June 2015 | Modern Mummy

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Dear Diary #18 {Bumper Edition}

OK, so its only been five weeks since I promised myself I'd keep up these weekly diary entries again and already I've been slacking. I last wrote about life three weeks ago, and in that time we've been up to so much!



First up I turned 35. How the freak did that happen? I know it's a cliche but I really do still feel twenty. I'm not going to lie, I had a bit of a crisis in the lead up to this birthday. I mean! 35!






In actual fact it ended up being one of my most favourite birthdays ever. Daisy wrote me a birthday note, my parents came to visit and took me to the garden centre for lunch. They bought me some plants for the garden, then the girls got home from school and my BFF came round with two huge platters of homemade sushi and a birthday cake.




I got some awesome presents too.... a load of Oronomin C from Japan (ADDICTED! so good!), a gorgeous little bistro set for my patio, two superhero t-shirts, TATTOO VOUCHERS (yes really). I felt very loved. So far being 35 hasn't been so bad!




I spent my first entire weekend without the girls (sob!) but saw one of my best friends get married (yay!). 




I travelled down to Croyde in Devon for some quality time with my Uni girls. There are eight of us and these days we are all married / divorced / busy with kids / living all over the globe so its pretty hard for us to all get together. We totally managed it for this special occasion, and it was AMAZING! The wedding was beautiful. I wore a dress from French Connection. It was a bridesmaids dress from three summers ago that I ended up not being able to wear due to being very heavily pregnant with Evie! The girls and I danced ALL NIGHT and drank way too much champagne. The next morning we blew away the cobwebs with a huge cooked breakfast and an ice cream on the beach.





We've had some cracking movie nights in the past couple of weeks. I've been re-buying all my favourite childhood films and so far the girls have loved them all! This Friday we're watching Splash! I'm excited already.




We visited the coast on a Friday night after school. Boy I love doing this. We ran around on the beach, had a (chilly) picnic dinner and collected stones and shells. Then we warmed up with tea and cake at a cafe before heading back home. What a great way to start the weekend!



THIS is the song that has been stuck in my brain for the last fortnight. I do love a ukelele! (And I have a bit of a girl crush on Zoe Deschanel too). xoxo
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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

My Dream Bed

Sadly, this is not my bed. Image via here

Given that we supposedly spend a third of our lives in bed, you can hardly blame me for being a little bit obsessed with mine. That said, with two insomniac children, I spend much less time than that statistic in it. 

I didn't appreciate sleep at all until that pesky twosome* came along.

*I love them really.

Now it's like the Holy Grail. I start looking forward to bedtime a little after lunch and one day dream of getting eight hours sleep straight, or a lie in until 8.30am. 

Pre-motherhood I'd happily live off five hours of sleep a night, between late night drinking sessions and early mornings at the gym. These days five hours a night is no-where near enough, although that's still probably well above average for me to get in a night. I have replaced sleep with a caffetiere of coffee that is permanently on the go, and a slab of sugary cake at around 3pm every day.

But my lack of sleep just makes the hours I do get to spend in my boudoir all the more special. I've blogged about it before (and have still done nothing about it) but one day I fully intend to make my bedroom a beautiful, peaceful, girlie HAVEN.

The bed is the focal point of your bedroom and (obviously) the key to getting an amazing night's sleep but, in my opinion, the surroundings are equally important. In an ideal world, my bedroom would always be tidy and tranquil; with beautiful, practical and comfortable furniture.

At the moment, my bedroom is a bit of a dumping ground for the rest of the house, and it drives me mad. Piles of clothes go there en route to the correct drawers and wardrobes. (My wardrobe's overflow also hangs over the chair and on the end of my bed). Toys go there before they end up in the right toy box. Paperwork tends to stay in piles for filing for forever.

I have my ideas on how I'm going to do this. I think the key is in the storage. Everything needs to have a home.

