Night In With The My Scheming Black Face Mask

 There comes a time for every Mum – when it all gets a bit too much.

Harold was kind enough to bring some lovely Asian Skin Care products back from Taiwan, so I thought I’d open up a bottle of Prosecco and pamper myself silly for a night.

Time for a night in – without the kids.

For someone like me, a pretty much full-time Mum of two, who also writes her own blog, keeps an eye on current fashion events and has a hectic social calendar (with both my own friends and my husband’s) exhaustion can be just around the corner; a big old nervous breakdown is only a couple of toddler tantrums away.

It’s super important to look after yourself: mind, body and soul. Now that we’ve hurtled through this first month of the year, I can just about feel the edges of my sanity start to fray.

It can be really difficult to keep an eye on your personal well-being, especially when you’re booking yourself up all hours of the day with meetings, seeing friends and parenting. Sometimes it can often feel like the days are blending into the nights, until the weeks just feel like one horrendously busy, blurry sideshow that you can barely hold on to. Thanks to my new mindfulness techniques, that Dr. Harwich is teaching me, I’m getting better at noticing when I’m simply stretching myself too far. Dr. Harwich has told me that whenever I feel a bout of nervousness take hold, or even if I feel a little stretched, I should immediately drop all the responsibilities that I have and take some time for myself.

I’d had a particularly busy week last week, what with Alex’s Birthday party as well as the nightmare of Harold being away on business.

For five days I had a nasty glimpse into an alternate timeline where I never got married but still chose to have children. Woken up every morning at the crack of dawn, Harold wasn’t there to feed them, so I had to get their breakfast sorted before mine and make sure that they didn’t make a mess whilst they were eating. Harold usually sorts out feeding times, so it was a bit of a shock at first, I couldn’t believe how difficult they could be! I had to video chat him a couple of times this week just to make sure that I was doing the right thing.

With all the stress of looking after the kids for 5 mornings in a row (a nanny arrives at 10am to relieve me of duty) as well as being away from Harold, I was utterly destroyed when he came back. As soon as he’d got back and unpacked, I loaded the kids into his hands and sent him off to Mum’s for the weekend. When I ushered them out of the front door and locked all the hatches, I leant my back against the door and just bawled my eyes out. It felt so good.

If you’re thinking that I wasted a whole night in just crying then you are wrong!

The My Scheming Black Face Mask is the kind of beauty product that’s really best to try out by yourself. The product isn’t traditionally packaged like a normal cotton mask, instead it comes as a black liquid in a tube. The instructions are super simple, so all I had to was smear it on my face and let the strange liquid harden. Designed to yank out pesky whiteheads and blackheads, the liquid sticks to your skin and forms a hardened plastic-like mask, which you then peel off after half an hour or so. The peeling off procedure is pretty gross (I’m no beauty blogger, so you’ll not get any icky before/after pictures out of me) but I have to admit that I’m pretty pleased with the effects.


My skin looks a lot clearer, any little blackheads have been removed and you can barely even tell that I’ve been crying!

New York Inspirations & A Lovely New Apron

We’re back from New York –  with more than just a few souvenirs.

 New York is one of those magical places that has the delicious charm of being exactly as is it appears in the Hollywood movies.

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A city that is rarely portrayed without a nod to it’s grubbiness or ongoing homeless crisis, it nevertheless symbolises the pinnacle of the American Dream. Skyscrapers tower above you from all sides, if you don’t stop marvelling at them you’ll find yourself with a crick in the neck!

I’m so glad we took the time to go away together, even if it was just for the weekend. Harold and I met almost ten years ago; both of us well practised singletons, we had to learn how to allocate time to each other. Now, with both kids demanding our attention and work piling up for both of us, I almost feel like we’re back in the noughties again!

Our main purpose of heading out to New York was to spend some good quality time together.

However, in a city like the Big Apple, shopping was always going to make up a good sized portion of our time there. On top of all the major designers, present in Manhattan’s huge shopping district, there are also a giant slew of independent, vintage stores that have got to be explored.

I found this gorgeous retro apron, which reminded me of a picture I’d seen in one of my Mother’s old baking books and just had to have it. At only $10, it’s safe to say that Harry was more than happy to make a gift of it for me. I’ve found recently that I’m getting more joy from clothes and items that have emotional significance, or a sense of nostalgia, than the most expensive off the shelf items. I must be getting older…

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We had a lovely time, getting to know each other again.

