The World According to Izzie

Mum of twin teens - nothing else scares me!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Blog Spot Interview - Jaime Oliver

This week's blog spot interview features the lovely Jaime Oliver from The Oliver's Madhouse. Jaime's blog features posts about lifestyle changes, reviews and fabulous tales of family adventure with a toddler and a teen. Jaime also hosts not one, but two blog hops! Magic Moments on Mondays and Active Family on Thursdays. If you haven't come across Jaime's blog before, you should pop over for a read.

Here, Jaime shares her thoughts on being a mum, everyday life and karaoke...    

        What’s the inspiration behind The Oliver’s Madhouse?
As awful as it may sound there is no exciting inspiration in The Oliver’s Madhouse (blog that is, not family). It’s just about us. It’s not to have the prettiest pictures or to be a chart climber, it’s just about capturing our life as honestly and accurately as possible. I made a promise to myself that when I started it, I wanted a fair representation of our lives and the madness that goes round in my head… I think that’s working.

I wanted the kids to look back on the blog in the future and see what was life was actually like... and not an idealized view of what a picture may have represented.

        What’s your favourite waste of time?
Whoever invented the refresh button on social media platforms will never ever get a Christmas card from me. I am a complete sucker for the refresh button and the procrastination that it can bring, especially on Facebook and Twitter. If I need to get work done I have to come out of them, mute my phone and set time frames while working, or I would get totally carried away.

        Have you ever tried karaoke? If yes, what song? 
Oh dear goodness… it’s like you're inside my closet and dragging out the skeletons!

Yes… I have tried karaoke… badly… I am a terrible singer and it only gets worse with alcohol. Thankfully these days with age I have given up almost all drinking (I am too much of a control freak I fear). 

I have only ever sung one song. I only remember snippets of that night and from what I remember of singing, it wasn’t one I'd ever want to relive!

        Do you have any hidden talents?
I used to play a euphonium as a young teen but other than eye-rolling, my talents these days are far less exciting… verging on non-existent. Maybe I need to take up a new thing!

         What drives you completely insane?
Ungratefulness – is an ugly trait and it drives me crazy, along with dog poo on pavements, cold callers and rude folk. I think I better climb off my soapbox as I really could moan for England!

        The best book in the world is…
I would like to offer some insightful title being an avid reader; however there is one book that I’ve read that makes me cry all the way through. It’s based on domestic violence and although not my normal read, my mum read it and passed it on to me many years ago after saying it sounded like my past life.

I no longer have the book, nor can I remember it’s full title but I am searching for it again. Not to feel sorry for myself, but it makes me stronger knowing where I came from. It’s like each time I read it, it gave me a little piece of me back, if that makes sense?

        What were the last 3 things you bought?
My daughter some new pants.
A new ironing board.
Some apples… yep, I really am rock and roll!

 What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?

Save! I was notoriously bad and spent money hand over fist until the age of 21, when I was on my own with daughter and penniless!

Take time to enjoy each day… even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Lastly, I would tell my 16-year-old self that in 10 years’ time when the option to buy my own house came along, buying a newer build will not be a financially wise move. Go for the first house you look at and snap their hand off!

        Wine – red, white or rosé?
Rosé is my fave, it has to be super chilled. Although having said that, it’s been nearly 3 months since I had a proper drink!

        Describe a typical day in your life...
Kids eat breakfast, while I get ready. I get the toddler and house straight while chasing the teen to hurry up. She finally sets off for school ten minutes before registration and then I start work.

I work from home, so have my desk in the living room so I can see Joshua and he can intermittently pass me krabby patties he has made (damn SpongeBob square pants).

While making lunch I tend to go on a cleaning spree… washing on, wet load on the line and then spend the most of the afternoon flitting from work to toddler to washing/ironing/cleaning/cooking (delete as appropriate). Hubster gets in at 2.30pm as he starts work super early and so then it’s on with prepping, cooking, sorting tea, baths, showers and toddler to bed. Then I pick up work again, often till the early hours.

