March 2015 | Modern Mummy

Monday, 30 March 2015

Dear Diary #11

It's been another busy week for us lot. So busy that I'm late with this post yet AGAIN! 



After work on Monday I trialled the KeraStraight Intense Boost 30 Day Treatment at my hairdressers, Blue in Grayshott. I'm going to write an entire post about it but in a nutshell it's a treatment that repairs damaged hair and banishes frizz, leaving it super smooth and glossy. The best thing is that it lasts for thirty days and makes styling easy peasy so it's perfect for busy women. I want to wait until the thirty days are up before I write the full post but so far (three hair washes later) I am completely loving it and have noticed two things; my hair is amazingly shiny and I've had no frizz whatsoever. It also seems to make blow drying a whole lot easier and quicker which is brilliant.



Our mid-week was all about the treats! After my post last week, we were sent a selection of Almond Dream dairy-free ice cream alternatives and OH MY GOD, if I thought the salted caramel was good, the praline crunch was AMAZING! I totally need to get Waitrose to stock up on the other flavours so I can buy more!




Friday was the last day of term for Daisy. HURRAY! In the morning Evie and I went to the gym (do you like my vintage Rocky t-shirt?!), then it was an early school pick up so we went home to start the holidays in style with a cinema night, takeaway pizza and jelly & ice cream (thanks a million to Hartleys for sending us the jelly hamper!)




I worked all day on Saturday, but was rewarded with a girl's night out when I finished. I had pizza for the second night in a row, plus a whole lot of sauvignon blanc and a g&t or two thrown in for good measure! The girls got to spend the day with Granny & Grandad which they were thrilled about.







Sunday got off to a slow start, what with the clocks going forward and my fuzzy head. The girls and I stayed at my parents house for breakfast and I got to play my piano for the first time! It may have been strapped into the back of my Dad's van but it was fun nonetheless. It's coming to live with us this Wednesday and I'm more than a little bit excited! In the afternoon Daisy had a party to go to and we all headed into town for Sushi Sunday for dinner!

This week I have been:





Wearing.... Boden loveliness, vintage coats and Lotta clogs. Outfit posts coming up soon!

Listening to.... James Bay's NUMBER ONE album Chaos & the Calm. My favourite track by far is this one, Move Together. How beautiful? Even Daisy and Evie sing along now, which makes me smile a lot (and also think I might have overplayed the track just a little bit this past week!)



As always, I'm linking up to TWTWC over at Make Do & Push! Head on over to see what everyone else has been up to this past week xo


TWTWC
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The Clean Living Retreat - Fitness/Foodie Camp, November 2015



Later this year there is going to be an amazing Fitness/Foodie retreat going on. Even more amazing is that my lovely friend Claudia Rose Carter from Jesse&Me will be hosting it! If, like me, you're passionate about eating and keeping well - and also love a bit of photography - then this really is a getaway that you're not going to want to miss!

The details are below:

When? Everyone should arrive by mid afternoon on Monday the 9th of November 2015 and we will be leaving late afternoon on Thursday the 12th of November.

Where? At the beautiful (photographs above!) Redford Farm Barns which is just outside Ludlow in Shropshire.

How much? There are between 10-12 places available, at £550 per ticket.

What do we get for that money? Included in the ticket price is three nights (shared with 1 other) accommodation, plus all your food and drink, a one to one session with a personal trainer, two group sessions per day (Tues & Weds) and lots of inspiration! For you photographers, the incredible Danielle Acken will be hosting a mini food photography workshop on Thursday morning. Her work is divine and you need to check it out here.

What can I expect? Cosy beds, stunning bathrooms, meal plans designed by a professional nutritionist, workouts to really get those muscles aching, inspiration to leave with, recipe ideas, new friends, crisp late summer mornings, an incredible food photography session, plus a few secret things thrown in here and there…

Why should I come? If I've not given you enough reasons already, I'M HOPING TO BE THERE TOO! I’m currently on a saving mission; I honestly think it will be an utterly wonderful experience. 

