Maggie Bob Wants: Bedroom Makeover 2016

I’ve been watching The Great Interior Design Challenge. It’s like Bake Off meets Changing Rooms and appeals directly to the part of me that reads House Beautiful in the bath in my generic rented flat. If you’ve never seen it we’re a few episodes in to the current series but you’ve definitely got time to catch up on iPlayer.

Because we’ve always lived in rented accommodation, we’ve never really been able to decorate for ourselves. However, we’ve always opted for unfurnished and we’ve slowly been able to put our stamp on our current Edinburgh flat – rearranging the living room last year has really made the room work much better and given us space to put up photos and personal knick-knacks so it feels more cosy and, well just us.

Next on my hit-list to personalise is our bedroom. We’ve moved most of the furniture out and turned our box room in to a walk-in wardrobe. That means all that is left in the bedroom is our (slightly broken) ottoman bed, two mismatched units serving as bedside tables and my old rocking chair. Plus the pink curtains/beige carpet supplied by the landlord. It’s nice having a minimalist space for sleeping, but I feel like I want to make it a bit pretty. So I’ve done what I always do – went virtual window shopping.

The husband would like a red and black theme, but my fantasy planning has lead me to a charcoal grey & dusty pink combo that I love, so that’s what I’m going for (I’m sure the husband can be convinced). Now I have a flood of ideas, I just need a free weekend to put them all in to action. Here’s my top 3 wants in each category for my new look bedroom.

Curtains

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Charcoal Kiss Me Goodnight Thermal Curtains | Dunelm | £49.99
Soft Velour Curtains | Next | £65
Rita Silver Luxury Striped Curtains | Julian Charles | £21 (sale)
Bedlinen

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V&A Viennese Rose Duvet Cover | House of Fraser | £70 (King duvet cover only)
Light Pink Duvet Set | H&M | £29.99
Vintage Paris Lables Bedding Set | Debenhams | £37

Bedside Tables

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Marcos Side Table | Made | £49
Anastasia Bedside Table | Flora Furniture | £124.95
French Dawn Shabby Chic Bedside Table | ScoutAbout Interiors | £165

Accessories

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Flower Burst Wall Art | Etsy | £53.91
Faux Fur Heart Cushion | Primark | £3
Rose LED Fairy Lights | Etsy | £23
Folding Ottoman | World Stores | £32.99
Alice Starry Sky Ceiling Shade | John Lewis | £45
Soft Fluffy Throw | Primark | £15

More of my bedroom makeover inspiration can be found on my Pinterest board. Let me know what you think, or what colours you like for a bedroom.

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Maggie Bob Clicks: MediSafe App

I’ve sometimes joked that age isn’t measured in years, but rather in the number of pills you have to take every day just to keep you going. Thankfully I’m in reasonably good health but I still have three medications I take every day. I’m quite good at taking them on time, but I often lose track of when I’m running out and need to renew my prescription. My husband has 5 daily tablets to drop, plus others on an as needed basis, and as one of the side effects of his illness is forgetfulness, we have to be super organised to make sure he takes the right dosage each day, doesn’t accidentally double up, and orders his new drugs in plenty of time. Thus, we were pointed in the direction of MediSafe.

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MediSafe is a free smartphone app* to help you organise your medications and prescriptions. Medisafe boasts that their users have 86% compliance with their medicine regime compared to the national (for USA) average of 50%. It has a virtual pill box (divided in to 4 timeframes for each day) in to which you load the medicines you need to take. There’s an auto-suggest feature in there with a huge list of medicines in it, or you can free type the name of yours. You can customise the dosage and appearance so that your virtual pill box looks just like your real one. So why, you may be wondering, is this any better than a plastic pill caddy you can pick up from the pound shop?

