Thomas Sabo – Jewellery for Mother and Daughter

Thomas Sabo mother daughter jewellery gifting

*In collaboration with Thomas Sabo*

The first proper piece of jewellery I ever owned was a silver charm bracelet which I think my Aunty bought me when I was about 11.  It was a very traditional charm bracelet with a little silver heart clasp and a safety chain.  Over the years I added charms to it – some were passed down to me by my mum, others were bought as birthday or Christmas gifts or to celebrate special occasions.  I remember one of my favourite charms was an old Mother Hubbard boot – the sole of the boot could be opened up to show little people living inside.  It was a bit of a faff to get charms added to the bracelet as Mum had to take it to the jewellers for me to get them soldered on so I would end up saving them up and getting a few added at once.  I used to wear the bracelet to school on exam days for good luck, clearly flouting the “no jewellery” rule and just keeping it tucked right up inside my shirt sleeve.  I don’t actually know where my charm bracelet is now, hopefully hidden away safely in a box somewhere.

Charm bracelets have seen something of a resurgence in recent years – offering a means of really personalising your jewellery to suit your own style whilst adding sentimental value when charms are added to mark special occasions or milestones.

Thomas Sabo Charm Club for children

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Terradora Hiking Boots from Keen Footwear – Review

I always thought walking boots were a bit pointless unless you were the sort of person that spent all weekend climbing massive hills with a flask of tea and a dog in tow.  I was wrong.

There’s nothing worse than having cold, wet feet when you’re out for a walk – be that a big old stomp up a hill, a meander down the coast or even just an afternoon in the park with the kids.  I’ve had a few pairs of walking boots in recent years and whilst I’ve totally been able to see the benefits of them in terms of providing my feet with support and protection, I’ve never loved them.  My first pair were fairly traditional boots – big and clumpy.  They rather reminded me of Dave’s safety boots at work.  They did the trick but I never particularly enjoyed wearing them.  Last year I swapped them for a pair of walking shoes which were more trainer-like in shape and style.  They were much lighter and easier to wear but I still found them a bit cumbersome and not very attractive!  I have a bit of a weak ankle which tends to swell randomly and doesn’t cope well with uneven ground – this meant that when I was wearing the walking shoes for festivals etc and spending the whole day treading uneven paths, I missed the ankle support a boot would give.

When I was offered the opportunity to try a pair of Keen walking shoes for Chloe and I, I was excited to see if I might finally find “the ones” . . .

Mother and Daughter Terradora boots from Keen Footwear | We're going on an adventure

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Fantasie Lingerie – The best bras for big boobs?

From my very first bra, I was always an M&S girl – getting regularly measured and fitted to ensure I was getting the right shape and support for my increasingly ample chest.  In my early to mid twenties I had a lovely pair of fairly full and perky 36DD breasts however, three breast fed babies down the line, with my forties staring my in the face, my boobs are not what they were – yes they’re still big but now they hang low, they lack any volume or fullness so in the wrong bra they just look sad.  This is unflattering, uncomfortable and just now how I want my boobs to be!  The beautiful balcony bras I used to love no longer fit properly – my boobs now tend to just sit in them, looking flat, rather than feeling shapely and supported.

In recent years, I have found my bra choices in M&S becoming increasingly limited – I know that a “full cup” style suits me best but all too often these are designed for older customers and just leave me feeling frumpy.  A couple of years ago, Mum bought me a gift voucher for Bravissimo for Christmas – somewhere I had always avoided shopping as I didn’t think my chest was “that big” and I had this misconception that Bravissimo was really expensive.  In reality I think that yes, Bravissimo do sell bras that are a little more expensive than M&S but they’re not ridiculous, and certainly not as expensive as I had thought they would be.  Regardless of cost, when I got my first bras from Bravissmo, friends actually commented on the difference proving that a correctly fitting, supportive bra can be a complete game changer.  I felt like I had my boobs back!