I love love love my bedroom furniture. It was the first non-Ikea stuff I treated myself to when I bought my first home. It's quite a dark wood, very chunky and rustic looking. My bed is currently white wrought iron but desperately needs replacing as it squeaks whenever you sit down or roll over on it. It might make me sound very middle aged (I did turn 35 last week) but I would love a divan bed with a traditional metal headboard..... all that underbed storage to keep the clutter at bay is my idea of heaven! 

I also totally need some bedside lamps or twinkly lights - and mastering the art of using a drill is on my To Do List, so that I can put all my pictures up. (They are also currently contributing to the clutter, being stacked up in rows leaning up against the wall).

I might not be able to show you pictures of my own room for tranquil inspiration, but please do check out my My Dream Home board on Pinterest. I've been pinning quite a lot of bedroom interior design ideas recently.xoxo


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Saturday, 20 June 2015

An Evening on the Beach with Needle Knitwear




On me: Ravello cable knit jumper, was £145 - now £43.50, c/o Needle Boutique // Skirt, Cath Kidston // Boots c/o Seven Boot Lane
Daisy wears school uniform and Evie wears Little Bird by Jools for Mothercare (a hand me down from Daisy)


One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is to travel down to the coast after school. I love, love, LOVE the long summer evenings; come late afternoon the temperature has dropped, there's always a gorgeous breeze and NOTHING beats having dinner on the beach!

Yesterday the girls and I went to Ferring and had dinner at The Bluebird Cafe. It's one of my favourite spots along the south coast.

It was slightly chillier than I had anticipated so it was the perfect opportunity for me to bust out one of my two new Needle pieces. I have wanted a khaki cable knit jumper for SO LONG I can't tell you, but the ones I've come across have never been quite right (sometimes cable knits can make you look a bit chunky).

This one from Needle ticks all the boxes. I love the A-line shape (there is nothing worse than a jumper with a tight/fitted/elasticated waistband), and that the back is slightly longer than the front. The plain knit sleeves also help to keep them slim line. It is going to be perfect for chilly summer evenings, and I'll be able to wear it long into the Autumn and Winter too.xoxo

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Friday, 19 June 2015

A Week of Walt Disney - Day 5

Our last day at Walt Disney World was a very chilled out one, which was just what the doctor ordered after such a brilliantly busy itinerary during the course of our stay. 


We had a late a breakfast at our hotel (I ate ridiculous amounts of bacon - it just tastes so much better in America!) and then we decided we'd really like to spend our last few hours soaking up the Floridian sunshine by the pool.


I touched on the subject of the pool at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge in my original post about our hotel. It was just SO GOOD; definitely the best hotel pool I've ever come across since holidaying with the kids. So much thought had gone into it's design which meant it was perfectly family friendly. From the vast amounts of shade courtesy of the palm trees, to the sloping entry to the big pool (and the little splash pool!) and not forgetting the number of life guards on duty at any one time. Both Daisy and Evie (the daredevil!) had equal amounts of fun on the slide as they did frolicking about in the shallow waters. And I loved it because I really felt I could relax. This holiday was the first time I had ever taken both girls to the pool on my own and it was fine - better than fine even! - we had a blast!

After one last trip to the gift store, and some postcard writing in the lobby, the time came to check out and start our journey back home. We'd had the trip of a lifetime and I was so lucky to have been given the opportunity to take the girls on it. Walt Disney World really is the ultimate family holiday destination.  

The girls were excited from the moment they woke each day. They stayed up late and didn't nap, and weren't in the least bit grumpy or overtired. I think they just wanted to make sure that they didn't miss a thing - and who can blame them!

They loved the character meet & greets, the rides, the shows and the pools - and I loved watching their reactions to every new experience. There is just so much to see and do, and Disney's attention to detail (I'm talking everything, from their customer service to their resort decor) is second to none and really makes a dream holiday that extra bit special. 

Aside from seeing my daughter's faces light up every five minutes my favourite things were:

- our hotel. I loved everything about it, but I loved those big heavenly beds and black out curtains the most! 

