CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE

Now that I’m a mama, time is so much scarcer and the thought of buying gifts for everyone these days actually makes me slightly antsy (anyone else?) Gift guides make me genuinely happy and have given me so much inspiration so I thought I’d do my own. I’ve kept it simple and picked three items ‘For Him’, ‘For Her’ and ‘For Little Ones.’ (toddler age specifically) Hope you enjoy it and remember to get your orders in quick – not too long to go now til the big 25 and remember you will need to allow time for shipping.

FOR HIM:

There’s something a bit special about Dr Bronners. Not only is it an organic brand with absolutely no synthetics and a beautiful family history behind it, but the quality and packaging really conveys an occasion to me. This male grooming set in peppermint is no exception and will make any man in your life the envy of the changing room.

FOR HER:

Not only do Bloom and Wild do the most beautiful blooms that seem to last for an eternity (wahoo!), they now also offer gift boxes that just like their flowers, fit through the letterbox meaning no pesky trip to the post office. This box, the Dorchester, has to be my fave. Filled with alpaca bed socks, Jasmine scented bath salts, the perfect travel candle, a Turkish towel and the most divine sea salt and honeycomb day chocolate, it really is the ultimate in luxury.

FOR HER:

Idan Oil is probably my favorite beauty discovery of 2015. Made by the gorgeous Liha, this oil which I use as perfume and a bath oil, is made from natural cold pressed coconut oil into which a Tuberose flower has been immersed. Sound wonderful? That’s because it is. The smell has me all giddy, and if I’m feeling really lavish, I use it as a moisturising oil.

FOR THE LITTLE ONES:

Little Goldie is a new discovery but this online kids boutique has just well, got it right. Handmade in London, this wooden kitchen (yes, I’m all about the wooden toys) is the perfect addition to your little one’s playset and certainly looks classy enough for any adult kitchen. I love the mustard colour and the accessories are just as cute.

FOR HIM:

My hubby has grown an inexplicable interest in ale. I don’t even know the difference between beer and lager so adding ale into the picture has completely thrown me. Beer52 make it easy and offer packages whereby you receive different ales each month in the post. Simple and a bit different; I’m super excited to give Sam this one.

FOR HIM:

I heard about Dave Trott through work and although he is an advertising copywriter, the ideas in his latest book, One + One = Three, are equally applicable to writing a novel, making a film, launching product, managing a football team, making life changes…and umm, pretty much everything else you can think of. It is perfect for a man with a creative side and a head full of ideas.

FOR HER:

I have only recently stumbled across the gorgeous organic brand Ilia but their lip balm is proving to be a total godsend for the cold weather these days. It leaves my lips feeling soft and as if they’ve just had a beautiful kiss (the non sloppy, nourishing kind). Only problem is, I wish I had one for my handbag, changing bag, desk, car….Oh, and the packaging is sleek and totally divine.

FOR THE LITTLE ONES:

I’ve got a particular weakness for Asda wooden toys as I think they are great quality and reasonably priced, and they always seem to come fully assembled which is a big tick for me. This farm table which comes with a 15 piece farmyard and has a reversible table top is no exception and I reckon any toddler would love it.

FOR LITTLE ONES:

Sophie & co is a small company based in North London creating high quality, hand made pieces for the little people in your life. Products include sass pants, african sasspants, and uber cute bloomers. We absolutely love these trousers and will be getting multiple pairs over the years I imagine…

Thanks so much for reading folks and I do hope you may have found a bit of inspiration here. Happy holidays – may they be joyful and restful… <3

Life Is Beautiful

I’m writing this from the comfort of my friend’s sofa during one of our babysitting shares. There’s something strangely luxurious about sitting in someone else’s living room, their baby sleeping, enjoying their food (a huge bowl of pasta and pesto, naturally) and just having that rare moment to really reflect without distraction or guilt. It’s what I need to digest the last 24 hours which have been a total emotional rollercoaster.

I’m full of excitement and love and yet I am burdened with sadness and despair. For today we woke up to the news of the atrocities that took place in Paris (we caught it as it was unfolding last night but the true horrors only revealed themself this morning) and it’s just changed everything. This time the evil struck bigger, closer and more randomly than ever before in a horrifically planned attack. Paris is a city I once called home – I used to live just around the corner from the restaurant that was targeted, I have partied at the Bataclan, I have drunk in the streets and picnicked by the canal. Paris is weeping. And so am I.

