Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Short Sharp News: Fashion Company SOLD

It is the end of an era!

I have sold my fashion company.

I am so happy but also finding it very hard to let go. The new owner is coming on Friday and I can not quite believe it still.

The brand is no longer me but oh what fun I have had building and growing it. My clothes have made it to Miss England, to Australia and many many shows. It has been fun old friend but it is time to move on.

It is going to be an exciting year. I do of course have another venture in the pipeline but in the mean time I will be concentrating on the IT business.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

A letter to Baby Belle (1 Year Old Today)

Our precious little darling we can not believe you are a year old already.

Where has the time gone.

You have filled our home with such happiness, joy, warmth and laughter. Your sparkling blue eyes amaze us all.

You are everything we imagined, everything we wished for and so much more

We love everything about you. We love when you come over to us with a book or your hand puppets and say 'peas, peas' (please).  We love our breakfasts together and we love our funny lunches and dinners where you hide your face to play peekaboo and end up with food all over you.  We love when we go in the car and you start singing.  We love seeing your face light up to new things and the wonder in your eyes.

We hope we can be everything you need and want us to be because you are just so perfect to us

All our love forever and a day,

Mummy & Baba (Daddy)  xxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, 29 March 2010

What a week & the winner of the Blackberry is....

I haven't blogged in a while as I had the mammoth task of organising BB's 1st Birthday Party.  This took place on Saturday and we had an amazing day! I will of course blog about this later and show you all some pictures too.

But for now I must announce the winner of the Pink Blackberry Competition. Thanks to everyone for your entries...it proved quite popular. All names were written on a bit of paper and one pulled out and the winner is..........




Please email me with your address and I will get it sent out to you asap x

Thursday, 18 March 2010

TOOTHGATE

BB is 1 in a couple weeks and she still has the grand total of ZERO teeth.

I am not worried, I think she is actually teething at the moment but then I thought that at 6 months, 7 months, 8 months etc (you get the picture).

Every month I do a Baby Belle's 'Firsts' post where I write an update on all the new things she has discovered and done.  I am longing to say she has her first tooth, but the time never comes.

Two people have said to me, one in a quiet whisper (like it is something to be ashamed of) 'I think you should probably take her to the doctors now'.  Errmmm why exactly...because she is 11 months old and hasn't got her first tooth yet?  My doctor would laugh at me.

That is all :) x

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

What comes next? Why the Suffering?


Anyone that knows me (or has read my 'about me' section) will know I can be a bit of a worrier/thinker

I was having a conversation the other day about God.  The person I was talking to brought up the subject that if there is a God then why are children and adults suffering and starving throughout the world?

What makes God decide (if you believe in a God) that we were born into the life we were. 

Why was that little girl born into a family on the Gaza Strip? 
Why was that little boy born into a family that was about to be taken away from him in Afganistan?
Why was I born into a family with plenty of food, money, love and everything a little girl could wish for.  I didn't do anything to deserve the life I have and yet I can be so ungrateful at times.

I have my own answers but that is because I have faith. I believe we are all set different challenges in life. I believe I am lucky and given an 'easy' life so far but I also believe that for that reason if I don't do my best with what I have then I will find it harder to get into heaven, perhaps.  I give to charity every year and I help the needy whenever I can but I still don't do enough.  I try to live by good morals and principles and I try to be nice to everyone I come across but I still don't do enough.

I still at times find it hard to understand. You or me could have easily been that little boy or girl born into severe poverty, having to go days without food or water. But we weren't, we were given an abundance of things.

What are your thoughts? Do we all have a purpose? Do you think we all have different challenges? Or are you an atheist?

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Happy Mother's Day Mummy

It's hard to know where to start with this post.

You see my mum has always been there and when something in your life is always there you take it for granted. I can see it already with BB, daddy comes home from work and she is so excited.  Grams and Grandpa come over and again she is over the moon. I don't get this. Don't get me wrong I want it that way, I get to see everything, all her 'firsts' and we have such a giggle together dancing around the room and playing and reading but she does think that we are 'one'. I love that fact.  This is the way it should be and how I have always been with my mum too.

She has been there for EVERYTHING. She is the first person I call when I have happy news, sad news or just any news! I can count on her 100%

I have such happy memories from growing up. I had the most amazing birthday parties, presents and I was dressed to perfection. She allowed me to have the BEST girly sleepovers and didn't complain even when we were up until 5am doing talent competitions or recording a remake of Grease in which I was playing Sandy and my friends were Danny Zuko, Frenchy etc. I still have that video today.

