Monthly Archives: August 2014

30th August 2014

10 Things That Make Parents Mad

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1. People that use Parent Parking Spaces when they don’t have kids. If they have the pleasure of walking around that shop without a baby crying or toddler pulling tins off a shelf, they certainly don’t need the privilege or extra wide spots and a shorter walk to the store. Ditto to people who use them with teenagers. Just no.

2. Unwarranted advice. The old lady that tells you the baby is hungry when he has just finished a mammoth 6-hour breastfeeding session. The ex-midwife that stops to tell you the muslin draped over the pram is restricting the airflow to your sleeping child. The childless person that tells you their niece/nephew/long lost best friend was sleeping through the night at 2 weeks old or potty trained in just a day. Shut it.

3. People who take the lift when they don’t have a pram or disability. Lazy. Just lazy.

4. Anything that wakes up a sleeping child. The person that bumps into your pram pushing past. The dog that barks next door. The postman ringing the doorbell just as the baby’s eyes start to shut. You can only pray for a healthy dose of karma.

5. When you go to the fridge to make a much-needed cup of coffee and the husband has used up all the milk. Practically worth a divorce.

6. When you prepare a delicious and nutritious meal for your child and they don’t even take a bite. And even worse when the plate is thrown across the room and you are forced to wipe aforementioned meal from cupboards, toasters, kettles and dishwasher. And even worse that that when they take pleasure in your rage.

7. When children refuse to nap / when children are still awake hours after their bedtime / when children wake up hours before their usual wake up time. Basically anything to do with children and sleep. Worthy of a silent scream and fist pump into a pillow.

8. When you call the doctors and are given an appointment three weeks away. And when the person on the other end of the phone has no interest whatsoever in the fact that the suspicious itchy rash / cough that wakes them / seven-nappy-changes-an-hour may result in your own demise. The disinterest in their voice is what really tips you over the edge.

9. People who complain loudly about your child’s presence / behaviour / noise levels. However much it is annoying them, you can guarantee it is annoying you ten fold.

10. When a childless friend asks if you want to go out that evening. Of course you want to go out that evening. You would pay good money to go out that evening. But instead you will be donning your pyjamas at 7pm and taking up residence on the sofa with a dodgy quiz show and vat of wine.



27th August 2014

Pizza in just 5 minutes

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Do you ever have those days when you have about 5 minutes to prepare dinner for the kids after arriving home from late afternoon activities? Or maybe afternoons where you forget about dinner and only remember when the toddler starts throwing himself on the floor in a last ditch attempt to be fed? (or is that just me?) I have a solution…

We went to a friends for the afternoon at the weekend – and they taught us the cleverest tip for preparing pizza in 5 minutes. It really does take 5 minutes from cupboard to plate – and the best bit is that it’s absolutely delicious (we enjoyed this meal for lunch yesterday when the kids weren’t even at home) and it’s much healthier than the average pizza too, with a light, crispy base that makes the whole pizza just over 100 calories.

Here’s what you need to buy and do:

Ingredients:

Pack of Tortilla Wraps
Bottle of Tomato Passata
Grated Cheddar Cheese
Toppings (we used ham and cherry tomatoes, but the options are endless)
Italian Herb Seasoning (optional)

Recipe

1. Spread the Tomato Passata generously over the Tortilla Wrap

2. Sprinkle Grated Cheddar Cheese over the top

3. Add toppings and optional seasoning

4. Pop in the oven on medium heat for 4-5 minutes

5. Eat

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Ella and Stanley tuck in

I am planning to freeze a pack of tortillas (my sister reliably informs me that they easily peel apart once frozen) and keep a bottle of passata in the cupboard at all times. That way, I can prepare a meal in a few minutes if I have nothing ready or if a friend decides to stay for tea. The range of toppings is endless (blue cheese was a winner yesterday for the adults – I’ll be trying tuna and sweetcorn for Stanley next).

So voila, a meal in minutes! Let me know if you try it.



26th August 2014

9 of the best beauty products for Mums (from as little as £2.29!)

