#CityCountryLife Sensational Butterflies at the Natural History Museum

Every spring, The Natural History Museum re-lays the grass where the winter ice rink once was, a bright white tent goes up and before you know it, Sensational Butterflies is back in town. The butterfly exhibition has always been our favourite family activity for a lazy Sunday afternoon. We wander over the the Museum and then after we've seen the butterflies, we stroll down Exhibition road for an ice cream.

Unlike the Museum which is free you do have to pay a small fee to see Sensational Butterflies but it is are well worth it. The butterflies are housed in a climate controlled tent and it is hot hot hot,  you could almost kid yourself that you're in the tropics. Cool clothes or layers are recommended!

There are hundreds of different species of butterflies and moths fluttering about.

Including this enormous Atlas moth which is the size of small bird!

You can even see the cocoons lined up in a row and if you're really lucky you might see a brand new butterfly emerging. Rufio really liked this part, he loves reading 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'  at the moment and especially the part where the caterpillar gets really fat and then makes a cocoon.

E's learning all about insects and creepy crawlies in school right now so she was super exited to see the butterflies this year. As soon as we arrived, her mission was for one of them to land on her, so she spent the entire time, willing them to fly her way. We were just about to leave and she was starting to get a little upset, then as if by magic, one landed on her hand. It stayed put for a few minutes while she marvelled at it's beauty and of coursed I grasped the opportunity to take a ton of photos!

In the past the children have been given activity sheets with stamps to collect as you move around the  exhibition. Sadly they had done away with the activity sheets this year which was a little bit disappointing. But there was still plenty to learn, did you know that butterflies absolutely love to eat fruit?

Aside from the lack of activity sheets, Sensational Butterflies is as beautiful as ever this year and I'm sure we'll be visiting again and again over the course of the summer.

Don't forget to pop over to Lizzie's blog Lizzie Somerset to link up your posts for #CityCountryLife


How to apply eye make-up that lasts all day!

For years I've been using cream eye shadow as a primer to help keep my eye make-up in place. I have quite oily skin and by not doing so, I would almost certainly end up looking like an Alice Cooper tribute act. The problem was that most of these cream eye shadows are designed to be worn alone so by layering eye shadow on top, I'd end up with an intense look that would take a while to blend out.  

This Instant Light Perfecting Eye Base from Clarins really makes all the difference. It's designed to be worn underneath make-up so I get just the right intensity, making morning eye-make up application a lot quicker and far less messier. It also contains radiance boosting 3D pigments which brighten and illuminate the eyelid so it looks brilliant worn on it's own, great for when I just want to even out the skin tone of my eyelids without wearing eyeshadow. This principle also works really well for a quick cut crease look which I've tried out below. After applying the Clarins eye base, all I have to do is add and blend a smidge of eyeshadow to the crease. Then of course eyeliner & mascara et voila! Job done! The best part is that it lasts all day, without an oil slick in sight, LOVE!

I hate leaving the house without make-up on and with two little munchkins to get ready in the morning, every second counts. What make-up hacks do you have?



#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 we've been busy settling back in to the school routine after the easter holidays. Last term E had a some separation anxiety when we dropped her off at school, by the end of term she seemed to have gotten over it. Now however, it's back with a vengeance, to the point where she was actually crying so much that she was sick. It's so strange because when I pick her up from school she's alway buzzing with excitement and doesn't want to leave her friends. At the weekend we decided to take the Children to Sensational Butterflies at the Natural History Museum, photos will be on the blog once I've edited them but for now here's my favourite photo of my girlie. She was desperate for a butterfly to land on her and just as we were about to leave, her wish finally came true and made her day!

My favourite post from last week was from this gorgeous new blog Half a Dozen for Dinner  I'm rubbish at baking but I really want to try her Lemon Courgette Cake, giving up sugar will have to wait a few more days.....

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

Pearl Barley Risotto & Cuisinart Soup Maker Review

I never ever thought that the day would come when I'd get excited about kitchen gadgets but if that gadget means that I have to spend less time in the kitchen then I'm on to a winner!!
I have recently discovered the cleverest little machine, it's from Cuisinart and it's called the Soup maker plus, every mummy needs one! It's basically a blender and a soup maker all in one. I've used it every day since it arrived over the Easter holiday and we've made smoothies, almond butter and even risottos! 

The Pearl Barley Risotto above, is my favourite thing to make in my new gadget. It's so delicious, simple to make and it can be cooked entirely in the Cuisinart Soup Maker Plus (You can find the recipe here) Using the 'saute' button, cook the butternut squash and onions for 10 minutes to begin with. Then add the vegetable stock, pearl barley and the rest of the ingredients from the recipe and cook on high for 30 minutes, using the stir button occasionally.

The beauty of this machine is that you can set a timer and leave the food to cook without having to slave over a hot stove. The entire dish is then cooked in one pot, cutting down on the washing up and making it the ideal kitchen gadget for busy mamas.

