Dressmaker’s course- One of the best things I did in 2015

Up until last year I had a real fear of using sewing machines which I definitely think stemmed from those Home Economics classes you may remember from school if you are of a certain age! I did have one many years ago but just didn’t have the confidence to use it properly and ended up packing it away in the loft where it subsequently got damaged and then I got rid of it.

Last year I took the plunge and booked myself on a 5 week basic sewing course to learn how to use a sewing machine. The course was great and I learned how to make a cushion cover, insert zips and made an apron too. During that course ( where  used a Janome sewing machine) I managed to find a great sewing machine of my own. That way I didn’t have to panic if I broke anything as it then belonged to me. This in itself gave me more confidence when I was using it.

My gorgeous Janome baby in action

My gorgeous Janome baby in action

Having done that course and seeing my IG account full of lovely peeps who make lots of great items at home I decided to go ahead and booked myself on a proper dressmakers course, 12 weeks long where I could choose a garment of my choice to make. So in order to get the most out of the course I decided to aim high with a fitted shirt with pockets, sleeves, cuffs, collars and buttonholes- I like to aim high LOL

So week by week as everyone else’s skirts and sleeveless tops were coming together and actually looking like a garment mine was still a pile of fabric pieces for a very, very long time.

Not too bad for a first make on my starters dressmaking course

Not too bad for a first make on my starters dressmaking course

I was surprised at how well this turned out to be honest, there are mistakes in there but I suppose if you don’t know what you are looking for then you won’t see them. I tend to wear it with either black jeans or my denim skirt with tights, a black or charcoal grey vest top underneath with one of my long decorative necklaces over it. As a complete sewing novice this was a hell of a lot of work but I did learn loads which means I now have skills for lots of new patterns.

My IG feed is full of sewers and their fabulous makes and so is a great inspiration for ideas of what to make and one of the fav’s was the Dottie frock pattern which is right up my street. So I opted for a denim look chambray and a contrast  ‘London’ style fabric for the pockets. This is perfect for over tights or leggings and boots and one of my granny style cardi’s.

I wear a long sleeve top underneath, cardi on top and a big coloured scarf for a 'lots of layers' look

I wear a long sleeve top underneath, cardi on top and a big coloured scarf for a ‘lots of layers’ look

Now I am making pj’s which I need several pairs of and I have several different fabric prints for these so I will post a picture when they are done. Therefore, it is very safe to say I have been bitten by the sewing bug. I received a few patterns as Christmas presents too and have a long sewing ‘To Do’ list already.

Anyone else have the sewing bug? I would love to see what you are making.

New-MMWBH-badge

Review- Long Reach Beefeater, Whitstable

In all honesty I haven’t been to a Beefeater in a few years, therefore when I was invited to go along and review the newly refurbished The Long Reach Beefeater in Whitstable I jumped at the chance to see what they were like these days, I have seen lots of Beefeater restaurants pop up alongside Premier Inn’s as their resident eatery so unless I went in stayed there I probably wouldn’t think of going in to try it. Also Whitstable is one of my all time favourite places to have a day out so it was a good excuse for a little afternoon at the coast.

This particular Beefeater is attached to  Premier Inn just outside the main town, but had undergone a huge refurbishment at the the end of Oct 2015 when it closed for just a week for the work to be done.

After a windswept and rainy afternoon in the town we pitched up a good bit earlier than our booked time as we thought at least we can have a little drink and keep warm until we eat, but the very lovely lady who met us as we came in (Sam) was brilliant and sorted us a table early anyway. On coming through the entrance hall we couldn’t help but get a little tactile with the fabulous grassy ‘Hello’ sign…..
grass hello

The reception as you come inside properly is open, warm and inviting allowing you to instantly see the bar and see that there is a snug bar to the right and the restaurant seating to the left although you are open to sit in the bar area too. Just at the reception desk there is a fabulous set of buffalo plates which I was told that Beefeater had made a huge purchase for their restaurants getting these as they are the original plates that they served their well renowned steaks on many years ago! As a lover of vintage and retro I thought this was a fab idea and did look quirky but brilliant on the wall as you waited to be seated.

