December 2015 | Modern Mummy

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Me & Mine ♥ December 2015

This Autumn I started joining in with a photography project called Me & Mine. The idea behind it is pretty simple; to get in front of the camera and take a photo of the entire family once a month. I have always taken lots of photos of the girls but rarely made it into family snaps myself. I really wanted to change that as it will be so nice for the girls to be able to look at photos of us all together in years to come.

This is my fourth entry and I'm really looking forward to carrying on with this project into the new year.

My December photo was taken on Boxing Day. There were a LOT of outtakes before we managed to get a half decent one and even still, I look a bit nuts, Daisy is gurning and Evie wins the grumpiest pre-schooler award! We were all full of turkey sandwiches and quality street and about to embark on the long journey home from my parents' house so I asked my brother to take a quick snap. We had such a lovely Christmas this year, with four generations at our festive lunch! I love getting to spend quality time with family xo

dear beautiful

#TheStyleProject - January 2016

Well HELLO January! You came around quick! Happy New Year to everyone - and also happy 2nd anniversary to The Style Project!

Originally called the NYNYStyleProject, our style challenge launched back in 2014 and has gone from strength to strength ever since. With people from all corners of the world joining in, our hashtag is fast becoming one of the most popular daily style challenges on Instagram which is amazing - and we are majorly excited to have Ruth from RocknRollerBaby joining the team for 2016!

You can read a little about why I started The Style Project here but, in a nutshell, if you're looking for some fashion inspiration, or some motivation to make more of an effort every day, or if you need a good excuse to go shopping (or to rummage around in the deepest darkest corners of your wardrobe) then this is the challenge for you!

And on that note, here are the brand new prompts for a brand new year!

Want to play? Here's what to do!

♥ Find the day's prompt on the month's list. We will publish these in advance, usually around the 28th day of the month.
♥ Interpret the prompt as you will - and incorporate your interpretation into your daily style. It can be an item of clothing you own, a piece you've seen and are lusting after, a beauty product, anything!
♥ Take a photo!
♥ Share it on Instagram. Don't forget to use the hashtag #TheStyleProject so that other people can find your pictures.
♥ Search the hashtag yourself and check out other people's photos. Like what you see? Tell the photographer! It's a nice way to get to know eachother and a lovely confidence boost too.
♥ You don't have to join in every single day. Sometimes it's just not possible - and that's okay! Dip in and out whenever you like, and even if you're not able to take your own photos, you can still look at other people's for inspiration.

Ruth, Kara, Carissa and I hope lots of you will join in this year - see those of you that fancy the challenge over on Instagram! xoxo


Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Afternoon Tea at Ma' Plucker, Soho

Yesterday was our annual trip to London with our good friends the RocknRoller Baby family. This has become a bit of a tradition over the last few years; we take in a show, we have some food and we get to see the amazing Christmas lights!

This year we met at Leicester Square early in the morning to go and review the new kids' theatre show, Peppa Pig's Surprise (more on this in a separate post - it was BRILLIANT) and then spent a couple of hours in Covent Garden looking at the lights, playing on the Lego train and running amok in the Transport Museum before walking through the streets of the West End and making our way to Ma' Plucker in Soho for a festive afternoon tea.

Ma' Plucker is perfectly situated on Beak Street (just behind Oxford and Regent Streets and right next to Carnaby Street) so makes a great place to stop off for a bite to eat when you're in town and it sells the most amazing soul food you'll ever taste outside the Deep South!

We had a reservation at 3 and got there a little before. We found the restaurant no problem, and were seated at the back. First impressions? Small, but perfectly formed, the decor was amazing (think awesome sixties inspired wallpaper, contrasting turquoise paintwork and neon lights) and the furniture gorgeous too (pink formica tables with wooden stools and benches).

We were greeted with iced tea; boozy cranberry for Ruth, boozy lemon for me and non-alcoholic versions for the kiddos, and shortly after our afternoon tea platters came out.

