The World According to Izzie

Mum of twin teens - nothing else scares me!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Then and Now...

As a teen did you ever think you'd grow up and stay exactly as you were? Trapped forever in the seven years that defined your teenage years... only with a car and a house and the money to indulge in all the things you loved at that time?

I guess it's normal to never want to grow up and turn into a fully-fledged adult and I'm not sure I had any concept of what it meant to be older... why would you?

I even made a promise to myself that I'd never change and would stay tuned into Radio 1 and reading Smash Hits. How times have changed...

Way back when I was a teen... I wore heels, watched Top Of The Pops, listened only to Radio 1, bought every copy of Smash Hits, ate a lot of crisps... any flavour, (except ready salted) shopped at C&A, drank Babycham, loved any music my dad took a dislike to... especially Dead or Alive, had no plans to fall asleep in front of the TV (unlike my parents) and thought that I'd never be too old to go clubbing.

Here's the bit where I justify each and every one of those changes now that I'm 46 years of age...

Heels... you're kidding right? Wearing a pair for any great length of time makes me ache in places I took for granted would always be supple when I was younger. I'm happiest in a pair of ballerinas or Converse and so... that's what I wear most of the time.

I'm partial to Radio 2... many of the DJs I used to listen to on Radio 1 as a teen now present on Radio 2 instead. It's a lot like listening to an old friend and Simon Mayo plays Mahna Mahna on his Drivetime show every Friday around 5:15 pm... what's not to love about that! And... gulp... given half a chance I find myself avidly listening to Woman's Hour on Radio 4.

I used to think that ready salted crisps were for old people. As a teen any flavour, no matter how weird was likely to be devoured with much enthusiasm. Is anyone old enough to remember hedgehog flavour I wonder? They tasted rather peppery if memory serves... but I kind of liked them. Now I only ever eat crisps when I have an attack of the munchies after a couple of glasses of wine. I can't justify the calories unless I'm inebriated and couldn't care less.

I've started shopping in M&S (other stores are available) they stock underwear that's sympathetic to the  forty-something figure, as well as a damn fine selection of food and wine. I'm also partial to placing orders with Boden and White Company and shopping at White Stuff, Fat Face and TK Maxx. I have a feeling the fact that C&A closed all of its UK stores back in the year 2000 had nothing to do with this decision whatsoever.

My passion for nightclubbing has been replaced by a love of dancing all over the house while listening to my iPod. But my all-time number one way to spend the evening has to be... curled up in front of the fire with a large glass of wine, a good book and being left well alone. And I guess I could be tempted by a glass of Babycham, but only if it came with a generous measure of brandy.

My passion for Smash Hits magazine had wavered long before it ceased publication back in 2006. Currently I have Good Housekeeping and Red magazines on subscription and don't plan on changing my reading habits any time soon.

Are some TV programs narrated to make you nap I wonder? The soothing dialogue on the latest series of Who Do You Think You Are? meant that I failed to catch any episode in its entirety without taking a catnap halfway through. Maybe I should use this to my advantage and watch it on iPlayer as a cure for insomnia...

I'm just wondering if you turned out the way you imagined you would in your teens? I look forward to reading your thoughts...

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton
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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

How Do You Loo?

It's a delicate issue and not one I've discussed previously on the blog, but as no topic is off-limits, here are my thoughts on using public toilets as a female of the species...

As I'm out and about quite a lot, the need to pay a visit to a public toilet from time to time is a necessary evil. Personally, I'd much rather cross my legs and wait until I arrive home, but this isn't always practical and apparently it's not good for your kidneys.

I have been known to turn and walk away if I don't find the facilities up to scratch and I'm not a fan of the mixed-gender toilets that seem to be springing up in coffee shops all over the UK. I had the misfortune to use one earlier this week and how did I know that a man had been in there before me? The blasted seat was up! Maybe they should invest in one of these... see picture above!

There's always a small whoop of joy when you spot a public loo that's clean, has adequate toilet paper and smells fresh (I'm thinking M&S and Selfridges). And a pang of disappointment when there's no hook to hang your handbag. I'm left thinking that this oversight was probably caused by a male of the species being completely oblivious to how much of a juggling act goes on behind closed doors, while a woman struggles to pee and hold on to her handbag during the entire process.

