September 2017 | Modern Mummy

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Good Food // Breakfast with Ready Brek #Ad


I'm a firm believer that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it also just happens to be my favourite. It's usually only the weekends that I get to slow down and enjoy a leisurely breakfast myself, but I always make the effort for the kids during the week so that I can send them off to school knowing that their bellies are full and they're all set until lunchtime.


The original Ready Brek is one of our favourite breakfast cereals - and what a great way to kick start the day! Made from wholegrain rolled oats, rich in calcium and vitamin D, and with no added salt or sugar, it's both healthy and nutritious - and with unlimited combinations of toppings it never gets boring either. The girls love to top theirs with banana and honey, or jam and chopped nuts, and on Friday mornings it's tradition to have it with a dollop of chocolate hazelnut spread (and a side of fresh fruit too).

From a mum's point of view, I love that it's so quick to make - you just need to heat up a pan of milk on the hob or put it in the microwave - but it's still a really hearty and warming breakfast, full of slow release energy, that's perfect before the walk to school on a chilly autumn morning.

I never have time to sit down for breakfast during the week but I still like to make sure I eat well. A current favourite is to whizz up a Ready Brek fuelled smoothie in the NutriBullet, which I can then drink on the go. The Ready Brek really fills you up, and as the oats are rolled so finely they are super smooth and easy-to-drink!

Here's my recipe for Banana + Honey Ready Brek Smoothies with Chia, Sunflower + Pumpkin Seeds which a few of you asked for after I featured it on my Instagram Stories earlier this week.



Ingredients.
Ready Brek
Milk* - can be regular or dairy / lactose free alternatives
Banana
Honey
Chia seeds
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds

What to do.
Add all the ingredients to a blender. I tend to use around three tablespoons of Ready Brek and then top it up with around a third of a pint of milk* but you can experiment to come up with your perfect consistency.
Chop up the banana and add it, along with a spoonful of honey and a sprinkling of each of the seeds.
Blend and serve!

*Can also be made with hot milk on an extra chilly day!


Written in association with Ready Brek
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Sun Worshipping in Marbella with UKSwimwear.com


First I got my bosoms out for Natalie Lee's Warrior Woman Project, now I'm prancing around by a pool in Marbella being photographed in my swimwear! Whatever next?

But this isn't any old swimwear, oh no. Here I'm wearing the striped bandeau swimsuit from Gottex, which the lovely people at UKSwimwear.com very kindly sent me when they heard about my trip to Spain last weekend.

In the past, fancy swimwear has never really been on my radar. First of all I can't actually swim so you'll never catch me heading to the local pool to do a few lengths after I've dropped the kids at school. Similarly we very rarely go on foreign beach/pool holidays in the summer. I'm ashamed to admit that I've had the same swimsuit for quite a few years and I got it in an end-of-season supermarket sale. Needless to say it's not the prettiest but it does the trick if I decide to take the kids to the leisure centre on a Saturday morning, plus I have a few bikinis which I wear for optimum tanning when the good old British sunshine does decide to make an appearance.

I decided to go for a Gottex swimsuit from UKSwimwear.com after a friend recommended the brand and, more specifically, had commented on how supportive their swimwear is. The striped bandeau one I chose has tummy control and it's no secret that my tummy is the part of my body I'm most self conscious about. The fabric is incredible quality and really thick, so straight away I noticed - and loved - the support it offered plus, with its black, white and gold stripes of varying thicknesses and two sheer panels I felt that it was in a different league to your standard block black or navy support swimsuit. It also has removable gold straps (which I chose not to wear) and soft built in cups which provide some additional support for your boobs if you want or need it. Overall I thought this was a really glamorous looking control swimsuit and it turned out to be super comfy too.

I honestly didn't realise what a difference a good quality swimsuit would make to my confidence - I ended up spending four whole days sun worshipping next to the pool at our Marbella apartment and I even went for a dip in it every day!

The price tag may be a bit on the hefty side (£148.95) but honestly I think it's worth every penny. The thought, details, materials and workmanship that have gone into making this swimsuit are very apparent, even before you put it on.

Thanks so much to UKSwimwear for gifting me this swimsuit. All thoughts are honest and my own.
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Wednesday, 27 September 2017

My Top Tips for a Stress Free Dinner Party


Dinner parties are officially my new favourite thing. As a single mum I struggle with child care at the best of times; evenings are the hardest time to find someone to look after my little'uns, firstly because the cost of paying someone more often than not doubles the price of my night out and, secondly, because I have a feeling my offspring would run rings round someone else attempting to put them to bed and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

Getting my friends round for a bit of a dinner party means I can put the kids to bed myself as well as having a pretty inexpensive night 'out' - and as soon as they're asleep (ok, maybe before) I can crack open the vino and wait for my friends to arrive.

Of course being the hostess with the hostess is extra fun because you get to show off your flair in the kitchen (ha!) - plus it also gives you the excuse you need to give your house a proper deep clean. But if you're like me and cooking (and time keeping) isn't your forte it's easy to end up getting stressed. To help you out, here are some top tips for a dinner party that is as stress-free as possible.

