October 2017 | Modern Mummy

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Celebrating the launch of My Little Pony: The Movie with Build-A-Bear

I talked about my fondness for My Little Pony, and how much I love that the girls enjoy playing with them too, when I wrote this blog post recently - so you can imagine how excited we all were to be invited up to Build-A-Bear (in Hamleys, no less!) so that the girls could create My Little Pony characters of their very own.

As well as being big My Little Pony fans, we're also big fans of Build-A-Bear. I'm fairly certain everyone knows the concept but on the off chance you don't, a trip to Build-A-Bear is a really special occasion. You don't just go there to buy a new toy - you go to make one!

Although the building of the bear is actually very affordable (bears start at just £10) I learnt the hard way a few years ago that accessorising him or her can end up pretty costly if you're not careful. On the occasions we've visited in the past, I've always allowed the girls two accessories each - and have encouraged them to save up their pocket money if they want to buy more (its all available online, and you can always nab some mega bargains in the sales). But I have no objections to flashing the cash a little bit while we're there, so long as the girls have been good, as a trip to a Build-A-Bear store is a proper experience, and you can make a real day of it.

On this visit, Daisy chose to make a Songbird Serenade (the COOLEST new pony on the block - she's voiced by Sia in the new movie, you know!) and Evie went traditional, opting for Pinkie Pie, who's been around since my childhood.

Once they'd chosen their toys, they got to pick a sound for them and then a heart - which they had to make a wish on. Then, with the help of an assistant, they stuffed their toys and when they were happy with how cuddly they were, it was time to stitch them up and dress them! And that's where the fun really starts because there are a whoooooole lotta accessories to choose from! My girls went for pony capes and shoes - and special Build-A-Bear backpacks to carry their their new friends home in!

My Little Pony: The Movie hit cinemas last weekend and has an all-star voice cast including Emily Blunt, Michael Peña and, of course, Sia. Daisy has already been to see it with the Brownies and it gets the seal of approval from them all!

DISCLAIMER: We were invited to Build-A-Bear to create these toys in exchange for this post.


Monday, 23 October 2017

DAYS OUT IN LONDON // Half Term Fun with AttractionTix

Last Friday was an INSET day so the three of us decided to kick start our half term holiday fun with a day out in London.

We often hang out on London's South Bank; the train from Haslemere goes straight into London Waterloo so its an easy spot to stroll to, there are loads of family friendly restaurants on the stretch of river from the Hungerford Bridge to Waterloo Bridge and there's always loads of seasonal things to see and do. It's also home to some of London's most famous attractions and on this occasion, thanks to AttractionTix, we got to pay a few of them a visit!

AttractionTix offer brilliant discounted passes that enable you to visit 3, 4 or 6 London attractions, and the best bit is that the passes last for 90 days, you don't have to do them all in one go. On this trip we visited Shrek's Adventure, the Sea Life Centre and had a ride on the London Eye, but also included in the BIG 6 Ticket are the London Dungeons, Madame Tussauds and the London Eye River Cruise.

Prices start at just £51 for adults (£45 for kids) for the 3 attraction passes, going up to £75 and £60 for the full shebang - which is SO worth it when you compare it to the individual walk in prices for each place - the Sea Life centre is £32 on its own! It's perfect for the school holidays as you can either make a mini break out of it and spread your itinerary out over a couple of days - or you can head into the city to have some fun on a few different occasions.

So what did we think of the attractions we visited?

First up we made our way to Shrek's Adventure, which is somewhere we've been before and a place the kids absolutely LOVE. It's a 4D ride and interactive theatre show based on the Dream Works films, jam packed full of everyone's favourite characters. It's aimed at kids aged 6-12 but Evie first went when she was three. There are a couple of special effects that make you jump but if your kids aren't phased easily, I'd say they're good to go as soon as they've seen (and enjoyed) the film.

