Sprinkle happiness with Birchbox

Inside the first Birchbox of the year you will find a gorgeous selection of beauty treats that are sure to add a sprinkle of happiness to your January and help to kick off the new year on the right foot. There’s no better time to shake up your beauty routine than a new year which is why this month’s box has been filled with shiny new products to add a little joy to your 2017.

January 2017 - review of the Sprinkle Happiness box from Birchbox by top UK blogger Mostly Yummy Mummy

First off I have to say that I love the box itself in this cheery yellow and it is in the drawer style this month (which I find so handy for reusing!) Also in the box there are cards full of tips for a happy and positive new year and some amazing offers from some Birchbox friends including Hello Fresh, Secret Sales and LALALAB. Plus there is a chance to win one of ten annual Birchbox subscriptions.

January 2017 - review of the Sprinkle Happiness box from Birchbox by top UK blogger Mostly Yummy Mummy

Now, let’s take a look at this month’s beauty products. First up is the Nails Inc Polish which is in assorted shades. I couldn’t see the name of the colour of mine on the bottle but it’s a lovely greige type neutral with a bit of sparkle. I love these polishes I always find that they apply really nicely. Next we have the Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream in Acai Grapefruit which I haven’t had the chance to try yet but it smells amazing. It has a non-foaming formula and is packed with kind-to-skin ingredients like shea butter and coconut oil to nourish and protect against irritation. Then we have the Merci Handy Hand Cream which is a full size product. Winter often equals dry hands so it is nice to show them a little love with this sweet smelling lotion.

Next is the Lord & Berry Conceal It Crayon which is another full size product and also a Birchbox exclusive. You apply to your skin straight from the stick and use your fingertips to blend in. This creamy pencil is not just a concealer but can also be used as a highlighter too. And last but by no means least is my favourite product of all in this month’s box, the Nuxe Dry Oil Shimmer. I absolutely love Nuxe products and have been dying to try this new oil. Brimming with essential oils plus vitamin E, it delivers nourishment and a hint of gold radiance to your skin, body or hair. I’m a complete convert to dry oils they have transformed my skin.

Maybe one of your new year resolutions is to take a little time out to pamper yourself more, or maybe you just want to cheer up the gloomiest month of the year? I’d say that there is no better time to sign up to a Birchbox subscription for just £10 a month (plus £2.95 p&p) Go on, treat yourself!

Mostly Yummy Mummy blog (BySarahMostly)

Disclaimer: For the purpose of this review I was kindly provided with this month’s Birchbox free of charge but I would only ever recommend a product or service that I truly love (and I hand on heart truly love Birchbox!) 

2016: Last year, I have mostly been reading

I meant to write this at the end of 2016 but I kept putting it off in case I read an amazing book late in the year and I would have kicked myself for not including it within my favourites. And then of course came the lovely inbetweeny week of nothingness between Christmas and New Year where quite frankly I couldn’t be bothered to open my laptop. But I figured better late than never, eh?

Over the last year in particular, my book posts have proven to be quite popular on Instagram and I love being able to share recommendations (as well as hearing what other people are reading too!) I read 50 books in 2016 which is actually the same number as I read in 2015. Pure coincidence though, I never set out to read a certain number of books in a year but 50 certainly feels like a nice round number. I was surprised that I had read so many actually considering that one of those books was War and Peace.

The one with War and Peace (Mostly) Yummy Mummy Blog

Which leads me nicely on to what was without doubt my favourite book of 2016. Yes. War and Peace. Granted, it’s not for the faint-hearted but if I can read it, anyone can. There is no getting away from the fact that it is a BIG book but it is surprisingly easy to read. After about a hundred pages, I was absolutely hooked and relished every last bit of it. It felt like it could have been written yesterday, not 150 years ago. Absolutely timeless. An incredible book and one that will stay with me forever. Everybody should at least attempt to read it in their lifetime I think. ‘As long as there’s life, there’s happiness. There’s much, much still to come.’

Now if I was a better blogger, this post would be a nice neat round up of my top ten books but I couldn’t narrow it down I’m afraid, let alone put them into any real order. It was easy to pick War and Peace as my numero uno as it really is one of those once in a lifetime kind of reads. But I have read so many other good books this year, so it was really very difficult to put the rest into any sort of order. So without wittering on too much, here are some of my favourites.

