Monday, 30 June 2014

How to create your own Wimbledon in your back garden

Wimbledon has made its way around once again even though it only seems like yesterday that Andy Murray thrilled us all by lifting the trophy for the first time. If you’ve been swept up in the Wimbledon madness, as many people do, then why not create your own SW19 in your back garden. Here’s how…

The court
Obviously the first thing you need is a court, otherwise there will be no play whatsoever! There’s no need to paint lines on the grass (unless you really want to); instead you can do a couple of other things in order to mark out a court. You can pin some ribbon in place to create a rectangle or you can throw the rule book out the window and not have a court marked out. Any part of the grass counts!

Equipment
You then, of course, need some racquets, a net and a ball. Unless you have a huge garden (and plenty of money), then you won’t be able to do things professionally here, but you can still get good enough equipment to have a decent knockabout. You can buy garden tennis sets like these from Tesco which have all you need to get started.

Clothing
If you want to do things by the book then you need to get the Wimbledon clothing right, and that means you have to wear all white. Everything from your trainers to your t-shirt to your underwear (yes, really) needs to be white, and the Wimbledon officials can get very picky if you don’t follow the rules!

Play into the evening
Wimbledon used to just be a day-time tournament but now it can go on until all hours of the evening, meaning you don’t have to stop play just because the Sun’s going down. If you get the right lighting for your garden then you too can play as long as you like, perfect if you’re in the middle of a tense final set. See here for some great outdoor lighting to make your own floodlit Centre Court.

Food and drink
You can’t have Wimbledon without some strawberries and cream, and this is the perfect little snack if you’re having a garden party at the same time. A glass of champagne also goes down a treat if you feel like going a little more fancy. Unfortunately, players are restricted to a couple of bites of a banana and some Robinson’s squash, but they do get someone to stand over them with an umbrellas.

Rain stops play
As with the real Wimbledon, rain may well stop play, so you need a contingency plan in case this happens. Centre Court now has a roof on it, so you could set up a temporary gazebo or marquee to shelter you from the rain or you could rope the kids in to pull a big sheet of tarpaulin across the grass when it starts to rain. Cliff Richard impersonators are optional.

Say hello to my massimo June advertiser, Wardrobe Conversations!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

VitalBaby Warm-A-Bowl | Review

For a few weeks now I've been using the VitalBaby Warm-A-Bowl, and it's certainly made weaning and feeding times a lot easier. I've been using this each time I've fed Dexter, so that is three meals per day. 

The idea behind the bowl is that you pop open the lid, and pour warm (not boiling) water inside. This helps keep your baby's food warm all through feeding time which, when you have a baby, can be pretty lengthy! 

The bowl itself has a non-slip surface that helps prevent Dexter's sticky little mitts from moving the bowl around on the high chair table. The bowl is also shaped with easy feeding in mind, scooped around the edges making it easier to spoon food up with less mess. This is ideal to use for when Dexter is feeding himself too; a great long-lasting product. 

The bow is quite large, for baby size, and the packaging specifies that it's suitable for use on 9+ month babies. However, on the website the bowl is advertised for 0 months so this confused me a little. Because of the large surface area, I was concerned that the small amount of baby food I put in the bowl would get colder quicker, but was pleasantly surprised that it still kept as warm! This would be ideal to use from the beginning of weaning with baby rice etc. 

You can buy your bowl from the website here, costing £6.99. I think this is a great price for such a genius idea, keeping baby's food warm and throwing out a helping hand too. 
Say hello to my massimo June advertiser, Wardrobe Conversations!

* Product sent for review.

Friday, 27 June 2014

House of Fraser's #HouseofFashion

I love being invited to the House of Fraser #HouseofFashion events that are held at Baracoa in Leeds. This is my second catwalk event I've had the privilege of being sat front row for too. This collection was all about their summer and autumn collections and featured heavily on beachwear and swimwear. 

There were lots of neon colours and prints, along with plenty of textures - right up my street! My favourite collection had to be from Biba, and as always, they produce the most opulent evening gowns and dresses. I can't remember the name of the collection unfortunately, that was Japanese inspired, but was absolutely stunning. Their oriental prints, burgundy colours and structured garments really stood out on the models. 