As a parent, do you know what I love most about Shrek's Adventure? The fact that you're not allowed to use your phones or cameras when you're there which means you get to fully immerse yourself in the experience - and you get to see the enjoyment on your kids' faces in real life, rather than watching them through your phone screen or camera lens!

Next on the list was the Coca-Cola London Eye. I've only been on this once before (about 18 years ago!) and have been desperate to go again ever since. The kids also both wanted to go, Daisy especially. We bought maps from the ticket office beforehand (only £1 each) so that they could spot landmarks and queued for about ten minutes to get onto our capsule (it was lunchtime which might be a good time to go as they seemed much lengthier at other points in the day).

The London Eye is 135m high which makes it the world's tallest observation wheel and on a clear day you can see as far as forty miles away - which means you could potentially see Windsor Castle! The 'flight' lasts 30 mins which I think is perfect for kids- mine started to lose interest just a little before then. I loved the whole thing - a champagne flight at night is definitely something I'd like to do in the future.

Finally we went to SEA LIFE London. We've visited lots of times before (and are also regular visitors to their sister aquarium in Brighton) because we LOVE it; the rock pools where you can handle sea creatures, the floating glass platform and famous underwater tunnel where you can see sharks (and other sea life) swimming below and above you - and the PENGUINS! (our favourites).

Our tickets were complimentary, but all thoughts are honest and my own. Thanks for a great day out in London, AttractionTix!

Thursday, 19 October 2017

STYLE // Pink + Glitter

I love wearing dresses. They make up the vast majority of my wardrobe, mainly because they're just so easy to wear - throwing on a dress and a pair of boots in the morning is so much simpler than having to contemplate a jeans/skirt and top combo while you're still half asleep. Plus you have the added bonus of looking like you've really made an effort!

Of course when it comes to going out-out, I really do like to make an effort - and although it doesn't happen as often as I'd like, I love nothing more than having an excuse to don a fancy frock and pair of heels.

I don't think I've ever loved a dress as much as I love this one, which was gifted to me by Simply Be, in all my thirty seven twenty six years on this planet. I love its frilled bardot neckline  - the frill sits quite low and covers your bust (and part of your tummy).  I love the asymmetric hem of the skirt which sits just around the knee (that's my perfect length). I love how the outer layers of the dress are floaty and feminine but it has a more structured lining that hides all my lumps and bumps. Basically, this dress makes me feel a million dollars, and I desperately need an excuse to wear it out!

Coast Brooke Midi Dress in blush - £66 (sale)
Dune Madera Shoes in multi glitter - £45
Both c/o Simply Be

I'm 5ft 6 (and a half) and am wearing this dress in a UK Size 12. If you're looking for party dresses, the Simply Be website is a great place to start - I'm pretty confident you won't need to look anywhere else! As well as its own range of clothing, it also stocks a number of high street brands, including three of my favourites: Coast, Oasis and TOMS. They offer next day delivery (including Sundays) and there's often a deal to be had.... this dress is still full price at Coast but is almost 50% off at Simply Be!

So what do we think? And who wants to take me out on the town so I can give this dress its first outing?

PS I couldn't write this post without giving a special mention to these amazing pink glittery stilettos. Have you ever seen a more gorgeous pair of heels? With a supportive buckled ankle strap and a high stiletto heel, these are going to be PERFECT for the Christmas party season.

Monday, 16 October 2017

GOOD FOOD // Trying out the New Kids Menu at Bill's, Guildford

At the weekend there's nothing the kids and I like more than heading out for a spot of brunch, and Bill's is one of our favourite places to go. Last Saturday we were invited to our local restaurant in Guildford to try out their new children's menu, so after working up an appetite partaking in a wee bit of shopping, we made our way down the cobbled Angel Gate for a well deserved pit stop!

