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Monday, 20 April 2015

What's Your Favourite Retro Sweet?

Whatever happened to sweets? As I've gotten older I've just stopped eating them - with health experts and dentists tell us how bad they are for our teeth and waistlines I've spent my adulthood avoiding them, yet I spent my whole childhood constantly on the lookout for sweets!

Given as a reward when I behaved well, as a treat at christmas, birthdays and Easter, and sneaked to me by my Nan when my mum wasn't looking - sweets were, like many, a huge part of my childhood. 

As bad as they are for us, a little of what you fancy does you good sometimes, and in moderation sweets can still be a really fun treat, even as an adult. As you tuck in to the sugary goodness you will find yourself transported back to days when life was just so much simpler. 

Last week, I went to a friends 30th Birthday party - as part of the party buffet she had a huge retro sweet bar, and it was really fun to delve back in time, tasting sweets I hadn't eaten since I was small. 

Sweets, sweets, sweets at my friends 30th party last week! 

If you're planning a party and are looking for somewhere reliable to buy your retro sweets, then you need look no further...Retro Sweet has it all! From Aniseed Twists to Assorted Toffees, and Black Jacks, they have a huge selection to pick from. 

Selecting Your Sweets

Everybody has different tastes and depending on the occasion, you may want to select a specific selection of sweets to impress your guests. Choosing the right sweet combination could be the first step in hosting a thrilling party. So, if you or someone you know is throwing a party, you’ll need to pick carefully.

Which sweets would you choose?

Different shapes, different sizes

Retro sweets come in all shapes and sizes. Kids seem to really love the crazy shaped sweets. Fortunately, there are so loads of them available. For instance, every kid will love the Candy Canes, and Jelly Scorpions, Snakes, Spiders, and Rats!
Teenagers are a difficult lot to please but stick to a varied selection of retro classics and you're sure to keep everyone happy! 

You might like to select your sweets by theme - if you’re hosting say, a summer garden birthday party you could choose from a wide variety of Strawberry retros including; Strawberry Hearts, Strawberry Bon Bons, and Strawberry Milkshakes - nothing says summer like strawberries after all! 

You could pick all round shaped sweets or just the really quirky shaped ones, you could make sweet trees and then create a whole orchard of sweets for your guests to eat from. You could serve your sweets on tiered cake stands, or out of classic striped paper bags - the possibilities are endless!

Those striped paper bags bring back so many memories...

Choice by colour

You could also choose your retro sweets by colour, I do love a bit of colour co-ordination! Back in the day, one famous sweet manufacturer used the tagline; “taste a rainbow of fruit flavours.” That manufacturer had a point; sweets come in all sorts of fabulous colours which is partly what makes them so attractive! The rainbow might only have seven colours but Retro sweets come in so many more!!

  • White sweets
White sweets are some of the most commonly used at parties, probably because white fits in with almost any occasion and colour scheme. Maybe it’s because there are so many white retro sweets to choose from? 

White chocolate is the most popular in this category with chewy nougats also very common because of their proven attraction to sweet fans of all generations. To take care of guests who prefer to suck rather than chew, the Bon Bons would be a wise choice. Golf Ball Bubble Gums are also very addictive, and will have your guests competing in bubble blowing competions before the party is over! 

Imagine how elegant an all-white sweetie table would look at a wedding, or christening party? Pure and perfect. 
  • Pink and blue sweets
For lovers of colour, pink and blue is a lovely colour combination (think boys/girls, baby showers, first birthdays etc). There is of course the analogy that blue is just for boys but we all know that's a little outdated - girls love blue sweets just as much as the boys do! I'm thinking Wham Bars, Refreshers Bars, Fizzy Blue Strawberry Creams or Giant Jelly Dolphins would be perfect for a blue themed soiree. For pink sweets you could select Pink Chocolate Hearts, Foam Shrimps, Strawberry Bon Bons, Pink Flying Saucers, Fizzy bottles, Foam Mushrooms, Strawberry Milkshakes, and Cherry Fizz balls!
  • Brown
It might sound quite boring but a brown sweet selection could make for a really interesting vintage feel sweetie bar: why not make sweet cones using faded brown newspaper, or serve the sweets in old fashioned brown paper bags - with so many old favourites to choose from, this one-colour-only effect could look really cool. You could use Cola Bottles, Mint Humbugs, Pint Pots, Assorted Toffees, Vanilla Fudge, Sweet Peanuts, Chocolate Bananas and Butterscotch - you won't hear any complaints! 