beefeater collage decor

The restaurant seating area had been refurbished in muted yellow (more mustard) and grey with added raw wood for a more modern feel. Although they varied the colours in different areas ie: the area we sat in had grey on the walls with the seating taking on the yellow either in free standing chairs or leather boothed style seating, in other areas it was the exact opposite and yet I think both styles worked well together. It was bright but warm and comfortable with added touches such as these fabulous lights at a table near us where the shades where suspended along huge leather ‘belts’ from the setting on the ceiling which looked amazing actually and was a lovely throwback ‘old western’ feel.

beefeater lights

Some areas apparently had been changed fully to make the running of the restaurant more practical for the staff there, such as opening the end of the bar into what would be the ‘breakfast’ serving area and taking away a serving station near to the same area which allowed a more open feel for customers but also allowed for a more fluid self service area for the breakfasts. As the Premier Inn and clientèle numbers increased there was need for an extension to the restaurant to cater for the customers. This area is towards the back of the restaurant and accessed via double doors although these are open most of the time unless the seating area is not required. There is unfortunately a drop in temperature in this area which I was assured was only due to the large family table just beside the doors that evening were they had to close one of the doors in order to accommodate the family seated there. This area although is decorated in the same manner just felt as though it had a little less character than the main original restaurant, but would make for an excellent area if you were having a family celebration where you could keep everyone together and feel as though you were in an exclusive area for the occasion.

interior bar and seating beefeater

The food itself on the day was amazing. We had our youngest teen with us who is 15 years old and can be very picky with his food. He opted for the burger and skinny chips ( which came as an unlimited option-perfect for hungry teens) and declared it was the best burger he had ever had as he doesn’t normally enjoy or finish the bun but cleared his plate that evening! Both my husband and I opted for the steaks ( when in Rome and all that, or should I say when in Beefeater eat beef!) although we have them cooked very differently. Again they came with unlimited chips which my husband took advantage of and the steaks came up cooked to our individual requests- perfect.

beefeater dinner pics

In fact in one area of the restaurant there are a set of pictures depicting how to test if a steak is cooked in relation to how you like it, for example, if you like it ‘rare’ you would press your forefinger and thumb together and ‘feel’ the puffy area of skin just under your thumb, then as you move towards well done you press each finger in turn and that should be the test that your steak has been cooked to how you like it if it feels the same ‘tension or softness’ of that area on your hand…………..make sense?

steak testing pic

There are also fantastic pictures/ paintings on the wall showing all the different styles of knives used and what they are used for. So all the decor fits with ‘eating’ ambience that is created here.

Now, there is a varied range of food available on the menu from the good old steaks to sea bass. The main menu is priced more like a a ‘proper’ restaurant rather than other cheaper restaurant chains I could mention. However, there is a ‘value’ style menu available until 6.30pm which has a lot of the choices from the main menu available from it such as the burgers, steaks and chicken options. After having tasted the steaks and seen the portion sizes of the food itself I didn’t feel as though they had compromised any of the dishes we had ordered which came from the ‘early value’ menu.

We were served by a lovely waitress called Heather who kept our drinks filled without us having to ask, cleared our plates without hovering over us or rushing us and happily gave us plenty of time to choose from the menu when we weren’t quite ready. Although we were eating around 5-530 ish that evening the restaurant filled up from around 6pm giving it a lovely busy feel but without compromising on any service we received.

So without a doubt anytime I am down at the coast visiting Whitstable I will definitely be popping into the Long Reach Beefeater, even if it wasn’t for a full meal I would certainly feel comfortable popping in there for a drink or a coffee ( or another steak!) before heading back home.

** I would like to thanks Sam Stevenson who took the time to show me around the venue and explain the new refurbishment during what looked like a busy time there, she was extremely professional and friendly and made our Beefeater experience very enjoyable**

DISCLOSURE: I was invited to review this particular branch of Beefeater and my meal cost was covered for the purpose of the review. HOWEVER, all views written here, are independent and relate only to my experience on that day.

 

‘Papa Don’t Teach’ – Would you teach your teen to drive?

