earn enough to live, and to afford extras like holidays and day trips we cut back in other areas. I no longer smoke, or do I drink alcohol on a regular basis. We are frugal. We grow our own vegetables and keep chickens. I sew, crochet and write. I am always busy, but it is a very different busy than before. It is a contented busy.


I strive to make my Husband happy and he does the same for me. We no longer take each other for granted or expect too much. We are not perfect. We still bicker sometimes, but we know that our relationship is important to us and always needs to be cared for and polished. We appreciate what we have and no longer think the grass is greener on the other side. We realise we are lucky to have what we have. I feel truly Thankful for the love we share.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Gallery - The Letter C


Chickens!


We love to keep chickens. They make such interesting pets. They are so entertaining and the kids love them. Ours are ex battery hens, which means they were rescued from a battery farm, where conditions are often awful. Before we get them, they are in a right state. Usually featherless, skinny, nervous and some struggle to walk. They have never seen daylight, felt the sun on their face or the grass beneath their feet. We love them back to a healthy and happy life.

Last time we collected some Hens we were asked if we would like to re-home a cockerel too. So we have had Louis for about a year now. He is supposed to be in charge of his female friends, but they boss him around.

 







Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Getting Organised - Early Christmas Shopping

I know you must think I'm crazy to be thinking of Christmas already and you probably really do not want to be thinking about it just yet, but here at The syders, we do plan for the festive period all year long. It's March and I already have a basket that is filling up nicely with gifts that are put away for December. I even have a basket that has gifts neatly wrapped in brown paper ready to be posted later in the year. 

I love Christmas and I like to be organised. I loathe last minute shopping and queueing up, so every year I aim to try not to shop during December. I don't always achieve it but I rarely have to face the huge crowds of shoppers with everyone rushing around like lunatics, instead I get to spend my December enjoying the build up to Christmas by baking, crafting, crocheting, sewing and watching festive films in front of a cosy fire. 

Why do it to yourself? Why put yourself out there, stressed out, in the freezing cold weather, traipsing across your local shopping centre, laden with heavy bags, getting pushed and shoved in every direction. It just isn't necessary when you can buy all year instead, at a leisurely pace.

Early Christmas shopping has lots of benefits and the main reason we do it, is because we have a large family and it saves us quite a lot of money, because we have longer to shop for bargains and more time to spread the cost. It means we can buy gifts that people actually want rather than just buying whatever is left on the shelves.

My Method
  • List every person you want to buy for in a special Christmas note pad. Next to their name write how much you want to spend on them and do not go over that amount. By shopping early you can often find a gift for someone for a lot less in price than if you leave it until the last minute.
  • Buy Christmas cards, wrapping paper and decorations in January as they are often massively reduced directly after Christmas.
  • Scan online sales on a regular basis. I always manage to pick up some great deals from the sales and my favourites are Cath Kidston, New Look and Top Man. In fact, just this week I picked up a gorgeous Christmas cardi for Hubby, from Top Man which was reduced from £59.99 to £15.00 (similar to the one on the right).
  • Create handmade gifts by learning to crochet a simple scarf, making felt decorations, baking mini Christmas cakes, or making chutneys, jams, candles and soaps.
  • Make space in your kitchen for a Christmas cupboard and during your weekly shop, chuck on something to put in the cupboard (check it will be in date for Xmas though). Things like biscuits, tins, pickles, condiments, sweets, stuffing mixes, cake mixes anything that has a long shelf life is perfect for the Christmas food cupboard. It really does save a lot towards your big shop at the end of the year.

So, do you have any early Christmas shopping tips to share? Do you buy early or end up leaving it until the last minute?



Sunday, 10 March 2013

Happy Mothers Day Mum!

Mum, Nan, My Granddaughter & Me 2006
You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. 

You can remember her and only that she’s gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back
or you can do what she’d want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on. 
  
David Harkins, © 1981

Friday, 8 March 2013

Argo DVD Review

 
·       BAFTA Award for Best Film
·       BAFTA Award for Best Direction
·       BAFTA Award for Best Editing
·      Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture- Drama
·      Golden Globe Award for Best Director – Motion Picture
·      Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of the Year
·      Academy Award for Best Achievement in Editing
.      Academy Award for best writing, screenplay based on material previously produced or published

Quite an impressive list of gongs right? Which is why I was so looking forward to watching this film, oh and because its leading man is none other than Ben Affleck, who I happen to really like. I was a little nervous that the film might not live up to its hype as I popped the DVD into our player. But I needn't have worried as I thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so that I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat for most of the film.