Through a mixture of trial and error and with the help of a great fitting at Bravissmo, I’ve learned that I suit a full cup style with side support which pushes up and forward to encourage the natural rounded shape that I miss.  Unfortunately a full cup isn’t seen as being the most youthful of styles and as such the colours and fabrics are not as modern as I would like – on my last trip to Bravissmo I found the full cup bras available in my size were really old-fashioned and matronly.  I actually ended up just buying the same bra as the one I was wearing and left feeling thoroughly frustrated that whilst I did have a lovely bra that fitted and supported my boobs – I just didn’t seem to have any choice in buying pretty patterns and colours.  I shouldn’t have to be stuck with boring old lady bras just because I wear a 40F! Read More »

Kona Sandals from Strive Footwear – Review

I’ve always found shoe shopping fairly challenging – I’ve got big feet – reasonably wide size 8s if you please.  Since having kids they’ve got worse, they’ve spread and my arches have collapsed which is probably due to the inordinate amount of time spent in flip flops during pregnancy when my ankles and feet were too swollen to fit into anything else!  I love the idea of heels and pretty details but always finding myself reverting to the same comfortable flats – which is why I now have three pairs of Saltwater sandals, some gorgeous Hotter pumps and a pair of Hotter sandals and then spend much of the rest of my time in my trainers.  I fear its a sign of age that I now go for comfort and support over everything else – I have no time for uncomfortable shoes, that said I still want to look and feel nice!

I was recently introduced to Strive footwear, a brand concentrating on women’s orthotic footwear – slippers, shoes and sandals which are designed using biomechanical footbed technology to support your feet.  I have a terrible habit for wearing very flat sandals which I don’t think is really doing my feet an awful lot of good in the long term so I was excited to see what Strive had to offer.  After spending quite a while browsing the site I eventually settled on a pair of metallic Trio sandals – sadly these didn’t fit.  The straps are not adjustable and I couldn’t get my feet into them.  Back to the drawing board!  Next on my wish list was a pair of Stowe pumps – I loved the contrast of the thick black elastic and thought they would lift my standard mum uniform of leggings nicely.  Unfortunately they didn’t have my size in stock (though I’ve noticed today that they’ve got them in again and I’m sorely tempted to order a pair!)  Eventually I settled on a pair of black and bronze Kona sandals (continuing the distinct metallic theme of my picks!) working on the basis that the adjustable straps would give me the best chance of a good fit!

Black and copper sandals from Strive footwear

Whilst I was right and the fully adjustable straps did allow for a completely customisable fit, my feet were too wide for the footbed.  Gutted.  Accepting that perhaps my feet are just too wide for Strive Footwear I decided to see how Mum would get on with my Kona sandals as they colour way is right up her street.

Mum loves shoe shopping just as much as I do . . . she struggles with fit and comfort – a broken ankle some years ago and a more recent hammer toe have just compounded the issue.  However, as I have mentioned already, the fact that all three straps on the Kona sandals are fully adjustable means she can really make sure they fit perfectly and, even better, they can be loosened off as the day goes on to accommodate for any swelling.  (Personally the effects of heat and a dodgy ankle mean this is something I have to consider too!)

Strive footwear - Kona sandals with adjustable straps

comfy summer sandals from Strive footwear

adjustable straps for customisable fit

sandals for all day wear from Strive

The Kona sandal is designed for all day wear with supportive footbed technology and a cushioned micro-fibre lining.  The contoured sole unit with BFT technology is a step up from the very flat sandals I tend to wear personally and means that the shoes will minimise foot fatigue all while improving posture, balance and body alignment.  I’m all too familiar with the aches and pains that come with wearing too flat shoes all day!

Whilst I’m pretty gutted that these super comfy sandals are not going to be a part of my own summer wardrobe, I’m pleased to have been able to add something new to Mum’s!  (Dad actually said he prefers them to her Birks!)

*I received the Kona sandals from Strive Footwear free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and options remain my own (or Mum’s!)*

*Read more reviews here*

A sunny spring raincoat from Outdoorsupply

For some reason, even though I generally struggle to inject colour into my wardrobe, I have no problem with brightly coloured coats and this spring is no different.  After that glorious burst of sunshine last week I’ve banished my bulky winter coat to the back of my wardrobe and replaced it with the gorgeous Ilse Jacobsen raincoat in “Cyber Yellow” from Outdoorsupply.