The main reason I'm such a big fan of Bill's is because I think of it as a proper "grown up" restaurant that just so happens to be incredibly kid friendly. There are some chain restaurants that I wouldn't dream of visiting without the children - but this most definitely isn't one of them. As well as taking the kids there, I regularly visit for leisurely Bloody Mary fuelled brunches with my girlfriends and I even celebrated one of my birthdays at Bill's a couple of years ago, so it really is a great place to visit at any time of the day or night, and with friends and family, both young and old.

Another thing I love at Bill's is the decor; it's really quirky with lots of worn wood, old beaten up leather, warm brick work and industrial fittings. There are flashes of colour everywhere and an eclectic mix of art work and photographs on the walls as well as shelf after shelf of Bill's goodies for sale.

But of course the best thing about Bill's is the menu. There's just the right amount of choice and the chefs have perfected every single item on it. The staff are always so bubbly and accommodating and I've never had a bad meal or a bad experience in any of my many visits.

So over to our review meal! We kick started our brunch with fresh juices and coffee. The kids had orange and apple juices, while I had a Super Greens smoothie and a flat white.

Then we moved on to peruse the food menu!

We had a good look at the lunch/dinner menu but we already knew before we got there that we'd be having brunch. We are creatures of habit I'm afraid, but I genuinely believe that if it ain't broke, why fix it. And on that note the girls went for their usual two course brunch (and being gluttonous is totally affordable when you're a kid at Bill's, with prices starting at just £1.95 for yoghurt and fruit, and moving up to £4.95 for a full English). On this occasion they started off with bacon and sausage sandwiches, while I went for the eggs and avocado on toast with a side of streaky bacon.

Daisy's Sausage Sandwich Selfie

Evie about to tuck into her bacon sandwich

If you watched our IG stories on the day, you'll have heard Evie declare how much she loves the bacon at Bill's!

Me enjoying my super virtuous smoothie and avo on toast

Then it was time for round two! I was completely full up, so I just had another coffee but the girls went for pancakes, which is the reason why they love Bill's so much. I'm told they are the SECOND BEST PANCAKES IN THE WORLD (and second only to mine...... I've trained these kids well). They come served with syrup and fruit and I think both girls would eat a third portion between them if I let them.

As always, we had a wonderful meal. We were in and out pretty quickly, without feeling rushed, and with lovely full bellies - ready to take on the rest of the day!

Bill's serves breakfast until midday (or 1pm at weekends) then switches to its lunch and dinner menus later on. Kids' breakfast prices start at just £1.95, or they can dine on three courses - and have a drink - for just £6.95 after 11:45am, which officially makes it the most reasonably priced kids' menu out of every restaurant we've ever visited. It's definitely the tastiest too!

Thank you so much to Bill's for having us - and special thanks to Roo, the manager at Guildford, for looking after us so well!

We were given a complimentary meal in exchange for our honest views on Bills and their new kids menu. All words are true and all photographs are copyright.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

THE HEN DIARIES // The Omlet Eglu Cube: A Review

We have now been proud ex-battery hen keepers for over a week and our ladies are settling into their new home nicely.

They've established their pecking order (Sandie is most definitely in charge) and have all mastered the art of using the ladder to get in and out of their coop. They know to put themselves to bed at dusk and are laying only in the nesting box (we're averaging three eggs a day). They have also been dust bathing and flapping their wings a lot which I love to see, seeing as it's unlikely they've been able to do either before. Three out of the six are already super inquisitive and friendly, happily coming over to us when we approach the run and even eating corn out of our hands!

Four of them are still very bald but I can see new feathers already forming on them, and all of their combs are getting redder by the day! All in all, I like to think they're very happy in their new home and with their new keepers. And with a home like theirs, why wouldn't they be!

After keeping hens in a wooden coop previously, I always knew I wanted an Eglu for my eagerly awaited ex-batts. On recommendation, I went for the Eglu Cube and run, which is the perfect size for six Rhode Island Red crosses. And I couldn't be happier with it!

