Win £100 River Island Voucher!

Every day this week, my three-year-old asks ‘Is it the weekend yet?’ because she knows that on Saturday, we’re heading to a festival. I’m not sure she even knows that a festival is, because I’m pretty sure her memory won’t stretch back to last year’s Camp Bestival or Lollibop.

But she knows that a festival sounds fun, and that’s good enough for her. So each morning, when I tell her, ‘No, it’s only Thursday… two more days until the weekend!’ she puts on a really sad face and says ‘Awwwww!’ in a dramatic way. It’s so cute how excited she gets about our weekend adventures.

The festival we’re going to on Saturday is Lollibop – in its brand new home of Hatfield House. With acts like Justin Fletcher and Mr Bloom (hey-lo Mr Bloom!) plus a storytelling area, foodie treats and Titan the Robot, there’ll be plenty to keep us busy. I highly suspect Mr P will sneak off to watch Sam and Mark too (he is a secret fan of their CBBC show – ha!)

We were very lucky to be invited to Lollibop 2014 by River Island, who have an area at the festival and who are leading the way when it comes to affordable trend-led kids’ clothing (see my current faves below). We’ll be checking out their design area where kids can get crafty and then show off their designs on the catwalk. If you fancy going along, there are still tickets available to buy for £22 (£25 on the day).

 

River Island Kids

River Island have also given me a £100 voucher to give away to one lucky winner. Ooooh! To be in with a chance of winning: Continue reading

The Circus Is In Town!

Is anyone else as obsessed with the new Mini Rodini AW14 kids’ clothing with the strong man on it, as I am? I discovered it last week while browsing Scout & Co Kids (one of my favourite online stores) and it reminded me how much I love circus themed stuff for kids. And there are lots of things to choose from at the moment – the big top is having a bit of a ‘moment’. Here are a few of my favourite circus buys for kids …

Circus buys for kids

 

1. Mini Rodini t-shirt and leggings, from £23

2. Zara Kds Home cutlery, £4.99

3. Maileg wooden circus mice wagon, £16 and ringmaster mouse, £14

4. Great Little Trading Company circus play tent, £25

5. Missus Print circus print, £25

6. Make your own big top party hat with this tutorial from Oh Happy Day.

Which is your favourite? I vote for Mini Rodini and Maileg…

 

 

What’s On At The Birmingham Hippodrome

Today, I’ve got a guest post from the lovely people at the Birmingham Hippodrome. If you live in the Midlands, check out some of the fab looking shows they have coming up and plan in a trip to Birmingham to catch one of them. If it were me, I’d be booking up for Beauty & The Beast – it sounds magical…

Beauty And The Beast ballet

We’re over halfway through the year, and it seems like the weeks are flying by. Before we know what has happened, it’ll be Christmas and we’ll be welcoming 2015 with fireworks and Jools Holland. However, before we break out the Christmas tree and decorations once more, we have the rest of summer and autumn to look forward to. Make the most out of the rest of 2014 by incorporating some nights out into the coming weeks. Perhaps a city break or two wouldn’t go amiss, either?

Head to Birmingham for a couple of days and you’ll be able to enjoy a range of attractions, sights, shopping and nightlife opportunities. Not only that, but Birmingham is home to the Hippodrome, which has a busy and exciting schedule over the next few months. Organise a hotel for the night (you can book here if you’re looking for accommodation that won’t break the bank) and take a look at what’s coming up at the Hippodrome between now and the end of the year.

Wicked

The summer run of this sell-out show can be found at the Hippodrome between now and 6th September. This spellbinding, award-winning show has stepped away from the West End and stepped its ruby slippers into the West Midlands for a few bedazzling weeks in the heart of Birmingham.

Unlike the original Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Wicked is based on a series of books by Gregory Maguire, who reimagined the original storyline to help readers (and now audiences) everywhere delve deeper into the past of the Good Witch of the North and the Wicked Witch of the West. Not all is what it seems, and this mesmerising show will take you on a rollercoaster ride through the life of Elphaba, telling you more about why she became wicked.

Cats

As one of the longest-running shows on the West End and Broadway, Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s timeless classic is recognisable anywhere. It paws its way onto the Hippodrome stage between 9th and 27th September for what promises to be a sell-out run. From the incredible musical score to the fantastic costumes and sets, Cats is nothing short of legendary. Don’t pass up the chance to see it, if you can help it.

Beauty and the Beast

The Birmingham Royal Ballet previously produced the smashing Cinderella, and they return with the enchanting gothic fairytale Beauty and the Beast between 30th September and 4th October.

Blood Brothers

A story of twins, separated at birth, Blood Brothers – written by Willy Russell – has received much critical acclaim and often has audiences up on their feet at the end of it. Be ready with your standing ovation at the Hippodrome, where it takes up residence between 13th and 25th October.

The Nutcracker

The Royal Ballet returns, hot on the heels of their production of Beauty and the Beast, with their production of Tchaikovsky’s festive ballet, The Nutcracker. It’s at the Hippodrome between 28th November and 13th December.

The Hippodrome is home to some sensational shows between now and the end of the year – take the opportunity to enjoy one, or more, for a cultural evening to remember.

