2.27.2015

Edinburgh. #Girltime



How happy do I look here? Well this is what happened...

I have been fully dedicated to my New Years resolution which is to have more "Me Time", this is definitely not going to be a one I give up on lightly. It sounds silly but it is really hard for us Mums to get some REAL child free time and you sometimes have to force your self or actually book something in to grasp it. So after our fab trip to York last year, (Link at the bottom if you missed it) me and two of my girls Mandy and Christine (all have 2 children the same ages) decided on another great city break, that is not too far away as we don't want to spend all the time travelling....and if we are honest leaving the kids with the Dads, anything could happen really, so being near by is just good sense. The girls were making fun a bit because it was more like a military movement for me to go away for all of 32hrs, the husband is a fab Dad and quite capable but I did worry for their overall malnourishment. When he goes away he couldn't care if there is only a mouldy carrot left in the fridge for moi but I felt it my duty to stock the cupboards and put outfits together before I left so the kids didn't look like hobos and more importantly I didn't get the "Where have you hidden the rugby kit?!" call at 7am when I have had a vat of wine.....

So a few weeks ago we had a play date, crunched the calendars of various bloody kids party's and managed to set a date and decided on Edinburgh! I have only been once, 10yrs ago so I was looking forward to it but M actually lived there for about 10yrs and it was like coming home for her, plus meant we had a tour guide. Bonus. Like last time we wanted to milk out as much time as possible and arranged a 7.45am pick up, I was up from 6am like a kid at Christmas, I didn't mind a bit through and I enjoyed getting glammed up/ready for some much needed girl time. There was a slight hiccup when Oscar decided to pour a full jar of honey all over the kitchen while I was in the shower but I think it made Daddy realise he actually had to watch the kids for the next two days and I just made a quick exit at that point, like Andy on the Shawshank Redemption arms open wide "I've really escaped" type joy. At the Station we had an important meeting on who would get which magazines so as not to double up, then we got a bottle of Prosecco (naturally) some fresh croissants and we were off. Bliss.

6am...better get ready!


What more could you want...even a cheeky nail varnish!




There wasn't a lot of choice in our hotel as we needed one with a 3 person room and it was short notice so we didn't know what to expect of the Apex Waterloo which had been pre booked, however we couldn't have been happier. It was a stones throw from the Train Station and actually at the top of Princes Street. It was really modern and the staff were so friendly. They told us our room wasn't ready but as it was only 10am we hadn't expected it to be, they checked us in though and took our bags so we could go off shopping unencumbered...don't have to tell me twice. We immediately hit Princes Street, I must mention to wrap up warm though as it was baltic, it reminded me of when I went to New York and nearly got frost bite "The wind blows right through you"; it didn't stop us beelining it to Harvey Nics though. We had a good drool at the windows of Louis Vuitton and Mulberry but decided it was cake time...for energy obviously. We stopped at a lovely cafe opposite Michael Kors called Valvona & Crolla, which is one of a few in the city run by a big Italian family, so you can imagine the Pistachio cake and Snow balls were immense. At this point I realise I'm not even a proper blogger as I haven't taken tonnes of cute pics of handbags, cakes and trinkets but to be fair we were having too much fun. It was a nice touch of the hotel to text us to say that our room was now ready (2hrs early) and our bags were in the room, the day couldn't be going any better.






A little more shopping...child free, husband free and just taking as much time as we blumming well liked was heavenly and when we got tired, another pit stop at Jamie's Italian was just thing. Some more Prosecco, yummy food...if you haven't ever tried fried stuffed Nachos they are a must and then a disco nap was in order. We got settled in our lovely room and then had a lil fashion show of things to wear that night, a novelty for me in an all boy household but as the hotel had a Pool/Spa we thought it rude not to give that a try. So we headed down in the lovely fluffy robes the hotel provided, with our mountain of magazines and just chilled out. It wasn't the biggest of pools but still nice for a dip or a sauna and would you know it because someone was asking me to do something every 5 seconds I eventually finished the book I've been reading for months. Fully cooked and relaxed we headed back to the room for a brew...I may have brought a giant box of Maltesers too and then we started to preen for the night ahead. Its amazing what you can do without a toddler hanging off you ha ha. 


One of the nicest things I ever eaten, fried Nachos. 


M being healthy....


Me...not so much!


Just chilling like a villian!