Mum let me grow up in my own time, never pushed me to do anything I didn't want to and I feel so lucky to have her.  She let me make my own decisions, gave me advice and always stood by me.  We have had so many great times together and moments when we laugh so much we cry.

This year has been an amazing year as we now have Baby Belle and I appreciate mum more than ever. She is such a big part of our lives and helps with BB so much. BB adores her. Hubby adores her. I adore her.

We know Mothering Sunday is just another one of those big marketing ploys to generate money BUT we lead such busy lives so I don't see the harm in putting a day aside to STOP and celebrate motherhood. Sure chose any day you want to do it. Mum knows how much she means to me but sometimes it is nice to say it.

Mum you are the bestest in the whole wide world. If I can be even a little bit as perfect as you then I will be happy.

And finally to Nanny...We miss you so much and we would have loved you to meet Baby Belle. She has your eyes.




Thursday, 11 March 2010

Blog Stats: Do you care?

Traffic vs Engagement & Social Networking

I am a self confessed stats geek, I have to admit.

Due to my background and experience in websites I was thrown into the world of stats around 6 years ago; First in Covent Garden in my graduate job and then working for the Ideal Shopping TV channel and then of course my fashion business and now our IT company Microbyte.  I hit the ground running, I got in at the right time and I was good. I was able to obtain stats, use them and 'exploit' so companies could target their chosen market

BUT.....

....Nothing could have prepared me for blogging.

You see there are all these indexes like Technorati and Postrank which measure your traffic and influence and I simply can't help myself! I get drawn to them like my little baby belle gets drawn to mischief or like Jordan gets drawn to fake tan. It's one of those things.

From the word go I set up stats on my blog using things like Matrix Stats and Google Analytics.  So I know I have a fair bit of traffic.  But...having a successful Blog is completely different to having a successful website or newspage, I have discovered.  Blogs aren’t newspapers. Therefore readership isn’t THE most important metric of what makes a great blog. I recently had this discussion/debate with Sally over at Who's the Mummy who compiles the Tots 100 Index. She feeds my dirty stats habit! Because I am so used to working with metrics on websites I thought the metrics on her index shouldn't be weighted equally but she did actually open my eyes a bit to the world of blogging:

"If a million people read your blog but nobody can be bothered to comment, you’re a great publisher and a great writer, but you’re not a great blogger. Someone might have a tenth of your audience, but if more people comment on that blog, write about that blog, Tweet about that blog, bookmark it to Digg etc, they’re a better blogger than you. Not a better writer, necessarily, but a better blogger"

This is the nature of blogging, it is true. I am reluctant to spend hours and hours on a blog which I do for fun but if you do want it to be popular you do have to take time to learn about Twitter, Technorati, Digg etc and if you then don't get included in certain indexes you shouldn't complain, perhaps? I know some popular bloggers spend hours a day on twitter promoting their articles and socialising but then others don't have so much time on their hands and they also have 'successful' blogs. You have to promote your blog in some way, the internet is a jungle and you won't get seen otherwise.  But is it necessary these days to spend so many hours a day on it? What are your thoughts? I know I personally do my blog for fun and for family and friends BUT I have to be honest and say that I do love getting new readers too.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Baby Belle 11 Month Old Update & Schedule

The big countdown is on, 1 month until BB's 1st Birthday and her Flower Fairies Birthday Party.

There's no way this can be true, time has flown! She has turned from a little helpless baby to a strong minded, crawling, standing, talking little girl.

So here are her firsts:

- She can give kisses, especially to pictures in books!

- She is VERY vocal and can say lots of things:
- Can say 'Baby' and loves all pictures of babies!
- Can say 'There he is' when playing peekaboo or when trying to find the mouse in one of her books
- Can say please 'peas' when she wants something (especially food)

- She had her first taste of egg, and marmite on toast, and raisins. She still loves ALL food, she has such an appetite!

- She is cruising around the furniture very fast now but doesn't want to let go yet :)

- Dances when music comes on

- She had her first kiss from a boy at Tots Group.  He wouldn't stop trying to kiss her and she started crying, boys!

- Went swimming and we are now joined up at a health club so we can go all the time!

- And not a first but still worth a mention....still no teeth! I can not wait to write a montly update and say 'she has her first tooth'...oh when oh when will that day be! I thought it'd be 5 months ago!

Below is her schedule (roughly) at 11 months. I know I am constantly asking people what feeding and sleeping schedule their babies are on so hopefully this will be helpful to someone out there too.

