February 2015through these gray eyes...: February 2015

Thursday, 26 February 2015

4 months in the blogging world...

Here we are four months along in this blogging journey. I can honestly say that the 'novelty' isn't wearing off and in fact I am enjoying it more and more. It helps to have a bit more of a clue of what I am doing. Though, the more I learn about blogging the more there is I need to do towards this space! 

I am currently trying to get my head around SEO and sponsorship and disclosures. Disclosures came up in a #FBLChat on Twitter last week and I realised that I have very little knowledge about what it involves. If anyone happens to have a dummies guide to this then please leave a link in the comments!

As you may have noticed I invested in a new layout from pipdig which I am loving! It was really simple to install and apart from the issues with image sizes which could be completely down to me I haven't had any problems since I changed it! I would definitely recommend their services!

My blogging schedule is still a total work in progress! Mostly because what I do every day seems to be very much a seesaw depending on events that tend to be out of my control, but... I think I am getting there! I created a planner for myself which is definitely helping and I no longer discover I have the wrong notebook to hand! My day job has become a lot busier too so I have less time to ponder ideas! Hopefully from next week I will post 3 times a week - Monday, Wednesday & Friday... once I've got that sorted I will try to post more often.

Last month I reached 100 followers on Bloglovin' which I am really 'chuffed' about! Thank you so much to everyone who follows me! Thank you to everyone who comments as well! I love hearing from the people who are reading this small corner of the internet.

Top of my to do list:

1. Participate in a bloggers chat at least once a week (I seem to have kept missing them this month)

2. Update my 'About Me' page! Loads of people have been talking about this recently so while advice is fresh in my mind it seems a good moment to do it. Hopefully I will have it finalised by the end of the week! Watch this space!

3. Investigate a Favicon (the icon in the browsers address bar)

So, that's me and my blogging journey so far...  Please feel free to leave any comments on my corner of the internet.


Alice


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Monday, 23 February 2015

Wife Mishaps - 6 months review


Tom and I have been married and living together for a little over 6 months now. My domestication and 'wifelyness' (that really SHOULD be a word) has not been plane sailing and the domestic goddess I really thought must exist within me has been a bit of a no show. She might have come into her own if I didn't have a full time job as well but, there really isn't much time to nurture her so I stumble on. I'm not saying that we live in a total state of disarray and have to order takeaways every night because my cooking is so horrific but... there have been some events:

The fire alarm - It transpires that this is an extremely sensitive item of technology and potentially put too close to the kitchen, however, I was the one who set it off first and it turned out that I didn't really know what to do when it did go off. I mean, not a clue, I think I jumped and looked at it for about 30 seconds until Tom suggested I turned it off and shut the door! Definitely not my most clued up moment. I think it took Tom a month before he began to set it off and it was finally written off as over sensitive rather than the fault of my cooking!

The ironed tie - Probably the most honest mistake that has become my least finest 'wife hour' . Thankfully, our relationship has lived to tell the tale and I, at least, can laugh about it! This incident happened during the high stress moment on the morning of Tom's sister's wedding. He had left with the other men to help with heavy lifting and completing finishing touches at the venue. I was left to do the ironing and get ready. I saw Tom's tie hanging with his uniform already tied and thought it would be nice for him to have a freshly ironed tie. Ohhhhhh nooo big mistake!!! Who knew that the RAF number ones tie knot is quite so difficult to retie! I don't think it was ever quite as perfect as it should have been even with several people's help to retie it!

Ooow! Hot! - Honestly, the number of times I have watched parents pretending to touch and burn themselves on something that is hot to try and prevent their toddler from being scarred you would think that this might have sunk into me. But, no! I will quite happily touch the oven rack when it has been on for an hour or pull the grill out without its attachment. It is literally as if the brain signals are not getting through! I have more scars from these 6 months of cooking and ironing than I have ever managed to get in the years preceding marriage! It has become a bit of a standing joke that there will be continuous expletives and 'ow!' noises from the kitchen when I am cooking.

