January 2013 | Modern Mummy

Thursday, 31 January 2013

More of the Good Green Stuff


Today I decided to add mint to my green juice for the first time {it's loaded with nutrients - see the health benefits below}. From the recipes I've followed over the past month, I have also realised just how much I love cucumber - so this time I added a bit more than normal into my juice. The result? One super refreshing and thirst quenching green juice! I hope you like it!


Ingredients.
6x golden delicious apples
2x handfuls of spinach
1x stick of celery
1x cucumber
1x handful of mint 
{makes 500ml - enough for two}

Health Benefits.
APPLES: contain PECTIN (lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels) and VITAMIN C (boosts your immune system)
SPINACH: The ultimate superfood, a handful of it contains over 300% of your RDA of VITAMIN A (promotes healthy skin and protects & strengthens respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts) and IRON (great for white blood cells which fight infection) 

CELERY: Full of antioxidants and, more specifically, has anti-inflamatory benefits
CUCUMBER: contains B-VITS (a great pick me up) and SILICON (good for hair and promotes good joint health)
MINT: As we all know, mint is fabulous for digestion and its aroma soothes headaches too. It's a great herb to use when you have a cold as both the taste and the smell cool and soothe the throat and nose and they also relieve tickly coughs.
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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Valentines Day by Hotel Chocolat

Valentines Day is two weeks away.... and what better way to treat the one you love than with a box of chocolates from the wonderful Hotel Chocolat.

My love affair with Hotel Chocolat goes way back; despite sampling many different brands of chocolates over the years I've yet to discover a better chocolatier! Their edible goodies make fabulous presents, whatever the occasion, and with prices ranging from £1.95 to £55 for their Valentine's chocolates there is something to suit everyone's budget.

Last week I was sent the Sleekster Love Collection to review. Yes, I know! It's a hard life. Seeing as they were Valentine's chocolates I decided to share them with Himself over a cafetiere of fresh coffee. Me! Sharing chocolate?! Who'd have thought it! (It was only because the box was so huge and I wanted to open them there and then - normally I would have hidden in the larder to eat them on my own).

Twenty four mouth watering chocolates including luscious cream truffles with sparkling champagne, the lingering warmth of caramel, deep chocolate mousse, melt-in-the-mouth pralines and so much more ~ all presented in a stylish and elegant box. One word: WOW.

Every single chocolate was divine (yes, the other half and I sampled one of each variety between us in one sitting). My favourite was the salted praline (ohhh emmm geeeeee!) and Himself pinched both of the blueberry truffles, he loved them that much.


This gift box retails at £22.00 which is more than reasonable, and the best bit about Hotel Chocolat is that their chocolates can be ordered online and delivered straight to your loved ones door. Maximum brownie points with minimum effort!

Why not have a look at their website for more Valentine's Day inspiration. Hotel Chocolat are also on Facebook and Twitter. You have ages to hint to your nearest and dearest too as there is a next day delivery option available right up until 13th February (charges apply).

Happy Valentine's Day, fellow chocoholics xoxox
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Reading Books v. Watching Screens


I'm terribly old fashioned when it comes to the great book versus screen debate.

As far as I'm concerned, nothing will ever come close to a book. Not ever! As a grown up, reading books, to me, equals me time and relaxation. Fiction is a means of escape and I love nothing more than flicking through the pages of a novel whilst wallowing in the bath or lying on a beach. There is no way a Kindle could ever compare. I love the feel of turning the pages by hand, and the look of my overflowing bookshelves too much.

As a child I was a complete bookworm. I visited the library every week without fail and read every day. Stories, poetry, fact books, you name it. Fiction was my favourite - I would get lost in the words and the illustrations would make my imagination run riot. Computer games were popular in the 80s but I just wasn't interested - and despite all the technological advances ever since, they still don't do anything for me.

I'm so glad that Daisy has inherited my passion for books because I believe that reading, for fun at home, is vital to a child's education. A child that enjoys reading is a child that wants to learn. 

As much as I enjoy my fair share of TV, given the choice, books would win hands down every time. That's not to say that TV can't play a part in a child's education too. Some television programmes on at the moment are fantastic; both kiddie ones and ones for grown ups. Daisy never ceases to amaze me with the things she remembers from the programmes she watches. She adores wildlife programmes and others specifically for children, like Alphablocks and Mister Maker. I have no problem with her watching these programmes as they are teaching her facts and language and also inspiring her to be creative. I'm not saying the TV is under lock and key in our house, far from it. If my children want to watch telly they can. Us mama's all use CBeebies as a babysitter sometimes and I'm not afraid to admit to it! So long as a child isn't sat in front of the telly all day, every day, then that's ok with me.

But books are something else altogether. I still adore getting stuck into a good novel (not that it happens very often!). More often than not, TV adaptations or films made from a book leave me bitterly disappointed and I much prefer the characters and buildings as I picture them whilst reading. I'm sure the same goes for children too. Books are a great basis for education; they stimulate the mind and encourage the imagination. They help with language and grammar. The latter I think is SO important. At the risk of sounding like my Mum, I am constantly horrified by the youth of today's complete lack of grammar (but that's a whole other blog post).

A book at bedtime is a great way to wind down - and, in our house, this is family time. Every night we choose a story, read it together, talk about it and then its time to go to sleep. I loved those moments as a child and I love them now, as a mother. So although I do watch the television, and as a family we enjoy movie nights together, books would win the debate every time.

By way of conclusion to this post, I asked my three year old whether she prefers reading a book or watching television. She said reading. When asked why she answered 'because I like reading books with you and Daddy and I like the pictures and I like talking about them'. So there you have it!

This post was written after a prompt from The Works, who are hopeful that the printed book will survive the digital revolution. They say, 'Reading doesn’t provide ready-made answers; it leaves room for imagination and extended periods of focus. This is increasingly important in today’s multi-media world, in which the over-abundance of information can be heavily distracting.' I couldn't agree more.