How do I book? Claudia requires a 50% non-refundable booking fee to secure your place. Drop her an email on claudiarosecarter@gmail.com! xoxo
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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Unique Design Ideas for Your Home

If you find that you have a nice bit of extra cash left over each month, the notion of home design is likely at the forefront of your mind. Although whilst redecorating your home or choosing new objects to be put in it may have once manifested themselves in a visit to Ikea, there are far more interesting, individual things you can do to your home to give it a spruce-up, many of which are far cheaper than the norm. Here are some of our favourite ideas.


Innovative Lighting
Coming up with ways to liven up the lighting in your home can be pretty difficult when all you have to play with are run of the mill lampshades, but thinking outside of the box can yield some excellent ideas. This chandelier that makes one's home look like it's in the middle of a forest and is an individual yet classy choice, and these amazing, beautiful sculptured shades from Radiance Lighting make rooms look classic and innovative at the same time.

Via here

Retro Fun
If you're a fan of 1950s design, then including a pinball table, jukebox or vintage slot machine in one of your rooms could be a great idea. Consider the chic style of croupier tables or even a roulette table – we even had one reader writing into us to explain how they transformed their spare room after being inspired by the live casino games online at Betsafe. Taking a little inspiration from the website, this resourceful interior designer turned a little extra space into a fun games room that wouldn’t look out of place in Vegas – you can create your own with these beautiful casino chairs from Amazon.

Second-Hand Economy
As a rule of thumb for any prospective designer; second hand and charity shops are an absolute goldmine when it comes to finding fun, interesting pieces for your home. Whilst it might take a little bit of effort, travelling to and trawling through a number of stores, chances are you'll find all manner of wonderful pieces of furniture, ornaments and accoutrements that you pop in whichever room you're updating.

Exciting Art
Throw away those cheap, mass-produced works - there are far better things out there that you can hang on your walls! Head online to an online poster retailer such as AllPosters.co.uk and have a browse. Sites such as these host millions of artworks, well-known and rare, that fit any home or taste, and what's more you can get just the artworks themselves shipped to you, ready to be popped into picture frames you likely found whilst rummaging through all of those second hand shops!
Vintage chic is very much en vogue at the moment, and thanks to the explosion in hipster fashion having drawn out a huge number of vintage antiques and furnishings into stores across the country, there's a huge volume of stuff to choose from - get out there and find those bargains!

This article was written by Charlotte Adams. Charlotte is a freelance writer and photographer who is passionate about aesthetics, poetry and old school video games. She currently writes for blogs and magazines, but her dream career is in book publishing.
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Monday, 23 March 2015

A Weekend at the Chessington World of Adventures Resort


Last Friday, the girls and I were invited to the Chessington World of Adventures Resort to celebrate the launch of the Year of the Penguins and attend a private screening of DreamWorks Animation’s Penguins of Madagascar, which is out on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD on 30th March.

I was very excited..... even more so than the girls, if that's possible. I grew up not too far away from Chessington and spent a considerable amount of time there in my youth. But I'd not been back since - and I was really keen to see what it was like twenty years later! (Did I say twenty years? Of course I meant fifteen. Ten even. Ahem.)

Chessington’s Year of the Penguins features a newly refurbished Penguin Bay (with six new Humboldt Penguins arriving in April for the new Penguin Presentation!), new Penguins of Madagascar themed hotel rooms at the Safari Hotel, the new Penguins of Madagascar Mission: Treetop Hopper ride experience and the new show: Penguins of Madagascar Live! Operation Cheezy Dibbles! which we were some of the first people to see.



We stayed in the newly opened Azteca hotel which was really something. Designed to look like ancient Aztec ruins, each room is fully themed and has a separate sleeping area for the kids. The girls were THRILLED with every aspect of our hotel; the dark lighting in the hallways, the carpets with patterns to make them look like wood and the walls adorned with illustrations of aztec gold and cheeky monkeys - and then there was the 'challenge' that was set for them on entering our room which absolutely made their day (and kept them occupied while I unpacked!). 

Meeting Kowalski at breakfast

With the new Savannah Splash water play zone within the leisure club, two themed restaurants, character breakfasts and evening entertainment for the kids, a stay at a Chessington Resort Hotel would make an absolutely brilliant short break - and mean you wouldn't have to try and cram a go on every single ride, and visit to every single attraction into just one day.


