Review – Don’t Buy Her Flowers

Don’t get me wrong – I like a lovely bunch of flowers as much as the next girl – but sometimes people can drown in them. When they have a new baby, or in times of crisis where people want to show they care and don’t know what else to do, people often give flowers.  A friend who was going through a difficult time had been given loads of bunches by well wishers – but ended up crying on the phone to me as she’d run out of vases and was surrounded by decaying floristry.

I’d already moved away from flowers and have recently sent cake in the post to friends for various reasons – new babies, marathon run, broken bones, house move, poorly child, divorce – from the very wonderful Very Smart Cookie Company (as well as ordering them regularly for ourselves as they are always fabulous).

But it’s always nice to have an arsenal of present suppliers – so I was very excited when I saw on Twitter a new business venture for Steph – whose blog ‘Sisterhood (and all that)‘ I already followed – and it is ‘Don’t Buy Her Flowers‘.

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This is initially marketed as presents for new mums – and this is what Steph says herself on the website:

“Flowers seem to be a go-to way to say ‘congratulations’ when someone has a baby. Although they are always lovely to receive, at Don’t Buy Her Flowers we wanted to create something that was more thoughtful and useful for mums at a time when they need it most. Something that might encourage her to take ten minutes to herself.

Having babies is amazing, but it’s also a rollercoaster and can be hard. Whether it’s the first baby or the sixth, life is different to before and it takes a bit of adjusting to. Knowing someone is thinking of you can be a huge boost. Most parents have bought everything ready for the new baby anyway and there are only so many cute outfits one baby can wear. It makes sense to get something for mum – she’s pretty central to this whole baby malarkey. We also know how grateful new parents are to receive home-cooked food on their doorstep, which is why we have teamed up with COOK food to offer their vouchers in our packages.

Flowers say “I’m thinking of you”. A gift package from Don’t Buy Her Flowers says ‘I’m thinking of you, if you’re finding it hard it’s OK and I hope this makes you feel a bit better’.”

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There are different packages you can chose from at different price points which contain lots of goodies for the recipient – including dry shampoo / smellies / edible treats / a choice of magazines / a lovely scarf  – and adding on the ‘COOK’ vouchers means the person is getting a few hot meals cooked for them too!  For local friends I’ve often cooked a meal and left it on their doorstep when they have had more important things to worry about (hey – I’ve even got friend’s kids to eat spinach and butternut squash when it’s a meal made by me and not their parents!!) but if you’re further afield (or rubbish at cooking!) how nice still to be able to support them in this way.

I emailed Steph very early on and said I could see this working as gifts at other times too – not just for new mums – and whilst that is still the target market, there’s now a drop down menu when you order so you can send the gift for another reason – birthday, get well soon etc.

I sent my first one earlier this week as a birthday present and the birthday girl loved it!  To quote her exactly ‘Totally love it – couldn’t believe how much kept coming out of the box.  P.S. Am now going to have a to find a birthday outfit that can incorporate my lovely new scarf.’

So any of my real life friends reading this, don’t be surprised if you get one!!

This is not a sponsored post – I just think it’s an ace idea – and wanted to spread the love!!

Memories: Never Forget by Take That

Isn’t it weird how one play of a song can transport you back to a specific memory?

This morning Ed and Rachel on Heart played Never Forget by Take That.

Now for my immediate family – and my sisters and their families – there is a lasting memory of this. Back in 2010 (4 weeks after I’d given birth to our 3rd child!) we all went on holiday to a campsite in France. This was to celebrate my Dad’s 65th, Mum’s 60th and their ruby wedding anniversary. It was also my youngest sister’s 10th wedding anniversary whilst we were there. Her husband had been away in the Gulf with the RAF until a few days beforehand, and so went to buy her an anniversary card whilst we were in France. He was amazed at what choice the French supermarche had for 10th anniversary cards – not realising that the French for birthday is anniversaire and they were actually birthday cards! Oh how we laughed when she opened that one!

Anyway – I digress – back to Take That.

One of the days we all trooped off to a water park (I will save you from the photos of the boys in speedos – got to love French swimwear rules!) I went on one of the big scary rides – and part way down whacked my head REALLY badly – I felt sick and almost passed out. My brother in law (he of the card purchasing amusement) had watched my descent and commented that he just thought I was doing the dance moves to Take That’s ‘Never Forget’!!! And oh how lucky that someone got a photo to evidence this……..

Never Forget

 

Yep – we will ‘Never Forget’ that one!!

Book Review – The State We’re In by Adele Parks

I am always partial to a bargain – and Amazon offered me a free book (can’t remember why, think I agreed that a delivery could be outside my usual Prime terms) – and ‘The State We’re In’ was one on the shortlist. It appeared to have been on best seller lists, and it involved a flight to Chicago, where I’d been last month, so I opted for it.

