This year's Photo Christmas Cards from Minted

I'm so excited to show you this year's Christmas cards, I am absolutely thrilled with them. The actual photo shoot itself was a bit of a nightmare, so I was a little bit concerned as to how the photos would turn out. I discovered that Rufio was petrified of the tinsel, which I had bought for the children to play with whilst I snapped away! It's quite funny now that I think about it, but at the time it resulted in something of a meltdown and I ended up with very few photos to choose from. That said, I am more than happy with the outcome and we have had so many lovely comments from our friends and family who received our Christmas cards.   

My inspiration for the twinkly bokeh background came from many hours of research on Pinterest. Once I set the lights up, I realised that I could probably have done with a few more, so I placed an Aden & Anais star muslin in the background to make the scene a little more christmassy- those muslins really do come in handy!! 
E's star T-shirt and tutu is from Mango Kids and Rufio's Gingerbreadman Christmas Jumper and Jeans are from M&S. I am always banging on about how hard it is to find nice, non garish clothes for boys and I have been finding loads of gorgeous outfits for Rufio there lately.

The cards themselves came from a brilliant online print company called Minted. I had asked a few friends for recommendations for photo cards beforehand and quite a few people raved about Minted so I was quite excited to do this review. I can happily say that there praise was well and truly justified, the service was fantastic.
Minted's website is really easy to use, you upload your chosen photos and immediately your image appears on all the designs in the category you have chosen. This makes it heaps easier to decide from the multitude of designs because you can actually envisage how your card is going to look.
Even though I used the standard delivery option, my cards still arrived from the US in three days!! My sister used the express option and hers arrived even quicker. The cards arrived safely packaged in bubblewrap and I was amazed with the results, the print quality of the cards themselves is excellent.
I have used a number of different companies for photo cards over the past few years for save the date cards, thank you cards, birth announcements and Christmas Cards and Minted is the best company I have used by a mile, I will certainly use them again in future.

Some of my favourite images from our Christmas Photo shoot:

More and more of my friends are sending photo cards lately and I absolutely love it! Did you send photo cards this year?
I'm not sure if I'll have a chance to blog between now and Christmas so I'm going to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas now xx


Dance in to the Holiday Season with L'Occitane

My fondness for L'Occitane began years and years ago as a student in Paris, studying at the Sorbonne. At that point I don't think that L'Occitane was even sold in the UK, it was THAT long ago! Back then, on my meagre student budget, it was a huge indulgence to buy myself treats from L'Occitane. I would purchase their home fragrances in an attempt to freshen up my room within gothic halls of residence, infused with the deep aroma of the millions of Gauloises consumed within those walls over the years. I can even remember bringing back a tube of the cult favourite Shea butter hand cream as a Christmas gift for my mother.

L'Occitane have released this beautifully made video which inspires you to dance in to the holiday season this year with their beautiful range of Christmas gift ideas. The clip evokes the fresh rustic charm of Provence, with subtle suggestions for exquisite gifts to delight everyone.

If like me, you are pushed for time when it comes to Christmas shopping, then I strongly recommend that you waltz on over to L'Occitane to take a look at their Christmas gift collection. Here you will find festive limited editions, rich in colour and bursting with scents from mother nature. I find male relatives notoriously difficult to buy for at this time of year and L'Occitane's Perfect Shave set would make the ultimate gift. For my darling mother there are Shea Butter gift sets a plenty, with many of them on offer too! Of course being the beauty product junkie that I am, there are quite a few things that I have my eye on, with the Relaxing Lavender Collection at the top of my list.

*pr collaboration 


Izabela Peters Children's Apron Review

Everyone says that E is a carbon copy of me when I was little both in appearance and in her manner. Even I sometimes do a double take at photos of us both and I do have a giggle at some of the things she does, I know where she's coming from. Of course, she is her very much her own person too and one of the things that she DEFINITELY hasn't inherited from me is her love of cooking! She will sit there for hours watching Daddy in the kitchen and begs me to bake cupcakes with her at the weekend ( The Peppa pig just add water ones are about my level)

I was asked by Izabela Peters to review their products, they design some beautiful items for children, for the house and for Christmas and I chose this gorgeous apron for E. I loved the vintage rose design, inspired by 1950's glamour. It is made from 100% cotton which is thankfully machine washable. I ordered this in age 2-5, E is three and quite tall for her age and this fits perfectly. It has an adjustable neck tie which means that the apron can be lengthened as she grows and another tie at the waist. There is also a little pocket at the front which E uses to store her kitchen utensils when she's wearing the apron to play in her toy kitchen.