I’ll admit that we perhaps didn’t pack as well as we should – it was so cold out that, on the first night, we ended up staying in bed for most of the day! Still, it’s lovely to be back home with the kids again. It was a little difficult wrestling them away from Mum and Dad, I think they’d got a little used to have them around and slipped back into their past lives as parents again.

Harry and I ate like pigs whilst we were out there, but it wasn’t all for nought! With every meal we gorged, I was (mentally) taking notes and inspiration for something to make the kids when I returned home.

The grandeur and decadence in American cuisine is never more present than in their desserts – these brownies are a reworking of a recipe I’ve been developing for a while now, with some Stateside indulgence thrown in for good measure:

States-sized Chocolate Brownies

[Makes 6 BIG servings or 10 modest portions…]

For the Brownies:fudge-brownies-1235430

200g Dark Chocolate [70% minimum]

160g unsalted butter

125g fine caster sugar

2 big eggs, beaten lightly

60g plain flourbrownies-632963_1920

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 standard sized bar of chocolate [Mars, Snickers or any other is fine]

Serve with:brownie-548591_1280

Vanilla Ice Cream

Chocolate Sauce

Banana

Caramel Sauce

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C/355F/Gas 4 and grease your tin – square or circle is fine.

Melt dark choccy in a bowl above a saucepan, add the butter once it’s melted and stir together.

Grab your bar of chocolate and chop it into small chunks, stir it into the mix and then you’re good to go!

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, there should be cracks all over the top when it’s done.

Leave it to cool before tipping it out on a wire rack to air out.

Serve warm or cool with any of the above suggestions, I love a big scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream with a decadent pool of Caramel Sauce.


Definitely not something you (or your kids) should be eating everyday, but a perfect way to top an indulgent meal and a real winter warmer, when you serve it hot!

Flying Out To NYC – Airport Parking: Check, Itinerary: Check, Winter Coat: Panic!

Us Mums can often be a conservative bunch.

Regardless of how much money we (or our other halves) make; when you have children, they become the number one priority. So, when the cold weather comes back in around this time of year, we’re often faced with the choice of either fitting out our kids with some brand new woollens (that they probably don’t need) or replacing some of our own sorry pieces of threadbare Winter clothing.

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If your kids are as young as mine (around 2 and 4), the best option for buying them Winter clothes, is to always buy a few sizes up.

If you buy from good retailers, you’ll often find that these items of clothing will last much longer than many of your own clothes. Little ones might well roll around and make up a lot of ground during the Summer months and inside the house, but they’re not going to be anywhere near as active during Winter. Wrap them up in high quality thermals and you won’t have to buy any more for at least a good couple of years.

With your kids’ Winter clothing all wrapped up for a couple of seasons, that leaves you with lots of playing around money to invest in that new Winter coat you’ve been waiting so long for. Now, the kind of coat that you’re going in for will vary depending on where you’re spending your Winter this year – you wouldn’t want to be sporting your brand new woollen Parker at the bar of a Ski Lodge!

This year, Harold and I are taking a brief break from the kids and flying off to New York for a long weekend.

Alex and Milly get to spend some quality time with Mum and Dad, who always love having their grandchildren to stay and we get to have our first romantic getaway for months, in one of the most festive cities on Earth. We leave next weekend and preparations are very nearly complete: we booked a parking space (book early to avoid slumming it and risking your car’s safety!), we’ve got a 3-day itinerary all planned out with Air B’n’B and our bags are nearly packed.

The only thing left for me to buy is a decent, chic Winter coat. Something that I can feel fashionable and warm in, when Harry and I are braving the near-freezing conditions out there.

These are the options that I’ve been considering so far:

Herringbone Column Coat

[from Jigsaw at £298]

coat-2 coat-1

Wool is always a sound option when thinking of Winter. This elegant coat could easily be paired with some smart tailoring – but could just as easily cover a cocktail dress for a Christmas dinner party.


Military Long Coat

[from M&S £125]

coat-3 coat-4

Slightly cheaper, but just as warm, this Wool-blend coat falls slightly longer, so you can pair it with a long skirt or even trousers – definitely a look suitable for a city break.


Parker Coat

[from Whistles at £170]

coat-6 coat-5

There have been rumours that Manchester’s favourite sons, Oasis, will be making a return to the stage once more – why not prepare for the inevitable 90s revival and invest in this essential piece of fashion  suitable for informal getaways only…


I’ve not got very long to figure out what I’m going to be wearing in NYC, but I’m glad that I’ve at least got some good options at my disposal. Any thoughts, to help me out?