We headed straight to the top of the ritzy George Street to a bar called Tiger Lily, which we immediately all loved, and could have stayed there the whole night to be honest but we wanted to sample some others and get a bite to eat. After wandering down to a few more bars we stopped at a lovely restaurant called Contini, we didn't have a reservation but they managed to squeeze us in for a stone baked pizza and some nibbles which hit the spot and soaked up some of the Long Vodkas...it is an epic drink very popular throughout Scotland. Its Vodka, Lime and Soda with a few drops of Angostura Bitters, Its a lovely pink colour, sweet and sour but very refreshing, definitely try one if you're in Edinburgh; it was our drink of choice all night. We popped into a few other bars I cant remember but ended up in the very nice Le Monde, we enjoyed the bar upstairs but we headed to the Night Club downstairs as our dancing feet were itching. A few more Long Vodkas, dancing like mad and I asked a man what was under his kilt, it now was definitely time to go to bed...his answer priceless though "How warm are your hands?!" We tried to flag down something called a Rickshaw car, which are little cycle cars for tipsy people with tired feet to get home but they only take 2 per cart, so that was a shame. However there is this weird smell in the Edinburgh air which I thought was just me being drunk, but its lush and smells like fresh Bread. I am told by our oracle Mandy its actually the 'Hops smell' from the local brewery making beer. Anyway like most people well served we were now ravenous and just as we were battering into the wind a 24hr Golden M appeared...Forgive my for I have sinned "3 Large Big Mac and Fries
pleassssse"...


Social Media papped...





This is our "Im pissed and I dont care!" face...


Rickshaw!


The shame...



I couldn't really remember getting to bed but didn't feel too bad probably due to the fact that I didn't get up until 9.40am! This is the first non 5.30am gun shot to the face thanks to my son, in over 6mths so I was loving it. We quickly got ready so as not miss our slap up brekkie which finished at 11am....3 girls, one bathroom, free Elemis products... say no more. It was well worth the rush though when we saw the lovely continental buffet including fresh pain au chocolat and made to order hot breakfast, when I spotted French Toast, bacon and maple syrup on the menu nothing else got a look in. Unfortunately this day the weather had took a turn for the worse, still bitterly cold but now pouring with sleet. When we were checking out though, again allowed to leave our bags behind to squeeze in some more shopping before our 4pm train, we were offered umbrella's on loan which I was super impressed with as I'm mostly made of sugar when it comes to any type of precipitation. We hit Princes street again, getting a few gifts for the small people at home and obviously some shortbread, then slightly flagging (hungover) we headed back to the hotel for a cuppa and to retrieve our bags before home time. Again another nice touch of the hotel was a £10 gift card to spend in their Cafe for booking directly with them so that was worth doing. It worked out perfectly as we got a large pot of tea and selection of...carbs really, but just what we fancied before home time. 

Get in my face.


Standard Castle pic.



 Free Food! Thanks Apex.


Helping on the way home.


I really liked Edinburgh even though we didn't even set foot near the touristy spots, there was also no question I would fully enjoy the 32hrs to myself and although I was sad to be heading back to reality (mess, potty training, more mess) I was very pleased to give my 3 boys a big hug. That saying is very true 'You don't know what you have until its gone'. 

Ashlie xox 

Links. 

The Last trip York. 

Our fab hotel Apex Waterloo

The restaurant Contini

Our fav bars.






2.16.2015

Mr Grey saw me.....#50shadesreview




I was quite late to the Fifty shades hype, I think some of the baby's from the "Boom" allegedly caused by Mr Grey had been born before I had even heard of Christian and Anastasia. It was in fact the husband who asked while we were having a very rainy little break away in a Caravan if I had read these books fast becoming all time best sellers...strange that they were also classed under the cringe worthy title 'Erotica' ha ha. Anyway while getting some supplies the next day I picked up a copy of the first book. As I said it was pouring down, in a confined space with a 3yr old and a baby I jumped at the chance of a distraction...well actually I booted them out to splash in puddles with daddy for the day first.....by the time they came back, I had hopped in the car and was driving around in rural Scotland looking for the second book! I loved the whole thing. A poor quite plain and innocent girl is seduced by a stunning rich guy, blows off her socks, shows her a new world and they fall totally in love, perfect trashy novel. There were a few things I questioned I'm not going to criticise the writing like some because I'm dyslexic and didn't invent the English language...seriously how many books have you written or had published? Sure EL James is laughing all the way to the bank with her bad grammar. 