I'm guessing that how you attempt to use a public toilet is something that's passed down from generation to generation of women. Personally I favour covering the toilet seat with paper and holding onto an extra sheet so that my hand doesn't come into contact with the flush after I've finished.

I've also mastered the art of locking and unlocking the toilet door with the little finger of my right hand, before washing my hands thoroughly and opening the door to exit the toilet facilities with some trepidation. Who knows if the previous users washed their hands? And eww... why would anyone not do that? I carry one of those little bottles of hand sanitiser in my handbag and always have a spritz just as soon as I've left.

Is this a normal response I wonder, or am I a little too fixated on hygiene issues? Please feel free to share your thoughts and let me know if you favour a different technique. Maybe we could turn this into a poll and I'll report back at a later date.

Alternative options favoured by a few of my friends include squatting, (brilliant for muscle tone apparently) and perching delicately on only one side of the toilet seat.

Until next time...

Linking up with Love all Blogs.

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Ten Things my Daughters Wouldn't Have Said Twelve Months Ago

There are tentative signs that my daughters are turning into adults. And since they turned twenty last month, our mother/ daughter conversations have had me biting my lip in an attempt to disguise the fact that I'm trying not to laugh.

We still have the odd lapse when things get very silly, but most of the time I'm left wondering who has kidnapped my teens and replaced them with a couple of young ladies? After years of attempting to get my daughters to help, organise and be pro-active about everything, finally, they get it. Here are a few examples of recent conversations...

1. "Right, I'm all packed and ready to leave for uni tomorrow. What time are we going?"

2. "I'll clean the glass coffee table in the lounge, I love how it sparkles when you can't write your name in the dust."

3. "I'm just going to set off the first load of washing." After arriving home from a holiday in Barcelona.

4. "Can Dad show me how to use the Flymo? I need to mow the lawn at the new house."

5. One day we were heading home from a shopping trip and a child in the car in front was waving his arm out of the window. As the road was narrow and he was facing oncoming traffic, I tried to alert the driver that something was amiss. Olivia piped up with, "It's all great fun until someone's arm gets taken off by a passing truck isn't it Mum?" Seriously... she sees danger. Obviously she's in training to become a mum one day!

6. "Mum, I'll call you back, I'm cooking dinner for everyone tonight."

7. "Can you email me the recipe for vegetarian paella?" I thought Sophia was joking.

8. "Do you want me to do anything?" This one threw me completely the first few times I heard it. As I'm so used to doing everything myself I had a habit of replying, "No, I'm fine thanks." I am learning though.

9. "I'm just going to bake some cookies. I've been out and bought all the ingredients." I should point out that during baking twelve cookies merged into one on the baking sheet, dripped all over the cooker and when the mega cookie cooled, we couldn't budge it as she'd forgotten to grease the tin. Still, she's older and wiser and she did clean up the mess.

10.  And my favourite of all... Olivia actually put Sophia straight on something when she saw it from my point of view and sided against her sister. "Sophia, you're just wrong, so apologise to Mum and shut-up!"

How did this happen? And why do I find all of the above completely hilarious? My daughters are turning into awesome young women and I truly love what I see. I guess it's going to take a little getting used to...

Until next time...

Linking up with Share With Me over at Let's Talk Mommy, Brilliant Blog Posts over at Honest Mum
and PoCoLo at Verily Victoria Vocalises.

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

If Men Did Christmas...

On Saturday I was lucky enough to be dragged off Christmas shopping with my sister for the second time in as many weeks. As both of us refuse to shop during December, this means making a start in October if we've any chance of getting everything done.

Over lunch we had a discussion that went something like this...

Sis, "Do you ever wonder what would happen if you left your husband in charge of the Christmas shopping?"

Me, after choking on my tomato and mozzarella panini, "Well, I guess everyone would get a voucher from his favourite store, regardless of whether or not they shopped there."

Sis, "That's more than anyone would get from mine; I think they'd be lucky to receive a tenner sometime in January."

If Men Did Christmas became the topic of conversation for the rest of the day. And, after much deliberation, we came up with the following conclusions...

