Yorkshire moors

Visiting Yorkshire has always been high on my bucket list for many reasons ranging from, longing to see the beautiful seaside town of Whitby and eat ‘proper’ fish and chips, to visiting the moors and dales which I pictured so vividly whilst reading Wuthering Heights.

I’ve been looking into where to go and what to do in Yorkshire more closely as I’m hoping to get up there very soon. In fact, my research tells me that now would be the perfect time to take in the glory that is Farndale! Imagine walking in a sea of daffodils that stretch as far as the eye can see. Apparently, the golden blooms were planted by the monks of Rievaulx Abbey, (another place to visit on my bucket list) the golden banks of the River Dove shine along the three and a half mile walk from Low Mill to Church Houses and back.

Bronte Country is said to be wild and dramatic, I’d love to climb the rugged moorlands and capture them on camera and pop into the Bronte Parsonage Museum where the family lived in Haworth.

I want to visit Saltaire, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This beautiful Victorian model village with its cobbled streets and terraced cottages was built for the workers of the Salt Mills. It’s also close to David Hockney’s place of birth and as one of his longtime admirers, I’d like to see his work displayed in the Salt Mills. Whilst we’re on the subject of art, there is the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield that looks really intriguing, I do love a good sculpture park!



I couldn’t possibly go all the way to Yorkshire and not see Whitby. I’ve heard so much about it and every time a photo come up on my Instagram feed of the town I find myself wishing to go and see it for myself.

Noted as one of the greatest sights in Britain, the Whitby Abbey is said to powerfully domineer the fishing harbour. There are 199 stone steps to climb to get the best view and luckily there are a few renowned pubs and eateries close by for refreshment. Fortune’s Kippers dates back to 1872!

The Yorkshire coastline is dotted with sandy bays, coves and centuries of maritime history to explore.

Scarborough is one that I’d like to explore in more detail. This original Victorian spa centre has a castle, an open-air theatre and is a well-known shopping centre too.

Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales

I’d like to think that my meanderings through the county would take me across the Dales. I’d love to walk Baxter and find some of the beautiful waterfalls that the area boasts. I didn’t know that each dale has its own name and its own character. I hadn’t realised that one of my favourite cheeses – Wensleydale is actually a dale in Yorkshire (I know!) In fact, Wensleydale is home to three most spectacular falls; Aysgarth Falls where the River Are washes down the broad limestone steps, the Hardraw Force – England’s highest single drop waterfall and the West Burton Falls.

The Forbidden Corner

The name alone makes me want to go there! If like me, you like the odd and quirky then this could be the attraction for you. Tucked away near Leyburn is a park of pathways to nowhere that lead into the most obscurer mazes where you bump into curious carved statues and even a pyramid! Apparently it is entrance on a first come first served basis so might be worth a telephone call beforehand. Also close by is the Jervaulx Abbey ruins said to be a great visit too.

Where to stay in Yorkshire

To make the most of my Yorkshire visit I’d like to stay in a cottage, a place to call my own during my stay where I can put the kettle on and sit back on a comfy sofa after a day out sightseeing. Plus, of course, there would be some spectacular views to take in. Ingrid Flute’s Yorkshire Holiday Cottages https://www.yorkshireholidaycottages.co.uk/ offer exactly what I am looking for and there are plenty of options to choose from to suit all budgets and tastes.

visiting Yorkshire

If you know Yorkshire better than me, please let me know of some places to add to my list.

A dozen roses in watercolour markers and black pen

I got a B in my O Level art, I painted a magpie in a bird’s nest, I think the prompt I chose was ‘an intruder’ and I remember being mightily pleased with my efforts. I often wish I had taken art further but truth be known, at 17 I didn’t have a clue about what I wanted to do.

Although being creative has never left me, I never really settled down to paint or draw again and always found myself saying, ‘Im no good at art.’ This gave me the perfect excuse to not even try. Plus it seemed, everyone was so much better at it than me, I would just ridicule myself if I tried, I would be uncovered as a dud artist the minute I put pencil to paper.

For years, my desire to draw and paint was squashed and forgotten, stuffed in an unused filing cabinet in the recesses of my mind.

Then a couple of Christmases ago I was given an adult colouring book. I was delighted and treated myself to a lovely set of pencils with a drawstring holder to keep them in. I spent time filling in the intricate designs and confess to still having lots of pages to complete! I quickly realised that I loved colouring in but, halfway through the picture I was getting bored with the repetition and blankness of mind. Although great for thinking time, the only creativity I was getting was choosing colours or blending them to my own choice.

