October 2015 | Modern Mummy

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Me & Mine ♥ October 2015



It's the 31st of October and half term is coming to an end.

I've had such a lovely month with these two monkeys, and finishing it off with a whole week off nursery, school and work together has been the best! We've had train journeys into London, road trips down to the coast, hikes in the woods and plenty of visits to the local ice cream parlour. But as well as all the action packed days, we've had plenty of much needed, quiet days at home too. Work continues at the cottage, with the bathroom close to being finished, and the hallway being tackled next. And at long last the girls seem to have mastered the art of sleeping in until after 7am which, I'm not going to lie, has been AMAZING!

Our 'pink house' game has also stepped up a notch after I've introduced it to the world on Instagram, and now we can't resist a pink wall either, hence this month's photo taken in Clapham earlier this month.

As much as we've loved October, we're all looking forward to November with its shorter days and chilly nights. It's also an extra special and exciting month for us as the girls both have their birthdays!  They will be turning 3 and 6 next week (a day apart.... timed that well, didn't I?!) which means lots of presents, family time and cake. I can't wait xoxo
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Thursday, 29 October 2015

#TheStyleProject - November 2015


It's been another inspiring and motivating month of The Style Project over on Instagram - hello to all our new recruits and thank you so much to all of you that have been joining in!

October was busy old month for me. I spent a large chunk of it learning how to tile, and wearing ripped, tile adhesive smeared jeans and battered old t-shirts in the process. I have also had some particularly bad nights sleep thanks to the winter germs that have got the better of me, Daisy and Evie - and as a result I feel as if I've been slumming it in my comfies more often than usual. But on the days that I did feel up to making an effort I was really pleased I had The Style Project prompts, and everyone's photos, to inspire me; we've had some really great ones this month!

And on that note it's time to release the line up for November!


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 28th 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. 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 even if you're not able to take your own photos, you can still look at other people's for inspiration.

Kara, Alice, Carissa and I hope lots of you will join in this November - see those of you that fancy the challenge over on Instagram! xoxo
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Kids Bedroom Ideas

Uh oh. I've been thinking about redecorating the house again. Someone had better warn my Dad! ;)

Joking aside, and a bit more specifically, this time round I've been thinking about redecorating the girls' bedrooms. They were the first rooms in the house to be finished when we moved here three years ago and now they are both showing signs of wear and tear and are definitely in need of a bit of work.

I've actually been contemplating putting the girls in the same room at night and turning the extra bedroom into a play room. This is mainly because they like exactly the same things and I find myself having to buy two of pretty much everything! At the moment they are both after Miffy night lights, and at £130 each they are going to have to share!

Indulging in a little light kids bedrooms interiors research is actually one of my favourite things to do, whether or not I'm actually planning on making any changes. It's such a minefield, and kids chop and change their mind about what they want ALL. THE. TIME. (Well mine do anyway). For this reason I've decided that when I get round to re-painting the girls room(s - still undecided about sharing), the walls are going to be pure white, like a blank canvas - and then we can change and/or repaint the furniture and accessories quickly, cheaply and easily in the future to update it. White paint makes rooms seem much brighter and more spacious - and white walls are so easy to touch up if they receive any knocks, scratches or crayon marks like kids bedrooms have a tendency to!

Here are a few images from the internet that have particularly inspired me:

Camengo Abracadabra Kinderstoffe : Eclectic style nursery/kids room by Fantasyroom-Wohnträume für Kinder

I love the clashing prints of the bedlinen and the simple wallpaper and border!

Reforma integral de vivienda : Eclectic style nursery/kids room by Simetrika
I love EVERYTHING about this room! The checkerboard floor, the wall paper, the bespoke wardrobe, the flashes of bright colours, the dog ;)

Детская комната в ресторанном проекте Biblioteka в Санкт-Петербурге : Scandinavian style nursery/kids room by IdeasMarket

The lights! The toadstool stools! The bright, white walls!

