Pinterest Passion

Before I gave up blogging a year or so ago, I drafted what I hoped to be a weekly post, where I would round up reviews and photos of my favourite products of the week – mostly home accessories, stuff for the kids and just little things I happened to find window shopping online or out and about.

Things have certainly moved on though and this particular post idea now seems a little defunct, given my most recent discovery of the wonderful world of Pinterest. For those who haven’t come across it before, Pinterest gives you the chance to ‘pin’ images from around the web onto your own online pinboards and ‘follow’ other Pinterest users. It’s certainly very addictive! Judging from the images that pop up on my screen, the majority of users are women, with interests in home decor, crafts, cakes, fashion and weddings – so it’s perfect for me!

Blissfulmum Pinterest screenshot (top)

So now on my computer screen at least, I have the perfectly decorated house, fantastic ways in which to spend time with my children, a wardrobe full of beautiful clothes with matching accessories and hundreds of inspiring ideas that I might one day be able to put into practice – that is, if I ever step away from the computer!!!

Blissfulmum Pinterest screenshot (bottom)

I’ve also just created a Pinterest account for the St. Barnabas Centre – not only does it give me a chance to share pictures of all the lovely weddings we’ve recently held (I’m learning social media as I go along!) but also pick up on wedding industry trends, find new ideas for our venue and also meet other wedding suppliers.

St. Barnabas Centre pinterest screenshot

I think I might still do a weekly post – maybe a round up of my most favourite pins. If you want to follow me on Pinterest go to www.pinterest.com/blissfulmum or the St. Barnabas Centre (for wedding inspiration) at www.pinterest.com/stbarnabascentr

Why not leave me a comment and let me know if you are  on Pinterest and how you find it? I’m always looking for new people to follow!

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I’m Back!

Well after a very long break I’ve decided to resume my blog! Is anyone still out there? Not sure if I have many subscribers left as I’ve been so quiet, but a lot has happened since my last post. I think I mentioned I was going on holiday and unfortunately never came back! The main reason for lack of writing was morning sickness – I fell pregnant again in summer 2010 and felt terrible for the best part of 6 months! Just looking at a computer screen made me feel really ill, so I had to give up for a while. Then my beautiful baby girl was born and 18 months later, here we are , a happy family of 5.

In the last couple of months more exciting things have started happening. It’s been a long held dream of mine to set up my own business and finally now that the monkeys are at school and my little one is happy with her lovely childminder, my little cakery and vintage china empire is slowly coming to life. I’ve mostly been doing events for friends and family but I’m hoping to launch to the wider public soon! In the meantime, I’ve gone and got myself my DREAM job! Our local church has a beautiful Tudor barn and I was delighted to be asked to run it as a wedding reception venue. It’s been hard work setting everything up but we’re now up and running and I’m so excited to be managing the business. In the future I hope to be able to fit in a few cakes and events around my wedding commitments, but feel a very lucky girl!

Our new website is www.weddingpartyreception.org.uk, please take a visit and see what you think!

So glad to be back, I’m planning lots of blog posts about both juggling work and the kids, setting up my business and of course, weddings, china and cakes are bound to feature strongly!

Helen xSt. Barnabas Centre outsideSt. Barnabas Centre Open Day

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Summer Holidays

 

Picture: HolidayJust a short note to apologise for the lack of posts in the last week or so. With the summer holidays upon us, my days have been full of adventure with my two little monkeys (and more mundane mummy stuff), leaving me with little time for writing. I have been busy behind the scenes though and will hopefully have something exciting to share with you regarding my blog in the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I am taking a little ‘blogiday’ – a chance to unwind, spend some time together as a family and enjoy ourselves. No computer, no Twitter, no blog-reading – I will not know what to do with myself!

When I return, my big grown-up boy will start school. Even though it’s only nursery class and therefore just a few hours each day, it’s really going to pull at my heart-strings – he’s only 3 bless him! Still, I’m sure we’ll get into the swing of things quickly and I’m quite looking forward to getting back into the term-time routine.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of the summer and see you in a few weeks. Au Revoir!

Helen x

Posted in Family Life | 2 Comments

Personal Challenge: July Update

At the beginning of July I joined Tiddlyompompom’s Personal Challenge in a bid to get myself more organised. As the ‘Queen of Procrastination’ in most things, I decided to declare my intentions here on my blog, in order to spur myself into action. Many thanks for all your words of encouragement – here’s the latest on my progress!