A fiery tea towel - As you will have gathered by now - me and heat/fire don't really get on. This is probably the most scared I have been while being responsible for keeping a house still standing. I am really glad that Tom was out at work for this one because otherwise I think he would be alot more worried about leaving me in the house on my own! It was a simple error of judgement, placing a tea towel too close to a lit gas ring! Realistically, it could have happened to anyone. 

Usually in cases of emergency I manage to enter into a calm mode that allows me to handle the situation perfectly, it does seem to panic people around me though because it is so obviously out of character. However, on this occasion calmness may have reigned but logic had totally left the building. 

I lifted the tea towel which was burning fairly rapidly and attempted to throw it out of the kitchen window. The windows in our house have those handles where if you turn it one way it is just ajar and if you open it the other it totally opens(I'm sure there is a technical term somewhere)... I've still not got my head around this system even in a moment of total clarity(I have a serious issue opening doors/windows/using a key anyway)

I couldn't get the kitchen window to open and I was worried that the tea towel would start to drip hot tarry stuff as it wasn't pure cottony goodness. So I headed to the back door which was locked. Our dining room is carpeted so, for fear of dropping remnants on the carpet I attempted the next window... This one I did manage to open... don't ask me how I can open one and not the other but there it is. With the window open fully I finally managed to fling the tea towel outside(just as the fire alarm helpfully informed me that there was a fire), unlocked the door and went to douse the flames! 

What I have missed to tell you is that below the kitchen window is the kitchen sink which logically would have been the ideal place for the tea towel to go in the first place without any attempts at opening windows or doors.

My latest trick - this one I do not seem to able to shake off. Half the saucepan of spaghetti seems to end up in the sink! Honestly, it seems to happen every time! Use a sieve I hear you say... well, I must suddenly have become completely incapable because that doesn't seem to help either! It's the same result but with more washing up! And... while we're on this point... does anyone know how to effectively clean a sieve without it taking several attempts? Suggestions in my comments would be greatly appreciated! I need all the help I can get!

Its fair to say I have learnt alot in these 6 months, and will probably continue to do so, most importantly:

- It is highly unlikely that anything will turn out perfect the first time around;
- In fact, perfect does not exist;
- I probably haven't turned the oven off;
- The many things I have wanted to achieve will probably stay on the 'to-do' list for quite some time; and
- Being too helpful is always unhelpful.

I will be ever grateful for Tom's continued patience and the fact he takes it on the chin when he only has half a portion of spaghetti!

Have you had any similar moments of domestic drama? I'm not the only one right???
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Thursday, 19 February 2015

10 Mid-February Musings...


We're halfway through February already! I think this year is going to disappear as quickly as the last! To try and slow time down a little and just take a moment here are 10 musings - things I'm loving/thinking/doing/excited about:

1. February Walks - Since getting Zoubi I have been out and about alot more on these legs of mine! I guess it must be making me appreciate how beautiful the world really is! Either that or I am getting sentimental about the world in my old age. Well, whichever it is, I am really enjoying being out and about while the birds are singing... I think i'm going to have to start taking my new *excited dance* camera with me because I keep missing perfect picture moments like drops of dew hanging on a tree.

2. River Island hauls - Serious love for River Island right now (we haven't always been friends)! I always seem to fall for their Limited Edition line so then it just has to be bought! Luckily I am finding clothes for my America Adventures and summer capsule wardrobe so it isn't really cheating on the minimalism (at least that's what I'm telling myself)!

Current Favourite Purchase:
River Island - Wrap front mini skirt


3. Benefit Roller Lashes Mascara - I know everyone has been talking about this so I'm not going to lay it on thick.. All I will say is .... Love it and will definitely be purchasing it when it hits the high street!

4. Triangle bras - Random I know but I seriously cannot get enough of these! Think they are taking over the world at the moment!