At the moment Ma' Plucker are working on a kids menu but for the purpose of this review our gang got to try the full sized regular afternoon tea, which they were rather happy about! Ruth and I had the festive ones (and helped polish off the kiddo's leftovers). We also got to sample a whole heap of sides including my absolute favourite - the crack + cheese (deep fried mac + cheese, oh my!)

The festive afternoon tea

Crack + cheese. The best side on the menu

The regular afternoon tea, which is available all year round, was made up of pulled chicken with BBQ sauce and rotisserie chicken breast with chipotle sauce, both served in brioche buns and, the kids universal favourite, the fried crispy coated chicken served with waffles and a maple and chilli glaze (not spicy at all, just 'warming'!) Served on the same plate are three mini desserts including a slice of homemade cherry pie!

The festive version substitutes the chicken and waffles for a mini fried turkey sub - which was my personal favourite! - and comes with a mini yule log, mince pie and salted caramel doughnuts for pudding. One glass of boozy ice tea, and unlimited regular ice tea, forms part of the £16.50 price tag.

Daisy + Florence very excited to receive their grown up afternoon tea

Parenting done right: lunchtime boozy iced tea and margaritas (OH THE FROZEN MARGARITAS!)

Aside from afternoon tea you can of course also get other chicken dishes. Ma' Plucker is fast becoming famous for its #3waychicken menu, where you choose your base, you choose your sauce and you choose your chicken. There are also ribs or cheese options and the best selection of sides I ever did see (I'm talking french fries, pickles, corn on the cob, collard greens, Ma's Slaw and that amazing crack + cheese). And if that doesn't fill you up there's a selection of homemade pies and sundaes for pudding too!

We had a really lovely afternoon. The food was delicious, the service impeccable and Ruth and I both agreed that the restaurant itself (which was beautifully clean and tidy) had a really awesome feel to it and and was just a great place to hang out. The only thing I would change would be to add some slightly more child friendly drinks to the menu - mine weren't fans of the iced tea and don't drink fizzy drinks so were limited to just water.

But that really wasn't a deal breaker in the slightest. I mean! THE CRACK + CHEESE! The MARGARITAS! (Did I mention the margaritas? Made from a secret and rather potent - hic! - recipe, they were INCREDIBLE). The fact my children almost cleared their entire, adult plates, the food was THAT good! Thanks so much for having us, Ma' Plucker! We will be back! xoxo

PS Looking for a last minute Christmas present? Why not give the gift of chicken! I thought this was such a great idea!

You'll find Ma' Plucker at 75 Beak Street, London W1F 9SS (tel: 020 7096 2046)
We received a complimentary meal in exchange for this honest review. All words are entirely true and my own.


Monday, 21 December 2015

Christmas Traditions + Festive Style with White Stuff

Christmas is my absolute favourite time of the year for so many reasons. We have lots of traditions that stem from my childhood, and have introduced new ones over recent years too. We always get our Christmas tree on the first of December and we add to our ornament collection by picking out a new one each every year. We make a big deal out of writing our Christmas cards, all sat round the table together listening to festive music (and I'll often have my first mulled wine of the season!). We go to the annual light switch on in town and buy gifts at the Christmas market. Then Christmas Day is always a big, chaotic, noisy, amazing, family affair! I pretty much love the whole month of December; I love getting to spend quality time with family and friends, I love decorating the house, I love eating delicious food and I LOVE an excuse to get dressed up!

We always make an effort with our Christmas Day attire; it's a special day, spent with special people, centred around a special meal and I think it's only fitting that we each wear a special outfit. Not only do the elves bring the girls new pyjamas every Christmas Eve, Father Christmas brings them pretty dresses on Christmas morning too!

Tiny Treasure tunic, £59.95, c/o White Stuff
Leggings, £22, Boden
Madrid clogs, £60 c/o Moheda Toffeln
Faux leather biker jacket, £26.24 (currently on sale!), New Look
Sunglasses c/o Walt Disney World, Florida

Another annual tradition is a festive day out in London, and this year was no different. Last weekend we went to the Royal Opera House to see The Nutcracker, before ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the Christmas lights in and around Covent Garden, and then heading over to the Big Easy for a lobster dinner!