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Friday, 25 January 2013

Matching Outfits for Girls: My Favourites

This week I have mostly been making wish lists of outfits for the girls. Yep, as you've probably guessed from the title of this post, I'm going to be one of those mamas that dresses her girls the same every now and again. This could be seen as cruel, given my penchant for 60s floral prints, as it means there is a very good chance that the Modern Mummy girls will end up resembling the Von Trapps. However I personally think that matching outfits (even ones made from curtains) are c-u-t-e!

Luckily for them I am not particularly good with a sewing machine so I have been searching the web for some ready made frocks instead. There are some beautiful ones out at the moment, but I've found very few clothing companies that sell the same outfits in both baby sizes and kids sizes. If anyone can point me in the direction of some shops I might have missed (both online and on the high street) then I would be very grateful - please drop me a line! 

Here are a few of my favourite outfits that I've found this week.....








Hands up who loves this gorgeous teal floral flapper dress from Emma Levine as much as I do? It's available in both baby and kids sizes (ranging from 0-6m to 8-9years) and the best bit is that it's also currently in the sale, priced at £17.50 for the baby sizes and £29.00 for the kids. This dress would look great teamed with some brown or dusky pink woolly tights and brown boots! Perfect for these last days of winter.














I'm also everso slightly in love with this pretty jersey dress from Boden - available in both Daisy and Evie sizes (0-3m to 2-3years with prices starting from £18.00). I just adore the Peter Pan collar and this long sleeved dress will last right into Spring.








And what about these cute and cosy Bangles sweater dresses from Joules? The bold prints are divine and I would add some bright pink tights and Converse for a comfy and casual look. Available in navy for the teeny tinies, and candy bloom for older girls, they're a bargain at £16.95 {sale price} for the baby version (0-3m to 18-24m) and £29.95 for the kids version (ages 3 to 11-12).


Next week I will be sharing my favourite kids pyjamas.... see you all there xoxox
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Thursday, 24 January 2013

Summer Holidays

Ahhh January. The month where everyone is skint after getting paid early in December, everyone is miserable after the festivities of Christmas and everyone is freezing because of the bitterly cold weather. It's the time of year when I always find myself starting to daydream about summer. You know. That season when the sun is {normally} out, and its a few degrees warmer. Sometimes you can even get away with going out without a cardigan on and EVERYTHING!

This year I'm looking forward to Summer even more than ever. Daisy is at nursery now and I really miss her during term time. I'm so excited about having her at home for six whole weeks! Plus, of course, Evie's arrival means we will be holidaying as a family of four for the first time and I really can't wait. 

Although it's lovely to get away somewhere exotic and hot once in a while, this year we are thinking about staying in the UK. I much prefer exploring our own isles, and when there are children involved its a hell of a lot easier - and cheaper too.

We're spoilt for choice here in England. There are so many cheap UK breaks available to us. Self catering cottages, holiday camps, hotels, B&Bs - all depending on what sort of holiday you are after. 

Pre-children, when holidaying in Britain, we would always try and find somewhere a little bit unusual and off the beaten track. Somewhere where we could get out and about and explore the local pubs area.

Now Daisy and Evie are on the scene we're looking for something a teeny tiny bit different. Spontaneity is a thing of the past as getting ready to go out with two children is a military operation ~ and spending whole evenings in a pub isn't even at the bottom of our To Do List. We have been thinking, for the first time ever, how nice it would be to go somewhere especially for families, where everything you need is provided for you or available on your doorstep. 

Take Butlins for example. The famous red coats and holiday camps are a national institution! (They've been around since 1936, you know!) I've never been to one before but we are seriously considering it this year. They have everything you need on their resorts but you can still venture out on little adventures to local attractions if you fancy it and they have different accommodation options available depending on whether you want to be waited on hand and foot in a hotel, look after yourselves in one of their apartments, or if you just want a room to sleep in as a base for exploring the local area. I like the fact they are on the coast, they have pools etc on site (including indoor ones which are pretty handy considering the unpredictable British weather) and entertainment for the littlies too. Plus they are a bit retro which I secretly quite like!

So what do you think about holidaying as a family? Do you still like foreign trips or do you prefer to stay closer to home when you have the kiddies in tow? And have you ever been to Butlins before? I'd love to know your thoughts! xoxox
This post was sponsored by Butlins.
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Nature's Diet Coke: A Green Juice Recipe


This week I've been experimenting with my juicer and have come up with a recipe that I adore.

I have come to think of it as nature's healthy alternative to diet coke. Yes that revoltingly bad for you fizzy drink that looks (and tastes) like dirty water and which I shouldn't even be THINKING about, let alone WRITING about. I used to be addicted to the stuff and drink at least a can a day but now I've seen the light and have swapped it for lots of lovely fresh juices instead. 

This recipe is a perfect alternative as it's low calorie and perks you up instantly (that'll be the ginger!) but instead of pumping your body full of caffeine and aspartame, it loads you up on vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants so is SUPER good for you.




Ingredients.

3x golden delicious apples, 5cm cucumber, 1x stick of celery, 2x handfuls of spinach and 2cm of ginger. Makes 250ml 

Tip.
Put one of the apples into the juicer first and pack all the spinach behind it before adding everything else. This helps you get the most juice from your spinach.

