A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Showing posts with label Gifts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gifts. Show all posts

Monday, 31 August 2015

The Week That Was - August 31st

It's been an amusing week in the Anderton house. I've loved having daughter, Olivia, home and have really enjoyed her company. I'm trying not to think about the girls leaving for their final year at university in the third week of September.

This was my week...
On the way to the supermarket on Monday, I spied my husband's old car and waved like an idiot at the person behind the wheel, before realising that it wasn't being driven by my husband. Apologies to the lovely lady I waved at - who obviously had no idea who I was. I can only blame my hormones for the momentary lapse.

I woke early on Tuesday morning, slap-bang in the middle of a hot flush and came downstairs dreaming up plans for Olivia and Sophia's 21st birthday party. I also chatted to a couple of people on Twitter who were similarly sleep deprived. It seems there are a lot of us around at 4am. Later that evening I fell asleep on the sofa at 9pm. How come I take my best naps in front of the TV?

After weeks of asking Olivia what she would like for her birthday, we went shopping on Wednesday morning. My instructions were simply, 'I've stuck a four hour ticket on the car, please find something.' Neither of my daughters is materialistic - which is good, except for when you have no idea what to buy them. Olivia came back with a small selection of gifts. Now all I need to do is find something for Sophia - she arrives home from the US on Saturday. As we haven't seen our youngest daughter since 20th June, I'm predicting lots of hugs, kisses and sleep after her long journey from LA to New York and from NY to Heathrow.

On Thursday, I asked Olivia if she thought a themed party would be a good idea. 'That's an excellent idea,' she said. 'We could have a Harry Potter party. You and Dad could come as Dobby and Kreacher.' She went on to pick characters for almost every member of the family, plus close friends and neighbours. Party plans are underway - sans theme, as I didn't want to upset our guests. So far I've bought balloons, cake candles, bunting and booked a delivery slot with Waitrose.

On Friday, my gorgeous nephew turned thirteen. How did that happen exactly? Thirteen years ago we were on holiday in Gran Canaria when he was born - seven weeks early, perfectly healthy and weighing only 3lb 3oz. It's hard to believe that he's almost as tall as I am, or that he's a teenager. Fortunately he still loves hugs, but I'm no longer allowed to mess with his hair :o(

My sister hosted a party for my nephew on Saturday and miraculously, the weather was kind. We drank a lot of Pimms in the garden and I taught my nephew a fun game involving clothes pegs. I have a suspicion that my sister isn't going to thank me for this. It was dark by the time we arrived home and I was rather taken with this view of moonlight filtering through clouds from my bedroom window.

On Sunday I made a batch of mini scones that resembled The Leaning Tower of Pisa. The plan was to freeze these ready for the party in a couple of weeks, but as they didn't turn out as planned, we ate them instead. I'm hopeful that batch number two will be more successful.
The Leaning Scones of Pisa

My favourite blog for this week comes from The 40 (ish) year old Domestic Goddess. I snorted with laughter as I read her post: Was my Mum really a Hairdresser?? My mum was also a hairdresser and I have a similar assortment of hideous snapshots hidden away in photo albums. To this day my mother wonders why I hardly ever visit the hairdressers.

Here's to another crazy week. Have fun whatever you're up to.

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

My Kind of Tree...

Having made an enthusiastic start on the Christmas shopping back in October, I was quietly optimistic that everything would be sussed before the onslaught of festive chaos. Although tempted by the possibility of having everything bought, wrapped and getting to sit smugly nibbling on dark chocolate gingers while sipping sherry in front of the fire for most of December, that option relied on two things...

1. Knowing what the heck to buy everyone in the first place and
2. Sustained effort and summoning the energy to actually go shopping.

This is what actually happened...

After two consecutive Saturdays of shopping in October, motivation was in short supply and my mind started to wander to more interesting thoughts instead. November saw me taking my eye off the prize and I was fooled into thinking that Christmas was actually celebrated sometime in January. Occasionally I'd pop something into the supermarket trolley and congratulate myself on being clever but on the whole, I was in denial. Oh and we also spent a relaxing week in Cornwall, where time was spent mostly on the beach in search of treasure...

And that is how it's December already and there's still much to shop for...