Classic style nursery/kids room by StrandNL architectuur en interieur

THE ROBOT WALLPAPER!

As soon as we've finished working on the bathroom and hallway I'm going to make a start on the girls rooms. In true, impatient Katy style I've been buying new accessories already.... I'll keep you updated on DIY progress over the next couple of months! xoxo


This is a collaborative post.
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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

25 Days of Festive Surprises with Smiggle



I hadn't heard of Smiggle until Daisy started back at school in September.  Fast forward two months and I think it's the whole of Year One's favourite shop! The girls and I have visited their Guildford store pretty much every single weekend since the beginning of term. It's a great place to spend pocket money and, I have to say, I enjoy going into the shop as much as they do.

Smiggle is an Australian stationery company that launched in the UK in 2014. They sell pens, pencils, pencil cases, erasers, note books, key rings and drink bottles - and not just any old pens, pencils, pencil cases, erasers, note books, key rings and drinks bottles either. Bold, brightly coloured, scented - each product is extraordinary, and the eye catching in store displays are arranged in groups according to colour and pattern. It's no wonder all the school kiddos love Smiggle so much.

Needless to say, Daisy was pretty excited when she was sent a Smiggle advent calendar to open throughout December! With over £40 worth of goodies behind it's 25 doors, it's perfect for stationery addicts, young and old - as well as for people who don't want to have a chocolate every day but still fancy a little Advent treat!



We haven't opened ours yet but we have it on good authority that the gifts won't disappoint! (Of course they won't, this is Smiggle we're talking about!)

Smiggle Advent calendars retail at £25 and are available in store or online here. Make sure you snap yours up quickly as they sell out incredibly fast! xoxo

DISCLAIMER: Smiggle sent us one calendar for review, all thoughts are genuine and my own.


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Happy Halloweeeeeeen!

Yes I know I'm a few days early but today we decorated the house so I thought I'd share some photos with you!

I love an excuse to hang some bunting, light some candles and have a party - and the girls and I are all particularly fond of fancy dress too - so Halloween is one of our favourite times of year.

We've got a box full of decorations and costumes that we add to every year - and then we devote one day of the October half term holiday to putting them all up and watching spooky films. Today just so happened to be that day.

Right now our house looks a little bit like this: I LOVE it!


Happy Halloween garland - 20 years old!
Tinsel hanging sugar skull - Poundland
Large ceramic pumpkin - £12.95, Between the Lines (local gift shop)
Boo tea light holders - Poundland
Paper Happy Halloween bunting (seen in mirror) - Asda




Paper Happy Halloween bunting - Asda
Jam jar pumpkin tea light holder - hand made by Daisy
Ceramic pumpkin tea light holders - Poundland
Toy rats - Poundland
Skull tea lights (too awesome to burn!) - Asda
Bat garland - John Lewis



Bat bunting - John Lewis
Apricot candles - Organic Orchard
Black and orange pumpkin tea light holders - Poundland
Felt Happy Halloween bunting - John Lewis



Skull with flashing eyes - Asda


We are going to spend the rest of this afternoon carving pumpkins, and making ghost cake pops and a haunted chocolate house using kits from Asda. If you fancy a fun, affordable and simple Halloween themed activity this half term these kits look awesome!


We gave this year's costumes a bit of a trial run earlier too. Daisy is dressing up as a zombie beauty queen, and Evie as a pumpkin princess. I also have a little something lined up but you're going to have to wait until tomorrow for a first glimpse ;) All our costumes are courtesy of Asda (thank you Asda!).

We have a party to go to tomorrow, and then we will be trick or treating on our neighbours early on Halloween evening. What have you got lined up? xoxo
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Monday, 26 October 2015

Speedy Spicy Chicken Ramen

Last week I watched The Ramen Girl on Netflix. I hadn't heard of it before but I was sold because it had Brittany Murphy in it (I LOVE Brittany Murphy), it was set in Japan and the storyline was based around food.