I wore this gorgeous Tiny Treasure tunic in decadent green which had been sent to me by White Stuff as part of their Christmas 2015 campaign.

I wore my tunic with leggings, clogs and a biker jacket and thought it was a pretty perfect outfit for a relaxed day wandering around London. I've never worn peep toe clogs in December before, but this year has been unseasonably warm so I decided to go for it! ;) I find clogs super comfy, so they are the perfect shoe for when you want to wear a heel but have a lot of walking lined up. I love, love, LOVE the White Stuff tunic; it's smart enough for a matinee at the Royal Opera House, but can be dressed down with a biker jacket - which is the look I went for for the rest of our day! The tunic is loose fitting with short sleeves that are slightly longer than usual and it has a folded round collar which is a detail I love. The floral print is beautiful - pretty but very modern - and the green colour truly is decadent!

Speaking of decadent, that's the only word that can be used to describe our meal at the Big Easy. Lobster mac + cheese, triple cooked chips, salad and a cold, crisp beer went down a treat after a busy day in town ;)

Thanks to White Stuff for asking us to be a part of this campaign!


Saturday, 19 December 2015

Introducing.... No Ordinary Label

When it comes to kidswear, the three things that are most important to me are comfort, durability and, of course, design. I like soft, top quality fabrics in bright colours and bold patterns that make kids look like kids and I am not the biggest fan of super expensive, high fashion clothes. I don't want my children to look like mini adults in the latest trends - and I don't want to be stressing about price tags while they're playing and having fun either! That said, I am prepared to pay for quality, especially on outfits for special occasions, and I know first hand that although there is a time and a place for cheaper supermarket clothes, the quality rarely cuts it when they are put through their paces at the playground!

On top of all that I also love supporting local and independent retailers, so I was very happy to be introduced to awesome new London store, No Ordinary Label, earlier this month. Collaborating with the best up and coming British kidswear designers, they very kindly sent the girls an outfit each, both of which have zoomed straight to the top of the 'favourite clothes' charts!

Grey embroidered cardigan, £28 from In A Pickle
Tulle pom pom tutu, £26 from Beetlejuice London 
both c/o No Ordinary Label
Socks, Little Bird by Jools from Mothercare
Glittery gold shoes, Monsoon Kids

I LOVE this cardigan SO MUCH and would totally wear it if it came in adult sizes. I love the contrasting fleecy sweatshirt material, wooden buttons and bright embroidery. Evie has worn this skirt for the last three days in a row. It's her favourite colour, the luxurious layers of tulle spin a treat and the pom poms are an awesome added bonus - we've had lots of compliments on it!

Floral Dupion skirt + top, £62 from Beetlejuice London 
c/o No Ordinary Label
Socks, M&S
Glittery gold shoes, Monsson Kids

How gorgeous is Daisy's coordinating skirt and top? The combination of floral print and silver piping have a real modern-vintage feel to them, and together make such a smart and pretty party outfit. The skirt has a white netting underlay which, like Evie's tutu, also means it's a real spinner (this is a very important factor to take into consideration when choosing skirts when you're three and six ;)).

I love discovering a new online store! We have a seriously long wish list of clothes and accessories from No Ordinary Label now, including this metallic full silver skirt, this light blue sequin dress and these tie dye leggings (which are TOTALLY making me long for spring!). How gorgeous is everything?!


Friday, 18 December 2015

Festive Family Time

Spending time together as a family is very important to me. As a single working mum, I'm keen to make the most of our time as a three. We eat round the table together every morning and evening without fail, we read together every single night, and we have other little routines that we love - pizza and movie night on a Friday is one of our faves! We also like to get out and about and create memories together whenever we can, whether that's a trip on the train into London, or a road trip down to the coast.