It’s often about as exciting as we get, but I love it. Working from home, although it’s often harder to get stuck in with a toddler in tow, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

        Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
A lift engineer! I hate lifts and I would hate getting stuck in one even more! My borderline OCD tendencies would be going nuts, so stick me in there with someone that can fix it and fix it quick!

        What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
In my teens I helped crew an ocean youth club yacht to Holland. We were even pulled away by a tug from an oil rig! On the way home there was no wind so we were using the engine. It developed a fault and we crept into the red markers round the base of an oil rig which was dangerous, so we were pulled back out. Although thinking about it now terrifies me. At the time it was super exciting!

Thanks to Jaime for her refreshingly honest answers and for being my guest this week. 

If you'd like to be featured on The Blog Spot Interview, please drop me an email at and I'll be in touch. It's always lovely to hear from fellow blog authors and learn more about the fabulous people who make the blogging community such a wonderful place to be.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton
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Saturday, 23 August 2014

Fantasy Home by the Sea...

For those of you who are regular readers of my blog you'll know that I've always dreamt of living by the sea. I've recently joined Pinterest and started a board crammed with  ideas that I hope to be able to furnish my seaside pad with someday. So, when I spotted the Dream Room Blogger Competition over at Little Stuff's Blog, I was inspired to have a go. The competition is being run by Anglian Home to promote the launch of their digital magazine, Good to Be Home. The prize is £750 in John Lewis vouchers.

The thought process behind all of my selections is bringing the great outdoors inside. I'm under no illusion that the great British winter can be harsh, especially if you live by the coast and so, making the most of themes and colours inspired by nature has been influential in each of my choices. This is how I envisage my living room will look...

Lighting and Furniture...

1. Mojito Colour Set - £32.95 for 35 lights (Cable & Cotton), 2. Driftwood Side Table - £120 (French Connection), 3. Kos Coffee Table - £473 (Denelli Italia) 4. Sebastian 7 Light Drop Ceiling Light - £290 (John Lewis), 5. Lazio 3-Seater Sofa in Dark Chocolate Leather - £982.80 (Denelli Italia).

Decorative Accessories...

6. Rocks In The Sea - £242.94 (40" x 26.63" Canvas Print - Fine Art America), 7. Mediterraneo Fruit Bowl - £78 (Alessi Shop), 8. Casa Fly Magazine Rack in Blue Turquoise - £235.45 (Harrogate Interiors), 9. Honeycomb Glass Bud Vase - £22 (French Connection), 10. Christian Lacroix Tempera Rug - £995 (Occa).

Sitting comfortably? Wrap up warm and read a good book...

11. Cattelan Italia Sylvester Chaise - £2841 (Thru The Looking Glass), 12. Croft Collection Flynn Ribbed Knit Cushion in Natural - £25 (John Lewis), 13. Taschen 100 Getaways Around the World - £35 (Amara), 14. Croft Collection Flynn Ribbed Knit Cushions in Petrol Blue - £25 (John Lewis), 15. Luxe Natural Fur Throw - £90 (Next),

I like to think this room would be brilliant all year round, whether (or not) my daughters are home from university. Here's to making plans and moving house in the not too distant future....

The competition closes at 23:55 on Monday 25th August 2014 and there are lots of fabulous entries. I hope you'll pop over and take a peek.

Click on the image below for full terms and conditions.

Good to be Home Dream Room Competition

Until next time...

Copyright ©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wood For The Trees - Part 2

When our daughters moved out and went to university last September, we looked at the accumulation of child-related paraphernalia in our home and thought only, "Why do we have all this stuff exactly?" The realisation that the paddling pool, Swingball, trampoline, assorted rackets and balls were now redundant and taking up 75% of the available space in our shed was a very sad one indeed.

After the girls left home, I may have tackled their bedrooms with gusto. This was tat that was right under my nose and the need to declutter was overwhelming and long overdue. I have blogged about this strangely cathartic process here

The loft however remained untouched. Pretty much a case of out of sight, out of mind. I'd lost count of the number of times the hatch had been flung open and extra contents added to our mound of belongings.

