Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Brunch at St Andrews

It's been a couple of months since we last took a trip over the river to St Andrews so we decided we'd go last Sunday & have brunch at our favourite place to eat, Mitchell's.  I'd actually had the foresight this time to pre-book a table as this place gets mightily busy, a true indication of its popularity with both tourists & locals.
From the outside, this deli~café has the sort of rustic charm that just draws you towards it, it's so inviting.  And as you open the door, you are faced with the most fabulous deli counter stocking all manner of local & seasonal ingredients & the smells wafting around make you instantly start to salivate!
The staff are always really welcoming & helpful & it's very child-friendly too, something very important to me.  I can think of nothing worse than going out for a bite to eat with my 4 year old son in tow & made to feel like the staff are counting down the minutes until you leave so they can fill the table with adults only!!  Luckily, this very rarely happens now.......but it has happened.  There's none of that malarkey here though!
This is the first time we'd been in for brunch as we normally enjoy lunch here but we both ordered the full Scottish breakfast which was delicious.  The haggis, I can say with all certainty, was the tastiest I've ever tried, just scrummy & Mr F reckons you'd be hard pushed to find a better brekkie served anywhere.  They happily adapted a dish too so my son could have scrambled eggs on toast, which he scoffed down in record time! The coffee, which is lovely & strong (although not so strong it strips the roof of your mouth!) is served in great mugs, none of these super-sized coffee cups that require 2 hands to lift them.  And of course, the bonus part......a wee chunk of tablet on the side.
As fab as the breakfasts were, if you ever get the chance to go in for lunch, I urge you to try the rare roast beef & horseradish sandwich served with vegetable crisps, pictured above.  Every time we eat here I say I'll try something different but I always end up with this sandwich as it's just so good.  End of!!
I'd like to make it clear that I have no ties whatsoever with Mitchell's, I just think it truly is a great place to eat, drink & be merry & urge you to give the place a whirl should you ever be in St Andrews!!  I'm now eagerly awaiting the opening of Forgan's next door.......

Friday, 26 April 2013

Boobs, bangers, baps, breasts......

.......call 'em what you will, for some they're wonderful jiggling fun-bags, for others, they're a right royal pain in the ass!!  I fall into the latter group.
I have been blessed (or cursed, however you look at it!) with rather large bangers, they started to really grow when I was around 15 & haven't seemed to stop since.  Don't get me wrong, I'd much rather have something going on in the boob region rather than be flat-chested but uughhh, clothes shopping has become a total bitch for me!
I know after nearly 40 years what clothes suit me & my voluptuous figure but trying to find them is becoming a bore quite frankly.  I know that wrap tops in lovely draping fabrics are the most flattering for my size & boobs but trying to find one that doesn't finish just underneath my navel is becoming nigh on impossible!  I'm sorry, but if you have large breasts, short tops just aren't flattering (IMO of course!)  Ideally, I want my tops to cover my arse, the extra length helps to balance out the top-heaviness & makes the overall outfit look a little less about the chest area.  If the top has a belt, it want it to fall on my waist, not right underneath my boobs.  And peplum tops, although can look great, they again are far too short in the body if you have boobs.  The seam from where the peplum kicks out is not supposed to start from the bottom of your boobs & the overall lengths of them, again are far too short which in turn, only makes your bangers look larger.
Maybe I'm not looking in the right shops, I don't know but this week I want to tear my hair out!  I thought I'd found the perfect outfit for my brother's wedding in August, trousers from Next & a beautiful top from Zara.  Well, I say top, it's actually a dress but if I wore it as a dress, it'd barely cover my vajayjay.....never gonna happen!!!  I ordered the top/dress in an XL hoping it'd be big enough to drape over my boobs so was gutted when it arrived & it squashed them into oblivion!!  It's just so beautiful (& perfect colour) too but with all the boob hoicking in the world, it was not a good look!  And then to add insult to injury, I went to order my trousers & they've now bloody sold out!  I've ordered the next size up & hopefully with a couple of darts sewed into the waist, they'll be ok.
Last year a friend recommended I try Pepperberry, a shop with clothes designed around not only your dress size, but your boob size too.  I found a fabulous jersey dress in there & it became one of my favourite & most worn dresses of last year.  I'm heading to Edinburgh for the day on Monday so a visit there is a must but having looked on their website, I'm finding their summer styles a bit dated, sadly.  Hopefully this will not be the case & something in store will catch my eye as it truly is the best fitting item of clothing I own!
When I was having my Zara top rant (PMT didn't help either!) to my hubby, I mentioned that I wished I could find a dressmaker to just make me exactly what I want as I can see the design of it in my head.  By total coincidence, Mr F is doing work for a fashion designer/stay-at-home-mum at the minute & having had a quick conversation with her this morning, she's agreed to make me the top I want, yay!!!  If this works out, I feel she could be having a lot of work coming her way!
So sorry about the rant folks but hey, it happens sometimes!  If anyone can give me the name of any other companies for clothes with big boobs in mind, as long as they're not geared just towards teenagers that is, please let me know who they are!!
Bon week-end à tous!