- our magic bands, and in particular the Memory Maker facility. At last, a holiday where we have proof that I was actually there!

- the food (oh my THE FOOD! although I must comment - portions are absolutely HUGE wherever you go, so if you hate food waste like I do, don't be embarrassed to share!)

- the entertainment. NO trip to Disney is complete without watching the parade and at least one of the night time spectaculars. I come over all teary reminiscing about them now that we're back home. Breathtaking.

We honestly had the most wonderful trip and made some truly magical memories. Thanks so much to Disney for inviting us along!

xoxo

Seven nights at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida from £1,889 per adult, £779 per child

Seven nights at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida with Virgin Holidays, including scheduled flights from London Gatwick direct to Orlando, room only accommodation at the 5V Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and car hire starts from £1,889 per adult and £779 per child. Price is per person based on 2 adults and 2 children travelling and sharing a standard room and includes all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Price is based on a departure on August 04 2015. 

Start your holiday before you’ve even taken off in the v-room at Gatwick Airport… adults £24.50, kids from £14. Virgin Holidays is a member of ABTA and is ATOL protected. Virgin Holidays is a member of ABTA and is ATOL protected. To book: www.virginholidays.co.uk0844 557 3859 or visit one of our 126 stores located in Debenhams and House of Fraser stores nationwide.

Disney’s 7-day Ultimate Ticket - £319 Adult ticket and £299 Child ticket (aged 3-9).

Enjoy Disney’s 7-Day and 14-Day Ultimate Ticket deal and experience all that is on offer – there’s something for everyone. Come and go as you please to all SIX Parks at one incredible price. Only available to purchase in the UK and Ireland, buying before you fly also helps you budget in advance and plan your holiday more effectively plus for every 2016 Adult Ultimate Ticket pre-purchased, Memory Maker is included FREE (usually $199 on the gate). 

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Thursday, 18 June 2015

A Week of Walt Disney - Day 4


Our penultimate day at Walt Disney World was spent at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park.

It was a super hot day - PERFECT for the animal related antics we had in store!

We started off with the most decadent buffet breakfast I have ever seen, full of platters of fresh, exotic fruit, perfectly crispy streaky bacon, eggs cooked however you like and BREAKFAST QUESADILLAS! I've been on a mission to find a restaurant that serves these since I got back to the UK to no avail... suggestions and recommendations welcome!


Once we'd eaten we had a chance to explore the park before setting off on a Kilimanjaro Safari. We all got a bit excited to find a PhotoPass point next to an old Land Rover Defender - my Dad used to have one and one day I would love to have one too!


The kids also had lots of fun singing nursery rhymes with some of the park cast.

Then it was time to board our open-air safari vehicle and head into the 110-acre Harambe Wildlife Reserve. 






On our 18 minute expedition we saw elephant, giraffe, hippos, lions, zebra, black rhino, cheetah, crocodiles and flamingo (there are actually 34 different species of African wildlife roaming free) and our guide told us all sorts of interesting facts about them and their habitat.

Lunch was held at Yak & Yeti, a wonderful pan-Asian restaurant, decorated with souvenirs collected by the proprietor and his family on their travels through Southeast Asia. It served some seriously delicious dishes from regions across Asia and we were lucky enough to be given a tasting menu of various starters, and then I chose the crispy honey chicken as my main, while the girls had chicken tenders and vegetable lo-mein.

After lunch we went to the Tree of Life to watch the 3D film, Its Tough to be a Bug. With Flik from A Bug's Life as the narrator and a pair of 3D glasses, we had heaps of fun dodging flying quills from a tarantula, feeling the spray from a soldier termite and inhaling the putrid “defence stench” from a stink bug! I do love a story with a moral and this one teaches “it’s tough to be a bug” and also that insects are our friends. The girls loved it, and so did I.

We had some free time in the afternoon and after our brilliant day at Typhoon Lagoon we decided to spend it by the pool, back at our hotel. We'd been down to take a look at it before but not actually been in it and it. looked. incredible!