Yellow raincoat from outdoorsupply

Of course we still can’t trust the British weather so making sure my new coat is waterproof is key when it comes to school runs and general adventuring!  This lightweight raincoat is made of 100% polyurethane, has a waterproof zip and is water repellent (up to 500m water pressure) – take that Manchester and heavy April showers!

Mum and daughters in Hebden Bridge

I absolutely love the bright, bold yellow colour – there was certainly no missing me on the school run today, though I do think it looks better if I’ve actually put a face of make up on rather than just rolled out of bed and off to school on a Monday morning!

bright yellow raincoat

The roomy sleeves feature poppers which allow you to fasten the cuffs more tightly – this is a real win for me as I hate sleeves flapping about and getting in my way but elasticated cuffs aren’t exactly stylish are they?  The poppers just make everything look really neat.  My only slight niggle is that the pockets are not very deep and the super smooth fabric makes me think that my phone probably isn’t all that safe in my pocket and I think it would slide out easily.

yellow raincoat from outdoorsupply

The lightweight fabric is easy to wear and keeps the wind out as well as the rain off.  I had worried that it might be a little sweaty to wear but thus far this hasn’t been an issue.  The two way zip is easy to fasten and there is room for a cardigan or jumper underneath on a cooler day – I think this coat is going to be a real win for festivals in the summer as well as a regular feature on the school run!

(If you like Amy and Chloe’s coats in the pictures you can read more about them here: Grass & Air Light Catcher Macs)

*I received my coat free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions remain my own*

*Read more reviews here*

Spring ready feet with Hotter

The weather man might be threatening a deep freeze over the coming week but I’m embracing all things spring over here.  The days are getting noticeably longer, the skies are blue and there’s a bunch of tulips in my living room.  Spring is on the horizon and I’m loving it!

Looking ahead to my spring wardrobe and finally packing away those heavy winter boots, I’m excited to crack out my new Hotter Angel shoes in a beautiful bright red suede with a patent toe cap detail.  The white low-wedge heels looks fresh and stylish and perfect for lifting those staple navy stripes this spring!

Hotter Angel shoes

Red patent toe caps, suede pumps

Red suede pumps with patent toe from Hotter

You know I’ve had a few pairs of Hotter shoes in the past – with a wider foot (and a chunky calf) – their width fittings and half sizes are a godsend.  Rather than coming in a choice of fitting, the Angel shoe features dual fitting insoles – meaning that if you need a bit more room, you can just whip the main insole out.  Interestingly, despite my usually wide feet, the shoes fit with the insole in – though I think this might be because it was first thing in the morning and cold when I tried them on in store!  I love the fact that the dual fitting insoles means that if I find my feet are bigger during the warmer months, my shoes will still fit comfortably.  I actually tried the Angel shoes on in a 7.5 as well as my standard 8 as I found one of them was a little sloppy.  Typically the 7.5 was much too short but the super helpful Hotter staff sorted me out with a half insole which fits under the ball of my right foot and gives the perfect fit.

They make your feet look like a size 6!

When you have bigger feet, there’s always the fear that shoes will make them look even bigger – for example a pair of Vans tends to make my feet look like boats.  But the dainty, femine style of the Angel just makes my feet look neat and tidy – and in fact one member of staff in store commented “they make your feet look like a size 6!” – which we both agreed is basically the holy grail of footwear!

Size 8 Hotter shoes

Navy stripes with red - classic combo

Currently these gorgeous shoes are also available in navy blue, powder pink or aqua and I can see a couple more pairs slipping into my wardrobe.  Much as I’m not normally a pink kinda girl, I absolutely adored the rose gold metallic toe cap detail on the powder pink pair and well, we all know I have a pretty major love affair with navy!

