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Can you think of anything scarier than letting your partner pick out an outfit for you? What about a festive Christmas outfit? When SimplyBe asked if Husband and I were up to this challenge, I felt nervous right away. Husband is a wonderful father and husband. But a clotheshorse he is NOT. His hair is normally scruffy and his clothes are often wrinkled. In fact, Husband hates shopping so much that I normally buy his clothes. So the prospect of him picking out an outfit? That I have to wear in public? Terrifying.

My Christmas Outfit
Such a sweet face, surely he wouldn't pick a leather mini skirt and matching crop top?

But, I have spent years trying to cultivate a sense of fashion awareness in Husband. And I wanted to see if he had an idea of what I like to wear and what styles suited me. So, armed with my sizes, Husband spent FOUR HOURS on SimplyBe putting together an outfit on Polyvore. And this is what he picked out.

Husband styling Californian Mum in London

 

What a pretty dress. I love the velvety fabric and the bit of tulle at the bottom. I have a tough time finding dresses that fit me since I wear a smaller size on top, but this fits extremely well. I don't normally like a cap sleeve, but I like this one. It fits well and I can wear a normal bra with it. I find it hard to feel festive when I'm wearing a strapless bra. I don't have any other clothing from Joe Browns, and am really impressed with the quality and fit of this dress. I will definitely shop that brand again. The dress looks nice with or without tights, depending on how cold it might be. I added some burgundy tights for some Christmas colour.

My Christmas Outfit

My Christmas Outift

I would have liked a brighter or sparklier dress, as it is a Christmas outfit, but I think the cardigan was put in for that touch of glittery fun. Although the cardigan is lovely, I would not wear it with the dress. Husband does know that I adore a cardi, so he gets bonus points for that. I think a shorter cardi or a shrug would have looked better. This cardigan is boxy, and would look great teamed up with a white tank/vest or t-shirt and with skinny jeans or a simple mini. Teamed with this dress, it looks like I am a member of the 1950s girl gang, The Blue Ladies.

My Christmas Outift

Oh, these ankle boots. Beautiful, soft grey suede. Divine, and so comfy. Husband knows that I can no longer wear proper heels. Last year I fell down the stairs and broke one toe and sprained another. My feet need to be held in well, otherwise they ache. I will definitely be able to wear these boots all night whilst feeling festive.

For anyone that follows me on Twitter or Instagram, you might have noticed there was an incident with the boots on Sunday. When I opened the parcel from SimplyBe, the first thing I did was try on the boots. While I was putting on the left boot, my two-year old threw the right boot into his sister's bubble bath. Disaster. Luckily the boot dried and the lovely suede was not ruined.

My Christmas Outfit

The handbag has a cool, retro look to it. I probably wouldn't have picked it out but I'm glad Husband did. And for this outfit, I would have preferred something silver, gold or pink, just to brighten it all up. But it really is a gorgeous clutch. One side is black leather and the other side is black and gold. There's also a handle that you can use, but I prefer it as a clutch.

My Christmas Outfit

My Christmas Outfit

 

 

 

 

 

I wear a lot of grey and black and navy blue. So all these colours fit really well into my colour palette. But as it is Christmas, it would have been nice to see some gold or burgundy in the outfit. Then again, jewellery and tights can really add a splash of colour and sparkle to any outfit.

There was no jewellery included in my outfit, so I grabbed a necklace that used to belong to Husband's paternal grandmother. I don't wear too much jewellery but I like to at least wear a necklace or earrings on a night out. Husband likes my hair down, so I styled it straight. I wore just a little bit of make-up as Husband does not like the stuff caked on my face. And neither do I (I don't even own foundation). All in all, I'm quite pleased with my outfit. The dress, boots and clutch work really well together. Simple and elegant. Husband did a pretty good job. What do you think?

My Christmas Outfit

 

This post is linked to Real Mom Street Style on Reasons To Dress.
SimplyBe sent me the outfit, that Husband picked out, for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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It's a tale as old as time. Brown girl falls in love with pasty white boy. Moves from sunny California to cloudy England. They have lots of holidays. Then they have children and a mortgage. So they have holidays in the UK and the brown lady (no longer a girl) doesn't get her winter sun. The brown lady becomes tired, and tired, and then more tired.

Holiday in Cuba - before we had children
Holiday in Cuba, catching some winter sun...before we had children. Look how healthy I look.

After a couple of months of blood tests and an x-ray, my doctor has informed me that I have a Vitamin D deficiency and Osteomalacia (soft bones). I had assumed I was tired because I have two children and they keep me busy. And I had assumed that the back and hip aches were just throwbacks from carrying my son, who was a very long baby. Plus I had suffered with Pelvic Girdle Pain during that pregnancy (PPGP or SPD). Add the weight gain, and a few other symptoms, and I just assumed it was my age. Let's face it, I am no spring chicken.

