Sunday, 29 January 2017
Marmite. You either love it or you hate it, right?
Wrong! I used to absolutely detest it. Couldn't bear the smell or the taste. Refused to have it in the house. Until I got pregnant with Evie and all of a sudden I craved it literally aaaaalll the time, and smothered it on anything and everything.
These days I'm one of those weird people that can take it or leave it, but for some reason the old cravings always come back when I'm nursing a bit of a sore head after a night out!
So bright and early on Saturday morning, when I was feeling ever so slightly delicate after celebrating a 40th birthday the previous night, my friend Laura and I made our way to Bill's in Richmond for some medicinal Marmite.
Bill's have teamed up with Marmite to serve a limited edition all day breakfast menu at participating restaurants up until this Tuesday (31st January). Any customers who use the code ''Spread the Love" can unlock a secret Marmite infused brunch menu featuring Marmite Rarebit and Marmite Mary cocktails!
We both went for the Rarebit; a tasty mix of marmite, mature cheddar, creme fraiche and English mustard served on two slices of toasted bloomer with poached eggs and fresh parsley. I bravely gave the Marmite Mary a go but the Chivas Regal did not go down too well after the half a dozen bottles of prosecco I'd consumed the night before, so I swapped it for a Super Greens Smoothie which, together with the Marmite, really did sort me out ;)
If you're a Marmite lover and you're free today or tomorrow, make sure you give Bills a visit and sample this special, secret menu! All customers that order from it will be given a special 8g 'Mini-Mite' pot, which is due to launch later this year.
Of course if you miss this menu, or if Marmite just isn't your thing, Bill's is still a pretty perfect place to head to for food - and for breakfast in particular! I'm a sucker for their avocado on toast (with extra streaky bacon) plus they do some seriously good coffee if you need a little livener the morning after the night before ;)
Our meal was complimentary in exchange for this honest review.
Friday, 27 January 2017
So when Mothercare offered to send the girls an outfit each, and I spotted this beaut in their sale, I couldn't resist treating her.
I bloody love Mothercare clothes. The majority of the contents of both girls' wardrobes have come from there and I am totally gutted that Daisy will soon be too big for them. Everyone knows about my love for the Little Bird range but I also love the Mothercare brand itself. If you ask me about affordable, good quality kids clothes, they are the first company to pop into my head. The girls are still wearing my old dresses and dungarees from Mothercare which are 30+ years old, and were worn by me, my sister AND my cousins, before being handed down to them! Now if that's not a perfect example of good quality and timeless design, then I don't know what is.
But back to the outfit! I wanted to pick something that would go with The Fur Coat, so decided to follow a 1960s theme. I've always loved black patent shoes and woolly tights so they were easy to choose (by the way, in my opinion Mothercare sell the BEST tights for kids. Their multipacks are only a couple of pounds more expensive than certain cheapie shops we all frequent, but the tights do not end up baggy and ruined after a few washes like the cheaper versions do).
Next up I chose a little sixties style swing dress - I love the three quarter length sleeves and the neckline, plus it's made from a super soft jersey fabric (AND it has pockets).
A cardigan is an essential layer in this weather and I chose the pink ribbed one as we already have it in other colours and know it washes well and is a good fit.
As you can see, Evie loved having her photo taken for this post ;) But in all seriousness, what a cute outfit to brighten up a cold and misty morning!
1. Pink flower swing dress, £10 // 2. Pink ribbed cardigan, £10 // 3. Faux fur coat, £15 (half price in the sale - get yours while you can!) // 4. Patent black T-bar shoes, £16-£18 // 5. Black tights (pack of three), £8
All c/o Mothercare
Something I'm really passionate about is eating together as a family. Call me old fashioned, but it's important to me that the girls and I gather round the table at the end of every day to eat, and to chat about what we've been up to. Breakfast is always hurried, and we're apart at lunchtime during the week, so dinner is the one meal of the day where we're all reunited and guaranteed to have plenty to talk about.
Although I'm a pretty laid back parent, we do have dinner time rules. Apart from on Fridays (movie night, when we have pizza) we always sit up to the kitchen table to eat. I really think that element of meal time is important. The kids lay the table. Technology is completely banned. We all eat the same meal, and no one leaves the table until we're all finished. My parents implemented the same rules when I was growing up, as did their parents before them (although most likely minus the technology ;)). We all lead such busy lives these days, I really don't understand why anyone wouldn't want to spend half an hour every evening with their family.