Now if you asked me this a few years ago my answer would have definitely have been yes, that would have been because I was then working as a qualified Driving Instructor as a job and obviously had a suitable car which had duel controls. In fact it was something I was really looking forward too. I no longer work as a driving instructor due to my long term illness and so I am now looking at it purely from a parent’s point of view.

Therefore,if you ask me that question today, the answer is a resounding NO! In fact, just today I have booked him to start his lessons with a reputable company and instructor. Many of you will think this is madness to throw all that money away on lessons even though I feel I could teach him no problem but I would only do so in a suitable car with duel controls, believe me I speak from experience that learner drivers  try to kill you on a daily basis when they are only starting.

Then throw into the mix that you are the parent. You know, the parent who see’s that they live like a slob, cannot cook for themselves and that they NEVER do as you ask them to do. Then you expect them to listen to you just because you are going to teach them to drive in your precious family car…………….RECIPE FOR DISASTER RIGHT THERE PEOPLE.

As a previously qualified instructor, I went through rigorous training so that I learned very quickly that a teen learner driver will take everything you say literally, so do not be shocked when you tell them to turn right and they end up in someone’s driveway ( because they didn’t realise you meant ‘the next right’), or that they cause you whiplash as you told them to slow down so they slam the brakes on because they thought they had to stop right there and not at the give way at the approaching junction. These mistakes are easily dealt with when you, as an instructor can take control of the car to ensure you do not get whiplash or cause an accident and therefore have the patience of a saint!

As a rule instructor DO NOT shout at their students however, as a parent driving my family car with my learner teen at the wheel I can see where parents teaching their own teens is a much more stressful situation. Instructors have a certain way of explaining things, we have been through our training sessions where our ‘instructors playing trainees’ will take everything you say literally and believe me as an instructor you learn VERY quickly what NOT to say to a learner. Come on most of you will have seen Sky’s Driving School of Mum and Dad where they draw on Sandra Dodson’s experience, who also is former deputy chief driving examiner at DSA, Driving Standards Agency to point out how things should be done.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware of how much driving lessons cost and I can see as a parent I can see how you could question how or why they cost what they do. Then just look at it from the other side, that instructor has undertaking the rigorous training programme ( and believe me not everyone is cut out for the job!). They are also providing a suitable learner car complete with dual controls for the safety of your teen, themselves and other road users ( something that you could not even contemplate pricing on insurance). Your teen learns in the correct way at their own pace ( as everyone can learn differently) and then they have the same car to take their test in so everything is also familiar to them. The instructor will have visuals to explain any manoeuvre they need to learn  and teach them the safe way of completing it ( don’t forget a parent may have been driving for 20 years and have an huge repertoire of bad driving habits that they could automatically pass on).

So before you take the plunge just take a look at this video produced by Carfused.com after a recent survey of how a stressed learner is a very distracted learner. Also look at how the Dad instructs his daughter as opposed to how Sandra does……

Papa Don’t Teach- Carfused

So take it from me, someone who has been trained to actually do the instructor’s job and just think twice before letting your little prince or princess into your precious family car with no dual controls and then expecting them to A) listen to you and B) not misinterpret what you actually want them to do. Look at the cost of the lessons overall, and then the cost of possibly replacing your car (if they are unfortunate enough to cause an accident) and then the insurance premiums afterwards………………………..I know which I would prefer!!

Have you taught your teens to drive? I would love to hear about your experience.

Preparing your Home for Christmas Entertaining

 

 

Christmas_tree_bauble for Ida article

The festive season is always a very exciting one and many people look forward to being able to spend quality time with friends and family over this period. This is a time of year when we tend to go out more than usual with everything from office parties through to family meals out, nights out with friends, and other festive activities to enjoy.

 

This is also a time of year when we often tend to have guests over far more than usual, whether it is for a fabulous and fun-filled Christmas dinner or simply tor a few drinks and to exchange gifts and cards. With this in mind, it is important to ensure that you are fully prepared by getting your home ready for the Christmas period and for entertaining your guests.