This apron is from the Vintage Rose collection, it comes in four different colours and I chose taupe and I'm even contemplating getting the adult version for myself, it's about time I learned to cook! This apron would make a fantastic Christmas gift for any little girl and there are tons more gift ideas for the whole family on the Izabela Peters website.



Christmas Photo Cards: Minted

We have family all over the world who sadly don't get to see E and Rufio regularly so I really like being able to send them photo keepsakes whilst making wonderful memories for ourselves. 

Call me a humbug but writing boring old Christmas cards sometimes feels like such a chore, so for the past few years we have been making personalised photo cards using pictures of our children. In the time it takes to write uninspired Christmas messages, I can photograph, edit and upload images of my little beauties.

This is last year's photo which still sits on quite a few mantelpieces, I loooove it so much!!

Lately I've been thinking about ideas for this year's photo card, I have a few friends who are professional photographers, including my talented little sis, and they have all pointed me in the direction of a company called Minted. I have been assured that their photo cards are far superior to any other professional stationary printers, with outstanding print quality, a fantastic selection of designs and a very quick turnaround for proofing. There is a good choice of delivery options available, I am told that delivery is very punctual and despite coming from the US, orders are actually arrive quicker than many UK based companies! 

So, I've been having a little browse though their new collection and quite honestly I am spoilt for choice. Here are some of my favourites, I especially love the beauty and functionality of card number 1 and the cheekiness of card no 2!

Decisions...... decisions...... what do you think?



A VIP evening with Fireman Sam at Battersea Park Fireworks

One of the loveliest things about having a family of my own is being able to develop our own little traditions and customs throughout the year. Up until now, we have felt that the little ones have been too small for fireworks displays so we haven't really bothered. That plus the fact that I have suffered with PTSD following an incident in London, years ago which means that I am really sensitive to loud noises and bangs and I often end up having panic attacks as a result. This year however I decided it was time the children saw their first fireworks display, and my first in over 9 years!

So in the pouring rain, we trudged through the streets of Chelsea and over the beautiful Albert Bridge to Battersea Park, where we had been invited to watch the fireworks with Fireman Sam, in a VIP enclosure. Both E and Rufio have been fans of Fireman Sam's for a while now, but since we were invited to the screening of the Ocean Rescue DVD back in September, the obsession has gone through the roof. We really don't mind though because Fireman Sam is such a great role model for kids, each episode always has a very important message and of course he is WELSH, so major brownie points there from Mr Jones!!!

Despite the weather, we had a fantastic evening and the fire works were absolutely incredible. E was just having the best time watching the display with her idol Fireman Sam and Rufio sat there totally unphased by the bangs, pointing at each firework. As for me, well a couple of glasses of mulled wine staved off any panic attacks and definitely softened the blow.

Here's a little video montage of the event from the lovely people at Fireman Sam and below, Bonfire and Firework Do's and Don't from the man himself!

Bonfire Dos and Don'ts
·          Site bonfire well away from houses, garages, sheds, fences, overhead cables, trees and shrubs AND ALWAYS AWAY FROM FIREWORKS.
·          Build the bonfire stack so that it is stable and never light with flammable liquids.
·          Keep everyone away from the fire, especially children who must be supervised at all times, and pets who are best kept indoors.
·          In case of an emergency, keep buckets of water, the garden hose or a fire extinguisher ready.
·          Pour water on the embers before leaving.

Firework Dos and Don'ts
·          Keep fireworks in a closed metal box and take them out one at a time.
·          Follow the manufacturer's instructions on each firework. Read them by torchlight - NEVER a naked flame.
·          Light fireworks at arm's length using a safety firework lighter or fuse wick. NEVER go back to a lit firework.
·          Always wear gloves when handling sparklers and hold at arm’s length. Once finished, put in a bucket of water.
·          Never give sparklers to children under 5.


Nails of the week: Autumn shades

My poor nails have been pretty much neglected lately, as you can probably tell by the lack of 'Nails of the Week' posts here on the blog. Being a mama, working AND blogging is pretty full on, something has to give right? Seriously Yummy Mummies? How do you do it all, I am in awe!

