Sale Highs and Bargain Buys

It seems only fitting that on the last day of January I do a round up of my sales buys from AW12. I’m very much looking forward to the new season and have been excited by the preliminary drops there have been so far (like this Monochrome dress) but let me just share my sale highs from December and this month before we move on.

Firstly, actual sale shopping with a baby is a complete no-no. There was absolutely no way I was going to be negotiating narrow rails and flailing arms with an Uppababy (containing baby) in front of me, although granted, the Buggy may have been useful as a trolley cum blockage device!

This year, I was very online savvy, knowing when each retailer was going into sale, and bookmarking the things I was actually after. This isn’t my usual approach, but after my experiences this year, might be the way I now go. Who doesn’t mind shopping from their own home?!

Some sales started before Christmas (Whistles), whilst others started on Christmas Day (M&S). I would say I have been 80% successful in getting what I was looking for.

The two items I wanted in M&S were sold out pre-sale in my size, and even those sizes that went into the sale weren’t a great reduction (a military coat and a combination trench).

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I did however get a great Sweatshirt (which will see me through the colder part of SS13) reduced to just £9 and a pair of Floral Trousers (£11 from £55) again, great for this coming season.

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Zara, a perennial favourite, was a little disappointing as the reductions were not great initially (but the selection was good on Boxing Day). The things I bought were actually all returned, but on returning to a store mid-Jan, the second wave of items that enter the sale caught my eye, and I found a longed-for Jacket for £17 and some faux-leather leggings for just £9. Brilliant.

My online successes have materialised in the form of Aubin &Wills, Cos, H&M and J.Crew. Aubin & Wills is a sad story as the brand is closing, however it meant I got some silk t-shirts at £70 off the original price. Great colours and great for summer or under jackets the rest of the time. The first stalk of the Cos sale resulted in nothing eventually, but a visit online only last week saw the dress I’d been coveting at less than half price! Hurrah! H&M was successful as I managed to replace the burgandy leather gloves I lost one of for £3.99 and J.Crew was simply brilliant as I now own a lusted-after cashmere jumper, some shorts for the summer, a couple of jersey basics and a ring all for under £100 with their amazing 40% off sale items deal. Very pleased indeed.

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Two last highs have been my Topshop Parka (incredibly warm) and River Island Blazer (bargain for the detailing alone).

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I haven’t gone mad, and that’s in keeping with one of my resolutions, but my new mentality to sales shopping has really worked. I think if you don’t get the chance to go to the actual shops, you aren’t tempted by all the crud which has been on the shop floor for at every sale since 2001. Online shopping promotes a bit of sane thinking, and although annoying for returns in some cases (I’m still waiting on a Cos refund from over three weeks ago, however Reiss was refunded the next day), has changed my sale habits.

My Mum is also like a little devil on my shoulder, constantly telling me she could make it for cheaper. I know its a good deal when that devil starts to say “You couldn’t buy the fabric for that let alone make it as well!”

Long gone are the days when I’ll be queuing up outside a store at 5am for the first taste of a bargain… She says! I might be talking differently in 18 months time when getting up early could mean bagging the furniture deal of the century. We’ll see…

Erin, Love from Cornfield… X

Tuesday Shoes-day

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Autograph Blue Suede Shoe-Boots

Yes, yes. I know today is Wednesday and I’m obviously late with this post but that’s because I cheated yesterday. I re-wore my Geox Ankle boots as it was so wet and horrid outside I needed a heel and dry feet. So here we are, a different pair of shoes, just on Wednesday instead.

I do loathe the term “shoe-boot”. Either its a shoe or its a boot. Not both. I’d actually class these more as a shoe but I can kind-of see why they might be seen as a boot (they come higher up the heel). I bought them about three years ago as at the time I was desperately looking for some blue shoes and these stood out as they were very different.

The suede is a little impractical, but after a few sprays with the beloved suede protector, they are generally fine. Two shades of blue; navy and more of a teal, with gold piping and a sturdy heel, they are not only comfortable but go with most things (except today’s outfit it would seem – I’ll come to that!)

I was actually gutted when I left my gym bag on a train on the way home one day and these were in it. Never mind all the kit etc, the shoes the SHOES! I was beyond grateful when I got the call from Southern, three weeks later, to say they’d found my bag! YIPEE!

