Modern Mummy

Monday, 12 February 2018

Love + Biscuits

I don't know about you, but when I think about Valentine's Day, the first thing that pops into my mind is food. Love? Pah! Fresh coffee and pastries? Three course meals? Chocolates? Biscuits? That's more like it!

I might not have any secret admirers, but I do have some lovely friends over at Biscuiteers who were thoughtful enough to send me over a box of their deliciously quirky personalised vintage love letter biscuits for Valentine's Day.

If you've not tried Biscuiteers biscuits before, you need to know that you're MISSING OUT. Seriously. They are AMAZING. Each biscuit is completely handmade, traditionally baked and beautifully iced, and they always come perfectly presented in specially decorated boxes or tins. They have different flavours for different occasions (the Valentines collection is vanilla, yum) and something for every budget. It's become a bit of a tradition for us to give boxes to our family every Christmas and last year we got them as teacher's gifts too. They're such a lovely, thoughtful, different way to send a message to someone you care about. They even have icing cafes in Notting Hill and Battersea so if you're ever near one of them and you're feeling creative you can decorate your own (they do seriously good coffee if you're not feeling quite so creative and just fancy eating some ready made ones).

The vintage love letters tin costs £35 but prices start at just £6 for a gingerbread Romeo or Mr Darcy. The personalised lobster biscuit box is one of my favourites at a middle-of-the-range £18 - what better way to tell someone you love them than with an edible lobster biscuit?

How will you be celebrating Valentine's Day this year?

Left treating yourself or your loved one until the last minute? Fret not - Biscuiteers are offering free next day delivery when you order before 1pm tomorrow (Tuesday 13th). Enter code LASTMINLOVE for free Royal Mail next day delivery on orders of £20 or more.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Celebrating Valentine's Day at Home with Wayfair + HelloFresh

Ahh Valentine's Day.

February 14th is a bit like marmite; you either love it or you hate it.

I'm most definitely a Valentine's Day lover. I think it's really important to show the people you care about just how much they mean to you - whether that's your other half, your kids, your parents or your friends. Of course you should do this every day but once a year it's nice to go the extra mile and really spoil them (and treat yourself too). This is something we've always done as a family. Heck, you know us! Any excuse to throw a mini party and we're all over it!

This year the girls and I joined forces with Wayfair and HelloFresh to create the perfect Valentine's night in - and despite our slightly unconventional Valentine's Day set up, we really did have a wonderful time.

My love for HelloFresh is well documented on this blog - the concept of having complete recipe boxes packed full of super fresh ingredients delivered to your door is totally genius for people like me, who really do want to cook tasty, healthy meals from scratch but are slightly lacking in the skills and/or time department (both in my case).

After a long day at work, having to shop for food and make an executive decision about what to cook for dinner each night used to stress me out no end - and that's the main reason I've bought HelloFresh boxes almost every week for the past year. I also hate wasting food (see my Guide to Reducing Food Waste if this is something you're interested in). There's never any waste when it comes to HelloFresh meals; firstly because you're sent the exact amount of ingredients needed already measured out for each recipe, but also because the meals are so darn tasty no one ever leaves any.

As part of this campaign we were asked to pick out some products from the Wayfair website so that we could dress our kitchen table beautifully for a Valentine's Day feast. Wayfair is one of my favourite places to shop for homewares; not only are they really affordable, they also offer fast and free shipping and stock EVERYTHING you could possibly wish for; from big bulky pieces of furniture to the little finishing touches, like cushions and lighting.

1. Gold Viners Cutlery Set, 16 pieces - £43.99 // 2. Schott Zweifel red wine glasses, set 
of 2 - £48.99 // 3. The DRH Collection Loire DOF whiskey glasses, set of 6, blue - £29.99 // 4. The DRH Collection small heart shaped baking dish, £15.99 // 5. Fairmont & Main Vie Naturelle dinner plates, set of 4 - £29.99

Whenever I buy things for our home, I always try and pick things that are a little bit different. I'm not a fan of plain white (apart from on my walls!). For me its all about colour and texture. The textile designer William Morris once said; "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." I think these are really wise words and, as such, I like to make sure that everything in our house is both.

When it came to choosing the items for this campaign, the ones that really stood out for me were the gold cutlery (they make such a nice change to the usual stainless steel sets you get and, in actual fact, I think gold and steel look really great mixed together), the beautiful, intricately designed, chunky glass tumblers, and I especially loved the crazing on the turquoise plates.

We celebrated an early Valentine's Day by cooking the HelloFresh Lentil and Vegetable Hotpot, adapting it slightly to substitute the cheddar cheese for a vegan alternative because of my dairy intolerance. It was delicious - and I'm positive it tasted better served on beautiful stoneware plates and eaten with elegant gold knives and forks!