Health Benefits.
APPLES: contain PECTIN (lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels) and VITAMIN C (boosts your immune system)
CUCUMBER: contains B-VITS (a great pick me up) and SILICON (good for hair and promotes good joint health)
CELERY: Full of antioxidants and, specifically, has anti-inflamatory benefits

SPINACH: The ultimate superfood, a handful of it contains over 300% of your RDA of VITAMIN A (promotes healthy skin and protects & strengthens respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts) and IRON (great for white blood cells which fight infection)
GINGER: A fabulous digestive aid which helps relieve tummy pain and sickness

The Green Juice A Day website is a brilliant place to go if you're contemplating introducing juicing to your diet. Click here for more information on why Green Juice is so good for you!
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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Blurb Photobook Review

I was recently contacted by Blurb and asked to review one of their photobooks.

I don't know about you but I'm one of those people that CONSTANTLY takes photographs but never actually prints them off.

It was one of my new years resolutions to change this, so this opportunity came at the most perfect time - especially as we had hundreds of photos from the Summer and of Evie's arrival in the Autumn!


With Blurb you can create lots of different kinds of photobooks including Instagram and Facebook photobooks. It's super easy to produce a book with one of their simple templates (which I did), although you can also download their software and customise your book yourself if you're a technical wizard (which I'm not). You can choose different shapes and sizes of book, go for hardcover (with or without protective sleeve) or paperback and design your own front cover, have up to 440 pages (!) and design each page layout completely differently.

If you are making an Instagram or Facebook book you can log into your accounts via Blurb and upload your photos directly which takes no time at all! Making a photobook from files on your computer is a bit more time consuming but still very fun to do. I would, however, recommend choosing and editing all your photos before you start - and then saving them in a separate folder so that they can be uploaded altogether.

I spent a good couple of hours selecting my photographs, editing them and arranging them over the pages of the book but I thoroughly enjoyed myself in the process. The website is really easy to navigate around and Blurb will even fill the pages for you if you are really pushed for time or not feeling particularly creative!

Delivery of the book took almost a fortnight (although a faster delivery option is available at a premium) but it was so worth the wait!

Our book is just beautiful! Bearing in mind ALL of my photographs are taken on an iPhone 4S, the quality of them in print is just outstanding and the paper is of fabulous quality too. The price of it, including standard delivery, came to a few pence short of £35 which I think is perfectly reasonable for a book of this standard.


It's a perfect coffee table book and I will definitely use Blurb again in the future! In fact we love our book so much we are going to order duplicates as gifts for our family. Why not take a look at them yourself? xoxox



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Juicing Power! A Guest Post

This morning I have a guest post for you from the wonderful Nicki Hughes of Wayside House. Nicki is a Holistic Therapist with a Shamanic twist who specialises in Facials and Hot and Cold Stones at her salon in Somerset. She is also Reiki Master Teacher who enjoys helping people find their true path ~ and, most importantly, she is one of my juicing oracles, and has given me heaps of information and advice since I introduced juicing to my way of life!

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When I started juicing nearly a  year ago, I had no idea it would lead me to such an amazing new network of friends and clients, all wanting to know more.

I had seen a few articles about it, but usually along side the 'Raw' food sensation where people only eat raw fruit and vegetables and are usually Vegan.. The idea of eating a raw diet did not appeal to me. I saw friends who were on it, and their skin suffered, they found the lack of warm foods in cold climates quite challenging.

So I did a little more research and on the advice of my yoga teacher I bought a juicer....that came with the 'Juice Master' Book.
It was all new to me. A learning curve with the different variations and the amounts to make. The book was an inspiration, and recently, Jason Vale has done Global 7 Day Juice Detox. Eye Opening to say the least.

I decided not to do that plan...I have no real reason to detox. I didn't over indulge at Christmas, and I am not over weight. Having been juicing for a while, my sugar cravings are very few and far between, so I tend not to need to pick at naughty processed foods. My appetite is smaller, and the way I eat my food is more mindful. 
I juice every morning. Sometimes it is my breakfast. More often I have my juice an hour before breakfast. 

The benefits of juicing?
Its FRESH. ORGANIC....Hopefully you will buy your goodies with Low HI .... according to Jason Vale...That's 'Low Human Intervention.' Think packaging. Think Food Chain..... Think.
Your Juice will be packed with more of your 5 a day than you could ever imagine. If you make it very 'green' you will be upping your alkali foods. Although some people do not agree that certain foods can help with the pH of the body, it is felt by others that although your body naturally moves from alkali to acid during the day...   it won't balance itself if it is unhealthy to begin with.

Many cancer sufferers try the Ph Diet as some believe that cancer cells cannot grow in an alkali body. There are reports for and against this, but if I was suffering I'd give it a go!
If you eat processed foods, lots of meat and dairy and refined sugars, your body will find it hard to balance itself. Give it alkali foods.... this is a whole subject of its own, but generally  the more green the vegetable the more alkali it is. Superfoods such as Broccoli, Wheatgrass, Spinach are all high alkali foods. As are lemons! It's worth noting that when cooked spinach turns acidic...so juicing it is the best way!
I buy a huge Juicing Box from Abel and Cole every couple of weeks. Designed perfectly for Juicing. Delivered to the door.
I try to juice more vegetables than fruit.
You will, however, miss out on the fibre in the fruit and veg when you juice them. The idea is that the vitamins and minerals get in to the system really fast this way. So you need fibre too....
Whizz your juiced fruit and veggies in a Blender with some avocado - Food of the gods! You can't juice an avocado. It has..... no juice! Perfect breakfast filling smoothie. Or add avocado to coconut milk and banana in the  blender for fibre and energy.  'Super Smoothie'
While we're were on the subject of 'Green' things to juice... Wheatgrass... Hugely Powerful little grass. But you can't juice it. You need a different, costly piece of equipment for the extraction.... you can add a tsp of powdered wheatgrass to any juice...or I have just discovered Squeeze Juice Cafe who deliver FRESH pouches. Much easier and much cleaner in the kitchen too!

Although there are many great recipes in the JuiceMaster book, I'm often asked for my favourite one.


