Sunday, 11 November 2012

Waiting for Baby

There's a reason I haven’t been around much lately. I’ve been working on something else, a special project...

Ok, so it’s not taken much ‘work’ as such. Just lots of eating, sleeping and lounging around, but suffice to say it’s felt like hard work. But, after 21 long weeks I’m starting to feel a bit more myself (except for the odd bout of sickness – anyone who says it stops after 12 weeks is LYING. Also, anyone who thinks it’s just in the morning, is LYING!).

However, there’s no rest for the wicked because everything is changing. And I mean everything. We’re relocating and downsizing. Which means packing up the house, sorting out storage options, selling our stuff, Mr. D has to find a new job, I’ll be dashing between locations for a couple of weeks before starting maternity leave and that’s before we’ve even thought about Christmas!

Add into the mix enjoying London while we still can, making sure we see all our friends Just. One. Last. Time, and getting my hands into baby crafts, autumnal cooking and becoming a grown up, I think life’s going to be pretty full on over the next few months! Until January. When everything stops. And I’ll be left twiddling my thumbs, waiting impatiently for baby.


In light of this exciting news I thought it was cause for a celebration! so, this week and this week only, you can get 20% off at the Millie's Emporium shop. Just quote baby20 at the checkout. So go on, stock up on those crafty supplies! Offer ends 5pm, Sunday 18th November 2012. Visit

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Why I Love the Queen: The Nation's Grandma

There are not many of us that can say that we would stick at a job for 60 years. There are not many of us who would continue working well into our eighties. And there are certainly not many of us who would do it with dignity, respect and class. And this is why, this week, we celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 60 year reign – and it doesn’t look like she’s giving up yet! 

I know that not everyone is in favour of the monarchy, but whatever your political view or opinion, there is still an immense amount of respect due to our Queen and to her family. People seem to believe that the Royal family costs the British taxpayer a preposterous amount for doing very little. We imagine the life of a royal involves living it up at the palace, wearing priceless jewels, eating caviar, drinking champagne and going out for the occasional shoot or fox hunt. 

It’s a life foreign to us poor commoners living on the breadline, struggling to make it with our poor standards of education and healthcare. But the reality is, the royal family costs each UK citizen a mere 66p each per year and for that we have a monarchy respected throughout the world, boosting international relations, bringing in a ridiculous amount of money through tourism and providing political balance and stability. The fact is, that because of our monarchy, we could never be taken over by a dictator – The Queen provides a constitutional balance that prevents this from happening - and the Queen attends over 400 events every year, that's hard work for an 86 year old, whatever way you look at it!

All of this aside, the Queen is somewhat of a constant in British life. She has been there throughout many of our lives, we know no different and can not imagine life without her. We’d have to change all the money and our stamps for a start! She took on a huge responsibility at a young age and has reigned through a period of great change both in her nation and throughout the Commonwealth. She has reigned through times of great pain in her own family – circumstances that no family would wish to go through nor know how to handle – all whilst being under the watchful and critical eye of the world.

In the last few years her family have grown up, they have sorted themselves out and appear to be a very happy unit. Kate and Will have boosted the royal family’s profile and very much bought royalty back to the people, and the people love it! There have been street parties, flags have been flying and millions attempted to catch a glimpse of Her Majesty along the Thames yesterday (myself included!).

I love The Queen because she’s real to our generation. If Will and Kate feel like the nation’s best friends, then Her Majesty feels like the nation’s Grandma. It has been beautiful over the past few days to watch her as she enjoys her own momentous occasion whilst spending time with her family. When her cute little face breaks into a smile, she looks like every other dear granny!

Lastly, The Queen is a woman of bold faith, and in a country that has become so multi-cultural and pressured with political correctness, it was inspiring to hear her last Christmas as she proclaimed Jesus Christ to the world. She said in her Christmas speech 2011:

"Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: 
'Fear not', they urged, 'we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 'For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.'

Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves - from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person - neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.
Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God's love.

In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, there's a prayer:
'O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray.
Cast out our sin
And enter in.
Be born in us today.' 
It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord."
So, Happy Jubilee Queenie! You deserve all the pomp and ceremony. May you continue another decade, and if you don’t, I hope old Charlie will do half as good a job as you have over the years!

Monday, 7 May 2012

20 Things About Me

I saw on Twitter today that everyone is tweeting '20 things about me' and, in a moment of wanting to blog but not knowing what to write, I thought I could have a go on here.

20 Things About Me

1. When I was nine years old I decided to be a journalist after watching Lois Lane go on many an adventure with Superman. I launched my own newspaper using a Word template and Clip Art on our first PC. It was called Boom!

2. I hate coffee but love lattes and for this reason, and this reason alone, bought myself a coffee machine.

3. When I was 19 I met and fell in love with my best friend. I knew after our first kiss that I would marry him... and I did.

4. Sometimes I wish I could go back to being 17 at college. They weren't necessarily the best days, but they were the most care-free days of my life and I had some amazing friends, which I didn't appreciate until we all went our separate ways.

