Sunday, December 11, 2011

Crafty Christmas

This year, I am broke.  Completely and utterly, broke.  Also this year, I have been getting into crafts (Another thing that I never knew would happen!)  I always thought that I was extremely 'un'artistic but it actually turns out that I don't have to be!  SO!  This Christmas, my Husband and I are going to be making our own gifts.  I don't want to tell you exactly what they are just yet!  But I can tell you that Mod Podge is my new best friend!

In this post I would like to give a shout out to a few blogs that I have stumbled upon that have given me fantastic ideas!  They all have a fantastic array of DIY crafty projects that ANYONE can do!

The Hybrid Chick - I fell in love with these fabulous photo blocks by Julie Mom of 4

Photo courtesy of 'The Hybrid Chick'
Light & Spoon -  This is a VERY cool idea to make your own artwork using melted crayons

Photo courtesy of 'Light & Spoon'

Our Best Bites - Has an awesome gift idea for kids!  Make your own homemade slime!  What kid doesn't love slime?!

Photo courtesy of 'Our Best Bites'

Chica and Jo have an idea that I also fell in love with.  They have coasters made out of curling ribbon!  I tried this one out and the end result was amazing!  This is perfect for using up all your extra curling ribbon!  I always have tons of the stuff left over at Christmas.

Photo Courtesy of 'Chica and Jo'

A Beautiful Mess has an idea that I have always wanted to try.  Homemade Graphic Soap courtesy of Sarah Rhodes

Photo courtesy of 'A Beautiful Mess'

New England Through a Yummy Mommy's Eyes also has absolutely amazing photo blocks.  I love how she has aged them!

Photo courtesy of 'New England Through a Yummy Mommy's Eyes'

Over at Mommy Models, they have a tutorial on how to make your own photo canvas art!  I bought a canvas print last year as a gift and they are really quite pricey!  I wish I had seen this one last year!

Life in Grace has another great gift idea for kids!  Homemade alphabet crayons!  I will definitely be making these with my Son when he is older!

Photo courtesy of 'Mommy Models'

With that, I am off to find my X-acto Knife!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Book Review - After the Party by Lisa Jewell

Atria Books, August 2011 

 Can I just start by saying how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Lisa Jewell! I have read all but 2 of her previous books (most of them within a day!) and was extremely excited to get the opportunity to review her new book 'After the Party'. Again, she did not disappoint! This book is in fact a sequel to her very first book 'Ralph's Party' which was published way back in 1999 which focused on the residents of 31 Almanac Road, an apartment building in South London.  More importantly it was the love story of Ralph McLeary and Jem Catterick.

'After the Party' revisits Ralph and Jem and tells us of all the trials and tribulations they have had to endure during their relationship.  It is a very engaging story of a couple who seem to be going through their '7 year itch', although in this case they have now been together for 11.  Chapter by chapter, the book goes back and forth between Ralph and Jems deepest and darkest feelings. Their intense love for one another is very apparent throughout the whole book, but they seem to have fallen into this big void where they don't seem to hear each other anymore.  They seem to be trying to please each other in a way that they 'think' the other person wants rather than actually talking about it and being upfront as they once did.  It's a story of them trying to regroup and to find their 'happily ever after' once again.

I seriously loved this book.  I read it in a day and a half, I could not put it down! I love Lisa Jewell's style of writing, especially in this book.  It's a very heartfelt (and often humorous) account of an issue which every relationship goes through at some point or another.  What I liked most about this story is that you got to know both accounts, in depth.  Normally I would end up rooting for one person in particular.  I couldn't in this book! I found myself with a vested interest in their relationship. They are both such likable characters that you can't quite help rooting for both.

I would like to add that if you haven't had the chance to read Ralph's Party yet. don't worry!  You don't actually have to read that one (Although I would highly recommend it!) to get the gist of this story. Lisa Jewell has an awesome way of recapping the history of the couple without leaving you wondering.

You can check out the books synopsis and buy a copy here!