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Because you tell MediSafe what time you are supposed to take each pill, it can pop up on your phone and remind you if you’ve not done so. Mine alerts me at 9am every day, by which point I’ve usually taken my medicine and I just mark it as ‘taken’ on the app. However, where this works brilliantly is you can have MediFriends – so I also get alerted if my husband hasn’t marked his pills as taken, and I can give him a gentle prod. This is a god-send for someone with anxiety as he doesn’t have to do any of the remembering. You can also add dependants – people who don’t have their own app log in (children, elderly relatives) who you can keep track of medicines for yourself.

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The alerts to re-order prescriptions is also very useful. I usually bung my boxes of tablets in the bathroom cabinet, and keep one strip at a time in my handbag, so I lose track of how many I have left, and often find myself re-ordering with great urgency. When you set a new medicine up with MediSafe you tell it how many dosages you have. Then every time you mark a medicine as taken it reduces the count in your ‘medicine cabinet’ and alerts you at your chosen limit (eg 5 tablets left). This is a huge relief to me as it gives me enough notice to fill out a repeat prescription request or make an appointment to see my GP. The app is really easy to set up and use, and has fit nicely in to our lives already in the fortnight we’ve been using it. There’s other features we’ve yet to use, like tracking doctor’s appointments, that I’m sure we’ll find useful.

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Hope some of you might find it useful too!

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* You can download MediSafe from GooglePlay, AppStore, or Amazon, depending on your device.

Maggie Bob Makes: Lunchbox Muffins

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Last Sunday I was desperately rooting around my kitchen trying to find something that would do me for my lunchbox over the coming week – you know, the one just before payday when you have to get a bit creative with the contents of the cupboard (not just me, surely?). In among the many tins of kidney beans and passata – I’m a hoarder – I found a jar of sundried tomatoes I had bought on offer in Lidl a while back and inspiration struck. I would make some savoury muffins.

Starting with a basic batter recipe I threw in some things I happened to have and gave everything the requisite time in the oven. I was expecting these to be edible but maybe in need of some tweaking, like most kitchen experiements. Imagine my surprise when I tried one and found it to be pretty damned spot on first time. Husband suggested buttering them, which proved to be a moment of inspiration, and two of these wee beauties plus a few pickled onions worked perfectly in my lunchbox.

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These were made on a Sunday afternoon and the last ones consumed on Thursday so I can also confirm they keep well in a cake tin or other airtight container. You could tweak the fillings to suit your tastes and what you have in, but here’s the recipe as I’ll be repeating it again this weekend:

Ingredients

250g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
50g grated cheddar
100g tinned sweetcorn, drained weight
60g (about 8) sundried tomatoes, chopped
200ml milk
1 medium egg
4tbsp oil (I used the stuff in the tomato jar)

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Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180c and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cases or squares of baking parchment.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in to a large mixing bowl, then stir through the cheese, sweetcorn and tomatoes. This step is important as coating the fillings with the flour stops them sinking in your batter.
  3. Whisk the milk and egg together in a jug and then whisk in the oil.
  4. Gradually add your wet mixture to your dry mixture, stirring to combine, until you have a thick batter – it will be quite lumpy, don’t worry
  5. Spoon your mixture in to the muffin cases and bake in your pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes – until risen, golden and cooked through

As always, I live for when people cook my recipes, so please do leave a comment if you give these a try. Enjoy!

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Maggie Bob Bakes: Chocolate Banana Loaf

Some people get a sinking feeling when the contents of their fruit bowls start to brown. Instead, I get that baking feeling! Browning bananas normally go in to my banana & walnut loaf but this time I fancied something a little different – I was in the mood for chocolate!

This was still made using basics I tend to have in (except the decoration, but that’s hardly essential. The bake on this was a little trickier – the top looks done long before the middle is cooked so you might want to stick a tin-foil hat over your cake for the last 20 minutes or so of the bake time.

