August 2015 | Modern Mummy

Monday, 31 August 2015

#TheStyleProject - September 2015

In January 2013 myself and Alice from Project Wanderlust launched a daily style challenge called the #NYNYStyleProject. At the time it was the only UK style challenge doing the rounds on Instagram and as such had a very large and loyal following. Quite simply, we wanted to encourage women to feel better about themselves and to help inspire them to inject a little glamour into their day-to-day lives. It was originally only meant to be a one off (hence the 'New Year New You' name) but lasted almost a year - and that Summer, Kara from Innocent Charms Chats and Carissa from Little Likely Lads also joined the team.

And now, after a bit of a break, I'm thrilled to announce that the style project is back! With a new name and the full team behind it, we're hoping that it will be bigger and better than ever before. 

Are you stuck in a style rut and fed up of wearing the same things day in, day out? Do you need a bit of inspiration and motivation? Then look no further. Here is the brand new prompt list for the month of September!

Want to play? Here's what to do!

♥ Find the day's prompt on the month's list. We will publish these in advance, usually around the 25th day of the month.
♥ Interpret the prompt as you will - and incorporate your interpretation into your daily style. It can be an item of clothing you own, a piece you've seen and are lusting after, a beauty product, anything!
♥ Take a photo!
♥ Share it on Instagram or Twitter. Don't forget to use the hashtag #TheStyleProject so that other people can find your pictures.
♥ Search the hashtag yourself and check out other people's photos. Like what you see? Tell the photographer! It's a nice way to get to know eachother and a lovely confidence boost too.
♥ You don't have to join in every single day. Sometimes it's just not possible - and that's okay! Dip in and out whenever you like, and if you're not able to take your own photos, look at other people's for inspiration.

Most importantly - have fun! xoxo

A Great Day Out with The Collective

Every once in a while I'm fortunate enough to be introduced to a brand that I really genuinely do fall head over heels in love with. The Collective is one of these brands and I've been really lucky to have been asked to work with them on a number of campaigns since they launched their child friendly yoghurts last Spring.

Suckies are a range of portable yoghurt pouches designed for kids, which are perfect for lunch boxes or on-the-go snacks. Since being introduced to them we have included them in our food shop every single week without fail, so it's always a bit of a treat when we are sent a stash of freebies - and even more of a treat when they are accompanied by a kit of essentials for a great day out!

And that's just what happened earlier this month - The Collective sent us a cool bag stuffed full of pouches, along with colouring books and crayons, portable speakers, a portable phone charger (how I have lasted this long without one is beyond me, they are BRILLIANT!) and a t-shirt for Daisy (Evie already has one).

The girls and I love a good road trip and are forever nipping down to the coast for the day, or out for a walk in the hills or through the woods. If you're not a seasoned road tripper then planning for a great day out with children can be a tough job until you figure out the things your family specifically like and need. The Collective pretty much had us sussed out when they sent us our kit of essentials. I'd recommend things to keep the kids entertained while you're travelling, plenty of snacks for energy, more often than not a change of clothes and, particularly if you're a blogging mum with an obsession for taking photographs on your iPhone, then a portable charger is a must. 

This Summer we've ventured out to millions of places, including the Sussex coast, Wales, Legoland, London and Alice Holt woods, and our trusty kit has come with us every time. Thanks to The Collective for sending it to us, and for asking us to be a part of this, their latest campaign.xoxo

The Collective’s Suckies range are available in three delicious flavours: Sassy Strawberry, Peach & Apricot and Blueberry. They provide parents with the most convenient form of family snacking and can be eaten spoon-free, for minimum mess. Essentially, Suckies are a perfect and convenient addition to any planned family excursion and they can also be frozen and taken out of the freezer just before you head out of the house, allowing them to thaw and keep cool throughout the day!

Friday, 28 August 2015

Riverford Recipe Boxes: A Review

Earlier this month, the lovely folk at Riverford sent us one of their organic recipe boxes to try. I think we've already established on this here blog that the girls and I loooooooove food. However I am not particularly good at cooking, despite my best efforts, and I don't have the time to pour over recipe books (yes, I know I buy them all the time but I just like to look at the pictures!).

Despite my lack of ability in the kitchen, I'm very passionate about eating well. I only ever buy good quality ingredients and I hate it when I find myself stuck in a rut, cooking the same meals over and over again. For this reason I really like the concept of recipe delivery services like the Riverford one, as they have brand new recipes every single week and you get to try out lots of dishes that you might not otherwise have discovered.

I've bought produce from Riverford in the past and have always been very impressed with their delivery service (our local drivers are lovely; hello Andy and Hayley!) and with their packaging. Virtually everything is compostable/recyclable which is very important to me.

