November 2014 | Modern Mummy

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Tick Tock

OK so this is probably going to sound a bit weird, but since British Summer Time ended last month, I've become a bit obsessed with clocks. Proper, good old fashioned, ticking clocks - not digital ones, or the ones we all have on our phones. For the first time ever, this year I didn't have any proper clocks to have to manually adjust the time on and it made me feel really sad.

In the past I always loved listening to the gentle sound of a ticking clock as I drifted off to sleep. I had a weird deja vu thing when I was shopping in Laura Ashley a couple of weeks ago; it made me think back to my childhood and on a bit of a whim I picked up this duck egg blue, mini retro alarm clock for my bedside table. 

Now when I wake up in the night I LOVE that I don't have to reach for my phone to find out the time. I always hated being blinded by the bright white light of the screen and being tempted to do a bit of late night tweeting. I love the sound of the alarm waking me up in the morning, rather than Taylor Swift 'Shake It Off', which had been my previous alarm tone of choice (Daisy's actually). Clocks are just so traditional and so simple.

You may have noticed that I'm trying to leave my phone alone a bit at the moment. I'm so conscious that I rely on it for everything - and I'm not just talking about the time. I make lists on it, I do my banking on it, I use the sat nav constantly, I use it as my main camera and I'm forever wiling away the hours on social media. 

So I decided it was time to get a gorgeous kitchen clock too; one with a proper second hand so I can time things properly while I'm cooking and generally just PUT THAT BLOODY PHONE DOWN!

The company Red Candy, who I've worked with before (you can read my review of their butterfly coat hooks here) asked me if I'd like to review something from their online store ahead of Christmas so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to choose a kitchen clock.

I opted for this Newgate electric wall clock. How cute? It's 21.5cm across so fairly compact, but is encased in a thick, bright-pale blue (is that even a colour?) metal surround which really makes it stand out. 

And so my new obsession with clocks was born!

Next up I'm looking for a mantel clock for the front room. I've been looking at vintage ones on eBay, but am also rather fond of this retro-style one which is also from Red Candy.

What do you think? Do you have clocks in your house? I hate the thought of them disappearing from homes forever. It's like writing letters.... technology is slowly taking over. Bring back clocks! xoxo

The Newgate Small 50s Electric Wall Clock is available in lots of different colours and costs just £36.00. It's perfect for kitchens, bathrooms or bedrooms. Check out the Red Candy website here for more gorgeous homewares.


Saturday, 29 November 2014

Celebrating World Vegan Month with Big Green Smile

During November, people all over the planet have been celebrating World Vegan Month. I'm not a vegan myself, which is probably why food was the first thing that sprung to mind when I was approached to work on this campaign. Of course veganism isn't just about food; it's a lifestyle, and the people at Big Green Smile asked if I'd like to try some of their vegan make up.

I chose the Lavera Beautiful Mineral Quattro Eyeshadow set in Cappuccino Cream and the Lavera Deep Darkness Mascara in black. These are my two make up essentials (closely followed by eyeliner) so I was really interested to try out a new brand.

I'm one of those people whose make up routine hasn't changed.... ever. Aside from experimenting with a few different coloured Barry M Dazzle Dusts in the nineties and noughties, I've pretty much stuck to natural eye shadows in various shades of brown, kohl eyeliner (liquid for nights out) and the thickest, gloopiest, blackest mascara going. I've always been very fickle when it comes to eye shadow brands, choosing whatever was on offer at the time, but I'm VERY fussy when it comes to mascara - it has to be jet black, there has to be lots of it and the wand/brush has to be HUGE.

The eyeshadow set that I chose is phenomenal. Really. It's super easy to apply (I have always used a lip brush, randomly, which is smaller than your average eyeshadow brush and I find allows me to be a bit more precise with my application) and, for the first time in twenty -odd years of make up wearing I appear to have found a product that doesn't crease up in my eye socket! I have quite deep set eyes and by the end of the day, I tend to have no eyeshadow left on my lids as it has all collected in the crease of my eye socket. This drives me mad and I've tried all sorts of foundations/powders/primers and different make up brands but to no avail. I'm genuinely thrilled to find something after all these years! 

I usually avoid buying eyeshadow sets as I always find one or two of the colours just don't get used. I then end up with loads of half finished sets at the bottom of my make up drawer as I can't bear to throw them away, but that's not the case here. All four shades are perfect and I've actually been using them all every day. I wear the darkest colour in the outer corners of my top lid, the palest in the inner corners, the slightly-lighter-but-still-dark colour in my sockets and the warmer pale one underneath my eyes. The geek in me is trying to use the same amount of each every day so that they all run out at the same time!

