June 2016 | Modern Mummy

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Five Favourites: The Mermaid Edition


You may have noticed that I added a new tattoo to the collection earlier this month! I went for a mermaid sitting on an anchor, and picked the top of my right foot for the placement. The mermaid is to symbolise my love of the sea and British folklore, and the anchor is a nod to my lovely Gramps who was in the Navy, and who died in 2014.

Needless to say, the girls absolutely love her (they've named her Marina!) and mermaids are their current obsession.... They've been watching Splash! and The Little Mermaid on DVD, and H2O on Netflix, and drawing mermaid pictures, and writing mermaid stories, and playing mermaids in the bath. They've also instructed me that I have to get a mer-man tattoo on my other foot!

Anyhoo, with all things mermaid being the hot topic of conversation right now, I thought I'd put together a little post with my five favourite mermaid related goodies! And here they are:




Clockwise from top left:
Temporary tattoos, £2 from little+fierce // T-shirt, £6 from Marks & Spencer // Mermaid Hair shampoo, £26 from Liberty // Disney Ariel fancy dress, £13 from George at ASDA // Punky Pins Necklace, £7.99 from Attitude Clothing 
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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Life is Messy!


There’s no doubt about it: making a mess is lots more fun than sitting quietly, listening to a grown up! But better yet, messy play is incredibly beneficial to a child’s education - especially in their early years. That’s why I’ve been getting behind AO’s Life Is Messy campaign, which is designed to encourage parents and carers to embrace a little bit of dirt…..

What is messy play?
Messy play is a hands-on sensory learning experience. It typically involves children playing with paint, mud, goo, water and other safe substances, helping young minds to unleash their creativity, learn some social skills and and make sense of their environment.

Why is messy play important?
Messy play is so, so, so, so, so important to a child’s education because:

- it engages and strengthens their senses
- it teaches children what happens when they interact with the world
- it helps to teach vital communication skills (what better way learning about personal space, boundaries and sharing than gathering around a sandpit?)
- it teaches children about cause and effect
- it helps to refine fine and gross motor skills

It might also surprise you to learn that messy play has been found to aid speech therapy too, so don’t be tricked into thinking your child is having too much fun to be learning anything… they’re actually processing a lot of information!

What messy play ideas can you and your child do at home?
If you you want to ease yourself into messy play (perhaps you’re understandably a bit worried about the extra housework), why not relegate messy play activities to the back garden? Encourage your little ones to dig for worms, make mud pies, or splash around in the paddling pool with containers of various shapes and sizes.

If indoor play is more your thing, cover the dining table with a cloth and experiment with finger painting or home made play dough. Don’t forget, activities that benefit the whole family (like making delicious breakfast pancakes or jam tarts) count as a session of messy play too, so be sure to invite your little helper into the kitchen for a spot of baking!

Are you sold on the idea of messy play? If so, take a look at these activities and challenge you to see how many messy play ideas you and your children can tick off the list this summer!


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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Perfect Summer Sandals - and they're in the sale!


Flashback to the Summer of '94 and my favourite outfit was a long floral maxi skirt, worn with a ribbed, cropped vest top and a pair of tie up espadrilles. I felt SO grown up and glamorous, but in a free spirited, wild, bohemian way ;) I remember saving up and buying those shoes from a shop on the Kings Road so vividly, and I wore them pretty much every single day until they fell apart.

Over the past two decades I've thought of those shoes often, and fondly, and have constantly been on the look out for another pair. It might have taken 22 years but, at long last, I found the perfect replacement:

Introducing the Cara Tappy!



They're made from a gorgeous silky nubuck, with a woven ankle support and the flatform style makes them perfect for us women that are constantly on the go as they are super comfy and easy to walk in. I really love the matching ankle strap (much more supportive than flimsy ribbons!) and the blanket stitch detailing. The best bit? They are currently in the sale for just £35 - 50% off the original price - and they are also available in cream or grey snakeskin.



Take a look at the Cara website here for more beautiful shoes and clothes - or pop into their store on Sheen Road in Richmond for a browse if you're local.

I was sent a pair of Tappies but was under no obligation to write this post. As always, all words are honest and my own.
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Planning for the Future with Insure With Max

An important part of being a grown up is being responsible for the financial security of your whole family - which includes paying mortgages, bills and insurance policies. When we buy a car we take out motor insurance to protect us in case things go wrong, when we buy a house we take out building and contents insurance to cover any accidental damage. Then there's also life insurance and critical illness cover to consider. All these policies give us adults peace of mind in case something happens to us or the things around us.

But what happens if it's not you that gets poorly, but your child? It's not something we like to think about but in those circumstances, if you need to take time off work, who will pay your bills?