Although I've decluttered the house at least once a year since we moved in, my Beanie Baby generation daughters have at least 100 of the furry cuddlies stored in vac packs up in the loft. We have enough Sylvanian Family sets to start a village, plus a ton of Harry Potter Lego, Duplo, building blocks, family games and books. We also have a massive rocking horse (but I may have smuggled that over to my mothers and hidden it in her loft). And don't get me started on all the coursework that's found its way up there after my daughters have spent the last 15 years in education.

As the loft was groaning under the weight of our stuff, it was time for action. We plan to move house during the next couple of years and that means only one thing: sorting out.

Mr A is guilty of keeping all sorts of random c**p. We have a broken video recorder, a camcorder that hasn't worked in forever and every single Terry Pratchett novel ever written. There's also a stash of items that he describes as, "Might come in useful at a later date."I have my doubts.

I had a sneaky suspicion that most of the hoarding up in the loft wasn't actually down to me. Yes, I'm guilty of not being able to part with a small selection of baby clothes, a couple of cot mobiles and congratulations on the birth of your twins cards, but all I could remember putting up there was my wedding dress, assorted dolls from far-flung places, some vintage Ladybird books, a model of a Porsche, my collection of Whimsies, a certificate for a writing competition I won back in 1974 and that was about it.

As soon as I'd let that thought slip from my mouth, there was a collective gasp from other members of the family. Each of them adamant that they were not responsible for hoarding the most. And so, last week Mr A and myself spent a very long evening up in the eaves, dividing treasured family possessions junk into distinct piles: Me, Him, Olivia, Sophia, stuff-to-go and family belongings, such as Christmas decorations, sleeping bags, suitcases etc.

I have a feeling that the evidence speaks for itself:

Olivia's stuff!

Sophia's stuff!

Assorted tat belonging to both of them!

Beanie Baby vac pack no 1
Beanie Baby vac pack no 2!

Christmas decorations
Suitcases and sleeping bags

Mr A's treasured assortment of belongings!

And last, but by no means least, my stuff...

We've already done a couple of trips to the tip for those items that had no right being up the loft in the first place. And sold, or donated most of the kids' belongings from the shed.

The only question is: how did we accumulate so much stuff exactly? Now that our daughters are all grown up, we have no need to keep any of it and so, I will hold on to a selection of mementos from their childhood and offload what's left.

It's a sad realisation that we are a family with children who are all grown up, but here's to life made simple and new beginnings.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Life And Loves Of A He Devil

With his flamboyant presenting style and hilarious antics, Graham Norton has been entertaining audiences in the UK for almost 20 years. He’s turned Eurovision into compulsive viewing (for his animated commentary alone) and The Graham Norton Show is famous for lively interactions between guests, all mischievously curated over by the host.

As a huge fan, I was only too happy to write a feature ahead of his book launch and UK theatre dates later this year.

The Life And Loves Of A He Devil is released on October 23rd  and before then, Graham would like to know about all the things that make you the person you are. Click on the link to hear a brief introduction from the man himself. Everyone who enters is in with a chance to meet Graham at one of his UK theatre dates later this year. Take part in the quiz here.

About the book…

The Life And Loves Of A He Devil is Graham's funny and honest memoir on the theme of love. From his Irish childhood, right up to the present day, he describes who and what he loved (and lost) as a child, as well as his very latest passions and obsessions. The underlying theme is, "It's the things you love that define who you really are." 

It’s been ten years since his previous book release, and since then Graham has come to realise that what makes life interesting is more about what you love and are inspired by, and less about what happens along the way. Topics up for discussion include: wine, Ireland, dogs and Dolly Parton.

Expect innuendo, giggling and mischievous antics from the inimitable Mr Norton.

Graham Norton Live...

To accompany the launch of the book, Graham will be appearing nationwide in a series of theatre events.


Monday 27th October - Watford Colosseum, Watford

Friday 31st October - Bath Forum, Bath

Sunday 2nd November - Royal Festival Hall, London

Saturday 15th November - Liverpool Philharmonic, Liverpool

Tickets are priced at £30 each and include a pre-signed hardback copy of Graham's new book. For more information click here.

The Life And Loves Of A He Devil is out on 23rd October in the UK and available to pre-order now. I am so looking forward to reading this. 

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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