December 2018 | Modern Mummy

Monday, 31 December 2018

Veganuary on a Budget

Last year over 168,000 people signed up to take part in Veganuary, a month long challenge to eat an entirely vegan diet. I was one of them and this year, together with Daisy, I plan to do it again. Making the switch to veganism is one of the most effective choices you can make to reduce the suffering of animals, help the planet and improve your health - even by doing it for just one month out of twelve has a massive impact on you and the world around you. 

Since my laparoscopic cholecystectomy back in 2014, I've eaten a dairy free diet, and I've not eaten chicken since the arrival of the Sixties Style Icons last October. Giving up the limited amounts of fish and red meat that I do eat wasn't especially difficult, but I did go about it completely the wrong way, spending a fortune on ready meals and eating out; purely out of laziness. Later in the year I discovered that it needn't be such an expensive lifestyle choice when I signed up for the Happy Pear Happy Heart course and learned about the benefits of whole food plant based eating, rather than going down the easy, vegan junk food route. Not only is it a million times better for you than just being vegan alone; it turns out that a diet made up predominantly of plants, pulses, grains and lentils is ridiculously cheap! In actual fact, my weekly shopping bill HALVED when I ditched all the pre-prepared stuff and started making my meals from scratch!

If any of you are interested in signing up to Veganuary but are worried about the cost of all the fresh produce, then this post is for you. Below I'll be sharing a few top tips for stretching those ingredients, getting inspired and cooking some of the tastiest meals you'll ever have!

Top Tips
(1) Plan your meals.
If you know what you're going to be eating in advance, you can time your meals to make the most out of leftover fresh produce. Always scan your fridge and cupboards before you head out food shopping; I'm terrible for doubling up on ingredients.

(2) Shop cleverly.
Don't be afraid or embarrassed to buy from the reduced section at the supermarket! Lots of fresh produce ends up there because it's best before date is looming - it is all still perfectly edible and even if you can't eat it straight away it can be used in a recipe for freezing, or frozen as it is. Also, if expensive store cupboard ingredients that you eat regularly are on offer then bulk buy!

(3) Batch cook. 
Following a recipe that feeds four? Double it and freeze the extra portions. If you're looking to save money and want to be able to eat inexpensive, nutritious, vegan food when you're low on time, then I can't stress how brilliant batch cooking is. There is literally no difference in price if you're making a dahl for 2 or a dahl for 12; just whack your leftovers into mason jars and bring them out to defrost on days when you know you'll be pushed for time to prepare dinner. 

(4) Freeze.
The freezer is your friend! Not only can you store batch cooked meals in there, you can also freeze fresh produce that you're not able to eat before their 'use by' dates.

You can also read my guide to reducing food waste here to find out more about freezing fresh and batch cooked food, storing your food properly and composting any organic matter that can't be used.

I find most of my vegan food inspiration over on Instagram. Some brilliant accounts to follow are:

Then there is also the official Veganuary account - and I love Happy Cow - which also happens to be a great app that will help you locate vegan friendly eateries nearby, if you do want to eat out!

Excellent budget recipes.
Some of my favourite recipes are the ones that equate to £1.50 or less per meal. Nutritious food needn't be expensive so long as you're happy to put the time in to shop cleverly and prepare your meals yourself. Why not try one of these amazing dishes:

Other quick and easy meals include veggie soups, stir fries and buddha bowls - all are also a great way to use up any veg that's on the turn.

Happy Veganuary everyone!

Sunday, 30 December 2018

The Omlet Fido Studio: A Review

Ever since we got an Eglu Cube for our chickens I have honestly been one of Omlet's biggest fans. Their products are innovative, easy to put together, easy to clean - and stylish too - basically everything you could possibly wish for when it comes to bringing new things into your home for your pets. As a chicken keeper that's previously had a wooden coop I can't begin to tell you how much easier the Eglu has made my life; maintaining a plastic one over the last eighteen months has been a complete dream compared to the hard work that went into keeping my old wooden coop clean (and the red mites at bay!).

Living in an exceptionally small house, it's important to me to be able to make the most out of every bit of space. When we first contemplated getting a dog, I knew a crate would be a necessity - but I had to think long and hard about where it could go, as it would take up really valuable floor space, and possibly need us to lose a piece of furniture altogether.

Thankfully I didn't need to shop around; Omlet was always going to be my first port of call and I was very excited to discover that as well as selling your standard, everyday crates, they also sell the Fido Studio which doubles up as a sideboard and meant I wouldn't have to compromise on the contents of our main living area at all!

