Summer Dress Masterclass

One of my favourite things about summer is my summer wardrobe – and adding to it. My summer staples this year are denim shorts, boyfriend tee, statement necklace and Birkenstocks but for really hot days (hello muggy weather we’ve been having recently!) or for days when I want to look a bit smarter, the summer dress is everyone’s best friend. You can wear one with some flip flops for a picnic or day at the seaside or wear some bejewelled sandals and a statement necklace and it’ll be office-ready.

George at Asda have asked me to pick out my favourite dresses from their Summer Shop… this is how I’d wear them…

The maxi

There’s something about any print that vaguely has a hint of Missoni about it, that appeals to me every time. This maxi dress just needs a slick of bright lippy, sandals and a denim jacket to make any picnic or BBQ a style hit. Add a fedora hat if it’s really sunny.

Maxi dress from George at Asda

Printed maxi dress, £12

Buckled sandals, £10

Mid-wash cropped denim jacket, £18

Rimmel Kate Matte lipstick in 110, £5.48

The midi

This outfits screams ‘summer date’ to me – whether you’ve managed to blag a babysitter or you’ve got a night out with the girls planned (cocktails and cinema is always a winner with me) the combination of cotton midi dress, leather jacket and embellished flats will see you right.

 

Gorgeous summer outfit from George at Asda

Embellished dip hem dress, £18

Faux leather jacket, £30

Gemstone sandals, £12

Wasp necklace, £4 (has an air of Alex Monroe to it, don’t you think?)

The classic

I love a stripe – especially when paired with a statement necklace. But for this look, I’ve gone for a print clash (something I learned from my friend Erica) by choosing a floral kimono in similar colours to wear over the dress. Add a pop of colour with some bright nail polish and trainers (or if you’re going for a more dressy look, block heeled sandals would look ace.)

Striped summer dress - George at Asda

Stripe sundress, £10

Floral print kimono, £16

Max Factor mini nail polish in coral, £1

Canvas slip-ons, £6

Which look is your favourite?

• Thanks to George at Asda for collaborating with Not Another Mummy Blog!

Oh, I Love A Faff, Me

Seriously, I could faff all day long. It doesn’t matter where I am, or what I’m doing, I’ve always got time for a faff.

I faff on the internet. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest – all very faff-worthy.

I faff around in the kitchen. If the cook book says a recipe will take 15 minutes to prepare, I allow myself 40. Chopping, mixing (slurp of wine), measuring (a little boogie around to the radio), stirring…

I faff around, getting ready to go out. Putting some laundry on to wash, loading the dishwasher, tidying up some toys. Meanwhile Mr P is often standing by the front door, car keys in hand…

I faff around to avoid a deadline. Even though I know it means I’ll be working until midnight, I still find ways to faff. Ooh, I must paint my nails…

Painting my nails red

But is it really so bad to faff? I like to think it’s me just taking my time, noticing little things that need to be done, refusing to be rushed when I don’t need to be. I actually think the world would be a better place if we all faffed a little bit more. Let’s relax a bit and slow down.

But on second thought, perhaps it would get frustrating. Can you imagine turning on the BBC News and as the camera panned in on the presenter, he or she was faffing with papers and finishing their cuppa before starting to read you the news? “Bear with!”

What about if David Cameron was about to do a press conference outside Number 10 and he walked out, still on his phone, checking Facebook and ‘sending a quick tweet’ before he faced the world’s media? Hmm.

Even if you went for dinner at a restaurant and your meal took 40 minutes to arrive…. because the chef was cooking slowly, Instagramming ingredients and having a dance around their kitchen to the radio? I’d go crazy.

So, perhaps faffing isn’t so much fun when you’re not the one doing the faffing. When you’re the ‘faffee’, so to speak. Perhaps it’s time I fight the urge to faff…

 

 

Reliving Childhood Memories With The Singing Kettle

Growing up, going to the theatre was a big part of my life. My mum would take us to the local arts centre – the Macrobert in Stirling – to see kids’ shows and in the summer holidays, we’d go along to drama workshops. Later, my brother and I joined Forefront Children’s Theatre where the pinnacle of my theatrical career was being the front end of Daisy the Cow in Jack and the Beanstalk – oh and in one show I got to sing a solo verse of the Les Mis number Master Of The House. Idina Menzel ain’t got nothing on me!

Looking back, I have so many memories tied in with children’s theatre and live shows (like the time we went to see Glen Michael’s Cavalcade live – that will probably only mean something to Scottish people) but one show we went to see time and time again was The Singing Kettle. From a young age, we’d go to see Cilla and Artie do their live shows and we had their tape (back in the days before CDs) so listened to their songs like Apples And Bananas, Train To Glasgow and Ye Cannae Shove Yer Granny Off A Bus over and over again, at home. SO excited that it’s available on iTunes now.

