Friday Fabulousness....

My husband left this morning for his annual five day "Boys Skiing Trip" to Austria and so, in amongst the various childrens activities that regularly feature in our week-end, I have also lined up for myself....
four mini-projects, three books, two movies and one boxset....bliss!!

Since I began taking Cookery classes last autumn, my enjoyment of the art of cooking has increased enormously....
I am taking a French Cookery this term which I am absolutely loving.

Last Monday I made a Gratin Dauphinoise and then on Tuesday, as suggested by the teacher, I tried it with spinach - both were delicious.
Tomorrow I am planning a Navarin a la Printaniere aka French Lamb Stew for dinner, possibly a French Onion Soup on Saturday and for my class on Monday we will be creating a Ratatouille and a Fennel, Tomato and Garlic Gratin. 
Vive La France!!

Happy Week-end!!

Instagram Photo A Day Challenge....Days 11-20

Day 11 : "Where You Sleep" 

Day 12 : "Close Up"

Day 13 : "In Your Bag"
New ASOS oversized clutch contains - book, pens, keys, handcream, lipbalm, money, mittens, mints, DKNY Pure perfume, photos of my children, shopping list for French lamb stew.... 

Day 14 : "Something You're Reading"

Day 15 : "Happiness"
Planning a trip & dreaming of holidays....

Day 16 : "Morning"
Sunday morning, 8am....Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath

Day 17 : "Water"

Day 18 : "Something You bought"
We know him as Mr Bird....bought for my son when he was born....
well chewed and snuggled, slightly faded, his constant and much loved night-time companion....

Day 19 : "Sweet"
Cookies....Chocolate Chilli & Orange and Cranberry

Day 20 : "Someone You Love"
My children - through the years.... 

See here for Days 1-10....

There are Barnes & Noble coupons available for "something you're reading".

Exquisite Escapes....

Sarah writes the beautiful blog Haute Design.

She is currently writing the most wonderful travel posts for the blog This is Glamorous and yesterday, as part of her "Take Me Away" series, she wrote "Inspiration for a Romantic Getaway"

I think this is no. 116 in the series now....

Sarah has written about a variety of destinations with suggestions of how to travel, where to stay and where to eat, all accompanied by the most gorgeous images.

If you are looking for some travel inspiration or simply want to lose yourself in an exotic or foreign destination, go take a look....

Pastels in the Kitchen

Champagne Range Cooker : Appliances Online
Polka Dot Cookie Jar : The Weed Patch
Classic Kitchen Scale : Amazon
Pastel Blue Smeg Fridge Freezer : Appliances Online
Green Kitchen Chair : Maisons du Monde

What Are Your "Non-Negotiables"?

Reading Oprah's O magazine a few months ago, I came across a feature on the "The Power of...." in different (famous) people's lives.....
the power of showing up, the power of style, the power of seizing the moment.
In this feature, the actress Jane Lynch spoke about The Power of Authenticity

She spoke about the four things which considers to be "non-negotiable" in her life - for her they were :

Boundaries, Commitment, Honesty and Food and Drink

It got me thinking about what my own non-negotiables were?
Having pondered this for quite some time, this was what I came up with....

Being Myself
I like to think that I am always myself.
I have good boundaries and a pretty clear vision of what I feel is best for me - and for my family.
I don't feel the pressure to do something just because someone/everyone else is doing it....
I know that it's perfectly okay to say no. 

I was recently in a situation where I knew that I was expected to say yes to something, something that I knew everyone else was going to say yes to  - but I really didn't want to do it, it just wasn't me.
So I said no. 
And I knew that those who were my friends would totally understand and not mind one bit....
and it didn't really matter what anyone else thought.

I was chatting about it this very issue to a friend last week and she said something along the lines of how she admired how what other people thought never seemed to matter to me.
My friend is someone regarded by everyone who knows her as an "alpha female", she's terrifically successful in her career, very accomplished and super-competent....
BUT she worries terribly what people think about her - even the people that she admits she doesn't like!! This seems to me, of course, absolutely crazy (and a waste of time) and I tell her this repeatedly! 

If you are decent, kind, considerate, have your own opinions and are happy to voice them in a positive way - and people still don't like you....then, I guess that's just life!

Being a mother, I also feel very aware of demonstrating to my children the huge importance of being your own person and staying true to yourself.
My children are both very socially able and both "group" people so I already feel that they are both pretty good at listening to others, empathising and sharing.

My son is a leader whereas my daughter is a follower - she's in a school class with some right little madams very challenging young ladies and I know as the teen years are fast approaching us, so the issue of peer pressure will become even more present.
All I can advise is be yourself, stay strong, go with your instincts - and not someone else's - because they are usually right.   

Good Manners  & A Little Consideration

Please and thank you.
Written thank you notes.
Good are you....have a good day....isn't the sunshine lovely?
Holding the door open for people, not pushing, apologising if necessary.
Recognising hard work, good work, generosity, selflessness.

Smiling. Making eye contact.
Please. Thank You. Smile. And repeat.

I've always been a reader, all my life.
When I was young it was my escape, I'd find a warm, quiet place and literally read all day, I visited the library 2-3 times a week.
I've been that person who has missed their train station because I've been so engrossed in a book.
I love books, they transport me, educate me, broaden my horizons, distract me....

I've had times in my life where I haven't read as much - when my children were little babies for example....although to be honest, even if it's midnight when I get to bed, I'll still read for 10-15 minutes.
I tell my children that reading is a gift and I truly feel that.

Books are my happy place, I always carry one with me,
I miss it when I'm not reading and my day is better when I get to pick up a book and lose myself, even if it's just for a short while.
I could do a day without coffee or bread but wouldn't want to do a day without reading.

Calm & Solitude

I live a busy life in a busy city, I am in the school playground twice a day, I am in the supermarket often, I have coffee with friends at least once a week in a busy coffee shop, I live within 5 mins at most of the majority of my friends. And I have two active children who love to talk!

I love being with friends but I absolutely appreciate solitude and my own company too.
I'll happily go to the cinema/for a coffee/out to lunch by myself  - unlike my husband who thinks it's pretty odd to want to do any of those activities alone!

I love the hustle and bustle of a city and wouldn't want to live anywhere else...
but I know I need total peace and quiet on a regular basis, a little calm, time where I don't need to talk, no music, just silence.
It centres me, grounds me, reassures me....connects me with myself.

Jane Lynch was a little more succinct with her words and descriptions of what each of them meant to her....
I long ago realised that I just don't do succinct!

My non-negotiables....
Being Myself
Good Manners & A Little Consideration
Calm & Solitude

What would your non-negotiables be, the things or the behaviour that are essential to your day and your emotional and mental wellbeing?

Happy Tuesday!


Friday Fabulousness....

The best parts of my week....

making an incredible french onion soup in my french cookery class on monday

finishing the brilliant "Unbroken" - an absolutely extraordinary book of a true life story

not gaining one.single.ounce so far post Detox  .....and continuing to juice

finally moving my Dad to a new and so-far-very-lovely nursing home after seemingly encountering every single obstacle and hurdle possible over the last few months....hoorah!

listening to my son's life plan - professional football player until he's 47 (apparently they ask you to stop playing then)....
then Rock Star.
(oh, I cannot wait to see what this little man becomes!)

booking summer flights....woo hoo!

A busy week-end lies ahead...
off now to make some Italian meatballs and take my daughter out for lunch.

Have a wonderful week-end!

Liz Earle Beauty Co Ltd

Donna Ida

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