It was a good movie - not Oscar worthy - but an easy to watch, feel good film for sure. Apart from feeling all swoony and lovey dovey when it finished, I felt pretty inspired to cook ramen. So cook ramen I did!

Earlier in the month Tesco had invited me to be a part of their #CelebrateTheNations campaign. They challenged me to create a fusion dish inspired by the twenty nations taking part in the Rugby World Cup. I took a slightly different path and decided to prepare a Western version of ramen - so a Japanese meal, cooked the British way.

The whole process of cooking authentic ramen is about putting your heart and soul into the broth; taking your time over it to ensure that it is just perfect. Ramen Masters across the globe will recoil in horror when they read about my western short cuts (I'M SORRY!) but as it happens, it turns out that this speedy ramen recipe is actually pretty darn tasty!



Ingredients.
3x cooked chicken thighs, sliced
1x large red onion, sliced
1x clove garlic, crushed
1x fresh red chilli, chopped (and deseeded if preferred)
Tesco Ramen paste (to taste - I used 2x tsp)
Sesame oil
1x carrot cut into ribbons
Soba noodles
1.5 pints of homemade chicken stock*
Handful bean sprouts
Handful spinach
1x boiled egg (cooked for six minutes - and yes I know this is supposed to be a marinated egg, but speed is of the essence here and plain worked equally well)
3x spring onions to garnish

*Pfffffft, yeah right. I used two Knorr chicken stock pots. Hey, if they're good enough for Marco Pierre White, they're good enough for me!

What to do.
Heat the sesame oil in a wok and add the chicken, onion, garlic, chilli and ramen paste. Ensure the chicken is coated in the mix.
Add the carrot ribbons and half of the stock.
Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the ramen noodles as per packet instructions (usually around five minutes).
With three minutes left to go, add the bean sprouts and spinach to the chicken and top up the stock.
Place the noodles in the bottom of a bowl, add the chicken and egg, and ladle the broth over the top. Garnish with the spring onions.

Itadakimasu!

This dish was prepared as part of Tesco's #CelebrateTheNations campaign and they very kindly paid for the ingredients used to make it.

If my recipe has inspired you, why don't you also take a look at Phil Vickery's video below, showing how to make pork stew topped with coconut and parmesan polenta and served with tangy salsa. Yum!

 

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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Rainbow Dash Style + Groom Launch Party


Last Saturday, the girls and I were invited to Happy Faces Children's Hair Salon in Clapham to celebrate the launch of the brand new Rainbow Dash Style & Groom.



Rainbow Dash is both Daisy and Evie's FAVOURITE pony, and this latest toy from the My Little Pony range is going to be the perfect Christmas gift for budding young stylists! At the event the girls got to create new hairstyles on Rainbow Dash ponies of their very own using beads, clips and bobbles, before having the look replicated on themselves up in the hair salon!


We had so much fun with Ruth from RocknRoller Baby, Emily from Family Four Fun and Kara from Innocent Charms Chats and their kiddos. Aside from the hair styling, nails and glitter tattoos, the girls also got to do some arts and crafts and tuck into a fantastic party spread - and us mums had a long overdue, and well deserved, catch up!


The Rainbow Dash Style & Groom is available from Amazon, Argos, Asda, Toys R Us, The Entertainer, Hamleys, Harrods, John Lewis, Very, Littlewoods, Tesco Direct, Smyths and Boots priced at RRP £24.99.






PS If you're looking for the most awesome kids hair salon /slash/ party venue in London EVER, then Happy Faces is for you. Seriously, it could not have been cooler. Six hair dressing stations (complete with character seats) on level one, a nail and glitter tattoo bar on level two and a beautiful party room on three. Look them up!

PPS PINK HOUSE!!!! 



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Monday, 19 October 2015

Our #DocMcStuffins Twitter Part-AY


Last week we co-hosted our first ever Twitter party, for none other than Doc McStuffins!