The new Penguins of Madagascar Mission: Treetop Hoppers ride for littlies - photo
by Alice from An Essex Wife

We had a private screening of the movie on the Friday night (we loved it!) and got to meet some of the characters in the flesh, then afterwards we checked out the children's disco which was BRILLIANT. Daisy and Evie loved being taught lots of dance routines - and the evening ended at a very respectable 9pm, with a bedtime story.

The breakfast buffet the next morning was delicious and the girls ate ginormous amounts which really set them up for a day of exploring the park. We started our day watching Penguins of Madagascar Live! Operation Cheezy Dibbles! and I have to say it was actually very good. Lots of theme parks have their own live shows with their own characters and they never really manage to capture the full attention of their audience. This one absolutely did! I think the fact we all know and love the characters made a massive difference but the costumes, special effects, songs and storyline were all awesome too. I actually laughed out loud at parts of it and we all know how grumpy I can be in the mornings.


After we'd watched the show we were left to our own devices for the day and had such a blast exploring the park. There were a lot more rides for the littlies than I was expecting, plus  the Sealife Centre and Zoo were brilliant. It really would have been easy to spend an entire second day there.

Thanks a million to Chessington and DreamWorks for inviting us down for the weekend; we loved every minute of our trip!

For the best deals in 2015 book on Chessington.com for Early Bird tickets. With prices starting from just £26 per person, individuals and families can save up to 43%. This discounted ticket has limited availability per day and is only available when purchased online at least 5 days before your visit. If they have sold out you can still buy their next best priced Early Bird ticket for just £31 per person when booking online at least a day before you visit! Remember guests under 0.9m get in for FREE!




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Sunday, 22 March 2015

Dear Diary #10


It's the end of another busy week, and we are one step closer to the Easter holidays. Yay! Is it just me, or has this been the shortest half term ever?!



So what have we been up to? 

Monday was a VERY BIG DAY. It was Evie's first day at nursery! She has been looking forward to starting for months, telling me it's her 'school' every time we walk past it after dropping Daisy at big school. She had two settling in sessions this week and then starts properly after the Easter break. She LOVED them both. I stayed with her for the first but she practically threw me out at the second. I had a WHOLE HOUR with NO CHILDREN to look after! So of course I spent it in the toy shop buying birthday presents for Daisy's friends.



On Tuesday I did something I've wanted to do for a very, very long time. I bought a piano. I've always wanted the girls to grow up with one in the house just like I did, so when my friend decided to sell hers I jumped at the chance to buy it. Isn't it a beaut? At the moment it's sat on my dad's van waiting to be transported down here next week. I can't wait to have it in our living room! Anyone know any piano tuners close to Haslemere?



Wednesday saw me picking up my latest print from the framers. This one is a miniature and I absolutely love it. Daisy spotted it in a shop and also chose the dark grey frame. It sums me up pretty well I think! Speaking of cats, Wednesday was a rather momentous day for Mabel as she ventured outside for the first time! I think she wore herself out as she completely passed out on the arm chair at dinner time and couldn't even bring herself to move when the girls came in and started to annoy her! 



I worked on Thursday morning and then had my hair coloured in the afternoon. I had been contemplating going back blonde for the summer (I had some highlights put in on my last visit to kick start the colour change) but over the past few weeks I realised I really didn't want to. So much to my hairdresser's delight (Sorry Alan & Cara!!) I made them dye it back brown again. I'm glad I did though.... I love it. I don't think I will ever go back blonde again now.

On Friday, after the eclipse, we seemed to get a mini heatwave! After school Daisy played out with the other kids from our terrace. Coats were abandoned and the hose even got sprayed.... It felt so spring like. I can't wait for summer now!

This week Saturday was my day of work-work and house work. Daisy and Evie had a party to go to and according to Daisy it was the BEST PARTY EVER! They were both pooped come bedtime which meant they had an early night and I got to watch two movies back to back once they were asleep.

Today was a super busy Sunday! We visited my godparents in Hove, walking into Brighton along the beach front and stopping for coffee in the Lanes before heading back to their house for a spot of lunch. We then drove home via Littlehampton and had Pizza Express for dinner which was goooooooood!

This week I have been:

Listening to..... Ray LaMontagne's album Til the Sun Turns Black. "Can I Stay" has been on constant repeat this past week and this live version is so beautiful. 



