Bonjour! Café Rouge Has A New Menu


The children are off later this week to spend a few days with their daddy.

Whilst I’m practically salivating at the prospect of five nights of uninterrupted sleep in a row (woah there), I’m really dreading how much I’ll miss them. Don’t tell anyone this, especially not them, but I’d probably take the sleep deprivation over spending time without them – I know, I know. Big words.

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I’ll do my usual thing of filling my time off with work, the gym and my lovely friends so it’ll go quickly (Kirsty‘s coming to visit from NYC and there will be nights at the pub with Bryony and Amy) but until they depart on Wednesday we are making the most out of our last few days together. And one of my favourite things to do with these little people is go on a Saturday night dinner date.

Cafe Rouge6 Cafe Rouge5Fougasse à l’ail

We get dressed up – Elfie wears a dress, Hux a shirt and me high heels – and have a lovely meal out together. Because I sell it to them as something very special they are both beautifully behaved and we have a wonderful time chatting nonsense and learning about my number one favourite thing – food.

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Ragoût D’Escargots

On Saturday night the lovely people at Café Rouge invited us over to their restaurant at The Hub in Milton Keynes to try their new menu and so off we went, dressed up and excited.

I heard the Chief Executive of the Casual Dining Group (who own Cafe Rougé and Bella Italia) speak at a conference a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed the discussion around the changes that are afoot within the chain. There’s the new menu of classics and new dishes and a programme of re-furbishment happening – exciting times!

As a restaurant I don’t think I would have ever chosen Café Rouge as a dinner destination. Lunch? Yes. Coffee? Probably. But it had never struck me as a place for a dinner date or child-friendly meal so I was interested to see how we’d find our evening.

Cafe Rouge2We arrived at 6pm and were really warmly welcomed by the manager. She showed us to our table and talked us through the menu. I loved her obvious enthusiasm and excitement for the changes that have been made; the Milton Keynes Hub restaurant was actively involved in the development of the new menu and each member of staff I spoke to was so knowledgeable about every item. I was happy to hear they’ve brought back one of my favourite dishes – fried Camembert – and the Confit Duck Leg which I’ve already heard most excellent things about.

We started our meal with the Fougasse à l’ail (£4.95)- an artisan loaf baked with garlic and served with warm garlic butter. It was huge – it disappeared in minutes. We all enjoyed it.


Rib-Eye with Bearnaise and fries

I knew they’d introduced snails to the menu and was excited to try them. I’ve read that snails are the ‘next big thing’ in foodie circles, being so high in protein yet low in fat, and though they still make me feel a bit gross if I really think about what they are I do really enjoy them. And so we ordered our starters of Camembert (£5.95) and Ragoût D’Escargots (£5.95).

The Camembert was lovely – really enjoyable. But the Escargots were the real star of the show; delicately cooked with red wine and mushrooms and topped with puff pastry. I would eat these over and over again. I enjoyed these with one of my favourite cocktails – a Rouge Royal (Café Rouge’s Kir Royal – £4.95).

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The mains swiftly arrived; I went for my absolute favourite of a rib eye steak (medium) with Bearnaise sauce and french fries (£16.95). It was perfectly cooked and thoroughly delicious – half of it was eaten by the children. Elfie chose the very French Croque Monsier (her verdict: yummy) and Hux never picks anything other than pasta as he is two – the kids menus (main course, dessert and drinks) came in at £6.95.

Pudding was the only disappointment for me that evening. I always pick a Crème Brûlée which is my absolute favourite but the topping was nowhere near as thick and caramelised as it should have been. The strawberry and black pepper sorbet it was served with was lovely, however.

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The kids adored their ice cream sundaes, Hux so much that he insisted on eating it with his hands. You know, sometimes it’s easier not to argue.

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I get invited out for dinner a fair bit (and take myself out even more often!) and don’t always review the restaurants I go to. I like to think I have pretty high standards and so if I leave a restaurant feeling disappointed I’d just rather not write about it.