Ingredients

3 overripe bananas
200g self raising flour
25g cocoa powder
1stp baking powder
50g soft brown sugar
50g soft butter
1 egg, beaten
2tbsp milk
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Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180, and line/grease a loaf tin.
  2. Mash the bananas up in a large mixing bowl, breaking up any large lumps.
  3. Sift in all of the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking powder, sugar) and stir through the banana.
  4. Beat in the butter, then gradually add the egg and milk until you have a thick, smooth batter.
  5. Spoon your mixture in to your prepared loaf tin and bake for 1hr – until a crust has formed on top and the middle is cooked (test with a skewer).
  6. Allow your cake to cool a little, then remove from the tin and let it cool completely on a wire rack. You can then top/decorate however you wish. I slathered on some chocolate & hazelnut spread (yup, that one) and some white chocolate stars I happened to have in the baking cupboard.

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This one is moist and chocolaty and doesn’t need spread with anything else to be enjoyed. Best served with a glass of cold milk! Do let me know if you give this one a go.

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Maggie Bob Wants: Halloween Goodies

October means Halloween – and like many of my friends, this feels like my big holiday of the year. It’s kind of a nice way to usher in the darker days, celebrate seasonal delights, and most importantly of all – dress up and have spooky fun!

I like that Halloween has become such an event, and apart from the bloody/slutty ‘costume in a bag’ offerings, there is a growing market for seasonal goodies – kind of Halloween themed, but worth enjoying all month really. Here’s my picks this year!

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Peanuts Snoopy Halloween T | Asda | £8

Snoopy gets spooky but is still the cutest of all the Peanuts gang.

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The Pumpkin King Candle | Old Glow Candles (via etsy) | £8.99

Old Glow do a range of movie inspired scented candles, and what better for Halloween than one inspired by Jack Skellington himself?

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Blood Choker | Clintons | £2

Looking for an accessory that says “horror movie slasher victim”? This should have you covered. I’m told similar is on sale at Wilkos and Top Shop, but I couldn’t find them online.

dancing-skeleton-tights-squareDancing Skeleton Tights | ASOS | £8

What’s better than loads of happy dancing skeletons on your legs? Ones that glow in the dark of course!

halloween-cookie-pressHalloween Cookie Press | Lakeland | £4.98

I never let an opportunity for themed baking or novelty cookie cutters pass me by. These ones also emboss the dough as the cut, which makes for some brilliant biscuits (that are admittedly more cute than spooky).

dod-skull-buntingSkull Banner | Wilkos | £2.50

I’ll be honest – I usually make my own bunting because, heaven knows, I’ve got enough paperstock lying around begging to be used up. However, even I want to go premade with this intricate Dia de Muertos sugar skull bunting.

What about you guys? Have you found any ‘must haves’ for Halloween this year?

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Maggie Bob Loves: 5 Things I’ve Learned From Yoga

If you follow me on twitter you will know I started doing yoga regularly last year. An instructor comes in to work one lunchtime a week, and at £2.50 per lesson I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. And now I’m hooked, good and proper. So let me share with you some things I’ve learned about life and myself while bending in to downward-facing dog.

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1. Take time to breathe
I know, I know – everyone says this. But it really is a continuing surprise to me how much simpler difficult things become when you stop and take a breath. Yoga is all about breathing – you move with a breath, hold for a breath, use a breath to drop down further in to a stretch. And the relief when, wobbling as I hold a tricky pose, the instructor says “just hold for one more breath”. I know I can get through anything that seems insurmountable if I can just get through this next breath.

2. Life needs balance
And we’re back to me wobbling away on my mat! I don’t mean physical balance, although I do feel like mine is gradually improving (I spend less time diving out of Warrior 3 than I used to anyway). Because I’m taking an hour out of the working week to stop, and stretch and slow down, I feel more balanced. I can spend so much of my time doing things for others, doing what is needed of me that it’s nice just to allow me some time for me.

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3. My body is amazing
No really – look at all the things I can do with it. I can lie down, sit, stand up. Reach my arms up, out, forwards. Lift my legs, bend my knees, flex my feet. My body can remember sequences my conscious brain has forgotten, and it gets stronger and more sure of the movements each time I do them. When I think I’ve taken my body as far as it can go I hold, take a breath (see above) and push it just that little bit further. Any time I start to worry about an imperfection of my body, I just remember all the things I can do with it.

