Our Greek Easter Pics

My two little munchkins were very fortunate to celebrate Easter twice this year as Greek Easter fell the week after Easter here in the UK. So after completing every Easter egg hunt within Greater London, we hopped on a plane to Athens to celebrate Easter once more. 

Growing up, we almost always spent Easter with our family in Greece- my dad is Greek by the way. Orthodox Easter or Pascha (pronounced Pas-c-ha) is a huge event in the orthodox calendar as Greeks mourn the death of Christ and then celebrate his resurrection on Easter day. Easter is far more than a pay day for the confectionery giants which it sadly seems to have become in the UK it's a lot more to do with religion and also Family. 

Our family live in Athens and to me the city is at it's best this time of year. The streets are scented with Orange Blossom and the landscape has yet to be scorched by the summer sun. The temperature can vary, when we arrived it was boots and anorak weather  yet 5 days later we were sitting on the beach sipping coffee whilst the kids paddled along the shore!

Whilst I try my hardest to teach the children Greek, we primarily speak English at home so it is something of a challenge so I'm not sure that they will ever be bilingual in the same way that I am. However I love introducing them to all the traditions that I experienced as a child growing up between the UK and Greece.  

At Easter, children are bought an ornately decorated candle or Lambatha by their godparents. These are to take to church for the resurrection at midnight on Easter day, my two are still a little small for this so I asked E's godmother to hold hers and I held Rufio's as we have yet to baptise him.

E's candle this year was exquisite, a tiny porcelain ballerina standing on a huge blush coloured pom pom with blush and cream ribbons and bows dangling from the end. Even the box that the candle arrived in beautiful- decorated with a green glittery egg and neon feathers! Rufie meanwhile chose his own! Needles to say he is very in to Peppa Pig and George at the moment.

It's also tradition for the godparents to buy the children shoes for Easter. E's godmother or Nona took her out shopping for the afternoon and they both decided on these gorgeous sandals below. They could possibly be too beautiful to wear...... if only they came in my size!!

It's also tradition to dye eggs red for Easter,  the red dye symbolises the blood of Jesus.

What Easter traditions do you have?


Story time Sounds at Godstone Farm with Not on the High Street

Last weekend we were invited to Storytime Sounds at Godstone Farm in Surrey with Not on the High street. Not on the High Street have recently upgraded their brilliant Storytime Sounds app to include a   Farmyard sounds section, both my children really really love the Storytime Sounds app since we discovered it at NOTHS's Halloween Party last year. My eldest E, loves to use the app at Bedtime to accompany her bedtime story. The Halloween & Fairytale sections work really well with her current favourite Meg, Mog & Owl books. Although the app is designed for 3-7 year olds, Rufio who is 21 months really actually enjoys it too. He's little a little eel at nappy change time at the moment so I often give him my phone to distract him and he usually chooses this app, the Farmyard sounds are his favourite. 

We arrived at the farm, a little bleary eyed from our late night flight back from Greece the day before. We soon perked up when we arrived at the beautifully decorated barn ready for the Story telling workshop where the children listened to farm themed stories and got to try out the app using a super sized iphone!

Soon it was time for lunch, it was a glorious sunny day so we were able to have a picnic outside.

Then it was time for a tour on the farm, the children were thrilled to be given the opportunity to feed the piggies. Later on there was a tractor ride, I'm not sure who enjoyed this more- the kids or the daddies!!

Finally we were taken to a little room where the children were able to get up close with some of the farm animals including a tiny baby chick just a few days old and a gorgeous fluffy bunny.

We were then free to roam the farm and our city kids went wild wild with the open space and fresh air. It was really great to catch up with my friend Emily from London Mummy of Two Girls and her family. On the day, we were also joined by Blogging/ Vlogging royalty - the Saccone Joly's and if you check out their video upload from last Saturday you may just catch a glimpse of us in the background!!

Thank you Not on the High Street for a brilliant day out xx


Growing Your Blogs: Tips

It's really common for bloggers to see their readership plateau after the first exciting couple of months of writing. Often, once you've reached out to everyone you know directly, you begin to realise just how tricky it is to find a wider audience. But these are just the normal growing pains of blogging - here are some tips to help you through them.