Loving my new Hotter shoes
I think it’s safe to say that this beautiful pair of shoes will be on heavy rotation throughout the spring and into the summer this year!
*I was given my Hotter Angel shoes free of charge for the purpose of review however all thoughts and opinions remain my own.  Thanks to Jenny from Let’s Talk Mommy for her photography skills!*

Winter Walks with Hotter Boots

I suffer from a fairly common affliction amongst women . . . the dreaded chunky calf. I’ve always had quite a shapely lower leg but my calves are solid shall we say? I’ve always blamed it on wearing high heels when I was younger but I’m not sure if that’s really the case. Either way it does make make buying boots tricky. The only knee high boots I’ve ever owned were a stretchy pull on fabric and wellies never quite fit properly leaving them slightly ruched around my ankles which aside from looking unsightly also means they have a tendency to rub. Unsurprisingly I don’t really bother shopping for anything other than ankle boots now. When I spotted the knee length Belle boots on the Hotter website which come in not just a standard fit but also a wider leg too, I didn’t dare hope that they might actually fit me.

When the boots arrived, I tentatively tried them on, first of all being pleased that they fit my foot but not really expecting them to zip up comfortably.  I might have shrieked in delight when not only did the boots zip up easily but they fit beautifully – they hugged my calves without being too tight, the boots fit right up towards my knee – no crumpling at the ankle, no slipping or gaping.  Just beautifully fitting knee high boots.

Hotter Belle Boots - wide calf fitting

knee high Hotter boots for chunky calves

Now, to push my luck, the very first time I wore my Hotter boots I wore them for a proper day out – no wearing them in around the house or testing them out on the school run first.  I treated them with a protective spray after some helpful advice from someone on twitter and then headed out to a National Trust property for the day with my friend Donna.

Hotter boots in width fittings - Belle Boots

I felt smart and stylish but appropriately dressed for our day out – my feet were warm and comfortable and in fact the boots felt like I’d been wearing them for months, there was no rubbing or stiffness to deal with.

I’ve been wearing my Hotter Belle boots for a couple of months now and I still love them.  There’s a little creasing on the toe which has made them look a little scruffy but otherwise they look as good as new.

If you’re looking for boots to fit a wider calf, definitely check out Hotter and let me know how you get on!  (My cousin has already bought the Belle boots in black after seeing mine!)

*Disclaimer – I was sent a pair of Hotter boots free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions remain my own. Post contains affiliate links.*

*Read more reviews here*

BOGS° Boots for the Whole Family

It’s no secret that we love an adventure and I have three children who would practically live in wellies if they thought they could get away with it, Amy particularly.  Of course wellies have their downsides, they’re often cold, they can be uncomfortable and I personally struggle with fit on my calves.  Enter BOGS° . . .

BOGS° have been making boots for 15yrs starting out with a grounding in making boots for farmers.  Over time the range has grown to include women and children with footwear for a whole range of purposes – but first and foremost they’re going to keep your feet warm and dry.

family adventure in BOGS° Boots

As soon as I started to browse the BOGS° website, I completely fell in love with the “Crandall Wool” boots – mainly because they just doen’t look like a pair of wellies – they’re way smarter and more stylish than taht.  Whilst they’re perfect for a stomp in the woods of a Sunday morning, they won’t look out of place on the school run during the cold wet months ahead either.  I must admit that with my past history of struggling to get wellies (or boots in general) to fit my calves, I was a little nervous that the Crandall Wool boots might suffer the same fate, however I was pleasantly surprised.  Yes, there’s no denying I would probably benefit from a little more space in the calf area so that the boots could fit without wrinkling but they’re incredibly comfortable and I think they look great!  I was worried that the top section would suffer for getting dirty but I’m pleased to report that once the mud had dried it just brushed off and my boots look as good as new.  The best bit was taking my boots off after our walk and realising that actually, my feet were really warm – no frozen toes, no sweaty feet from too thick welly socks – just comfortable, cosy feet thanks to the plush lining.

stylish waterproof boots from BOGS° Boots

Dave’s boots are fairly serious – they look enormous both off and on the foot and rightly so as they are they “Ultra High 15″ boot” which was originally designed to help dairy farmers stay safe and comfy on slippery floors . .  not something Dave needs to worry about anytime soon but these boots do feel very much ready for anything.  Obviously they’re not quite as stylish as my boots but they are way more hard-wearing than any boot he’s had before whilst being really comfortable.  Dad did point out when he tried them on that the lip at the back designed to help you pull off the boots is a little higher than he would have liked but I think that’s a fairly minor niggle and something you’d quickly get used to.