There are three types of recipe boxes available; "quick", "vegetarian" and "original" all of which contain the exact ingredients for three meals for two people (the original is also available in a slightly smaller two meal size). This speeds the cooking process up massively as there's no need to weigh or measure things - plus, of course, there is absolutely no food waste (and we all know how much I hate food waste).

I chose the original box as the recipes for that current week looked amazing and, although we received our box the following week, the recipes were equally amazing. We were sent the ingredients to cook penne arrabiata, smokey quinoa stuffed peppers with feta & sugar snap peas and chicken & spinach biryani. I really liked the layout of the recipe cards and also the cook's notes which explained some ingredient choices and offered substitutions should you fancy or need to adapt the recipe a little.

The ingredients were all super fresh, seasonal and, of course, organic and the three meals were all different and delicious! Don't judge me but this was the very first time I have ever cooked quinoa and I will definitely be doing so again. The penne arrabiata was the biggest hit and we have already replicated the recipe twice since - the kids loved it, and it was SO easy to make.

As we had guests visiting and therefore five, rather than three, hungry mouths to feed, Riverford very kindly sent us three boxes. The portion sizes were huge so this was more than enough. A box for two would definitely feed me and the girls no problem, and at £39.95 for the three meal option I think that is a very reasonable price for produce of such high quality. For larger families though, I do think it would be nice to offer a slightly larger box, rather than them having to pay for two or more. That said, I will definitely be ordering another recipe box from Riverford and am looking forward to trying out the vegetarian and quick options in the future!

Thanks to Riverford for providing us with our recipe boxes and for asking us to be a part of this campaign.xoxo

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

A Little Trip to Wales

Southerdown Bay

Last week the girls and I spent four days camping in South Wales. We go to Wales quite a lot - we have family there - but this trip was different. Life changing, almost.

It made me realise just how much I miss being creative. I used to paint landscapes and driftwood and pebbles and I'm not sure at what point I gave it all up but I felt so inspired at the weekend that I've decided to start up again. I really need to do something just for me.

I also remembered why I have always wanted to live by the sea. IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL! And wild! And invigorating! And at the same time, so peaceful! And PERFECT. It won't be for a few years yet, but I'm determined to make my dream reality at some point and settle somewhere overlooking a wild and blustery beach.

This trip we camped in a place called Southerndown and explored lots of places locally. If you've not been to Southerndown Bay before, it is BREATHTAKING. I definitely left my heart there on this trip. Since we've been back I've been on RightMove and I'm totally in love with this house. Anyone want to buy it for me?

Here are a few pictures from our holiday xoxo

Carry on Camping

We got the whole field to ourselves!

Kite flying

On the stepping stones at Ogmore Castle

Across the river at Candleston Castle in Merthyr Mawr

Tinkinswood Ancient Burial Chamber

Coffee Cove in Barry 

Walking along the prom on Barry Island

Crossing the causeway to Sully Island, Penarth at low tide


Rockpooling in Porthcawl

Exploring Dunraven Gardens in Southerndown

Southerndown Bay - I so want to live here!

Building sandcastles with our Welsh family at Southerndown Bay

Paddling at Southerndown


Monday, 24 August 2015

Visiting Legoland with 365 Tickets

Last week we visited Legoland Windsor as guests of 365Tickets, an online retailer of tickets for lots of the UK’s biggest and most popular attractions, sightseeing tours and exhibitions.

We've visited Legoland once before, two summers ago, when Daisy was just three and Evie was a newborn baby. We had a super day but Daisy wasn't a huge Lego fan back then. This time round both her and Evie couldn't be more Lego obsessed, and it made the day so much more special. We're already looking forward to going back!

We kick started our day at the StarWars exhibition. The girls and I aren't massive Star Wars fans - but they still enjoyed it and we spent a fair bit of time looking at all the intricately built characters and scenes.

Continuing on our journey through the park we contemplated going on the Vikings River Splash but the queues were far too long so we stopped off for a go on the Spinning Spider ride instead; Legoland's version of the spinning teacups, which we all really enjoyed. Then we stopped off for lunch at The Burger Kitchen.

Once we'd eaten, the girls used their newly found lunch-fuelled energy to have a run around at the Castaway Camp before spending their hard saved pocket money on personalised leather bracelets at a stall next to the Pirate Goldwash and then had a go on the Jolly Rocker.

We stopped for ice cream at the Legoland Castle before making our way to Heartlake City - which was the part of the day that the girls were most looking forward to. It's Legoland's newest attraction and (yes, I know I'm biased, being the mother of two HUGE Lego Friends fans) by FAR the best bit of the whole Theme Park!