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Although I prefer chatting about the kids these days, my career history is in beauty journalism. In fact, I have two other websites that specialise in all things beauty (The-Beauty-Pages.com and Dubai-Beauty-Pages.com if you fancy a nose). So I thought it might be nice to do a post about the beauty products I rely on as a Mum – the things that hide my tiredness after sleepless nights and the things that save me precious time in the morning.

From hiding dark circles under eyes, to reviving hair on  days we really don’t have the time or energy to wash our hair, I can guarantee these 9 products will come in very useful.

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1. Amazing Concealer

You know those nights where you get about two hours sleep? I’m quite familiar with them – and this incredible concealer by Amazing Cosmetics is my secret weapon. It is quite literally the best concealer I have ever tried, covering dark circles and blemishes in a matter of seconds – and staying put too, meaning you can convince people you have had ample sleep all day long.

It’s currently reduced to £15.60 (click here)

2. Clarins Flash Balm

I’ve been using this secret weapon for years, but it’s really come into its own since I’ve had children. On days when I am feeling less than pretty, I whack it on after my moisturiser (before foundation) and it magically transforms skin into naturally-glowy, wide-awakeness. You have to try it to believe it – and a tube lasts ages and ages (like a whole year).

It costs £29 (click here)

3. Vaseline Spray & Go Body Moisturiser

I have better things to be doing than moisturising my skin these days, but I can’t avoid the fact that my skin is ridiculously dry and needs regular shots of hydration. This brilliant spray-on moisturiser is the answer to my beauty prayers, taking literally seconds to spritz over my skin after a shower. It’s available in three variations: Essential Moisture, Cocoa Radiant and Aloe Fresh.

It costs £3.99 (click here)

4. Boots Botanics Micellar 3 in 1 Cleansing Solutions

Can I be bothered to stand over a sink and thoroughly wash my skin every night? Or would I prefer to collapse into bed almost immediately? You know the answer to those questions, which is why I love this product. Just saturate a cotton bud and swipe it across skin to remove makeup, dirt and grime from skin in a few seconds flat. I used to spend over £20 on bottles of Micellar Water, so this incredibly affordable bottle is a very welcome addition to my  dressing table.

It costs £2.29 (click here)

5. NIP + FAB Glycolic Fix Exfoliating Facial Pads

Another amazing time saver, these pads mean I can regularly exfoliate without having to bother with messy, time-consuming scrubs. Simply wipe one across skin after cleansing and the job is done in a few seconds. They are very gentle to skin too, making them suitable for even sensitive skin that is feeling dull or congested.

The pads cost £12.99 (click here)

6. Benefit Lemon Aid Colour Correcting Eyelid Primer

It’s amazing how much more awake and alert we look when we hide redness from our eyelids – and this clever product from Benefit corrects the colour in seconds. Despite the product having what appears to be a bright yellow hue, this is hidden on application. I use it every day to hide the horrors of the night before.

It costs £16.50 (click here)

7. Lanolips Antibacterial Hand Cream

Want a handcream for mosturising hands that are constantly washing up, doing laundry, and cleaning the house. Want one that also removes 99.9% germs so you can keep a tube in your bag to use on your own hands and the kid’s hands after eating, nappy changes, and trips to public loos? This brilliant hand cream does all that, from a brand I really trust too.

It costs £9.85 (click here)

8. Elemis Pro-Collagen Hydra-Gel Eye Masks

OK, so these are expensive – but if you have a wedding or other special occasion and you want to hide the fact you had very little sleep the night before, they will do it in a matter of minutes. They lift the eye area really impressively – I know, because I’ve tried them on one eye only and compared the difference!  If you have the spare budget, it’s really worth having a pack in the bathroom cabinet for those days when you want to look your very best.

They cost £46 (click here)

9. Herbal Essences Clearly Naked Dry Shampoo

You know those days when you really don’t have time to wash your hair? We’ve all been there – and that’s why a tube of dry shampoo is a necessity on every mum’s dressing table. This one is cheap, effective, and smells good too.

