Sunday 25 May 2014


A new week filled with sunlight breeds new optimism but with a huge knot in my stomach as I sign a contract of employment. 

Times are changing. Priorities change. Families grow up and I found a job that uses my skills and will hopefully work with family life. It isn't a return to big corporate corner office that I once thought was all I wanted. It is a very small company, but with big ambitions and opportunity for me to start my second career. 

I'm anxious about being employed again, about getting up to speed with my responsibilities and about juggling life, but I am also excited about being recognised as an employable person with skills. Knock backs dent your confidence and this has come at just the right time.

Clearer skies ahead.

Stepping out from the shadow of my family.

A blossoming new career.

The return to lunch hours.

Mid week confidence wobble.

Ascending a new career path to a bright and funky future.

Hoping that the new job only looks scary and will actually be as docile as Misty Moo.

My next post will be written as a part-time working Mum. Wish me luck!

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Saturday 17 May 2014


Last week I was trying to choose a colour for my hall, stairs and landing. It was a mine field of magnolia, cream, off-white and shades of latte in Homebase. Isn't it incredible how many colours there are? A paint colour chart is just scratching at the surface. Think of the size of a Pantone book, incredible variety that are almost imperceptible to the human eye.

Princess wants a feature wall in her bedroom in a shade of pink. Fuscia? Bubblegum? No, the colour of this dress, mummy. Only a bit more pink.

In our old house we had wine red walls in our bedroom. I loved the colour and thought about it for this house. Too dark though for the much lower ceilings. Red curtains then? Tried it but looked like a theatre and not in a good way.

We are covering up the yellow that we've lived with for 7 years and hated for every single one of those 7 years. Buttercup yellow is very unforgiving.

We considered grey, as it seems to be very popular at the moment but it seemed too cold, too school playground for us.

World chess champions give less thought to their next tactical move than we gave to our next hall colour.

And some just gave up and walked away while we continued to pour over colour charts. 

In the end we went for soft latte, a subtle pale coffee colour (you'd never have guessed) and we are almost done.

My concession to colour... an Orla Kiely wallpaper for one small wall. I'll use a 'tadaa' photo for one of my 365 photos next week. 

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Silent Sunday

Sunday 11 May 2014

What I heard as the shutter clicked.

Peace and quiet. Such a rare thing. Looking at this weeks photos you'd be forgiven for thinking it has all been bird song and blossom showers. 
If only you could hear what was going on as the shutter captured that instant of time. This is what you would hear...

... Boys screaming, playing a football match and sizzling sausages on the BBQ.

... Fighting me for my phone so they could follow directions to the next cache. #geocaching

... Cough.... Cough.... Atchooo.... Honk.... *whiny voice* 'mummmmmy... can you get me a drink?' #poorly

.... 'Higher mummy. Higher. No stop. Too high mummy. MUMMY!'

.... The constant roar of passing traffic and the drumming of heavy rain on my hood.

.... Loud nagging noises in my head telling me to get a shift on and get all those annoying jobs off the to-do list.

... The moaning of a cantankerous man because I didn't put any salad dressing on the table. #idid 

The week ahead is silly busy and the volume button shows no sign of being turned down just yet. But it would be odd to be too quiet wouldn't it.

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Thursday 8 May 2014

Morrisons Mum for a day

Confession number one: I am not a regular Morrisons customer. I have been in the past, taking advantage of their cheaper prices compared to Sainsburys and Waitrose (my other two local supermarkets). But then along came Lidl and I was lured by the even cheaper prices and surprisingly good quality products.

Confession number two: I was offered £80 of Morrisons shopping vouchers to go and try out the supermarket now that they have dropped over 1200 product prices. New everyday low prices, so off I went.

Morrisons Stamford Lincolnshire

The first thing that struck me was the signage. The promised yellow "I am cheaper" signs were everywhere as I walked in, and images of things I would buy were right beside them. It was doing everything to set my expectations high and expect a low shopping bill.

Morrisons Point of Sale "I'm Cheaper"

Morrisons High signage "I'm cheaper"

The downside was that the choice of some very attractive products was too much and I found myself sneaking in a few extras here and there because a) they are things I wouldn't normally find in my regular supermarket and b) the prices seemed very reasonable.

Unusual vegetables Morrisons

Take the deli section for example: £1 for some mini vegetable samosas, £1 for a pot of mixed olives and £1.10 for a pot of chick pea salad. They found themselves on my table for lunch along with some Signature Scottish smoked salmon which was a third off. Lovely treat if a little eclectic for one meal!

Shelf edge point of sale Morrisons I'm cheaper

It was certainly easy to spot the products which had been reduced in price and yes, I was drawn to them. Curse those Jammie Dodgers (only 49p)! But I was a bit confused at some of the pricing. For example, the Morrisons British Butter was reduced to £1 from £1.49 (I think) but it was on the shelf right beside Savers Butter at 99p. Why would anyone now buy the Savers butter when you can get perceived better quality for a penny more. I expect the rest of the pricing will sort itself out in time.