children's wellies from BOGS° Boots

BOGS° Boots for kids

Ben has a pair of “Kid’s Durham Solid” – a lightly insulated boot, 100% waterproof boot to keep his feet warm and dry while he concentrates on climbing trees and generally getting filthy.  Ben loves the easy-on pull handles but did find it a bit tricky to get his jeans comfortable in his boots – in the end we tucked them into his socks first and that seemed to do the trick for him.

BOGS° Boots - kid's Durham solid in Khaki

For the girls I chose the “Kid’s North Hampton” – which they both immediately fell in love with.  The bright colours were a big hit as were the easy-on pull handles.  The boots look really stylish and nobody complained of any discomfort wearing them for the first time.

BOGS° Boots - North Hampton Kid's - red

BOGS° Boots - North Hampton Kid's - purple

There’s no denying that a pair of standard wellies from the supermarket would be a lot cheaper however my three go through wellies like nobody’s business – scuffing them and wearing holes in the soles or splitting them.  If you’re outside a lot then the hard-wearing design, and fantastic quality of BOGS° is worth investing in.

BOGS° boots for the whole family

*We were sent our BOGS° Boots free of charge for the purpose of review – all thoughts and opinions remain our own*

*Read more reviews here*

Hotter Sandals – Review

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to Hotter Bury to have a good old nose at their latest styles, specifically their range of Hotter sandals.  It’s been three years since I was first introduced to the brand so I was keen to return and see what they’ve got on offer this summer!

Now I must admit that last time I visited the guys at Hotter I struggled a bit with my large wide feet and even with the wider fits my choices were limited so when I had a quick browse of the Hotter website prior to the event and fell in love with the Sun Sandals I didn’t really hold out much hope that they would fit – especially as this particular style doesn’t currently come in a wide fit.

The girls at Hotter are keen to emphasise that you really should try a range of styles on, not just for a choice of fit but also because shoes can look so different on your feet to the way they look on the shelf.  Never is this more true than in a Hotter store.  At first glance I could see lots of shoes my Grandma would have probably liked, but once you dig a bit deeper there’s some real gems to be had.

Of course I made a beeline straight for the Sun Sandals that I’d had my eye on at home but also grabbed a few other pairs to try on as well.  What I found really interesting was how different shoes looked on other people’s feet – for example this pair of gold sandals looked gorgeous on Jenny but really didn’t suit my feet at all.

Hotter shoes - gold Sol Sandals

I also tried the Tourist Sandals and could happily have walked out of the store with them – they fit beautifully (despite being a standard fit) and were really comfortable.  Two of the Hotter girls were in fact wearing these in store and I think my Mum would love them too.  Had I not already had my heart set on the Sun Sandal I think these would have been the ones.

But . . . I was all the heart eyes for the Sun Sandal and luck was on my side!  Despite having been on my feet all day teaching, they still fit!  I basically had my “Hotter Moment” right there and then and did a little dance around the store.

Hotter Sun Sandal in tan

Just look at them! How gorgeous are they?  They are so insanely comfortable thanks to the air bubbles packed into the sole, the micro-fibre insole and the hidden elastic adjustment under the buckle.  My usual sandals are pretty very flat and whilst they are really stylish I do know about it if I’ve been wearing them too much – my arches give in and my heels get very dry and cracked.  This just isn’t going to happen with my new Hotter sandals.  They fit perfectly to my feet, there’s no flopping about or gripping with my toes just to keep them on my feet.

The tan works well with both black and navy which are the staples of my wardrobe but I must admit I do really like the Truffle colour way too!  I’ve worn my new Hotter sandals twice now – once for a night out in Leeds and once for a full day of shopping in the Trafford Centre.  I wouldn’t normally dream of wearing a brand new pair of shoes shopping but honestly I might as well have worn my slippers they were so comfortable.

I love that I can wear them day or night – with pretty much anything in my wardrobe and I’ve already had several compliments on them!  You know I’m going to be wearing these to death this summer.