Wherever you are, whoever you're with and whether you celebrate it or not, I hope you all have a lovely Valentine's Day next week!

DISCLAIMER: We were sent a complimentary HelloFresh box, together with the Wayfair products used to style this shoot, for the purpose of this blog post. All words are honest and my own, and all imagery is copyright. 


Wednesday, 31 January 2018

GOOD FOOD // Veganuary Q+A

After what feels like the longest month in the history of the world, it's finally the last day of January, which also means it's the last day of Veganuary for me! I've been asked so many questions about taking part in Veganuary over on Instagram, so I thought it would be a good idea to answer them all in one blog post.

The most common questions were how are you finding it? how are you feeling? have you lost any weight? and what non-vegan food are you going to treat yourself to on 1st February?

How are you finding it?
I have to say I found the transition much easier than I thought I would; 'going vegan' sounds a lot scarier than it actually is. But in reality, aside from the odd festive cheeseboard and spoonful of nutella, my diet is usually dairy free anyway - and I've not eaten chicken since we brought the hens home. As a family we eat a lot of plant based meals so, really, it was just a case of cutting out red meat and fish for me. I've cooked from scratch a LOT this month (more on that later) which has been quite time consuming, but fun none-the-less. Being vegan involves a lot of label reading if you're buying ready made/pre-packaged food. This past month I've learnt that there is egg in literally EVERYTHING!

I've not once felt hungry, or like I'm missing out on anything. I've had pizza, chocolate, ice cream. There are so many vegan options in mainstream supermarkets these days - vegans definitely aren't deprived! Veganuary was massive this year (more than 150,000 people took part I think?) and a lot of restaurants and pubs jumped on the bandwagon so eating out wasn't a problem either. I just hope all these vegan menus are going to be permanent fixtures as the food truly is incredible!

How are you feeling?
I've felt pretty darn good from day one.  I joined a few vegan Facebook groups at the beginning of January and saw a lot of posts over the following days where other people taking part in Veganuary felt truly terrible. The general consensus was that their bodies were going through some sort of withdrawal which was something I didn't suffer from at all, probably because it wasn't such a massive change for me. Two quite noticeable differences I did become aware of were that I found getting up in the mornings much easier (usually I'm a grumpy mare in the mornings) - but I felt tired a lot earlier in the evenings when I'd normally binge on Netflix until at least midnight. I'd have gone to bed at 9pm most nights if I'd been able to.

Have you lost any weight?
The honest truth is I don't know. I didn't take part in Veganuary to lose weight so I didn't weigh myself before I started (and I haven't now that I've finished either - I don't have scales at home). My clothes are a little looser though, so I think I may have lost a few pounds over the course of the past month.

What non-vegan food are you going to treat yourself to on 1st February?
Whenever I've dieted, or gone on a juice fast or detox before, I've always treated myself to a blow out meal once I've reached my goal, or got to the end of the programme. But there hasn't been one single instance over the last month when I've not been able to eat something I really fancied so I don't feel as if I need to 'reward' myself with anything this time around. I'll hold my hands up now: I'm not going to stay vegan, the main reason being that I don't want to give up eggs forever. My backyard hens have been the topic of a few heated debates with full time vegans over the past few weeks. I am completely against the egg industry and will never buy eggs from a supermarket again (labels like 'free range', and 'happy' mean absolutely nothing - unless you know where your eggs have come from you'll never know whether they're either of those things) but we rescued our hens from slaughter and know that they are now enjoying their retirement with us (they are spoilt rotten!!) so I personally have no problem eating their eggs. I fully accept that even if I carry on being predominantly plant based but eating eggs I will not be 'vegan' as an egg is still the product of an animal. And that's fine with me!

I think I will eventually go back to fish as well and, although I have no plans to at the moment, I'd never say 'I'll never eat meat again'. Being vegan for a month has opened my eyes considerably. I've watched some harrowing documentaries and am very conscious about animal welfare now, and I most definitely want to know where my food has come from before I buy and eat it. My days of buying cheap meat from supermarkets were over before I started Veganuary, but now I will only ever buy meat from my local farm shop (if I buy it at all).

The thing I've enjoyed most about the past month is the fact I've learnt loads of new recipes. I basically prepared a main vegan meal every evening and added dairy rich sides for the kids. At the beginning of my Veganuary I was cooking two separate meals; a recipe from my usual repertoire for them and then a single portion of a vegan dish for myself later on - but they were inquisitive and wanted to try the new things that I was eating. As a result we have now added loads of new meals to add to our weeknight menus which is most definitely a good thing.

Like I said; I'm in no rush to go out and binge on meat and other animal products but my current feeling is never say never. I'll let you know how I get on.
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