2 apples, 2 inch of cucumber, small chunk of broccoli, slice of lemon, about 1/2 inch of fresh ginger, a stick of celery, and a carrot. Squish a handful of spinach in the middle and you're off!
If you need a more filling juice, add that whole amount after it's juiced, to half an avocado in the blender. Super Juice! 

So much to write, so many things to share...like the subject of beetroot! Add a small Beetroot to the juice. Powerhouse of vitamins. expands the blood vessels, so great prior to exercise. Many Olympians drank Beetroot Juice! Click for article.  

What Juicer I hear you ask? There are many. Unless you are feeding hundreds of people every day I wouldn't spend over £100.00 on one. You need one with a wide chute that is easy to clean. I chose mine from a recommendation and have since recommended to many others.

Phillips HR1861 does the job. takes little space. Easy to clean! 

Off you go! 

Juice Away!


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Wayside House is in Somerset and you can read all about the treatments on offer on their website here. 
You can also find Nicki on Twitter here and Facebook here.
Nicki also blogs at The Latest News From Wayside House here.

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Saturday, 19 January 2013

Never Underestimate the Power of a Reward Chart



Ever since the success of Daisy's potty training reward chart (read all about it here) I have regularly used a stickers as a form of bribery. It turns out its quite a controversial subject but I am of the opinion that rewarding a child for good behaviour is a million times better than telling them off for bad behaviour.

So stickers. HONESTLY, the results of giving {some*} kids stickers never cease to amaze me - what the hell is it about them? Gone are the days of racing to the biscuit aisle to bribe D with jaffa cakes before starting the weekly supermarket shop, now its the promise of some fuzzy kitten stickers (or similar) that allows me to get all my shopping done in relative peace and quiet.  

*Yes, yes, I appreciate that some kids couldn't give a monkeys about getting a sticker for eating all their greens ~ but reward charts do work for the majority of those that I know. Don't knock it until you've tried it!

Recently bedtimes have become a struggle in our house. I've never been a fan of Gina Ford and her regimented ways but one routine I have always followed (for my own sanity! I need my evenings, thank you) is the bedtime one. The last few months have been a bit of a whirlwind for us all, with Evie's arrival, moving house, constant building works going on, Daisy starting nursery, Christmas, lots of trips to visit family etc etc - and, as a result, we lost our good routine. There were more than a few late nights, and nights staying away with grandparents, and mad panics about getting up on time the next morning.... And yes, I know I am partly (probably entirely!) to blame for the disruption to normal service. With Himself working away a lot, I often have to do bedtimes by myself and I have struggled to get a good routine going with both of the girls. A couple of months down the line and I seem to have got the hang of things now (no more feeding Evie whilst sat on the loo seat supervising Daisy's bathtime or bathing them both and then freaking out about how to get them both out, dried and dressed at the same time) so I decided that it was time to create a reward chart to try and encourage good behaviour at bedtime once again.

There are heaps of downloadable reward charts on the internet but I personally like to make my own - and to get Daisy involved too. All it takes is an afternoon of craftiness and it means you can explain how the chart is going to work while you're drawing and sticking! Daisy loves having anything she's made up on the wall, and a reward chart is no exception. A trip to the shops to choose the stickers you're going to use is also a good incentive for the littlies to start behaving themselves.

The charts don't have to be flash - er, as you can probably tell, ours only took about fifteen minutes to make. Daisy coloured the border while I did the important stuff. I chose to do a calendar style chart and I coloured every fifth day pink as an extra reward. So for every five good bedtimes (and stickers) Daisy would also get a trip to the pocket money section of our local toy shop.

Almost two weeks in and bedtimes are back to their old, enjoyable self. Bath time, pyjama time, story and milk time and then a five minute cuddle before I go downstairs to lie on the sofa and watch crap on the telly do my housework.

I know reward charts aren't for everyone but there's no harm in trying! I wonder if they work on husbands? xoxox
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Monday, 14 January 2013

The Modern Mummy Guide to Reducing Food Waste


Food waste is a major problem in the UK and its something that I just can't stand.

Did you know that 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink are thrown away every year in the UK - and this costs the average household a whopping great £50 a month!

There is so much you can do to prevent waste and save yourself money in the process. Here are my five top tips for doing so:

1. The main way to stop wastage is to plan ahead and only buy what you are going to eat. Write a meal plan. Write a shopping list. And stick to them! Check in the fridge, freezer and store cupboard before you write your list so that you don't double up on things unnecessarily.  If you do end up with leftovers after a meal - USE THEM! If you've always got onions, potatoes and eggs to hand you can transform any left over veg and meat into hashes, frittatas and tasty omelettes.

2. Store your fresh food properly so that it doesn't spoil.

- All fruit (except for bananas) last heaps longer when kept in the fridge.
- Freeze chopped onions (including spring onions) in tupperware or a plastic bottle.
- Bag up and freeze (dry - not damp) spinach. It will shrivel but will still be perfect for use in curries and pasta sauces.
- Don't store onions and potatoes together. Both should be kept in a cool dry cupboard (out of direct sunlight). Place an apple in your bag of potatoes to stop them sprouting and thus extend their shelf life by a good couple of weeks. Onions can also last up to three months (so ignore those daft 'use by' dates again).
- Freeze herbs in ice cube trays with olive oil and defrost straight into the pan when you need them. Another time saver as well as a food saver.
- Don't be embarrassed to shop in the reduced section of shops. Most things can be frozen (see below). Parmesan, which can be super expensive, is fine to freeze. Just grate it, bag it up into portions and whack it in the freezer - then you can bring it out when you need it to sprinkle on pasta!
- Keep bread in a bread bin. I hate supermarket sliced bread and only buy freshly baked stuff without preservatives which has a notoriously short shelf life. Kept in a bread bin it will last two days and still be fine for toasting on the third.