The Singing Kettle

Amazingly, The Singing Kettle is still going strong (although Cilla and Artie have stepped down from performing and now have creative roles behind the scenes) and they’ve got a Scotland-wide tour coming up soon that runs until October. I’m tempted to book a flight to Glasgow with my three-year-old and book tickets for the jungle-themed Eastwood Park Theatre show on 30th August. She would LOVE the songs, the humour and the bright colours. If you’re tempted too, you’d probably get a good deal at the Holiday Inn Glasgow Airport hotel and it’s not too far to travel to the theatre. You could even go a few days early and get the train through to Edinburgh to catch the tail-end of the Edinburgh Festival too – there are LOADS of fun shows and activities for kids happening there.

• Thanks to Holiday Inn for sponsoring this post. For details on how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page.

Bluestone National Park Review: We Loved It!

Bluestone Wales review

If you’re looking for a fun, relaxed UK family break, Bluestone National Park in Wales should be right up there on your list. Set in the Pembrokeshire countryside, Bluestone is a huge resort with eco-friendly wooden lodges surrounding a small ‘village’ area with shops, places to eat, spa and a play area. A short walk away is a huge activity centre and a leisure centre style swimming pool. We recently spent four nights there and we loved every minute.

Why it’s amazing, in a nutshell

Bluestone National Park offers something for families with kids of all ages – so whatever stage your family is at, there’s loads to do. For younger kids (like our three-year-old) there’s the outdoor play area, soft play zones in the Adventure Centre and activities like messy play and puppet making. For older kids, there’s archery, climbing walls, a tree-top obstacle course and a 40ft zip wire and kayaking. For all ages, there’s the swimming pool with flumes and a fun toddler area. It’s beautiful to walk around, with wild flowers and forest paths and there’s a big selection of eating places. Oh and it has a fab spa to relax in too.

arriving-bluestone-wales

What’s the accommodation like?

The lodges are all modern and clean – our Caldey Lodge was semi-detached (with an adjoining door which would be handy if you knew the family next door) and had an open plan kitchen/living/dining area with patio doors that opened out onto a paved and grassy area with a wooden picnic table. We had a bathroom (with bath, although not all lodges have them, so if you have a baby or toddler to bathe, be sure to ask for a bathroom) and two bedrooms. It was the perfect base for our holiday – lots of room to do jigsaws and play, comfy leather sofas to snuggle on watching CBeebies before bed, and a great space for cooking and eating. The decor is all a bit beige and safe, but suited the wooden eco lodges. Continue reading

Oh Brilliant Bookbuggy!

Sometimes, as a parent, you come across genius ideas that you want to shout about and let every other parent know about. This happened a lot to me when I was a new mum – discovering new things that made my life a bit easier happened a lot back then.

First there was the Snoozeshade – I met Cara who invented the product and started the business at The Baby Show in London and bought one there and then. Then there was the Bebe au Lait feeding cover, which saved my blushes as I breastfed my daughter in Starbucks (I never could do it subtly, I always had to wang them out for every other mocha-drinking customer to see). I even remember waxing lyrical about Gap baby socks – the ONLY brand that I found stayed on my little baby’s little feet. Every other brand wriggled its way off her foot and ended up dropping to the ground outside Sainsbury’s.

And now, Bookbuggy is a discovery that I find myself wanting to tell everyone about. Bookbuggy is a website that sends you a personally curated pack of children’s books every month. Set up by couple Mehmood and Jyoti, who are parents to their son, Dara, Bookbuggy is something you can sign up to for three months or twelve months, or even just buy one month’s worth to try it out.

When you register, you fill in details about your child – age is important of course, but you can also tell them what the child loves, things they enjoy doing, books they have loved reading in the past – pretty much anything you like. It all helps them build up a picture of your child and send books that they think will be loved. Then they send you a package with three to four books in. The books’ RRP will never be less than the price you pay and if you receive a book you’ve already got? Just give it to a friend and Bookbuggy will send you a different one. For real!

Mehmood and Jyoti pride themselves in curating fantastic must-read books and when your books arrive (in gorgeous packaging) they flag up to you which skills each book will help develop in your child.

We were asked to trial Bookbuggy, and the books we received were brilliant…

Bookbuggy books

We got Lucy Ladyburd by Sharon King-Chai, Julia Donaldson’s Jack and the Flum Flum Tree and 100 Things by Mayayuki Sebe. I could tell immediately we’d love them all – isn’t it funny how you just sometimes know?

Continue reading