Ask for allergies and dietary requirements 
Remember to check with everyone who is coming to find out whether anyone has any allergies or dietary requirements. You might be surprised that people you have known for a long time have food allergies that mean they can’t eat certain dishes – more than 170 foods have been shown to cause allergic reactions. You might also find that someone in the group is vegetarian or have some other specific dietary need and knowing ahead of time gives you the chance to cook food to suit everyone.

Learn the art of cocktail making 
Cocktails are ALWAYS a great idea. They get everyone in a good mood, and alcohol can even help to improve the flavour of food (not that I'm saying your food needs it..... mine probably does!). If your experience in cocktail creation doesn’t extend much beyond mixing Jack Daniels with Coke, it could be worth taking lessons to learn how to craft something to impress your guests. Experience day provider Into the Blue offer a range of fun cocktail mixing classes where you can discover the secrets of creating delicious drinks.

Cook what you’re comfortable with
When you come to choose what you’re going to cook, it’s tempting to get creative and go for something outlandish and impressive. But I think it's a better idea to stick to what you know and choose dishes that you have cooked plenty of times before. A quiet midweek dinner is the time to experiment, not tonight; you’ll impress your guests far more with a well cooked meal than with a failed attempt at something unusual.

Balance the dishes 
Sometimes when we plan menus, we think about the most delicious dishes we know how to cook. The problem is when you choose too many heavy and rich dishes for the meal. If you’re going to have a heavy main course, try to choose a nice and light starter so that your guests won’t get weighed down with too much stodge. Pick dishes that complement each other for the best possible results – it’s a good idea to stick to just one cuisine throughout.

Get as much done beforehand as you can 
One of the real keys to a dinner party that is as free from stress as possible is to get as much prep done as you can beforehand. Choose recipes that will allow you to do a lot of the hard work earlier in the day – you want to be entertaining your guests when they arrive, not slaving away in the kitchen. Some things are simple, such as getting all of your ingredients chopped and ready to go, while desserts can be created a day before, ready to be popped in the oven when dinner is out of the way.

Clean as you work 
This! ALWAYS THIS! When you’re doing the cooking, take the time to clean everything up as you go – it can be a bit of a pain, but you’ll thank yourself in the end. If you just leave everything out you’ll realise quickly that you’ve run out of space to get everything plated up. Plus you’ll have an enormous pile to washing up to return to when the evening is over.

Remember to have fun 
This might be your dinner party and you might feel the need to be a great host – but make sure you have fun too! Don’t plan your evening around trying to please everyone else; they're there to spend time with you. Ensure that you leave enough of the evening away from the kitchen so that you can enjoy the company of the people you have invited round.
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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Celebrating Elephant Appreciation Day with Blackberry Gin Fizz Cocktails + 31Dover.com


As if I ever need an excuse to make cocktails, tomorrow is Elephant Appreciation Day and my good friends at 31Dover.com very kindly sent me a bottle of Elephant Gin in order to celebrate.


Elephant Gin is an independent London Dry Gin inspired by Africa, and 15% of all profits go to two African elephant foundations to support their preservation and that of African wildlife in general. It's distilled in Germany using fourteen botanicals, including some rare African ingredients which really give it a really distinctive spicy taste.

Each bottle is custom made and priced at £29.95. Elephant also make a sloe gin which is utterly delicious and really warms the cockles (especially at this time of year when the weather's getting a bit chilly!).

ALSO perfect at this time of year is a Blackberry Gin Fizz, and that's exactly what I made using my bottle of Elephant Gin.


Ingredients.
Elephant Gin
Prosecco (I used Martini prosecco, available from 31Dover.com for £9.95)
Blackberries (frozen ones work just as well as fresh)
Lime juice
Crushed ice

What to do.
Use a fork to crush four or five blackberries in a bowl. Remove the cores if they're especially big.
Add to the bottom of a hi ball glass and add a small shot of gin. I used 15ml but you can add more if you want to ;)
Fill glass with crushed ice.
Top up with prosecco.
Add a squeeze of lime.
Garnish with a slice of lime and a couple of blackberries.

Enjoy x


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Divorce or Break Up: Who Gets the Dog?


A separation or divorce from your long term partner can be traumatic, and all the more stressful if there are disputes over shared belongings. Add a beloved family pet to the equation and the emotional anguish of who should get the cat or dog can be as heart breaking as if there were children involved.

Pet custody battles are becoming more common during separation and divorce proceedings. According to research carried out by the Cooperative Pet Insurance, about 1 in 5 separating couples take legal advice and fight for the custody of their pet when the relationship breaks down. What’s more, 1 in 10 people felt that losing their pet was actually worse than splitting up with their partner!

If think you may have to give up the family pet as a result of a relationship ending, an experienced firm of divorce and family law solicitors should be your first port of call for specialist advice on how to deal with this difficult issue.

How are pets treated under English law? 
While you may view your pet as a family member rather than a possession, pets are viewed as ‘chattels’ under English law. Just like any other personal property, or the contents of the former matrimonial home, they can be fought over by both parties in divorce proceedings.

Courts are often reluctant to get involved in pet disputes. In the same way as you might argue over who should keep the TV or the car when you get divorced, the Court will always prefer you to settle these kinds of issues between yourselves. If this is not possible, the Court can break the impasse by ordering a transfer of ownership or pedigree papers to one party.

