Birchbox: Your box, your choice! 

This October Birchbox are letting subscribers choose exactly which box they want to receive. Whether it’s the back to basics or Stylist guest editor Birchbox, you sure are in for a treat as both are jam packed with deluxe beauty samples. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to choose as I got to take a sneak peek of both!

Birchbox October 2015 (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog
The back to basics Birchbox is all about mastering beauty basics so that means discovering great products that you can use every day. This box is packed with beauty essentials that really work and that I think you’re going to love! First of all we have the Beaver Professional shampoo and the bonus conditioner. This gentle formula uses the natural benefits of avocado oil and aloe vera to repair damaged hair. Next we have the Eyeko Fat Liquid Eyeliner in black. This chubby pen is smudge proof, ultra black and super intense gliding on for a high impact look. Then for effortless cleansing we have the Bioderma Hydrabio H20 which locks in moisture while gently cleaning your skin. Now the real star of this box for me has to be the Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat. I absolutely love this stuff it’s the best top coat ever for a long lasting mani! It locks in colour with its durable yet gorgeously glossy finish plus it leaves nails touch dry in minutes. The perfect mummy manicure! And last but by no means least we have the Regenerate Enamel Science Advanced Toothpaste for brighter smiles. This minty fresh formula protects against cavities and boosts original whiteness and is clinically proven to reverse the enamel erosion process.

Birchbox October 2015 (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog
If you’re a self confessed beauty buff then maybe the exclusive Stylist guest editor Birchbox is for you. This special collaboration with Stylist’s Associate Beauty Editor Joanna McGarry is full of deluxe beauty must haves. First we have the Rituals Yogi Flow Foaming Shower Gel with Indian rose and sweet almond oil. This gel magically transforms into foam on contact with water creating a luxurious rose scented wash. Next we have the When Travelmate Sheet Mask. This refreshing sheet mask locks in moisture softening skin and undoing damage in 30 minutes. Then we have the Parlor by Jeff Chastain Smoothing Blowout Spray which is a Birchbox exclusive. This cult miracle tonic blotts out frizz, protecting against heat damage, rendering hair more manageable and able to hold a style longer. It smells amazing! Then we have the bonus sample of the English Laundry No7 Signature For Her. Imagine a laundry line of white linen on a summers day – I love this! And finally we have the 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Lip Glaze in Peach Bellini. Formulated with avocado and cocoa butters to nourish, this lipstick has a lovely matte finish.
Birchbox October 2015 (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog So which Birchbox will you choose this month? I have to say that I think that both boxes are great, I think I’d struggle to choose a favourite. If you are thinking about joining Birchbox for the first time, then maybe the back to basics will be your perfect introduction with all those beauty essentials though. Either way, I think it’s safe to say that you’re in for a treat this month! 

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Disclaimer: For the purpose of this review I was very kindly sent press samples of both of the Birchbox options shown. All opinions are of course my own. I love Birchbox so much that I am actually a subscriber myself! 

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Go Set A Watchman

The release of Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee was hailed as the literary event of the year, nay decade. Everybody was always going to have an opinion of course. In fact a lot of people had an opinion on whether it should even have been released at all, claiming that Lee did not have the capacity to be able to make such a decision. The manuscript had been rediscovered having previously been buried away at her request. I think it’s fair to say that its release was controversial. None of us really know the full story as to how it finally came to be published but of course, that doesn’t stop one man and his dog having an opinion on the matter. I include myself in that of course. The irony of me writing that here on my blog is not lost on me.

To Kill A Mockingbird (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Personally, I was intrigued and couldn’t wait for it to hit the bookshelves. I pre-ordered the book months before its release. I hadn’t read To Kill A Mockingbird since I was at school but it was a book that had always stayed with me. A rare thing indeed. So I actually re-read Mockingbird in anticipation of the release of Go Set A Watchman and found myself being blown away all over again. It really is an astonishing book.

