Author

I'm a part-time writer, full-time mother and dog-walker living in a small English village by the sea with my husband, daughter and a dog named Doc.

All posts by Dean B

An Up-date on decluttering: I did a Toy Story 3!

Last week I finally started to go through T’s toys in her room,  I actually went through them one by one.  If you have a child in primary school you’d understand how tedious this is.  Why do kids love small itty bitty toys?  I also wanted to make sure that I didn’t throw away her favourites.  I did bin a lot of heads, limbs, arms (probably from her old monster high dolls), lots of plastic crap from Happy Meal toys.  It’s amazing how much rubbish our kids accumulate over the years.

Let’s just say by the time I was going through the big box in the conservatory where she keeps some of her toys,  I wasn’t as keen to go through them as thoroughly as I did hours ago.  By this time, I tipped the remaining rubbish (or so I thought) in the bin bag.

Later on though, my husband told me that he managed to fish out a small Woody and Jessie, and Ham (from Toy Story).  Back story:  my husband and T absolutely love all Toy Story movies.  They used to watch it back to back together.  T has all the toys from that movie in all sizes.  She has a big Woody and Jessie safely sitting on one of her shelves in her room.

My initial reaction when my husband told me that he fished out some toys was “Oh you just want to keep them for sentimental reasons!” but then I realised. OMG (as my seven-year-old) would say, I just did a toy story!   He replied, don’t worry.  I’ve rescued them.  If you’re a Toy Story fan or your kids love them too, you’ll be familiar with the dumpster scene from Toy Story 3:

 

Darn it.  Too much watching children’s movies!  I really need to watch more grown-up movies, preferably without toys talking and having adventure after another.

Do you throw out old toys too?

***

I still have more de-cluttering to do.  I’m going through all my crap things little by little.  I’m sure I’ll get there eventually 😉

Uber Sonic Electric Toothbrush, A Review

I’ve been using my old electric toothbrush for a few years now and when it packed up (refused to charge), luckily for me, before I managed to buy a replacement, the lovely folks at Uber Sonic (a British Oral Care subscription service), got in touch and asked whether I’d sample their new product.  I said yes, of course.  Here’s what I think of their Award Winning Uber Sonic Electric Toothbrush:

What I like about the Uber Sonic Electric Toothbrush:

  • I absolutely love the unique aluminum design.  It’s so sleek and looks ultra modern and stylish,(not that a modern and stylish looking design should factor in when looking for an electric toothbrush to buy).  But I must admit, it certainly caught my attention!
  • I also like that it’s really lightweight.  I’m used to my heavy toothbrush, so was really surprised when I picked it up and found it so light!  It makes brushing your teeth even easier to do.
  • I like that it’s less noisier than my old electric toothbrush.
  • I also like that it has a 30sec buzz function which reminds you to change from one jaw to another.
  • I’ve only been using this Uber Sonic Electric toothbrush for over a week now and so far haven’t had to charge it again.  It boasts of a long-lasting charge, but I haven’t had the chance to prove that one yet.
  • It has a really soft brush which I wasn’t really sure of when I first tried it.  Perhaps it’s because I was used to my old one, which seemed to have a “harder” and sturdier brush.  But then again, this only made me more aware to brush my teeth “longer” and “harder” to make up for the “soft brush”, so it really depends on you whether you’d think of this as a positive or negative.

What I don’t like about the Uber Sonic Electric Toothbrush:

  • It has a soft brush.  (See details above), as mentioned not really sure if this is a negative, but still worth mentioning.

My box also came with two refill heads and covers, at least I won’t have to worry about purchasing replacements.

If you’re on the look out for an electric toothbrush, why not give Uber Sonic Electric toothbrush a try?  Uber Sonic Brush sets from £19.  With a refill plan of two brush heads from £9 every 2 months and all members receive a free Ubersonic toothbrush and whitening kit every year.  I think that’s a fab deal, you won’t have to worry about having to replace your toothbrush!

What do you look for when searching for an electric toothbrush replacement?

Do you go for design, trusted name or price?

Do share.

*I was kindly sent the Ubersonic Electric toothbrush for the purpose of this review.  However, all photos and opinions are by yours truly.

A New Year’s Resolutions: Declutter!

I only have one new year’s resolutions this year worth mentioning, admittedly I do have a few, but I don’t plan to even write them down.  They will remain in my head, but to me the most important one is to declutter.