My other favourite recipe is the berry breakfast smoothie which I found in the recipe book that came with the Soup Maker. All you need is:
1/2 Ripe Avocado
1 Ripe Banana
100g Frozen Berries
300ml Coconut Milk ( or milk of your choice)
30g Oats
1tbsp Maple Syrup

The smoothie is packed full of so many nutrients that I barely need to worry about what the kids are eating for the rest of the day. It was so delicious that my two downed theirs in record time, which is what you want on school run days!

The soup maker plus is a clever little machine, however there are a couple of things that I wish I could change about it. Due to the heating element at the base of the jug, you can't immerse the jug in water which means that it can't go in the dishwasher and has to be washed by hand which kind of defeats the object, given that it is geared towards time saving in the kitchen, To compensate, it seems that Cuisinart have added teflon coating to the bottom of the jug to make it non stick. Personally I tried to avoid non-stick kitchen wear, I'm always concerned that potentially toxic chemicals could leach in to the food. Although I can see why they have chosen to use non-stick, I wish I could chose not to have it there.

As a blender it is brilliant, it has four different speeds and a pulse function. It's also pretty powerful too, I managed to make almond butter in half the time that it took my old Kitchenaid blender. The heated element is ingenious and I've really enjoyed trying out different recipes and I love the fact that you can control the heat and the time so that I can go off and do other things while it cooks. The Jar is also thermal, so food stays warm if you're not ready to eat it straight away. There's also a little measuring cup in the lid of the jug so that you can measure out ingredients too add as you cook or blend.

Overall, I'm so impressed with this blender /soup maker. It is really thoughtfully designed and it's perfect for anyone with a busy lifestyle i.e. most of us parents! I'm all for spending less time in the kitchen, thank you so much Cuisinart!!



Mama Style: School Run to Gym

I'm on a bit of a mission at the moment to get fit. Not just because I'd like to be much slimmer ( although that would be lovely) but really because I'd like to set a good example and be a role model to my children. So, I thought I'd put together a School run to workout style post together with the lovely people from Helly Hansen who have a great selection of active wear that works equally well in the day as it does at the gym.

Honestly, I do find it really tough to fit a workout in to our busy schedule. Sometimes I wake up half an hour early and so some yoga, which I really really love. Yoga is so good both for your mind and your body, if I'm busy focusing on complicated poses then I tend to forget about whatever's bugging me for a few minutes. I also get a massive buzz from going to the gym, it's a tough workout but I feel so much better about myself afterwards. At the moment, I just duck out of the house whenever I have some time free and Mr Jones is around, usually while the kids are having their dinner & Bath. An outfit that can be worn all day as well as in the gym is a godsend when I'm in a hurry.

Helly Hansen sent me these amazing W VTR print leggings from their new collection. They're supposed to be cropped but I'm 5'3 so they're regular length on me. Nevertheless, the cut is great and I just want to wear them all the time. I was also sent the W VTR Strand SS T-shirt in sky high (below) which has a lovely loose fit and also the W Terrak trainers which I am obsessed with. I'm really not a trainers kinda girl so I never thought I would say this but I totally love the Violet & Lime green colour combination and they're so lightweight and super comfy.

I feel like a proper Chelsea mama, doing the school run in my stylish gym clothes, it's definitely a look I could get used to! Helly Hansen have a great selection on their website www.hellyhansen.com


#CityCountryLife The Medicine Garden Cobham

I'm slightly late posting my #CityCountryLife this week but better late than never. As a family, we've all been unwell since pretty much the start of the Easter holidays. The children picked up a virus and tonsillitis and I thought I'd escaped it but now I have a cold on top of hay fever and I'm feeling mighty sorry for myself! 
In between all the trips to the Dr we did manage a few days of feeling well enough to venture out, and where better to go when you're not feeling 100% than The Medicine Garden in Surrey, see what I did there hee hee! 

The Medicine Garden is about a 40 minute drive from Chelsea but it is well worth it, we have a brilliant time whenever we go. It's a walled garden just outside of Cobham with heaps to do for children and for adults. My sister came along with her three little ones and we had a great day out, even eating lunch outdoors for the first time this year!

For the children there's a play area with a giant sand pitt, heaps of space and fresh air to run free and they even have chickens!! There are often holidays clubs and various actives going on for the children in the main area and I need to find out their schedule because I really want to try out a hot yoga class, and maybe a sneaky trip to the spa!

For the adults, there's hot yoga in the Dome and behind the main walled are there are shops, cafe's and even a spa! They also host various courses through out the year from floristry to food and even mindfulness.

After each visit, I come away feeling relaxed and refreshed, and that's no mean feat with my little trouble makers! There's just something magical about the place and I love it there!!


Nailberry L'Oxygene & Fast Dry Gloss

Nailberry has been on my radar for some time now, they're a local brand with a nail salon at South Kensington and I have often drooled over their pretty little bottles in the beauty section of Anthropologie. Best of all they're a non-toxic brand which I love! Most of their polishes are 4Free and their new L'Oxygene Collection is 5Free, vegan and cruelty free.