However some of the sexual encounters were suspicious, I along with a famous book club in Utah have doubted its possible to have an orgasm from nipple tweaking alone but there are that many flying around the books I didn't get too hung up on it. I also find the criticism that these books promote Domestic abuse, absurd and I wonder if the protesters have even read the books. For a start its a.made.up.story....there is also the fact that some people enjoy being dominated which has nothing to do with abuse. She is fully consenting...they even have a contract and thoroughly enjoying it, not to mention in this relationship that they both moulded, in return he completely adores her. Its been a while since I was dating thank god but I chat to my singles ladies and I can remember all angst of liking someone but he hasn't called you back, should you call him? Is he really into you? and so on....horrible. However with Mr Grey there is non of that, he doesn't play games, well apart from in the bedroom, his cards are on the table, he calls her immediately and all the time. Who wouldn't like to be showered with gifts, multiple orgasms, be treat like a princess and have complete devotion from a stunning man?! In case any men are reading this, why do we all want Christian Grey, yes being a billionaire and therefore wanting for nothing would be nice but that's not it, its actually really simple = Woman just want to be adored. So how that could be portrayed badly I don't know and spoiler alert they also live happily ever after. So after almost inhaling the books I was super excited to see it brought to life on screen.    

The film was always going to cause controversy, after all reading a book is a private experience and will it match up to what millions of different people have imagined in their mind? Not possible. The massive hype and critique was enough for Charlie Hunem to promptly withdraw as the first announced Mr Grey and I was also doubting the second, Jamie Dornan. Anyway I knew that I had to get tickets for the opening night and see what the craic was...literally ha ha. So me and two of my girls got booked up weeks in advance and couldn't wait for our special girly night; I have literally been like a 5yr old on blue smartie espressos until the 13th was finally here. I even got my nails done, in red naturally, but I wasn't alone as the salon had apparently been full of ladies also getting their hair and nails done for a night with Mr Grey. First we went for food...Nando's naturally and a few glasses of wine, I def was going to need a buzz to watch what might be quite a steamy film with my friends, they were also serving drinks inside the theatre which was a nice touch as the atmosphere was positively buzzing, I've never seen it as full. It was mostly woman but I did notice a few men which I truthfully thought was weird. I would never have brought the Alpha male with me as he hasn't read the book and after just trying to explain why it would be quite nice to be slammed up against an elevator and kissed by a stunning billionaire his reply was "Just in lifts?" PASS. I suppose some people might want to give their man some ideas or thought it would be a good Date night but I was much happier in my girly gaggle; nearly everyone was cheering or clapping when it started, it felt a bit like a slumber party.

Treats and Nails Done.



Guess who got the short straw of sitting next the MAN!


Mr Grey Will see you...

I loved it. Not disappointed at all as my bestie nervously asked me afterwards, I think she was scared for me since I had built it up so much. Maybe I'm just easily pleased as I had no real complaints of the books or the film...its probably I just like a bit of escapism having two crazy little boys. I have seen some stuff on social media along the lines of  "50 Shades of shite" and according to my brother I am the only person so far who likes it. However I think they had a fine line to tread here, it isn't a porno which the book could easily be and after being coined "Mummy Porn" the toned down saucy scenes may have pissed off some raunchier customers. It cant possibly go word for word to the book either so some things were missed out, again die hard's wouldn't like that. To boot the scenery and people wont possibly match everyone's imagination and finally some people haven't read the book? So they are criticising something they cant reference and probably will find a bit confusing or boring after hearing its a bonk fest in writing. Its also only the first book but I get the impression some people expected 3 books in one film. Anyway here's my thoughts.....
  
Characters.

I had doubted Jamie Dornan as CG, in my mind he was 6inchs taller and more buff like Henry Cavill...you know Superman?... with some copper highlights of course, would have been it for me but I was very impressed with his performance, undeniably gorgeous, tortured and powerful and that's it now, he is Christian Grey. If possible Dakota Johnson was an even better Anastasia and identical to her in my mind. Apart from her hair not being perfect as promised on page she was naturally beautiful, sassy, smart and adventurous very good job,  Taylor was quite yummy and younger than I had thought too. I wasn't as keen on the others if I'm honest, Kate wasn't the supermodel described, Elliot either and Mia was played by Rita Ora, who new?! I don't like her very much but she is literally in it for a nano second so it doesn't matter. *Spoiler alert* Mrs Robinson aka Eleanor isn't in it. I knew something was up when I hadn't even seen a glimpse of her in the trailer and I know she was more heavily featured in the second book but she is completely missing as well as Mrs Jones the house keeper. The office girls at Grey Inc need a mention because they were absolute platinum blonde clones and at these first scenes with one famously saying "Mr Grey will see you now" I heard a few people tittering "Its just like I thought!"

