#CityCountryLife Easter Egg Decorating

#CityCountryLife is a series run by myself and my gorgeous friend Lizzie. Living in the heart of London, I write about life with kids in the capital city and Lizzie writes about all the wonderful things that country life has to offer.

Well, our Easter holidays haven't exactly been off to a great start with pretty much all of us feeling pretty rotten with a virus, E actually has tonsillitis. So all our holiday plans have been put on hold for a few days. This week's #CityCountryLife is actually a craft post rather than our usual out and about because we've been stuck indoors for the last 5 days.

Last Easter, I remembered seeing this genius easter egg decoration clip on YouTube by fellow Londoner Quick Brown Fox. Back then I did't get a chance to try it out but seeing as we've been stuck at home, it was the perfect opportunity to do give it a go. All you need is nail polish, some eggs, a cup of water and a tooth pick. I won't go in to detail with the process because the YouTube clip describes the process far better that I could.

 But, how pretty are these naturally pastel blue eggs from Clarence Court?

It was all a bit trial and error, we discovered that glitter nail polish or shimmery polish didn't work all that well. The polish also has to be really runny so you can drop it in to the water.

Also the ramekin that we used initially was too shallow for the eggs so we switched to a cup half way through.

After a few botched attempts we finally got a technique

But even the eggs that didn't go quite as planned still ended up looking pretty cool!

In Greece we dye red eggs at easter to symbolise the blood of Christ, so decorating eggs has always been part of our easter traditions. 

They make pretty fun decorations for the home and also kept E and Rufio entertained for the afternoon whilst stuck at home. What are your favourite easter crafts?

Don't forget to link up your City/Country posts with us via the link below:

The rules for #CityCountryLife
Link up to two posts, new or old.
Put the City Country Life badge on each post that you link up.
Comment on the hosts post, share the link love and comment on other posts using #CityCountryLife
If you could follow us that would be marvellous,
Becca twitter/facebook/instagram
Lizzie twitter/facebook/instagram
We will also be pinning your posts to our City Country Life Pinterest Board, you can follow us on Pinterest Mrs Jones LondonLizzie Somerset

Keeping Up With The Joneses

P.S. Lizzie and I will be taking a break from #CityCountryLife whilst our children are on their Easter Holidays and we'll be back on 14th April. Happy Easter everyone :)

Four ways to spread the costs when up-sizing

I’ve written before about how we’re starting to feel a little cramped in our London flat. I know it will be heart-breaking to say goodbye, but as I watch E and Rufio grow every day, I know that at some point in the not-too-distant future, we will have to start thinking about moving on.

This got me thinking about everything we would need to plan for though, and in particular, the furniture. Moving to a house is an exciting prospect because of the space it would give us, but buying all the furniture to fill it simply isn’t a possibility with all the other costs involved.

With this in mind, I’ve been thinking about what I can do to ease the pain of having so many rooms empty, and how I can spread the costs a little.

  • Start buying now

Even if you only set aside £50 a month or less towards buying some of the smaller homeware items you’ll need, save it each month and pick up things as and when you see them. I know that when we move I’ll need things like new bed linen, replacement kitchen items, and I’d like a new toy chest for the children.. I’ll be looking out for sales and shopping around online for the best deals.

  • Cut costs elsewhere

If you’re thinking about moving, you’ve probably already started saving, but when it comes to things like furniture you’ll need a separate fund. You’d be surprised how fast that fund can build up if you cut costs in your everyday life and put the money you save aside.

From switching energy providers when they have offers and swapping your boiler for a more efficient version, to changing your light bulbs to their energy-saving equivalent, there are so many things you can do. If you’d like more advice on this, click here.

  • Arrange rental furniture

You might think that renting furniture for when you move in will be expensive, but you’d be surprised how many affordable packages there are out there. If you don’t manage to get what you need by your move-in date, renting furniture from companies like Emblem Furniture can be hugely convenient, as well as relieve a lot of stress. You’ll have full use of vital rooms, such as your home office or your child’s bedroom, and it can be on a short or long term basis.

  • Arrange deliveries just after your moving date

Coordinating moving vans as well as delivery vans can be a nightmare. It can get even worse though if you waste their time or have to borrow moving vans for an extra day, because you didn’t manage to transport everything across. All of this costs extra money, so make sure you order furniture to either be delivered to your current address and deal with the space issue, or rent furniture for a few weeks and have your new furniture delivered at a later date.

Have you moved recently? Do you have any tips of your own? I’d love to hear about your experience.