The Court may also make a provision for the cost of the pet’s upkeep as part of calculating the income needs of the party keeping the pet. Kennel space, vet bills or land for horses, for instance, will then form part of the overall financial divorce settlement. While English law makes no provision for how a Court will arrive at such a decision, the main carer for the animal will in all likelihood stand the best chances of being awarded ‘custody’. In a divorce case in 2011, the judge rejected an application for the transfer of the family dog to the wife because the pet had mostly been looked after by the husband.

What if you’re not married? 
In the case of unmarried couples, the Court is most likely to make the decision based on a strict interpretation of the law: ownership of the pet is determined by who paid for it and who is the registered owner. Evidence can take the form of receipts and invoices or Kennel Club registration papers.

Of course, it is not uncommon for often lengthy and costly legal proceeding to ensue regardless in an attempt not to be separated from the family pet.

Could the law be changing? 
Earlier this year, Alaska enacted a law that will treat family pets more like children. Courts there will now have to take the animal’s wellbeing into account when deciding which party the pet should go to, with joint custody being the default option.

English divorce law is a long way from this approach, despite the fact that animals do actually have significant rights in the UK. However, granting pets enhanced rights would raise new questions. Should a pet dog have the same rights as, say, a guinea pig? How would you assess the best interests of a goldfish? In reality, it would seem that grappling with intricate legal stipulations such as these is not high on the government’s list of priorities.

Pets and prenups 
Pre-empting the problem of who gets custody of the family pet if the relationship fails can be done via a prenuptial agreement (for married couples) or a cohabitation agreement (for unmarried couples). This agreement can include provisions for care of the family dog or cat, including ownership, custody and even visitation rights in case of a breakdown in the relationship.

Without an agreement like this in place, it is up to the separating couple and their respective lawyers to deal with the issue of pets and any disputes surrounding custody with the utmost sensitivity.


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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Mindfulness for Children // The Calm Buddha at Bedtime

Mindfulness is a bandwagon that I've happily jumped on recently. Its very trendy to practice meditation and mindfulness right now, but it is in fact something that has been practiced for thousands of years and I don't think it should be a passing phase for anyone.

In short, mindfulness is a really simple type of meditation, that involves relaxation, breathing, focusing on any negative thoughts you may have and learning to deal with them before they have a more serious effect on you. Its a way of controlling your feelings and, ultimately your life, and in doing so leaning to be compassionate - to yourself as well as to others.

Today's world is incredibly fast paced, which I think can sometimes have a negative effect on us all if we're not careful, children included. Daytimes are packed full of activities and technology, so it's important to me that the girls and I all take some time out to relax at some point. Our evenings have always been the time to reflect on the day and to wind down before bedtime. We have a no tech rule after dinner (that includes TV) and, even though the girls are getting older now, we still follow the traditional bedtime routine of dinner, bath, pyjamas, story and then sleep!

Evie has now joined Daisy at school, which means lots of changes for her. Making new friends, learning new routines and new things in general, even just being away from home for six hours a day can all take its toll on someone so little. I hate to think of any child feeling stressed about changes in their lives, so I'm making an extra special effort to spend time with her, one to one, at bedtime. To talk about how school is going and to make sure she is happy and relaxed. I've started to stagger bedtimes so that Daisy also gets a bit of time with me once Evie is all tucked up and I have to say it's working really well.


A new addition to the kids' bookshelf is The Calm Buddha at Bedtime by Dharmachari Nagaraja, a practising Buddhist for over twenty years and previously head of the Covent Garden Meditation Centre and a regular presenter on BBC Radio 2. He has put together a collection of eighteen ancient Buddhist tales that teach children about friendship, honesty and compassion. These particular stories have been chosen to reassure children about any worries they might have, to teach them valuable life lessons, to boost their self-confidence and to promote relaxation and prepare them for a good night's sleep. Of course they are also really lovely stories, with beautiful illustrations, engaging characters and good morals, all of which makes them perfect bedtime reading!

We have been reading a story a night since the beginning of term and Evie loves getting 'the bedtime book' out and finding the right page to start the next instalment! Each story has a message and we like to take time to talk about them and relate them to every day scenarios once we have finished reading them. There's also a collection of mindfulness meditations at the end of the book that can be used at any time of day to help bring calm and contentment, and a bit more information on learning to mediate, which is great for first timers both young and old.

I very rarely review books on the blog but this one (which we were very kindly sent by the publisher - thank you!) has turned out to be really special and I'd recommend it to any parent looking for something simple and meaningful to read with their children, particularly at this quite stressful time of year.

Its available on Amazon here for £12.99.
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Monday, 18 September 2017

Good Food // Lunch at ROAST, Borough Market


I'm lucky enough to get to review restaurants quite regularly, although most of the time I'm specifically asked to bring the children with me for their point of view too. Last week, however, I was invited to have lunch at Roast in Borough Market, and I deliberately arranged to go on a week day while the kids were at school so that I could take my friend Emma along instead (sorry kids!). After the school holidays we both definitely deserved a long, leisurely, boozy, child free lunch.

Borough Market is one of my favourite places in London. I love the colour, and the smells, and the noise. It's just so vibrant and alive. It's all undercover so makes a brilliant day out, whatever the weather; in fact I particularly love it in the lead up to Christmas - the New Forest Cider stall is amazing all year round but starts to sell the most delicious mulled cider when the weather turns cold. There are also hundreds of stalls to pick up special bits and pieces for festive meals, or Christmas presents for foodie friends. It was a treat in itself to jump on the train into London and have a little wander around the market, but getting to have a fancy lunch in a beautiful restaurant made the day extra special.