Here are some of my favourite looks from the night. I must admit, I fell in love with the more sophisticated and classic wardrobe staples and spent most of the night daydreaming about how I could make them fall in nicely with my wardrobe!

Please let me apologise in advance, the lighting wasn't the best and so I struggled taking photos with my camera last time. This time I decided to take my iPad with me as my phone's battery was shocking and wouldn't stop dying! I'm not sure what I'll try next time!
A big thank you to Kizzy for hosting another great event at Baracoa, and for all the drinks hehe. This place has easily become one of my favourite hangouts now! Thank you to House of Fraser for putting on another lovely charity event and providing us with awesome goody bags too. 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Shop Til You Drop in London

Whether you’re a designer diva, a high street fashionista, or a trendsetter who likes to track down the latest fashions almost before they happen, you won’t find a better place to feed your retail habit than London. There are lots of great flight and train travel deals available and with over fifty locations in the capital, a Travelodge hotel is a perfect place to stay on your London shopping spree. Many of them are based right in the centre of all the retail action, meaning it’s easy to nip back to your room to drop off your bags when the strain’s getting too much for your arms.

Oxford Street
Oxford Street is jam-packed with multiple branches of all your favourite chain stores like Zara, Gap and Next. It’s also flagship heaven, featuring the biggest and the best that Primark, John Lewis, Top Shop and M&S have to offer. And don’t miss the ultimate fashion lover’s department store, Selfridges. Shoe lovers will be blown away by the Shoe Lounge, the biggest footwear department in the world! And men don’t have to feel left out – Selfridges is also home to the planet’s largest men’s shoe department too. When you’ve had enough of the crowds, head up the little lane to St Christopher’s Place for a boutique atmosphere and lots of great places to eat, drink and rest your feet.

Covent Garden
If you like a carnival atmosphere as you shop, Covent Garden is the place to head to as there are always special events and street performances going on. Avoid the crowds at Covent Garden tube station by getting off at Leicester Square instead and browsing the shops on Long Acre on the short walk. The area’s famous Piazza has recently had a makeover and is now a make-up lover’s dream come true with dedicated Burberry, Chanel and Dior beauty boutiques. Wander off the main drag down side streets like Floral Street to find boutique heaven and Ted Baker’s fab flagship store.

The King’s Road
Home of the famous Sloane Ranger, the King’s Road has its fair share of eye-wateringly expensive labels but it’s also well kitted out with all your favourite high street stores and its smaller scale often makes for a more relaxed shopping experience than elsewhere in London.  As you come out of Sloane Square tube, you’ll see Peter Jones (aka John Lewis) right in front of you at the top of the road. When you’re finished in there, check out Kate Spade, just off the square for a taste of colourful, glamorous New York designer style. Don’t miss the spacious, calm King’s Walk shopping mall for skincare guru Liz Earle’s shop and spa, Patisserie Valerie and an absolutely enormous branch of Zara.

These are just some of London’s shopping hotspots. As you’ll find out when you visit the capital, when you’re in London, you’re never more than a hop, skip and a jump away from an amazing shop or ten!

Say hello to my massimo June advertiser, Wardrobe Conversations!

* This is a sponsored post.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Creating the ultimate romantic boudoir.

If romance is the order of the day in your bedroom then there are a few areas that need addressing in order to create the desired effect. Here are just a few ways you can turn your bedroom into a passion-filled palace…

Get the right mood lighting
Lighting is everything when it comes to creating a romantic ambience, so you need to spend a bit of time getting this right. Obviously you don’t want harsh, blinding light as that will kill the mood so go for softer lighting. Installing a dimmer switch is a perfect way to achieve this as you can fully control how bright it is. You could also use other lighting sources such as fairy lights to drape around the room or even go for the ultimate mood setter – candles! Candles are a really romantic option, although you do need to be careful with them. Yankee Candles are always a great choice and can help the room smell amazing too.

Update the décor
If you want to create a romantic setting then you need the décor to go with it. Old, tattered wallpaper, for instance, isn’t going to give the right impression. You should also think about the colours you use for your interior decorating, using purples and reds to really get pulses racing. Areas to think about include wallpaper, curtains, cushions, bedding, carpet, and rugs. For example, www.onlinecurtainfabrics.com has a great range of curtains that can really help to set the mood.