The kids enjoyed splashing about while I relaxed in the sun for a couple of hours before the evening's activities and right then and there we decided that we'd spend the whole of our last day (tomorrow - sob!) back by the pool.


That evening we made our way back to Hollywood Studios for a VIP viewing of Fantasmic (and another dessert party, oh my!). En route we paid the Pop Century resort a visit to do some Marvel superhero shopping and for a quick bite to eat. I had a Sloppy Joe and discovered RANCH SAUCE (my new addiction, although as seems to be the case with everything edible I fell in love with at Disney, I can't find stuff of the same quality back over here in the UK, grrr). 


Over at Hollywood Studios we were given our own personalised Mickey ears and braced ourselves for a night full of excitement with fireworks, pyrotechnics, laser lights and a million gallons of dancing water!

The Fantasmic show stars Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice, the Evil Queen, Ursula, Cruella de Vil, Scar, Maleficent, Beauty, the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, the Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Aladdin and the Lion King and is all about good overcoming evil.

People had already started gathering to get good seats when we arrived, which was a good hour before the show was due to start. You could really feel the excitement building as the countdown to the start was announced over the loudspeaker.

She show and the special effects were out of this world. We loved every minute of it. It really was the perfect way to spend our last evening in Florida.xo
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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

A Week of Walt Disney - Day 3


I think Day 3 might have been my favourite out of the whole holiday. It involved a whole lot of water, as we spent the day at Typhoon Lagoon and then the evening on a boat on the Seven Seas Lagoon at the Grand Floridian resort.

Breakfast was held at Trattoria al Forno, the newest restaurant at Disney's Boardwalk Resort. I loved the decor - a combination of dark wood and terracotta, with beautifully patterned tiles on the walls and mosaics on the floors - and the open plan kitchen was gorgeous. I love being able to see my food being cooked!




The restaurant is open daily from 7.30-11am for breakfast and from 5-10pm for dinner. It was here that I discovered my love for BREAKFAST POTATOES. Oh my. Accompanying my breakfast potatoes was bacon, two poached eggs, toast and a whole lot of coffee. 




Once we finished eating we headed across Walt Disney World to spend the day at Typhoon Lagoon. It was a good job that we'd had substantial breakfasts as we needed a lot of energy once we got there!

The girls are such water babies. They LOVE going swimming back at home. But nothing could have prepared them for the excitement of this amazing water park.

We had a cabana for the day, which I would definitely recommend if you are visiting as a family (they can be booked for up to six people). Situated in the sand for sandcastle building and the shade for respite from the hot Florida sun, with comfy loungers, fresh towels, an attendant to look after you, somewhere safe to lock up your valuables and unlimited soft drinks, it made the perfect base camp.

We spent the day having fun on the slides, Castaway Creek (the 2000ft long lazy river that winds its way around the park) and Gangplank Falls (a super fun family raft ride that totally soaked us!). Then, of course there was the park's signature attraction, North America's largest wave pool. This was the girls' favourite part of the park - we'd listen out for the "sonic boom" and brace ourselves for the 6ft swells to start in the distance, before jumping over them once they reached us in the shallow parts of the pool.

We left late in the afternoon but could easily have stayed there until it closed at 7pm. In fact I think we could have spent our entire week there, we had that much fun.


That evening we had a dinner reservation at Citricos in the Grand Floridian resort. I'd heard so much about both the restaurant and the resort and they didn't disappoint. The hotel was so elegant and sophisticated; I adored the lobby - those chandeliers! - and loved the full jazz band playing to entertain the guests.


The food and wine at Citricos were out of this world. We got to sample pretty much all of the starters on the menu, which was great. Then the girls had pizzas and I chose a veal shank from the specials board for my main. It was quite honestly one of the best meals I have ever eaten; the meat just flaked away from the bone and melted in my mouth. I'm drooling just thinking about it, four weeks later!


The girls had their caricatures drawn!

