March 2018 | Modern Mummy

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Five Favourites ♥ Nineties Icons

Today I made my way into town to do a spot of grown up shopping (I bought my first ever wheelie suitcase - somehow I've managed to get through the last 37 years borrowing luggage from other people). While I was there, and kiddo free, I also had a good old mooch around the shops. Hints of nineties fashion have been making appearances on the catwalk a lot over the past few years but I think it's safe to say its well and truly back again right now. I swear I felt as if I was in my local shopping centre circa 1994 today.

When I think of the nineties, I think of grunge, Britpop, heading out with my friends to TGI Fridays and making a portion of loaded potato skins and a bottomless diet coke last for about four hours on a Friday night and Paxton the Mizz male model (HELLO!). But mostly I remember spending my hard earned Saturday job wages on clothes in Jeffrey Rogers, Bay Trading and Esprit every weekend. Here are five of my favourite nineties favourites that you can still buy in 2018

Clockwise from top left
1. Casio Baby G watch, £49.99 - Argos // You were nobody unless you had a Baby G watch in the nineties. They were the ultimate accessory. There was a shop that sold them on Neal Street in Covent Garden - you had to buy one there as you got a fancy cardboard bag with string handles that you could keep for FOREVER, hung at the end of your bed
2. Round metal sunglasses, £127 - RayBan // The only sunnies to be seen in, although mine weren't RayBan, they came from the market (don't tell anyone)
3. BB track jacket, £62.95 - Adidas // Bought second hand for pennies from Kensington Market, I had dozens of these tracksuit tops in every colour. You had to wear them over a cool band tee with vintage cord flares
4. Platform sandals in shimmering fabric, £55 - Esprit // Platform sandals were seriously cool in the mid-late 90s. I had a pair just like these from Red or Dead; I lusted after them for ages and it took me months to save up for them!
5. Tommy Jeans t-shirt, £35 - Urban Outfitters // Confession time: I've just ordered this tee, I had one in the nineties that I LOVED - and I'm pretty sure it came free with a bottle of perfume ;) 

What clothes and accessories do you think of when you reminisce about the nineties?


Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Five Favourites ♥ A Beach Outfit for the start of British Summertime

British Summertime has officially started and, even if the weather forecast is for rain for the foreseeable future, I think we're perfectly entitled to start day dreaming about the warmer weather we have to come.

The kids and I have been thinking about where we might like to jet off to in the school holidays and although we've all come up with different dream destinations, we're all in agreement that it has to be somewhere super hot, on the coast and where you can get some seriously good ice cream.

With that in mind, I put together this Five Favourites outfit; perfect for a hot summer's day by the beach or pool!

1. Tanya Sunglasses, £75 - Boden // Sunglasses are my addiction and these square, two tone coral frames are amazing!
2. Monochrome one shoulder swimsuit, £22.99 - New Look // I love a bikini but this cut out swimsuit is just gorgeous. I like that the bottom half is quite high waisted too.
3. Basket, £27.50 - Seasalt Cornwall // This would make a great shopper as well as a beach bag.
4. Leopard print espadrilles, £20 - Fashion World // These are great to slip on for the walk from beach to bar and leopard print is my favourite animal pattern.
5. White Bardot beach dress, £12 - Fashion World // I love a crisp white, casual dress to throw over swimwear in the summer - this one is a total bargain.

You can take a look at some other summer style inspiration posts of mine here, here and here.


Monday, 26 March 2018

artrepublic and The Own Art Scheme

Last week I made my way to Brighton to spend an evening talking all things influencer marketing with a group of fellow bloggers and the lovely people from artrepublic.

If you're a local, or if you visit Brighton regularly, I'm pretty sure you'll have heard of artrepublic. The gallery has been on Bond Street, in the heart of the Laines, for twenty five years and ever since I was a teenager I've always made a special effort to pop in whenever I'm in the neighbourhood. It really is one of my favourite galleries ever - mostly because it's jam packed full of the works of all my favourite contemporary artists, but also because it's just a great place to hang out and to be inspired. It's completely unpretentious; you can go in for a wander around and staff won't pounce on you with a sales pitch - but if you do have any questions that need answering they are some of the most knowledgeable, passionate and friendly people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Not only are artrepublic brilliant to their customers and their visitors, over the years they have also helped launch the careers of lots of up and coming artists too - and they continue to do so. They worked with Banksy from the outset and were the first gallery to sell authentic prints of his works - those that originally sold for £75 are now selling for £8,000+ at auction. Working closely with artists means they are able to offer exclusive originals and limited edition works to their customers.