Give the place a tidy
This may be blindingly obvious but it’s worth mentioning. If you’ve got clothes or dirty cups and dishes lying around the place then it can really give the mood, especially if this is the first time a particular person is visiting your bedroom. Give the place a bit of a tidy and a dust and it’ll make a world of difference.

Music
A little music can go a long way but you need to be careful with what you choose. Something soft and chilled out is likely to be much more effective that some crazy heavy metal music; you don’t want to scare off whoever you’re bringing back to your room (unless you know they happen to be a fan of that kind of thing).

Get the heating right
This might seem like an arbitrary point but it can make all the difference. If your bedroom has a tendency to be freezing cold then it can literally bring the temperature down. However, you don’t want to make it too warm either; sweating whilst you’re sat there having a chat isn’t exactly an attractive quality.

Make the room smell nice

We’ve already mentioned about how using candles can make the room smell nice but there are other methods to help hide any unwanted odours in the room. You can use incense or reed diffusers, such as these from John Lewis, to give the room an attractive scent, whilst you can also get sprays and plug-ins to intermittently give off a nice smell to fill the room. Even just giving a few blasts of aftershave or perfume can really help. 
(Images source, edited by me)

Say hello to my massimo June advertisers, Wardrobe Conversations!

* This is a sponsored post. 

#HouseofFashion OOTD

I had a major fashion dilemma the day I went to #HouseofFashion. The weather was sunny but not hot enough to wear neon colours and prints, so I had to settle for thick black tights and a daisy print dress. 

I bought the dress in a blog sale, and I absolutely love it! Unfortunately it's a little too big but luckily it has ties at the back so I can make it look ok. The sleeves are 3/4 so it's a little too warm for the summer, but I'll definitely be wearing it a lot more in the autumn and winter months layered with a chunky cardigan. I teamed the dress with my trusty H&M boots I bought a few years back. I did wear my black textured boyfriend coat from New Look but this was a little too thick and I was absolutely boiling in the end!

I absolutely adore this lipstick though, it's Rio Rio from TopShop. I picked it up when I was in Harrogate the other month. The hubby decided he was fed up of me wearing purple lipstick and fancied me in something red for a change, I love the slight orange tinge to it too. Beautiful
Say hello to my massimo June advertiser, Wardrobe Conversations!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Afternoon tea at Malmaison Hotel, Leeds.

A few weeks back I headed into Leeds for afternoon tea at Malmaison Hotel with a few other local bloggers. I never even knew there was a Malmaison Hotel in Leeds either! When you entered the hotel you walked down the steps into the Brasserie. I'm sure that this would be well suited for a candlelit romantic dinner, but for afternoon tea it seemed liked I'd stepped into a dungeon down there.  The tables were all ready set up for afternoon tea so I believe they must have certain afternoons booked up. I'm not sure whether this was just set up for those who were attending with discounted vouchers. 

The afternoon tea was presented really well and was so yummy! There were lots to pick from. We opted for the option with a glass of bubbly too, so I think all in all it came to around £12.00 per person. The afternoon tea itself consisted of finger sandwiches: ham and mustard, smoked salmon (yuck!), egg mayonnaise and cucumber and cream cheese. I was in a bit of a savoury mood for some reason so ended up eating more of the sandwiches than the sweet treats! The sweet treats were brownies, profiteroles and I think some kind of pecan tart. There were scones, but these were the tiniest scones I had ever seen, and for a table of four people, they only had a small pot of clotted cream. This clotted cream alone would have just gone nicely on one side of a normal sized scone for me! I only ended up eating one brownie finger and the pecan tart, so unlike me! The tea was fantastic, Yorkshire Gold if I remember rightly, unfortunately they didn't refill the pot but I never asked so I guess if you don't ask you don't get!

I don't think I would go for afternoon tea here again, I wasn't amazed by it to be honest. And I wouldn't fancy eating in a dungeon again haha!
Say a big hello to my massimo June advertiser, Wardrobe Conversations!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Making Bathtime Fun for your Little Prince

Why should bathtime be a chore? It certainly doesn’t have to be. It could be a time of the day that the kids, and you, look forward to, rather than trying to squeeze it in before bedtime so that they can be fresh as a daisy before bed. While the main reason for a bath is to give them a good clean and wash their hair, it can also be a time for play – water play is great fun for kids, and we, as parents, should embrace it! Here are some great tips to help make bathtime as fun as possible for your little ones.