Moving by Jenny Eclair was the first book I read in 2016 and it was superb. She is the most amazing writer and I can recommend every single one of her books. Invincible Summer was an astonishingly good debut by Alice Adams. I don’t like to compare books it never seems fair, but if you liked One Day by David Nicholls then I think you’ll love this. One thing that I always try to do is read older books that have somehow passed me by over the years and one such book was The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. Without doubt one of my favourite books of all time never mind this year. Razor sharp and oh so clever. You really begin to question yourself as a person when you find yourself siding with a murderous sociopath. Now that is amazing wtiting!

Wildflower Bay by best-selling author Rachael Lucas up for review on Mostly Yummy Mummy Blog

I was really looking forward to the release of Wildflower Bay by Rachael Lucas and I loved it from start to finish. Rachael’s writing has a way of transporting you into another world. True escapist reading. I haven’t read any Judy Blume books since I was a teenager so I was intrigued to read her new book In the Unlikely Event and it did not disappoint. A really interesting read and one of those books that I immediately passed on to a friend. The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis was quite unlike anything else I have read this year and although a little gruesome at times, was utterly fascinating.

Actually, this year seems to be a year when a lot of my favourite writers brought out new books. Another much awaited release was Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty. I couldn’t put this down. Another un-put-down-able book was The Girls by Lisa Jewell. I thought I might struggle with the subject matter of this book as it was really very dark but the writing and superb characterisation pulled me in immediately. You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell was utterly brilliant and my favourite book of hers yet (and I have read them all!) Although I am quite sure that I say that about every one of her books, I just love her writing so much.

2016: Last year, I have mostly been reading - Mostly Yummy Mummy Blog - Round up of favourite books read in 2016

The Woman Who Ran by Sam Baker was a great pacey thriller and as a huge Bronte fan, I loved the Yorkshire connections. I hope there will be more to come from Sam this was such a brilliant book. Dietland by Sarai Walker was one of the strangest books I read this year but I loved it. It is described as the feminist makeover story that we have been waiting for and I would have to agree. I passed this straight on to the teen to read who also loved it.

Now, I write a round up of all the books I read every month here on my blog but to make it easier for you, I have linked to them within this post so you can read more about what I thought about each of my favourites rather than repeat myself here (I am aware that this is quickly turning into a mammoth post so thank you if you have made it this far!) Or if you pop ‘mostly reading‘ into the search bar at the side there, that should bring up all of my archived posts. Alternatively, you can find my book lists over on Instagram if you search under #mostlyreading

I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I have to say that it has been great fun to look back on the books that I read in 2016. There really have been some absolute crackers. Here’s to plenty more in 2017 too!

Mostly Yummy Mummy blog (BySarahMostly)

The one with the silver lining

2016 was a spectacularly awful year for so many people on so many levels. Me included. But I am one of those annoying optimistic people who always looks for the bright side no matter how dark things seem. Every day may not be good but I do believe that there is something good in every day. But even I have struggled with that mantra at times over the last few months it has to be said.

A million years ago, I used to write regular posts here on my blog about the little things that had made me smile that day or that week or even that month. Maybe it’s time that I resurrected them? I really do believe with all my heart that it is the little things that turn out to be the big things in the end, you know? Those little teeny tiny things that make us smile. They are the things that we need to hold on to.

January brings a clean slate. Goodbye 2016, hello 2017. Mostly Yummy Mummy Blog.

I’ve never really been big on celebrating the new year I’ve just never quite got it. I think it’s partly because we are bombarded with that whole new year new you rubbish nowadays. Screw that. I’m mostly happy with the way I am thanks. The chiming of a clock doesn’t magically make the last twelve months disappear or suddenly make everything new again. But actually, I can’t wait to see the back of 2016 so maybe all these people who bang on to the new year being a clean slate are on to something after all? I can only hope that 2017 will be brighter for me. Having said all that, last year wasn’t all bad. In fact, there were some bloody good bits. So they are the bits that I want to hold on to.

My eldest turned eighteen in April and seeing him grow into this amazing human being means that I must have got something half right over the years. There was definitely an expectation that he would go on to university after finishing sixth form but actually, he chose to take a very different route and applied for an apprenticeship. It was a really brave step and it was the best decision he could have ever made. He is as bright as a button but hated every minute of school and he was mature enough to know that university just wasn’t for him. He’s now working his socks off training with a big law firm in Leeds and also enjoying the freedom that comes with having a bit of money in his pocket. I couldn’t be prouder of him.

Happy 18th birthday to my son - Mostly Yummy Mummy BlogAugust saw results day for both of my teens. I really didn’t think the whole small age gap thing through, did I? One sitting AS Levels, one sitting A Levels. You can imagine what a stressful year that was. But actually, twice the stress also meant twice the joy come results day. My daughter sat just one AS Level in English Language and was expecting to scrape a grade C at best but she went and got an A! Amazing in itself but even more amazing considering the shambles that the subject had been for her since her original teacher left for maternity leave. Anyway. My son had already secured his apprenticeship by this point but he aced his A Levels too which was just the icing on the cake. All that hard work from both of them well and truly paid off. Such a big day.