It costs £2.99 (click here)



23rd August 2014

Our visit to ‘The Making Of Harry Potter’

My boys are too young to read and watch Harry Potter, but I feel like I grew up with it. In reality, the books didn’t start hitting shelves until I was 19, so it was hardly a childhood thing. My Mum had bought the first book for my brother shortly after it was published, but he didn’t show any interest so I swiped it for a holiday to Thailand. I was so gripped that I took it with me on a day trip to Bangkok – and managed to leave it in the mini bus, one chapter from the end. I bought a new copy as soon as we got back to the UK just so I could find out what happened – and from that moment, I was a self-confessed Harry Potter geek.

My sister, my cousins, and my husband are the same – so when we heard that there was a place just North of London where we could see the sets and costumes with our very own eyes, we obviously bought tickets immediately.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour of ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ is located in Leavesden, just a few miles from the M25. Although we were childless for the day (praise be, it’s always nice once in a while isn’t it?), there were lots of children there – and if your boys are old enough to have read the books and watched the movies, I can guarantee they will be absolutely captivated by the place. We enjoyed every second (bar the bit where it rained as we were waiting for our Hot Dogs, but Warner Bros can’t be blamed for that – at least I don’t think they can, but I wouldn’t be surprised).

I’m not going to talk too much about the tour in this post as I don’t want to spoil all the studio secrets for you, so I will just share my photos and give a short description. If you want the link for booking tickets, scroll to the end of the post.

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The lobby – Starbucks also exists here (very helpful if your baby wakes you at 4.30am followed by his brother at 6am – I was first in the queue).

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The Cupboard Under The Stairs – located alongside the queue to get into the experience (nb: the queue would move a lot quicker if people weren’t vying to get a photo – I was part of the problem).

The tour starts with the Great Hall. I obviously took the opportunity for a selfie - pretty sure Harry wouldve done the same given an iPhone

The tour starts with The Great Hall. I obviously took the opportunity for a selfie – pretty sure Harry wouldve done the same given an iPhone

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Gryffindor common room. I was thinking about it and I am pretty sure I would be in Gryffindor. So this is basically my common room too.

Gryffindor common room. I was thinking about it and I am pretty sure I would be in Gryffindor. So this is basically my common room too.

Harry, Ron and Hermione had lots of conversations around this fire place. Remember?

Harry, Ron and Hermione had lots of conversations around this fire place. Remember?

This little wizard was practicing his wand technique in front of a animated screen. Pretty cool for little ones (I think, I hope his parents got that robe in the gift shop).

This little wizard was practicing his wand technique in front of a animated screen. Pretty cool for little ones (I think, I hope his parents got that robe in the gift shop).

Snape's Potion Room. Scary.

Snape’s Potion Room. Scary.

One of my favourite sets - The Burrow (home of the Weasley's).

One of my favourite sets – The Burrow (home of the Weasley’s).

Hagrid's Hut. Definitely too small for actual Hagrid so I think they mustve only used this for exterior shots.

Hagrid’s Hut. Definitely too small for actual Hagrid so I think they mustve only used this for exterior shots.

Remember Dolores Umbridge? She makes my skin crawl and here are her costumes. The next picture is of her office - apparently they found the furniture at a Arabic furniture store in North London (doesn't surprise it, we're used to a bit of glitz in the Middle East).

Remember Dolores Umbridge? She makes my skin crawl and here are her costumes. The next picture is of her office – apparently they found the furniture at a Arabic furniture store in North London (doesn’t surprise it, we’re used to a bit of glitz in the Middle East).

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Then we went outside - and guess what, there was Butterbeer!

Then we went outside – and guess what, there was Butterbeer!

Tip re: Butterbeer - don't drink a whole one on your own. Get someone else to buy one (and therefore pay: bonus) and have a few sips. I was sure I wouldn't like it, so didn't get one of my own - and for that reason, I was the only one that liked the stuff as I only had a few sips. That said, the little take-home-with-you tankards are quite cool (£6.95 for the pleasure).

Tip re: Butterbeer – don’t drink a whole one on your own. Get someone else to buy one (and therefore pay: bonus) and have a few sips. I was sure I wouldn’t like it, so didn’t get one of my own – and for that reason, I was the only one that liked the stuff as I only had a few sips. That said, the little take-home-with-you tankards are quite cool (£6.95 for the pleasure).

