Childhood Memories

Whenever we go back to my parents house, it's like a walk down memory lane. My darling mama has managed to keep so many of my favourite childhood possessions including much loved toys. I keep the toys at my parents house so that the children have toys to play with whenever they visit. I have a few Care Bears which I have to say are HEAPS cuter than the Care Bears of today, they have little hears on their feet and bums and beautiful embroidered logos on their tummies. My all time favourite toy has to be the My Little Pony Dream Castle. E is in to My Little Pony in a big way at the moment and she was thrilled when we dug this out and has had hours of fun playing with it. I still have some of the ponies including Majesty, Baby Ponies and even a Sea Pony, who remembers these?

My mum has also kept loads of my favourite outfits! She is a complete neat freak so most of the clothes are in amazing condition and because she only every bought us the very best clothes, the quality is always amazing. E often wears my old outfits and gets tons of complements. When she was tiny, I loved her in the red wool dress below which I also used to wear. My mum hadn't kept the shirt I wore underneath so instead I paired it with a Peter Pan Collar bodysuit from H&M and those adorable tights from Gap with a teddy bear on the bum. Below bottom and left is E in my old dress and top right is me with my ma & pa in the same dress!

My mum was always strict with us and sweets but occasionally we were treated to a quarter of rhubarb and custard or some jelly tots from the local newsagents.

My favourite films were Home Alone and The Wizard of OZ. E really wants to watch the Wizard of Oz but I think we might put that off for a year or two because the wicked witch is a little bit freaky but I think this Christmas would be perfect to introduce her to the adventure of Kevin McCallister in Home Alone.

What were the things you loved most as a child and have you kept any of your favourites toys or clothes for your own children?


#CityCountryLife Out and About

When Lizzie and I met up with our families at the Natural History Museum in the summer, she arrived with a slimline Maclaren and I arrived with what is fondly known as the family tractor, otherwise known as a Bugaboo Donkey! Originally bought as a doubly buggy for my then toddler and newborn, the Donkey is now used occasionally as a stroller for whoever needs a rest but now more and more as a mobile storage unit jam packed with coats, potties, nappy bags, drinks, snacks, changes of clothes, the list goes on.....

It was only when I spent a few weeks in Wales in the summer that I realised how much less stressful life is getting around with little kids out of the city. When we went to the post office, we were able to park right outside, there are retail parks a plenty for picking up bits and bobs where you can park for free, you go to a restaurant and if it doesn't have it's own car park you can park meters away without worrying about parking tickets running out! As a result I managed to get things done in a fraction of the time, and with far less tantrums ( from the kids and from myself!)

In contrast, getting around London with children can be something of a logistical nightmare. I tent to avoid public transport since my incident on the tube on 7/7 although the kids love nothing more than a trip on the bus. So we rely on our car, walking and taxis.  We're often walking long distances so both children do still occasionally use the buggy! I do sometimes get unkind comments from people because both children are tall for their age and therefore look older than they are but they're only 2 and 4 and their little legs do get tired. Both kids do have scooters which they love to use but as we live in a busy part of London, they aren't always practical from a safety point of view. If we do drive, I have to chose my route wisely to avoid traffic then there's the congestion charge and I will usually end up paying for parking which can get seriously expensive- two and a half hours at Kensington High Street Town hall cost £21 the other day because I hadn't renewed my parking permit.

So whilst city life does have heaps of exciting aspects for families, when it comes to getting around, I hate to admit it but country life wins hands down!!


Buttercup Wool- Luxurious Merino Wool Camisoles

Brrrrrrr .... the temperature has suddenly dropped here in London and it is freezing!! Thank goodness for my luxurious Merino Wool Camisole gifted to me by Marianne of Buttercup wool!

I met up for coffee and cookies with Marianne and our kids at my favourite park, Chiswick House and she told me all about the amazing properties of merino wool. Did you know that it is antibacterial so you don't have to wash it after each wear, it is sweat absorbing and temperature regulating so it keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer, it's also machine washable and completely natural. I could go on because the benefits of merino wool are endless!

Marianne has designed these beautifully cut vest in super soft and fine merino wool, that work as the perfect undergarment to keep you warm or cool whatever the time of year. It's such a simple concept and it is something of a wardrobe staple in Marianne's home country of Norway but something that she that she has been unsuccessful in finding here in the UK and let's be honest, with our climate it's something we could all do with!    

One of my favourite things about the vest is the cut. It's longer length, on me ( I'm 5'3) it stops at the top of my thigh so it's great for layering. I couldn't photograph the full length of the camisole without showing off my mum-tum and I really didn't want to subject you to that :) I love the look of the satin edging peaking out from under a shirt so I've photographed that instead! I usually find wool itchy unless it's cashmere or a cashmere mix but Marianne has managed to source luxuriously soft merino wool which feels super soft against my skin. In short I'm in love with my Buttercup camisole and have pretty much only taken it off to wash it a few times, LOVE!

