Shoe Shopping For Kids With Dr. Martens

IMG_1888We love shoes in our house. I love them because, well, I just do. Flats, heels boots… I’ll take ‘em all. Elfie loves shoes as sparkly as she can get; pink monstrosities that I always vowed I’d never buy a daughter of mine until I was won over by the sensibilities of Clarks. Damn you, Clarks. Hux loves shoes, but mostly mine or Elfie’s shoes, his particular favourite being a pair of tartan wellies with bows on.

We’re an interesting bunch when it comes to our footwear.


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So a few weeks ago when Dr. Martens invited us in to their Milton Keynes store we were really excited. Time dedicated to looking for new shoes for my feet loving twosome? Perfect!

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I haven’t been that aware of the DM brand in the last few years. Back at school they were THE shoe to have and when I worked at Vice the cooler, more punky creatives would wear them. I was excited to check out how they’d evolved over the last few years and to see what their kids’ range was like.

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So off we went to the store in Milton Keynes!

The shop itself was lovely. There was no pumping music and overwhelming customer service a la Office, just plush carpets, a vintage sofa and quietly welcoming staff. Speaking of whom, the lady who served us was fantastic with the kids; Elfie is always ever so well behaved but in such an exciting situation Hux has a tendency to be a little more, shall we say, spirited. They took it in their stride and didn’t seem to mind my little terror – and the lollies certainly helped!

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Elfie was overjoyed at the prospect of choosing her own shoes and headed straight for the Mary Janes. We tried on a couple of pairs before she decided on the patent version, and very pleased she is with them too! I love to see her tastes develop as she gets older and am all kinds of chuffed that she gets as excited about shoes as I do ;) These ones are comfy and look great, and will be perfect for when she starts school in September.

Hux was slightly more frenetic when it came to trying on shoes so together we quickly chose a pair of boots. Now, I don’t often go ga-ga over kids shoes (far too sensible for that) but these are just GORGEOUS. They are so incredibly cute and really do turn him into a proper wee man. Happy sigh – I love them.

IMG_1910 IMG_1908 IMG_1906We left Dr. Martens having had a really lovely shopping experience, and treated the well-behaved (well, 50% of them were) babies to a Pizza Express lunch. The least said about that the better; just know that Hux came home with butter in his hair that evening.

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Thank you so much to Dr. Martens in Milton Keynes for treating my two to a new pair of shoes and for showing us a thoroughly wonderful shoe shopping experience! We will definitely be back.

Dr. Martens, 91 Silbury Blvd, Milton Keynes MK9 3AG

For 10% off at the Milton Keynes store just show this blog post to the sales assistant – happy shopping!

 

 

Terms and Conditions

For 10% off at Dr. Martens Milton Keynes store – show this blog post in-store on a smart phone or print out. Discount is valid until 21/8/14 and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount. Discount is at the discretion of the store manager.

All About My Undercrackers

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It’s been noted here how taking care of what’s happening on the inside – paleo, juicing, the gym and all that jazz – is making me a happier person. After a week of spectacularly falling off the wagon in Amsterdam and devouring piles of bread, cheeseburgers and chips I came home a couple of pounds heavier but feeling like I was carrying a world of weight. It’s totally crazy how reverting to my old diet for such a short period of time left me feeling so heavy, sluggish and unmotivated but I guess shows how much changing my eating habits has changed my life. #Paleo4EVA!

Two days after enthusiastically returning to my juices and salads (bar a teeny tiny slip up at Bryony‘s house yesterday over a slice of way too tempting garlic bread) I’m still feeling a bit self-concious about the returning mid-area bloat but really pushed myself at the gym yesterday to mentally get back in the zone. As a result my thighs are protesting each time I climb the stairs but fingers crossed that by next week I will have more clarity of mind thanks to the lack of toxins and my jeans won’t be so freaking tight.

