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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Muddy Puddles Puddleflex Outerwear

Muddle Puddles Puddleflex waterproof clothing

There is no denying that autumn is well and truly here now – October seems to have brought with it much colder temperatures and damp days.  The leaves are definitely starting to turn and we’re starting to think about needing to wrap up a little more on the school run – I pulled a blanket scarf out for the first time yesterday and the kids have started digging out last year’s gloves to see if they can find a pair (they can’t . . ) and trying on last year’s coats to see what still fits!

Chloe and Amy have recently received some gorgeous new outerwear from Muddy Puddles.  I first came across Muddy Puddles about eight years ago when we invested in a whole class set of Bib & Brace overalls for Early Years and promptly went off to order one for Ben who was then just a toddler.  The Bib & Brace overalls were passed down through all three children and then on to another family to make use of them too!  A few years ago we tried out some Muddy Puddles Puddlefleece trousers for Ben, and again they’ve been passed down through all three children and now Amy wears them every now and again.

Muddly Puddles outer wear for autumn

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Molly Brown London – Honey Bee Necklace

Molly Brown London is a British brand selling beautiful, modern children’s jewellery.  This isn’t jewellery to give a baby for their christening or as a special baby shower gift, only for it to be put away and never to be seen again this is jewellery to be enjoyed and worn.  Molly Brown London believe that their jewellery should represent good quality British luxury.  Neither too young nor too grown up in design, their simple, sophisticated pieces grow with their owners making them the perfect gift for any occasion.

“A love of jewellery can be inspired at any age and hopefully indulged for a lifetime.”

Founder Erica Illingworth

Molly Brown London honey bee necklace

For Chloe’s 7th birthday, I chose the Molly Brown London Honey Bee necklace. Made from sterling silver and 9ct gold vermeil, this cute little honey bee instantly caught my eye when I was browsing the site.  I think in part due to Manchester’s traditional connections with the bee but also because it was something a little different, something a little quirky.  (In fairness, the Molly Brown London collection of children’s necklaces is far from twee and traditional).  I adore the way the dainty bee sits just up her neck rather than dangling straight in front of her as a traditional pendent would.

Close up of Molly Brown honey bee necklace - beautiful golden wings

Molly Brown necklaces are adjustable to fit small children through to teens

One of the things I love most about the Molly Brown London jewellery range is that it is all designed to grow with your child – so the 16″ sterling silver chain on Chloe’s necklace has two places to fasten it, one which fits perfectly now, leaving a pretty little chain detail at the back (with the paw print hallmark) or another position to extend it out for when she’s bigger.  I would previously not have wanted to invest in jewellery for a young child for fear of them quickly outgrowing it and it not being worn, however knowing that this beautiful necklace can be worn for special occasion after special occasion brings the old “cost per wear” down quite considerably!

Molly Brown London children's necklace

As you can see, Chloe loves her new Molly Brown London necklace, and we’ll definitely be bearing them in mind next time we need a special present!

*We were sent Chloe’s Molly Brown London necklace free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions remain our own*

*Read more reviews here*

Grass & Air Light Catcher Mac – Review

Now that spring finally seems to have arrived, it’s time to pack away the big bulky winter coats and swap them out for something a bit lighter.  Of course the British weather can never be trusted so we’re still rocking a waterproof over here in Manchester as we face those April showers!

This spring my girls are wearing matching Grass & Air Light Catcher macs.  Now if you’ve not heard of Grass & Air before, they’re a Manchester based brand with a passion for getting kids outdoors whatever the weather . . . this is an ethos I can get on board with.

Grass & Air Light Catcher rain coats

Sisters wearing matching Grass & Air rain macs

The Light Catcher rain macs are a new addition to the Grass & Air range, similar to their “Rainster” but with a super cool twist – as well as being fully waterproof the Light Catcher macs feature a high tech reflective print which means in normal daylight it is barely visible but when the light hits it, it reveals a cool raincloud print!  In addition to the subtle reflective raincloud print the raincoats also feature reflective zip detailing.  This is a far cry from those reflective yellow arm bands we used to get from the road safety people as kids and I know for sure my Grandad would have flipping loved the idea of a reflective coat!  He was so safety conscious and I hated it, I thought it was boring and totally uncool – not words you could associate with the Grass & Air Light Catcher macs that’s for sure!  My kids have no idea that their rainclouds are actually a really clever safety feature, they just think it’s a bit of a novelty!