However, we three had a great time at Café Rouge and I think the whole thing was one of the nicest dinner experiences we’ve had in a long time. The staff couldn’t have been more attentive to us (but not overbearingly) and the food was well-cooked, tasty and good value. I was impressed by the wine list and had a try of a very nice Picpoul de Pinet and the restaurant had a great buzz by the time we left.

Plus there’s the bonus of having one of the most awkward family photos taken of us EVER that night. My children, ladies and gentlemen:

IMG_0175Café Rouge: we’ll be back!

Thank you to Café Rouge for inviting us along to try the new menu… we had a great time. 

Money Talks: Nutmeg Investments


I like money.

I like talking about money, spending money, thinking about money. I can never get enough money ;)

But as I’ve grown older I’ve had a most surprising revelation. I also like SAVING money. I’ve literally never really saved money in my whole life – it used to be that as soon as it was in my pocket it went – so saving has been a total revelation. A wonderful one. Working out my budget so that I’m able to save has left me feeling empowered, excited, responsible.  I wish I’d discovered this feeling ten years ago!

I’ve come to the point where I want to do more interesting things with my savings, though. I’d always thought of investments as a good way to make my money work harder but as a person with no other investments than a £75 Premium Bond and an ISA I wasn’t quite sure how to go about investing (investing! It sounds so official). It’s not like I have loads of dollar to employ a financial advisor or anything.

Which is where Nutmeg comes in. They do indeed make your money work harder by creating and managing an investment portfolio for you, diversifying your investments to avoid putting all your eggs (money) in one basket. Their experienced investment team monitors your portfolio, adjusting your asset allocation appropriately and rebalancing every month. No expensive advisors – no stressful time-sucking management needed.

Now, I’m no financial expert but I found the sign-up process at Nutmeg really easy to understand.

The funds are compromised of a variety of shares, bonds and other financial instruments and you’re able to choose your level of risk. For example, if you are risk averse you are able to choose a low risk level and your fund will be mainly compromised of UK equities, government and corporate bonds, and money market funds. If you don’t mind a moderate amount of risk, you can join a higher risk group which is made up of both UK and foreign government bonds, UK and overseas equities and a mix of commodities. The highest risk group is for those who have a long time frame of investment and don’t mind a bit of risk. This fund includes equites from UK and abroad as well as a mix of commodities and property. This fund has produced the highest return of the lot averaging 10.6% over the last year but it is also the most volatile.

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Ok, now I kind of feel like a bit of a financial expert.

At Nutmeg you can start with as little as £1,000 per fund (plus minimum monthly contributions of £50 for portfolios below £5,000) and set up as many funds as you like, each with their own timeframes and risks. You can see an online overview of your investments whenever you like, so you’ll always know how they’re performing and how much you’re paying.

It’s basically a great way of investing for those of us who want to see our pots grow but have neither the knowledge nor time to spend hours watching over various funds.

I’m convinced, but would love to know how you like to invest your money. Are you an investment person?

Thank-you Nutmeg for supporting MTT! 

London Retro Eyewear: A Glasses Direct Review

Glasses Direct

The first thing my mum did when I turned up to lunch in my lovely new glasses from London Retro at Glasses Direct was nudge my dad hard.

“Who does Alice look like?” she kept asking him.

Apparently my Nanna Elfreda’s legacy lives on not just in Elfie’s name but in my new glasses too, proving that London Retro really does make authentic-looking retro glasses, similarly worn by my Nanna in the 70s! But Nanna B or not, my new glasses are awesome.

Glasses Direct I haven’t always been a glasses person. I’ve needed to wear them since the age of 12 (my glasses from the 90s aren’t yet back in fashion) and switched to contact lenses when I was 15. Because I’ve only ever worn glasses as a back-up to my contact lenses when I’m at home or feeling a bit rubbish they have always made me feel like I’m dressed down or scruffy when I’m wearing them. I’m trying to change this and have been amassing a collection of eyewear that’ll make me feel special, whether at home in my scruffs or out and about attempting to feel like a human being on 4 hours sleep.