Monday, 22 April 2013

NOTD Essie ~ Snap Happy

I'm a fairly recent convert to Essie polishes but in the few weeks I have been using them, I'm really impressed.  I stumbled on a Boots clearance sale a couple of weeks back & found some great bargains on Essie polishes, some were knocked down to a bargainous £1 each!  I bought 2 bottles of Snap Happy, a gorgeous corally-red, 2 bottles of She's Pampered, a lovely bright not-quite-fuschia- pink, a bottle of Beyond Cozy, a silver glitter polish & 2 boxes of a trio of minis (Leading Lady, Snap Happy & Beyond Cozy).  Couple with the 3for2 offer, I got all of these little gems (almost £60 worth) for the grand sum of £5.50!!
    I usually begin my manicures with China Glaze Strong Adhesion Base Coat & always finish with Seche Vite, which in my humble opinion is the best top coat available.  I've read very mixed reviews about it but I honestly love the stuff.  When I paint my nails & use both the base & top coats mentioned, my manis last a least a week before they start to wear on the tips (& I start to pick the polish off...naughty!!)
The China Glaze base coat is a fairly new addition but I think it adds to the longevity of my manicure.  It has quite a rough texture to it when applied which, I presume, is where the Strong Adhesion part comes in to play.  The first coat of colour sticks to it like glue & dries really rapidly.  I find the Essie polishes are opaque enough to get away with one coat but I always apply 2 anyway, just to be on the safe side!

The application of Seche Vite goes against everything I usually do as a nail tech.  You must apply it while your polish is still slightly wet or I find it doesn't last as well.  And you apply in quite a thick layer, again going against the 'thin coats of polish' principle & it dries ridiculously fast!  But trust me, this top coat will give you the glossiest, most long-lasting manicure you can imagine.
But back to the NOTD.  I LOVE this colour, it's so bright & summery (ha, no such luck!) & even makes my winter-pale hands look ever-so-slightly tanned.  I feel this will be a regular wear for me from now on & I can't wait to see it on my tootsies, hopefully it'll be another week-long mani too.  I feel my bank balance is going to be much worse off though as I expand my Essie collection.....!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Lazy Sunday afternoon