My one dream is to live in a minimalist house and have a minimalist lifestyle. But I know that won’t happen. Why?  My husband and I are both sentimental creatures, him more than me actually.  We keep things that have sentimental value even though they really ought to be thrown away.  And we have too many books, we buy too many books, we love books too much to stop buying them.  And that’s precisely the reason why I’ve long accepted that we won’t ever have a minimalist household.

I also have to go through all of our books.  We somehow manage to duplicate our books.  I have two books of Letters of Ted Hughes.  One was given to me by my lovely in-laws.  Any takers?  My husband and I used to dream of owning our own bookshop.  It’s a lovely dream which won’t happen unless I win the lottery.

My desk as always is a mess.  But I’ll do my best to declutter and get rid of unnecessary things like Folio Society book  catalogues I’ve already looked through numerous times.  I don’t know why I even bother to keep them when their website is already bookmarked in all the gadgets I use.

T’s toys are also on the list.  She has too many toys she doesn’t even play with anymore.  Before her birthday, I did manage to either throw or give some of her toys away.  Toys she’s outgrown and since Christmas has just happened, it means more toys.

And lastly, clothes.  I’m going to go through all our clothes and get rid of or donate clothes which don’t fit us anymore.  Who am I kidding?  I’m never going to be a size 6 again, so why keep them?

This holding on to too many material things is actually weighing heavily on me now.  I can feel the physical heaviness on me as if I’m literally carrying all these clutter in my arms.  Isn’t that a bit strange?  Maybe because this whole decluttering business has been on my mind for several months now and I really just need to do something about it.

What about you?

Do you also have the need to declutter?

January Musings

American author Karen Joy Fowler writes in her novel, Sarah Canary:

Lots of people go mad in January.  Not as many as in May, of course. Nor June.  But January is your most common month for madness.

I don’t like January either.  It’s too drab and cold and long.  February isn’t too bad, especially since it’s such a short month.  And here in Cornwall, we’re lucky that spring happens early.  Unless of course, global warming changes that too.

And just like that, Christmas is over.  I’ve taken down all our Christmas decorations last Thursday when T went back to school.  I usually find that a sad account.  But since my Christmas vibe never came this year, I was happy to take them all down. I wanted to do it on the first day, but my husband said to wait a while longer.

The house looks bare of course, but I’m fine with that.  It doesn’t affect me the way it did past years.  Oh dear, what’s happening to me?

Do you do New Year’s resolutions?  I used to do it when I was younger, especially in my teens and as a young adult.  It’s been ages since I’ve done any but I still did them in my head.  Ran a list of things I want to do this year and bad habits I want to to get rid of in the dead of the night like writing more, reading more, that sort of thing.

I have no big plans for this year, except hopefully write more creatively.  I’ve always been a bit slow, I do little steps, hence the blog name.  Some have thought that since I started this blog when T was barely two, it was going to be all about her.  It was for a while, but this was supposed to be all about the little steps we take in life, now it’s mostly about our little life here in North Cornwall and I’m fine with that.

Here’s to more ramblings in 2018, I’m surprised people read this, but honestly, I’m grateful to all of you, especially since I’ve somehow managed to earn from this little blog of mine, to all the brands/PRs we’ve worked with a big thank you to all of you.  Here’s to more collaborations!

And to all those who email asking for free links and exposure in the words of my seven-year-old – accompanied with the most exasperated tone a little one can muster “Really now?”  Please be fair. 

To the rest of you lovely folks, hope all your wishes and dreams are granted this year!

What about you?

Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions?

Note:  Photo above was taken last year in Dartmoor.  While it’s been snowing in the rest of the UK, it never really snows here in Cornwall.  I don’t think it even did up in Dartmoor this year.

Our Christmas Holiday: Holed In

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and also enjoyed your New Year’s celebrations.  As for us, we spent the whole Christmas break hibernating inside our home.  We were supposed to spend the holidays with my in-laws, but just before little T finished school, she was struck with the nastiest cold and cough she’s ever had.  Before long my husband was down with it too.  On the morning of the 23rd, I realised that it would be best for everyone if we just quarantined ourselves inside our home.  My in-laws are old you see, I’d be horrified if they caught it.  It’s taken T and my husband the whole of the holiday to shake it off, can you imagine what it would be like for a couple in their late 80s?

