Monday, 29 February 2016

Mother's Day Crafting With Cath Kidston...

So, as you know Mother's Day is this coming weekend and those lovely people at Cath Kidston and I were chatting about special touches. 

You might remember in my Mother's Day Gift Guide that if you didn't want to splash the cash us mums are a total sucker for being treated super nicely and throw in something with a personal touch and you'll have us blubbing in a heartbeat. 

Cath Kidston suggested that I attempt to make a "Mum" rosette. How hard could it be? They even gave me a super handy little pdf to explain how to do it. 

Naturally, I said yes. I love a challenge. Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I am utterly useless at sewing and I got that non skill from my dear mum who would rather buy a new shirt than attempt to sew a button. However! What they will tell you is that my husband, Tom is a dab hand when it comes to a needle and thread. 

Now, I had two options. Ask for help and make it look nice or me attempt to do it on my own and it look like a three year old had attempted it. I opted with the former. 

So, on a crisp and cold Sunday afternoon armed with fabric, buttons, scissors and pretty ribbon we attempted the beautiful rosette. 

I have to be honest here. I got ALOT of help and I mean ALOT, there were many a time when I just watched on in admiration. Tom started and directed what I could do and showed me how. 

Now, it probably wasn't the wisest of times to do it given we were at my lovely mother in laws with my sister in law with three children (two under one) to entertain. 

Tom, immediately went into teacher mode and before we knew it he had Vicky, myself and my mother in law all pulling out weight! It was turning into a really fun team project! 

Lis, my mother in law appears to have raised her children well when it comes to domesticated duties as Vicky too was little Vivienne Westwood in the making too when it came to a needle and thread. My role immediately became redundant as Vicky took over cross stiching and pleating at lightening speed! 

Following the instructions within an inch of her life we all of a sudden had the makings of a really pretty rosette. 

Cath Kidston also suggested I team this beautiful homemade rosette with a complimenting scarf and I think you'll agree it looks lovely with the new lovingly made addition! 

I decided that my mother in law should receive it as she looked so lovely in the scarf. She was chuffed and I'm sure she'll be wearing her rosette with pride on Sunday when she hosts Mother's Day lunch, after all it was pretty much made by two of her children!! 

And I am sure you'll agree she looks lovely in it!

So, if your even half good with a needle and thread give it a go. We loved making it and thank Cath Kidston for sending me the items needed to make such a pretty rosette! 

Lots of love,

Nathalie x


Saturday, 27 February 2016

Sugar, sugar, ahh, honey honey!

Ok, so last Friday I had this utterly mad idea that following a chat over a LARGE glass of wine with a friend who'd tried it that I too was going to attempt to go sugar free, dairy free and caffeine free for SEVEN whole days. I had watched the Sugar Free Farm on ITV, I saw how hard it was for those celebs but I thought why not?

The celebs of ITV's Sugar Free Farm

Now, my friend is doing three weeks but I thought that seven days to start would be a good start and given my love of biscuits, chocolate, diet coke I was doubtful I would even make it to Monday afternoon.

I set about planning my food for the week and had my first black decaf brew made for me by my lovely secretary at work. She too thought I was mad but was going to attempt to go sugar free in support. 

Day 1 - Taking the leap! 

Friday afternoon passed pretty quickly and I went to bed with a head full of how amazing this week as going to be, visions of glowing skin, the lbs falling off me and the hope that by Wednesday afternoon I would have magnificently transformed in to Cobham's answer to Gwyneth Paltrow - how hard could it be?!!?

This will totally be me come Wednesday - except I will be at work and not in a bikini in the sea!

Day 2. (First full day)

Saturday morning came and I was working. After faffing about in my fridge looking for inspiration for lunch I prepared for the day by making six boiled eggs, yes I know six boiled eggs - cue the cholesterol police! I took some prawns out of the freezer and off to work I went with a spring in my step - I had even convinced myself that my skin was already starting to glow!

Well, by 1pm I felt hideous, truly hideous. I had a stinking headache, was in a foul mood and the tiredness was starting to kick in despite having a great nights sleep. How lucky Nicola was to be working with me on a day like this. Didn't help that come 2pm she turned to me and said "You look s**t"." Thanks - it was true though I did feel crap. Was this the lack of caffeine or was it the lack of sugar??? Have years and years of excess caffeine and sugar really be that hard to knock on the head?

I ended up resorting to a desperate 3pm pick me up in the form of a juice from The Juice Smith. It tied me over. It wasn't the KitKat I was craving but it was something.

Tom suggested we meet down the pub after I finished work, great idea hey! Well I stuck to my guns and ordered a sparkling water. Tasted alright most bizarrely. 