Anyway, as part of my body haul over I’ve been re-thinking something I never really paid much attention to: my underwear drawer. I always thought of lingerie as something lusted over by other girls, high-maintenance girls who wore perfect lipstick (mine always ends up on my chin) and knew how to iron shirts (i.e. not with their GHDs). But, somewhat out of necessity as my boobs shrunk with my dress size, I’ve gone out and bought an array of lovely lingerie. And wearing matching lacy loveliness under my clothes, well, it makes me feel like I’m looking after myself. I dress better and feel that little bit more confident.

Apart from the day this week I went to the gym after doing the school run in my workout gear and had forgotten to pack my undies. On that day I just felt breezy.

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Ages ago, when I wrote my Life List, I decided that  one of the things I wanted to attempt was to wear matching underwear for 30 days. Yep, it’s totally shallow and ridiculous but it’s something I’ve never done before and I wanted to see if it really could make a small change to my life for that month.

NB: the life list is in total flux and re-evaluation at the moment. I’m lol’ing at the fact that ‘find the perfect eyebrow shape’ is on there, gonna really change the world with that one. Though if you were blessed with slugs similar to mine you’ll totally get it. 

So that is what I am going to do in May. This afternoon I got my nicest smalls out, from M&S to Agent Provocateur (no grey tshirt bras allowed, OK?), paired ‘em up and took a good look. Apparently I’m a fan of lacy business and black lingerie, lots of black lingerie. There are a couple of bras that are too big (woe) so I’m going to allow myself to buy a couple of new sets this month in something other than black. Special mention has to go out to SBP who sent me the bottom (heheh) pair of black knickers you can see there, the Daphne; they specialise in ‘Sexy Big Pants’ and their high-waisted briefs make me feel amazing, like a sultry pinup or something. I love the fact their collection was developed for women who like their pants super comfy but don’t want to compromise on style and these would have been perfect for me post-C Section. Some of their designs are currently half prices so do nip on over and take a look.

I fully expect that, come the end of May, I’ll be feeling a little bit like this:

 

I’m totally making this A Thing: Matching Undies May. Who’s with me?

The AW13 Mumiform

I kind of like having my ‘mumiform’. The clothes I can, on days when I’m too tired/busy/stressed to wade through my cave of a wardrobe, just throw on in one combination or another and I know they’ll look good. And it not good, at least acceptable.

From Autumn through to winter it goes something like: jeans, comfy tshirt, sweater, boots; the jeans skinny and stretchy and the jumpers woolly. Comfy and warm, the sartorial equivalent of a big hug.

So when Dorothy Perkins got in touch with news of their new Essentials Range my ears picked up. A selection of 10 key pieces to simplify my A/W wardrobe? Perfect…

DP’s have selected The Biker, The Sculpted Tee, The 2in1 Dress, The Fit & Flare Dress, The Skirt, The Fur, The Blouse, The Item Sweat, The Cute Fit Knit and The Skinny (jean) as essentials we can choose from to quickly update our wardrobe this season. I selected The Sculpted Tee, The Cute Fit Knit and The Skinny as essentials I knew I would wear all winter. Here’s how I’ll be rocking them:

The Sculpted Tee

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The sculpted tee is great for days you want to just throw on a tshirt but need to look a bit dressy. I wear mine with a Zara leather jacket, skinny blue jeans and my new Liberty print Vans (yep, I bought them!).

The Cute Fit Knit

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The Cute Fit Knit is great for those like me who have felt the need to put the heating on already (BRRRR!). It’s lovely and cosy to sling on over the top of a tshirt and dress up with some indigo skinnies and boots.

The Skinny

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I love these skinnys. The rise isn’t too high but high enough to hide my leftover mumtum, the stretch is perfect and they really old their shape (no going baggy at the knee, side eye my old TopShop Baxters…). I wore these for my Radio 4 appearance earlier on this week and I’m wearing them on a date tonight, they truly are versatile.

Have a listen to Natalie Hartley, InStyle’s Fashion Director, as she chats about the new Style Essentials collection:

The collection is a great value way to update your A/W wardrobe – prices start at a happy £14 – and pieces are both versatile and on-trend.