Insure With Max have created a new type of insurance for working parents, that will pay you your take home salary for 12 months, should you need to take unpaid leave from work to look after your child. Take a look at this video for more information on how the policy works:


ChildMax is available for working UK parents and covers 12 illnesses and 7 medical conditions. It is affordable - policies start at £49.50 for twelve months - and flexible, with annual reviews and the ability to return to work part time if necessary.

It is underwritten by Ironshore Europe Limited via its London branch. Ironshore Europe Limited is authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland and subject to limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority. It is distributed by InsureWithMax.com, which is operated by Questor Insurance Services Limited who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.


To find out more, and to talk about all things financial and family, why not join us for a chat on Twitter this Friday, 1st July from 11.15am. Lots of your favourite parent and lifestyle bloggers will be joining in, and there are Amazon vouchers to be won!
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Monday, 27 June 2016

A Week on my Feet

Earlier this month I was invited to take part in Luxury Flooring's 'A Week on my Feet' campaign, inspired by the Instagram account 'I Have This Thing With Floors'. I'm a little bit obsessed with Instagram (you can follow me here if you fancy) and the #FWIS and #IHaveThisThingWithFloors hashtags are two of my favourites. I'm a real sucker for an awesome photographic back drop, whether that's graffiti, a plain white wall, the rolling English countryside, beautiful decorative tiling, moody grey urban concrete paving slabs or a carpet of daisies and buttercups.

As a working solo mama of two littlies, with school and nursery runs, and a walk to work most days, plus shopping and lots of pottering around at home, I'm on my feet pretty much all day long. This is the story of a typical week in my life through the floors, patterns and interesting things I come across....


Actual SUNSHINE! - in summer! - calls for an outing for my favourite gold snakeskin peeptoes. Photographed on the parquet wood floor at work.


Another day at work, another pair of shoes. This time comfy pumps - photographed on the stone spiral steps leading up to the balcony. I love these steps; they're over 100 years old and covered in various marks and dents - I often think about the thousands of people that have walked on them since the theatre was built.


Shopping in town, and wearing sixties inspired patent flats on the monochrome tiled floor of our local butchers (pre-tattoo, too)! I love black and white chequerboard floors.


A day at the park with the kiddos, playing on the lawns and on the soft tarmac, called for comfy, casual flip flops. I like the juxtaposition of the natural, bright grass against the grey, man made playground floor in this picture.


It wouldn't be British Summertime without an almighty downpour so I got to wear my Hunters on a trip to the open air museum. I photographed them on the stone steps to a 16th century cottage.


Soft suede boots, harsh concrete paving slabs and pretty, delicate flowers: more shopping in town.

Writing this post has inspired me to resurrect my weekly Dear Diary posts - it's been fun documenting everything that we've been up to through these photographs!


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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

36


Last Friday I turned 36.

36!

How the freak did that happen?

I don't usually celebrate my birthday but this year I fancied a change. I got a new tattoo. I'd planned to have a BBQ with my neighbours and all our kiddos which naturally got rained off, so we had a meal at Pizza Express instead. I got some gorgeous presents to open. I even had a child free night, thanks to my parents, and went out and got mildly very merry with my girlfriends. All in all a pretty good birthday weekend.

Getting drawn on by the amazing Rhiannon at True Tattoo London (she also did my mandala!)

Introducing Marina the Mermaid (named by the girls). She represents my love of the sea and traditional English folklore, and the anchor is a nod to my Gramps who was in the Navy.

Birthday cake at my parents house


And the girls even gave me TWO lay ins...... who could ask for more?

Thanks for all the birthday love, everyone xoxo
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Monday, 13 June 2016

Daily Outfit ♥ Rainy Days and Mondays



We love getting outdoors and are never, ever put off by rain. There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad preparation!

Yesterday was no exception. It had rained heavily all Saturday night, and was still damp and drizzly come the morning, meaning the garden was a muddy mess - HEAVEN for my children! They just slung on their waterproof dungas and wellies and were off!

These bib + brace sets are from Muddy Puddles, a company I'm particularly fond of. They make genuinely brilliant weatherproof clothes for kids, and we've bought (and reviewed) quite a lot over the years. The thing that sets them above the rest for me, aside from the very reasonable prices and exceptional quality, is the design. They are all about bright colours and bold prints, and I think both should feature heavily in all kids clothes!

They sell a huge selection of waterproofs for children; coats, all-in-ones and these bib + brace sets which I think are brilliant for all year round messy play. They are 100% waterproof and breathable, super lightweight and have extra room in the body to allow for movement (and this is great for layering up underneath when the weather turns chilly). The braces are adjustable which, combined with the extra room, means the set will grow with your child and, if they are any thing like the other products we have from Muddy Puddles, they will still be in perfect condition three years down the line so perfect hand-me-down material too. Also, THEY ARE MACHINE WASHABLE (hurray!).