Grass & Air Light Catcher with reflective coral zip detail

Grass & Air branding

Of course during the spring and summer months the girls are not likely to be wearing their raincoats in the dark, they are long in bed before the sun sets now, however that doesn’t mean we don’t have plenty of grey, wet days ahead of us – this is Manchester after all!

One of the things that both girls really liked about their new raincoats is that aside from all the practical features I’ve just mentioned above, they’re actually really quite pretty.  The gathered waist detail and longer length made the coats feel grown up and almost dress-like and as such made them an instant win with my girls!

Grass & Air raincloud Light Catcher

Grass & Air longer style raincoat

As you can see from the pictures, both girls have plenty of growing room in their Grass & Air rain macs as well as room for a jumper underneath.  Because of the longer style, the nipped in waist and elasticated cuffs they can get away with their coats being a little big (yes, I am one of those Mums but, if I’m investing in outwear, I want to get as much wear as possible out of it and usually aim for two years!) Amy is wearing age 5-6 and Chloe 7-8 and I would say these are very much true to size – both girls are quite tall and as such are generally wearing a size above their actual ages of 4 and 6 anyway.

Grass & Air Light Catcher raincloud print

matching navy Grass & Air macs

*We received the girls Grass & Air Light Catcher macs free of charge for the purpose of review however all thoughts and opinions remain our own*

*Read more reviews here*

Winter Adventures with Reima – Review

It has been said many times before but we are big believers in the quote which goes something along the lines of;

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

We like to get outside whenever we can and always have an array of appropriate waterproof jackets but earlier this year on our trip to the beach with the Mini Travellers team, I realised that actually our coats just weren’t warm enough.  No amount of jumpers, scarves and gloves layered underneath our waterproof jackets was going to be a substitute for proper thermal insulation!

Over the last few weeks I’ve been extremely grateful for the children’s new Reima jackets – they have kept them warm and dry in all weathers – from pouring rain to the -5 temps and heavy snow that the #BeastfromtheEast has treated us to!

Reima jackets in the snow

snow ready coats from Reima

Reima Roxana jacket

Finnish company, Reima are global leaders in functional kidswear – determined to help children discover the wonder and fun of being outdoors whatever the season, whatever the weather.

Dog walking with Reimatec jacket

Reima coats

The Reimatec winter jacket is totally waterproof and windproof made from technical material which is water and dirt repellent as well as breathable with thermal insulation effective to -20 (which I don’t plan on testing any time soon so I shall take their word for it!)

Adjustable cuffs on the Reima Regor

Lots of pockets on the Reima Regor

All three kids love their Reima jackets – the inner lycra cuffs and smooth polyester lining makes them super comfortable.  The shaped cut, adjustable cuffs and hem means that whilst really cosy, their coats don’t feel overly bulky – they can still get one with whatever it is they want to be doing be it running, climbing or chucking snow at each other!  (The jackets also feature a snow lock at the waist which is obviously great for winter sports but hasn’t proved to be a necessary feature in Manchester as yet!)

The fleece lined hood features a visor and also a flap to fasten up around your neck – Amy isn’t a big fan of this as she doesn’t find it very comfortable, but on a really cold and windy day being able to tuck as much of your face away as possible is a lifesaver!  The velcro fastenings on the coat are substantial and we’ve found that sometimes the neck flap can end up caught on inside of the hood which I suppose over time could cause a little superficial damage but it’s really the most minor of irritations.  I’m generally not a fan of detachable hoods (kids pulling them off in playgrounds or losing loose hoods in cloakrooms is a right pain) however I totally get the point of them from a safety point of view – should the hood get caught on anything, it will come off easily.

Peaked, removable hood - Reima

Neck protection and plenty of velcro

Although this Reima jacket  would be totally at home on the slopes, it doesn’t look out of place in the park or on the school run in Manchester – in fact we’ve had so many compliments on the kids’ jackets, especially Amy’s with it’s bold stripe!  Chloe wasn’t completely convinced by her bright blue coat initially but she loves it now – and I like that their vivid colours makes them easy to spot when we’re out and about on an adventure!

Bold stripes - Reima Roxna in berry

As you’d expect, these are not cheap jackets – you get what you pay for and in this case that’s high-tech, weather-proof clothing.  With bit of shopping around you can currently find Ben, Chloe and Amy’s coats at around £70 – £90.