3. Freeze stuff. Freezing is a wonderful, natural preservative. Food can be frozen any time before their use by dates - ignore the whole 'freeze on day of purchase' nonsense. Tinned tomatoes and baked beans can also be frozen once opened, so if they don't get eaten within a couple of days and are going to go off, just pop them into the freezer in a tupperware pot and defrost to eat at a later date.

4. Cook in bulk and freeze extra portions. Not only does this mean there is no wastage, you also get a nutritious, homemade, effortless dinner on another night! So it saves food, money AND time. Brilliant, non?

5. Compost organic matter that can't get used, like vegetable peelings, egg shells and teabags. Most local councils provide food waste recycling services now so even if you live in a flat and don't have a compost heap, there really is no excuse not to! Composting costs nothing and is a natural process that turns your kitchen waste into nutrient rich food for the garden so it is brilliant for the environment and the only kind of waste I don't mind! Food that goes into bin liners is taken off in huge quantities to landfill, where it rots and creates methane which is a hazardous gas and the second main contributor to global warming. Food waste that is taken away by local recycling services is used as a natural fertiliser by the government and also to create biogas (which is, in turn, used to fuel cars and to generate heat and electricity for the home).


It turns out I'm not the only one that feels passionately about preventing food waste. I was gobsmacked by the hundreds of responses I received when I tweeted for ideas to reduce food waste recently. Heaps of you shared your top tips and it made me ridiculously happy to know that there are other like-minded people out there! Here are some of them:

@mylittleacorns suggests freezing over ripe bananas. I'd never even thought of doing this and think its BRILLIANT. Banana bread is a great way of using up bananas but sometimes you've not got the time to make it there and then. If you freeze them they can then be defrosted to bake with at a later date. You can also freeze bread scraps - once you've collected a substantial amount (in a pot in your freezer) heat them through in a frying pan, blitz them in the food processor and store in an airtight container to use in recipes.

@contentedcalf says 'Anything that's a bit mushy gets juiced/smoothied!' As a newly converted juicer I love this! She also says 'I take all the wrappers off the veg & use common sense as to whether they're OK to use. Usually way past printed use by date!' I couldn't agree more.

@mumsmoments recommends using veg up at the end of the week to make soup or stock (ditto leftover chicken and bones) and using leftover pasta in the next day's lunchboxes. 

@mytwomums say 'most left over veggies can be blitzed in a blender to make a pasta sauce'.

@angoewright70 advises 'try and only make one meal for the family, even the hottest curry can start off for the kids before adding the spices'. I couldn't bear to have to make different meals for different members of the family and think this is a great tip.


If you're conscious of the amount of food you're throwing away then why not make a few changes to reduce it. There are some great suggestions above and most of them will take no effort at all. Not only will you be saving the environment, you'll be saving money too. Two brilliant reasons to stop wasting food, if you ask me!




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Miles Kelly Books: A Review

Daisy and I love reading together. Ever since she was a baby our bedtime ritual has always revolved around a good book and I have already started including Evie in our evening story time. I fully believe that this is the reason why Daisy is such a bookworm, and so keen to learn to read by herself now that she is a bit older.

All the bookcases in our house are overflowing and I am constantly on the look out for both exciting and educational books to bring home for Daisy. We have read so many new stories recently (The Dinosaur that Pooped Christmas by Tom Fletcher & Dougie Poynter went down well over the holidays!) and have lots of old favourites that we go back to time and time again - like the Janet & Allan Ahlberg books that everyone knows and loves.

Recently we were approached by Miles Kelly Publishing to review some of their books and, of course, we jumped at the chance.

Miles Kelly Publishing is an independent British company that specialises in books for children between 3 and 12 years of age. They have a wide range of titles in their list, including encyclopedias, quiz books, fact books, poetry books and fiction - and their trademarks are superb artwork and well written text within top quality printed books.


We were sent two poetry books, a nursery treasury and a fabulous fact book all about bears and all four are just brilliant in their own right.

The two poetry books ('The Jabberwocky and other Poems' and 'Four Princesses and other Poems') contain a lovely combination of old and new poems and every page is illustrated fantastically, using bright bold colours and comical characters both of which will grab the attention of any child. 

'I AM A BEAR!' comes from a collection of fact books which contain stickers, a mask and a poster. It is an excellent first fact book, jam packed full of information with a hard cover and well laid out pages containing short, punchy, engaging facts and a combination of both photographs and drawings. Daisy LOVED the stickers (which child doesn't!) and insists on wearing the mask whenever we read the book!


But my favourite book by far is the Nursery Treasury. It is simply stunning. It is a collection of best loved nursery rhymes and fairy tales and reading it is such a pleasure! The illustrations are beautiful and there is a huge selection of poems and stories to choose from. Another thing I like about this book is the way that these are divided up into categories ~ so choosing which one to read using the contents is a doddle!

Miles Kelly books are available direct from their website (here). There is a massive sale on at the moment too, so why not head on over and bag yourself some bargains!

xoxox


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Friday, 11 January 2013

BritMums 2013 - Sponsorship Plea!


I have been blogging for over two years now and it has been quite a journey!

What started off as a very personal account of my new life as a new mother, an online diary if you will, has now turned into a fully fledged blog discussing all aspects of pregnancy, parenting, food, style, interior design and photography and containing a collection of relevant and well read reviews. Modern Mummy has a large and loyal following and a very active social networking community on both Twitter and Facebook.

It has been a wonderful way of keeping myself sane and my brain active on the days when grown up conversation has been sparse! 

What is BritMums Live?

BritMums Live! is the UK's largest social media conference, where influential members of the lifestyle and parent blogger community can socialise with eachother, network with brands and PRs and improve their blogging skills. This year it takes place at The Brewery in the City of London on 21 and 22 June.