Give to the community 

The best way to establish yourself as a separate entity is to already have a recognisable name in the community you're reaching out to. Many bloggers tend to neglect contributions to their community hangout spaces once they're established. The understandable reason for this is that it can take too much time to develop your own blog and keep up with sharing sympathetic content across other blogs and message boards. But actually you should try to spend more time supporting the wider community and sharing content across other mediums than you do your own blog, especially early on it your career.

Respond to your readership 

Engaging with readers is hardly a revolutionary idea, but it's surprising how many bloggers neglect the basics of responding to questions, and even creating content based on reader's requests. Readers that feel acknowledged are much more likely to introduce others to your site, and it's also a great way of making sure you have your finger on the pulse when it comes to what people are talking about at the moment. Obviously it can be disheartening to engage with comments that are aggressively negative - the internet certainly breeds a lot of these - but the chances are you'll receive plenty of feedback that you can relate to as well, so make sure to let readers know you appreciate their time.

Keep up with email verification 

There are some more tedious areas of running a blog that many of us neglect. But you can really suffer for putting off your chores. A great example of this is having a subscriber list cluttered with false email addresses. Not only does it mean you're not reaching the people you think you are, but it also means you could be penalised by search engine providers. A simple solution is to implement real time email verification - preventing non-authentic addresses from spoiling things.

Ultimately blogging successfully is all about being authentic, and striking a chord with your community. But these tips might just help you get through those frustrating early stages, when you're still searching for recognition.

Gifts Ideas for Your Guy

Whether your guy has a special occasion coming up, or you just want to surprise him with something nice, it can be difficult deciding on the right gift. Here are some top tips for ideas to get you started.

Fun food subscriptions 

A subscription to a good delivery service can be a great gift for the special man in your life. There are lots of options out there are the moment, from a weekly takeaway subscription to fresh ground coffee deliveries. In fact, if you can pin down something that you know he will buy regularly anyway, it might just save a little money too.

Novelty and personalised items 

There are loads of great websites out there at the moment that feature designs from top TV shows, movies, and even internet comics. So if you can figure out what he idolises most, it should be fairly straightforward to find something that appeals to him. Alternatively, you might consider getting in touch with a site that can put your own message or design on a shirt or mug, for that extra bit of personality.

Help him give up a bad habit 

An interesting approach to gift giving is to show your other half that you're supporting him in his endeavours. Electronic cigarette kits are a possible option that might just be able to help your guy give up cigarettes. There are lots of great starter kits out there, so it's easy to get him set up with a new, cleaner habit, and show that you appreciate the effort he's making.

Movie membership 

This is a great option for most guys out there, as everyone likes to have access to entertainment from time to time. Your local cinema will have membership options that let you see the latest flicks for less, and there are some online movie services too, which he can access from the comfort of his armchair. You might be able to find a movie or two for yourself on there too.

An experience 

Another way of showing you care is to offer your guy a chance to live out his dreams with an adventurous experience. You could get him a gift day that allows him to race classic cars around a real track, or perhaps send him up in the clouds with a balloon flight. There are plenty of exciting experiences out there.

These are just a few ideas to get you started, but they cover some of the main areas of gift inspiration for guys. The rest is up to you, so happy shopping.


Spring treats from Clarins

Good foundations are like buses it seems, you don't find one for ages and then suddenly two fantastic ones come along at the same time. I recently blogged about the new Nars All Day Luminous weightless foundation which I adore and then along comes the Clarins Everlasting Foundation +. Clarins very kindly sent me over the new foundation along with their UV Plus Day Screen and the Instant Light Natural Lip Balm Perfector to sample.

The everlasting foundation+ claims to last 18 hours, I love long wear products that I can just apply and not have to worry about for the rest of the day so I was intrigued to try this out. I chose shade 109 or Wheat which is pretty much a perfect match for my skin tone. This is a medium buildable foundation, it covers all the redness on my cheeks. The formula contains a mattifying bamboo powder which means allows me to completely skip the powder stage when applying my make-up but I do still need to blot later in the day.
So does it really live up to it's long wear claims? The answer is yes, as the photo below shows. I actually tried this foundation out while we were on holiday in Greece, the weather was unseasonably hot, we had a few days where it was around 25 degrees and I took the children to the beach. It was still too cold to go in the sea but I did get splashed and I ran around after the kids and whilst I did need to use a bit of powder to tone down the shine, my foundation and make-up still looked pretty good afterwards.