The Movie.

The book is obviously more in depth but you get to know Ana's every emotion and thought, Its almost too descriptive and builds a constant state of anxiety about her but in the film, in a way a lot is different or skimmed over. For example they barley touch on Christians family who we meet quite well in the book, as are the above characters who are completely left out. However it didn't really matter to the core of the story and the thing I noticeably liked better than the book, apart from Christian and Ana being so animated was their rapport. Ana's lip biting nervousness was still there but better, its like she has found her backbone and is giving as good as she gets on screen and in return Christian is leaning in slightly. I cant recall her saying "Oh My" once so its more like watching a power couple develop than a Cobra take down Mouse, as all these crazy protesters saying Christian Grey is a wife beater would have you believe. It's playful, its magnetic, its clear as day sexual chemistry, the cinema laughed out loud several times, especially at the reading of 'The Contract' and if they can make "Anal fisting" funny, well claps all round. If I had to describe the film I would say, Its like a Rom Com with Sex. While we are on the subject at the saucy scenes, my toes weren't curling but I thought they were quite naughty, if you want more, watch Porn...or True Blood. If I'm truthful (boring) all of that to me is just like pepper to a meal, its very welcome I wouldn't want the meal without it but its the story I enjoyed most, Its like a modern...granted a bit fucked up but a fairy tale and I hope to god they make a sequel film! 

Ash xox   


The after party...


Cant even remember this possibly why I look mental! 

   





      

2.12.2015

Valentines Day #recipe


Just a very quick blog here to show you what we have been up to this week in prep for Valentines Day. There are very much two camps when it comes to this day, the ones who go mad on all the romance, fully commit to cupids calling and then there are miserable people....Ha ha just kidding, but the people who think its all a money making scheme. 

From a girls point of view, I have a foot in each camp...with my weight leaning into the cheesetastic Valentine's Day. When you have been married for a while you need every excuse you can get for a bit romance though but I realise that flowers etc are double price on this day; however we are girlsss, leave us out at you're own peril!

 I think there is a compromise to be had here though, us girls just want to know that you adore us....any day of the year but a card with a few nice words, a bunch of tulips and a bar of chocolate will set you back about £5 but have a lot of brownie points. For extra happiness, listen to us. If she has been moaning about her nails book a manicure, or hinting at some jewellery get it or mentioning an addiction to Jo Malone candles buy one, chances are it will cost less than a bumped up bunch of roses and really be a loving Valentines Day. 

Well I've said my piece and hopefully saved a few fellas bacon.



Anyway without much ado the boys have been doing some lovely crafts at school so I decided to do some baking with them, it coincided nicely with a play date with some new school friends and 2 of the cutest girls I've met. So I made a batch of my short bread which is supper easy an ideal gift for kids or adults.

55g of Caster Sugar
125g Butter
180g Plain Flour

If you wish add a bit of orange zest, or a splash of wiskey or a pinch of cinnamon if you like. 

Preheat Oven 180C

1. Beat Sugar and Butter until creamy
2. Stir in Flour well.
3. Form a ball of dough with your hands.
4. Roll out 1cm thick and cut out any shapes you like, as you can see we did hearts and buttons.
*Which I made with a circle cutter then placed a ring with the smaller ring cutter inside and put two holes with a cocktails stick in.
5. Place on a grease proof try and bake for about 15-20mins or until edges start to go golden.
6. Transfer to a wire rack and when cool EAT or decorate as you like. 






The kids decorated/ate their hearts immediately and I cant believe I forgot a pic of a finished one but they looked nice without anyway.

So CUTE! Ozzie eatin more than decorating. 




I put a few buttons in a box with a note "Cute as a Button" which they are, in for my boys to have on Saturday. 



Whatever you do, spread the love...its free. 

Ashlie xox




2.08.2015

The Weekend Him vs Her.....