Today, I’m wearing them with:

Floral Ankle Grazer trousers – M&S
Navy Blue Jumper with Faux-Leather Collar – ASOS
Nude Tights (I hate wearing tights under trousers but couldn’t locate my pop socks)

They don’t go with today’s outfit as they are slightly TOO blue for these trousers, but never mind. The joys of getting dressed in the dark!

Until next week…

Erin, Love from Cornfield… X

A Home Sanctuary

To be able to come home and escape the worries and stresses of the day is one of life’s small pleasures, and a very welcome #JanuaryJoy today. Much like Rebecca over on Florence Finds, I’m not one for spending a lot of money on Spa Day’s or breaks, only having done a couple in my lifetime, but would much rather spend time in the comfort of my own home, relaxing and creating my own “home spa”.

However, just as Rebecca says, step one of that process is atmosphere itself.

Our bathroom, although now my favourite room in the house, wasn’t always so. Having bought a Victorian “fixer-upper” back in 2009, we actually had to live with Richard’s parents for four months whilst the poor house was gutted, rewired and plastered. Even then, when we moved in, after sanding, painting and glossing every surface, the bathroom and kitchen still remained untouched due to lack of funds. A year into living here, when the electric shower finally gave up the ghost, enough was enough. We had to bite the bathroom bullet.

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These photos were taken during the renovation process – two weeks where again, we were living with the parental-units. We are lucky enough to have a huge bathroom (11ft x 8ft for those that are interested) which meant that we could have my longed-for separate freestanding bath and walk-in shower. We didn’t dare DIY that bathroom (except for the painting) like we did with a lot of the rest of the house, instead, hiring a local company to fit the underfloor heating, lay the floor and install the sanitary wear. Boy are we glad we did it this way! The finish is fantastic, and although more expensive than doing it ourselves, as we chose the tiles, shower and bath etc individually, it was cheaper than having a bathroom specialist install everything.

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We now have dimmed lighting, a roll-top claw footed bath and a very calming room, ideal for those home spa moments. The bathroom really came into it’s own whilst I was pregnant, with me often spending ages in the bath with bump as it made me feel calm and relaxed (lots of Clary Sage oil used from week 38!)

It’s lovely to be able to have this piece of calm in our home – a little sanctuary. And I especially love our huge bath (and I’m not really a bath person). I really could spend all day in there.

Do you have a favourite room of your house?

Erin, Love from Cornfield… X

Alphabet Dating: M – Make a Mini Meal

Recipease Jamie Oliver Clapham

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So inadvertently due to dates and times of Richard’s choice (he in fact was supposed to go first), it was my first Alphabet-Dating “date night” yesterday. I picked “M” out of the bag, and although the usual suspects of Movie and Meal came to mind, I wanted to make sure it was something fun.

Both of us have been to Jamie Oliver’s Recipease before, but not together, and I really wanted to try and book the Mexican Street Food class (killing another M bird in the process) but it was sold out. The North Indian Thali class won – hence Make a Mini Meal. Pretty good for M I thought. Thali means “plate” in Gujarati so a taster of a few dishes was just perfect.

There are three locations where you can do this; Brighton, Notting Hill and Clapham Junction, the latter being the closest to us (a 20 minute train journey) so off we went.

Recipease Clapham

The space itself is wonderful complete with cooking stations, a demo area, and tables to eat your goodies once you’ve made them. I booked a shared class so Richard and I shared a cooking area, but that was fine, since that’s the nature of these dates!

Indian Thali Cooking Class

The class was well run, we learnt something new, and ate some delicious food. What more could you ask from an evening out? The premise behind these Alphabet dates is to spend some time together doing things that you wouldn’t necessarily do, and this was certainly that. We both love cooking, but are very much “safe” in a lot of our choices at home. If it did one thing, it taught us that a really delicious meal can be made relatively quickly. Perhaps we should actually start to use that Jamie 15 Minute Meal book we’ve got!

Alphabet Dating - M

I’m not going to give away the recipe’s we learnt here, but I will encourage you to try this afternoon or evening out if you can. It’s really good fun, and the range of things you can cook is fantastic. I’m really keen on the Knife Skills courses, and the Mexican Street Food.

So, a good choice of date for the letter M? Wonder what I’ll pick next!

Erin, Love from Cornfield… X

PS: In writing this, I’ve also noticed that I’ve covered today’s #JanuaryJoy too – bread-making. We made Puri last night, an Indian bread. REALLY easy, such fun to cook, and delicious. YUM. This date also checked off “Cook a Veggie Meal” and “Try Something New”… #JanuaryJoy in abundance!