This month, the team behind Applewood Cheese set us a challenge to put aside an hour for some quality time with our loved ones. This was pretty easy for us, but it was made extra fun by the introduction of a new board game!

We spent an evening (about four hours, not just one!) playing Monopoly, which I had previously thought might be a bit old for the girls (at 3 and 6). It turns out they got the hang of it pretty quickly!

We put our pyjamas on, set up the board and got drinks and nibbles ready (is it just me, or do 'good times' and 'food' go hand in hand for everyone?!). I was the banker and after a brief explanation of the rules we were off.

In true Monopoly playing style, there were arguments (I WANT TO BE THE CAT!), there were tears (I DON'T HAVE ANY MONEY LEFT!) but most importantly there was so much laughter. And it turns out Evie has the best business sense out of ALL of us, owning most of London by the end of the game!

Christmas is the perfect opportunity to spend more time with friends and family, especially those that we don't see that often. How do you like to spend time with yours?

Thanks to Applewood Cheese for sending us a hamper of their delicious products, some fun games and a BRILLIANT family organiser to make sure we always have plenty of family time scheduled for 2016!

Monday, 14 December 2015

Daily Outfit ♥ Tuta Kids

both c/o Tuta Kids
Moody look, model's own

Last month the girls were offered a dress each from new children's clothing company, Tuta Kids.

Having launched at The Baby Show earlier this year, the Tuta Kids brand is going from strength to strength, which is no surprise when they offer such gorgeous, affordable, luxury clothes for little fashionistas. From cute party dresses to essential every day pieces, Tuta pretty much have it covered - for boys as well as girls. Their clothes are made from quality fabrics and are super comfy, but are still robust enough to withstand a hard day at the playground and a good wash at 40 degrees!

Daisy chose a striped, knitted dress with shimmery silver threads woven through it, and Evie chose a denim dress with a gorgeous embellished statement collar. Although I went big when ordering the latter, it turned out that even a 4-5 was too small for my chunky three year old - so lucky Daisy got to keep both (although she did have to wear the denim dress over leggings as it was a little too short for her). I have to say, I would quite happily wear both  dresses myself if they went up to age 35 ;)


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

New Favourite Bobble Hat Klaxon!

My love for bobble hats knows no bounds. I have way, way, WAY too many. I keep trying to have a cull but it never works and, if anything, inspires me to buy more.... in different colour ways.... with different sized bobbles.... or to complete the set, with matching gloves and scarves.

Hats are awesome accessories for lots of reasons; they are practical (they keep your head and ears warm), I think a little bobble makes you look happy and approachable (handy for someone with resting bitch face like myself) AND they hide terrible hair which is an affliction I suffer from most days.

Anyhoo, ALERT! ALERT! I have a new one!

The latest addition to my collection is this classic beauty courtesy of Wool Overs. It actually came from the men's accessories department - which is the other great thing about bobble hats - the vast majority are unisex, meaning double the choice! In fact I prefer buying mens styles as they are usually that little bit bigger, and I like mine slouchy.

This particular one is made from 100% British wool (yay!) and in a gorgeous aran cable knit. There are six colours to choose from, they are also available in a set including wrist warmers and a scarf (which I was sent) AND the sets are currently in the sale at just £50 which is a great offer bearing in mind the hats, wrist warmers and scarves retail at £25, £15 and £25 respectively. They are really beautifully made and very cosy indeed and I was so pleased with my set that I've actually gone on to buy two more for different members of my family for Christmas which is ALWAYS a good sign.

What do you think of bobble hats? Do you wear them, or do you think they're just for kiddos? xo


Monday, 7 December 2015

Dinner at Las Iguanas, Kingston

Last weekend the girls and I were invited to sample the delicious Latin-American menu of Las Iguanas in Kingston.

As a family we like to eat out pretty regularly. I like the girls to experience different cuisines, and I appreciate not having to do the washing up ;) We'd not been to a Las Iguanas before so were really keen to try it out; as much as I enjoy dining at independent local restaurants, I like having a handful of chains that can be found all over the country that I know are going to give me a good meal at a reasonable price and that will happily accommodate children.