There's no need for me to go on about how much we love Disney - YOU ALL KNOW. Doc McStuffins is one of the girls' favourite characters and to be asked to host a party was pretty much a dream come true for them!

We invited our neighbours round for fun, games and party food and had a blast in the process....


We kick started our afternoon with a few games - Stick the Boo Boo on the Patient and What's Missing from the Pet Vet Bag - before settling down to a delicious spread of party food and then finishing up with some quiet play and GOODIE BAGS! The girls had been sent the Doc McStuffins dress up set, Pet Vet bag and interactive Doc as well as lots of prizes, healthy snacks and going home treats in order to make the party heaps of fun - which it really was!

The new range of Pet Vet toys are BRILLIANT - and available from Flair Plc here. xoxo
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Sunday, 18 October 2015

Walking to School with GO Outdoors + Hi Gear


October is International Walk to School month; a campaign set up by the charity Living Streets to educate primary school pupils from across the world about the benefits of walking to and from school every day.

In my day (haha, told you I'm old) EVERYBODY walked to school. According to statistics, 70% of primary-aged kids in the 80s did, although in my school I would have said it was closer to 100%; I honestly do not remember a single friend ever getting dropped off by their parents in a car. In those days we all lived within a few roads of each other - and our school - and we would all walk to school together. I'm not sure whether people have just got lazy these days, but now less than 46% of kids walk and I think that's pretty shocking.

We walk to and from school pretty much every day. The only time we'll jump in the car is if the weather is absolutely torrential, although a bit of rain/wind/snow doesn't bother us in the slightest. Aside from the obvious health benefits of a brisk stroll, it's a great way to wake up properly - all that fresh air! - and it's lovely to get to spend 20 minutes with the girls before heading off to work. On the way home it's more of a social thing. I hear all about their days, then we'll stop off at the park with friends and I'll chat to other parents while the kids play. It's a last chance for them to expel all their energy before dinner, bath and bedtime - and stopping off breaks up the journey, which always seems a little bit longer at the end of the day!


As part of this campaign, the lovely folk at GO Outdoors sent the girls an insulated and showerproof jacket each from Hi Gear - perfect for this fickle weather we're having right now.

They both chose the purple orchid colour way which is completely reversible, featuring a bright block purple on one side, and a fabulous owl print on the other. They're lightweight, but very soft and warm, have been given a durable water repellent treatment and have reflective details for safety. They also pack away into their own bag for easy storage!

These coats retail at just £25 each, with adult versions for sale too at £65 (I have this black one on order, although sadly it doesn't have the reversible owl pattern!) and they are available from the GO Outdoors website here.

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Friday, 16 October 2015

Caramelised red onion socca pizza with feta and rocket: A Marley Spoon Recipe

Last week I told you all about the new family friendly recipe plan that Marley Spoon will be launching at the beginning of November. I also shared their delicious recipe for quinoa coated salmon fingers! Today I'm bringing you another recipe, this time for PIZZA!

Photo credit: Alex Freundorfer


Ingredients
300g chickpea flour
2g dried rosemary
3 red onions
5g fresh rosemary
1 garlic clove
1 tin chopped tomatoes
300g feta
150g rocket
olive oil
sugar
salt 
pepper

Method
1. Make socca batter: Preheat oven to 250°C (fan). Add the chickpea flour to a bowl and gradually whisk in 400ml water, 1tbsp oil and a pinch of salt and pepper until you have a smooth batter. Allow the batter to rest for 10mins whilst you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. Caramelise onions: Peel, halve, and thinly slice the red onions. Heat 1tbsp olive oil in a medium sized frying pan, add the red onions and cook for 5mins stirring occasionally until soft. Add 2tsp sugar and continue cooking for 3mins until sticky.

3. Cook socca: While the onions are cooking. Line your baking tray with parchment or grease with oil. Pour the batter on the baking tray, sprinkle over the dried rosemary and add a little salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 15mins, until set.