Roast is upstairs in the Floral Hall at Borough Market and, if you get the right seat, has some seriously spectacular views across London and of the market itself.

Restauranteur Iqbal Wahhab OBE (of Cinnamon Club fame) opened Roast in 2005. Together with Head Chef Stuart Cauldwell, they source the finest quality, seasonal produce from British farmers, fishermen and wine makers (a lot of their ingredients come from the stalls of Borough Market!) and the amazing menu is a tribute to them all. It literally took us half an hour to choose what to eat for each course, and that was even after pouring over the menu online at home!



In the end we opted for the seared scallops with fennel, blueberries, lavender and smoked almonds and the Dorset crab and avocado with cucumber to start, washed down with expertly paired glasses of Austrian Grüner Veltliner and Hungarian dry Tokaji respectively.




For our mains Emma chose the braised ox cheeks with creamed onion and smoked Isle of Wight garlic with a (huge!) side of mashed potato, washed down with a glass of Saint-Joseph cuvee Ro-Ree syrah.

I went for the Hereford sirloin steak (cooked to PERFECTION!) which had been recommended by our server. It came with chimichurri and chips, and I had a baby gem heart salad with preserved lemon and caper dressing on the side. I also had a large glass of Roast's very own, and exceptionally delicious, Malbec.


The highlight of the meal for me had to be the dessert! We had the Cambridge burnt cream (which was a plate for two) and it was honestly the most delicious creme brûlée I have ever eaten. A final glass of Moscato d'Asti Nivola finished off the meal perfectly.

Our meal at Roast was utter perfection; each course was heaven, and our servers were lovely and extremely knowledgeable about the menu and its ingredients. They made excellent recommendations based on our tastes, and were attentive but not over bearing. Special thanks to our sommelier, Marco Antonio Silva, who was absolutely incredible and picked out some wonderful wines to compliment our food.

You can find Roast at The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, London SE1 1TL // Tel: 0203 00 66 111

Our food and drinks were complimentary in exchange for this honest review. All words and photographs are my own.
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Friday, 15 September 2017

Food // An Autumnal Metis® Crumble Recipe


As soon as the weather changes, I always have an overwhelming urge to get my bake on. I'm not a particularly good cook, but autumnal recipes always seem so much simpler - and so much more rewarding too. 

I love comfort food. Soups, stews and pies (both sweet and savoury!) are my absolute favourites. Not only do they taste amazing and warm the cockles when the weather turns cold, they're also super easy to make - and a great way of using up any fruit and veg in the fridge. I'm also particularly fond of a fruit crumble. Again, they're so simple to make - there's only a handful of ingredients - and measurements pretty much go out of the window! That's totally my kind of baking.


This week I've been experimenting with a new fruit to hit British supermarkets - the Metis®! A unique natural hybrid of a plum and an apricot, these fruits are currently available at Tesco and remain in season until November - so if you see some on the shelves over the next couple of months be sure to give them a whirl.

There are four members of the Metis® family - the huge tonic Metis®, the beautiful safari Metis®, the sweet aroma Metis® and the super juicy oxy Metis®. They're deliciously sweet but with crisp skin and firm flesh so they're ideal for lunch boxes and picnics as they are so portable and don't bruise easily.


So, armed with a basket full of mixed Metis®, I was challenged to create an autumnal dish to showcase them to the world - and I chose to make a Metis® crumble. I don't mean to blow my own horn and I know no one likes a show off - but it was absolutely divine* so I thought I'd share the recipe with you today.

*So good that the girls and I ate eight portions between us!

This recipe will fill a large baking dish and feed six to eight people. As I said above, you can totally play around with the ingredients and their quantities.

Ingredients.
15 large, ripe Metis®, chopped and stones removed - I used a combination of all four varieties.
1x lemon
8oz golden caster sugar
6oz plain flour
4oz rolled oats
4oz butter


What to do.
Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease a large ovenproof dish.
Place the Metis® in the dish, cover with the juice of half a lemon and 4oz golden caster sugar.
Mix another 4oz golden caster sugar with 6oz plain flour and 4oz rolled oats. Rub together with 4oz butter to create the crumble topping!
Sprinkle over the Metis® and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or so (until the crumble is golden brown).


Serve with custard and enjoy on a chilly Autumn day!



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FOR THE HOME // Family Friendly Floors


Being a parent means making decisions, and I'm not just talking about your stereotypical “what’s for tea tonight?” or “who's getting in the bath first?”

It’s about making the best decisions for you, your family and your home. Of course there are numerous ways to child-proof your home; baby gates, cupboard locks etc. But have you ever considered the suitability of your floor?

A lot of people tend to disregard flooring and the impact that their family can have on it, but when you really think about the battering that our floors take from either us adults, the kids - or even pets! -  you realise just how important they are. There isn't a standout winner when choosing the 'perfect; family floor - it all depends on what it is you want; whether that’s durable, eco-friendly, nice and soft or maybe all of them? Yesterday I talked about tiled floors, today I'm going to give you a few more options.