And it would seem that my favourite recipe delivery service, HelloFresh, are with me on this. This month sees the launch of the #DinnerTimeChallenge - a campaign to encourage the nation to commit to eating together as a family for thirty days - and they asked the girls and me if we'd help them to promote it. As regular customers of HelloFresh already we were more than happy to take part and to share our thoughts about we think is an absolutely brilliant service.
I'm not the best cook in the world, far from it. However I do appreciate good food, and I love the idea of slaving away over a hot stove (with a glass of wine on the go, of course) preparing a healthy and nutritious meal for my family. But the fact of the matter is I'm a single working mum of two and I don't have the time to do it every single night. And this is why I'm such a fan of HelloFresh. They provide pre-measured ingredients and completely idiot proof step by step instructions for meals that take an average of just 30 minutes to prepare and cook. Last summer I reviewed a two week trial (you can read all about it here) and I've been a paying customer ever since.
Ahead of the launch of their #DinnerTimeChallenge campaign, HelloFresh studied the eating habits of the nation and unearthed two statistics that really bothered me. (You can read the full report over on their blog here).
(1) 50% of British parents do not eat with their children at all. 14% of parents say their children's table manners are so bad that they don't want to eat with them! Fussy eating habits cause arguments.... kids won't stay seated at the table.... these parents claim it's too stressful for the whole family to be together and its easier to let their kids ignore each other and watch TV/a tablet while they're eating instead. 4% of kids even eat dinner on their own in their bedrooms! This literally astounds me and I don't mean to come across all holier than thou but seriously? COME ON parents. Teach your kids table manners! Talk to them! It's half an hour out of your day!
(2) 1 in 5 households eat different foods for dinner. I was a fussy eater as a child / teen. I didn't have any allergies or intolerances - I was just
In short, the research that was commissioned came to the conclusion that busy lives, an addiction to technology, fussy eating habits, poor table manners and a lack of inspiration is leading to the death of dinnertime. That makes me really sad!
And that's where HelloFresh come in. They're the perfect solution for busy households - you get new recipes and ingredients to try each week and they make it super easy (and super quick) to cook up some seriously tasty and healthy dinners.
We're now two weeks into the challenge and have had no problem sticking to it every night so far. We've been receiving the HelloFresh family boxes to help us, which are much bigger (and slightly more expensive) than the classic box for two that we usually get. I have to say though, they are brilliant - so much more economical - as there is enough to make one evening meal and freeze another for later in the week, perfect for those evenings when you really don't have the time or energy to cook something from scratch.
If you want to take a look at the meals we've been cooking, take a look at my Instagram Stories. I've been posting on there daily and will carry on doing so for the duration of the challenge. Our favourite recipe to date has been the honey and mustard glazed pork with lentils..... seriously good AND two of your five a day! Don't forget to search the hashtag on Instagram and Twitter for mealtime inspiration too. Are you joining in? What are your thoughts on family mealtimes?
Tuesday, 24 January 2017
Like most girls of the same ages, Daisy and Evie are pony obsessed. We live on the edge of the South Downs, where stables are common place and fields of horses are passed on a daily basis. If given half the chance, they would both love ponies of their own and in all honesty, I would love them to have them too, although not for a while yet - they need to keep up the riding lessons and both be old enough to care for them properly themselves first!
So what's the next best thing to having a real life horse? A toy one of course - and having one made to your own design is pretty darn cool don't you think? That's exactly what Daisy got to do, courtesy of Petplan Equine's "Draw My Dream Horse" campaign. Having equine insurance is a very important part of being a responsible horse owner so we had a proper chat about the work and money that is needed when you have a horse of your own while she got creative and drew her perfect pony!
Daisy absolutely loves drawing and writing - every spare second at home is spent up to the kitchen table with the colouring pencils out. Her design went a little like this. She said "I would like my pony to have a horn and wings. Please can I have my pony to be a pillow. The whole pony can be white - with blue swirls, a dark blue mane and tail, purple wings and a gold shiny horn". We sent it off to Petplan and waited for our creation to be returned to us!
A week later, it arrived from the toy maker looking EXACTLY the same as her design. We all completely love it, me especially - I think those long legs and that ant-eater nose are just hilarious (and totally gorgeous). It really is something to treasure forever!