The tiredness was really starting to take hold and by 8.15pm I was sparko on the sofa and in my bed ko'd by 9.30!! 

Day Three - A turning point

With a few stirrings from Hector I had an INCREDIBLE nights sleep. I had a cracker of a breakfast with poached eggs and avocado. The afternoon saw us head to the theatre with Charlie, Tom and my mother in law. I ordered a sparkling water again whilst Tom downed a beautiful Coke!! We popped in to his mums after the theatre where Lis insisted we try the next door neighbour's blueberry muffins that she was judging for his D of E. She told me it was for educational purposes. I had the teeniest nibble that I didn't even taste the gorgeous fresh blueberries that bulged from their little paper cases. Usually I would have hoovered one up and this time it didn't even cross my mind. It felt good. She had even made my favourite flapjacks so I insisted she freeze me one for Sunday! 

Day Four 

After another great nights sleep I'm ready to face the week ahead, but first the school run! Charlie requests pancakes for breakfast. I fulfill his request and stand flipping pancakes at 8am. God they smell incredible but I resist instead opting for a boiled egg and a large glass of sparkling water. 

Lunch consisted of roast chicken, bacon and a lot of water. A lot of water. 

Dinner comes around very quickly and I knock up scrambled egg, spinach, Spring onions on rye bread whilst the kids had added turkey meatballs that I had made. Quite nice actually.

Homemade turkey and cranberry meatballs

Day four. Done.

Day Five - A spot of baking

Being a big baker I wanted to look at the possibility of baking without refined sugars if I had any hope of making this a permanent lifestyle change . I headed down to my local health food shop, Holland and Barrett for some supplies. The young guy in there was so helpful and I left with a big bag of sugar free goodies.

My supplies - obviously I won't be eating the sliced brioche!

I embarked upon baking some coconut and blueberry muffins. An easy recipe to follow and the results produced not too bad, ok they didn't taste like the muffins that I knew and loved but then again this was my first attempt at baking without sugar.

Day Six

Back in the office today and I just know this is going to be a tough one. First up is the tea. I can't do black tea. I've tried and I just can't get my head around it. Decaf fine but black no. I decide to ditch the dairy free in the form of milk as realistically I am never going to go totally dairy free. 3pm was going to be my biggest challenge. How would I cope without my usual biscuit or chocolate buttons? Well 3pm came and no cravings!!! Hoorah!!

Lunch was a random mix of salad vegetables and cooked chicken.

A meeting after work and then a fun game of netball after that saw day six round to a close. I have a couple of boiled eggs for dinner and head to bed.

Day Seven

Another day in the office came and went again with no cravings, not even when offered a mini hot cross bun!!

For dinner I had looked online for some inspiration. I decided to make some coconut chicken nuggets with homemade mayo - yes I even made homemade mayo, so simple!!

It was delicious.

Day Eight

As of 12pm today I would have been caffeine and sugar free for a week.

12pm came and I celebrated with...... chicken salad and homemade mayo.

I felt amazing to think that I have done a week of no sugar and no caffeine. As my seven days were over I went out in the evening with friends and had steak, mac 'n' cheese and a creme brulee for pudding all washed down with Sauvignon Blanc.

Day Nine

So, reflection time. I feel good. I'm not so sluggish. My skin is definitely clearer. Will I continue it? You know what I think I will. I'm no way saying that I am giving up sugar FULL STOP but for 80/20 of the time I will continue the sugar free lifestyle. It's easier than you think and now having done seven days and the lack of sweet cravings I am feeling really good. Also as you could have guessed it I don't quite look like Gwynnie just yet - hey Rome wasn't built in a day!!

I've even been out for a quick catch up with my friend The Home Chef at Bronte's Cafe and even asked if they had an sugar free options and Roddy recommended the banana cake which was delicious!!!

Sugar free banana cake and a decaf tea over a catch up with my friend Phil

Tonight for dinner I am doing the delicious coconut chicken nuggets and I will post my recipe up on the blog as it's one you should really try, I know my kids are going to love them!!

Lots of love,

Nathalie x


Thursday, 25 February 2016

This Surrey Mummy's Mother's Day Gift Guide...

Mother's Day is on March 6th this year and is a great way of saying "thanks" to that special lady in your life.

You know the one that went through nine months of back pain, sleepless nights, possibly hours and hours of excruciating pain to deliver you into this world only for you to twenty odd years later rock up on her doorstep with your children in seek of a bit of sanity and a cup of tea? Yup, that Mum.

I've compiled a gift guide of loveliness that I think any woman would love as a token of thanks, Tom take note!!