Special Features of the Omlet Eglu Cube
1. Door to nesting box // 2.Cosy nesting box // 3. Sliding door to enable you to close off access to nesting box at night // 4. Door with external handle // 5. Removable and easy to clean roosting bars // 6. Slide out dropping tray

So what exactly is so special about the Omlet Eglu Cube, I hear you ask. Where do I begin!

The cube is brilliantly designed, with a cosy separate nesting box that's accessible from three sides. There's the direct 'eggport' on the side which can be used to collect eggs, the rear panel door that gives access to the entire cube and a sliding door in-between the nesting box and the roosting bars that can be closed at night.

The roosting bars are removable and easy to wipe clean, and sit over a slide out dropping tray that can be emptied straight onto your compost heap and hosed down.

The door to the coop is opened and closed by a lift and twist handle, and there is a non-slip ladder for your hens to get in and out.

The cube is also on wheels, which means you can easily move it (as well as the run) to fresh patches of lawn whenever you want, plus it comes with absolutely everything you need - including food and water containers, a rain cover - and even some cute little boxes for those all important eggs!

As well as being easy to move and easy to clean, the coop and run are both super sturdy, and fox proof to boot. There's a stable door to the run, which means you can half open it to replenish your hens' food and water, or fully open it to let them out / let yourself in!

As someone who has previously kept chickens in a wooden coop, I can confirm that the Eglu is SO much easier to keep clean, and SO much more hygienic.

I'm not going to lie - putting the run together was pretty tricky (the cube was totally fine). I'm not going to pretend that I did it myself either..... my Dad did it (I made him lots of cups of tea and held the odd bit in place when my services were required though, so I did help). The instructions said 3hrs to build the coop and run completely but it took a little longer than that. The end result was well worth it though!

Overall? There's no denying Omlet products are expensive but in my opinion they're worth every penny. While researching them it became clear that they last a very long time and also retain their value when being sold second (or even third!) hand. They're extremely low maintenance, are 100% recyclable and look great.

I contemplated making a video of the Eglu myself but there's no beating this one made by Omlet - press play to see all the brilliant functions in use. If you want to see footage of my ladies in their Eglu, take a look at my stories over on Instagram where they feature every day and are very entertaining to watch!

Omlet | Discover the New Eglu Cube - Chicken Coop from Omlet on Vimeo.

Prices for the Omlet Eglu start at £549 for the basic coop. Our model, which includes the stand and wheels as well as a 3m run, costs £849.

DISCLAIMER: The lovely people at Omlet sent my incredibly lucky ladies their Eglu Cube and run for the purpose of this review and to enable them to live out their retirement in luxury after a pretty rough start in life. We are very grateful!

Monday, 9 October 2017

DAYS OUT IN LONDON // Wicked the Musical: A Review

On Saturday the girls and I jumped on a train to London to see a musical that's been on my wish list for a long time: Wicked.

Now in its twelfth year, and seen by more than 8 million people, Wicked has won over a hundred major awards - so there was no doubt in my mind that it was going to be absolutely brilliant. What I wasn't expecting was for it to be SO brilliant that it knocked Les Miserables off my top spot (where it's been since 1993) to become my most favourite musical of all time!

As a family, we love going to the theatre and musicals are our favourite. We saw an am-dram version of The Wizard of Oz at our local theatre earlier this year; the girls immediately fell in love with the characters and have watched the original film and Return to Oz dozens of times since. I knew they'd love Wicked, and I was right.

Well what can I say? It's clever, witty, emotional, jam packed full of amazing songs and has THE BEST set design and lighting I have ever seen.

The story is an uplifting one with a great moral - that you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover. It encourages you to look at the other side of the story and to question things.... in this case, was the Wicked Witch of the West really wicked?

It tells the untold story of the friendship between Glinda and Elphaba, two girls who first meet as sorcery students at university. Their adventures in Oz see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West but until now we haven't heard the whole story about the Land of Oz!