The weekend in our house is a bit like a maze of land-mines, something to be navigated around carefully, avoid explosions and make it out in one piece. For a start the husband now has this strange thing/obsession called "Time for me" which means time without the kids and now has to be shoe horned into every Saturday or Sunday or sometimes both. I understand it because I occasionally need "Time for me" to do a food shop...seriously you have no idea the luxury involved walking around Asda just by yourself, without someone inches away crying and pulling huge jars of mayonnaise off the passing shelves. Its kind of like thinking of 60 different things, answering 3 different questions and being hit in the face all at once. Anyway as I started to forget most of the items on the list and rice, spaghetti hoops with curry powder isn't as appetising as it sounds for a meal, it was agreed a while back the food shops are now done alone. I also need "Time for Me" to do the marathon task that is our washing, once a week (at least) there is no clean underwear for anyone, or the ironing basket is so full it risks crushing me or the enormous piles of clothes which have been abandoned at some point probably to save one of my children's lives have blurred and I'm not sure what's clean, dirty or drying. Sometimes its all three, but a good hour or so uninterrupted is needed of sniffing, sorting and deciding what REALLY needs to be ironed as I tell the husband to just not take his jumper off at work; I've saved time on his work shirt and only done the collar! I also need some "TFM" to get my haircut every 6 weeks (months) but I'm not clear on the rules here because apparently when he goes for a trim every 2 weeks, which also takes about an hour...why don't barbers just book appointments too?!... its not classed as "Time for Me".....

Anyway I get it but as we have children now I long ago accepted that weekends are not ours any more and I look at the weekends as...well first I check how many birthday party's we have to go to....also a major bone of contention as the LSD induced like trip of a room full with screaming fighting kids, high on cake and of late all singing "Let it Goooo" with a giant snowman dawdling about, is apparently enjoyed much more by Mums than Dads?! We still haven't got to the bottom of this, but the point is, that is now our weekend, endless kids party's with a bottle of wine and pub Sunday lunch if we are very lucky and we plan in a nap with a few hours starvation for the boys first so they will actually sit for more than 15mins and eat their food. The husband I feel has other ideas though his weekend is still pre kids but he will fit us in where he can...most kind. Just yesterday we had a long discussion about what we would do today as didn't have anything on but he had to squeeze in his important "TFM" not the type doing things that keep the house ticking over but going to the gym or the pub, however a Gruffalo walk was dismissed for being too far away, Soft play unless it is snowing....heavily... is a swear word to the him ,we have visited most museums already on this horrific winter and his suggestion actually always his ONLY suggestion of going swimming went down in flames with me as I couldn't be bothered to shave my entire body AND get my fresh blow dry wet....we are as bad as each other to be fair. Somewhere deeeep inside we think one day the Grandparents ...or anyone really...will offer to have the boys overnight and we will wake up in peace, have a long lie in, breakfast and the papers in bed, overdose on Netflicks and then when we are sick go and get sozzled next to a roaring country pub fire. That's the type of old weekend that haunts us to this ha ha.   

We managed though after a hostage like negotiation to agree that we would walk somewhere, once we could find...like Goldilocks and the 3 bloody bears ...a place not too cold, long, muddy and pram friendly for emergency's. Then I took to Twitter and asked for the best Sunday Lunch in the North East recommendations: Vallum Farm, Bistro 62 and The Botanist if you're interested. So we were sorted. Then this morning.....

Husband: What do you want to do today?
Me: Are you serious?... I thought we were going for a walk and a pub lunch?
H: I didn't say that. Where are you thinking?
Me: *Stunned, reel of twitter recommendations*
H: *Casual as anything* Well I don't want to go far. I fancy going to the allotment for a couple of hours, getting dinner on the go at home, ready for the match 2-4pm.....
Me: *What match?!* Umm Ok I will get the kids in their garden clothes, but there is nothing in as were supposed to be going out so who is going to buy and cook this roast?
H: Ah no, I want to go to the allotment alone (see "Time for Me) the kids are trashing the plants.
Me: What about dinner? 
H: When I come home we can walk to the shop *how exciting* for something and I will cook?

*I seriously cant be bothered to cook today but I would rather that than all the inevitable mess, questions and help needed from Mr 'Use every pot pan and plate' to make toast.*

Me: OK so after you have a morning alone at the Allotment, *that we only got as a project for the kids, but the kids are now not allowed to go to* then we have all walked to the Supermarket and done a food shop with the kids (wtf), what will the kids be doing while you cook this meal AND watch the football? 
H: Watching the football with me...*Even though they don't sit for an episode of Pepper Pig*
Me: ...And what about the Dinner if you're watching the Football?!
H: I will just whack it all in the oven it will only take 10minutes, ready when the football is over.....
Me: *Face like a scream mask*

Just Kill Me. Kill me now.

Ashlie xox 

Holding very tightly onto this quote.







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