The State We're In

The Amazon blurb is fairly vague:

“THE STATE WE’RE IN is the unforgettable, emotionally powerful novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Adele Parks.
What are the odds that the stranger sitting next to you on a plane is destined to change your life? Especially when they appear to be your opposite in every way.
She’s a life-long optimist, looking for her soul mate in every man she meets; he’s a resolute cynic – cruel experience has taught him never to put his faith in anyone.
People can surprise you. In the time it takes to fly from London to Chicago, each finds something in the other that they didn’t even realise they needed.
Their pasts are such that they can never make one another happy and it’s when they get off the plane that their true journey begins…”

When I started reading this I got really confused. There were chapters headed up with the names of different characters, and they seemed completely disparate – and I thought I was going to find it hard work. But I’m not one to give up on a book (hey, I waded through the Goldfinch!!) so I persevered – and I am sooooo glad I did.

I can’t really give you too much of the back story without giving away fundamental twists and turns of the plot – but I couldn’t put it down – and was desperate to know what was going to happen next. There’s emotion / love / lust / travel / family secrets / rude bits / shopping in Chicago – and, as is my usual style, sobbing at the end.

I am a bit gutted that I finished it this evening to be honest. I know I like most books I read and review on here (generally by being sensible in what I chose to read in the first place) but I really liked this one!

Making stock

After Sunday lunch today I decided to make chicken stock with the meat carcass – ably assisted by Princess Elsa – as you do.

Princess Elsa cooking

The first time I made stock – whilst pregnant with Princess Elsa’s big sister – my husband very kindly ‘helped’ with the process whilst I was having an afternoon nap – and drained the stock down the sink. Then stood there wondering what I was going to do with a saucepan of bones and soggy root vegetables and herbs…..

Today I got a text message from him, whilst attending a birthday party with about 20 other Elsas, to ask when he could turn it off as it was stinking the house out!! Not sure how he’d cope at my sister’s, who often has perpetual stock on the hob for days after a roast dinner!!

So now to make some nice soups this week………

Trees – The Photo Gallery week 214

I am very excited about this week’s theme for The Gallery – as IT WAS MY SUGGESTION – EEK!!! Having been very chuffed with the photo I’m about to show you, I tweeted Tara at Sticky Fingers on Friday (the day that the theme for the next week is posted) to ask what it was going to be as I had a lovely photo of some trees I wanted to shoe-horn in somehow. Imagine my DELIGHT when she very very kindly chose ‘trees’ as the topic, so no horning of shoes required at all!!!

I took this photo at the Lickey Hills – just 5 minutes from our house – when I went with my son and 105 other Year 5 kids on an orienteering trip last week. It was EXHAUSTING – and my legs ached for the whole of the next day (as did a lot of the kids, so it wasn’t just me being unfit!) – but a really challenging, interesting, calorie burning day.  It also reminded me what amazing photo opportunities we have right on our doorstep.

There was snow on the ground but the sun was shining brightly first thing. We were asked not to take photos of the kids – so I took 2 photos on my phone the whole day – but this was one of them:

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I kept expecting to see Mr Tumnus peep out from behind one of the trees!

And just for completeness, here’s the other photo I took from Beacon Hill looking out towards Birmingham City Centre – lots of trees on that too, for England’s second city.

Snowy Birmingham skyline

This is my entry for this week’s #thegallery – so do go and look how other people have interpreted ‘trees’…..

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Wicked Wednesday – 21 January 2015

I am still working through the potential Wicked Wednesday photos from our trip to Dubai over the festive period!

This was the big party at the hotel and trying to get a photo of the littlest looking beautiful in her party dress – but she was insistent we also had to see her knickers – I don’t know who she takes after?!?!?

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But then maybe that’s better than her big sister looking ‘tired and emotional’ on the side of the dancefloor (again – I don’t know who she takes after – but she hadn’t drunk excessive amounts of gin – honest!!)

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This is my contribution to Wicked Wednesdays over on BrummyMummyOf2s blog – do pop across and see what others have posted – always brightens up a cold morning!!

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Book Review – Fractured by Dani Atkins

I read ‘The Story of Us‘ by Dani Atkins over the Christmas break, and loved it – and immediately downloaded ‘Fractured’ which was one of her back catalogue.

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Here is what Amazon has to say about it:

“What would you do if life gave you a second chance?

The night of the accident changed everything…
Now, five years on, Rachel’s life is crumbling. She lives alone in a tiny flat, working in a dead-end job, desperate with guilt over her best friend’s death. She would give anything to turn back the clock. But life doesn’t work like that… Does it?

The night of the accident was a lucky escape…
Now, five years on, Rachel’s life is perfect. She has a wonderful fiancé, loving family and friends around her, and the career she always wanted. But why can’t Rachel shake the memory of a very different life?

Gripping, romantic and heartbreaking, Fractured is a magical love story that asks: can two different stories lead to the same happy ending?”

It started off – in a similar vein to ‘The Story of Us’  – with a car crash, and I have to say my initial thoughts were ‘Hmm, this is all a bit the same’ – but that didn’t last long and I was soon hooked into Rachel’s story.