  • There is no way that turkey would be on the menu, both of the men in our lives would be more likely to extract barbecues from their winter hidey-holes and cook steak instead.
  • Everyone would receive a gift voucher, or cash (and this would probably be late).
  • The festivities would be far less stressful as our husbands wouldn't allow it to turn into a stress-fest.
  • We have no idea how the Christmas tree would look, but we were quite taken with the image above.
  • If Mr A had the chance to escape for a few days he'd prefer to book into a Premier Inn (and no, this isn't a sponsored post), eat Christmas dinner in the adjoining pub and return to normality two days' later. And finally...
  • If there were any gifts that required wrapping by either of them, it could turn out like this...
MC Hammer Spoof - Can't Wrap This (YouTube)

We concluded that the only reason we'll be doing all of the insane crazy Christmas stuff for another year is that our offspring are looking forward to the holidays and we'd feel guilty about a lone relative spending Christmas on his own. And so, for the next couple of months there will be extra demands on our time while we source perfect gifts, lovingly wrap each and every last one and prepare for the festive season all over again.
If you are a man and totally hands-on with all of the festive planning, I'm happy to apologise
whole-heartedly. Perhaps you wouldn't mind passing on a few tips to my brother-in-law and husband, who are both pretty clueless when it comes to creating the perfect family Christmas.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

Linking up with Brilliant Blog Posts and PoCoLo 
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Saturday, 11 October 2014

What's Not to Love About Autumn?

The Autumn Tag designed by Makeup-Pixi3
I spotted this fabulous Autumn-themed tag over at Lisa's Life earlier this week and was inspired to give it a go. The idea was originally created by Georgina over at Makeup Pixi 3, and it's a brilliant one!

Autumn is a fabulous time of year and second only to summer for being my favourite season. If you're reading this post and want to join in... consider yourself tagged!

1.  OK we’re talking coffee – what’s your favourite seasonal drink from Starbucks/Costa/
Caffè Nero etc?

I don't really do the seasonal coffee thing if I'm honest and I tend to stick to plain, old cappuccino. The last time I tried a seasonal drink, it was a mint-themed one and tasted not dissimilar to mouthwash!

2.  Accessories – what do you opt for, scarf, boots, gloves? 

I don't enjoy being wrapped up in lots of layers and scarves and gloves etc. I don't know if it's an age thing, (hormones maybe?) but I tend to overheat and become ratty if I'm too warm. Having said that I completely love wearing wellies - no excuse needed whatsoever!  

3.  Music – what’s your favourite music to listen to during Autumn?

I listen to a lot of music all of the time, but have a sneaky feeling that Michael Bubl√© might well feature heavily in the coming months as we have tickets to see him in December. Excited already :o) 

4.  Perfume – what’s your favourite scent for this time of year?

I only have one. It's Coco Chanel and I wear it all year round.

5.  Candles – what scents will you be burning this season?

Following a recent decluttering session at home, (during which I discovered twenty candles!) I've decided to actually use a few, rather than keep dusting them week after week. Currently on the go I have... Pink Rhubarb & Blackberry (Bomb Cosmetics), Elderflower Champagne (Muji) and Mint Mojito (Paddywax). I have currently banned myself from buying any more! 

6.  What do you love most about Autumn? 

Mmmm... that's a tricky one, where do you start?
  • I love long walks in the forest with Mr A that end with a trip via the pub on the way home.
  • And having an excuse to curl up in front of the fire and read a good book if I don't feel like going out.
  • Finding Christmas presents by accident - before the panic-buying sets in some time during December!
  • At the moment I'm loving the peace and quiet at home now that both daughters are back at uni.
  • I'm happy that the cat loves staying in and doesn't object to being wrapped in a blanket and treated like the third baby we never had. We are ever so slightly besotted with her
  • And last, but by no means least... I love the awesomeness that is Mother Nature and all of the brilliant colours at this time of year! 

7. Favourite make-up look? 

Natural, but with a healthy glow.

        8.  What are you looking forward to most in Autumn ?
      Spending a week with Olivia in November. She's been a bit under the weather since heading back to university last month and so we're heading down to spend some time with her. My sister and her family are paying Sophia a visit, so hopefully that will make me feel slightly little less guilty for not having the chance to see both daughters before they head home for the Christmas holidays.