5. Duolingo - So I realised while in Paris, how incredibly rusty my French has become! I am gutted to say the least but I am hoping this app will get me back up to scratch!

6. Flowers - We have a little crop of crocuses in our lawn! If you had seen our lawn when we moved in you wouldn't think that there was any possibility of flowers ever appearing in it - it was essentially a rectangle of mud with a bit of brown grass. I'm ridiculously excited by the surprise flowers! Clearly bulbs are the way forward in our garden. I may have to put on some green fingers. Just hope Zoubi doesn't get green paws and dig them up!

7. The Musketeers - Honestly, if you are not watching this you really should be! At least I think so! I've missed series 1 and I clearly need to go backwards and see it but I can't bring myself to wait! It's been inspired by Duma's characters and essentially follows the lives of four musketeers and their many exploits.

8. Holiday - Yes, I am driving people wild in my life with my ridiculously premature excitement for our holiday, it's only fair I share it with you too! Vegas, Palm Springs, San Diego and LA who wouldn't be excited! We make our final payments soon so it must mean it's nearly....June! Or not! I think I'm as excited about planning it as I am about going on it! But, really, who wouldn't be!

9. Exploring - Tom and I are constantly driving through towns and villages and saying that we want to explore them... well, as soon as he gets back I'm going to make this happen! This life we lead is a little too unpredictable not to make the most of the days we do have!

10. Photography - On the strength of having a new camera I am seriously swatting up on photography tips! Cannot wait to take the baby out properly at the weekend! If you have any or know of any posts that will help me out please let me know! I need all the help I can get!

What are your February musings?
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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Weekend That Was...

My Valentine's Bloom 

I think I jinxed myself on Thursday saying that life was returning to normal and then becoming excited about Saturday being the first Valentines Day that me and Tom would have spent together. He had to go away on Saturday morning for a job! Hopefully it won't be too long before he is home again but still, after having been home less than a month it was (and is) a bit of a shock to the system. Communication is alot better so far though  which is a definite bonus!

My weekend was still very chilled even with Zoubi deciding that this was a good moment to go from well behaved to extremely naughty! Honestly, there was no warning or inbetween... I started watching Weeds on Amazon Prime to distract myself and to give Zoubi some more attention... I wanted something easy to watch along the lines of Cougar Town or Desperate Housewives... it's not quite what I was looking for but I am quite enjoying it, it hasn't quite taken hold on me in the way other series have though!

I didn't do as much as I had wanted to on the blogging front but I did build myself a desk and I am in the process of creating a blog/craft station... Maybe it should be known as the 'create-station'. It is really nice to have my own little area, I think I had been lacking that in our house and causing 'mess' in other areas especially down the side of the bed *deep sigh*. I hate mess but I'm a nightmare if there isn't a specific place for something. I will share the finished 'create-station' with you soon, ridiculously excited to have it complete and ready for action!

To be honest I am massively proud of myself for actually achieving the flat pack on my own - it's still standing! My hand may be a little worse for wear though - these soft palms of mine really are not designed for screwing in screws! I think I probably need Tom to tighten the screws in some places but more for peace of mind than because I think it's going to collapse on me!

So, with the unknown of when Tom will be home I'm hoping to spend a lot of this week (when not at work) creating... though, last night, I was hoping for a chilled night of pampering and an early night, then the urge to write hit me at midnight! What is that about?

Hope you all had a great Valentine's weekend without any sudden plan changes like mine!
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Thursday, 12 February 2015

A Quick Catch Up...


As you can see from my last few posts I have been very much here, there and everywhere since Tom came home. I'm actually happy to tell you that normality has now been restored! I feel rather as if I have been living in the eye of a hurricane for the past few weeks! Believe me, I'm not complaining about all the adventures, I'm just grateful for some time to relax and not have to think about getting everything washed and ready to pack for the next trip away!