Wood

While the thought of installing a wood floor may initially confuse some parents mainly due to the expense of them, they’re actually a solid (see what I did there!?) choice for a family home. One of the key factors when choosing a floor that’s child-friendly is the durability of the material and you don’t get much tougher than real wood. As mentioned previously, a lot of people often overlook wood floors due to the comparison of cost between them and other floors, however, wood flooring is seen as more of an investment as oppose to a purchase. They have an incredibly long lifespan due to the fact that they can be sanded and refinished multiple times after purchase, so if they start looking a little worn they can be fixed up quite easily, because of this most wood floors actually outlive a house. All these qualities make it a perfect choice for a home that contains little ones who love to cause mass destruction!

Bamboo

Although bamboo has become an increasingly popular choice in the flooring world, many people are still baffled when it is first mentioned. How is it that the staple part of a pandas diet is now a familiar face around the home? Well, there are many benefits to bamboo flooring and one of the main ones is how environmentally-friendly it is in comparison to other floors. Unlike wood flooring, bamboo is actually classed as a grass and instead of having to wait up to 30 years for it to be fully grown it only takes 5! So if you’re trying to create an eco-friendly home for your family bamboo flooring is a good place to start. Aside from being great for the environment it is also surprisingly durable and could easily be mistaken for solid wood, minus the price tag! Bamboo can be used pretty much anywhere in the house but it tends to be installed in bedrooms, lounge areas and kitchens as opposed to the bathroom.

Vinyl

Last but by no means least we have Vinyl flooring, which over the years hasn’t always had the greatest reputation. However we object, this is a floor that should not be overlooked. Vinyl is not the cheap and flimsy product that it was 30 years ago, it has come a long long way since then and even has a ‘Luxury’ brand now! Out of the three floors listed, vinyl is probably the most budget-friendly and lets be honest, who doesn’t love a bargain when you have so much else to fork out for?! Vinyl is baked with a thin layer of felt or foam (it depends on the manufacturer) which results in a much softer surface than other floors, ideal for a home with small children who have recently found their feet. Aside of being softer on the surface, it is also really easy to clean and maintain. Unlike carpet where you’d be worry about things staining, any spills will sit on top of the surface until you discover them and wipe them up.

 So there you have it, an overview of some of the most family-friendly floors!


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FOR THE HOME // Tiles


When you’re thinking about how to redecorate your home and you've got kids, you often have to compromise on the some of the things you like. Like thick, luxurious carpets and white sofas (oh what I'd give for an entirely white house!) - they'd look amazing for the first five minutes and then get covered in sticky hand prints and juice spillages! 

Ultimately, we all want that perfect combination of both practicality and style. Not a lot of materials can give you this, but there is one that is a sure-fire win: tiles. I tiled the majority of my downstairs and, although it wasn't the cheapest option, by using tiles, I've ultimately saved time (cleaning wise) and money (on replacements) in the long run. The fast and forever developing manufacturing of tiles means they are incredibly versatile in colours, materials and finishes - so you can pretty much get whatever you want these days.

At A Glance 

Tiles are incredibly hard to damage thanks to their strength. Compared with a carpet that is easily worn down and stained, tiles last for years without ever needing replacement. This is ideal for family life. When you consider how much time kids spend running around and causing general mayhem, your floors or walls should be able to tackle this with ease without diminishing over time. If you’re worried about trips and falls, or what to make a room cosy, rugs are a great way of bringing back that comfort to play areas. The tiles durability and longevity paired with its unbelievably low maintenance properties makes it unbeatable for family houses. 

Advantages 

With kids, you can never be too careful when it comes to food and drink. This is where the tile really shows its true advantage. Where a carpet would absorb and likely stain, a floor tile can be simply wiped clean with a damp sponge or cloth, or even just a paper towel. This saves you huge amounts of time cleaning and worrying about those annoying marks on the floor. Because of this, tiles are also very hygienic, more so than any other floor type. They don’t harbour dust or allergens meaning you kids can play on the floor with their toys and not be picking up anything nasty. 

Maintenance 

As much as we can hope, nothing is maintenance free. Luckily, tiles are very easy and quick to care for meaning you can focus on the bigger things going on in your life. A great idea from the off-set would be to install some feet on your furniture. This will stop your tiles scratching with furniture movement and will also make your sofas or chairs less likely to slip around. Thanks to their waterproof abilities, tiles are very easy to clean. Simply give your floors a mop over with some warm water and similarly a wipe down for any wall tiles. This will keep them shining and stop build up of any dirt and grime. 

Tiles are great for the family home. They are incredibly low fuss meaning you have one less thing to worry about on a daily basis. As previously mentioned, tiles are highly manufactured, giving you an abundance of choice to design your home with both practicality and style in mind. Top UK tile retailer, Tile Monkey, have hundreds of tiles to help you find your perfect one. 


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Monday, 11 September 2017

Five Favourites: The AW17 Nutmeg Womenswear Edition


W E A R I N G:
The girls: velour top, £8 // monochrome checked skirt (comes complete with tights), £10
Me: denim shirt, £20 // biker jacket, £35 
all c/o Nutmeg from Morrisons

TRUMPET FANFARE! At long last Morrisons have released a womenswear collection for AW17 - and I'm happy to report it's an absolute cracker.