There was so much hype at the time of Go Set A Watchman being released though that it actually put me off reading it right away. All that hype and excitement and speed reading through the night actually left me feeling cold. I figured we had waited this long to read it, what was the hurry? I really didn’t want my thoughts to be clouded by the hype. I don’t think I have ever seen so many people in such a hurry to tell the world about a book. It felt strangely competitive. And then of course we had the outpourings of all that was wrong with the book. Poor Harper Lee, no wonder she had sat on it for so long. Maybe she feared that this would always be the case? I found it really quite endearing that people were so attached to Atticus Finch. On the other hand, it really is absurd to think that as a reader, you can somehow ‘own’ a fictional character and think you know him better than the writer who created him. Some people really don’t get the whole fiction thing, do they? Mind boggling really.

Go Set A Watchman (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

But read it I did. When the children were all back at school and I could enjoy it in peace. I think I owed it that much at least. It has been said so many times but despite the chronology and references to Scout’s childhood, it is not technically a sequel and I think this is where some people have viewed Watchman unfairly. This was Lee’s first draft and Mockingbird would never have come about without this. She wrote this first then went on to write Mockingbird so it’s important to see this as a completely separate book. Yes, it is a little scattered at times but that is completely forgivable and actually, I think adds to its charm. Go Set A Watchman is much more complex and asks difficult questions about a time in American history that quite frankly, I still struggle to get my head around. I thought it was outstanding. Maybe it’s not quite as likeable as Mockingbird but it’s an incredible book in its own right. In actual fact, its rawness made me appreciate and love To Kill A Mockingbird even more.

Have you read it yet? If you haven’t, forget the mixed reviews and ignore all the hype. Just read it for yourself and make up your own mind. You’ll see.

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

P.S. If you would like to see what else I have been reading lately take a look at my (mostly reading) page here on my blog or over at #mostlyreading on Instagram

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So long September

In my head, September always means new beginnings and fresh starts much more than January ever does. That whole back to school feeling is kind of infectious I guess. And an excuse to buy stationery that I don’t need. But the reality is that I feel like I have done nothing but chase my tail this year.

The children were late to go back to school (which I am not complaining about!) so the first week of September saw us going on holiday to the Lake District. It was so lovely to be able to get away at the last minute especially when so many people were already back at school. But actually I think that extra long (and extra lovely) holiday made going back to school even harder. After such a lazy summer, the whole back to school routine hit me like a truck. Ugh.

All that getting everybody up and out of the house business feels so much harder than it should. I’ve been doing this for over thirteen years now, you’d think I’d be used to it by now. Knowing where everyone is supposed to be on any one day. Diary full to bursting, alarms set on my phone so I don’t forget who I am picking up from where at what time on which day. Having four children is a logistical nightmare (even when two of them are supposedly old enough to see to themselves it never quite happens without a kick up the backside from Mummy!) Back to school means back to clubs, extra curricular activities, homework ohmygodfathersthehomework, friends over to play, going over to friends to play, birthday parties… Life was just so much simpler in the summer. Sigh.

So long September (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

And of course there is the weather. I’m British, I can’t not mention the weather. My sandals have long since been packed away but I’m not quite ready to get my boots out just yet. September is for thinking about boots, October is for wearing. Those are my rules. Once they are out, they are out for a very long time. Same applies to 100 denier opaques. If the weather could just make its mind up though, that would lovely thank you. It is Autumn. I haven’t put my legs away for nothing. I demand bright mornings with crisp leaves underfoot not warm-ish one day, cold the next (but mostly foggy which serves no other purpose than to ruin my hair for the day)

Hmmm maybe I romanticise September in my head? In more ways than one? Do I have ridiculously high expectations of what September should be? Is it always bound to disappoint? Or maybe, just maybe, October is where it is at really. Oh I do hope so.

So long September. Hello October.

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

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The one with all the homework

It has to be said that I’m not a fan of homework. I question if it is necessary at all at primary school age in fact. Reading at home? Yes. Definitely. But anything more than that? Sorry, I’m just not convinced. All of a sudden, the amount of homework we have every week seems to have crept up and up and I’m not going to lie, it all just feels a bit much. They are all small tasks don’t get me wrong, but when you add them up over the week I’m not sure how we are meant to fit them all in.

