Saturday, 22 February 2014

Rainy Day Fun

Water, water everywhere, but not a thing to do…that’s how rainy days so often feel in our house. But given the recent weather, we’ve been trying to be creative and inventive when it comes to rainy-day activities. Rather than diving in to the muddiest of puddles (Peppa Pig has a lot to answer for), my children have been honing their building, making and cooking skills. Here are a few fun ideas you could try next time the day’s a washout (i.e. tomorrow!).

1. Building A Den

Building a den2

There is something about cardboard boxes, suspended sheets and confined spaces that hold a mystical quality for children like no other. My two have spent many an afternoon happily ensconced in a cardboard box, pulling each other around the kitchen. We’ve stepped things up a gear in recent weeks, by building a den.

The easiest way to do this us to hang a bed sheet over two chairs, facing away from each other. Scatter cushions, or use a duvet on the floor inside to make it extra cosy, and pull out the fairy lights from your Christmas decoration box. You will have a guaranteed hour of peace, while they happily sit quietly under a sheet. Cardboard boxes can be used for tunnels and connecting corridors (we used a particularly large one as a princess castle, which was coloured in to pink perfection). For an extra treat, make a picnic and eat it in the tent. Something that always goes down well are “toasted” marshmallows (ordinary ones on chopsticks in our case). My two love them.

2. Homemade Popcorn

Homemade popcorn

I love cooking, and think its so important to get kids involved with it from a young age. However, I do find that my two get bored after a few minutes, especially if there are lots of things they can’t do (knives, hot pans etc). So, homemade popcorn is a brilliant option. It’s far more nutritious than cakes or biscuits, quick to make and, best of all, lots of fun. There are lots if varieties of popcorn available, from bags that you put in the microwave, to blue-corn kernels, which you heat in a lightly oiled pan until popped. Once you’ve popped the corn, the world is your oyster in terms of flavours. Melt some butter (I use about 25g for every 100g of popcorn kernels), and add sugar for a caramel flavour, peanut butter for a nutty taste, or some chia and flax seeds with a squeeze of honey for a healthier treat. For a fun option, a drop of food colouring in the butter will make the popcorn any colour you choose.

3. Paper chains

Paper chains

Barely a day goes by without one of my children giving me a “work of art”, normally a scribble on a piece of paper. They love being creative, and it keeps them busy and happy, so it works for me, too. But, rather than just painting or colouring, we have been making lovely decorations for their bedrooms. Seeing their proud faces as we hang paper chains and bunting up in their rooms is the icing on the cake.

Paper chains are great for younger children, as they are really simple and don’t involve anything too messy. You can buy ready-glued strips, which you just lick and stick, but if you feel a bit more adventurous, and want some prettier chains, scraps of wallpaper work brilliantly, and you can match the chains to your child’s bedroom decor. Simply use glue or sticky tape to make the interlocking loops. For bunting, again wallpaper scraps work brilliantly, or any paper. Cut out diamond shapes. Fold them in half, and use sticky tape (or staples) to secure some ribbon or string inside the triangles, in the fold. You can then decorate the bunting with their names or anything your children can come up with. The White Company Princess finger painting kit went down very well with my daughter.

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Saturday, 8 February 2014

Get 'App-y

For the last few months, our whole family have been learning all about phonics, trying to help Fifi learn to read and write. It's much harder (for us grown ups, that is) than I had realised, much more than just learning ABC. Fifi loves nothing more than correcting my mispronunciation of letters ("it's mmmmmm, not muh, for mummy, silly"). So, I've been using apps to try and make learning a bit more interactive, and much more accurate than my teaching appears to be. 

These are our current favourites:

Mr. Thorne Does Phonics

Possibly my favourite educational app ever (quite possibly something to do with Mr. Thorne's jaunty trilby and cheeky smile), this YouTube sensation has created some brilliant apps that engage my three year old and really make learning sounds and letters a fun experience. This is a brilliant collection of short videos, that has really helped Fifi with getting her letter sounds just right. I highly recommend it!

Hip Hop Hen ABC Flashcards Songs

For a more musical approach to learning letters, Hip Hop Hen's stunning illustrated  flashcard app, uses catchy, fun songs to captivate children and help them to learn phonics. Fifi really loves using this app, and spends longer playing on it than most others. Created by an experienced teacher and educational researcher and a nursery headmistress, this educational and innovative app is a brilliant approach,  and feels much more like a game than learning. Hip Hop Hen's two other apps are just as fab. 