Wearing.... New shoes!




Not one pair, but two pairs. Oh my! Yes, the Next very kindly sent me a hamper of goodies for Mother's Day which included these gorgeous monochrome pumps. Plus these amazing pointed t-bar flats came to join my ever growing shoe collection from Boden this week. Aren't they divine?

Linking up with TWTWC over at Make Do & Push xoxo


TWTWC
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Friday, 20 March 2015

Win! A pair of Moheda Madrid Clogs


As a woman that spends the majority of her life on her feet, I LOVE clogs. I bought my first pair (cognac Moheda Bettys) just under a year ago and have amassed another five pairs since! They are just so, so comfortable - and versatile too. You can wear them with anything; jeans, skirts and dresses, short-shorts, leggings and smocks, plus you genuinely can wear them all day long, and walk miles and miles and miles in them. 

The latest design to join my growing collection is the Moheda Madrid. I was looking for a black pair this time round, which might sound strange as we're coming into Spring, but with the British weather the way it is at this time of year I thought they would be the perfect transitional shoe that I could wear with woolly tights while theres still a chill in the air, and bare legs once it starts to warm up. For the first time ever I opted for the higher heel; they are 8.5cm as opposed to the standard 6.5. This design is slightly chunkier than the other clogs I own, and has an elasticated strap to the back of the heel instead of a buckle.

I don't really think I need to tell you how much I love them do I? They are just GORGEOUS. The extra 2cm on the heel really does make a difference when it comes to making your legs look longer, but it doesn't affect the comfort at all. I also really like that you can just slip these on without worrying about having to fasten them up. I have a feeling these are going to be my favourite clogs for a long time; there's no reason at all why I can't carry on wearing them all the way into AW15!

I'm really, really excited to be able to share the clog love by giving away one pair of Moheda Madrids to one lucky reader today! (Thanks so much Moheda!) As per my usual giveaway terms and conditions, I'm using the Rafflecopter widget below and there are six ways to enter, including following me on Bloglovin' which offers a bonus two entries. The competition closes at midnight on 27th March 2015 and the winner will be announced on Facebook and on Twitter shortly after. This competition is open worldwide (YAY!) and the prize will be sent direct from Moheda. Good luck! xoxo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Linking up to Fashion Friday and Street Style Sunday


Fashion Friday on MummysGotStyle.com


Style Me Sunday


More competitions at ThePrizeFinder
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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Celebrate Your Whites with Vanish!

Tailored White Shirt, £110 - Karen Millen

The colour white is one I generally avoid as a mum. When Daisy was a teeny tiny baby (my first, of course) I ADORED dressing her in pristine white sleep suits. What in the world is CUTER than a newborn baby all dressed in white?! 

As soon as we started weaning all those pretty babygros turned grey/orange and ended up in the rag bank, never to be seen again, and the crisp white shirts that I had loved wearing pre-children, and which were now stained with sticky hand prints, went with them.



Last month I was welcomed into Vanish's Blogger Club and asked to put their latest products - Vanish Gold for Whites - to the ultimate test! They sent out a pot of this wonder stuff, along with a gorgeous Karen Millen shirt that had been deliberately greyed.

I was totally up for the challenge.... if I could get an 'old' white shirt to look new again, maybe the time had come for me to reintroduce some whites to my wardrobe. If tennis style whites are a key trend for SS15 then the timing was spot on too!

Vanish Gold for Whites is designed to tackle the unavoidable dull and dingy grey colour that white material goes after it's been worn and washed a few too many times. It comes in a powder form that can be used to soak prior to washing, as a pre-treatment for really tough stains, or just in your every day white wash to boost the stain removal abilities of your regular detergent.



To combat the greyness of my Karen Millen shirt I gave it a six hour soak, a regular wash and a second wash with a scoop of Vanish added to my regular non-bio detergent. I'm not one to get ridiculously excited over washing results but I can't deny I was majorly impressed!



I had also been sent out a colour chart to compare levels of whiteness. To begin with, the shirt was most definitely a four. Greyer than a four. After the Vanish treatment I would say it was more like a two or a one!