Celebrating A Levels results day in August 2016 - Mostly Yummy Mummy Blog

My seventeen year old still has her A Levels to come this year of course so there is still a lot of hard work ahead. Over the last few months, we have been visiting universities and colleges which has been really exciting. It’s something that I never got to do myself so it’s great being able to support her. Obviously we will support her in whatever she does but I am over the moon that she has decided to follow her heart and go down the art route. At the moment it is looking like she will take a side step next year and do an art foundation course before going on to do her degree. She has secured one place at an art college for September already and has another two interviews lined up so at this rate, the world will be her oyster.

On a personal note, I’ve learnt that work success doesn’t happen by accident, it comes from working your arse off. Sometimes risks can pay off but other times they don’t and you just have to write it off as experience. I still have to pinch myself that I have somehow carved a career out of something that was once a hobby. What is that saying about choosing a job you love so you will never have to work a day in your life? Well, yes. That. I get to make a (small) living from writing a few words and taking pictures of my dinner. I’m living the dream. Well, my dream at least.

Celebrating our twenty second anniversary in 2016 - Mostly Yummy Mummy Blog

And I thought I would save the best till last. Mr Mostly and I celebrated our twenty second anniversary in October. Now that really is something to shout about. I think the post I wrote listing twenty two things I love about him was by far my favourite of 2016. He is quite simply my everything. I never ever take for granted what we have together. Last year taught me that you never know what tomorrow might bring, the only thing we have is right now. And right now I couldn’t love that bearded man any more.

So there we have it. What started out as a full on negative Nancy post has turned into something really much brighter. I told you I was annoyingly optimistic, didn’t I? Always look for that silver lining folks. And here’s to a cheerier new year for all of us!

Mostly Yummy Mummy blog (BySarahMostly)

December 2016: This month, I have mostly been reading

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I normally write these posts on the very last day of the month so that I don’t miss a single book but I haven’t picked up a book since the children broke up on the 16th, so I think it’s safe to say that I’m not going to read another book between now and Saturday! I really want to write a round up of some of my favourite books from this year at some point (because there have been some absolute corkers) but I have a feeling that I won’t get around to that until January. We’re still very much in a Twixmas bubble here and I’m not in a hurry to burst it just yet by opening my laptop. Writing this quick blog post from my phone is as good as it’s going to get for now!

Anyway, I started this month by reading The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. It’s not the only time I’ve read this book (and without checking I can’t remember if it’s the second or third time this year alone!) but sometimes a girl feels the need to fall in love with Jay Gatsby all over again. Over the last few years, this has become my ultimate comfort read and I make no apology for that. I absolutely love it.

Next came The Ugly Sister by Jane Fallon which I enjoyed but I don’t think it was one of her best novels. One thing that she is good at though is creating really quite hateful characters and this book was no exception. The problem though was that I ended up hating them all and I kind of lost a little interest. Without giving too much away, there were two sisters. The beautiful on the outside sister was supposedly ugly on the inside but in actual fact, the so called ugly sister was even worse in my opinion. I think we were supposed to favour the ‘ugly’ sister over the ‘beautiful’ one but I think they were both pretty awful people. Plus I really don’t like the whole concept of being beautiful on the outside means you must be rotten on the inside. It’s such a ridiculous stereotype I hate it. That said, I’m still glad I read it. I quite like to disagree with a book once in a while, I’m contrary like that.

And last but by no means least I read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This has become a bit of a tradition for me over the last few years and one that I really look forward to. It’s just not Christmas until I’ve reacquainted myself with Ebenezer Scrooge. If you’ve never read it before then I highly recommend that you do. It has stood the test of time for a reason and for me, this story is the true meaning of Christmas.

So that was me, what have you been reading this month? Did you get any new books in your Christmas stocking? I didn’t actually! But that’s probably a good thing looking at my to be read pile!

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A (very Christmassy) day out to Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills

We were invited to a very special screening of The Muppet Christmas Carol yesterday at The Palace Picture House which is inside Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills. We had such a lovely time that I really wanted to share it with you here. I have to confess that I haven’t visited this museum since I was a child myself so it was lovely to be able to go along with my two little ones. It really is a hidden gem we had the best time and will be back!

