Author Archives: Californian Mum in London

About Californian Mum in London

Hey! I'm a California gal who moved to London in 2002 to be with my British bloke. Come read about my adventures living in London, being a Stay-At-Home-Mum, coping with a tea and cake addiction and trying to assimilate into British life. Don't know where I belong, but can't imagine living anywhere else.

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Regular readers will know that we underwent home renovations last autumn/winter. Now that the work is mostly done, and I've bought 90% of the furniture needed, I can now think about accessories. Last month, I was invited to an interiors event hosted by the lovely folks from Amara. And I was beyond excited to get some styling tips from the pros so that I could update my home. So of course I had to share my new found knowledge with you (as well as show you how I've styled a few products from Amara).

Our day began with a talk and Q&A with Sam Hood. Sam co-founded Amara with her husband Andrew in 2005. While it began as an interior design business, Amara then added a shop filled with amazing home accessories before becoming an online marketplace for amazing interiors. Amara now offers a wide array of beautiful pieces on their site, from home accessories to furniture to clothing. And they even offer design inspiration on their site for amateurs such as myself.

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Cornwall has always been in the top five of my UK destination wishlist. It is known for its beautiful beaches, great seafood and many attractions. Really, who wouldn't want to visit?! So I was thrilled when the lovely folks from Baby Friendly Boltholes invited us to stay at one of their North Cornwall properties for two nights over the Easter holiday.

My family and I have stayed in a few cottages in the UK, but this was our first time with Baby Friendly Boltholes. And although we don't have a baby (my youngest is almost six), a family-friendly property really does make all the difference. As a parent, you're already packing a ridiculous amount of things when you go on holiday with your children, and it helps to stay somewhere that has some of the things you need. At Red Barn, there were games, DVDs and toys (Dubz was partial to the transformers and the army men, which I had to make sure didn't end up in his suitcase).

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My family and I were invited to Kidzania this Easter. And since Moozles and I love it, we decided to take Husband and Dubz along. And right now, in honour of WrestleMania34, there are some WWE-related activities in addition to all the regular fun stuff. So we knew Dubz would enjoy himself.

Located at Westfield in Shepherd's Bush, Kidzania is a city (all indoors) made for children. Before arriving, you queue as if you're at the airport. Children are given 50 Kidzos each, which they can use to spend on fun activities or save and earn more money through jobs. It's probably one of the few times your child will want to work. Dubz started off as a policeman while Moozles worked at the library and then a hotel. Then she became a surgeon while he went to work at the Cadbury chocolate factory.

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I have never read any Roald Dahl. But my daughter has read all his books. Even his biography. And every spring we go to the Rose Theatre Kingston to watch an adaptation of his stories. This past weekend we watched George's Marvellous Medicine.

If you're not familiar with George's Marvellous Medicine (like me), the story is about a little boy named George. George's grandmother comes for a visit. But she's not the typical sweet grandmother. She is quite horrid, so George decides to make a potion that will make her into a nicer person.

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Okay, you obviously can't have a dinner party without cooking. But you don't have to be the one doing the cooking. At least that's what I discovered last month. The lovely folks from La Belle Assiette offered to send a chef to my house so that I could host a dinner party with minimal effort. You all know that my kitchen skills are basic, and this service seemed to be made for me. So I invited three of my lovely mum friends over for some dinner and plenty of party.

When you book with La Belle Assiette, you choose your date and time as well as the menu you'd like. Menus start at £39 per person for up to six people. And that's the most work you'll have to do (apart from making sure you are well stocked on wine and Prosecco). The chef will contact you to confirm arrangements and menu. As I am lactose-intolerant, I made sure the menu would have milk substitutions.

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When you're chubby and in your 40s, you can feel like there's no place for you in the fashion industry. There are all these gorgeous, skinny women in magazines and on Instagram. And sometimes you can't help but feel inferior. But recently, I have started following more women over 40. More women of different shapes. And it has re-ignited my love of fashion.

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I can't believe this is my 10th Mother's Day. I feel like I should be full of confidence in my mothering. But I'm still working things out. I expect I'll still be winging it in 10 years' time. But one things continues, I keep giving it my best. I feel like worrying takes about 15% of my time. No one wants to screw their kids up. But you have to keep trying, and keep hoping that they don't publish a memoir entitled 'Why My Mother is the Worst'.

Anyway, we had a lovely day, for the most part. My son ran into our bedroom at 6.20am shouting, 'can we bring Mummy tea in bed now?!'. After Husband and I yelled at him, he ran off and I slept til almost 9am. Moozles and Dubz love bringing me breakfast in bed on Mother's Day. And apparently they love watching me eat my breakfast. Every little bite of toast. Every sip of Earl Grey. Every damn year.

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My son is in Year One, and this term they are learning about space. Dubz is constantly talking about the Milky Way galaxy, so we thought a family trip to the planetarium was in order. It turns out that London's only planetarium is located in Greenwich (south east London). We decided to combine our visit with the National Maritime Museum, as well as sneak in a boat ride and lunch. And what a fun day it was.

If like us, you live in south west London, you may know that it's a bit of a pain to go from west to east London. But sometimes you have to bite the bullet, especially when there's a cool attraction that you don't want to miss. So, after we arrived at Waterloo, we decided to take the Jubilee line to Canary Wharf, and then hop onto the DLR to Greenwich. While the latter offers lovely views to Greenwich - this ended up taking 45 minutes. It would have taken half the time if we had just taken two trains from Waterloo East. But sometimes it's nice to take the scenic route.

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One thing that I love about Kingston-upon-Thames is that there is always something going on. Sometimes, when we have no plans, and we don't feel like staying home, we just pop into the town centre looking for fun. A few weeks ago we had a free Saturday so we went to check out the grand opening of The Entertainer in the Bentall Centre, Kingston.

To celebrate it's opening, The Entertainer had free face painting and character visits (Dubz was especially excited about Batman and Robin Lego). And of course, there was the lovely new shop. Somehow, Dubz managed to get us to buy him a new box of Ninjago Lego. That boy is Lego-mad. And since my daughter could not be left out, I took her to Claire's to buy new earrings. In exchange for their new things, I made everyone walk around Zara with me (cue evil laugh, muwharrr).

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