The moral of this story? It's time to wear whites again! I'll be adding Vanish Gold for Whites to my weekly shop for sure.

The RRP of a 470g pot of Vanish Gold for Whites powder is £5.75, and it is available from all good supermarkets.

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Monday, 16 March 2015

Dear Diary #9

It's a late diary entry for me this week, partly due to yesterday being Mother's Day but mostly as a result of a third week of god awful, hideous sleep deprivation thanks to my youngest darling daughter.

Three weeks ago I removed the sides from Evie's cot because she'd learnt how to scale them - and night times have not been the same since.

Now, I am very well accustomed to having a terrible night's sleep. I talk about it so often on here I really do not need to go into details. Daisy has finally mastered the art of sleeping through the night in her own bed at age 5 (and she can also sleep through ANY NOISE which I am INCREDIBLY JEALOUS of). Evie is currently in a league of her own, having been waking me up pretty much two hourly every night for the last twenty nights.

This past week I have bought a safety gate for her bedroom door and at the weekend I decided to start leaving her to self-settle when she wakes up. Don't be horrified; I've not crossed over to the dark side and abandoned my beliefs regarding attachment parenting. She doesn't cry when she wakes in the night; she just shouts at me to bring her stuff or to play with her. I end up going to her because I'm worried that she'll wake up Daisy (or our neighbours!). It would appear that it's only me that hears her, and it also turns out that if I leave her to it she takes herself back to bed as soon as she realises it's still night time. So I'm sticking at it... and hoping for a good night's sleep tonight.

Aside from the lack of sleep, this week also saw me discovering more non-dairy delights (I'm talking about YOU Almond Dream Non-Dairy Salted Caramel Ice Cream), doing more laundry than I thought possible and cramming in a couple of extra shifts at work. This means that my diary entries for Monday to Thursday are pretty much non-existent (unless you want me to go into detail about my OCD of hanging out wet clothes properly so that they dry creaseless? I will if you want me to). However we made up for it with a super weekend at Chessington World of Adventures and a family day celebrating Mother's Day yesterday.



So YES! After school on Friday, the girls and I headed straight to the Chessington World of Adventures Resort for a weekend of rides, shows and Penguins. We were invited down for the launch of the Penguins of Madagascar Live Show, which just so happens to coincide with the release of the film on DVD at the end of the month. I'll tell you all about it in a separate post but needless to say we had an INCREDIBLE weekend, which was made even more brilliant by the fact we got to hang out with Alice from An Essex Wife and her awesome family for the first time in forever. We also got to spend a night at the brand new Azteca Hotel, although a certain small child was up to her usual night time antics so it wasn't as relaxing as it could have been for me!

Sunday was Mother's Day and after an unnecessarily early start (4.45am, thanks girls) we spent the morning at Church, before heading to the farmers market to buy treats for a family meal (we had lasagne with garlic bread and fresh fruit and ice cream for dinner). Daisy and I had a bit of a falling out when she asked to go out for pizza for lunch. I said no, which was apparently VERY MEAN OF ME. When we got home I was presented with this Mother's Day card:


  

It says 'NO Mother's Day for my mummy' and depicts a happy scene in a restaurant with Daisy and Evie enjoying pizza without me!



Mean Mummy card aside, I had a lovely day with my two monkeys (I particularly loved my Mother's Day hairstyle, thank you Daisy) and I'm looking forward to taking my own Mum out for afternoon tea very soon. I hope all you mamas out there had a lovely day too.

Linking up with TWTWC over at Make Do and Push! xoxo


TWTWC
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New for SS15: The PacaPod Idaho Changing Bag

You know how women usually fall into one of two categories and they're either shoe or bag women? Well I am most definitely the latter. I have always carried my life around in my handbag..... purse, keys, phone, filofax, make up bag, sunglasses. When the girls came along I still needed all that in my bag, plus extra space for nappies, wipes, bottles, snacks, toys and all the other essential baby paraphernalia that us parents have to carry around from day to day. 



I've lusted after a PacaPod for forever (the Firenze in chocolate leather is right at the very top of my wish list and has been for some time). Aside from the beautiful aesthetics, I have a real thing about organising stuff. I get twitchy when I can't find something, or if the bottom of my bag is full of rubbish. Being sent the Idaho in crimson to review was a bit of a dream come true for my inner organiser.