After dinner we had (another!) dessert party by the marina before heading out on the Seven Seas Lagoon to watch Wishes Nighttime Spectacular. Wishes is an incredible firework display (the biggest in Disney history!) set over Cinderella Castle to a medley of famous Disney songs. The show was seriously impressive, but watching it from a boat with a glass of champagne in hand made it extra special.


As if our day could not get any better, that night we arrived back at our hotel to a delivery of milk, cookies and chocolate dipped strawberries! xo


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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

A Week of Walt Disney - Day 2




Our second day at Walt Disney World was all about dancing with Sofia the First, face paints, holding Cinderella's ACTUAL GLASS SLIPPER, singing with Anna and Elsa, some of the most incredible fireworks we've ever seen, and eating far too much amazing food (again).

We ate breakfast at The Mara, a restaurant within our hotel which was brilliant for budget and speedy eating, and then met in the lobby for our transfer to Disney's Hollywood Studios.


Disney's Hollywood Studios was brilliant. If I had to choose my top three parks, it would definitely be up there, along with the Magic Kingdom and Typhoon Lagoon (more on that tomorrow!).




We had an incredible morning which was kick started with a meet and greet with Sofia the First. Daisy was already a Sofia fan, and Evie most certainly was one when the time came to say goodbye. We also had heaps of fun playing on the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure. The girls hadn't seen the film (its now on our list for a future movie night!) but still loved it none the less and I thought it was just brilliant!





Next up we were lucky enough to be able to pay Cinderella's golden carriage a visit and Daisy and Evie got to hold her beautiful glass slipper. We were also able to enjoy virtually queue free access to rides like Toy Story Mania thanks to our FastPasses, which had been pre-loaded onto our MagicBands.

I've not mentioned our MagicBands before but they played a crucial part in our week at Walt Disney World. On check in at our hotel the girls, my Dad and I were issued with one each; they are secure, waterproof wrist bands which allow you to travel effortlessly around your hotel and the parks. They act as your hotel room key, allow you entry to theme and water parks, enable you to check in at FastPass+ entrances, connect Disney PhotoPass images to your Walt Disney World account and can also be used to charge food and merchandise purchases to your hotel room when registered with your credit card.

I would totally recommend pre-booking FastPass+ selections for popular attractions and character meets. You're limited to booking three at a time but once you've redeemed your initial three picks you can then head to a kiosk to choose three more. Although Disney go all out to make queuing bearable, nothing beats not having to queue at all, especially when queue jumping comes at no extra cost! 

I also have to say that the new Disney Memory Maker service, available via either MagicBand or card, was one of the best parts of the trip for me. There are various PhotoPass locations throughout the Walt Disney World Resort where you can have your photo taken by professional photographers - on certain rides, meeting your favourite characters or standing in front of famous monuments like Cinderella Castle. Once you have had your picture taken, the photographer scans your band or card and the photographs are sent to your My Disney Experience account, so you can download and share digital copies of them all. I LOVED actually getting to be in photos with my family, as opposed to taking all the photos as usually happens! 

The highlight of the day for Daisy and Evie was getting front row seats at the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. It was a fantastic stage show starring Anna, Elsa, and newly appointed royal historians of Arendelle to retell the famous story.... with lots of audience participation of course and some super surprises too! We enjoyed the show so much we went on to watch the Voyage of the Little Mermaid straight afterwards, another short show perfect for children, which featured puppets, special effects, excerpts from the movie and, of course, Ariel herself!





That evening was spent at Epcot. We were treated to a feast of different cuisines from around the world, followed by the most incredible dessert party and a VIP viewing of IllumiNations from the edge of the World Showcase Lagoon. It was incredible.

There was a huge selection of desserts on offer all either from, or inspired by, different countries. There was traditional baklava from Morocco, tirimasu from Italy, chocolate ganache tarts from France and, my absolute favourite, flaming cinnamon sugar churros with chocolate sauce from Mexico. Watching fireworks whilst eating dessert on a beautifully warm summers evening was a pretty awesome way to end a pretty awesome day xo
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