With Christmas coming these would make ideal gifts, especially for those ladies who are super difficult to buy for because they seem to have everything! The camisoles come already packed in a beautiful pink box, with a grey grosgrain ribbon so you don't even have the hassle of having to wrap them. 

For more info check out www.buttercupwool.co.uk


Crystal Holidays Family Ski Day

This half-term just passed, we were invited by Crystal Holidays to their family ski day event at the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead. Both Mr Jones and I love to ski but since we've had children it's kind of fallen by the wayside. We often talk about how much we'd like to take the children on a ski holiday but as they're both still very young, it would mean arranging childcare for the duration of the trip and if I'm honest it has always seemed like a bit of a nightmare. Unless you have your own nanny ( which we definitely don't!)  how do you find someone reputable at your chosen destination?

Well thankfully on this occasion, Crystal Holidays took care of this for us. They brought along their own team of trained and registered childminders to entertain the little'uns while the parents enjoyed the slopes!

Rufio has never seen snow, E has but she doesn't remember it. They are both huge Frozen fans and I'm certain E had visions of creating her very own Olaf. They were both extremely excited to say the least!! The Snow Centre has recently opened a Snow Garden section for young children, there's a little igloo to play in and two slides made from packed snow. Rather than leave the kids with the childcare team right from the start, we decided to accompany them to the snow garden and watch their first steps on the snow.

When it was time to leave them at the Creche, E just gave me a kiss and said 'You can go now mummy!' This never ever happens, even when I leave her at school, which she adores! The lovely childminder just winked at me and whispered, 'I'd make a run for it mama, go enjoy yourselves'!

The Snow centre itself is quite amazing. I didn't even know that such a thing existed in the UK until Crystal contacted me. It was so lovely to have a couple of hours skiing with the Mr, knowing that the kids were in good hands. Being something of a worrier though, every time I got to the top of the piste, I would try to look down to the creche window to see if I could spot my toddler throwing a tantrum. Rufio hasn't started nursery school yet and has only ever been left with family in the past.

Of course, I had no reason to worry! When we returned to the creche, I watched through the door for a minute before I went in and one of the nannies was cuddling Rufio and holding him up to the window to show him the slopes. When I rang the buzzer to go in the creche, she told that they'd both been absolutely fine and had enjoyed themselves. I later discovered that these ladies were actually part of the team of nannies who go out to the various destinations to provide childcare. I would be more than happy to leave my children with these ladies again, from the short time that I spend with them I could clearly see that they were all very safety conscious yet fun and engaging around the children.


We have used Crystal Holidays in the past to arrange ski trips and been very happy with them but I had no idea that they could cater for young families too.

Our day at the Snow Centre has definitely made us realise that ski holidays are still a viable option for families with small children. Crystal can even organise beginners ski lessons for kids when they're slightly older. So who knows, you might see me blogging from the slopes in the near future!!

To find out more visit www.crystalski.co.uk


Aubergine Parmigiana- Annabel Karmel Family Cooking App

You know how I'm a huge fan of Annabel Karmel- I think I might have mentioned it just a few times!! Well last week, I was uber excited because she asked me to create and blog about, one of my favourite meals from her Family Cooking app. I often use this app for recipes and there are so many delicious and easy to follow dishes so it was difficult for me to choose just one. In the end I decided on Aubergine Parmigiana. I always order Aubergine Parmigiana whenever we go to Italian restaurants. I try to avoid pasta because it makes me feel bloated so this is a really good alternative. It's low in carbs but it's so delicious and warming so you really don't feel as though you're missing out!

As aubergine parmigiana is one of my favourite dishes I have tried out quite a few different recipes but up until now, nothing has come close to the dish that you get in a restaurant. Luckily, Annabel's recipe is a winner, it's really easy to follow and the results are super delicious!

My children often pick out any vegetables that look remotely healthy . This time though, I think they thought that they were eating some kind of lasagna or pasta and wolfed it all up. Aubergine is a wholesome, meaty vegetable and combined with the mozzarella & tomato sauce you get a lovely and rich dish.  Annabel takes an 'everything in moderation' approach to her cooking so the recipe does include a small about of sugar, I didn't add the sugar as we're trying to cut back and I also omitted the garlic as I have recently discovered that I'm intolerant. The finished dish was still really tasty and packed full of goodness, aubergines are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants!

 Aubergine Parmigiana is a delicious dish for the whole family and you can find the recipe over on Annabel Karmel's Family Cooking app which is half price on the iTunes app store this week!!