There is then a ‘Sliding Doors’ moment (90’s Gwyneth Paltrow film reference for those wondering what I’m on about!) and the story pans out a different way – as the blurb above suggests.

Throughout I was desperate to know which was the ‘real’ story – and it very cleverly kept me entertained.  (The last few nights I’ve willingly been the one to lie with the toddler who won’t go to bed on her own, so I could finish  it off!!)  I really liked Rachel, and her friends and family, and was rooting for her to do the right thing throughout.

The ending is lovely – and obviously I wept loads – as is my way.

Dani Atkins definitely has a ‘style’ – but it is one that I really like!

Meeting Mr Price

Wedding day

Today is our 12th wedding anniversary. 12 years since I said ‘I do’ under a gazebo (although my sisters called it a tree for rhyming purposes in a song at our wedding party) in St Lucia. It rained in the morning and all the staff there kept saying it was ‘showers of blessing’ – and maybe they were right (although at the time I was close to punching the next person to say it!!)

I was 13 weeks pregnant at the time – which totally wasn’t the plan – it just didn’t take as long as we’d expected to get up the duff! Consequently I couldn’t take full advantage of the all inclusive nature of The Body Holiday (good job we’ve been back twice since so that I could!)

I’d met Mr P the year before in ‘Zinc’ in Birmingham.  In fact our meeting probably warrants a mention.  I was out drinking gin with friends, and he noticed my red bra strap.  He asked if my knickers matched and I showed him that they did (and still do even after 4 pregnancies and 4 lots of breast feeding!)  He told me he was going commando – I checked, and he was!  After a brief chat we found out we were both Aston Villa fans (in fact this is why we’ve subsequently had 4 kids – to keep supporter levels up!!) We swapped numbers and went on our separate ways for the evening.

After a few weeks of texting we arranged our first date.  We have subsequently both confessed that we weren’t quite sure what the other one was going to look like when I opened the front door – but thankfully we weren’t repulsed and went on our date.  (Although Mr P did tell me a few weeks later that he’d previously only been out with pretty girls!!!  I know that he meant I had brains as well as beauty – but I do like to remind him of it!!)  I found out on this first date that he’d previously been married to a girl I’d been to school with – which meant I kicked him out quickly after we got back to call my best friend from school to tell her who I’d been on a date with!!  I subsequently found out he’d had his overnight bag with him – cheeky sod!!

In some ways we are the complete antithesis of each other:

– I was a teacher pleasing, geeky, girlie swot at school – he was suspended more than once
– I got lots of As (and 1B which I am still gutted about) at GCSE – he got none
– I play a number of  musical instruments – he plays the joker
– I hate swimming in open water – he was a commercial diver
– I didn’t get done for speeding until my 30s – he had points on his provisional licence
– I hate the sand – he would play on the beach all day
– I can ski down a blue run under duress and very stressed – he can fly down a black
– I am naturally unfit but train by the rules – he ran a 10k after no training, a breakfast of M&Ms and Lucozade in the car on the way to the race and still beat me in sub one hour.

But when it comes to important things – big love for our family, OCD tidiness and a desire to help others (amongst others) – we have very similar values and beliefs.  Our life is hectic – working and playing hard together, as well as parenting 4 fabulous kids – but I wouldn’t change saying ‘I do’ on 16 January 2003 for anything.

So here’s to the next 12 (and hopefully many, many multiples of 12) years Mr Price.  Love you. xx

Biff, Chip and Kipper – ROBINSON!

Like the Swiss family, the people who make squash and marmalade (is that the same people by the way?) and the Labour MP for Coventry called Geoffrey who lent Mr Mandleson hundreds of thousands – Biff, Chip and Kipper have the surname ROBINSON!

Biff chip and kipper

I found this out 5 years ago (which I was reminded by Timehop earlier in the week – again, I LOVE Timehop!) but I had forgotten this fact. In the intervening demi-decade I’ve had 2 more kids, so that’s 2 more lots of Oxford Reading Tree ‘fun’ to look forward to.

I discovered this little known gem when in one of the books there is a newspaper in a picture, and it contains an article about the family and uses their surname. Honestly, I’m wasted as an accountant, I should have been a spy. (Although I have just found out it’s on Wikipedia………)

Knowing I have similarly geeky parents as friends – I re-shared this on my Facebook page and imagine my delight when one of my friends could add even more information!  (Her class had written to some authors – and Roderick Hunt, who wrote the 300+ books for this range now used in 80% of UK schools, actually wrote back to them – how exciting!)

It would seem that Kipper is in fact ‘Christopher’ and couldn’t say it as a child so it became Kipper.  Now, as an Elisabeth who couldn’t say that as a child, turned it into Libby-buff and then eventually Libby – I empathise with this totally.

Biff is in fact ‘Barbara’ and Chip is ‘David’ – but he didn’t elucidate as to why they ended up with their abbreviations – so we’ll have to guess!

Now all I want to know is what are ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad”s first names (even Wikipedia can’t help with that one!!)