Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Wordless(ish) Wednesday

Loving that I can pick up cheap flowers at the supermarket...they make me smile having then in my room all the time :)

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Around here (and BPC class winners!)

Taking afternoon naps. Things have looked a lot like this recently. Work is always crazy in the summer term, with reports to be written, data to be inputted and analysed, classes to be mixed, gifts to buy/make, etc. Trying to juggle all this with ME? Lots of enforced bed rest. Bleurgh.

Celebrating a new beginning. I am finally able to share here (now that all the parents and kids at school know)...I have a new job for September! I'm giving up class teaching for the time being and going to a new school to teach individuals and small groups of young children who are struggling to learn how to read and write. This position is mornings only, which means I'll get to go home and rest every day. Win! I'm hoping to take on some tutoring in the afternoons after my rest. I really think that this is a big step towards being able to get me on the track to much better health! I will keep you posted.

Wanting to never eat eggs ever ever again. Seriously, eating them every day sucks. I used to love eggs but I'm thinking Whole30 might have ruined them for me. Urgh.

Considering some potential summer plans. I really want to get away over the summer. Just trying to work out if I can make it happen, mainly financially. Unfortunately, I've got a lot of sorting out to do over the summer...I've got loads of boxes still left to unpack after I had to collect them from my mum's before she moved house. I've also now got a classroom to move out of. Yikes.

Refusing to believe my baby sister is now 21. did that happen?! We had such a great time celebrating, including a trip to a spa hotel where my mum treated me to a facial. SO needed. It was great for us to gather together to celebrate this beautiful young woman and what she's achieved in her relatively short life. Love my sis!

And now on to the winners of the Big Picture Classes giveaway I posted a little while ago. I meant to post them last week but life majorly got in the way! But here they are...

The Phone Photography Project 2 winner:

penny19 June 2014 21:59
I need to take the phone photography class! I just got a pack of photos back from processing, and so many of them are bad! I need professional help! Thanks, Stephanie!

Going Places winner:

I would love to win a spot in this class. It looks like it will be amazing!

Here & There Inspiration winner:

Here and There! Love both the teachers :).

Congrats ladies! Please email me at stephbaxteruk{at}hotmail{dot}com to claim your prize! And for those of you who didn't win, there's still time to sign up for these classes! I hope to see you there!

Friday, 27 June 2014

Penny Arcade reveal!

It's reveal time over at Studio Calico! Kits are now on sale for subscribers (12midnight EST for everyone else). I had so much fun making my projects for this month's Studio Calico kits! Penny Arcade has definitely taken one of my top three spots in my all-time favourite kits. Those Ashley Goldberg prints paired with some of the patterns from the new Brighton Pier collection are just to die for!

Here are my projects for this month...

And, as always, there are some things that have caught my eye in the shop this month as well as some things that I consider to be staple items. For example, have you seen the Brighton Pier bundle on pre-order?! Absolutely amazing new collection! I can't wait!

And don't forget that there's still time to enroll in these beauties...

Happy shopping!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Penny Arcade sneaks

Ahhhhh...Penny Arcade. These kits are AMAZING. (Available to subscribers at 5pm BST (12noon EST) and everyone else at 5am BST on the 28th (12midnight EST).) I cannot wait for you to see them! For now, here's a peek at my projects for this month...

I thought I'd do something a bit different and create a collage of all my sneaks...I have to say, I kinda like it! The sneak in the bottom right hand corner is a traditional layout by the way. Shock horror! Yes, I've actually made a traditional layout (first time in a LONG time!) and yes, you can make traditional layouts with the Project Life kits. Be sure to grab the Penny Arcade paper pad!

Stay tuned to see my full layouts tomorrow!

Whole30® Thursday's the craziest time of the school year, which means that my stress levels are sky high and subsequently that my ME symptoms have been flaring up again. Inevitably, it also means that my new blog schedule has fallen by the wayside this past week. But I'm here with you today to share some of my favourite things that I've been eating over the past week.

I am currently just over halfway through my Whole30® regime. I'm so proud I've made it this far and I'm excited to see it through til the end! It's been a tough week or so, being exposed to a ridiculous amount of cake, although my cravings for chocolate and my other favourite sugary things are definitely less intense. I may have, however, frozen two pieces of birthday cake this week to enjoy at a later date! One from a very good friend of mine and one from my sister, who celebrated her 21st birthday yesterday. It definitely feels less like hard work in terms of having to abstain from a lot of foods, although the meal preparation is a bit of a killer! I reckon each dinner takes about an hour to make which, when your energy levels are at -100, it's a bit of a pain. That said, my housemates and I have enjoyed some delicious food this past week!

