As we did not have a family holiday in August, we have been home a lot. And although I have had many activities planned, we have had downtime as well. I thought I would share what my son and daughter have been loving this summer.
Toddlebike - Dubz has been riding his Toddlebike for 10 months, since he was 2 1/2. Even though it is for children from 18 months to 3 years, Dubz still loves his. He is getting a bit too big for it these days but he still rides it in the house). It is light yet sturdy and feels like it should cost much more than it does (£14.50-£20.00 on Amazon.co.uk).
Activity Books - I don't like having the telly on in the morning. It's just one of my random parenting rules that the television doesn't go on before 12pm. So I encourage the kids, if they don't feel like playing or reading, to play/write in activity books. Dubz has been enjoying his Things That Go sticker book from Parragon Books. He doesn't write, but he loves sticking stickers. Moozles is loving her Glitterbelle Dazzling Dress-up sticker book (it has nail art stickers!), as well as her Usborne Travel Activity Pad. The latter was bought for our holiday to Wales in June but it's quite thick and has lasted for months.
Netflix - there's nothing like watching some telly in the afternoon when everyone is feeling a bit tired. Moozles is loving Mc2, a three-part mini-series about girls who use their knowledge of science to become secret agents. Dubz has been watching Dinotrux, a series about part-dinosaur/part-trucks who are up against an evil Tyrannosaurus Trux. Both kids have been loving Dragons: Race to the Edge (series based on the How to Train A Dragon films, which takes place between the first and the second films). We've watched the series twice and we all love it.
We were sent the Glitterbelle and Cars books and the Toddlebike for the purpose of this review. I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team but am not required to blog about these programmes. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
When you're a Stay-At-Home-Mum, it is so easy to wear the same things over and over again. It's tough justifying a new outfit when your children need new shoes - again. But I knew I needed some new outfits to wear for my various 40th birthday celebrations. So I thought I would share my new bargain dresses.
The dress at the top is a fab little number from Oasis that I got from House of Fraser a couple of weeks ago. The dress fits beautifully and made me feel fab. And at only £15 in the sales, I was even more thrilled. I teamed the dress with new sparkly heels from Hotter shoes (they are cushioned and so comfy). I always see people tweeting about Hotter, so I thought I would see if they really were as comfortable as everyone says (they are). And I got them in the sales (woohoo) for £34.00 (birthday money from my mom, so it was like they were free). I will be wearing these to every night out in autumn and winter.
I got my clutch bag last winter, from SimplyBe. I love that it is roomy, and with silver and gold accents (looks great with everything). My Cluse watch was a birthday gift from Husband. I have been wanting a gold watch for ages. The combination of gold and black feels very modern, and a bit gangsta.
When you turn 40, you simply cannot have just one celebration. You have to properly celebrate such a milestone birthday. So I needed another dress. I wanted something casual that I could wear for lunch with friends or even to afternoon tea. With trainers and a cardi (or my trusty denim jacket), I can still wear it on the school run in the autumn. I found this Izabel London dress on the House of Fraser website. Another bargain at £15.
I was given these two dresses from House of Fraser for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
On Friday I met up with a few mums I had never met before (except for Catherine from Vintage Frills and Emma from Its Mostly Okay). I don't normally meet up with strangers, but a few weeks ago I decided to organise a mums' meet-up in Surrey. Unforuntately, due to the torrential rains, I had to postpone the picnic at the last minute, from Wednesday to Friday. I was worried no one would come, but I was pleased that the four ladies above came along with their lovely children. Moozles took this photo - it is surprisingly in focus. The kids had a great time, and us mums got to make some new friends. I am thinking of organising another picnic in September. Hopefully the British weather will be more cooperative (and less British).
From left to right: Ar'nie, Catherine, Me, Emma and Maria.
I remember when I was about nine or 10 years old, and my parents took me to Ripley's Believe It Or Not in San Francisco. There were so many weird exhibits. I absolutely loved it. So I was thrilled when Ripley's London invited my family for a visit a few weeks ago.
When Moozles and Dubz asked where we were going, I didn't know how to explain Ripley's, so I said it was a museum. I guess it is. A museum filled with lots of random, interesting things.
We saw a giant dinosaur, the toot-sweet machine from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, lots of cool sculptures and paintings made from different medium (we loved the robot made of old toys and the bottle-cap Michelle Obama). Our favourite part, as a family, was the mirror maze. You walk along corridors of mirrors in the almost-dark, trying to find your way out. Our second favourite was the Black Hole - a rotating, twisting tunnel. We went through it twice!
The only section which my children did not like was the dungeon section. We had to quickly walk through that bit (Moozles made me cover her eyes while we walked through). But there is a sign beforehand warning that it might not be suitable for young children. Afterwards we arrived at the Alice in Wonderland pop-up gallery (which is open until September). It is so cute, and Moozles loved it. I hope they keep it longer as it is such a lovely exhibit.
Ripley's is located right outside the Piccadilly Circus tube station (exit four). It is open from 10am to midnight, 365 days a year. Tickets are much cheaper if you buy online - for a family of four it costs £59.96 if you buy 14+ days in advance, as opposed to £79.95 at the door (children three and under go in free). If you go after 5pm, tickets are only £14.95. There's a cute cafe, but we didn't eat there so cannot comment on prices or quality. We did have a great time at Ripley's London. Poor Husband didn't want to leave.