4. Make tomato sauce: Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the garlic. Add 1tbsp oil to a small saucepan and fry for 30sec. Add in the chopped tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and add 1tsp of sugar. Simmer for 8mins.

5. Top socca: Spread the tomato sauce over the top of the socca, top with the caramelised onions and crumble over the feta. Wash, then strip the leaves from the rosemary sprig and sprinkle over. Bake in the oven for 10mins, on the top shelf, until the feta starts to brown.

6. Garnish and serve: In the meantime, remove any hard stalks from the rocket and wash. Loosen the edges of the socca with a fish slice, slice on the tray and remove .Top with the rocket and serve.

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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Our Weekend in Numbers


3D STREET ART IN WHITSTABLE - the red butterflies are made from recycled Coca Cola cans!

1 - number of houses bought*

238 - number of miles covered on Friday's road trip to the Kent Coast

11 - number of awesome vintage shops visited in Whistable and Margate

50,625 - number of chip shop chips eaten on the beach (approx, could be more)

2.5 - number of hours spent cleaning on Saturday afternoon

7 - number of children in the house on Saturday night

3 - number of bottles of wine consumed by their mothers while chaos ensued

4.5 - number of hours spent tidying on Sunday morning after said chaos (including a few necessary - but short - naps)

68 - number of times the lego box was tipped up whilst tidying (approx, could be more)

25 - number of hours spent working


THE REASON I WILL NEVER BE A SIZE 8


12 - number of Charbonnel et Walker milk sea salt caramel truffles eaten whilst working

7 - number of cups of coffee drunk whilst working

420 - number of tiles bought for bathroom walls

3102 - number of DIY idea pins saved on Pinterest (approx, could be more)



GUILTY FACE

2 - number of roast dinners eaten (YES REALLY!)

4 - number of roast potatoes stolen by Mabel

120 - number of minutes spent watching X Factor

36 - number of birthday party invitations written for Daisy's upcoming part-AY!

How was your weekend? xo


* Yes, we completed on the purchase of our house last Friday!! Autumn Cottage is officially ours and I'm so, SO happy that I was able to take over the mortgage and let the girls stay in their home. Time to start watching YouTube tutorials so that I can crack on with the DIY. First up: tiling the bathroom. Wish me luck!
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Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Quinoa Coated Salmon Fingers with Sweet Potato Chips and Spicy Tomato Sauce: A Marley Spoon Recipe


Earlier this year I reviewed the Marley Spoon Recipe Delivery Service. As someone who likes to eat well but is completely useless not particularly good in the kitchen, I thought it was an absolutely wonderful concept; a great way to try new ingredients and recipes, and to ensure you are getting the finest produce - two things that I am especially keen on when it comes to educating the girls about, and introducing them to good food.

As if the original plan wasn't good enough, from the beginning of next month Marley Spoon will be launching its brand spanking new family plan - and I'm excited! These new family friendly kits will offer fast, easy and healthy recipes that can be tailored to suit each family's tastes.

Each week there will be five delicious new recipes to choose from, featuring ingredients that both children and adults will like, starting at just £4.40 per portion.

To celebrate the launch, I am sharing a recipe from Marley Spoon, which is one my girls love.


QUINOA COATED SALMON FINGERS WITH SWEET POTATO CHIPS + SPICY TOMATO SAUCE 
A recipe by Chef Kate at Marley Spoon.


Photo credit: Alex Freundorfer

Ingredients
350g salmon fillet
3 sweet potatoes
1/2tsp  Mexican chilli seasoning
50g quinoa
40 desiccated coconut
15g corn flour
80g ketchup
1 lime
300g green beans
5g harissa paste
sunflower oil
salt
pepper
sugar

Method
1. Prepare fries: Preheat oven to 220°C (fan). Line a baking tray with parchment and drizzle with 1tsp of oil. Wash, cut the ends off the sweet potato, and slice into 1.5cm thick fries. Toss in the corn flour; lay out on the baking sheet in a single layer. Fill a kettle with water, boil.