A day out at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills as seen on Mostly Yummy Mummy Blog

A day out at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills as seen on Mostly Yummy Mummy Blog

We arrived at Leeds Industrial Museum a little early so we could make the most of the trip and take a good look around the museum before we headed to The Palace Picture House. The staff that greeted us couldn’t have been more welcoming and they talked through the map of the museum with us before we went for a wander. The museum is over four floors but is laid out so that you snake your way through each section. We managed to see everything on our trip.

A day out at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills as seen on Mostly Yummy Mummy Blog

A day out at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills as seen on Mostly Yummy Mummy Blog

Housed in what was once the world’s largest woollen mill, Leeds Industrial Museum tells the story of Leeds’ industrial past. From manufacturing textiles and clothing, to printing, engineering, film and photography. So many interesting exhibitions and everything is clearly signed. There were also lots of ‘hands on’ interactive displays that were great for the children. And let’s be honest here, us grown ups too!

A day out at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills as seen on Mostly Yummy Mummy Blog

A day out at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills as seen on Mostly Yummy Mummy Blog

What we were really there to see of course was The Palace Picture House which is tucked away in the museum itself. This beautiful little 1920s cinema is the smallest in the north of England with just 25 seats. It is jaw-droppingly charming it feels like stepping into the past as you walk in through the heavy curtained door past the old ticket booth.

A day out at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills as seen on Mostly Yummy Mummy Blog

The cinema fittings were rescued from the old Place Picture House in Armley that closed back in the 1960s and really has to be seen to be believed. The cinema acts as an exhibit within the Optics Gallery where there is also an amazing photo gallery and even a replica of Le Princes’ camera that he used to make the first ever moving pictures right here in Leeds. A bit of local history that I never knew about!

A day out at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills as seen on Mostly Yummy Mummy Blog

The cinema originally used celluloid projectors but nowadays behind the vintage facade there is in fact a state of the art DVD projector. We were treated to a very special screening of The Muppets Christmas Carol and it really was an incredible experience. Before the film began we tucked into mince pies and hot chocolate, it was so cosy and Christmassy. Then as the lights dimmed we took our very plush seats and enjoyed the movie in these very special surroundings. We were all in absolute awe of the place.

A day out at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills as seen on Mostly Yummy Mummy Blog

We had such an amazing day and I must say a HUGE THANK YOU to Leeds Industrial Museum for inviting us along. We will definitely be back again to visit. There are lots of special events coming up this year and they also offer lots of different family activities to keep little ones entertained in the school holidays. As you can see from the size of my coat (!) it was a freezing December day so we didn’t spend much time looking at the outdoor exhibits so it will be nice to go back when the weather warms up to have a proper look. The museum is nestled in between the River Aire and the Leeds Liverpool Canal and there is even a picnic area so it would be great to go for more of a wander next time.

Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills is open on Tues-Sat 10am-5pm and Sun 1pm-5pm. Parking is free and entry to the museum is just £3.80 per adult and £1.90 per child or £8 for a family ticket. You can find out more by visiting leeds.gov.uk/armleymills 

Top parenting blog Mostly Yummy Mummy - mostly parenting, lifestyle, fashion, beauty, books and yummy food

The one where I am on Cloud Nine

About a year ago my GHD hair straighteners went bang. Quite spectacularly as it happens. They had been on their last legs for ages but when they died they went with an almighty BANG. I was lucky I had any hair left! Ha! Anyway, they were long past their best and after some deliberation, I replaced them with a brand new shiny set of GHD Eclipse. At the time, that was the latest (and most expensive) GHD straightening irons on the market. I have used nothing but GHD straighteners for years. Like, easily something like 13 years if not more and trusted the brand completely. When you have wire wool hair like mine, life without decent straighteners just isn’t an option. Trust me.

But what I really wasn’t expecting was for these swanky new super duper Eclipse straighteners that cost around £150 to die after just over a year. Ugh. I was gutted. Absolutely gutted. Up until then, they really had been the best straighteners I had ever used and now they were as dead as a doornail. They were switching on alright and heating up but within a minute of use, they were just cutting out and beeping incessantly. A quick Google later I found that this is a common fault but unfortunately it seems that it is an unfixable fault and GHD no longer make the Eclipse styler apparently. Great stuff.