For those of you that don't know, PacaPod bags are a 3 in 1 organisation system. The outer bag contains an insulated feeder 'pod' and a separate 'changer' pod as well as a mat which separates the two. The pods are brilliant, as if you're out and about and need to nip to the baby change you can just whip the changing pod out and leave the bag and buggy with a friend. You can also take them out of the bag and clip them directly to your pram handles, freeing up more space in the main body of the bag itself.

PacaPods also have pram clips, a key fob and mobile and pen pockets which, in the case of the Idaho, are conveniently located in a clip fastening front pocket which makes them super easily accessible. So there is absolutely no chance of you being disorganised, even if you usually are!


The size of the bag and pods are great; there is more than enough space to carry everything needed for two children. 

I love the design; its casual and relaxed from the outside (I LOVE the colour combo of the wipe clean crimson and the vegan tan leather trim) but everything has a place inside. (OCD? Moi?)

The best thing about the whole PacaPod collection is that once your small people are all grown up and don't need you to carry quite so much around with you on their behalf, you can remove the pods and continue using the outer bag as a handbag. The Idaho is a great size and will easily hold my MacBook on top of the other million things I cart about with me. Even when it's entirely full, it's still really comfortable to wear across your body too (something that drives me potty about some of my other bags that just don't sit right).

The entire PacaPod collection is available directly from their website and the Idaho retails at £75.

DISCLAIMER: I was sent a PacaPod Idaho for the purpose of this honest review.
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Peppa Pig World at Paulton's Park


As a family, we LOVE Paulton's Park. It's not especially close to us (its about 60 miles away) but it's a journey I'm more than happy to make and this year I am most definitely going to be buying a season ticket so that we can visit lots. I've taken the girls twice before, and both times we were there for the park's main attraction; Peppa Pig World. 

Peppa Pig World is just a tiny part of the huge Paulton's Park. Its a five minute walk from the main entrance and is made up of seven rides, indoor and outdoor play areas, lots of things to see, lots of photo opportunities and the obligatory cafes and gift shop too. Back into the main park there is Dinosaur Land to explore and water parks to cool off in, in Summer and plenty of places to get food or enjoy a picnic brought from home. 


What I love about Paulton's Park

- It's so clean! There are recycling points everywhere, so there's never any need to go hunting for one, and my husband and I both noticed how all the staff picked the odd bit of litter up if they passed any.

- There's so much open space. The main reason I'm contemplating buying an annual pass is not for the rides, but for the actual park! It's such a lovely place to visit. There are heaps of picnic tables you can use and lots of grassy patches (with plenty of shade from trees) if a blanket is more your thing! There are beautiful gardens to run through and the splash parks are brilliant on a warm day.

- You aren't forced into spending a fortune on food. So many places don't let you take your own food in these days. Being dairy free now, I can only imagine the problems this would cause for me plus, as a parent, I'm more than aware of how fussy children can be when it comes to food.

My top tips?

- Stay over if you can; then you can enjoy two (or more!) days of Paulton's Park fun! There is a Holiday Inn just a few miles away which offers brilliant family accommodation at really reasonable prices.

- Bring your own picnic food. There are loads of gorgeous picnic spots around the park - and a good selection of food outlets, which are admittedly very reasonably priced - but I much prefer to take my own food and snacks so that I know my family will like and eat them. If you do fancy treating yourself and eating there, have a wander around. The cafe in Peppa Pig World was ridiculously busy, but other restaurants and kiosks had no queues whatsoever.

- Pay the Water Kingdom a visit. (That's the one in the main theme park, not the tiny, overcrowded themed one in Peppa Pig World). It is BRILLIANT. Pack a swimsuit for the kids and let them run riot in the fully enclosed mini water park full of sprinklers and water jets. There are shops on site that sell costumes and towels (at a price!) for emergencies - or you can just pretend you're back in the 80s and let your children run around in their pants like I did the first time we went! Chuh, who cares?!

- If its summer and your kids are wearing sandals without socks, pack a pair for George's Space Adventure (the indoor soft play). Socks are compulsory (and staff are on the door to check). We had to spend £4.50 on two pairs of socks from the shop which is money we could have saved, had we known.