2. Cook fries: Mix the Mexican seasoning with 1tbsp of oil, drizzle over the fries and place in the oven. Cook for 15mins before flipping and cooking for a further 7-12mins or until crispy. 

3. Prepare quinoa: Meanwhile, place the quinoa in twice as much hot water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 7-12mins. Drain the quinoa, and mix with the desiccated coconut. Wash, then zest the lime, add 1-2tsp zest to the quinoa as well as salt and pepper.  

4. Coat fish fingers: Rinse, dry and cut the salmon into 8 long strips, press the salmon into the quinoa mixture and coat all sides. Heat a tbsp of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the salmon fingers until golden and crispy on all sides, about 6mins.  

5. Cook beans: Meanwhile, wash, trim and halve the beans. Add to a small saucepan, cover with the just boiled water and, cook for 3-5mins. Drain the beans and return to the pan. Add the remaining lime zest, 1tsp of oil, a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper and keep warm. 

6. Mix ketchup and serve: Mix the harissa paste with the ketchup, cut the lime into wedges. Divide the fish fingers and sweet potato fries between the plates with the beans. Serve with the spicy ketchup and a wedge of lime to squeeze over the beans and salmon. 


Getting a delicious, hearty, family dinner on the table every evening is about to become a whole lot easier! Excellent work, Marley Spoon!
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There Ain't No Party like a #DocMcStuffins Twitter Party!



There is excitement in the air at the cottage! Today a courier's van pulled up outside and delivered a huge (and I mean H--U--G--E) box full of Doc McStuffins goodies. The reason? On Thursday 15th October, from 1-3pm, we will be hosting our very first Twitter party!

Doc McStuffins is one of the girls' favourite TV shows, and we are all very excited about having some friends round to play vets with the new range of Pet Vet toys! We've been sent the Doc McStuffins doctor's role play dress up set, the Pet Vet veterinarian bag and interactive Doc and pets, as well as lots of prizes for the games we'll be playing, and magazines, mini figures and healthy treats to give away in party bags at the end of the afternoon.

And you guys needn't go home empty handed either! Join in the fun and games with us and @UKMumsTV over on Twitter using the hashtag #DocMcStuffins and you could be in with a chance of winning some awesome prizes too! Put it in your diary now, and we'll see you on 15th! xo
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Sunday, 4 October 2015

Dinner with Disney

Last week our friends at Disney sent us a huge, lovely hamper jam packed full of delicious food and Mickey Mouse goodies to celebrate the return of their Free Dine offer for Summer 2016!



Yep, you heard that right; Walt Disney World, Florida are offering families free meals during the entirety of their stay - which could mean an incredible saving of up to £1,000 for a family of four on a seven night holiday!

We know first hand that the food at Walt Disney World is absolutely sensational. There are more than 450 different places to dine, offering dozens of different cuisines and fantastic allergy friendly menus too. Food played a huge part of our trip to Walt Disney World earlier this year, and we were lucky enough to get to try different restaurants in different resorts for every single meal we had. My particular favourites were Jiko the Cooking Place in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Trattoria al Forno at the Boardwalk Resort and Citricos at the Grand Floridian.

The meal I cooked with our ingredients was a traditional roast chicken. I'm not a great cook but I can manage a roast - and my yorkshire puds are blinking awesome, even if I do say so myself. If you ask the girls what their favourite meals are they will tell you sushi and Mum's roast chicken! And of course it tastes even better when eaten with Mickey Mouse cutlery ;)


Walt Disney World Resort's 2016 Free Dine promotion allows families to eat for free at the resort. Packages must be booked by 3 November 2015. Full T&Cs available here.
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Friday, 2 October 2015

Tote a Tote!

On Monday, large stores across the UK will start charging 5p for plastic carrier bags. Although this is definitely a step in the right direction, I personally think they should be banned altogether; aside from looking unsightly strewn across the high street, the countryside and the coast, they are responsible for the death of a million birds and 100,000 sea creatures every single year.