I'm having the most lovely lazy day today instead of our usual Sunday shenanigans of bombing round B&Q or Homebase & then decorating!  I was actually left to lie in this morning & didn't even wake up until 9.45am so I just thought I'd carry the lazy theme on with a little breakfast in bed catching up on my blogs via Bloglovin' (how fab is this website?!)
I've decided that I seriously need to get back on the diet bandwagon that I have so dramatically fallen off of in recent months so today will be my last day of gorging on piggylicious food!  I'm doing a bloody delish slow-cooked smokey bbq pulled pork served in soft, floury rolls with 'slaw & potato wedges followed by yesterday's leftover coconut cake with frozen yoghurt.  This is such an easy dish to make & as you leave it in the slow-cooker all day, you can just go about your day as normal.  Try it, I promise you'll love it!  This recipe has been adapted slightly from www.skinnytaste.com
Slow-cooked BBQ pulled pork
serves 4-6
1.5kg boneless shoulder of pork, trimmed of all fat & rind, if any
1 large onion, sliced into half moons
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Hickory liquid smoke
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp sea salt
 2 small jars of bbq sauce
Scatter half of the onion on the bottom of your slow-cooker pot & place the pork on top.
Scatter the rest of the onion & other ingredients over the top but only use ONE jar of sauce.
Cover & leave on medium for 6-7 hours.
Remove the pork & set aside.  Shred it with 2 forks & put back in the slow-cooker with the remaining jar of bbq sauce. 
Cook on low for another hour.
Serve on rolls with coleslaw & potato wedges or skinny fries.
Nom nom!!
Although my cousin brought me my liquid smoke from the US when they were last here, it's also available from Amazon & really is worth buying.  It can be used on so many things, steak & salmon are favourites for us.  The coconut cake is also fantastic, so moist & very moreish.  I add a few drops of pure coconut extract just to pump up the flavour a bit & love the one from Uncle Roy's.
Coconut Cake
oven 180c   grease & line a 20cm square pan
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
25g cornflour
225g soft butter or Stork tub
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
50g dessicated coconut soaked in 150ml boiling water & left to cool
few drops coconut extract
100g soft butter
200g icing sugar, sieved
few drops of coconut extract
3 tsp Malibu (optional)
toasted coconut (optional)
Cream the butter & sugar well then add the coconut extract. 
Beat the eggs in one at a time with a tbsp of flour, cornflour & baking powder with each one.
Fold in the rest of the flour, cornflour & baking powder.
Add the soaked coconut (don't drain if water has not all absorbed)
Pour into the tin & bake for around 35 minutes (ovens will vary so test)
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.
Toast a handful of coconut in a dry pan if you want to use as decoration & extra crunch.
Cream togther the butter & icing sugar & add the coconut extract & Malibu.
Spread over the cool cake & sprinkle toasted coconut on top.

Anyway, it's going to be an early wine o'clock for me today, the last for a while!  And the sun is shining & I have to ask myself why I'm sitting in my wee office...it'll probably be torrential rain again tomorrow.....or snow.......
Bon dimanche a tout le monde!
*Excuse the laundry!!!*

Saturday, 20 April 2013

My head hurts!

Gahhh, you know that feeling when you've got a thousand & one ideas speeding through your head at a million miles per hour & your inner voice just won't shut up........well, that!!
Mr F & I have been having long discussions this week about longterm jobs & work & we'd both love a change in direction.  Ideally we'd like to do something together & about a month ago, I came across an idea which fitted our bill perfectly but didn't really take it much further.  After a month of online research (how on earth did we cope without t'internet eh?!) this week we've decided that it could be a very viable & enjoyable option for us but we're not willing to jump straight in.
So basically, we've decided to spend the next year doing lots of market research & working out a business plan.  But consequently, my head has been totally mullered these past few days with all the ideas buzzing around it!  So much so, for the first time ever, I've been waking in the middle of the night to scribble down ideas.  I even jumped out of bed one night around 3am to Google something!  Believe me, this never happens, I'm such a deep sleeper & hate being woken in the night but some things just can't wait until morning!!
First thing this morning I was stood outside the door of Hobbycraft waiting to get in to buy cork boards, blutack& pushpins & yesterday I had a genuine excuse to go to Paperchase to buy new notebooks.  And of course, new pens must be purchased to match said new notebooks!!
So after a manic morning of spreadsheet making, picture printing & more internet research, I've just made a lovely coconut cake for Book Club this evening & am now taking a breather with a cuppa.  Hopefully my head will stop hurting with ideas soon & I can think of something else to make lists about!!
Enjoy your weekend folks!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Another year older.....