  • Other Colour Ideas

Some other popular colour ideas for sweet buffets are red, gold, pastel shades, and yellow. 

  • The Rainbow 
Most popular of all when it comes to sweet selections at events is going the whole hog with a fun multicoloured table of sweetie heaven: watch your guests eyes light up as they behold the selection that will transport them back to their childhoods. 

For more ideas on how to create you perfect sweetie-bar why not check out my Pinterest board here.


There isn’t a limit to what you can achieve when you shop with Retro Sweet UK because they will always have exactly what you need to deliver the most memorable sweetie selection since you stood in that sweetie shop as a child. 

Hosting a party soon? Retro Sweet UK will deliver the sweets to your venue free of charge for orders above £40. 

Call us on 0844-257-9006 for more information.

This is a sponsored post. 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Going Vanilla-laa-laa with Baking Mad: Rhubarb and Ginger Trifle with Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste *RECIPE*

Over Easter I made a blooming delicious variation on a traditional trifle using a fabulous recipe from Baking Mad

If you haven't discovered it before, Baking Mad is a brilliant free to join baking website full to brimming with amazing recipes. Each recipe is easy to follow and has a full ingredients list which can be changed from metric-imperial measurements at a click of a button. The Baking Mad recipes also contain a 'bake mode' option, where your screen changes to a simple one-step-at-a-time method, which means you aren't likely to misread the recipe or miss a step. 'Bake Mode' also lists which ingredients you need for each individual step - it is a genius way to follow an online recipe, give it a go! 

Entering 'Bake Mode' to make my trifle! 

Over Easter, I was feeding lots of hungry family members as I had my mum, stepdad and twin sister staying, as well as feeding Liam, Bert and myself, as usual. So, this Rhubarb and Ginger Trifle recipe seemed like the perfect way to treat them all to a delicious pudding and give a new recipe a whirl in the meantime. 


You know just looking at this picture that they're going to make something delicious! 

This recipe calls for moist, sticky Jamaica Ginger Cake slices doused in the tipple of your choice (rum!) followed by a layer of vanilla and ginger spiked stewed rhubarb, homemade vanilla custard on top of that and finished off with a generous layer of vanilla and ginger whipped cream. It is not for the faint-hearted: this calorie-laden bowl of wonder is worth the weight gain, I promise!

I used 'Bake Mode' on the Baking Mad website and set about making my trifle - I loved the challenge of making the custard from scratch and it went (thankfully) really well.

Homemade vanilla custard, yum yum! 

I made my custard using Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste - if you've never baked with this stuff I urge you to do so. It is a staple ingredient for any homemaker's pantry and gives a gorgeously intense hit of real vanilla with every teaspoon full. I also used some mixed in with my rhubarb before I stewed it and whipped some into my cream to give an intense and heady hit of vanilla with every mouthful. 

Vanilla really is one of my favourite flavours and scents - I wear a vanilla-scented perfume very often, and love how it makes me smell of cakes! Ha! 

Once the individual parts to my trifle were prepared I was ready to assemble... 

The stickiest cake on the planet: heaven!

I lined my trifle bowl with thick slices of the Jamaica Ginger Cake and doused them liberally with rum! 

The trifle was quick and very easy to assemble - I used a larger trifle bowl than recommended for the ingredients suggested as I wanted to make it go further and ultimately reduce the calories per portion, but if you used a smaller dish you'd get deeper layers! 

Trifle heaven

The trifle chilled in the fridge to set for a couple of hours before we all dived in! 

Everybody who tried it really enjoyed this different take on a trifle - we all agreed it was quite a warming and autumnal pudding in its flavour (the heat from the ginger and spice from the cake) so it would be a perfect dessert for the colder months. 

That said, I'd happily tuck into it any day of the year! 

Sticky stem ginger nougats and flecks of vanilla bean atop my gloriously spiced trifle! 

We didn't mess around with portion sizes in The Bishop household, and wow, it was worth every single calorie!

She'll kill me for this: but my twin sister loved it so much - she even asked to lick the bowl! Haha! 

Why not have a go at this fab recipe yourself? 

Or head over to Baking Mad for some more recipe inspiration. 