As well as their Bond Street gallery, they are also the largest online retailers of contemporary art in the world and deliver art framed or unframed all over the UK (unframed art can be delivered worldwide).

Last week we were there to brainstorm some social media and influencer campaign ideas but while we were in the gallery we also drank beer, ate curry and, in my case, ran up an art wish list of about £15,000. It's pretty easy to when you're surrounded by the works of Dan Hillier, Jayson Lilley, Magnus Gjoen and Lucy Sparrow.

As well as sharing my knowledge of working in, and with, the blogging industry, I also ended up learning lots myself.

Did you know that artrepublic are part of The Own Art Scheme? I didn't either. They're committed to making art affordable and available to everybody, no matter what their circumstances, so if you see something you love but can't afford to buy outright you can apply for interest free credit and spread the cost over up to twenty months. This applies in store and online, and you don't even need a deposit. What an initiative! I totally agree that art should be for everyone and think artrepublic and The Arts Council are doing an amazing thing by helping people purchase pieces of their own. In fact I'm contemplating taking them up on their offer myself and bagging myself a print or two. What would  I buy if I did? These five pieces are top of my wishlist:

Clockwise from top left:
Super Highway by Joe Webb // His n Hers by Lucy Sparrow // From Primrose Hill II by Jayson Lilley // (It's Not) The End by Magnus Gjoen // Pier of Lost Souls by Richard Berner

Photos by Wilson Costa Campos // insta


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Little People, Big Dreams

As a single mum of two young daughters, one thing I'm really determined and passionate about is teaching (and showing!) my girls that they can do anything they set their mind to. I try to be a good role model for them; I think the two most important lessons a parent can teach their children is to be kind and to work hard.

But sometimes little people need bigger things to aspire to, and the Little People, Big Dreams books provide just this. They are a collection of biographies about amazing and inspirational women throughout history and are so well written and beautifully illustrated that grown ups will love them too. Each book is short and easy for young children to read, with lovely, bold and quirky pictures on every page. There is also a timeline at the end of each book containing extra facts that are great for older kids. This one about Frida Kahlo is my absolute favourite although there are ten books out at the moment, including ones about Coco Chanel, Amelia Earhart and Maya Angelou, with more being released later this year (including one about Georgia O'Keeffe, which I can't wait for!).

The Little People, Big Dreams books are just £9.99 each and are available from the National Theatre Bookshop.

I was gifted this book but under no obligation to write about it.


Thursday, 8 March 2018

bettybox: The Period Subscription Box

Earlier this week I was sent a subscription box with a bit of a twist. Usually these things are designed around hobbies and interests, like beauty or stationery. This one relates to our old friend Aunt Flo - but comes from the new girl on the block, betty, a super cool, online teen educator, more big sister than old aunt.

I can remember learning all about periods at primary school back in the eighties (yes I really am that old). Things were taught very scientifically in those days; I was 9, and a lady came to my class to teach us all about puberty. It wasn't a very successful lesson; everyone was left a bit shell shocked I think, plus we were all way too embarrassed to ask any questions at the end, even though we must have had millions! I left the classroom feeling pretty terrified about what changes were in store for my body (until I went home and spoke to my Mum about it that is).

A few years after having my mind put at rest by my Mum, my friends all started getting their periods and I was gagging to start mine. When I eventually did start,  one memory that sticks in my mind is of getting caught unprepared and having to ask the school nurse for a sanitary towel. She handed me a Dr Whites pad, which was thicker than a maternity pad and had BELT LOOPS. I was horrified, didn't really know what it was (or what the loops were for!) and just shoved it in my knickers and hoped for the best. I was a bundle of nerves for the rest of that day; what the hell had I been given to use? Could anyone else see it? Would I leak?!