      Thanks to Lisa from Lisa's Life for the inspiration behind this post and also to Georgina from Makeup Pixi 3 for the original idea and image.

      If you fancy joining in, feel free to add your link to the comments below, or send me a link via Twitter @IzzieAnderton.
      Until next time...

      Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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      Wednesday, 8 October 2014

      Life, Death and Vanilla Slices - Jenny Eclair

      Don't be fooled by the seemingly easy-going title of the latest release from Ms Eclair. This book packs a punch from page one and doesn't sugar-coat any of its sharp observations about the complex nature of family life. If you're a fan of black comedy and love a rollercoaster of a read, chances are you'll love this book.


      Is it wrong to have a favourite child? Jean Collins had two daughters, Anne and Jess, but loved only one of them. She couldn't help herself.

      Years later - Jess is missing and no one knows what happened to her. And Anne has long since escaped to London and left her troubled upbringing behind.

      When Jean is left in a coma after stepping out into the middle of the road and being run over by a motorbike, it's Anne who heads back up north to sit with her mother. But why was her mother distracted? And why was she carrying a box of vanilla slices - a treat reserved only for special occasions?

      Returning to the house where she grew up, Anne leaves her two ungrateful sons and a husband who's
      career-minded, but clueless to their own devices. She is forced to confront the past and discovers a few secrets that were buried a long time ago.


      I loved the narration from the two main characters throughout the book. Anne's rant about what it is to be middle-aged and peri-menopausal had me collapsed in a fit of giggles. And anyone who's ever shared a house with teens will identify (although, hopefully not too much) with the descriptions of Anne's sons, Nat and Jools.

      Although Jean isn't a particularly likeable character, she is one of life's survivors and I couldn't help but feel sympathetic towards her by the end of the book. I constantly had to remind myself that part of the novel was set in the 1960s and 70s when attitudes towards women were so very different from those of today. 

      Occasionally additional characters sneak in and add to the narrative. I love that the story unfurls from different perspectives as this adds to the mix of this heart-breaking family drama. There are many skeletons in the family closet and one by one they are revealed. This family has had more than its fair share of tragedy and Anne and Jean have learnt to deal with the past and move on with their lives without ever knowing what happened to Jess.

      The novel is pacey throughout and I was so desperate to reach the final page that on a sleepless night, I snuck downstairs and devoured the last hundred pages like a thing possessed. And although I thought I had the ending all sussed, it turns out I wasn't even close. Expect a clever twist at the end of this compelling read, which is really very satisfying.


      Perfect for anyone who loved The Woman who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend. Life, Death and Vanilla Slices is dark, hilarious and compulsive reading.

      Rating 5/5

      Until next time...

      Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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      Saturday, 4 October 2014

      Not Just For Kids - Blaze On Fairy Lights

      With winter just around the corner and the nights getting longer it's great to have an excuse to stay in, snuggle up and make the house even more luxurious and inviting. Anything that makes a home feel slightly more gorgeous for the dark nights ahead can only be a good thing, especially when staying in is the new going out. And as someone who would much rather hibernate than brave a cold winter's evening, making the house that little bit extra cosy is very high on my agenda right now.

      As a huge fan of fairy lights I was thrilled to receive a set of Ambient Ball LED lights in Metro Lavender from Blaze On to review. These arrived in a stylish box and were very beautiful indeed.

      As someone who's never going to be too old for a liberal sprinkling of fairy lights throughout the house, I couldn't wait to extract the lights from their packaging and arrange them in a variety of locations.

      Here they are on the mantelpiece...

      spilling out of a glass vase...

      and finally, lined up along the headboard...

      Here are my thoughts...

      • Produced in Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mook and Oo (pronounced "Oh"), these beautifully handcrafted balls are made from fine cotton thread. Light diffuses through each one to create a soft and ambient glow. I have tried to capture how intricate they are in the photo...

      • The Ambient Ball set is perfect for grown-ups of all ages as well as older children. I have a feeling that little ones would probably prefer an alternative set of lights from the vast selection available - think fireflies, fairies and stars, plus a whole host of equally gorgeous designs. Check out the full range here.

      • I was impressed to read about Blaze On's commitment to use ethically-sourced products and natural ingredients. They also support community development in the families they collaborate with in Thailand. Read more about the company's Ethical Policy here.