I've not been before but think it would be a fantastic opportunity to make some new contacts and discover ways to improve Modern Mummy. It would also be brilliant to meet some of the lovely friends I have made in the social media communities that I am a part of.
  
Why sponsor me?

I am looking for sponsorship from a family friendly brand that I will be proud to be associated with and with whom I can build an ongoing relationship.

Modern Mummy is a well established blog with the following statistics (correct at the date of publication of this post):
  • 4,000 unique visitors per month
  • 10,000 page views per month
  • 2,500 Twitter followers
  • 420 Facebook fans
  • A Klout score of 61

In 2011 Modern Mummy won the LovedbyParents.com 'Blogger of the Year' Award and was also nominated for a Blogger's Choice 'Best Parenting Blog' Award and in 2012 it was shortlisted in the 'Fresh Voices!' category of the BritMums Brilliance in Blogging Awards.

Modern Mummy is currently ranked the 46th best pregnancy and baby blog in the UK by the Tots100 and the 36th most influential parenting blog according to eBuzzing.

I am a competent and passionate blogger and you can rest assured that I will work hard to promote your brand professionally on your behalf.

In exchange for your sponsorship you will receive:

1. An initial blog post introducing you as my sponsor, containing your website and your social networking links, which will be shared within the social media communities that I am a part of. I will subsequently mention your brand (and link to it) in every other BritMums Live post written, both before and after the event.
2. Your company logo on my blog, with a direct link to your website, for the whole of 2013.
3. Reviews of your products and/or services in blog posts dedicated to them.
4. Numerous tweets and Facebook updates about your company and/or products in the lead up to the event and afterwards. I will also re-tweet and share your messages on Twitter and Facebook.
5. Your Twitter account and/or a hashtag of your choosing included in all tweets from the event.
6. Your logo on business cards created specifically for this event.

You will be the only company that I promote at the event and I will happily wear branded merchandise whilst there, should you wish.  

What am I looking for in return?

The cost of the conference ticket - £49.99
Travel expenses - approx. £50.00
A contribution towards overnight accommodation - approx. £80.00

If you would like to sponsor a blogger who will be 100% committed to promoting your business and its products at BritMums Live! this year then please get in touch via email (here) - I would love to work with you!
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Thursday, 10 January 2013

Past & Present; A Haslemere Toy Shop

Just before Christmas, I discovered THE BEST TOY SHOP IN THE WHOLE WORLD. Thats a bold statement, I hear you say, but, guides honour, it will take some beating!

Tucked away, a small distance from the shops of Wey Hill, on the Hindhead road in Haslemere is Past & Present, a toy and gift shop which is based in two rooms on the ground floor of a Victorian house. It is absolutely packed to the rafters full of the most beautiful things and is the sort of place that would be described as 'a hidden gem' or 'an aladin's cave' or a 'treasure' ~ because it really is.

It is TINY (I couldn't get Evie's pram in) but is literally full to bursting with every traditional toy you could wish for - from little pocket money trinkets to wooden BigJigs trains and Melissa & Doug play food - and it also sells pretty homewares that would make perfect gifts for grown ups. 

 

My sneaky photo just doesn't do it justice. It is SPECTACULAR. 

Why do I love it so much? Well to start with it is a small independent shop in my new home town. I don't need to say it again but I will.... I LOVE LOCAL, INDEPENDENT SHOPS! It is SO IMPORTANT to support them, otherwise there will be no more high streets and no more communities and you will have to buy EVERYTHING from Tesco Superstores where the tills are operated by robots and you will go days without speaking to other human beings. Or something. (Lecture over.... for now).

They sell a HUUUUGE and WONDERFUL selection of traditional toys, craft sets, gift ideas, handmade greetings cards and handpainted childrens furniture - the range is just fabulous for such a small shop.

Jackie and Sarah, who own and run the shop, are lovely ~ and most importantly they are passionate and knowledgeable about what they do which makes shopping there even more of a pleasure.

If you live anywhere within a ten mile radius, or if you are ever passing one day, you really must pop in. If you are too far away then you can always take a look at their website (here) as they also make (and deliver) bespoke, hand-painted gifts and furniture, such as memory boxes, toy chests and table and chairs sets - all of which are REALLY reasonably priced (possibly the cheapest out of any I have found online). 

Happy shopping xoxox

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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Children's Bedrooms - Decorating, Furniture & Storage Ideas

*trumpet fanfare*

I am very excited to announce that, at LONG LAST, we have finished the first room at the Cottage.... and of course it had to be Daisy's bedroom! 

A lot has gone on in this room, although its a bit tricky to show you the full extent in photographs. 

It started off as a double room which led through to a smaller box room and it had an old, boarded up and out of action fireplace (and chimney breast) in it.



The chimney breast was removed and a partition wall put up to create a new hallway leading to the third bedroom (now little Miss Evie's room - and next on the list to be completed!) which meant that Daisy's room would be a little bit smaller but would be all her very own


It was plastered, painted pink (of course), carpetted and kitted out in lovely pine furniture (including my old childhood bed!) and then filled to the rafters with madam's toys and books.


Our biggest Little Miss is doing pretty well in the Toy Department after a November birthday and Christmas. So now the time has come for me to hunt out some super clever storage solutions to organise and hide away all the clutter.

I've been pinning with fury and have come up with lots of inspiration (you can see my 'Bedrooms for Children' Pinterest board here) but due to the limited floor space I'm a bit stuck for ideas. Shelves on the wall would be ideal although Daisy wouldn't be able to reach them.

My plans are for some cute underbed storage, like these GORGEOUS boxes, complete with table top lids, from Childs & Co. This means the over flowing plastic toybox we are using at the moment can be sorted and some of its contents put away under the bed.



I will be replacing said {ugly} plastic toybox with something a bit prettier - like this owl hamper from The Little Blue Owl, which I just LOVE!