The school started a reading challenge a few years ago and if the children read every day, they get an award at the end of the year. It was a simple but really effective idea. Literacy levels went through the roof as a result so there is no question that it works. As a parent, I am more than happy to encourage them to read every single day. It is something that has always been a part of our daily routine anyway so we would be doing it, challenge or not. But the success of this challenge has led the school to believe that it can be used to help the children to improve their maths skills too. So they have tweaked the challenge so that they either read or do maths for fifteen minutes every weekday and once over the weekend. They have to do maths at least three times a week but I am very reluctant to have mine do maths instead of reading. I realise this is my choice but breaking the habit of reading every day just seems like madness to me?

Back to school (Mostly) Yummy Mummy

On top of this reading/maths challenge though we also have spellings to learn each week. The children are taught to use the copy, cover, write method but this means that they need to do it over the course of the week really. Effectively another ten minutes a day if you don’t count the time it takes to cajole them into sitting down to do it. Then we have a maths sheet plus ongoing project work that comes home on a Friday. Oh and my nine year old has times tables to learn every week too. I’m sure my seven year old will be doing this too soon enough.

Personally, I really don’t see reading as homework but I do understand that even that might be a struggle for some parents every day. Not all children are keen readers and many come home exhausted as it is from a day at school. Especially the tiddlers. They are so young! But reading aside, the only way that we can keep on top of everything else is to do a bit every day. The problem being of course that when they first come in from school, they want to play with their toys or shock horror – flop in front of the Disney Channel for an hour. You know, because they are children! They don’t want to come straight in and do their homework and who can blame them? But then of course if you leave it until after dinner, the clock is ticking down to bedtime and they are even more exhausted. It’s so hard fitting homework in every. single. night. We can’t be the only ones to struggle?

My teacher friend is forever telling me about parents who ask for more homework. Year after year she is under pressure to give her Year 3 class even more homework to do because the parents demand it. Who are those people? I think it’s safe to say that I am at the other end of the spectrum and would gladly scrap all homework at this age. They are at school all the long day. They need time to just be children for goodness sake. Of course homework at this age is not mandatory. Primary school aged children do not have to do it. But actually, my daughters are so conscientious that they would be horrified at the thought of me telling the school to (politely) stuff it where the sun don’t shine.

I’m not sure what the answer is really. You’d think I’d have more of a clue by now, wouldn’t you? But no, four children in and I’m still none the wiser. We have a parents’ evening soon-ish, well before the end of this term, and no doubt I will mention it then. But without meaning to sound negative, I don’t think anything will change. After all, we are not being forced to do this homework. Like I said, while it might not be mandatory at this age, it is most definitely expected. The pressure is real. And I’m sorry but I think it’s far too much pressure, far too young. Sigh.

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

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Jennie Maizels’ Sketchbook Club

I think it is fair to say that Jennie Maizels’ Sketchbook Club has quickly become a bit of a phenomenon with so many of my Instagram and Twitter chums joining in! So when Jennie got in touch asking if I would like to trial her new online Sketchbook Club for myself I can’t lie, I jumped at the chance! I have never ever done anything like this before but I think that is actually one of the reasons why it appealed to me so much. Suddenly, the thought of an empty sketchbook was an exciting one, not a daunting one.

Jenny Maizel Online Sketchbook Club (Mostly) Yummy Mummy

You can buy the whole Sketchbook Club course for just £20 which includes four modules covering houses, fish, washing lines and bugs. Or you can buy each separate module for just £7 each if you prefer. Each module comes with full detailed instructions and printable reference sheets as well as a film giving you hints and tips. Jennie also holds live Q&A sessions each week should you need to ask any questions but best of all is the amazing online community that has been created.

There are various hashtags for each of the modules so everyone can not only share their creations but also offer each other support. I have honestly been blown away with the support that I have had, especially on Instagram. It feels really very special to be part of something that has inspired so many people. Seeing everybody else’s take on each module can give you inspiration and ideas for your own sketches of course but I also find it utterly fascinating to see just how different all of our sketches are. How we are all following the same brief yet creating something completely unique to ourselves.