Makeover your winter wardrobe with £500 to spend on this seasons Style Essentials! Dorothy Perkins will put you and a friend up in a fancy hotel and send you off for a posh meal after you’ve been given a styleover by one of their friendly Style Advisors. What’s not to love? Get entering!

Dorothy Perkins sent me my favourite items to try from the collection and also compensated me for my time to write about them. Which makes me one happy bunny. 

The Game-Changing Changing Bag

 

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I’ve never been much of a handbag fan. When I admit that, other women look at me with the same confusion in their eyes they get when I tell them I’m not a big fan of chocolate. Like, are you sure you’re part of the sisterhood? I suppose it’s supposed to be ingrained into women to like bags and shoes. And chocolate.

But yeah, I tend to buy one (usually massive and leather) handbag, use it to death for five years and then repeat. I can’t be bothered with swapping my belongings from one to another all the time, something always gets lost.

When the children were born I had dalliances with various nappy bags but found it so much easier to use a handbag/nappy bag hybrid. In my opinion they look better and it’s a lot easier to cart around the one bag. I started using the Sugarjack a year ago and never looked back: I thought it was the perfect bag.

UNTIL NOW

*Ominous face*

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The kind folk at BabyBeau sent me one of their Ellie changing bags in Black and I was fully prepared not to love it as much as the Sugarjack. I was wrong. This bag has been a bit of a game-changer.

On the outside (and inside) the bag seems quite standard. It has all the pockets you need for your various baby-related accoutrements, with a removable lining so you can choose to not use them if you don’t want to. I don’t anymore, they’re always surplus to my needs and I end up losing things in them, but they’re great when you have a baby with bottles/nappy bags/dummies/kitchen sinks.

BUT THEN. The accessories, bottle holder and changing mat, are leather. I’ve never seen that before in a changing bag. +1 BabyBeau.

What swung it for me though were the straps. This bag has an across the body strap, shoulder strap and shorter hand straps.  Bloody brilliant. Never underestimate how difficult it is to carry a one year old, hold your toddler’s hand and somehow shift a huge big nappy bag across a busy car park/supermarket/TopShop. The across body strap has quite literally changed my life.

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(I can’t be the only person to cart around creepy babys in my bag, right?)

This is a good looking bag, too. Its style is reminiscent of Longchamp but is made of the most delicious leather, has a huge interior, is very well-made and feels very solid. It also comes with buggy clips (a relevation!) and a stripy interior. In a nutshell, I love it: this is most definitely my handbag for the next 5 years.

I was sent the Ellie free of charge for the purpose of this review. It has not left my side since. 

 

The Lifesaving Hairdryer

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Do you own the hairdryer?

I don’t mean do you own A hairdryer, I mean THE hairdryer. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read on…

Pre-kids and during Elfie’s first couple of years I was a bit of a Brazilian Blowdry fanatic. Pricey, yes (I paid up to £200 a pop), but when I worked out how much time I spent blow-drying my hair and what I could have been doing with that time it was well worth it. Think 1 – 1.5 hours, three times a week. That’s anything up to 4.5 hours a week on my hair. One whole working day per fortnight. Two working days each month. It’s a LONG TIME, basically.

But then I got pregnant again and was wary of the chemicals used during the process in relation to an unborn Hux so took some time away from my beloved blow drys. For one reason or another (erm, probably the fact the treatment takes 4 hours and I have two kids to look after now) I haven’t been back since he was born.

Enter the GHD Air: GHD’s hair dryer.

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I’ve long been a GHD fan and have gone through two pairs of their straighteners in the last 12 years. My previous hairdryer of choice was a Philips/Tresemme one with added ions or something or other, I dunno, I think it was on sale at Boots, and it had always served me well. But on receiving the GHD Air I realised that GHD vs Philips was a little bit like Apple vs PC… I didn’t know what I was missing until I finally bit the bullet and bought a MacBook. Everything about the GHD dryer felt quality in the way everything you buy from Apple feels quality, from the packaging used to the matte black appearance of the dryer. It has none of the plasticy feel of my old dryer (or old laptop!) and is a pleasure to hold and use.