Baking Mad on Facebook
Baking Mad on Instagram 
Baking Mad on Twitter
Neilsen-Massey on Instagram 

Disclaimer: I was sent a hamper of Nielsen-Massey goodies from Baking for the purpose of this recipe post. All images, words and opinions are my own. 

Friday, 17 April 2015

50 Things That Make Me Happy

After yesterdays post, I decided I needed to bring a much happier and more positive post your way. I am, on the whole, a really positive person. I have worked hard over the years to try to be the sort of person I'd want to be friends with - to see the good in life, and be a source of support, kindness and happy vibes to my friends and family. 

Sometimes, life catches up with me and I have a wobble (this week!) but on the whole I keep it together, and feel truly very lucky to be me. 

I saw this post on lovely Sarah's blog (The Knott Bump & Us) yesterday: which provided me a much needed reminder that I should count my chickens, and appreciate all of the wonderful things in my life that make me happy! 

So, here goes....

50 Things That Make Me Happy...

1. Bert. Of course he's at number one! Who wouldn't be infinitely happy waking up to this gorgeous boy's company each and every day? 

2. My husband - Liam. He makes me laugh every day, and is my favourite grown up person.

Liam and I, Christmas Day 2014

Liam and I 

My husband: the silliest man I know! 

3. My family. I am truly blessed to have a very large and very supportive family - from my blood relatives, to my 'new' married family - I love spending time with them all, and feel very lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing people.

My mum and The Bertster at Easter this year! 

Me and my baby brother, Reg! 

My brother in law, mother in law, husband and son! 

Me, my twin sister & Bert at Christmas 2014. 

4. My friends. What would I do without my friends? They are my rocks. My islands of sanity. I am so thankful for each and every one of them. 

5. Being in control of my weight. This is a new but very big source of my happiness. For years I was hugely over weight and very unhappy about it. Losing over 6.5 stone has been an incredible journey which has led to my being a much more contented and confident woman. I feel in control of my body, and therefore more in control of my mind too. It has been a huge help to my mental health to improve my physical health. 

Before/After my 6 stone 9 lb weight loss. 

6. My blog. Writing this blog has not only led to many happiness-inducing experiences, but has created brilliant friendships, allowed us as a family many little luxuries we'd ordinarily never be able to afford, and most importantly has become my refuge at times when I need support. This blog keeps me sane, helps me to stay focussed and reflective, and brings me much joy. 

7. Crafting. From crochet to sewing, knitting to paper cutting, I love all things crafty and get so much pleasure from hand making things, especially gifts. I am currently working on my yellow/grey/cream crochet blanket, and am loving it! 

Working on my crochet blanket! 

8. Tea. Drinking tea = happiness in a mug. 

Image from Pinterest

9. Cake & Biscuits. Cake & biscuits = happiness in food form. 

Image from Pinterest

Bread and butter pudding with custard for lunch, with a big vat of tea at my favourite pudding-spot in Bedford, The Puddin' Club! Yes! 

10. Shopping. Whether it's window shopping or a full on spending spree - I love mooching around the shops (either literally or online), being in a shop genuinely induces a warm, fuzzy, happy, 'at home', feeling in me. 

11. Cooking/Baking. The kitchen really is my happy place. I get so much pleasure from cooking and baking: from preparing the evening meal, to baking a cake and everything in between. I'd be lost without my kitchen, and people to eat my food. 

My signature bake - Viennese Whirls! 

One of my cake creations! 

12. Social Media. Another mild obsession of mine, from Instagram to Pinterest, Facebook to Twitter, I love social media and it brings me so much happiness on a day to day basis. From being able to share my own and look at others' lovely photos, to chatting with friends, entering competitions, browsing shops and watching silly videos, I love how connected social media makes me feel to the rest of the world. At a time where I could potentially feel quite isolated (stay at home mum, not working full time, short of money) I rarely do, because of the daily connections I make through my social media platforms. 

13. Walking. Not only because of how good it makes me feel when I'm doing it, but also for the effect it has had on my body in terms of my extreme weight loss. I now walk on average 26 miles per week and I cannot imagine my life without this regular exercise now. 

14. Sunny weather. Every year I forget just how much happier I feel when the sun is out. Then the sun comes out and I'm like "YAY...HAPPINESS OVERLOAD".