The mascara I wasn't *quite* so keen on. I like my eyelashes to look pretty dramatic. I go for the clumpy, heavily applied look rather than the natural one - and the Lavera brand doesn't cut the mustard in that sense. If you like the natural look then this mascara definitely IS for you. The brush is divine (so good, I've actually been using it with my usual, non-vegan mascara) and the mascara itself really is jet black, but it's very difficult to build it up to the look I like to go for.

The eyeshadow set retails at just £12.50, and the mascara £14.90 which I think are very reasonable sums for good quality, ethically made and environmentally friendly make up like this.

DISCLAIMER: I was sent the products mentioned above in order to carry out this entirely honest review of them.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

48hrs in Japan ♥

I'm back from what was the most amazing, crazy, whirlwind trip EVER! 

After a pretty horrible couple of months, during which I went through a family bereavement and a break up, my bestie invited me on one of her work trips to Tokyo... and the opportunity couldn't have come at a better time!

On Sunday morning, I was picked up and whisked off to Heathrow airport for my FIRST CLASS (yes, really!!) flight to Japan. That in itself was the most brilliant treat.... a little under twelve hours of complete luxury and peace and quiet, all by myself. I took three magazines, watched two movies, ate two utterly divine meals and had some pretty good sleep too (and we all know sleep is my holy grail).

We stayed in Yokohama, which is about 25 miles outside of Tokyo, and spent two days eating as much sushi, gyoza, kalbi beef, pocky and manju as we could manage (I think I gained about half a stone in two days, seriously) and drinking my new favourite tipples, Oronamin C (non alcoholic and very healthy) and plum wine (VERY alcoholic and probably not so good for you). Our last night was spent in a bar that looked like someone's front room which was owned by a little old man who served us his own homemade plum wine and sent us home with a bottle of it each!

We visited Meiji Jingu temple, wandered the streets of Harajuku and Shibuya in the city, walked along the coast and harbour back in Yokohama, spent far too much time in the purikura photo booths and did a LOT of shopping. All in all, I think we crammed in a pretty impressive amount - and a nice mixture of traditional and modern day activities too! AND I got seven hours of blissful, uninterrupted sleep both nights as well.

Now I'm back, super jetlagged and on a mega post-Japan come down - although seeing the girls after three days away was amazing... I'd never left them for that long before.

Here are a few photos from my time away xoxo


Thursday, 20 November 2014

Mabel the Kitten

Have you met Mabel yet? 

If you follow me on Instagram you'll have been inundated with kitten spam since she arrived in our household, a little over seven weeks ago.

She's just a moggie but has the most beautiful and unusual markings; a little bit of seal point in her ears and tail, a little bit of tabby in the two 'go faster' stripes running down her back, what looks like a batman mask over her big blue eyes and a black heart shaped nose!

The vet thinks she might have some rag doll and/or burmese in her, not just because of her markings, but because of her build and her temperament. Before she came to live with us she was brought up in the house of a childminder, so she is well used to children and noise and is quite happy being picked up and stroked and played with by the girls. There was no settling in period for her, it's like she's always been part of the family.

It took us quite a while to come up with her name. Before we got her, Daisy had planned to call her Queen Elsa Snowflake because of her white coat, but in fact it's started to darken so  by the time she came home that didn't seem right for her. She was nearly 'Batman' because of her grey face but again, it didn't feel like the one. We then chose Mabel, which suited her just perfectly, however Evie originally pronounced 'Mabel' 'Meatball' which cracked us all up and the name kind of stuck.

After we lost Poggio the cat, the month before we left London and moved to Haslemere, we'd always planned to get another pet. I'm definitely a cat person; I just don't think a house is a home without one. I've always wanted the girls to grow up with animals around them, for the companionship and so that they can learn how to take care of them. I love the way cats sit in the window and wait for you to come home, and know exactly when you need a little bit of affection. Of course I also love their independence and the fact they rule the roost too.