Daisy + Evie both wear:
T-shirts from Little Bird by Jools at Mothercare (Daisy's is last season
but Evie's is still on sale here, £6-£8) 
Waterproof bib + brace sets c/o Muddy Puddles, £24

PS Rainy days and Mondays don't get us down, but I do love this song  (Sounds better on vinyl though, obvs)

 
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Sunday, 12 June 2016

Hello Fresh Recipe Boxes: A Review

If there's one thing I think we've established over the past six years of me writing this blog, its that I can't cook. But I want to be able to cook SO MUCH. I REALLY enjoy the the whole process (especially the part where you open a bottle of wine and start drinking while you're cooking ;)) I just get really frustrated when my meals don't turn out like they're supposed to and/or nobody wants to eat them.

I'm a big fan of the current craze of recipe boxes. I call it a craze but in actual fact they've been around for a good few years now and they are definitely here to stay. I just love the whole concept and think it's particularly perfect solution for busy parents that have limited time but want to provide their family with home cooked, healthy and nutritious meals; aside from the speedy recipe ideas, they also save you having to do the grocery shopping and result in next to no food waste, all of which get big thumbs up from me.

Last week Hello Fresh sent me out one of their family boxes to try. They also do veggie and classic boxes which cater for 2, 3 or 4 adults, but the family boxes are the largest, with the ingredients for either two or four meals, for five people, and they contain recipes that both grown ups and kids will enjoy.
Our box had everything we need to whip up these delicious recipes:

Melt in the Middle Meatballs
Tender Stir Fried Pork with Cashew Nuts and Black Bean Sauce
Mexican Chicken Wraps with Appley Beetroot Slaw and Potato Wedges
Warm Coronation Chicken with Parsley Potatoes and Garlicky Cabbage

The meatballs were a massive success - the girls got involved in the making process, which meant they were super keen to eat the meal that they had helped to make!
The stir fried pork was my absolute favourite - and it tasted even better the next day.
The chicken wraps were so so so so spicy (grrrreat for me, not so good for the kiddos) and none of us liked the slaw so we added our own salad and corn on the cob as sides.
The coronation chicken was amazing, although we deviated away from the recipe slightly to take into account the fact none of us are fans of raisins!

I'm not a food blogger, my dishes weren't beautifully presented, but here's a token photo of my stir fried pork leftovers ;)


The tings that I specifically liked about the Hello Fresh box were:
1. That three out of the four dishes were ones we'd not cooked before.
2. The recipe cards were excellently written; easy to follow and with great tips and hints.
3. There was minimal packaging, unlike other recipe boxes I've tried.
4. The quality of the produce was exceptional - by far the best out of any of the other recipe boxes I've tried - and everything had long shelf lives too.

Things Hello Fresh taught me:
1. Cooking too much meat in the pan at one time stews it; it's better to cook in batches. How did I not know this before?!
2. HOW TO COOK PERFECT RICE! It's a revelation! No more horrible sticky over cooked rice for THIS family!
3. Parsley on crushed new potatoes is AMAZING and my new favourite thing.

Take a look at Hello Fresh's full range of recipe boxes here. Prices start at just £4 a meal.

We were sent a complimentary family box for the purpose of this review. As always, all words are honest and my own.

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Friday, 10 June 2016

Educational Play the Schleich Way


The girls and I love Schleich toy animals and figurines. I've talked about why we love them so much on here before; they are absolutely brilliant quality (we have some from my eighties childhood that are still in an immaculate condition, despite decades of play) and they are super realistic, which makes them all the more special to the girls. Being made from solid plastic, they are lovely and chunky and easy to hold, plus they can be taken outside, or in the bath - they aren't just restricted to the play room.

The girls' collection is continually growing and Schleich are always introducing new single figurines and sets to the range. Last year we worked with them as they launched their new horse and accessories collection, which was a particular hit with Daisy who enjoyed learning about all the paraphernalia associated with looking after a horse and the riding itself!

The Schleich brand really encourages educational play, and this month they have released a 16-page brochure jam packed full of ways for you to help your children's development whilst having fun. With tips on how to get the most out of your child's playtime and ideas for games that work on early language skills, socialising, messy play (and more) it's actually really good and really useful. All it's suggestions are free and only a couple of Schleich toys and a little bit of imagination are required! I'm an avid believer that young children learn best through play. There is just so much to be said for relaxed, fun learning - whether that's in an active, creative or social sense, or entirely free play. Children take in so much more when they are enjoying themselves.

Schleich toys start at just £2.99 and are available online here, or at Smyths Toy Store if you fancy a real life browse. Click the link here, or on my side bar, to download a free copy of the educational play brochure!

