There, I’ve said it.

I love my Filofax. I love looking at it on my desk, I love sniffing it and I especially love walking around with it, carrying it proudly under my arm, and casually getting things out of it. (When I’m out with other people obviously, not just around the house on my own. Although…)

Since I got my Finsbury Personal Organiser* a couple of weeks ago, it has been settling in nicely with my other stationery items, and I’ve taken it on quite a few outings with me too. Oh yes, and it’s handy for writing things in too, but that’s secondary really to the sniffing.

Seriously though, it is very useful. I’ve always been much more of a pen and paper person. I have a Blackberry Torch, but I never use the calendar or address book. I prefer a white board and a stack of 17 or so notebooks for keeping track of my work.

One thing I love about my Filofax, now it’s getting towards the end of the year, is that I can have the 2013 diary insert in ready, and write next year’s appointment in the same place, rather than have to crack open a new diary or calendar and have two on the go at once. I’m also very excited about the different extras that you can buy to go in it. Father Christmas, if you are reading, I would like a Filofax themed stocking this year please.

Here’s a few photos so you can see what me and my Filofax have been up to:

"Filofax"

Settling in on my desk at home. The whiteboard markers have been showing it round.

"Filofax on the train"

On the train on the way to London, my Filofax has a little peep out of my handbag.

"Yellow filofax"

Most importantly though, does my Filofax match my nail varnish?

*This is its official name – long, like a pedigree dog. I’ve thought about calling it Finn for short, but I have a nephew called Finn, so that could get confusing. “Have you seen Finn?” I might ask my sister. “I think I left him in my handbag?”

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When you imagine Aunt Bessie, slaving over a hot Yorkshire pudding tray, what do you picture? A homely looking elderly lady maybe? A neat grey bun keeping her hair safely out of the batter, a lace pinny tied tightly around her not unsubstantial waist?

Me too.

But think again.

Although Aunt Bessie started baking up frozen Yorkshire puddings for Butlins back in the 1970s, it’s only since 1995 that you’ve been able to buy your own frozen Aunt Bessie’s puds in the supermarket. I know – crazy isn’t it? They feel like something that’s been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Last week I went to find out more about Aunt Bessie, and to test my own (poor) kitchen skills, creating some roasty treats alongside a group of other mummy bloggers. They gave me my own proper sharp knife and everything. And I only dropped it once.

After being shown the full Aunt Bessie’s range, we were set to creating our own lunches, to be accompanied of course by lashing of Yorkshire puddings, carrot and swede mash, and Aunt Bessie’s gravy. Purple Mum and I were on the stuffed aubergine station. If you’d like to make your very own stuffed aubergines, and why wouldn’t you, watch and learn:

Gather all your ingredients together in smart white bowls as though you are presenting a cookery show. (You don’t really have to do this bit, but it looks nice and professional.)

Preheat the oven to 200c/gas mark 6. Cut two aubergines in half length wise. Cut almost through them in a criss cross pattern.

Cut out the centre of the aubergines, leaving four empty halves that you can stuff later. Roughly chop the flesh.

Heat 2tbsp olive oil in a pan and fry a chopped onion for about five minutes.

Add the aubergine and cook for another five minutes or so. Stir in one crushed garlic clove, half a chopped red pepper, a chopped courgette and a pinch of chilli flakes. (Try to avoid chopping any of your nail varnish into the red pepper. Just saying.) Season well and cook for another five minutes.

Tip into a bowl and stir in 200g chopped chestnuts, 100g of mixed nuts, toasted and chopped, 2tbsp of freshly chopped parsley, the zest of one lemon, a beaten egg, 25g grated parmesan and one slice of stale bread, cut into small cubes. Season again. If you have an incredibly phallic looking pepper grinder all the better. (Cue much cackling from mummy bloggers).

Spoon your mixture into the aubergine halves, drizzle with a little more oil, and bake for 20 minutes. Eat all the leftovers while you wait. (optional).

Meanwhile, cook your Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire puddings, carrot and swede mash and gravy according to instructions. Crack open a bottle of wine or two, gather your three favourite family members, and tuck in!

 

 

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I have a few things I want to mention this week, and it would be hard to think of three things less similar. I’m going to do my best however to blend them into one seamless post. I’m sure you’ll barely realise I’m talking about more than one subject.

First off, ironing. There seem to be two schools of thought on this one – there are the people who spend Sunday afternoons ironing for hours whilst watching the Eastenders omnibus, and people who go more for the ‘fold it carefully before you put it away’ approach. Which are you?

I am certainly the latter, as was proven in the recent burnt-carpet-ironed-onto-back-of-Boyfriend’s-best-shirt incident. It is doubtful that I will ever be allowed to use an iron again to be honest, which is a bit of a shame, as it means I won’t get to play with our new Morphy Richards Power Steam Elite.

There are loads of things I like about the Morphy Richards Power Steam Elite. It’s really smooth and easy to use, it holds loads of water, and is Very Steamy Indeed. You can even use it to steam curtains while they’re up, if you like that sort of thing. One of the best things though is that it looks really snazzy and makes you feel like you doing a very important chore.

"Morphy Richards Power Steam Elite"On the downside, it does take up a lot of space, and as a complete unit is pretty heavy. Probably not the iron for you if you live in one of those tiny flats with an ironing board that comes out of the wall. (Is that a thing?)

From irons then, to…er…comics!