On Tuesday night we drove halfway back to Shropshire to meet my parents who have been looking after Zoubi while we have been off having adventures! We had a lovely meal in the Crown and Sandys in Ombersley, if you're passing there it's definitely worth trying out.

Life feels more normal now Zoubi is back, even after only having her for a short time the house did seem oddly empty without her in it. She has grown a ridiculous amount in a week and a half!

What with all this gallivanting, I seem to be falling behind with things... I still have heaps of half done posts that I had lined up for the end of January that still haven't been finished, eventually they will I suppose!

This weekend I am dedicating to relaxing and blogging. Tom is in work so I won't be being massively anti-social on the first Valentine's Day we will have actually seen each other since we first got together. I am quite excited about Valentine's Day though, partly because it is our first but mostly because I'm going to use it as an excuse to cook something special and use our polaroid camera for the first time! We'll see how it turns out!

Speaking of cameras... I'm massively excited to tell you that Tom took the plunge and we've bought a new camera! He's much better at reading reviews than I am! Hopefully, (once I have learnt how to use it) this space will become a place of beautiful photos and no random sizing problems that need fixing over a relaxing weekend (top of this weekends to-do list)! If it doesn't, it probably won't be the camera's fault! I shall be dedicating a serious amount of time to reading the instructions for the first time ever!!!

My 2015 reading challenge has also fallen behind, I'm still only a few pages into 'The Night Circus by Erin Morgentsen! I had it all planned out that I would read on the flight to and from Paris but realistically, a 50 minute flight is hardly long enough to get comfortable... or in this case way too long to be in the seat at all! I've never sat in such uncomfortable seats in a plane! I need another 27 books to put on my list as well! Check out what is already on my Goodreads and feel free to add me as a friend... Any recommendations would be gratefully received... 

P.S. Is it the eye of a hurricane that's mental or is that where the hurricane is calm?
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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Torquay Birthday Celebration...


We spent this weekend with Tom's family in Torquay celebrating my sister in laws birthday! The weather was perfect! No unplanned drenchings this weekend!

We stayed in a beautiful holiday cottage called Cliff Lodge. It literally had all the amenities we could have imagined... Games Room with bar and full sized snooker table, Gym, good length Swimming Pool with a Sauna & then a Hot Tub in the decking of the Pool Room outside overlooking the garden and sea.


Our evenings were spent in the Games Room bettering various snooker abilities!(I'd never played Snooker before while Tom's dad plays Snooker twice a week)

On Saturday we all went to Babbacombe Model Village which was great for the adults and children. I had never been to a model village before so was slightly in awe of the how intricate the models are. I never imagined that there would be things going on inside the houses as well as outside.

After Babbacombe we headed down into Torquay to have food and mooch about the town. I'd never been to Torquay before and as it is hearlded as the English Riviera I probably had my hopes set rather too high for an off season coastal town. I think I need to go back there in the summer to visit it properly!

On Sunday, we had more of a lazy day in the house. It was a beautiful day though so Tom and I took the opportunity to go for a wander and to see if we could reach the sea... The countryside was lovely and so quiet. We found a nice spot to sit and share a Twix while watching the sea do its thing! We never reached a beach but discovered after that we would have done if we had carried on along the path! Shame we didn't, it was so warm it was definitely paddle weather!

It was lovely to spend another weekend with family in a different location. I really wish I could live somewhere so beautiful... I don't think I would ever get bored of spotting ships in the bay either! Simple things as ever!

I was very snap happy this weekend so here are pictures galore:

Babbacombe Model Village:




Streaker on the pitch

Italian Job




Sign isn't very clear - Clancy Abbey - sight of interest.



Our Sunday Walk:




The view from our Twix stop





Hope you had a lovely weekend!

Would love to know if you think Torquay is a 'must visit' for the summer?
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Monday, 9 February 2015

Paris When It Sizzles (Or Drizzles) Part II



Day Two was my nephews birthday which was the first time in his four small years that I had been there to celebrate it with him so it was quite an event for me as well. We had lemon cake (my nephews choice!!) for breakfast because my brother in law was off on his best mates stag do so wouldn't be about for tea later. Homemade Lemon Cake is a very good start to any day, coming close to beating a Champagne Breakfast!

