Matalan – Made for Modern Families

Matalan say, “Since we first opened our doors 30 years ago, we’ve always focused on providing outstanding value and quality for families. We take the time to listen, understand and evolve, to ensure our products are the right fit for modern, happy homes. Our latest campaign, Made for Modern Families, is a celebration of family life today, in all its shapes and sizes.”

Matalan have recently launch a new TV ad, featuring real life families as well conducted national research to explore how family life is changing in the modern era.

Matalan say “the definition of ‘family’ in the 21st century is not straightforward; as the Facebook status might suggest, “it’s complicated”. This doesn’t mean that the idea of family has become any less important however, it simply means we are seeing that family today comes in many different shapes, sizes and forms. Their research revealed some interesting and surprising insights about modern family life:

Family defined

• The New Nuclear: the idea of the nuclear family, that being mum, dad and two-point something kids living together, is being stretched and redrawn.

• Beyond Kin: more and more, people’s definition of family extends beyond kin to include kith, i.e. non-blood relatives, friends and even pets.

• The Waiting Game: the number of older mums and older dads is on the rise, as are ‘klingons’; post-teens not flying the nest as they did in previous generations.

• Blended Families: increasingly family means ‘blended’ arrangements that see multiple connections, multiple parental figures and multiple home locations. This is in addition to well-documented changes such as the rise of single and LGBT parents.

• Staying Connected: families are finding new ways of using technologies to connect more frequently and on an emotional level, both when they live nearby or far way”


Our modern family

This month Daddy has just reduced his working week by two days to spend more time with J while I work full time, this means the dynamic of our little family has shifted a little.

Whilst not groundbreaking as Dads are increasingly taking on more of the caregiving role it’s still not that common; we want for J to see as much as possible of us and my hubby and I believe in sharing our parental responsibilities, we both work hard and play hard.

Whilst I found it hard losing two days with her, knowing that he could finally reclaim some Daddy/daughter time makes me proud of all of us; we’re doing this our own way, creating a strong unit that has withstood in recent months the threat of redundancy, job searches and uncertainty about the future – the Matalan research highlighted that most families rate happiness as the top priority for their family and our modern family reflects this too.

Here’s our Modern Family portrait!


I’ve linked this post in to the Mumsnet Made for Modern Families linky

Why not share your favourite family photo here - you can win cash to spend in store!


Urban Jungle Bloggers: Offer a plant to a friend

I’m linking into this month’s Urban Jungle Bloggers initiative with a challenge called ‘Offer a Plant to a Friend’ – it’s my first UJB post though I’ve often wanted to join in!

I don’t think there’s anything nicer than receiving a plant as a gift, remember the gorgeous azalea hubby bought for me for Mother’s Day, so special, so spectacular and still blooming beautifully today!

I have been fortunate to have occasion to visit Anthropologie in London this month, I finally picked up one of their great Forest Dweller Pots as I’ve been after one of these for a while; I also made a great find which I think would make a sweet gift for a friend’s desk.


I found a sweet little pot that is just £3 in a gorgeous foamy sea green, it’s called Tenderling which can mean a small child, or the first antlers of a deer


This made me think this little beauty could perfectly house some ‘antler like’ simple sempervivum stems, packaged in a pretty bag with this Oh Happy Day Project Life card I think this makes a really pretty gift!


If you’re thinking a little bigger, for a special birthday why not look at a terrarium instead, I am in love with our Totoro theme at the moment, follow the link for a little how to guide!

totoro terrarium1


And finally, some outdoor news, in need of a tidy up but I am happy with our yarden, it’s looking more established again this year and is a source of much pleasure!


Day One National Stationery Week – Pen and Paper Day


National Stationery Week kicks off today with Pen and Paper Day and I’m working from home using these Cath Kidston pieces and writing a training plan for work I’m starting this summer.

I made some notes earlier this week mulling over why I think it’s really important that we continue to value the handwritten over word processing and I think I’d sum this up by saying handwriting brings a personal touch, allows me to be more reactive as I always have a pen and paper to hand and keeps my mind sharp too.