Daisy and Evie spent a bit of time searching for each of the five Lego Friends characters so that they could have their photos taken with them, then we had a look in the Heartlake City Mall (cuddly toys were purchased) before settling down by the lake to watch the 'Lego Friends to the Rescue' live show. It was BRILLIANT. 

Thanks a million to 365Tickets for a brilliant day out; we will definitely be using you to book tickets in the future.xoxo 

If you're looking for a great discount on Legoland tickets, they are currently 40% off when booked through 365Tickets' secret offers section which launched earlier this month. You can find a complete list of the exclusive offers only available to people who have subscribed to the 365Tickets mailing list by browsing here.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Making Cheese Toasties with Lactofree

As part of the Lactofree ambassadorship programme I was recently sent out a little hamper of goodies to help me make the perfect cheese toastie, which was rather nice! The hamper was filled with Lactofree's Mature Cheddar (a block of it and a bag of it pre-grated), an assortment of condiments and a brand new toastie maker from Russell Hobbs. Unfortunately I don't think the latter was up to much - the catch snapped off on it's first use (it is still useable but you have to hold it shut, grrrrr) but it goes without saying that the Lactofree cheese (which is on our shopping list, along with their butter, semi skimmed milk and chocolate milk every single week) was delicious.

When I originally went (entirely) dairy free, I definitely missed cheese the most. Although I am still dairy free for the most part, since working with Lactofree I have discovered my intolerance is actually only to the lactose, which means I'm able to eat the Lactofree products when I fancy something dairy-y - and the mature cheddar is my favourite of them all. The new grated version makes mealtimes super easy - whether you're knocking up a toastie like I was challenged to, or using it to sprinkle on top of pasta - there's no denying it's extra convenient to have a bag of ready grated cheese in the fridge.

We've had a really wet and chilly summer these past couple of weeks and a cup of tea and a cheese toastie was just what the doctor ordered for lunch on Monday. I like to keep mine simple; cheese and ham, cheese and onion, cheese and avocado if I'm feeling a bit fancy (I add the avocado afterwards).

This time I paired my cheese with some REALLY fancy red onion chutney from Makers &  Merchants and it. was. goooooooood.

Unfortunately, despite tasting amazing, my toasties were not aesthetically pleasing enough to be photographed (we all know how fussy I am about my photographs) - plus they were hoovered up by the children within about 8 seconds of being plated up. But I think we all know what a toastie looks like, and I did manage to find some delicious looking varieties on Pinterest (check out my foodie board below for inspiration). Yum!

Follow Katy from Modern Mummy's board Delicious x on Pinterest.

Thanks to Lactofree for asking us to work with them on this campaign.xoxo

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Dining Out at Jamie's Italian, Guildford

Earlier this month we were invited to review our local Jamie's Italian restaurant. I've always loved eating in restaurants and enjoy it even more so now I have a family. I like to encourage my daughters to eat as many different cuisines as possible; I also like them to experience dining out generally and am forever in search of amazing, authentic, family friendly eateries.

We had friends visiting from Canada and thought it would be a nice treat for them to sample the menu of one of Britain's most well known and loved celebrity chefs so we arranged to take them to the Guildford restaurant for an early midweek dinner. We booked a table for five, at 6pm, which I think is still a very child friendly time to eat. Although Jamie's Italian prides itself on being a family friendly restaurant (and it really is one of the most child friendly ones I've ever visited) I always like to avoid a later sitting as I don't think it's fair on other diners to have lots of over excited/tired kids in amongst them.

We were greeted by lovely, friendly waiters who seated us quickly and efficiently. Not only were the kids given special packs containing colouring pages, crayons, a packet of herbs to sew back at home (how awesome?!) and their menu, they were also given vintage style view-masters with cards showing pictures of their food options - cue lots of excitement from the whole table, and I'm not just talking about the littlies! I also loved the decor of the restaurant. Lots of wood and terracotta and food and drink on display.

Our waiter knew the specials without reading them from the specials board, he knew the ingredients in all the dishes on the menu (I had a few dairy free questions for him) and he was able to make excellent recommendations going on the things we all liked the sound of. I  really like and appreciate that kind of knowledge in a waiter.

Between us we got to sample a fair few dishes. We had a basket of artisan breads to nibble on while we waited for our food which contained freshly baked focaccia, ciabatta, seeded crackerbread, sourdough and grissini with an extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar mix and a sun-dried tomato and olive tapenade. It looked - and tasted - so good that we contemplating ordering a second!