Anyhow I did manage to sneak a few minutes the other day to paint my nails. I chose some neutral shades, honestly because they show the chips less!! but I thought I'd mix them up a bit to make it a little more interesting and I kinda think they look a little Autumnal.

Here's what I used:
Essie: Sand Tropez (Little finger and middle finger)
Barry M: Gold Glitter (Ring finger and middle finger)
Barry M: Yellow Topaz (Ring finger)
Barry M Gelly Nail Effects: Coconut (Index finger and thumb)

I'm just in love with all these shades, they are super wearable and flattering to my skin tone, especially Barry M Coconut which is just a classic that seems to suit almost everyone.


Not On The High Street- Spooky Storytime App

I love how something so mundane to us adults can seem incredibly exciting to a three year old! This was certainly the case last Monday when we took the bus to Picadilly when we were invited to Not on the High Street's Spooky Storytime at Soho House. I take the bus most days and don't particularly enjoy it but to my little E, it was a huge adventure. She actually protested when I hailed a taxi to take us home instead of taking the bus, I will remind her of this when she is older!!

Spooky Story time was organised by Not On The High Street, to lauch their new Storytime Sounds App. The app consists of six themes with various realistic sound effects designed to help bring story time to life. My children adore this app and have been requesting it every night.  Rufio who is 15 months, is just getting in to bed time books and the sound effects help keep him engaged in a way my (not so) funny voices can't. At the momebt his favourite book is Dear Zoo, and the Lost World sound effects work really well with this. E loves Mog & Meg and we use the Halloween and Fairytales sections to complement this story.

The theme was of course Halloween but my mini fashionista did her own thing and went dressed as a not very scary Princess Sofia

We left with fun goody bags for the children and a box of delicious biscuits by Nila Holden for the grown ups.




Ouf, so half-term is almost over and I think I need a half term of my very own to recuperate! E's nursery school had two weeks off and since she has been going to school she has tons more energy in the mornings. She becomes bored really easily if we don't have a ton of activities planned for her. Of course we did the obligatory pumpkin carving but this was a challenge in itself, we needed to find a non scary pumpkin stencil! E seems to be having loads of nightmares lately and is scared of so many things all of a sudden, she is even scared of the Little Mermaid which has been one of her favourite films for a while now.

Now E is three, she is just starting to get in to Halloween, it is such a fun day for little ones. When I was young, Halloween basically amounted to a black bin bag costume for a witch or an old sheet with eye holes cut out for a ghost with a game of ducking apples If, IF you were lucky!!! But now there are so many cute (non scary) outfits to be found and tons of fun decorations.  We had some friends over for a spooky playdate and it was such a warm day ( 23 degrees!!) that the children went for a run around in the park. I thought that this would make a great photo opportunity with the children in their costumes and the beautiful autumn leaves on the ground, but of course baby brain here forgot to put a memory stick in the camera! Nevertheless I still managed to get some decent photos on my iPhone, good old apple!

What did you do for Halloween?


Little Jones Style: Belle Vintage Elsa Dress

Pretty much every little girl in the country is obsessed with Frozen right now and my Mini Fashionista is no exception! She has been begging me for an Elsa dress since she first saw the film earlier this year, so I was very excited for her when I won this beautiful Elsa inspired outfit in an Instagram competition a few weeks ago. 

The dress is from Belle Vintage, who specialise in tutus and petitskirts with a vintage twist. We absolutely love this dress which also comes with a gorgeous iridescent cape. The outfit is, dare I say, far more beautiful than the original and a little bit more age appropriate for my three year old. 

As luck would have it, E has her a Fancy Dress party coming up in the next few weeks and therefore the perfect opportunity to wear her new outfit and be the Belle of the ball!

Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend.  


The Spooktacular Challenge

It's almost Halloween and all the shops are full of sweets and chocolates in preparation for all the trick or treaters next week. Aldi contacted me to take part in their Spooktacular Challenge and I thought it would be nice to take a break from scoffing pumpkin shaped chocolates and try something a little healthier. 
I'm tend to be a bit clumsy when it comes to anything creative so I'm quite pleased with how these turned out! The Vampire apple was made using just an apple for the lips and almonds for the teeth. The Frankenstein's Monster is just a pepper cut in half with slice olives for the hair and facial features , goats cheese for the whites of eyes and a mushroom for the bolts.