But I need to be strong – not to stand up to terrorists and beat them, because we cant beat them, and we definitely cant beat them through more vioience. No, I need to be strong because today Sam and I had confirmation that we are bringing a new human being into this world. We watched as it lay in my womb – all 5cm of it – and squirmed a little when the radiologist prodded it. Jack watched on – this wasn’t Peppa Pig on the screen, but it was certainly something interesting. The relief I felt at seeing that image is indescribable and of course, I welled up as I threw glances between Sam, Jack and the screen whilst the obstetrician just kept asking me if I was ok? (Is it that weird to cry at the sight of your baby inside of you!?) My tears were also for Paris, and also for the refugees and their children and the circumstances they find themselves in and the crisis we and they are all going through. So yes, I feel like I’ve been crying a lot over the past 3 months and so this morning has been extra emotional.

One can’t help but think, what sort of world are we in anyway? When I look at Jack he is so pure and so beautiful, what can I tell him? What will I tell him? Is this now our reality? Why are we bringing more people in to this life, some might say. Is this what I feel? No. I refuse to believe that. I want to bring good people into this world, to educate and entertain them, and in turn have them spread love and laughter. That is the plan, and that is why this morning’s news fills me with happiness and pride.

So this post is dedicated to life – to celebrating it, mourning it and to living it.

Thanks for reading. Oh, and I made this 5 minute video about how I’ve been feeling the last three months and how I knew I was pregnant long before sticking any plastic white stick in my wee.

A NIGHT ON A CANAL BOAT

I don’t know what it is about this time of year, but come October, I always get itchy feet and want a break from the daily grind. It’s too cold by now to really travel to many places in Europe and still find sunshine (any suggestions welcome!), and yet the thought of flying further afield seems too indulgent after the rays we did get to enjoy over the Summer. And so it is that we decided to fully embrace the mini UK break (and the cold). And by mini, I mean mini. One night. 40 minutes from our home. Not warm. And yet, it was one of the most intimate and relaxing holidays we’ve ever had. The fact is, you don’t have to go far to feel like you’ve had a break and this is exactly what we experienced when we hopped in our car to spend a night on an air b n b Dutch barge on the Grand Union canal just outside of London.

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We started our mini break with a meal in a cosy pub near the canal before heading to the waters to find our new home. We’ve always been fans of Air b n b but this time ranks amongst the best of all our stays. Not only were our hosts Manuela and Richard there waiting for us, in the pitch black at 10pm (only we would arrive so late…) but they gave us a full tour of the boat and had left us provisions to get  started. The entire interior of the boat is wooden and the workmanship inside is just immense. We got the heater going and settled in for what was to be one of the best sleeps I’ve had in months whilst Jack slept snug (through the night) in a travel cot in the living room area.

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We spent the following morning doing my favorite thing of all: pottering in the boat. Fresh coffee and peanut butter on toast were the order of the day whilst we listened to Amos Lee (put your phone in a glass to create a decent speaker), watched Jack toddle about exploring his new surroundings before jumping into a bubble bath with daddy (yes, the canal boat had a bath!). It wasn’t until past midday that we actually ventured outside the boat, so content were we in our tiny beautiful home.

Before we set off for our mini mini break, I had said to Sam that the only goal was to not let Jack fall in the canal. I love watching him experience new things for the first time and I can’t wait to tell him about all the adventures his loopy parents took him on when he was little. The rest of the day was spent meandering along the canal and filling our tummies with a cooked breakfast at a local cafe on the water before promptly making a sharp exit as Jack didn’t seem so keen on sitting still. We walked on and Jack nodded off just in time for us to prop ourselves up on a bench and read the Saturday morning newspapers.

canal boat

By the afternoon, we were packed up and ready to leave our little canal boat and head back home feeling calm and content, all the more so because we knew we weren’t about endure horrific M25 traffic or airport security. Bring on the mini mini breaks, I say. And you really don’t have to venture far to find a perfect slice of holiday.