We have three pets; Mabel Meatball the cat and Cottontail and Christmas Pudding the rabbits. We love them to pieces and consider them part of the family. Pet insurance, whether for horses, cats, dogs or rabbits (or anything else!) really is an essential part of being a responsible pet owner. You can take a look at Petplans equine policies here.
Since Petplan's inception in 1976, their priority has been to keep the nation's horses healthy and their owners happy. By offering the very best equine insurance policies and great customer service, they have helped owners get their beloved pet horses back to health following illness or injury ever since. We use Petplan ourselves, mostly because their policy prices are extremely competitive, but also because they work with more than 1,200 animal rehoming charities throughout the UK and are committed to supporting the vital work that they do. In 1994, the Petplan Charitable Trust was formed, which has so far raised more than £7million towards a better, healthier world for animals.
This post was made possible by Petplan Equine, but all thoughts (and images!) are my own.
Monday, 16 January 2017
Apparently today is Blue Monday, also known as the most depressing day of the year. Christmas is over, everyone is broke, the weather is abominable and motivation is low, which means New Years resolutions are most likely to be broken today and people everywhere generally have the hump.
Now I'm a half full kinda-girl, and I don't really believe in all that tripe, but after a pretty horrendous week last week that cost me the best part of £1000 (two car break downs, having to throw out Evie's brand new mattress after Mabel decided to wee on it (cat for sale!) AND having my gas switched off due to a 'considerable' leak and subsequently having to call out an emergency plumber) I'm starting this week in a slightly less jolly mood than usual.
So we were pretty happy when Tesco asked us to be part of their Blue Monday campaign to promote their new takeaway inspired sharing pizzas - as an evening of pizza and sweeties, and a movie with family is a pretty good way to beat those January blues if you ask me!
In our house, we have movie night every.single.Friday. We're big fans of all the old 80s and 90s family classics, and Studio Ghibli, and anything set in the 'olden days' (as the kids call it). One of our current faves is the remake of Swallows and Amazons - which we were lucky enough to go to the premiere of! - and which is now available on DVD from Tesco for just £10 - so last Friday evening, at the end of a horrible week, we settled down for some much needed quality family time.
Tesco's new range of sharing pizzas are inspired by everyone's takeaway favourites...... they are seriously big (14" no less!) and come with a range of different, popular, toppings including 'BBQ Chicken Supreme', 'Mighty Meat Combo', 'Hawaiian' and 'Veggie Supreme'. We went for the two stuffed crust varieties; 'Ultimate Pepperoni' and 'Cheese Meltdown', both of which were utterly delicious and a total bargain at just £4.50 each! When you think about the cost of ordering a takeaway, there really is no comparison - these pizzas are the perfect replacement when you're on a bit of a budget.
So if you're feeling a little bit blue today, get yourself to Tesco and pick up a pizza or two from their new range!
Monday, 9 January 2017
After a much needed, extra lengthy Christmas break, today I have been back at the drawing board (/MacBook), cracking on with work.
For the first time since starting this blog six years ago (seriously, six whole years! where on earth have they gone?!) I decided to shut up shop for the entire school holidays so that I could spend some proper quality time with those little people of mine, and I truly loved every minute.
We had a pretty low key few weeks off, but that was just what we needed. Christmas Day was spent with four generations of family at my parents' house, and we saw the New Year in with some of our very best friends. Then we kick started 2017 with advil (that might have just been me ;)) and ice skating at Hampton Court Palace, which I would honestly recommend to anyone feeling slightly delicate the morning after drinking their own body weight in prosecco and sloe gin - the cobwebs were well and truly blown away!
2016 was a funny old year for me. I had a minor midlife crisis about turning 36, celebrated the first anniversary of my divorce and started dating again. The girls have continued to amaze me and have finally mastered the art of sleeping through the night (admittedly not every night, but we're getting there) and I think I've mastered the art of being the only adult in the house - even learning DIY (I have my own tool kit and everything!)
I also launched a new business with my good friend Ruth from RocknRoller Baby, which has seen both of our workloads increase significantly; something that I personally wasn't expecting to happen until later this year, when the girls were both at school full time.
But everything happens for a reason and the arrival of new challenges as well as new people in my life over the past few months has made it all the better. Crazy busy, but brilliant. I'm looking forward to seeing what 2017 has in store!
Happy New Year to you all!
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