We spent the morning playing with my nephews new toys (I think my sister now feels that the keyboard in hindsight wasn't such a good idea with a microphone) and running the children to gymnastics. Tom and I were able to watch my niece at her class which was lovely! It was the first time we had seen my niece strutting her stuff. 

In the afternoon we jumped on the RER to Paris with the children and my sister and visited L'Hotels Des Invalides.

The RER was a massive hit with the children! Not much beats playing eye spy on a train with children that may be picking words in English or French! 

And...I have to hand it to the French... Some of their graffiti is really very impressive from out of a train window! 


Les Invalides is  an incredible building, the museum isn't so bad either! The museum part holds a national military museum of France, a military models museum and contemporary history museum! 

There was no way we could have done it all in a day and definitely not with three little ones. We mainly did the national military museum which was very interesting if you are into military history and the World Wars. It isn't really a museum aimed at children but they still really enjoyed it and there were plenty of films for them to watch.

We had a brew in Le Carre Des Invalides which is a nice cafe (but a tad expensive) within the complex close to the Eglise du Dome where Napoleon's tomb is. 

Napoleon's tomb is quite a sight! It's huge and honestly not at all what I had expected! I wouldn't say that I liked it per say but it's certainly impressive. Inside the enormous marble sarcophagus the remains of Napoleon are in six concentric coffins made from different materials. 

Day 3 and 4 were mostly spent enjoying time with the family and relaxing which was awesome. We don't often get to chill with my sister and her kids or be involved with their normal everyday life like gymnastics club and the school run so we took full advantage of this!

4 nights and 5 days still wasn't really long enough to quench my thirst for Paris for a considerable amount of time we already have a list growing of the things we want to do when we are there next... so far we have:
  • Paris in the summer 
  • Versailles
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Les Invalides (the rest)
  • Trip on the Seine on a Batobus
Any other recommendations?




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Friday, 6 February 2015

Paris When It Sizzles (or Drizzles) Part I



If you have been reading my blog for a bit you may already know that I have a serious love for Paris and much to my envy, my sister lives there. I haven't been there for a few years and have been dreaming of going back for far too long... this year I decided it was the year... even with our big holiday already planned for June, Paris was going to happen. Luckily for me, Tom agreed and I began planning it while he was on deployment.

What better way to spend your 25th birthday than travelling to the City of Lights and Love. (There is no sarcasm AT ALL in that sentence). I did cheat in that I made sure the flight from Luton wasn't ridiculously early... I traded having more time in Paris for relaxed travelling, definitely worth it. Noone needs a 4 am start on their birthday!

We arrived at my sisters house at about 7pm in time for Birthday Cake with the children before they went to bed which was perfect!

My sister doesn't live in the centre of Paris so we had to hop on the RER to get about. I found a really handy app which I downloaded before we arrived: 'Paris Metro RATP Map and Route Planner'. I would really recommend getting this if you are visiting Paris... it takes soooo much stress out of travelling..

Second Breakfast

Day One we spent in Paris just the two of us (Me and Tom) taking in the tourist attractions. First stop was the Eiffel Tower and a second breakfast which we had in a cafe not far from the Champ de Mars/Tour Eiffel station. (We were very like Hobbits... constantly stopping for more food and to dry off and warm up!)



We then headed from the Eiffel Tower to the Champs Elysees, I always opt to walk everywhere because I like to take in the surroundings so rather than jumping on a Metro for a few stops we walked there - in the wind and sleet, not really seeing all that much. So, due to my stubborness, I became very pissed off  a little unhappy because I was cold and wet through! (I'm not exaggerating... my 'waterproof jacket' turned out to not be waterproof enough so I ended up with wet shoulders and weirdly a soaking bum... literally I might as well have sat in a puddle!) 