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“THE-BEST-THING-YOU’VE-MADE-IN-FOUR-YEARS” HUMMUS

When you consume as much hummus as we do as a family, and when you consider that a can of chickpeas comes in at 30 pence, it seems to make sense to start to at least entertain the idea of making our own. (I say “our own” but as you can see from the title of this post, you can probably deduce that muggins over here cooks, husband mainly just consumes….) I’m also coming to learn that whenever there is a magimix involved, this seems to generally be a signal to basically chuck anything in – which is my kinda cooking. Certainly, it seems hummus is no exception. Previously whenever I’d tried making it, I’d not had much success – it always came out a bit dry and certainly, not as tasty as a shop bought one. But this one turned out differently. I had a bit of coconut milk about to turn so I threw that in, and I think that was *the* ingredient. That, and some thai red curry paste leftover from the week before. Anyway, here’s what I did, and trust me (and @papalinouk), it tasted good. In fact, apparently better than anything else I’ve ever made since we’ve been married (that’s four years…) so I really recommend giving it a go.

Ingredients

  • 1 heaped cup chickpeas (rinse and drain well if you’re using canned)
  • 2 small gloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (depends how spicy you like…)
  • 1/2 cup  full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • A big squeeze of lime
  • Water to thin, if necessary
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

It’s super complicated…whack it all in the magimix and turn up that dial (oh, and it takes longer than you’d think to whizz it all up so give it a good few minutes)

 

The combination of living in the suburbs of London and not wanting life to “stop” meant that I forced myself to embrace public transport with a baby pretty quickly. However, it didn’t come that easily: I don’t think there’s that many things that phase me as a mum fortunately, but public transport seems to be one of them. View Post

Let’s Be Adventurers (Plus, Turning 30)

This time it feels different. It feels different because I’m pottering about with a naked person on the morning of my birthday, and that naked person isn’t my husband. It feels different because on the night of my birthday party, I am delighted to be in bed by midnight. It feels different because this year, it’s not really about me, it’s about us, and our journey.

I recently read an article over on the Pool (SUCH a great site) by Lauren Laverne on how having kids made her more efficient. I love this article, especially the part where she says  “Looking after a small baby is like rolling a huge boulder up a hill – simple, just bloody hard.” However, whereas Laverne talks of prioritizing what she works on, I find myself saying “yes” more and more often. I am embarking on new projects, not knowing where they will lead, surely knowing some will fail, but trying all the same. I am putting myself out to the universe and seeing what or who might want to talk back. (this blog you are reading now is a case in point)

Turning 30 has made me assess where I am, the kind of person I am and where I want to be. And time and time again, now that I’ve started a family with my number one, now that I am stable, the theme of living free and having adventures all together comes up. Call it an early mid life crisis, but turning 30 and becoming a mother makes me want to do more, learn more, give more, travel more and basically live more. I am addicted to travel blogs, to making things from scratch, reading about overseas current affairs.. but it doesn’t feel overwhelming like it may have done a few years back, it feels exciting and within reach.

So we will see where the next decade takes us but as we cruise, the bed will go unmade, the pottering will continue and the journey will surely evolve. All I know right now is that I feel younger than ever.

This post is dedicated to a very special person, Rebecca, my second cousin who lives on the other side of the world in Australia. She is one of the mothers out there who most inspires me  – check out her business and you’ll see just one of the reasons why. She made the beautiful spoon that features on the front of this blog post and she is insanely talented. Please go say hello.

EASY PEASY HEALTHY ICE CREAM.

For those times you crave something sweet, want to be healthy and only have 10 minutes (any longer and it’s all too easy to reach for the chocolate..), then this, my friends, is the recipe for you. It makes enough for at least 6 portions – perfect for a little serving every evening or for a meal with a group of friends.

Ingredients

  • 250 ml low fat yoghurt
  • 500g frozen berries (my favorite ingredient as they just sit in the freezer waiting to be used!)
  • 1 tbsp runny honey (the naughty part)
  • Crushed digestive biscuits
  • Mint

Prep time

  • 1 minute + 20 minutes foraging for your magimix if you are anything like me

Method

  • Throw all the ingredients in the magimixe and whizz until smooth. Serve with crumbled digestive biscuits on top and a sprig of mint on the side. I promise you, it will satisfy your sweet tooth without inducing that guilt pang afterwards.

Give it a go – and enjoy!

WOMAD FESTIVAL.

I’m of the belief that having a little one does not mean life has to stop. I’ve been going to festivals every Summer for as long as I can remember and I wasn’t about to let becoming a mama change that. (We took Jack to Somersault festival last year, but he was only 12 weeks old so it didn’t really count!)