Last week I had the pleasure of taking part in a Google Hangout with Mel Davies, Nutmeg's Design Manager, and nine other bloggers. Mel talked us through the current AW17 collections for babies, girls, boys - as well as the brand spanking new womenswear range, which is now available across 70 Morrisons stores nationwide.

I picked out my five favourites from the new collection. What do you think of them?



1 // Floral trousers, £14 - these are like an affordable version of the Lowie print I was banging on about all summer. A must buy!
2 // Denim shirt with frill detail, £20 - I love this feminine detail on a wardrobe staple
3 // Culottes, £16 - culottes are my current obsession - you can sit cross legged and cartwheel with your kids without having to worry about flashing ;)
4 // Faux suede biker jacket, £35 - this is literally my FAVOURITE thing I own right now. I love the colour, and the fabric is super soft
5 // Floral dress, £18 - this is the perfect dress to see you into Autumn. Just team with a pair of brown boots and a chunky knit cardie
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Celebrating National Teddy Bear Day with Build-A-Bear Workshop


If you watched my Instagram Stories over the weekend, you'll have seen a couple of teddy bears make some guest appearances..... that's because the lovely people at Build-A-Bear sent Daisy and Evie two of their special, limited edition National Teddy Bear Day bears and a hamper full of goodies to help us celebrate National Teddy Bear Day in style!

The day itself was on Saturday, but it was on Sunday that we made our way to the Build-A-Bear Workshop in Bentalls department store, Kingston, to pick out some party threads for our new friends.

Now my kids LOVE Build-A-Bear. It's right up there with Smiggle and Tiger in the cool stakes. It's always a place we visit when they have 'big' money to spend, like birthday or Christmas money - and it is literally THE DREAM to have a birthday party there one day. There really is something magical about getting to make your own toy and the B-A-B team have it spot on; they're always so kind and patient with the children (trust me, I know - we have spent a lot of time and money in this shop over the years!) and there are so many gorgeous little details - like making a wish on the toy's heart and creating a birth certificate - that really contribute to the whole experience. If you've not paid a workshop a visit yet, it's definitely something you have to do once in your life!

Aside from making your own toy, the store also sells lots of accessories - and that's what we were there to buy. The selection is insane - there's so much to choose from! School uniforms, pyjamas, party dresses, character dress ups. The girls spent at least half an hour flitting from stand to stand choosing bits and pieces and then changing their minds! In the end, Daisy chose a top/leggings/tutu combo with sparkly black shoes and a wig for her bear, and Evie went for a sequin skirt, butterfly t-shirt and sparkly black shoes for hers! The best thing about the accessories is that they are super affordable, with prices starting at just £3. The end of season sales are brilliant - very often prices are slashed by 50% - and lets face it, bears don't care whether they're wearing the latest trends!

Once our bears were kitted out in some fancy new clothes we made our way back to the sticks to have a picnic but, of course, in true British Summertime style, the heavens opened and we had to have it indoors. The girls were really disappointed that they didn't get to play outside but hey! A Teddy Bears picnic is super fun, whatever the weather.





We ate delicious, especially commissioned teddy bear biscuits from our favourite biscuit sellers, Biscuiteers, we did teddy bear themed arts and crafts and we made teddy bear shaped chocolate rice crispy cakes. Celebrating National Teddy Bear Day ended up being a pretty perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon in the end! Did you do anything to mark the occasion?


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Friday, 8 September 2017

For The Home // Family Friendly Rugs


Having a family often means that practicality comes before anything else, which can leave you feeling as if you're limited on your style choices. But the interiors world is far more accommodating than that! 

Ideally, when looking for a new rug you want one that combines both durability and style, to give your home a beautiful finish, but that can also stand the test of time against your kids. Here is a list from Rug Mountain outlining the three key things to look for in your new family rug. 

Colour 
One of the most important choices you can make when looking for a new rug comes down to the colour. Rugs are a great way of personalising a room and gives you the chance to work with accent colours and accessories. While the colour is largely dependent on your home’s design and personal preference, there are a few general rules to follow when looking for a rug in a family home. It doesn’t come as a surprise to learn that the lighter or paler the rug, the more likely it is to show up dirt, stains and general wear and tear. Therefore, extreme pales such as whites should be avoided, for obvious reasons. If you have your heart set on those neutral and lighter tones, try instead a beige, brown or dark cream rug. While these will still show up dirt easier, they will be that little bit easier to clean than those slightly lighter colours. 

Paler colours can be harder to avoid since styles like the Scandinavian look are incredibly sought after right now. These trends are popular thanks to their use of softer colour palettes including pastel blues, green, and greys that use warm undertones. These are beautiful colours and will help to give your room a stylish edge. The simplistic and minimalism seen in the Scandi look can be problematic when you have kids, but if you plan your rug in advance and opt for a rug that incorporates designs or patterns, you should be able to pull it off. So long as you clean up any spillages or dirt as quickly as you can. 

Although these colours are unlikely to ever step out of fashion a big interiors trend to take off, and expected to be huge next year, are darker colours. It seems designers and homeowners alike are experimenting more and more with colour, propelling rich purples and bold reds in to the limelight. These colours are great for family homes as they mask wear and tear better and will give you more peace of mind against stains. 