I like to eat early when I'm out with the kiddos so we booked our table for 4.30pm so that we could take our time over our meal and still be finished before all the evening diners arrived.

When we got to the restaurant we were greeted not only by a smiling host, but also by a gorgeous - and huge! - Christmas tree, which really made us all extra excited, as we were planning to go get our own tree the next day. We were seated by the window and handed our menus, and then our waitress came over to help us go through it and to take our drinks order.

Seeing as it was a girls night out, we went for cocktails..... non alcoholic of course. As it was early, some of the drinks were part of a 2 for 1 offer, so the girls both had Raspberry Coolers (raspberry puree and bottle green elderflower refresher) and I opted for the Spiced Ginger Punch.

The variety of food on offer at Las Iguanas is incredible. As well as very extensive grown ups, kids and separate lunch menus there are also veggie, vegan and gluten free ones! Parents are offered free organic baby food for teeny tiny guests and there is a kids meal available for under 12s, where they can choose from eight different mains, which are accompanied by lettuce, cucumber sticks, carrot sticks, baby tomatoes and peppers (or peas if preferred) to help them on their way to five a day! A dessert and a drink form part of the parcel too.

One of the things I liked most about the restaurant was the menu flexibility. We chose a couple of starters to share amongst us, one of which was the quesadilla. The two filling options on the menu were garlicky mushroom or spicy chicken but the girls wanted something plain and the chefs rustled up a simple cheese and tomato quesadilla no problem. We also tried a new dish on the menu; the black bean bolinhos which were AMAZING!

The girls both wanted mini burgers for their mains. They came in a toasted buttery brioche bun with lightly spiced curly fries and ketchup on the side - all of which went down a treat.

My main was out of this world! I chose the picanha steak - an 8oz rump steak, chargrilled, rested, sliced and sprinkled with coarse sea salt, then served with a fiery salsa and sweet potato fries. It was cooked to perfection and melted in my mouth. Although I like to try new things, it was one of those dishes that I just know I am going to have to have again next time we visit!

The girls had a choice of dessert as part of the kids meal and Evie chose a bowl of strawberries and blueberries and Daisy went for the jelly and ice cream! That didn't stop them helping me with my creamy caramel cake though, which was probably just as well as it was ginormous. The coffee was rich and sweet - and just what I needed to perk me up for the drive home after a such big meal.

It was the ambience in the restaurant that made it stand out from others that we frequent. Usually when you eat earlier, and with children, the lights are bright, it's really noisy and you kind of feel as if you're being hurried along. That was not the case here; the lights were dimmed (which seemed to make the girls relax a bit more as they were impeccably well behaved for once as always) and we were there for over two hours, savouring every mouthful of our meals.

Las Iguanas claim to live for food, and to bring food alive - and that they certainly do. The open plan kitchen was buzzing, the staff were all happy and friendly and knowledgeable and efficient and the food was fresh, top quality and excellently prepared. We had a fantastic meal and will most definitely be returning.

We were invited to Las Iguanas and received a complimentary meal but, as always, my thoughts are genuine and all words are my own.


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Oh By Gosh, By Golly.... It's time for Mistletoe + Holly!

Last month I read this article about Christmas in the seventies and eighties and I felt a genuine pang of sadness. I really, really hate the way that Christmas has pretty much evolved into one great big competition to see who can spend the most money, and who gets the most presents, over the last decade or so. For me, the most important thing about Christmas has always been about spending time with family, and I hope that the girls feel the same as they get older. That said, I do like to treat them to some special presents; but I try to take the focus away from them and get the girls excited about other aspects and traditions of Christmas instead. We abide by the Christmas party wear rule for starters, and will never, EVER deviate away from the traditional menu of Quality Street for breakfast, roast turkey at lunchtime, a yule log for pud and a cheeseboard in the evening. I also actively encourage the circling of toys in the Argos catalogue and I, myself, enjoy circling the programmes I'd like to watch in the Radio Times (Radio Times Day is my third favourite of the festive season, after Christmas Day itself and Christmas Tree Day).