The Instant light natural lip balm perfector below is another product right up my street as I love tinted lipbalms. I chose coral which is a barely there neutral peachy shade. This product claims to last 4 hours, I have yet to meet a lip balm that lasts much longer than a couple of hours and this is no exception but it is ultra moisturising. I apply mine throughout the day, any excuse to show off the gorgeous slimline packaging!

 Because I'm always in a rush in the mornings I rather stupidly tend to skip the sunscreen phase. As we hadn't expected the weather to be so good in Greece last week, I had the perfect opportunity to try this product out. I hadn't brought any sunscreen for the children either I applied this to their little faces and hands and none of us burned. I normally hate wearing sunscreen on my face because it usually makes my skin feel greasy but this was so lightweight that I honestly didn't notice I had it on. I was so impressed that I recommended it to some of my friends in Athens who then went out and bought it themselves and also loved it.

Well done Clarins, three brilliant new products! These will most certainly be my make-up bag all summer long and watch out for a vlog to follow shortly.


Mrs Jones Loves: Ella's Kitchen

When weaning both E and Rufio, for the most part I tried my best to whip up some form of homemade mush, with the help of my Beaba Babycook. However there were quite a few attempts that didn't quite end up like the pictures in my well thumbed baby cookbook, so I would always have a substantial stash of Ella's Kitchen pouches close to hand for backup. They were a complete and utter lifesaver to say the least!!

Rufio has recently outgrown the Ella's pouches and I have to say I was a little bit gutted, they're just so easy to travel with whether you're out for lunch or away on holiday. I would literally fill up my suitcase before going away to make sure we were covered with three Ella's pouches a day for the duration of the trip. So when Ella's Kitchen contacted me recently to review their new snack range suitable for toddlers and young children, I did a little happy dance, the things I get kicked out of these days...... I'm a sucker for the cute packaging, funny food names and of course I love that all the ingredients happen to be organic and free from additives.

My two very willing little taste testers eagerly gobbled up each and every one of the products that we had been sent to sample. With scrummy snacks such as parsnip and poppy seed biccies and raspberry & peach crunch rings, it's easy to see why they both loved all the flavours and textures. 

My favourite products had to be the Grip Me Baby Biscuits in apples & ginger. Suitable from 10 months onwards, they are individually wrapped so you can hide a few away in your handbag and whip them out in a superheroesque manner whenever there's a tantrum that needs diffusing! 

I also reeeeallly liked the Pick Me Melty Hoops which come in a reusable plastic tub. We're actually away on holiday at the moment and I packed these in my hand luggage for the flight. These teeny weeny puffed maize hoops kept my very wriggly and easily bored 21 month old on our laps for take off and landing and will most certainly be on my packing list for future plane rides.

Have your kids tried any of the new Ella's Kitchen snack range? If not, then I highly recommend you try them out. The children loved every snack that we were sent, I might have snuck a few bites myself and it was all rather delish!!


Spring Is Here: Inspiration for Your Home

As I pulled back the curtains this morning, my heart skipped a beat. “Hurrah!”, I exclaimed as I realised it’s finally happening. Spring is here! The sun beamed through the windows and, as I wasn’t expecting it to be so intense at this time of year, I was somewhat dazzled. With the light freely flowing in, all kinds of emotions stirred within me. However, the positive vibes were dampened slightly as these gorgeous rays also highlighted every nook and cranny of my bedroom in a way I’d hardly noticed since the setting of the Indian summer sun last year. I knew then it was now the perfect time to plan for the changing season. Not wanting to make my life too difficult by embark on anything overtly grand, but unable to stand looking at the tired colours and worn out patterns, my boudoir is in dire need of an uplifting revamp if I’m to truly embrace these feelings of freshness.

So, with that in mind, and a cup of steaming hot coffee in my hand, I lifted the lid of my laptop and  took to the internet in search of some spring inspiration.

What’s Hot in 2015

Instantly, these bold, fresh, tropical inspired designs spoke to the travel-craving, sun worshipper in me. The idea of incorporating earthy tones and block colours with wild, rather garish prints that provide a modern, vibrant twist, pack a punch and make a statement, is highly appealing. Botanical  leafs, insects, floral and tribal designs seem to be making their way in to everything from sofas, to bedspreads, to wall fittings. Painterly rugs are also in the limelight, as well as smoky glass and graphic tiles  suitable for both indoors and out.