This might look like a normal house, but no - it's 4 Privet Drive.

This might look like a normal house, but no – it’s 4 Privet Drive.

The bridge to Hogwarts

The bridge to Hogwarts

My absolute favourite bit of the ENTIRE tour - Diagon Alley. I liked it so much I got another selfie, but this one wasn't a success so I wont be sharing.

My absolute favourite bit of the ENTIRE tour – Diagon Alley. I liked it so much I got another selfie, but this one wasn’t a success so I wont be sharing.

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Lots of heads. Unsettling.

Lots of heads. Unsettling.

The actual Dobby

The actual Dobby (spell check wants to change this to Bobby – it obviously isn’t a Harry Potter fan).

An actual Death Eater

An actual Death Eater

I am still a bit sad that there isn't an actual Hogwarts castle where the cast spent months filming - but this incredible model, built by the film's art department, is a close second. The exterior camera shots of the castle were created from camera sweeps of this large model, then made to look real with special effects. You have to see this, it is really special to Harry Potter geeks like me.

I am still a bit sad that there isn’t an actual Hogwarts castle where the cast spent months filming – but this incredible model, built by the film’s art department, is a close second. The exterior camera shots of the castle were created from camera sweeps of this large model, then made to look real with special effects. You have to see this, it is really special to Harry Potter geeks like me.

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Oh and if you want a souvenir of your day, there are plenty. We bought this chocolate frog back for my husband for (walt for it) £7.95. It's so thick we can't actually work out how to eat it and he is still complete bar his right hind leg.

Oh and if you want a souvenir of your day, there are plenty. We bought this chocolate frog back for my husband for (walt for it) £7.95. It’s so thick we can’t actually work out how to eat it and he is still complete bar his right hind leg.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour of ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ costs £31 for adults and £23.50 for children (4 and up). It’s free for kids under 4, but you still need to get them a ticket (not charged). Family tickets cost £93 (2 adults and 2 children – or 1 adult and 3 children). Purchase tickets here.

 

 



22nd August 2014

18 of the coolest jumpers for boys

Feeling the chill? I certainly am – and I am rapidly running out of long-sleeves for my boys, who are more used to living in T-shirts in the warm Dubai climate. We’re still in the UK for a few more weeks, so I have been spending some time browsing for a few jumpers to see us through until September (no doubt this will prompt the sun to come back out in typical ‘sod’s law’ fashion, but at least they can wear them on our Christmas trip home if that’s the case…)

So without further ado, here are my favourite jumpers for boys this autumn. Happy shopping!

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1. Stripe Guard Jumper, £30, The White Company (sizes 2 to 8 years) (click here)

2. Smiley Face Sweat Top, £7, Mothercare (sizes 2 to 8 years) (click here)

3. Engineer Stripe Sweater, £14.95, GAP Kids (sizes 12 months to 5 years) (click here)

4. Batman Jumper, from £18, Marks & Spencer (sizes 5 to 14 years) (click here)

5. Colourblock Crew, from £12, Next (sizes 3 months to 6 years) (click here)

6. ‘This Boy Rocks’ Jumper, £9.99, H&M (sizes 18 months to 10 years) (click here)

7. Striped Sweater, £65, Elias & Grace (sizes 4 to 14 years) (click here)

8. BAM Jumper, £20, Pumpkin Patch at House of Fraser (sizes 0-18 months) (click here)

9. ‘Pullover’ Jumper, £62, Stella McCartney at Alex & Alexa (sizes 2 to 14 years) (click here)