There are five things that I think we can all try to #keepbritainwriting


1) Keep a paper diary

I write in a journal most days, reflecting on the day, hand writing this means I take the time to think about the words before I write them down, mulling over the positives and negatives of the day, counting my blessings and planning for the future

2) Sending handwritten notes

I love nice note paper and these Project Life cards in the photos above are a new thing for me, I use the double sided ones to send notes to friends, leave notes for the family and it generally brings me joy to work with nice paper, so they bring colour to the mundane too!

3) Write notes for work/study by hand

I never make meeting notes onto a tablet or laptop if I can help it, I write quicker capturing more by hand, the nuances of conversation are missed when I type too, so I like to note interviews down on paper with a trusty biro

4) Write for your children

J can’t write yet but is interested in letters and numbers, we draw together but I also write for her too, it’s a lovely bonding exercise as I want for her to love to read and write too

5) Use a paper planner

More on this later in the week, but since returning to an old fashioned paper planner with stickers and colour coding I feel much better organised and I definately keep it better updated than the days where I kept scrappy notes to pop into Outlook at a later (never!) time

Do you value the handwritten? Why?

National Stationery Week: Get Writing! #NatStatWeek #GetBritainWriting #GetKidsWriting #WritingMatters #WritingisForever #lovestationery #stationeryaddict

Next week is National Stationery Week and I’ll be blogging all week about the stationery I love to use.

I thought I’d share a couple of favourites from the last few weeks; firstly this stash of goodies arrived to help me in my role as a National Stationery Week blogger – I love getting papery post!


I have been working away a lot at the moment, generally I am back for bedtime but I am not always lucky to be there first thing in the morning to greet J; I have started leaving a special note for her and stepped it up this week using these Maped Colorpeps – they’re a watercolour crayon, you can draw with them, then use a damp paintbrush to mix your colours just like watercolour paints – so this is the note I left for her this week :)


And finally, the Colorpeps also got J interested in drawing again, and boy am I a proud Mama; this is her drawing of her beloved Totoro this week, the first drawing she has produced (OK, well she draws daily but it’s the first where you can really tell what it is!)


See you over on the blog for #Natstatweek next week folks!

How to create a Fairytale Terrarium (with Totoro)

I bought this Terrarium for our glass wedding Anniversary and since then it’s taken on several looks, most recently I gave it a good clean and added some new sempervarium. When I set up this little styled shot J got interested too “I like lots of little trees in there Mammy”


I had been saving some bits and bobs spotted on my travels for a summertime outdoor fairy garden but decided to make our little terrarium a fairytale garden instead, we’ve gone with a Studio Ghibli Totoro theme as this is currently a big fave with the whole family!

totoro terrarium1

How to create a Fairytale Terrarium (with Totoro)

1) Take your terrarium (you can use a large glass mason jar, old clear glass teapot or a classic terrarium like ours) and add a 2 inch layer of pebbles to the bottom of the container for drainage (I use fresh fish tank gravel)

2) Then add a half inch layer of activated charcoal over the pebbles (available at Wilko or garden centres) this helps keep bacteria at bay and keeps your terrarium smelling sweet

3) Add damp but not soggy potting soil and plant up your succulents, cacti etc and finish with a fine sprinkle of gravel, I use a chopstick to adjust the plants as it’s a narrow space at the back!

4) Add pretty stones, I added sea glass but you can pick up other pretty pieces of stone or use coloured gravel

5) Add your characters and other ephemera; I added a miniature wire cherry tree I bought at a garden centre, a small white plastic bridge that turned up in a kinder egg type Easter gift, and some small Totoro and Mei figurines, finally J added her Lego Monkey (why not?!) and a small house I bought on Ebay with the fairy garden in mind!

totoro terrarium3

Thomas & Friends – Trouble on the Tracks and the Complete Series 16 on DVD

Thomas & Friends fans are on track for a bumper treat with the release of the Complete Series 16 DVD and Trouble on the Tracks! We were lucky to get a sneak peak of both ahead of their release date – lucky Joss!

In Trouble on the Tracks the troublesome trucks delight in causing problems for Thomas, as Annie, Clarabel and Toad encounter unexpected high-speed adventures.


Oily Diesel gives Paxton a fright, while Salty’s spooky story has the engines running scared. James runs into trouble with some slip coaches and Percy ends up frightened and alone in an old mine, there’s plot twists and turns aplenty in this 70 minute feature length adventure!