My poor husband had to go out on the 24th and do an emergency shop since we didn’t have any food at home, after all we were all ready to drive-up country.  The shops ran out turkey, so he had to make do with whatever he found that day.  Thankfully, none of us were in the mood for roast, our diet then consisted mostly of home-made soup, the kind one eats when poorly.

This has been us, holed in, watching movie after movie.  Playing games after another.  I’ve just realised that T and I are really crap with playing charades, but she absolutely loves playing it.

We had plans of doing loads of winter walks, but the only time we’ve ever been out was today, to do some food shopping.  That’s about it.  T seems a lot better, she still has a bit of a cough.  The husband’s cough has also improved, so we’re hoping to do our first and only holiday winter-walk tomorrow.  Weather permitting, it happens.

As you can see, we still have Christmas presents under our tree.  Those are for family up-country.  Luckily, my husband has a meeting there over the weekend, so he’ll be able to drop by to give them their belated Christmas presents.  Lucky for us too, we also get to open ours from them.  Christmas has been extended for us this year.

What about you?

What was your Christmas break like?

#PresentPatrol with ADT and Little T

*A sponsored post in collaboration with ADT

It’s five days before Christmas, can you believe that?  I bet most of you are ready.  Here in our little cottage in the country, we can say that we definitely are!  Our are decors up, Christmas crockery is out, our Christmas tree is up and most importantly presents are wrapped under our lovely Christmas tree.

But what if burglars crept into your home and stole all your Christmas presents?  Sounds like a bad tv movie?  It can happen you know.  Not to worry, lucky for T, ADT sent her a package filled with different kinds of cunning tricks to thwart the evil plans of any would-be-burglar.  It’s called project #PresentPatrol (Up-sound: Mission Impossible soundtrack).  Here’s what they sent:

1. A floor plan to plan the attack. 2. Four sets of “ideas” on how to out-smart those evil present-burglars! 3. A jar of marbles to do the “Mad Marble Medley”. 4. Water Balloon Drench Defence 5. The Ultimate Tickle Bomb 6. Spidey Intruder Sensors

The Master Plan

Step 1:  Use floor plan to plan the course of attack.  Little T drew our Christmas tree on the plan, “That’s where it will all happen, mum”, she said excitedly.

Step 2: Hide the Spidey Intruder sensors or just plain creepy spiders on the presents to scare the burglars away.  Hopefully, they are scared of spiders!  If not, the sensors will alert the police just in time to catch the culprits.

Step 3.  Use water-bombs to drench defence around the Christmas tree.

Step 4:  Use feather bombs or the “Ultimate Tickle Bomb”.  Hopefully it will either tickle them to death or make them sneeze so loud they’ll wake up Doc or little T’s grumpy dad – that’s enough to scare anyone away! 😉

I think we’ve managed to fully protect little T’s presents from those evil burglars!  How dare they even think of stealing little T’s presents.  Thanks to ADT, her presents are safe and ready to be opened on Christmas day.

Do watch our little video below.  T and I had so much fun doing it.

What about you?

If burglars were in the area, what would you do to protect your Christmas presents?  We invite you and your little ones to come up with your own fun and exciting plan to keep your presents safe.   Click  on this > ADT Floor Plan if you want to also use the floor plan.

For Practical Mums: What I Would Give myself for Christmas (A Review)

My husband once told me about how a friend of his gave his wife an iron for a Christmas present.  I asked if it was meant to be like a private joke between the couple, he said no.  I asked if they were still married, by some miracle, yes, they still are together.  I said to the Historian “You wouldn’t ever think of buying me an iron as a present would you?”  “Of course, I wouldn’t!” He answered back – too quickly, I think.

When my husband first told me this story, I felt so bad for the wife.  Imagine, how awful to receive an iron for Christmas!  I know there’s nothing wrong with it and I’m sure the husband wasn’t hinting that he wanted her to iron his shirts more, or was he?  I wouldn’t know.  Anyway, several years down the line, I’m singing a different tune.  There’s nothing wrong with giving a practical present for Christmas.  I certainly prefer them now.

My husband, bless him, is a very generous gift-giver.  He’s given me expensive presents before from jewellery to gadgets, to beautifully illustrated books which he knows I love (to be fair he loves them too).  But I guess when you’ve been married more than a couple of years, while those presents still of course bring a smile to my face, it’s the practical gifts that make me really excited.  Yes, I know that sounds really sad.