5:30-6:30am - Wakes & 7oz Bottle & Play
8:00am - Breakfast with Mummy & Daddy (wholemilk yoghurt with half banana or weatabix/oatabix with wholemilk + couple toasted soldier)
10:30am - Nap Time (1-1.5hrs)
11:20-12:00 - 6oz Bottle (she is going off this feed though and won't finish it)
13:00 - 14:00 - Lunch (potato bake or similar, fruit pot, raisins, carrot stick etc)
16:00 - Nap Time (Half hour if lucky)
17:00 - Dinner (fish or lasagna or similar, fruit or yoghurt)
18:30 - Bath Time
19:00 - 7oz Bottle (sometimes will only finish 5oz)
19:15 - Story & Sleep (she sleeps right through, although as mentioned no teeth yet so I'm sure this will change)

She has really come a long way in this last month. She is such a giggly girl and so vocal, always talking or singing. She loves her books so much and will happily sit there flicking through the pages for ages. She loves seeing Grams & Grandpa and rushes to the door to greet daddy when he comes home from work. She is constantly standing up (but not walking yet) and loves emptying out cupboards and her nappy basket and she has a fascination with mirrors and doors.  She has a mischievous glint in her eye constantly and I love it :)

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Carly's Persian Cuisine Recipe 1 - Jeweled Rice

I have been meaning to share with you a recipe for a while.  My husband is half Iranian and I have to say Persian Cuisine is THE best food around! I try to cook at least one persian dish a week and now that we have Baby Belle I want to cook more and more. I really want to keep some of the persian culture alive for her.

So when I saw that Liz from LivingwithKids wanted some recipes to raise awareness of the White Ribbon Alliance Global Dinner Party campaign to coincide with International Women's Day I thought it was the perfect excuse to finally share one of my recipes with you.

Liz actually mentioned she liked Jeweled rice, called Javaher Polow, so that is what I shall give you.

Jeweled rice is the king of the rices and must be tried! It is one of the most popular persian dishes and served at weddings a lot. 


Ingredients: (Serves 8-10)
1 lb Basmati Rice

1/2 Cup Dried Barberries, Thinly Sliced
1/2 Cup Almonds, Thinly Sliced
1/2 Cup Pistachios, Thinly sliced
1/2 Cup Black Raisans
1/2 Cup Orange Marmalade/Peel, Thinly Sliced
2 tsp Saffron
6 Tbsp Butter
4 Tbsp Sugar
Water
Salt and Pepper

1.Dissolve saffron threads in 4 tablespoons boiling water water & set aside to soak. This will go on top of the rice once the rice is prepared & ready to be served.


2.Place basmati rice in a large bowl & fill with water. Wash several times by draining water & filling bowl with water again. The last time you fill the bowl with water do not drain & add salt. Set aside for 2-3 hours.

3.After 2-3 hours fill a non-stick pan with water half way & bring to boil. Drain salt water out of bowl & add basmati rice to boiling water, pour 1 tbsp of olive oil & continue to boil for about 10-15 mins.

4.In the meantime, in another pan, melt butter (leaving 2 tablespoons aside) & add sugar and heat until dissolved. One by one start to add barberries, almonds, pistachios, and raisans side by side so they don't touch. If needed use two pans. This is important for the presentation later on. Cook on low heat just to heat each item. Warm marmalade or orange peal in microwave for short time on low heat.

5.Drain rice in strainer. Place pot back onto medium heat and add the half of remaining olive oil to the bottom of the pot. Add drained rice back to pot and add the remainder of olive oil on top of rice.

6.Cover the lid of the pan with a cloth and cover the pan tightly. On medium heat, cook rice for about 30-45 minutes or until rice is completely coooked and soft and a golden rice crust forms (this is called tahdig) at the bottom of the pan. Make sure you don't overcook the rice or burn the bottom crust. Monitor rice at this point.

7.Once rice is cooked place, carefully laddle into large serving tray. With a spoon or laddle, start adding saffron mixture to rice in horizontal or vertical pattern. Then one by one add barberries, almonds, pistachios, raisans, and orange peel in a similar vertical/horizontal pattern so every ingredient on top of the rice is lined up side by side. The presentation of this rice is extemely important for Persians as this is usually served to large groups at celebrations i.e. engagements and weddings therefore depending on creativity the rice can become very beautifully designed. I sometimes just do seperate layers like the picture.

8.Once complete in a small pan melt additional butter. Pour over the rice. You can also use some extra virgin olive oil. This gives the additional "jeweled" look to the mixtures on top of the rice *

Serve with cooked chicken breast, leg or thigh.

And there you go. I never said persian cooking wasn't time consuming but it is most definately worth it!

*this recipe was adapted from Nibble Dish