Durability and Pile 
As perviously mentioned, durability will likely be the other key factor on your list. With a family, you need a rug that can handle a lot of footfall for all that running around and playing. It’s best therefore to avoid rugs with a longer pile length, which includes shaggy rugs. While shaggy rugs feel incredible underfoot, they will likely loose their soft, fluffy texture if they are being constantly walked across in a busy home. As well as this, longer pile rugs will trap dust and allergens more easily, which isn’t ideal if your kids spend a lot of time of the floor with their toys. Instead, try a short pile length rug that will be able to withstand more usage. 

Easy to Clean
Something that would have already crossed your mind when it comes to a new rug will be the cleaning. With a family, this can feel like a never ending chore, so you will be wanting a rug that is quick and easy to clean. Generally, try to avoid those more expensive rugs. Rugs with higher price tags will be using more delicate materials that won’t stand up well to cleaning products. This is great news for most families, who want to keep an eye on those pennies as well. Cheaper rugs made from nylon or acrylic are better able to handle harsher cleaning products and are therefore much easier to maintain long-term. 


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Interiors Trends: The Natural Look Bathroom

If you’re planning on redesigning your bathroom anytime soon, why not check out the natural look. It’s one of the biggest contemporary bathroom makeover trends at the moment. Going natural doesn’t mean plain – far from it. It’s all about bringing the outdoors in and creating a bathroom that uses designs and materials that reflect Mother Nature’s natural beauty.

Natural materials will add character and warmth to your bathroom, but they’re also a clever way to tone down the sleek and sometimes harsh lines of modern sanitaryware. Whether you prefer a traditional or period feel, a modern aesthetic or a rustic look, there’s a wealth of materials out there to help you transform the space.


Natural colours

Let the overall design scheme for your bathroom be inspired by the Earth’s natural palette. Natural materials are currently on trend using soothing, clean, organic shades. Bathrooms, shower rooms and WCs are no longer sporting bold bright colours. Instead, hues such as sky blue, pale green and warm neutrals – including shades of grey, ivory, taupe – are extremely popular.

For wall coverings, think about fitting floor-to-ceiling wall tiles in off-white, with carefully positioned accent tiles to provide subtle colour highlights. Or how about tile textures that look like pebbles or stone finishes to give your bathroom a real spa feeling?


Wood is good

Wood should be high on everyone’s list of bathroom materials. The recent trend for Scandi Styling, with its heavy reliance on wooden materials, is set to continue. You can introduce wood into your bathroom in many different ways. Team solid oak furniture with simple white bathroom tiles for a cool sophisticated look. Shaker style cabinets and matching bath panels in a light oak finish can create a farmhouse feel, while painted tongue-and-groove wall panelling is perfect for achieving a casual bathroom aesthetic.

Wooden panelling provides oodles of character, and it’s a great insulator too. Tongue-and-groove panelling complements period bathroom designs, while large panels of wood-effect composite work well in a modern shower cubicle.


Wooden floors in a bathroom are best avoided, on account of the high moisture levels. If you do choose wooden flooring, make sure the timber is treated properly and that there is effective ventilation in the room. Alternatively, why not think about statement tiles that give the appearance of real wood?


For a touch of earthy elegance, combine the tactile texture of warm wood with smart stone.


Say it with stone

Marble, travertine, slate and quartz are popular natural stone materials to add a touch of glamour to your bathroom walls and floors. Stone tiles are a classic option for both walls and floor, but do check that they are slip resistant for safe use in the bathroom. Some natural stone flooring is porous and needs to be sealed to prevent water from penetrating.

If natural stone flooring is beyond your budget, there are loads of realistic faux stone products you can choose instead. Stone effect ceramic or porcelain tiles are a great alternative to limestone or granite. Basins and baths carved from stone can add a real wow factor to a bathroom, adding an unusual and rugged element to the design scheme. Stone and composite baths can be extremely heavy, so do check your floor joists first to make sure they can take the weight.


For a quirky twist on the classic look, and if you have the space, try a freestanding bath on a statement wooden plinth instead of traditional claw feet. For a great selection of freestanding baths at affordable prices, the Bathroom Discount Centre is well worth a look. Repeat the same idea by placing a countertop wash bowl on a wooden dresser.


Touchy feely surfaces

The bathroom experience appeals to all the senses, and this is reflected natural bathroom materials – they’re wonderfully tactile. Consider textured wall coverings, antique taps and wooden accessories such as duckboards and shelving to complete the experience. Whether you utilise rich woodgrains or minimalist glass and metal, go Japanese or eco chic with recycled materials, your bathroom should be a multisensory pleasure.

To add the finishing touches, turn to nature inspired objects such as sea sponges and exotic plants and flowers, marble, stone or driftwood accessories, wooden bath boards and comforting textiles in cotton or linen to set the theme off beautifully.



Why not take a look at my Pinterest board for more bathroom inspiration.
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Thursday, 7 September 2017

A Family Move to Marbella: Five Things You Need to Know

Later this month I'll be making my way to Marbella for the wedding of two of my most favourite people - and I couldn't be more excited! Jetting off for a long weekend in the sun with my girlfriends and a bottle or two of rosé is just what I need right now.