15. Happy post. Is there anything better than getting a lovely letter, card or parcel in the post? I don't think so. 

16. Lie ins. I love my sleep - I'm a mare when I've not slept properly and it has a huge affect on my mood day to day. Lie in's are actually one of my favourite things ever. It now feels so decadent to lie in bed any later than 7:30-8am (I'm lucky that Bert has always been a good sleeper, so I've not had many sleepless nights to contend with). But genuinely nothing beats a weekend or holiday lie-in where you're still in bed at 10am. BLISS. 

17. Reading. Books are one of my first loves, and being an English Literature graduate means I have carried this childhood passion into my adult life, and am constantly battling to try and fit reading time into my life. I care so much about reading books that I even made it one of my goals for 2015 - to read more. I've set myself the challenge of a book per month, and so far am achieving it! I'm currently re-reading my childhood favourite 'Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone'. 

18. Holidays. Be it in the UK or abroad, I love everything about holidays - from amazing weather, time to just chill/read/swim, lovely meals out and plenty of quality family time. Who wouldn't put holidays as a huge source of their own happiness? I have major holiday envy this year knowing that we won't be going away. 

Our holiday to Cyprus last year! 

19. Being pampered. It doesn't happen nearly as often as I would like, but I truly adore being pampered - from having my nails done, to having a massage or a facial - I always find it so relaxing, and just a few hours of pampering can have such a huge effect on my overall wellbeing. I'm afraid these days just a hair trim at the hairdressers twice a year has become my main source of pampering, but still, I enjoy it, and it makes me feel better. The rest of the time I make do with painting my own nails at home, and using my favourite apricot Clarins face mask. Lush! 

I love greys, taupes, minks and natural colours on my nails. ^^ a home manicure! 

20. Eating out. Food in general is probably one of the biggest sources of happiness in my life. I'm a major foodie, and really enjoy eating out. From Michelin starred restaurants to a humble American style diner, I like all sorts of eating out - and enjoy most cuisines. Hubby and I see restaurant visiting as something of a hobby! Ha! If only the funds would allow us to indulge a little more often hey! 

Oooh pecan pie for dessert when we ate out on Mothers Day - heaven! 

21. Date nights. Hubby and I try to pencil in semi-regular date nights where we can. It's so important to have time together where we cab be husband and wife for the evening rather than Mum and Dad. I really look forward to these date nights - we always have a great time! 

22. Nights out with my girlfriends. Again, something I try to arrange as regularly as possible. My friends and I always have such a blast when we go out - from a humble lunch date, to dinner and or dancing, fun is always to be had, and happiness pretty much always found in the bottom of an Amaretto sour cocktail! 

23. Organisation/Order. I love organisation and order, I like to know that everything has a place in my home, and enjoy nothing more than implementing a new filing system, sorting out my wardrobe or re-organising my kitchen cupboards. My mantra is "organised home- organised mind", and it seems to work for me on the whole. 

24. Going to the theatre. Theatre is one of my biggest passions - from acting myself, to attending the theatre. I don't go as regularly as I would like because of how pricey a pastime it is, but when I do go I throughly enjoy it. I love a wide range of theatre from very classical performances, to musicals, comedies and everything in between. 

25. Fresh flowers. I love having fresh flowers in my home - my favourites are peonies, sunflowers, and gerberas. I also love seeing all the spring flowers at this time of year, especially the lovely alliums, crocus, and magnolia!

Image from Pinterest

Beautiful spring alliums in Bedford Park! 

Spring magnolias! There's nothing better! 

26. Winning competitions. Over the past two years I have become an avid 'comper'. I had a very lucky run in the lead up to Christmas 2013 and it gave me the comping bug! I have since been lucky enough to win so many lovely prizes, and continue to enter as many as I have time for. It's a very fruitful hobby.

A fab competition win on pancake day! 

27. Kindness. Being kind, witnessing kindness, receiving kindness: it all gives me that warm gooey-centered feeling that I love so much. The world is a better place when kindness reigns. 

28. Listening to my favourite music. I love and appreciate all kinds of music, but the music that makes me happiest is either nostalgic (Boys II Men, Lily Allen, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross) or just makes me feel great and is something I can sing loudly along to such as Gregory Porter, Michael Buble, Nat King Cole or songs from musicals! 

Gregory Porter's music makes me sooooo happy! 

29. Singing. I love singing, and many moons ago was pretty good at it. I had professional voice training, used to sing for events and functions, and even ran a school choir for a while. Singing makes me feel so happy in the moment, and I need to try hard to bring it back into my life as I miss it a great deal. 