Glinda (played by Sophie Evans) and Elphaba (Alice Fearn) were amazing, as were the rest of the cast. And I definitely wasn't distracted by Fiyero (Bradley Jaden)'s arm muscles ;)

The musical may be aimed at children aged 7+ but both girls absolutely loved it - especially Evie, and she turns five next month. The flying monkeys were a bit creepy and the mask on the Wizard of Oz's door made us all jump the first time it spoke but we were all in agreement that they were some of our favourite bits in the end! We also all agreed that Defying Gravity was our favourite song. I have a feeling the soundtrack is going to be on repeat in our car for a long time!

The show runs six nights a week, with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays - plus there's an extra matinee performance on Thursday 26th October if you're interested in booking tickets for half term. prices start at just £21.75 when you book online here.

We were given complimentary tickets in exchange for this honest review.


Friday, 6 October 2017

GOOD FOOD // Celebrating National Coffee Day with Bottle Shot Brew

Ah coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee. My most favourite thing in the whole wide world. With two terrible sleepers for children it really is the only thing that gets me through the day sometimes - and that's why I made sure I showed my gratitude for this magical stuff by downing plenty of it on National Coffee Day last weekend!

But when it comes to my coffee I have to admit I'm a bit of a snob. I like it fresh, I like it strong and ideally I like someone else to make it for me. But for those early mornings when I need a kick start before I leave the house I've discovered a brilliant new concept; Bottle Shot Brew.

Bottle Shot Brew is a coffee subscription service (you can also buy one off bottles) based in South West London. For just £10 a week, Bottle Shot Brew will deliver a bottle of freshly cold brewed Arabica coffee straight to your door.* You can also buy a one off bottle for £12.50 if you want to try it first (although I guarantee you will LOVE it). The beans are soaked for sixteen hours for a deliciously smooth taste and, being cold brewed, means there's less acidity than regular coffee so it's healthier for you. Another plus of the cold brewing process is that the caffeine stays in tact so it provides you with energy that lasts longer! Each bottle contains 7 servings, which works out at less than £1.45 a cup; a total bargain if you regularly spend £3-£4 on a cup of takeaway coffee like me.

* London Zones 1 and 2 only - there's a small charge for delivering further out.

It's such a treat to have a great cup of coffee first thing every morning - and all you have to do is add a splash of hot water and some hot milk if you fancy it. Strong, sweet, barista brewed coffee - and you don't even have to get out of your pyjamas!

And as if you need another reason to give Bottle Shot Brew a go, it's also amazing for cocktail making! Just add one part vodka, two parts coffee brew and a dash of kahlua to a cocktail shaker (with ice)... SHAKE! POUR! et voila, THE most perfect espresso martini! Enjoy x

DISCLAIMER: I was sent a bottle of Bottle Shot Brew to try and was under no obligation to write this post but I wanted to! If you're a coffee addict like me, this is something you have to try!


Thursday, 5 October 2017

GOOD FOOD // Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplication for Collective Bias and its advertiser.

I know, I know. All these recipe posts recently! I have no idea whats happening either. I do want to set one thing straight though..... I honestly can't cook. As I've been sharing more foodie posts over the last couple of months, lots of you have commented on how I must be able to - but I really can't! I'm learning, yes, and I actually enjoying cooking these days, but I guarantee that every recipe you'll ever find on here is suitable for complete and utter novices (like me).

Now I've got that out of the way, I would like to share a ridiculously easy and insanely delicious recipe for spicy butternut squash soup with you today!

I spent yesterday at one of my all time favourite food shops - Cowdray Park Farm Shop in Midhurst. If you live nearby or fancy a little road trip out to Sussex I would definitely recommend paying Cowdray a visit - you can easily make a day of it while you're there. First up, there are the ruins of Cowdray House to explore - with a lovely walk to them from the car park, past the Polo Club, with a hella lot of blackberries to be picked along the way. Then there's the Cafe, which sells the most amazing ice cream (yes, even in this weather) and fresh juices, as well as sandwiches and hot meals. And THEN, there's my favourite bit of all - the farm shop itself.