5. I make my husband do the washing up every day... and then nag him when he leaves traces of sauce on the plates.

6. Throughout school, college and university I never revised for exams but always got good grades... I now fear that one day everyone will find out I actually don't know anything after all.

7. I've always had an independent, make it on my own streak. I left home at 17 and thought I was a grown up. Totally wasn't.

8. I still feel like I'm play-acting at being a grown up.

9. I love God and His Son, Jesus. Always have, always will (this should be number 1 on the list really).

10. I find it hard to trust God and have a habit of doing everything in my own strength. Then Bam! He does it all himself and saves the day. I am an idiot.

11. I feign an interest in football for the sake of my marriage, can hold a relatively intelligent conversation about it by just throwing in a few facts, nodding and smiling... but really I don't care.

12. I love weddings, totally think that my own was the best wedding ever and would do it again (to the same man!) given the chance.

13. I look at this wedding photo and am amazed at how young, innocent and child-like I looked. Full of hopes, dreams and anticipation for a perfect future. (Ha!). (I'm also amazed that it was nearly 5 years ago!)

14. I'm allergic to dairy products but crave cheese all the time. Yes, ALL the time!

15. My favourite meal is bangers and mash, but it has to be dished up a certain way - a bed of mash, at least 4 sausages stuck in the middle and then baked beans poured over the top.

16. I am a writer with constant writer's block. I haven't done any creative writing since I was 19 and do wonder whether I still can.

17. I have a tendency towards addictive behaviour - whether it be diet coke, starbucks, flowers or magazines - these are all things I feel like I have to buy even when I don't need, want or can't afford them.

18. Although I can be chatty and funny and confident, deep down I am an introvert. I prefer my own company, get overwhelmed by big social occasions or too many social occasions in a short space of time and frequently turn my phone off to shut the world out. Everyone feels sorry for me because my husband works on weekends, but it actually gives me head space so I don't mind it at all. These articles helped me to understand that I wasn't weird and that it's ok.

19. I am a control freak who needs to know what the plan is - not just for the next few weeks. I'm talking years! 

20. I have a lot of dreams and ambitions but no idea how to make them happen or how they fit in with each other.

There! There are loads more but maybe I'll do another one another time.
What are your 20 things? Why not blog about them and leave the link in the comments, would love to see!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The button lady

Every month at the church hall behind my house there is a vintage / antique / craft fair that takes place. I always try to pop along on a quiet Saturday just to see what treasures I might find! There's a nice lady who always has a stall, I have nicknamed her the button lady. She has a table full of vintage buttons, brooches and sewing memorabilia and there are always sweet gems to be had. She says her kitchen is full of buttons that she can't move! I like that thought.

This week I went along with my husband and his parents. It turns out my mother in law also has an eye for a good button. She is a counsellor and apparently they are very useful during her sessions with clients. She asks them to pick out a button that represents a certain person or emotion - it could be the colour, texture, size or feel that relates to them. Interesting fact!

So we went along and these were the buttons that caught my eye. The first set are so lovely and vintagey while these ones just had a lovely colour to them. I'm not sure what I'll do with them but it was nice to come home with a treat. There was also another lady who sells handmade chutneys, cooking sauces and jams. We picked out an amazing sweet potato chutney but we've eaten it all so I can't show you! All the more reason to take a trip back next time!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Celebrating Stationery!

I am a huge stationery fan. Remember back in school, at the beginning of term when you got to buy a new pencil case? I was the one carting around the matching binder, pen, pencils, eraser and stickers! Then, when I started taking exams I so enjoyed creating colour coded revision cards, revision timetables and mind maps... whether I ever did any revision is a different matter!

Anyway, it has come to my attention that today is National Stationery Day, so I thought I'd do a quick round-up of my favourite paper goods on the web. And because I like to shop locally, they're all from amazing artists and crafters in my home town on London! Ready? Let's Go!

**WARNING: Reading beyond this point may cause damage to your bank balance!**

Cherry Notelets from Marby & Elm
The meaning of my family name is 'Cherry' in German so I've always liked cherry motifs (don't like real cherries though - yuk!). I like the idea of sending cherry notes!

Ideas Notebook from Typescale
Everyone needs a little notebook to jot down their creative ideas, and this one will do nicely! Love the yellow (does yellow encourage creativity?)

Printable Thank You Note Cards from lfhstudio

I'm not normally a fan of printables - I don't have a decent printer and am not that savvy when it comes to resizing etc etc so what should be really simple and quick seems like quite a stressful and daunting process! But for these designs I could be tempted! Lilac was the colour of my wedding and I would have loved to have sent these to our guests had I have seen them five years ago - although the advantage of printables is that you can choose your colours!

Sweet Tulips from Valeasc
These are a little bit retro but I love the precision and simplicity of them. Makes me want to write some nice little notes to my friends for no reason!