Buying a new Maclaren

So here's the thing, right before we found out that Mr Rufio was on his way, I decided to purchase a very girly, very flowery Cath Kidston Maclaren Stroller for little E. Now don't get me wrong, It is a fantastic pushchair, that has travelled all around the world with us ( you can see E in it below left on the beach in Batu Batu Malaysia and Rufio is on the right again on a beach in Elafonisos, Greece) it is super light weight, practical yet stylish you name it BUT I do feel a little bit guilty pushing my boy around in such a feminine buggy. Even though it is predominately teal, I do get a few funny stares from passers by!

Up until now I have mainly been using our Bugaboo Donkey but now that Rufio is bigger, I actually prefer to use something smaller and more convenient. We took the Maclaren on holiday with us last month, Rufio seems really comfortable in it so I have been using it ever since. We have more than had our money's worth of our Cath Kidston stroller so I don't feel to bad about trading it in for something slightly more neutral in appearance. Mr Jones and I have decided that we would like to stick with the Maclaren brand it is just so trusty and reliable. I was asked to take a look at Maclaren pushchairs and here are some of neutral options that we are considering, I don't want anything too masculine as E very occasionally still uses the buggy so I'm going for something slightly more gender neutral this time :) 
The Maclaren Triumph push chair (Left) in black & charcoal is great value for money. I am obsessed with black framed buggies too these days!

The Maclaren Quest (centre) weighs in at just 6.4kgs and has four reclining seat positions.I love the black & Teal print, Teal is one of my favourite colours! 

The redesigned Maclaren Techno XT (right) comes with a larger shopping basket- tres important! It has an improved break system, can be used from birth and has the obligatory black frame. This stroller literally has it all. LOVE! 


My day at Bumpfest with Aldi

Last month, I was very fortunate to be invited to the first ever Mumsnet Bumpfest event, which was sponsored by Aldi

Before you ask, no I don't have any news for you ;) Indeed the event was geared towards expectant mamas but it was also quite relevant to relatively new mamas such as myself.

I attended a fantastic infant first aid speech given by the British Red Cross. I have been meaning to enrol myself and Mr Jones on a child first aid course for eons, and the lecture reinforced to me just how important it is to have some basic first aid knowledge, especially when you have young children as I do. 

I also sat in on an incredibly interesting and thought provoking speech by Penelope Leach who is a psychologist specialising in parenting and child psychology. She has very strong views on controlled crying, and as a mother who has never been able to leave my children to 'cry it out' it was refreshing to hear for once, that my views on this matter are supported by her extensive research in to this area.   

Right about the time this lecture had ended, I received a frantic call from Mr Jones informing me that both children were ill with a tummy bug and that I was needed back home urgently. I think I have mentioned before that since E started nursery, they have both been picking up all sorts of bugs and today was no exception, in fact we're still feeling the aftermath of it now, eek!! 

I was sad to miss out on a manicure from Wah Nails who had a stall there and not to be able to listen to more of the guest speakers. I really wanted to go to the Attachment Parenting section but Mama duties called..... not before stopping at the Aldi stall to say hello! Since our trip to London Zoo with Aldi this summer, I have become quite a convert to this supermarket. As a family, we especially love their rice cakes, the nappies are also incredibly good value too! I was therefore very pleased to find that the Mumsnet Goody bags were packed full of Aldi treats, including their extra sensitive wipes, which we hadn't tried before and LOVED. 

Thank you once again Aldi!! 


Little Jones Style: My 1st Years Review

Few things are cuter than chubby little baby legs. My little Rufio is quite mobile these days, I'm pretty sure he is shedding his adorable puppy fat by the second and before I know it he is probably going to be towering over me. Images like this won't be around for too long and are to be treasured.

These gorgeous little personalised faux fur lined booties are from My 1st Years. I chose these boots because they look like they would be really warm and cosy for Rufio with winter coming. Rufio has quite a lot of grey and neutral tones in his wardrobe too so these would go well with the rest of his clothes. The product description says that they can be worn outdoors but personally I think they're a little too nice for that. We will keep these for indoors and for posing in his buggy. Boots can sometimes be a bit of a nightmare to put on young children but these go on easily and fasten with some velcro at the side. They also stay on too so I suspect he might like them just a little bit!

The product arrived promptly in an exquisite little  'tiffany blue' box. No further gift wrapping needed if you are buying these as a gift!