30. Acting/performing. The same goes for acting. I graduated university with a first class degree in Theatre, and have always, always loved performing. More a fan of straight acting, I loved nothing better than a gritty, hard hitting character to sink my teeth into. I need to find a way to make acting a part of my life once again. 

31. Taking photographs. I take many photographs every single day. Capturing memories, no matter how small, brings me deep deep happiness. 

32. Looking back at old photographs. So does looking back at old photographs, whether they be from last week or 10 years ago, I surround myself with photos, and find them a constant source of happiness. 

Hahaha my sister and I aged about 4!?

33. Family days out - just Liam, Bert and I. We've not shared too many of these yet, but the ones we have had have been just marvellous. I'm very much looking forward to long walks, family picnics, fun days out and visits to the beach together this summer. 

34. New pyjamas. I have a quite un-hinged love for pyjamas. I'd buy a new pair every week if I had the funds! I regularly clear out my pyjama drawer to make way for new pairs, and my recent weight loss has meant that I've had to purchase a fair few new night garments (shame!). 

35. New scented candles/reed diffusers. This happiness-inducing source goes back to my childhood, when I used to go and play at my friend Holly's house down the road (she lived a few doors down from me). Every time I entered her house the beautiful smell of scented candles/air fresheners/reed diffusers used to make me giddy, and I was secretly so envious of how amazing her house smelt. It helped that her family home looked like a show home or a page from the Next catalogue: it was all cream and sparkle - I so loved her Mum Lisa's style, and every time I buy a lovely new sweet-smelling fragrance for my home, I think of my 8 year old self and that heady scent!

36. Writing. The physical act of writing has always made me feel deep happiness - from writing a journal as a "woe-is-me" teenager, writing long letters to my bestest friend Susie while she travelled the world, to writing cards and notes for friends and family, daily 'to do' lists, whatever - just putting pen to paper and writing in neat, cursive, pretty handwriting makes me happy. 

37. Being brave and trying new things. I'm a pretty tough cookie, and I think that on the whole I'm a confident woman, who is mostly happy in her own skin - I like to challenge myself and be brave, as sometimes my insecurities can try to hold me back, and prevent me from immersing myself in new experiences. I try hard to be a 'yes person' to open myself up to new things, jump feet first into new opportunities and grab the proverbial bull by its horns. Whether it be rocking up to my local young women's WI group alone and knowing nobody in 2012, to embarking on a 4 night dress-making sewing course this month - I try to be brave and bold, step outside my comfort zone and enjoy what life throws at me. 

38. Being near water. Being around big bodies of water makes me feel so happy. Again, I'm pretty sure this stems from the excitement of visiting the seaside, or going swimming as a child. It's not just the beach or swimming pools that does it for me though - rivers, lakes, streams - they all make me feel peaceful and content. 

Crossing the river in Bromham, Bedford. 

Priory Lake in Bedford, my favourite peaceful place to walk. 

39. Browsing through catalogues of my favourite shops. Mainly Boden, Joules, Cath Kinston, The White Company, Next, The White Stuff, and La Redoute, usually with a cup of tea in hand, and hopefully among peace & quiet!

40. Updating/redecorating/renovating my home. Whether it's buying a new lamp, adding some art work to the walls, or completely re-doing a room, I just love working on my home to make it a space I'm proud of, a place I love to spend time in, and somewhere that is full of mine, and my family's personality. 

I love to fill my home with quirky, happy things! 

I love, love, love my biscuit bunting from Nikki McWilliams! 

41. BBQ's in the garden. Whether it be in my own garden, at friends houses, or in my Mum's garden back home in Surrey, I love a good BBQ and all that it brings. Lazy summer evenings with a glass of something cold and lots of chatter and laughter - perfect! 

42. Picnics. As above - there really is nothing better than al fresco eating in the sunshine! 

43. A bargain. I love spotting a really good bargain, and knowing I've saved money while getting something I really want/need. 

44. Being hostess. I love to channel my inner-Monica (from Friends) and play the hostess. From dinner parties with friends, to family/friends coming to stay for the weekend (or longer). I love cooking for guests, spoiling them and making them feel at home in my home. It brings me a great deal of happiness. 

45.Watching cookery shows! I am actually mildly obsessed - Food Network is the most watched channel in my house I'm sure and I love everything from re-runs of Nigella and Jamie, the wonderful Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa), to trashy foodie TV such as Man vs. Food and Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. 