So then... we headed home and that was the end of our day in Paris!


I joke, I joke!

I don't know how we didn't get lost on our way to the Champs Elysees but, when we finally made it after a few stops for shelter, we headed up towards the Arc de Triomphe in true tourist style, we didn't spend much time taking it in due to our miserable states! Really we just wanted to get inside somewhere warm and dry!

Once we had warmed up and dried off a bit we headed down the Champs Elysees popping in and out of shops and cafe's (occasionally McDonalds - really, how many does one street need??!).
I love the Champs Elysees even in the rain and snow...its so pretty and full of life.

Arc de Triomphe with snow!




Tom wanted to visit the Louvre so that was our next point of call after the Champs Elysees..

I say Tom wanted to visit the Louvre because my first experience, in 2004 involved deep boredom. I did think that as I was going to have to 'suffer' it again  I should discover why I had thought that it was so dull... It transpired we only went in to see a specific exhibition and not much else. That exhibition clearly wasn't my cup of tea at 14.






My second experience of the Louvre was very different. Aside from still being cold and wet, I really enjoyed it. We started with Lunch in Le Comptoir de Louvre which genuinely sold the nicest baguettes I have ever tasted! Not over stuffed either so you didn't spend the entire time catching the contents as you were trying to take a bite!

We had heard on the grapevine that there was no way we would make it round the Louvre in a day so we picked the Egyptology sections and the Mona Lisa as our minimum for the day. We actually managed to see quite alot more including the history of the Louvre and Marie Antoinette's rooms.

I still can't quite work out how I feel about the Mona Lisa, her two body guards and enormous group of admirers. It's a beautiful painting and very impressive but she's opposite a gigantic scene that was extremely distracting. I'm still working out how it was even possible to paint on a canvas that big! It was probably entirely purposeful that they were displayed like that it just didn't work for me.


Wet and wind blown!

When we came out of the Louvre the sun was setting and we were both finally dry!








On our way back towards the station we stopped at a cafe and sat outside under blankets and a heater for a couple of hours watching the world go by. It was definitely the perfect end to our first day in Paris.


To avoid complete Paris overload Part II is on its way to round up the rest of our mini break!
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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

10 things that have made me smile - January...


Apologies for the unexpected radio silence... it was entirely unintentional but I hadn't preempted not having WiFi while away in Paris. Definite rookie errror! Especially as I had posts lined up ready to go!

I hope you all had a good January... I know its meant to be the most depressing month and usually I find that it is even though my birthday is at the end of it but, this year seems to have been different and it has mostly been great!

My month in smiles:

1. Tom came home...Enough said... This was definitely an ear splitting/cheshire cat type grin.

2. Paris was amazing... Will be posting about this very soon!!

3. We became a family of three... This has caused me pain, tears, worries, smiles and belly laughs but we really have settled into it like it has always been this way - I don't think I will be saying this after having an actual baby... A puppy will do for now!

4. The nights are finally getting lighter! I find life so depressing when I go to work in the dark and go home in the dark and I spend my day gazing out at daylight from behind a window.

5. I spent the day with my nephew on his birthday for the first time in his 4 little years! (Another reason Paris was amazing)

6. I made it to 100 followers on bloglovin!

7. Begun my capsule wardrobe (got the idea from Un-Fancy) - I really wish I had discovered this before! I love organisation and now my wardrobe is so fresh and clean and not jammed with clothes I may or may not wear! I love it! it isn't quite finished yet but I'm getting there! 

8. Finding bargains! I'm never normally very good at finding bargains but so far this year I've found loads and started getting my holiday wardrobe for June sorted already! 

9. Waking up to totally random snow... I'm not a massive fan of snow but when it makes a small and unexpected appearance it almost wins me over!

10. Spending lots of time with my sister after having not seen her since September.

I'd love to hear what has made you smile in January!

Happy February!
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