Kidding aside, practical presents are all I want for Christmas!  Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d be ecstatic and giddy happy over a Totem 60L waste recycling separation and recycling unit.  Yes, it’s a bin and I’m not kidding when I say I’m so in love with it.

What I love about this recycling bin:

  • I absolutely love that it has separate compartments for for all those annoying house waste a household has like plastic milk containers, empty bottles and cans, cardboard and paper.  With this recycling bin, you can segregate all your waste apart from each other.  Before we had the Totem, we used to put all our recyclable items in a separate bin and it used to overflow … a lot.  It used to drive me mad seeing piled stuff on top of the bin. I don’t have that problem anymore.
  • I also love that it has a removable drawer bucket which you can easily slide and carry when you take the recycling out with you.
  • It has a food waste container you can easily take out with you. Admittedly, Doc does eat most of our left-overs, but we have a compost heap on the bottom of our garden.  We used to put tea-bags, vegetable cuttings, coffee grinds on a tupperware on top of our microwave and that to me was such an eye-sore.  Now our food waste is tucked away, far from eye-sight.
  • I love the design.  I never thought recycling bins could actually look aesthetically good.  I love the sleek design and its fingerprint proof stainless steel counter.  I never though I’d ever call a bin beautiful, but it really is!
  • I also love that it came with additional bin liners and also has a built-in-odour filter and breathable holes.  You won’t have to worry about yucky bin smells when you slide the doors open.

 

What I don’t like about the Totem recycling bin:

  • Some of course may find it too big.  But that’s one of the reasons why I love it.  It’s big enough to hold all our household waste besides customers can always choose a smaller size.  We have the 60L, but you can choose a smaller one if you have a small kitchen and go for the 58L or the 48L.  My husband has this evil plan of moving my beloved bin to the utility room.  He says “It’s either him or me!” 
  • I won’t lie. I did find it pricey.  The 60L costs £199 but then again, if you do have the budget to spend, I would say it’s a small price to pay to be able to segregate your waste properly and most importantly, your kitchen will be clutter free of any waste!

A lot may not agree with me, but I think this is the perfect present for any mum or even dad who likes getting things sorted.  The kind who wants every little thing in their kitchen tucked away properly in their own place.  That’s the way I like it.  This is definitely a #chirstmassolved present for me.

If you’re curious about the Totem 60L – do check out the short video below:

What about you?

Do you like practical presents too?

*We were kindly sent the Totem60 for the purpose of this review.  However, opinions, photos and video were all done by yours truly.

Is Winter Here?

Has it snuck in without any of us looking?  What a stealthy thief, sneaking in without even a polite knock on the door?  Honestly winter!  Autumn isn’t really done yet showing off her lovely golden colours.  Autumn?  Hello, are you there?  Oh she’s gone.

Admittedly, winter and I don’t get on very well.  Apart from Christmas, there’s really nothing good about the winter.  Its long dark, cold, and dreary days take too much toll in my mind.  And so my mind has to over-work itself up by trying to ignore the bleak darkness outside my window.  I constantly think of small joys, and try to focus on the positives instead of the negatives, like, sure it’s so dreary outside I could cry, but the trees sure do look beautiful.  I love this quote from Cynthia Rylant, author of one of my favourite short stories anthology, A Couple of Kooks.  Let me share it with you:

In November, the trees are standing,

all sticks and bones.

Without their leaves,

how lovely they are,

spreading their arms like dancers.

The know it is time to be still.

Winter trees are indeed beautiful, especially the silhouette it makes against the grey sky.

If you follow me over on Instagram, these photos will look familiar to you.

What about you?

Do you find Winter a bit harsh?

Football and T

The first football match little T watched in a stadium was in the Olympics in Old Trafford, Manchester.  She was barely two.  I think she enjoyed it.  She loved the big crowds and the contagious excitement in the crowd.  She especially liked it when a giant inflatable football was passed around in the crowd.

She didn’t cry or whinge.  But patiently sat on her dad’s lap all through out the game, just watching.  Little did I know that in the years to come, she’d choose football over gymnastics.  Yes, she did quit her gymnastics and chose to play football instead.

Fast forward to November 2017 – her second game wasn’t as exciting and no way anywhere as big as watching an Olympic match in the Old Trafford.  It was a small stadium in Exeter where Exeter City F.C. played against Grimsby.  As you can see from below, a very drizzly and cold November day.