Jennie Maizels as you might already know is an incredible illustrator. Obviously this course is illustrator led, it isn’t a lesson in fine art. If you watch her introduction video it will give you a better idea but basically this course aims to take away the fear of a blank page. Each module is fully prescriptive and much like a recipe, Jennie gives you the method, ingredients and a picture of what you are aiming for. She is effectively giving you all the tools you need to create an amazing sketchbook and then it is up to you if you follow the instructions either to the letter or just use it as a brief and go a little off piste. For me though, as somebody who has not taken pencil to paper since I was at school, this prescriptive method couldn’t be more perfect. I feel like I really am learning new skills and Jennie’s guidance is giving me a confidence that I never knew I had.


The first module was houses and I can’t tell you just how much I enjoyed it. First of all I used a pencil to sketch my houses. I used Jennie’s reference sheets as a guide but drew them freehand and just went for it. (If you prefer though, you can use the reference pictures as a template and literally imprint them on to your page.) Then I went over my pencil in ink adding more detail. I must admit that this was where I was a little scared of ‘spoiling’ my picture but it was short lived and I soon couldn’t stop fiddling, adding more and more details to my little windows and doors. Using acrylic paints I then created my sky and added the little chimney smoke and clouds which were cut out of an old latin book of Mr Mostly’s (with his permission I must add! Ha!)


My sketch is far from perfect but actually one thing that this course has taught me is that sketchbooks are an informal way of working and everything you do just adds to its charm and beauty. There are things that I would do differently if I did it over again but and it’s a very big BUT.. I enjoyed every minute of it. And that for me is what really counts. It is the loveliest way to spend an afternoon, I had no idea that it could be so relaxing. And honestly? I can’t believe that I am capable of creating something like this! I am so proud of my little self for how it has turned out! I love the mix of mediums here – drawing, paint and collage. I think it looks so effective. And of course the best thing is that now that Jennie has given me the necessary tools and know-how, I can create more houses. Pages and pages of houses. A whole sketchbook of houses if I wish! Although for now I plan to work my way through each of the four modules of course. I’ve nearly finished my fish sketch I just have a few tweaks that I want to make then I will move on the the washing line and bugs. Exciting stuff!


At the beginning of each module, it tells you exactly what materials you need. Obviously, never having done anything like this before I didn’t even own a decent pencil! Everything that you need for the course is available to buy from Jennie’s shop or you can just use this as a guide to source things elsewhere if you prefer. I did buy everything directly from Jennie’s shop though and would recommend it for the prettiness of her packages alone! It was much easier for me to do it this way to be honest and I’ve been seriously impressed by the obvious quality of her recommended products. Jennie makes it all so easy, she really has created something very special.

I can’t tell you just how much I am loving Sketchbook Club I can’t recommend it enough. I wanted to do this originally as a project for me to enjoy once the children were all back at school. But actually, I think it would be a great thing to do with the children too. I will definitely revisit all of the modules with mine once I have finished the whole course, it will be a lovely thing to do together. That’s another good thing though, it really is suited to everyone from children to adults whatever your ability. At the end of the course, I hope to share all of my completed sketches with you here on my blog but I just couldn’t wait until then to tell you about this wonderful Sketchbook Club! Plus so many people have been asking me about it as I have been sharing updates across social media that I wanted to tell you all more about it!

You can find out more about Jennie Maizels’ Sketchbook Club here but before I go I must say a huge thank you to Jennie for asking me to take part in this trial thank you thank you THANK YOU!
(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

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Barbie Rock ‘n Royals up for review

To celebrate the release of the new Barbie DVD Rock ‘n Royals, we were sent this amazing new Courtney doll to review.