When everything starts to go pear-shaped, I drag Mr A along on extended shopping trips in the hope that he'll be more inspired than me and have some inclination as to what to buy everyone. Often he's just as clueless and after a couple of hours of uninspired shopping yesterday, we ended up in Bill's Restaurant in Worcester. I was quite taken with my Blueberry and Buttermilk Pancakes and amused by the fact that Bill's also sell sticks of rock... I was tempted by the possibility of hampers filled with summer goodies and thought it might make a change. Having beach combed in Cornwall for most of the previous week I have an assortment of shells and sea glass that would make tasteful decorations. I also asked Mr A if he'd make me one of the fabulous trees (below) that I spied in a shop window in Truro.

We arrived home with a few presents... mostly books, a diffuser and an unwelcome headache. Last night I spent most of the evening chained to the laptop. This time I'd actually written a list and managed to order several gifts online; naturally, there's one thing out of stock which is likely to stay that way until well after Santa's been. Although initially pleased with my efforts, since crossing each item off the list at least two more have been added for every one that's been purchased.

And what's the bet all of the parcels turn up while I'm not home?

Somehow Christmas will unfurl - it always does and if anyone's presents are going to be missing from under the tree they'll be mine. I'll have completely run out of steam and make plans to shop when the memory of all that shopping is in the dim and very distant past.

Don't you just love Christmas Eve when the shops are closed and you know you can do no more? For me, that's the most magical part of the holidays.

Meanwhile, do you think the shop where I spotted this would sell me their tree? I'm really rather taken with it...

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, 10 September 2014

10 Great Gifts for Freshers...

Lucky enough to know a teen heading off to university in the next couple of weeks? Pondering over what to get them as a going away present? Look no further, here are ten great suggestions...

1. Fancy dress costumes - any excuse for dressing up and Freshers are there with bells on. My daughter was lucky enough to receive a set of these as a going away present last year and they went down a storm.

Emergency Outfits - Spinning Hat

2. Travel mug - the perfect gift for the student who loves a lie-in. When Olivia announced that she'd never managed to get up in time to have a hot drink before any lecture, this is what she found in her stocking last Christmas...

Travel Mug - Thermos

3. A waterproof bag -  perfect for carrying books, folders and everything else besides. It's amazing how many students turn up without one and as they walk almost everywhere, everything gets wet!

Tote bag - Converse
Messenger bag - Superdry

4. Throw - perfect for when they're feeling homesick and need a bit of TLC.

Starlight Sherpa Throw

    5. Bag of treats - they're a long way from home and chances are they won't be splashing a lot of cash on anything luxurious in the food department. Think chocolate, cookies and popcorn...

    Gift Bag - Whisk Hampers

    6. Converse - universally popular, casual and comfy. Perfect for all that walking!

    Converse All Star Low Maroon Canvas

    7. Gift vouchers for their favourite store...

    TK Maxx gift voucher
    or, coffee shop...

    Caffe Nero gift voucher

    8. A photo album filled with memories from home...

    Geometric Triangle Photo Album - Paperchase

    9. Lights to cheer up drab dorm rooms...

    Tetris Light - Paladone
    Yellow Sunflower Fairy Lights - Sleepyheads

    10. And last, but by no means least, the perfect gift for the fresher who can't get out of bed in the morning (or afternoon)...

    Lexon Cube Sensor Alarm Clock

    Until next time...

    Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton 
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    Wednesday, 3 September 2014

    Birthday Season

    OK, so it's September already and my thoughts are turning to OMG, 3 members of the family all have birthdays coming up. Mr A will be even older than he is already on the 9th September. And my daughters turn 20 on the 13th! First of all, how the heck did that happen? and secondly, that makes me feel old!

    Buying gifts for my daughters has become even more of a challenge since they left home for uni. One has become master of losing stuff, while the other likes to keep life simple by not keeping lots of belongings at her rented house. I have a feeling that the thought process behind it goes something like this...

    Less stuff = Less mess. 

    To add to the mix they're both rubbish at coming up with suggestions and storage isn't exactly abundant. Hence gifts need to have a purpose and not take up too much space.

    And so it falls to me to come up with ideas and I tend to go for gifts that can be useful with maybe one or two, inspired choices. This is what I've come up with so far...

    Lights from Cable & Cotton to cheer up their drab studenty rooms...

    Mojito for Olivia
    and Cherry Pop for Sophia

    Converse Pumps

    Sophia has been a fan of Converse for a very long time. And as her current pair are looking rather worn, I've treated her to a pair of these...