Some of the important preparations

There are a number of key preparations that you should make in order to have your home Christmas-ready for your family as well as any guests that you will be entertaining over the festive period. One of the things you should do is to ensure that your home is always clean and tidy at all times. While we all have periods where we may become a little lax with the cleaning, this is not the time of year to do that! You never know when guests may drop in over Christmas, so keep on top of the cleaning as much as possible.

 

You also need to ensure that your home is warm and comfortable, as the last thing you want is your family or any guests having to wrap themselves in layers because of the cold. Make sure that the heating you use is not only effective but also reliable, as trying to get a professional out to fix faulty heating over Christmas can be both extremely difficult and very expensive. Opting for something along the lines of the stand alone electric radiators from Verismart is an excellent option, as these provide superior heating, are modern and attractive in design, are extremely reliable, and very cost effective to run. Your family and guests can then enjoy warmth and cosiness in any room in your home over Christmas.

 

Of course, Christmas wouldn’t seem like Christmas without turning your home into Santa’s grotto, so one of the most important preparations is getting your decor sorted. You can really go to town with tinsel, paper decorations, and fairy lights, all of which will add that final magical festive touch to your home. You can even look at making your own Christmas decorations if you are on a budget – something you can get the kids involved in for some festive fun.

Once you’ve got your home ready for Christmas, you can look forward to a magical and vibrant atmosphere, warmth and cosiness, and a home that both your family and friends will be delighted to spend time in over the festive season.

However you choose to spend your Christmas and new Year I wish you a very happy one- have fun!

N:rem sleep system review

As most regulars will know I have had M.E for the last 6 years or so and what comes with that ( amongst a long list of symptoms) is constant chronic muscular pain which is not helpful when trying to get a good night’s sleep ( something that eludes me most nights).

I was recently given the chance to review a ‘sleep system’ that gives you the option of choosing one personal to your own needs. For me most of my pain is in my neck, shoulders, back and then my lower legs and ankles, with my ankles being the worst and therefore I use a walking stick to help with balance issues and to help me be up and around for longer periods than I would normally be able to manage. With my neck it just seems impossible for me to relax my muscles and regularly use heat pads ( along with very strong pain medications) to help ease it a little.

So, when I got the sleep system delivered I read through the information that was sent with it to help you put the sponge pieces in the right place for you. I was told that this could take a couple of adjustments but i was really lucky to choose the right placement for me from the first night.

The system in made up of 5 sponge tablets of different support levels from ‘super soft’ through to ‘firm’ The information gives you an idea of where to place them in relation to where you need the most or least support.

My placement from top (head level) to bottom (feet level) went as follows:

super soft

Soft

super soft

medium

soft

these are the tablets for a single bed

these are the tablets for a single bed

They come in an easy to remember colour code so if you do have to change them up a bit it could be done quite easily, but for me this worked very well.

I am normally quite sceptical about these sorts of things, especially when they try and promise a great night’s sleep however, this one did surprise me a little. From the first evening I felt very comfortable on this and felt the top half really took a lot of normal pressure off my neck, shoulders, and even my hips as I usually lay on my sides most of the night. So in all honesty I really slept quite well ( for me anyway) on that first night. The next day I had a day where I needed to go back to bed in the afternoon ( something I have to do on a regular basis) for a few hours. I realised when I woke up that I was actually in the same position I had originally settled in, and I can tell you this NEVER happens!!

I did get used to the system very quickly and I can say that for a few days that week I seemed to manage a little better, yes the pain was always there as usual but as I was getting more quality sleep than I am normally used to, even if it was just an hour or two it did make me feel like I was able to do slightly more than I normally can.

Begrudgingly I had to give the system back after a week and funnily my husband has remarked that I have started to toss and turn again like I used too, so it certainly was doing something for me!

But for those of you who may suffer with disturbed sleep, or chronic pain that then affects your sleep this could proof suitable for your needs too. Having checked out their website they also offer a monthly payment for the system so you can spread the cost and equals to £1 a night- not bad for a decent night’s kip.

DSC_0360

 

 

**DISCLAIMER: I was given the use of this system free of charge for a short time for the purposes of a review, however all views are my own.