- Pre-book your tickets; not only will it knock a bit off the price, it means you can skip the sales kiosk queues and go straight to the entrance gate.

This is a collaborative post.
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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Thrifty Ideas for the Home

Do you dream of chic, stylish décor, but your purse strings are tied a little too tightly to achieve the look you’d love? Bags of cash can certainly help in creating a gorgeous house, but believe it or not, there are lots of ways to make your home look beautiful without breaking the bank…
A Little Preparation…
Before you go on any shopping sprees, it’s wise to do a little preparation so every penny is spent prudently – and so you know where you can get away with not spending any money at all!
Figure out your priorities
Would your home currently benefit from an ergonomic office chair for the study, or a new modular sofa to cater for your growing family? Decide which areas or items need an overhaul immediately, and work on those first.
Know when to splash out, and when to save
Items like desks, lighting and rugs can all be bought inexpensively whilst still looking great, whereas it can be wise to spend a little more on frequently-used items like seating. Also worth forking out for are items that retain their value, such as great quality artwork. As always, before making any purchase do some research and decide whether it’s really worth shelling out the extra cash for.
Make a list
If you’re doing a large scale makeover on your home, total up how much it will cost before you buy anything. That way you can look for cheaper alternatives if necessary and save up for certain items if needs be. 
Have a good old clear out 
It’s best to focus on ‘out with the old’, before ‘in with the new’.  Before spending any money, do a little spring cleaning so you can start with a clean slate. You may also rediscover items that can be displayed in your home, or be repurposed in a chic way. Wouldn’t you kick yourself if you bought a new lamp, only to find that antique one you’d forgotten about in the loft?
Inexpensive Home Lighting Can Make a Big Difference
Clever lighting can transform the look of any room. Think about the sort of mood you want to create in any given space, and then consider which lighting solutions will work best:
Via here

Candles & Oil Burners
A few inexpensive candles can create a romantic, calming environment. You can get big bags of tea lights without spending too much at all, and if you also invest in a couple of oil burners, you can make your home smell as gorgeous as it looks.
Dress Up Those Windows 
Want a bright and airy feel? Opening up your windows – not literally, but by changing the dressing – can transform a room. Swap curtains for a clean white blind, and team this with a set of tulle or voile curtains to let in the maximum amount of light, while still dressing your windows beautifully. 
DIY Dimmers
A dimmer light switch can allow you to change the lighting to suit your mood or the occasion, and it doesn’t have to be a nightmare to install – if you fancy a little DIY, try this tutorial that breaks it all down into basic steps.  
The Best Websites for Redecorating on a Budget
As they say, the best things in life are free – or at the very least, frugal! Luckily, there are plenty of online resources to help you bag yourself a bargain, or even find freebies. 
Though the website can be a bit tedious to navigate, it can all be so worth it if you find that perfect coffee table for literally nothing. Join up to your local group and see what treasures you can find.  
Ebay 
Not only can you bid for bargains on this Aladdin’s cave of a website, but you can also use it to sell unwanted items, and make some money to spend on things you do want!
Gumtree  
Another website that can take a little while to search through, but with such a varied range of weird and wonderful items for sale, it’s well worth a look.
In addition to looking for bargains online, it’s also worth bargain hunting at your local car boot sales or markets. Even craft and antique fairs can be worth checking out, especially if you’re looking for a focus piece for a particular room that’s worth spending a little extra on.
Thrifty Finishing Touches for Any Room
Whether you’ve spent thousands of pounds or just a few quid on making over your room, it’s the finishing touches that make all the difference. In fact, just adding a few of these can lift a room all by themselves – and they don’t have to cost the Earth.
Via here