Nailberry very kindly sent me over their Fast dry gloss to try out and also a beautiful bright red from the L'Oxygene collection called Pop My Berry. Over the years I've been quite loyal to Seche Vite top coat, which is admittedly pretty amazing, especially for busy mums. What isn't so great though is all the chemicals inside so I have been trying various alternatives but the results were all pretty lame in comparison to good old seche. Until now.... Nailberry's Fast Dry Gloss is my new Holy Grail top coat, it leaves a beautiful glossy finish. Whilst it isn't quite as fast to dry as Seche, I can totally handle waiting a few more minutes if that means skipping any nasty chemicals!

Pop My Berry is a stand out all year round bright red, although it does feel like summer is on it's way with it on my toes! I get a good two days wear out of it, which is usual for me. Pop My Berry is part of the L'Oxygene collection which has an innovative new formula designed to allow the nail to breathe, resulting in healthier nails. I've had gels on for a few months so this is exactly what I need!

All in all I'm super impressed with my first taste of Nailberry polish, who prove to us that there's just no need for nasty chemicals in nail polish anymore!! I can't wait to try out more of their collection, LOVE!!



Keep Your Overheads Low – How to Buy Office Supplies Painlessly

If you run your own business, you know that some costs, just like death and taxes (especially taxes), are simply unavoidable. There’s wages, rent or mortgage payments, insurance and cleaning, for example. You try your best to save money on these running costs, but there is also a multitude of smaller expenses that you can save money on – office supplies, mainly. You can’t do without them, but thankfully, unlike rent and wages, you can always save a few pounds if you’re canny and think ahead.

Set up or join a group purchasing organisation (GPO)

A GPO works as a large group to give the member businesses the same purchasing power as larger companies and conglomerates when it comes to buying in bulk and getting decent volume discounts. You usually don’t pay any joining fees – these groups are funded either by commission on individual orders or the vendors themselves pay fees to receive regular large orders. If you join a GPO you can save as much as 80% on your regular items – pens, paper, notepads and so on. 

Buy in new supplies well before you run out

This is an obvious, but often overlooked, way to save money. If you buy your essentials in plenty of time, all you need to do is head to the stationery cupboard for more, rather than dashing out to the nearest shop. Once you’re at the shop you’ll not only be paying more than you need to, you’ll almost certainly end up making an impulse purchase. If you know of website which sells Canon cartridges cheaply, bookmark it!

Older models can be very attractive

When you’re buying equipment and furniture, just buy the next model or machine down from the most up-to-date one. Maybe even a couple of models down. You’ll always pay a premium for the latest gadget or item, so just don’t! Additionally, shops and online retailers are usually keen to get rid of them to make room for newer stock so you could bag some bargains.

Go for quality

Buy the best you can afford, as it’ll last longer and won’t need as many repairs. Some generic brands are just as good as name brands, but always be careful – maybe consult a review site first to see what others have to say. Not all expensive items are worth the extra money and not all bargains are low-quality. Just exercise your judgement and do a bit of homework. Click here for more information on review sites.

Buy as much as you can online

Online shopping is as cheap, if not cheaper than instore shopping, especially if you’ve joined that GPO or you’re a member of a wholesale store. As well as the purchase savings, you won’t be spending time or money travelling to and from the store (only to find what you want isn’t in stock…) and you’re just as likely to spot flash discounts and offers as you would “in person”.


Boy/ girl shared bedroom ideas

Having two young children share a bedroom was initially a bit of a juggling act to begin with. At bedtime they would often keep each other awake so we'd have to take one of them in to another room to get them off to sleep and then gently carry them back to their beds. Equally if one of them woke up in the night, they would of course wake the other one up. Now that we've passed this initial phase they find comfort in having each other in the room at bedtime. We snuggle up and have stories together and then lights off. I have kept the room pretty neutral but now that Rufio is almost ready to move out of the toddler bed to a single bed, I thought it would be a great opportunity for us to have a bit of a revamp. Here are some of my favourite ideas.

Image Credit: www.sfgirlbybay.com

1. Chose a gender neutral colour scheme - Our room is currently white and grey which not only looks lovely but it provides a calming backdrop without being too distracting. I also love the look of monochrome rooms with rainbow accents. A pastel colour palette could work well for boys and girls shared rooms too.

2. Chose a colour scheme they both agree on-  For example both of my children love the colour Turquoise which is great because it's pretty gender neutral too and you can find plenty of room decor and furniture that works well for boys and for girls.

3. Split the room half and half- By selecting two colours that compliment each other, it would be relatively easy to decorate one side of the room in girly hues and boyish tones over the other side. That way you could select some images for girls or Boys bedroom ideas allow them to chose whichever they like best.

4. Double bed - I remember seeing and article on this on one of my favourite blogs, Babyccino kids. She has two boys and two girls and because they would often snuggle up in each others beds in the night, she decided to put them in double beds. I'm not sure that this would work for us though as both of my children are quite mobile at night!

5. Create a partition  If you have the space you could create a partition either using a curtain or perhaps bookshelves to give each child some degree of privacy and independence which is especially great for older kids.

Do your kids share a room?

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