It seems that I need more sunshine. I have two young children, I don't have time to sunbathe in the garden on hot summer days. But if I am not having a sunny holiday, then this is what I must do. Because I really don't have time to be tired and achy. I need time for me. The housework can wait. The sunlight in the UK doesn't have enough ultraviolet B from November to March, so your body cannot make Vitamin D then. This is why it is important to get plenty of sunshine in the summer months.

The funny thing is, I give my children Vitamin D supplements in the winter. They're mixed race, so I know about the dangers of their young bones not getting enough Vitamin D. And in the summer, I don't put sunscreen on them everyday as I know that they need the sunshine. But I guess it is another case of putting our children above ourselves. As mums, we need to remember that it is difficult taking care of our family when we have not properly taken care of ourselves.

Last year I fell down the stairs and broke and sprained a couple of toes on my left foot. They haven't properly healed yet. The podiatrist gave me exercises to do, but they really hurt. Now it all makes sense. Why it has taken so long to heal. Why my bones are always aching. Apparently my aches will begin to go away after a few months. Once I have a healthy amount of Vitamin D.

This is my plan to get some more Vitamin D and become a healthier me (for me and my family).

1. No sunscreen - I hear your audible gasps. Yes, too much sun isn't great for ageing skin. But I live in London and I promise the sun here is nothing like it is in The Seychelles. I will be wearing a moisuriser without SPF, unless I am in the summer sun for more than an hour. And I'll be wearing anti-ageing night cream while I sleep.

2. Supplements - I am on a large dose of Vitamin D3 tablets for the next few months.

3. Diet - we get very little Vitamin D from our diets but I will do my best to eat more oily fish, eggs, mushrooms, and fortified milk, orange juice and cereals. .

Hopefully I should be feeling better in a couple of months. If you have any tips on dealing with a Vitamin D deficiency, I would love to hear from you. And it's not just brown people who get Vitamin D deficiencies, more and more people are getting it as we are all keeping out of the sun.

 

Mama and More

 

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Having a long-distance relationship can be pretty agonising. Especially in the beginning of a relationship. You know, when things are hot and heavy and you want to spend every minute in their arms? And instead you are chatting on the phone and feeling heart-broken. Thirteen years ago, after six blissful weeks together, Husband/then-Boyfriend went back to London and I stayed in San Diego.

A letter of love

We then spent 10 months apart before I was able to move to London. Oh, those 10 months. We squeezed in three visits in that time. We spoke every day on the phone. We emailed. But it was tough. But Husband did something special in the beginning of our long-distance relationship. He wrote me a love letter. And not just any love letter. The mother of all love letters. I think it was that letter that kept me steadfast. It is quite a leap of faith to move across the world for someone. To give up your life, your friends, your job.

Husband still sometimes writes me sweet, silly poems. But nothing will compare to that first letter. Nor do they have to. Our life is more than words on a paper. Though they are nice. Our life is now the realisation of that letter.

This week's theme for The Prompt is 'a letter...'; pop on over to MumturnedMom for more posts on this theme.

 

mumturnedmom
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House of Fraser press day2

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to view the Spring/Summer 2015 Press Preview at House of Fraser. I got a little sneak peek of the gorgeous fashion that will be available online and in shops in January/February 2015. I completely ignored the men's clothes and went straight to the womenswear.

Biba didn't disappoint with its usual gorgeous and bright colour scheme, plus lots of golds.  And there were some gorgeous handbags. Biba, Lulu Guinness, Ted Baker, Dickins & Jones and Label Lab. Oh, the handbags. So lovely, so free of porridge stains and those little raisins that have fallen out of their boxes.

Hello snakeskin bag next to leopard print skirt!
Hello snakeskin bag next to leopard print skirt! Come to mama.
Feathery goodness
Feathery goodness
Headphone handbag! Practical schmactical.
Headphones! Practical schmactical.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favourite pieces came from Label Lab. A brand that I'm not familiar with, but whose clothing seemed made for me. Tops were slouchy, with a Scandinavian touch. Lots of greys and yellows. I like clothes that are comfortable, but I still like to look a bit edgy. I'm not ready to dress like a pensioner, despite my various aches and pains. And there was a gorgeous dark grey biker jacket. If only I had a handsome and kind husband who would surprise me with such an item. if only. Biker jackets seem to be a hot item for Spring/Summer 2015, so don't pack yours away in the back of your wardobe this winter.

Before I left, I had just enough time to coo over the sweet Liberty-print dresses and tops for little girls from Little Dickins & Jones. Can't wait for Spring!

House of Fraser SS15

 

Fashion Friday on MummysGotStyle.com

House of Fraser invited me to their SS15 Press Day. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

 

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I have previously written about my children's struggles with eczema. After various anti-fungals, steroids and antibiotic creams, Aveeno was the only thing that cleared up my children's skin. So I was thrilled when the kind people at Aveeno sent some moisturising creams and bathwash for me the children.