My only other gripe was the layout of the Market Street fruit and vegetables. Does it seem unreasonable to expect all the fruit to be together? All the root vegetables to be together? Ordinarily I would expect to find my salad ingredients within a few hundred meters of each other. Obviously there is a school of thought that thinks not and they are in charge of the fruit and veg layout in Morrisons. I suppose if you shopped regularly there you would learn where things are but in the meantime the member of staff who suffered my repeated requests for directions amongst the legumes was very helpful.

At the till, I was relieved that the bill wasn't too scary given all the extras that had found their way into the trolley (like the half price wine I stumbled upon. Well it was the bank holiday weekend). And I had managed to get everything I needed/wanted for our first BBQ of the year.

It was a joint BBQ with some friends and I had promised to bring a couple of dishes.

First on my list was my BBQ standby homemade burgers.

BBQ burgers with coleslaw

For the burgers:
400g minced beef - £1.99
1 finely chopped onion (69p bag of 8) - 9p
Two crusts of dry bread
Handful of coriander (1/3 of a bunch at 79p) - 26p
Teaspoon of toasted coriander seeds crushed
1 egg (18 saver eggs for £1.62) - 9p
Salt and pepper

For the coleslaw:
1/2 savoy cabbage finely sliced (80p) - 40p
2 carrots grated (69p/kg bag) - 13p
1 onion halved and finely sliced (69p/kg bag) - 7p
2 tablespoons natural yoghurt (large pot at £1.15) - 20p
Juice of 1 lemon (6 pack 99p) - 17p
salt and pepper

Pittas: pack of 8 - 75p

Combine all the burger ingredients together in a bowl and shape into 8 burgers. Chill in the fridge before grilling. They take roughly 5 minutes each side but BBQ are notoriously varied in heat so go with you instinct, or cut one in half to see if they are cooked as you like them.
Prepare all the coleslaw vegetables and mix in the yoghurt, lemon juice and seasoning. Stir thoroughly.

I served them in a pitta bread with lashings of coleslaw.

Cost per serving : 53p but it's hard to only eat one!

I also decided to try something new and found a fab recipe for Salmon Tikka Parcels with raita:

Salmon Tikka parcels

For the Salmon Tikka:
Four fresh salmon fillets - £6
1/3 jar tikka masala paste (£1.50) - 50p
Pack of 4 mini naan bread - 67p

For the raita:
Small pot of natural yoghurt (1/4 large pot at £1.15) - 29p
Handful of coriander finely chopped (1/3 of a bunch at 79p) - 26p
Half a cucumber peeled, de-seeded and finely diced (whole cucumber 49p) - 25p
Juice of half a lemon - 8p
Salt and pepper

Slice each salmon fillet into 3 lengthwise and coat each piece well with the tikka paste. Allow to marinade for a couple of hours in the fridge.
Prepare the raita by adding the cucumber, coriander, lemon juice and seasoning to the yoghurt and stir.

Flash grill the salmon when the heat has died down a little. It will literally only take 30 seconds on each side to cook so be quick! Warm the naan bread at the edge of the grill and when ready, split the naan, fill with 3 thin slices of salmon and add a generous dollop of raita.

Cost per serving: £1.99

Both dishes went down very well, although for future reference I wouldn't attempt to grill the salmon or warm the naan on a furnace hot BBQ. Slight over-charring occurred!

BBQ grilling fish

Thankfully, I didn't quite ruin the dish although it was remarkable how volcanically hot the inside of a naan bread can get if left to 'warm' for too long.

As a finale we were treated to this pavlova for which I can take no credit. It was pretty amazing though!

Homemade Strawberry Pavlova

In summary, I was impressed by the range and quality of product available at Morrisons and will certainly be returning for the deli section and to the wine aisle. It was a pleasant surprise to see so many regular everyday products at such reasonable prices too and if it wasn't for the completely baffling layout I might even think about switching shops.

Disclosure: I was sent £80 of Morrisons shopping vouchers in exchange for this review. All views are my own honest opinion.

Saturday 3 May 2014


Things that have made me smile this week...

The big one being chosen to carry his cub pack's flag at the St George's Day parade.

The late afternoon sunlight through the Rowan tree blossom.

The simplicity and beauty of a dandelion clock. 

Blue. I am a big fan of blue flowers and bluebells are pretty high up there.

Bored and waiting for dinner to cook, I noticed my shoes almost exactly match our hall tiles. Little things.

Taking The Big One and the Princess shopping to spend their own pocket money. I'm smiling with pride at how they worked out the money, the fact that the contents of my purse were intact and the pattern of the block paving.

The Wee One bring cheeky in the trolley and how every single person asked which aisle I found him in.

I am resolving to keep looking for the things to smile about! They are there. They may be hiding or cunningly disguised but I will hunt them out of their lair and force them into the open. 

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Silent Sunday