Joss loves brake van Toad with his good manners, he’s a real gent, so seeing him in this feature length film was a real treat! – out on 20th April

Then Thomas and his friends return in Series 16; all 20 episodes on DVD together for the first time ever with around 200 minutes of fun! Sodor is filled with the sound of music when a famous composer visits the island. Thomas becomes a scarecrow for the day, Percy falls foul of one of Salty’s tall tales and Charlie combines his love for snow and jokes.

thomas and friends

The engines welcome Stafford to Sodor, celebrate The Fat Controller’s birthday and, when a photographer visits the island, Thomas aims to appear in as many photos as possible!

Joss’ favourite episode is Welcome Stafford; when Spencer is given the special job of taking new electric shunting engine Stafford around the Island of Sodor, but he refuses to listen to warning about Stafford’s battery – exciting stuff for a three year old! – out on 25th May

Disclaimer: We were sent both DVDs for review purposes all views are my own

Spring weekends

Spring has kicked off with a huge Marie Kondo inspired spring clean in this house and boy did it need it! I started work full time last month and lets just say I feel we have too much ‘stuff’ to make the everyday cleaning a breeze so I have been weeding out the joy sparkers from the joyless and sending bags to charity shops on a weekly basis, catharic, necessary and it’s having a big impact on my mental wellbeing too, a tidy house is indeed a tidy mind!


I’ve also been giving our terrarium a makeover, another post too follow, but here it is in its current state, not looking bad, I love terrariums for their effortlessly cool look!


Spring weekends and evenings have been spent blowing bubbles, and making hugs bubbles with this mega wand, amazing how captivating they are to young and old.


More signs of spring




And we’ve been giving the yarden a tidy too, looking better established again


We have made the most of the weather with trips to the park and the beach, I love blowing away the cobwebs at this time of year, both in the home and mentally too


Pushing Mammy on the big hammock swing is more fun than hard work!


And finally, a sunny find from Roker Park in Sunderland, I love the gardens there


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Dove Choose Beautiful

Are you beautiful, or average? If asked to make a choice about how you see yourself what would you choose?

Dove found that a staggering 96% of women would not choose the word beautiful to describe how they look; building on their brilliant self-esteem campaigns Dove have released a thought provoking short film demonstrating how feeling beautiful is very much a personal choice, and encouraging women to ‘choose beautiful.’

Shot in five cities worldwide, women were invited to choose to walk through one door marked up ‘Average’ or another marked up ‘Beautiful’ – the resulting film shows the wavering choices women make, whether alone or supported by other women, many choosing the average door even after spending some time reflecting; it becomes apparent just how challenging a decision this is for many.

Why Choose Beautiful

The confidence that exudes from the women that choose beautiful is clear in the film, but when we choose to avoid beautiful and make the choice to see ourselves as average we see the conflict that this decision brings, this experiment really brings this inner conflict to life – Could I? Should I? Can I? – my reflections on the film suggested that for many women the decision to choose beautiful requires permission from someone else.

Mother and daughter pairing from London, Julie and Olivia who participated in the film, commented that “British women often lack confidence in their own beauty”. Olivia also described how she was “reluctant to choose the ‘Beautiful’ door”, as she was concerned about onlookers assuming she had an “exaggerated sense of self confidence.” Given that 96% stat, choosing to see ourselves as beautiful is a brave choice; and I would choose the beautiful door all the more now that I have a young daughter.

I Choose Beautiful

As I’ve grown older I have learned to love and accept myself, at almost 6 foot I no longer stoop or apologise for my height, but put my best foot forward instead because I feel passionately about passing this self-esteem onto J – too many years of my youth were wasted on feeling average, I now have a longer list of things I like about myself, my personality and the way I look than the list things I don’t like so much – I tell J she is beautiful daily in many different ways too.

I point out beautiful things to her, “look, your body is so strong” “your laugh is gorgeous” “when you wear bright colours you look like a sunny flower” and “I love that we both have shiny blue eyes” – and in return she squeezes my cheeks tight and strokes my hair roughly and says “you’re beautiful Mammy” even on the days when I’ve had less sleep than I can manage on, and I believe her!

If you’d choose average I would urge you to take another look, to think about your true inner beauty and reconsider – watch Dove Choose Beautiful and make your choice @DoveUK with #ChooseBeautiful.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, reflections on the film are my own