I needed something more.

The following year I bought a copy of The Year Of The Doodle… 365 pages with a daily prompt to doodle. I didn’t get very far. Something was missing and I wasn’t getting much enjoyment from the book.

draw every day draw every way

Whilst surfing the internet for the umpteenth time towards the end of last year in search of novelty stocking fillers, I came across an intriguing book called Draw Every Day Draw Every Way. A book that focused monthly on different areas and gave daily prompts for pictures to draw. What’s more, each month uses different materials so you get to use a lot of different techniques and discover your own art.

I bought two copies, Alice said she didn’t want one, and Bessie and I sat down to have a go at the first section in the book – a month of nature.

To start us off I find some images online and screenshot them to use as a reference for shape and colours. By the time we were halfway through the chapter Alice asked if she could have a book too seeing how much we enjoyed the process.

dragonflies - Bessie

It hasn’t been plain sailing, I have had a couple of prompts I really disliked and Bessie cried a bit over ‘A dozen roses’ … “A dozen?” she yelled at me making clear they were way too many. I told her to just do one and cross out the prompt which she did and she was happier with that, her confidence restored until next time.

I think we may have found something good here, I see others showcasing their work on Instagram and we take a look at them for inspiration too @Joglassjo for example has shown us how to add fabulous backgrounds to our images. Even though we don’t draw every day, this book with its lovely prompts have got us drawing more often and trying things we would never have thought of, like a dozen roses or one…

Watch out for our work on our Instagram channel too.

draw every day draw every way

make the most of freezer

I love my freezer, it is always stuffed with goodies and the only time I have ever let it run to empty was the time I needed to defrost it and clean it.

Sadly (for me), I only have three shelves at the bottom of my fridge freezer so I have to be diligent in what I store to make sure I make the most of the space. Thanks to my three shelf limit I have become quite the expert at packing my food in. Some may call it OCD but I place my food in certain areas so I know I can go in and quickly nab what I need. The smaller bottom tray is reserved for ice cream, frozen vegetables and pastry blocks. The middle drawer is used for loaves of bread, chips, wedges and fish fingers, chicken nuggets and the top tray is for my meat, fish and ice cubes resting on top of the week’s meals ready for the weekend gin and tonic.

I make it a habit that when I shop I buy up the special offers purposely to put in the freezer to use at a later date. I have bought a whole salmon on Christmas Eve for £5 before, a bargain I am particularly proud of.

I also like to double up on recipes when I am using my slow cooker or the pressure cooker, for example, I make a huge casserole and freeze half of it for another meal in the future.

I have got into the habit of deciding what we are going to eat the night before and if it is something in the freezer, I take it out to defrost overnight so I can place it in the fridge in the morning. This is working really well and it also helps with my shopping list when it’s time to place my weekly order.

Often my thoughts turn to the day we will knock down walls and purchase a new kitchen. I have plans that I can’t wait to put into place and one of them is a utility room. In my future utility room, there will be a sink and the dishwasher. I will home the washing machine and the tumble dryer and on top of that, I will make room for an upright commercial freezer.

This would give me a total of 7 shelves to use, can you imagine my excitement of organising the chilly shelves?

It would be marvellous for freezing fresh fruit in the summer to use throughout the winter. I could have an infinite source of burgers and bangers for my barbecue-loving husband and I could hold multi tubs of ice cream for the kids to choose from as opposed to the one or two I can squeeze in now. I could even stock up on commercial ice creams and all manner of treats for us to enjoy.

I could even reserve a shelf for my Limoncello from Sorrento, to serve chilled after a meal.

What product will I always find in your freezer?

Disclosure: A collaborative post.

money cashA budget is an incredibly useful financial tool. In basic terms, it’s a plan that provides an in-depth overview of your spending habits and earnings, so that you can establish a good idea of where your money is going. Provided you stick to the plan you make, you should find that your budget helps you to stay on top of your spending, and avoid using more money than you earn.

The problem with a lot of modern budgets is that they aren’t designed to work. While many people look at their typical monthly spending, they forget about extra expenses like your weekly coffee, or the newspaper you pick up on the way to work. With that in mind, it’s worth starting 2018 with a closer look at your budget, so you can make sure it’s as accurate as possible.