We were invited to visit Ripleys for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Yes, I realise that I need to work on my rhyming skills. But the sentiment is true. Mama needs a new pair of boots. I've ignored the approaching autumn, but this week's torrential rain has reminded me that summer is almost over. And soon it will be cold, and my toes and ankles will need to be kept covered and warm. So I thought I would share with you the boots that I need (not want, NEED) for AW15.
- Jones Brogue Boots - I love brogues. I love boots. Perfect combination. I wear my brogues all year long. But sometimes my ankles get a bit chilly. But these would keep me nice and warm. And with a side zip, so you don't have to spend ages tying up laces. They would work with anything and everything in your wardrobe. Brogue boots! £120.
- Clarks Grey Suede Desert Boots - who doesn't love a desert boot? And in grey suede? These totally look like they could be my husband's shoes, which makes me like them even more. These would work with anything but I would wear them with skinny jeans, a crisp white shirt and a tweed blazer. Perfect for autumn/winter. Maybe give it a spray with some suede protector if you live in this part of the world. £85.
- Dr Martens Tweed Herringbone Boots - these are not the Dr Martens I wore in the 1990s. And they are beyond gorgeous. They're a grown-up doc. The two buckles can be adjusted so that the boots fit better. I would wear these everyday, with leggings and jeans. And the Dr Martens tag would hang out the back and I could pretend that I was 20 and still at university. Maybe I would add a flannel shirt to re-live the past. Oh, how I loved a bit of grunge. £95.
- Jones Calf Length Boot - such a cool biker boot. The diagonal zip gives it a special look. I would wear these with a mini-skirt or mini-dress and a battered leather jacket. I'd pretend I was heading to a fab new bar for a few drinks rather than the school run. These boots could be worn by anyone, from my 20-year old niece, to my 60-something year old mother-in-law. £120.
- Jones Ankle Boots - these boots are just so pretty. I normally prefer flat or low-heeled boots, even for a night out. But these are lovely. And in tan suede, you could wear them all year long. In fact, I would probably wear these boots more in spring or summer. But in the winter they would look fab with skinny jeans and a faux fur jacket or perhaps a furry waistcoat. £49.
- Heavenly Feet Pacific Boots - these are like grown-up Uggs. They look so warm and comfy, and would be perfect for walking the children to school on a cold winter's day. Please be aware that I do other things besides taking my children to and from school, not much, but other things. Anyway, the buckles and the folded sheepskin on the back add an elegant touch to an everyday boot. £55.
- Rieker Black Boots - there is something so naturally chic about knee-length black boots. You couldn't wear them with everything, but they would go with quite a lot. You could wear these with a sparkly mini-dress or scruffy jeans and a t-shirt. £95.
We are spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping in London. Now that I live in the South West London/Surrey borders, I do most of my shopping in Kingston Upon Thames. But sometimes I go into Central London, Wimbledon or Richmond, just to mix things up. A couple of weeks ago I was invited for a day at Croydon Centrale. I wouldn't normally go to that part of Greater London, as it seems like it would be a long way away. But I found out that I can get there within 30 minutes on a train or tram from Wimbledon. So I grabbed the kids for my first solo train journey (without Husband).
Centrale is very nice and modern, but it isn't a huge shopping centre. This actually makes shopping easier when you have young children (you won't have a 10-minute walk to the toilets). Centrale does have my two favourite shops - H&M and Zara. And it has my daughter's favourite shop - Build A Bear. Dubz was not keen when I told him he would get to make a bear. Then he saw that they had a dinosaur. Oh happy days. Dubz was excited to see the Star Wars collection of bears, but dinosaurs remain his number one love. Moozles picked the most economical bear, and I was pleasantly surprised that you could buy and build a bear for just £10.
After happily making a bear and a dinosaur, we went to Gelatos for paninis and ice cream. We then got a tour of Hello Gorgeous, where besides beauty treatments they do family makeovers and photoshoots. So cute. After we said goodbye to the other bloggers, I took the kids to H&M. Moozles has had a major growth spurt this summer and I've had to throw away half the contents of her wardrobe. I'm planning to return to Centrale this weekend, but this time without the kids. I fancy new boots from House of Fraser and maybe a facial from Hello Gorgeous. Shopping in London is even better without the kids. 😉
We were invited to experience 'Build A Bear', 'Gelatos' and 'Hello Gorgeous' by Centrale for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Summer is ending, and I don't know about your house but mine is an absolute tip. My cleaning routine is the bare minimum. I've done some sweeping and cleaned the bathrooms. Husband even vacuumed a couple of times. But mostly, the house just looks there was a robbery a couple of months ago and no one cleaned up afterwards. In a couple of weeks, the kids will be back at school and pre-school, and I will have a few hours to probably clean. But I am not looking forward to that first cleaning session. Oh the dust, the dust.
Or I may just book a cleaner and spend my first day of freedom at the gym and then having lunch with mummy friends. I've just been perusing the Fantastic Services app on my mobile. It looks really easy to use. You can book your cleaner (or pest control or even pet care) through the app. And the app even list their current offers, if like me you are always after a deal. And if you are like me, it is so much handier doing things on my mobile rather than going onto the laptop. You can use the services once, occasionally or regularly - whenever you need it.
I used the gardeners at Fantastic Services a couple of months ago and they were brilliant. They arrived on time and got the work done without any hassle to me or tthe kids. And I am sure their cleaners will be just as good.
It can be so tough finding good, reliable people to help us in our homes. In one app, you have loads of different services to choose from. And it is a relief when you can do so quickly and easily. Download the app now, for free, and give it a try.