Under £15

 First up are a couple personal favorites of mine from Cath Kidston. I'm a total sucker for a mug with "Mum" or "Mummy" on it and given they are gifted to me by my children. The below image was one I took shortly after Tom had presented me with a cuppa and a lovely slice of strawberry cake, let's be honest, cake tastes great but I can assure you it tastes even better when eaten off a cake plate!! These two will set you back in total just over £11 but team that with a homemade cake, cup of tea and a bunch of supermarket flowers you can make mum's day for under £15!

Hydrangea Grace Mug - £6.50, Highgate Ditsy Side Plate - £5.00

Under £20

I don't know about your mum, but my mum LOVES jewellery, the sparklier the better. Why not check out the latest collection from Stella and Dot. I've spied these lovely Nancy Peach studs at a snip at just £19!

Nancy Peach studs - £19

There is a little gift shop in Cobham that my friend Jocelyn runs called Evie Loves Toast (they also have a Wimbledon village shop too) and it's a little shop where I challenge you to walk in and NOT buy something, there really is something for every budget! I love these make up bags, I own one myself but who wouldn't love to receive one with this message on it?? They also have loads of other super cute messages so you are bound to find one to suit your mum!

Best Mummy Like. Ever. make up bag - £12.99

Under £30

I love nothing more than being warm and snuggly and despite our days getting longer the nights do still tend to have a bit of a chill to them so what better way to hop into bed than wearing luxury cashmere socks on your tootsies?? I love these ones from The White Company and they've now been reduced from £35.00 to £28.00 per pair it'd be rude not to!

Under £50

I love a signature scent. My mum got me Dior Miss Dior for Christmas the year before last and it's a timeless scent with its citrusy top notes featuring Sicilian mandarin and blood orange bring audacity and energy. The floral heart is a symphony combining the sensuality of Grasse rose with Grandiflorum jasmine. Indonesian Patchouli essence gives it sensual and contemporary sophistication. I love it and I'm sure after a couple of squirts you will too. 

Dior Miss Dior - £49.00

Under £100

Now isn't it funny that I can find LOADS for this price range?? Well here are my top picks for under £100.

There is no denying it, I am a HUGE fan of Emma Bridgewater with an ever growing collection in her design Pink Hearts so naturally I was delighted to see that she has brought out a DAB Radio in the Pink Hearts collection! Available exclusively through I would love to open this up on Mother's Day morning!

Exclusive to John Lewis - £79.00

As you all know I love Instagram and I am forever posting pictures but I am very conscious that I don't print them as much as I should nor do I have enough photos displayed of our happy times. Last year I embarked on a project of getting some of my Instagram photos framed and hung. I have only managed to frame and hang one so far but there are more in the process! If you like this idea then why not check out a similar idea over at Not On The High Street?

My homemade effort

Persoanlised Polaroid Prints from £55

I do hope that I've given you some ideas for treating your special lady but equally, us mums are fairly simple creatures. Let's be honest as mums here we'd all be happy with a cup of tea being made for us, someone to do the dinner, empty the dishwasher and pop a laundry load on, even if it is just for one day, but throw in a bunch of flowers and a card and there will be smiles all around!!

Much love,

Nathalie x


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

This Surrey Mummy bakes sugar free, gluten free, dairy free blueberry coconut muffins...

So, as you know I am a HUGE baker - there is not a week in our house which passes where I haven't knocked up something sweet and delicious so this going sugar free lark was always going to be more of a challenge. 


With a day off work I decided that I would try and bake a sweet treat. I scoured the internet and came across one from the I Quit Sugar site.  They turned out ok. Next time I will probably add a little more coconut flour as they came out a little moist but nevertheless they were very sweet and that was even with me leaving out the rice malt syrup as I could not get my mitts on any at the local health food shop. They smell gorgeously coconutty without being too overpowering. They were only in for 25 or so minutes and I wondered whether if I had kept them in a little longer the excess moisture would have reduced, who knows. 

Well here's how you make them and what you need...


  • eggs.
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted.
  • 2 teaspoons rice malt syrup.
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • 3/4 cups coconut milk.
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted.
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries, plus more for topping.


1. Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 and grease a six-hole muffin tray with coconut oil or line with baking paper. 

2. Whisk together the eggs, coconut oil, rice malt syrup, vanilla and coconut milk together in a mixing bowl. Stir through the remaining ingredients. 

3. Scoop the mixture evenly between the muffin holes and push a few more blueberries on top. Place in the oven to cook for 25-30 minutes or until slightly browned on top.


Do give them a try - they really are VERY simple to make and I am sure given another attempt I will get them spot on!