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My London Retro pair are my new favourites. I’ve had so many compliments on them – one being from the girl on the Bobbi Brown counter who had perfect eyeliner flicks so SHE KNOWS. They make me feel all Mad Men/Pan Am.

Glasses Direct

The process of choosing my glasses from Glasses Direct was totally pain-free. When I picked some from Specsavers recently I was almost overwhelmed with the choice: I stood there for at least half an hour umming and ahhing over my two choices, one of which I don’t wear at all now. At GD you can pick four frames online to try out at your leisure at home and then you pick which one of those you’d like to have as your glasses. I’m really not good with an overload of choices so for me there was much less stress involved.

Glasses Direct

Anyway, I took my mum and dad out for lunch a couple of weekends ago and in exchange I made them take hundreds of photographs of me in my new glasses for your enjoyment. Which I thought was a perfectly fair tradeoff (you just know I was cringing the whole way through).

The important info: this pair are the Malcolm in tortoiseshell and you can get them for the reasonable sum of £120. When the time comes to purchase more glasses (next week? I’m pretty keen) I will certainly be back.

Glasses Direct Thank you to London Retro at Glasses Direct for sending me this lovely pair of glasses to review. I love ‘em.

If You’ve Just Had Eight Hours Sleep I Don’t Want To Know


My kids aren’t sleeping. Not at all. Which means I’m not sleeping, either.

If you don’t like reading about how shit not sleeping makes you feel then look away now, this is not the blog for you. Come back tomorrow when I’ll be talking about sunnier things like food or interiors or divorce ;)

The not sleeping is ironic perhaps, after all my grand promises on Monday to make changes to my bedtime and morning routines with vows to finally rid myself of my night owl tendencies. Let me tell you, this has not happened: the last four nights I’ve had around four hours of broken sleep with a disturbed sleepless Hux, getting up each morning with my early riser Elfie at around 5.30. Ain’t nobody a morning person at 5-sodding-30.

It’s hurting.

If there’s one thing I can’t do it’s cope on little sleep. The newborn stages were really hard for me for this reason exactly and I thought that with slightly older children I’d move past this. Hoped I’d move past this. Hux has regressed to this stage and become restless, getting in and out of my bed all night, as if he’s back wanting to be fed at all hours. It hasn’t been this bad in months – years, even.

Sleepless nights make everything that much harder. I fudged so many emails yesterday, wishing my boss a lovely day in Prague (he’s in Budapest). I am so short and snappy with the children, something I absolutely despise in myself, but my patience is wafer thin. I cried at something that was completely inconsequential and could not spend two minutes concentrating on anything, even Grey’s Anatomy.

I don’t want to do anything, I don’t want to see anyone. It took me a while to remember when I last washed my hair (Sunday? I still don’t know), my legs could do with a shave and I’ve been wearing outfits soley consisting of black lycra and jersey. I’ve been eating to feed my tired body and mind: croissants, pasta pesto, jacket potato, a whole apple crumble. The last thing I want to do right now is eat clean though it would probably be the best thing for my body; without the energy to shower I definitely don’t have the energy to bring out the spiraliser and make bloody sweet potato noodles.

Everyone is annoying to me. Nobody can say the right thing (with a few exceptions: my parents, some select mum friends who just get it because they’re in it and weirdly my ex husband, what a turn up for the books ;). If one more non-parent gives me friendly advice – “have you tried putting them to bed later?” WHAT DO YOU THINK, GENIUS??!!! – there will be punches thrown. It’s no wonder that sleep deprivation is a form of torture, I literally feel like I could be going insane right now.

I tried to nap yesterday, went to bed after lunch in the hopes of grabbing a well-needed 30 minutes of sleep before a conference call. But it never came – I’m at that stage of such thorough exhaustion that I’ve made myself so alert that I can’t sleep. I remember it well from the newborn days and never wanted it back. Bastard bastard bastard.