So the price is a little eye watering – around £99. But GHD products are built to last and if my experiences with the Customer Service tell you anything it’ll be that you don’t need to worry about them breaking.

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And the hairdryers performance? AMAZING. In the old days I’d blast my hair for hours on a high heat, but this styler gets it dryer quickly on a lower heat: it takes but a mere 15 minutes now. I’m not finding i have the need to reach for my straighteners so much and my hair style is lasting longer. I’m a definite GHD Air convert.

For comparison and laughs here’s a photo of me rocking my au natural fickle hair state (not-curly-yet-not-wavy, urgh) VERY pregnant with Elfie, that’s how often I allow myself to be photographed with it , and me rocking lovely GHD-assisted sleek hair with my mum and friend Kaisa.

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The GHD Air was sent to me to review but I literally gave away my old hairdryer after its first use. I love it.

Gift Ideas: My Favourite Necklaces


L-R: Pipe Dreams, Lazy Giraffe, Molly Brown London, Paper and Chain

I am a big necklace fan. By which I mean I LOVE necklaces, and also like BIG necklaces. But as statement neckwear is not very appropriate when you’re in possession of a chest-headbutting baby who doesn’t have control of their own neck I’ve had to re-think my jewellery choices. And since I’ve said goodbye to big bib necklaces I’ve enjoyed shopping around for more dainty alternatives.

As it’s the season of goodwill (bah humbug) I thought I’d share my most recent finds: you can’t go wrong with a classic bit of jewellery when you’re considering Christmas Gifts and I’d be really happy with anyone who’d like to buy me these necklaces. Again. Plus they are made by some of my favourite people on the internet! Win/win.

 

 

When I went back to work in London for a short time 6 months after Elfie was born I wanted her to know that I was thinking of her, even when I wasn’t there. So I bought an ‘E’ charm necklace and religiously wore it, and of course I had to do the same for Hux; that’s when I came across this gorgeous chunky Molly Brown Alphabet necklace (above). Namechecked by Tess Daley and BNTM so you know they’re good, I love to wear my H and my E together. And I’m sure even though neither of my babies can yet string a sentence together they’re thankful of the gesture! Molly Brown are on Twitter and also do a sweet collection that was called ‘Tiffany for Girls’ by Vogue. Impressive.

 

 

I was lucky enough to work with Nicole Kai in my former life at Vice Magazine in her first job fresh off the plane from Canada. I like to say I was responsible for her big break but she’s pretty awesome so would have made it big without me, I’m sure. Anyway, Marketing-Assistant-turned-Jewellery-Designer Nicole recently launched her ‘Pipe Dreams’ Collection, inspired by “the unintended appeal of common hardware pipe fittings”. My favourite of hers is this gorgeous triangle pipe necklace (above), the nicest bit of plumbing I’ve ever seen. See more of her gorgeous work at pipedreamsjewellery.com or like her on Facebook.

Ismay Ozga is both a long-term Twitter friend and long-term talented jewellery designer. I love that she hails from my home county of Worcestershire and I seriously adore everything that her and her partner in Paper and Chain, Naomi, produce. Their new collection ‘Auxo‘ has just been released and I can’t get enough of this pink necklace that has been made with a string of vintage sequins (above). In fact if Will is reading, please take note: Hex Trio necklace in brass, Vega ring in brass and Solitaire necklace in silver ;). I’m chuffed that Paper and Chain is now stocked locally in my friend‘s shop, so do check out the collection in person if you are local.

 

 

Another long-term Twitter friend is Deepa, AKA Lazy Giraffe, and she specialises in the daintiest of jewellery like my full circle necklace (above – which I’ve just noticed is now in the sale!). She also does a great line in pearl-based wedding jewellery and my personal favourite  are her thin textured and smooth stacking rings (WILL! Are you there?! Size L, FYI). Everything she makes is handmade to order which is awesome and I imagine her in her studio with a tiny hammer banging out a load of gold and silver. That’s how it works, right?

Go on – show me your favourite jewellery. I definitely need more!