I'm so glad things have changed now and that talking about periods isn't seen as taboo. We're also really lucky to be able to consult the internet whenever we have a question that needs answering that we're too shy to ask. I think that was the worst thing about coming of age in the eighties and early nineties for lots of teens; all those awkward conversations with 'grown ups' and worrying about whether or not you're normal but being too embarrassed to chat to your friends about stuff.

I think it's really important to talk openly about growing up. So far I've been entirely honest with my own daughters and have let them lead the way, answering questions as they've arisen and dropping things into conversation when it's appropriate.  There are still topics that haven't been covered, but I definitely want to be the one to explain everything to them, rather than them hearing it all from a teacher at school. I'm lucky because the girls and I are very close, just like I am with my own mum, and I can't imagine us having any trouble talking about things in the future. If there is ever any awkwardness, as I already said, they're lucky enough to be able to consult the internet, and the betty website is incredibly cool, as well as being informative. It reminds me a bit of the teen mags I used to read, like Just Seventeen and Mizz. It's full of articles and advice about being a teenage girl - relationships, body image, beauty etc - and I LOVE that the cursor is a tampon!

The bettybox is the UK's first monthly period subscription service and it was designed specifically with teens in mind, to help make that time of the month a little bit less scary and a lot more comfortable.

The box contains all those essentials (you can choose from tampons or towels, your preferred brand, absorbency, size etc - and when you need it delivered) but also a lovely selection of premium pampering treats, like sweets, and bath and body items, to make yourself, or your daughter, feel better.

I can guarantee any teenage girl would love to receive one of these every month - hell, I'm a 37 year old girl and I'd love to receive one every month! They're priced at £12.99 which I think is really reasonable for all those essentials and so many little luxuries too.  I know having your period can be pretty horrific and they won't make things completely better, but they'll definitely help and I'll definitely be buying these for my girls when the time comes. For 20% off your first bettybox, use the discount code BB20.


Tuesday, 6 March 2018

FOOD // Getting My Bake On with Miranda Gore Browne

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting the very lovely Miranda Gore Browne at the Bookings For You Tuscan culinary masterclass I took part in. Miranda was a finalist in the very first series of the Great British Bake Off, and named 'the iced biscuit queen' by Mary Berry herself. Since the show she has gone on to write two cookery books; Biscuit and Bake Me A Cake As Fast As You Can, and also runs cookery and baking classes from The Kitchen School, which is just down the road from me in Sussex.

Last week she invited me to join her at her Spring cookery and baking class and I had an absolutely wonderful morning learning some new, seasonal recipes and admiring her Cornishware collection! The aim of the session was for everyone to leave feeling inspired and confident enough to be able to recreate all the recipes covered back home, and the class came just in time for Mother's Day and Easter!

When we first arrived, we were greeted with steaming hot cups of coffee and cinnamon and honey chocolate buns and after a few friendly introductions, it was time to get cooking!

One of the light meals we learned to create was a super simple, and very virtuous, pea and lettuce soup. This was my favourite dish of the class; I loved that it took no time at all to make and that the ingredients were all ones that you're likely to have indoors at any given time!

2x tbsp olive oil
4x spring onions
The zest of half a lemon
500g frozen peas
1 round lettuce, roughly chopped
2x pints of vegetable stock
1x tbsp sugar
A handful of fresh basil and mint
3x tablespoons of cream (can be left out, or replaced with a dairy free alternative like Oatly creme fraiche)

What to do.
Fry the spring onions in the olive oil until softened.
Add the peas and the lemon zest.
Add the lettuce and wilt.
Pour over the stock and add the sugar, then bring to the boil.
Allow to simmer (uncovered) for ten minutes.
Add salt and pepper, and the basil and the mint, and blitz with a handheld blender / nutribullet.
Add cream if you wish (Miranda recommends this to make the soup taste smoother but I went without and it tasted absolutely divine!)

Serve with a hunk of warm bread - or with little apple and cheese oat breads (pictured).

Other recipes we were taught included minted spring vegetable tart (below)....

.... and how to make simple iced biscuits and a chocolate Easter cake.

The tips I came away with were absolutely brilliant so I thought I'd share them with you in this post. There are quite a few but I wanted to include them all because, quite frankly, some of them blew my mind!