10. NYC Sweater, £14, River Island (sizes 3 to 12 years) (click here)

11. Dog Jumper, £22, Mamas & Papas (sizes 2 to 6 years) (click here)

12. Half Zip Jumper, from £29.95, Joules (sizes 3 to 12 years) (click here)

13. Dinosaur Hoodie, from £15, John Lewis (sizes 2 to 12 years) (click here)

14. Cashmere Star Jumper, from £59, Not on the Highstreet (sizes 1 to 10 years) (click here)

15. Dogtooth Jumper, £14, Baby K at Mothercare (sizes 1 to 8 years) (click here)

16. Cable Knit Jumper, £20, Jo Jo Maman Bebe (sizes 6 months to 5 years) (click here)

17. Sunglasses Sweater, £46, Emile et Ida at Cissy Wears (sizes 1 to 6 years) (click here)

18. Dog Jumper, £22.47 (reduced), Barbour at House of Fraser (sizes 8 – 13 years) (click here)



19th August 2014

10 Ways Your Life Will Change As A Mum…

1. You will forget how to work your alarm clock.

2. Going to the supermarket on your own will feel like a holiday.

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3. You won’t flinch when you reach into your bag and discover a handful of raisins, an apple core, and a suspicious sticky smear.  You won’t even clean it up. That will be a job for tomorrow.

4. The most important thing in the world will be not to wake your children during nap times, So you will sneak in to watch them sleeping. You may even risk a photo.

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5. The theme tunes to shows like Peppa Pig and Balamory will seep into your mind at unexpected moments. Sometimes words will even escape your mouth. This is most likely to happen during important client meetings and silent train journeys.

6. You will wonder how you ever survived without baby wipes.

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7. Going to the toilet on your own will become an opportunity to catch up on text messages, emails, and Facebook.

8. You will perfect a poker face for when people without children tell you they are tired.

9. You will happily trade in your iPhone for five minutes peace and quiet

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10. When you think back to times in your life before you had kids, such as holidays or your wedding day, you will have a moment where you wonder ‘Who looked after the kids?’



15th August 2014

Win a set of My Nametags

This competition is now closed! Congratulations Sarah Simpson! 

After my post yesterday about baby names, this post and competition seems quite apt. I have to say that there’s something very lovely about ordering your first set of name stickers for a baby or toddler. It’s lovely to write their name in a card, but there’s something special about seeing it printed in black and white (or blue, or green, or polka dots).

I think seeing Stanley’s name on a sticker was one of the first times I realised he was growing up – a proper little person that needed his own drinks beaker and own nursery bag. Not just ‘Louise’s baby’ but ‘Stanley Sleightholme’ – a person in his own right.

I needed to get some printed for Wilfred recently as he’s been to nursery a few days this summer  - and right on cue, a company called My Nametags offered to send me some for review. I had a lot of fun online designing them – you can choose the font colour, the background colour or pattern, and the motif that goes alongside it. Here’s what I designed for the boys…

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These stickers can be used on cups, beakers, stationary, and other plastic items (they are dishwasher and microwave safe) or on clothing (stick to the garment label and wait 24 hours before washing).

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The best bit is that they are very affordable at only £11.99 for 56 stickers – so if you need to get prepared for the new school term, I recommend getting online and having a play with the design tool here.

You could also win a set, as the very kind people at My Nametags have offered me an extra set to give away to my readers. To enter, simply comment below with:

1) Your name

2) Three words to sum up your plans over the weekend

If you want to order a set in the meantime, visit www.mynametags.com



14th August 2014

Naming my boys

When I was pregnant with my second baby, I thought it was incredibly important that the name I chose sat beautifully with the name of first. As I sat there stroking my bump and pondering the subject, I had wonderful visions of strangers approaching me to ask their names, before proudly replying “Stanley and Wilfred” – or when they were older “Stan and Wilf”. Yes, they sounded quite perfect together and I couldn’t wait to speak the two names in partnership.

Fast forward 6 months and I have been asked their names a grand total of zero times. This is mainly because I have only spent time with people who already know the names of my children, so I haven’t had the chance to blurt it out. Perhaps I will the chance when they are older and I call them downstairs for dinner (another wonderful vision as we don’t even own an upstairs), yelling their names in unison: “STANLEY! WILFRED! DINNER TIME! But in reality, I know that I will probably just yell BOYS! and wait for them to appear.

So really, choosing two names that work perfectly together doesn’t really matter so much.

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On their own, however, I do think names are very important. Rewind back to my first pregnancy and I was very keen for our son to be named something strong, traditional, and fairly unique. Back in 2011 (I know it wasn’t that long ago, but it feels like it to me as I have barely slept since), the name ‘Stanley’ was at number 80 in the Top 100 Baby Names in the UK. I didn’t know any Stanleys myself, but I knew of the existence of several through friends.

