Great British Bank Holiday. Car picnic included.

Summer holidays see us abusing our National Trust membership to the max. Seriously, I think it’s the best thing we’ve ever bought as a family, I can’t recommend it enough. We’ve been members for years now and I can’t even begin to work out how many lovely days out we’ve had but needless to say its a lot. Anyway, I digress.

Beningbrough Hall, York, National Trust (Mostly) Yummy Mummy BlogThe other week we were at Beningbrough Hall in York which is one of my very favourite places. A gorgeous 18th century house with fabulous galleries in partnership with The National Portrait Gallery plus sprawling gardens and woodland walks. We love it there. We were only there for the afternoon and it was such a lovely day (little did we know that it would also be one of the very last lovely weather days!) so we were just going to have a wander in the grounds and then take the children to the playground. Best slide ever in case you were wondering. But on the way out, I spotted that there was a special exhibition on in the house – Royals: Then and Now. How I didn’t spot the signs before I do not know as in hindsight, there were posters and signs everywhere argh! But by this point the house was about to close so we had to leave it for that day. Mr Mostly bought me the most glorious postcard book from the gift shop on way out to make up for missing out but of course there was no question that we would soon be back.

Great British bank holiday car picnic fondant fancy (Mostly) Yummy Mummy BlogSo yesterday we woke up on a rainy grey bank holiday Monday (is there any other kind of bank holiday? Seriously weather, it is still August – what are you playing at?) and did that very British thing of ignoring the weather and heading out anyway, back to Beningbrough Hall. Our plans for a picnic were slightly ambitious so we had the most British picnic of all – a bank holiday car picnic – then headed to the house to see the exhibition. It was just as stunning as I expected. I have to confess that seeing such famous portraits in the flesh was all a bit jaw dropping really. Too many to bore you with but I can’t not mention my favourites. If I can’t indulge myself on my own blog then where can I?

I thought Prince George’s christening portrait by Jason Bell was the happiest thing I ever did see until I came to the Mario Testino engagement photo of William and Catherine. Wow. Just wow. And seeing the famous Andy Warhol silkscreen prints of Queen Elizabeth against the background of this amazing 18th century gallery was really quite something. But my favourite portrait of all was one of Prince Charles. It was a candid shot of him with his chickens at Highgrove (yes really!) It had become so busy in the gallery at that point that I couldn’t squeeze in to read the sign to see who it was taken by unfortunately but it really was the most joyous of photos. If you can get there, it’s well worth the visit even if you’re not a complete royalist nut like me. Promise. Oh and there’s also going to be a Lichfield exhibition running from September in conjunction with this Royals: Then and Now event so yes, we’ll be back to see that for sure!

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

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(Utterly) Yummy Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia

I have just finished reading Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan which is such a perfect summer read. Set in Cornwall, it is a story about Polly being brave enough to drop out of the rat race and find her happy. Oh and a witty love story to boot. Some girls get all the luck, eh? But as you might have guessed from the title, the story actually centres around a bakery and Polly makes the most amazing bread. I was drooling with every turn of the page I think it was just about my perfect book!

Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Now there was a time when I would eat bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And sometimes even in between. And I wonder how I put so much weight on? Ha! I don’t eat much bread these days it has to be said but when I do, only real bread will do. So completely inspired by Little Beach Street Bakery, I had a go at making my own rosemary and sea salt focaccia and it was so easy (and utterly delicious) that I thought I would share it here with you.

Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Mix the flour with the salt. Pour the sachet of yeast into the hand warm water then add this as well as the olive oil to the dry mixture. Stir together then knead for a good ten minutes before covering and leaving to stand for one hour. (Of course, if you have a bread maker then feel free to let it do the mixing and kneading bit for you but as you can see, it really is an easy bread to make by hand. I love my bread maker but there is nothing quite like getting your hands in there sometimes!)

After the focaccia dough has sat for one hour, stretch it out into a long oval shape on a baking tray and leave for another forty minutes. Then press your fingers into the risen dough to make little indents and cook in the oven at 220C. After twenty minutes, remove from the loaf from the oven to add the rosemary and sea salt topping and just a light drizzle of olive oil. Then pop it back in the oven for another five minutes until it is golden brown.

Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

I can’t believe just how easy it is to make focaccia or more to the point, why on earth haven’t I tried it sooner?! There is something so satisfying about making your own bread, especially when it can be thrown together with a few store cupboard staples and a sprig or three of rosemary from the garden. Yum!