WOMAD, which stands for World of Music, Art and Dance takes place in the exquisite Wiltshire countryside and is a real cultural feast musically, artistically, and gastronomically. Now in its thirty-third year, you can tell that this is a festival that know’s what works. Stewards welcomed us with warm smiles and we were even offered a lift by Tony (the most amazing steward I’ve ever met) who bundled us on to his 4 x 4 before we could even pretend to protest and drove us, and our ninety bags (here’s my festivals essentials), to the camping field as Jack squealed with joy at every turn. And this was just the beginning.

Jack was happy as Larry the majority of our time at WOMAD. From toddling around the grass in his wellies whilst we chugged back a cider and put up our bell tent to being stuck under a rain cover gnawing on a plum for an hour whilst Sam and I frantically packed everything up in torrential rain. The Taste the World food area was our first experience inside WOMAD where we refuelled on delicious Goan fish curry and had our first bop with Jack snoozing on my back in the Ergo carrier. At other times we would sip on rich Colombian coffee, indulge in freshly baked plump sugary donuts and dine on a huge tray of steaming paella.

Delicious fresh fish curry with enough rice to keep us going for a while!

Delicious fresh fish curry with enough rice to keep us going for a while!

The array of music was incredible and over the course of the weekend our ears were treated to Israeli Jazz, Ghanaian soul, French reggae and so much more. Whilst we weren’t able to “rave” as we may have done in past years, new experiences with music were formed.  One of the highlights of WOMAD for me took place around sunset. As the sun started descending and the Staves dulcet voices began wafting through the air, beautiful scenes began unfolding around us. I watched as families set about bedding down for the night with loving focus; women breastfeeding their baby to sleep propped up against the back of the tent, fathers making the final tweaks to their kids’ cart, groups of children being fed by the nominated mother. Calm contentment pervaded. We left our buggy outside the tent with another mum as we made our way into the tent to get closer to those magical voices, Jack on our back. In the end we settled near the back with another few families and watched with warm hearts as the older children welcomed Jack in to their group and game of limbo they had set up with a long piece of straw whilst we chatted away with the parents.

We loved the Steam Fair with its vintage rides and the Global Market, full of beautiful Peruvian feather earrings and fleecy blankets that made me feel cosy just looking at. At night fall we would change Jack into his babygrow and just about manage to give him some dinner propped up on a bench without him racing off to discover a new friend or wooden spoon to play with. Mealtimes are slightly tricky at a festival or camping without any sort of chair but once with his bottle of milk, dummy, nightshade and lullabies playing from our phone in the basket of the buggy (our secret weapon!), Jack would soon easily drift off to sleep leaving us to enjoy the night together as a couple, intermittently snuggling and shimmying at the sidelines as the headliners blasted out. All the while, with our child sleeping soundly by our side. What could be nicer?

Cuddles before bedtime

Cuddles before bedtime

What I love about festivals, and WOMAD excelled in this space, is the exceptional friendliness of everyone you meet. No one asks what your day job is, where you live or often, even what your name is. Everyone just wants to get lost in the colorful haze of the festival and throw themselves in to the “moment.” And when you have a child, it is those”moments”  that are so precious and beautiful. At one point, Jack struck up a relationship with a greying older man who dazzled him with some fancy footwork in the All Singing All Dancing tent and who Jack in turn made feel young again, I am sure.

Jack thankfully slept well in his travel cot in the tent, despite me being worried he’d be too cold (my main concern) Waking up in nature makes me so happy and I loved unlacing (yes, we have a lace up tent.. it’s mega old school) the tent to show Jack the trees and the sky followed by a little amble to spot all the early morning campers. On the last day of the festival, a huge torrential downpour hit the site from first thing in the morning and we decided to head home. Cue absolute mayhem and as much peppa pig as we could get down Jack as we packed everything up and took the tent down. WOMAD stewards again saved the day as we left them watching over Jack whilst we dashed to and from the car.

Thank you Peppa Pig. That is all.

Thank you Peppa Pig. That is all.

We were gutted to leave WOMAD early particularly as we knew we there was just so much on offer we’d not managed to experience – the World of Wellbeing with its host of holistic activities including the spa complete with pools, sauna, showers and even a cocktail bar, the World of Words for debates and discussions and mainly, the World of Kids which hosted themed workshops and activities around Myths, Legends and Folktales (each year it’s different) culminating in the Children’s Parade on the Sunday. Thank you so much for having us WOMAD…we’ll be back.

And so has having a child change my festival experience? Yup. It’s just got even better.

xxx

P. S Here’s a quick video on our time there…take a peek and subscribe to the channel if you enjoyed this slice of our life 🙂