Hotter Sandals

Hotter shoes - tan Sun Sandals

If you’re in the market for a new pair of sandals this summer you really should take a look at Hotter and try a few pairs on – you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.  If you’d like to have a look at the styles some of other bloggers chose have a look here: Jenny from The Brick Castle & Jenny from Let’s Talk Mommy

*I was invited to Hotter Bury to choose a pair of Hotter sandals free of charge for the purposes of review.  All thoughts and opinions remain my own*

*Read more reviews here*

JORD Wooden Watch – Review

Happy child and Jord watch

The other day we got a large cube shaped package delivered to our house.  This in itself is nothing new.  Our house is a miniature Parcel Force depot most days of the week!  On this occasion though the package felt….. interesting.  I was intrigued.  When Colette opened the package it revealed a large wooden box.  Even more intriguing!  Inside the box was a watch!  A blinking wooden watch!  Well, it wasn’t literally blinking, but Colette won’t let me swear on here so I’m sticking with blinking as an adjective!  A wooden watch is something you don’t see every day.  I have never seen one.  It looks cool.

Colette had ordered a unisex JORD Frankie series watch for herself but as luck would have it, the face was a bit big for her wrist (as I kept telling her!) meaning she eventually, and grudgingly, passed it to me.  Hand-me-downs are sometimes ace!  Now as Colette had ordered it for herself she’d ordered the Dark Sandalwood & Smoke colour way.  This has the potential to look a bit girly on a big burly man’s wrist, but luckily I’m in touch with my feminine side and I can rock a bit of rose gold.  It matches my hair.  And before you say ‘What’s left of it Dave!’ I mean my beard!

Jord Watch - Smoke and Sandalwood

Now you can order your watch pre-adjusted to fit, however even though Colette used the guide to decide what size she needed, when it arrived it was very loose on her wrist and it was even a bit big when I got it.  I removed one of the links and now it fits well.  Not perfectly.  My wrist is unfortunately between links which means it is a little loose but it’s always better to be a little bigger than smaller.

The JORD Frankie watch has a large face which is very much the fashion nowadays.  It’s not an overly fussy face.  There’s no extra dials to complicate the aesthetic.  There’s just the one knob on the side to set the time.  The face is gleaming and polished like a mirror meaning you can see the reflection of the hands moving, and the raised roman numerals around the outside of the face, in the lip on the inside of the face.  This is something which I’m not sure anyone else would care about, but I really liked it and spent at least five minutes staring at the reflections from different angles.  Maybe it was more like ten minutes.  I should have timed myself really.  The equipment was right there.

Jord Watch on Daddy's wrist

As I mentioned before, the colour way that Colette ordered has rose gold detailing, but against the dark wood of the strap and body of the watch I think the details look a bit copperish (much like me) and the contrast really makes the face stand out.  It looks striking.  No bad thing.  So the looks are a win for me.  The oddity of it being made from wood doesn’t end with the aesthetic though.  The other thing you will notice is it’s astoundingly light!  If you’re used to metal watches, as I am, then this will take a little while to become the norm but it does.

JORD provide you with care instructions.  The watch is splash proof but not waterproof and you have to be careful of sudden changes in temperature as this can make the wood swell or contract.  Possibly damaging the wood or the mechanisms.  I don’t envisage the temperature changes being much of a problem in this country but if you lived somewhere really cold then maybe this wouldn’t be the greatest.  The non-waterproofing will have to be managed as rain is a constant threat living in Manchester.  It’s recommended that you treat the wooden parts every six months with a finishing oil.

Happy child and Jord watch

So I’ve got a handsome timepiece but a slightly miffed missus.  At least she gets to tell people she got it for me, which means she’s got good taste.  We’re both winners really.

If you love Dave’s watch as much as he does, you can enter to win $100 gift code to spend with JORD (the code will expire on 30/04/2017 so don’t spend too long choosing if you win!)

*We were sent the JORD watch free of charge for the purpose of review.  All thoughts and opinions are Dave’s own*

Luxury Wooden Watch

*Read more reviews here*