The Fido Studio is available in a number of different set ups; two different sizes (24" and 36") and with options such as additional cupboards and accessories. Our set up - which included the crate, a tray and a bed - cost £174.99 (but was very kindly gifted to us) and is also available in white.

I put it together myself and it was super easy. It took me 40 minutes - and that was with numerous interruptions from small children! As was the case with our Eglu, it came with brilliant, easy to read instructions and everything you need included (except for a Philips screwdriver).

It's strong, durable, looks great in your home and makes an incredibly cosy den for your pup! There are two doors which means you can have it running along, or at right angles to a wall, and all accessories are available to buy separately so if you want to upgrade later on, that's totally doable and saves you spending excessive amounts all in one go.

Maggie absolutely loves hers. It has made crate training a dream - she 100% recognises it as her space and if she wants a little time out from the chaos of our house she will quite happily just take herself off there for a snooze. And I love it too; it fits into our living room just perfectly, don't you think?

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Reminiscing about Christmas 1988 with #FireTVxSEGA

Christmas 1988. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I had just one thing on my Christmas list; the brilliant and brand spanking new Sega Mega Drive.

It was a couple of years before I managed to persuade my parents to get me one, but when they did I LOVED it. My brother and sister and I spent months, possibly even years, fighting over the controllers but we all agreed on one thing; Sonic the Hedgehog was THE best game EVER.

To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the SEGA Genesis, Amazon have launched SEGA Classics; a bundle of the 25 most popular SEGA Mega Drive games including Sonic the Hedgehog (of course!) Golden Axe and Streets of Rage. 15 of them are multiplayer games, so a brilliant way to spend time with the whole family this holiday season whilst reminiscing about your youth! The best bit is you can play them all without having to purchase a game console or switch HDMI outlets. All you need is your fire TV remote, or you can pair a compatible bluetooth controller if you have one. I love the idea of having a bit of a retro gaming session and can't wait to introduce the girls to the video games of my childhood.

SEGA Classics is available on Fire TV for just £11.99. You can buy an Amazon Fire Stick for £39.99 here.

For more info, check out the hashtags #SEGAClassics #SEGAMegaDrive #FireTVStickSEGA and #FireTVxSEGA. Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, 12 December 2018

#AHandmadeChristmas: Brilliant Gifts from #AmazonHandmade

Hands up who's ready for Christmas? Please don't tell me I'm the only person that's only just started buying their Christmas presents? 

This time of year always seems to disappear in a blur of school nativities and festive shindigs. One minute its the end of November, then you blink and it's 12th December - and nothing has been ticked off your To Do List. 

I don't know about you, but the gifts I love to give (and the gifts I love to receive) are special, personalised, handmade ones. Even the simplest idea, once personalised, suddenly becomes all the more magical.

This year, Amazon is working with some truly brilliant artisans to show just how special handmade gifts are! As much as I love and depend on my Amazon Prime membership for buying those last minute presents and essentials, I also love supporting smaller creative businesses when I can - and now you can do both at the same time! You can see some of my favourite Amazon Handmade gift ideas below (or browse their full selection here).

Our Christmas traditions start on Christmas Eve. The Elves pop by (usually while we're leaving food out for Father Christmas's reindeer) and leave a few goodies under the tree to kick start start the festivities. The whole family gets new pyjamas, a Christmassy DVD and some festive nibbles to enjoy while we watch it. It's so lovely spending the evening relaxing together before the chaos of Christmas Day starts! This Personalised Christmas Eve Box by Dust and Things would make a perfect keepsake - something to bring out every year. How special is that!

On Christmas morning, the girls each receive a stocking full of little treats to open in bed (usually mine!) while I acknowledge that it's 5am and slowly wake up properly. I love this Christmas Stocking Gift Bag by Dilly Dally Designs. If you've got a few larger than average stocking fillers it would be perfect to replace a smaller stocking - but it would also be great to leave under the tree, filled with presents for all the family.... imagine the excitement of a lucky dip, and then having to guess who each gift is for!

I always give the girls a couple of books each at Christmas; usually classics that I love too, so that we can all enjoy reading them together. The girls were given personalised books last year and loved them so much. I have no doubt at all that this Personalised Kids Book by My Magic Name Personalised Children's Books would make a little girl or boy very happy this Christmas!