So I think it’s fair to say I won’t be a morning person this week. Sorry to let you down, internet, but my teeny tiny dictators had other plans. Maybe next week we’ll get on it, eh?



In the last few years I have found my shopping happy place. It is the place I retreat to when the bared midriffs in TopShop get too much (it’s official, I’m too old to show that much flesh), where I browse to get interiors inspiration and where I spend an absolute fortune on scented candles. I visit there for coffee, for cake, for manicures and for Clinique Bonus Time. This happy place is John Lewis.

To help bring my happy place to you I’ve teamed up with Everest Windows for a springtime treat! Everest believes a home requires constant care and attention to keep it looking its best – but some things are easier to fix than others.

While painting a hallway or picking a new living room carpet can appear to be a relatively tricky task (I’m so glad I have my dad for things like this), they are a breeze to sort out when compared to replacing faulty or old windows.

Which is why Everest replacement windows are guaranteed to last thanks to their A+ rated double glazing and a lifetime guarantee against discolouration of their uPVC windows.

To keep your home looking as good as Everest windows, together we are giving you the chance to win £150 in vouchers to my happy place!!


All we want to know is: What one thing in your home is irreplaceable?

Barring the obvious answer – the children – my answer is tricky. Second to the above my bed is probably my happy place (If only I spent more time sleeping in it) but I’m going to say my MacBook Air because it’s full of memories and my blog. And I obviously bought it from John Lewis!

Enter below and give your answer in the comments to be in with a chance of winning.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow Everest Home Improvements on Twitter and Facebook to find out more about their windows and offers. Thanks Everest for supporting MTT and my happy place! 

Terms and Conditions
There is 1 prize of £150 John Lewis vouchers. The prize is non-transferable and no cash
alternative is offered
Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of More Than Toast and
Everest Home Improvements
The closing date for entries is 12am on 8/4/2015
Entrants must log into rafflecopter and leave a comment
Optional entry methods are to follow on twitter or facebook
The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries
The winner will be informed within 14 days of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 28 days or a new winner will be chosen
The winner’s name will be available on request
The prize will be sent within 28 days of receiving the winner’s address
This is a joint promotion between More Than Toast and Everest Home Improvements
Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions

Living Space Inspiration – Colour Pops

living spaces

I’m moving house!

Not now, not next month, not even in a couple of months. In fact, my house still hasn’t been built yet so it’s probably a safe bet to say that my house move is more than a little time away. BUT – I’m moving house!!!!! and I’m really excited about it. HOUSE MOVE!

I’m helping to design the house from scratch and having the input into how it will look has been amazing – so I’ve already been Pinning like mad (obviously) and have started to put together mood boards. Which leaves me wondering – HOW difficult was interior design in the days before Pinterest? I remember my mum having piles of Living Etc and Elle Decoration around the house so it’s a good thing we now have such wonderful online inspiration as IKEA Family Live (not just name checking it because I used to work there – I seriously love that place) and Apartment Therapy. Inspiration/Procrastination, who’s counting?

FYI Mum I haven’t forgotten you asking me to show you Pinterest… you are doing the important parts of the design anyway ;) I’m sticking to paint colours and cushions…

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Living Spaces

The first room I’m thinking about is the living space. I’m envisaging clean, neutrally coloured furniture (so wise with young children…) accented with pops of colour in the blankets, cushions and floorcoverings. The space will be open plan to the kitchen so I’m aiming to remain as minimal in my approach as possible, with clever storage to keep clutter down. Think colour, texture and fun :)

Main images: The Design Files

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White High Gloss Coffee Table, £129.99, FADS, Velvet Square Cushion, £45, Not On The High Street, Canyon White High Gloss Wide Bookcase, £349.99, FADS, Monty Lamp, £40, House By John Lewis, Flapjack sofa, £1195, Loaf, Studio Stack Mug, £4, John Lewis, Novello White Gloss Dining Set, £279.99, FADS, Octo rug, £95, Habitat.