Bolognese with courgette 'spaghetti' | Thanks to my julienne peeler that I bought for a mere £3 last weekend, I was able to make a variation of one of my favourite meals. I'm not going to lie...courgettes are never going to taste as good as pasta but it was pretty darn good considering it was Whole30® compliant. And the bolognese was almost identical to how I would make it from scratch anyway, just minus the red wine. And cheese on the top. I did notice their absence but, again, it tasted so good.  This is another one of those meals that I will be happy eating after the program is over.

Sausages with butternut squash and sweet potato mash | Another one of those classics that I was able to replicate while still sticking to the program. I am SO thankful that my local butcher makes these amazing Toulouse sausages without any nasties in. Life is always better when sausages are involved. I made some balsamic-glazed onions and leeks to go on the top...a bit of an experiment that didn't turn out amazingly but did add a bit of extra flavour. I just needed something to replace my usual helping of gravy!

Coleslaw | One thing I've been finding hard about this whole thing is having to eat quite dry food all the time. And by dry, I mean, with no sauces. I know you can make sauces for things but I already am spending so much money on food while doing this, I'm not about to shell out a small fortune for a bottle of coconut aminos. I'm also not one for following recipes but coleslaw is one of my favourite summer side dishes so when I found a recipe for Whole30® mayo to use alongside a recipe for Whole30® coleslaw, I jumped at the chance to be eating it again! I changed it up a little, replacing the rutabaga for a red onion (what the heck is rutabaga anyway?!). I'm being serious when I say that it is THE BEST COLESLAW I'VE EVER TASTED. Seriously.

BBQ! | This was, without a doubt, my best meal while being on Whole30®. Meat (including a turkey kebab not pictured here), roast veggies, salad and that coleslaw. Perfection on a plate. (If only I were allowed ketchup!) 

A little word on special occasions and eating out...

I had been a little bit stressed in the run-up to my sister's 21st birthday, not least when thinking about what I was going to eat at the restaurant we were going to and whether or not I should embrace the occasion and go slightly off-program. I made the decision to stick to it as far as I could, while also choosing to enjoy this very special family day by indulging in a tiny amount of contraband. I know the people over at Whole30® would regard this as an absolute no-no but sometimes in life things just don't work out. In an ideal world, I would have no birthdays to celebrate while being on Whole30®. But like I say, life doesn't work like that. If it was any other birthday of any other person, I wouldn't have cared. But this was my sister's 21st for crying out loud. 

I wasn't going to let a few tiny sips of champagne a few teaspoonfuls of dessert make me feel like a failure. And that's literally all it was. The rest of my meal was completely compliant and I drank water while the rest of my family drank cocktails. So all in all, I'd say that's pretty darn good. And to be honest, those tiny amounts of those things was all tasted ridiculously sweet! I guess that's normal after two weeks of zero sugar. We've got another meal out to celebrate again this weekend and I actually think having those few spoonfuls of dessert have made me realise that I won't feel like I'm missing out on too much if I don't have any at the next meal. Go figure.

Sirloin steak with butternut puree and mixed vegetables | This is what I had for my main course at my sister's meal. It was tasty and cooked really nicely but I dearly missed something more sauce-like to go with it. I had chicken satay skewers to start, which were delicious!

So there we go. Another week almost done!

Happy Thursday!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Whole30® Thursday

Hey there! Welcome to another post in my Whole30® Thursday series! This week I'm going to show you just one of my favourite things that I've eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner this past week because a) it's late, b) I've just had to watch England lose their second World Cup match and c) I have not been having a very good relationship with Whole30® the past few days. It's Day 11 and I've stuck to it the whole way along...we just haven't been seeing eye to eye. (Reading the Whole30® timeline, I realise the things I've been feeling recently are totally normal at the phase of the program I'm at. Hoping it'll pass soon!)


Mushroom and spring onion fried egg with parma ham | I love fried egg with bits of vegetable fried into it! Super tasty. And this parma ham is a great alternative to bacon for when I can't get to the butcher's to grab some without any nasties in it! I tried some pressed apple and guava juice in an attempt to get some fruit inside was ok but I only drank a third of the bottle. Didn't want to overload on sugar, even if it was of the natural variety!


Chicken satay (without satay sauce), crispy duck | I panicked a little about eating out on Father's Day but luckily my dad chose somewhere that just so happened to have a couple of Whole30® compliant items on the menu! The chicken satays were really good and the crispy duck was just heavenly! I asked it to be brought with lettuce leaves instead of pancakes and steered clear of the plum sauce as I would normally anyway! It felt like such a treat but was great to know that I was still sticking to the program! It was hard watching my dad eat prawn crackers and spring rolls...always a favourite of mine whenever we have Thai!


Chicken curry with caulirice | YUM. This was one of my favourite meals so far. Like the chilli, I went slightly overboard on the spices but it really was delicious. Will be making this again for sure.

That's it for this week! If you want any of the recipes from either of my Whole30® posts, please get in touch and I'll quickly jot them down in an email for you!

Happy Thursday!