7.64 BILLION bags were handed out by supermarkets alone in 2014, 98% of which (if they haven't already) will end up in landfill in the near future. Scientists then estimate it will take 400-1000 years for each bag to biodegrade. Seriously? With these awful figures in the media, why do people still take them?

But I mustn't get on my high horse, at least we are doing something about it. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland already have bag charges and have seen 71%, 12.8% and 42.6% drops in usage respectively since they came into force. That's awesome and I really hope England does equally well over the coming months and years.

Without meaning to come across all holier than thou, I gave up using plastic bags in 2011 - ever since I have used lovely big french market baskets and canvas totes for my shopping. The latter fold away to absolutely nothing and can be carried around in your regular handbag all the time in case you need it while you're out and about. There really is absolutely no reason to accept carrier bags anymore, particularly seeing as there are hundreds of gorgeous reusable ones out there! If you needed an excuse to treat yourself to a new bag, the time is now - and here are a few of my favourites.



(1) World Goes Pop striped popcorn bag, £10 - The Tate Shop // (2) I Love Tea tote bag, £8 - The Tea Appreciation Society // (3) Traditional French market basket, £33 - Olive & Branch // (4) Crazy Cat Lady tote, £8 - Etsy // (5) Little Leaves foldaway tote, £15 - Cath Kidston // (6) Gold slouchy tote, £149 - Boden
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Easy ways to go green

It’s a common misconception that you have to be well off if you want to be environmentally-friendly; almost as common as the misconception that good food costs a packet. Being environmentally friendly is what is best for our families ultimately, but often it can seem like a financial burden - and stretched finances isn’t what is best for your family in the here and now. Helping protect the earth doesn’t have to cost it though.

Simple measures such as saving water, walking more, recycling, reusing, eating local organic produce and so on can really help you become more environmentally friendly without breaking the bank. Here are some tips to get you started:

FOOD
Going green with food means you’ll have to make some adjustments to your diet but that doesn’t mean more effort or compromising on taste. Simple things like replacing a quarter of your meat in dishes like Bolognese, chilli con carne or cottage pie with lentils and grated carrot will save you money and is better for the environment. The children won’t notice a difference in taste and they’ll be getting more of their 5-a-day.

Shelling home grown broad beans for dinner!

Organic food can be made more affordable by visiting your local farm shop or better still, by growing your own. You don’t need to grow lots of different vegetables by yourself - get your friends, family and neighbours involved with you each growing different things and swapping the excess. Organic gardening isn’t expensive and it’s an activity the whole family can enjoy. If you don’t have a garden or can’t afford an allotment you could ‘borrow’ growing space from a neighbour who might be happy to let you grow some veg for a bit of your produce or grow tomatoes on a balcony or window-sill. Kids love making meals from scratch with ingredients they’ve grown themselves.

It’s a complete myth that buying locally from your local greengrocer or butcher will cost more than the supermarket and if they do it’s usually negligible. If you are replacing some meat as detailed above you can buy it from your local butcher where you have better knowledge of its providence and can tap the excellent knowledge of cheaper but equally tasty produce your butcher will have. The same goes for your greengrocer.

UTILITIES
Switch to a green energy tariff which guarantees your electricity will be from 100% renewable sources. Many of these tariffs are competitive with fossil fuel tariffs and you’d also be supporting the UK renewable energy sector, saving money AND being more environmentally friendly. You could also choose to make use of your new green tariff by going electric with your heating system to keep your house warm, be more eco-friendly and save money. Electric radiators from Verismart Heating are low maintenance, heat and disperse warmth more efficiently than conventional systems, are safe from environmentally damaging carbon monoxide and are modern and attractive. Best of all, anyone can install them in minutes.

Conserving water is one of the easiest things to do and the changes you make will save loads of money if you are on a meter. The majority of water companies provide water saving shower heads or adaptors as well as special packs for your toilet tank for free. You’ll barely notice a difference in how much water you are actually using until your bill comes through. Collect rainwater for washing your car and watering your organic crops for free as well.