Nigella, my queen! 

46. Breton Stripes. This is a funny one - but it is true. I completely and utterly love Breton stripes (especially navy and white) it pretty much makes up 80% of my wardrobe, and I feel genuinely happy when I see something beautiful in this pattern and colour-way. I feel almost the same about chevron patterns and anything rose gold! HA! 

47. The smell of coconut. Anything that smells even mildly of coconut makes me happy. This goes back to my obsession with The Body Shop's Coconut Body Butter as a teenager, and many lovely holidays in the sun where I sprayed coconut scented sun cream and sipped Pina Coladas! 

48. Talking. I am an absolute chatter box. I like nothing more than a long natter with anyone who will listen! :-)

49. Regular 'days off' from being Mum. As much as I treasure my time at home with Bert, and truly love being his Mummy, sometimes I just need a few hours away, to be 'just Lucy' again for a while. It does wonders for my happiness, and my sanity!

50. Constantly striving to be a better me. This is a weird one, but I'm sure it plays a huge part in my overall happiness and contentment. I constantly work on, and strive to be a better version of myself - I see myself as a work in progress, and am always re-evaluating my behaviour, choices (however big or small), and actions. I read a lot about self-improvement, mindfulness, and try hard to be the sort of person I'd want to be friends with. 

I have so much to be thankful of. I could have written another 50 things! 

Why not have a go yourself - it's very good for the soul! 

I challenge all of my lovely blogging friends to have a go themselves...

Bye for now

Mrs B


Thursday, 16 April 2015

Inside the Head of this Stay-At-Home-Mum

Recently, I've been feeling extremely hormonal and just 'not quite right': ever have those times when you feel ever so slightly detached from reality? A little bit on auto-pilot? Have that underlying nervous feeling that won't go away? That's been me the past week and it is a familiar feeling I've had to watch out for over the years.

I've suffered on and off with bouts of depression and bad anxiety for about ten years now. Thankfully, I've finally gotten to the point where I can see the warning signs coming from a mile off and can take quick action to stop it in its tracks. In the past I've taken medication to help, but for the past four years I've managed without and continue to do so.

More often that not these days the bad feelings are solely due to hormones and I have learnt to accept how I feel in the moment, with the mantra "this too shall pass" in my head; and it always does. After a day or two I feel as right as rain and I wonder why I was ever fretting in the first place. For me, it's the fretting and the worrying that always sets off the vicious cycle from depression into anxiety: I'd feel low and depressed which would cause me to worry, I'd then worry so much that my anxiety would build and build until I had a full on panic attack: not nice! I'm pleased to say I feel much more in control of all that now and usually get to the root of the issue pretty quickly. I try to iron out the reasons I'm feeling low as soon as I identify them, which then helps me to feel calmer and more balanced. 

This week the heavy, sad feeling I'm carrying around is, I'm pretty sure, down to a culmination of things hitting me at once. My hormones are ALL OVER THE PLACE at the moment due to my contraceptive implant (I cannot WAIT to have it taken out soon - it's been nothing but trouble!). I'm also just feeling generally tired/run down/out of sorts and wondering whether that's being caused by a little virus perhaps? I also usually feel a bit rotten after a particularly busy social time: over Easter I had my mum, stepdad and sister all staying here - we had a week of great fun, I was busy looking after them all, cooking for them and playing the hostess (in my element!)...when they all went home, I felt a bit bereft, the sudden lack of adult company day to day felt really apparent, I felt lonely and if i'm honest, a little bit bored (there is only so much Peppa Pig this Mumma can take!) I know that after a week or so of it being Bert and I again, I'll be loving it, so for now I need to ride it out. 

I'm a natural born worrier, and so, our financial situation is always something that plays on my mind, particularly recently. Living on one wage is no easy feat, especially when that wage isn't huge and we have previously been used to living on two incomes. Like many families all over the UK, since I left my full time job to be a stay at home mum, we've had to majorly tighten our belts and continue to do so on what feels like a daily basis. 

I'm eBaying anything I can get my hands on, am shopping almost exclusively at Aldi for our groceries (which is saving us a fortune and is a really great shop), we buy our nappies/wipes in bulk on Amazon which also saves us money and I walk absolutely everywhere which means I never spend a single penny on public transport, which I'm pretty sure saves us hundreds of pounds a year! I try really hard to be sensible with my purchases, I try to re-coup money I spend on myself (such as craft supplies, clothes etc) by selling old things on eBay, and we don't plan on going on holiday this year as we just can't afford it. 