Daisy and Mabel have become the best of friends. Daisy feeds her, they watch TV together and they sleep together at night. They're inseparable and I find the pair of them just so gorgeous! We've already decided that when Evie is a little bigger we'll get a second cat for her. I'm turning into a crazy cat lady already! xoxo


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Changes to Maternity & Paternity Leave

This is a guest post from Kimberley Watson. Kim is a proud mummy and wife herself, but when she gets chance, she’s also a keen writer, having graduated with an English degree. As a bit of a free spirit, she believes travel is the key to a happy life, and she’s going to make sure her kids see the world, too. On the off chance she’s not writing, with the family or off exploring, you can find her curled up with a good book or enjoying some delicious treats. Her 20-year-old-self would be kicking her for not saying ‘partying’, but sadly that’s just not true anymore! You can find her on twitter here

The world isn’t the place it once was. These days, women’s place isn’t in the home – unless of course, they want it to be. Choice is a brilliant thing, which is why deciding to be a stay at home mother, or to go back to work almost immediately after having a baby are both fine – providing choice is there. Of course, there are loads of reasons why some might pick one or the other, and sometimes, these choices may seem almost forced in themselves, due to things like financial pressures.
However, in line with basic equality laws elsewhere in other areas of our lives, there are now some better legal implementations in place for all new parents, which allow families to choose how best to choose parental responsibility after having a baby. Although the entitlement for new mums and dads will stay the same – 52 weeks – there are now things in place which will allow them to share the maternity and paternity time equally or any way they’d like.
For some, it’ll make no difference. However, for some two-parent families, this will be a welcome piece of news which might help them make a better future for their little one and themselves. Not everyone’s eligible to share the time, but many will be, and it’ll mean life may well get easier!

Take a look and see what you think. There are some interesting facts on here – it’s no wonder changes are finally being made!

Infographic courtesy of Taylor Rose.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Disney Princess Palace Pets Magic Screen Tablet

Daisy wasn't the only lucky girl in the Modern Mummy household last month (she got to review the Sofia the First Royal Academy Backpack!). Evie was also sent a little something to put to the test, namely the new Disney Princess Palace Pets Magic Screen Tablet!

All kids of this day and age love technology. and this tablet is extra special as it features everyone's favourite Disney princesses and their Palace Pet friends. It provides four different activities to help children develop their knowledge of colours, numbers and fun facts and there's music and sound effects to really engage little ones, as well as extra sensitive contacts for their little hands.

Evie was thrilled with this toy - Daisy has the Disney Princess touchpad which is quite similar so she was really excited to have one of her own.

It's aimed for children aged 2+ and costs just £20 from Tesco at the moment (and toys are currently part of the Clubcard boost too so you could effectively get it for just ten English pounds which is a huge bargain). I think it would make a great Christmas or birthday present! xo

Sofia the First Royal Academy Backpack

Daisy is a big fan of everything Disney, and after meeting her at Disneyland Paris earlier this year, she is particularly fond of Sofia the First!

With that in mind, it goes without saying that last month, when she was sent the Sofia the First Royal Academy Backpackit was love at first sight!

The backpack is a wearable, magical pop up Micro World.... How cool is that?! No wonder Daisy enjoys playing with it so much. When it's opened, different play areas are revealed - a library, a classroom, a dance floor, an art room, a courtyard and a stable - and there are four micro dolls included to play with. Then it all folds away into a small satchel like backpack which can easily be taken out and about with you (or easily moved to a different room in the house if you have a little sister that's trying to join in with your game!).

From a parents point of view, one thing I wasn't majorly keen on was the fact I had to sit down and stick a million stickers onto this set once we'd got it out of the box. Daisy was DESPERATE to get her hands on it and start playing but wanted the stickers all in place and kept moaning that I was being too slow! Three weeks after we got it, the stickers are also starting to peel off which I find rather annoying, although it hasn't bothered Daisy in the slightest. 

The backpack also requires a grown up to help put it away, and sometimes even I struggle to work out what folds away first!

Those points aside, I think this set is really rather lovely. It retails at £34.99, which I think is a fair price for the amount of fun it provides, and this is definitely a lovely toy for any Sofia fan.xoxo


Bucket List #4 - Hot Chocolates at Dylans in Haslemere

I'd better speed up with this bucket list if I want to tick every thing off it before the winter comes! It's feeling very Autumnal indeed at the moment - and we all know this is the perfect time of year to drink hot chocolate - so that's exactly what we did last week!

Our new favourite place to go in Haslemere is Dylan's Milk Barn. (If you're local its on the Wey Hill side of town, on Junction Place). They do the most amazing ice cream sundaes - and have a brilliant selection of sorbets if you're dairy free like me! - plus cakes and hot drinks too. They also put on loads of events for the local community which is something I completely love about them; they had an event on every day during the last half term (including a brilliant Hallowe'en party, which we went to), plus they've got lots of festive fun lined up for December. I'm putting Daisy's name down for Christmas wreath making which I think sounds like heaps of fun.