#CityCountryLife : Local & Seasonal Food

My #CityCountryLife co-host, Lizzie & I chose this week's subject because food was really the inspiration for #CityCountryLife in the first instance. Back in the summer when Lizzie & I met up here in London, she commented on how great it was to have so many amazing shops on our doorstep and I replied that London certainly is great for fashion but not when it comes to food shopping. Our main supermarket is 10 mins away.... when there's no traffic, it can take up to an hour on a bad day, meaning that we have to rely on online orders or something like Little Waitrose/Sainsbury's Local ( other brands are available!) 

Obviously, a blog post all about supermarket shopping isn't exactly inspiring so instead, Lizzie and I decided to explore what was available in the way of Local and seasonal foods in London for me and Somerset for Lizzie. I knew that there were quite a few farmers markets in Kensington & Chelsea on a Saturday so we wandered on down to Duke of York Square, just off the Kings Road for the weekly food market. The market was started by the infamous Partridges Deli back in 2005 as a way of celebrating the diverse and evolving range of food on offer in London and to give small local businesses and farmers a platform to share their expertise with the public. 

I immediately made a beeline for Souvlaki Street!!  Souvlaki is one of my favourite foods, it's always our first port of call when we arrive in Greece! There used to be a great restaurant in Earl's Court which closed a few years ago and I have been on the look out for souvlaki in London ever since. Judging by the queue of greeks waiting in line- Greeks don't do queues - I knew this would be good!!  The souvlaki itself was really delicious, light and authentic, I even got to order in Greek too!

As it was pouring with rain, the plan was to buy some food and take it home for lunch. Of course, the little people couldn't wait and wolfed down Argentine empanadas, in the middle of Duke of York square, in the rain......

Wandering around the market we came across a gorgeous stall called Cookies and Cream, that sold delicious home made English fudge. We're trying to cut down on sugar but we totally broke the rules on this occasion and it was SO worth it! There were so many delicious variations which we were able to sample and we decided on Raspberry & Chocolate, Rum & Raisin and Chocolate & Chilli. It was seriously they best fudge I have ever tasted.

There was of course some locally grown produce on sale but thanks to the rain and a hangry aka my grumpy hungry husband, I forgot to photograph it. So here are some scrummy olives....

...... and some decadent cupcakes from Crumbs & Doilies for you to feast your eyes on :)

Mr Jones finally staved off the hunger pangs when we stumbled upon these pies from Pieminister.

Although it was raining it was quite a good day to visit the Food Market as it wasn't too busy and E was able to explore a little whist Rufio chilled in the buggy. They both loved seeing the food being cooked in front of them and chatting to people at the various stalls. Visiting a food market is a great and educational way to get children interested in a variety of foods and it actually encouraged my two to try things that they would normally shy away from. There are a few farmers markets in our area, especially with Christmas coming so we will be making a point of visiting a few more in future.

If you have any Local & Seasonal food related blog posts then, please do share using the Linky below. Don't forget, sharing is caring peeps!

P.S. Next week's #CityCountryLife topic is Out and About - how do you travel around with kids, e.g. do you go everywhere by car, bus or even by scooter?


When do you start to teach children about money?

Recently, we have been thinking about how and when we should begin to educate our children about money. For example at what age do you introduce the concept of money, from pocket money through to savings and even credit ratings ( you can actually click here for your free credit report) when they are much older, of course.

As a nation, the British tend to be quite reserved when it comes to discussing money. Yet it is such an important subject and I actually think children should learn more about at school than they currently do.  Chinese children, on the other hand, will learn about money from family members from a very young age. Not just the maths side of money but more in-depth subjects such as the concept of taking risk, investing vs savings and even lending vs borrowing etc. Quite a stark contrast to the way British children are brought up.

I asked some of my mummy friends, an international group of ladies, how they approach teaching their children about money. Here are some of my favourite suggestions:

- Teach them about money as soon as they learn to count. This means actually counting things out rather than reciting numbers. E has just about got the hang of this, meaning that now would be a good time for us to start. So, whenever we're paying for things we try to talk about prices and how some items cost more than others.

- It's ok to say no! You know when you're in a shop and your little one is about to have a meltdown because you won't buy them that My Little Pony trinket. I've been there many a time and it's so easy just to relent and buy them whatever they want but actually when (and if) you've calmed them down you can use this as a good opportunity to explain to them why they can't always have everything that they want!

- Role plays - when we go to the local playground there's a section of the climbing frame that the children think looks like a shop. The children will pretend to sell me things from the shop and I have started to get the pennies out of my purse and I will ask them how much the various items cost in their shop and I pretend to pay them in coints.

- KidZania- Since KidZania opened in London earlier this year it has been a hit with children and parents alike. KidZania, is a child size town where children get to try various jobs and actually get paid for their work. The children love getting to act as grown-ups for the day and the parents find the lessons the children learn invaluable.