The epiphany came when I was working in London for three days with colleagues Eleanor and Astrid. I had found out I was pregnant on the first morning and the other two had no idea – but whilst sat having a break over tea in a posh hotel, the conversation turned to baby names. Eleanor told me that her son had a friend at nursery called “Stan” – and I loved it instantly. That conversation sealed that tiny little developing embryo’s fate as Stanley.

I was nervous that people wouldn’t like the name and had moments of doubt, saying it over and over again out loud like a mad woman and wondering if we should re-consult the Top 10, but I’m very glad we stuck to our guns as the name couldn’t suit our cheeky Stanley any better (of course, I’d think that if he was named Fred, Jack, or Stardust too).

Skip to 2014 and Stanley has crept up to 74 – in fact, since he’s been born, two other friends on my Facebook feed have given their son the same name. I like to think I’m a trendsetter, but the truth is that names travel quicker than the speed of light so it only takes a few births to send a name shooting back up the list.

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Having named one child after an old man (after all, Stanley was at its most popular in 1924), I needed another little old man – and Wilfred was in my mind since I’d heard about the birth of another little Wilfred back in 2012 (see, I steal names too). Despite it being far more unique at number 293 in the UK, I didn’t have any doubts at all this time. It just worked.

Maybe it’s because my children look suspiciously like old men when they are born, but the beauty of naming a child is that they seem to suit their name the minute they arrive in the world. Both times I have welcomed my screaming little newborns by saying their names out loud as they are placed on my chest: “Hello Stanley!”Hello Wilfred”. And with that, it was done.

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If you want to check out how popular a name is for your soon-to-be bundle (or fancy seeing how your child’s name is doing on the popularity front), you can check out this clever website http://names.darkgreener.com/ that tracks a name’s progress on the popularity front in the UK from 1996 onwards.

How did you choose names for your little people? I would love to hear what you chose and how the names were inspired!



10th August 2014

5 Healthy Recipes for Kids

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The readership of this blog has grown quite a bit since I posted this ditty about having a second child (it’s not the first time time something has ‘gone viral’ in our house, but thankfully there was no need for 3 bottles of Calpol and 12 packs of nappies this time round). So thank you everyone for visiting; you are most welcome in these parts.

As so many of you are new to the blog, I thought it might be nice to recap my favourite 5 x healthy recipes posted recently on the blog – and as the weather isn’t so brilliant today, maybe you could spend some time with the kids in the kitchen instead. Happy cooking.

1 – Frozen Yoghurt Covered Blueberries (click here for recipe)

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2 – Chocolate Muffins with hidden vegetables (click here for recipe)

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3 – Healthy Pizza Muffins (click here for recipe)

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4 – Easy Pancake Breakfast Muffins (click here for recipe)

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5 – Healthy Chocolate Mousse (click here for recipe)

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9th August 2014

Something for the Weekend – UK and Dubai (09.08.14)

Something for the Weekend

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Hello UK Mums! I was very excited to hear this week that the brilliant Baby K range at Mothercare (designed by Myleen Klass) is now available right up to aged 8 – so we can dress our little men in stylish clobber for longer. It’s really affordable too, with jackets in the region of £30, jumpers around £14, trousers at £13, and T-Shirts starting at just £8.

The new Autumn Winter 2014 range has just gone live – and here’s my top pick of new buys for boys from the range!

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1. Tiger Shirt Jacket, from £7 (click here)

2. Print Turn Up Jeans, from £9 (click here)

3. Checked Shirt, from £7 (click here)

4. Dogtooth Jumper, from £14 (click here)

5. Block Stripe Polo Shirt, from £8 (click here)

6. Canvas Trousers, from £9 (click here)

Dubai

Dubai Mums with LEGO mad kids; I have news of an event your brood will love!

Make your way over to Dubai Mall until 15th August for a free LEGO workshop. No need to book – just turn up and let your kids enjoy the organised activities and free play. Running every day from now to the 15th at Souk Dome (2pm to 10pm), it’s the perfect way to entertain little people while it’s too hot to head outside. And it’s free too!

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Have a great weekend!