Evie and I got caught in a massive downpour whilst out shopping last week and, seeing as we were passing, we decided to take shelter at Dylans ;) Evie had the most amazing hot chocolate with whipped cream, marshmallows and crumbled flake and a super gooey chocolate muffin too. (I had a soya cappuccino).

I've never seen her eat and drink something so fast.... I think thats a pretty good testament to it's deliciousness!

Next week we're hoping to tick 'apple picking' and 'eat toffee apples' off our list - we will be slightly cheating with the apple picking but to make up for it I'll be posting a recipe for the toffee apples! 

See you then xoxo

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Getting Cosy with Morlands

It's most definitely Autumn now..... the nights are drawing in, the heating has gone on and I don't know about you, but when it's cold outside, all I want to do is snuggle up on the sofa drinking tea and watching movies. Even better is snuggling up on the sofa with the kids, with us all wearing our jarmies and the biscuit tin on our laps! 

Last month I was asked to be a part of the Get Cosy with Morlands campaign, which was rather good timing. I got to choose a pair of their gorgeous sheepskin slippers to keep my toes warm on these chilly Autumn evenings! 

I opted for their Lea slippers - open back mules, traditionally lined with the finest quality sheepskin. They're GORGEOUS! I love that I can quickly slip them on and off, and they are ridiculously luxurious and cosy; perfect for this time of year.

I really have a thing for British brands, and Morlands have been making and selling sheepskin slippers in Somerset since 1825. 190 years of experience.... that's quite something!  

The Lea slippers are available direct from Morland and are priced at £54. I think they'd make a pretty good Christmas present for someone special.... or a little festive treat for yourself ;) xo

DISCLAIMER: I was sent a pair of  Lea slippers from Morland for the purpose of this honest review. All words and thoughts are my own.


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Cosatto Pretzel High Chair

With a five year old and a two year old, we've been through a few high chairs. Of course, just like buggies, different people look for different things when they're in the market for a high chair, but I think it's safe to say that the list of things people DON'T want them to be is pretty universal.

Our very first one for Daisy was a supermarket cheapie, bought after absolutely no research, and pretty much embodied everything I now hate about high chairs. It was bulky, VERY ugly and made from cheap and nasty plastic with dodgy, temperamental clips and fittings - but it could be folded away easily and only cost us £20 so we persevered with it until Daisy started eating up to the table on a booster with us.

When Evie came along, I was happy to use all our old baby paraphernalia - apart from that wretched high chair, which had already gone to the charity shop (sorry to whoever bought it!). Over the past three years we've tried three well known models but are now the proud owners of a Cosatto Pretzel. It's a keeper!

The Pretzel is a sturdy wooden highchair that can be adjusted to three different settings, making it suitable for weaning, toddlerhood and beyond. Aesthetically I love its sharp, clean lines and think the wood makes it the perfect addition to my country style kitchen. It comes with comfy padded seat cushions and a wooden tray for freestanding feeding which can also be flipped back (or removed completely) so that your little one can eat up at the table with the grown ups, which is something I've always been particularly keen to embrace. The tray is super handy for arts and crafts sessions though as the outer ridge helps to stop pencils and crayons rolling onto the floor, plus it's really easy to wipe clean.

Things I love, love, love about the Pretzel:

- It's easy to put together, to move the seat/footrest levels and to remove the tray
- The wood is very easy to keep clean (plus looks rather lovely too)
- It grows with your child and is suitable from 6 months to ten years
- It tucks away under the table nice and neatly
- The price. At £120, it's 25% cheaper than it's biggest, Scandinavian competitor - and that price includes the cushions and tray which you usually have to pay extra for 

Things I'm not so keen on (but definitely AREN'T deal breakers):

- The white cushions get mucky very easily and show up stains, but to be honest we prefer to use the chair without them anyway
- It would be great if they were available in different colours; turquoise or red or pink or mustard yellow would be amazing - and are all very Cosatto!

The Pretzel costs £120 and is available direct from the Cosatto website here.xoxo

We were sent the Cosatto Pretzel in exchange for this honest review.


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Daily Outfit ♥ 1960s

Black crepe funnel neck top, £16 - c/o Next
Houndstooth Jacket - vintage
Mini skirt, old, old, old, old TopShop - similar from ASOS here
Black patent double T-bar flats, £30 - c/o Next

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Weetabix Whole Wheat Family Fibre Challenge

Most people in the UK don’t have enough fibre in their diets, so to try and encourage families to eat more, Weetabix have launched the Whole Wheat Family Fibre Challenge. Fronted by Gabby Logan, the campaign aims to highlight the many easy ways that fibre can be incorporated into your family's diet on a daily basis. 