One of the greenest things you can do is to stop wasting energy every time you cook. Make use of free oven space by filling it with extra meals that you can go on to freeze. Need some cooking inspiration? There are hundreds of great recipes online for you to browse through.

QUICK TIPS
Ditch the dryer. Even on a cold day your washing will get dry outside but you if absolutely have to use a dryer put a dry towel in with your damp washing, it’ll cut your drying time by up to 30%.

Cut your fuel bills by investing in organic sheep’s wool loft insulation. It’s a little more expensive but it is sustainable, green and organic.

Join the library! Your local library will probably have a great selection which you can often rent for free depending. You will be surprised by what a great resource your library is for family-friendly activities in your area. Once you have your DVD you can extend the fun with a ‘Saturday Night Tea’ where you have a potluck mish-mash of whatever is in the freezer, left-overs from the week or needing to be used up which will help cut down on your food waste.

These are just a few small changes that you can make to become more environmentally friendly and hopefully save some money in the process. But best of all you’ll be passing on good habits to your children, for whom green living will be second nature.

Written with Sammy Quinn.
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Thursday, 1 October 2015

#LIFETHROUGHMYCAMERA ♥ SEPTEMBER 2015

I love photographs. I'm by no means a professional photographer (I take all my pictures with my trusty iPhone) but I take dozens a day, sometimes maybe even hundreds, and I like to think I know what makes a good shot. With all that in mind, I guess it's fairly obvious that my favourite form of social media is Instagram. I probably Instagram too much, although on occasion I wonder if I Instagram enough. Mostly I really do wonder whether I should reign it all in a bit, after all, who really wants to see more pictures of kids/cats/food?

Anyway, I digress.

I LOVE PHOTOGRAPHS. So that there lovely Alice from Project Wanderlust and I have decided to have a once-a-month-phone-dump (ooh la la). She is going to be way more arty than me and uploads lots of ace pictures; I have decided to take this as an opportunity to publish a whole heap of #onefromthecuttingroomfloor hashtag worthy pics. You know, the cute ones that you want to keep but not really share, because one child is pulling an awesome face when the other one is a crazy Tazmanian Devil blur, or the ones that you took in IKEA to remind you that you really want to line up a whole row of cacti on your living room window sill but who wants to see IKEA price tags on Insta, or the screen shots of memes that actually make you laugh out loud?

Because we are fairly certain we aren't alone in taking mahoosive amounts of photos every day, and because we're super nosy and love looking at sneaky snapshots of other peoples' lives (sorry Alice, that's the Royal we, it's me that's the super nosy one) we thought it would be nice to set up a bit of a linky so that other bloggers can join in. Details below, yo.

And on that note, I'm going to leave you with my first mini phone dump. Enjoy xoxo


Because LOOK AT JIMMY TARBUCK'S SECRET LOVE CHILD! 


Because Mabel Meatball is getting FAT!


Because Evie wrote (copied) her name for the first time! On a postcard to our auntie and uncle! And I wanted to keep it forever! (but didn't)


Because Evie spent half an hour feeding the ducks at the Open Air Museum and I thought it was adorbs


Because my clever Daisy D was the very first Star of the Week at school and I LOVE the reasons why! Because she is good at maths! Because she's a nice girl to have in our class! Because she helps people when they fall down! Atta girl.


Because we saw this mannequin in the junk shop and Evie said it looked like me! Ha.


Because I was so god damn chuffed with my delicious farmers market bounty (ALL local produce, even the wine) but I didn't want to be one of 'those people' on Instagram (because we totally eat fish fingers or chicken dippers at least once a week)

Because HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!


Because I have a real thing about wrought iron stair cases and potted/climbing plants. But probably shouldn't make a habit of taking photos of other peoples houses.


Because I MADE THESE FROM SCRATCH and they were the BEST YORKSHIRE PUDS I HAVE EVER EATEN!




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