• Thanks so much to The Hippodrome for this guest post – if you go catch a show, come back and let me know what you thought of it.

Last Minute Holiday Shopping… Sorted

Have you booked your holiday yet? Whether you’re about to go, or you’re going to wait until the schools go back to get a good deal with your pre-school age kids, it’s time to pick up some holiday wardrobe essentials. I always think the trick is to buy some great basics that will see you through a few years and then pick up some on-trend pieces each summer to bring your look up to date. George at Asda have some fantastic summer buys…

Holiday buys

Swimwear

If you’re lucky, you’ll all be spending most of your holiday in bikinis, trunks or a swimsuit. I usually pack at least three sets for us all, so we can wear one, have one drying and another stashed in our beach bag. I’m really hyper-aware of protecting my three-year-old’s skin so I usually buy her a rash vest to use in conjunction with sunblock to protect against harmful UV rays.

T-shirts

They’re the best holiday basic if you ask me – my family live in t-shirts all summer long. My rule is to buy plain shorts/leggings/skirts for my daughter and then patterned or appliqué t-shirts so that we can mix and match during the holiday. Actually, the same rule goes for me, but in reverse – I buy myself plain tees to go with floral or patterned skirts and trousers.

Underwear

It doesn’t matter how many pairs of pants you pack to go away, it’s one of those mysterious facts of life that, no matter how many you cram in to your case, they always seem to run out or go missing. ASDA has a great selection of great value underwear for all the family, so next time you’re out shopping don’t forget to chuck a couple of kids’ packs in and some George nude coloured pants for you that won’t show through sheer fabrics. Hey, they’re not always sexy, but they work.

Dresses

Maxi-dresses work just as well as beach cover-ups as they do for an evening hitting the bar for a cheeky martini, and pretty, feminine sundresses are perfect for strolling around the local market (like we still do that now we have kids…). Full midi skirts go great with a plain tee and sandals too. Lightweight summer fabrics roll up into almost nothing, which means you can pack a few for a holiday. Just add a slick of red lippy and you’ll be good to go.

Hats and sunglasses

Every summer outfit needs a few accessories to finish it off. A nice pair of sunnies, a fedora hat and a statement necklace (how nice is that white one at the top of this post? It’s only £12!) are the perfect way to complete a holiday look. For my three-year-old, we never go anywhere without her hat (a leopard print number) and sunglasses (Minnie Mouse design) even if it sometimes does involve a small fight to get her to wear them.

 

What are your can’t-live-without holiday basics?

 

Thanks to Asda for sponsoring this post. For details in how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page.

 

 

Baking With Kids: The Fantasy V The Reality

With another series of The Great British Bake Off here, it’s that time of year when I avidly watch each week, to see who will be crowned the Star Baker. Seeing them bake sponges, bread and pies, I think to myself: “I should bake more”. This is usually followed by a flashback to being in Home Economics class at school, aged 13, being scowled at by the teacher, Mrs Mackay, because my rock buns hadn’t turned out well (apparently my technique for making breadcrumbs with the mixture left a lot to be desired).

I may not be a Mary Berry in the making, but I do enjoy baking. And I love baking with my three-year-old daughter. At least, I love the idea of baking with her. But unfortunately, the fantasy of baking with her doesn’t always match up to the reality of baking with her. Here’s why…

The fantasy: We’re in a lovely clean kitchen (à la Bake Off) with sun streaming through the windows and upbeat music playing (let’s say Abba on this occasion).

The reality: It’s pissing it down outside (hence the need for an indoor activity), I haven’t had time to tidy the kitchen of the bills, free newspapers, paintings and random craft materials that clutter the surfaces and the three-year-old is demanding to listen to Justin Fletcher’s latest album as we bake. It takes me at least 20 minutes to faff around, getting the baking equipment out of the (very back of the) cupboards, locate the scales (where did I put them, again?) and work out how the flip I’m meant to line the cake tins before we can begin. Which means there are 20 minutes of “Can we start, Mum?” and “Muuummmmyyy! I want to bake cakes!” and “MUM! Stop doing that! I want to make a cake!”.

butter

The fantasy: My daughter helps me measure the ingredients while we laugh and joke about something funny. A bluebird probably flies in the window and lands on my shoulder.

The reality: I stress about allowing a three-year-old to cut butter with a knife, then as she struggles to get the butter off a spatula and into the scales, it goes flying off the spatula and lands on the floor. Flour goes everywhere. I say a lot of “When I say ‘stop’, you have to stop pouring, OK? Stop. STOP! I SAID STOP!”

The fantasy: We take turns stirring the mixture, seeing the dry ingredients and eggs/butter come together in a beautiful way. We sing along as we do it. Mr P wanders in and cheerfully asks if he can help.

The reality: The three-year-old gets bored stirring after ten seconds. I try to help. “NO Mum!” she says, giving it a half-hearted poke with the wooden spoon. Eventually I get the electric whisk out and use that, which leads to the three-year-old covering her ears and shouting, “It’s TOO NOISY!” Mr P comes in to find out what all the screaming is about. Continue reading