  • Make it exciting. Most kids will likely drag their feet as soon as the word ‘bath’ is mentioned, but if you made the whole process fun and exciting, they’ll be more willing to race you up the stairs.
  • Ask the kids. There’s no point assuming what they will and won’t like to do in the bath. Ask them what they’d like to do and stock up on things that will entertain them. If they want to play with toys while they’re in there, there are plenty of bath toys on the market that are suitable. Perhaps they’d like to get a little arty? Bath crayons could be the answer. Or maybe, they’d just like to bury themselves in bubbles.
  • Provide plenty of toys. From empty bottles and cups to bubble guns and foam shapes, if you provide plenty of stimulation for them, they will likely enjoy a bath more. Buy a toy hammock to store everything neatly once their bath is over. The suction cups mean you can just stick it straight onto the tiles.
  • Buy a boy’s dressing gown.  The worst thing about a bath is having to get out once it’s over. Keep them nice and snuggly with one of the boy’s dressing gowns from George and they’ll have something warm to look forward to once the water’s washed away.
  • Let them share. If they have siblings of a similar age, let them share a bath so that they can play together. While they will happily entertain themselves if they’re on their own, having a sister or brother there opens up the opportunities even more! Grab some wind-up toys such as boats and let them race, for example.
  • Make the water fun. Change the colour of the bath water with a little food colouring, or treat them to some fizzy bath bombs from Lush and watch the water effervesce.
  • Play games. There are plenty of games that they can play in the bath, even if they’re bathing alone. From dropping the soap in the bath and asking them to find it, to making bubble beards and styling their hair into weird and wonderful shapes – bathtime can be great fun!

Don’t worry if they make a bit of a mess, or if water escapes the bath and makes its way onto the floor. That’s part of the fun of it! If you inject a bit of fun into bathtime, you won’t hear whinging or proclamations of “do we have to?” ever again!

Say hello to my massimo June advertisers, Wardrobe Conversations!

* This is a sponsored post. 

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Raspberry + White Chocolate Amaretti Cheesecake

I made this cheesecake a few weeks ago, and I thought I'd saved it as a draft but my silly iPad decided not to save it at all. 

I had ended up overbuying fruit when I went to pick up a few bits from the supermarket, and truth be told, I don't actually like raspberries. I needed to find a recipe that I could use them in and the first thing I could think of was cheesecake! I'm a bit of a stickler when it comes to baking cheesecake and I think it's a really weird idea, so I opted for a simple no-cook cheesecake recipe. 

You will need:
300g white chocolate
50g sugar
2 x 300g of cream cheese
300ml of double cream 
85g of Amaretti biscuits 
a punnet of raspberries
clingfilm
a bowl or tray to serve

1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave.
2. Mix the cream cheese, sugar and double cream together. 
3. Add the melted chocolate (when cooled).
4. Clingfilm the down (as this is an upside down cheesecake). 
5. Add half of the mixture to the bottom of the bowl. 
6. Add half the punnet of raspberries. 
7. Add the remainder of the mixture. 
8. Press the Amaretti biscuits upside down into the mixture. 
9. Leave to cool overnight or for at least 6 hours in the fridge. 

Hey presto! This is a full fat dessert, and will serve around 10 people (or more!). 
Say hello to my massimo June advertisers, Wardrobe Conversations!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Lovely Yorkshire | Harrogate

I'm really proud to be from Yorkshire. We have amazing views, great days out, and plenty of shops up't north. Oh and many tea rooms! I popped over to Harrogate the other week (for my first time ever!) and took a few snaps of my trip just to show how lovely Yorkshire can be. I took a photo of Betty's Tea Room but we didn't venture in at the queue was massive, so opted to have Wagamama's instead. Warning: this post is a photo diary and is image heavy. Especially with churches. I really like churches. I think it's the architecture, so beautiful.  
Say hello to my massimo June advertiser, Wardrobe Conversations!