I think madam needs a shoe tidy to hang on the door but I am yet to find one I like ~ they all seem to be plastic and decidedly unpretty! If anyone can point me in the direction of a company that makes them, please do. Otherwise I might have to teach myself to use a sewing machine and attempt to knock one up myself!

A floating shelf above her bed will be handy for some of the bigger cuddly toys that aren't her every day favourites. (Ikea sell these at ridiculously cheap prices).

And I also need some sort of add on for her play kitchen to house all her play food and kitchen equipment, although I am stumped on that one. A mini dresser perhaps?

++++

Daisy already has a dressing up chest, which doubles up as a bedside table and the freestanding bookcase is fabulous, not only because it means all her books are in her reach and she can get them out whenever she wants to, but also because the top can be used for ornaments and toys.

Ultimately I would like to get her and Evie a cabin bed each (this one from Feather & Black is just AMAZING!) as it would save so much space in both bedrooms.



What space saving storage solutions have you come up with for your children's bedrooms? I'd love to hear them xoxox







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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Things That Make Me Happy Now That I'm a Mama!

Yesterday I had the sheer and utter JOY of finishing a drink that was STILL HOT. It dawned on me that this was probably the first time I'd had the pleasure of doing that since before Daisy was born. Its funny how the little things suddenly become so brilliant and how 'me time' takes on a whole new meaning once you have children!

I used to enjoy pamper days pre-children (when I still had the money, as well as the time). Now if I get a spare ten mins to whack on some nail varnish and let it dry without small people needing picking up (and said nail varnish chipping) then I am a very happy camper indeed. A bath without someone (Himself included) declaring "I NEED A WEE!" is something dreams are made of.

So last night, as I lay awake feeding the littlest, I came up with this list of other me time treats that make me happy now that I'm a Mama!

- READING! I can't remember the last novel I read. I find it too hard to dip in and out of them so I'm a magazine reader these days - and thats only when the small people let me.

- Eating a meal that is still warm without having to get up to get something for somebody or bring someone that has wandered off back to the table.

- Shopping, sans buggy, so that I can go through narrow doors and upstairs in shops that don't have lifts.

- Watching a film. I've not managed this since E was born and I think it will be a while before I get the chance to watch one again (Disney movies aside).

- Listening to music LOUD in the car. I'm talking BLASTING OUT OF THE WINDOWS SO THAT PEOPLE TURN AND LOOK loud! 

- Getting an hour to myself so that I can give the house a tidy without little people (and Himself) messing it all up straight away. {That in itself makes me chuckle - I'm given time by myself and my first thought is to clean! Oh how times have changed....}

- Eating a bar of chocolate ALL BY MYSELF without little puppy dog eyes looking up at me and begging for a bite.

- Four hours sleep. In a row. Can you imagine?! In fact I'd settle for four hours of broken sleep in one night right now.

- Spring & Summer. So that I can actually dry the ridiculous amounts of washing I do every day and so that my house doesn't resemble a Chinese laundry on a daily basis. (Did you see my post on Losing the Art of Conversation? I touched on drying washing there. You can read it here.)

And the ultimate:



- Going to the toilet without an audience. Sigh. This is the Ultimate Goal to which I aspire.


What things make you happy? xoxox
 
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Monday, 7 January 2013

Modern Mummy: Juicing Goddess!

I have just finished my first ever three day juice fast. Yep. For three long days my teeth didn't chew ANYTHING. I had freshly made fruit and vegetable juices for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a whole lot of H2O in between and that was it. It was something I have wanted to do for a long long time, and something I really needed to do after spending most of the festive season with my hand in a tin of Quality Street.

I didn't do it to lose weight; I did it to detoxify my body after overindulging ~ and I am positive that it has worked. In fact, if I'm honest I am pretty gobsmacked with the results. Not only am I feeling heaps better physically, it also made me think a lot about things that are important to me when it comes to eating, so I would go so far as to say I am feeling heaps better emotionally too.

But before I go all soppy on you, lets talk about this juice fast. I have often heard people talk about 'juice feasts' and sniggered to myself. There is nothing even remotely feast-like about not eating for three days! Or so I thought. But as Jason Vale AKA The JuiceMaster pointed out in one of his coaching videos, your body is being fully nourished by an abundance of fruit, veg and herbs when you're juicing and you aren't cutting food out at all.

Yes, The JuiceMaster. My juicing Guru for the past three days. It was his 3 Day Detox that I followed, and it was pretty bloody good. Available in an app format, with info and advice for before you get started, full recipes, shopping lists and coaching videos, it really was the ideal first juice feast for me. It involved no brain work at all! I just bought all the ingredients on the three day shopping list, made my juices and listed to the videos. *Polishes halo*






The first thing that shocked me was how tasty the veg juices were. I'd seen some in juice bars before and my God they looked awful ~ but I can honestly say I enjoyed every single juice on the plan. The second surprise was my energy levels. I fully expected to be shattered (and to be fair, I definitely flopped earlier than usual every night) but every morning I leaped out of bed and I went for mammoth walks every day. The third, final, and biggest surprise was that I didn't feel hungry once. Honestly. Yes I craved food (especially when a certain tweeter mentioned wild boar and roasted onions!!) but I wasn't hungry.  My stomach rumbled a fair bit on day one but not at all on days two or three. The juices were more than filling me up - and why wouldn't they, when each one contained up to 9 of my 5 a day!

I'm not saying I could do this all day every day. I couldn't and I wouldn't. But it definitely made me stop and take stock about the things I eat. (This is where I get a bit soppy).

I've always been keen to buy organic (especially after my trip to Eastbrook Farm last year) and I'm an avid believer in shopping local to support local businesses. 