-Pocket money/ Money Jar-  with my two having just turned 2 & 4, I feel like they're still a little small for pocket money. So, instead we will be going with The Money Jar suggestion.  Whenever either child is particularly well behaved, kind to the other sibling, helps out at home or even does well at school, we will give them a coin to put in the jar. The jar will have certain levels and when they reach each level then they will get a reward. Once the jar is full they can buy something that they like, anything from a toy to a trip on the bus.

It's ok to say no! You know when you're in a shop and your little one is about to have a meltdown because you won't buy them that My Little Pony trinket. I've been there many a time and it's so easy just to relent and buy them whatever they want but actually, when (and if) you've calmed them down you can use this as a good opportunity to explain to them why they can't always have everything that they want!

How do you teach your little ones about money, I would love to hear if you have any helpful tips for me?



Chanel: Mademoiselle Prive at the Saatchi Gallery

For as long as I can remember, Chanel has been my favourite fashion house. My Godmother is a make-up artist for Chanel and with her guidance I bought my first make-up from Chanel, in my early teens. The first designer hand bag that I bought for myself was of course Chanel, I could go on...  There is just something so chic and timeless about Chanel that no other brand can replicate. I was of course uber excited to see the signs go up for the Mademoiselle Prive exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery but not so enthusiastic about the mammoth queues that followed!! Every time I walked past there was just the most enormous que, snaking it's way around Duke of York Square. Eventually I decided to brave the masses and headed over with my friend Sarah from MyCityMyLondon to take a look at the exhibition. 

Boy was it worth the long wait, this exhibition was something special and like nothing that I have ever seen before. Upon entering the gallery, visitors were encouraged to download the Mademoiselle Prive app. The app however wasn't just a virtual tour guide but an extraordinarily clever narrative which lead us around the gallery unlocking secrets and surprises in every room.

Above you can see a replica of the iconic staircase from Coco Chanel's Rue Cambon apartment and below jewels and fashion galore.

My favourite room was the scent room where huge vats bubbled and brewed, opening at random to reveal the various scents used in Chanel's classic fragrances.

The classic Chanel camellia.

On the way out of the gallery we strolled through a country garden and listened to bird song. It was quite surreal and I almost forgot that we were just seconds away from the hustle and bustle of the Kings Road.

Mademoiselle Prive, was nothing short of amazing. Each room felt like art installation rather than an exhibition, conveying the innovation, style and creativity that was behind Coco Chanel. Next on my list is the Shoes: Pleasure & Pain exhibition at the V&A


#CityCountryLife Bonfire Night in the City

Lizzie & I are so excited to share with you our first every instalment of #CityCountryLife and this week our topic is of course, Bonfire night. Please do share your blog posts with us via the linky below! Here's how we spent Bonfire night:

Officially we didn't celebrate bonfire night on the night as the 5th fell on a school night. Instead we opted to go to the fireworks display at nearby Battersea Park which was held on Saturday. Last year we had been invited to the Battersea Park fireworks via my blog and we had such a great time that we decided to make it a family tradition. This time last year though, we were seriously toying with the idea of moving out of London. How things have changed!!

We walked through the normally sleepy streets of Chelsea to Battersea park. That evening the streets seemed alive, bubbling and brimming with excitement as everyone left their houses to cross the bridge over to Battersea Park. We walked past E's new school, the church where she was christened and then the town hall where we had our civil wedding.  We talked about all the memories that we have created here in Chelsea and the life that we are building for our children.

We stopped at the bridge to meet up with friends, having arranged to go to the display with E's new best friend from school and her parents. For a long time, I felt a little isolated in London as my old friends moved out to the suburbs with their growing families. Since E has started school though not only has her our social circle has expanded with play dates and parties but Mr Jones and I have begun to make friends with fellow parents.  As we reached the gates to Battersea Park, we followed the crowds through the entrance , stopping to buy light up swords for the kids and some mulled wine for the grown-ups. When the fireworks started, Rufio and the girls stood up in their seats and danced along to the music, oohing an aaahing at the magnificent fireworks, they really were something else!!

That evening,  I realised that whilst bringing up children in a city isn't everyone's ideal, it is our ideal and I really feel that we are making the most of all the wonderful things that city life has to offer. Now that E has started school, she is making her own friends, laying down roots and most of all she is happy. For us healthy and happy children equals happy parents. I feel so grateful to live in such a wonderful part of our capital city and it just takes a few fireworks now and again to make me really appreciate that!

What did you get up to this Bonfire night? Share your links below:


WIN a You Beauty Advent Calendar

I have teamed up with some of my favourite fellow bloggers, Hayley of Sparkles and Stretchmarks, Emma of Beauty by Emma and Louise of Love from Lou and Emily of London Mummy of two girls, to give you guys an early Christmas treat!! We're giving you the chance to win the amazing You Beauty Advent Calendar which is packed full of indulgent surprises for you to discover in the run up to Christmas. The luxury advent calendar is worth over £300 and is full of premium beauty products.

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