Lots of love, 

Nathalie x 


Saturday, 20 February 2016

Mother's Day 2016 with a helping hand from Cath Kidston...

This year will be my third Mother's Day since becoming a mother to my two boys. I do love Mother's Day as for me it signals that Spring really is on it's way and it's naturally the perfect excuse to spoil my Mum and for me to say "thank you".

I just love being a mum. It's the best but hardest job in the world. You are prepared for the sleepless nights through teething or just being babies, but they don't tell you about the sleepless nights you'll have worrying that you're doing the right thing by them.

I adore my mum. She's the nicest, kindest, funniest, most random woman I know or am ever likely to meet. She's always there for me and despite us not always seeing eye to eye there really is no other woman that I would wish to spend my time with. 

Mum casually attempting to get inside a Little Tikes Crazy Coupe. Stubborn and determined are her middle names!

Since I became a mum she's the first person I turn to or go to when the boys are being a "handful" shall we say. I am very lucky that my parents live only a five minute drive away and that their door (whether they like it or not!) is always open for me to drop in with my brood for a cuppa and a change of scenery. 

Our girly holiday to Egypt in 2009

Mother's are very special people. They are the only people in the world who have a 24 hour job, 7 days a week, unpaid and with no holiday. They are the only people no matter how old you are, if you are feeling poorly they always make you feel better, and let's be honest mum's sofa always makes you feel better!

After my first scan with Charlie

I am very aware that I am very lucky to have my mum and to have her play such an active role in my children's lives. 

My mum (and dad) also helps us out with childcare once a week which saves us a small fortune each month and also allows me the ability to go back to work part time. It's because of this that my children are so close to my mum, or "Little Nanny" as she's known more affectionately. Charlie loves nothing more than just hanging out with her and I am sure it has NOTHING to do with the fact that when he's round her house he's spoilt rotten and that there are always milk buttons, a late night snuggling sesh on the sofa and his body weight in brioche is always guaranteed!!  

Just to say that Buddy is not doing what you think he is probably doing in this picture!!

I think it's safe to say that I don't always tell my mum how appreciative I am of her love, care, compassion, support and more importantly her friendship, but I am. She's one in a million my mum. In fact in my eyes she's the best. 

My mum is my biggest fan and she's also my children's biggest fan. Nothing makes my mum's day more than when Charlie comes home as "Star of the day" or he's got the headmistress award, the excitement I see on her face is the exact same excitement she had when I got made Head Girl, got into my new school or made something at school just for her and now I am a mum I feel that exact excitement too. It's an amazing feeling and one I get on a daily basis when my children do something lovely or simply fab in my eyes.

So, with Mother's Day just around the corner on March 6th, in the next couple of week's I am super excited to be teaming up with one of my favourite brands Cath Kidston for their Mother's Day #CKCelebrateher campaign with some great ideas on how to spoil your mum on this special day as well as showing you how to create a beautiful "Mum" rosette.

This Mother’s Day those lovely people at Cath Kidston want to see how your mum has celebrated you over the years, and, if you’re now a mum yourself, the ways you celebrate your own children. Share a picture of your “achievement”, whether it’s a photo of a particular moment or an image of a handmade item, with them on Twitter or Instagram using #CKCelebrateHer and tell us why it’s so special. Their 10 favourite “achievements” will each win one of 10 £50 gift vouchers, and all entries will be added to our Gallery of “Achievement”.

Lots of love,

Nathalie x


Friday, 19 February 2016

Going sugar free.....

It's been massively documented in the press lately the dangers of sugar. Lets be honest, it's not rocket science. Sugar is hidden EVERYWHERE.

I think it's fair to say that we were all suitably shocked when the press reported that some of our most loved high street coffee chains' beverages contained more sugar than a can of coke, I know I was.

It was when I was out for dinner with my NCT group that a girlfriend of mine started to explain that she had cut sugar from her diet and subsequently had more energy, clearer skin and generally felt better all round for it. I poo poo'd it at first but secretly deep down I craved more energy, clearer skin and to feel generally better all round. I mean how hard can it be? Could I do it? Could I say "see ya!" to my diet coke, my routine cups of tea, CAKE!!!! I could only but try.....

Well, I am embarking on 7 full days, starting NOW, without sugar, dairy or caffeine.

Now to be honest I am not sure what is going to be harder. Giving up caffeine (a habitual 6-7 cups of tea a day kinda gal) or sugar (I love cake, biscuits, chocolate, sweets - as my good friend Christine once said "we aren't at Slimming World because we've eaten too many vegetables")? Personally, I think they are going to be equally hard but the sugar probably wins. What is most concerning is that it's hidden in almost every single processed food, who knew it was even in milk (ok it's not sugar sugar but it's still a form). As my NCT friend said "It's all about resetting your blood sugar levels" and it's something I'm gonna have a jolly good crack at.