Dynamic Pairings

Apparently, and probably not all that surprisingly, grey is the new black this season! Other colours in focus early on in 2015 are: mixed metals, indigo, teal, midnight hue, moss green, grape, mulberry, peach and burnt orange.

The skirting boards in my bedroom are currently off white and are looking pretty dreary. My light wooden chair and shabby chic dresser would also benefit from an update. I don’t fancy as large a job as painting all the walls, so considering this and the aforementioned design inspo, I think contrasting the base wall colour with a deep, sultry shade around the edges is just about a perfect compromise, will help  to frame the room and provide a blank canvas for the other vibrant accessories.

I adore the idea of creating my own private sizzlingly-humid, tropical paradise; incorporating the bright, bold grape and mulberry tones, surrounded by the blue or metal grey skirtings and accessorised with bold print curtains, bedspreads and cushion coverings.

Updating Tired Techniques

So I’m set on adding that tropical inspired ‘je ne se quoi’ to my bedroom by combining some of the above suggestions. And, as well as purchasing lots of fabulous florals and powerful paints, I want a new approach to some of the tried and tested decorating techniques I’ve adopted in the past. I’ve been eagerly searching for twists on the obvious which will help create something trendy and that I’ll be able to apply time and time again. Here are two particular ideas that sparked my interest: Instead of using a regular old paintbrush, how about giving airbrushing a go. My skirting boards, chair and dresser will be injected with a much needed colour boost by combining an air compressor , a spray gun and various instyle colours to create a unique and lasting effect , and no doubt it will come in very handy for a variety of other projects in the near future.

Also, I plan to buy new curtains and/or bedspread but what about cushion covers. Clashing patterns are bang on trend right now, but constantly buying new to stay up-to-date can soon mount up. So, perhaps a touch of DIY upholstery using napkins?! Yes, you read me right, you can create trendy covers , that don’t cost the earth, using cloth napkins. Now I’m not much of a seamstress - hence buying my curtains and bedding - so the idea of iron-on hems and pre-cutout squares is perfect for me, as well as the ability to truly make the product unique and dynamic. And so what if you want a change them all in a few months time. This way you can constantly update and mix around your accessories without worrying about the expense.

Faking Fresh on a Budget

And finally, I love adding extra pizazz to a room by including flowers and plants. But buying fresh flowers can get pretty pricey and their shelf life is rather limited. So I’m going to add to my tropical paradise by accessorising with faux plants, flowers and fruit. The good thing about these products, beside the expense and time saving elements, is that you can truly be authentic in your style creations. You can find a wide range of very real looking products which in the UK are pretty unobtainable, or at least challenging to find during certain times of the year.

How about an oversized bowl or wicker basket bursting with vibrant, exotic fruit. A palm tree, oriental bamboo, or tropical bird of paradise plant by the desk. Whatever look you wish to recreate, you can. Mixing and matching can be the perfect compliment to any room and will enhance the authenticity of these latest interior design trends.


Alternative Winter Holidays

We love travelling with the children, although at this age we like to keep it relatively short-haul to minimise the stress all round. We're off to Greece for Orthodox Easter, which is the week after Easter here in the UK and although it's not yet beach weather there, we are looking forward to some sunshine, catching up with all our family and friends and of course indulging in some yummy food. However, all this talk of travel lately has got me thinking, how lovely would it be to take the children away somewhere Snowy next winter.  We haven't had any snow for a few years here in London, Rufio has never seen snow and Estella doesn't really remember that eternal winter we had back in 2013.  They are both still obsessed with Frozen and E is desperate to see some snow, I think they're both still a bit small for skiing but if we were to visit somewhere like Iceland or Lapland there are plenty of age appropriate alternatives for children and also some cool things for parents too.

Iceland is less than three hours flight from the UK which is just about as long haul as we go these days. Being famous for it's waterfalls, the scenery in Iceland looks absolutely breathtaking. The children would love to go whale watching and I could definitely do with a couple of hours at the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, it looks heavenly.

Equally, Lapland has heaps of fun activities for the family, Mr Jones would be thrilled to go Ice fishing, on a snowmobile safari or even Husky sledding. Both Iceland and Lapland are great places to view the northern lights, something I have always wanted to see and of course in the run up to Christmas, Lapland is a great place to visit the big man himself, Santa!

For those of you thinking of visiting Lapland or Iceland, there is still some time to experience everything these gorgeous destinations have to offer before winter draws to a close. For more information on alternative winter activities, click here!

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