4. I need to remember to relax
I’ll be twisted in to eagle pose, jaw clenched and shoulders pushed up, and I won’t even realise it until the instructor says “relax”. So I drop my shoulders, let my jaw relax and push down through my tailbone. Suddenly I feel stronger, more stable and more certain. When I think I’m relaxing at home, sprawled on the sofa or something, I’ll realise I’m still tensing up, holding on to something, and I need to remind myself to let go… relax.

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5. I don’t have to be the best at something to enjoy it
I’m not good at yoga. No really – no self depreciation there. I’m uncoordinated, unfit, get my left and right mixed up, and (although I blame it on my foot injury from a couple of years ago) I’ve never had good balance. But that’s fine, because I am still getting something out of yoga. I am improving by doing, something I often lack the patience for. I know with crafting I tend to give up if I don’t master a new skill quickly (see knitting, crochet, painting, jewellery making…), but I don’t feel that frustration with yoga. It’s the journey, not the destination, and I need to remember that when I’m off the mat

And a bonus lesson…

6. My favourite poses seem to be the ones that make me look the most ridiculous.
See – happy baby.

Have you tried yoga? What’s your favourite pose? If you’re interested in starting yoga, try from the comfort of your own home with Do Yoga With Me. To find instructor-led classes in your area, check out http://www.classfinder.org.uk/.

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(All images are free from https://pixabay.com/ because nobody is ready for photos of me mid sun-salutation yet)

Friday High Five #7

Phew – Friday already! In fact, the whole of September has flown past so quickly. Anyway, I’d like to give you a run-down of 5 things I’ve been loving this week

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  • Lorraine Pascale’s Eating Well Made Easy. It’s no secret that I love Lorraine Pascale, and this book is no different. Not faddy diet food, no weird ingredients, just tasty and easy to cook dinners that happen to be healthy. Try the butternut squash ‘taco’ – already a firm favourite.

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  • This monster dress from H&M. I wish so hard that this was in adult sizes. I would definitely wear this, and not just for Halloween. Look at that zip on the mouth!

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  • Pitch Perfect 2. Excuse the terrible photo, but I’m very excited to have this on DVD. Doesn’t seem that long since I was enjoying it in the cinema (how long ago was May, really?) and now I can watch it every weekend if I want – and I will.

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  • Great British Bake-Off. I can’t believe it was the semi-finals this week, but how good did those chocolate tarts look? I adore Tamal, but I think I’m behind Nadiya to win. How about you guys?

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  • Foraging. I would never have attempted this in London, but we literally have blackberries and elderberries growing in our back garden here and I’ve been making the most of it. I’ve had a handfull of blackberries in my lunchbox every day this week, and at the weekend I made elderberry gin and blackberry vodka, both of which should be ready in time for Christmas drinking!

#WOYWW: Cross-Stitch & Chromebook

I’m joining in the What’s On Your Workspace Wednesday #woyww hashtag today. It’s a fun way to show off what I’ve been working on and working with lately.

Cross-stitch is a very me craft. I’ve always enjoyed sewing by hand more than on a machine, and I’ve found it makes me happy having a big bag of coloured threads by my side as I work – like a multi-coloured security blanket. Although you can definitely get better, neater, with practice, the only skill you really need to get started is the ability to thread a needle and keen enough eyesight to count your stitches against the pattern.

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I’m an ad-hoc crafter – picking up projects when I’m bored and putting them down when something else comes along. Therefore I’m not really suited to big cross-stitch projects. However, I’ve found a style of cross-stitch that fits my style perfectly. Small works, usually geeky in nature, cute wee characters ad funny or witty words.

Bonus points if you get the reference in that top piece of stitching there! There’s a new piece of work in progress at the back there, but I’m hiding it as it’s going to be a gift for someone and I don’t want to spoil the surprise!

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Oh btw – my ‘workspace’ is currently a footstool cube in the living-room. I stash all my sewing in it during the day to make things tidy and then haul everything out at night. Works for me just now, and means I can watch exciting things like Pitch Perfect 2 while I work (new DVD – yay!)