Funimal Phonics

Another flashcard style app, this one uses active animals (think dancing hippos and roaring lions) to engage imaginations. This app definitely makes Fifi smile, and also engages Arthur (18 months), who loves making animals move. A really good option for engaging younger children; it's simple to use and lots of fun.

Me Thorne Does Phonics, £2.99

Hip Hop Hen abc flashcards sings, £2.99

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Skiing Saviours

We have just arrived home from a fabulous week of skiing in Courchevel. We've skied every year since having children, and definitely learnt a few tricks to make holidays, which are inherently baby unfriendly, a little easier. Here are my top tips;


If you want to hit the piste, you need done form if childcare that you can rely on and feel relaxed enough to hurtle down a mountain. My two top choices are my lovely parents or using my favourite holiday Scott Dunn, who provide wonderful childcare, either in the form of a nanny or a crèche. Both options have worked really well for us! 

Ski Boots/Kit

If your time skiing is as precious as it is to me, you need to be in comfortable, warm kit. This year I decided to wear my trusty old ski boots, that I had fitted pre-babies. Sadly, my feet have clearly got wider (/fatter) since carrying the weight of two children around for 9 months, and after a day of skiing, I was not only in agony, but also one toenail short. In my agony, I found the most incredible ski boot company, called Surefoot, who custom make ski boots to fit your feet and skiing style perfectly. Despite a throbbing toe, my week of skiing was salvaged, and my boots were as comfy as a pair of Uggs.

In terms of ski kit, I always go for performance over style, as I hate being cold. Gloves are the most important part for me, and Hestra have proved to be the best brand I've found. For stylish and practical ski and snowboarding kit, Donna Ida makes some pretty cool stuff in her 'Perfect Moment' range.

Skin and hair

The wind, sun and freezing temperatures destroy both my skin and hair, making them feel dry and look dreadful. This year I have relied on Skinceuticals Emoliance, which deeply hydrates with leaving an oil slick on your face. For my hair, Kiehls olive fruit oil hair pak, combined with Phyto 9 kept my tresses from too much damage.

Finally, it turns out that my two children both suffer horribly from car sickness, so driving up the mountain is a pretty nasty business. We tried using a travel sickness medicine, but found that it made them both groggy and grumpy for the entire journey, and were still sick. My only tips would be, pack a fresh set of clothes for everyone in your hand luggage. Sitting covered in vomit for two hours is about as bad as it gets.....

Monday, 6 January 2014

Favourite Things

Having spent the last few weeks enjoying spending time with my family, I thought it was time to share a few of my favourite Christmas presents and purchases. I was so fortunate to receive some wonderful gifts this year (Mr. G did well!), and some brilliant beauty and make up bits and pieces, which, so far, are proving to be staples in my new year routine!

Charlotte Tilbury make up

Make up maestro Charlotte Tilbury has always been a huge source if inspiration to me. Her ability to wear lashings of eyeliner and sky high heels on a daily basis, combined with incredible talent in the make up world, make her one of my idols. She recently launched her own range of make up and skincare, and for Christmas I received a big bundle of goodies. I have been beyond impressed with every single product. The eye shadows are perfectly toned in their palettes, blend beautifully and last all day (I adore Uptown Girl), the Rock 'N' Kohl eyeliner sets and does not budge, the Eyebrow pencil guarantees perfect arches and Charlotte's Secret Cream is the best moisturiser I have tried in a very long time. I am truly impressed by every product, it's well worth a look if you fancy some new make up for the new year.

Zelens PHA+ Bio Peel Resurfacing Facial Pads

Shortly before Christmas, while wandering around my local Space Nk branch, these facial pads caught my eye, and I decided to splurge. Containing Alpha and Beta hydroxy acids, they promise brighter, clearer skin, with fewer wrinkles. I've been using them daily and have definitely started to see some impressive results. My skin looks smoother and brighter, despite eating and drinking far too much over Christmas.

Jo Malone Peony and Blush Suede

A perfect present, as I adore perfume, this had quickly become my new favourite. Floral yet fresh, I adore this blousey fragrance with a hint of rose. It smells heavenly and definitely gets my mornings off to a good start!