New Clarins Multi-Active Day and Night Creams

Recently I've had a few comments by how good my skin looks. I'm not just saying this because I'm reviewing skin care products, because usually at this time of year my skin quite frankly looks horrific. The combination of cold outside, heating indoors and usually some kind of sniffle usually means that come the end of winter my skin looks seriously pasty and dehydrated. 

A few weeks ago though, I began using the new Multi-Active Jour and Multi-Active Nuit, sent to my by Clarins and I can already notice a difference. Both creams contain Teasel extract known for it's antioxidant properties. It's fantastic that Clarins bases so many of it's skin care products on plant extracts, I'm all for plant power! However, as someone who prefers natural ingredients, silicones and fragrances appear a little too high up in the list of ingredients for my liking. 

The day cream is of course lovely and light, leaving a great base for make-up. I really like that the day cream doesn't contain SPF too as I prefer to layer my own SPF underneath make-up whenever I feel the need, Clarins actually does a great one which I reviewed last year here. I'm also a fan of the packing, I prefer jars to pump dispensers, they make it much easier for me to control how much product I use.

I have been using both creams for just over two weeks and I can definitely notice a reduction in fine lines. I normally use the same cream for day and night,  and using the Multi-Active night cream means that my skin feels much more hydrated and a night-cream something that I'm going to take in to consideration when I next buy a moisturiser. 

What are your favourite moisturisers and have you tried any of the Clarins Multi-Active range? 


What I'm Reading Right Now

I never ever seem to get time to read a novel these days and I absolutely refuse to give up reading altogether. I seem to accumulated quite a few cookbooks/ healthy living/ coffee table style books which I dip in and out of when I get time. It's kind of a compromise in that I still get to read but at the same time I feel as though I'm educating myself on a healthier lifestyle for my family whilst browsing some seriously delicious recipes. Here's what I'm reading right now:

Annabel Karmel's Busy Mum's Cookbook - I know I've probably mentioned it a few times but I'm a HUGE fan of Annabel's, I discovered her weaning books back when E was small which basically taught me that I could actually cook for my child without poisoning her and no we didn't need to rely on shop bought jars of baby food! I'm so pleased that she's brought out a book of easy & quick recipes for the whole family to enjoy, packed full of gorgeous images. The only problem is that, I can't decide what to cook so I think I'm going to have to work my way through the entire book!

Deliciously Ella Every Day - I read Ella's first book last year and it has seriously changed the way we eat as a family, for the better. I never thought Mr Jones would enjoy vegan recipes but he does, and we all feel so much better for it. Although this book isn't intended specifically for mums, because everything is plant based, it included heaps of sneaky ways to include goodness in your kids diets, without them even realising!

The Feel Good Plan by Dalton Wong & Kate Faithfull- Williams This is a lovely book which is all about taking 15 minutes a day to look after yourself. This could be by eating well, exercising or doing something you love. The book is split up in to sections on Food, fitness and lifestyle and is written in an easily digestible format.

I Quit Sugar Simplicious by Sarah Wilson- I loved Sarah's first few books on quitting sugar and whilst I haven't managed to give it up completely we have significantly reduced our in take as a family and switched to healthier alternatives where possible. This book is mammoth and full of inspiring recipes for anyone looking to give up sugar - and who isn't these days?

What are you reading right now, I'm always on the look out for new books to read?


#CityCountryLife Escape to Wales

#CityCountryLife is a series run by myself and my gorgeous friend Lizzie. Living in the heart of London, I write about life with kids in the capital city and Lizzie writes about all the wonderful things that country life has to offer.

Yes, I know I usually blog about city life but this week we're doing a bit of a swap as we escaped London to our home in South Wales for a few days during half term. There is so much for kids to do in the city that my kids never get the opportunity to be bored but it's true that nothing quite beats fresh air, space and the freedom to run and explore to their hearts content. 

It was freezing during our stay in South Wales but we couldn't resist a quick trip to the beach, or the Sand Pitt as my City boy calls it. A pretty big sandpit!!

The children explored rock pools

And splashed in the chilly water, thank goodness I had the foresight to bring a change of clothes.

My friend Leanne was also in town with her children who are similar ages to mine. The kids met for the first time and the girls in particular, bonded instantly and became great friends.

It was so lovely catching up with my old friend who I hadn't seen for quite some time, we have known each other since we were just a little bit older than the girls are now so we had plenty to talk about whilst the children ran around in the (very very ) fresh air.

Then we warmed up with coffees & Babyccinos for the little ones and these sneaky rainbow cookies that were quite delicious!