Well, what a difference a month makes! As you can tell from my previous post, my new blogging and tweeting addiction hobby has certainly been taking up a lot of free time, but all in all I think I’ve done quite well in the challenges I set myself. As you know I’m planning to start my own business and preparations will start in earnest once my eldest little monkey starts school in September. So I’ve been busy this month getting everything else in my life (and home!) a little better organised.

Picture: Wall PlannerI’ve done quite a lot of reading (don’t you just love a good self-help book!) and have pulled together a map of my goals and objectives for the year. It’s a bit personal so I won’t share it here, but it has really helped me take a new look on life and I’m quite pleased with where I’m heading! It’s been useful to share with my husband too – despite being so opposite, it seems we do actually share quite a few ambitions! I’m not saying that looking after the children isn’t rewarding – it goes so quickly that I would hate to miss out on these precious few years at home with them, but I have felt a little ‘directionless’ for a while, so it’s great to put things into perspective.

Picture: Household OrganiserSo what about my house management skills? Well, I’m pretty pleased with my progress here! I’ve compiled a ‘home file’ with all my housework duties and I’ve been sticking to it fairly well. I’ve also got into a much-needed routine with the washing and ironing, which my mum will be really pleased about! We also seem to be arriving on time more often these days, although I have to admit that I still struggle with getting all our things prepared the night before, rather than running around like a headless chicken first thing in the morning!

All in all, life seems to be running a little more smoothly so I think I can call July’s challenge a success. Hopefully come September I’ll be ready to start focusing on becoming ‘Mumpreneur Extrodinaire’ but for August, I think I might set myself a slightly more fun-orientated challenge. Will post more details soon!

Posted in Organised Mum | 8 Comments

The Gallery: Playtime

The theme for Tara’s Gallery this week is ‘Playtime’.

There are boxes upon boxes of toys in our house. Friends comment that we could probably open a toy shop once we’re done with them all! Typically though, the boys are quite happy tipping all the toys on the floor and then pretending that the plastic box they are stored in is actually a boat, castle, spaceship – or whatever else takes hold of their imagination.

My little men always seem to go for the brightly coloured, noisy plastic toys first, but they quickly discard these to play with their wooden train set, construct ‘Marble Run’ or dress up as Bob the Builder and hammer a few walls.

Picture: Boys playing

Sadly, imagination seems to be a forgotten concept in adulthood. I think this possibly explains why I found it hard at first to know how to play with my boys, especially when they were babies. So much time is taken just physically meeting their needs, it’s easy to forget to make time for play and reading stories. As the boys have got older, my fondness for playtime has grown and these days I have a great time getting down to their level and taking part in the fun!

For lots of fun ideas and activities for children, my favourite blogs are Nurturestore (who actually made the suggestion for The Gallery this week), Redtedart and The Crafty Crow – all of which are bursting full with inspiration!

Posted in Photography | 6 Comments

My Online World

Since 14th June, when I made my first little outing into the world of blogging, I’ve discovered a whole new online life. Up until then I’d only really used the computer for the odd bit of internet shopping and occasional surfing of the web. How things change! In the last couple of months, I’ve learnt so much and can’t believe how addictive it all is. What’s most amazing is that people actually seem to be reading my blog. So I’m waving “hello and thank you” to everyone taking the time to read my posts – I really appreciate it!

I mostly write and read blog posts in the evening. It sure beats watching endless re-runs of Top Gear on the television, which my husband normally does to unwind after a busy day at work. I have found though, that I’ve been switching the computer on earlier in the day – catching up over a quick cup of tea in the morning, or while the boys are eating their tea. This, I think, is a bit of a slippery slope so I’m trying to nip it in the bud!

Once I joined Twitter, my concerns that all this online activity would have an impact on ‘real life’ really started to take hold. The lure of taking part in an interesting (or amusing) conversation is very strong. Who doesn’t love a good chat? Everyone I’ve met so far through blogging has been really friendly and welcoming, which has encouraged me to get involved, make comments, join in conversations and generally behave a lot more confidently in making friends online, than I perhaps would do in real life.

In actual fact, I think blogging has enhanced ‘real life’ in some ways. I follow a number of ‘crafty’ blogs, which have reignited my passion for making things by hand and gathering ideas for craft activities to do with the boys. I’m also getting lots of ‘mumpreneur’ inspiration from blogs I’ve come across. I’ve been baking, practicing photography, learning new skills and generally feeling reassured that I’m in the same boat as many other mums out there, writing about similar experiences with their children.