Lisa Jewell

You can also read more about Lisa Jewell and be kept up to date by becoming a fan on Facebook

*Disclaimer - I was provided with a free copy of this book to review.  This did not bias my opinion in any way.  All opinions are mine and mine alone.  I was not compensated for this post.


About a year ago, my Step Mom introduced me to a website that she was hopelessly addicted to called Stumble Upon. Well, she sent me a link to it and I signed up but did nothing with it because she had told me that I would be an immediate addict. I didn't really need anything else to keep me on the computer, I spent too much time on there as it is!

One day, my Son was taking a nap and whilst thinking to myself about maybe doing the dishes or running the vacuum around (Hah!) I decided to check out this apparently as 'addictive as crack' website and oh how my husband wishes I didn't. For weeks whilst my Step Mom laughed evilly, I stumbled and stumbled and stumbled. Click, click, click. Laughing to myself, oohing and ahhing at all these websites that I was coming across that I would NEVER have found otherwise. The stuff you find is amazing! Just today I found out how to make a Jersey Knit Bracelet, a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake, Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls, a whole page of Chicken Recipes, I found out what might happen if I ate all my kids Halloween Candy AND I found out all about 30 Different Types of Mythical Humanoid Creatures... (Side note: - Some things you find do sometimes leave you scratching your head. Which makes it more addictive. Haha) After a couple of weeks or so, the novelty did wear off a little for a number of months.  But then I found the Android App... Which has started the addiction up all over again.  I can now stumble wherever I go!  Yes!  Even on the loo.  ;)

All you have to do is sign up with your email address, choose a password and a username and you are almost ready to go! (Links below) You will first see a page where you can choose your interests.  You choose as little or as many as you like:

Save your options and hit the Stumble button!

You can also click on 'like' or 'dislike' buttons so that you can weed out the things that you aren't all that crazy about.

Anyway.  My whole point of the this blog post is that if you haven't joined StumbleUpon yet, you really, really should.  There are some amazing websites out there (And some pretty cookie ones too) again that you probably wouldn't get to see.  Another reason is that at the moment, up until December, 4th when you join you will get a unique referral link.  Every 5 friends that you get to sign up before this date, you will get a $10 Amazon Gift Card!!!  This is awesome!!  It would come in handy seeing as Christmas is coming up wouldn't it!?

Sign up for your FREE StumbleUpon Account!
Once you have confirmed your email address click here to get your unique referral code!

Each time someone signs up under your link, you get an email telling you!  When it reaches 5, you will get a congratulations email!  There is NO LIMIT to how many people you can refer!

Happy stumbling!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Burt's Bees Natural Skin Solutions Review

I am a member of a website called BzzAgent and I was lucky enough to receive a Bzz Kit containing full size bottles of Burt's Bees Natural Skin Solutions cleanser and daily moisturizer (along with some samples) to try out and share my opinion.

I was really looking forward to receiving these products to try.  I have really bad skin.  It appeared when I was 15 and much to my disgust, decided to stay...  It seems to be the one part of me (if you can ignore the fine lines which are starting to develop around my eyes) that is intent on staying a teenager.  The one part of me that I would actually prefer to be an adult.  I have tried so many different types of skin care and as of yet I have not found the magical cure.  (I am open to suggestions!  I will try anything!) So, yes.  I was excited to try this.

I used both of the products together, twice a day for 10 days.  I was pretty impressed with the cleanser.  It had a pleasant scent and a rich, creamy lather and did not leave my skin feeling tight like so many other cleansers do.  This cleanser doesn't actually contain any soap.  Instead it contains cotton extract which is supposed to soften and help replenish the skin's outer layer and a combination of Quillaja (I still don't know what Quillaja is though, it sounds like a sneeze doesn't it?) and Yucca Extracts to help remove impurities without stripping essential moisture.  It also contains rice extract and Aloe to provide moisture and to sooth. Although this cleanser did not cure my bad skin (which it never promised to) it didn't cause any further breakouts either which is always a plus.