The rest of my workspace has my new toy – I finally got myself a Chromebook. After lots of research, and umm-ing and ahh-ing in the store, I decided it was exactly what I needed to reinvigorate my blogging. I think it’s been working so far, I seem to have gotten in to a decent blogging schedule which I hope to keep-up, provide I do things work blogging about of course!

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Maggie Bob Wears: Lily Printed Dress Three Ways

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Lily Curve Hem Dress | boohoo | £15

It’s about time I did another one item three ways post, and Katie suggested this dress from boohoo for me to work with. As it’s from their Plus collection, I decided to make the looks as plus-size friendly as I could too. Here we go

Look 1: Rust & Mustard

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Embroidered Pocket Jeggings | Just Elegance | £8
Red Croc Print Structured Bag | Primark | £9
70s Suede Platform Ankle Boots | ASOS | £60
Yellow Layered Bracelet | Zaful | £2.75

I love this colour combo, don’t you? Trust me if you’re doubting – you can pull off those jeggings. I still dislike the word, but I have come to view jeggings as an essential part of my wardrobe. More comfortable that most jeans and ideal for layering. Also, I just had to play up the 70s feel of the dress with those gorgeous ASOS platforms.

Look 2: All-out Accessories

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Eyelash Jumper | New Look | £19.99
Blush Cut-out Wedges | Primark | £14
Burgandy Knee High Socks | Primark | £2
Knitted Beanie | Accessorize | £8
She’s A Monet Necklace | Sour Cherry | £8
Matte Revolution Lipstick in Bad Blood | Urban Decay | £15.50

Yup, this one is all about the accessories. I know the print on this dress is loud enough to speak for itself, but I don’t think that’s any excuse to shy away from my favourite pastime – over-accessorising. And that necklace must be mine!

Look 3: Smart but sweet

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Orange Pussybow Blouse | Dorothy Perkins | £19.20
Tan Leather Loafers | New Look | £27.99
Joules Laverton Across Body Leather Bag | John Lewis | £99.95
Flower Alice Band | Primark | £3
Stitch In Time Notebook | Paperchase | £5

I thought I’d try to style the dress up for the office. At least, this is how I would dress for the office. I hear loafers are all the rage again this autumn, and they match so well with this bag. If I turned up in this outfit, with my trusted (and adorable!) notebook, you’d know I meant business, right?

Do tell me which look you like best, or how you’d dress up this dress.

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Maggie Bob Wants: Jumpers for Autumn 2015

Yes! It is officially autumn – my favourite season. A good excuse for mug of something warming (hot chocolate? tea? pumpkin spice latte?) while snuggled under a sofa blanket, watching all the good telly that suddenly makes an appearance. Or how about walks in the crisp, fresh (and hopefully not too soggy) air – yes please!

And my favourite thing is my autumn wardrobe. My standard ‘uniform’ becomes a dress, thick (and usually colourful) tights and a cosy jumper. If you looked in my wardrobe right now I’m sure you’d reach the conclusion that I have enough jumpers to get me through to Christmas, but that doesn’t stop me wanting this lot:

Animal Cute

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Louche Bluebird Jumper | Joy | £45
Polar Bear Sweater | Next | £28
Embroidered Penguin Jumper | Primark | £14
Marsha Intarsia Sausagedog Jumper | Joules | £69.95

Spots & Stripes

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Shimmery Polka Dot Sweater | La Redoute | £19
Black Stripe Slub Jumper | New Look | £22.99
Double Stripe Jumper | Oasis | £35
Wilderness Spot Jumper | White Stuff | £59.95

Weird & Wonderful

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Awesome Leopard Print Sweater | everything5pounds | £5
Pink Eyelash Knit Jumper | F&F at Tesco | £14
Noline Shadow Floral Jumper | Ted Baker (via John Lewis) | £99
Jumper With High Neck In Geo Pattern | ASOS | £35

What jumper are you going to be snuggling down in this autumn?

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