Gabby will follow a high fibre diet plan for a month, created by Weetabix's consultant nutritionist, Sian Porter, and Weetabix also asked me if I fancied taking part alongside her as she encourages the wider public to take the Challenge too.

I'm always interested in hearing about ways in which I can improve my family's diet. Fibre isn't something I'm desperately worried about as we all have plenty of fresh fruit and veg, including daily juices, and we generally eat wholewheat bread and pasta - and lots of weetabix! - but there is always room for improvement and I really keen to hear what Sian had to say about the things we eat.

My first step was to keep a three day food diary so that she could provide me and my family with a tailored high fibre diet plan. My diet generally involves a nutriblast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and a healthy dinner, with fruit and nuts as snacks both morning and afternoon. But I'm no angel and certainly enjoy meals out, or a takeaway, most weeks and some chocolate here and there. My daily downfall is that I have a penchant for builders tea (i.e. very sugary) and sometimes skip meals if I am having a busy day.

This is what Sian had to say about my diet:

"Overall quite good, eats a nice variety of fruit and veg
In terms of things to work on:
·        try not to skip meals - Weetabix with milk and fruit can make a quick and satisfying meal when you are time pressured any time of day, is portion controlled and boosts your fibre intake
·        Have some protein at breakfast or during morning as you did with a handful nuts. Yogurt is also a good option
·         Think about having small amount of carbs with your nutribullet smoothie to stop mid-afternoon slump e.g. add handful of oats
·        If adding veg/salad to sandwich do so in meaningful amounts e.g. a portion of beetroot is seven slices or 3 baby ones

·      Try and work on cutting sugar out of drinks - use step wise approach (1 to 1/2 to 1/4)"

There are some fantastic tips there and I will definitely be taking them all on board as I begin my four week challenge today. The sugary tea thing is something I've already been working on and have successfully weaned myself off of two sugars per cup (although it took me a year to accept the taste of just one spoonful!).

It goes without saying that, Weetabix is a brilliant way to start your day; it's a high fibre, healthy and nutritious breakfast option that we all have pretty regularly. If you want to take part in this challenge, you can download the diet from the Weetabix website here.

I'll be keeping you posted on how we're getting on over the course of the plan, and sharing tips and recipes from Weetabix and some of my own. If you're taking part too, or are just interested in increasing your fibre intake, I'd love to hear from you! xo

Friday, 7 November 2014

How to wear leopard print (without looking like Bet Lynch)

Leopard print is one of my all time favourite patterns, and I think a lot of women would be inclined to think the same. In my twenties I wore it quite a lot, although now I'm older I've become conscious of it slowly disappearing from my wardrobe and I'm determined to invest in a few more pieces before it becomes extinct altogether. 

Leopard print is this season's biggest print trend but it has been around for an age and it's the old fashioned, timeless look that appeals to me. Think Marilyn Monroe, Jackie O,  Elizabeth Taylor - or for more current fashion icons, try channelling your inner Kate Moss, Gwen Stefani or Alexa Chung when incorporating leopard print into your outfit.

I chose this leopard print cape sweater as part of my sixties inspired capsule wardrobe from Next and it's my favourite top at the moment. Aside from being so bloody comfy (yes, that's important to me too!) it's so easy to wear. I love to team it with skinny black cigarette pants and my patent double t-bar flats. 

Of course if you're going to dress head to toe in such a bold print, you're going to resemble Bet Lynch or Pat Butcher, but just a little bit of it here and there goes a long, long way.

Here are a few tips for introducing (or if you're me, keeping!) leopard print in your wardrobe:

Nat from Style Me Sunday wearing a vintage leopard print cape

Don't be scared of it! If you like it, wear it! 

Combine it with accessories in bold primary colours, ideally red or blue. A slick of bright red lipstick and dark glasses,  or a royal blue clutch or heels make perfect companions. 

Dress down leopard print with casuals. A leopard print jacket worn over a super simple jeans and t-shirt combo takes little effort, but has maximum effect.

Carissa from Little Likely Lads dressing up denim with leopard print heels and a red bag

If you're a first timer, why not start with accessories- a pair of leopard print cats eye sunnies are super stylish and glamorous, as is a bag or pair of heels. 

I'm going to end this post with a quote from style legend, Gianni Versace. This is totally how I feel about fashion.xoxo

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