*We received the kids’ Reima jackets free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions remain our own*

*Read more reviews here*

St Bert’s Clothing – Review

As soon as I saw Karen’s girls sporting coordinating rainbow hoodies from St Bert’s over on her instagram, I knew I had to have them.  I’ve always co-ordinated the kids’ outfits to a point – sometimes outright twinning and other times just making sure what they’re wearing goes with one another.  It’s not like I make sure they match every day but when we’re going out somewhere I tend to make sure that at least look like they belong together.

Unisex hoodies from St Bert's

Both of my girls love a dress but they’re not always practical are they – sometimes you just need to wear jeans and a hoodie.  What I particularly loved about the St Bert’s hoodies is that they are completely unisex – in fact the whole range is.  Yes there’s a little pink in there but there’s nothing saying the boys can’t wear it or that the girls shouldn’t be wearing blue – none of the motifs are aimed at one gender or another and the website isn’t organised into boys’ or girls’ clothes.  The only time you’ll see gender mentioned on the St Bert’s website is in relation to the adult hoodies where it says “men’s” and “women’s” but that relates more to sizing than anything else – point proven by the fact that I ordered the men’s one for myself just because I preferred the colour.

matching St Bert's hoodies

It’s worth bearing in mind that the sizing on the hoodies can be a little small so I sized up in each of them to the cosy, slouchy look we were going for (and also just for the sake of growing room – nobody wants to spend £35 on a hoodie for it only to be worn for two months!)

Contrasting cuffs on the rainbow hoodie from St Bert's

cosy St Bert's hoodie

I love the little details on these jumpers – from the stylish contrasting tipping on the cuffs and hem, to the St Bert’s logo on the sleeve and of course the kids love a kangaroo pocket in their hoodies be it for keeping hands warm or filling with leaves and pine cones!

St Bert's branding on hoodie

kangaroo pocked on St Bert's hoodie

And the best thing?  They wash beautifully.  I was really worried that they might bobble quickly or that the fabulous rainbow print would crack and fade but my fears were unfounded.  Every time I’ve washed the hoodies they come out looking like new – which considering they kids have been wearing them to tramp through the woods or spill their dinner on is something of a win in my book!

Amy and Daddy

Grey rainbow hoodie from St Bert's

We’ve had so many compliments on these hoodies each time I’ve posted a picture of the kids wearing them on my social media feeds so it’s worth mentioning that they are selling fast.  If you do want one, you might want to pop on over and get them in your basket now.  I’ve got my eye on a couple of the sweatshirts for them next!

Unisex rainbow hoodie from St Bert's

(If you like the look of the kids’ boots – you can read a review of those here)

*We received the St Bert’s rainbow hoodies free of charge for the purpose of review, however all thoughts and opinions remain our own*

*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*

Autumnal Style with Nutmeg

My girls are both big fans of a dress – there was a time where I had to forewarn Chloe if she was going to need to wear jeans the following day to avoid a dress-based tantrum.  Thankfully we’re a little more relaxed now, however given the choice they’d both pick out a dress any day of the week.  Of course this is all well and good in the summer months when you need little more than a sundress and a pair of sandals however I do find the obsession with dresses a little trickier to manage in the autumn & winter months when the need for sleeves, tights, boots and cardigans arises.  Neither girl is happy with a dress over leggings, that’s just a glorified top then!

This gorgeous little autumnal ensemble is from Nutmeg (for those of you not in the know this is the Morrison’s own brand clothing range launched some four years ago now!)  Amy was thrilled with her new outfit – from the sparkly buttons and frill at the bottom of her mustard yellow cardigan to the dress which absolutely passes the twirl test yet pleases Mummy with it’s long sleeves and high neckline.

puffed shoulders - Nutmeg autumn

sparkly buttons - Nutmeg autumn range

long sleeve details - Nutmeg

I’m continually impressed by the attention to detail in the Nutmeg clothing ranges – their awareness of the need for comfort means they avoid scratchy labels in the necklines,  adjustable waists make for a better fit and room to grow.  They ensure their clothes wash and wear well yet they don’t cost the earth and still manage to remain fashionable at the same time.