      • With LED bulbs using up to 90% less energy than traditional bulbs and Blaze On's LED light strings having a lifespan of up to 10 years (100,000 hours), they're energy efficient, eco-friendly and will last for ages.

      • Unlike other sets of LED lights I've purchased in the past, these didn't heat up during use. This reassured me that they were safe to leave on for prolonged periods of time.
      • All LED light strings come with a full one year electronic guarantee and free UK technical support.

      With a huge variety of fairy lights, candles and tea lights, Blaze On have something for almost everyone and ship to almost anywhere in the world (contact the company for further details). If it's not too early to mention Christmas?... a set of fairy lights would make for an inspired gift choice and while you're visiting the site why not treat yourself at the the same time? Can a home ever have too many strings of sumptuous fairy lights I wonder?

      Disclaimer: I received a set of Ambient Ball LED lights in Metro Lavender for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

      Until next time...

      Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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      Wednesday, 1 October 2014

      Charity, Chocolate and Winning the Lottery.

      After a year of winning nothing on the Euro lottery I decided to switch back to playing Lotto last weekend.

      I'd used the same numbers for years after discovering them inside a fortune cookie, but when the price of a Lotto ticket went up to £2 last September, I started buying lucky dips on the Euro instead.

      Last weekend after playing my fortune cookie numbers for the first time in a year, I was thrilled to discover that I'd won. I should mention that the win is not a life-changing sum of money. It did made me happy though.

      So the only dilemma is what should I spend my winnings on?

      First of all I deposited a donation into a jar of change I'm collecting for the charity I volunteer for. It seemed like the right thing to do.

      I guess we've all thought long and hard about what we'd do with our lives if all six numbers came up on the lottery. It's fun to fantasise that someday money won't be something we have to think about. I concluded that apart from moving to the coast (to an apartment, not a mansion) and seeing more of the world, there wasn't a great deal I'd change.

      For starters, I'm not convinced that I'd tell the kids. Does that make me a bad parent? Both daughters adore university, love their chosen degree subjects and that makes us all very happy. What could they possibly need when they're enjoying life to the full as it is? I don't think for a minute that having lots of money would be good for either of them. And should you ever allow your offspring to be funded by bank of mum and dad for an indefinite time period without encouraging self-sufficiency and reward from gainful employment?

      As for Mr A and myself... we're happy, enjoy the same things in life and muddle along together very nicely indeed. I have a feeling that if either of us decided to trade the other in for a younger, flashier model with a penchant for fast cars, or trinkets from Tiffany, that life would be very difficult indeed. Mr A and myself have known each other for 25 years and we're a bit like an old pair of slippers... slightly worn, but rather comfortable. So why would you want to trade these in for a pair of stilettos exactly and have to wear them for the entire day, or the rest of your life for that matter?

      As for writing, well... I love to write and have a hunch that I'd continue to spend a considerable amount of time at my laptop each day. Although maybe I'd upgrade as this one's seven year's old and technically belongs to one of my daughters. I couldn't care less... it works!

      Volunteering: I've volunteered for a charity mentoring teenagers for about eight years now, I guess I'd give even more of my time and donate more funds (obviously). Volunteering is always one of the highlights of my week, so why change what you love?

      It's not necessarily the expensive things in life that makes any of us happy. Often it's the simple unexpected moments that make us happiest of all. Just this morning when I was collecting my winnings at the supermarket I heard not one, but two songs that reminded me of a fabulous family holiday. For a while I was lost in the moment and paying no attention whatsoever to filling the trolley. It's these little moments of bliss that make for a happy and fulfilled life and not pining over the latest must-have handbag, or pair of Jimmy Choos.

      Now all I need to do is work out how to spend the rest of my win. I'm pretty rubbish at spending money on myself but maybe I'll treat myself to the latest Caitlin Moran book and take Mr A to the pub for a round (or two) of drinks. If you've got it, I guess it's good to indulge just a little. And maybe if there's any change left, I could treat myself to a Dark Chocolate Bounty bar.

      I guess it's OK to fantasise over winning the lottery from time to time, just as long as you appreciate what you already have.

      How would you spend the rest of your life if your numbers came up?

      Until next time...

      Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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