I’m aware blogging is now very popular, but within my social circle it’s still fairly unfamiliar. Once I reached 200 hits on my blog, I felt it was time to tell my friends and family what I’d been up to. Everyone’s been very intrigued and supportive, but I also think they’ve been a little confused as to why someone with a ‘normal’, busy life, would feel the need to open up to complete strangers online? There are a number of reasons – connecting to those with similar interests, practicing my writing and ‘meeting’ lots of interesting people. I love exploring this whole new world, but just need to be careful I keep my real life / online life balance in check!

How about you? I’d love to hear your reasons for blogging and how much of an impact it has on your ‘real life’. What do your friends and family think of your blog (have you told them?) and how do you manage your ‘online time’?

Posted in About my blog | 4 Comments

The Gallery: Nature

Just a short post today but here’s my entry for The Gallery run by Tara over at Sticky Fingers. This week’s theme is Nature. What a great opportunity to go for a walk in the countryside with the boys, enjoy the sunshine and take some photographs, or so I thought. The pesky rain had other ideas and has been chucking it down all afternoon. Unfortunately I couldn’t get much ‘nature’ inspiration from our alternative afternoon activity – a playdate at my friend’s house (enjoyable as it was!) – so I’ve had to settle for a photo I took on holiday in Derbyshire a couple of years ago.

We went in Spring and stayed in a beautiful cottage. The trees were full of blossom, birds were singing, newborn lambs were in the fields and we were in the company of good friends. This photo was taken on a walk around Chatsworth House.

On the way home, a pheasant took a nose dive through the front grille of our brand new car, resulting in a broken radiator. It’s probably fair to say that my husband was not quite so appreciative of ‘nature’ on that day as the rest of us, but we still had a great time!

Picture: Sheep at Chatsworth

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Grandma’s Coffee Buns

Day Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, is a place I hold very dear. It’s where my dad and my auntie grew up and was the home of my grandparents, Mary and Ronnie. Sadly my granddad died just a month or so before I was born, but I like the fact that he knew of my existence, even though I never got to meet him.

My grandma was lovely. She was a seamstress by profession and I remember her making clothes for my dollies and tackling the ‘mending pile’ with great efficiency every time she came to stay with us. Funny how we seem to dispose of things much more easily these days – I sew the odd button back on or stitch up a fallen-down hem, but I think we’re generally a lot less thrifty than previous generations.

Picture: My GrandmaI’ve probably inherited a lot of my ‘craftiness’ from my grandma – she taught me to sew, knit and bake when I was a little girl. I’ve mentioned her fruitcake recipe on here before. I remember her pantry; full of baking ingredients, rhubarb from the garden, sacks of potatoes, apples, biscuit and cake tins, it was just like something you would see in a wartime museum.

My grandma died in 1995 and I still miss her – she would have been totally bewildered by the whole internet thing, but hopefully quite proud to have been featured on my blog! Here’s the recipe for her coffee buns – these odd little things are neither biscuit nor cake and they don’t even have any coffee in them! They are so-called, I believe, because they are very tasty as a snack with a mid-morning cup of coffee. I’m entering these into English Mum’s Big Bakeoff, hope you enjoy x

Coffee Buns (makes about 15)

8oz self-raising flour, 4oz butter, 1 egg, beaten, 4 oz brown sugar, 1 tbsp baking powder, 6oz currants/sultanas/raisins, splash of milk.

Rub fat into flour. Add dry ingredients. Mix in egg and milk slowly to form a sticky dough. Spoon dollops of mixture onto a greased baking tray. Bake in oven for 25mins at 180’c.

Picture: Grandma's Coffee Buns

Posted in Yummy Recipes | 4 Comments

Fairycake Heaven

Picture: Nana's birthday cakeAs you can probably tell from other posts on this blog, I love cakes – baking them, decorating them, especially eating them! But my fondness for cake does not extend quite so far as the highly fashionable Cupcake trend that has swept the UK over the last couple of years.

True, with all their wonderful, glittery decorations, cupcakes are certainly a pleasure on the eye. I would even go as far to say that the first few mouthfuls are indeed a delight to the taste buds. Unfortunately though, that’s where cupcakes and I part company. The problem is, they are just too much. A muffin-sized cake with a mountain of icing on top is just too many calories for one girl to take. It’s not even as if I’m a tiny waif – I’m well known for being able to put away my food! I just find cupcakes a bit too sickly and filling to eat a whole one.