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Thursday, 9 June 2016

Half Term in our Happy Place: A Photo Post


During half term, we went on a little road trip to South Wales to catch up with friends and family. As always, it was a really fleeting visit and we tried to cram in as much as possible. I'm the kind of person that likes to get out and about and explore when I visit new places - but one of these days we're going to stay put for a week or a fortnight and spend the whole time on the same beach, rock pooling, jumping waves, collecting sea glass and building sandcastles!

Here are a few photos of our mini break :)



I love the Severn Bridge; I think it looks like angel wings!


Our first stop in Wales was St Fagans, aka The Museum of Welsh Life, just outside Cardiff. It's a collection of buildings saved from ruin and rebuilt and restored on site (the same concept as at the Weald + Downland Museum near us). This photo is taken in the entrance to the old Victorian school house... I love this mirror so much!


The girls on the old fashioned carousel!



The prefab at St Fagans. It's my absolute favourite building. I love its simplicity - and the interior decoration is fifties perfection.


After lunch at our Auntie and Uncle's house, we visited Caerphilly Castle - another castle to tick off the list! This one was huge and we could easily have spent all day there, wandering around the ruins.



Looking bossy authoritative in the refurbished Grand Hall at Caerphilly.


On day two, we took a little walk from the village of Rhoose to Porthkerry Country Park. I spotted this gorgeous little cottage on the way!



The girls and I love hunting for treasure on the beach - this was our collection from the beach at The Knap.


 
A visit to South Wales isn't complete without a trip to Barry Island, and the weather couldn't have been better. We spent the whole afternoon on the beach and all of our freckles came out in the sunshine!


We're already planning our next visit for the school summer holidays, and are thinking of heading further west to the Gower Peninsula. If anyone has any recommendations of places to visit, please let me know! xoxo
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Current Obsession: Num Noms*

*The girls' obsession - not mine ;)


Yep, the girls have moved on from the last pocket money toy du jour (Shopkins) to the brand spanking new collectibles known as Num Noms. They officially launched in the UK back in April and my YouTube watching kiddos were eagerly awaiting their arrival after seeing many, many unboxing videos from across the pond ;)

They are cute, scented toy ice creams and cupcakes; some of them are motorized so that they can be raced against each other, and - randomly - some are little pots of lip gloss (those two varieties are the Noms). Then the Nums are squishy characters that fit over the top of the Noms and can be mixed and matched to make huge ice cream sundaes. You know, the usual.

Although that most likely sounds like the weirdest toy combo EVER to you (it does to me!) Daisy and Evie are OBSESSED, and so are lots of other kids at school. So much so that they even have a Swapsie Club - and the second series hasn't even landed yet!

We were sent a box of them as they launched and have been adding to our collection every week since (apart from one where The Entertainer had SOLD OUT! Shock! Horror!). The little yoghurt pot singles retail at £3 each so the girls can spend their pocket money on them, but they also come in larger packs that cost upwards of £8.99.


We were sent a starter set to review (but my children have since bankrupted me by making me up their pocket money from £2.50 a week to £3 so that they can continue to add to their collection). As always, all words are honest and my own.

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Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Breakfasting with Penguins... As You Do



Last weekend, the girls and I were invited for breakfast at the Sea Life London Aquarium. But not just any old breakfast, oh no. Breakfast with real life penguins, at the all new Penguin Point! Not a bad way to begin half term.

As well as being able to experience an amazing, multicoloured, underwater world, full of sharks and sting ray and seahorses, the Sea Life London Aquarium also gives you a wonderful opportunity to get up and close with their gentoo penguins, which are the third largest species of penguin in the world!

We arrived bright and early, before the Aquarium opened to the public, and were led straight to Penguin Point where we drank coffee (me) and juice (the girls) and ate lots of pastries and fruit (all of us). We also got to see the penguins have their breakfast!




The new Penguin Point really is a star attraction at the Aquarium. It's huge and you can see the penguins both when they're on land and when they're swimming under water, which is extra magical. There is also a look out point inside the enclosure so that you can get extra close to the action. The girls loved this bit!


Of course we also looked round the rest of the Aquarium while we were there, and it will always be one of our favourite days out. We head down to the Brighton Sea Life Centre a lot (we are bang slap in the middle of the two and it's just that little bit cheaper plus it's right next to the beach!) but the London one is much bigger, super easy to get to if you're using public transport (it's on the South Bank, a two minute walk from Waterloo Station) and there are loads of other attractions to see nearby - like the London Dungeon, the London Eye and Shrek's Adventure!) so you can really make a day of it.

Tickets to the Sea Life London Aquarium cost from just £19.50 when you buy them online here plus you can also make the most of your visit to London buy designing your own package to two or more Merlin attractions. There are also deals to be had when travelling with South West Trains, so be sure to check before you travel.

We received complimentary tickets in exchange for this post. All words are, as always, honest and my own.
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