The best bit is that this autumn, Nutmeg have launched a women’s range into 80 of their stores and having had a big of sneak peek myself earlier this month I can’t wait to go and investigate further!  Nutmeg want their focus to be on quality, fit and style – they’re not trying to be the cheapest on the market (or should that say supermaket!) but they do want to represent good value and from what I’ve seen so far they’re absolutely nailing this.

*Amy received her outfit free of charge for the purpose of review however all thoughts and opinions remain our own*

*Read more reviews here*

School Shoes from Start-Rite – Review

Next week my littlest lady will start school.  For five mornings a week she will don her school uniform and potter off to school with her siblings before I pick her up again at lunchtime.  The first step on a long road through formal schooling.

Buying her first school uniform, and with that her first school shoes, is of course something of a rite of passage.  Having an older sister means that not all of Amy’s school uniform will be new (and thankfully she’s at an age where she couldn’t care two hoots about that!)  Her cardigans, skirts and dresses are mostly hand-me-downs, though I’ve bought her new polo shirts as Chloe’s are in no fit state to save by the end of a school year (whiteboard markers and school shirts are not the best of friends let me tell you!).  The one thing she will always have new though is her school shoes.

Siblings in school uniform and Start-rite shoes

This will be Chloe’s fourth year of school shoes and having tried out several styles over that time the one thing I always go back to is patent.  They just seem to look smart just that bit longer.  Although Chloe could most certainly be described as a “girlie girl” – she can often be caught trying to climb walls on the way to school and she’s certainly had her fair share of trips and falls.  As such I want shoes which are sturdy, supportive and fit for purpose.  I’m not interested in the pretty little details (though she might be!) or even the name of the shoes.  I want shoes that fit well, which are easy for my girls to fasten and which will last them until they have grown out of them.  (There is nothing more frustrating than having to buy a new pair of shoes in the same size as the last ones!)

This year both girls have got new school shoes from Start-Rite.   My one stipulation for their school shoes this year was that, where possible, they were patent.  Amy has the Princess Elza (£47.99) in a 9F and Chloe has the Lizzy (42.99) in a 13F.

Start-Rite Princess Elza 

Starting at a size 9 and going through to a size 3½ with three width fittings, Amy’s new school shoes are lightweight and flexible with a riptape fastening meaning she can put her shoes on and off herself (one less thing for me to worry about first thing in the morning and a bonus for her class teacher after PE!)  The ankles are padded and supportive and her shoes feel sturdy.  As well as being patent they feature a scuff resistant toe bumper (which after seeing how quickly her big sister ruined her last shoes, I’m thrilled about!).  The Princess Elza shoe comes with a range of detachable & interchangeable charms – as a child I know I’d have loved this and it was the first thing Amy noticed about them.  As a parent and a teacher I must admit my first thought was “Oh something else to play around with and get lost”.  I personally prefer the bow detail and plan to leave those on her shoes and pop the others way “somewhere safe”.  If you prefer a plainer shoe then the charms can be removed altogether leaving just the detailing on the toe section.

Start-rite Princess Elza with bows

Start-rite toe bumpers - scuff proof shoes

Start-Rite Lizzy 

Again this shoe starts at a size 9 and going through to a size 3½ with three width fittings but feels much more grown up in style.  The black patent is smart with just enough detail on the toe section to stop them from being too boring and sensible.  Very similar in shape and style to the Princess Eliza, Chloe’s Lizzy shoes have the same riptape fastening (which, after a term of faffing about with buckles, I’m pleased to go back to!) and the same scuff resistant toe.  I’m confident that Chloe’s new shoes are going to be comfortable and supportive for her through the Autumn term and beyond!

Start-rite Lizzy

Start-rite patent school shoes

Start-rite school shoes

This is the first time we’ve had Start-Rite shoes for school and on first impressions I’m really pleased with the way they look.  The scuff proof toes are similar to a feature we often find on Ben’s shoes but rarely for the girls so I’m hopeful they will do the trick.  Their shoes look smart but pretty enough to keep the girls happy.  Most importantly they are fit for purpose.  My girls will run, jump, skip and kick balls in the playground and their shoes need to be ready for that!

Siblings walking to school in Start-rite shoes

*We were provided with the girls’ Start-Rite school shoes free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts an opinions remain our own.  This post contains affiliate links*

*Read more reviews here*

Start-rite school shoes - black patent with scuff proof toe bumpers.