Big Picture Classes giveaway!

I've got an awesome summer giveaway...I'm so excited to share this with you!

I've got a spot in each of these classes that are happening over at Big Picture Classes this summer to give away to some lucky people today!

Here's a closer look at each of the classes...

Here & There Inspiration
How To Seek Out, Sift Through, and Scrapbook the Inspiring Ideas All Around You.

Get inspired by the wonderful things all around you—and create cutting-edge scrapbook pages—with two of today’s top trendsetters. For 12 weeks starting July 3, Amy Tan and Kelly Purkey will be your creative tour guides, helping you find inspiration here, find it there, find it everywhere!
Learn to stop, look around, and capture life colorfully and beautifully on a dozen fun projects, including your own inspiration journal.

  • Ideas and instruction for setting up your own "inspiration journal"
  • Two inspiring handouts each week filled with colorful project examples, step-by-step instructions for creating two layouts each week, and suggestions for adding to your inspiration journal
  • 24 videos with a variety of messages, instructions, how-to's, behind the scenes, creative samples, and loads of inspiration
  • Bonus handout each week with 10 inspirational tips from Amy and Kelly
  • Supply list with live links to Amy's and Kelly's favorite products
  • Welcome notes from Amy and Kelly in the classroom
  • Reminder emails when the classroom is open and then updated with new materials
  • Private posting gallery to share your work and view the work of your classmates 
  • Message board to share your thoughts with your classmates and interact with Amy and Kelly
  • Email access to Amy and Kelly
  • 3 live chats with Amy and Kelly
  • Free entry into the online portion of Amy and Kelly's Live + Online event this fall!

Going Places
Four Mini Albums to Capture Travels Near and Far
Four scrapbookers. Four very different vacations. Four mini albums that share their adventures in modern, memorable ways. Pack up your pictures, patterned paper, and page protectors and join four talented instructors (Katrina Kennedy, Tami Morrison, Angie Gutshall, and Kim Jeffress) on this 4-week scrapbooking journey. Whether you're traveling across the globe, close to home, or not at all this year, Going Places will help you document your most treasured vacation memories.

Scrapbook a trip from this year, last year, or 10 years ago! Choose one approach or make them all! Our promise of "forever access" guarantees these ideas will be ready and waiting, no matter where your wanderlust takes you. With detailed instructions, helpful videos, and four unique album perspectives, Going Places will give you an arsenal of ideas that you can carry with you wherever you go.

Going Places includes:
  • Colorful instructional handouts with inspiration and instructions for four different versions of travel mini albums
  • Video message from each teacher
  • Supply list from each teacher, with suggestions for four different types of mini albums
  • Welcome notes from each teacher in the classroom
  • Reminder emails when the classroom is open and then updated with new materials
  • Private posting gallery to share your work and view the work of your classmates
  • Email access to Katrina, Tami, Angie, and Kim
  • Message board to share your thoughts with your classmates
  • One live chat with each teacher during class

The Phone Photography Project 2
28 days of photo tips, app tutorials, and iPhone awesomeness

Would you like to take better photos with the camera you always have with you—your smartphone?
Get ready to transform your mobile photography in a brand-new interactive workshop, The Phone Photography Project 2, starting July 17. Twenty expert iPhoneographers have collected their best tips, tricks, and tutorials for phone photography, and they're ready to share it all with you inside a private online classroom—with lots of fun happening on Instagram, too.

No matter what kind of camera or smartphone you use, taking better photos requires a basic understanding of photographic principles and the inspiration to see the amazing photo opportunities all around you. This class will show you that:
  • Your phone camera is capable of much more than you realize
  • Composition and lighting are just as important (if not more so) when you use a phone camera vs. a DSLR
  • You can produce frame-worthy snapshots with nothing more than your smartphone and the right combination of apps

With practical tips for mastering lighting, composition, editing, and more, this workshop will give you the tools you need to create impressive photos you'll be proud to share online, in your home, or in your scrapbooks.

  • Practical tips for mastering lighting, composition, editing, and more
  • 14 before-and-after video tutorials that demonstrate photo-editing techniques
  • Hands-on photography challenges every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from July 17 to August 16 
  • 14 image galleries featuring more than 250 inspiring photographs from your workshop instructors
  • 6 insightful videos from special guest iPhoneographers
  • Active, supportive Instagram community to share and view photographs
  • Resource section featuring app and equipment recommendations
  • Supply recommendations
  • Bonus handouts
  • Message board to share your thoughts with classmates and interact with instructors
  • Private posting gallery to share and view photographs

SO much inspiration in these classes...I, for one, cannot wait for them to start! If you would like to win a spot in one of these classes, leave me a comment on this post telling me which class you'd like to take and why by Monday 23rd June at 22.00 BST (17.00 EST). I will pick three winners at random to win the class of their choice and announce them on the blog next week!