“A Change is as good as a Rest”

New Things

 

The #JanuaryJoy prompt for today was “Do Something/Go Somewhere you’ve never been Before”. I’m a big believer in the old adage “a change is as good as a rest”. Applied to anything in life, it keeps things fresh, and often, takes you from your comfort zone to somewhere better. Granted, not all change, or new experience, is always a good one, but I find personally, that’s how you grow in life.

Above is a small selection of the new things I’ve experienced in January so far:

  • Top left – Cooking turnips for Neeps & Tatties to go with some Haggis we had last weekend (Burns Night (tonight actually) and all that!)
  • Top Right – The beautiful rooftop decor at Sushi Samba – one of London’s newest additions to the restaurant scene, on the top of the Heron Tower
  • Bottom Left – A delicious Merquez sausage (never had those before) casserole for lunch from the Pont de la Tour Foodstore near my office
  • Bottom Right – A new thirst-quencher from M&S – really very nice, and reminiscent of actual Moroccan mint tea (not that I’ve been there, but I’ve been to Momo!)

Not the most life-chagning things I know, but they are new things. I’d definitely like for this case of discovery to continue and participating in Alphabet Dating with Hubby this year will almost certainly go towards that. Our first date is this weekend and I can’t wait (my choice, and it’s the letter M – more on that later).

There are places to go and things happening this year that will mean new experiences for us both, individually and as a family. The excitement lies in discovering them!

Erin, Love from Cornfield… X

Spring-cleaning

Shoe Cupboard

 

Today’s #JanuaryJoy prompt was to Have a Clear Out. I’m going to put my hands up now, as much as it pains me, and say I’m a bit of a hoarder. Ok, a lot of one. I think that’s down to my sentimental side. I wish there was a way of keeping actual things, without taking up space. Anyway, I digress…

The start of our whole house tidy-up has begun with my shoe cupboard (as you can see above). For the last six months I’ve lived in Sandals or Flats, being off on Maternity Leave during the Summer. It meant that my work shoes, needed now that I’m back, were completely buried.

This clear out, of one cupboard, took the best part of a Sunday, but I’m so glad I’ve done it. Two pairs of shoes didn’t make it, but that still means I’ve got, ahem, about 200 pairs (I didn’t count I’m afraid). Those hanging in the door are my shoes for the week, which helps me with outfit planning, and I now have boxes for heels, flats, boots, summer sandals and “going out” heels. My nicer shoes are kept in their boxes, with pictures, on the shelves behind. Just like Michelle over at PocketfulofDreams, I found the whole process quite cathartic.

Now I can’t wait to start on the rest of the house with the same gusto. Richard has already made inroads into the kitchen cupboards, and we can actually find the Olive Oil and Soy Sauce now!

I love a bit of a clear out. Life admin can be boring, but it’s worth it in the end. After all, a tidy house is a tidy mind.

Erin, Love from Cornfield… X

Dadulthood: “You’re Brave!”

My wife and I have never really been home birds. We have always wanted to explore the world and experience new things.

When we fell pregnant we had the conversation that we wanted our Little One to explore with us.

So five days at home with Little Man post-arrival, we both had cabin fever, we had run out of coffee, milk and excuses and we mounted an expedition to Starbucks in Reigate.

After what seemed like three hours of packing the bag with bottles, nappies, a change of clothes plus several visits to Google on how to keep him warm….in July…we set off. The result? Two lattes, fresh milk and a new packet of organic coffee (have a child and everything is organic regardless of the fact he won’t drink coffee for 10 years).

The trip taught me two very important lessons. 1. We could leave the house and 2. Even strangers think they know best.

Within moments of getting him out the pram in starbucks we had people cooing all over him, and they all asked said almost exactly the same three questions… “boy or girl?”, “How old?” and “Really?, you’re brave leaving the house! Isn’t he a bit young?”

I did feel like pointing out one of the coffees wasn’t for him but felt I’d lose the crowd…

We returned home without incident and decided that we would explore a little further afield. Wherever we went for the next few days we got the same response, the same judging stares, the same questions. So much so that we started to question ourselves and our parenting.

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It took a month or so, and it took finding our confidence as parents, but we realised our Little Man was happy being out and about. He was interested in everything and still is.

We learnt to accept the questions and the judging stares and got on with it. My advice is don’t hide away your little one. They need to see the world at some point but only you can decide when.

Dadulthood