But have you considered moving to Marbella permanently? Then you’re in good company; a recent report from Panorama showed just how popular Marbella properties remain in 2017. But moving to Spain is a huge change, especially if you’re thinking of relocating your family there. Here are five key things you need to know to ensure you’re well prepared for a successful family move to the Costa del Sol. 
  1. A new pace of life
One of the major changes that is noticeable between Spain and the UK is the pace of life. It might seem something simple, but it means that if you want to live as the Spanish do, your whole day will need to be reorganised. Andalusia will likely have a pace of life that is more relaxed and easy-going than you might be used to. Mornings are late and dinners are even later – you’ll often find that locals won’t eat dinner until gone 9pm or even much later into the night. 

The famous siesta is also a part of the way of life here. It’s commonplace to have a two-hour lunch break at the hottest part of the day between 2pm and 4pm, before returning to work until around 8pm. 

  1. Get ready for hotter weather
If you’re used to the British weather and are looking for somewhere that gets plenty of sunshine, Marbella is probably the perfect place. But it’s important to remember that living in the heat all year round is different to taking a holiday in it. Marbella famously gets an average of 320 days of sunshine each year and temperatures through the summer months average 26 degrees Celsius. This can take some getting used to. 

Remember, however, in the winter months Marbella and the whole of Spain does cool down significantly just like anywhere else. To add to this, many properties are deliberately built to remain cool in the summer months – this means that they may not retain heat very well when it gets very cold. So don’t go throwing away all of your jumpers and woolly socks because they will come in useful. 

  1. The infrastructure 
Some people worry that moving away from the UK means leaving excellent infrastructure behind, but actually the area around Marbella has excellent and modern services. Part of the reason for this is the influx of the tourists that the region sees over its busy season. Marbella has a population of around 120,000, but that number swells to over one million in the summer – this means that infrastructure is equipped to deal with far more people than those who live in the area most of the year. 
  1. Schooling
In terms of schooling, there are two main options. The first is to send your children to a Spanish state school, and the alternative is to pay for them to attend an international school. State schools are free, but international schools have fees comparable to private schools in the UK. The option you choose may depend on your circumstances – young children who have had a little exposure to the Spanish language will usually be able to pick it up very quickly and will be able to learn in Spanish at a state school with minimal disruption. 

As children get older, the time it takes for them to integrate generally takes longer, although of course every child is different. At international schools, children can be taught in English, although this may stop them integrating fully into the Spanish community. 

  1. Learning the language 
This is one aspect of moving to Spain where you may need to worry more about yourself than your kids. It’s well known that children pick up languages faster than adults, especially young children. So while you might be concerned that your children will be stuck in a world where they don’t understand anything – you shouldn’t be concerned. They will develop their language skills more quickly than you might think is possible, especially when they are immersed in the Spanish environment.

For you, on the other hand, this might be something that doesn’t come so easily. If you’re already a fairly strong Spanish speaker it shouldn’t take you long to develop your skills further but if you have limited experience in Spanish, it’s definitely worth taking classes and improving rather than assuming that you will be fine just diving straight in. 




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Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Me, My Girls and My Little Pony #ad


Ahh, My Little Pony; a brand that I truly treasured when I was a child and one that my girls treasure now. I love toys that stand the test of time and to see my own children playing with ones that meant so much to me three decades ago really is something special.

I didn't save the My Little Ponies of my 1980s childhood (much to my regret) but we re-started our collection when Daisy was younger and Evie has now inherited it. Over the years we've amassed a fair few figurines, castles and styling heads - and the girls are always excited when new toys hit the market!


This month more than thirty brand new My Little Pony products have launched at the UK's number one toy retailer, Argos. From blind bags to larger figurines, playsets and accessories - and with prices starting at just £2.99 - there really is something for everyone. They very kindly asked us to choose a selection of goodies from the new range and they have gone down an absolute storm in our house. I always knew Evie would love them but they have also reignited Daisy's love affair with My Little Pony (and mine!)



We chose the My Little Pony Cutie Beauty Make-Up Case (RRP £24.99). Both of my girls are make-up obsessed - in fact I had a little afternoon doze courtesy of my jet lag earlier this week and woke up to find Evie with half the contents of my make up bag all over her face! Now I'm partial to smokey eyes and bright lips which doesn't really suit a four year old, so we were both thrilled when she received this beautiful palette of pale pink lip glosses, lipsticks and brush on/peel off nail varnishes. The rings and hair clips were also massive hits!


The girls were also sent a Glitter and Style Seapony (RRP £14.99) which was immediately bagsied by mermaid-obsessed Daisy - and a My Little Pony Shining Friends figure (RRP £14.99) - renamed 'high-fiving Rainbow Dash' by Evie as she lights up when you high five her! Both are from My Little Pony - The Movie and have made the girls super excited about it's release later this year. I'm excited about it's all star voice cast featuring no less than Emily Blunt and Sia! Watch the trailer here:



The My Little Pony blind bags are particular favourites of ours - at £2.99 they make brilliant pocket money toys and are great fun to swap with your friends when you double up! We also like to buy the slightly bigger figurines (like this Applejack one) as birthday presents. They're a great price at £5.99.

The new range of My Little Pony toys and accessories is available at Argos now. And did you know Argos also offers a Fast Track delivery service, with same day home delivery available for just £3.95? - perfect for last minute gifts!

Working in collaboration with Argos for the launch of the brand new My Little Pony range.

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