I think my lack of enthusiasm for cupcakes stems from a far greater appreciation of the humble fairy cake. A smaller version of the cupcake, fairy cakes provide ample opportunity for the same mouth-watering varieties and beautiful decorations, whilst still remaining small enough to eat in 3 or 4 mouthfuls. More importantly though, the unassuming fairy cake is a nostalgic reminder of the cakes mum used to make for the school fete and birthday parties, usually with white glace icing and a cherry on top. Butterfly cakes with their creamy, buttery icing, sponge wings and dusted-sugar tops, were another of my childhood favourites.

Picture: Cupcakes IHaving said all this, I genuinely would not want to offend the very talented cupcake makers I’ve met in real life and through blogging. Some of the creations I’ve come across are just truly the most beautiful edible things ever made. I’d never have the patience (or bravery) to attempt cake-making professionally, but can point you in the direction of my friends Mary and Rosie at MooRoo Cakes in Lincolnshire and also a lovely lady called Julie I met through Twitter, whose company IceMaidenCakes is based in Somerset.

For further cupcake/fairy cake inspiration, check out English Mum’s lovely foodie blog, where you will find lots of photos from the cupcake competition she ran back in February and details of her current baking challenge for July. You still have time to join in (I’ll be posting my entry tomorrow!) Finally, any cupcake makers out there who want to change my mind, please do send me a sample and I’m sure I can be persuaded!

Picture: Cupcakes II

Above: Birthday cakes I made for my Nana’s 95th birthday party last week, Happy Birthday Nana!

Below: Choc fudge heart cakes, valentine cakes, fairy cake selection

Picture: Fairycake selection

Picture: Heart cakes

Posted in Yummy Recipes | 11 Comments

Home Sweet Home

We moved into our home a little over three years ago, just a few weeks before our first baby was born. I’ve a whole file of clippings on how I’d like it to look and the perfect accessories to buy, but with my two little men keeping me so busy, it’s very much a work in progress!

Fundamentally, I think I’m a bit of a nosy parker. I jump at the chance to have a look around my friends’ homes and I’m a complete magazine-aholic, trawling through every one I can get my hands on each month for inspiration. Even though we aren’t planning to move for a few years (and have only just started decorating this house!), I regularly check out what’s on the market, dreaming up plans for our ‘Forever Home’. I’m even known to have a sneaky peek through neighbours’ windows in the winter before they close their curtains for the evening! I just love looking at how people put their rooms together – the colours, textures, wallpaper, furniture & accessories. I’m really happy to have found so many pretty and inspirational blogs on here too recently.

A person’s home can tell you a lot about their style and their personality. My friend lives in an identical house to me but our homes ‘feel’ completely different – she has great taste for a start! One of my other friends has bought a ‘doer-upper’ and although they’ve only just got started with the basics (including completely rewiring) you can just tell the house has great potential and will be beautiful once finished.

Those in the ‘real world’ who read my blog have all been laughing about the fact that I come across on here like some sort of Bree Van de Kamp character from Desperate Housewives. The reality I’m afraid to say, is quite a bit different to that – domestic goddess I am not, even though I do strive to be better! My husband on the other hand, is rather like Monica from ‘Friends’ – he can’t bear things being untidy, whereas I’m quite comfortable with a bit of a mess. We’re pretty much opposites in everything really, but somehow we get along!

My theory is though, that if you have guests round to your house, you tidy up before they arrive, right? As my ‘online guests’ I’m therefore a bit selective about what photos to show you, after all, who wants to look at a picture of my messy kitchen?! So I’d love you to take a little look around, get to know me better. I’ve put together a few snapshots of our home (there’s even a pile of laundry in one, so there you go!) I’ve so many ideas and not enough time (or rooms) to bring them to reality just yet – but I’m looking forward to sharing my plans with you on this blog as I go along.

Picture: Our Home I

Handmade nautical cushions, curtains & bunting using ‘All At Sea’ fabric by Harlequin, throw from Melin Tregwynt, furniture & decoration from Mamas and Papas, mobile from Orange Tree Toys

Picture: Our Home II

Living room crying out ‘I’m in need of cushions & a feature wall!’. Sofas and dining room furniture by Halo, cabinet by Marks & Spencer, handmade picture inspired by Laura Ashley fabrics, ‘Kimono’ wallpaper in eau de nil by Laura Ashley.

Posted in Blissful Home Ideas | 8 Comments