We're doing our best to be sensible with the money we have, we are not frivolous, and so we aren't in any debt except our mortgage and use of our overdraft, its not dire straights, and I have to keep telling myself that: we are luckier than lots of people financially, and I know that it would do me good to not concentrate on what we haven't got, but be thankful for what we have. As my mum always says 'things will work themselves out in the wash'...I'm trying to mostly just see everything in perspective, and not let the worry run away with me. We will be okay and I will find some way of bringing a regular income in soon, I'm sure. 

Part of me is so mad with 'the system' that I can't "just" stay at home and be a mum while my children are small, it is such a small number of years out of work in the grand scheme of things, I'm gutted that instead of completely immersing myself in my lovely family, I find myself constantly worrying about finances. I hate that we're having to be crazily careful with our money and go without the luxuries we had become used to, and that I'm always on the look out for a way of earning that will mean I can be at home with Bert each day. I genuinely wouldn't want to be anywhere else, and I will not compromise on this vital time with my little boy. Perhaps that makes me a dreamer, or an idealist, but I know I will never ever get this time back, and I also know that on my death-bed I will never be saying "I wish I'd worked more when my kids were small".

I am now searching for evening/night shift work, hoping I can find something for 2-3 nights a week, to supplement our income. In truth, I'm cross/sad/annoyed that I need to even think about this: the thought of looking after Bert all day, followed by a night of working fills me with dread, but if that's what I need to do, then I will. I might be bloody exhausted in the process, but as I said earlier "this too shall pass" and it won't be forever. 

Conversely, I don't want to wish away a single second of the time when my child(ren) are small, I want to enjoy every second of it, not battle through it. I know that burying my head in the sand and wishing for a lottery win, or that my husband earned more, really won't help or change anything: so, instead I need to be proactive, pragmatic and realistic (and try not to worry myself silly in the process!)

One of the hardest things to get used to as a stay at home mum for me has been the guilt I feel for not earning, but still spending. My sensible, balanced side tells me not to be stupid, that I do a vital job in our house by looking after Bert full time, doing the majority of the running of the house (housework, washing, food shopping, cooking, organising etc) and that I shouldn't feel remotely guilty about the money I spend. The anxious, less confident side of myself feels constantly guilty, I feel I have to explain every single purchase and then make the money back on any 'treat spends' either through eBaying stuff, or through my blog etc. My husband doesn't ever say a word to make me feel like this, it is all internal and honestly, I'm driving myself round the bend! 

I guess this latest bout of worry has been spurred on by our recent decision to try for a second baby soon. We decided that money shouldn't be a reason not to expand our family, that we'd 'manage' somehow because we really, really want another baby. I know deep down that we absolutely will manage, but it doesn't stop me worrying about it in the meantime. 

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only SAHM out there feeling like this? And I'm trying very hard to be thankful for all the amazing and wonderful things in my life, as there are so many. Today, I am infinitely happier than I have ever been, despite this undercurrent of worry. I have never loved a job more than being Bert's mummy and I see it as a testament to how wonderful he is how determined I am to stay at home full time until he's at school. I will make sacrifices and will try not to moan about them (I promise!), we will continue to be very careful with what money we do have and all will be well. We're sensible people, Liam and I, our heads aren't in the clouds and we generally live within our means, we will continue to make wise choices, and hope for the best. 

What I now need to get in check is not letting this undercurrent of worry take over my head space and affect my mood as badly as it has been this week. I need to get on top of it, before it gets on top of me. I need some perspective. I need to remind myself of how lucky I am, try hard not to look too far ahead (as thats when I start to blind panic!) and just take each day as it comes. We never know what's around the next corner, and I want to continue to be the ultimately positive, uplifting, glass-half-full woman that I think I am most of the time. This tired, worn down, grumpy Mumma, is NOT who I want to be. It's only been a week of feeling like this, and I can feel the downward spiral lurking already - I MUST put a stop to it here and now. 

I'm very much hoping that the removal of my implant (soon) will have a big affect on how I feel day to day, and will get my body and cycle back to normal as it really has been all over the place since I had it fitted. 

The things us women have to deal with hey! 

Onwards, and upwards. 

And I promise to bring you a much happier, less moany Mrs B in my next post! 

Mrs B