Yes, I know.  The contrast is glaring.

The husband has been wanting T to watch Exeter play.  Why Exeter?  The shocking truth is, T is actually a Devonian Pixie, not a Cornish Pixie.  Gasp, I know.  She was born in Exeter hospital just like a number of her friends in T’s school, so it seems apt that she support the team of the city she was born in.

The husband even bought her a scarf to mark the occasion.  She loves it because she said it looks like a Harry Potter one.  Did she enjoy the game?  Yes.  Would she want to watch another game?  Yes, she said and she’s hoping to bring her best-friend F in the next game since they both play football in their school.  Looks like Exeter city F.C. has a new little fan!  Who knows, F might also want to support them?

What about you?

Do you support any football club?

The Perfect Keepsake: A Martha Jackson Locket (A Review)

There’s something really sweet and romantic about lockets.  I think it’s because they have been romanticized in stories, books and in the movies.  Whether it’s a period or a romantic movie, chances are, the heroine will have a locket around her neck with the photo of her beloved in it.  Or perhaps, of a mother, who has lost a child and forever wears her locket with a photo of her little one, close to her heart.  Or this:

She saw that it was the work of a skilled artisan and that the diamonds were of great brilliancy and superbly set, but the cutting of them denoted that they were of a former day. She noticed too that the locket opened, and, pressing the hidden clasp, she saw the two halves spring apart to reveal in either section an ivory miniature.” 

  • Edgard Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes

When Martha Jackson got in touch and asked if I wanted to do a review of one of their lockets, I quickly said yes.  At the back of my head, I thought of T of course.  I knew that when she’s old enough, she will love to have a locket to forever cherish.

They have a number of beautiful lockets to choose from, but I chose the Silver Double Oval locket.  I thought it would be handy to have two compartments.  Although admittedly, I haven’t found a photo of little T, small enough to fit in there.  But I’m sure I’ll eventually find something or perhaps, I’ll have to print a specific photo for this beautiful keepsake.

Above is a photo of the first compartment.

The second compartment is bigger than the first.

Martha Jackson’s lockets can also be personalised.  I asked that the words “Carpe Diem” to be engraved behind the locket.  This is something we like to remind T about to.  To always seize the day, no matter what her fears are or the circumstances she’s in – grab life by the throat and experience everything life has to offer.  After all, as parents, isn’t this what we wish for our children?

As you’ve probably noticed, there’s also a small letter “T” and a little pearl charm along with the locket.  You can order these add-ons.  It can be an initial like the “letter T”, a lovely pearl, or even a little key.  I just love these little add-on details, it just makes the locket even more special and unique to the wearer.

What I love about the Silver Double Oval Locket:

  • As mentioned, it has two compartments.  One small one in front and another bigger one at the back.
  • I love that you can personalise all the Martha Jackson’s lockets.  For me, it’s the perfect gift for daughters when they are old enough to cherish it..  You can also choose your own font, whether you want a simple font or an elaborate one.
  • Again, I love that you can choose some add-ons, whether it’s an initial or a charm like a pearl or a key.  You can also choose whether you want the add-ons in silver or gold.
  • I love that you can choose the length of the necklace.  When ordering, you can choose a short one (35-40 cm), or a long one like mine (76 cm, extra long belcher chain.)
  • And most of all, I love that the price is affordable.  It won’t cost you an arm and a leg to have something as beautiful and unique as this one.  This particular locket starts at £45.   Of course, the add-on charms and the length of the locket will also determine the cost in the end.  For someone special in your life, it’s definitely worth the spend.

What I don’t like about it:

  • This isn’t major.  But I wasn’t too impressed with the packaging.  It came in an ordinary small white box.  I think something as pretty and as dainty as this deserves better packaging.

I’ve shown little T the locket and she absolutely loves it.  I’ve told her that when she’s older, she can have it.  She keeps asking me “But when will that be mum”?  I told her that she’ll have it when she’s responsible enough not to lose it.

Christmas is just around the corner.  If you’re looking for a special and unique present for the woman in your life, whether it’s your wife, partner, girlfriend or daughter, I think this forever keepsake is the one for them.

What about you?

Do you like lockets too?

*I received this lovely locket from Martha Jakson for the purpose of this review but all photos and opinions are by yours truly.