Keep a Handle on Things
Replacing dull doorknobs and drawer handles with colourful, interesting ones can totally change the appearance of a door or piece of furniture. Look for ones in a similar colour scheme, or mix and match for a quirky look.
Flowers & Vases
Charity shops are fantastic for finding these and you’ll be surprised at what you can find for next to nothing. While you should fill your vases with fresh flowers when you can, consider getting some good quality artificial ones too, so your home has some floral beauty all year round. 
House plants
If flowers aren’t really your thing, consider investing in a few leafy house plants. Not only will these make your room look beautiful, they’ll help to clear the air, too!
Tablecloths & Throws
A beautiful tablecloth or knitted throw can not only hide a cheap dining table or scratched settee, but can cost much less than replacing these large items, and look simply stunning, too. 
Pretty in Pairs
With décor, you can instantly make a room look more glamorous and ‘designed’ by arranging items in matching pairs, or in threes. A couple of matching lamps at each end of a coffee table, or a set of three candles arranged along a mantelpiece looks much classier than a single item.
If you can, follow this rule with some pieces of furniture too for a really gorgeous look. A couple of matching bookcases on opposite sides of a fireplace, or two matching bedside tables flanking a bed will look fabulous!
Do you have any frugal decorating tips of your own? Be sure to let me know on Twitter!

This article was contributed by Josh Nicholas of SofaSofa.
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Monday, 9 March 2015

Little Bird Summer 2015 Preview

Jools Oliver has DONE IT YET AGAIN. Just like every single previous season, her high summer 2015 collection for Little Bird at Mothercare is AMAZING.... and I can't wait until it all goes on sale! 

If you follow me on Instagram you've probably noticed that Daisy and Evie's wardrobes are full of Little Bird clothes. They're everything kids clothes should be; hard wearing, affordable and super colourful - and a lot of it is unisex too which I particularly love and makes them perfect, timeless clothes to pass down from sibling to sibling. I also love them because they remind me of the clothes I wore as a child myself!

Here are my favourites from the upcoming collection - I'll follow up with their release date and prices as soon as I know them. I think this is the first sneak peak to hit the internet too, which is super exciting!


What do you think? Which pieces are your favourites? xoxo
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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Dear Diary #8

This past week has been a real quiet one for us. I love getting out and about, and always try to make the most out of the weekends and holidays now that Daisy is at school, but every once in a while I think it's important to just batten down the hatches and spend some time at home.



And that's exactly what we did at the beginning of the week. Aside from school runs and quick visits to the local shops for essentials, we pretty much stayed at home. The highlight was, for me, the discovery of The Coconut Collaborative's Snowconut frozen yoghurt alternative. Oh my goodness, it is AMAZING! (and currently on offer at Sainsbury's). I'm not ashamed to tell you I ate the whole tub in one sitting. It was THAT GOOD.



It wasn't until Thursday that something exciting happened - and that something was World Book Day! Daisy had to dress up as a character whose name began with a letter from the word READING. If I tell you she chose 'E' can you guess who she went as? Of course Evie had to get in on the action too so she dressed up as a witch.



On Friday morning I went to a weights class at the gym which is an outing for Evie as much as for me. While I go to the gym, she visits the creche - and she LOVES it. It's also just up the road so we leave the buggy at home when we go, which is a real adventure for Evie (and the ten minute walk ends up taking us about half an hour!).




Saturday began with a shift at work which was quickly followed by a trip to London and a birthday party for my nephew! Visiting my sister is always so much fun; she has two boys which means her house has lots of awesome toys that are WAY more exciting than the ones the girls have at home! We all ate pizza and birthday cake and the children made us dress up as Ninja Turtles. 



Today has been a day of cat fancy dress, work (for me) and having parents over for lunch -and I couldn't think of a better way to end the week! 

This week I have been: 

Listening to.... an old Of Monsters and Men album. Its such a good'un! Very rarely do I come across an entire album that I can listen to from start to finish without skipping any tracks, but My Head is an Animal definitely is one. 'Sloom' is my current fave song (again).




Reading.... new glossy mag Hello! Fashion Monthly. I LOVE a good fashion mag but I have to confess that the amount of freaking adverts in the big glossies drive me INSANE. Hello! Fashion Monthly is made up of perfect proportions of catwalk and high street fashions, celebrity style and beauty tips and tricks. I'm already looking forward to May's edition.







Wearing.... my new Urban Outfitters beetle dress! (Or is it a shirt? - I'm undecided but have been wearing it with tights and boots anyway, despite it being a bit short.) I also got a new pair of Moheda clogs this week; I chose to add a pair of Madrids in black with extra high heels to my ever growing collection and I CAN'T WAIT TO WEAR THEM!


TWTWC
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