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

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Birchbox up for review (and a special offer for new subscribers!)

So, what’s in this months Birchbox I hear you cry? Well this month celebrates the great summer getaway so whether you are jetting away to a fortnight in the sun or just counting down to a weekend escape, there are travel essentials aplenty!

£5 off your first Birchbox with (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

First up we have the Number 4 Super Comb Prep and Protect which is a fabulous leave-in conditioning spray. You simply spritz over damp hair and comb through before drying and styling to help detangle plus protect against heat and sun damage. It’s a really lightweight spray and smells amazing I love this! Next we have the Sarah McNamara Beauty New York Miracle Skin Transformer. This microdermabrasion exfoliating cream helps to smooth, refine and polish for gorgeous summer skin. Using wet fingertips massage over your skin then rinse and pat dry. It’s worth noting that I found that a little went a long way with this as it has a really rich creamy base it really is lovely to use. We have the Supergoop Daily Correct SPF35 CC Cream which I was seriously impressed with and will definitely be treating myself to a full size tube when this is all gone. It is a natural shade adjusting CC cream which helps to smooth lines and even out the skin tone. It is really easy and light to apply and I found that it gives a really natural finish. Next we have the Laison De Parfum sample in I Dare You. Now I have to confess that I didn’t get a look in with this one as my teenager pinched it but it smells gorgeous on her! And last but by no means least, we have the Wild About Beauty Creme Eyeshadow. This is from Louise Rednapp and Kim Jacob’s paraben free range. You apply with fingertips or a brush and it gives a long lasting satin finish.

£5 off your first Birchbox with (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Now the lifestyle extra this month was a real treat. It’s a chapter sample of The Proposal by Tasmina Perry. This Sunday Times Bestseller is said to be a glamorous take of second chances in a modern Manhattan and fifties London and sounds right up my street. The full novel is available in the Birchbox e-shop. And as if all that wasn’t enough, this months goodies come in a super handy plastic travel case. I love it!

£5 off your first Birchbox with (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Birchbox is a subscription service and for just £10 a month, you are sent a box of beauty and lifestyle goodies to enjoy. You can cancel the subscription at any time though, it is totally flexible. One thing that I especially love is that you can create your own beauty profile online so that the samples will be tailored just for you. Some products are sample sizes but there are often full sized treats too. You can also earn reward points each month which can then be used towards purchases in the e-shop where all of the products from the boxes are available to buy. I absolutely love Birchbox it is such a lovely treat every month and it’s such a great way of discovering great new products.

Now here is that special offer just for you! How do you fancy £5 off your first Birchbox when you subscribe? Sign up now using the code BBXYUMMYMUMMY to receive this exclusive blog reader discount. This offer is open for new customers only and will remain valid until 27th August 2014 so snap it up while you can!

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Disclaimer: For the purpose of this review I was very kindly sent this August Birchbox free of charge and also provided with the special discount code for my lucky blog readers. All opinions are of course my own as is the swishy new hair, glowing skin and gorgeous smelling daughter. 
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What I Wore: The Middle of the School Holidays Slump Edition

It’s Wednesday (it is Wednesday, isn’t it? The days are all starting to merge into one at this point of the summer holidays)

..so it’s what I wore

What I Wore Wednesday (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Blush blouson – Mango, indigo skinny jeans – Boden, coin necklace – H&M, bracelets – Links of London, watch – Michael Kors, nail varnish – Chanel Le Vernis in Pirate

I love the school holidays, I really do but I must admit that I’m at that bit in the middle where I’ve hit a bit of a slump. The noise, the mess, oh my godfathers THE MESS, the constant bickering and the complete and utter relentlessness of the whole 24/7 thing are beginning to take their toll. We have done lots of lovely things already and I have to keep reminding myself that we still have lots of nice plans ahead. It’s always nice to spread out the fun over the whole of the six weeks, don’t you think? Very easy to go mad in the first week and not only run out of ideas but also set their expectations way too high. No way can you sustain that off the scale level of fun fun FUN for six whole weeks people! I’ve even thrown in a family trip to the dentist this week, just to keep it real you know? They can’t wait. Best. Mummy. Ever. *snort*

So today we are just having a lazy old day at home. Well when I say lazy obviously I don’t mean in the slightest bit lazy, just that we don’t plan on leaving the house. Newsflash: life with four children can never be lazy. In fact, for the most part I feel like I’m running a very busy cafe. They never stop eating. Like seriously never. So a (not so) lazy day at home sees me wearing skinnies with my new bargain top from Mango. I sold a lot of summer dresses that were too big for me and with the proceeds I treated myself to some goodies in the Mango sale. I was actually really sensible and bought a handbag and some tops that will see me into autumn rather than buy more summer clothes though and this was one of them. It’s a gorgeous blush colour in a lovely floaty silky material. I love the shape and I’m thinking this will be perfect layered under blazers.