Selling all manner of local produce, every shelf is bursting with colour and, I don't know about you, but that makes me want to buy EVERYTHING!

On this occasion I was here to stock up on vegetables to make my soup, although you won't be surprised to hear that some Montezumas chocolate and a bottle of Blackdown Gin fell into my shopping basket too.

I absolutely love soup at this time of year (along with woolly hats and PUMPKIN SPICE EVERYTHING!) and often have it as a comforting evening meal, served with a wedge of crusty bread. Now that the girls are both at school and eating a large meal at lunchtime I've been trying to add some light, healthy suppers like soup to my repertoire. The best bit about soup is that it's SO easy to make, can be pretty darn healthy if you pack it full of veggies - and it's also a great way to use up any veg in the fridge!

1x large butternut squash
1x red onion
6x cloves of garlic
Chilli flakes
Olive oil
750ml vegetable stock
Creme fraiche
Pumpkin seeds

What to do.
Preheat the oven to 200degrees.
Chop the butternut squash and onion into cubes of roughly 1cm.
Place on a baking tray along with 6 unpeeled/chopped cloves of garlic, a small sprinkling of chilli flakes and a glug of olive oil. Shake to coat.
Roast for 45 minutes, shaking the tray half way. I find that roasting makes the squash taste so much sweeter than when it's boiled or baked!
Once the veggies have softened, leave to cool for five minutes, remove four or five of the garlic cloves (dependent on your tastes!) before transferring to a blender.
Add the stock and a small bunch of coriander. I also added a few pumpkin seeds as I'm obsessed with them at the moment!
Pour into a bowl.
Stir in a dollop of creme fraiche* and garnish with fresh coriander, a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and a pinch of chilli flakes.
Serve with fresh crusty bread and salty butter* and enjoy!

*Optional - leave these out to make this soup entirely dairy free.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

LOVE FOOD HATE WASTE // Are you Storing your Food Correctly?

Recycling is a topic I'm rather passionate about; I've written lots of posts about reducing and recycling your food waste over the past couple of years. Since making the commitment to recycle as much as I can, I'm proud to say I now recycle pretty much everything - the only thing that goes into my black bin is unrecyclable food packaging like cling film, although I'm now working on reducing that too.

Another thing I'm looking at reducing is my food waste. It's all well and (very) good to compost any spoiled food that you have but it would be even better to have none at all! So here are a few tips and tricks for storing some popular food stuffs correctly and making sure they're stored safely, and in order to make them last longer and taste better!

Storage for safety

Top shelf: This is where you should store your ready to eat food, such as dairy products including yoghurt and cream, as well as any jars and condiments you have.

Second shelf: On this shelf, store more ready to eat food such as cooked meats, leftover meals and packaged food, and any jars and condiments that are too tall for your top shelf.

Third shelf: This is where to store raw meat, poultry and fish. If you’re storing uncooked meat, fish and poultry here, make sure the shelf is designed in such a way that it won’t allow the raw food to drip onto the salad box below by ensuring there’s a lip on the edge like on these stylish built in fridges.

Bottom shelf: This is where to store your salad, fruit and vegetables. Keep your fruit and vegetables in separate drawers if possible as many fruits emit a gas that accelerates rotting in vegetables.

Storage for flavour & longevity

Now that we’ve covered off how to store your fridge food safely, here's how to store particular ingredients to ensure you’re getting maximum flavour and shelf-life from them.

Avocados:  If your avocados aren’t ripe when you bring them home from the supermarket, store them at room temperature on the worktop. If you need to hurry this process along, try placing them in a brown paper bag alongside an apple. Once they’re perfectly ripe, store them in the fridge. 

Bananas:  Your bananas should be kept on your worktop to ripen, and storing them beside other fruits such as tomatoes and apples will help to speed this process up. Some people then transfer their bananas to the fridge to slow down the ripening process, turning the skins black. However, the flesh of the banana will still be fine to eat if you don’t mind a brown skin.