We also discovered this amazing little kids boutique called Wish, it was quite literally wall to wall pink, with fairy doors and glitter galore, the girls adored it. Wish specialises in age appropriate make-overs for little girls, E had a rainbow manicure, a glitter tattoo and her hair braided all for £7!!! I couldn't believe it!! The closes thing that we have to this in London is Bibbidi Bobbidy Boutique in Harrods which we loved but it is considerably more expensive!!

E has been begging me to recreate this style at home. I did manage it but I still need to work on my technique and I will post a tutorial once I've nailed it!!

Don't forget to link up your City/Country posts with us via the link below:

The rules for #CityCountryLife
Link up to two posts, new or old.
Put the City Country Life badge on each post that you link up.
Comment on the hosts post, share the link love and comment on other posts using #CityCountryLifr
If you could follow us that would be marvellous,
Becca twitter/facebook/instagram
Lizzie twitter/facebook/instagram
We will also be pinning your posts to our City Country Life Pinterest Board, you can follow us on Pinterest Mrs Jones London/ Lizzie Somerset


#CityCountryLife Horse Riding at Richmond Park

#CityCountryLife is a series run by myself and my gorgeous friend Lizzie. Living in the heart of London, I write about life with kids in the capital city and Lizzie writes about all the wonderful things that country life has to offer. This week the lovely Lizzie is hosting the link on her blog Lizzie Somerset so do head over there to link up your posts. 

As a belated birthday gift from my sister, E fulfilled her lifelong ambition to ride a pony this half term. We took E and her cousin to Stag lodge in Richmond Park, they do half hour horse riding classes for children and kids can start from three years old onwards. 

E is completely and utterly obsessed with my little pony and Disney princesses, her pony was called Snow White so you can't really get much better than that when you're four.

The little ones came along with us two and walked along side the class, utterly fascinated by their big sister's latest adventure. My niece, Little Miss A, who will be three in June has already asked for classes for her birthday.

The class took place along a path within Richmond Park, and the girls learned the basics of horse riding done in a really fun way that really appealed to their four year old personalities. The instructors  were both really young themselves and full of enthusiasm, they were really engaging and the girls eagerly paid attention to their instructions.

Even if you're not in to Horse Riding, a trip to Richmond Park is a must if you're in the area. It's truly spectacular and you have to pinch yourself that you're still in London. The park is vast, there are wild deer roaming around freely and it just feels so calm and serene, even with four excitable children running free.

After the class, the children explored the stables and said hello to a friendly horse.

E had a brilliant time and I'm sure this is the start of many more trips to the stables in years to come. We often forget how many amazing things there are to do in London with kids and this is definitely up there, Thank you Auntie Ali!!

Do You Dare? A Game of Thrones Themed Wedding

Spring is coming, and with it the sixth season of Game of Thrones. This spellbinding, gory and utterly addictive series has captured hearts and imaginations all over the world and in these days of individualised weddings, why not bring a bit (or a lot) of Westeros and Essos to your nuptials?
No-one’s suggesting you take this literally and let family feuds go that little bit too far (ahem) at the reception, or have your ushers dressed as White Walkers; it’s more like capturing the stunning looks and effects that author George RR Martin and HBO have together conjured up. You can go as small or as large as you like here, but here’s some thoughts to inspire you.

Incorporate the colours of the three GoT weddings into your palette
Namely red, purple and black; this sounds dramatic, but done with a subtle hand, it can create some gorgeous and memorable scenes. Try red and purple flower arrangements, or dress your bridesmaids accordingly. You might even want to don a red dress yourself, or have tablecloths or place settings to reflect the hues of these pivotal events in the series. The good thing about it is that only thos e in the know will really get it – and they’ll love you all the more for it.
Choose an unusual venue for your wedding
Forget the registry office – you want stone or wood as your backdrop and you want old and you want somewhere out of a modern city. Cheshire’s Heaton House Farm is one of the wedding venues North-West England has to offer to couples looking for atmosphere.
Go all out with the cake
Recreate the lavishness of the feasts at the Purple Wedding by having a tall golden cake surrounded by heaps of exotic fruit – figs, grapes, pomegranates and so forth. Or you could have a cake shaped like the huge pie Joffrey Baratheon hacks into (without the doves, of course). Alternatively you could have a black, white and silver cake with your names, or a dedication, written on it in that amazing font we all know and love.
Then there’s the dresses
Where do we start? There’s the woollen, rustic but sumptuous gown that Sansa wore to marry Ramsay (such a pity it was ripped…), if you’re planning a winter wedding. You could wear a gold grecian style dress with gladiator sandals and gold armbands if you’re getting married in the summer. Your groom could opt for a long black Nehru-style suit a la House of Bolton, or a gold and purple brocade outfit like Joffrey. We could be here all day…
Hearty food
There’s no such thing as fussy nouvelle cuisine and amuse bouches in GoT – you want to think big. Get a hog roast, huge pies, trays laden with fruits and flowers, whole roast chickens covered in herbs and of course Sansa’s favourite treat, lemon cakes. Incorporate braziers and ice sculptures at and around the table too – it is after all, a song of ice and fire…


Clarins Spring Collection 2016

It's the 1st of March today and it feels like spring is finally on the way-  Happy St David's day for everyone celebrating today!!