    Converse Well Worn Hi Trainers

    Olivia, on the other hand prefers Skechers and so I've picked these out instead...

    Skechers Bobs Utopia Lazy Daisy

    Swatch watch....

    As Sophia's a rower, any watch has to be waterproof, so I've gone for this...

    Swatch - Pretty Sexy
    Right now I'm struggling to find a watch for Olivia, so I guess that means just one thing... another shopping trip.


    Sophia has asked for only one thing: perfume. As she's been borrowing my Coco Chanel all summer long I was only too happy to oblige. This is what she's chosen after a month of spritzing fragrances in department stores...

    Kenzo Jeu d'Amour

    Olivia has asked for some of her reading list for this semester as she's studying English Literature and loves books. This is what I've ordered to help her out:
    •  Black Skin, White Masks - Frantz Fenon
    • The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly - Jean-Dominique Bauby
    • Falling Man - Don Delillo
    • A Tale For The Time Being - Ruth Ozeki
    • Belinda - Maria Edgeworth
    • The Nature of Blood - Caryl Phillips
    • The Book of Daniel - E. L. Doctorow
    • The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacialupi
    • The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner - James Hogg
    • Quicksand & Passing - Nella Larson
    • The Grass Is Singing - Doris Lessing
     Books are always appreciated by my eldest daughter and she is always happy to receive them.

    After I've sorted all of my own gifts to my daughters sussed, I dread the onslaught of calls from friends and relatives... "What are we going to get the girls for their birthdays?" And I'll be thinking: I haven't a clue and I'm their mother. Vouchers anyone?

    Mr A is even tougher to buy for as he's not materialistic in the slightest. I've concluded only that we'll have a lovely day out... just the two of us. I'm certain he will appreciate some time away from the mayhem at home.

    So, what do you buy your nearest and dearest when you're stuck for ideas and need all the help you can get? All inspiration gratefully received...

    Until next time...

    Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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    Monday, 7 October 2013

    The Gift Fairy

    Last year, almost to the day, my little sister celebrated her 40th birthday.
    I decided that I wanted to do something unusual to mark the occasion and came up with the brilliant idea of buying forty individual gifts. Deciding to buy on a theme - I settled on 'from the cradle to the menopause.' I'm guessing that this is a theme only a sister, or very good friend could get away with.

    The gift buying had commenced several months before the big day and started well - in no time at all I'd purchased a cuddly Miffy rabbit, cocktail umbrellas, a tub of Mini Eggs, fortune telling fish, a singing cake candle, some intensively moisturising hand cream, a hen-lit book, face pack for mature skin, a cupcake phone charm and a sky lantern.

    I started to think that this was going to be a complete doddle and continued with bubble bath, body glitter, a tiara, a cocktail glass, some blow bubbles, re-useable stickers, a magic wand, bottle of Buck's Fizz, a Yankee candle and some Mucky Pup hand wipes.

    By this point, the gift buying had become a bit of an obsession. Everywhere I went, I found myself sneaking off in hot pursuit of a few more purchases. Next came a fortune cookie, Body Shop soap, a fan for hot flushes, a picture frame magnet, a shopping list pad, sparklers, a magnetic fridge puzzle, Body Shop lip balm, a bag of Chubba Chup lollies and a Hawaiian flower garland necklace.

    Having just a week to go, the pressure was on and it was time to enrol some help. My brother-in-law helpfully spirited away her iPod and I downloaded three tracks that reminded me of my sister when she was a teen...

    ‘Happy Birthday’ - Altered Images
    ‘Japanese Boy’ - Aneeka
    and, ‘My Favourite Waste of Time’ - Owen Paul.

    I recreated a 10p mix up with chocolate mice, parma violets, fruit salad, swizzles, jazzies and a drumstick lolly, this cost me the princely sum of 78p - that's inflation for you! I blew up an entire pack of 40th birthday balloons and put them all on string, bought a gorgeous cupcake, some vampy red nail polish, a box of chocolate gingers, a copy of her favourite magazine, a small bunch of flowers, some Bad Gal mascara and finally a photo of the two of us when we were small.
    They were wrapped individually, buried in a huge gift bag filled with polystyrene worms and delivered.

    It was a lot of work, but so worth the effort.

    Copyright © 2013 Izzie Anderton

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