Cakes:  Plain sponge cakes can be stored at room temperature on the worktop (out of direct sunlight) so long as they’re kept in an airtight container or are tightly wrapped in cling film. Cakes containing buttercream, ganache, custard, cream, cream cheese or fresh fruit should be kept in the fridge and stored for one or two days max.

Coffee beans: If you like to grind your own coffee beans, make sure you’re storing them properly. You’ll need to counter the effects of air, moisture, heat and light, so store your coffee beans in an airtight container at room temperature. However, just make sure the container is opaque so that light can’t get in. Keep the container away from areas of heat in your kitchen (such as the oven), and if you can’t get use them quick enough, consider freezing them so that they retain their rounded, roasted flavour. Just be sure to use a truly airtight container to prevent moisture from getting in.

Eggs: Don’t store your eggs in the door of your fridge. I have no idea why they often put egg holders in this part of the fridge as it is often the warmest, and it’s also the most susceptible to temperature fluctuations. Keep them in their boxes and store them on your worktop, but if you’d rather keep them in the fridge, just keep them on your top or second shelf where the temperature is nice and consistent.

Fresh herbs: Hardy herbs will last the longest if you arrange them on a single layer of slightly damp paper towel. Then roll it up and transfer this bundle into a plastic bag and store it in the salad compartment of your fridge. Tender herbs will last the longest if you snip the base off them from the stem. Then pop them in a jar with an inch of cool water in the bottom, just as you would with flowers. Store these in the fridge if you have space, or keep them on the worktop.

Garlic: Most people make the mistake of storing their garlic in the fridge. But you’ll actually get the best flavour if you store it at room temperature in a dark, well ventilated area (such as in a wire basket where the air can get to it). I have a special ceramic garlic pot with holes in it, that I picked up at a flea market in Italy.

Onions & Potatoes: Store onions and potatoes in a dark, well-ventilated place, making sure the room isn’t too warm. (Anywhere above 10° will make them spoil faster). Keep them in the mesh bag they came in, or at last remove them from a plastic bag if that’s how you bought them so that air can circulate freely. Just keep them separate so the gases don’t spoil either ingredient.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

THE HEN DIARIES // Resucing Hens with the BHWT

At the weekend I fulfilled a dream that I've had ever since moving to the country five years ago. The girls and I adopted six ex-battery hens from the British Hen Welfare Trust.

Back in London, when Daisy was a toddler and Evie was but a twinkle in her father's eye, I had a brood of Rhode Island Reds. I got them as week old chicks (they had been hatched at a local primary school) and watched them grow into lovely fluffy hens that each laid us an egg, every single day, for as long as we had them. They really were absolutely lovely pets and I always knew we'd get more one day.

This time round I was determined to give some ex-battery hens new, happy lives. I'd watched a documentary about their treatment and was completely horrified, especially after having kept backyard hens myself and knowing how lovely and clever and personable they are.

At roughly a year old, after a short miserable life, never seeing daylight and being in such close proximity to each other that they peck each others feathers out and are unable to do all the normal things free range hens do - like dust bathing, perching or making nests - battery hens are no longer considered commercially viable and sent off to slaughter.

UK laws may have changed since then, but the new, apparently improved, "enriched"* cages are only a third bigger than their earlier counterparts, the poor hens still never see daylight and they are still slaughtered very young (a hen's average life span is 8-10 years!) just because their egg laying slows down by one or two a week. I honestly have no idea how anyone can knowingly buy cheap, poor welfare eggs and, despite there being many attempts to educate the nation over recent years, I think a lot of people tend to turn a blind eye to their treatment which is very sad.

So let me lighten the mood a little bit and introduce you to the new additions to our family!

From left to right we have Marianne Faithfull, Dusty Springfield, Sandie Shaw, Twiggy, Cilla Black and Pattie Boyd, all named after sixties style icons because, lets face it, they are totally going to be style icons of their own once they grow their feathers back and get a bit of meat on those bones!