(Seamless)

It always annoys me that when Belle wants to buy a magazine, she basically has a choice between The Simpsons comic or something in various shades of pink, filled either with popstar gossip or pictures of fluffy bunnies sat in baskets with ribbons round their neck. The range isn’t exactly diverse.

We were really excited then to get sent some copies of The Pheonix, a story comic aimed at kids between 8-11, (although I enjoyed reading it too.) The Pheonix a really lively mix of stories and puzzles, and the illustrations are brilliant. Belle especially liked that there were lots of different types of drawings, rather than just one style of illustrations.

Anything that keeps her away from the TV for a bit gets my vote.

"Pheonix comics"

To keep me away from the TV, (slightly smoother), I’ve been reading the new book from Penguin about the London Underground – ‘Underground – how the tube shaped London‘ – celebrating its vibrant 150 year history.

I say ‘reading’ but to be honest I have been mainly looking at the pictures so far. You can’t blame me though, as it’s full of loads of really amazing photographs of the Underground over the years, plus lots of beautiful vintage posters.

Images © TFL from the London Transport Museum collection

"vintage train poster"

My top Underground fact so far though – can you guess what was built in a spare lift shaft at Holloway Road in 1906?

No?

A spiral escalator! Funnily enough, it apparently never made it into public service. The mind boggles…

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Following her very thorough Blackberry Curve 9320 review, I invited Bee back to talk about the joys of voucher codes…

In my house we are big on voucher codes.

I can’t go anywhere without someone saying “don’t forget to take this 2 for 1 offer/money off voucher/loyalty card with you”. In fact one of the highlights for the family this weekend (surprisingly I didn’t attend) was spending some vouchers in 99p Stores. They came back with all sorts of random things, the most obscure being the gift they got for me, which was a pack of 6 little tubs of tooth picks. I guess they could always be used as mini sticks for mini marshmallows around a Bunsen burner.

"mini marshmallows"

Anyway, this got me thinking, I could use voucher codes to my advantage, with Christmas just around the corner. Seventeen is an awkward age to be when it comes to buying Christmas presents, as people assume you are old enough to buy your own gifts, but you also don’t have as much disposable income as adults.

Also, truth be told, you’re just not as tuned in with the rest of your family as they are, meaning you’re never sure what they would actually like and what would be a waste of the £10 you had scraped together to get them a token present. So I thought going onto a voucher code website could kill two birds with one stone – (not literally. I would never throw a rock at a bird. I’m a vegetarian. And I don’t want an ASBO) – I could get some inspiration for good gift ideas and hopefully save some money too.

I had a browse through the discount vouchers at netvouchercodes.co.uk to see what I could find. Clicking onto the “popular vouchers” tab I found a code for £20 off when you spend £55 on Crocs. I didn’t think I’d be downloading that one. I may not have a passion for fashion but I do know where to draw the line.

Another awkward voucher I found was “20% off the Diamond Plus Service using this Divorce Online Voucher Code.” I don’t think I’d be invited to my Dad’s house for Christmas dinner again if I got him this. (Plus I wouldn’t want him to get divorced obviously).

One suitable voucher code did catch my eye though – “£20 off when you spend £100 or more on Premium Beauty using this Boots Discount Code.” Well there you go, I can get £100 worth of fancy moisturiser in a box for £80. That’s half of my Christmas list done. I didn’t even have to leave the comfort of my kitchen table; I could just use the Boots discount voucher, go straight to their website and order online!

Now that’s what I call Christmas shopping.

 

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It always feels a bit strange to be at the Baby Show and not be in an unflattering Cuddledry t-shirt, demonstrating the benefits of having two hands free to lift your baby out of the bath. Walking around the dozens and dozens of stands can feel a little overwhelming when you’re used to being on just one.

I actually really enjoyed my visit to the Baby Show at Earl’s Court yesterday though, wandering around, chatting to people and generally making a bit of a prat out of myself.

“Hello! I’ve spoken to you on twitter and you said to come and say hi!”

Cue blank stares from tired stall holders.

My best find of the day though, a little gem tucked away in a quiet corner, did remember me from twitter, so I immediately liked them a lot. Catherine Lobley is the founder of Poco Nido and creator of a range of adorable shoes, wellies and clothes for babies and toddlers, all designed in their studio in Sheffield and made using the very best materials.

I got this lovely little t-shirt for my niece. I tweeted about it obviously, as I am hilarious:

"Poco Nido"

A tweet within a tweet. Hahaha!

I spoke to so many lovely brands, that I thought I’d do a little gallery for you, just to give you a flavour of what you can do and see at the Baby Show if you’re visiting this weekend.

"Safe Dreams"

Visit Safe Dreams and check out their giant Patch toy. Have your picture taken with it, upload it to your facebook page, tagging Safe Dreams, and you’ll be entered into a draw to win your very own (normal sized) cot toy.

"Hip seat"

The hip seat from Hippychick is one of my absolute favourite baby products – a must have for parents with children who always want to be right there. Without it, I would never have been able to cook Christmas dinner in 2002 or 2003. Fact.

"Trunki"

I had a lovely chat with Trunki about their plans for Christmas.

"Snugglebundl"

Make sure you go and say hello to Snugglebundl. They are a fairly new product, designed to easily move your baby around when they’ve fallen asleep. Gorgeous designs and lovely people.

"Junior Magazine"

Just before I left, I accidentally bought a subscription to Junior Magazine. In my defence, it was a great offer – the magazine is normally £4.90 an issue, but I got 12 months for £20, plus a free gift worth £34.99. You’ll have to go and visit them yourself to find out what it was…

 

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