Barbie Rock n Royals up for review (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

My girls are huge Barbie fans and always look forward to seeing the new movies so it was nice to get to play with this new Rock ‘n Royals doll ahead of the film. Courtney transforms from royal to rock with a twist of her sparkly dress. We’ve had these 2-in-1 type Barbies before and I have to say that they are always a hit with my girls. They really do mean twice the fun.

imageIn this brand new Barbie musical adventure, two very different worlds collide when a mix-up sends a princess and a rock star to the wrong camps where they must face an epic sing-off. Barbie stars as Courtney who transforms from royal to rocker which is the doll that we were sent but there is an Erica doll too which transforms from trendy rock star to pretty princess with the push of her super cool guitar.

This new doll really is all singing and dancing. You hold Courtney’s legs and press the jewel on her necklace and she bursts into song. Then you hold her legs under her dress while lowering her arm to see her transform into a princess. If you lift her right arm, music plays as the microphone is held up and the doll transforms into a pop star again! Ta dah! This has been such a huge hit with my girls!


To celebrate the launch of the new DVD Barbie in Rock ‘n Royals, Barbie are partnering with Little Mix to give kids the chance to enter a singing competition to ‘Raise Your Voice!’ Little Mix will pick the lucky winner who will also get to meet the band at one of their concerts. The competition runs up until 18th October 2015 and you can enter here.

P.S. I can’t help but mention the Barbie Malibu House that you can see in the background here. We were sent it to review probably about a year ago now but it is our most played with toy ever. So much so in fact that I allow it to break my rule of no toys being allowed to permanently live in my sitting room (otherwise we would never see my daughter!)

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Disclaimer: For the purpose of this review I was kindly sent this Barbie Rock ‘n Royals Courtney doll from Mattel 

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The one where I am chasing my tail

September sees the children go back to school after what has been such a lovely summer and for me, that normally means catching up on all that stuff that I’ve been putting off for the last couple of months. All of those niggly jobs that could wait for another day are now starting to annoy me and can be ignored no longer. September brings that feeling of wanting a clean slate but I can’t have that until I’ve tidied up the mess and chaos left behind by summer. But right now I just feel like I’m chasing my tail.

work with me (Mostly) Yummy MummyThe children all went back to school last week and slipped straight back into their routines like they had never been away. Me? Not so much. I had forgotten what a killer the school run can be for starters. The relentlessness of getting everybody up and fed and ready and out of the house on time is just exhausting. I feel like I have done a full days work before we even get to the school gates. Being at home means in theory that I have all this time to get stuff done. But the reality is that I have so much stuff to do that I spend my days running around like a headless chicken never seeming to get anything done. Before I know it, it’s time to pick them up again and I still haven’t done the ironing.

I have to do lists for my to do lists. I want to have a proper catch up on blog stuff. Boring back of house stuff but actually not boring at all and I hate neglecting something that I love so much. I desperately need to find the time to write just for me too. As much as I love my blog, that is the writing I love the best. I am really excited to be starting an online Sketchbook Club course with the amazingly talented Jennie Maizels (more on that later) but to do that, I have to carve out proper time for myself to actually sit down and enjoy it. I haven’t even picked up a book since I finished my last one on holiday over a week ago. If you know me, you’ll know how bad things must be if I haven’t got time to read. And breathe.

I need to stop getting bogged down in the everyday stuff as it means I’m not really getting to do the stuff that I actually want to do. For example, I usually have a general routine of alternating between cleaning downstairs one day, upstairs the next and it sort of works if I stick to it and don’t get too distracted by other things along the way. And I think I have to be stricter with myself otherwise I do nothing but clean and tidy all day long. I live with five of the messiest people on earth, it’s a thankless task as it is. You can guarantee though that the one thing that you didn’t get around to doing is the one thing that will get noticed, not the million other of things that you have done. Why is that? 

Right. Time to get back in the swing of things. Time to find my own routine again. I’m scrapping my old to do lists and starting all over. I need a list of big things and a list of small things and I need to prioritise my time better so that stuff actually gets ticked off. I might even start a new notebook in celebration. Well it is September! And I will carve out time for myself each day. I might even squeeze in time for an afternoon power nap. I had got really good at napping before we broke up for the summer, I am sure I can teach myself again…

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

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