Cloud Nine versus GHD straighteners - which is best? As seen on Mostly Yummy Mummy blog

Luckily, I had bought them from John Lewis so I had their standard electrical insurance. Phew. The customer service from John Lewis was absolutely amazing but then again, isn’t it always? You can’t rely on many things in life these days but you can always rely on good old John Lewis. I called them and was able to arrange an immediate refund or replacement. I went for the replacement (of course) and jumped ship to try out Cloud Nine. I did consider Cloud Nine stylers when I bought the Eclipse last year but it was my brand loyalty to GHD that swung it in the end. Anyway, my loyalty understandably went well and truly went out of the window and it was definitely time to give Cloud Nine a try. I read nothing but amazing reviews everywhere for them.

Cloud Nine versus GHD straighteners - which is best? As seen on Mostly Yummy Mummy blog

And the verdict? I love them. I went for the Cloud Nine Original Iron Hair Styler and at the time, they had a promotion on this special Christmas gift set so it came with a paddle brush, heat resistant bag and two styling clips for just £149. I think they have sold out at John Lewis now but you might be able to find the set elsewhere. Looks wise, they remind me of old skool GHD straighteners in that they are really quite plain to look at but of course, it is what they can do that really matters.

Unlike GHD you can control the temperature from a hair friendly 100 degrees to 200 degrees for the ultimate styling. I must admit that with my birds nest, I tend to just whack them on the full 200 degrees but it will be interesting to see if I can get away with using a lower heat. I’ll have more time to have a play now that the kids are off for Christmas so I’ll have to see. Obviously modern technology means that straighteners don’t destroy your hair like they once did. Heck, I remember in days of yore when straightening your hair would be accompanied by the smell of singed tresses and an actual sizzle! But obviously any heat can cause damage even with all the new fangled technology and oils and sprays etc. So if I can get away with a lower heat, all the better. The plates are super smooth and they have a curved body so there is no dragging on your hair. I only ever use mine to straighten but I’m guessing this would make them great for flicks and curls too. They are effortless to use and every bit as good as any GHD styler I have ever had, if not better.

But, and it’s a big but, I guess the real test will be if they actually last me longer than a year. Here’s hoping…

Top parenting blog Mostly Yummy Mummy - mostly parenting, lifestyle, fashion, beauty, books and yummy food

Disney Tsum Tsum Squishies up for review

My youngest two are huge Tsum Tsum fans after we were sent some to review a while ago so you can imagine their joy when we were sent these new Tsum Tsum Squishies Metallics and special edition Christmas tin.

Disney Tsum Tsum Squishies up for review on top parenting blog Mostly Yummy Mummy

For those of you not in the know, Tsum Tsum (pronounced zoom zoom) is translated from Japanese and means ‘stack stack’. The characters originally come from a Japanese app and have now been brought to life as these little collectibles. This new range of Series 3 squishies see some of our favourite Disney friends sparkle and shine with an all new metallic finish. There are 21 classic characters to collect including The Mad Hatter and Jungle Book’s Baloo and there are also 6 rare and 3 super rare collectibles to be found in this new metallic design.

Disney Tsum Tsum Squishies Series 3 Metallic Shine up for review on top parenting blog Mostly Yummy Mummy

Disney Tsum Tsum Squishies Series 3 Metallic Shine up for review on top parenting blog Mostly Yummy Mummy

In our pack we had Simba, Fairy Godmother, Roz and Hans was our mystery Tsum Tsum. No rare or super rare collectibles for us this time but I’m sure we’ll be buying more to see if we can get lucky! These little squishy Disney superstar characters are ideal to collect and swap with friends and you can stack them on top of each other – ‘stack ’em, collect ’em! This pack of 4 costs around £8.95.

Disney Tsum Tsum Squishies Christmas special edition up for review on top parenting blog Mostly Yummy Mummy

Now just in time for Christmas there is also this new special edition tin which includes 6 squishies in their best festive dress. This would be a great gift for any Tsum Tsum fan or a lovely way to start a new collection.

Disney Tsum Tsum Christmas Special Edition Squishies up for review on top parenting blog Mostly Yummy Mummy

In our set we had Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Chip and Dale. As you can see, they have been given a bit of a makeover for Christmas and are all wearing snazzy jumpers. Such a cute collection of characters my daughters were over the moon with them. Plus the cute little tin is perfect for storing away these Tsum Tsums (and more!) Priced at around £14.95 I think that is great value for 6 special edition squishies and the tin case.

We love Tsum Tsum Squishies my girls love to collect them and these new sets are just fab. There are so many characters to collect and they love to swap them between each other and play for ages with them. At these prices too, they really are a great pocket money toy (or indeed a last minute stocking filler!)

Top parenting blog Mostly Yummy Mummy - mostly parenting, lifestyle, fashion, beauty, books and yummy food

Disclaimer: We were provided with these new sets of Tsum Tsum Squishies for the purpose of this review