So, with spring in mind I thought I'd share with you, these gorgeous new items that I was sent from the new Clarins Spring collection 2016, a super wearable collection of modern nudes and blushing pinks. 

Firstly can I just say how much I am loving the packaging, I'm such a magpie! Lipstick wise the Rouge Eclat Pink Cherry ( below right) is a bright melon along the lines of MAC's impassioned yet without the mat and therefore a lot more moisturising. Rose Praline ( worn above and below left) has to be my stand out product of the whole collection, a really wearable mauvy peach nude.

In the top photo I have used Cream Iridescent Shadow in Silver Plum all over the eye and then I apply a touch of the Silver Ivory (below) in the inner corner to brighten the eye.

I am a huge fan of cream eyeshadows, they are the key to fast morning make-up that lasts all day, perfect for the school run!!  I'm thinking of doing another Mama make-up youtube tutorial soon using these eyeshadows, I shall keep you posted.

(above Silver Ivory)

(above Silver Plum)

The new 5- colour eyeshadow palette in natural glow is perfect for a glowing look, I believe it's limited edition, so get your hands on it while you can!

 I didn't manage to swatch these all that well but I just loved the photo with Rufio's hand copying mine.

I think Clarins are spot on with their spring collection, I have been wearing them pretty much every day for the last 2 weeks. All of the shades that I was sent are perfect for this time of year, they wear really well without being too harsh and I just can't get over the pretty packaging!

What do you think of the new Spring 2016 collection? Check out the rest of the new line on www.clarins.co.uk

P2P Lending: A new way to save for your child’s education

It came as not too great a shock to me when I read that England has the highest average undergraduate tuition fees in the industrialised world. For the year 2013/14, this translated into a mean of around £6,000 in annual tuition alone; around £700 higher than the US, and double that of a country such as Japan.

Much of the surge came on the back of Government’s decision to triple maximum fees, and it sets a pretty frightening precedent when looking ahead to the future. What on earth will our children be paying for tertiary education when their time comes? Just how prohibitive will the costs be for those keen to go to university?
Either way, as a parent, it leaves you in a hurry to start saving for your child’s future education. The irony of spiralling university costs is that it doesn’t make it any less of a priority. Indeed, in these uncertain times, education and/or skills development are the one guarantee to a solid future. So, now to start filling those jars with pennies. But how best to go about doing it?
I was always a big fan of Cash ISAs. They’re so easy to set up, carry no risk, and, until recently, offered decent interest rates, thus allowing you to build up a decent stock of savings. But, like ordinary current accounts, rates have plummeted in recent years, and returns have become rather derisory.
The popularity of peer-to-peer lending
Up until recently, I thought the only other alternative to find a better place for our extra money was to venture into the world of stocks and shares, but in the current climate, it feels like I may as well just head to the casino for the same price! But just when I thought all hope might have been lost, I stumbled across something called peer-to-peer lending. As the name implies, this involves lending money directly to fellow members of the public in need of a loan directly through an online platform.
These borrowers then repay you directly, with it being a more streamlined model than one involved with a bank, whereby you, the lender benefit from a rate of return up to 6%, while the borrower repays the loan at a competitive APR generally quite similar to this. Everybody wins!
There are risks, and unlike the case of a current account or a Cash ISA, there is no cover from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme if the peer-to-peer lending platform goes bust, or the borrower defaults. However, these platforms tend to have safety measures in place to prevent this, as only those with decent credit ratings are approved for a loan, while the more reputable platforms have a segregated provision fund to cover you as a lender if your borrower(s) slips into arrears and/or default. Furthermore, P2P lending will have an ISA of their own from April , meaning you can shield returns from tax.
Getting a head-start on the future
It all adds up to a somewhat enticing alternative, and another option when thinking about investing in your child’s future. Certainly, it might be worth taking a baby step with a small investment first to test the waters. But, either way, it’s always good to diversify money, and it’s nice to know that there are other options out there.
And with an expensive future awaiting our children, it helps to get on the front foot sooner rather than later when it comes to saving. Perhaps peer-to-peer lending can be the key to generating some positive momentum.

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