They're all Rhode Island Red crosses, bred for their docility and, if these ladies are anything like our old gang, they'll be gentle and friendly, and up to all sorts of mischief, in no time at all.

Collecting them from the rescue farm in Sussex was quite an experience. The BHWT do some seriously amazing work and have already saved 600,000 hens from slaughter over the last ten years. They arrange the collection of the hens from their "enriched"* battery farms, bring them to the collection centre and then send them off to their new homes in a very short space of time to avoid any unnecessary stress. They do a very good job of it but I can still imagine it's quite an ordeal for them.

I think poor Twiggy is our baldest babe!
Seeing all these scraggy, bald chickens blinking like mad in the sunlight broke my heart. Without meaning to sound horrible, they are quite distressing to look at. Some have more feathers than others (in my brood, Marianne and Cilla aren't too bad, but the other four are pretty much naked). I had done my research before adopting them but still wasn't quite prepared for the sight of them and am not ashamed to admit I had a little cry. It's unbelievable that, in this day and age, animals are allowed to be treated so atrociously. And thats why I want to publicly show my support for such an amazing, yet completely overlooked, charity.

My sixties style icons are already settling into their new home; yesterday we had a full house - six eggs! What hard little workers! More updates from the coop soon.

PS Following on from this weekend's rescue, seventy hens still remain unadopted in the south of England. If you're close to Devon and able to look after some in their retirement, please get in touch with the BHWT - you can do so via their Facebook page here.

PPS Huge thanks to Omlet for sending my girls such a beautiful new home - what lucky things! Review coming soon.

*I have to keep putting enriched in inverted commas because PLEASE! It makes them sound luxurious, which could not be further from the truth.


Monday, 2 October 2017

GOOD FOOD // #StressLess with the new HelloFresh Family Boxes

By now I'm pretty confident in saying I CAN COOK (so long as you give me all the ingredients already measured out and douchebag proof step-by-step instructions). I've been buying HelloFresh boxes for almost an entire year now, and I honestly can't imagine life without them. I realise they're expensive; they're an utter luxury for me and my budget - but I'm more than happy to sacrifice other things to be able to pay for them because:

(1) the ingredients are always super fresh and amazing quality, which is very important to me
(2) I love not having to stress about what to cook for dinner every night
(3) I love getting to try new recipes every week - this is extra brilliant for the kids as they get to try new cuisines and learn about seasonal produce
(4) HelloFresh genuinely have taught me how to cook - and I actually enjoy doing it now whereas before it was a chore that would, more often than not, seriously stress me out!

And that's exactly the point of their new campaign.

HelloFresh have updated and improved their family recipe boxes to help you #StressLess - by reducing the amount of time you need to spend planning, prepping and cooking your family meals. An average meal takes just half an hour to make in total - plus each portion always contains at LEAST one or two of your five a day - some have all five! (making sure the kids get enough vegetables is something else I'm always stressing about). All the recipes have also been developed, tested and approved by a panel of both parents and kids who all gave them a huge, unanimous thumbs up. And WE DO TOO!

The picture above is of the sausage stew, with a goat's cheese topping and toasted ciabatta, which has knocked the honey and mustard glazed pork and lentil recipe off the top spot to be crowned our new favourite HelloFresh family dish. It's absolutely perfect for this time of year, when the evenings are starting to get chilly and you fancy something hearty and warming for dinner - take a look at the recipe here if you're looking for autumnal cooking inspiration that the whole family will love. And if you're interested in giving HelloFresh a trial you can do so with a £25 off your first box by signing up here.*

*Affiliate link - I also get £25 off one of my boxes.

This post was written in collaboration with HelloFresh who very kindly gave me a couple of complimentary boxes to be able to do so. However as you all know I am a MASSIVE HelloFresh fan and usually pay for it with my own hard earned cash. I would happily recommend the service to anyone and everyone!
© Modern Mummy. All rights reserved.