We were also sent the lovely new book from Aveeno, Bye Bye Dry Skin!, which is the first in the series of The Dry-ventures of of Ellie & Eddie. This first book explores what can trigger dry skin as well as how lovely it is on your skin to have a soothing bath and then be covered in cream. Moozles was able to read it all by herself, and read it to Dubz. At six, Moozles understands the importance of creams in helping to combat her eczema. Dubz doesn't really understand, but he does love it when I rub cream on his arms and legs.

Pop on over to the Aveeno website, where you can download the book for free and help your little one feel more at ease with their itchy skin.

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This week I am linking to Tried & Tested and ToddlerApprovedTuesday.

 

We were sent some Aveeno and the 'Bye Bye Dry Skin' book for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

 

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Great British Cooking with a Californian Gal

Although I enjoy baking, I am not much of a cook. I can make about 10 things well, but am not one to try new things. But recently I have become a Paragon Books book buddy. Which means that Parragon send me a book every month to review. I decided to receive cookbooks as I am keen to widen my repertoire. After all, what kind of SAHM expects her husband to do most of the cooking? *looks around sheepishly, whistles, looks down in shame*

October's book is Great British Cooking. Husband was very excited to see this book. Just the kind of food he loves. I decided to make Toad in the Hole as it is one of those British dishes that British people term as 'comfort food'. I think I may have tried it once at my in-laws' house, but can't quite remember. But I know that neither of my children have ever had it. Not only did they love it, but it was so easy to make. Moozles has asked for it again for dinner tonight (I made it yesterday). But I have told them that I will make it again at the weekend if they really want it.

There are some other yummy looking British recipes in the cookbook, including Beef Stew with Herb Dumplings, Neeps & Tatties and Treacle Tart. I will be making those very soon. If you fancy making Toad in the Hole, check out my amended recipe below (as Husband will testify, I am mentally unable to follow a recipe and I always amend them).

Great British Cooking with a Californian Gal Great British Cooking with a Californian Gal Great British Cooking with a Californian Gal Great British Cooking with a Californian Gal Great British Cooking with a Californian Gal

Toad in the Hole

115g/4 oz plain flour
big pinch of salt
1 free-range egg, beaten
300 ml/10 fl oz milk (I use Lactofree)
400-450g/1 lb good-quality pork sausages
1 tbsp vegetable or rapeseed oil
white pepper

Grease a 20x25cm/8x10inch roasting dish. Preheat oven to 220C/425F.

The batter is made by mixing the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre, add the egg and half the milk. Stir until smooth. Then add the rest of the milkand beat. Leave to stand for about 30 minutes.

While mixture is standing, it is time to cook the sausages. Place the sausages in the  dish, prick them and sprinkle with pepper and oil. Cook for 15 minutes.

Remove sausages from oven and pour batter over them. Return to oven for 35-45 minutes  until golden brown. Serve with peas, as Husband informs me that is the traditional way.

Technically, this should serve four people. In my family, it actually serves two or    three.

Great British Cooking with a Californian Gal

 
Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

 

 

I was sent 'Great British Cooking' for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

 

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Boring My Kids

Children benefit from attending school, socialising, reading, attending clubs and taking part in sports and activities. Children also benefit from computers and television. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But something that many parents forget about is the power of boredom. Yes, my children take part in organised activities. But I also give them stretches of time where they have to make their own fun.

Moozles, who is six, has always had a tough time playing on her home. She has always wanted to play with me, or have me right by her side. We have had to work on her independence, on her thinking about what she would like to play. At two years old, Dubz is easier. He just sits on the floor and plays with whatever catches his fancy. And yes, sometimes I will offer baking or crafts. But often, I tell my children to figure out what they want to do. 'I'm bored', Moozles sometimes cries. Husband's favourite comeback? 'Only boring people feel bored.' True dat.

Nowadays, children go from activity to activity. And when they're tired or bored, they just sit in front of the television. Don't get me wrong, I let my children watch television, but not all the time. And occasionally I let them play on the iPad. But surely this generation of children will miss out on what we gained in our youth. Figuring out what we like playing. Figuring out what is fun and what is boring.

There's a helpful article in Psychology Today about boredom. Many parents today seem to think that something bad will happen if there child does not have a fun activity to do. But what will happen to those children when they grow up? Do you want a generation of adults lacking in any imagination? Who will imagine and design the next smartphone or even a Walkman (do you remember those? How amazing was it to listen to your tapes on the go?)?

But anyway, do your children a favour. The next time they look bored, or ask you to organise a fun activity, tell them to go make their own fun. There could be books they could be reading. Games of horsey to be played and turning stools into race cars. After all, only boring people feel bored.

Boring My KidsBoring My Kids

 

 

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