Fasting for three days made me realise quite a lot ~ the majority of which  I won't bore you with! ~ but the two key realisations for me were:

1. I don't need as much food as I thought I did. I'm a food lover, theres no denying it. But quality of food is much more important than quantity. Which brings me nicely onto point 2....

2. Its really important to me to know what is going into my body (and my childrens). I love t o cook from scratch, and knowing where my food has come from, and buying local, organic produce wherever possible, is even more important to me than ever.

So I have finished my first juice feast feeling really positive and I'm already looking forward to doing another one! I plan to introduce juicing into daily life so that I can involve the whole family too. Most importantly (to me) I've been given the kick up the bum I needed and finally discovered our local farm shop and I have made a (rather belated) new year's resolution to pick up the vast majority of our weekly shop there buying organic, local and seasonal produce.

Happy Monday people xoxox


NB: This is not a sponsored post/paid review of The JuiceMaster's 3 Day Detox. I looked into raw living and juicing and paid for the app myself.
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Friday, 4 January 2013

Losing the Art of Conversation



The other day I found myself telling a friend a story SO boring that, once I realised the extent of its boringness, I could hardly bring myself to finish it.

I've noticed this happening a lot recently.

I can only presume that this is another symptom of the condition commonly known as baby brain. And that the more babies you have, the worse it gets. 

As if putting milk in the fabric conditioner dispenser of the washing machine drawer and walking all the way into town to go to the Post Office without the parcels you wanted to post wasn't enough, I now appear to have lost the art of conversation too.

Some friends popped round for a coffee last week and they were the first adults (aside from Himself and my elderly neighbour) that I had seen in five days. I was so excited that I spouted the most ridiculous amount of shit in their direction without letting them get a word in edgeways for at LEAST the first twenty minutes after they had walked through the front door.

One particularly spectacular story which took me a PHENOMENALLY long time to tell was about how I struggle to dry clothes indoors in the winter. "It just doesn't dry outside and I haven't got the space in here!" I said while my friends looked at their watches and tried to stifle yawns. And who can blame them? WHO THE HELL CARES! I hadn't seen them for weeks, did I really have NOTHING even a TINY bit more exciting to share with them? It's no wonder they left shortly after.

I don't remember being this boring after Daisy was born so I have come to the conclusion that the more children you have the worse your baby brain becomes.

It's scientific fact that baby brain exists.* All those crazy hormones that are still pumping round your body, combined with the complete and utter EXHAUSTION from all those sleepless nights is bound to have some sort of effect on your brain. But it will go away soon, right?! xoxox

*I think. I'm too exhausted to google.

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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The White Company Christmas Bedroom Competition


Fresh Design Blog has teamed up with The White Company to give bloggers the chance to win up to £200 worth of bed linen.

To enter, all you have to do is write a blog post on your own blog showcasing items from The White Company’s home collections to illustrate how you’d style a bedroom over the festive period. This is my entry!


Next on our list of rooms to complete at the Cottage is ours. We're almost there - we've had the room replastered, painted, carpeted and Himself is even creating me an airing cupboard tomorrow (with shelves galore - plenty of storage - which I am not ashamed to say I am UBER excited about!). I've gone for a blue theme and I plan to make it a child free zone eventually (can you IMAGINE a room without any baby paraphernalia or TOYS!) but one thing we have yet to treat ourselves to is all the decorative bits, like lovely new bed linen and bedside table lamps, so winning this competition would be a dream!

The White Company is somewhere I always look when it comes to homewares and  their website is also brilliant for inspiration.

Nothing beats crisp white when it comes to bed linen and the Pimlico collection is simple, white perfection. 720 thread count Egyptian cotton perfection, no less. Sighhh.


To go with it, the super pretty Copenhagen white bedspread and cushion, made from pure cotton voile, would fit in perfectly with the vintage look we are going for in the Cottage.



I would also add this GORGEOUS Chunky hand knit throw in silver grey into the equation for those chilly nights...


 And a pair of these divine Provence table lamps for our bedside tables.



 A Madison mirror would finish the room off perfectly....




And some beautiful orange scented candles would make it feel lovely and Christmassy!



 How would you decorate your bedroom at Christmas? xoxox

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The SeaLife Centre, Brighton

Today the Modern Mummy family ventured across the border into Sussex for a day out in Brighton. We took a leisurely drive along the B-roads (I LOVE doing that) and stopped for a coffee (I LOVE doing that too) before arriving at our destination, the SeaLife Centre.



The SeaLife Centre in Brighton is the oldest aquarium in existence and, after a six month closure and £2million refurbishment, celebrated it's 140th anniversary last year. I'd been to the SeaLife Centre in London but this was my first visit to the Brighton one and I have to say - the Victorian architecture is just stunning. It was a pretty amazing sight to behold when you first enter from the plain, modern day reception.

The exhibits were wonderful too. We saw....

Japanese Giant Spider Crabs *shudder*. These bad boys were HUGE and can grow up to 12ft from claw to claw!

Check out this close up of the evil little buggers face!


There were hundreds of different fish, from teeny tiny clownfish to a giant stingray called Sandy. 




My favourite was this little fella!


Daisy and I went on the glass bottomed boat ride (well worth the £1.50 ticket price - trips last fifteen minutes and only twelve people are on board at anyone time so its the perfect opportunity to ask any questions you've got about any of the creatures at the aquarium). We met two turtles called Lulu and Gulliver, who were both 74 years old, and then had the pleasure of feeding them their lunch of broccoli and lettuce.


The famous tunnel was brilliant and could have kept us all (Evie included!) entertained for hours.




There was also an interactive rockpool which contained all different creatures that can be found around the British coast and Daisy and I held a starfish and stroked some sea anemones.

After a brilliant few hours there it was time to head home.... although no trip to Brighton is complete without a walk along the pier, a fish & chip lunch and a nobbly bobbly - even in winter! xoxo




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