Typewriter Greeting Card from I Love Paper Heart
And because I'm a writer I love retro typewriters. This is a card that I not only would love to send, but I'd love to receive as well! Just wish I had a real one!

Know of any other amazing stationery designers out there? Would love to see!

Friday, 20 April 2012

How to... Make the Perfect Latte at Home

My Starbucks addiction habit has been going for about 10 years. It started when I was in college - not quite old enough to go to the pub (legally), but a bit too old for hanging out at McDonalds. It was also a pretty good place to bunk off a 9am English class when I bumped into a friend on my way there! Now, I'm a bit of a contradiction because I'm not a big coffee drinker, so I began with hot chocolates. Then about 6 years ago my friend introduced me to the wonders of the Chai Tea Latte, and that's when the habit kicked in - there have been periods when I would buy one on the way to work every day and at £3.35 a time, that's not cheap!

In the last year I ventured into the world of coffee (one day, my local Starbucks ran out of Chai!) and now my special order is a Grande Half Shot Soya Vanilla Latte. Bliss.

Anyway... my Starbucks habit was getting expensive. Over the last 10 years I have probably given near on £7000 to that big corporation and so we decided last week that enough was enough! If I can't live without lattes, then we'll make them cheaper at home. Now it did require a bit of initial outlay, but in the long run I'm hoping to save millions. :)

So, off we went to John Lewis and we bought a DeLonghi ECO310.R Icona Espresso Coffee Machine in Red. (I'm in love with the red, it matches my red cupboards.)

And because I know you're all dying to know how it works, I'm going to show you how to make the perfect latte!

1. Once you've filled up the water tank at the back, switch the machine on and place your pretty mug on the mug warmer at the top (Mine's from Anthropologie). Apparently it's important to warm your mug first and I'm happy to oblige because I think it helps!

2. I'm a big vanilla fan, so I popped down to my local Starbucks and got some of their lovely syrup.

Funny story: We recently moved house within East London which meant I changed my local Starbucks. After about four months, I went in and a barista from my old Starbucks had started working shifts at my new Starbucks... she remembered me and my order! That gives you an idea of how much of a regular I was. I wonder if when I bought the syrup they realised they were losing one of their best customers!

Anyway, I find that you don't need a lot of syrup, (you know in Starbucks they do two pumps?) just pour a little bit in, enough to cover the bottom of your mug.

3. Scoop ground coffee into the filter. Don't overfill it, but make sure it's filled level to the top. On the side of the machine there's a disc that you can press it against to pack the coffee down. Again, don't pack it too tightly. Too tight and the water won't be able to get through, too loose and it will pour through without filtering through the coffee.

4. When the green light shows, press the button. The machine might grumble a bit but the coffee should come out. When you've got the desired amount, press the button again to make it stop.

5. Now's the fun part - frothing the milk. You'll need a stainless steel milk frothing jug for the best effect (I don't know the exact science behind it but it just doesn't work as well in a ceramic or plastic jug - plus it gets pretty hot as the steamer heats the milk as well.) You don't need a lot of milk, it triples in volume as it froths so don't fill up the jug to the top! 

A barista friend recommended for perfect latte milk, stick the nozzle right down to the bottom, as it froths up bang the jug on the sideboard - this pops the bigger bubbles and makes more room. Gradually move the jug up and down to make sure the froth gets heated too. When the jug is just a little bit too hot to touch (probably takes about 30 - 40 seconds) then the milk should be hot enough for your latte.

6. Pour the the frothed milk into your mug about two thirds of the way up. Then pour in your coffee and top up the drink with any leftover frothed milk.

7. Curl up on the sofa with a good book and your perfect latte!

The cost of a perfect latte:
Tesco Colombian Roast and Ground Coffee 227g £2.99 (lasts about 3 weeks)
Alpro Soya Milk £1.19 (lasts about 1 week)
Starbucks Vanilla Syrup £3.75 (lasts about 4 weeks)
Total: £138.04
(obviously once you've bought the machine it's pennies per latte!)

So, say I have to replace the machine once every 5 years (is that optimistic?), over 10 years I will spend:
Alpro Soya Milk £618.80
Starbucks Vanilla Syrup £450
Total: £1853.73
(Assuming the cost of milk doesn't drastically increase!)

Which makes a daily latte about 50p a time!
So over the course of 10 years I save... £5146.27

Cost of the early morning coffee spent with the husband... priceless.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

I'll bring you flowers...

It was recently my birthday and I received four (yes four!) lovely flower bouquets. It made me want to have flowers in my house at all times...

... So I am! My husband has been lovely and allowed me to buy flowers for our lounge.

My favourite flowers are roses - even when they're on their way out, they still look lovely all opened up like this. My other favourite flower is the tulip, but is it me or are they really expensive this year? Is there a tulip crisis in the world?

If you also like tulips, or pictures of any type of flower, check out Jane Brocket's blog. She has the most amazing photography and lovely crafty, yarny, quilty goodness. When I first happened upon her blog a few years ago, I read the whole archive in one sitting... yes, it's that lovely!