Cakes + Biscuits.
When it comes to baking, stick to what you know. Master a basic recipe, then adapt it to suit the season, or the taste of whoever is going to eat it!

Coarsely grate cold butter when a recipe calls for it to be rubbed in, eg in biscuits or a crumble. It makes the job so much easier!

Double batch whenever you bake - cakes and biscuits can be frozen and wrapped in parchment and foil or on their trays then covered with clingfilm.  Once biscuit dough has frozen you can remove them from their trays and bag them up to save space in the freezer. ALWAYS defrost at room temperature (this will take around eight hours so overnight is ideal) and then heat in a low oven, at around 120 for half an hour, before you tuck in.

Try to avoid rolling biscuits (and pastry) on wooden work surfaces. Wood absorbs moisture. Rolling onto paper stops it drying out and, in the case of pastry, makes it easier to transfer to the pastry dish.

ALWAYS pre-heat the oven when baking, otherwise cakes and biscuits will lose lift and melt before they start to cook.

When making hanging biscuit decorations, make the hole when the biscuits are fresh out of the oven - not when they're uncooked (the dough will spread and the hole may close) or have cooled down (they may crack).

Always use vacuum packed yeast when bread making as it's the freshest, plus it comes in smaller portions so is less wasteful.

Mix your dough in a glass / plastic / stainless steel bowl if you can. Old fashioned ceramic bowls are thick and cool and the dough can take longer to rise in the cooler conditions.

The dough is ready to prove when it has cleaned the bowl. It shouldn't be sticky. Prove at room temperature and only move to the fridge if you want to slow the process down, eg if you're going out.

Don't wrap with a tea towel when leaving to prove - use clingfilm instead (especially when baking with kids) as you can see what's going on in the bowl without having to remove the cover. Each time you lift a tea towel off, the temperature drops a little and proving will take longer.

One of the loveliest ways to decorate recipes, especially during springtime - and this goes for biscuits, cakes and flans and tarts - is to use edible flowers. Edible flowers include daisies (yes really!), primroses, violets, marigolds and all fruit blossoms. You can also use herbs like rosemary and mint. In sweet recipes you can sugar them to make them last longer (brush on whisked egg whites then dust with caster sugar).

Thanks so much to Miranda for inviting me to a brilliant cookery demonstration! If you are keen to attend one yourself, she has classes running throughout the year which you can book online here. Miranda's books are also available on Amazon here and here.

Monday, 5 March 2018

A Mr Men and Little Miss Tea Party with Mi-Pac #MrMenXMiPac

During the half term break we were invited to Maggie & Rose in Kensington for a very special tea party to celebrate the launch of a brand spanking new collaboration between beautiful bag makers, Mi-Pac, and the legendary Mr Men.

The kids and I made our way into London to meet up with our pals, the RocknRoller Baby and Joy of Five families, and feasted on finger sandwiches and fruit kebabs whilst swooning over the new MrMenXMiPac collection. Us grown ups may have also done a bit of swooning over Adam Hargeaves, son of Mr Men and Little Miss creator Roger, who was there to draw personalised illustrations ;)

I'm a big fan of Mi-Pac; I first discovered them last summer, when I fell head over heels in love with Ruth's rose gold weekender bag. I'm now the proud owner of the same design in black and leopard print and it's the perfect bag for a short break - it's deceptively big, very well made and super stylish - and those are the three most important factors to me when choosing a bag for myself.

But I'm not here to talk about grown ups' bags, I'm here to talk about the new collection for kids, which is absolute perfection. There are five patterns to choose from - Mr Bump, Little Miss Sunshine,  Little Miss Princess, a multicoloured mixture of lots of Mister Men and a monochrome comic strip style pattern - and five different designs of bag available - a large and small backpack, a drawstring backpack, a wash bag and a pencil case. Prices start at just £21.99 and the collection is available online here.

The children were lucky enough to choose a bag of their own to take home - I thought they looked very cute lining up ready to cross the road!

ps Check out my personalised Little Miss shopper!
Photo by child no.2 - can you tell?

Thanks a million to Mi-Pac for inviting us to celebrate with them!
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