The kids ate organic mini spaghetti and meatballs (made from Lower Hurst Farm beef and served with Jamie’s organic seven-veg tomato sauce, homemade spaghetti and a sprinkle of Westcombe Cheddar) and
 happy chicken lollipops (freshly made lemony organic chicken fillet lollipops with baked hedgehog potatoes and crunchy nuts and seeds). All three meals were served wIth a fresh shake-me salad (which the kids LOVED) and an apple juice. Not many kids menus include a drink, so this was a nice touch.

I chose the summer risotto from the Specials board which I would totally recommend (there is a similar one available on the regular menu). I'm supposed to be dairy free but couldn't resist. My friend
 had the three cheese caramelle (beautiful filled pasta with ricotta, provolone, Bella Lodi and spinach, served with creamy tomato, garlic, basil and rosé wine sauce). Breaking my dairy free rule I went on to have the velvety mascarpone and Amalfi lemon meringue cheesecake for pudding, which came topped with Italian meringue and served with lemon curd and blackcurrants. It was SO GOOD.

We had a wonderful experience dining at Jamie's Italian. A meal for five of us, including (non-alcoholic) drinks came to just £60 and our guests also bought some souvenirs to take home which were very reasonably priced. I will definitely go back with the girls; kids meals cost £6.50 (or £6.95 for a slightly larger portion) and desserts are only an additional £1.25. There aren't many restaurants where you can get your children such a nutritious, balanced and FAST two course meal (and drink) for less than £8. I also liked that despite being an Italian chain, there was more on offer - for both children and grown ups - than just your regular pizza and pasta dishes.

There are now 41 Jamie's Italian restaurants across the UK and the Guildford one can be found at 13 Friary Street (GU1 4EH). We were given complimentary meals at Jamie's Italian Guildford in exchange for this review but all thoughts are genuine and my own.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Camp Bestival 2015

We were so excited to be asked back to review Camp Bestival for the third year running this Summer. Lucky Evie has been to every single one since she was born! We all love a good festival and Camp Bestival is definitely the highlight of the year for us.

This year was a pretty different experience for us girls. It was the first one where we went just us three, and also, due to stuff going on back at home, we weren't able to go for the whole weekend. But that was fine - we just had to make sure we made the most of the 30 hours we got to spend there!

We camped, as always, with our besties - Ruth from Rock & Roller Baby and Alice from Project:Wanderlust and their broods. Ruth was MY CAMP BESTIVAL HERO. Not only did she drive herself and her kids all the way down to Dorset from London just two weeks after passing her driving test.... she also pitched their tent all by herself AND let us rowdy lot crash in it on the Saturday night (thank you thank you thank you!!).

We arrived on Saturday JUST in time for Mr Tumble (and when I say 'just in time' I really mean it.... we had dumped our stuff off at camp and got to the Castle Stage with literally 40 seconds to spare). From the moment we got there we packed in as much as we could as we knew we would be heading back home the following day.

Our weekend went a little bit like this......

Beer on arrival....

... From this lovely bar

An Avocado Kiss from Happy Maki - my favourite food on Saturday

The Shires: Current FAVOURITE band, and the musical highlight of my weekend

Two tired kids that slept in til 8AM ON SUNDAY MORNING!! Truly a miracle ;)

Playing the piano

Spending time with friends 

Amazing poo-ing giraffe puppets (yes really!)

My favourite hang out of the weekend; great beer and great music

Sunday's foodie highlight: Anna-Mae's Mac & Cheese stall


Daisy & her boyfriend ;) (my handsome Godson)

Evie passed out on ice cream on our way back to the car before heading home

It goes without saying that we had an amazing time, but in hindsight I'm actually quite pleased that we were only there for the one night this time round. It was so unbelievably busy that it made it quite hard to get around the site, especially with our wagon (a family festival necessity) - and to find places to sit and watch the main acts on the Castle Stage was pretty much impossible (we were literally right by the jousting arena for the Kaiser Chiefs, which is a fair old distance away from the stage - and we had got there half an hour before they were due on as well which is usually ample time to nab a decent spot). Although we had a few pairs of eyes looking out for all the littlies in our group, I felt a little on edge that one of them might get lost in the crowds, both at night time and during the days.

But that would never stop us from going to Camp Bestival; we love it. And we are already looking forward to going back next year! (Early bird tickets for 2016 are on sale already! Go get yours here for the bargain price of £180 for a full weekend of camping, musical and culinary delights!)

And on that note I'm going to leave you with not one, but two awesome videos..... One by The Shires, the MUSICAL HIGHLIGHT of my Camp Bestival, and the other a CB vlog by the one and only Alice Langley! Enjoy xoxo

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