So that was me, what have you been wearing this week? Have you picked up any bargains in the summer sales?

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

 

Are you following me over on Pinterest? Lots of pretty things, frilly things, vintage things and usually lots of yummy things

 

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The one where I turn into a diet bore. Sorry. (Not sorry.)

Note to self: you can actually lose weight without telling the world about it. Who knew? As much as I enjoy reading about other people’s weight loss journeys (and I really do) I’m not about to become a diet bore and write about it all the time here. So don’t worry, I’m not about to make a regular habit of this.

I have lost 25lbs in about 9 months now and no, there is no secret to my weight loss. I have dropped the pounds and a whopping overall 19.5 inches very slowly and just by eating (an awful lot) less and moving (an awful lot) more. There have been many weeks where I haven’t lost a single pound and when you hit a plateau, I guess it is easy to become disheartened. But actually the fact that I just keep on plodding on goes to show that for me, this whole diet thing isn’t about a quick fix (far from it in fact) but about changing my lifestyle habits forever.

Diet bore (Mostly) Yummy Mummy BlogIt’s hard to do the whole losing weight thing without numbers coming into play. I used to kid myself that it didn’t matter what the scales said which saw me balloon up to almost 12 stone *weeps* Back in October when I started out on my mission to lose weight, I didn’t know how I ever gained that much weight, although many of my Timehop photos are making it much clearer it has to be said. Macaron for breakfast anyone? But I had no idea how I would ever lose it all so to be honest, when I set myself a goal to try to weigh less than 10 stone it was all a bit pie in the sky. I didn’t imagine that I would ever get there. Now that I have, although the numbers might not matter as much, feeling this good definitely does so why on earth would I stop? I can hand on heart say that I will never go back to my fatty bum bum days. I honestly didn’t realise just how bad I used to feel until I started to feel so good.

When you’re doing the low calorie thing like I am, you want to make every calorie count and as much as I don’t deny myself treats, I just don’t treat myself as often as I once did which means that actually, I enjoy them all the more. I know, I know *polishes halo* But in general, I’m just much more mindful about what I eat now and I’ve never eaten so well. The zero anything approach to dieting would never work for me, not long-term anyway. I just try to eat clean where possible and I’ve definitely cut out lots of the stodge that I once lived on. Just simple things like swapping pasta with roast courgette, white rice for sweet potatoes and asparagus with my poached eggs instead of a doorstep of white bloomer (although I do still have the odd doorstep of bread, I’m not a complete saint)

Diet bore (Mostly) Yummy Mummy BlogBut the days when I would see how many chocolate hobnobs I could eat while waiting for the Nespresso machine to make my third latte of the day (four at a push in case you were wondering) are long gone. Of course I knew at the time that it wasn’t the best of ideas but I became really rather good at convincing myself that it wasn’t that bad. My head is in such a different place now it’s not true. And actually I guess that for me has been the real secret to losing this weight and more importantly, keeping it off. It’s all up there *taps noggin*

So yes, I am still a calorie counting bore and yes, I’m hoping to lose a few more pounds if I can but despite all of that, I don’t see this as being a diet anymore. In fact, I haven’t for a long time. I’ve changed my eating habits forever and I even look forward to squeezing exercise into my day. In fact I get twitchy on days that I can’t fit in a workout I love it that much. Yes really. I just want to carry on feeling this well for well, forever.

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

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(Mostly) Yummy Mummy mostly loves..

This week, (Mostly) Yummy Mummy mostly loves..

..Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser (Mostly) Yummy Mummy blog

One of the reasons why I love my subscription to Birchbox is that I get to try out lots of fabulous new products. I received a sample of the Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser and muslin set a couple of months ago and I loved it so much that I had to treat myself to a full size set when it ran out. I have a couple of friends who are huge Liz Earle fans and I have to admit that I think I’m converted.