This post is all about Christmas Tree Day (HURRAY!). We've always gone out and bought our Christmas tree on 1st December and have then gone on to spend pretty much an entire day decorating it along with the rest of the house. It started when I was a child and has carried on to this day. I love Christmas and want to drag it out for as long as possible so that tree is going up at the earliest opportunity! One thing I am guilty of, though, is of dressing the tree with "smart Scandi themed decorations" (to quote the original article). Since moving out of home 17(!) years ago, I've always gone for a traditional colour scheme of red, white, green and gold, and I've been VERY fussy about the decorating process (think Monica from Friends).

But then I spent the entire afternoon after I read that article reminiscing about the festive seasons of my childhood and I realised that getting to pick out ornaments every year and going on to decorate the family tree with my siblings was probably the highlight of my Christmas back then. Whilst feeling nostalgic I made the decision to throw caution (/my OCD) to the wind and let the girls pick out all out Christmas decorations from then on.

Then B&Q approached us about working with them on a festive campaign and invited us down to one of their stores to pick out a tree and some Christmas decorations and I took it as a sign that I had made the right decision! I was going to let the girls run riot and choose EVERYTHING.

(I admit that on the drive there I did have a mild panic attack over visions of a house full of festive tat - but I needn't have worried!)

First up was the tree. I've got a thing for real trees; I love the smell of them and the whole process of picking one out, getting it wrapped up and then driving home with it squashed into the car.  But as our shopping choices were entirely up to the kiddos we looked at the artificial ones too. A pink tinsel one which very nearly purchased, but in the end the girls opted for a 6ft, non drop Nordic fir (yay!).

Then we headed inside to choose some new decorations. In the past the girls have been allowed to choose one new decoration every year and it goes without saying that we've kept all of those. But any old 'fillers' we'd had were sent to the charity shop and it was time to replenish our stock! B&Q had a brilliant selection of single ornaments, ranging from £1 to about £3.60 in price (including Frozen ones - which of course we bought many of), and also sold very reasonably priced multipacks indeed. I am not a fan of matchy-matchy so we chose lots of the individual ones and two of the smaller multipacks (because the contents were pink, naturally).  Tinsel was also purchased for the first time in many, many years!

We also needed lights. I've always been a fan of white twinkly ones but had been reminiscing about the multicoloured ones on the Christmas trees of my youth and was secretly quite pleased when the girls opted for those. We bought four packs in the end; two for the tree, one for the front room and one for the kitchen. We also bought some festoon lights for the back garden and (much to Daisy's & Evie's delight, and my horror - sorry B&Q!) a rope light Rudolph and star for the front garden! (I need to buy an extension lead before we can show you these in all their glory!).

The last purchase we made was my decision. B&Q have a seriously brilliant festive homewares section, selling everything from cushions to fleecy blankets and candles - and it was one of the latter that I treated myself to. Their Winter Spice candle smells DIVINE and comes in a really cute ceramic jar with a lid that looks like enamel. At £5 it's a seriously good buy and would make a really lovely present for someone this Christmas.

After spending a good hour and a half in the shop it was time to head home and get creative! As we always do, we had our festive Spotify playlist on in the background and I may or may not have treated myself to a sloe gin at 2pm.

I let the girls decorate the entire tree, and let them boss me around to put the right ornaments in the right place on the parts of the tree that they couldn't reach. I was also instructed exactly where the tinsel and lights should go around the house. I SERIOUSLY love the finished look; it beats my boring old colour scheme hands down! Retro eighties crimbo decorations are the way forward - and I can't tell you how over the moon the girls are with their tree. They've pretty much invited everyone that has come to our front door in to see it over the past few days, they're that proud of it.

THIS is what Christmas is all about! xoxo

B&Q very kindly provided us with a gift card to purchase our tree and decorations. 
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