Organise Your Information and Take Your Time

The first thing you need to do when you’re getting an in-depth look at your budget is set aside at least an hour where you can examine the information you have carefully. Rushing your way through the experience makes it more likely that you’ll make mistakes. It’s a good idea to gather all the paperwork you’re going to need before you get started, so make sure you get hold of a few months of bank statements, along with copies of household bills, credit card bills, and savings.

Some people also find it helpful to look at their pension contributions and regular savings accounts too, as this gives a more complete overview of your financial situation.

Evaluate your Income

Once you’ve got all the information you need handy for creating a budget, make a note of your typical earnings from your employment. You should take off any of the money you don’t get to see, such as the amounts used for tax, student loans, pension contributions, and so on. Then add your additional sources of income from investments, savings, self-employment or anything else.

Give yourself an average of what you’ve earned over the last three months, and use that to give yourself a rough idea of what you can expect to earn in the coming months.

Track Your Essential Spending

Now it’s time to start thinking about how much money you spend in a critical way. Categorise your payments so you have an idea of where your cash is going. For instance, you might have categories that include your mortgage payments, childcare, groceries, utility bills, and travel. Then gather your bank statements, credit card bills, and household bills to check you’ve got all the numbers right.

As you did with your income, calculate the total amount spent on essentials over the last three months, then subtract that from your monthly earnings. This will help you to see what your “disposable” income should look like.

It might also be worthwhile to consolidate some of your essential spending into one lower, affordable payment. Particularly if you have a lot of priority debt payments. Sites like Readies.co.uk can advise you on this and help you make an educated and informed decision.

Review Your Disposable Spending

An accurate insight into how you’ve spent your disposable income up until now will help to prevent you from over, or under-budgeting in certain places. Keep track of how much you’ve spent of your disposable income over the last three months so that you can calculate an average. If you put money into savings or an emergency fund, you should keep a note of that too.

This is the point where you might start to discover that you’re spending more than you earn. If this is the case, you need to start re-thinking the way you use your disposable income.

Choose a Budget You Can Stick to

Now that you have an accurate picture of your spending habits, you should be able to draw up a budget that feels more realistic for you to stick to. Use your spending figures for the last three months, and you could even calculate how much money you could potentially save if you can cut down on unnecessary spending.

Just remember that life is an ever-changing thing, and once you’ve drawn up your budget, you’ll need to keep an eye on how faithfully you’re sticking to it and adjust your expectations accordingly. Most experts recommend revisiting your budget every month, as this way, if you’re constantly overspending, you’ll be able to readjust your strategy before it has too much of an impact on your financial goals.

If you have trouble keeping track, you could always try downloading a budgeting application onto your phone or computer that will help you to assess your finances each month.


National chocolate cake dayThis is just what you need in January to beat away the cold and dullness of the first month of the year – National Chocolate Cake Day!

Who knew?

Num Noms got in touch and asked if we’d like to do a spot of chocolate cake baking to celebrate the day which, of course we replied yes to! They sent us through a Series 4 Deluxe set plus a couple of Mystery Pots. Before we go any further, let me explain what Num Noms are…

Num Noms Deluxe

The Nums are hollow characters made out of a soft rubber material in bright colours with faces and a very close resemblance to cakes. Noms are the inner bits that fit inside and can include a variety of characters like nail varnishes, lip glosses or motorised characters. The beauty is you can change the Num as often as you like.

The twins were delighted to receive the Num Noms Series 4 Deluxe set and spent ages playing with them and sorting them out in their bedroom. The mystery pots are a great idea as they are an economical treat with a lovely Num Nom inside.

Num Noms Series 4 Deluxe

National Chocolate Cake Day

Now let’s get back to the chocolate part of this post …

Num Noms sent us through two Bake in the Box chocolate cakes and lots of ideas to decorate with. I must say, I have not seen the Bake in the Box before and it is a perfect product to entertain children and not end up with a whole kitchen to clean!

National chocolate Cake Day baking

The ingredients come in a sachet which you pour into the box and simply add milk. Stir it all until a smooth mixture forms and bake in the oven.

Bake in a box chocolate cake

Once cooled you can eat or decorate.

As you can imagine the girls had great fun making, baking and decorating their chocolate cakes. I would definitely recommend the Bake in a Bo cake as a great baking project with the children and judging by how much my two love their Num Noms, I’d say they make an excellent gift too.

Disclosure: We were sent the Num Noms Series 4 Deluxe box and a couple of Mystery Pots for the purpose of this post. All opinions are our own.