So the dreaded day has been & gone, I am now another year closer to being 40!  I was having a conversation with Mr F last year about what I wanted to do for my fortieth birthday as I never celebrated my 18th, 21st or 30th birthdays.  To be honest, I'm not sure if I want a party or not.  Part of me wants to have the mother of all hooleys & I like the idea of a Rockabilly themed fancy dress party....but part of me wants to just have a quiet night with my friends, drowning my sorrows (said with tongue firmly in cheek!!)
The one thing however I am 100% certain about is that in the December following my 40th, I would love for us to have a Christmas shopping weekend in New York, sans enfants (sorry kids!)  Ever since I spent the summer months there when I was 18, I've wanted to go back at Christmas time.  It makes me tingle with delight at the thought of seeing NYC decked out in all it's yuletide glory....the Rockefeller tree, the ice rink in Central Park, FAO Schwartz, Macys, sipping hot chocolate in Serendipity3.....I could go on!!!
When I suggested this, I also suggested that we start saving for it now seeing as we are notoriously bad at spending our savings on doing up the house!  So last Christmas Day arrived & I had one present left to open.  Inside was one of those money pots that have no way of opening unless you smash them open.  This way, once the money went in, it was staying in!!  However, this is what it said.....

Now, I know it's not a big deal but seeing as my hubby knows that turning 40 is not something I'm relishing, I can't quite understand why he got me a pot with this written on it!!  Oh, don't get me wrong, the idea was fab & in the 4 months since I've had it, it's rather full already but I hate the fact I have to walk by it every day for the next 2 years, sat there on my chest of drawers screaming at me "LIFE BEGINS AT 40!!!"  Yeah, thanks for that one Mr F!!!
I, on the otherhand, bought him something far more practical for his birthday last month......an iPhone controlled helicopter!  See, much more practical!  Birthdays......who'd have 'em.........?


Thursday, 11 April 2013

Spring has sprung!

Well, it's taken an age & just when I was losing the will to live, it would seem that Spring is finally here!  Anyone that knows me knows that I love winter & all that it brings (you know, roaring log fires, steaming bowls of comfort food, getting into my pjs at 5pm, Christmas etc!!) but I really don't want it to extend into the middle of April!  It was only a few days ago that we still had snow on the ground, eeek!!
We live in a beautiful rural village about 8 miles from Dundee & are fortunate enough to have a huge country park about a 2 minute walk from home.  I blooming love this park & it was one of the deciding factors in us wanting to live in this village, as opposed to closer to the city.  There's 2 great play parks for kids with massive wooden forts & zip slides built in amongst the forest & reservoirs for fishing, boating & water sports.  My teenage girls spend several sessions a week windsurfing & kayaking in the school holidays, a welcome break from mooching round the shops with their pals!!
With the evenings getting lighter by the day now, we love to have a wander round the park after dinner, sometimes stopping in at the park's wee café/bistro for a cheeky vino!!  Last month, the engine in our car went kaput (that's a whole other rant though, I'll save that for another day!) so I was forced to do the school run on foot via the park rather than the usual 2 minute journey by car.  Even though it was still bitterly cold, the sun was blasting through the clouds, illuminating the park in all it's glory (oooh, went all Nigella there for a moment!) & it reminded me what a beautiful place I live in.
So in preparation for a lot more woodland, park & beach walking, I treated myself to a new pair of wellies the other day.  I do find it odd that I get so happy about things like wellies these days....is it an age thing do you think?!  Anyhoo, I usually find it insanely difficult to find wellies, or any boot for that matter, that fit correctly as I have wide calves but skinny ankles & feet.  I've tried so many pairs of wide-calf wellies but the manufacturers seem to presume that everyone with wide calves also have feet the same width & they just don't stay on my feet!  That is why I was pleased to come across these Joules wellies in my local Dobbies garden centre the other day.  I tried them thinking they wouldn't fit my calves but they did, oh happy day!!  I went up a size to a 6 so I could fit in some squidgy memory foam soles for comfort & warmth & they really are very comfortable & a great fit.  And to top it off, they're just so pretty, they're crying out to be worn to many festivals!
But right now I'm off to get some lunch (rare roast beef & horseradish rolls, in case you're wondering!) & then I have a mammoth baking session planned for this afternoon.  Bring on the sugar overload!  Until the next time mes amis!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Book Club newbie