For those of you not in the know, it’s a really rich cream cleanser that gently removes daily grime and even the most stubborn of mascaras leaving your skin feeling exceptionally clean. You massage the cream on to dry skin over your face, eyes and neck. The muslin cloth is rinsed in hand hot water and used to then gently polish off the cream. I’ve been using morning and night for a while now, my skin feels amazing and my complexion is clearer than it has been in months.

I love it! And just couldn’t be without it which is really saying something for somebody as fickle as me. What is your couldn’t-be-without beauty product right now?

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

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(Utterly) Yummy Strawberry and Elderflower Swiss Roll

The good old Swiss roll is such a lovely cake to master as it’s just so versatile. It’s a fat free batter too making it incredibly light so perfect for warm sunny days. Truth be told, we didn’t have a real crop of homegrown strawberries this year as they disappeared one by one the minute they appeared. My children are very helpful like that in the garden. So Mr Waitrose gave me a helping hand on the strawberry front today. This recipe would be great with any summer fruits or even a good dollop of jam of course but I have to say that I just love love love the combination of strawberry and elderflower in this recipe. It just tastes of summer to me.

Strawberry and elderflower swiss roll recipe (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Right, so first of all you will need to preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Now crack the three eggs into the mixing bowl and add the caster sugar. The secret to a good Swiss roll is all in the mixing and this is definitely the job for an electric whisk. You need to whisk continuously for at least ten minutes solid until the mixture becomes really pale in colour and has tripled in volume.

Strawberry and elderflower swiss roll recipe (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Then slowly fold in the flour being careful not to knock out all of that lovely air that you’ve just spent 10 minutes putting in!

Then slowly fold in the flour being careful not to knock out all of that lovely air that you've just spent 10 minutes putting in!

Now if you have a special Swiss roll tin that’s fab but actually, I make do with the largest flattest baking tin I own and it more than does the job. Mine measures approximately 30cm x 25xm. Carefully line the tin with grease proof paper. Now pour in the mixture spreading evenly across the tin. Pop it in the oven for about 15 minutes or until lovely golden brown and springy to the touch.

Then slowly fold in the flour being careful not to knock out all of that lovely air that you've just spent 10 minutes putting in!

If you were going to fill your Swiss roll with just jam (or lemon curd, or chocolate spread – I did say how versatile this recipe is, didn’t I?) then you can roll it up while it is still warm to the touch. In fact it is completely and utterly scrumptious to eat it while it’s still warm. I may or may not be speaking from experience here. Ahem. But for the fresh cream filling in this version of the recipe today, you really should let it cool completely. I often make the sponge earlier in the day, leave it covered with a tea towel then assemble later as we are about to eat.

Then slowly fold in the flour being careful not to knock out all of that lovely air that you've just spent 10 minutes putting in!

For the filling, whisk the double cream until thick. You don’t want it running out the side of the Swiss roll so it needs to be really quite stiff. Then stir in a couple of very generous tablespoons of elderflower cordial. I really should get around to making my own cordial one of these days but I always seem to miss the elderflower boat. Now gently loosen the sponge from the grease proof paper but leave it sat on there. It should lift straight off but this just means that the rolling bit should be completely hitch free.

Strawberry and elderflower swiss roll (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Spread the elderflower cream across the sponge nice and evenly but leave about 1cm free around the edges. Now cover with the slices of fresh strawberries. Funnily enough, it is at this stage of proceedings that I suddenly have some very willing helpers! Now it is really tempting to pile on the fruit at this stage but actually a sliced covering is more than enough. Remember, you still have to roll this baby up!

Strawberry and elderflower swiss roll (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

I roll lengthways and use the grease proof paper to help me to pull it as tight as I can without everything falling out of the sides. It’s a fine balance but it’s not as tricky as it sounds. Just be brave on that first lift then roll, roll, ROLL.. et voila! A light dusting of icing sugar to make it look pretty (and hide any cracks) and you’re ready to serve. Enjoy!

Strawberry and elderflower swiss roll (Mostly) Yummy Mummy BlogP.S. I used to love sharing recipes on my blog (that’s where the ‘yummy’ bit of my name came from all those years ago!) but I seem to have fallen out of the habit of late. A foodie blogger I am not but I do like sharing recipes that I love and I hope you might enjoy a few more of these posts again too.

(Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

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