My 1st Years specialise in personalised gifts for babies and young children, ideal for baby showers, christenings, 1st birthdays and beyond. I have been so impressed with the product range and the boots that we have received that I will most definitely be back for more and will also be recommending My 1st Years to anyone who will listen.

The best things come in little blue boxes, wouldn't you agree?? 



Mrs Jones Loves: Bourjois Bronzing Primer & Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick

I am a bit behind with blogging, you may have noticed! So I thought I'd make this post something of a two for one ;) I have used the Bourjois Bronzing Primer and the Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick all summer long and now through in to the autumn. Both products really compliment each other and let's face it, powder bronzer never really works all that well with creamier foundations does it!

Starting with the Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick. I bought this to replace my much loved and now sadly discontinued Becca stick foundation - their new range just isn't cutting it for me these days! But perhaps Becca cosmetics did me a favour, I think I actually like this product more. It is much easier to blend, covers well, lasts well and perhaps even a better colour match for my skin! It's also really portable for holidays or touch ups when you're out and about - no risk of pesky spills! I whack it on where I need coverage and blend with fingers or a foundation brush.

I picked up the Bourjois Bronzing primer because I was looking for something for contouring/bronzing I had heard that it is supposedly a dupe for Chanel Soleil de Tan and yet it's on sale for a 3rd of the price. Firstly, I wouldn't really call these dupes, the Bourjois product is a much softer mouse and I therefore find this easier to blend. I also prefer the colour, it feels slightly less orange on me and more suited to my colouring. I apply the mousse with a brush, creating a '3' shape on each side of my face and then buffing this in. This product is quite buildable so I apply lightly first of all and then go over it again if needed. My only gripe about this product is the AWFUL packaging. It fell apart within days and is currently held together with tape, I the mousse doesn't dry up as a result.

I have really oily skin combination skin and I find that the more I try to matify my makeup, the worse it looks! The combination of the Bobbi Brown fountain and the Bourjois Bronzing powder just works really well at giving me the dewey no make up look I love and stays put for the most part of the day without looking cakey.  I admit that I even wore these in very light layers to the beach whilst on holiday!


Little Jones Style : Autumn Stars

As I put this post together, I can't quite believe that this photo was taken just a few days ago given the sudden temperature drop here in the UK! Nevertheless this blush and taupe A-line dress from Next should see my little Etoile through to winter once layered up with leggings or tights and a chunky knit cardi.


We have a bit of a star theme going on in our house, mainly due to the origin of my daughter's name! So obviously E & I were drawn to the pattern of this dress, it also has a really cute dipped hem at the back which I totally forgot to photograph, oops!! 

The rose- gold canvas trainers from Mothercare were a total steal at just £6 although the Annabel Kern hairband from Bobo Kids in Chelsea was a bit of a splurge. I have to admit I was completely sucked in by the star packaging..... see what I mean ......

Despite whining about the weather, I have to admit it is kinda nice having a chance of wardrobe and I am loving buying new bits and pieces for the little ones. Except lots more style posts in the coming weeks. 

p.s. Am writing this post as I return home from work on the bus, using the blogGo app. on my phone so fingers crossed this works. Do you use any apps to blog? I would love recommendations for a good blogging app for the iphone! 


Cussons Mum & Me Baby Bath to Comfort Snuffles

So, E has been at Kindergarten for just over two weeks now and already she's been ill with a cold and a tummy bug. It's one of those pearls of wisdom everyone loves to impart on you, that when your precious little one starts nursery, they will inevitably pick up every single bug going around the class. I just didn't expect it to happen on the first week and neither did I realise that this would mean the ENTIRE family would get sick!
I was therefore thrilled when a package from Cussons arrived on my doorstep last week, containing the newest addition to their Mum & Me range, their Baby Bath to Comfort Snuffles. An ingenious bubble bath that promises to help decongest blocked noses. That evening I poured some into my little ones' bath and the room filled with a lovely light menthol scent. I think we all began to breathe a little bit easier during bath time and anyone who has ever attempted to unblock a baby or young child's nose, will appreciate what a feat this can be.
My daughter suffers from eczema so I was a little concerned to use a product containing menthol on her skin as it could potentially be a little harsh for her. Luckily this product is hypoallergenic and we had no problems whatsoever although I wouldn't say that this is an every day bubble bath, just something you would use occasionally, when your child is suffering from a cold.
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