The moisturizer on the other hand, I wasn't overly impressed with.  This contains pretty much the same ingredients as the cleanser and promises to moisturize sensitive skin all day without causing redness or irritation, which was fine.  That wasn't the issue.  Along with the bad skin which I guess goes hand in hand, I have Shiny Face Syndrome.  I have only been able to find one moisturizer that does not cause this!  (Neutrogena Oil Free, which I love)  Some moisturizers are worse than others and for me, this was not a good one.  About an hour after applying I was a prime candidate for a Dawn commercial.  I will give Burt his due though, again, it doesn't actually state that the moisturizer is 'oil free' so i cannot say that it doesn't 'do' what it's supposed to do.  Again, although it didn't cure my bad skin, it didn't cause any further outbreaks.  Just an oil slick.  So if you, like me have SFS...  I would stay away from this.

My overall rating is 3/5.  Just because of the oiliness of the moisturizer.  Other than that these truly are great, 99.0% natural products.

You can read up on Burt's Bees line of Natural Skin Solutions here!

*Disclaimer - I received 'free' samples of this product courtesy of Burt's Bees and BzzAgent and was under NO obligation to give a good review.  All opinions are mine and mine alone.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Where did the year go?

Tuesday was my little mans 1st birthday!  I can't believe how fast this year has gone!  It seriously has flown by in a blink of an eye.  Scary really!

Needless to say, we have had a busy, busy week here what with Halloween, birthday party planning etc!  My Mother in Law flew up from Florida to celebrate with us and I'm telling you, this little boy got SPOILED! Clothes, Pajamas, books and a boat load more toys to add to the ever expanding pile that is threatening to take over our living room.  He is in hog heaven I tell ya!

For his birthday I had this crazy idea that I was going to make him a monkey cake.  I have never really dabbled in cake making before and was thinking on making him something pretty simple until I started looking on the internet.  I came across this AMAZING cake that I fell in love with...  It was much more adventurous than I originally intended and was very doubtful that I could achieve it.  After speaking with my husband and enlisting a friends help off I went and bought all the ingredients... The fondant and food coloring, banana pudding for the center and I must admit I cheated a little and took advantage of Ms Betty Crocker.  SO much easier. 

5 hours later, THIS is how it turned out.  I swear I almost broke my arm patting myself on the back. It's not perfect, but still, for my first try?  Watch out Duff is all I can say.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie ♥

After my last post, I decided to change my tactics just a little.  I proceeded to ignore the TV climbing.  He climbed to his hearts content, I didn't say one word. I didn't even look in his general direction.  It's AMAZING how quickly he gave up.  He actually seemed to get rather pissed that I wasn't paying attention.  I guess it just wasn't as fun!  I 'thought' I had won the battle and was just about to pat myself on the back but... No.  He has now switched to squeezing through the gap to the BACK of the TV and using it as a drum.  I give up.

Kid 1 - Mum 0 <~~  I'm not liking this score one little bit.

Anyway,  a change of subject today!  People who know me know that I love to cook.  I love experimenting in the kitchen and last night I made the most amazing chicken pot pie.  I made it completely differently to how I normally would.  I usually use a store bought crust and cream of mushroom soup.  Last night I made one from scratch and thought I would share the recipe!  It was so yummy!  I am actually quite proud of myself!

For the crust:
2 3/4 cups of all purpose flour

1 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1/2 cup cold water

For the filling:
2 chicken quarters
3 carrots (sliced)
2 potatoes (diced)
1 small onion (chopped)
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup of milk (or half and half)
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp parsley
2 Bay Leaves

Season the chicken quarters with salt and pepper and cook in the oven for about 40 mins (depending on the size) at 400 degrees F

Whilst the chicken is cooking, make the crust.  Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and cut the butter into small pieces.  Rub the butter and flour together with your fingertips until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs.  Add the water and mix with a fork until it all comes together.  Form into a ball, cover the bowl with a tea towel and place in the fridge for about half an hour or so.