For more festive inspiration, check out the hashtags #ahandmadechristmas, #amazonhandmade, #countdowntochristmas, #madeforyou and #craftychristmas!


Wednesday, 5 December 2018

DAYS OUT // The London Transport Museum

We've been London Transport Museum annual ticket holders for as long as I can remember. You only need to visit once, then you can use your ticket to go back as many times as you like for a whole year! At £17.50 for adults (kids go freeeeee), I think this is a total bargain, and the museum is perfectly located in Covent Garden so you can easily drop in when you have an hour or two to kill with the kids.

The girls have been to the museum dozens of time before, but they never tire of it - and neither do I. They can't visit without collecting ALL the stamps on the stamp trail and running riot on the ground floor for as long as I'll let them. I'm the Upper Deck Cafe's biggest fan - they sell an amazing selection of hot and cold meals, and coffee and cakes (the mince pies are especially delicious).

Last weekend, Ruth from RocknRoller Baby and I met in London for a day out with the kids. We always include a trip to the London Transport Museum whenever we meet up, it's a bit of a tradition. This Christmas they have loads on to keep you and the kids entertained during the holidays. We absolutely loved meeting Santa (he was the most brilliant Santa I have ever seen) and visits to his magical grotto are included in the ticket price. There are also loads of festive crafts to take part in (we made winter bunting!) and story telling and singalongs too.... As if we needed another excuse to drop by.

You can join in with the festive fun until 6th January, but the museum is absolutely worth visiting (over and over again!) any day of the year!

We were gifted entry to the museum along with our amazing Christmas jumpers.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

THEATRE // Stick Man at the Leicester Square Theatre

Every December, we make our way to London for a day of festive fun with the RocknRoller Baby family. This has become a bit of an annual tradition for us; we take the children to a show, head out for some food and admire the Christmas lights. Ruth and I are lucky that our kids enjoy a trip to the theatre as much as we do, and over the years we've been lucky enough to watch a number of different productions all together.

The Gang: 2015 and 2018
Three years ago we went to see Stick Man for the first time and, to this day, it is still one of the best stage productions for kids I've ever seen. Needless to say we were thrilled to be invited back to the Leicester Square Theatre to watch it again last weekend. Even though the girls are nine and six now, Stick Man is still one of their favourite books - and we loved the live show as much as we did when we first saw it in 2015!

You can read my original review here - our views haven't changed at all; we absolutely LOVED this new production by Scamp Theatre and Freckle Productions!

From the simple set, the bright costumes and the brilliant props to the laugh out loud moments and catchy songs, there is no denying that Stick Man has something for everyone. The story may remain the same (and we will never, ever tire of it!) but there were some brilliant nods to the current day, including a song from The Greatest Showman as well as a bit of flossing in one of the dance routines!

If you go and see one show this festive season, make it this one! We can't recommend it highly enough.

Stick Man is on at The Leicester Square Theatre until 6th January 2019 with tickets starting at just £16. The running time is 1 hour, so perfect for even the littlest children. Our tickets were very kindly gifted to us.

Monday, 3 December 2018

THEATRE // The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre, London

Photo Credit: Herbie Knott
On Saturday night, the girls and I made our way up to London to see The Birmingham Repertory Theatre Production of The SnowmanTM. What a way to kick start December!

Raymond Briggs' much loved book is forty years old this year, and this incredible production, directed by Bill Alexander, has been seen by over half a million people during its record-breaking twenty one years at The Peacock Theatre.

We've been to The Peacock before - a couple of years ago we saw My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty there. It's such a great theatre; spacious, comfortable and very easy to get to (its just a minute's walk away from Holbon tube station, and a little further away from the bright lights of Covent Garden and Leicester Square). This production of The Snowman came very highly recommended by our good pals the RocknRoller Baby family - plus Time Out called it "an essential part of London's Christmas calendar" - so we were super excited to see it for ourselves.

And we weren't disappointed!

What a ballet. The scenery and set changes were very clever, and the lighting was mesmerising. The costumes were colourful (and in some cases hilarious - we especially loved the cool dude banana). The show was just the right combination of beautiful and quirky and traditional and funny and utterly magical. All in all it has something for everyone - girls, boys and grown ups alike - and it really did make the most wonderful Christmas treat.

Photo Credit: Tristram Kenton
The Snowman is on at The Peacock Theatre until 6th January 2019 with tickets starting at just £21. The running time is 1 hour 50 minutes, including a 20 minute interval. Our tickets were very kindly gifted to us.
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