L'Oreal mascara

Another purchase for myself, I ran out of mascara recently (shock horror!), and decided to try out a few high street brands I'd heard good things about. The two that have impressed me the most are both by L'oreal,  Miss Manga, their newest offering, and Telescopic. Both give amazingly full, long, defined lashes that rival any expensive brand on the market. The Telescopic is a wetter mascara, that takes a while to dry (don't sneeze!), but I adore it. Miss Manga adds volume and really gets into the lashes, especially the lower ones. Two coats of either is enough for full, fluttery lashes.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Model Method

I love finding new exercise classes and concepts, but nothing has got me more excited in recent months than 'The Model Method' at Absolute Pilates. I'd been doing a bit of reformer pilates, and although thrilled with the results, wAs keen to push myself a bit harder.

Fortunately, I met the wonderful Hollie, a pilates teacher like no other. Strong, fit and super knowledgable, she created 'The Model Method' which combines high intensity interval training (the fat burning, sweat inducing stuff), with lengthening and toning pilates, to totally transform your body. I've been combining classes (at Absolute Pilates) and 1:1 sessions with Hollie, three times a week intensively for a month, and have never looked or felt better. I can't recommend Hollie and The Model Method highly enough!

Hollie Grant, visit for more information or find her in Twitter @pilatespt

Absolute Pilates, unit G, 19 Heathmans Road, SW6 4TJ. Visit

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Perfect Presents

Christmas is just a few weeks away, and I'm so behind in my Christmas shopping. So today I've been researching fab presents for my family, and thought I'd share some with you.

For the Grandma who is always happy to give up a Saturday night: a stunning scarf from Lily and Lionel

To keep Grandpa's toes toasty when he's running around after the grandchildren: sheepskin slipper from Hush

Perfect for little Princesses and Astronauts: adorable bedding

Stocking Fillers for Little Ones: moccasins to keep their toes warm when being chased by Grandpa!

For the husband who likes to relax with a dram of Scotland's finest, Whisky and Water without the hangover

And just in case Mr.G is reading: a cost cashmere intarsia jumper by Chinti and Parker

Lily and Lionel Scarves, from £120 at

Sheepskin Scuffs, £50 from

Princess and Astronaut bedding sets, £60 each from Cox and Cox

Moccis, handsewn Swedish Moccasin slippers for babies, children and adults, £34.97 from

Noble Isle Whisky and Water, from £18 for a shower gel, from

Chinti and Parker jumper, £350 from Katie and Jo

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Time for a Treat?

In between rehearsing nativity songs, cooking chicken casserole on a camping stove (we're doing building work) and buying relatives all manner if Christmas presents, I decided that I'd treat myself to a few new beauty buys. And my goodness, they are amazing.

Chanel have launched their new Christmas collection, Nuit Infinie de Chanel, which is breathtakingly beautiful and wearable. The eyeshadow compact, Ombré Matelasses De Chanel contains shades that are so wearable for day and evening. A mixture of metallics and matte shades textured with the iconic Chanel quilting, they will see me through the festive season with a big dose of luxury. 

The nights are getting chilly, and I find it hard to sleep, so I've been having long soaks in Kniepp Valerian and Hops bath salts, which I am convinced help me sleep deeply and wake up feeling really refreshed. The scent is a love or hate one, fresh and citrusy, but the bright azure blue colour the salts turn the water is incredible.

Clinique Cubby Stick lip colours are an easy way to brighten your look without worrying about perfectly applied lipstick. They slide on like a balm, with a sheer coat of glossy colour. I've been wearing Pudgy Peony for a fresh pink lip. It also keeps dry lips soft and moisturised, so ideal for winter days .

My hands get so cold and chapped from pushing the buggy (I never remember gloves until it's too late), so hand cream is a must have for me. Jurlique's Rose hand cream smells heavenly, and is an intensive dose of moisture for dry hands. It's a heavy duty lotion, that takes a bit if time to sink in, but really leaves my hands feeling amazing (and smelling good) for hours.

Chanel Ombres Matelasses De Chanel, £48 from Chanel counters 

Kniepp Valerian and Hoos bath salts, £7.95 from Feel Unique

Clinique Chubby sticks, £17 from Clinique counters

Jurlique Rose Hand Cream, £17 from

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