I've been a bit of a bookworm for as long as I can remember reading.  I just love that feeling of getting really wrapped up in a story & I have the whole scenarios painted vivdly in my over-active imagination!  One of the worst feelings for me has to be reaching the end of a brilliant book, I just want the story to go on & on......
Joining a book club has been on my list of things to do for a couple of years but it was only through a chance discussion at the school gates one day that I realised quite a few of the mums had formed a reading group & the next meeting was to be held the next evening.  I asked about the type of books they read as being totally honest, I don't want to read heavy, lengthy tomes - I read for total enjoyment.  Admittedly, I do want to break out of my literary comfort zone of my usual & much loved crime thrillers though.  I also love to read light-hearted, fun chick-lits (not my favourite term in the world!) too.  But I hoped by joining a book club, it would push me to read & hopefully enjoy, something I wouldn't usually choose.
The first meeting I attended, the group had read Tout Sweet by Karen Wheeler, a story of a city girl who upped sticks & moved to rural France.  Although I didn't have time to read this before the meeting, I have been urged to by the other ladies to give my thoughts on it, mainly as I lived in rural France myself for 7 years!  So I'll read it at some point & get back to it.

So the read for March was The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri.  This was volume 7 of a series about an Italian detective, that a couple of members of the group were raving about.  I decided to download the first book of the series to begin with as I wanted to get a feel for the character beforehand.  I have to say, it took me about 6 chapters before I could really get in to the first book but I really enjoyed the actual book club choice.  Although it's a detective series, therefore solving crimes & murders, it's not quite as grisly as my usual crime reads.  The main character, Inspector Montalbano is getting older & wants to retire but he just can't seem to cut the ties from his police force.  He's a really likeable character, although grumpy as hell....almost like an Italian Rebus!!  He's a total foodie & I love the way the author describes in great detail his 3-course meals & the ambiance of the restaurants.  I could almost be sitting on the restaurant terrace smelling the garlic & fresh seafood, feeling the warm air on my skin & listening to the waves gently lapping in the distance....ahhhhh!!!  I will definitely be working my way through the rest of the series & trust me, you will want to be booking a trip to Italy after reading them!
This brings me to this month's read *silently groaning*.  The group have decided, so that they don't always stick to one genre of book, that every 3 months, they will alternate between a light-hearted read, a heavier story & then a classic.  This month we have the' heavy', which is Exodus by Leon Uris.  As soon as I realised it wasn't available on Kindle, alarm bells started ringing!  I ordered it from my local library & could've cried when I collected it.  Not only is it 636 pages long, the writing is miniscule so I just know I'm going to get horrible eye strain reading it.  And to add insult to injury, there are 10 pages missing smack bang in the middle of the book!!  It's really not making me want to read it but I finally started it late last night.  I will persevere & try & get through it but I'm not entirely sure I will finish this one, plus the fact that during the school holidays, I get very little time to myself.  I usually try to snaffle an hour during the daytime for a sneaky read but not for the next 2 weeks!!  The story was made into a film starring Paul Newman & just by total coincidence, I noticed it was on one of the Sky movie channels last weekend.....so I recorded it as a back-up plan!!  I will really try not to cheat though (although I know a couple other BC members have also got the film to watch too, mentioning no names!!)

Anyhoo, I'll let you know when, or even if, I finish it.  But if you're looking for a totally brilliant read, take a look at this.  I only bought it because it was on a daily Kindle offer & it really was fantastic.  Think of a really clever Forrest Gump type character that keeps flitting between present day & his past, & you'll get the gist of it!
I'm next on the list to host Book Club on 20th April so I'll be back after then with a review & to let you know what May's book will be.  Now, what wine, nibbles & cake shall I lay on?  That is, afterall, the most important part of Book Club!!
À tout à l'heure!!
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