The cheeky one watching me whilst I cooked

Add the 1/2 cup of butter to a large saute pan over a medium heat and add the potato.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the onion and carrots and cook for another 10 minutes.  Add the pepper, celery salt, rosemary and parsley.

Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and mix really well.  Cook for a couple of minutes stirring constantly.  Add the chicken stock gradually (still mixing constantly) the sauce will begin to thicken after a few minutes.  Stir in the milk.  Set aside.

When the chicken is cooked through, shred it and add to mixture.  If it has got too thick, heat gently and add more milk.

Cut the dough in half and on a lightly floured surface, roll into a thin(ish) circle and press into a pie dish (I used a 9 inch round dish)

Add the filling, roll out the other half of the dough and lay over the top, I brushed the bottom edge with water so that the top layer stuck.  Poke to holes in the top to let the steam escape whilst cooking and stick it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees F or until the crust is golden brown.

The finished result:

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spring Loaded

I swear my child is spring loaded.  Seriously.  He is also learning how to push my buttons.  Can kids go through the terrible two's before they actually hit a year...  Or is he just warming me up for the big event?

My days have been filled with removing my kid from the TV.  Over and over and over again.  He has learned how to climb and is absolutely obsessed with pressing the buttons. (Mine included so it seems!)  He also loves to bash away at it with his toy hammer, wrench, wooden blocks... Anything else his sticky little hands get a hold of.  He parks his butt in front of the TV, looks at me as if to get approval.  I say no or nuh uh or hey or something.  He smiles real big and climbs up.  I pull him down and put him across the room, next to his 6 million deep, floor to ceiling pile of toys, he goes straight back towards the TV and the process starts again.  ALL. DAY. LONG.

Shouting just results in stink eye.  Saying no results in laughter. Should I start saying 'Sure honey you just go right ahead and climb the TV' in the hopes that he just simply has his yes and no's mixed up?  ;)

It's just all a big game. He's very persistent, which I'm guessing is a good trait seeing as he is going to be a brain surgeon and all.  But seriously.  How do you stop a hard headed child (Who absolutely did NOT get that from me by the way) from doing something that he is hell bent on doing?

He is sleeping right now.  Dreaming of button pushing, I'm sure.

~ Tasha 

Saturday, October 15, 2011


As the title may suggest, I am a new Mum, who just so happens to be English and has found herself living in America.

My life over the past 4 years has changed rather drastically.  I am now a Mum.  This may not be a shocker to most people because I am assured there are lot's of Mums out there!  But for me and for those who know me, it really did come out of the blue.  All the way through my life I have been rather adamant about not having children.  Wasn't even sure if I liked them all that much actually!  (I blame this on my 3 younger siblings, they know this and are actually quite proud...) But after I got married, all of a sudden my clock started to tick.  I actually thought I was losing the plot for a little bit, I started cooing over babies and getting all mooshy and then I suddenly realized that I was ready for a little tike of my own.  My little munchkin was born on November 1st, 2010 and it was quite possibly the greatest day of my life.  I had NO idea how much fun it was going to be being a Mum!

As I am now a stay at home Mum (Another shock to my system), aside from munchkin duties and housework (blah) I seem to have a lot of extra time on my hands. Over the past couple of years I have developed a blog reading addiction and thought to myself one day, ‘Hey! I can do that!’ After numerous deleted blog posts and several hundred design changes, (I'm anal and I didn't know it) here I am! Now I am not professing to be an expert at this and my ramblings (which may include Mum stuff, recipe and food stuff, funny kid stories, general day to day life, probably the odd rant, maybe the odd review of my favorite things and hopefully some giveaways thrown in for good measure) could in fact induce a World Wide Web snore fest. But, I hope that some people at least will be interested with what I have to offer.

So! Welcome to my page, take a sniff around, make yourself comfy, and please stay a while!

 ~ Tasha