Preparation is clearly going to be key. I've been given a good website called The Kitchen Shed which has some really tasty looking recipes that I am going to try this week including slow cooker curried chicken which is definitely on this weeks menu plan.

Well, who knows, I might have failed massively by Sunday at 2pm but unless I try I won't know.

Will keep you posted!!

Nathalie x


This Surrey Mummy Bakes - Homemade Jammy Dodgers...

So, as you all know it was Hector's baptism last week and I had in the run up spent loads of time baking in preparation for the afternoon tea party we were to hold after.

I love biscuits - c'mon who doesn't? I decided that an appropriate biscuit was the lovely humble jammy dodger.

Well, here is my recipe for homemade jammy dodgers for you to try this weekend!


275g (9 1/2 oz) plain flour, sifted (+ more for flouring work surface)

1 tsp baking powder

100g (3 1/2 oz) caster sugar

75g (2 1/2 oz) butter

1 egg

2 tbsp golden syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla

Around half a pot of jam - I used Hartleys Seedless Strawberry Jam

You will also need a circular cookie cutter and a smaller heart or star one

How to make them...

In a bowl, cream the sugar and butter, I used my Kitchenaid to mix it all.

Add the flour and baking powder.

Add the egg, golden syrup and vanilla and stir.

Mix until a dough forms, cover and chill for 30 minutes.

While waiting for your dough, preheat the oven to 170ºC/ 150ºC fan (340ºF/ 300ºF fan). Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

On a floured surface, roll the dough until it is 0.5cm in thickness.

Using your circular cookie cutter, make circles. Remember each dodger consists of two layers.

With your heart/star cookie cutter, cut out hearts/stars in the centre of the circles.

Bake your cookies for 12-15 minutes. You want them firm but not brown.

Leave to cool on a wire rack and while they are still warm.

To construct your jammy dodger, add a plop of jam to the bottom of one of the full circle cookies.

Then press a cookie with a heart/star on over the top. The jam will no doubt ooze a little bit through the heart.

Now, all that's left to do is pop the kettle on and pour yourself a cuppa, preferably in a cup and saucer sit down and dunk away!


Nathalie x

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Love Is In The Air With A Valentine's Baptism...

A cold and crisp February morning made all the more special with love in the air in the form of Valentine's Day and the baptism of our little boy.

The event itself had not been in the planning for months and was a relatively last minute arrangement but we felt that Valentine's Day was the perfect day for a baptism.

We decided to invite only family and a handful of close friends, mainly my original NCT group of which they have become more of the family so naturally it would have felt odd without them there.

We wanted the baptism to be done at the school where we live as it has so many connections to both Tom and myself. Tom, as it's his place of work and for me it was a place where when I was a pupil at the school I had spent many hours in various chapel services and the fact that it's a relatively small and intimate chapel made it the ideal choice.

For the "after party" I wanted to hold an afternoon tea. I LOVE afternoon tea. There really is nothing better than a really great selection of neatly sliced finger sandwiches and bite sized cakes where one more really does not count.

I went for Spring colours for the colour scheme with white tulips and narcissi flowers held in jam jars on each table (they smelt incredible but were three times the price as it was Valentine's Day!)

I got Hector's name spelt out in balloons that I got from the Non Stop Party Shop in Cobham. I had biscuits made in the shape of party rings and love hearts from Kari's Cakery in Claygate and then made scones, homemade jammy dodgers as well as lots of other sweet treats.

We decided against the traditional Christening cake and instead opted for a homemade naked Victoria sponge that was cut up and served as part of the tea. My aunt very kindly offered to make the cake and she was sceptical when I gave her the brief of a "naked Victoria sponge" but even she was impressed and our guests were blown away by her efforts!!

In terms of beverages we wanted to keep it very simple. We served beer for the chaps, bubbles for the girls, tea, coffee and Copella Apple and Rhubarb for the kids which they drank out of individually decorated jam jars.

Hector shunned away from the traditional Christening dress and we went with shorts, shirt and jacket all in baby blue. The lovely people at Jo Jo Maman Bebe very kindly sent Charlie a whole outfit from this seasons "Wedding and Partywear" selection and he looked very dashing indeed, whilst I wore a navy blue knee length dress from last season at Next

We wanted to capture all of our little boy's special day so enlisted the help of our favourite photographer James Heming who travelled all the way from Kent to be with us. We wanted James as he was our wedding photographer and he also captured Charlie's christening so we were delighted that he could be with us. 

Lots of love, 

Nathalie x

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