Based on real events, the dramatic thriller “Argo” chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis, focusing on the little-known role that the CIA and Hollywood played—information that was not declassified until many years after the event.

On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor. 


Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, the Canadian and American governments ask the CIA to intervene. The CIA turns to their top “exfiltration” specialist, Tony Mendez, to come up with a plan to get the six Americans safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies.

Bottom Line - Do we recommend you watch this film? This is really easy to answer - yes, yes, yes! A definite must see film. We loved it. Just be prepared to watch some of it through your fingers as you perch on the edge of your seat.

Available to buy on DVD from Amazon here and on Blu Ray here



*We were sent a copy of Argo from Warner Brothers for the purpose of this review. We received no financial reward and our opinions are completely our own and totally unbiased.

Happy Mothers Day From Build A Bear Workshop


After our recent visit to a Build A Bear workshop, we have become big fans. I love the friendly, cheerful staff and the whole fun shopping experience that they provide. So, What a lovely idea it is to  treat your Mum to a Build A Bear Workshop Bear for Mother's Day this weekend, with your very own personalised recorded message and hand picked outfit. There are lots of bears and outfits available, and they even have a really cute teddy bear sized t-shirt with a sweet Mothers Day graphic on the front.


To find your nearest Build A Bear Workshop Visit http://www.buildabear.co.uk

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Cooking On A Budget - Onion Bhaji Burgers

Since the horse meat scandal I have gone right off minced beef. To be honest I have always been a bit 'funny' with meat and I have never liked to eat a lot of it. I do make our family favourites like meatballs with pasta and bolognese pizza but I have now become reluctant to buy minced beef, so I have been opting for more vegetable based recipes. One veggie favourite is onion bhaji burgers. They are really cheap to make and make a great alternative to a meat burger.


Ingredients - Makes 10 burgers (If your family prefer less spice then half the spice ingredients)

  • Two Large Onions, finely Chopped
  • Two Eggs
  • One Can of Chickpeas
  • 1 tsp of Ground Ginger 
  • 1 tsp of Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp of Ground Turmeric
  • 1 tsp of Coriander leaf
  • 1 Red Chili, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp Plain Flour
  • Spray oil
  • Wholemeal Rolls
Method
1. Put all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix up with a spoon.
2. Using your hands form the mixture into small balls and fry in a lightly oiled pan slowly on a low heat, turning to cook on both sides.
3. Flatten the burgers with your fish slice and cook gently for about 15 minutes.
4. Once crispy, serve with salad in a wholemeal roll.


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Mothers Day Gift idea - Mrs Wright EDP & Body Lotion Review


I am an Essex girl, born and bred. I don't wear white stiletto's (although I have done in the past), I don't have a spray tan (but I used to), and I no longer wear hair extensions. It is true, Essex girls do like to pamper themselves. I am a fan of the TV show, TOWIE mainly because it makes me laugh and some of the characters are very familiar to me. Mark Wright, one of the original stars of TOWIE has now gone on to other things and one of those things is that he has introduced  'his & hers' fragrance called Mr & Mrs Wright. 

"According to Mark, this feminine Mrs Wright scent is ‘sweet, subtle and sexy’. With top notes of lemon, peach, apple and grapefruit and middle notes of jasmine combined it finishes with base notes of dry wood, amber and musk. In this Mrs Wright Gift Set are combined Eau de Parfum with Body Lotion to keep this intriguing scent lasting."

I really like this scent as I do like fruity based fragrances and I think it would make the perfect Mothers Day gift for any Mum, especially if they are fans of Mark Wright and TOWIE. A very reasonably priced gift at only £9.99.

The Mrs Wright EDP & Body Lotion Set contains:


  • Eau de Parfum (50ml)
  • Body Lotion (100ml) 

  • Semichem have some great ideas for Mothers Day gifts for your wonderful Mum at very affordable prices.


    *I was sent a Mrs Wright EDP & Body Lotion Set for the purpose of this review. I have received no financial reward and my opinion is honest, unbiased and completely my own.

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